The Foundations of the 19th Century -1912.AD-

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

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A. The Teutons as Creators of a New Culture     ii 187
B. Historical Survey     ii 233
1. DISCOVERY     ii 261
2. SCIENCE     ii 293
3. INDUSTRY     ii 329
7. ART     ii 495
INDEX     ii 565



First Impression November 1910
Second Impression January 1912

Tavistock Street, Covent Garden, London

SOME ten years ago there appeared in Germany a work of the highest importance which at once arrested the attention of the literary world, and was speedily declared to be one of the masterpieces of the century. The deep learning, the sympathy with knowledge in its most various forms, a style sometimes playful, sometimes ironical, always persuasive, always logical, pages adorned with brilliant passages of the loftiest eloquence — these features were a passport to immediate recognition. Three editions were exhausted in as many years, and now when it has gone through eight editions, and, in spite of the expense of the two bulky volumes, no fewer than sixty thousand copies have been sold in Germany, it is surely time that England should see the book clothed in the native language of its author.
Houston Stewart Chamberlain was born at Southsea in 1855, the son of Admiral William Charles Chamberlain. Two of his uncles were generals in the English army, a third was the well-known Field-Marshal Sir Neville Chamberlain. His mother was a daughter of Captain Basil Hall, R.N., whose travels were the joy of the boyhood of my generation, while his scientific observations

won for him the honour of Fellowship of the Royal Society. Captain Basil Hall’s father, Sir James Hall, was himself eminent in science, being the founder of experimental geology. As a man of science therefore (and natural science was his first love), Houston Chamberlain may be regarded as an instance of atavism, or, to use the hideous word coined by Galton, “eugenics.”
His education was almost entirely foreign. It began in a Lycée at Versailles. Being destined for the army he was afterwards sent to Cheltenham College: but the benign cruelty of fate intervened; his health broke down, he was removed from school, and all idea of entering the army was given up: and so it came to pass that the time which would have been spent upon mastering the goose-step and the subtleties of drill was devoted under the direction of an eminent German tutor, Herr Otto Kuntze, to sowing the seed of that marvellous harvest of learning and scholarship the full fruit of which, in the book before us, has ripened for the good of the world. After a while he went to Geneva, where under Vogt, Graebe, Müller Argovensis, Thury, Plantamour and other great professors he studied systematic botany, geology, astronomy, and later the anatomy and physiology of the human body. But the strain of work was too great and laid too heavy a tax upon his strength; so, for a time at any rate, natural science had to be abandoned and he migrated to Dresden, a forced change which was another blessing in disguise; for at Dresden he plunged heart and soul into the mysterious depths of the Wagnerian music and philosophy, the metaphysical works of the master probably exercising as strong an influence upon him as the musical dramas.

Chamberlain’s first published work was in French, Notes sur Lohengrin. This was followed by various essays in German on Wagnerian subjects: but they were not a success, and so, disgusted with the petty jealousies and unrealities of art-criticism, he fell back once more upon natural science and left Dresden for Vienna, where he placed himself under the guidance of Professor Wiesner. Again the miseries of health necessitated a change. Out of the wreck of his botanical studies he saved the materials for his Recherches sur la sève ascendante, a recognised authority among continental botanists, and natural science was laid aside, probably for ever.
Happily the spell of the great magician was upon him. In 1892 there appeared Das Drama Richard Wagners, which, frozen almost out of existence at first (five copies were sold in the twelvemonth, of which the author was himself the buyer), has since run into four greedily purchased editions. Then came that fine book, the Life of Wagner, which has been translated into English by Mr. Hight, and Chamberlain’s reputation was made, to be enhanced by the colossal success of the Grundlagen des Neunzehnten Jahrhunderts which followed in 1899. Naturally enough, criticism was not spared. The book was highly controversial and no doubt lent itself to some misunderstanding: moreover the nationality of the author could hardly fail to be in a sense provocative of some slight jealousy or even hostility. One critic did not hesitate to accuse him of plagiarism — plagiarism, above all, from Richard Wagner, the very man whose disciple and historian he was proud to be, whose daughter he was; years afterwards, to marry. But this attack is one for which Chamberlain might well be thankful,

for it gave him the chance, in the preface to the third edition, of showing all his skill in fence, a skill proof even against the coup de Jarnac. His answer to his critics on his theory of Race, and his criticism of Delitzsch in the preface to the fourth edition are fine pieces of polemical writing.
What is the Book? How should it be defined? Is it history, a philosophical treatise, a metaphysical inquiry? I confess, I know not: probably it is all three. I am neither an historian, alas! nor a philosopher, nor a metaphysician. To me the book has been a simple delight — the companion of months — fulfilling the highest function of which a teacher is capable, that of awakening thought and driving it into new channels. That is the charm of the book. The charm of the man is his obviously transparent truthfulness. Anything fringing upon fraud is abhorrent to him, something to be scourged with scorpions. As in one passage he himself says, the enviable gift of lying has been denied to him. Take his answer to Professor Delitzsch’s famous pamphlet Babel und Bibel, to which I have alluded above.
No writer is so dangerous as the really learned scholar who uses his learning, as a special pleader might, in support of that which is not true. Now, Professor Delitzsch is an authority in Assyriology and the knowledge of the cuneiform inscriptions. The object of his brilliant and cleverly named pamphlet was to arouse interest in the researches of the German Orientalischer Verein. in this sense any discovery which can be brought into line with the story of the Old Testament is an engine the price of which is above pearls. Accordingly, Professor Delitzsch, eager to furnish proof of Semitic monotheism,

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

allude, if only in the sketchiest way, as giving a good example of Chamberlain’s methods. So much for Tablet No. I.
The interpretation of the second tablet upon which Professor Delitzsch reads the solemn declaration “Jahve is God” fares no better at our author’s hands; for he brings forward two unimpeachable witnesses, Hommel and König, who declare that Delitzsch has misread the signs which really signify “The moon is God.”
It is well known — a fact scientifically proved by much documentary evidence — that Khammurabi and his contemporaries were worshippers of the sun, the moon and the stars; the name of his father was Sin-mubalit, “the moon gives life,” his son was Shamshuiluna, “the sun is our God.” But no evidence is sufficient to check Professor Delitzsch’s enthusiasm over his monotheistic Khammurabi! That much in the deciphering of Assyrian inscriptions is to a great extent problematical is evident. One thing, however, is certain in these readings of Professor Delitzsch: in the face of the authority of other men of learning, his whole fabric, “a very Tower of Babel, but built on paper, crumbles to pieces; and instead of the pompously announced, unsuspected aspect of the growth of monotheism, nothing remains to us but a surely very unexpected insight into the workshop of lax philology and fanciful history-mongering.”
It seems to me that Khammurabi has been made a victim in this controversy. Even if he was a worshipper of the sun and the stars and the moon, he was, unless we ignorant folk have been cruelly misled, a very great man: for he appears to have been the first king who recognised the fact that if a people has duties to its

sovereign, the sovereign on the other hand has duties to his people — and that, for a monarch who reigned so many centuries before Moses, must be admitted to show a very high sense of kingly responsibility. But Delitzsch, in trying to prove too much, has done him the dis-service of exposing him to what almost amounts to a sneer from the Anti-Semites. I have submitted what I have written above to Dr. Budge of the British Museum, who authorises me to say that he concurs in Chamberlain’s views of Professor Delitzsch’s translation.
But it is time that we should leave these battles of the learned in order to consider the scheme, the scope and the conduct of the book. To write the story of the Foundations of the Nineteenth Century was a colossal task, for which the strength of a literary Hercules would alone be of any avail. Mr. Chamberlain, however, has brought to the undertaking such a wealth of various knowledge and reading, set out with unrivalled dialectical power, that even those who may disagree with some of his conclusions must perforce incline themselves before the presence of a great master. That his book should be popular with those scholars who are wedded to old traditions was not to be expected. He has shattered too many idols, dispelled too many dearly treasured illusions. And the worst of it is that the foundations of his beliefs — perhaps I should rather say of his disbeliefs — are built upon rocks so solid that they will defy the cunningest mines that can be laid against them. This is no mere “chronicle of ruling houses, no record of butcheries.” It is the story of the rise of thought, of religion, of poetry, of learning, of civilisation, of art; the story of all those elements of which the complex life of the Indo-European

of to-day is composed — the story of what he calls “Der Germane.”
And here let me explain once for all what Chamberlain means by “Der Germane”: obviously not the German, for that would have been “Der Deutsche.” To some people the name may be misleading; but he has adopted it, and I may have to use it again, so let us take his own explanation of it. In this term he includes the Kelts, the Germans, the Slavs, and all those races of northern Europe from which the peoples of modern Europe have sprung (evidently also the people of the United States of America). The French are not specifically mentioned, but it is clear from more than one passage that they too are included. As indeed how should they be left out? Yet it strikes one almost as a paradox to find Louis XIV. claimed as a “genuine Germane” for resisting the encroachments of the Papacy, and bearding the Pope as no other Catholic sovereign ever did; and blamed as a Germane false to his “Germanentum” for his shameless persecution of the Protestants! In the Germane, then, he describes the dominant race of the nineteenth century. Strange indeed is the beginning of the history of that race.
Far away in Asia, behind the great mountain fastnesses of India, in times so remote that even tradition and fable are silent about them, there dwelt a race of white men. They were herdsmen, shepherds, tillers of the soil, poets and thinkers. They were called Aryas — noblemen or householders — and from them are descended the dominant caste of India, the Persians, and the great nations of Europe. The history of the Aryan migrations, their dates, their causes, is lost in the clouds of a mysterious

past. All that we know is that there were at least three great wanderings: two southward to India and Persia, one, or perhaps several, across the great Asiatic continent to Europe. What drove these highly gifted people from their farms and pastures? Was it the search for change of climate? Was it pressure from the Mongols? There are some reasons for supposing that religious dissent may have had something to do with it. For instance, the evil spirits of the Zendavesta, the scriptures of the Zoroastrians are the gods of the Rigveda, the sacred poems of the Indian Aryans, and vice versa. Be that as it may, wherever the Aryans went they became masters. The Greek, the Latin, the Kelt, the Teuton, the Slav — all these were Aryans: of the aborigines of the countries which they overran, scarcely a trace remains. So, too, in India it was “Varna,” colour, which distinguished the white conquering Arya from the defeated black man, the Dasyu, and so laid the foundation of caste. It is to the Teuton branch of the Aryan family that the first place in the world belongs, and the story of the Nineteenth Century is the story of the Teuton’s triumph.
While by no means ignoring, or failing to throw light upon, the Assyrian or Egyptian civilisations, this all-embracing book ascribes the laying of the Foundations of the Nineteenth Century to the life-work of three peoples: two of these, the Greek and Roman, being of Aryan extraction, the third, the Jew, Semitic.
Of Greek poetry and art Chamberlain writes with all the passionate rapture of a lover. “Every inch of Greek soil is sacred.” Homer, the founder of a religion, the maker of gods, stands on a pinnacle by himself. He was, as it were, the Warwick of Olympus. “That any

one should have doubted the existence of the poet Homer will not give to future generations a favourable impression of the perspicacity of our times.” It is just a hundred years since Wolf started his theory that there was no such poet as Homer — that the Iliad and Odyssey were a parcel of folk-songs of many dates and many poets pasted together. By whom? asks Chamberlain. Why are there no more such “able editors”? Is it paste that is lacking or brain-paste? Schiller at once denounced the idea as “simply barbarous” and proclaimed Wolf to be a “stupid devil.” Goethe at first was caught by the idea, but when he examined the poems more closely, from the point of view of the poet, recanted, and came to the conclusion that there could be only one Homer. And now “Homer enters the twentieth century, the fourth millennium of his fame, greater than ever.” No great work of art, as Chamberlain points out, was ever produced by the collaboration of a number of little men. The man who made the faith of a people was, as Aristotle put it, “divine before all other poets.” If Greek poetry and Greek art were in those two branches of human culture the chief inheritance of the nineteenth century, then we may safely assert that Homer in that direction dominated all other influence and was the first prophet of our Indo-European culture.
Never, indeed, did the sacred fire of poetry and art burn with a purer flame than it did in ancient Greece. Homer was followed by a radiant galaxy of poets. The tragic dramas of Aeschylus and Sophocles, the farces of Aristophanes, the idylls of Theocritus, the odes of Pindar, the dainty lyrics of Anacreon, have made the Greek genius the test by which all subsequent work must be

judged. In architecture and sculpture the Greeks have never been equalled; of their painting we know less; but the men who were under the influence of a Phidias and a Praxiteles, we may safely say, would not have borne with a mere dauber. Poetry and art then were the very essence of Greek life; they penetrated the soul and thrilled every fibre of the ancient Hellenes. Their philosophy, the deep thoughts that vibrated in their brain, were poetry. Plato himself was, as Montesquieu said of him, one of the four great poets of mankind. He was the Homer of thought, too great a poet, according to Zeller, to be quite a philosopher. But Plato was Himself; and his spirit is as young and as fresh to-day as it was when he was so penetrated with the sense of beauty that he made his Socrates lecture only in the fairest scenes, and pray to the great god Pan that he might be beautiful in his inner self, and that his outer self should be in tune with it. “Much that has come between has sunk in oblivion; while Plato and Aristotle, Democritus, Euclid and Archimedes live on in our midst stimulating and instructing, and the half-fabulous figure of Pythagoras grows greater with every century.“
But — and it is a big “but“ — when we come to metaphysics Chamberlain cries, Halt! With all his reverence for Plato as statesman, moralist and practical reformer; for Aristotle as the first encyclopedist; full of admiration for the philosophers of the great epoch so far as they represent a “creative manifestation” of the mind of man closely allied to the poetic art, in the history of human thought he dethrones them from the high place which has hitherto been assigned to them, he denies them the honour of having been the first thinkers. To Aristotle,

indeed, with all his gifts, he traces the decadence of the Hellenic spirit.
It has been the fashion among the schoolmen to hold the Greeks up to admiration as being historically the first thinkers. Nothing could be further from the truth. They laid the foundations of our science, of geography, natural history, logic, ethics, mathematics — of metaphysics they were not the founders, though they taught us to think. Bacon indeed condemned their philosophy as “childish, garrulous, impotent and immature in creative power.” Centuries before the birth of the great Greeks, India had produced philosophers who in the realms of thought reached heights which never were attained by Plato or Aristotle. The doctrine of the transmigration of souls was brought by Pythagoras from India. In Greece, until it was published by Plato, it was regarded as the mystery of mysteries, only to be revealed to the elect — to the high priests of thought: but in India it was the common belief of the vulgar; whereas to the philosophers, a small body of deep thinkers, it was and is an allegorical representation of a truth only to be grasped by deep metaphysical pondering. The common creed of the Indian coolie, invested by Plato with the halo of his sublime poetry, became glorified as the highest expression of Greek thought!
Alas! for the long years wasted in the worship of false gods! Alas! for the idols with feet of clay, ruthlessly hurled from their pedestals! That the ancient Greek was the type of all that was chivalrous and noble was the accepted belief taught by the old-fashioned, narrow-minded pedagogues of two generations ago. They took the Greeks at their own valuation, accepting all their

figures and facts without a question. Their battles were always fought against fearful odds; they performed prodigies of valour; their victories decided the fate of the world. To the student brought up in the faith of such books as Creasy’s Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World, it comes as a shock to be told that Marathon was a mere skirmish without result, in which, as a matter of fact, the Athenians had if anything rather the worst of it. Even Herodotus inconveniently let out the fact that Miltiades hurried on the battle knowing that his brave Hoplites were half minded to go over to the enemy, and that delay might cause this treacherous thought to be carried into effect. Another half-hour and the “heroes of Marathon“ would have been seen marching against Athens side by side with the Persians. As it was, the latter quietly sailed back to Ionia in their Grecian ships, carrying with them several thousand prisoners and a great store of booty. Gobineau has shown that Salamis was no better, and he describes Grecian history as “la plus élaborée des fictions du plus artiste des peuples.”
In view of writers like Gobineau and Chamberlain the ancient Greek was a fraud, a rogue and a coward, a slave-driver, cruel to his enemies, faithless to his friends, without one shred of patriotism or of honour. Alcibiades changing colour like a chameleon, Solon forsaking his life’s work and going over to Pisistratus, Themistocles haggling over the price for which he should betray Athens before Salamis, and living at the Court of Artaxerxes as the declared enemy of Greece, despised by the Persians “as a wily Greek snake,” these and others are sickening pictures which Chamberlain draws of the Hellene when viewed as a man apart from his poetry and his art.

Probably in these days of critical investigation the fanciful teaching of previous generations will be modified. The Greeks have enough really to their credit, they have a sufficient title to our gratitude for what they were, without being held up to our admiration for that which they distinctly were not. It seems laughable that Grote should have accepted as gospel truth, and held up as an example for future ages, what Juvenal had summed up, eighteen hundred years before, as “all that lying Greece dares in history.”
No two people could be in sharper contrast to one another than the Greeks and the Romans. From the creative genius of the Greeks we have inherited Olympus, the Gods, and Homer who made them, poetry, architecture, sculpture, philosophy, all that makes up the joy of life: not our religion — that comes from a higher source — and yet, even here perhaps something, some measure of religiosity which fitted us to receive the Divine Message. The gift of the matter-of-fact Roman, on the other hand, has been law, order, statecraft, the idea of citizenship, the sanctity of the family and of property. Borne on the pinions of imagination the Greek soared heavenward. The Roman struck his roots deep into the soil. In all that contributes to the welfare and prosperity of the State and of the man the Roman was past-master. In poetry, in the fine arts, in all that constitutes culture, he was an imitator, a follower — at a great distance — of the Greeks. A poet in the true sense of the word, he certainly was not. A poet means one who creates. Consider the translations and imitations wrought with consummate skill by Virgil, at the imperial command, into an epic in honour of a dynasty and a people. Compare these, masterpieces

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

importance as bearing upon Chamberlain’s views of the “deadly shadow of scepticism.”
The poetry of Greece was the dawn of all that is beautiful, the bounteous fountain of all good gifts, at which, century after century, country after country, have quaffed the joyous cup, seeking inspiration that in their turn they might achieve something lovely.
The influence which Rome has exercised upon our development has been in a totally different direction. From the beginning of time the races of Aryan extraction have been deeply imbued with the conviction of the importance of law. Yet it was reserved for the Romans to develop this instinct, and they succeeded because to them alone among the Aryans was possible the consolidation of the State. The law was the foundation of personal right; the State was based upon the sacrifice of that personal right, and the delegation of personal power for the common weal. If we realise that, we recognise the immense value of the inheritance bequeathed to us by the Romans. Without the great quality of patriotism this would have been impossible.
The spot, upon which the Roman had settled had little physically to recommend it. There was no romantic scenery, there were no lofty mountains, no rushing rivers. The seven mean hills, the yellow mud of the Tiber, the fever-stricken marshes, a soil poor and unproductive, were not features to captivate the imagination. But the Roman loved it and cherished it in his heart of hearts. Surrounded by hostile tribes, his early history was one long struggle for life, in which his great qualities always won the day. Once defeated, he would have been wiped off the face of the earth: strength of character, deter-

mination, courage above proof, saved him, and in the end made him the conqueror of the world. There was no need in his case to pass laws enforcing valour as in the case of Sparta, making men brave, as it were, by act of Parliament. There was no fear of his turning traitor; he was loyal to the core. His home, his family, his fatherland were sacred, the deeply treasured objects of his worship, a religion in themselves. Self was laid on one side — the good of the community was everything. It was the idea of the family carried into statecraft. One word represented it, Patria, the fatherland, and the man who worked for the Patria was the ideal statesman.
Is it fair, asks Chamberlain, to call the Roman a conqueror or invader? He thinks not. He was driven to war not by the desire of conquest or of aggrandisement, but by the desperate determination to maintain his home or die. With the defeat and disappearance of the surrounding tribes, he found himself ever compelled to push his outposts farther and farther still; it was self-preservation, not the lust of conquest, which armed the Roman. For him war was a political necessity, and no people ever possessed the political instinct in so high a degree.
The struggle with Carthage was a case in point. Historians from the earliest times, from Polybius to Mommsen, have denounced the barbarity shown by the Romans in the extermination of Carthage. Chamberlain in a few convincing paragraphs teaches us what was the real issue. He shows us that annihilation was an absolute necessity. Rome and Carthage could not exist together. The fight was for the supremacy in the Mediterranean, and therefore for the mastery of the world. On the one side was the civilising influence of Rome, colonising under

laws so beneficent that nations even came to petition that they might be placed under her rule: on the other side a system of piratical colonisation undertaken in the sole cause of gain, the abolition of all freedom, the creation of artificial wants in the interest of trade, no attempt at legal organisation beyond the imposition of taxes, slavery, a religion of the very basest in which human sacrifices were a common practice. The Roman felt that it must be war to the knife without quarter. In his own interest, and, though he knew it not, in that of the world, there could be nothing short of extermination. “Delenda est Carthago” was the cry. Had he failed, had the piracy of the Semitic combination of Phoenicians and Babylonians won the day against the law and order of the Aryan, it is not too much to say that culture and civilisation would have come to a standstill, and the development of the nineteenth century would have been an impossibility, or at any rate hopelessly retarded. “It is refreshing,” writes Chamberlain, “for once to come across an author who, like Bossuet, simply says, ’Carthage was taken and destroyed by Scipio, who herein proved himself worthy of his great ancestor,’ without any outburst of moral indignation, without the conventional phrase, ‘all the misery that later burst upon Rome was retribution for this crime.’ ” Caesar rebuilt Carthage, and it became a congeries of all the worst criminals, Romans, Greeks, Vandals, all rotten to the very marrow of their bones. It must have been something like Port Said in the early days some forty years ago, which seemed to be the trysting-place of the world’s rascaldom: those who remember it can form some idea of what that second Carthage of Caesar’s must have been.

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

pressure of these born dogmatists and fanatics, all freedom of thought and of belief would have vanished from the world: the flat materialistic conception of God would have been our religion, pettifoggery our philosophy. This is no fancy picture, there are too many facts crying aloud: for what is that stiff, narrow-minded, spiritually cramped dogmatising of the Christian Church, such as no Aryan people ever dreamt of; what is that bloodthirsty fanaticism disgracing the centuries down to the nineteenth, that curse of hatred fastening on to the religion of love from the very beginning, from which Greek and Roman, Indian and Chinese, Persian and Teuton, turn with a shudder? What is it if not the shadow of that Temple in which sacrifice was offered to the God of wrath and of revenge, a black shadow cast over the young generation of heroes striving out of the Darkness into the Light?“
With the help of Rome, Europe escaped from the chaos of Asia. The imaginative Greek was ever looking towards Asia — to him the East called. The practical Roman transferred the centre of gravity of culture to find an eternal home in the West, so that Europe “became the beating heart and the thinking brain of all mankind.“ The Aryan had mastered the Semite for all time.
It comes somewhat as a surprise to find Rome, the ideal Republic, pointed to as the fountain-head from which the conception of Constitutional Monarchy is drawn. The principle of Roman Law and the Roman State was, as we have seen, that of the rights of the individual and his power to choose representatives. In the course of time when Rome ceased to be Rome, when she fell under the rule of half-breeds from Africa, aliens from Asia Minor,

baseborn men from Illyria, not chosen by the people, but elected by the army; when she had ceased even to be the capital of her own Empire; one would have thought that the decay of the Republic would have been the end of all the constitutional principles which it had established. But it was not so. The jurists in the service of Diocletian, an Illyrian shepherd, of Galerius, an Illyrian cowherd, of Maximinus, an Illyrian swineherd, were the men who based the imperial conception upon the theory of the will of the people, upon the same power which had elected the consuls and the other officers of the ancient State. Never before had the world beheld such a phenomenon. “Despots had ruled as direct descendants of the Gods, as in the case of the Egyptians and the Japanese of to-day, or as in Israel as representatives of the Godhead, or again by the Jus Gladii — the right of the sword.“ The soldier-emperors who had made themselves masters of the Roman Empire founded their rights as autocrats upon the constitutional law of the Republic. There was no usurpation, only delegation pure and simple. To this we owe the conception of the Sovereign and the Subject.
In the meantime Christianity had become a power; and with it had taken place the abolition of slavery in Europe. Only a Sovereign could abolish slavery — that we saw in Russia in 1862. The nobles would never have given up their slaves, who were their property, their goods and chattels; far rather would they have made free men into bondsmen. But the establishment of the monarchical principle has been the main pillar of law and order and of that civic freedom from which, as we see, it originally sprang: it is one proof of the great debt of gratitude which Europe owes to ancient Rome. It is not the only one.

It would be an impertinence were I to attempt to discuss Roman Law. The treatment of the subtleties and intricacies of a highly technical subject must be left to those who have made of them a special study. Yet it is impossible to pass over in silence the effect of the great legacy which the world has inherited from Rome. The effect is an historical fact and must be as patent to the layman as to the professed jurist. What Greece did for the higher aesthetic culture, that Rome did for law, good government and statecraft. The one made life beautiful, the other made it secure. As a poet, or as a philosopher, the Roman was insignificant; he had not even an equivalent for either word in his language; he must borrow the name, as he borrowed the idea, from the Greek. But in the practical direction of the life of the individual, of the life of the State, he remains, after more than twenty centuries, the unrivalled master. The pages in which Chamberlain brings into relief the noble qualities of the Roman character are, to my thinking, among the best and most eloquent in his book, and they should be read not without profit in an age which is singularly impatient of discipline. For after listening to Chamberlain we must come away convinced that it was discipline which made the Roman what he was. He learnt to obey that he might learn to command, and so he became the ruler of the world. That his conception of the law has become the model upon which all jurisprudence has been moulded, the State as he founded it being based upon the great principles of reciprocity and self-sacrifice on the one side and of protection of the sanctity of private rights on the other, is a fact which bears lasting testimony to the force of Roman character. There have

been great jurists in many nations — professors learned in the law — laws have been amplified and changed to meet circumstances; but no single nation has ever raised such a legal monument as that of the Romans, which, according to Professor Leist, is “the everlasting teacher for the civilised world and will so remain.“
It is interesting to consider wherein lay the difference between Greek and Roman legislation. How came it, asks Chamberlain, that the Greeks, mentally so incomparably superior to the Romans, were able to achieve nothing lasting, nothing perfect, in the domain of law? The reason he gives is simple enough — simple and convincing. The Roman started with the principle of the family, and on the basis of the family he raised the structure of State and Law. The Greek, on the contrary, ignored the family, and took the State as his starting-point. Even the law of inheritance was so vague that questions in connection with it were left by Solon to the decision of the Courts. In Rome the position of the Father as King in his own house, the rank assigned to the Wife as house-mistress, the reverential respect for matrimony, these were great principles of which the Greeks knew nothing; but they were the principles upon which the existence of the private man depended, upon which the Res Publica was founded. The Jus Privatum and the Jus Publicum were inseparable, and from them sprang the Jus Gentium, the law of nations. The laws of Solon, of Lycurgus and others have withered and died; but the laws of Rome remain a stately and fruit-bearing tree, under whose wholesome shade the civilisation of Europe has sprung up and flourished.
Few men have approached a great subject in a loftier

spirit of reverence than that in which Chamberlain deals with what, to him, as to all of us, is the one great and incomparable event in the whole story of our planet. “No battle, no change of dynasty, no natural phenomenon, no discovery possesses a significance which can be compared with that of the short life upon earth of the Galilean. His birth is, in a sense, the beginning of history. The nations that are not Christian, such as the Chinese, the Turks and others have no history; their story is but a chronicle on the one hand of ruling houses, butcheries and the like, and on the other, represents the dull, humble, almost bestially happy life of millions that sink in the night of time without leaving a trace.“
With the dogmas of the Church or Churches, Chamberlain has scant sympathy, and on that account he will doubtless be attacked by swarms as spiteful as wasps and as thoughtless. And yet how thoroughly imbued with the true spirit of Religion, as apart from Churchcraft, is every line that he has written! Christ was no Prophet, as Mahomet dubbed him. He was no Jew. The genealogies of St. Matthew and St. Luke trace to Joseph, but Joseph was not His father. The essence of Christ‘s significance lies in the fact that in Him God was made man. Christ is God, or rather since, as St. Thomas Aquinas has shown, it is easier to say what God is not than what He is, it is better to invert the words and say God is Christ, and so to avoid explaining what is known by what is not known. Such are but a few ideas of the author culled at random and from memory. But (and here is the stone of offence against which the Churchman will stumble) “it is not the Churches that form the strength of Christianity, but that Fountain

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

to be as Christ was, to live as Christ lived, to strive as Christ died, that is the Kingdom of Heaven, that is eternal Life.“
As I sit writing I can see on a shelf a whole row of books written on Buddhism by eminent scholars and missionaries, comparing its doctrines with those of the Saviour. It is not too much to say that the sum of all the wisdom and learning of that little library of Buddhism is contained in the few paragraphs of which I have given the kernel. Chamberlain in burning words points out how radiant is the doctrine of hope preached by the Saviour — where is there room for pessimism since the Kingdom of God is within us? — and he contrasts, the teaching of our Lord with the dreary forebodings of the Old Testament, where all is vanity, life is a shadow, we wither like grass. The Jewish writers took as gloomy a view of the world as the Buddhists. But our Lord who went about among the people and loved them, taking part in their joys and in their sorrows — His was a teaching of love and sympathy, and above all of hope. Christ did not retire into the wilderness to seek death and annihilation. He came out of the wilderness to bring life eternal. Buddha represents the senile decay of a culture that has finished its life: Christ represents the Birth of a new day, of a new civilisation dawning under the sign of the Cross, raised upon the ruins of the old world, a civilisation at which we must work for many a long day before it may be worthy to be called by His name.
Chamberlain is careful to tell us that he does not intend to lift the veil which screens the Holy of Holies of his own belief. But it must be clear from such utterances as those upon which I have drawn above, how

noble and how exalted is the conception of Christ and of His teaching which is borne in on the mind of one of the foremost thinkers of our day. He draws his inspiration at the fountain head. For the dogmas of oecumenical councils, for the superstitions and fables of monks, he has an adequate respect: he preaches Christ and Him crucified: that is to him all-sufficing. Can there be a purer ideal?
It is this same lofty conception which accounts for the contrast which this protestant layman draws between Catholicism and the hierarchy of Rome. For the former he has every sympathy: upon the latter he looks as a hindrance to civilisation and to the essential truths of Religion. How could it be otherwise with an institution which until the year 1822 kept under the ban of the Index every book which should dare to contest the sublime truth that the sun goes round the Earth? The whole Roman system, hierarchical and political, is in direct opposition to the development of Indo-European culture, of which the “Germane“ constitutes the highest expression. The Catholic, on the other hand, when not choked by the mephitic vapours of Roman dogma and Roman imperialism, left free to follow the simple teaching of the cross, and to practise so far as in him lies the example of the Saviour, is worthy of all the respect which is due to the true Christian of whatsoever denomination he may be. He at any rate is no enemy to the Truth.
Very striking are the passages in which Chamberlain points out the ambiguous attitude of our Lord towards Jewish thought and the religion of which His teaching was the antithesis. How he brushed aside the narrow

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

In the Epistle to the Romans the fall of man is given as an historical event; our Lord born “from the seed of David according to the flesh“ is declared to be the son of God; Israel is the people of God, the good olive-tree into which the branches of the wild olive-tree, the Gentiles, may be “grafted.“ The death of the Messiah is an atoning sacrifice in the Jewish sense, &c. &c., all purely Jewish ideas preached by the man who hated the Jews. When we read these contradictions of the man‘s self we may say of St. Paul‘s epistles as St. Peter did, in another sense, “in which are some things hard to be understood.“
The influence of Judaism on Indo-European civilisation is a subject upon which the author of the Grundlagen dwells with special stress. He cannot withhold his admiration from the sight of that one small tribe standing out amid the chaos of nationalities, which was the legacy of the fallen Roman Empire, “like a sharply cut rock in the midst of a shapeless sea,“ maintaining its identity and characteristics in the midst of a fiery vortex where all other peoples were fused into a molten conglomerate destroying all definition. The Jew alone remained unchanged. His belief in Jehovah, his faith in the promises of the prophets, his conviction that to him was to be given the mastery of the world — these were the articles of his creed, a creed which might be summed up as belief in himself. Obviously to Chamberlain the Jew is the type of pure Race, and pure Race is what he looks upon as the most important factor in shaping the destinies of mankind. Here he joins issue with Buckle, who considered that climate and food have been the chief agents in mental and physical development. Rice as a staple

food Buckle held to be the explanation of the special aptitudes of the Indian Aryans. The error is grotesque. As Chamberlain points out, rice is equally the food of the Chinese, of the hard-and-fast materialists who are the very antipodes of the idealist, metaphysical Aryans. In the matter of climate Chamberlain might have brought the same witnesses into court. There are more variations of climate in China than in Europe. The climate of Canton differs as much from that of Peking as from that of St. Petersburg. The Chinaman of the north speaks a different language from that of the south, though the ideographic script is the same: his food is different, the air that he breathes is different: but the racial characteristics remain identical.
Race and purity of blood are what constitute a type, and nowhere has this type been more carefully preserved than among the Jews. I remember once calling upon a distinguished Jewish gentleman. Mr. D‘Israeli, as he was then, had just left him. “What did you talk about?“ I asked at haphazard. “Oh,“ said my host, “the usual thing — the Race.“ No one was more deeply penetrated with the idea of the noble purity of “the Race“ than Lord Beaconsfield. No one believed more fully in the influence of the Jew working alongside of the Indo-European. With what conviction does he insist upon this in Coningsby!
That Race, however, does not drop ready-made from the skies is certain; nature and history show us no single example either among men or beasts of a prominently noble and distinctly individual race which is not the result of a mixture. Once the race established it must be preserved. The English constitute a Race and

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

plight were the support of the Jews to be withdrawn; indeed many noble foundations owe their existence to them. Politically too they have rendered great services: one instance which Chamberlain himself quotes is the settlement of the French indemnity after the war of 1870. Bismarck was represented by a Jew, and the French on their side appointed a Jew to meet him, and these two Jews belonged to the Ashkenazim, not to the noble Sephardim.
Who and what then is the Jew, this wonderful man who during the last hundred years has attained such a position in the whole civilised world?
Of all the histories of the ancient world there is none that is more convincing, none more easily to be realised, than that of the wanderings of the patriarch Abraham. It is a story of four thousand years ago, it is a story of yesterday, it is a story of to-day. A tribe of Bedouin Arabs with their womenkind and children and flocks flitting across the desert from one pasture to another is a sight still commonly seen — some of us have even found hospitality in the black tents of these pastoral nomads, where the calf and the foal and the child are huddled together as they must have been in Abraham‘s day. Such a tribe it was that wandered northward from the city of Ur on the fringe of the desert, on the right bank of the Euphrates, northward to Padan Aram at the foot of the Armenian Highlands; six hundred kilometres as the crow flies, fifteen hundred if we allow for the bends of the river and for the seeking of pasture. From Padan Aram the tribe travels westward to Canaan, thence south to Egypt and back again to Canaan. It is possible that the names of the patriarchs may have been

used to indicate periods, but however that may be, these journeys long in themselves, and complicated by the incumbrances of flocks and herds, occupied a great space in time; there were moreover long halts, residences lasting for centuries in the various countries which were traversed, during which intermarriages took place with the highly civilised peoples with whom the wanderers came in contact.
The Bible story, ethnology, the study of skulls and of racial types, all point to the fact that the Jewish people, the descendants of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, united in themselves the five great qualifications which Chamberlain holds to be necessary for the establishment of a powerful race. First, to start with, a strong stock. This the Jew possessed in his Arab origin. No type, surely, was ever so persistent as that of the Bedouin Arab of the desert, the same to-day as he was thousands of years ago. Secondly, inbreeding. Thirdly, such inbreeding not to be at haphazard but carefully carried out, the best mating only with the best. Fourthly, intermarriage with another race or races. Fifthly, here again careful selection is essential. The Jewish race, built up under all these conditions, was, as we have seen, once formed, kept absolutely pure and uncontaminated. Of what happens where these laws are not observed the mongrels of the South American republics — notably of Peru — furnish a striking example.
In the days of the Roman Republic the influence of the Israelite was already felt. It is strange to read of Cicero, who could thunder out his denunciations of a Catiline, dropping his voice in the law courts when of the Jews he spoke with bated breath lest he should incur

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

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

him his wonderful self-confidence, his toughness of character, which could overcome every difficulty, and triumph over the hatred of other races? It was his belief in the sacred books of the law, the Thora: his faith in the promises of Jehovah: his certainty of belonging to the chosen people of God. The influence of the books of the Old Testament has been far-reaching indeed, but nowhere has it exercised more power than in the stablishing of the character of the Jew. If it means so much to the Christian, what must it not mean to him? It is his religion, the history of his race, and his individual pedigree all in one. Nay! it is more than all that: it is the attesting document of his covenant with his God.
Within the compass of a few pages Chamberlain has performed what amounts to a literary feat: he has made us understand the condition of Europe and of the chief countries of the Mediterranean littoral at the time of the first symptoms of decay in the power of Rome. It was the period of what he calls the “Völker-chaos,“ a hurly-burly of nationalities in which Greeks and Romans, Syrians, African mongrels, Armenians, Gauls and Indo-Europeans of many tribes were all jumbled up together — a seething, heterogeneous conflicting mass of humanity in which all character, individuality, belief and customs were lost. In this witches‘ Sabbath only the Jew maintained his individuality, only the Teuton preserved the two great characteristics of his race, freedom and faith —

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

the Jew the witness of the past; the Teuton the power of the future.
They were a wonderful people, these tall men with the fair hair and blue eyes, warriors from their birth, fighting for fighting‘s sake, tribe against tribe, clan against clan, so that Tiberius, looking upon them as a danger, could think of no better policy than to leave them alone to destroy one another. But the people who held in their hands the fate of mankind were not to be got rid of like so many Kilkenny cats. Their battlesomeness made them a danger to the State — to a Roman Emperor, ever under the shadow of murder, their trustworthiness made them the one sure source from which he could recruit his bodyguard. But they were not mere fighting machines, though war was to them a joy and a delight. From their Aryan ancestors, from the men to whom the poems of the Rigveda were a holy writ, they had received, instilled in their blood, a passion for song and for music, an imagination which revelled in all that is beautiful, and which loved to soar into the highest realms of thought. And so it came to pass that when in the fulness of time they absorbed the power of Europe, they knew how to make the most of the three great legacies which they had inherited: poetry and art from the Greeks, law and statecraft from the Romans, and, greatest of all, the teaching of Christ. By them, with these helps, was founded the culture of the nineteenth century.
In the descendants of such men it is not surprising to see the union of the practical with the ideal. A Teuton writes The Criticism of Pure Reason. A Teuton invents the steam-engine. “The century of Bessemer and Edison is equally the century of Beethoven and Richard Wagner.

… Newton interrupts his mathematical inquiries to write a commentary on the Revelation of St. John. Crompton troubles himself with the invention of the spinning mule, that he may have more leisure to devote to his one love — music. Bismarck, the statesman of blood and iron, in the critical moments of his life causes the sonatas of Beethoven to be played to him.“ Whoso does not realise all this, fails to understand the essence of the Teuton character, and is unable to judge of the part which it has played in the past and is still playing in the present.
The Goths, who of course were Teutons, have been, as Gibbon puts it, “injuriously accused of the ruin of antiquity.“ Their very name has passed into a byword for all that is barbarous and destructive; yet, as a matter of fact, it was Theodosius and his followers who, with the help of the Christian fanatics, destroyed the Capitol and the monuments of ancient art, whereas it was Theodoric, the Ostrogoth, on the contrary, who issued edicts for the preservation of the ancient glories of Rome. Yet “this man could not write; for his signature he had to use a metal stencil…. But that which was beautiful, that which the nobler spirits of the Chaos of Peoples hated as a work of the devil, that the Goth at once knew how to appreciate: to such a degree did the statues of Rome excite his admiration that he appointed a special official for their protection.“ Who will deny the gift of imagination in the race which produced a Dante (his name Alighieri a corruption of Aldiger, taken from his grandmother who was of a Goth family from Ferrara), a Shakespeare, a Milton, a Goethe, a Schiller, not to speak of many other great and lesser lights? Who

will dispute the powers of thought of a Locke, a Newton, a Kant, a Descartes? We have but to look around us in order to see how completely our civilisation and culture are the work of the Germane.
Freedom, above all things Freedom, was the watchword of the Germane — Dante taking part with the Bianchi against the Neri and Pope Boniface; Wycliffe rebelling against the rule of the Church of Rome; Martin Luther leading a movement which was as much political as it was religious, or even more so; all these were apostles of Freedom. The right to think and to believe, and to live according to our belief, is that upon which the free man insists: our enjoyment of it is the legacy of those great men to us. Without the insistence of the Germane religious toleration would not exist to-day.
We have seen that Chamberlain takes the year one — the birth of our Lord — as the first great starting-point of our civilisation. The second epoch which he signalises as marking a fresh departure is the year 1200. The thirteenth century was a period of great developments. It was a period full of accomplishment and radiant with hope. In Germany the founding and perfecting of the great civic league known as the Hansa, in England the wresting of Magna Charta from King John by the Barons, laid the foundation of personal freedom and security. The great religious movement in which St. Francis of Assisi was the most powerful agent “denied the despotism of the Church as it did the despotism of the State, and annihilated the despotism of wealth.“ It was the first assertion of freedom to think. Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus, Albertus Magnus and Roger Bacon were leaders, the first two in philosophical thought, the last two in

modern natural science. In poetry, and not in poetry alone but in statecraft, Dante towers above all those of his day; and yet there were many poets, singers whose names are still famous, while at the same time lived Adam de la Halle, the first great master in counterpoint. Among painters we find such names as Niccolo Pisani, Cimabue, Giotto, from whom sprang the new school of art. And while these men were all working each at his own craft, great churches and cathedrals and monuments were springing up, masterpieces of the Gothic architect‘s skill. Well did the thirteenth century deserve the title given to it by Fiske, “the glorious century.“ *
When we reach these times we stand on fairly firm ground. The details of history, when we think how the battle rages round events which have taken place in our own times [for instance, the order for the heroic mistake of the Balaclava charge, where “some one had blundered “] may not always command respect, but the broad outlines are clear enough. We are no longer concerned with the deciphering of an ambiguous cuneiform inscription. The

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

works of the great men testify, and their witness commands respect.
The second volume of the Grundlagen opens with a chapter entitled “Religion“ — a chapter which leaves upon the mind of the reader a vivid impression of the superstitions and myths which gave birth to the dogmas of the Christian Church in its early years, dogmas the acceptance or rejection of which was decided by the votes of Councils of Bishops, many of whom could neither read nor write. It seems incredible that such sublime questions as those of the nature of the Godhead, the relation of the Father to the Son, Eternal Punishment and others, should have been settled by a majority of votes “like the imposition of taxes by our Parliaments.“ In the dark ages of Christianity, Judaism, Indian mythology, Egyptian mysteries and magic, were woven into a chequered woof, which was an essential contradiction of the touching simplicity of our Lord‘s teaching. It was a strange moment in the world‘s history, and one which lent itself to the welding together of utterly dissimilar elements. In the Chaos of Peoples, all mixed up in the weirdest confusion, the dogma-monger found his opportunity. Judaism, which up to that time had been absolutely confined to the Jews, was clutched at with eagerness by men who were tired of the quibbles, the riddles and the uncertainties of the philosophers. Here was something solid, concrete; a creed which preached facts, not theories, a religion which announced itself as history. In the international hodgepodge, a jumble in which all specific character, all feeling of race or country had been lost, the Asiatic and Egyptian elements of this un-Christian Christianity, this travesty of our Lord‘s teaching, found ready acceptance. The

seed bed was ready and the seed germinated and prospered greatly. In vain did the nobler spirits, the wiser and more holy-minded of the early Fathers raise their voices against gross superstitions borrowed from the mysteries of Isis and of Horus. The Jews and dogma triumphed. The religion of Christ was too pure for the vitiated minds of the Chaos of Peoples, and perhaps dogma was a necessity, a hideous evil, born that good might arise. Men needed a Lord who should speak to them as slaves: they found him in the God of Israel. They needed a discipline, a ruling power; they found it in the Imperial Church of Rome.
Conversion to Christianity was in the days of the Empire far less a question of religious conviction than one of Law arbitrarily enforced for political reasons by autocrats who might or might not be Christians. Aurelian, a heathen, established the authority of the Bishop of Rome at the end of the third century. Theodosius made heresy and heathenism a crime of high treason. Lawyers and civil administrators were made Bishops — Ambrosius even before he was baptized — that they might enforce Christianity, as a useful handmaid in government and discipline. As the power of the Empire dwindled, that of the Church grew, until the Caesarism of the Papacy was crystallised in the words of Boniface VIII., “Ego sum Caesar, ego sum Imperator.“
In vain did men of genius, as time went on and the temporal claims of the Popes became intolerable, rise in revolt against it. Charlemagne, Dante, St. Francis, all tried to separate Church from State. But the Papacy stood its ground, firm as the Tarpeian Rock, immutable as the Seven Hills themselves. It held to the inheritance

which came to it not from St. Peter, the poor fisherman of the Sea of Galilee, but from the Caesars, like whom the Bishops of Rome claimed to be Sovereigns over the world. How much more tolerant the early Popes were in religious matters than in temporal is a point which Chamberlain forcibly brings out: they might bear with compromise in the one; in the other they would not budge an inch. Like the Phoenix in the fable, out of its own ashes the Roman Empire arose in a new form, the Papacy.
It is not possible here to dwell upon our author‘s contrast between St. Paul and Augustine, that wonderful African product of the Chaos, in whom the sublime and the ridiculous went hand in hand, who believed in the heathen Gods and Goddesses as evil spirits, who took Apuleius and his transformation into an ass seriously, to whom witches and sorcerers, and a dozen other childish fancies of the brain, were realities. We must leave equally untouched his interesting sketches of Charlemagne and Dante and their efforts at Reformation. His main object in this chapter is to show the position of the Church at the beginning of the thirteenth century. The Papacy was in its glory. Its doctrines, its dogmas and its temporal supremacy had been enforced — politically it stood upon a pinnacle. The proudest title of the Caesars had been that of Pontifex Maximus. The Pontifex Maximus was now Caesar.
And the present position — what of to-day? The Church of Rome is as solid as ever it was. The Reformation achieved much politically. It achieved freedom. But as the parent of a new and consistent religion, Protestantism has been a failure. Picking and choosing, accepting and rejecting, it has cast aside some of the

dogmas of the early days of the Chaos, but it remains a motley crowd of sects without discipline, all hostile to one another, all more or less saturated with the tenets of the very Church against which they rebelled. Rome alone remains consistent in its dogmas, as in its claims, and, purged by the Reformation of certain incongruous and irreconcilable elements, has in religion rather gained than lost strength. It is easy to see what difficulties the lack of unity creates for Protestant missionaries. Church men, Chapel men, Calvinists, Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, Congregationalists and Heaven knows how many more, all pulling against one another! and the Roman Catholic Church against them all! The religion of Christ as He taught it absolutely nowhere! Small wonder that the heathen should grin and be puzzled.
The building up of the ideal State as we know it to-day was the result of two mighty struggles which raged during the first twelve centuries of our era. The first, as we have seen, was the fight for power between the Caesars and the Popes for the Empire of the world in which now one, now the other, had the upper hand. The second was the struggle between “Universalism“ and “Nationalism,“ that is to say, between the idea on the one hand of a boundless Empire, whether under Caesar or Pope, and on the other a spirit of nationality within sure bounds, and a stubborn determination to be free from either potentate, which ended in the organisation of independent States and the triumph of the Teuton. His rise meant the dawn of a new culture, not as we are bidden to remember a Renaissance in the sense of the calling back into life of a dead past, but a new birth into freedom, a new birth in which the cramping shackles, the

levelling influences of the Imperium Romanum, of the Civitas Dei, were cast aside — in which at last, after long centuries of slavery, men might live, thinking and working and striving according to their impulses, believing according to the faith that was in them.
Independent statecraft then, as opposed to the all-absorbing Imperium, was the work of the rebellious Teuton, the poet warrior, the thinker, the free man. It was a mighty victory, yet one in which defeat has never been acknowledged. From his prison in the Vatican the Pope continues to issue Bulls and Briefs hurling defiance at the world and at common sense; new saints are canonised, new dogmas proclaimed by oecumenical councils summoned from all parts of the inhabited world; and there are good men and, in many respects, wise men, who bow their heads and tremble. No one can say that the Papacy, though shorn of its earthly dominions, is not still a Power to be reckoned with: its consistency commands respect; but the Civitas Dei is a thing of the past: it is no more than a dream in the night, from which a weary old man wakens to find its sole remnant in the barren semblance of a medieval court, and the man-millinery of an out-of-date ceremonial. Truly a pathetic figure!
A new world has arisen. The thirteenth century was the turning-point. The building is even now not ended. But the Teuton was at work everywhere, and the foundations were well and truly laid. In Italy, north and south, the land was overrun with men of Indo-European race — Goths, Lombards, Norsemen, Celts. It was to them that was owing the formation of the municipalities and cities which still remain as witnesses of their labour.

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

so-called “Fathers of the Church“ there are brilliant exceptions. Perhaps the greatest of these was St. Augustine. He was a good and a holy man, but even his great brain, as we have seen, was saturated with Hellenic mythology, Egyptian magic and witchcraft, Neoplatonism, Judaism, Romish dogmatism. If we cite him as an irrefutable authority on a point of dogma, we should, to be consistent, go a step farther, and equally hold him as irrefutable when he inclines to a belief in Apuleius and his ass, and in his views as to Jupiter, Juno and the theocracy of Olympus. Religious dogmas, superstitions, so bred, could not be accepted by a man of Kant‘s intellect. They were noxious weeds to be rooted up and swept out of existence. Christ‘s teaching being, as he held it to be, perfect, could only be degraded by being loaded with heathen fables and tawdry inanities. It was the scum of the people who invented superstitions, the belief in witches and demons: it was the priestcraft who welded those false doctrines into the semblance of a religion to which they gave Christ‘s name. *
Kant said of himself that he was born too soon; that a century must elapse before his day should come. “The morning has dawned,“ as Chamberlain says in another book, † and “it is no mere chance that the first complete and exact edition of Kant‘s collected works and letters should have begun to appear for the first time in the

* The Christian religion, I would point out here, is not the only one which has suffered in this way. Nothing can be simpler, nothing purer in its way than Buddhism as the Buddha taught it. Yet see what the monks have made of it! The parallel is striking.
† Immanuel Kant, by Chamberlain. Bruckmann, Munich, 1905. The book which Chamberlain tells me that he himself considers the “most important“ of his works. It is published in German.

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

overwhelming heap of rubbish. Kant laid it bare, and revealed it to the world: his reward was the execration of men who were not worthy to unloose the latchet of his shoes: but the tables are turned now. His morning has indeed dawned, and the twentieth century is recognising the true worth of the man who, more than any other, has influenced the thought of the educated world. Goethe, indeed, said of Kant that he had so penetrated the minds of men that even those who had not read him were under his influence.
The last section of Chamberlain‘s ninth chapter is devoted to Art. He has kept one of his most fascinating subjects for the end. And who is better qualified to write upon it than he? Here is not the conventional aspect of Art contained in the technical dictionaries and encyclopaedias, “in which the last judgment of Michael Angelo, or a portrait of Rembrandt by himself, are to be seen cheek by jowl with the lid of a beer-mug or the back of an arm-chair.“ Art is here treated as the great creative Power, a Kingdom of which Poetry and Music, twin sisters, inseparable, are the enthroned Queens. To Chamberlain, as it was to Carlyle, the idea of divorcing Poetry from Music is inconceivable. “Music,“ wrote Carlyle, “is well said to be the speech of angels; in fact nothing among the utterances allowed to man is felt to be so divine. It brings us near to the Infinite.“ “I give Dante my highest praise when I say of his Divine Comedy that it is in all senses genuinely a song.“ Again: “All old Poems, Homer‘s and the rest, are authentically songs. I would say in strictness, that all right Poems are; that whatsoever is not sung is properly no Poem, but a piece of Prose cramped into jingling lines, to the

great injury of the grammar, to the great grief of the reader for the most part!“ so spoke Carlyle, and so speaks Chamberlain, with the masterly competence of a man who as critic and disciple, for he is both, has sat at the feet of the great Tone-Poet of our times. *
The hurry and bustle of this fussy age have largely robbed us of true enthusiasm, for which men substitute catchwords and commonplaces. All the more delight is there in meeting it in such sayings as this, coming straight from the heart of a man who is never in a hurry, whose convictions are the result of measured thought. “A Leonardo gives us the form of Christ, a Johann Sebastian Bach his voice, even now present to us.“ The influence of Religion upon Art, and in reflex action, that of Art upon Religion has never been better shown than in these words. Religion inspired the artists, furnished them with their subject; the artists, so inspired, have touched the hearts of thousands, infusing them with some perception, some share of their own inspiration.
Who can say how many minds have been turned to piety by the frescoes of Cimabue and Giotto picturing the life of St. Francis at Assisi? Who can doubt the influence of the Saint upon the painters of the early Italian school? Who has not felt the religious influence of the architect, the painter, the sculptor? Two great principles are laid down for us by Chamberlain in regard to Art.

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

First: Art must be regarded as a whole: as a “pulsing blood-system of the higher spiritual life.“ Secondly: all Art is subordinated to poetry. But not that which has been written is alone poetry: the creative power of poetry is widespread. As Richard Wagner said, “the true inventor has ever been the people. The individual cannot invent, he can only make his own that which has been invented.“ This I take it is the true spirit of folk-lore. If you think of it, the epic of Homer, the “mystic unfathomable song,“ as Tieck called it, of Dante, the wonders of Shakespeare, all prove the truth of Wagner‘s saying. The matter is there: then comes the magician: he touches it with his wand, and it lives! That is true creative art, the art which in its turn inspires, fathering all that is greatest and noblest in the world. It is the art upon which the culture of the nineteenth century has been founded and built.
Rich indeed have been the gifts which have been showered upon mankind between the thirteenth and the nineteenth centuries. New worlds have been discovered, new forces in nature revealed. Paper has been introduced, printing invented. In political economy, in politics, in religion, in natural science and dynamics there have been great upheavals all paving the way for that further progress for which we are apt to take too much credit to ourselves, giving too little to those glorious pioneers who preceded us, to the true founders of the century.
I have endeavoured to give some idea of the scope of Chamberlain‘s great work. I am very sensible of my inadequacy to the task, but it was his wish that I should

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

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

Höchstes Glück der Erdenkinder
Ist nur die Persönlichkeit.


January 8, 1909

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


THE translator desires to express his great obligation to Miss Elizabeth A. J. Weir, M.A., for reading through the manuscript; to his colleagues, Dr. Schlapp of Edinburgh, Dr. Scholle of Aberdeen, and Dr. Smith of Glasgow, for correcting portions of the proof; and above all to Lord Redesdale for his brilliant and illuminating introduction. Apart, however, from this, it is only just to say that Lord Redesdale has carefully read and re-read every page and revised many important passages.
The publisher wishes to associate himself with the translator in making this entirely inadequate acknowledgment to Lord Redesdale for the invaluable assistance that he has so generously rendered.

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Alles beruht auf Inhalt, Gehalt und Tüchtigkeit eines zuerst aufgestellten Grundsatzes und auf der Reinheit des Vorsatzes.


THE work of which this is the first Book is one that is not to be made up of fragments patched together, but one that has been conceived and planned out from the beginning as a complete and finished whole. The object, therefore, of this general introduction must be to give an idea of the scheme of the whole work when it shall have been brought to an end. It is true that this first book is, in form, complete in itself; yet it would not be what it is if it had not come into existence as a part of a greater conception. It is this greater conception that must be the subject of the preface to the “part which, in the first instance, is the whole.“
There is no need to dwell in detail upon the limitations which the individual must admit, when he stands face to face with an immeasurable world of facts. The mastery of such a task, scientifically, is impossible; it is only artistic power, aided by those secret parallels which exist between the world of vision and of thought, by that tissue which — like ether — fills and connects the whole world, that can, if fortune is favourable, produce a unity here which is complete, and that, too, though only fragments be employed to make it. If the artist does succeed in this, then his work has not

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

in pietra od in candido foglio
che nulla ha dentro, et evvi ci ch‘io vogilo!

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

who employs the methods of the artist. He should give shape, but only to that which is already there, not to that which his fancy may mirror. Philosophical history is a desert; fanciful history an idiot asylum. We must therefore demand that the artistic designer should have a positive tendency of mind and a strictly scientific conscience. Before be reasons, he must know: before he gives shape to a thing, he must test it. He cannot look upon himself as master, he is but a servant, the servant of truth.
These remarks will probably suffice to give the reader some notion of the general principles which have been followed in planning this work. We must leave the airy heights of philosophic speculation and descend to the earth. If in such undertakings the moulding and shaping of the materials at hand is the only task which the individual can entrust to himself, how is he to set about it in the present case?
The Nineteenth Century! It seems an inexhaustible theme, and so it really is; and yet it is only by including more that it becomes comprehensible and possible of achievement. This appears paradoxical, but it is nevertheless true. As soon as our gaze rests long and lovingly upon the past, out of which the present age developed amid so much suffering, as soon as the great fundamental facts of history are brought vividly home to us and rouse in our hearts violent and conflicting emotions with regard to the present, fear and hope, loathing and enthusiasm, all pointing to a future which it must be our work to shape, towards which too we must henceforth look with longing and impatience — then the great immeasurable nineteenth century shrivels up to relatively insignificant dimensions; we have no time to linger over details, we wish to keep nothing but the important features vividly and clearly before our minds, in order that we may know who we are and whither

we are tending. This gives a definite aim with a fair prospect of attaining it: the individual can venture now to begin the undertaking. The lines of his work are so clearly traced for him that he only requires to follow them faithfully.
The following is the outline of my work. In the “Foundations“ I discuss the first eighteen centuries of the Christian era with frequent reference to times more remote; I do not profess to give a history of the past, but merely of that past which is still living; as a matter of fact this involves so much, and an accurate and critical knowledge of it is so indispensable to every one who wishes to form an estimate of the present, that I am inclined to regard the study of the “Foundations“ of the nineteenth century as almost the most important part of the whole undertaking. A second book would be devoted to this century itself: naturally only the leading ideas could be treated in such a work, and the task of doing so would be very much lightened and simplified by the “Foundations,“ in which our attention had been continually directed to the nineteenth century. A supplement might serve to form an approximate idea of the importance of the century; that can only be done by comparing it with the past, and here the “Foundations“ would have prepared the ground; by this procedure, moreover, we should be able to foreshadow the future — no capricious and fanciful picture, but a shadow cast by the present in the light of the past. Then at last the century would stand out before our eyes clearly shaped and defined — not in the form of a chronicle or an encyclopaedia, but as a living “corporeal“ thing.
So much for the general outline. But as I do not wish it to remain as shadowy as the future, I shall give some more detailed information concerning the execution of my plan. As regards the results at

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


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

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


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

nineteenth century points onward into the future, it points also back into the past: in both cases a limitation is allowable only for the sake of convenience, it does not lie in the facts. In general I have regarded the year 1 of the Christian era as the beginning of our history and have given a fuller justification of this view in the introduction to the first part: but it will be seen that I have not kept slavishly to this scheme. Should we ever become true Christians, then certainly that which is here merely suggested, without being worked out, would become an historical actuality, for it would mean the birth of a new race: perhaps the twenty-fourth century, into which, roughly speaking, the nineteenth throws faint shadows, will be able to draw more definite outlines. Compelled as I have been to let the beginning and the end merge into an undefined penumbra, a clearly drawn middle line becomes all the more indispensable to me, and as a date chosen at random could not be satisfactory in this case, the important thing has been to fix the turning-point of the history of Europe. The awakening of the Teutonic peoples to the consciousness of their all-important vocation as the founders of a completely new civilisation and culture forms this turning point; the year 1200 can be designated the central moment of this awakening.
Scarcely any one will have the hardihood to deny that the inhabitants of Northern Europe have become the makers of the world‘s history. At no time indeed have they stood alone, either in the past or in the present; on the contrary, from the very beginning their individuality has developed in conflict with other individualities, first of all in conflict with that human chaos composed of the ruins of fallen Rome, then with all the races of the world in turn; others, too, have exercised influence — indeed great influence — upon the destinies of mankind, but then always merely as opponents of the men from

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

such as Alfred the Great, Charlemagne, Scotus Erigena and others had long ago proved their Teutonic individuality by their civilising activity. It is, however, not individuals, but communities, that make history; these individuals had been only pioneers. In order to become a civilising power the Teuton had to awaken and grow strong in the exercise far and wide of his individual will in opposition to the will of others forced upon him from outside. This did not take place all at once, neither did it happen at the same time in all the spheres of life; the choice of the year 1200 as turning-point is therefore arbitrary, but I hope, in what follows, to be able to justify it, and my purpose will be gained if I in this way succeed in doing away with those two absurdities — the idea of Middle Ages and that of a Renaissance — by which more than by anything else an understanding of our present age is not only obscured, but rendered directly impossible.
Abandoning these formulae which have but served to give rise to endless errors, we are left with the simple and clear view that our whole civilisation and culture of to-day is the work of one definite race of men, the Teutonic. * It is untrue that the Teutonic barbarian conjured up the so-called “Night of the Middle Ages“; this night followed rather upon the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of the raceless chaos of humanity which the dying Roman Empire had nurtured; but for the Teuton everlasting night would have settled upon the world; but for the unceasing opposition of the non-Teutonic peoples, but for that unrelenting hostility to everything Teutonic which has not yet died down among the racial chaos which has never been exterminated, we should have reached a stage of culture quite different

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

from that witnessed by the nineteenth century. It is equally untrue that our culture is a renaissance of the Hellenic and the Roman: it was only after the birth of the Teutonic peoples that the renaissance of past achievements was possible and not vice versa; and this rinascimento, to which we are beyond doubt eternally indebted for the enriching of our life, retarded nevertheless just as much as it promoted, and threw us for a long time out of our safe course. The mightiest creators of that epoch — a Shakespeare, a Michael Angelo — do not know a word of Greek or Latin. Economic advance — the basis of our civilisation — takes place in opposition to classical traditions and in a bloody struggle against false imperial doctrines. But the greatest mistake of all is the assumption that our civilisation and culture are but the expression of a general progress of mankind; not a single fact in history supports this popular belief (as I think I have conclusively proved in the ninth chapter of this book); and in the meantime this empty phrase strikes us blind, and we lose sight of the self-evident fact — that our civilisation and culture, as in every previous and every other contemporary case, are the work of a definite, individual racial type, a type possessing, like everything individual, great gifts but also insurmountable limitations. And so our thoughts float around in limitless space, in a hypothetical “humanity,“ and we pass by unnoticed that which is concretely presented and which alone effects anything in history, the definite individuality. Hence the obscurity of our historical groupings. For if we draw one line through the year 500, and a second through the year 1500, and call these thousand years the Middle Ages, we have not dissected the organic body of history as a skilled anatomist, but hacked it in two like a butcher. The capture of Rome by Odoacer and by Dietrich of Berne are only episodes in that entry of the Teutonic

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


If we ask ourselves when it is that we have the first sure indications that something new is coming into being, a new form of the world in place of the old shattered ruin, and of the prevailing chaos, we must admit that they are already to be met with in many places in the twelfth century (in Northern Italy even in the eleventh), they multiply rapidly in the thirteenth — the glorious century, as Fiske calls it — attain to a glorious early full bloom in the social and industrial centres in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, in art in the fifteenth and sixteenth, in science in the sixteenth and seventeenth, and in philosophy in the seventeenth and eighteenth. This movement does not advance in a straight line; in State and Church fundamental principles are at war with each other, and in the other spheres of life there is far too little consciousness to prevent men from ever and anon straying from the right path; but the all-important question we have to ask ourselves is, whether it is only interests that clash, or whether ideals, suggested by a definite individuality, are floating before the eyes of men; these ideals we do possess approximately since the thirteenth century; but we have not yet attained them, they are floating before us in the distance, and to this fact is due the feeling that we are still very deficient in the moral equilibrium and the aesthetic harmony of the ancients, but it is at the same time the basis of our hope for better things. When we glance backwards we are indeed entitled to cherish high hopes. And, I repeat, if when looking back we try to discover when the first shimmer of those rays of hope can be clearly seen, we find the time to be about the year 1200. In Italy the movement to found cities had begun in the eleventh century, that movement which aimed at the same time at the furtherance of trade and industry and

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

the great movement of religious feeling, the most powerful representative of which was Francis of Assisi (b. 1182) is a factor of deeper and more lasting influence; in it a genuinely democratic impulse makes itself apparent; the faith and life of men like Francis call in question the tyranny of Church as of State, and deal a death-blow to the despotism of money. “This movement,“ one of the authorities * on Francis of Assisi writes, “gives men the first forewarning of universal freedom of thought.“ At the same moment the avowedly anti-Catholic movement, that of the Albigenses, came into dangerous prominence in Western Europe. In another sphere of religious life some equally important steps were taken at the same time: after Peter Abelard (d. 1142) had unconsciously defended the Indo-European conception of religion against the Semitic, especially by emphasising the symbolic character of all religious ideas, two orthodox schoolmen, Thomas Aquinas and Duns Scotus, made in the thirteenth century an admission which was just as dangerous for the church dogma by conceding, in agreement with each other (though they were otherwise opponents), the right of existence to a philosophy which differed from theology. And while theoretical thinking here began to assert itself, other scholars, among whom Albertus Magnus (b. 1193) and Roger Bacon (b. 1214) are especially conspicuous, laid the foundations of modern natural science by turning the attention of men from logical disputes to mathematics, physics, astronomy and chemistry. Cantor (Vorlesungen über Geschichte der Mathematik, 2 Aufl. ii. 3) says that in the thirteenth century “a new era in the history of mathematical science“ began; this was especially the work of Leonardo of Pisa, who was the first to introduce to us the Indian (falsely called Arabian) numerical signs, and of Jordanus Saxo, of the family of Count Eberstein, who initiated

* Thode, Franz von Assisi, p. 4.

us into the art of algebraic calculation (also originally invented by the Hindoos). The first dissection of a human body — which was of course the first step towards scientific medicine — took place towards the end of the thirteenth century, after an interval of one thousand six hundred years, and it was carried out by Mondino de‘ Luzzi, of Northern Italy. Dante, likewise a child of the thirteenth century, also deserves mention here — indeed very special mention. “Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita“ is the first line of his great poem, and he himself, the first artistic genius of world-wide importance in the new Teutonic epoch of culture, is the typical figure at this turning-point of history, the point at which she has left behind her “the half of her way,“ and, after having travelled at break-neck speed downhill for centuries, sets herself to climb the steep, difficult path on the opposite slope. Many of Dante‘s sentiments in the Divina Comedia and in his Tractatus de monarchia appear to us like the longing glance of the man of great experience out of the social and political chaos surrounding him, towards a harmoniously ordered world; and such a glance was possible as a sure sign that the movement had already begun; the eye of genius is a ray of light that shows the way to others. *
But long before Dante — this point must not be overlooked — a poetical creative power had manifested itself

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

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

imitate, originate in that one century. In the meantime (shortly before 1200), the first purely secular university had been founded in Bologna, at which only jurisprudence, philosophy and medicine were taught. * We see in how many ways a new life began to manifest itself about the year 1200. A few names would prove nothing; but the fact that a movement embraces all lands and grades of society, that the most contradictory phenomena point backwards to a similar cause and forwards to a common goal, proves that we have here to deal not with an accidental and individual thing but with a great, general process which is maturing with unconscious imperativeness in the inmost heart of society. And that peculiar “decline in historical sense and historical understanding about the middle of the thirteenth century,“ to which different scholars have wonderingly called attention, † should be taken also, I think, in this connection: under the guidance of the Teutonic peoples men have just begun a new life; they have, so to speak, turned a corner in their course and even the nearest past has completely vanished from their sight: henceforth they belong to the future.
It is most surprising to have to chronicle the fact that exactly at this moment, when the new European world was arising out of chaos, the discovery of the remaining parts of the world also began, without which our blossoming Teutonic culture could never have developed its own peculiar power of expansion: in the second half of the thirteenth century Marco Polo made expeditions of discovery and thereby laid the foundations of our still incomplete knowledge of the surface of our planet. What is gained by this is, in the first place

* The theological faculty was not established till towards the end of the fourteenth century (Savigny).
† See Döllinger, Das Kaisertum Karls des Grossen (Akad. Vorträge iii. 156).

and apart from the widening of the horizon, the capability of expansion; this, however, denotes only something relative; the most important thing is that European authority may hope within a measurable space of time to encompass the earth and thereby no longer be exposed, like former civilisations, to the plundering raids of unlooked for and unbridled barbaric Powers.
So much to justify my choice of the thirteenth century as separating-line.
That there is, nevertheless, something artificial in such a choice I have admitted at the very beginning and I repeat it now; in particular one must not think that I attribute a special fateful importance to the year 1200: the ferment of the first twelve centuries of the Christian era has of course not yet ceased, it still confuses thousands and thousands of intellects, and on the other hand we may cheerfully assert that the new harmonious world began to dawn in the minds of individuals long before 1200. The rightness or wrongness of such a scheme is revealed only by its use. As Goethe says: “Everything depends on the fundamental truth, the development of which reveals itself not so easily in speculation as in practice: this is the touch-stone of what has been admitted by the intellect.“


In consequence of this fixing of the turning-point of our history, this book, which treats of the period up to the year 1800, falls naturally into two parts: the one deals with the period previous to the year 1200, the other the period subsequent to that year.
In the first part — the origins — I have discussed first the legacy of the old world, then the heirs and lastly the fight of the heirs for their inheritance. As everything new is attached to something already in existence, some-

thing older, the first fundamental question is, “What component parts of our intellectual capital are inherited?“ the second, no less important, is, “Who are we?“ Though the answering of these questions may take us back into the distant past, the interest remains always a present interest, because in the whole construction of every chapter, as well as in every detail of the discussion, the one all-absorbing consideration is that of the nineteenth century. The legacy of the old world forms still an important — often quite inadequately digested — portion of the very youngest world: the heirs with their different natures stand opposed to one another to-day as they did a thousand years ago; the struggle is as bitter, as confused as ever; the investigation of the past means therefore at the same time an examination of the too abundant material of the present. Let no one, however, regard my remarks on Hellenic art and philosophy, on Roman history and Roman law, on the teaching of Christ, or, again, on the Teutonic peoples and the Jews, &c., as independent academic treatises and apply to them the corresponding standard. I have not approached these subjects as a learned authority, but as a child of to-day that desires to understand the living present world and I have formed my judgments, not from the Aristophanic cloud-cuckoo-land of a supernatural objectivity, but from that of a conscious Teuton whom Goethe not in vain has warned:

Was euch nicht angehört,
Müsset ihr meiden;
Was euch das Inn‘re stört,
Dürft ihr nicht leiden!

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

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

our whole Teutonic culture is sick unto death (as I show in the ninth chapter), and this will mean its ruin if timely help does not come. We have stopped up the spring that welled up in our own hearts and made ourselves dependent upon the scanty, brackish water which the Bedouins of the desert draw from their wells. No people in the world is so beggarly-poor in religion as the Semites and their half-brothers the Jews; and we, who were chosen to develop the profoundest and sublimest religious conception of the world as the light, life and vitalising force of our whole culture, have with our own hands firmly tied up the veins of life and limp along like crippled Jewish slaves behind Jehovah‘s Ark of the Covenant! Hence my exhaustive treatment of the Jewish question: my object was to find a broad and strong foundation for so important a judgment.
The second part — the gradual rise of a new world — has in these “Foundations“ only one chapter devoted to it, “from the year 1200 to the year 1800.“ Here I found myself in a sphere which is pretty familiar even to the unlearned reader, and it would have been altogether superfluous to copy from histories of politics and of culture which are within the reach of all. My task was accordingly limited to shaping and bringing into clearer range than is usually the case the too abundant material which I could presume to be known — as material; and here again my one consideration was of course the nineteenth century, the subject of my work. This chapter stands on the border-line between the two parts, that now published and what is to follow; many things which in the preceding chapters could only be alluded to, not fully and systematically discussed, such for instance as the fundamental importance of Teutonicism for our new world and the value of our conceptions of progress and degeneration for the understanding of history, find complete treatment here; on the other hand, the short

sketch of development in the various spheres of life brings us hurriedly to the nineteenth century, and the tabular statement concerning knowledge, civilisation and culture, and their various elements points to the work of comparison which forms the plan of the supplement and gives occasion for many an instructive parallel: at the same moment as we see the Teuton blossom forth in his full strength, as though nothing had been denied him, and he were hurrying to a limitless goal, we behold also his limitations; and this is very important, for it is upon these last characteristics that his individuality depends.
In view of certain prejudices I shall probably have to justify myself for treating State and Church in this chapter as subordinate matters — or, more properly speaking, as phenomena among others, and not the most important. State and Church form henceforth, as it were, only the skeleton: the Church is an inner bone structure in which, as is usual, with advancing age an always stronger tendency to chronic anchylosis shows itself; the State develops more and more into the peripheric bone-cuirass, so well known in zoology, the so-called dermatoskeleton; its structure becomes always massier, it stretches over the “soft parts“ until at last in the nineteenth century it has grown to truly megalotheric dimensions and sets apart from the true course of life and, if I may say so, “ossifies“ an extremely large percentage of the effective powers of humanity as military and civil officials. This is not meant as criticism; the boneless and invertebrate animals have never, as is well known, played a great part in the world; it is besides far from my purpose to wish to moralise in this book; I wish merely to explain why in the second part I have not felt obliged to lay special stress upon the further development of Church and State. The impulse to their development had already been given in the thirteenth century, when nationalism

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


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

these “Foundations“ come to a close. The detailed plan of the “Nineteenth Century“ lies before me. In it I carefully avoid all artificial theorising and all attempts to find an immediate connection between the two parts. It is quite sufficient that the explanatory account of the first eighteen centuries has been already given even though frequent and express reference to it be not necessary, it will prove itself as the indispensable introduction; the supplement will then be devoted to drawing parallels and to the calculation of comparative values. Here I shall confine myself to considering one by one the most important phenomena of the century; the principal features of political, religious and social organisation, the course of development of the technical arts, the progress of natural science and the humanities, and, lastly, the history of the human mind as a thinking and creative power; everywhere, of course, only the principal currents will be emphasised and nothing but the highest achievements mentioned.
The consideration of these points is led up to by an introductory chapter on the “New Forces“ which have asserted themselves in this century and have given to it its characteristic physiognomy, but which could not be treated adequately within the limits of one of the general chapters. The press, for instance, is at the same time a political and a social power of the very first rank; its stupendous development in the nineteenth century it owes primarily to industry and art. I do not refer so much to the production of newspapers by timesaving machinery, &c., as to telegraphy, which supplies the papers with news, and to railways, which spread printed matter everywhere. The press is the most powerful ally of capitalism; on art, philosophy and science it cannot really exercise a distinct determining influence, but even here it can hasten or delay, and so exercise in a high degree a formative influence upon

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

for the work of assimilating this fragment of the “old world.“ There are still other “new forces“ which will have to be discussed in their proper place. The founding of modern chemistry, for example, is the starting-point of a new natural science; and the perfecting of a new artistic language by Beethoven is beyond doubt one of the most pregnant achievements in the sphere of art since the days of Homer; it gave men a new organ of speech, that is to say, a new power.
The supplement is intended, as I have said, to furnish a comparison between the “Foundations“ and the book which is to follow. This comparison I shall carry out point by point in several chapters, using the scheme of the first part; this method will, I think, be found to lead to many suggestive discoveries and interesting distinctions. Besides, it paves the way splendidly for the somewhat bold but indispensable glance into the future, without which our conception would not acquire complete plasticity; it is only in this way that we can hope to gain a bird‘s-eye view of the nineteenth century and so be able to judge it with perfect objectivity; this will be the end of my task.
Such then is the extremely simple and unartificial plan of the continuation. It is a plan which, perhaps, I may not live to carry out, yet I am obliged to mention it here, as it has to no small degree influenced the form of the present book.


In this general introduction I must also discuss briefly some specially important points, so that later we may not be detained by out-of-place theoretical discussions.
Almost all men are by nature “hero-worshippers“; and no valid objection can be urged against this healthy instinct. Simplification is a necessity of the human

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

is directed in particular towards the outside world, and here again we must say: but for the irresolution of Friedrich Wilhelm III., but for the want of principle in the House of Habsburg, but for the troubles in Spain, but for the criminal treatment of Poland just previously, no Napoleon had been possible! And if, in order to be quite clear on this point, we consult the biographies and correspondence of Napoleon, to see what were his aims and aspirations, we shall find that all of them remained unrealised, and that he sank back into the indistinguishable homogeneous mass, as clouds dissipate after a storm, as soon as the community rose to oppose the predominance of individual will. On the other hand, the radical change of our whole economic conditions of life, which no power on earth could prevent, the passing of a considerable portion of the property of nations into new hands, and further, the thorough remodelling of the relations of all parts of the earth, and so of all men, to one another, which we read of in the history of the world, took place in the course of the nineteenth century as the result of a series of technical discoveries in the sphere of quick transit and of industry, the importance of which no one even suspected. We need only read in this connection the masterly exposition in the fifth volume of Treitschke‘s Deutsche Geschichte. The depreciation of landed property, the progressive impoverishment of the peasant, the advance of industry, the rise of an incalculable army of industrial proletarians, and consequently of a new form of Socialism, a radical change of all political conditions: all this is a result of changed conditions of traffic and has been brought about, if I may so express it, anonymously, like the building of an ant‘s nest, in which each ant only sees the individual grains which it laboriously drags to the heap. The same, however, is true of ideas: they hold man in a tyrannical grasp, they clutch his mind as a bird of prey its quarry and no one can resist them; so long as any particular

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

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

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

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


There is, however, one exception. When we are dealing not with the mere power of observation, of comparison, of calculation, or with the inventive, industrial or intellectual activity struggling for existence, but with a purely creative activity, then Personality is everything. The history of art and philosophy is the history of individual men, the history of the really creative men of genius. Here nothing else counts. Whatever outside this is achieved within the sphere of philosophy — and much of importance is so achieved — belongs to science; in art it belongs to mechanical art, that is, to industry.
I lay all the more stress on this point, because at the present day regrettable confusion prevails with regard to it. The idea and consequently the word “Genius“ originated in the eighteenth century; they arose from the necessity of possessing a particular defining expression for “specifically creative minds.“ No less a thinker than Kant calls our attention to the fact that “the greatest discoverer in the sphere of science differs only in degree from the ordinary man, the Genius, on the other hand, differs specifically.“ This remark of Kant‘s is beyond doubt just, but we make the one reservation, that of extending — as we cannot help doing — the term “work of genius“ to every creation, in which the imagination plays a formative and predominant part, and in this connection the philosophic genius deserves the same place as the poetic or the plastic. Here let me say that I give to the word philosophy its old, wide signification, which embraced not only the abstract philosophy of reason, but natural philosophy, the philosophy of religion, and all thought which rises to the dignity of a philosophy of life. If the word genius is to retain a sense, we must employ it only of men who have everlastingly enriched our intellectual store by powerful

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


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

tendencies, not with events and personages, still the danger of too wide generalisations must not be overlooked. We are but too prone to sum up prematurely. It is this tendency that makes men so often hang, as it were, a ticket round the neck of the nineteenth century, even though they must know that it is utterly impossible by means of a single word to be just both to ourselves and to the past. A fixed idea of this kind is quite sufficient to render a clear comprehension of historical development impossible.
Quite commonly, for example, the nineteenth century is called the “century of natural science.“ When we remember what the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries have achieved in this very sphere, we must surely hesitate before bestowing any such title on the nineteenth. We have but continued to build and by our industry have discovered much, but whether we can point to a Copernicus and a Galileo, to a Kepler and a Newton, to a Lavoisier and a Bichat * appears to me at least doubtful. Cuvier‘s activity attains indeed to the dignity of philosophical importance, and the powers of observation and invention of men like Bunsen (the chemist) and Pasteur come remarkably near genius; of imperishable fame are men like Louis Agassiz, Michael Faraday, Julius Robert Mayer, Heinrich Hertz and perhaps some few others; but we must at least admit that their achievements do not surpass those of their predecessors. Some years ago a University teacher of the medical faculty with a fine reputation for theoretical as well as practical work remarked to me, “In the case of us scholars nowadays it is not so much a question of brain convolutions as of perseverance.“ It would indeed be false modesty, and an emphasising of the unimportant, to designate the nineteenth century the “century of perseverance.“ All the more so, since the

* He died in 1802.

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

thing that tends to strengthen genuine individuality is a real safety anchor. The brilliant series of Teutonic and Indian scholars has, half unconsciously, accomplished a great work at the right moment; now we too possess our “holy books,“ and what they teach is more beautiful and nobler than what the Old Testament sets forth. The belief in our strength, which the history of the nineteenth century gives us, has been intensified to an incalculable extent by this discovery of our independent capacity for much that is of the highest, and to which our relation was hitherto one of subjection: in particular the myth of the peculiar aptitude of the Jew for religion is finally exploded; for this later generations will owe a debt of gratitude to the nineteenth century. This is one of the greatest and most far-reaching achievements of our time, and so the title “the century of philology“ would be in a certain sense justified. In this connection we have mentioned another of the characteristic phenomena of the nineteenth century. Ranke had prophesied that our century would be a century of nationality; that was a correct political prognostic, for never before have the nations stood opposed to each other so clearly and definitely as antagonistic unities. It has, however, also become a century of races, and that indeed is in the first instance a necessary and direct consequence of science and scientific thinking. I have already said at the beginning of this introduction that science does not unite but dissects. That statement has not contradicted itself here. Scientific anatomy has furnished such conclusive proofs of the existence of physical characteristics distinguishing the races from each other that they can no longer be denied; scientific philology has discovered between the various languages fundamental differences which cannot be bridged over; the scientific study of history in its various branches has brought about similar results, especially by the

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


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

like to place myself, according to an old custom, under the protection of highly honoured men.
Lessing writes in his Briefe, die neueste Litteratur betreffend, that “history should not trouble with unimportant facts, should not burden the memory, but enlighten the understanding.“ Taken generally, this is saying too much. But in the case of a book which is directed not to historians but to the educated layman, the remark is perfectly justified. To enlighten the understanding, not to teach in the real sense of the word, but to suggest, to stimulate thoughts and conclusions, that is my aim.
Goethe differs somewhat from Lessing in his conception of the task of the historian. He says, “The best thing that we get from history is the enthusiasm it arouses.“ These words, too, I have kept in mind in the course of my work, for I am convinced that understanding, however well enlightened, avails little, if not united to enthusiasm. The understanding is the machine; the more perfect every detail in it, the more neatly every part fits into the other, the more efficient will it be, but only potentially, for, in order to be driven, it requires the motive-power, and the motive-power is enthusiasm. Perhaps, however, it is difficult to take Goethe‘s hint and wax enthusiastic over the nineteenth century, simply for this reason, that self-love is so contemptible; we wish to test ourselves strictly, and tend to under-estimate rather than over-estimate; may future ages judge us more leniently. I find it difficult to grow enthusiastic because the material element is so predominant in this century. Just as our battles have generally been won not by the personal superiority of individuals but by the number of the soldiers, or to put it more simply by the amount of food for powder, so in the very same way have treasures in gold and knowledge and discoveries been piled up. Things have increased in numbers and in bulk, men

have collected but not sifted; such, at any rate, has been the general tendency. The nineteenth century is essentially a century of accumulation, an age of transition and of the provisional; in other respects it is neither fish nor flesh; it dangles between empiricism and spiritism, between liberalismus vulgaris, as it has been wittily called, and the impotent efforts of senile conservatism, between autocracy and anarchism, doctrines of infallibility and the most stupid materialism, worship of the Jew and anti-Semitism, the rule of the millionaire and proletarian government. Not ideas, but material gains, are the characteristic feature of the nineteenth century. The great thoughts that have cropped up here and there, the mighty creations of art, from Faust, Part II., to Parsifal, have brought undying fame to the German people, but they are for future times. After the great social revolutions and the momentous intellectual achievements (at the close of the eighteenth and the early dawn of the nineteenth century) material for further development had again to be collected. And so this too great preoccupation with the material banished the beautiful almost entirely from life; at the present moment there exists perhaps no savage, at least no half-civilised people, which does not to my mind possess more beauty in its surroundings and more harmony in its existence as a whole than the great mass of so-called civilised Europeans. It is therefore, I think, necessary to be moderate in our enthusiastic admiration for the nineteenth century. On the other hand it is easy to feel the enthusiasm spoken of by Goethe, as soon as our glance rests not upon the one century alone but embraces all that “new world“ which has been slowly unfolding for centuries. Certainly the commonly accepted idea of “progress“ has by no means a sound philosophical foundation; under this flag sail almost all the refuse wares of our time; Goethe, who never tires of pointing to enthusiasm as the motive element

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

* Eckermann: October 23, 1828.

peoples under our influence, are advancing towards a new harmonious culture, incomparably more beautiful than any of which history has to tell, a culture in which men should really be “better and happier“ than they are at present. It may be that the tendency of modern education to direct the glance so unceasingly to the past is regrettable, but it has the advantage that one does not require to be a Schiller to feel with him that “no single modern man can vie with the individual Athenian for the prize of manhood.“ * For that reason we now direct our glance to the future, to that future the character of which is beginning to dawn upon us, as we are gradually becoming aware of the real significance of the present era which embraces the last seven hundred years. We will vie with the Athenian. We will form a world in which beauty and harmony of existence do not, as in their case, depend upon the employment of slaves, upon eunuchs, and the seclusion of women! We may confidently hope to do so, for we see this world slowly and with difficulty rising up around our brief span of life. And the fact that it does so unconsciously does not matter; even the half-fabulous Phoenician historian Sanchuniathon says in the first part of his first book, when speaking of the creation of the world: “Things themselves, however, knew nothing of their own origin.“ The same holds true to-day; history endlessly illustrates Mephisto‘s words, “Du glaubst zu schieben und du wirst geschoben.“ When, therefore, we look back at the nineteenth century, which certainly was driven more than it drove, and in most things deviated to an almost ridiculous extent from the paths it had originally intended to pursue, we cannot help feeling a thrill of honest admiration and almost of enthusiasm. In this century

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

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

which extends even to men‘s habits of thinking. This amelioration of conditions can hardly fail to have a bearing upon morality: the abolition of human slavery outside Europe — at least in the officially recognised sense of the word — and the beginning of a movement to protect animal slaves are omens of great significance.
And so I believe that in spite of all doubts a just and loving contemplation of the nineteenth century must both “enlighten the understanding“ and “awaken enthusiasm.“ To begin with, we consider only its “Foundations,“ that is, the “sum of all that has gone before“ — that Past out of which the nineteenth century has laboriously but successfully extricated itself.




Plan of the Work, lix — The Foundations, lxiii — The Turning-point, lxiv — The Year 1200, lxx — Division into two parts, lxxvi — The Continuation, lxxxi — Anonymous Forces, lxxxiv — Genius, lxxxix — Generalisations, xc — The Nineteenth Century, xciv.



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

Man‘s Awakening, 14 — Animal and Man, 17 — Homer, 27 — Artistic Culture, 33 — Shaping, 40 — Plato, 45 — Aristotle, 49 — Natural Science, 51 — Public Life, 58 — Historical Falsehoods, 60 — Decline of Religion, 69 — Metaphysics, 80 — Theology, 87 — Scholasticism, 89 — Conclusion, 91.

Disposition, 93 — Roman History, 95 — Roman Ideals, 104 — The Struggle against the Semites, 112 — Rome under the Empire, 122 — The Legacy of Constitutional Law, 128 — Jurisprudence as a Technical Art, 135 — Natural Law, 140 — Roman Law, 145 — The Family, 155 — Marriage, 160 — Woman, 163 — Poetry and Language, 166 — Summary, 171.

Introductory, 174 — The Religion of Experience, 177 — Buddha and Christ, 182 — Buddha, 184 — Christ, 187 — The Galileans, 200 — Religion, 213

— Christ not a Jew, 221 — Historical Religion, 228 — Will in the Semitic Race, 238 — The Prophet, 244 — Christ a Jew, 246 — The Nineteenth Century, 248.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



A. The Teutons as Creators of a New Culture
Teutonic Italy, 187 — The Teutonic Master-builder, 196 — So-called “Humanity,“ 200 — The So-called “Renaissance,“ 211 — Progress and Degeneration, 214 — Historical Criterion, 222 — Inner Contrasts, 225 — The Teutonic World, 228.

vi CONTENTS (page originally from vol. 2, but for convenience’s sake placed here)
B. Historical Survey
The Elements of Social Life, 233 — Comparative Analyses, 246 — The Teuton, 255.

1. DISCOVERY (From Marco Polo to Galvani).
The Inborn Capacity, 261— The Impelling Powers, 264 — Nature as Teacher, 269 — Unity of the Work of Discovery, 282 — Idealism, 289.

2. SCIENCE (From Roger Bacon to Lavoisier).
Our Scientific Methods, 293 — Hellene and Teuton, 303 — Nature of our Systematising, 305 — Idea and Theory, 312 — The Goal of Science, 327.

3. INDUSTRY (From the Introduction of Paper to Watt‘s Steam-engine).
Ephemeral Nature of all Civilisation, 329 — Autonomy of Modern Industry, 334 — Paper, 336.

4. POLITICAL ECONOMY (From the Lombardic League of Cities to Robert Owen, the Founder of Co-operation).
Co-operation and Monopoly, 344 — Guilds and Capitalists, 348 — Farmer and Landlord, 354 — Syndicates and Socialism, 358 — The Machine, 363.

5. POLITICS AND CHURCH (From the Introduction of Compulsory Confession, 1215, to the French Revolution).
The Church, 365 — Martin Luther, 366 — The French Revolution, 377 — The Anglo-Saxons, 384.

6. PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGION (From Francis of Assisi to Immanuel Kant).
The Two Courses, 389 — The Course of Truth, 392 — The Course of Falsehood, 394 — Scholasticism, 396 — Rome and Anti-Rome, 400 — The Four Groups, 403 — The Theologians, 404 — The Mystics, 411 — The Humanists, 429 — The Naturalist-Philosophers, 436 — The Observation of Nature, 440 — Exact Not-Knowing, 446 — Idealism and Materialism, 456 — The First Dilemma, 457 — The Metaphysical

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

7. ART (From Giotto to Goethe).
The Idea “Art,“ 495 — Art and Religion, 500 — Poetry Wedded to Music, 506 — Art and Science, 513 — Art as a Whole, 525 — The Primacy of Poetry, 529 — Teutonic Music, 532 — The Tendency of Music, 544 — Naturalism, 546 — The Struggle for Individuality, 552 — The Inner Struggle, 556 — Shakespeare and Beethoven, 558 — Summary, 561 — Conclusion, 563.




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Und keine Zeit und keine Macht zerstückelt
Geprägte Form, die lebend sich entwickelt.



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



“THE WORLD,“ says Dr. Martin Luther, “is ruled by God through a few heroes and pre-eminent persons.“ The mightiest of these ruling heroes are the princes of intellect, men who without sanction of diplomacy or force of arms, without the constraining power of law and police, exercise a defining and transforming influence upon the thought and feeling of many generations, men who may be said to be all the more powerful the less power they have, but who seldom, perhaps never, ascend their throne during their lifetime; their sway lasts long, but begins late, often very late, especially when we leave out of account the influence which they exercise upon individuals and consider the moment when that which filled their life begins to affect and mould the life of whole peoples. More than two centuries elapsed before


the new conception of the Cosmos, which we owe to Copernicus, and which was bound to revolutionise all human thought from its foundations, became common property. Men as important among his contemporaries as Luther said of Copernicus that he was “a fool who turned upside down the whole art of astronomia.“ Although his system of the world was already taught in antiquity; although the works of his direct predecessors, Regiomontanus and others, had prepared everything that made the last discovery inevitable, so that one might safely say that the Copernican system was only awaiting for its completion the spark of inspiration in the brain of the “most pre-eminent“; although it was here not a question of baffling problems in metaphysics and morals, but of a simple and, moreover, a demonstrable conception; although no material interest whatever was threatened by the new doctrine, much time was needed for this conception, which was in so many important respects of a revolutionary character, to travel from the brain of its author into that of a few other privileged men, and, ever spreading, finally take possession of the whole of mankind. It is well known how Voltaire in the first half of the eighteenth century fought for the recognition of the great triad — Copernicus, Kepler, Newton — but as late as the year 1779 the worthy Georg Christoph Lichtenberg felt himself compelled to undertake a campaign in the Göttingisches Taschenbuch, against the “Tychonians,“ and it was not till the year of grace one thousand eight hundred and twenty-two that the Congregation of the Index authorised the printing of books which teach that the earth moves!
I make this statement in advance that the reader may comprehend in what sense the year 1 is here chosen as the starting-point of our age. It is no random date, chosen for reasons of convenience, or because the outward course of political events had stamped this year as


particularly noteworthy; it has been adopted because the simplest logic compels us to trace a new force back to its origin. It is a matter of “history“ how slowly or how quickly it grows into an effective power; the actual life of the hero is, and cannot but be, the living source of all subsequent developments.
The birth of Jesus Christ is the most important date in the whole history of mankind. * No battle, no dynastic change, no natural phenomenon, no discovery possesses an importance that could bear comparison with the short earthly life of the Galilean; almost two thousand years of history prove it, and even yet we have hardly crossed the threshold of Christianity. For profoundly intrinsic reasons we are justified in calling that year the “first year,“ and in reckoning our time from it. In a certain sense we might truly say that “history“ in the real sense of the term only begins with the birth of Christ. The peoples that have not yet adopted Christianity — the Chinese, the Indians, the Turks and others — have all so far no true history; all they have is, on the one hand, a chronicle of ruling dynasties, butcheries and the like: on the other the uneventful, humble existence of countless millions living a life of bestial happiness, who disappear in the night of ages leaving no trace behind; whether the kingdom of the Pharaohs was founded in the year 3285 or in the year 32850 is in itself of no consequence; to know Egypt under one Rameses is the same as to know it under all fifteen Ramesides. And so it is with the other pre-Christian nations (with the exception of those three — of which I shall speak presently — that stand in organic relation to our Christian epoch): their culture, their art, their religion, in short their condition may interest us, achievements of their intellect or their

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


industry may even have become valuable parts of our own life, as is exemplified by Indian thought, Babylonian science and Chinese methods; their history, however, purely as such, lacks moral greatness, in other words, that force which rouses the individual man to consciousness of his individuality in contrast to the surrounding world and then — like the ebb and flow of the tide— makes him employ the world, which he has discovered in his own breast, to shape that which is without it. The Aryan Indian, for example, though he unquestionably possesses the greatest talent for metaphysics of any people that ever lived, and is in this respect far superior to all peoples of to-day, does not advance beyond inner enlightenment: he does not shape; he is neither artist nor reformer, he is content to live calmly and to die redeemed — he has no history. No more has his opposite, the Chinaman — that unique representative of Positivism and Collectivism; what our historical works record as his “history“ is nothing more than an enumeration of the various robber bands, by which the patient, shrewd and soulless people, without sacrificing an iota of its individuality, has allowed itself to be ruled: such enumerations are simply “criminal statistics,“ not history, at least not for us: we cannot really judge actions which awaken no echo in our breast.
Let me give an example. While these lines are being written (1897], the civilised world is clamorously indignant with Turkey; the European Powers are being compelled by the voice of public opinion to intervene for the protection of the Armenians and Cretans; the final destruction of the Turkish power seems now only a question of time. This is certainly justified; it was bound to come to this; nevertheless it is a fact that Turkey is the last little corner of Europe in which a whole people lives in undisturbed prosperity and happiness. It knows nothing of social questions, of the bitter


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


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


History, in the higher sense of the word, means only that past which still lives actively in the consciousness of man and helps to mould him. In pre-Christian times, therefore, it is only when it concerns peoples which are hastening towards the moral regeneration known as Christianity that history acquires an interest at once scientific and universally human. Hellas, Rome, Judea alone of the peoples of antiquity are historically important for the living consciousness of the men of the nineteenth century.
Every inch of Hellenic soil is sacred to us, and rightly so. On the other side of the strait, in Asia, not even the men had or yet have a personality; here, in Hellas, every river, every stone is animate and individualised, dumb nature awakes to self-consciousness. And the men by whom this miracle was performed stand before us, from the half-fabulous times of the Trojan War on to the supremacy of Rome, each one with his own incomparable physiognomy: heroes, rulers, warriors, thinkers, poets, sculptors. Here man was born: man capable of becoming a Christian. Rome presents in many respects the most glaring contrast to Greece; it is not only geographically but also mentally more distant from Asia, that is, from Semitic, Babylonian and

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


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


worlds, worlds above us in the firmament of heaven and worlds within ourselves, in the depths of our silent hearts), so the glorious positive work of the Greeks and Romans demanded a negative completion; and this was provided by Israel. To enable us to see the stars, the light of day must be extinguished; in order to become truly great, to attain that tragic greatness which, as I have said, alone gives vivid purport to history, man had to become conscious not only of his strength but also of his weakness. It was only by clear recognition and unsparing accentuation of the triviality of all human action, the pitiableness of reason in its heavenward flight, the general baseness of human feelings and political motives, that thought was able to take its stand upon a totally new foundation, from which it was to discover in the heart of man capacities and talents, that guided it to the knowledge of something that was sublimer than all else; Greeks and Romans would never by their methods have reached this sublimest goal; it would never have occurred to them to attach so great importance to the life of the single individual. If we contemplate the outward history of the people of Israel, it certainly offers at the first glance little that is attractive; with the exception of some few pleasing features, all the meanness of which men are capable seems concentrated in this one small nation; not that the Jews were essentially baser than other men, but the grinning mask of vice stares at us from out their history in unveiled nakedness; in their case no great political sense excuses injustice, no art, no philosophy reconciles us to the horrors of the struggle for existence. Here it was that the negation of the things of this world arose, and with it the vague idea of a higher extra-mundane vocation of mankind. Here men of the people ventured to brand the princes of this earth as “companions of thieves,“ and to cry out upon the rich, “Woe unto


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

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


can deny the fact that this great and divine figure is inseparably bound up with the historical development of that people.
Who could doubt it? The history of Hellas, that of Rome, and that of Judea have had a moulding influence upon all centuries of our era and still had a living influence upon the nineteenth century. Indeed they were not merely living, but also life-retarding influences, inasmuch as they obstructed our free view into the purely human sphere in many directions by a fence of man‘s height. This is the unavoidable fate of mankind: what advances him, at the same time fetters him. And so the history of these peoples must be carefully noted by any one who proposes to discuss the nineteenth century.
In the present work a knowledge of pure history, of the chronology of the world, has been assumed. I can attempt only one thing here, viz., to define with the greatest possible brevity what are the most essential distinguishing marks of this “legacy of the old world“. This I shall do in three chapters, the first of which treats of Hellenic art and philosophy, the second of Roman law, and the third of the advent of Jesus Christ.


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


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



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


Much wit has been spent in defining the difference between man and beast, but the distinction between man and man seems to me to be even more important, preparing the way, as it does, for the recognition of a fact of greater significance. The moment a man awakens to a consciousness of freely creative power, he crosses a definite boundary and breaks the spell which showed how closely, in spite of all his talent and all his achievements, he was related even in mind to other living creatures. Through art a new element, a new form of existence, enters into the cosmos.
In expressing this as my conviction, I put myself on the same footing as some of Germany‘s greatest sons. This view of the importance of art corresponds, too, if I am not mistaken, to a specific tendency of the German mind; at any rate so clear and precise a formulation of this thought, as we find in Lessing and Winckelmann, Schiller and Goethe, Hölderlin, Jean Paul and Novalis, in Beethoven and Richard Wagner, would hardly be met with among the other members of the related Indo-Teutonic group. In order to do justice to this view, we must in the first place know exactly what is here meant


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


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

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


science and philosophy are not directly concerned. Or, to present this relation to ourselves from a different side, we can also — and indeed here too with Schiller * — say, “From being a successful instrument, man became an unsuccessful artist.“ That is the tragedy of which I spoke in the introductory remarks.
We must, I think, admit that this German conception of “man becoming man“ goes deeper, embraces more, and throws a brighter light upon that future of mankind after which we have to strive than any narrowly scientific or purely utilitarian one. However that may be, one thing is certain: whether such a view is to have unconditional or merely conditional validity, it is of the very greatest service for a study of the Hellenic world and the sure revelation of its principle of life; for though in this subjective formulation it may be a characteristically German conception, it leads back in the main to Hellenic art and to Hellenic philosophy, which embraced natural science, and proves that Hellenism lived on in the nineteenth century not merely outwardly and historically, but also as an inherent force that has helped to mould the future. †


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

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


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

* See, however, the observations of J. G. Romanes in the case of a female chimpanzee, given in fullest detail in Nature, vol. xi., p. 160 ff, condensed in the books of the same author. In a short time this ape learned to count up to seven with unfailing accuracy. On the other hand, the Bakairi (South American Indians) are able to count only up to six, and that with great difficulty. (See Karl von Steinen: Unter den Naturvölkern Brasiliens.)
† See, for example, Whitney, The Life of Language (Fr. edit. p. 238 f).
‡ Compare especially the instructive remarks of Topinard in his Anthropologie, pp. 159-162. It is interesting to know that so great and at the same time so extremely cautious a naturalist as Adolf Bastian, with all his abhorrence of everything fantastic, claims for the articulata (with the tentacles with which they touch each other) a language analogous to ours and in keeping with their nature; see Das Beständige in den Menschenrassen, p. viii. of the preface. In Darwin‘s Descent of Man, chap. iii., we find an exceedingly interesting review of the facts pertaining to this question and an energetic refutation of the paradoxes of Max Müller and others.
§ See, for example, the Principles of Sociology of the American Professor Franklin H. Giddings (Fr. edit., 1897, p. 189): “Les bases de l‘empire de l‘homme furent posées sur les associations zoogéniques des plus humbles formes de la vie consciente.“


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

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


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

* Cf. Huber, Nouvelles observations sur les abeilles, ii. 198, and the fine book by Maurice Maeterlinck, La vie des abeilles, 1901. The best and shortest recent résumé of the most important facts pertinent to our case is probably that by J. G. Romanes, Essays on Instinct, 1897; even this distinguished pupil of Darwin is, however, under the constant necessity of referring to the series of observations of the two Hubers as being the most brilliant and reliable; but too little known is another work, that of J. Traherne Moggridge, Observations on harvesting Ants and Trapdoor Spiders (Reeve, London, 1873); in general the psychologists of the animal kingdom should direct more attention to the spiders, which beyond doubt are endowed with special gifts of their own. But see H. C. MacCook, American Spiders (Philadelphia, 1889), and the various volumes of the invaluable Souvenirs entomologiques by Fabre. Among older writings, Kirby‘s History, Habits, and Instincts of Animals is of lasting value. Of the more philosophic writings I shall here call attention especially to Wundt‘s Vorlesungen über die Menschen- und Tierseele and to Fritz Schulze‘s Vergleichende Seelenkunde (Second Part, “The Psychology of Animals and Plants,“ 1897). In this note I should like at the same time to put in an express caveat, namely, that here and further on I do not fail to recognise the deep gulf between the intellect of thinking man and that of the animal; it was high time that a Wundt with all his intellectual keenness should openly oppose our almost ineradicable inclination to anthropomorphic interpretations; but it seems to me that Wundt himself and with him Schulze, Lubbock and others fall into the opposite error: they make indeed a just protest against the uncritical over-estimation of the thought-life of the animals, yet these learned men, accustomed from their earliest years to think and speculate unceasingly, do not seem to have any idea of the minimum of consciousness and reflection with which mankind as a whole manages to go through life; they are in general inclined to attach too great importance to “consciousness“ and “reflection“; this manifests itself in their treatises on the elementary conditions of the human ψυχή and — perhaps still more clearly — in their lack of ability to explain the nature of the real act of creative genius (Art and Philosophy). One Wundt having reduced the estimate of animal intelligence to its right level, we should need a second to expose our tendency to overrate enormously our own importance. The following point also seems to me never to have been properly emphasised: that in our observations of animals we, do what we will, remain anthropomorphists; for we cannot even conceive a sense (I mean a physical instrument for acquiring knowledge of the surrounding world) if we do not possess it ourselves, and we must of necessity remain for ever blind and deaf to all manifestations of feeling and understanding, which are not immediately echoed in our own intellectual life. It is all very well for Wundt to warn against “false analogies“; in this whole sphere no conclusions but those of analogy are possible. As Clifford has clearly shown (cf. Seeing and


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

Thinking), we can proceed neither purely objectively nor purely subjectively here; this mixed method of knowing he has therefore termed an “ejective“ one. We estimate those animals as most intelligent whose intelligence most closely resembles our own, and is therefore best understood by us, but is not this extremely simple and thoughtless in reference to a cosmic problem such as that of intellect? Is this not disguised anthropomorphism? Most certainly. When Wundt therefore maintains, “In this sphere experiment is in a high degree superior to mere observation,“ one can only very conditionally agree with him; for experiment is from the outset a reflex of our purely human conceptions, whereas the loving observation of a quite differently organised creature in its own most normal conditions and that with the desire not to criticise its achievements but to understand them — as far as our human narrow intellectual horizon permits us — would be bound to lead to many surprising discoveries. And so old blind Huber has taught us much more about bees than Lubbock in his — nevertheless admirable — book on Ants, Bees and Wasps (1883). And so it is that the rough trainers, who demand of each animal only such tricks as they can expect from it on the basis of daily observation of its capabilities, achieve such remarkable results. Here as elsewhere our science of to-day is still in the toils of Helleno-Jewish anthropomorphism, and not least just where it warns us against it. — Since the above has been written, the sensational book of Bethe, Dürfen wir Ameisen und Bienen psychische Qualitäten zuschreiben? has appeared, which in its whole argumentation is a classical example of disguised anthropomorphism. By ingenious (though in my opinion by no means conclusive) tests, Bethe has come to the conclusion that ants recognise by smell that they belong to the nest, and their finding of their way depends on the excretion of a chemical substance, &c. The whole is “Chemoreflex,“ the whole life of these animals “purely mechanical.“ One is astonished to find such an abyss of philosophical barbarity. Why, is not the whole sense-life as such inevitably mechanical? Can I recognise my own father without help of a mechanism? Does not the dog recognise its master almost entirely by smell? Are Descartes‘ automata always to rise into life again, as though science and philosophy had stood still for three hundred years? Here we have the real ineradicable anthropomorphism. In the case of vertebrates their strict analogy with our own structure lets us draw conclusions about psychical processes; in the insect, on the other hand, a totally strange being is before us, built on a plan which is so fundamentally at variance with that of our body that we are not in a position to explain with certainty even the purely mechanical working of the organs of sense (see Gegenbaur, Vergleichende Anatomie) and in consequence cannot know at all what a world of sense-impressions and of possibilities of communication, &c., quite closed to us, may surround these creatures. Not to comprehend this fact is to display an ant-like naïveté. — (Addenda of the


Thus the comparatively enormous development of the human brain * gives us after all only a relative superiority. Man does not walk upon earth like a God, but as a creature among other creatures, perhaps it would be no exaggeration to say as primus inter pares; for it is difficult to comprehend why a higher differentiation, with its countless disadvantages, should be forthwith regarded as higher “perfection“; the relative perfection of an organism should be judged, in my opinion, by its suitability to given conditions. Through all the fibres of his nature man is organically and closely connected with his surroundings; all this is blood of his blood; if we think him apart from nature, he is a fragment, an uprooted stem.
What now distinguishes man from other beings? Many will answer, his inventive power: it is the instrument which shows him to be prince among the animals. Yet even with this he still remains an animal among animals. Not only the anthropoid, but also the common

third edition.) In the opening speech of the fourth International Congress of Zoologists on August 23, 1898, Sir John Lubbock violently attacked the automata theory and said, inter alia: “Many animals possess organs of sense, the meaning of which is inscrutable to us men. They notice sounds which we cannot hear, they see things which remain invisible to us, they receive impressions of sense, which lie beyond the sphere of our power of conception. The world which we know so well must have for them quite a different physiognomy.“ Montaigne had already expressed the opinion: “Les bêtes ont plusieurs conditions qui se rapportent aux nôtres; de celles-là, par comparaison, nous pouvons tirer quelque conjecture: mais ce qu‘elles ont en particulier, que savons-nous que c‘est?“ The psychiatrician Forel became convinced after thirty years of diligent observation that ants possessed memory, had the capacity of unifying in their brain various impressions of sense and acted with conscious reflection. (Speech delivered on August 13, 1901, at the Congress of Zoologists in Berlin.)
* It is well known that Aristotle has made a serious mistake here, as he often does: man possesses, neither absolutely nor relatively (that is, in relation to weight of body), the largest brain; the superiority of this apparatus in his case is based on other things. (See Ranke, Der Mensch, second edition, I., pp. 551 and 542 f.).


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

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


accordingly a simple numerical addition, fundamentally changes the qualities of the substance in question; if one adds oxygen to oxygen, a new compound, ozone, is formed (O2+O1=O3). One should, however, not forget that all human discoveries rest on assimilation and imitation; man “finds out“ (er-findet) what is there and has only awaited his coming, just as he “discovers“ what hitherto was covered with a veil; nature plays at “hide and seek“ and “blind man‘s buff“ with him. Quod invenitur, fuit, says Tertullian. The fact that he understands this, that he seeks what is hidden, and bit by bit reveals and finds so much, certainly testifies to the possession of incomparable gifts; but if he did not possess them, he would indeed be the most miserable of creatures, for there he stands weaponless, powerless, wingless; bitter necessity is his incentive, the faculty of invention his salvation.
Now man becomes truly man, a creature differing from all animals, even human ones, when he reaches the stage of inventing without necessity, when he exercises his incomparable gifts of his own free will and not because nature compels him, or — to use a deeper and more suitable expression — when the necessity which impels him to invent enters his consciousness, no longer from outside, but from his inner self; when that which was his salvation becomes his sanctuary. The decisive moment is when free invention consciously appears, that is, therefore, when man becomes artist. The study of surrounding nature, as, for example, of the starry heavens, may have made great strides, and a complex cult of gods and spirits have been formed without thereby anything fundamentally new entering into the world. All this proves a latent capacity; essentially, however, it is nothing more than the half-unconscious exercise of an instinct. It is only when an individual man, like Homer, invents the gods of his own free will as he wishes them


to be; it is only when an observer of nature, like Democritus, from free creative power invents the conception of the atom; when a pensive seer, like Plato, with the wilfulness of the genius superior to the world throws overboard all visible nature and puts in its place the realm of ideas that man has created; it is only when a most Sublime Teacher proclaims, “Behold the kingdom of Heaven is within you“ — it is only then that a completely new creature is born, that being of whom Plato says, “He has generative power in his soul rather than in his body,“ it is only then that the macrocosm contains a microcosm. The only thing that deserves to be called culture is the daughter of such “creative freedom,“ or in a word “art,“ and with art philosophy — genuine, creative philosophy and science — is so closely related that both must be recognised as two sides of the same being; every great poet has been a philosopher, every philosopher of genius a poet. That which lies outside this microcosmic life of culture is nothing more than “civilisation,“ that is, a more and more highly potentiated, increasingly more industrious, easier and less free ant-like state-existence, certainly rich in blessing and in so far desirable, nevertheless a gift of the ages, in the case of which it frequently remains exceedingly questionable whether the human race does not pay more for it than it receives from it. Civilisation is in itself nothing, for it denotes something merely relative; a higher civilisation could be regarded as a positive gain (i.e., an “advance“) only when it led to an increasingly intensive intellectual and artistic shaping of life and to an inner moral enlightenment. Because this seemed to him not to be the case with us, Goethe, as the most competent judge, could make the melancholy confession, “These times are worse than one thinks.“ On the other hand, the undying importance of Hellenism lies in this, that it understood how to create for itself an age better than any that we can conceive,


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

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


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


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


and unresistingly let himself be influenced by an impression; Wolf‘s great philological merits and the mass of correct statements which his expositions contained, misled the great man; he felt convinced and declared this openly. But later, when he again had the opportunity of studying the Homeric poems thoroughly — and viewed them no longer from a philologico-historical but from a purely poetic standpoint — he retracted his over-hasty endorsement of the “subjective trash“ (as he now called it), for now his knowledge was precise; behind these works there stands a “glorious unity, a single, higher poetical sense.“ * But the philologists too, in their necessarily roundabout way, have come to the same view, and Homer enters the twentieth century, the fourth millennium of his fame, greater than ever. †

* See, for example, the small work, Homer noch einmal, of the year 1826.
† I must take care to avoid even the slightest assumption of a learning which I do not possess; a man in my position can only note the results of learned research; but it is his right and his duty to approach these results as a free man, possessing unexceptionable critical power. Indeed, he must, in my opinion, use his critical power above all in the same way as a monarch whose wisdom has especially to prove itself in the choice of his advisers; the layman cannot sit in judgment on the value of learned arguments, he can, however, from style, language and train of thoughts very well form an estimate of the individual scholar and distinguish between mason and architect. It is not therefore in the sense of a material proof, but merely in order that the reader himself may be able, in the sense alluded to, to gauge my ability to form a critical judgment, that I now and then refer in the notes to my “authorities.“ As I have pointed out in the text, I here in the first place hold with Socrates that musicians are the best judges of flute-playing, poets of poetical works. Goethe‘s opinion with regard to Homer is worth more to me than that of all the philologists together who have lived since the beginning of the world. I have, however, informed myself, as far as a layman can, in regard to the latter, and in so complicated a question this is very essential. The summary accounts of Niese, Die Entwickelung der Homerischen Poesie, 1882, and of Jebb, Homer, 1888, enable us to follow the course of the discussion up to modern times, but nothing more. On the other hand, in Bergk, Griechische Litteraturgeschichte, 1872-84, we have a safe guide. That Bergk was a Hellenist of the first rank is admitted by all Homeric scholars and even the ordinary man is impressed by the comprehensive and penetrating character of his knowledge, com-


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

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


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


gods, who gave the gods their names, distributed honours and arts among them, and described their forms. The poets, however, who are supposed to have lived before these two men, in my opinion at least, really came after them“ (Book II. 53). Hesiod lived about a hundred years after Homer and was directly influenced by him; with the exception of this little error the simple naive sentence of Herodotus contains all that the gigantic critical work of a century has brought to light. It has been proved that the poets who according to the priestly tradition lived before Homer — e.g., Orpheus, Musaeos, Eumolpos from the Thracian school, or Olen and others of the Delian school — in reality lived after him; * and it is likewise proved that the religious conceptions of the Greeks have been drawn from very different sources; the Indo-European inheritance forms the main capital; to this were added all kinds of motley Oriental influences (as Herodotus had also shown in the passage which precedes that above quoted): upon this chaos a hand was now laid by the one incomparable man with the sovereign authority of the freely creative, poetic genius, and out of it he formed by artistic means a new world; as Herodotus says: he creates for the Greeks their race of gods.
May I here be permitted to quote the words of Erwin Rohde, † recognised as one of the most learned of living Hellenists: “The Homeric epic can only be called folk-poetry because it is of such a nature that the whole Greek-speaking people willingly took it up and could make it their own, not because the ‘people‘ in any mystic way were engaged in its production. Many hands have been at work on the two poems, but all in

* See in particular Flach, Geschichte der griechischen Lyrik nach den Quellen dargestellt, I. pp. 45 ff, 90 ff.
† Since the above was written, German science has had to deplore the death of this extraordinary man.


the direction and in the sense which the greatest poetic genius among the Greeks, and probably of mankind, and not the people or the saga, as one certainly hears maintained, gave to them. In Homer‘s mirror Greece appears united and uniform in belief, in dialect, in constitution, customs and morals. One may, however, boldly maintain that this unity cannot in reality have existed; the elements of Panhellenism were doubtless present, but it was the genius of the poet alone that collected and fused them together in a merely imaginary whole.“ * Bergk, whose whole rich scholastic life was devoted to the study of Greek poetry formulates the opinion: “Homer draws chiefly from himself, from his own inner soul; he is a truly original spirit, not an imitator, and he practises his art with full consciousness“ (Griechische
Litteraturgeschichte, p. 527). Duncker, too, the historian, remarks that “what was lacking in the imitators of Homer — what accordingly distinguished this one man — was the comprehensive eye of genius.“ † And to close these quotations in a worthy manner I refer to Aristotle, in whom one must admit some competence, so far as critical acumen is concerned. It is striking and consoling to see that he too discovers the distinguishing-mark of Homer to be his eye; in the eighth chapter of his Poetics (he is speaking of the qualities of poetic action), he says: “But Homer, just as he is different in other things also, seems here too to have seen aright, either by art or by nature.“ A profound remark! which prepares us for the surprising outburst of enthusiasm in the twenty-third chapter of the Poetics: Homer is above all other poets divine.

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



I have felt bound to prove this, even at the cost of some detail; not because it is of importance for the subject treated in this book, whether one man named Homer wrote the Iliad, or in how far the poem, which to-day is so entitled, may correspond to the original poem; the special proof is a side issue. It is, on the other hand, essential for my whole work that I should emphasise the incomparable importance of personality in general; it is likewise essential to recognise the fact that every work of art always and without exception presupposes a strong individual personality, — a great work of art a personality of the first rank, a Genius; it is, finally, imperative that we should grasp the fact, that the secret of the magic power of Hellenism lies locked in this idea “personality.“ For indeed if we would understand what Hellenic art and Hellenic thought have meant for the nineteenth century, if we would know the secret of so lasting a power, we must realise especially that it is the power of great personalities that, coming down from that vanished world, still influences us with the freshness of youth.

Höchstes Glück der Erdenkinder
Ist nur die Persönlichkeit:

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


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


enough to prove — a few poets more or less make really no difference — how all culture is linked to art? What is one to say to a history which embraces more than 1200 years and does not show a single philosopher, not even a philosopher in miniature? What to a people which has to conceal its own modest claims in this respect by the importation of the latter-day persecuted, anaemic Greeks, who, however, are not philosophers at all but merely very commonplace moralists? How low must the quality of genius have sunk when a good Emperor, who wrote maxims in his leisure hours, is commended to the reverence of coming generations as a thinker! * Where is there a great, creative natural scientist among the Romans? Surely not the industrious encyclopaedist, Pliny? Where is there a mathematician

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

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

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


of importance? Where a meteorologist, a geographer, an astronomer? All that was achieved under the sway of Rome, in these and other sciences, is derived without exception from the Greeks. But the poetical fountain had dried up, and so too, bit by bit, creative thinking and creative observation were exhausted, even among the Greeks of the Roman Empire. The life-giving breath of genius was gone; neither in Rome nor in Alexandria was there anything of this manna of the human spirit for the ever upward-soaring Hellenes; in the one city the superstition of utility, in the other, scientific elephantiasis, gradually choked every movement of life. Learning indeed steadily increased, the number of known facts multiplied continually, but the motive-power, instead of increasing, decreased, where increase was badly needed. Thus the European world, in spite of its great progress in civilisation, underwent a gradual decline in culture — sinking down into naked bestiality. Nothing probably is more dangerous for the human race than science without poetry, civilisation without culture. *
In Hellas the course of events was quite different. So long as art flourished, the torch of genius flashed up heavenward in all spheres. The power, which in Homer had fought its way to a dominant individuality, recognised in him its vocation, narrowed down in the first instance to the purely artistic creation of a world of beautiful semblance. Around the radiant central figure arose a countless army of poets and a rich gradation of poetical styles. Immediately after Homer‘s time and later, originality formed the hall-mark of Greek creation. Inferior powers naturally took their direction from those of greater eminence; but there were so many of the latter, and

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


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


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


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

Stirb! Du suchst auf diesem Erdenrunde,
Edler Geist, umsonst dein Element!
(Die! Thou seekest on this earthly ball,
In vain, O noble mind, thine element!)


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


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


us to take in it not merely an historical but also a living interest. The pure joy excited in us by contemplating Greek thought may be due, to some extent, to the consciousness that we have advanced so much further here than our great ancestors. Our philosophy has become more philosophical, our science more scientific: an advance which, unfortunately, we do not find in the domain of art. So far as philosophy and science are concerned, our modern culture has shown itself worthy of its Hellenic origin; we have a good conscience.
It cannot pertain to my purpose here to point out connections of which every educated man must be aware. These connections, so far as philosophy is concerned, are purely genetic, since it was only through contact with Greek thought that modern thought awoke, acquiring from it indeed that power of contradiction and independence which was the last to reach maturity: so far as mathematics, the foundation of all science, are concerned, they were equally genetic; in the case of the sciences of observation * they were less genetic, and in former years rather a hindrance than a help. My one task must be to explain in a few words what secret power gave these old thoughts such a tenacious spirit of life.
How much of what has been done since has passed into everlasting oblivion, while Plato and Aristotle, Democritus, Euclid and Archimedes still live on in our midst, inspiring and teaching us, and while the half-fabulous form of Pythagoras grows greater with every century! † And I am of opinion that what gives everlasting youth to the thought of a Democritus, a Plato, a Euclid, an

* With regard to the last point one must, however, remark that many a splendid achievement of Hellenic talent in this sphere remained unknown to us till a short time ago.
† This is a return to a former view. When the Romans were commanded by an oracle to erect a statue to the wisest of the Hellenes, they put up the statue of Pythagoras (Plutarch, Numa, chap. xi.)


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

As imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet‘s pen
Turns them to shapes.

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

* Aristarchus of Samos, the discoverer of the so-called Copernican system of the world.
† One sees that according to Goethe a creative act of the human mind is necessary, in order that life itself may become “living“!
‡ A general text-book of botany or of zoology of the year 1875 is, for example, useless to-day, and that not solely or even chiefly


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

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


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

the one group (which reaches its highest point in the insects), and the vertebrates belong to the other and might as well be said to be descended from cuttle-fishes and sea-urchins! (Cf. especially Karl Camillo Schneider: Grundzüge der tierischen Organisation in the Preussische Jahrbücher, 1900, July number, p. 73 ff.) Such facts serve to prove and confirm what has been said on p. 42, and it is absolutely necessary that the layman, who is ever apt to suppose that the science of his time is perfection, should learn to recognise in it only a transition stage between a past and a future theory.
* See, for example, the standard work of the American zoologist, E. B. Wilson (Professor in Columbia): The Cell in Development and Inheritance, 1896, where we read: “The investigation of cell activity has on the whole rather widened than narrowed the great gulf which separates the lowest forms of life from the phenomena of the inorganic world.“ Privy Councillor Wiesner lately assured me of the absolute correctness of this statement from the standpoint of pure natural science. Wilson‘s book has in the meantime (1900) appeared in a second enlarged edition. The sentence quoted stands unaltered on p. 434. The whole of the last chapter, Theories of Inheritance and Development, is to be recommended to all who desire not mere phrases but real insight into the present state of scientific knowledge with reference to the important facts of the animal form. They will find a chaos. As the author says (p. 434), “The extraordinary dimensions of the problem of development, whether ontogenetic or phylogenetic, have been underestimated.“ Now it is recognised that every newly discovered phenomenon does not bring enlightenment and simplification, but new confusion and new problems, so that a well-known embryologist (see Introduction) lately exclaimed: “Every animal embryo seems to carry its own law in itself!“ Rabl arrives at similar results in his investigations on Der Bau und die Entwickelung der Linse (1900); he finds that every animal form possesses its specific organs of sense, the differences between which are already conditioned in the embryo cell. And thus by the progress of true science — as distinguished from the nonsense regarding power and matter, with which generations of credulous laymen have been befooled — our view of life became always “more living,“ and the day is surely not far distant when it will be recognised as more reasonable to try to interpret the dead from the standpoint of the living than the other way about. (I refer to my Immanuel Kant, p. 482 f.)


such figures, but centuries later they once more emerge in perpetual youth from their supposed grave; it frequently occurs also that the children of thought, like their brothers and sisters, the marble statues, become maimed, broken or even completely shattered; that is, however, a mechanical destruction, not death. And thus Plato‘s theory of ideas, more than one thousand years old, has been a living factor in the intellectual life of the nineteenth century, an “origin“ of very many thoughts; almost every philosophical speculation of importance has been connected with it at one point or another. In the meantime the spirit of Democritus has been paramount in natural science: fundamental as were the alterations that had to be made on his brilliant theory of atoms in order to adapt it to the knowledge of to-day, he still remains the inventor, the artist. It is he who, to use the language of Shakespeare, has by the force of his imagination bodied forth “the forms of things unknown,“ and then “turned them to shapes.“


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


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

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


which might be called arbitrary; the addition which man makes to it — a free, poetical and only conditionally valid addition — is the sole thing that makes the joining of the two ends of the magic girdle possible. Works of art are no exception. Homer‘s Iliad is a splendid example of this, Plato‘s philosophy a second, Democritus‘ theory of the world a third of equal importance. And while the philosophies and theories so finely carved by the “logical“ method disappear one after the other in the gulf of time, these old ideas take their place in all the freshness of youth, side by side with the most recent. Clearly it is not “objective truth,“ but the manner in which things receive shape, l‘ensemble des fonctions, as Bichat would say, that is the decisive thing.
Still another remark in reference to Plato; again it is only a hint — for the space at my disposal will not allow of lengthy treatment — but enough, I hope, to leave nothing vague. That Indian thought has exercised an influence of quite a determinative character upon Greek philosophy is now a settled fact; our Hellenists and philosophers have, it is true, long combated this with the violent obstinacy of prejudiced scholars; everything was supposed to have originated in Hellas as autochthon; at most the Egyptians and the Semites were allowed to have exercised a moulding influence — whereby philosophy would in truth have had little to gain; the more modern Indologists, however, have confirmed the conjectures of the oldest (particularly of that genius Sir William Jones). It has been fully proved in regard to Pythagoras especially that he had a thorough knowledge of Indian doctrines, * and as Pythagoras is being recognised more and more as the ancestor of Greek thought, that in itself means a great deal. Besides, direct influence upon the Eleatics, Heraclitus, Anaxagoras, Democritus, &c., has been

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


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

* The best summary account of recent times that is known to me is that of Garbe in his Sâmkhya-Philosophie (1894), p. 85 f.; there we also find the most important bibliography.
† For the comparison between Plato and the Indians in reference to the recognition of the empirical reality and transcendental ideality of experience see specially Max Müller: Three Lectures on the Vedânta Philosophy (1894), p. 128 f.  Plato‘s relation to the Eleatics becomes hereby for the first time clear. Fuller information in Deussen‘s works, especially in his lecture, “On the Philosophy of the Vedânta in Relation to the Metaphysical Doctrines of the West,“ Bombay, 1893.
‡ “When Bâhva was questioned by Vâshkali, the former explained Brahmanism to him by remaining silent. And Vâshkali said, ‘Teach me, O revered one, Brahmanism!‘ But the latter remained quite silent. When now the other for the second or third time asked, he said, ‘I am indeed teaching you it, but you do not understand it; this Brahmanism is silence.‘ “ (Sankara in the Sûtra‘s of Vedânta, iii. 2, 17). And in the Taittiriya Upanishad we read (ii. 4): “From the great joy of knowledge all language and all thought turn away, unable to reach it.“


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


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


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

* Eucken says in his essay, Thomas von Aquin und Kant, p. 30 (Kantstudien, 1901, vi. p. 12): The intellectual work of Aristotle is “an artistic or more accurately speaking a plastic shaping.“
† Ideen zur Geschichte der Menschheit, XIII., chap. v.


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


One word more about Hellenic science. It is only natural that the scientific achievements of the Greeks should hardly possess for us anything more than an historical interest. But what cannot be indifferent to us is the perception of the incredible advances which were made in the correct interpretation of nature when newly discovered artistic capacities began to develop and exercise influence. We are involuntarily reminded of Schiller‘s statement that we cannot separate the phantom from the real without at the same time purging the real of the phantom.
If there is a sphere in which one might expect less than nothing from the Greeks, it is that of geography. What we remember having read in their poems — the


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


opinion of men of to-day, iii. 36). Philipp Paulitschke in his work, Die geographische Erforschung des afrikanischen Kontinents (second edition, p. 9), calls attention to the fact that Herodotus possessed a more accurate conception of the outlines of Africa than Ptolemaeus. The latter, however, was considered an “authority.“ Thereby hangs a tale, and it is with genuine regret that I establish the fact that we have inherited from the Hellenes not only the results of their “remarkable ability,“ as Berger puts it, but also their mania for creating “authorities“ and believing in them. In this connection the history of palaeontology is specially instructive. With the artless simplicity of unspoiled intuitive power the ancient Greeks had, long before Plato and Aristotle, noticed the mussels on mountain-tops, and recognised even the impressions of fishes for what they are; upon these observations men like Xenophanes and Empedocles had based theories of historical development and geocyclic doctrines. But the authorities declared this view to be absurd; when the facts multiplied, they were simply explained away by the grand theory of vis plastica; * and it was not till the year 1517 that a man ventured once more to express the old opinion, that the mountain-tops once lay beneath the sea: “in the year of the Reformation, accordingly, after 1500 years, knowledge had reached the point at which it had stood in classical antiquity.“ † Fracastorius‘ idea received but scant support, and should it be desired to estimate — it is really very difficult after the advance of science — how great and venerable a power of truth lay in the seeing eye of these ancient poets (Xenophanes and Empedocles were in the first place poets and singers), I recommend the student to consult the writings of the

* According to Quenstedt this hypothesis is due to Avicenna; but it is to be traced back to Aristotle and was taught definitely by Theophrastus (see Lyell, Principles of Geology, 12th ed., i. 20).
† Quenstedt, Handbuch der Petrefaktenkunde, 2nd ed., p. 2.


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

* See Des singularités de la Nature, chaps. xii. to xviii., and L‘Homme aux quarante écus, chap. vi., both written in the year 1768. Similar remarks in his letters (see especially, Lettre sur un écrit anonyme, 19.4.1772).
† This same Voltaire had the presumption to describe the great astronomical speculations of the Pythagoreans as “galimatias,“ on which the famous astronomist Schiaparelli remarks with justice: “Such men do not deserve to understand what great speculative power was necessary to attain to a conception of the spherical form of the earth, of its free floating in space and its mobility; ideas without which we should have had neither a Copernicus nor a Kepler, a Galileo nor a Newton“ (see the work mentioned below, p. 16).
‡ Zeller, Die Philosophie der Griechen, 5th ed., Pt. I., p. 414 ff. More technical, but explained with remarkable lucidity in the work of


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

Schiaparelli, Die Vorläufer des Kopernikus im Altertum (translated into German from the Italian original by the author and M. Curtze, published in the Altpreussische Monatsschrift, 1876). “We are in a position to assert that the development of the physical principles of this school was bound by logical connection of ideas to lead to the theory of the earth‘s motion“ (see 5 f.). More details of the “really revolutionary view, that it is not the earth that occupies the centre of the universe,“ in the recently published book of Wilhelm Bauer, Der ältere Pythagoreismus (1897), p. 54 ff. 64 ff. &c. The essay too of Ludwig Ideler, Über das Verhältnis des Kopernikus zum Altertum in the Museum für Altertumswissenschaft, published by Fr. Aug. Wolf, 1810, p. 391 ff. is still worth reading.
* “Aristarchus puts the sun among the number of the fixed stars and makes the earth move through the apparent track of the sun (that, is the ecliptic), and declares that it is eclipsed according to its inclination,“ says Plutarch. For this and the other evidences in reference to Aristarchus compare the above-mentioned book of Schiaparelli (pp. 121 ff. and 219). This astronomer is moreover convinced that Aristarchus only taught what was already discovered at the time of Aristotle (p. 117), and here too he shows how the method adopted by the Pythagoreans was bound to lead to the correct solution. But for Aristotle and neo-Platonism the heliocentric system would, even at the time of Christ‘s birth, have been generally accepted; in truth, the Stagyrite has honestly deserved his position as official philosopher of the orthodox church! On the other hand, the story of the Egyptians having contributed something to the solution of the astrophysical problem has been proved to be quite unfounded, like so many other Egyptian stories (Schiaparelli, pp. 105-6). Moreover Copernicus himself tells us in his introduction dedicated to Pope Paul III.: “I first found in Cicero that Nicetus had believed that the earth moved. Afterwards I found also in Plutarch that some others had likewise been of this opinion. This was what caused me too to begin to think about the earth‘s mobility.“


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

* Cf. Franz Xaver Kraus in the Deutsche Literaturzeitung, 1900. Nr. 1.
† What the English scientist, John Tyndall, in his well-known speech in Belfast, 1874, said, “Aristotle put words in the place of things; he preached induction, without practising it,“ will be considered by later ages as just as apt for many an Ernst Haeckel of the nineteenth century. It should also be mentioned that the system of


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

Tycho de Brahe is also of Hellenic origin; see details in Schiaparelli, (p. 107 ff. and especially p. 115); no possible combination could indeed escape the richness of this imagination.
* See Leopold von Schroeder: Pythagoras und die Inder, p. 39 ff.
† Cantor: Vorlesungen über Geschichte der Mathematik, i. 511 (quoted from Schroeder, p. 56).


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


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


poems and that too “in the interests of the State and of morality.“ * Pisistratus is another instance: the creator of the Theory of Ideas is statesman and reformer; it was Cimon who prepared for Polygnotus a suitable sphere of activity, and Pericles did the same for Phidias. As Hesiod puts it, “Justice (Diké) is the maiden daughter of Zeus“ † and in this observation is contained a definite philosophy embracing all state relations, a philosophy which though also religious is mainly artistic; all literature, too, even the most abstruse writings of Aristotle, and even remarks like that of Xenophanes (meant, indeed, as a reproach) that the Greeks were accustomed to derive all their culture from Homer, ‡ testify to the same fact. In Egypt, in Judea, and later in Rome we see the law-giver laying down the rules of religion and worship; among the Teutonic peoples the king decrees what his people shall believe; § in Hellas the reverse holds good: it is the poet, the “creator of the race of gods,“ the poetical philosopher (Anaxagoras, Plato, &c.), who understands how to lead all men to profound conceptions of the divine and the moral. And those men who — in the period of its greatness — give the land its laws, have been educated in the school of these same poets and philosophers. When Herodotus gives each separate book of his history the name of a Muse, when Plato makes Socrates deliver his finest speeches only in the most beautiful spots inhabited by nymphs, and represents him as closing dialectical discussions with an invocation to Pan — “Oh, grant that I may be inwardly beautiful.

* Plutarch, Life of Lycurgus, chap. iv.
† Work and Days, 256.
‡ Fragment 4 (quoted from Flach, Geschichte der griechischen Lyrik, ii. p. 419).
§ The principle introduced at the time of the Reformation “cujus est regio, illius est religio“ only expresses the old condition of law as it existed from time immemorial.


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


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

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


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

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


an example of heroism, though indeed frequently also of the opposite; but courage is the commonest of all human virtues, and the constitution of such a State as the Lacedaemonian would lead us rather to conclude that the Hellenes had to be forced to be brave, than that they naturally possessed the proud contempt of death which distinguishes every Gallic circus-fighter, every Spanish toreador and every Turkish Bashi-bazouk. * “Greek history,“ says Goethe, “has in it little that is gratifying — besides, that of our own days is really great and stirring; the battles of Leipzig and Waterloo, for example, after all throw into the shade Marathon and others like it. Our own heroes, too, are not behindhand; the French marshals, and Blücher and Wellington may well be put side by side with those of antiquity.“ † But Goethe does not go nearly far enough. The traditional history of Greece is, in many points, a huge mystification: we see that more clearly every day; and our modern teachers — under the influence of a “suggestion“ that has completely paralysed their honesty — have falsified it worse than the Greeks themselves. With regard to the battle of Marathon, for example, Herodotus admits quite honestly that the Greeks were in this battle put to flight,

Geschichte des Altertums; Gobineau, Histoire des Perses; Maspero, Les premières Mêlées des peuples, &c. — and the credulous student is forced to accept a manifest untruth with regard to the moral character of the different human races, on the basis of a doubtful anecdote. Such unscrupulous perfidy can only be explained in the case of such a man by the supposition of a “suggestion“ paralysing all judgment. As a matter of fact, from India and Persia we derive the one kind of humanity and generosity and love of truth, from Judea and Arabia the other (caused by reaction) — but none from Greece, nor from Rome, that is, therefore, none from the “Occident.“ How far removed Herodotus is from such designed misrepresentation of history! for, when he has told of the mutilation of Leonidas, he adds, “Such treatment is not the custom among the Persians. They more than all other nations are wont to honour brave warriors“ (vii. 238).
* Helvétius remarks exquisitely (De l‘Esprit, ed. 1772, II. 52): “La législation de Lycurgue métamorphosait les hommes en héros.“
† Conversation with Eckermann, Nov. 24, 1824.


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

* Since these lines were written, I have received the well known English Hellenist Professor Mahaffy‘s A Survey of Greek Civilisation, 1897, in which the battle of Marathon is termed “a very unimportant skirmish.“
† See Gobineau: Histoire des Perses, ii. 138-142.
‡ Particularly the famous battle of Salamis, of which one gets a refreshing description in the above-mentioned work of Count Gobineau, ii. 205-211): “C‘est quand les derniers bataillons de l‘arrière-garde de Xerxès eurent disparu dans la direction de la Béotie et que toute sa flotte fut partie, que les Grecs prirent d‘eux-mêmes et de ce qu‘ils venaient de faire et de ce qu‘ils pouvaient en dire l‘opinion que la poésie a si heureusement mise en oeuvre. Encore fallut-il que les alliés apprissent que la flotte ennemie ne s‘était pas arrêtée à Phalère pour qu‘ils osassent se mettre en mouvement. Ne sachant où elle allait — ils restaient comme éperdus. Ils se hasardèrent enfin à sortir de la baie de Salamine, et se risquèrent jusqu‘à la hauteur d‘Andros. C‘est ce qu‘ils appelèrent plus tard avoir poursuivi les Perses! Ils se gardèrent cependant d‘essayer de les joindre, et rebroussant chemin, ils retournèrent chacun dans leurs patries respectives“ (p. 208). In another place (ii, 360) Gobineau characterises Greek history as “la plus élaborée des fictions du plus artiste des peuples.“


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

creditur quidquid Graecia mendax audet in historia.

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

* The principal thing is clearly not what is found in learned books, but what is taught in school, and here I can speak from experience, for I was first in a French “Lycée,“ then in an English “college,“ afterwards I received instruction from the teachers of a Swiss private school, and last of all from a learned Prussian. I testify that in these various countries even the best certified history, that of the last three centuries (since the Reformation), is represented in so absolutely different ways that without exaggerating I may affirm that the principle of historical instruction is still everywhere in Europe systematic misrepresentation. While the achievements of our own country are always emphasised, those of others passed over or suppressed, certain things put always in the brightest light, others left in the deepest shadow, there is formed a general picture which in many parts differs only for the subtlest eye from naked lies. The foundation of all genuine truth: the absolutely disinterested love of justice is almost everywhere absent; a proof that we are still barbarians!


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


quillity how Miltiades forced on the battle of Marathon by calling the attention of the commander-in-chief to the fact that the Athenian troops were inclined to go over to the Persians, and urging him to attack as soon as possible, that there might not be time to put this “evil design“ into execution; half an hour later, and the “heroes of Marathon“ would have marched with the Persians against Athens. I remember nothing like this in Jewish history. In such a soil it is manifest that no admirable political system could flourish. “The Greeks,“ says Goethe again, “were friends of freedom, yes, but each one only of his own freedom; and so in every Greek there was a tyrant.“ If any one wishes to make his way to the light through this primeval forest of prejudices, phrases and lies, which have grown up luxuriantly in the course of centuries, I strongly recommend him to read the monumental work of Julius Schvarcz, Die Demokratie von Athen, in which a statesman educated theoretically as well as practically, who is at the same time a philologist, has shown once for all what importance is to be attached to this legend. The closing words of this full and strictly scientific account are: “Inductive political science must now admit that the democracy of Athens does not deserve the position which the delusion of centuries has been good enough to assign to it in the history of mankind“ (p. 589). *
One single trait moreover suffices to characterise the whole political economy of the Greeks — the fact that Socrates found it necessary to prove at such length that to be a statesman one must understand something of the business of State! He was condemned to death for preaching this simple elementary truth. “The cup of poison was given purely and simply to the political

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


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

* Schvarcz, loc. cit. p. 394 ff.
† According to Gomperz, Griechische Denker, ii 95, this anecdote is an “empty tale“: but in all such inventions, as in the eppur si muove, &c., there lives an element of higher truth; they are just the reverse of “empty.“


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

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


which Schiller spoke, a valuable legacy, for which we should be eternally grateful to the Hellenes, one worthy of a much higher civilisation than theirs and of a much purer one than ours.
It has been necessary for me to discuss these matters as paving the way for a last consideration.


If we realise the fact that the educationist has the power to restore dead bodies to life and to force mummies as models upon an active, industrious generation, then we must on closer investigation see that others can do the same thing in a still higher degree, since among the most living portions of our Hellenic inheritance we find a really considerable part of our Church doctrine — not indeed its bright side, but the deep shade of weird and stupid superstition, as well as the arid thorns of scholastic sophistry, bereft of all the leaves and blossoms of poetry. The angels and devils, the fearful conception of hell, the ghosts of the dead (which in this presumably enlightened nineteenth century set tables in motion to such an extent with knocking and turning), the ecstatically religious delirium, the hypostasis of the Creator and of the Logos, the definition of the Divine, the conception of the Trinity, in fact the whole basis of our Dogmatics we owe to a great extent to the Hellenes or at least to their mediation; at the same time we are indebted to them for the sophistical manner of treating these things: Aristotle with his theory of the Soul and of the Godhead is the first and greatest of all schoolmen; his prophet, Thomas Aquinas, was nominated by the infallible Pope official philosopher of the Catholic Church towards the end of the nineteenth century (1879); at the same time a large proportion of the logic-chopping


free-thinkers, enemies of all metaphysics and proclaimers of a new “religion of reason,“ like John Stuart Mill and David Strauss, &c., based their theories on Aristotle. Here, as is evident, we have to deal with a legacy of real living force, and it reminds us that we should speak with humility of the advances made in our time.
The matter is an exceedingly complicated one; if in this whole chapter I have had to be satisfied with mere allusions, I shall here have to confine myself to hinting at allusions. And yet in this very matter relations have to be pointed out, which, so far as I know, have never been revealed in their proper connection. I wish to do this with all modesty, and yet with the utmost precision.
It is the common practice to represent the religious development of the Hellenes as a popular superstitious polytheism, which in the consciousness of some pre-eminent men had gradually transformed itself into a purer and more spiritualised faith in a single God; — the human spirit thus advancing from darkness to ever brighter light. Our reason loves simplifications: this gradual soaring of the Greek spirit, till it was ripe for a higher revelation, is very much in tune with our inborn sluggishness of thought. But this conception is in reality utterly false and proved to be false: the faith in gods, as we meet it in Homer, is the most elevated and pure feature of Greek religion. This religious philosophy, though, like all things human, compassed and limited in many ways, was suited to the knowledge, thought and feeling of a definite stage of civilisation, and yet it was in all probability as beautiful, noble and free as any of which we have knowledge. The distinguishing-mark of the Homeric creed was its intellectual and moral freedom — indeed, as Rohde says, “almost free-thinking“; this religion is the faith acquired through artistic intuition and


analogy (that is, purely by way of genius) in a cosmos — an “order of the world,“ which is everywhere perceived, but which we are never able to think out or comprehend, because we after all are ourselves elements of this cosmos — an order which nevertheless reflects itself of necessity in everything, and which therefore in Art becomes visible and directly convincing. The conceptions which are held by the people, and have been produced by the poetical and symbolising faculty of each simple mind as yet innocent of dialectics, are here condensed and made directly visible, and that, too, by lofty minds, which are still strong enough in faith to possess the most glowing fervour and at the same time free enough to fashion according to their own sovereign artistic judgment. This religion is hostile to all faith in ghosts and spirits, to all clerical formalism; everything of the nature of popular soul-cult and the like which occurs in the Iliad and the Odyssey is wonderfully cleared, stripped of all that is terrible, and raised to the eternal truth of something symbolical; it is equally hostile to every kind of sophistry, to all idle inquiries regarding cause and purpose, to that rationalistic movement, therefore, which has subsequently shown itself in its true colours as merely the other side of superstition. So long as these conceptions, which had found their most perfect expression in Homer and some other great poets, still lived among the people, the Greek religion possessed an ideal element; later (particularly in Alexandria and Rome) it became an amalgam of Pyrrhonic, satirical, universal sceptisism, gross superstitious belief in magic and sophistical scholasticism. The fine structure was undermined from two different quarters, by men who appeared to possess little in common, who, however, later joined hands like brothers, when the Homeric Parthenon (i.e., “temple of the Virgin“) had become a heap of ruins within which a philological “stone-polishing workshop“ had been set


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

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


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

* Christentum, Volksglaube und Volksbrauch, p. 379. In the second part of this book there is an instructive list of pre-Christian customs and superstitions still prevalent in Europe.
† “Even the most civilised nations do not easily shake off their belief in magic.“ — Sir John Lubbock, The Prehistoric Age (German edition, ii. 278).
‡ F. A. Lange used the expression, “medizinisches Pfaffentum,“ somewhere in his Geschichte des Materialismus.


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

* The Semitic peoples in old times do not seem to have believed in the immortality of the individual soul; but their cults supplied the Hellene, as soon as he grasped this thought, with weighty stimulus. The Phoenician divine system of the Cabiri (i.e., the seven powerful ones) was found by the Greeks on Lemnos, Rhodes and other islands, and with regard to this Duncker writes in his Geschichte des Altertums, I4, 279, “The myth of Melcart and Astarte, of Astarte who was adopted into the number of these gods, and of Melcart, who finds again the lost goddess of the moon in the land of darkness and returns from there with her to new light and life — gave the Greeks occasion to associate with the secret worship of the Cabiri the conceptions of life after death, which had been growing among them since the beginning of the sixth century.“
† We need not be surprised that this belief (according to Herodotus, iv. 93) was prevalent in the Indo-European race of the Getae and from there found its way into Greece; it was an old racial possession; it is very striking, on the other hand, that the Hellene at the period of his greatest strength had lost this belief or rather was quite indifferent to it. “An everlasting life of the soul is neither asserted nor denied from the Homeric standpoint. Indeed, this thought does not come into consideration at all“ (Rohde, Psyche, p. 195); a remarkable confirmation of Schiller‘s assertion that the aesthetic man, i.e., he in whom the sensual and the moral are not diametrically opposed in aim “needs no


In the mad Bacchantic dance the soul for the first time (among the Greek people] separated itself from the body — that same soul about which Aristotle from the stillness of his study had so much that was edifying to tell us; in the Dionysian ecstasy man felt himself one with the immortal gods and concluded that his individual human soul must also be immortal, a conclusion which Aristotle and others at a later time attempted ingeniously to justify. * It seems to me that we are still suffering from something of this vertigo! And for that reason let us attempt to come to a sensible conclusion regarding this legacy which clings so firmly to us.
To this belief in a soul Hellenic poetry as such has contributed nothing; it reverently adapted itself to the conventional — the ceremonious burial of Patroclus, for instance, who otherwise could not enter on his last rest — the performance of the necessary acts of consecration by Antigone beside the corpse of her brother — and nothing more. It did unconsciously help to promote the belief in immortality, by maintaining that the gods must be conceived not indeed as uncreated but, for their greater glorification, as undying — an idea quite foreign to the Aryan Indians. † The idea of sempiternity, that is, the

immortality to support and hold him“ (Letter to Goethe, August 9, 1796). Whether or not the Getae were Goths and so belonged to the Teutonic peoples, as Jacob Grimm asserted, does not here much matter; however, a full discussion of this interesting question is to be found in Wietersheim-Dahn, Geschichte der Völkerwanderung, i. 597; the result of the investigation is against Grimm‘s view. The story that the Getic King Zalmoxis learned the doctrine of immortality from Pythagoras is characterised by Rohde as an “absurd pragmatical tale“ (Psyche, p. 320).
* On this very important point, the genesis of the belief in immortality among the Greeks, see especially Rohde, Psyche, p. 296.
† In an old Vedic hymn, which I quoted on p. 35, a verse runs, “The Gods have arisen on this side of creation“; in their capacity as individuals, however, they too cannot, according to the Indian conviction, possess “sempiternity,“ and Çankara says in the Vedânta Sutra‘s, when speaking of the individual gods, “Such words as Indra, &c., signify, like the word ‘General,‘ only occupation of a definite post. Whoever therefore occupies the post in question bears the title Indra“ (i. 3, 28, p. 170 of Deussen‘s translation).


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

* Deussen, Allgemeine Geschichte der Philosophie, i. 39. See also Tylor.


the immortality of this soul — all these are, to begin with, not results of quickened philosophical thought, nor do they form in any sense an evolutional development, a glorification of that Hellenic national religion which had found its highest expression in the poets; it is rather that people and thinker here put themselves in opposition to poet and religion. And though obeying different impulses, people and thinker played into each other‘s hands, and together caused the decline and fall of poetry and religion. And when the crisis thus brought about was past, the result was that philosophers had taken the place of artists as the heralds of religion. To begin with, both poets and philosophers had of course derived their material from the people; but which of the two, I ask, has employed it the better and more wisely? Which has pointed the way to freedom and beauty, and which to bondage and ugliness? Which has paved the way for healthy empiric science and which has checked it for almost twenty centuries? In the meantime, from quite another direction, from the midst of a people that possessed neither art nor philosophy, a religious force had entered the world, so strong that it could bear, without breaking down, the madness of the whirling dance that had been elevated to a system of reason — so full of light that even the dark power of purely abstract logic could never dim its radiance — a religious power, qualified by its very origin to promote civilisation rather than culture; had that power not arisen, then this supposed elevation to higher ideals would have ended miserably in ignominy, or rather its actual wretchedness would never have remained concealed. If any one doubts this, let him read the literature of the first centuries of our era, when the State-paid, anti-Christian philosophers entitled their theory of knowledge “Theology“ (Plotinus, Proclus, &c.), let him see how these worthies in the leisure hours which remained to


them after picking Homer to pieces, commenting on Aristotle, building up Trinities, and discussing the question whether God had the attribute of life as well as of being, and other such subtleties, wandered from one place to another in order that they might be initiated into mysteries, or admitted as hierophants into Orphic societies — the foremost thinkers sunk to the grossest belief in magic. Or if such reading appals him, let him take up the witty Heinrich Heine of the second century, Lucian, and complete the information there given by the more serious but no less interesting writings of his contemporary Apuleius * — and then say where there is more religion to be found and where more superstition, where there is free, sound, creative human power and where fruitless, slovenly working of the treadmill in a continual circle. And yet the men who stand in that Homeric circle seem to us childishly pious and superstitious, these on the other hand enlightened thinkers! †
One more example! We are wont according to old custom to commend Aristotle more warmly for his teleological theory of the universe than for anything else, whereas we reproach Homer with his anthropomorphism. If we did not suffer from artificially produced atrophy of the brain, we should be bound to see the absurdity of this. Teleology, that is, the theory of finality according to the measure of human reason, is anthropomorphism in its highest potency. When man can grasp the plan of the cosmos, when he can say whence the world comes, whither it goes and what the purpose of each individual thing is,

* See particularly in the eleventh book of the Golden Ass the initiation into the mysteries of Isis, Osiris, Serapis and the admission into the association of the Pastophori. Plutarch‘s writing On Isis and Osiris should also be read.
† Bussell, The School of Plato, 1896, p. 345, writes of this philosophical period: “The daemons monopolise a worship, which cannot be devoted to a mere idea, and philosophy breathes out its life on the steps of smoking sacrificial altars and amid the incantations and delusions of prophecy and magic.“


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

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


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


It is essential to distinguish between philosophy and philosophy, and I think I have above warmly expressed my admiration for the Hellenic philosophy of the great epoch, particularly where it appeared as a creative activity of the human spirit closely related to poetry; in this respect Plato‘s theory of ideas is unsurpassed, while Aristotle appears to be incomparably great in analysis and method, but at the same time, as a philosopher in the


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

* Authenticated at least from Xenophanes and Heraclitus onwards.
† I quote from Gomperz: Griechische Denker, i. 50; according to Zeller‘s account so violent an expression would seem unlikely. If I remember rightly, it is Xenophanes who assigns the words to Heraclitus.


century? Here is a characteristic example of the many traditional consecrated confusions; we find the name of Sankara (certainly one of the greatest metaphysicians that ever lived) in no history of philosophy, while on the other hand the worthy olive-farmer Thales is ever paraded as the “first philosopher.“ And, if the matter be closely investigated, it will be found that almost all so-called philosophers at the zenith of Hellenic greatness are in a similar position: so far as we can judge from contradictory reports, Pythagoras did not found a philosophic school, but a political, social, dietetic and religious brotherhood; Plato himself, the metaphysician, was a statesman, moralist, practical reformer; Aristotle was a professional encyclopaedist, and the unity of his philosophy is due much more to his character than to his forced, half-traditional, contradictory metaphysics. Without therefore underestimating in any way the achievements of the Greek thinkers, we shall yet, I think, be able to assert (and so put an end to the confusion), that these men have paved the way for our science (including logic and ethics), and for our theology, and that they, through their poetically creative genius, have poured a flood of light upon the paths which speculation and intellectual investigation were afterwards to follow; as metaphysicians, in the real narrower sense of the word, they were, however, with the solo exception of Plato, comparatively of much less importance.
That nothing may remain obscure in a matter so weighty that it strikes into the depths of our life to-day, I should like briefly to refer to the fact, that in the person of the great Leonardo da Vinci we have an example — closely related to modern thought and feeling — of the deep gulf which separates poetical from abstract perception, religion from theologising philosophy. Leonardo brands the intellectual sciences as “deceptive“ (le


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


he was hemmed in on all sides, outwardly by custom, beliefs and civic institutions, inwardly by his whole personal education, which was principally artistic, by everything that surrounded him during his whole life, by all impressions which eye and ear conveyed to him; he was not free: because of his talent he did achieve great things, but nothing that satisfied — as his art did — the highest demands of harmony, truth and universal acceptance. In the case of Greek art the national element is comparable to pinions that raise the spirit to lofty heights, where “all men become brothers,“ where the separating gulf of times and races adds to rather than detracts from the charm; Hellenic philosophy, on the contrary, is in the limiting sense of the word fettered to a definite national life and consequently hemmed in on all sides. *
It is exceedingly difficult with such a view to prevail against the prejudice of centuries. Even such a man as Rohde calls the Greeks the “most fruitful in thought among nations“ and asserts that their philosophers “thought in advance for all mankind“; † Leopold von Ranke, who has no other epithet for Homeric religion than “idolatry“ (!) writes as follows: “What Aristotle says about the distinction between active and passive reason, only the first of which, however, is the true one, autonomous and related to God, I should be inclined to say was the best thing that could be said about the human spirit, with the exception of the Revelation of the Bible. We may say the same, if I am not mistaken, of Plato‘s doctrine of the soul.“ ‡ Ranke tells us further that the mission of Greek philosophy was to purge the old faith of its idolatrous element, to unite rational and

* Cf., further, vol. ii. pp. 270 and 554.
† Psyche, p. 104.
‡ Weltgeschichte (Text edition) i. 230. This axiom of wisdom reminds one perilously of the well-known story from the nursery: “Whom do you love most, papa or mamma? — Both!“ For though Aristotle starts from Plato, one can hardly imagine anything more


religious truth; but that the democracy frustrated this noble design, because it “held fast to idolatry“ (i. 230). * These examples may suffice, though one could quote many others. I am convinced that this is all illusion, indeed baneful illusion, and in essential points the very opposite of truth. It is not true that the Greeks have thought in advance for all mankind: before them, at their time and after them there has been deeper thinking, more acute and more correct. It is not true that the red-tape theology of Aristotle ad usum of the mainstays of society is “the best thing that could be said“: this Jesuitical scholastic sophistry has been the black plague of philosophy. It is not true that Greek thinkers have purified the old religion: they have rather attacked in it that very thing that deserved everlasting admiration, namely, its free, purely artistic beauty; and while they pretended to substitute rational for symbolical truth, they in reality only adopted popular superstition and set it, clad in logical rags, upon the throne, from which they — in company with the mob — had hurled down that poetry which proclaimed an everlasting truth.
As regards the so-called “thinking in advance,“ it will suffice to call attention to two circumstances to prove the erroneous nature of this assertion: in the first place, the Indians began to think before the Greeks, their thought was profounder and more consistent, and in their various systems they have exhausted more possibilities; in the second place, our own western European thought only began on the day when a great man said, “We must admit that the philosophy which we have received from

different than their theories of the soul (as well as their whole metaphysics). How then can both have said “the best thing“? Schopenhauer has expressed the matter correctly and concisely, “The radical contrast to Aristotle is Plato.“
* O twenty-fourth century! What sayest thou to this? I for my part am silent — at least with regard to personalities — and follow the example of wise Socrates in sacrificing a cock to the idols of my century!


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

* Bacon of Verulam: Instauratio Magna, Introduction. “Et de utilitate aperte dicendum est: sapientiam istam, quam a Graecis potissimum hausimus, pueritiam quandam scientiae videri, atque habere quod proprium est puerorum; ut ad garriendum prompta, ad generandum invalida et immatura sit. Controversiarum enim ferax, operum effoeta est.“
† Schroeder, Indiens Litteratur und Kultur, p. 252.


the soul transmigrating rests on ignorance, while the soul in the sense of the highest reality is not transmigratory“: such is the teaching of the Indian thinker. * A really “secret doctrine,“ such as the Greeks following Egyptian example loved, the Indians never knew: men of all castes, even women, could attain to the highest knowledge; but these profound sages knew very well that metaphysical thought requires special faculties and special development of those faculties; and so they let the figurative alone. And this figure, this magnificent conception of the transmigration of souls, which is perhaps indispensable for morals though essentially but a popular belief, while in India it was prevalent among the whole people from the highest to the lowest with the exception of the thinkers alone, became in Greece the most sublime “secret doctrine“ of their first great philosopher, never quite disappeared from the highest regions of their philosophical views, and received from Plato the alluring charm of poetical form. These are the people who are said to have paved the way for us in thought, “the richest in thought of nations“! No, the Greeks were no great metaphysicians.


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

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


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

* Colebrooke, Miscellaneous Essays, p. 442.
† In a short summary, Die Religion der Griechen, published in 1895 in the Bayreuther Blätter (also printed separately in 1902).


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


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

* See, for example, in Book XXIV. of the Iliad (verse 300 ff.) the appearance “from the right“ of the eagle which presages good. Very significant are the words of Priam in the same book with regard to a vision he has seen (verse 220 ff.): “Had any other of mortal men bidden me believe it, an interpreter of signs or prophet or sacrificial priest, I should have called it deceit and turned from it with contempt.“ Magnificent, too, is the conception of “spirits“ in Hesiod, although he is much nearer to the popular superstition than Homer (Works and Days, 124 ff.): “They defend the right and hinder deeds of impiety: everywhere over the earth they wander, hidden in mist, and scatter blessings; this is the kingly office which they have received.“
† Döllinger calls the “systematic belief in daemons“ one of the “Danaan gifts of Greek imagining“ (Akad. Vorträge, i. 182).


help of philosophy and rational psychology undertakes to solve the great problems of existence. Here the Greek spirit at once falls into scholasticism, as already hinted. “Words, words, nothing but words!“ In this case detailed treatment would unfortunately go far beyond the scope of this book. But if any one is shy of the higher philosophy, let him take up a catechism, he will find plenty of Aristotle in it. Talk of the Divinity with such a man, and tell him that it “did not come into existence and was not created; that it has been from all time and is immortal,“ and he will think that you are quoting from the creed of an oecumenical council, whereas, as a matter of fact, it is a quotation from Aristotle! And if you further say to him that God is “an everlasting, perfect, unconditioned being, gifted with life, but without bulk, one who in eternal actuality thinks himself, for (this serves as explanation) thinking becomes objective to itself by the thinking of the thing thought, so that thinking and the thing thought become identical,“ the poor man will fancy that you are reading from Thomas Aquinas or at least from Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, but again it is a quotation from Aristotle. * The rational doctrine of God, the rational doctrine of the soul, above all the doctrine of a purposed order of the world suitable to human reason, or teleology (through which Aristotle, by the way, introduced such grotesque errors into his natural science), that was the inheritance in this sphere! How many centuries did it take till there came a brave man who threw this ballast overboard and showed that one cannot prove the existence of God, as Aristotle had made twenty centuries believe: — till a man came who ventured to write the words, “Neither experience nor conclusions of reason adequately inform us whether man possesses a soul (as a substance dwelling in him, distinct from body and capable of thinking independently of it and

* Metaphysics, Book XII. chap. vii.


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


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

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


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



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


TO define in clear terms what we have inherited from Rome, what out of that vast manufactory of human destinies still exercises a living influence, is certainly impossible, unless we have a clear conception of what Rome was. Even Roman Law in the narrower sense of the word (Private Law), which, as every one knows, forms the chief material on which all juristical minds are to this day trained, and provides the actual basis even for the freest, most divergent and more modern systems of law, cannot be judged in a way that will give a proper estimate of its peculiar value, if it be simply regarded as a kind of lay Bible, a canon, which has taken a permanent place, hallowed by tens of centuries. If this blind attachment to Roman legal dicta is the result of a superficial historical appreciation, the same may be said of the violent reaction against Roman Law. Whoever studies this law and its slow tedious development, even if only in general outlines, will certainly form a different judgment. For then he will see how the Indo-European races * even in earliest times possessed certain clearly expressed

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


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

while from various sides the existence of an Aryan race is called in question, while many philologists doubt the validity of the language criterion (see Salomon Reinach, L‘origine des Aryens) and individual anthropologists point to the chaotic results of the measuring of skulls (e.g., Topinard and Ratzel), the investigators in the sphere of history of law unanimously use the expression Aryans or Indo-Europeans, because they find a definite conception of law in this group of linguistically related peoples, who from the beginning and through all the branchings of a manifold development have fundamentally nothing in common with certain equally ineradicable legal conceptions prevalent among the Semites, Hamites, &c. (See the works of Savigny, Mommsen, Jhering and Leist.) No measuring of skulls and philological subtleties can get rid of this great simple fact — a result of painfully accurate, juristical research — and by it the existence of a moral Aryanism (in contrast to a moral non-Aryanism) is proved, no matter how varied are the elements of which the peoples of this group should be composed.
* Jhering: Entwickelungsgeschichte des römischen Rechts, p. 81. An expression which is all the more remarkable as this great authority on law is wont to deny vigorously that anything is innate in a people; he even goes the length in his Vorgeschichte der Indoeuropäer (p. 270) of making the extraordinary statement that the inherited physical (and with it simultaneously the moral) structure of man —


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


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

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


Of course every person of culture is, to a certain point, at home in Roman history: the legendary Romulus, Numa Pompilius, Brutus, the Horatii and Curiatii, the Gracchi, Marius, Sulla, Caesar, Pompey, Trajan, Diocletian and countless others, are all at least just as familiar to us (i.e., in regard to names and dates) as our own great men; a youth who could not give information about the Second Punic War or confused the different Scipios would feel just as ashamed as if he could not explain the advantages of the Roman legions and maniples over the Macedonian phalanx. One must also admit that Roman history, as it is usually presented to us, is a remarkably rich store of interesting anecdotes; but the knowledge one derives from it is one-sided and absolutely defective. The whole history of Rome almost assumes the appearance of a great and cruel sport, played by politicians and generals, whose pastime it is to conquer the world, whereby they achieve many marvellous results in the art of systematic oppression of foreign peoples and egging on of their own, as well as in the equally noble art of inventing new stratagems of war and of putting them into practice with as large herds of human cattle as possible. There is beyond doubt some truth in this view. There came a time in Rome when those who considered themselves aristocrats chose war and politics as their life-work, instead of taking them up only in time of necessity. Just as with us a short time ago, a man of family could only become an officer, diplomatist or administrative official, so the “upper ten thousand“ in later Rome could enter only three professions that did not degrade them socially — res militaris, juris scientia and eloquentia. * And as the world was still young and the province of science not too large to be covered, a man of ability could master all three; if in addition he had plenty of money, his qualifications

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


for politics were complete. It is only necessary to read over again the letters of Cicero to see from his simple confessions, hopelessly entrammelled as he was in the ideas of his time, and unable to look beyond his own nose, how mighty Rome and its destinies became the play-ball of idle dawdlers and how much truth there is in the assertion that Rome was not made but unmade by its politicians. Politics have their peculiarities in other countries as well as in Rome. From Alexander to Napoleon, one can hardly over-estimate the power of criminal obstinacy in purely political heroes. A brief discussion of this point is all the more appropriate in this chapter, as Rome in particular is rightly regarded as a specifically political State and we may therefore hope to learn from it how and by whom great and successful politics are achieved.
What Gibbon says about kings in general, that “their power is most effective in destruction,“ is true of almost all politicians — as soon as they possess sufficient power. I am not sure that it was not the wise Solon who made a prosperous development of the Athenian State impossible for all time, by doing away with the historically given composition of the population from various tribes and introducing an artificial class-division according to property. This so-called timocracy (honour to him who has money) comes in, it is true, of its own accord almost everywhere to a smaller or greater extent, and Solon at least took the precaution of making duties increase with increase of wealth; nevertheless he it was with his constitution that laid the axe to the root, from which — however painfully — the Athenian State had grown. * A less

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


important man would not have ventured to make such a revolutionary change in the natural course of development, and that would probably have been a blessing. And can we form a different opinion of Julius Caesar? Of the famous generals in the history of the world as a politician he probably played the greatest part; in the most widely different spheres (think only of the improvement of the calendar, the undertaking of a universal legal code, the founding of the African colony) he revealed a penetrating understanding; as an organising genius he would, I think, not have been surpassed by Napoleon, under equally favourable conditions — and withal he had the inestimable advantage of being not a foreign condottiere, like Napoleon or Diocletian, but a good genuine Roman, firmly rooted in his hereditary fatherland, so that his individual arbitrariness (as in the case of Lycurgus) would certainly not have erred far from the plumb-line of what suited his nation. And yet it is this very man and no other who bent the tough tree of life of the Roman con-

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


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

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


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


to Pompey even from Ariminum to the effect that the interests of the republic were nearer his heart than his own life; * and yet Caesar had not long been all-powerful to do good, when his faithful friend Sallust had to ask him whether he had really saved or despoiled the republic? † At the best he had saved it as Virginius did his daughter. Pompey, as several contemporary writers tell us, would allow no one beside him, Caesar no one over him. Imagine what might have been the result for Rome if two such men, instead of being politicians, had acted as the servants of the Fatherland, as had been Roman custom hitherto!
It is not my business to enter more fully into the subject briefly sketched here; my only object has been to show what a superficial knowledge we have of a people, if we study only the history of its politicians and generals. This is particularly the case with Rome. Whoever studies Rome merely from this point of view, no matter how industriously he may examine its history, can certainly arrive at no other result than did Herder, whose interpretation therefore will remain classic. To this man of genius Roman history is “the history of demons,“ Rome a “robbers‘ cave,“ what the Romans give to the world “devastating night,“ their “great noble souls, Caesars and Scipios,“ spend their life in murdering, the more men they have slaughtered in their campaigns, the warmer the praise that is paid them. ‡ This is from a certain point of view correct; but the investigations of Niebuhr, Duruy and Mommsen (especially the last), as well as those of the brilliant historians of law in our century — Savigny, Jhering and many others — have brought to light another Rome, to the existence of which Montesquieu had been the first

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


to call attention. Here the important thing was to discover and put in its right light what the old Roman historians, intent on celebrating battles, describing conspiracies, slandering enemies and flattering politicians who paid well, had passed by unnoticed or at any rate had never duly appreciated. A people does not become what the Romans have become in the history of mankind by means of murder and robbery, but in spite of it; no people produces statesmen and warriors of such admirably strong character as Rome did, if it does not itself supply a broad, firm and sound basis for strength of character. What Herder and so many after him call Rome can therefore be only a part of Rome, and indeed not the most important part. The exposition of Augustine in the fifth book of his De civitate Dei is, in my judgment, far happier; he calls attention particularly to the absence of greed and selfishness among the Romans and says that their whole will proclaimed itself in the one resolution, “either to live free or die bravely“ (aut fortiter emori aut liberos vivere); and the greatness of the Roman power, as well as its durability, he ascribes to this moral greatness.
In the general introduction to this book I spoke of “anonymous“ powers, which shape the life of peoples; we have a brilliant example of this in Rome. I believe we might say without exaggeration that all Rome‘s true greatness was such an anonymous “national greatness.“ If in the case of the Athenians genius unfolded itself in the blossom, here it did so in the trunk and the roots; Rome was of all nations that with the strongest roots. Hence it was that it defied so many storms, and the history of the world required almost five hundred years to uproot the rotten trunk. Hence too, however, the peculiar grisaille of its history. In the case of the Roman tree everything went to wood, as the gardeners say; it bore few leaves, still fewer blossoms, but


the trunk was incomparably strong; by its support later nations raised themselves aloft. The poet and the philosopher could not prosper in this atmosphere, this people loved only those personalities in whom it recognised itself, everything unusual aroused its distrust; “whoever wished to be other than his comrades passed in Rome for a bad citizen.“ * The people were right; the best statesman for Rome was he who did not move one hair‘s-breadth from what the people as a whole wished, a man who understood how to open the safety-valve now here, now there, to meet the growing forces by the lengthening of pistons and by suitably arranged centrifugal balls and throttles, till the machine of State had quasi-automatically increased its size and perfected its administrative power; he must be, in short, a reliable mechanician: that was the ideal politician for this strong, conscious people whose interests lay entirely in the practical things of life. As soon as any one overstepped this limit, he necessarily committed a crime against the common weal.
Rome, I repeat — for this is the chief point to grasp, and everything else follows from it — Rome is not the creation of individual men, but of a whole people; in contrast to Hellas everything really great is here “anonymous“; none of its great men approaches the greatness of the Roman people as a whole. And so what Cicero says in his Republic (ii. I) is very correct and worth taking to heart: “The constitution of our State is superior to that of others for the following reason: in other places it was individual men who by laws and institutions founded the constitution, as, for example, Minos in Crete, Lycurgus in Lacedaemonia, in Athens (where change was frequent) at one time Theseus, at another Draco, then Solon, Clisthenes and many others; on the other hand, our Roman Commonwealth is founded

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


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


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


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


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

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


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

tism of our century have brought into most of our popular books absolutely invented descriptions, which are very difficult to remove from them, in spite of the sure results of exact research; and from here these descriptions also force their way into valuable and serious books. In Lamprecht‘s famous Deutsche Geschichte, vol. i., for instance, we find what is supposed to be a description of the social conditions of the old Teutonic peoples, sketched “under the auspices of comparative ethnology“; here we are told of a time when among these peoples a “community of sex limited by no differences of any kind prevailed, all brothers and sisters were husbands and wives to each other and all their children brothers and sisters, &c.“; the first progress from this state, as we are to suppose, was the establishment of the mother‘s right, the so-called Matriarchate — and so the tale continues for pages; one fancies one is listening to the first stuttering of a new mythology. As far as the mother-right is concerned (i.e., family name and right of inheritance after the mother, as the fatherhood was always a common one), Jhering has convincingly shown that even the oldest Aryans, before the breaking off of a Teutonic branch, knew nothing of it (Vorgeschichte, p. 61 ff.), and the very oldest parts of the Aryan language point already to the “supreme position of the husband and father of the household“ (Leist, Gräco-ital. Rechtsgeschichte, p. 58); that supposition therefore lacks every scientific basis. (This was meantime confirmed by Otto Schrader, Reallexicon der indogermanischen Altertumskunde, 1901, p. xxxiii.) It is still more important to establish the fact that the “comparative ethnography“ appealed to by Lamprecht has found community of sex nowhere in the world among human beings. In the year 1896 a small book appeared which summarises in strictly objective fashion all the researches that refer to this, Ernst Grosse‘s Die Formen der Familie und die Formen der Wirtschaft, and there we see how the so-called empirical philosophers, with Herbert Spencer at their head, and the so-called strictly empirical anthropologists and ethnologists, honoured as “authorities“ (with praiseworthy exceptions like Lubbock), simply started from the à priori supposition that there must be community of sex among simpler peoples, since the law of evolution demands it, and then everywhere discovered facts to confirm this. But more exact and unprejudiced investigations now prove for one race after the other that community of sex does not exist there, and Grosse may put down the apodictic assertion: “There is, in fact, no single primitive people whose sexual relations approached a condition of promiscuity or even hinted at such a thing. The firmly knit individual family is by no means a late achievement of civilisation, it exists in the lowest stages of culture as a rule without exception“ (p. 42). Exact proofs are to be found in Grosse; besides, all anthropological and ethnological accounts of recent years testify how very much we have undervalued the so-called savages, how superficially we have observed and how thoughtlessly we have drawn conclusions about primitive conditions, of which we know absolutely nothing with surety,


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

[Lately Heinrich Schurtz, in his Altersklassen und Männerbunde, eine Darstellung der Grundformen der Gesellschaft, 1902, has fully shown that the arguments for promiscuity in early times, which are wont to be drawn from phenomena of “free love“ to-day, are to be interpreted quite differently, and that, on the contrary, “with the most primitive races marriage, and in connection with it the formation of society on a purely sexual basis, is more strongly developed“ (p. 200).] As this subject is essentially of the greatest importance and throws a peculiar and very noteworthy sidelight upon scientific modes of thought and power of thought in our century, I should like to add one more instructive example. The original inhabitants of central Australia are, as is well known, supposed to belong to the most backward, intellectually, of all peoples; Lubbock calls them “wretched savages, who cannot count their own fingers, not even the fingers of one hand“ (The Prehistoric Age, Germ. trans., ii. 151). One can imagine with what contempt the traveller Eyre wrote of the “remarkably peculiar cases where marriage is forbidden“ in this wretched race, “where a man may not marry a woman who has the same name as he, even though she be by no means related to him.“ Strange! And how could these people come to have such inexplicable caprices when it would have been their duty, according to the theory of evolution, to have lived in absolute promiscuity? Since that time two English officials, who lived for years among these savages and gained their confidence, have given us a detailed account of them (Royal Society of Victoria, April 1897, summary in Nature, June 10, 1897), and it appears that their whole intellectual life, their “conceptive life“ (if I may say so) is so incredibly complicated that it is almost impossible for one of us to comprehend it. These people, for example, who are supposed not to be able to count up to five, have a more complicated belief than Plato with regard to the transmigration of souls, and this faith forms the basis of their religion. Now as to their marriage laws. In the particular district spoken of here there lives an ethnically uniform race, the Aruntas. Every marriage union with strange races is forbidden; thereby the race is kept pure. But the extremely baneful effects of long-continued inbreeding (Lamprecht‘s Teutons would long have become Cretins before ever they entered into history!) are prevented by the Australian blacks by the following ingenious system: they divide (mentally) the whole race into four groups; for simplicity I designate them a b c d. A youth from the group a may only marry a girl from group d, the male b only the female c, the male c only the female b, the male d only the female a. The children of a and d form once more the group b, those of b and c the group a, those of c and b the group d, those of d and a the group c. I simplify very much and give only the skeleton, for I fear my European reader would otherwise soon reach the stage of likewise not being able to count up to five. That such a system imposes important restrictions on the rights of the heart cannot be denied, but I ask, how could a scientifically trained selector have hit upon a more ingenious expedient to satisfy the two laws of breeding


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

which are established by strict observation, namely, (1) the race must be kept pure, (2) continuous inbreeding is to be avoided? (see chap. iv.). Such a phenomenon calls for reverence and silence. When contemplating it one gladly keeps silent regarding such systems as those already mentioned as belonging to the end of the nineteenth century. But what must we feel when we turn our glance from the extremely laboured efforts of these worthy Australian Aruntas to Rome and behold here, in the middle of a frightful world, the sacredness of marriage, the legal status of the family, the freedom of the head of the household rising up out of the heart of the people, for it was at a much later period that it was engraved on bronze tables?
* Thierry, Mommsen, &c.
† Till a short time ago it was a favourite practice to represent the population of Rome as a kind of medley of peoples living side by side: it was supposed to have borrowed its traditions from Hellenic units, its administration from Etruscan ones, its law from Sabines, and its intellect from Samnites, &c. Thus Rome would have in a way been a mere word, a name, the common designation of an international trysting-place. This soap-bubble, too, which rose from the brain foam of pale professors, has burst, like so many others, in Mommsen‘s hands. Facts and reason both prove the absurdity of such a hypothesis, “which attempts to change the people, which, as few others, has developed its language, state, and religion purely and popularly, into a confused rubble of Etruscan, Sabine, Hellenic, and unfortunately even Pelasgic ruins“ (Röm. Gesch., i. 43). The fact, however, that this thoroughly uniform and peculiar people originated from a crossing of various related races is undeniable, and Mommsen himself clearly shows this; he admits two Latin and one Sabellian race; at a later time all kinds of elements were added, but only after the Roman national character was firmly developed so that it assimilated the foreign portion. It would, however, be ridiculous to “assign Rome to the number of mixed peoples“ (see p. 44). It is quite a different thing to establish the fact that the most extraordinary and most individual talents and the sturdiest power are produced by crossing. Athens was a brilliant example, Rome another, Italy and Spain in the Middle Ages equally so, just as Prussia and England prove it at the present day (more details in chap. 4). In this respect the Hellenic myth that the Latins were descended from Hercules and a Hyperborean maiden is very noteworthy as one of those incomprehensible traits of innate wisdom; whereas the desperate efforts of Dionysius of Halicarnassus (who lived at the time of the


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

birth of Christ) to prove the descent of the Romans from Hellenes, “as they could not possibly be of barbarian origin,“ shows with touching simplicity how dangerous a conjunction of great learning with preconceived opinions and conclusions of reason can become!
* The family resting upon relationship to the father alone, so that only descent from the father‘s side by males, and not that from the mother‘s side, establishes relationship at law. Only a marriage contracted in the right forms produces children who belong to the agnate family.


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



Mommsen tells (i. 321) of the alliance between the Babylonians and the Phoenicians to subdue Greece and Italy, and is of opinion that “at one stroke freedom and civilisation would have been swept off the face of the earth.“ We should weigh carefully what these words mean when uttered by a man who commands the whole field as no one else does; freedom and civilisation (I should rather have said culture, for how can one deny civilisation to the Babylonians and Phoenicians, or even to the Chinese?) would have been destroyed, blotted out for ever! And then take up the books which give a detailed and scientific account of the Phoenician and Babylonian civilisation, in order to see clearly what foundation there is for such a far-reaching statement. It will not be difficult to see what distinguishes a Hellenic “Colony“ from a Phoenician Factory: and from the difference between Rome and Carthage we shall readily understand what an ideal power is, even in the sphere of the driest, most selfish politics of interest. How suggestive is that distinction which Jhering (Vorgeschichte, p. 176) teaches us to draw between the “commercial highways“ of the Semites and the “military roads“ of the Romans: the former the outcome of the tendency to expansion and possession; the latter the result of the need of concentrating their power and defending the homeland. We shall also learn to distinguish between authentic “robbers,“ who only civilise in as far as they understand how to take up and utilise with enviable intelligence all discoveries that have a practical worth and to encourage in the interests of their commerce artificial needs in foreign peoples, but who otherwise rob even their nearest relations of every human right — who nowhere organise anything but taxes and absolute


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

* One of the last instances are the Jews who (about the year 1) came to Rome with the urgent request that it should deliver them from their Semitic sovereigns and make them into a Roman province. It is well known what gratitude they afterwards showed to Rome, which ruled them so mildly and generously.
† Esmarch, in his Römische Rechtsgeschichte, 3rd ed., p. 185, writes as follows on the frequently very vaguely developed and defined jus gentium: “This law in the Roman sense is to be regarded neither as an aggregate of accidentally common clauses, formed from a comparison of the laws that were valid among all the nations known to the Romans, nor as an objectively existing commercial law recognised and adopted by the Roman State; it should be regarded, according to its essential substance, as a system of order for the application of private law to international relations, evolved out of the heart of Roman popular consciousness.“ Within the several countries the conditions of law were as little changed as possible by the Romans, one of the surprising proofs of the great respect which in the period of their true greatness they paid to all individuality.


Livy says with justice: “It was not only by our weapons but also by our Roman legislation that we won our far-reaching influence.“
It is clear that the commonly accepted view of Rome as the conquering nation above all others is very one-sided. Indeed even after Rome had broken with its own traditions, or rather when the Roman people had in fact disappeared from the earth, and only the idea of it still hovered over its grave, even then it could not depart far from this great principle of its life: even the rough soldier-emperors were unable to break this tradition. And thus it is that the real military hero — as individual phenomenon — does not occur at all among the Romans. I will not make any comparisons with Alexander, Charles XII. or Napoleon; I ask, however, whether the one man Hannibal, as an inventive, audacious, arbitrary prince of war, has not displayed more real genius than all the Roman imperators taken together.
It need scarcely be stated that Rome fought neither for a Europe of the future nor in the interests of a far-reaching mission of culture, but simply for itself; but thanks to this very fact, that it fought for its own interests with the reckless energy of a morally strong people, it has preserved from sure destruction that “intellectual development of mankind which depends upon the Indo-Teutonic race.“ This is best seen clearly in the most decisive of all its struggles, that with Carthage. If Rome‘s political development had not been so strictly logical up till then, if it had not betimes subdued and disciplined the rest of Italy, the deadly blow to freedom and civilisation mentioned above would assuredly have been dealt by the allied Asiatics and Carthaginians. And how little a single hero can do in the face of such situations of world-wide historical moment, although he alone, it may be, has taken a comprehensive view of them, is shown by the fate of Alexander, who having destroyed


Tyre meditated embarking on a campaign against Carthage, but at his early death left nothing behind but the memory of his genius. The long-lived Roman people, on the other band, was equal to that great task, which it finally summed up in the monumental sentence, delenda est Carthago.
What laments and moralisings we have had on the destruction of Carthage by the Romans, from Polybius to Mommsen! It is refreshing to meet a writer who, like Bossuet, simply says: “Carthage was taken and destroyed by Scipio, who in this showed himself worthy of his great ancestor,“ without any moral indignation, without the well-worn phrase that all the suffering which later befell Rome was a retribution for this misdeed. I am not writing a history of Rome and do not therefore require to sit in judgment on the Romans; but one thing is as clear as the noonday sun; if the Phoenician people had not been destroyed, if its survivors had not been deprived of a rallying-point by the complete destruction of their last city, and compelled to merge in other nations, mankind would never have seen this nineteenth century, upon which, with all due recognition of our weaknesses and follies, we yet look back with pride, justified in our hopes for the future. The least mercy shown to a race of such unparalleled tenacity as the Semites would have sufficed to enable the Phoenician nation to rise once more; in a Carthage only half-burned the torch of life would have glimmered beneath the ashes, to burst again into flame as soon as the Roman Empire began to approach its dissolution. We are not yet free of peril from the Arabs, * who long seriously threatened our existence, and their

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


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

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


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

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


delenda est Carthago. And even if it should be true that the Romans in this case listened more than was their wont to the mean promptings of revenge, perhaps even of jealousy, all the more am I bound to admire the unerring certainty of instinct which induced them, even where they were blinded by evil passions, to strike down that which any cool, calculating politician gifted with the eye of the prophet would have been bound to urge them to destroy for the salvation of mankind. *
A second Roman delenda has for the history of the world an almost equally inestimable importance: the delenda est Hierosolyma. Had it not been for this achievement (which we certainly owe as much to the Jews who have at all times rebelled against every system of government as to the long-suffering Romans) Christianity would hardly ever have freed itself from Judaism, but

* Mommsen, who feels bound strongly to condemn the action of the Romans against Carthage, admits at a later point (v. 623) that it was in his opinion neither lust of empire nor of possession but fear and jealousy that prompted it. This very distinction is of importance for our reasoned view of the part played by Rome in the history of the world. If in a world which recognises might alone as the norm of international law, we can say with certainty of a people that it was not greedy of possessions or power, it seems to me that we have given it a testimonial to its moral character which makes it tower high above all contemporary peoples. As regards “fear,“ it was thoroughly justified, and it is surely permitted to think that the Roman senate formed a more correct judgment of the situation than Mommsen. — The arbitrary Caesar, of whom even his zealous friend Celius must say that he sacrifices the interests of the State to his personal ends, built Carthage again at a later time. And what did it become? The most notorious pit of vice in the world, where all whose destiny cast them thither — Romans, Greeks, Vandals — degenerated to the very marrow of their bones. Such devastating magic was still possessed by the curse which rested on the spot where Phoenician horrors had reigned supreme for five hundred years! From its houses of evil repute there arose a mighty cry of indignation against everything called civilisation: That it bore Tertullian and Augustine is the only merit that we can attribute to this shortsighted and shortlived creation of Caesar. — To characterise the nineteenth century, let me quote the opinion of one who is among its so-called greatest historians. Professor Leopold von Ranke says: “The Phoenician element has by means of commerce, colonisation and, finally, also by war, in the main exercised a quickening influence upon the Occident“ (Weltgeschichte, i. 542).


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

* Diaspora is the name given to the widened Jewish community. Originally the term was applied to those Jews who had preferred not to return from the Babylonian captivity, because they were better off there than in their home. Soon there was no prosperous city in the world without a Jewish community; nothing is more erroneous than the widespread belief that it was the destruction of Jerusalem that first scattered the Jews over the world. In Alexandria and its neighbourhood alone there were reckoned to be under the first Roman emperors a million Jews, and Tiberius already recognised the great danger of this theocratic State in the midst of the legal State. The men of the Diaspora were keen and successful propagandists, and their considerate adoption of men as “half Jews“ under remission of the painful initiatory ceremony, helped them greatly; in addition, material advantages contributed to their success, since the Jews pleaded their religion as an excuse for exemption from military service and a series of other burdensome civic duties; but the Hebrew missionaries had the greatest success with women. Now it is a noteworthy fact that this international community, which contained Hebrews and non-Hebrews, and in which all shades of faith were represented, from the most bigoted Pharisaism to open scoffing irreligion, held together like one man as soon as it was a question of the privileges and interests of the common Jewry; the Jewish freethinker would not for the world have omitted to send in his yearly contribution to Jerusalem for the temple offerings; Philo, the famous Neoplatonist, who believed in Jahve as little as in Jupiter, nevertheless represented the Jewish community of Alexandria in Rome in favour of the synagogues threatened by Caligula; Poppaea Sabina, the mistress and later the wife of Nero, though no Hebrew but a keen member of the Jewish Diaspora, supported the prayers of the Jewish actor Alityrus, the favourite of Nero, to root out the sect of the Christians, and thereby became very probably morally responsible for that frightful persecution of the year 64, in which it is said that the apostles Peter and Paul met their death. The fact that the Romans, who otherwise at that time could not distinguish Christians from orthodox Jews, were on this occasion able to do so accurately, is regarded by Renan as conclusive proof of this charge, which was made against the Diaspora even in the first century (in Tertullian‘s Apologeticus, chap. xxi., for example, somewhat reserved but yet clear; see also Renan, L‘Antéchrist, chap. vii.). Newer convincing proofs that up to Domitian‘s time, and so till long after Nero‘s death the Romans regarded the Christians as a Jewish sect, are to be found in Neumand: Der römische Staat und die allgemeine Kirche (1890), pp. 5 ff. and 14 ff. That Tacitus distinguished clearly between Jews and Christians manifestly proves nothing in this matter, as he wrote fifty years after Nero‘s persecu-


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

tion and in his narrative transferred the knowledge of a later time to an earlier. (See, too, in connection with the “Jewish jealousy,“ Paul Allard: Le Christianisme et l‘Empire romain de Néron à Théodose (1897), chap. i.)
* Cf. on this, Graetz, Volksth. Geschichte der Juden, i. 653.
† In his Discours et Conférences‚ 3rd ed., p. 350, he calls the destruction of Jerusalem “un immense bonheur.“


disappeared from the world; the flatly materialistic view of God would have been our religion, pettifoggery our philosophy. This too is no imaginary picture, only too many facts speak for it; for what is that rigid, illiberal, intellectually narrow dogmatising of the Christian Church — a thing undreamt of by the Aryan — what is that disgraceful, bloodthirsty fanaticism which runs through all the ages down to our own nineteenth century, that curse of hatred that has clung to the religion of love from the beginning and from which Greeks and Romans, Indians and Chinese, Persians and Teutonic peoples turn with horror? What is it, if not the shadow of that temple, in which sacrifices were offered to the god of anger and vengeance, a dark shadow cast over the youth of the heroic race “that from out the darkness strives to reach the light“?
Without Rome it is certain that Europe would have remained a mere continuation of the Asiatic chaos. Greece always gravitated towards Asia, till Rome tore it away. It is the work of Rome that the centre of gravity of culture has been once and for all removed to the west, that the Semitic-Asiatic spell has been broken and at least partly cast aside, that the predominantly Indo-Teutonic Europe became henceforth the beating heart and thinking brain of all mankind. While this State fought for its own practical (but, as we saw, not unideal) interests without the least regard for others — often cruelly, always sternly, but seldom ignobly — it has put the house in readiness, the strong citadel in which our race, after long aimless wanderings, was to settle down and organise itself for the salvation of mankind.
For the accomplishment of Rome‘s work so many centuries were necessary, and in addition so high a degree of that unerring, self-willed instinct, which hits the mark, even where it seems to be going senselessly astray, doing good even where its will is baneful, that it was not the fleeting existence of pre-eminent individuals but


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


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


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


soullessness in this whole period. Here the sway of understanding is supreme, the heart is dumb; the passionless mechanism affects even the soul, which does right not from love but from reason: Marcus Aurelius‘ “Monologues“ are the mirror of this attitude of mind, and the inevitable reaction appears in the sexual aberrations of his wife Faustina. The root of Rome, the passionate love of the family, of the home, was torn out; not even the famous law against bachelors, with premiums for children (Lex Julia et Papia Poppaea) could again make marriage popular. Where the heart does not command, nothing is enduring. And now other foreigners usurped supreme power, this time men full of passion but devoid of understanding, African half-breeds, soldier Emperors, who saw in the Roman State nothing more than a gigantic barracks, and had no idea why Rome in particular should be the permanent headquarters. The second of them, Caracalla, even extended the Roman franchise to all the inhabitants of the Empire: thereby Rome ceased to be Rome. For exactly a thousand years the citizens of Rome (with whom those of the other cities of Italy and of other specially deserving States had gradually been put on an equal footing) had enjoyed certain privileges, but they had gained them by burdensome responsibility as well as by restless, incomparably successful, hard work; from now onward Rome was everywhere, that is, nowhere. Wherever the Emperor happened to be was the centre of the Roman Empire. Diocletian transferred his residence to Sirmium, Constantine to Byzantium, and even when a separate Western Roman Empire arose, the imperial capital was Ravenna or Milan, Paris, Aachen, Vienna, never again Rome. The extension of the franchise to all had another result: there were no longer any citizens. Caracalla, * the murderous, pseudo-Punic savage, used

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


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

I recommend the little book of Prof. Dr. Rudolf Leonhard, Roms Vergangenheit und Deutschlands Recht, 1889, pp. 93-99. He shows in the course of a few pages how this Syrian, “a descendant of the Carthaginian human butchers and the countrymen of those priests of Baal who were wont to throw their enemies into hot ovens“ (the Jews did the same; see 2 Samuel, xii. 31), had adopted as his aim in life the annihilation of Rome and the destruction of the still living remains of Hellenic culture, and at the same time the flooding of the cultured European world with the pseudo-Semitic refuse of his home. This was all done systematically, maliciously and under cover of such phrases as universal franchise and religion of mankind. Thus in one single day he succeeded in destroying Rome for ever; thus unsuspecting Alexandria, the centre of art and science, became a victim of the raceless, homeless bestiality that tore down all barriers. Let us never — never for a moment — forget that the spirit of Caracalla is among us and waiting for its chance! Instead of repeating by rote the deceptive phrases about humanity which were the fashion even 1800 years ago in the Semitic salons in Rome, we should do better to say with Goethe:

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


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

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


It is not my intention to trace further through history the idea of the Roman State; something will still have to be said on this matter in a later chapter; I shall restrict myself to reminding the reader that a Roman Empire — in idea a direct continuation of the old Imperium — legally existed till August 6, 1806, and that the oldest Roman office, that of Pontifex maximus, which was held by Numa Pompilius himself, is still in existence; the Papal stool is the last remnant of the old heathen world which has continued to live to the present day. * If what I have briefly pointed out is known to all, it has been brought forward in the hope that I might be able to demonstrate more vividly amid suggestively than could be done by theoretical analysis the peculiarly complicated form of the political legacy which our century received from Rome. Here as elsewhere in this book learned considerations have no place; these are to be found in histories of constitutional law; here I bring forward only general observations, which are accessible and stimulating to all. In purely political matters we have inherited from Rome not a simple idea, not even anything so simple as what is embraced by the phrase “Hellenic art,“ however full of meaning that may be, but on the other hand there has come down to us a remarkable mixture of possessions of the greatest reality — civilisation, law, organisation, administration, &c.; and at the same time of ideas which, though we may not comprehend them, are yet all-powerful; of notions which no one can fully grasp and which, nevertheless, for good and for evil, still influence our public life. We certainly cannot understand our own century thoroughly and critically, if we have not clear conceptions regarding this double political legacy.

* Details in vol. ii. chap. vii.



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

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


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


times and conditions. Similarly everything in this State was elastic, everything remained in touch with the needs of life. But exactly as the poetical inspirations of the Greek philosophers and their mystical interpretations of the Inscrutable had been transformed in Helleno-Semitic Alexandria to dogmas of faith, so here State and law were changed to dogmas, and pretty much by the same people. We have inherited these dogmas, and it is important that we should know whence they come and how they arose.
For example, our idea of the monarch is derived neither from the Teutonic nations, nor from the Oriental despots, but from the learned Jurists who were in the service of the Illyrian shepherd Diocletian, of the Illyrian cowboy Galerius and of the Illyrian swineherd Maximinus, and is a direct parody — if the truth must be told — of the greatest State-ideas of Rome. “The State-idea among the Romans,“ writes Mommsen, “rests upon the ideal transmission of the individual‘s capacity for action to the whole body of citizens, the populus, and upon the submission on the part of each physical member of the community of his individual will to this universal will. The repression of individual independence in favour of the collective will is the criterion of a constitutional community.“ * To picture to oneself what is implied by this “transmission,“ this “repression of individual independence,“ one must recall to memory the uncontrollable, individual love of freedom characteristic of each Roman. Of the oldest legal monument of the Romans, the famous twelve bronze tables (450 B.C.), Esmarch says, “The most pregnant expressions in these tables are the guarantees of the autocracy of the private rights of Roman citizens,“ † and when three hundred and fifty years later the first detailed system of law was

* I quote from the abridged edition of his Roman Constitutional Law in Binding‘s Systematisches Handbuch der deutschen Rechtswissenschaft, p. 81 ff.
† Römische Rechtsgeschichte, 3rd ed., p. 218.


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

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


had usurped what had once been the Roman Empire founded their claims to rule as absolute autocrats upon Roman constitutional law! They had not in their opinion usurped the power like a Greek tyrant and overthrown the constitutional order; on the contrary, the all-powerful monarch was the flower, the perfection of the whole legal development of Rome: this the Oriental jurists had by their subtlety contrived to establish. With the help of the transmission theory just explained, the trick had been accomplished — in the main as follows. One of the main pillars of Roman constitutional law is that no enactment has the force of law, if it is not approved by the people. Under the first emperors appearances were still maintained in this respect. But after Caracalla “Rome“ had come to mean the whole civilised world. And now all rights of the people were “transmitted“ to the Senate to simplify the issuing of new laws, &c. In the Corpus juris it stands thus: “As the Roman people has grown to such an extent that it would be difficult to call it together to one spot for the purpose of approving laws, it was held to be right to consult the Senate instead of the people.“ As we now speak of a Viceroy, so the Senate was called henceforth vice populi. The approval of the Senate too had become purely a matter of form — once in possession of so beautiful an abstract principle, there was no stopping half-way; and so the text continues: “but that also which it pleases the Prince to decree has the power of law, for the people has transmitted to him its whole plenitude of power and all its rights.“ * We

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


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

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


occur till the conquest of Roman lands, in fact there is a long period in which the Teutonic kings have greater authority over their Roman subjects than over their free Franks (Savigny, I., chap. iv. div. 3). — Above all the idea of a subject, the Roman subjectus, is a legacy which still clings fast to us, and which should let us see very clearly what to this day connects us with the Roman Empire at the time of its fall, and how much still separates us from the genuine heroic people of Rome.
In all this I have no wish to moralise in the interests of any tendency. The old Roman forms of government would not have been applicable to new conditions and new men; indeed they no longer sufficed even for Rome itself when once it had extended its boundaries. Add to this that Christianity had arisen, making the suppression of slavery an obvious command. All that made a strong kingdom a necessity. But for the kings, slavery would never have been abolished in Europe, the nobles would never have set their slaves free, they would rather have made free-born men their bondmen. The strengthening of the kingly office has everywhere for a thousand years been the first condition of the strengthening of an ordered state of society and civic freedom, and even to-day there is probably no country in Europe where an absolutely free plebiscite would proclaim as the will of the people any other form of government than the monarchical. Public consciousness, too, is penetrating through the deceptive veils which sophists and pettifoggers have hung round it, and is recognising the genuine legal meaning of the King, namely, the old Roman view of the first official of State, glorified by that sacred element which finds a not unsuitable mystical expression in the words, “by the Grace of God.“ Many things which we have noticed around us in the nineteenth century justify us in believing that without a kingship and without a special grace of God we could not, even to-day, rule ourselves.


For that possibly not only the virtues but also the faults of the Romans, and above all their excessive intellectual sobriety, were necessary.
However that may be, we see that the legacy of political and constitutional law which Rome has given us forms a complicated and confused mass, and that principally for two reasons: first of all, because Rome, instead of flourishing like Athens for a short time and then disappearing altogether, lived on for 2500 years, first as a world-ruling State, later as a mighty State-idea, whereby what had been a single impulse broke up into a whole series, which frequently neutralised each other; in the second place, because the work of an incomparably energetic, Indo-European race was revised and manipulated by the subtlest minds of the West-Asiatic mixed races, this again leading to the obliteration of unity of character.
I hope that these brief allusions with regard to the extraordinarily complicated conditions of universal history have sufficed to guide the reader. For clear thinking and lucid conception it is above all indispensable to separate rightly and to connect rightly. This has been my endeavour, and to this I must needs confine myself.


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

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


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


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

* De Officiis, i. 6.
† I say this without any metaphysical arrière-pensée: whether mathematical conceptions are judgments à priori (as Kant asserts) or not, every one will admit that geometry is the purely formal activity of the mind, in contrast to the investigation of the heavens.


increasing skill employed by the human will in working out the life-purpose of man.
I shall introduce a comparison to make this clearer.
How conditional and, consequently, how little to the purpose would be the statement that the God who formed iron also caused the smithy to be built! In a certain sense the remark would be undeniably correct: without definite tendencies which impelled him to search further and further, without definite capacities for invention and manipulation, man would never have attained to the working of iron; he did live long on the earth before he reached that stage. By acuteness and patience he at last succeeded: he learnt how to make the hard metal pliant and serviceable to himself. But here we have clearly not to deal with the discovery of any eternal truth, as in the case of astronomy and every genuine science, but on the one hand with patience and skill, on the other hind with suitability to practical purposes; in short, working iron is no science but, in the true sense of the Greek word, a technique, i.e., a matter of skill. And the conditions of this technique, since they depend on the human will (showing their relationship with art), vary with the times, with the tendencies and the habits of races, just as on the other hand they are influenced by the progress of knowledge (showing their relationship with science). In the nineteenth century, for example, the working of iron has passed through great changes which would have been inconceivable but for the progress of chemistry, physics, mechanics and mathematics; a practical art may thus demand manifold scientific knowledge from those who pursue it — but it does not for all that cease to be a practical art. And because it is a practical art, it can be learned by any one, however poor his mental endowments, provided only he has some skill, whereas on the other hand it is a dead letter even for the more gifted of men if he has not made himself familiar with its methods.


For while science and art contain something which is of interest to every intelligent person, an applied art is merely a method, a procedure, a manipulation, something artificial and not artistic, an application of knowledge, not really knowledge itself, a power, yet not a creative power, and so only that which is produced by it, i.e., the finished object, in which there is nothing technical left, can claim universal interest.
It is exactly the same with jurisprudence, with this one difference, that the material here to be worked up is purely intellectual. In principle jurisprudence is and remains an applied art, and many an almost ineradicable misunderstanding would have been avoided if the legal authorities had not lost sight of this simple fundamental truth. From Cicero to the present day * excellent jurists have only too often looked upon it as their duty to claim for their branch of study the designation “science,“ cost what it might; they seem to fear that they will be degraded if their claims are held to be absurd. Naturally people will continue to speak of a “science of law“; but only in the derived sense; the mass of the material on law, history of law, &c., is so gigantic that it, so to speak, forms a little world for itself, in which research is made and this research is called science (Wissenschaft). But this is obviously an improper use of the word. The root “vid“ denotes in Sanscrit to find; if language is not to pale into colourless ambiguity, we must see to it that a knowing (Wissen) always denotes a finding. Now a finding presupposes two things: in the first place, an object which is and exists before we find it; and secondly, the fact that this object has not yet been found and discovered; neither of the two things can be said of jurisprudence; for “law“ does not exist till men make it, nor does it exist as a subject outside of our consciousness; besides, the science

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


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


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

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


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

* See p. 113.


scientifically investigated, but a product of human skill, which can be viewed and carried out in very different ways. But the ghost of natural law still merrily haunts certain brains; for example, legal theorists, as far apart as Hobbes and Rousseau, agree in this one idea; but the greatest achievement was the famous Hugo Grotius‘ division in natural, historical, and divine law, which makes one ask whether then the divine law was unnatural? or the natural a work of the devil? It needed the brilliant intellect and the outspoken impertinence of a Voltaire to venture to write: “Rien ne contribue peut-être plus à rendre un esprit faux, obscur, confus, incertain, que la lecture de Grotius et de Pufendorf.“ * In the nineteenth century, however, this pale abstraction has been sharply attacked; the historians of law, and with them the brilliant theorist Jhering, have dealt the finishing blow. For this all that was really necessary was to understand that law is an applied art.
Considered from this point of view it is easy to comprehend that in reality the idea “natural law“ (jus naturae) contains a flagrant contradictio in adjecto. As soon as a legal agreement is come to among men — it does not at all need to be written, a convention silent or by word of mouth is in principle the same thing as a bulky civil code of law — for the state of nature has ceased; but if the pure natural impulse still prevails, eo ipso there is no law. For even if men in a natural state were to live together in association, no matter how mild and humane they might be towards one another, there would be no law, no jus; there would be just as little law as if the brutal power of the fist were the decisive factor with them. Law is a regulation of the relations of an individual to others, artificially arranged and enforced upon him by the community. It is an em-

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


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

* Hegel, Propädeutik, Kursus i. § 26.
† Metaphysische Anfangsgrunde der Rechtslehre, Einleitung, § B.


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

* I have no doubt that there, too, certain rules are rendered sacred by custom and binding also on the chief, but legally he is quite free; only the fear of being roasted and eaten himself can restrain him from any arbitrary procedure.
† In reference to law as a “living power,“ as the product of “the creative thoughts of great individualities,“ in contrast to all the dogmatics of the supposed law of nature, read the interesting lecture of



I think we have now sufficient material to enable us without technical discussions, and at the same time without phrase-making, to understand the special merits of the Roman people in regard to law, or at least the special character of those merits. The nature of our legacy will at the same time be exactly characterised.
If law is not an inborn principle nor an exact science capable of investigation, but a useful adaptation of human capabilities to the building up of a society fitted for civilisation, then it is clear from the first that there will be and must be codes of law varying very much in value. Fundamentally a law will be influenced principally by two forces from which it will receive its characteristic colouring: first, by the moral character of the people in whose midst it comes into force, and, secondly, by the analytical acuteness of that people. By the happy union of both — a union occurring only once in the history of the world — the Roman people found themselves in a position to build up a legal code of great perfection. * Mere egoism, the greed of possession, will never suffice to found

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


a lasting code of law; we have rather learned from the Romans that the inviolable respect for the claims of others to freedom and possession is the moral foundation upon which alone we can build for all time. One of the most important authorities on the Roman law and people, Karl Esmarch, writes: “The conscience of the Italian Aryans in regard to right and wrong is strong and unadulterated; in self-control and, when necessary, self-sacrifice, that virtue of theirs which springs from inner impulse and is supported by a most profound inner nature reaches its culmination.“ Because he knew how to rule himself the Roman was qualified to rule the world and to develop a strong idea of the State; by the fact that he could sacrifice his own interests to the universal weal, he proved his capacity to establish valid principles in regard to the rights of private property and of individual freedom. But these high moral qualities had to be supported by exceptional intellectual qualities. The Romans, quite insignificant in philosophy, were the greatest masters in the abstraction of firm principles from the experiences of life — a mastery which becomes specially remarkable when we compare other nations with them, as, for example, the Athenians, who, though marvellously gifted, and delighting in legal quarrels and sophistical law riddles, never were anything but blunderers in this branch of thought. * This peculiar capacity, to elevate definite practical relations to clearly defined principles implies a great intellectual achievement; for the first time order and lucidity of arrangement were brought into social conditions, just as language, by the formation of abstract collective words, had made higher systematic thinking possible. It is no longer a question of vague instincts nor of obscure and changing conceptions of justice and injustice; all relations stand definitely grouped before our

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


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


face.“ * Here we have a decidedly artistic instinct, the outcome of specifically Indo-European tendencies. In this artistic element too lies the magic power of the Roman legacy; that is the indestructible and ever incomparable part of it.
On one point indeed we must be quite clear; — Roman law is just as incomparable and inimitable as Hellenic art. Our ridiculous Germanomania will make no change in that. People tell marvels about a “German law,“ supposed to have been stolen from us by the introduction of the Roman; but there never was a German law, but merely a chaos of rude contradictory laws, a special one for each tribe. It is also absolutely inaccurate to speak of “adopting“ Roman law between the thirteenth and the sixteenth centuries; for the Teutonic peoples have “adopted“ continuously from the time when they first came into contact with the Roman Empire. Burgundians and East Goths as early as the fifth century of the Christian era (or at the very beginning of the sixth) introduced modified (corrupted) forms of Roman law, † and the oldest sources of Saxon, Frankish, Bavarian and Alemannic law, &c., are so interlarded with Latin words and half-understood principles, that the need of a reasoned codification of law is only too apparent. One might well relegate German law as an ideal to the future, but to seek it in the past is hypocritical twaddle. ‡ Another hindrance

* For examples, read the splendid chapter Plastik des Rechtes in Jhering‘s Geist des römischen Rechtes, § 23. Of the modern undramatic life of law, Jhering says: “One would have liked to give law, instead of a sword, a quill as its attribute, for the feathers were scarcely more necessary to the bird than to it, except that in the case of law the attribute produced the opposite effects and speed stood in converse relation to the amount of feathers employed.“
† Savigny, Geschichte des römischen Rechtes im Mittelalter, chap. i.
‡ I know no more conclusive proof of the original incapacity of the Teutonic peoples to judge acutely in questions of law than that such a man as Otto the Great could not decide, otherwise than by a duel, the fundamental question whether descendants should inherit or not;


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

this judgment of Heaven was then adopted as a piece of law for good by a pactum sempiternum! (See Grimm, Rechtsaltertümer, 3rd ed. p. 471.)
* The detailed proof that the ideas of a progress and decline of humanity have no concrete significance will be found in the ninth chapter.
† Gräco-italische Rechtsgeschichte, p. 441.


to make it clear that I do not here speak of justice, but of law, and to ensure that the difference between the two may be obvious. Our noble conception of the duties of humanity points, I am sure, to more enlightened ideas with regard to justice; the legal sense is, however, quite a different thing and is neither proved nor promoted even by the possession of the most perfect and yet imported systems of law.
To understand how incomparable was the achievement of the Romans, one circumstance must certainly not be overlooked: the Justinian corpus juris with which we are familiar is only the embalmed corpse of Roman law. * For centuries skilled legal authorities kept in it a semblance of life by galvanic means; now all civilised nations have worked out a law of their own; but this would not have been possible without the Roman, we all lack the necessary talent. A single observation will suffice to show the cleft between the Romans and ourselves: Roman law of the real heroic period was firm as a rock but nevertheless incredibly elastic — “incredibly,“ I mean, to our modern, timid conceptions, for we have taken everything from that law, except its living character. The Roman law was always “in a state of growth,“ and capable, thanks to certain brilliant contrivances, of adapting itself to the changing needs of the times. The law, which in the fifth century B.C. was in its general outlines engraved in bronze tables by the decemvirs nominated for that purpose, was not a new and improvised code, nor one which from that time forth was immutable, but was more or less a codification of already existing laws which had grown up historically; the Romans knew how to invent ways and means to keep it even then from crys-

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


tallising. In dealing with the Twelve Tables, for example, the officials did good service by their acumen in “interpreting“ — not with the object of twisting the statutes to suit some special purpose, but of adapting them half-automatically to wider conditions; brilliant inventions — as, for example, that of the legal “fiction,“ by which means were found (if I may express myself as a layman) of putting to use existing legal norms to forestall others that were not yet existent — and constitutional arrangements, like those of the Praetors, by which a place was assured to that law of custom which is so necessary in a living organism, till the best law has been provided by practice, arrangements by means of which the jus gentium also gradually developed in close touch with the narrower Roman jus civile — all these things brought about a fresh pulsating life in law — a life which no one can appreciate unless he has studied law, inasmuch as we have nothing of the kind, absolutely nothing. * Moreover, in order to estimate the gulf between us and the Romans, we must remember that real scholarly and trained jurists did not come into existence till the end of the republic, and that this splendid, and in most parts most delicately chiselled product of legal applied art is the work of peasants and rude warriors. The reader should try to make clear to an average philistine of the present day the juristical difference between property and possession, to bring home to him that a thief is the legal possessor of the stolen object, and as such enjoys legal protection for his possession, as does also the pawnbroker and the hereditary landlord; he will not succeed, I know it from experience; I purposely choose this as a simple example. The Roman peasant, on the other hand, who could neither read

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


nor write, knew all this quite accurately five hundred years before Christ. * He certainly did not know much more, but his law he knew and employed with as exact knowledge as he did his plough or his oxen; and by knowing it and thinking about it, † by striving to obtain for himself, his possessions, and his relatives an ever firmer and more definite legal protection, he built up that legal structure, under which at a later time other races found shelter in stormy days, and which we at the present day with more or less success, with more or less changes, seek to extend, finish and perfect. No people but the Romans could of themselves have created and built it up, for nowhere else was there present the necessary conjunction of qualities of character and of intellect, and this law had to be lived before it was thought, before the arrival of those worthies who could tell us so much that was edifying in regard to a “natural law,“ and thought it comparable to the geometry which the scholar puzzles out in his lonely room.
In later times Hellenes and Semites have rendered great services as dogmatists and advocates, Italians as teachers of law, Frenchmen as systematisers, Germans as historians; in none of the races mentioned, however, could one have found the soil that could bring that tree to maturity. In the case of the Semites, for instance, the moral subsoil was wanting, in the case of the Germans acumen. The Semites have great moral qualities, but not those from which a law for civilised nations could have been developed. For the disregard of the legal claims and the freedom of others is a feature that ever reappears in all races strongly imbued with Semitic blood. Already in ancient Babylon they had a finely worked out law of commerce and obligations; but even in this limited

* See the clear distinction between property and possession in Table VII., clause 11.
† In Cicero‘s time every boy still learned the Twelve Tables by heart.


branch nothing was done to suppress the frightful exaction of usury, and as for safeguarding personal rights, that of freedom, for instance, no one ever even thought of it. * But even under more favourable circumstances, for instance, among the Jews, there is not even the beginning of a genuine formation of law; strange as that may appear, a single glance at the legal clauses of the greatest Jewish thinker, Spinoza, solves the riddle. In his Political Tractate (ii. 4 and 8) we read, “The right of each one is in proportion to his power.“ Here we might of course imagine that it was merely a question of establishing actual relations, for this second chapter bears the title “On Natural Law.“ † However, in his Ethics (Part IV., Supplement, 8) we find in black and white: “According to the highest law of nature every man has unlimited power to do that which in his opinion will be in his interest“; and in the treatise On True Freedom we find the words: “To obtain that which we demand for our salvation and our peace, we need no other principle than this, to lay to heart what is for our own interests.“ ‡ That it does not disconcert so honest a man to build up a pure theory of morals upon such foundations is the finest testimony to his inborn casuistical gifts; but it proves that Roman law could never have grown on Jewish soil. No, there

* Compare the very minute information in Jhering‘s Vorgeschichte der Indoeuropäer, p. 233 ff. The usual rate of interest in Babylon was 20 to 25 per cent. Jhering asserts that interest was a Babylonian, a Semitic (not a Sumarian) invention; he says, “all other peoples owe their acquaintance with it to the Babylonians.“ Honour to whom honour is due! Also the subtlest form of interest, for instance, the favourite plan of lending money without interest, by immediately taking it from the capital, was well known in ancient Babylon, even before Homer had begun to write verses. When, then, shall we be spared the old fiction that it was only in recent centuries that the Semites were forced by the persecution of Christians to become usurers?
† How astonished Cicero and Seneca, Scaevola and Papinian would have been at such a conception of natural law!
‡ The resemblance between the principles (not the conclusions) of Spinoza and of Nietzsche is striking enough to claim our attention.


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

* A few years ago I met in society an educated Jew, an owner of petroleum wells and a member of the notorious petroleum-ring. No argument could convince the honest man, who would not have harmed a fly, how morally condemnable such a ring was; his constant answer was, “I can, and therefore I may!“ Spinoza word for word, as one can see. — This brings up the grave question as to whether in Teutonic countries men of Jewish race should be appointed judges. Without any passion or prejudice, without doubting the knowledge and the spotless honour of those in question, one ought to ask oneself, on the ground of historical and ethical data, whether it should be taken for granted that these men are capable of completely assimilating a conception of law which is so thoroughly in opposition to their natural tendencies; whether they really understand and feel this law which they use so masterfully. Whoever has come to recognise the clearly marked individuality of the various races of mankind can bring up such a question in all seriousness and without any ill-will.


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


I should like to introduce another national comparison with regard to the formation of law, that between the Hellenes and the Romans. It reveals the essence of Roman law, the one point to which I may call special attention in this book. At the same time it will make us feel how deeply our civilisation is indebted to the Roman legacy. My discussion will be brief, and though it deals with the simple beginnings of the remote past, it will also introduce us to the burning questions of the immediate present.
Every educated person knows that the Greeks were not only great politicians but at the same time great theorists in law. The “lawsuit about the shadow of the ass“ * is an ancient Attic witticism, which satirises excellently the love of this thoughtless, litigious people for actions at law. I recall too the Wasps of Aristophanes with the heartrending prayers of Philocleon when shut in by his son: “Let me out, let me out — to judge!“ But we should look further around. Homer has a court scene represented on the shield of Achilles (Iliad, xviii. 497 ff.), Plato‘s largest works are on politics and the theory of law (the Republic and the Laws), Aristotle‘s Rhetoric is in parts simply a handbook for advocates beginning their profession; notice, for example, how in chap. xv. of the first book he expounds a detailed theory of deceptive sophistry for hedge-lawyers, gives them

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


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

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


Roman people had disappeared from the face of the earth, the so-called “classical jurisprudence“ was founded and put into shape almost entirely by Greeks more or less of Semitic descent. There is a remarkable want of information with regard to the antecedents and history of the most famous teachers of law in the later Roman ages; all of a sudden they appear in office and dignity, no one knowing whence they have come. * But at the beginning of the Imperial rule with its inevitable influence upon the life of law the passionate struggle between Labeo, the irrepressible, free old plebeian, and Capito the upstart, who is striving for wealth and honour, is truly pathetic; it is the struggle for organic free development in opposition to the faith in authority and dogma. And dogma conquered in the legal sphere as in that of religion. — But in the meantime, as we have said, the practical Romans had learned a great deal in Greece, especially from Solon, who had, as a builder of States, achieved little that lasted, but accomplished all the more in the sphere of law. Whether Solon was the originator of written legislation and the momentous principle of actiones (the division of suits according to definite principles), or whether he merely systematised and fixed them — I know not: at any rate both are derived from Athens. † This I mention only as an instance of the great importance of Greece in the development of Roman law. Later, when all Hellenic countries were under Roman administration, the Greek cities contributed most to the formation of the jus gentium and in that way to the perfecting of Roman law. Here we may ask, how is it that the Hellenes, so superior intellectually to the Romans, created nothing

* With regard to the predominantly Semitic and Syrian race-connection of the later codifiers and embalmers of the Roman law, for whom we have shown too much admiration, see p. 91 ff. of the address of Leonhard quoted on p. 125.
† Leist, Gräco-italische Rechtsgeschichte, p. 585.


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

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


unhistorical view of theirs, that law was a subject for free speculation; and so they lost all feeling for the fact that in order to live, law must grow out of actual conditions. * And how striking it is that even the most important questions of family law are regarded as subordinate, that Solon, for example, the most prominent Athenian as a lawyer, leaves the law of inheritance so obscure, that it is left to the caprice of the law-courts to interpret it (Aristotle, as above, division IX). — With Rome it was different. The strong tendency to discipline here finds its first expression in the firm organisation of the family. The sons remain under the control of the father, not merely till their fourteenth year, as in Greece, but till the death of the father; by the exclusion of relationship on the mother‘s side, by the legal recognition of the unlimited power of the pater-familias, even in regard to the life and death of his children, (although his son might have risen in the meantime to the highest offices in the State), by the greatest freedom and the most accurate individual enactments in reference to the law of wills and legacies, by the strictest protection of all the father‘s rights of property and legal claims (for he alone possessed a right to property and was a persona sui juris, i.e., a person with full rights at law) — by these things and many more the family became in Rome an impregnably firm, indissoluble unity, and it is essentially to this that we are indebted for the particular form of the Roman State and Roman law. One can easily imagine how such a strict conception of the family must affect the whole life, the morals of the men, the character of the children, the anxiety to retain and to bequeath what had been acquired, the love of country, which did not need to be artificially nourished, as in

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


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


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

* Zimmer, Indisches Leben, p. 313 ff.
† Etfried Müller, Dorier, 2nd ed, i. 78, ii. 282 (quoted from Leist).


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

* Jhering: Entwickelungsgeschichte des römischen Rechtes, p. 55. Among the Teutons it was no better. “The right of inheritance is in the oldest German laws either restricted or denied to women altogether,“ says Grimm, Deutsche Rechtsaltertümer, 3rd ed. p. 407. The concessions gradually granted are to be traced to Roman influence. Where this was little or not at all felt, the German legal books, even in the Middle Ages, still show the “complete inequality of women.“ In the extreme North, in Scandinavia and in oldest Frisia, a woman could inherit nothing at all, neither movable nor fixed property: “the man enters into inheritance, the woman leaves it.“ Not till the thirteenth century did women receive a limited right of inheritance (Grimm, p. 473). These are the conditions of law to which the Germanomaniacs longingly desire to return!
† (Romulus, xxix.) It may be mentioned by way of contrast that it was the custom among the Germans till the introduction of Christianity (among the Wends even till the seventeenth century) to kill old weak parents! (See Grimm: Rechtsaltertümer, pp. 486-90.)


life the sacred element, that is, the reverence for divine commands, played a great part. While the paterfamilias was, according to human law, an absolute despot in his house, the divine command forbade him to abuse this power. * The home was indeed a sanctuary, the hearth comparable to an altar; and while it is somewhat revolting to our feelings to-day to hear that parents in very great poverty sometimes sold their children as slaves, yet all histories of law give one the firm impression that any cruelty, according to ideas of that age, towards wife or children was almost or quite unknown. Indeed at law the wife is in relation to her husband filiae loco (equal to a daughter) in relation to her own children sororis loco (equal to a sister): but this is done in the interests of the unity of the family, and in order that, in constitutional as well as in private law relations, the family may appear as a sharply defined, autonomous, organic entity, represented at law by a single person, not as a more or less firm conglomerate of merely individual fragments. We have already seen in the political part of this chapter that the Roman loved to transmit power to single individuals, confident that from freedom united to responsibility, both focussed, so to speak, in a personality conscious of its individuality, moderate, and at the same time energetic and wise action would result. It is the same principle that prevails here. Later this family life degenerated; cunning means were invented to bring into usage substitutes for genuine marriage, in order that the wife should no longer come into the legal power of the husband; “marriage became a money matter like everything else; not in order to found families, but to improve shattered fortunes by means of dowries, were marriages contracted, and existing ones

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


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

Perenne animus conjugium, non corpus facit.

The soul, not the body, makes marriage eternal.


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

* Esmarch: Römische Rechtsgeschichte, p. 317.


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

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


the Christian Emperor Constantine, who annulled the sovereignty of the paterfamilias, that the Roman family in fact received its death-blow. Christianity, moreover, being derived from Judaism, is from the first an anarchic, anti-political power. That the Catholic Church followed a different road and became a political power of the greatest magnitude, is to be attributed simply to the fact that it denied the clear teaching of Christ and adopted instead the Roman State-idea — though it was only the idea of the degenerate Roman State. The Church did more than any other power for the maintenance of Roman law; * Pope Gregory IX., for instance, aspired solely to the title of a “Justinian of the Church“; this recognition of his juristical services lay nearer his heart than sanctification. † Though the motives that impelled the Church and the Kings to retain and forcibly introduce Roman law in its degenerate Byzantine form were not particularly noble ones, yet that could not prevent many very noble Roman thoughts from being saved at the same time. And just as the tradition of Roman law never died, so, too, the Roman conception of the dignity of woman and of the political importance of the family never quite disappeared from the consciousness of men. For several centuries (here as in so many things the thirteenth century is with Petrus Lombardus the almost exact border-line) we have come nearer and nearer to the old Roman conception, particularly since the Council of Trent and Martin Luther simultaneously emphasised the sacredness of marriage. That this approach is in many respects a purely ideal one does not matter; a perfectly new civilisation cannot too thoroughly free itself from old forms; as it is, we pour far too much new wine into old bottles; but I do not think

* See particularly Savigny: Geschichte des römischen Rechtes im Mittelalter, chaps. iii. xv. xxii., &c.
† Bryce: The Holy Roman Empire, p. 131 of the French edition.


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


I have attempted a somewhat difficult task — that of speaking untechnically on a technical subject. I have had to confine myself to proving the peculiar fitness of the Romans for bringing to perfection this practical art; what I have tried to emphasise as their most far-reaching achievement for human society — the strong legal establishment of the family — is, as will have been noticed, similar in essence to the original impelling force from which the technical mastery had gradually grown up. All that lies between, that is, the whole real practical art, had to be neglected, and equally all discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of the preponderating influence of Roman law in the nineteenth century in its purely technical connection. And without needing to tread upon such dangerous quicksands, there are plenty of suggestive considerations for us laymen.
I have intentionally confined myself to politics and law. What did not come down to us as a legacy does not fall within the scope of this book, and many things that have been preserved to us, as, for example, the works of


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

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


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

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


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

It is a curse
To understand, not feel thy lyric flow,
To comprehend, but never love thy verse.

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

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


In the hands of the specialist, i.e., of the philologist, Latin poetry will be as surely and suitably preserved as the corpus juris in those of the investigators of law. If, however, the Latin tongue is to be retained at all costs as the universal trainer of the mind (instead of teaching Greek alone but more thoroughly), then let it be seen at work where it accomplishes wonders, where it, in accordance with the particular tendency of the Roman people and with its historical development, does what no other language ever did or will be able to do — in the plastic moulding of legal notions. People say that the Latin language educates the logical sense; I will believe it, although I cannot help remarking that it was this very language in which during the scholastic centuries, in spite of all logic, more nonsense was written than in any other at any time; but whereby has the Latin language acquired a character of such conciseness and definiteness? By the fact that it was built up solely as the language of business, administration and law. This the most unpoetical of all languages is a magnificent monument of the momentous struggle of free men to obtain a sure code of law. Let our boys see it at work here. The great law-teachers of Rome have eo ipso written the finest Latin; that, and not verse-writing, was the business of the language; the faultlessly transparent formation of sentences, which shut out every possibility of misconstruction, was an important instrument of juristical applied art. From the study of law alone Cicero has taken his qualities of style. Mommsen says even of the oldest documents of the language of business and law that they were distinguished by “acumen and definiteness,“ * and philologists are of opinion that in the language of Papinian, one of the last great teachers of law (in the time of Marcus Aurelius), we have “the culmination of the capacity always to find the

* Römische Geschichte, i. 471.


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


We men of the nineteenth century should not be what we are if a rich legacy from these two cultures, the Hellenic and the Roman, had not come down to us. And so we cannot in the least judge what we truly are, and confess with modesty how little that is, if we do not form a quite clear conception of the nature of these inheritances. I hope that my endeavours in this direction will not have been quite fruitless and I hope also that the reader will especially have noticed that the legacy of Rome is utterly and fundamentally different from that of Greece.
In Hellas the personality of genius had been the decisive factor: whether on this side or on that of the Adriatic and the Aegean Seas, the Greeks were great so long as they

* Esmarch: Römische Rechtsgeschichte, p. 400.


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


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



By the virtue of One all have been truly saved.


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


because we cannot be silent.“ * Surely we are guilty of no outrage upon due reverence if we say, it is not the Churches that constitute the might of Christianity, for that might is drawn solely from the fountain head from which the churches themselves derive all their power — the contemplation of the Son of Man upon the Cross.
Let us therefore separate the vision of Christ upon earth from the whole history of Christianity.
What after all are our nineteen centuries for the conscious acceptance of such an experience — for the transformation which forces itself through all the strata of humanity by the power of a fundamentally new aspect of life‘s problems? We should remember that more than two thousand years were needed before the structure of the Kosmos, capable as it is of mathematical proof and of demonstration to the senses, became the fixed, common possession of human knowledge. Is not the understanding with its gift of sight and its infallible formula of 2×2=4 easier to mould than the heart, blind and ever befooled by self-seeking? Here is a man born into the world and living a life through which the conception of the moral significance of man, the whole philosophy of life, undergoes a complete transformation — through which the relation of the individual to himself, to the rest of mankind, and to the nature by which he is surrounded, is of necessity illuminated by a new and hitherto unsuspected light, so that all motives of action, all ideals, all heart‘s-desires and hopes must be remoulded and built up anew from their very foundations. Is it to be believed that this can be the work of a few centuries? Is it to be believed that this can be brought about by misunderstandings and lies, by politic intrigues and oecumenical councils, at the word of command of kings maddened by ambition, or of greedy priests,

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


by three thousand volumes of scholastic disputations, by the fanatical faith of narrow-minded peasants and the noble zeal of a small number of superior persons, by war, murder and the stake, by civic codes of law and social intolerance? For my part I disclaim any such belief. I believe that we are still far, very far, from the moment when the transforming might of the vision of Christ will make itself felt to its utmost extent by civilised mankind. Even if our churches in their present form should come to an end, the idea of Christianity would only stand out with all the more force. In the ninth chapter I shall show how our new Teuton philosophy is pushing in that direction. Even now, Christianity is not yet firm upon its childish feet: its maturity is hardly dawning upon our dim vision. Who knows but a day may come when the bloody church-history of the first eighteen centuries of our era may be looked upon as the history of the infantile diseases of Christianity?
In considering the vision of Christ, then, let us not allow our judgment to be darkened by any historical delusions, or by the ephemeral views of our century. We may be sure that up to the present we have only entered upon the smallest portion of this same inheritance, and if we wish to know what is its significance for all of us, be we Christians or Jews, believers or unbelievers, whether we are conscious of our privilege or not — then must we in the first place stop our ears against the chaos of creeds and of blasphemies which beshame humanity, and in the next place raise our eyes up to the most incomparable vision of all times.
In this section I shall be forced critically to glance at much that forms the intellectual foundation of various religions. But just as I leave untouched that which is hidden in the Holy of Holies of my own heart, so I hope to steer clear of giving offence to any other sensible man. It is as easy to separate the historic vision of


Christ from all the supernatural significance which dwells in it as it must be to treat Physics upon a purely material basis without imagining that in so doing we have dethroned Metaphysics.
Christ indeed can hardly be spoken of without now and again crossing the boundary; still belief, as such, need not be touched, and if I as historian proceed logically and convincingly, I can bear with any refutation which the reader may bring forward as a question of feeling, as apart from understanding. With this consciousness I shall speak as frankly in the following chapters as I have done in those which have gone before.


The religious faith of more than two-thirds of all the inhabitants of the earth to-day starts from the life on earth of two men, Christ and Buddha, men who lived only a few centuries ago. We have historical proofs of their having actually existed, and that the traditions regarding them, though containing much that is fabulous and uncertain, obscure and contradictory, nevertheless give us a faithful picture of the main features of their real lives. Even apart from this sure result of the scientific investigations of the nineteenth century, * men of acute and sound judgment will never have doubted the actual existence of these great moral heroes: for although the historical and chronological material regarding them is extremely scanty and imperfect, yet their moral and intellectual individuality stands out so clearly and brilliantly before our eyes, and this individuality is so incomparable, that it could not be

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


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


the direct contrast to the divine proclaimer of a Heaven of them “that are poor in spirit“? In India it was the same: the figure of a Buddha was not anticipated nor conjured up by the magic of men‘s longing. All such assertions belong to the wide province of that delusive historic philosophy which constructs after the event. If Christ and Christianity had been an historical necessity, as the neoscholastic Hegel asserts, and Pfleiderer and others would have us believe to-day, we should inevitably have seen not one Christ but a thousand Christs arise; I should really like to know in what century a Jesus would not have been just as “necessary“ as our daily bread? * Let us therefore discard these views that are tinged with the paleness of abstraction. The only effect they have is to obscure the one decisive and pregnant thing, namely, the importance of the living, individual, incomparable personality. One is ever and anon forced to quote Goethe‘s great saying:

Höchtes Glück der Erdenkinder
Ist nur die Persönlichkeit!

The circumstances in which the personality is placed — a knowledge of its general conditions in respect of time and space — will certainly contribute very much towards making it clearly understood. Such a knowledge will enable us to distinguish between the important and

* Hegel in his Philosophie der Geschichte, Th. III., A. 3, chap. ii., says about Christ: “He was born as this one man, in abstract subjectivity, but so that conversely finiteness is only the form of his appearance, the essence and content of which is rather infiniteness and absolute being-for-self…. The nature of God, to be pure spirit, becomes in the Christian religion manifest to man. But what is the spirit? It is the One, the unchanging infinity, the pure identity, which in the second place separates itself from itself, as its second self, as the being-for-itself and being-in-itself in opposition to the Universal. But this separation is annulled by this, that the atomistic subjectivity, as the simple relativity to itself, is itself the Universal, Identical with itself.“ What will future centuries say to this clatter of words? For two-thirds of the nineteenth it was considered the highest wisdom.


the unimportant, between the characteristically individual and the locally conventional. It will, in short, give us an increasingly clearer view of the personality. But to explain it, to try to show it as a logical necessity, is an idle, foolish task; every figure — even that of a beetle — is to the human understanding a “wonder“; the human personality is, however, the mysterium magnum of life, and the more a great personality is stripped by criticism of all legendary rags and tatters, and the more successful that criticism is in representing each step in its career as something fore-ordained in the nature of things, the more incomprehensible the mystery becomes. This indeed is the final result of the criticism to which the life of Jesus has been submitted in the nineteenth century. This century has been called an irreligious one; but never yet, since the first Christian centuries, has the interest of mankind concentrated so passionately around the person of Jesus Christ as in the last seventy years; the works of Darwin, however widespread they were, were not bought to one-tenth the extent of those of Strauss and Renan. And the result of it all is, that the actual earthly life of Jesus Christ has become more and more concrete, and we have been compelled to recognise more and more distinctly that the origin of the Christian religion is fundamentally to be traced to the absolutely unexampled impression which this one personality had made and left upon those who knew Him. So it is that to-day this revelation stands before our eyes more definite and for that very reason more unfathomable than ever.
This is the first point to be established. It is in accordance with the whole tendency of our times, that we can grow enthusiastic only in regard to what is concrete and living. At the beginning of the nineteenth century it was different; the Romantic movement threw its shadows on all sides, and so it had become fashionable


to explain everything “mythically.“ In the year 1835 David Strauss, following the example proffered on all sides, presented as a key to the gospels “the idea of the myth“! * Every one now recognises that this so-called key was nothing more than a new, mistily vague paraphrase of a still-unsolved problem, and that not an “idea,“ but only an actually lived existence, only the unique impression of a personality, whose like the world had never before known, supplies the “key“ to the origin of Christianity. The greater the amount of such useless ballast that was manifest on the one hand in the shape of pseudo-mythical (or rather pseudo-historical) legend-making, on the other in the form of philosophically dogmatic speculation, the greater is the power of life and resistance that must be attributed to the original impelling and creating force. The most modern, strictly philological criticism has proved the unexpected antiquity of the gospels and the extensive authenticity of the manuscripts which we possess; we have now succeeded in tracing, almost step for step, the very earliest records

* Seefirst edition, i. 72 ff., and the popular edition (ninth) p. 191 ff. Strauss never had the least notion what a myth is, what mythology means, how it is produced by the confusion and mingling of popular myths, poetry and legends. That, however, is another story. Posterity will really not be able to understand the reception given to such dreary productions as those of Strauss: they are learned, but destitute of all deeper insight and of any trace of genius. Just as bees and ants require in their communities whole cohorts of sexless workers, so it seems as if we human beings could not get along without the industry and the widespread but ephemeral influence of such minds, marked with the stamp of sterility, as flourished in such profusion about the middle of the nineteenth century. The progress of historico-critical research on the one hand, and on the other the increasing tendency to direct attention not to the theological and subordinate, but to that which is living and decisive, causes one to look upon the mythological standpoint of Strauss as so unintelligent that one cannot turn over the leaves of this honest man‘s writings without yawning. And yet one must admit that such men as he and Renan (two concave mirrors which distort all lines, the one by lengthening, the other by broadening) have accomplished an important work — by drawing the attention of thousands to the great miracle of the fact of Christ and thus creating a public for profounder thinkers and wiser men.


of Christianity in a strictly historical manner. * But all this when considered from the universal human standpoint is of much less importance than the one fact, that in consequence of these researches the figure of the one Divine Man has been brought into relief, so that the unbeliever as well as the believer is bound to recognise it as the centre and source of Christianity, taking the word in the most comprehensive sense possible.


A few pages back I placed Buddha and Christ in juxtaposition. The kernel of the religious conceptions of all the more gifted races of mankind (with the two exceptions of the small family of the Jews on the one hand and their antipodes the Brahman Indians on the other) has been for the past few thousand years not the need for an explanation of the world, nor mythological Nature-symbolism, nor meditative transcendentalism, but the experience of great characters. The delusion of a “rational religion“ still haunts us; occasionally too in recent years there has been talk of a “replacing of religion by something higher,“ and on the hilltops of certain German districts new “worshippers of Wotan“ have offered up sacrifice at the time of the solstice; but none of these movements have exercised the slightest influence upon the world. For ideas are immortal — I have said so already and shall have to repeat it constantly — and in such figures as Buddha and Christ an idea — that is, a definite conception of human existence — acquires such a living bodily form, becomes so thoroughly an experience of life, is placed so clearly before the eyes of all men, that it can never more disappear from their conscious-

* Later there came a dark period upon which light has still to be thrown.


ness. Many a man may never have seen the Crucified One with his eyes; many a man may constantly have passed this revelation carelessly by; thousands of men, even among ourselves, lack what one might call the inner sense to perceive Christ at all; on the other hand, having once seen Jesus Christ — even if it be with half-veiled eyes — we cannot forget Him; it does not lie within our power to remove the object of experience from our minds. We are not Christians because we were brought up in this or in that Church, because we want to be Christians; if we are Christians, it is because we cannot help it, because neither the chaotic bustle of life nor the delirium of selfishness, nor artificial training of thought can dispel the vision of the Man of Sorrow when once it has been seen. On the evening before His death, when His Apostles were questioning Him as to the significance of one of His actions, He replied, “I have given you an example.“ That is the meaning not only of the one action but of His whole life and death. Even so strict an ecclesiastic as Martin Luther writes: “The example of our Lord Jesus Christ is at the same time a sacrament, it is strong in us, it does not, like the examples of the fathers, merely teach, no, it also effects what it teaches, it gives life, resurrection and redemption from death.“ The power of Buddha over the world rests on similar foundations. The true source of all religion is, I repeat, in the case of the great majority of living people not a doctrine but a life. It is a different question, of course, how far we, with our weak capability, can or cannot follow the example; the ideal is there, clear, unmistakable, and for centuries it has been moulding with incomparable power the thoughts and actions of men, even of unbelievers.
I shall return to this point later in another connection. If I have introduced Buddha here, where only the figure of Christ concerns me, I have done so for this reason, that nothing shows up a figure so well as comparison.


The comparison, however, must be an appropriate one, and I do not know any other than Buddha in the history of the world whom we could compare with Christ. Both are characterised by their divine earnestness; they have in common the longing to point out to all mankind the way of redemption; they have both incomparably magnetic personalities. And yet if one places these two figures side by side, it can only be to emphasise the contrast and not to draw a parallel between them. Christ and Buddha are opposites. What unites them is their sublimity of character. From that source have sprung lives of unsurpassed loveliness, lives which wielded an influence such as the world had never before experienced. Otherwise they differ almost in every point, and the neo-Buddhism which has been paraded during recent years in certain social circles in Europe — in the closest relation, it is said, to Christianity and even going beyond it — is but a new proof of the widespread superficiality of thought among us. For Buddha‘s life and thought present a direct contrast to the thought and life of Christ: they form what the logician calls the “antithesis,“ what to the natural scientist is the “opposite pole.“


Buddha represents the senile decay of a culture which has reached the limit of its possibilities. A Prince, highly educated, gifted with a rich fulness of power, recognises the vanity of that education and that power. He professes what to the rest of the world seems to be the Highest, but with the vision of truth before him, this possession melts away to nothing. Indian culture, the outcome of the meditative contemplation incident to a pastoral life, had thrown itself with all the weight of its lofty gifts into the development of the one attribute


peculiar to mankind — Reason with the power of combination: so it came to pass that connection with the surrounding world — childlike observation with its practical adaptation to business — languished, at any rate among the men of higher culture. Everything was systematically directed to the development of the power of thought: every educated youth knew by heart, word for word, a whole literature charged with matter so subtle that even to this day few Europeans are capable of following it: even geometry, the most abstract of all methods of representing the concrete world, was too obvious for the Indians, and so they came instead to revel in an arithmetic which goes beyond all possibility of presentation: the man who questioned himself as to his aim in life, the man who had been gifted by nature with the desire to strive for some highest goal, found on the one side a religious system in which symbolism had grown to such mad dimensions that it needed some thirty years to find oneself at home in it, and on the other side a philosophy leading up to heights so giddy that whoso wished to climb the last rungs of this heavenly ladder must take refuge from the world for ever in the deep silence of the primeval forest. Clearly here the eye and the heart had lost their rights. Like the scorching simoom of the desert, the spirit of abstraction had swept with withering force over all other gifts of this rich human nature. The senses indeed still lived — desires of tropical heat: but on the other side was the negation of the whole world of sense: between these nothing, no compromise, only war, war between human perception and human nature, between thought and being. And so Buddha must hate what he loved; children, parents, wife, all that is beautiful and joyous — for what were these but veils darkening perception, bonds chaining him to a dream-life of lies and desire? and what had he to do with all the wisdom of the Brahmans? Sacrificial ceremonies which no


human being understood, and which the priests themselves explained as being purely symbolical and to the initiated futile: — beyond this a redemption by perception accessible to scarcely one man in a hundred thousand. Thus it was that Buddha not only cast away from him his kingdom and his knowledge, but tore from his heart all that bound him as man to man, all love, all hope: at one blow he destroyed the religion of his fathers, drove their gods from the temple of the world, and rejected as a vain phantom even that most sublime conception of Indian metaphysics, that of a one and only God, indescribable, unthinkable, having no part in space or time, and therefore inaccessible to thought, and yet by thought dimly imagined. There is nothing in life but suffering, this was Buddha‘s experience and consequently his teaching. The one object worth striving for is “redemption from suffering.“ This redemption is death, the entering into annihilation. But to every Indian the transmigration of souls, that is the eternal reincarnation of the same individual, was believed in as a manifest fact, not even to be called in question. Death then, in its ordinary shape, cannot give redemption: it is the gift of that death only upon which no reincarnation follows: and this redeeming death can only be attained in one way, namely, that man shall have died during his life and therefore of his own free will: that is to say, that he shall have cut off and annihilated all that ties him to life, all love, all hope, all desire, all possession: in short, as we should say with Schopenhauer, that he shall have denied the will to live. If man lives in this wise, if while yet alive he makes himself into a moving corpse, then can the reaper Death harvest no seed for a reincarnation. A living Death! that is the essence of Buddhism! We may describe Buddhism as the lived suicide. It is suicide in its highest potentiality: for Buddha lives solely and only to die, to be


dead definitely and beyond recall, to enter into Nirvana — extinction. *


What greater contrast could there be to this figure than that of Christ, whose death signifies entrance into eternal life? Christ perceives divine Providence in the whole world; not a sparrow falls to the ground, not a hair on the head of a man can be injured, without the permission of the Heavenly Father. And far from hating this earthly existence, which is lived by the will and under the eye of God, Christ praises it as the entry into eternity, as the narrow gate through which we pass into the Kingdom of God. And this Kingdom of God, what is it? A Nirvana? a Dream-Paradise? a future reward for deeds done here below? Christ gives the answer in one word, which has undoubtedly been authentically handed down to us, for it had never been uttered before, and no one of His disciples evidently understood it, much less invented it; indeed, this eagle thought flashed so far in front of the slow unfolding of human knowledge that even to the present day few have seen the meaning of it — as I said before, Christianity is still in its infancy — Christ‘s answer was, “The Kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo here or lo there. For behold, the Kingdom of God is within you.“ This is what Christ himself calls the “mystery“; it cannot be expressed in words, it cannot be defined; and ever and ever again the Saviour endeavours to bring home

* I have translated das nichts by extinction, which is the rendering of Nirvana by Rhys Davids. He says: “What then is Nirvana, which means simply going out, extinction“; and then he goes on to say that it ought to be translated “Holiness.“ But that will not do here, nor is it altogether incapable of being argued. Extinction gives Chamberlain‘s meaning better than “nothingness,“ which is not quite satisfactory. Perhaps “Holy Extinction“ comes near to the Buddhist conception. The idea of Rhys Davids would thus not be lost. (Translator’s Note.)


His great message of salvation by means of parables: the Kingdom of God is like a grain of mustard seed in the field, “the least of all seeds,“ but if it is tended by the husbandman, it grows to a tree, “so that the birds of the air come and lodge under its branches“; the Kingdom of God is like the leaven among the flour, if the housewife take but a little, it leavens the whole lump; but the following figure speaks most plainly: “the Kingdom of God is like unto a treasure hid in a field.“ * That the field means the world, Christ expressly says (see Matthew xiii. 38); in this world, that is, in this life, the treasure lies concealed; the Kingdom of God is buried within us! That is the “mystery of the Kingdom of God,“ as Christ says; at the same time it is the secret of His own life, the secret of His personality. An estrangement from life, as in the case of Buddha, is not to be found in Christ, there is, however, a “conversion“ of the direction of life, if I may so call it, as, for example, when Christ says to His disciples, “Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of God.“ † At a later period this so easily grasped “conversion“ received — perhaps from a strange hand — the more mystical expression, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.“ The words do not matter, what is important is the conception underlying them, and this conception stands out luminously clear, because it gives form to the whole life of

* The expression Uranos or “Kingdom of Heaven“ occurs only in Matthew and is certainly not the right translation into Greek of any expression used by Christ. The other evangelists always say “Kingdom of God.“ (Cf. my collection of the Worte Christi, large edition, p. 260, small edition, p. 279, and for more learned and definite explanation see H. H. Wendt‘s Lehre Jesu, 1886, pp. 48 and 58.)
† The emphasis clearly does not lie on the additional clause “and become as little children“; this is rather an explanation of the conversion. What is it that distinguishes children? Unalloyed joy in life and the unspoilt power of throwing a glamour over it by their temperaments.


Christ. Here we do not find a doctrine like that of Buddha with a logical arithmetical development; nor is there, as has so frequently been asserted by the superficial, any organic connection with Jewish wisdom: read the words of Jesus Sirach, who is most frequently compared with Christ, and ask yourselves whether that is “Spirit of the same Spirit“? Sirach speaks like a Jewish Marcus Aurelius and even his finest sayings, such as “Seek wisdom until death, and God will fight for you,“ or, “The heart of the fool lies upon his tongue, but the tongue of the wise man dwells within his heart,“ are as a sound from another world when put beside the sayings of Christ: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth; blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God; take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly of heart, and you will find rest unto your souls, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.“ No one had ever spoken like that before, and no one has spoken so since. These words of Christ have, however, as we can see, never the character of a doctrine, but just as the tone of a voice supplements by a mysterious inexpressible something — which is the most personal element in the personality — what we already know about a man from his features and his actions, so do we seem to hear in them his voice: what he exactly said we do not know, but an unmistakable, unforgettable tone strikes our ear and from our ear enters our heart. And then we open our eyes and see this figure, this life. Down through the ages we hear the words, “Learn of me,“ and we understand what they mean: to be as Christ was, to live as Christ lived, to die as Christ died, that is the Kingdom of God, that is eternal life.
In the nineteenth century, the ideas of pessimism and negation of the will, which have become so common, have been frequently applied to Christ; but though they fit Buddha and certain features of the Christian churches


and their dogmas, Christ‘s life is their denial. If the Kingdom of God dwells in us, if it is embraced in this life like a hidden treasure, what becomes of the sense of pessimism? * How can man be a wretch born only for grief, if the divinity lies in his breast? How can this world be the worst of all possible worlds (see Schopenhauer: Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung, vol. ii. chap. xlvi.) if it contains Heaven? For Christ these were all delusive fallacies; woe to you, He said of the learned, “who shut up the Kingdom of God against men; for ye neither go in yourselves neither suffer ye them that would enter to go in,“ and He praised God that He had “revealed to babes and sucklings what He had hidden from the wise and prudent“; Christ, as one of the greatest men of the nineteenth century has said, was “not wise, but divine“; † that is a mighty difference; and because He was divine, Christ did not turn away from life, but to life. This is eloquently vouched for by the impression which Christ made and left upon those who knew Him; they call Him the tree of life, the bread of life, the water of life, the light of life, the light of the world, a light from above sent to lighten those that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death; Christ is for them the rock, the foundation upon which we are to build our lives, &c, &c. Everything is positive, constructive, affirmative. Whether Christ really brought the dead to life may be doubted by any one who will; but such a one must estimate all the more highly the life-giving impression which radiated from this figure, for wherever Christ went people believed that they saw the dead come to life and the sick rise healed from their beds. Everywhere He sought out the suffering, the poor, those laden with sorrow,

* I need scarcely say that I take the word pessimism, which is capable of such a variety of interpretations, in the popular, superficial sense of a moral frame of mind, not a philosophical cognition.
† Diderot also, to whom one cannot attribute orthodox faith, says in the Encyclopédie: “Christ ne fut point un philosophe, ce fut un Dieu.“


and bidding them “weep not,“ consoled them with words of life. From inner Asia came the idea of flight from the world to the cloister. Buddhism had not in truth invented it, but gave it its greatest impulse. Christianity, too, imitated it later, closely following the Egyptian example. This idea had already advanced to the very neighbourhood of the Galilean; yet where does one find Christ preaching monastic doctrines of seclusion from the world? Many founders of religion have imposed penance in respect of food upon themselves and their disciples; not so Christ; He emphasises particularly that He had not fasted like John, but had so lived that men called Him a “glutton and a winebibber.“ All the following expressions which we know so well from the Bible — that the thoughts of men are vain, that the life of man is vanity, he passes away like a shadow, the work of man is vain, all is vanity — come from the Old, not from the New Testament. Indeed such words as those, for example, of the preacher Solomon, “One generation passeth away and another generation cometh, but the earth abideth for ever,“ are derived from a view of life which is directly contrary to that of Christ; because according to the latter Heaven and earth pass away, while the human breast conceals in its depths the only thing that is everlasting. It is true that Jesus Christ offers the example of an absolute renunciation of much that makes up the life of the greater proportion of mankind; but it is done for the sake of life; this renunciation is the “conversion“ which, we are told, leads to the Kingdom of Heaven, and it is not outward but purely inward. What Buddha teaches is, so to speak, a physical process, it is the actual extinction of the physical and intellectual being; whoever wishes to be redeemed must take the three vows of chastity, poverty and obedience. In the case of Christ we find nothing similar: He attends marriages, He declares wedlock to be a holy


ordinance of God, and even the errors of the flesh he judges so leniently that He Himself has not a word of condemnation for the adulteress; He indeed speaks of wealth as rendering the “conversion“ of the will more difficult — as, for example, when He says that it is more difficult for a rich man to enter into that kingdom of God which lies within us than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, but He immediately adds — and this is the characteristic and decisive part — “the things which are impossible with men are possible with God.“ This is again one of those passages which cannot be invention, for nowhere in the whole world do we find anything like it. There had been enough and to spare of diatribes against wealth before (one need only read the Jewish Prophets), they were repeated later (read, for instance, the Epistle of James, chap. ii.); according to Christ, however, wealth is a mere accessory, the possession of which may or may not be a hindrance, for the one thing which concerns Him is the inner and spiritual conversion. And this it was that, in dealing with this very case, by far the greatest of the Apostles amplified so beautifully; for while Christ had advised the rich young man, “Sell all that thou hast and give it to the poor,“ Paul completes the saying by the remark, “and though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor and have not charity it profiteth me nothing.“ The Buddhist who is steering for death may be satisfied with poverty, chastity, and obedience; he who chooses life has other things to think of.
And here it is necessary to call attention to one more point, in which the living essence of Christ‘s personality and example manifests itself freshly and convincingly; I refer to His combativeness. The sayings of Christ on humility and patience, His exhortation that we should love our enemies and bless those that curse us, find almost


exact parallels in the sayings of Buddha; but they spring from quite a different motive. For Buddha every injustice endured is an extinction, for Christ it is a means of advancing the new view of life: “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness‘ sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of God“ (that kingdom which lies hidden like a treasure in the field of life). But if we pass to the inner being, if that one fundamental question of the direction of will is brought up, then we hear words of quite a different kind: “Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay, but rather division! For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, two against three, and three against two…. For I am come to stir up the son against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against the mother-in-law; and the man‘s enemies shall be they of his own household.“ Not peace but the sword: that is a voice to which we cannot shut our ears, if we wish to understand the revelation of Christ. The life of Jesus Christ is an open declaration of war, not against the forms of civilisation, culture and religion, which He found around Him — He observes the Jewish law of religion and teaches us to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s — but certainly against the inner spirit of mankind, against the motives which underlie their actions, against the goal which they set for themselves in the future life and in the present. The coming of Christ signifies, from the point of view of the world‘s history, the coming of a new human species. Linnaeus distinguished as many human species as there are colours of skin; but a new colouring of the will goes really deeper into the organism than a difference in the pigment of the epidermis! And the Lord of this new human species, the “new Adam,“ as the Scripture so well describes Him, will have no compromise; He puts the choice: God or mammon. Whoever chooses


conversion, whoever obeys the warning of Christ, “Follow me!“ must also when necessary leave father and mother, wife and child; but he does not leave them, like the disciples of Buddha, to find death, but to find life. Here is no room for pity: whom we have lost we have lost, and with the ancient hardness of the heroic spirit not a tear is shed over those who are gone: “Let the dead bury their dead.“ Not every one is capable of understanding the word of Christ, He in fact tells us, “Many are called but few are chosen,“ and here again Paul has given drastic expression to this fact: “The preaching of the Cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.“ So far as outward forms go Christ has no preferences, but where the direction of the will is concerned, whether it is directed to the Eternal or the Temporal, whether it advances or hinders the unfolding of that immeasurable power of life in the heart of man, whether it aims at the quickening of that “Kingdom of God within us“ or, on the other hand, scatters for ever the one treasure of “them that are chosen“ — there is with Him no question of tolerance and never can be. In this very connection much has been done since the eighteenth century to rob the sublime countenance of the Son of Man of all its mighty features. We have had represented to us as Christianity a strange delusive picture of boundless tolerance, of universally gentle passivity, a kind of milk-and-water religion; in the last few years we have actually witnessed “interconfessional religious congresses,“ where all the priests of the world shake hands as brothers, and many Christians welcome this as particularly “Christlike.“ It may be ecclesiastical, it may be right and good, but Christ would never have sent an apostle to such a congress. Either the word of the Cross is “foolishness“ or it is “a divine power“; between the two Christ himself has torn open the yawning


gulf of “division,“ and, to prevent any possibility of its being bridged, has drawn the flaming “sword.“ Whoever understands the revelation of Christ cannot be surprised. The tolerance of Christ is that of a spirit which soars high as Heaven above all forms that divide the world; a combination of these forms could not have the slightest importance for Him — that would mean only the rise of a new form; He, on the other hand, considers only the “spirit and the truth.“ And when Christ teaches, “Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek turn to him the other also, and if any man will take away thy coat let him have thy cloak also“ — a doctrine to which His example on the Cross gave everlasting significance — who does not understand that this is closely related to what follows, “Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you,“ and that here that inner “conversion“ is expressed, not passively, but in the highest possible form of living action? If I offer the impudent striker my left cheek, I do not do so for his sake; if I love my enemy and show him kindness, it is not for his sake; after the conversion of the will it is simply inevitable and therefore I do it. The old law, an eye for an eye, hatred for hatred, is just as natural a reflex action as that which causes the legs of a dead frog to kick when the nerves are stimulated. In sooth it must be a “new Adam“ who has gained such complete mastery over his “old Adam“ that he does not obey this impulse. However, it is not merely self-control — for if Buddha forms the one opposite pole to Christ, the Stoic forms the other; but that conversion of the will, that entry into the hidden kingdom of God, that being born again, which makes up the sum of Christ‘s example, demands a complete conversion of the feelings. This, in fact, is the new thing. Till Christ blood-vengeance was the sacred law of all men of the most different races; but from the Cross there


came the cry, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!“ Whoever takes the divine voice of pity for weak humanitarianism has not understood a single feature of the advent of Christ. The voice which here speaks comes from that Kingdom of God which is within us; pain and death have lost their power over it; they affect him who is born again just as little as the stroke on the cheek or the theft of the coat; everything that drives, constrains and compels the human half-ape — selfishness, superstition, prejudice, envy, hatred — breaks on such a will as this like sea-foam on a granite cliff; in face of death Christ scarcely notices His own pain and tribulation, He sees only that men are crucifying what is divine in them, and they are treading under foot the seed of the Kingdom of God and scattering the “treasure in the field,“ and thus it is that, full of pity, He calls out, “They know not what they do!“ Search the history of the world and you will not find a word to equal this for sublime pride. Here speaks a discernment that has penetrated farther than the Indian mind, here speaks at the same time the strongest will, the surest consciousness of self.
Just as we children of a modern age have discovered in the whole world a power which before only from time to time flashed forth in fleeting clouds as the lightning, a power hidden, invisible, perceived by no sense, to be explained by no hypothesis, but all-present and almighty, and in the same way as we are driven to trace the complete transformation of our outward conditions of life to this power — so Christ pointed to a hidden power in the unfathomed and unfathomable depths of the human heart, a power capable of completely transforming man, capable of making a sorrow-trodden wretch mighty and blessed. The lightning had hitherto been only a destroyer; the power which it taught us to discover is


now the servant of peaceful work and comfort; in like manner the human will, from the beginning of time the seed of all the misfortune and misery that descended upon the human race, was henceforth to minister to the new birth of this race, to the rise of a new human species. Hence, as I have pointed out in the introduction to this book, the incomparable significance of the life of Christ for the world‘s history. No political revolution can compare with it.
From the point of view of universal history we have every reason to put the achievement of Christ on a parallel with the achievements of the Hellenes. In the first chapter I have described in how far Homer, Democritus, Plato, &c. &c. are to be considered as real “creators,“ and I added, “then and then only is a new creature born, then only does the macrocosm contain a microcosm. The only thing that deserves to be called culture is the daughter of such creative freedom.“ * What Greece did for the intellect, Christ did for the moral life: man had not a moral culture till He gave it. I should rather say, the possibility of a moral culture; for the motive power of culture is that inner, creative process, the voluntary masterful conversion of the will, and this very motive power was with rare exceptions quite overlooked; Christianity became an essentially historical religion, and at the altars of its churches all the superstitions of antiquity and of Judaism found a consecrated place of refuge. Yet we have in the revelation of Christ the one foundation of all moral culture, and the moral culture of our nations is greater or smaller in proportion to the extent to which his personality is able more or less clearly to prevail.
It is in this connection that we can with truth assert that the appearance of Christ upon earth has divided

* See p. 25.


mankind into two classes. It created for the first time true nobility, and indeed true nobility of birth, for only he who is chosen can be a Christian. But at the same time it sowed in the hearts of the chosen the seed of new and bitter suffering: it separated them from father and mother, it made them lonely wanderers among men who did not understand them, it stamped them as martyrs. And who after all is really master? Who has entirely conquered his slavish instincts? Discord from now onward rent the individual soul. And now that the individual, who hitherto in the tumultuous struggle of life had scarcely attained to a consciousness of his “Ego,“ was awakened to an unexpectedly high conception of his dignity, inner significance and power, how often was his heart bound to fail him in the consciousness of his weakness and unworthiness? Now and now only did life become truly tragical. This was brought about by man‘s own free act in rising against his animal nature. “From a perfect pupil of nature man became an imperfect moral being, from a good instrument a bad artist,“ says Schiller. But man will no longer be an instrument; and as Homer had created gods such as he wished them, so now man rebelled against the moral tyranny of nature and created a sublime morality such as he desired; he would no longer obey blind impulses, beautifully constrained and restricted as they might be by legal paragraphs; his own law of morals would henceforth be his only standard. In Christ man awakens to consciousness of his moral calling, but thereby at the same time to the necessity of an inner struggle that is reckoned in tens of centuries. Under the heading Philosophy in the ninth chapter (vol. ii.), I shall show that after an anti-Christian reaction lasting for many centuries we have with Kant returned again to exactly the same path. The humanitarian Deists of the eighteenth century who turned


away from Christ thought the proper course was a “return to nature“: on the contrary, it is emancipation from nature, without which we can achieve nothing, but which we are determined to make subject to ourselves. In Art and Philosophy man becomes conscious of himself, in contrast to nature, as an intellectual being; in marriage and law he becomes conscious of himself as a social being, in Christ as a moral being. He throws down the gauntlet for a fight in which there is no place for humility; whoever will follow Christ requires above all courage, courage in its purest form, that inner courage, which is steeled and hardened anew every day, which proves itself not merely in the intoxicating clash of battle, but in bearing and enduring, and in the silent, soundless struggle of every hour in the individual breast. The example is given. For in the advent of Christ we find the grandest example of heroism. Moral heroism is in Him so sublime that the much-extolled physical courage of heroes seems as nothing; certain it is that only heroic souls — only “masters“ — can in the true sense of the word be Christians. And when Christ says, “I am meek,“ we well understand that this is the meekness of the hero sure of victory; and when He says, “I am lowly of heart,“ we know that this is not the humility of the slave, but the humility of the master, who from the fulness of his power bows down to the weak.
On one occasion when Jesus was addressed not simply as Lord or Master, but as “good master,“ He rejected the appellation: “Why callest thou Me good: there is none good.“ This should make us think, and should convince us that it is a mistaken view of Christ which forces His heavenly goodness, His humility and long-suffering, into the foreground of His character; they do not form its basis, but are like fragrant flowers on a strong stem. What was the basis of the world-power of


Buddha? Not his doctrine, but his example, his heroic achievement; it was the revelation of an almost supernatural will-power which held and still holds millions in its spell. But in Christ a still higher will revealed itself; He did not need to flee from the world; He did not avoid the beautiful, He praised the use of the costly — which His disciples called “prodigality“; He did not retire to the wilderness, from the wilderness He came and entered into life, a victor, who had a message of good news to proclaim — not death, but redemption! I said that Buddha represented the senile decay of a culture which had strayed into wrong paths: Christ, on the other hand, represents the morning of a new day; He won from the old human nature a new youth, and thus became the God of the young, vigorous Indo-Europeans, and under the sign of His cross there slowly arose upon the ruins of the old world a new culture — a culture at which we have still to toil long and laboriously until some day in the distant future it may deserve the appellation “Christ-like.“


Were I to follow my own inclination, I should close this chapter here. But it is necessary in the interest of many points to be discussed later to consider the personality of Christ not only in its pure isolated individuality but also in its relation to its surroundings. Otherwise there are many important phenomena in the past and the present which remain incomprehensible. It is by no means a matter of indifference whether by close analysis we have formed exact ideas as to what in this figure is Jewish and what is not. On this point there has been from the beginning of the Christian era to the present day and from the lowest depths of the intellectual world to its greatest heights, enormous confusion. Not


merely was so sublime a figure not easy for any one to comprehend and to contemplate in its organic relations to the contemporary world, but everything concurred to dim and falsify its true features: Jewish religious idiosyncrasy, Syrian mysticism, Egyptian asceticism, Hellenic metaphysics, soon too Roman traditions of State and Pontifex, as also the superstitions of the barbarians; every form of misunderstanding and stupidity had a share in the work. In the nineteenth century many have devoted themselves to the unravelling of this tangle, but, so far as I know, no one has succeeded in separating from the mass of facts the few essential points and putting them clearly before the eyes of all. In fact even honest learning does not protect us against prejudice and partiality. We shall here try, unfortunately indeed without the specialist‘s knowledge, but also without prejudice, to find out how far Christ belonged to His surroundings and employed their forms for viewing things, how far He differed from them and rose high as the heavens above them; only in this way can we free His personality from all accidental circumstances and show its full autonomous dignity.
Let us therefore first ask ourselves, was Christ a Jew by race?
The question seems at the first glance somewhat childish. In the presence of such a personality peculiarities of race shrink into nothingness. An Isaiah, however much he may tower above his contemporaries, remains a thorough Jew; not a word did he utter that did not spring from the history and spirit of his people; even where he mercilessly exposes and condemns what is characteristically Jewish, he proves himself — especially in this — the Jew; in the case of Christ there is not a trace of this. Take again Homer! He awakens the Hellenic people for the first time to consciousness of itself; to be able to do that, he had to harbour in his


own bosom the quintessence of all Hellenism. But where is the people, which, awakened by Christ to life, has gained for itself the precious right — of calling Christ its own? Certainly not in Judea! — To the believer Jesus is the Son of God, not of a human being; for the unbeliever it will be difficult to find a formula to characterise so briefly and yet so expressively the undeniable fact of this incomparable and inexplicable personality. After all there are phenomena which cannot be placed in the complex of our intellectual conceptions without a symbol. So much in regard to the question of principle, and in order to remove from myself all suspicion of being taken in tow by that superficial “historical“ school, which undertakes to explain the inexplicable. It is another matter to seek to gain all possible information regarding the historical surroundings of a personality for the simple purpose of obtaining a clearer and better view of it. If we do attempt this, the answer to the question, Was Christ a Jew? is by no means a simple one. In religion and education He was so undoubtedly; in race — in the narrower and real sense of the word “Jew“ — most probably not.
The name Galilee (from Gelil haggoyim) means “district of the heathen.“ It seems that this part of the country, so far removed from the intellectual centre, had never kept itself altogether pure, even in the earliest times when Israel was still strong and united, and it had served as home for the tribes Naphtali and Zebulon. Of the tribe Naphtali we are told that it was from the first “of very mixed origin,“ and while the non-Israelitic aborigines continued to dwell in the whole of Palestine as before, this was the case “nowhere in so great a degree as in the northern districts.“ * There was, however,

* Wellhausen: Israelitische und jüdische Geschichte, 3rd ed., 1897, pp. 16 and 74. Cf. too, Judges, i. 30 and 33, and further on in this book, chap. v.


another additional circumstance. While the rest of Palestine remained, owing to its geographical position, isolated as it were from the world, there was, even at the time when the Israelites took possession of the land, a road leading from the lake of Gennesareth to Damascus, and from that point Tyre and Sidon were more accessible than Jerusalem. Thus we find that Solomon ceded a considerable part of this district of the heathen (as it was already called, 1 Kings, ix. 11), with twenty cities to the King of Tyre in payment of his deliveries of cedar- and pine-trees, as well as for the one hundred and twenty hundredweights of gold which the latter had contributed towards the building of the temple; so little interest had the King of Judea in this land, half inhabited as it was by heathens. The Tyrian King Hiram must in fact have found it sparsely populated, as he profited by the opportunity to settle various foreign tribes in Galilee. * Then came, as every one knows, the division into two kingdoms, and since that time, that is, since about a thousand years before Christ (!) only now and again, and then but for a short time, had there been any comparatively close political connection between Galilee and Judea, and it is only this, not community of religious faith, that furthers a fusion of races. In Christ‘s time, too, Galilee was politically quite separate from Judea, so that it stood to the latter in the relation “of a foreign country“ † In the meantime, however, something had happened, which must have destroyed almost completely

* Graetz: Volkstümliche Geschichte der Juden, i. 88.
† Ibid. i. 567. Galilee and Perea had together a tetrarch who ruled independently, while Judea, Samaria and Idumea were under a Roman procurator. Graetz adds at this point, “Owing to the enmity of the Samaritans whose land lay like a wedge between Judea and Galilee and round [sic] both, there was all the less intercourse between the two separated districts.“ I have here for simplicity refrained from mentioning the further fact that we have no right to identify the genuine “Israelites“ of the North with the real “Jews“ of the South; but cf. chap. v.


for all time the Israelitish character of this northern district: seven hundred and twenty years before Christ (that is about one hundred and fifty years before the Babylonian captivity of the Jews) the northern kingdom of Israel was laid waste by the Assyrians, and its population — it is said to a man, at all events to a large extent — deported into different and distant parts of the Empire, where it soon fused with the rest of the inhabitants and in consequence completely disappeared. * At the same time strange races from remote districts were transported to Palestine to settle there. The authorities indeed suppose (without being able to vouch for it) that a considerable portion of the former mixed Israelitish population had remained in the land; at any rate this remnant did not keep apart from the strangers, but became merged in the medley of races. † The fate of these districts was consequently quite different from that of Judea. For when the Judeans at a later time were also led into captivity, their land remained so to speak empty, inhabited only by a few peasants who moreover belonged to the country, so that when they returned from the Babylonian captivity, during which they had kept their race pure, they were able without difficulty to maintain that purity. Galilee, on the other hand, and

* So completely disappeared that many theologians, who had leisure, puzzled their brains even in the nineteenth century to discover what had become of the Israelites, as they could not believe that five-sixths of the people to whom Jehovah had promised the whole world should have simply vanished off the face of the earth. An ingenious brain actually arrived at the conclusion that the ten tribes believed to be lost were the English of to-day! He was not at a loss for the moral of this discovery either: in this way the British possess by right five-sixths of the whole earth; the remaining sixth the Jews. Cf. H. L.: Lost Israel, where are they to be found? (Edinburgh, 6th ed., 1877). In this pamphlet another work is named, Wilson, Our Israelitish Origin. There are, according to these authorities, honest Anglo-Saxons who have traced their genealogy back to Moses!
† Robertson Smith: The Prophets of Israel (1895), p. 153, informs us to what an extent “the distinguishing character of the Israelitish nation was lost.“


the neighbouring districts had, as already mentioned, been systematically colonised by the Assyrians, and, as it appears from the Biblical account, from very different parts of that gigantic empire, among others from the northerly mountainous Syria. Then in the centuries before the birth of Christ many Phoenicians and Greeks had also migrated thither. * This last fact would lead one to assume that purely Aryan blood also was transplanted thither; at any rate it is certain that a promiscuous mixture of the most different races took place, and that the foreigners in all probability settled in largest numbers in the more accessible and at the same time more fertile Galilee. The Old Testament itself tells with artless simplicity how these strangers originally came to be acquainted with the worship of Jehovah (2 Kings, xvii. 24 ff.): in the depopulated land beasts of prey multiplied; this plague was held to be the vengeance of the neglected “God of the Land“ (verse 26); but there was no one who knew how the latter should be worshipped; and so the colonists sent to the King of Assyria and begged for an Israelitish priest from the captivity, and he came and “taught them the manner of the God of the land.“ In this way the inhabitants of Northern Palestine, from Samaria downward, became Jews in faith, even those of them who had not a drop of Israelitish blood in their veins. In later times many genuine Jews may certainly have settled there; but probably only as strangers in the larger cities, for one of the most admirable characteristics of the Jews — particularly since their return from captivity where the clearly circumscribed term “Jew“ first appears as the designation of a religion (see Zechariah, viii. 23) — was their care to keep the race pure; marriage between Jew and Galilean was unthinkable. However,

* Albert Réville: Jésus de Nazareth, i. 416. One should remember also that Alexander the Great had peopled neighbouring Samaria with Macedonians after the revolt of the year 311.


even these Jewish elements in the midst of the strange population were completely removed from Galilee not very long before the birth of Christ! It was Simon Tharsi, one of the Maccabeans, who, after a successful campaign in Galilee against the Syrians, “gathered together the Jews who lived there and bade them emgrate and settle bag and baggage in Judea.“ * Moreover the prejudice against Galilee remained so strong among the Jews that, when Herod Antipas during Christ‘s youth had built the city of Tiberias and tried to get Jews to settle there, neither promises nor threats were of any avail. † There is, accordingly, as we see, not the slightest foundation for the supposition that Christ‘s parents were of Jewish descent.
In the further course of historical development an event took place which has many parallels in history: among the inhabitants of the more southerly Samaria (which directly bordered on Judea) — a people which beyond doubt was much more closely related to the real Jews by blood and intercourse than the Galileans were — the North-Israelitish tradition of hatred and jealousy of the Jews was kept up; the Samaritans did not recognise the ecclesiastical supremacy of Jerusalem and were therefore, as being “heterodox,“ so hated by the Jews that no kind of intercourse with them was permitted: not even a piece of bread could the faithful take from their hand; that was considered as great a sin as eating pork. ‡ The Galileans, on the other hand, who were to the Jews simply “foreigners,“ and as such of course despised and excluded from many religious observances, were yet strictly orthodox and frequently fanatical

* Graetz, as above, i. 400. See also 1 Maccabees, v. 23.
† Graetz, as above, i. 568. Compare Josephus, Book XVIII., chap. iii.
‡ Quoted by Renan from the Mishna: s. Vie de Jésus, 23rd edition, p. 242.


“Jews.“ To see in that a proof of descent is absurd. It is just the same as if one were to identify the genuinely Slav population of Bosnia or the purest Indo-Aryans of Afghanistan ethnologically with the “Turks,“ because they are strict Mohammedans, much more pious and fanatical than the genuine Osmans. The term Jew is applicable to a definite, remarkably pure race, and only in a secondary and very inexact sense to the members of a religious community. It is moreover far from correct to identify the term “Jew“ with the term “Semite,“ as has so frequently been done of late years; the national character of the Arabs, for instance, is quite different from that of the Jews. I return to this point in the fifth chapter; in the meantime, I must point out that the national character of the Galileans was essentially different from that of the Jews. Open any history of the Jews that you will, that of Ewald or Graetz or Renan, everywhere you will find that in character the Galileans present a direct contrast to the rest of the inhabitants of Palestine; they are described as hot-heads, energetic idealists, men of action. In the long struggles with Rome, before and after the time of Christ, the Galileans are mostly the ringleaders — an element which death alone could overcome. While the great colonies of genuine Jews in Rome and Alexandria lived on excellent terms with the heathen Empire, where they enjoyed great prosperity as interpreters of dreams, * dealers in second-hand goods, pedlars, money-lenders, actors, law-agents, merchants, teachers, &c., in distant Galilee Hezekiah ventured, even in the lifetime of Caesar, to raise the standard of religious revolt. He was followed by the famous Judas the Galilean with the motto, “God alone is master, death does not matter, freedom is all

* Juvenal says:

Aere minuto
Qualiacunque voles Judaei somnia vendunt…


in all!“ * In Galilee was formed the Sicarian party (i.e., men of the knife), not unlike the Indian Thugs of to-day; their most influential leader, the Galilean Menaham, in Nero‘s time destroyed the Roman garrison of Jerusalem, and as a reward the Jews themselves executed him, under the pretext that he wished to proclaim himself the Messias; the sons of Judas also were crucified as politically dangerous revolutionaries (and that too by a Jewish procurator); John of Giscala, a city on the extreme northern boundary of Galilee, headed the desperate defence of Jerusalem against Titus — and the series of Galilean heroes was completed by Eleazar, who years after the destruction of Jerusalem maintained with a small troop a fortified position in the mountains, where he and his followers, when the last hope was lost, killed first their wives and children and then themselves. † In these things, as every one will probably admit, a peculiar, distinct national character reveals itself. There are many reports too of the special beauty of the women of Galilee; moreover, the Christians of the first centuries speak of their great kindness, and contrast their friendliness to those of a different faith with the haughty contemptuous treatment they met with at the hands of genuine Jewesses. Their peculiar national character unmistakably betrayed itself in another way, viz., their language. In Judea and the neighbouring lands Aramaic was spoken at the time of Christ; Hebrew was already a dead language, preserved only in the sacred writings. We are now informed that the Galileans spoke so peculiar and strange a dialect of Aramaic that one recognised them from the first word; “thy language betrayeth thee“ the servants of the High Priest cry to

* Mommsen, Römische Geschichte, v. 515.
† Later, too, the inhabitants of Galilee were a peculiar race distinguished for strength and courage, as is proved by their taking part in the campaign under the Persian Scharbarza and in the taking of Jerusalem in the year 614.


Peter. * The acquisition of Hebrew is said to have been utterly impossible to them, the gutturals especially presenting insuperable difficulties, so that they could not be allowed, for example, to pray before the people, as their “wretched accent made every one laugh.“ † This fact points to a physical difference in the form of the larynx and would alone lead us to suppose that a strong admixture of non-Semitic blood had taken place; for the profusion of gutturals and facility in using them are features common to all Semites. ‡
I have thought it necessary to enter with some fulness into this question — was Christ a Jew in race? — because in not a single work have I found the facts that pertain to it clearly put together. Even in an objectively scientific work like that of Albert Réville, § which is influenced by no theological motives — Réville is the well-known Professor of Comparative Religions at the Collège de France — the word Jew is sometimes used to signify the Jewish race, sometimes the Jewish religion.

* As a matter of fact sufficient evidence of the difference between the Galileans and the real Jews could be gathered from the gospels. In John especially “the Jews“ are always spoken of as something alien, and the Jews on their part exclaim, “Out of Galilee ariseth no prophet“ (7, 52).
† Cf., for example, Graetz, as above, i. 575. With regard to the peculiarity of the speech of the Galileans and their incapacity to pronounce the Semitic gutturals properly, see Renan: Langues sémitiques, 5th ed., p. 230.
‡ See, for example, the comparative table in Max Müller: Science of Language, 9th ed., p. 169, and in each separate volume of the Sacred Books of the East. The Sanscrit language has only six genuine “gutturals,“ the Hebrew ten; most striking, however, is the difference in the guttural aspirate h, for which the Indo-Teutonic languages from time immemorial have known only one sound, the Semitic, on the other hand, five different sounds. Again, we find in Sanscrit seven different lingual consonants, in Hebrew only two. How exceedingly difficult it is for such inherited linguistic marks of race to disappear altogether is well known to us all through the example of the Jews living among us; a perfect mastery of the lingual sounds is just as impossible for them as the mastery of the gutturals for us.
§ Jésus de Nazareth, études critiques sur les antécédents de l‘histoire évangélique et la vie de Jésus, vol. ii. 1897.


We read, for example (i. 416), “Galilee was chiefly inhabited by Jews, but Syrian, Phoenician and Greek heathens also made their home there.“ Here accordingly Jew means one who worships the God of the land of Judea, no matter of what race he may claim to be. On the very next page, however, he speaks of an “Aryan race,“ in opposition to a “Jewish nation“; here consequently Jew denotes a definite, limited race which has kept itself pure for centuries. And now follows the profound remark: “The question whether Christ is of Aryan descent is idle. A man belongs to the nation in whose midst he has grown up.“ This is what people called “science“ in the year of grace 1896! To think that at the close of the nineteenth century a professor could still be ignorant that the form of the head and the structure of the brain exercise quite decisive influence upon the form and structure of the thoughts, so that the influence of the surroundings, however great it may be estimated to be, is yet by this initial fact of the physical tendencies confined to definite capacities and possibilities, in other words, has definite paths marked out for it to follow! To think that he could fail to know that the shape of the skull in particular is one of those characteristics which are inherited with ineradicable persistency, so that races are distinguished by craniological measurements, and, in the case of mixed races, the original elements which occur by atavism become still manifest to the investigator! He could believe that the so-called soul has its abode outside the body, and leads the latter like a puppet by the nose. O Middle Ages! when will your night leave us? When will men understand that form is not an unimportant accident, a mere chance, but an expression of the innermost being? that in this very point the two worlds, the inner and the outer, the visible and the invisible, touch? I have spoken of the human personality as the mysterium magnum of existence; now this inscrutable wonder shows itself in its visible form to the eye and


the investigating understanding. And exactly as the possible forms of a building are determined and limited in essential points by the nature of the building material, so the possible form of a human being, his inner and his outer, are defined in decisively essential points by the inherited material of which this new personality is composed. It certainly may happen that too much importance is attached to the idea of race: we detract thereby from the autonomy of personality and run the risk of undervaluing the great power of ideas; besides, this whole question of race is infinitely more complicated than the layman imagines; it belongs wholly to the sphere of anthropological anatomy and cannot be solved by any dicta of the authorities on language and history. Yet it will not do simply to put race aside as a negligible quantity; still less will it do to proclaim anything directly false about race and to let such an historical lie crystallise into an indisputable dogma. Whoever makes the assertion that Christ was a Jew is either ignorant or insincere: ignorant when he confuses religion and race, insincere when he knows the history of Galilee and partly conceals, partly distorts the very entangled facts in favour of his religious prejudices or, it may be, to curry favour with the Jews. * The probability that Christ was no Jew, that He had not a drop of genuinely Jewish

* How is one, for example, to explain the fact that Renan, who in his Vie de Jésus, published in 1863, says it is impossible even to make suppositions about the race to which Christ by blood belonged (see chap. ii.), in the fifth volume of his Histoire du Peuple d‘Israël, finished in 1891, makes the categorical assertion, “Jésus était un Juif,“ and attacks with unwonted bitterness those who dare doubt the fact? Is it to be supposed that the Alliance Israélite, with which Renan was so closely connected in the last years of his life, had not had something to do with this? In the nineteenth century we have heard so much fine talk about the freedom of speech, the freedom of science, &c.; in reality, however, we have been worse enslaved than in the eighteenth century; for in addition to the tyrants who have really never been disarmed, new and worse ones have arisen. The former tyranny could, with all its bitter injustice, strengthen the character: the new, which is a tyranny proceeding from and aiming at money, degrades to the lowest depth of bondage.


blood in his veins, is so great that it is almost equivalent to a certainty. To what race did He belong? This is a question that cannot be answered at all. Since the land lay between Phoenicia and Syria, which in its south-western portion was strongly imbued with Semitic blood, and in addition had never been quite cleared of its former mixed-Israelitish (but at no time Jewish) population, the probability of a descent principally Semitic is very great. But whoever has even casually glanced at the race-babel of the Assyrian empire * and then learns that colonists from all parts of this empire settled in that former home of Israel, will be baffled by the question. It is indeed possible that in some of these groups of colonists there prevailed a tradition of marrying among themselves, whereby a tribe would have kept itself pure; that this, however, should have been kept up more than five hundred years is almost unthinkable; the very conversion to the Jewish faith had gradually obliterated those tribal differences which at first had been maintained by religious customs brought from their old homes (2 Kings, xvii. 29). We hear that in later times Greeks too migrated thither; in any case they belonged to the poorest classes, and accepted immediately the “god of the country“! Only one assertion can therefore be made on a sound historical basis: in that whole region there was only one single pure race, a race which by painfully scrupulous measures protected itself from all mingling with other nations — the Jewish; that Jesus Christ did not belong to it can be regarded as certain. Every further statement is hypothetical.
This result, though essentially negative, is of great value; it means an important contribution to the right knowledge of the personality of Christ, and at the same time to the understanding of its effectiveness up to the present day as well as to the disentanglement of the

* Cf. Hugo Winckler: Die Völker Vorderasiens, 1900.


wildly confused clue of contradictory ideas and false conceptions, which has wound itself around the simple, transparent truth. It is time to go deeper. The outward connection is less important than the inner; now and now only do we come to the decisive question: how far does Christ as a moral fact belong to Judaism and how far does He not? To fix this once for all, we shall have to make a series of important distinctions, for which I beg the fullest attention of the reader.


Christ is, quite generally — indeed, perhaps universally — represented as the perfecter of Judaism, that is to say, of the religious ideas of the Jews. * Even the orthodox Jews, though they cannot exactly honour Him as the perfecter, behold in Him an offshoot from their tree and proudly regard all Christianity as an appendix to Judaism. That, I am firmly convinced, is a mistake; it is an inherited delusion, one of those opinions that we drink in with our mother‘s milk and about which in consequence the free-thinker never comes to his senses any more than the strictly orthodox Churchman. Certainly Christ stood in direct relation to Judaism, and the influence of Judaism, in the first place upon the moulding of His personality and in a still higher degree upon the development and history of Christianity is so great, definite and essential, that every attempt to deny it must lead to nonsensical results; but this influence is only in the smallest degree a religious one. Therein lies the heart of the error.
We are accustomed to regard the Jewish people as the religious people above all others: as a matter of fact in

* The great legal authority Jhering is a praiseworthy exception. In his Vorgeschichte der Indoeuropäer, p. 300, he says: “The doctrine of Christ did not spring from his native soil, Christianity is rather an overcoming of Judaism; there is even in his origin something of the Aryan in Christ.“


comparison with the Indo-European races it is quite stunted in its religious growth. In this respect what Darwin calls “arrest of development“ has taken place in the case of the Jews, an arrest of the growth of the faculties, a dying in the bud. Moreover all the branches of the Semitic stem, though otherwise rich in talents, were extraordinarily poor in religious instinct; this is the “hard-heartedness“ of which the more important men among them constantly complain. * How different the Aryan! Even the oldest documents (which go back far beyond the Jewish) present him to us as earnestly following a vague impulse which forces him to investigate in his own heart. He is joyous, full of animal spirits, ambitious, thoughtless, he drinks and gambles, he hunts and robs; but suddenly he begins to think: the great riddle of existence holds him absolutely spellbound, not, however, as a purely rationalistic problem — whence is this world? whence came I? questions to which a purely logical and therefore unsatisfactory answer would require to be given — but as a direct compelling need of life. Not to understand, but to be, that is the point to which he is impelled. Not the past with its litany of cause and effect, but the present, the everlasting present holds his astonished mind spellbound. And he feels that it is only when he has bridged the gulf between himself and all that surrounds him, when he recognises himself — the one thing that he directly knows — in every phenomenon and finds again every phenomenon in himself, when he has, so to speak, put the world and himself in harmony, that he can hope to listen with his own ear to the weaving of the everlasting work and bear in his own heart the mysterious music of existence. And in order that he may find this harmony, he utters

* “The Semites have much superstition, but little religion,“ says Robertson Smith, one of the greatest authorities. (See The Prophets of Israel, p. 33.)


his own song, tries it in all tones, practises all melodies; then he listens with reverence. And not unanswered is his call: he hears mysterious voices; all nature becomes alive, everything in her that is related to man begins to stir. He sinks in reverence upon his knees, does not fancy that he is wise, does not believe that he knows the origin and finality of the world, yet has faint forebodings of a loftier vocation, discovers in himself the germ of immeasurable destinies, “the seed of immortality.“ This is, however, no mere dream, but a living conviction, a faith, and like everything living, it in its turn begets life. The heroes of his race and his holy men he sees as “supermen“ (as Goethe says) [**] hovering high above the earth; he wills to be like them, for he too is impelled onward and upward, and now he knows from what a deep inner well they drew the strength to be great. — Now this glance into the unfathomable depths of his own soul, this longing to soar upwards, this is religion. Religion has primarily nothing to do either with superstition or with morals; it is a state of mind. And because the religious man is in direct contact with a world beyond reason, he is thinker and poet: he appears consciously as a creator; he toils unremittingly at the noble Sisyphus work of giving visible shape to the Invisible, of making the Unthinkable capable of being thought; * we never find with him a hard and fast chronological cosmogony and theogony, he has inherited too lively a feeling of the Infinite for that; his conceptions remain in flux and never grow rigid; old ones are replaced by new; gods, honoured in one century, are in another scarcely known by name. Yet the great facts of knowledge, once firmly acquired, are

* Herder says well, “Man alone is in opposition to himself and the earth; for the most fully developed creature among all her organisations is at the same time the least developed in his own new capacity… He represents therefore two worlds at once and this causes the apparent duplicity of his being.“ — Ideen zur Geschichte der Menscheit, Teil 1., Buch V., Abschnitt 6.
[** German: Übermensch. See Goethe’s Faust.]


never again lost, and more than all that fundamental truth which the Rigveda centuries and centuries before Christ tried thus to express, “The root of existence, the wise found in the heart“ — a conviction which in the nineteenth century has been almost identically expressed by Goethe:

Ist nicht der Kern der Natur
Menschen im Herzen? *

That is religion! — Now this very tendency, this state of mind, this instinct, “to seek the core of nature in the heart,“ the Jews lack to a startling degree. They are born rationalists. Reason is strong in them, the will enormously developed, their imaginative and creative powers, on the other hand, peculiarly limited. Their scanty mythically religious conceptions, indeed even their commandments, customs and ordinances of worship, they borrowed without exception from abroad, they reduced everything to a minimum † which they kept rigidly unaltered; the creative element, the real inner life is almost totally wanting in them; at the best it bears, in relation to the infinitely rich religious life of the Aryans, which includes all the highest thought and poetical invention of these peoples, like the lingual sounds referred to above, a ratio of 2 to 7. Consider what a luxuriant growth of magnificent religious conceptions and ideas, and in addition, what art and philosophy, thanks to the Greeks and Teutonic races, sprang up upon the soil of Christianity and then ask with what images and thoughts the so-called religious nation of the Jews has in the same space of time enriched mankind! Spinoza‘s Geometric Ethics (a false, still-born adaptation of a brilliant and pregnant thought of Descartes) seems to me in reality the most cruel mockery of the Talmud

* Is not the core of nature / In the heart of man?
† For details, see chap. v.


morality and has in any case still less to do with religion than the Ten Commandments of Moses, which were probably derived from Egypt. * No, the power of Judaism which commands respect lies in quite another sphere; I shall speak of it immediately.
But how then was it possible to let our judgment be so befogged as to consider the Jews a religious people?
In the first place it was the Jews themselves, who from time immemorial assured us with the greatest vehemence and volubility, that they were “God‘s people“; even a free-thinking Jew like the philosopher Philo makes the bold assertion that the Israelites alone were “men in the true sense“; † the good stupid Indo-Teutonic peoples believed them. But how difficult it became for them to do so is proved by the course of history and the statements of all their most important men. This credulity was only rendered possible by the Christian interpreters of the Script making the whole history of Judah a Theodicy, in which the crucifixion of Christ forms the culminating point. Even Schiller (Die Sendung Moses) seems to think that Providence broke up the Jewish nation, as soon as it had accomplished the work given it to do! Here the authorities overlooked the telling fact that Judaism paid not the slightest attention to the existence of Christ, that the oldest Jewish historians do not once mention His name; and to this has now to be added the fact that this peculiar people after two thousand years still lives and manifests great prosperity; never, not even in Alexandria, has the lot of the Jews been so bright as it is to-day. Finally a third prejudice, derived fundamentally from the philosophic workshops of Greece, had some influence; according to it monotheism, i.e., the idea of a single inseparable God, was supposed to be the symptom

* See chap. cxxv. of the Book of the Dead.
† Quoted by Graetz, as above, i. 634‚ without indication of the passage.


of a higher religion; that is altogether a rationalistic conclusion; arithmetic has nothing to do with religion; monotheism can signify an impoverishment as well as an ennobling of religious life. Besides, two objections may be urged against this fatal prejudice, which has contributed perhaps more than anything else to the delusion of a religious superiority of the Jews; in the first place, the fact that the Jews, as long as they formed a nation and their religion still possessed a spark of fresh life, were not monotheists but polytheists, for whom every little land and every little tribe had its own God; secondly, that the Indo-Europeans by purely religious ways had attained to conceptions of an individual Divinity that were infinitely more sublime than the painfully stunted idea which the Jews had formed of the Creator of the world. *

* I do not require to adduce evidence of the polytheism of the Jews; one finds it in every scientific work and besides on every other page of the Old Testament; see chap. v. Even in the Psalms “all the Gods“ are called upon to worship Jehovah; Jehovah is only in so far the “one God“ for later Jews, as the Jews (as Philo just told us) are “the only men in the real sense.“ Robertson Smith, whose History of the Semites is regarded as a scientific and fundamental book, testifies that monotheism did not proceed from an original religious tendency of the Semitic spirit, but is essentially a political result!! (See p. 74 of the work quoted.) — With regard to the monotheism of the Indo-Europeans I make the following brief remarks. The Brahman of the Indian philosophers is beyond doubt the greatest religious thought ever conceived; with regard to the pure monotheism of the Persians we can obtain information in Darmesteter (The Zend-Avesta, I. lxxxii. ff.); the Greek had however been on the same path, as Ernst Curtius testifies, “I have learned much that is new, particularly what a stronghold of the monotheistic view of God Olympia was and what a moral world-power the Zeus of Phidias has been“ (Letter to Gelzer of Jan. 1, 1896, published in the Deutsche Revue, 1897, p. 241). Besides we can refer here to the best of all witnesses. The Apostle Paul says (Romans, i. 21): “The Romans knew that there is one God“; and the churchfather Augustine shows, in the eleventh chapter of the 4th book of his De civitate Dei, that according to the views of the educated Romans of his time, the magni doctores paganorum, Jupiter was the one and only God, while the other divinities only demonstrated some of his “virtutes.“ Augustine employed the view which was already prevalent, to make it clear to the heathens that it would be no trouble for them to adopt the belief in a single God and to give up the others. Haec si ita sint, quid perderent si unum Deum colerent prudentiore compendio? (the


I shall have repeated occasion to return to these questions, particularly in the sections dealing with the entry of the Jews into western history and with the origin of the Christian Church. In the meantime I hope I have succeeded in removing to some extent the preconceived opinion of the special religiousness of Judaism. I think the reader of the orthodox Christian Neander will henceforth shake his head sceptically when he finds the assertion that the advent of Christ forms the “central point“ of the religious life of the Jews, that

recommendation to believe in a single God “because it simplifies matters“ is a touching feature of the golden childhood of the Christian Church!). And what Augustine demonstrates in the case of the educated heathen, Tertullian asserts of the uneducated people in general. “Everybody,“ he says, “believes only in a single God, and one never hears the Gods invoked in the plural, but only as ‘Great God‘! ‘Good God‘! ‘As God will‘! ‘God be with you‘! ‘God bless you‘!“ This Tertullian regards as the evidence of a fundamentally monotheistic soul: “O testimonium animae naturaliter Christianae!“ (Apologeticus, xvii). [Giordano Bruno in his Spaccio de la bestia trionfante, ed. Lagarde, p. 532, has some beautiful remarks on the monotheism of the ancients.] — In order that in a matter of such significance nothing may remain obscure, I must add that Curtius, Paul, Augustine and Tertullian are all four labouring under a thorough delusion, when they see in these things a proof of monotheism in the sense of Semitic materialism; their judgment is here dimmed by the influence of Christian ideas. The conception “the Divine“ which we see in the Sanscrit neuter Brahman and in the Greek neuter θείον, as well as in the German neuter Gott, which only at a later time in consequence of Christian influence was regarded as a masculine (see Kluge‘s Etymologisches Wörterbuch), cannot be identified at all with the personal world-creator of the Jews. In this case one can say of all the Aryans who are not influenced by the Semitic spirit what Professor Erwin Rohde proves for the Hellenes: “The view that the Greeks had a tendency to monotheism (in the Jewish sense) is based on a wrong interpretation…. It is not a unity of the divine person, but a uniformity of divine entity, a divinity living uniformly in many Gods, something universally divine in the presence of which the Greek stands when he enters into religious contact with the Gods“ (Die Religion der Griechen in the Bayreuther Blätter, 1895, p. 213). Very characteristic are the words of Luther in this connection, “In creation and in works (to reckon from without to the creature) we Christians are at one with the Turks; for we say too that there is not more than one single God. But we say, this is not enough, that we only believe that there is one single God.“


“in the whole organism of this religion and people‘s history it was of inner necessity determined,“ &c. &c. * As for the oratorical flourishes of the free-thinker Renan: Le Christianisme est le chef-d’oeuvre du judaïsme, sa gloire, le résumé de son évolution…. Jésus est tout entier dans Isaïe, &c., † he will smile over them with just a shade of indignation; and I fear he will burst into Homeric laughter when the orthodox Jew Graetz assures him that the teaching of Christ is the “old Jewish doctrine in a new dress,“ that “the time had now come when the fundamental truths of Judaism … the wealth of lofty thoughts concerning God and a holy life for the individual and the community should flow in upon the emptiness of the rest of the world, filling it with a rich endowment.“ ‡

* Allgemeine Geschichte der christlichen Religion, 4th ed. i. 46.
† Histoire du Peuple d‘Israël, v. 415, ii. 539, &c. The enormity of the assertion in regard to Isaiah becomes clear from the fact that Renan himself describes and praises this prophet as a “littérateur“ and a “journaliste,“ and that he proves in detail what a purely political rôle this important man played. “Not a line from his pen, which was not in the service of a question of the day or an interest of the moment“ (ii. 481). And we are to believe that in this very man the whole personality of Jesus Christ is inherent? It is quite as unjustifiable (unfortunately in others as well as in Renan) to quote single verses from Isaiah, to make it appear as if Judaism had aimed at a universal religion. Thus xlix. 6, is quoted, where Jehovah says to Israel, “I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth,“ and nothing is said of the fact that in the course of the chapter the explanation is given that the Gentiles shall become the slaves of the Jews and their Kings and Princesses shall “bow down to them with their face toward the earth“ and “lick up the dust of their feet.“ And this we are to regard as a sublime universal religion! Exactly the same is the case with the constantly quoted chapter lx. where we find first the words, “The Gentiles shall come to thy light,“ but afterwards with an honesty for which one is thankful, “The nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish, yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted“! Moreover the Gentiles are told in this passage to bring all their gold and treasures to Jerusalem, for the Jews shall “inherit the land for ever.“ To think of any one venturing to put such political pamphleteering on a parallel with the teaching of Christ!
‡ As above, i. 570. It has often been asserted that the Jews have little sense of humour: that seems to be true, at least of individuals;



Whoever wishes to see the revelation of Christ must passionately tear this darkest of veils from his eyes. His advent is not the perfecting of the Jewish religion but its negation. It was in the very place where feelings played the least part in religious conceptions that a new religious ideal appeared, which — unlike the other great attempts further to explain the inner life, by thoughts or by images — laid the whole burthen of this “life in spirit and in truth“ upon the feelings. The relation to the Jewish religion could at most be regarded as a reaction; the feelings are, as we have said, the fountain head of all genuine religion; this spring which the Jews had well-nigh choked with their formalism and hard-hearted rationalism Christ opened up. Few things let us see so deeply into the divine heart of Christ as His attitude towards the Jewish religious ordinances. He observed them, but without zeal and without laying any stress upon them; at best they are but a vessel, which, holding nothing, would remain empty; and as soon as an ordinance bars His road, He breaks it without the least scruple, but at the same time calmly and without anger: for what has all this to do with religion? “Man * is Lord

just imagine the “wealth“ of these crassly ignorant unimaginative scribes and the “emptiness“ of the Hellenes! Graetz has not much regard for the personality of Christ; the highest appreciation to which he deigns to rise is as follows: “Jesus may also have possessed a sympathetic nature that won hearts, whereby His words could make an impression“ (i. 576). The learned Professor of Breslau regards the crucifixion as the result of a “misunderstanding.“ With regard to the Jews who afterwards went over to Christianity Graetz is of opinion that it was done for their material advantages and because the belief in the Crucified One “was taken into the bargain as something unessential“ (ii. 30). Is that still true? We knew from the Old Testament that the covenant with Jehovah was a contract with obligations on both sides, but what can be “bargained“ in regard to Christ I cannot understand.
* The following information about the expression “son of man“ is important: “The Messianic interpretation of the expression ‘son


also of the Sabbath“: for the Jew Jehovah alone had been Lord — man his slave. With regard to the Jewish laws in relation to food (so important a point in their religion that the quarrel with regard to its obligatoriness continued on into the early Christian times) Christ says: “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. For those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart: and they defile the man.“ * In this connection consider too how Christ uses Holy Scripture. He speaks of it with reverence but without fanaticism. It is indeed very remarkable how He makes Scripture serve His purpose; over it too He feels Himself “Lord“ and transforms it, when necessary, into its opposite. His doctrine is that the “whole law and the prophets“ may be summed up in the one command: Love God and thy neighbour. That sounds almost like sublime irony, especially when we consider that Christ on this occasion never once mentions “the fear of God,“ which (and not the love of God) forms the basis of the whole Jewish religion. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,“ sings the Psalmist. “Hide thee in the dust for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of His majesty,“ Isaiah calls to the Israelites, and even Jeremiah seemed to have forgotten that there is a law according to which man “shall love God with all his heart, with all his soul, with all his strength, and with all his mind,“ †

of man‘ originated from the Greek translators of the Gospel. As Jesus spoke Aramaic, He said not ο υίός του άνθρώπον but barnascha. But that means man and nothing more; the Arameans had no other expression for the idea“ (Wellhausen: Israelitische und jüdische Geschichte, 3rd ed. p. 381).
* “If man is impure, he is so because he speaks what is untrue,“ said the sacrificial ordinances of the Aryan Indians, one thousand years before Christ (Satapatha-Brâhmana, 1st verse of the 1st division of the 1st book.)
† In the fifth book of Moses (Deuteronomy vi. 5) are to be found words similar to these quoted from Christ‘s sayings (from Matthew xxii. 37), but — we must look at the context! Before the command-


and had represented Jehovah as saying to His people, “I will put my fear in their hearts that they shall not depart from me; they shall fear me for ever“; it is only when the Jews fear Him that He “will not turn away from them to do them good,“ &c. We find that Christ also frequently changes the meaning of the words of Scripture in a similar manner. Now if we see on the one hand a God of mercy and on the other a hard-hearted Jehovah, * on the one hand the doctrine which teaches us to love our “heavenly Father“ with all our heart and on the other “servants,“ who are enjoined “to fear the lord“ as their

ment to love (to our mind a peculiar conception — to love by command) stands as the first and most important commandment (verse 2), “Thou shalt fear the Lord, thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments“; the commandment to love is only one among other commandments which the Jew shall observe and immediately after it comes the reward for this love (verse 10 ff.). “I shall give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not, and houses full of all good things which thou filledst not, and wells digged which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive-trees, which thou plantedst not, &c“ That kind of love may be compared to the love which underlies so many marriages at the present day! In any case the “love of one‘s neighbour“ would appear in a peculiar light, if one did not know that according to the Jewish law only the Jew is a “neighbour“ of the Jew; as is expressed in the same place, chap. vii. 16, “Thou shalt consume all the peoples which the Lord thy God shall deliver thee!“ This commentary to the commandment to “love one‘s neighbour“ makes every further remark superfluous. But in order that no one may be in doubt as to what the Jews later meant by the command to love God with the whole heart, I shall quote the commentary of the Talmud (Jomah, Div. 8) to that part of the law, Deuteronomy, vi. 5: “The teaching of this is: thy behaviour shall be such that the name of God shall be loved through you; man shall in fact occupy himself with the study of Holy Scripture and of the Mishna and have intercourse with learned and wise men; his language shall be gentle, his other conduct proper, and in commerce and business with his fellow men he shall strive after honesty and uprightness. What will people then say? Hail to this man who has devoted himself to the study of the sacred doctrine!“ In the book Sota of the Jerusalem Talmud (v. 5) one finds a somewhat more reasonable but no less prosaic commentary. — This is the orthodox Jewish interpretation of the commandment, “Thou shalt love the Lord with all thy heart“! Is it not the most unworthy playing with words to assert that Christ taught the same doctrine as the Thora?
* The orthodox Jew Montefiore, Religion of the Ancient Hebrews (1893), p. 442, admits that the thought, “God is love,“ does not occur in any purely Hebrew work of any time.


first duty, * we may well ask what meaning can there be in characterising the one personal philosophy as the work, as the perfection of the other? This is sophistry, not truth. Christ himself has said in plain words, “Whoever is not with me is against me“; no fact in the world is so completely against Him as the Jewish religion, indeed the whole Jewish conception of religion — from earliest times to the present day.
And yet the Jewish religion has in this connection formed a fine soil, better than any other, for the growth of a new religious ideal, that is, for a new conception of God.
What meant poverty for others became in fact for Christ a source of the richest gifts. For example, the fearful, to us almost inconceivable, dreariness of Jewish life — without art, without philosophy, without science — from which the more gifted Jews fled in crowds to foreign parts, was an absolutely indispensable element for his simple, holy life. The Jewish life offered almost nothing — nothing but the family life — to the feelings of the individual. And thus the richest mind that ever lived could sink into itself, and find nourishment only in its own inmost depths. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.“ Perhaps it was only in these dreary surroundings that it was possible to discover that conversion of will as the first step towards a new ideal of mankind; only here where the “Lord of hosts“ ruled without pity, that the heavenly presentiment God is love could be elevated to a certainty.
The following is, however, the most important point in this discussion.
The peculiar mental characteristic of the Jews, their

* Montefiore and others dispute the statement that the relation of Israel to Jehovah was that of servants to their master, but Scripture says so clearly in many places, e.g., Leviticus xxv. 55: “The children of Israel are servants, they are my servants whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt,“ and the literal translation of the Hebrew text would be slave! (Cf. the literal translation by Louis Segond.)


lack of imagination, brought about by the tyrannical predominance of the will, had led them to a strange abstract materialism. Being materialists, the Jews were most prone, like all Semites, to crass idolatry; we see them ever and anon setting up images and bowing down before them; the moral struggle which their great men for centuries waged against it is an heroic page in the history of the human power of will. But the will which was not balanced by imagination shot as usual far beyond the mark; every image, in fact frequently everything that is at all the “work of hands,“ contains for the Jew of the Old Testament the danger of becoming a worshipped idol. Not even the coins may bear a human head or an allegorical figure, not even the flags an emblem. And so all non-Jews are to the Jews “worshippers of idols.“ And from this fact again arose, by the way, a Christian misconception which was not dissipated till the last years of the nineteenth century, and then only for the specialist, not for the mass of the educated. As a matter of fact, the Semites are probably the only people in the whole earth who ever were and could be genuine idolators. In no branch of the Indo-European family has there ever been idolatry. The unmixed Aryan Indians, as also the Eranians, had never either image or temple; they would have been incapable even of understanding the crassly materialistic sediment of Semitic idolatry in the Jewish ark of the covenant with its Egyptian sphinxes; neither the Teutons nor the Celts nor the Slavs worshipped images. And where did the Hellenic Zeus live? Where Athene? In poetry, in the imagination, up in cloud-capped Olympus, but never in this or that temple. In honour of the god Phidias created his immortal work, in honour of the gods the numerous little images were made which adorned every house and filled it with the living conception of higher beings. To the Jew, however, that seemed


idolatry! The will being with them predominant, they regarded each thing only from the point of view of its utility; it was incomprehensible to them that a man should put anything beautiful before his eyes, to elevate and console himself therewith, to provide food for his mind, to awaken his religious sense. Similarly, too, the Christians have at a later time looked upon images of Buddha as idols: but the Buddhists recognise no God, much less an idol; these statues served as a stimulus to contemplation and alienation from the world. Indeed ethnologers have lately been beginning to question the possibility of there ever being a people so primitive as to worship so-called fetishes as idols. Formerly this was simply taken for granted; now it is being found in more and more cases that these children of nature attach the most complicated symbolical conceptions to their fetishes. It seems as if the Semites were the only human race that had succeeded in making golden calves, iron serpents, &c., and then worshipping them. * And as the Israelites even at that time were much more highly developed than the Australasian negroes of to-day, we conclude that such aberrations on their part must be put down not to immaturity of judgment, but to some onesidedness of their intellect: this onesidedness was the enormous predominance of will. The will as such lacks not merely all imagination, but all reflection; to it only one thing is natural, to precipitate itself upon, and to grasp the present. And so for no people was it so difficult as it was for the people of Israel, to rise to a high conception of the Divine, and for none was it so hard to keep this conception pure. But strength is steeled in the fray: the most unreligious people in the world created in its need the foundation of a new and most sublime conception

* It is scarcely necessary to call the reader‘s attention to the fact that the Egyptian and Syrian forms of worship from which the Jews took the idea of the ox and the serpent were purely symbolical.


of God, which has become the common property of all civilised mankind. For on this foundation Christ built; He could do so, thanks to that “abstract materialism“ which He found around Him. Elsewhere religions were choked by the richness of their mythologies; here there was no mythology at all. Elsewhere every god possessed so distinct a physiognomy, had been made by poetry and the plastic arts so thoroughly individual, that no one could have changed him over night; or, on the other hand (as is the case with Brahman in India) the conception of him had been gradually so sublimated that nothing remained from which to create a new living form. Neither of these two things had happened with the Jews: Jehovah was in truth a remarkably concrete, indeed an altogether historical conception, and in so far a much more tangible figure than the imaginative Aryan had ever possessed; at the same time it was forbidden to represent Him either by image or word. * Hence the religious genius of mankind found here a tabula rasa. Christ required to destroy the historical Jehovah just as little as the Jewish “law“; neither the one nor the other has an immediate relation to real religion; but just as He in point of fact by that inner “conversion“ transformed the so-called law into a fundamentally new law, so He used the concrete abstraction of the Jewish God in order to give the world a quite new conception of God. We speak of anthropomorphism! Can then man act and think otherwise than as an anthropos? This new conception of the Godhead differed, however, from other sublime intuitions in this, that the image was created not with the brilliant colours of symbolism nor with the etching-needle of thought, but was caught as it were on a mirror

* When at a very late period the Jews could not quite resist the impulse to presentation, they sought to conceal the want of imaginative power by Oriental verbiage. We can see an example of it in chap. i. of Ezekiel.


in the innermost mind, and became henceforth a direct individual experience to every one that had eyes to see. — Certain it is that this new ideal could not have been set up in any other place than where the conception of God had been fanatically clung to, and yet left totally undeveloped.
Hitherto we have directed our attention to what separates or at least distinguishes Christ from Judaism; it would be one-sided to leave it at that alone. His fate and the main tendency of His thought are both closely connected with genuine Jewish life and character. He towers above His surroundings, but yet He belongs to them. Here we have to consider especially two fundamental features of the Jewish national character: the historical view of religion and the predominance of the will. These two features are, as we shall immediately see, genetically related. The former has strongly influenced Christ‘s life and His memory after death; in the latter is rooted His doctrine of morals. A study of these two points will throw light on many of the deepest and most difficult questions in the history of Christianity, as well as on many of the inexplicable inner contradictions of our religious tendencies up to the present day.


Of the many Semitic peoples one only, and that one politically one of the smallest and weakest, has maintained itself as a national unity; this small nation has defied all storms and stands to-day a unique fact among men — without fatherland, without a supreme head, scattered all over the world, enrolled among the most different nationalities, and yet united and conscious of unity. This miracle is the work of a book, the Thora, with all that has been added to it by way of supplement up to the present day. But this book must be regarded as evidence of a peculiar national soul, which at a critical


moment was guided in this direction by individual eminent and far-seeing men. In the next chapter but one I shall have to enter more fully into the origin and importance of these canonical writings. In the meantime, I shall merely call attention to the fact that the Old Testament is a purely historical work. If we leave out of account a few late and altogether unessential additions (like the socalled Proverbs of Solomon), every sentence of these books is historical; the whole legislation too which they contain is based on history, or has at least a chronological connection with the events described: “The Lord spake unto Moses,“ Aaron‘s burnt-offering is accepted by the Lord, Aaron‘s sons are killed during the proclamation of the law, &c. &c.; and if it is a question of inventing something, the narrator either links it on to a fictitious story, as in the book of Job, or to a daring falsification of history, as in the book of Esther. By this predominance of the chronological element the Bible differs from all other known sacred books. The religion it contains is an element in the historical narrative and not vice versa; its moral commandments do not grow with inherent necessity out of the depths of the human heart, they are “laws,“ which were promulgated under definite conditions on fixed days, and which can be repealed at any time. Compare for a moment the Aryan Indians; they often stumbled upon questions concerning the origin of the world, the whence and the whither, but these were not essential to the uplifting of their souls to God; this question concerning causes has nothing to do with their religion: indeed, far from attaching importance to it, the hymnists exclaim almost ironically:

Who hath perceived from whence creation comes?
He who in Heaven‘s light upon it looks,
He who has made or has not made it all,
He knows it! Or does he too know it not? *

Goethe, who is often called the “great Heathen,“ but

* Rigveda, x. 129, 7.


who might with greater justice be termed the “great Aryan,“ gave expression to exactly the same view when he said, “Animated inquiry into cause does great harm.“ Similarly the German natural scientist of to-day says, “In the Infinite no new end and no beginning can be sought. However far back we set the origin, the question still remains open as to the first of the first, the beginning of the beginning.“ * The Jew felt quite differently. He knew as accurately about the creation of the world as do the wild Indians of South America or the Australian blacks to-day. That, however, was not due — as is the case with these — to want of enlightenment, but to the fact that the Aryan shepherd‘s profound, melancholy mark of interrogation was never allowed a place in Jewish literature; his tyrannous will forbade it, and it was the same will that immediately silenced by fanatical dogmatism the scepticism that could not fail to assert itself among so gifted a people (see the Koheleth, or Book of the Preacher). Whoever would completely possess the “to-day“ must also grasp the “yesterday“ out of which it grew. Materialism suffers shipwreck as soon as it is not consistent; the Jew was taught that by his unerring instinct; and just as accurately as our materialists know to-day how thinking arises out of the motion of atoms, did he know how God had created the world and made man from a clod of earth. Creation, however, is the least thing of all; the Jew took the myths with which he became acquainted on his journeys, stripped them as far as possible of everything mythological and pruned them down to concrete historical events. † But then, and not till then, came his masterpiece: from the scanty material common to all Semites ‡

* Adolf Bastian, the eminent ethnologist, in his work: Das Beständige in den Menschenrassen (1868), p. 28.
† “Les mythologies étrangères se transforment entre les mains des Sémites en récits platement historiques‘‘ (Renan, Israël, i. 49).
‡ Cf. the history of creation by the Phoenician Sanchuniathon.


the Jew constructed a whole history of the world of which he made himself the centre; and from this moment, that is, the moment when Jehovah makes the covenant with Abraham, the fate of Israel forms the history of the world, indeed, the history of the whole cosmos, the one thing about which the Creator of the world troubles himself. It is as if the circles always became narrower; at last only the central point remains — the “Ego,“ the will has prevailed. That indeed was not the work of a day; it came about gradually; genuine Judaism, that is, the Old Testament in its present form, shaped and established itself only after the return of the Jews from the Babylonian captivity. * And now what formerly had been effected with unconscious genius was applied and perfected consciously: the union of the past and the future with the present in such a way that each individual moment formed a centre on the perfectly straight path, which the Jewish people had to follow and from which it henceforth could not deviate either to right or to left. In the past divine miracles in favour of the Jews and in the future expectation of the Messiah and world-empire: these were the two mutually complementary elements of this view of history. The passing moment received a peculiarly living importance from the fact that it was seen growing out of the past, as reward or punishment, and that it was believed to have been exactly foretold in prophecies. By this the future itself acquired unexampled reality: it seemed to be something tangible. Even should countless promises and prophecies not come true, † that could always be easily explained. Will looks not too close, but what it holds it does not let go,

* Seechap. v. In order to give a fixed point and to reveal drastically the differences of mental tendencies, I may mention that this was about three hundred years after Homer, scarcely a century before Herodotus.
† For example, the promise to Abraham in reference to Canaan, “To thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.“


even if it be but a phantom; the less the past had given the richer appeared the future; and so much was possessed in black and white (particularly in the legend of the Exodus), that doubt could not arise. The so-called Jewish “literal adherence to creed“ is surely quite a different thing from the dogmatic faith of the Christians: it is not a faith in abstract inconceivable mysteries and in all kinds of mythological conceptions, but something quite concrete and historical. The relation of the Jews to their God is from the first political. * Jehovah promises them the empire of the world — under certain conditions; and their historical work is such a marvel of ingenious structure that the Jews see their past in the most glowing colours, and everywhere perceive the protecting hand of God extended over His chosen people, “over the only men in the true sense of the word“; and this in spite of the fact that theirs has been the most wretched and pitiful fate as a people that the annals of the world can show; for only once under David and Solomon did they enjoy half a century of relative prosperity and settled conditions: thus they possess on all hands proofs of the truth of their faith, and from this they draw the assurance that what was promised to Abraham many centuries before will one day take place in all its fulness. But the divine promise was, as I have said, dependent upon conditions. Men could not move about in the house, could not eat and drink or walk in the fields, without thinking of hundreds of commandments, upon the fulfilment of which the fate of the nation depended. As the Psalmist sings of the Jew (Psalm i. 2):

He placeth his delight
Upon God‘s law, and meditates
On his law day and night. †

* See Rob. Smith: The Prophets of Israel, pp. 70 and 133.
† In the Sippurim, a collection of Jewish popular sagas and stories, it is frequently mentioned that the ordinary uneducated Jew has 613 commandments to learn by heart. But the Talmud teaches 13,600


Every few years each of us throws a voting-paper into the box; otherwise we do not know or hardly know that our life is of national importance; but the Jew could never forget that. His God had promised him, “No people shall withstand thee, till thou destroyest it,“ but immediately added, “All the commandments which I command thee, thou shalt keep!“ God was thus always present to consciousness. Practically everything but material possession was forbidden to the Jew; his mind therefore was directed to property alone; and it was to God that he had to look for the possession of that property. — The man who has never brought home to himself the conditions here hastily sketched will have difficulty in realising what unanticipated vividness the conception of God acquired under these conditions. The Jew could not indeed represent Jehovah by images; but His working, His daily intervention in the destiny of the world was, so to speak, a matter of experience; the whole nation indeed lived upon it; to meditate upon it was their one intellectual occupation (if not in the Diaspora, at least in Palestine).
It was in these surroundings that Christ grew up; beyond them He never stepped. Thanks to this peculiar historical sense of the Jews He awoke to consciousness as far as possible from the all-embracing Aryan cult of nature and its confession tat-tvam-asi (that thou art also), in the focus of real anthropomorphism, where all creation was but for man, and all men but for this one chosen people, that is, He awoke in the direct presence of God and Divine Providence. He found here what He would have found nowhere else in the world: a complete scaffolding ready for Him, within which His entirely new conception of God and of religion could be built up. After Jesus had lived, nothing remained of the genuinely Jewish

laws, obedience to which is divine command! (See Dr. Emanuel Schreiber: Der Talmud vom Standpunkte des modernen Judentums.)


idea; now that the temple was built the scaffolding could be removed. But it had served its purpose, and the building would have been unthinkable without it. The God to whom we pray to give us our daily bread could only be thought of where a God had promised to man the things of this world; men could only pray for forgiveness of sins to Him who had issued definite commandments. — I almost fear, however, that if I here enter into details I may be misunderstood; it is enough if I have succeeded in giving a general conception of the very peculiar atmosphere of Judea, for that will enable us to discern that this most ideal religion would not possess the same life-power if it had not been built upon the most real, the most materialistic — yes, assuredly the most materialistic — religion in the world. It is this and not its supposed higher religiosity that has made Judaism a religious power of world-wide importance.
The matter becomes still clearer whenever we consider the influence of this historical faith upon the fate of Christ.
The most powerful personality can be influential only when it is understood. This understanding may be very incomplete, it may indeed frequently be direct misunderstanding, but some community of feeling and thought must form the link of connection between the lonely genius and the masses. The thousands that listened to the Sermon on the Mount certainly did not understand Christ; how could that have been possible? They were a poor people, downtrodden and oppressed by continual war and discord, systematically stupefied by their priests; but the power of his word awakened in the heart of the more gifted among them an echo which it would have been impossible to awaken in any other part of the world: was this to be the Messiah, the promised redeemer from their misery and wretchedness? What immeasurable power lay in the possibility of such


a conception! At once the homely, fleeting present was linked to the remotest past and the most indubitable future, and thereby the present received everlasting importance. It does not matter that the Messiah, whom the Jews expected, had not the character which we Indo-Europeans attach to this conception; * the idea

* Even so orthodox an investigator as Stanton admits that the Jewish idea of the Messiah was altogether political (see The Jewish and the Christian Messiah, 1886, pp. 122 f., 128, &c.). It is well known that theology has occupied itself much of late years with the history of the conceptions of the Messiah. The principal result of the investigation for us laymen is the proof that the Christians, misled by what were specifically Galilean and Samarian heterodoxies, supplanted the Jewish conception of the coming of the Messiah by a view which the Jews never really held. The Jews who were learned in Scripture were always indignant at the strained interpretations of the Old Prophets; now even the Christians admit that the Prophets before the exile (and these are the greatest) knew nothing of the expectation of a Messiah (see, for example, the latest summary account, that of Paul Volz: Die vorexilische Jahveprophetie und der Messias, 1897); the Old Testament does not even know the word, and one of the most important theologists of our time, Paul de Lagarde (Deutsche Schriften, p. 53), calls attention to the fact that the expression mâschîach is not of Hebrew origin at all, but was borrowed at a late time from Assyria or Babylon. It is particularly noteworthy also that this expectation of the Messiah wherever it existed was constantly taking different forms; in one case a second King David was to come, in another the idea was one only of Jewish world-empire in general, then again it is God himself with his heavenly judgment “who will put an end at once to those who have hitherto held sway and give the people of Israel power for ever, an all-embracing empire, in which the just of former times who rise again shall take part, while the rebellious are condemned to everlasting shame“ (cf. Karl Müller: Kirchengeschichte, i. 55); other Jews again dispute whether the Messiah will be a Ben-David or a Ben-Joseph; many believe there would be two of them, others are of the opinion that he would be born in the Roman Diaspora; but nowhere and at no time do we find the idea of a suffering Messiah, who by his death redeems us (see Stanton, pp. 122-124). The best, the most cultured and pious Jews have never entertained such apocalyptic delusions. In the Talmud (Sabbath, Part 6) we read, “Between the present time and the Messianic there is no difference except that the pressure, under which Israel pines till then, will cease.“ (Contrast with this the frightful confusion and complete puerility of the Messianic conceptions in the Sanhedrin of the Babylonian Talmud.) I think that with these remarks I have touched the root of the matter: in the case of an absolutely historical religion, like the Jewish, the sure possession of the future is just as imperative a necessity as the sure possession of the


was there, the belief founded on history that at any moment a saviour could and must appear from Heaven. In no other part of the earth could a single man have this conception, full of misunderstandings as it was, of the world-wide importance of Christ. The Saviour would have remained a man among men. And in so far I think that the thousands who soon afterwards cried, “Crucify him, crucify him,“ showed just as much understanding as those who had piously listened to the Sermon on the Mount. Pilate, at other times a hard, cruel judge, could find no fault in Christ; * in Hellas and in Rome He would have been honoured as a holy man. But the Jew lived only in history, to him the “heathen“ idea of morality and sanctity was strange, since he knew only a “law,“ and moreover obeyed this law for quite practical reasons, namely, to stay the wrath of God and to make sure of his future, and so he judged a phenomenon like the revelation of Christ from a purely historical standpoint, and became justly filled with fury, when the promised kingdom, to win which he had suffered and endured for centuries — for the sake of possessing which he had separated himself from all people upon the earth, and had become hated and despised of all — when this kingdom, in which he hoped to see all nations in fetters and all princes upon their knees “licking the dust,“ was all at once transformed from an earthly kingdom into one “not of this world.“ Jehovah had often promised his people that he would “not betray“ them; but to the Jews this was bound to appear be-

past; from the earliest times we see this thought of the future inspiring the Jews and it still inspires them; this unimaginative people gave its expectations various forms, according to the varying influences of surroundings, essential only is the firm ineradicable conviction that the Jews should one day rule the world. This is in fact an element of their character, the visible bodying-forth of their innermost nature. It is their substitute for mythology.
* Tertullian makes the charmingly simple remark: “Pilate was already at heart a Christian“ (Aplogeticus xxi.).


trayal. They executed not one only but many, because they were held to be, or gave themselves out to be, the promised Messiah. And rightly too, for the belief in the future was just as much a pillar of the popular idea as the belief in the past. And now, to crown all, this Galilean heterodoxy! To plant the flag of idealism on this ancient consecrated seat of the most obstinate materialism! To transform, as if by magic, the God of vengeance and of war into a God of love and peace! To teach the stormy will, that stretched out both hands for all the gold of the world, that it should throw away what it possessed and seek the hidden treasure in its own heart!… The Jewish Sanhedrim had seen farther than Pilate (and than many thousands of Christian theologists). Not, indeed, with full consciousness, but with that unerring instinct, which pure race gives, it seized Him who undermined the historical basis of Jewish life, by teaching, “Take no heed for the morrow,“ who in each one of His words and deeds transformed Judaism into its antithesis, and did not release Him till He had breathed His last. And thus only, by death, was destiny fulfilled and the example given. No new faith could be established by doctrines; there was at that time no lack of noble and wise teachers of ethics, but none has had any power over men; a life had to be lived and this life had immediately to receive its place in the great enduring history of the world as a fact of universal moment. Only Jewish surroundings suited these conditions. And just as the life of Christ could only be lived by the help of Judaism, although it was its negation, so too the young Christian Church developed a series of ancient Aryan conceptions — of sin, redemption, rebirth, grace, &c. (things till then and afterwards quite unknown to the Jews) — and gave them a clear and visible form, by introducing them into the Jewish historical scheme. * No one will ever succeed

* The myth of the fall of man stands indeed at the beginning of the first book of Moses, but is clearly borrowed, since the Jews never


in quite freeing the revelation of Christ from this Jewish groundwork; it was tried in the first centuries of the Christian era, but without success, since the thousand features in which the personality had revealed its individuality became thereby blurred, and nothing but an abstraction remained behind. *


Still profounder is the influence of the second trait of character.
We have seen that what I call the historical instinct of the Jews rests above all upon the possession of an abnormally developed will. The will in the case of the Jew attains such superiority that it enthrals and tyrannises over all other faculties. And so it is that we find on the one hand extraordinary achievements, which would be almost impossible for other men, and on the other, peculiar limitations. However that may be, it is certain that we see this very predominance of will in Christ at all times: frequently un-Jewish in His individual utterances, quite Jewish, in so far as the will is almost solely emphasised. This feature is like a branching of veins that goes deep and spreads far: we find it in every word, in every

understood it and did not employ it in their system. He who does not transgress the law is, in their eyes, free from sin. Just as little has their expectation of a Messiah to do with our conception of redemption. See, further, chap. v. and vol ii chap. vii.
* That is the tendency of gnosticism as a whole; this movement finds its most carefully pondered and noblest expression, as far as I can venture to express an opinion, in Marcion (middle of the second century), who was more filled with the absolutely new in the Christian ideal than perhaps any religious teacher since his time; but in just such a case one sees how fatal it is to ignore historical data. (See any Church History. On the other hand I must warn the student that the three lines which Professor Ranke devotes to this really great man (Weltgeschichte, ii. 171) contain not a single word of what should have been said on this point.) [For a knowledge of Marcion and gnosticism as a whole Mead‘s Fragments of a Faith Forgotten may be recommended.]


single conception. By a comparison I hope to make my meaning clear and comprehensible.
Consider the Hellenic conception of the Divine and the Human and of their relation to one another. Some Gods fight for Troy, others for the Achaeans; while I propitiate one part of the Divine I estrange the other; life is a battle, a game, the noblest may fall, the most miserable gain the victory; morality is in a way a personal affair, man is lord of his own heart but not of his destiny; there is no Providence that protects, punishes and rewards. The Gods themselves are in fact not free; Zeus himself must yield to fate. Herodotus says “Even a God cannot escape what is destined for him.“ A nation which produces the Iliad will in a later age produce great investigators of nature and great thinkers. For he who looks at nature with open eyes which are not blinded by selfishness will discover everywhere in it the rule of law; the presence of law in the moral sphere is fate for the artist — predestination for the philosopher. For the faithful observer of nature the idea of arbitrariness is, to begin with, simply impossible; do what he will, he cannot make up his mind to impute it even to a God. This philosophical view has been beautifully expressed by Here in Goethe‘s fragment, Achilleis:

Willkür bleibet ewig verhasst den Göttern und Menschen,
Wenn sie in Thaten sich zeigt, auch nur in Worten sich kundgiebt.
Denn so hoch wir auch stehen, so ist der ewigen Götter
Ewigste Themis * allein, und diese muss dauern und walten. †

* Themis has degenerated in modern times to an allegory of impartial jurisdiction, that is, of an altogether arbitrary agreement, and she is appropriately represented with veiled eyes; while mythology lived, she represented the rule of law in all nature, and the old artists gave her particularly large, wide-open eyes.
† Arbitrariness remains ever hateful to gods and men, when it reveals itself in deeds or even in words only. For however high we may stand, the eternal Themis of the eternal Gods alone is, and she must lastingly hold sway.


On the other hand, the Jewish Jehovah can be described as the incarnation of arbitrariness. Certainly this divine conception appears to us in the Psalms and in Isaiah in altogether sublime form; it is also — for the chosen people — a source of high and serious morality. But what Jehovah is, He is, because He wills to be so; He stands above all nature, above every law, the absolute, unlimited autocrat. If it pleases Him to choose out from mankind a small people and to show His favour to it alone, He does so; if He wishes to vex it, He sends it into slavery; if he, on the other hand, wishes to give it houses which it has not built and vineyards which it has not planted, He does so and destroys the innocent possessors; there is no Themis. So too the divine legislation. Beside moral commands which breathe to some extent high morality and humanity, there stand commands which are directly immoral and inhuman; * others again determine most trivial points: what one may eat and may not eat, how one shall wash, &c., in short, everywhere absolute arbitrariness. He who sees deeper will not fail to note in this the relationship between the old Semitic idolatry and the belief in Jehovah. Considered from the Indo-European standpoint, Jehovah would in reality be called rather an idealised idol, or, if we prefer it, an anti-idol, than a god. And yet this conception of God contains something which could not, any more than arbitrariness, be derived from observation of nature, namely, the idea of a Providence. According to Renan, “the exaggerated belief in a special Providence is the basis of the whole Jewish religion.“ † Moreover, with

* Besides the countless raids involving wholesale slaughter divinely commanded, in which “the heads of the children“ are to be “dashed against the stones,“ note the cases where command is given to attack with felonious intent “the brother, companion, and neighbour“ (Exodus xxxii. 27), and the disgusting commands such as in Ezekiel v. 12-15.
† Histoire du peuple d‘Israël, ii. p. 3.


this freedom of God another freedom is closely connected, that of the human will. The liberum arbitrium is decidedly a Semitic conception and in its full development a specifically Jewish one; it is inseparably bound up with the particular idea of God. * Freedom of will implies nothing less than “ever repeated acts of creation“; carefully considered it will be clear that this supposition (as soon as it has to do with the world of phenomena) contradicts not merely all physical science, but also all metaphysics, and means a negation of every transcendent religion. Here cognition and will stand in strict opposition. Now wherever we find limitations of this idea of freedom — in Augustine, Luther, Voltaire, Kant, Goethe — we can be sure that an Indo-European reaction against the Semitic spirit is taking place. So, for example, when Calderon in the Great Zenobia lets the wild autocratic Aurelian mock him

who called the will free.

For — though one must certainly be on one‘s guard against misusing such formulary simplifications — one can still make the assertion that the idea of necessity is in all Indo-European races particularly strongly marked, and is met with again and again in the most different spheres; it points to high power of cognition free from passion; on the other hand, the idea of arbitrariness, that is, of an

* We can trace in every history of Judaism with what very logical fanaticism the Rabbis still champion the unconditioned and not merely metaphysically meant freedom of will. Diderot says: “Les Juifs sont si jaloux de cette liberté d’indifférence, qu’ils s’imaginent qu’il est impossible de penser sur cette matière autrement qu’eux.“ And how closely this idea is connected with the freedom of God and with Providence becomes clear from the commotion which arose when Maimonides wished to limit divine Providence to mankind and maintained that every leaf was not moved by it nor every worm created by its will. — Of the so-called “fundamental doctrines“ of the famous Talmudist Rabbi Akiba the two first are as follow: (1) Everything is supervised by the Providence of God; (2) Freedom of will is stipulated (Hirsch Graetz: Gnosticismus und Judentum, 1846, p. 91).


unlimited sway of will, is specifically characteristic of the Jew; he reveals an intelligence which in comparison with his will-power is very limited. It is not a question here of abstract generalisations, but of actual characteristics, which we can still daily observe; in the one case intellect is predominant, in the other the will.
Let me give a tangible example from the present. I knew a Jewish scholar, who, as the competition in his branch prevented him from earning much money, became a manufacturer of soap, and that, too, with great success; but when at a later time foreign competition once more took the ground from beneath his feet, all at once, though ripe in years, he became dramatic poet and Man of Letters and made a fortune at it. There was no question of universal genius in his case; he was of moderate intellectual abilities and devoid of all originality; but with this intellect the will achieved whatever it wished.
The abnormally developed will of the Semites can lead to two extremes: either to rigidity, as in the case of Mohammed, where the idea of the unlimited divine caprice is predominant; or, as is the case with the Jews, to phenomenal elasticity, which is produced by the conception of their own human arbitrariness. To the Indo-European both paths are closed. In nature he observes everywhere the rule of law, and of himself he knows that he can only achieve his highest when he obeys inner need. Of course his will, too, can achieve the heroic, but only when his cognition has grasped some idea — religious, artistic, philosophic, or one which aims at conquest, command, enrichment, perhaps crime; at any rate, in his case the will obeys, it does not command. Therefore it is that a moderately gifted Indo-European is so peculiarly characterless in comparison with the most poorly gifted Jew. Of ourselves, we should certainly


never have arrived at the conception of a free almighty God and of what may be called an “arbitrary Providence,“ a Providence, that is, which can decree something in one way, and then in answer to prayers or from other motives decide in a contrary direction. * We do not find that, outside of Judaism, man ever came to the conception of a quite intimate and continual personal relation between God and mankind — to the conception of a God who would almost seem to be there only for the sake of man. In truth the old Indo-Aryan Gods are benevolent, friendly, we might almost say genial powers; man is their child, not their slave; he approaches them without fear; when sacrificing he “grasps the right hand of God“; † the want of humility in presence of God has indeed filled many a one with horror: yet as we have seen nowhere do we find the conception of capricious autocracy. And with this goes hand in hand remarkable infidelity; now this, now that God is worshipped, or, if the Divine is viewed as a unified principle, then the one school has this idea of it, the other that (I remind the reader of the six great philosophically religious systems of India, all six of which passed as orthodox); the brain in fact works irresistibly on, producing new images and new shapes, the Infinite is its home, freedom its element and creative power its joy. Just consider the beginning of the following hymn from the Rigveda (6, 9):

My ear is opened and my eye alert,
The light awakes within my heart!
My spirit flies to search in distant realms:
What shall I say? of what shall my verse sing?

* In the case of the Indo-Europeans the Gods are never “creators of the world“; where the Divine is viewed as creator, as in the case of the Brahman of the Indians, that refers to a freely metaphysical cognition, not to an historical and mechanical process, as in Genesis i.; in other cases the Gods are viewed as originating “on this side of creation,“ their birth and death are spoken of.
† Oldenberg: Die Religion des Veda, p. 310.


and compare it with the first verses of any Psalm, for instance, the 76th:

In Judah is God known: His name is great in Israel.
In Salem also is His tabernacle, and His dwelling-place in Sion.

We see what an important element of faith the will is. While the Aryan, rich in cognition, “flies to search in distant realms,“ the strong-willed Jew makes God pitch His tent once for all in his own midst. The power of his will to live has not only forged for the Jew an anchor of faith, which holds him fast to the ground of historical tradition, but it has also inspired him with unshakable confidence in a personal, directly present God, who is almighty to give and to destroy; and it has brought him, the man, into a moral relation to this God, in that God in His all-powerfulness issued commands, which man is free to follow or neglect. *


There is another matter which must not be omitted in this connection: the one-sided predominance of the will makes the chronicles of the Jewish people in general

* If this were the place for it, I should gladly prove in greater detail that this Jewish conception of the almighty God who rules as free Providence inevitably determines the historical view of this God and that every genuine Aryan mind revolts again and again against this. This has caused, for instance, the whole tragic mental life of Peter Abelard: in spite of the most intense longing for orthodoxy, he cannot adapt his spirit to the religious materialism of the Jews. Ever and anon, for example, he comes to the conclusion that God does what he does of necessity (and here he could refer for support to the earlier writings of Augustine, especially his De libero arbitrio); this is intellectual anti-Semitism in the highest degree! He denies also every action, every motion in the case of God; the working of God is for him the coming to pass of an everlasting determination of will: “with God there is no sequence of time.“ (See A. Hausrath: Peter Abelard, p. 201 f.) With this Providence disappears. — However, what is the use of seeking for learned proofs? The noble Don


dreary and ugly; and yet in this atmosphere there grew up a series of important men, whose peculiar greatness makes it impossible to compare them with other intellectual heroes. In the introduction to this division I have already spoken of those “disavowers“ of the Jewish character, who themselves remained the while such out and out Jews, from the crown of their heads to the soles of their feet, that they contributed more than anything else to the growth of the most rigid Hebraism; in chap. v. I shall return to them; only so much must here be said: these men, in grasping religious materialism by its most abstract side, raised it morally to a very great height; their work has paved the way historically in essential points for Christ‘s view of the relation between God and man. Moreover, an important feature, which is essentially rooted in Judaism, shows itself most clearly in them: the historical religion of this people lays emphasis not upon the individual, but upon the whole nation; the individual can benefit or injure the whole community, but otherwise he is of little moment; from this resulted of necessity a markedly socialistic feature which the Prophets often powerfully express. The individual who attains to prosperity and wealth, while his brothers starve, falls under the ban of God. While Christ in one way represents exactly the opposite principle, namely, that of extreme individualism, the redeeming of the individual by regeneration, His life and His teaching, on the other hand, point unmistakably to a condition of things which can only be realised by having all things common. The communism of “one flock and one shepherd“ is certainly different from the entirely politically coloured, theocratic communism of the Prophets;

Quixote explains with pathetic simplicity to his faithful Sancho, “for God there is no past and no future, all is present“ (Book IX. chap. viii.): hereby the immortal Cervantes expresses briefly and correctly the unhistorical standpoint of all non-Semites.


but here again the basis is solely and characteristically Jewish.


Whatever one may be inclined to think of these various Jewish conceptions, no one will deny their greatness, or their capacity to exercise an almost inestimable influence upon the moulding of the life of mankind. Nor will any one deny that the belief in divine almightiness, in divine Providence and in the freedom of the human will, * as well as the almost exclusive emphasising of the moral nature of men and their equality before God (“the last shall be first“) are essential elements of the personality of Christ. Far more than the fact that He starts from the Prophets, far more than His respect for Jewish legal enactments, do these fundamental views show us that Christ belonged morally to the Jews. Indeed, when we penetrate farther to that central point in Christ‘s teaching, to that “conversion of the will,“ then we must recognise — as I have already hinted at the beginning of this chapter in the comparison with Buddha — that here is something Jewish in contrast to the Aryan negation of the will. The latter is a fruit of perception, of too great perception; Christ, on the other hand, addresses Himself to men, in whom the will — not the thought, is supreme; what He sees around Him is the insatiable, ever-covetous Jewish will that is always stretching out both hands; He recognises the might of this will and commands it — not to be silent, but to take a new direction. Here we must say, Christ is a Jew, and He can only be understood when we have learned to grasp critically these peculiarly Jewish views which He found and made His own.

* The latter, however, as it appears, with important limitations, since the Aryan idea of grace more than once clearly appears in Christ‘s words.


I said just now that Christ belonged “morally“ to the Jews. This somewhat ambiguous word “moral“ must here be taken in a narrow sense. For it is just in the moral application of these conceptions of God‘s almightiness and providence, of the direct relations between man and God following therefrom, and of the employment of the free human will, that the Saviour departed in toto from the doctrines of Judaism; that is clear to every one, and I have, moreover, sought to emphasise it in what has gone before; but the conceptions themselves, the frame into which the moral personality fitted itself, and out of which it cannot be moved, the unquestioning acceptance of these premisses regarding God and man, which by no means belong to the human mind as a matter of course but are, on the contrary, the absolutely individual achievement of a definite people in the course of an historical development which lasted for centuries: this is the Jewish element in Christ. In the chapters on Hellenic Art and Roman Law I have already called attention to the power of ideas; here again we have a brilliant example of it. Whoever lived in the Jewish intellectual world was bound to come under the influence of Jewish ideas. And though He brought to the world an entirely new message, though His life was like the dawn of a new morn, though His personality was so divinely great that it revealed to us a power in the human breast, capable — if it ever should be fully realised — of completely changing humanity: yet the personality, the life and the message were none the less chained to the fundamental ideas of Judaism; only in these could they reveal, exercise and proclaim themselves.



I hope I have attained my purpose. Proceeding from the consideration of the personality in its individual, autonomous import, I have gradually widened the circle, to reveal the threads of life which connect it with its surroundings. In this a certain amplification was unavoidable; the sole subject of this book, the foundations of the nineteenth century, I have nevertheless not lost sight of for a single moment. For how could I, an individual, venture to approach that age either as chronicler or encyclopaedist? May the Muses keep me from such madness! On the other hand, I shall attempt to trace as far as possible the leading ideas, the moulding thoughts of our age; but these ideas do not fall from Heaven, they link on to the past; new wine is very often indeed poured into old bottles, and very old, sour wine, which nobody would taste, if he knew its origin, into quite new ones; and as a matter of fact the curse of confusion weighs heavily upon a culture born so late as ours, especially in an age of breathless haste, where men have to learn too much to be able to think much. If we wish to become clear about ourselves, we must, above all, be quite clear about the fundamental thoughts and conceptions which we have inherited from our ancestors. I hope I have brought it home to the reader how very complex is the Hellenic legacy, how peculiarly contradictory the Roman, but at the same time how profoundly they affect our life and thought to-day. Now we have seen that even the advent of Christ, on the threshold between the old and the new age, does not present itself to our distant eye in so simple a form that we can easily free it from the labyrinth of prejudices, falsehoods and errors. And yet nothing is more necessary than to see this revelation of Christ clearly in the light of truth. For —


however unworthy we may show ourselves of this — our whole culture, thank God, still stands under the sign of the Cross upon Golgotha. We do see this Cross; but who sees the Crucified One? Yet He, and He alone is the living well of all Christianity, of the intolerantly dogmatic as well as of that which gives itself out to be quite unbelieving. In later ages it will be an eloquent testimony to the childishness of our judgment that we have ever doubted it, and that the nineteenth century has reared itself on books, which demonstrated that Christianity originated by chance, at haphazard, as a “mythological paroxysm,“ as a “dialectical antithesis,“ as a necessary result of Judaism, and I know not what else. The importance of genius cannot be reckoned high enough: who ventures to estimate the influence of Homer upon the mind of man? But Christ was still greater. And like the everlasting “hearth-fire“ of the Aryans, so the torch of truth which He kindled for us can never be extinguished; though at times a shadow of night may wrap manhood far and wide in the folds of darkness, yet all that is wanted is one single glowing heart, in order that thousands and millions may once more blaze under the bright light of day…. Here, however, we can and must ask with Christ, “But if the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness?“ Even the origin of the Christian Church leads us into the profoundest gloom, and its further history gives us rather the impression of a groping about in darkness than of clear seeing in the sunlight. How then shall we be able to distinguish what in so-called Christianity is spirit of Christ‘s spirit, and what, on the other hand, is imported from Hellenic, Jewish, Roman and Egyptian sources, if we have never come to see this revelation of Christ in its sublime simplicity? How shall we speak about what is Christian in our present confessions, in our literatures and arts, in our philosophy


and politics, in our social institutions and ideals, how shall we separate what is Christian from what is anti-Christian, and be able with certainty to decide, what in the movements of the nineteenth century can be traced back to Christ and what not, or in how far it is Christian, whether merely in the form or also in the content, or perhaps in content, i.e., in its general tendency, but not with regard to the characteristically Jewish form — how shall we, above all, be able to sift and separate from the “bread of life“ this specifically Jewish element which is so threateningly perilous to our spirit, if the revelation of Christ does not stand conspicuously before our eyes in its general outlines, and if we are not able clearly to distinguish in this image the purely personal from its historical conditions. This is certainly a most important and indispensable foundation for the formation of our judgments and appreciations.
To pave, to some modest degree, the way for that result has been the purpose of this chapter.



Der hohe Sinn, das Rühmliche
Von dem Gerühmten rein zu unterscheiden


WHO were the heirs of antiquity? This question is at least as important as that concerning the legacy itself and, if possible, more difficult to answer. For it introduces us to the study of race problems, which science during the last quarter of a century, so far from solving, has rather revealed in all their intricacy. And yet all true comprehension of the nineteenth century depends on the clear answering of this question. Here, then, we must be at once daring and cautious if we are to remember the warning of the preface, and steer safely between the Scylla of a science almost unattainable, and so far most problematic in its results, and the Charybdis of unstable and baseless generalisations. Necessity compels us to make the bold attempt.


Rome had transferred the centre of gravity of civilisation to the West. This proved to be one of those unconsciously


accomplished acts of world-wide importance which no power can undo. The West of Europe, remote from Asia, was to be the focus of all further civilisation and culture. But that happened only gradually. At first it was politics alone which turned ever more and more towards the West and North; intellectually Rome itself long remained very dependent upon the former centre of culture in the East. In the first centuries of our era, with the exception of Rome itself, only what lies South and East of it is intellectually of any importance; Alexandria, Ephesus, Antioch, in fact all Syria, then Greece with Byzantium, as well as Carthage and the other towns of ancient Africa, are the districts where the legacy was taken up and long administered, and the inhabitants of these places then handed it on to later times and other races. And these very countries were at that time, like Rome itself, no longer inhabited by a definite people, but by an inextricable confusion of the most different races and peoples. It was a chaos. And this chaos did not by any means disappear at a later time. In many places this chaotic element was pressed back by the advance of pure races, in others it fell out of the list of those that count through its own weakness and want of character, yet for all that it has beyond doubt maintained itself in the South and East; moreover fresh influx of blood has frequently given it new strength. That is a first point of far-reaching importance. Consider, for example, that all the foundations for the structure of historical Christianity were laid and built up by this mongrel population! With the exception of some Greeks, all of whom, however, with Origenes at their head, disseminated highly unorthodox, directly anti-Jewish doctrines which had no success, * one can scarcely even conjecture to what nationality any of the Church

* Origenes, for example, was confessedly a pessimist (in the metaphysical sense of the word), by which in itself he proved his Indo-European descent; he saw suffering everywhere in the world and con-


fathers actually belonged. The same may be said of the corpus juris; here, too, it was the Chaos (according to Hellenic ideas the mother of Erebus and Nox, of darkness and night), to which the task fell of perfecting and transforming the living work of a living people to an international dogma. Under the same influence, art ever more and more lost its personal, freely creative power and became transformed into an hieratically formulary exercise, while the lofty, philosophical speculation of the Hellenes was displaced by its caricature, the cabalistic phantoms of demiurges, angels and daemons — conceptions which could not be designated by a higher name than “airy materialism.“ * We must therefore, to begin with, turn our attention to this Chaos of Peoples.


Out of the midst of the chaos towers, like a sharply defined rock amid the formless ocean, one single people, a numerically insignificant people — the Jews. This one race has established as its guiding principle the purity of the blood; it alone possesses, therefore, physiognomy and character. If we contemplate the southern and eastern centres of culture in the world-empire in its down-

cluded from that that its chief end was not the enjoyment of a god-given happiness but the prevention of an evil (compare Christ‘s chief doctrine, that of the “conversion of will,“ cf. p. 188). Augustine, the African mestizo, found it easy to refute him; he appealed to the first chapter of the first book of the Jewish Thora, to prove beyond dispute that everything is good and that “the world exists for no other reason than because it has been pleasing to a good God to create the absolutely good.“ (See the very instructive discussion in the De civitate Dei, xi. 23.) Augustine triumphantly introduces another argument in this place: if Origenes were right, then the most sinful creatures would have the heaviest bodies and devils would be visible, but devils have airy, invisible shapes, and so, &c. Thus thoughts that arose in the Chaos prevailed over metaphysical religion. (The same arguments are to be found, word for word, in the Führer der Irrenden of the Jew Maimuni.)
* Bürger calls it Luftiges Gesindel (airy rabble) in his Lenore.


fall, and let no sympathies or antipathies pervert our judgment, we must confess that the Jews were at that time the only people deserving respect. We may well apply to them the words of Goethe, “the faith broad, narrow the thought.“ In comparison with Rome and still more so with Hellas their intellectual horizon appears so narrow, their mental capacities so limited, that we seem to have before us an entirely new type of being but the narrowness and want of originality in thought are fully counterbalanced by the power of faith, a faith which might be very simply defined as “faith in self.“ And since this faith in self included faith in a higher being, it did not lack ethical significance. However poor the Jewish “law“ may appear, when compared with the religious creations of the various Indo-European peoples, it possessed a unique advantage in the fallen Roman Empire of that time: it was, in fact, a law; a law which men humbly obeyed, and this very obedience was bound to be of great ethical import in a world of such lawlessness. Here, as everywhere, we shall find that the influence of the Jews — for good and for evil — lies in their character, not in their intellectual achievements. * Certain historians of the nineteenth century, even men so intellectually pre-eminent as Count Gobineau, have supported the view that Judaism has always had merely a disintegrating influence upon all peoples. I cannot share this conviction. In truth, where the Jews become very numerous in a strange land, they may make it their object to fulfil the promises of their Prophets and with the best will and conscience to “consume the strange peoples“; did they not say of themselves, even in the lifetime of Moses, that they were “like locusts“? However, we must distinguish between Judaism and the Jews and admit that Judaism as an idea is one of the most conservative ideas in the world. The idea of physical race-unity and race-purity, which is the very

* See p. 238 f.


essence of Judaism, signifies the recognition of a fundamental physiological fact of life; wherever we observe life, from the hyphomycetes to the noble horse, we see the importance of “race“; Judaism made this law of nature sacred. And this is the reason why it triumphantly prevailed at that critical moment in the history of the world, when a rich legacy was waiting in vain for worthy heirs. It did not further, but rather put a stop to, universal disintegration. The Jewish dogma was like a sharp acid which is poured into a liquid which is being decomposed in order to clear it and keep it from further decomposition. Though this acid may not be to the taste of every one, yet it has played so decisive a part in the history of the epoch of culture to which we belong that we ought to be grateful to the giver: instead of being indignant about it, we shall do better to inform ourselves thoroughly concerning the significance of this “entrance of the Jews into the history of the West,“ an event which in any case exercised inestimable influence upon our whole culture, and which has not yet reached its full growth.
Another word of explanation. I am speaking of Jews, not of Semites in general; not because I fail to recognise the part played by the latter in the history of the world, but because my task is limited both in respect of time and space. Indeed for many centuries other branches of the Semitic race had founded powerful kingdoms on the South and East coasts of the Mediterranean and had established commercial depots as far as the coasts of the Atlantic Ocean; doubtless they had also been stimulative in other ways, and had spread knowledge and accomplished merits of many kinds; but nowhere had there been a close intellectual connection between them and the other inhabitants of future Europe. The Jews first brought this about, not by the millions of Jews who lived in the Diaspora, but first and foremost by the Christian idea. It was only when the Jews crucified Christ that they


unconsciously broke the spell which had hitherto isolated them in the pride of ignorance. — At a later time, indeed, a Semitic flood swept once more across the European, Asiatic and African world, a flood such as, but for the destruction of Carthage by Rome, would have swept over Europe a thousand years before, with results which would have been decisive and permanent. * But here, too, the Semitic idea — “faith wide, narrow the thought“ — proved itself more powerful than its bearers; the Arabs were gradually thrown back and, in contrast to the Jews, not one of them remained on European soil; but where their abstract idolatry † had obtained a foothold all possibility of a culture disappeared; the Semitic dogma of materialism, which in this case and in contrast to Christianity had kept itself free of all Aryan admixtures, deprived noble human races of all soul, and excluded them for ever from the “race that strives to reach the light.“ — Of the Semites only the Jews, as we see, have positively furthered our culture and also shared, as far as their extremely assimilative nature permitted them, in the legacy of antiquity.


The entrance of the Teutonic races into the history of the world forms the counterpart to the spread of this diminutive and yet so influential people. There, too, we see what pure race signifies, at the same time, however, what variety of races is — that great natural principle of many-sidedness, and of dissimilarity of mental gifts, which shallow, venal, ignorant babblers of the present day would fain deny, slavish souls sprung from the chaos of peoples, who feel at ease only in a confused atmosphere of characterlessness and absence of individuality. To this day these two powers — Jews and Teutonic

* See p. 115
† See p. 240.


races — stand, wherever the recent spread of the Chaos has not blurred their features, now as friendly, now as hostile, but always as alien forces face to face.
In this book I understand by “Teutonic peoples“ the different North-European races, which appear in history as Celts, Teutons (Germanen) and Slavs, and from whom — mostly by indeterminable mingling — the peoples of modern Europe are descended. It is certain that they belonged originally to a single family, as I shall prove in the sixth chapter; but the Teuton in the narrower Tacitean sense of the word has proved himself so intellectually, morally and physically pre-eminent among his kinsmen, that we are entitled to make his name summarily represent the whole family. The Teuton is the soul of our culture. Europe of to-day, with its many branches over the whole world, represents the chequered result of an infinitely manifold mingling of races: what binds us all together and makes an organic unity of us is “Teutonic“ blood. If we look around, we see that the importance of each nation as a living power to-day is dependent upon the proportion of genuinely Teutonic blood in its population. Only Teutons sit on the thrones of Europe. — What preceded in the history of the world we may regard as Prolegomena; true history, the history which still controls the rhythm of our hearts and circulates in our veins, inspiring us to new hope and new creation, begins at the moment when the Teuton with his masterful hand lays his grip upon the legacy of antiquity.



So viel ist wohl mit Wahrscheinlichkeit zu urteilen: dass die Vermischung der Stämme, welche nach und nach die Charaktere auslöscht, dem Menschengeschlecht, alles vorgeblichen Philanthropismus ungeachtet, nicht zuträglich sei.


THE remarks which I made in the introduction to the second division will suffice as a general preface to this chapter on the chaos of peoples in the dying Roman Empire; they explain to what time and what countries I refer in speaking of the “chaos of peoples.“ Here, as elsewhere, I presuppose historical knowledge, at least in general outline, and as I should not like to write a single line in this whole book which did not originate from the need of comprehending and of judging the nineteenth century better, I think I should use the subject before us especially to discuss and answer the important question: Is nation, is race a mere word? Is it the case, as the ethnographer Ratzel asserts, that the fusion of all mankind should be kept before us as our “aim and duty, hope and wish“? Or do we not rather deduce from the example of Hellas and Rome, on the one hand, and of the pseudo-Roman empire on the other, as well as from many other examples in history, that man can only attain his zenith within those limits in which sharply defined, individualistic national types are produced? Is the present condition of things in


Europe with its many fully formed idioms, each with its own peculiar poetry and literature, each the expression of a definite, characteristic national soul — is this state of things really a retrograde step in comparison with the time, when Latin and Greek, as a kind of twin Volapuk,  formed a bond of union between all those Roman subjects who had no fatherland to call their own? Is community of blood nothing? Can community of memory and of faith be replaced by abstract ideals? Above all, is the question one to be settled by each as he pleases, is there no clearly distinguishable natural law, according to which we must fit our judgment? Do not the biological sciences teach us that in the whole animal and vegetable kingdoms pre-eminently noble races — that is, races endowed with exceptional strength and vitality — are produced only under definite conditions, which restrict the begetting of new individuals? Is it not possible, in view of all these human and non-human phenomena, to find a clear answer to the question, What is race? And shall we not be able, from the consciousness of what race is, to say at once what the absence of definite races must mean for history? When we look at those direct heirs of the great legacy, these questions force themselves upon us. Let us in the first place discuss races quite generally; then, and then only, shall we be able to discuss with advantage the conditions prevailing in this special case, their importance in the course of history, and consequently in the nineteenth century.
There is perhaps no question about which such absolute ignorance prevails among highly cultured, indeed learned, men, as the question of the essence and the significance of the idea of “race.“ What are pure races? Whence do they come? Have they any historical importance? Is the idea, to be taken in a broad or a narrow sense? Do we know anything on the subject or not? What is the relation of the ideas of race and of nation to one another?


I confess that all I have ever read or heard on this subject has been disconnected and contradictory: some specialists among the natural investigators form an exception, but even they very rarely apply their clear and detailed knowledge to the human race. Not a year passes without our being assured at international congresses, by authoritative national economists, ministers, bishops, natural scientists, that there is no difference and no inequality between nations. Teutons, who emphasise the importance of race-relationship, Jews, who do not feel at ease among us and long to get back to their Asiatic home, are by none so slightingly and scornfully spoken of as by men of science. Professor Virchow, for instance, says * that the stirrings of consciousness of race among us are only to be explained by the “loss of sound common sense“: moreover, that it is “all a riddle to us, and no one knows what it really means in this age of equal rights.“ Nevertheless, this learned man closes his address with the expression of a desire for “beautiful self-dependent personalities.“ As if all history were not there to show us how personality and race are most closely connected, how the nature of the personality is determined by the nature of its race, and the power of the personality dependent upon certain conditions of its blood! And as if the scientific rearing of animals and plants did not afford us an extremely rich and reliable material, whereby we may become acquainted not only with the conditions but with the importance of “race“! Are the so-called (and rightly so-called) “noble“ animal races, the draught-horses of Limousin, the American trotter, the Irish hunter, the absolutely reliable sporting

* Der Übergang aus dem philosophischen in das naturwissenschaftliche Zeitalter, Rektoratsrede, 1893, p. 30. I choose this example from hundreds, since Virchow, being one of the most ardent anthropologists and ethnographers of the nineteenth century, and in addition, a man of great learning and experience, ought to have been well informed on the subject.


dogs, produced by chance and promiscuity? Do we get them by giving the animals equality of rights, by throwing the same food to them and whipping them with the same whip? No, they are produced by artificial selection and strict maintenance of the purity of the race. Horses and especially dogs give us every chance of observing that the intellectual gifts go hand in hand with the physical; this is specially true of the moral qualities: a mongrel is frequently very clever, but never reliable; morally he is always a weed. Continual promiscuity between two pre-eminent animal races leads without exception to the destruction of the pre-eminent characteristics of both. * Why should the human race form an exception? A father of the Church might imagine that it does, but is it becoming in a renowned natural investigator to throw the weight of his great influence into the scale of mediaeval ignorance and superstition? Truly one could wish that these scientific authorities of ours, who are so utterly lacking in philosophy, had followed a course of logic under Thomas Aquinas; it could only be beneficial to them. In spite of the broad common foundation, the human races are, in reality, as different from one another in character, qualities, and above all, in the degree of their individual capacities, as greyhound, bulldog, poodle and Newfoundland dog. Inequality is a state towards which nature inclines in all spheres; nothing extraordinary is produced without “specialisation“; in the case of men, as of animals, it is this specialisation that produces noble races; history and ethnology reveal this secret to the dullest eye. Has not every genuine race its own glorious, incomparable physiognomy? How could Hellenic art have arisen without Hellenes?

* See especially Darwin‘s Plants and Animals under Domestication, chaps. xv. xix. “Free crossing obliterates characters.“ For the “superstitious care with which the Arabs keep their horses pure bred“ see interesting details in Gibbon‘s Roman Empire, chap. 50. See also Burton‘s Mecca, chap. xxix.


How quickly has the jealous hostility between the different cities of the small country of Greece given each part its sharply defined individuality within its own family type! How quickly this was blurred again, when Macedonians and Romans with their levelling hand swept over the land! And how everything which had given an everlasting significance to the word “Hellenic“ gradually disappeared when from North, East and West new bands of unrelated peoples kept flocking to the country and mingled with genuine Hellenes! The equality, before which Professor Virchow bows the knee, was now there, all walls were razed to the ground, all boundaries became meaningless; the philosophy, too, with which Virchow in the same lecture breaks so keen a lance, was destroyed, and its place taken by the very soundest “common sense“; but the beautiful Hellenic personality, but for which all of us would to-day be merely more or less civilised barbarians, had disappeared, disappeared for ever. “Crossing obliterates characters.“
If the men who should be the most competent to pronounce an opinion on the essence and significance of Race show such an incredible lack of judgment — if in dealing with a subject where wide experience is necessary for sure perception, they bring to bear upon it nothing but hollow political phrases — how can we wonder that the unlearned should talk nonsense even when their instinct points out the true path? For the subject has in these days aroused interest in widely various strata of society, and where the learned refuse to teach, the unlearned must shift for themselves. When in the fifties Count Gobineau published his brilliant work on the inequality of the races of mankind, it passed unnoticed: no one seemed to know what it all meant. Like poor Virchow men stood puzzled before a riddle. Now that the Century has come to an end things have changed: the more passionate, more impulsive element in the


nations pays great and direct attention to this question. But in what a maze of contradiction, errors and delusions public opinion moves! Notice how Gobineau bases his account — so astonishingly rich in intuitive ideas which have later been verified and in historical knowledge — upon the dogmatic supposition that the world was peopled by Shem, Ham and Japhet. Such a gaping void in capacity of judgment in the author suffices, in spite of all his documentary support, to relegate his work to the hybrid class of scientific phantasmagorias. With this is connected Gobineau‘s further fantastic idea, that the originally “pure“ noble races crossed with each other in the course of history, and with every crossing became irrevocably less pure and less noble. From this we must of necessity derive a hopelessly pessimistic view of the future of the human race. But this supposition rests upon total ignorance of the physiological importance of what we have to understand by “race.“ A noble race does not fall from Heaven, it becomes noble gradually, just like fruit-trees, and this gradual process can begin anew at any moment, as soon as accident of geography and history or a fixed plan (as in the case of the Jews) creates the conditions. We meet similar absurdities at every step. We have, for example, a powerful Anti-Semitic movement: are we to consider the Jews as identical with the rest of the Semites? Have not the Jews by their very development made themselves a peculiar, pure race profoundly different from the others? Is it certain that an important crossing did not precede the birth of this people? And what is an Aryan? We hear so many and so definite pronouncements on this head. We contrast the Aryan with the “Semite,“ by whom we ordinarily understand “the Jew“ and nothing more, and that is at least a thoroughly concrete conception based upon experience. But what kind of man is the Aryan? What concrete conception does he correspond to? Only


he who knows nothing of ethnography can give a definite answer to this question. As soon as we do not limit this expression to the Indo-Eranians who are doubtless interrelated, we get into the sphere of uncertain hypotheses. * The peoples whom we have learned to classify together as “Aryans“ differ physically very much from each other; they reveal the most different structure of skull, also different colour of skin, eyes and hair; and even granted that there was once a common ancestral Indo-European race, what evidence can we offer against the daily increasing sum of facts which make it probable that other absolutely unrelated types have also been from time immemorial richly represented in our so-called Aryan nations of to-day, so that we can never apply the term “Aryan“ to a whole people, but, at most, to single individuals? Relationship of language is no conclusive proof of community of blood; the theory of the immigration of the so-called Indo-Europeans from Asia, which rests upon very slight grounds, encounters the grave difficulty that investigators are finding more and more reason to believe that the population which we are accustomed to call Indo-European was settled in Europe from time immemorial; † for the opposite hypothesis

* Even with this very qualified statement, derived from the best books I know, I seem to have presupposed more than science can with certainty assert; for I read in a specialised treatise, Les Aryens au nord et au sud de l‘Hindou-Kousch, by Charles de Ujfalvi (Paris, 1896, p. 15), “Le terme d’aryen est de pure convention; les peuples éraniens au nord et les tribus hindoues au sud du Caucase indien, diffèrent absolument comme type et descendent, sans aucun doute, de deux races différentes.“
† G. Schrader (Sprachvergleichung und Urgeschichte), who has studied the question more from the linguistic standpoint, comes to the conclusion, “It is proved that the Indo-Teutonic peoples were settled in Europe at a very ancient period“; Johannes Ranke (Der Mensch) is of opinion that it is now an established fact that at least a great part of the population of Europe were Aryans as early as the stone age; and Virchow, whose authority is all the greater in the sphere of anthropology because he shows unconditional respect for facts and,


of a colonisation of India from Europe there are not the slightest grounds… in short, this question is what miners call “swimming land“; he who knows the danger sets foot on it as little as possible. The more we study the specialists, the less certain we become. It was originally the philologists who established the collective idea “Aryans.“ Then came the anatomical anthropologists; the inadmissibility of conclusions drawn from mere philology was demonstrated, and now skull-measuring began; craniometry became a profession, and it did provide a mass of extremely interesting material; lately, however, the same fate is overtaking this so-called “somatic anthropology“ that formerly overtook philology: ethnographers have begun to travel and to make scientifically systematic observations from living man, and in this way have been able to prove that the measuring of bones by no means deserves the importance that was wont to be attached to it; one of the greatest of Virchow‘s pupils has become convinced that the idea of solving problems of ethnology by the measurement of skulls is fruitless. * All these advances have been made in the second half of the nineteenth century; who knows what will be taught about “Aryans“ † in the year 1950? At present, at any rate, the layman can say nothing on the subject. If he turns up one of the well-known authorities, he will be told that the Aryans “are an invention of the study and not a

unlike Huxley and many others, builds no Darwinian castles in the air, says that from anatomical discoveries one may assert that “the oldest troglodytes of Europe were of Aryan descent!“ (quoted from Ranke, Der Mensch, ii. 578).
* Ehrenreich: Anthropologische Studien über die Urbewohner Brasiliens, 1897.
† When I use the word Aryan in this book, I take it in the sense of the original Sanscrit “ârya,“ which means “belonging to the friends,“ without binding myself to any hypothesis. The relationship in thought and feeling signifies in any case an homogeneousness. Cf. the note on p. 93.


primeval people,“ * if he seeks information from another, he receives the answer that the common characteristics of the Indo-Europeans, from the Atlantic Ocean to India, suffice to put the actual blood-relationship beyond all doubt. †
I hope I have clearly illustrated in these two paragraphs the great confusion which is prevalent among us to-day in regard to the idea “race.“ This confusion is not necessary, that is, with practical, active men who belong to life as we do. And it is unnecessary for this reason, that we, in order to interpret the lessons of history and to comprehend our present age in connection therewith, do not in any way need to seek for hidden origins and causes. In the former division I have already quoted the words

* R. Hartmann: Die Negritier (1876), p. 185. Similarly Luschan and many investigators. Salomon Reinach, for instance, writes in L‘Origine des Aryens, 1892, p. 90: “Parler d‘une race aryenne d‘il y a trois mille ans, c‘est émettre une hypothèse gratuite: en parler comme si elle existait encore aujourd‘hui, c‘est dire tout simplement une absurdité.“
† Friedrich Ratzel, Johannes Ranke, Paul Ehrenreich, &c., in fact the more modern, widely travelled ethnographers. But they hold the view with many variations, since the relationship does not necessarily rest upon common origin, but might have been produced by crossing. Ratzel, for instance, who in one place positively asserts the uniformity of the whole Indo-European race (Litterarisches Centralblatt, 1897, p. 1295), says in another (Völkerkunde, 1895, ii. 751), “the supposition that all these peoples have a uniform origin is not necessary or probable.“ — It is worth remarking that even those who deny the fact of an Aryan race still constantly speak of it; they cannot do without it as a “working hypothesis.“ Even Reinach, after proving that there never was an Aryan race, speaks in an unguarded moment (loc. cit. p. 98) of the “common origin of the Semites and the Aryans.“ Ujfalvi, quoted above, has after profound study arrived at the opposite conclusion and believes in a “grande famille aryenne.“ In fact anthropologists, ethnographers and even historians, theologians, philologists and legal authorities find the idea “Aryan“ more and more indispensable every year. And yet if one of us makes even the most cautious and strictly limited use of the conception, he is scorned and slandered by academic scribes and nameless newspaper reviewers. May the reader of this book trust science more than the official simplifiers and levellers and the professional anti-Aryan confusion-makers. Though it were proved that there never was an Aryan race in the past, yet we desire that in the future there may be one. That is the decisive standpoint for men for action.


of Goethe, “Animated inquiry into cause does great harm.“ What is clear to every eye suffices, if not for science, at least for life. Science must, of course, ever wander on its thorny but fascinating path; it is like a mountain climber, who every moment imagines that he will reach the highest peak, but soon discovers behind it a higher one still. But life is only indirectly interested in these changing hypotheses. One of the most fatal errors of our time is that which impels us to give too great weight in our judgments to the so-called “results“ of science. Knowledge can certainly have an illuminating effect; but it is not always so, and especially for this reason, that knowledge always stands upon tottering feet. For how can intelligent men doubt but that much which we think we know to-day will be laughed at as crass ignorance, one hundred, two hundred, five hundred years hence? Many facts may, indeed, be looked upon to-day as finally established; but new knowledge places these same facts in quite a new light, unites them to figures never thought of before, or changes their perspective; to regulate our judgments by the contemporary state of science may be compared to an artist‘s viewing the world through a transparent, ever-changing kaleidoscope, instead of with the naked eye. Pure science (in contrast to industrial science) is a noble plaything; its great intellectual and moral worth rests in no small degree upon the fact that it is not “useful“; in this respect it is quite analogous to art, it signifies the application of thought to the outward world; and since nature is inexhaustibly rich, she thereby ever brings new material to the mind, enriches its inventory of conceptions and gives the imagination a new dream-world to replace the gradually fading old one. * Life,

* The physical scientist Lichtenberg makes a similar remark: “The teaching of nature is, for me at least, a kind of sinking fund for religion, when overbold reason falls into debt“ (Fragmentarische Bemerkungen über physikalische Gegenstände, 15).


on the other hand, purely as such, is something different from systematic knowledge, something much more stable, more firmly founded, more comprehensive; it is in fact the essence of all reality, whereas even the most precise science represents the thinned, generalised, no longer direct reality. Here I understand by “life“ what is otherwise also called “nature,“ as when, for instance, modern medicine teaches us that nature encourages by means of fever the change of matter and defends man against the illness which has seized him. Nature is in fact what we call “automatic,“ its roots go very much deeper than knowledge will ever be able to follow. And so it is my conviction that we — who as thinking, well-informed, boldly dreaming and investigating beings are certainly just such integral parts of nature as all other beings and things, and as our own bodies — may entrust ourselves to this nature — to this “life“ — with great confidence. Though science leaves us in the lurch at many points, though she, fickle as a modern parliamentarian, laughs to-day at what she yesterday taught as everlasting truth, let this not lead us astray; what we require for life, we shall certainly learn. On the whole science is a splendid but somewhat dangerous friend; she is a great juggler and easily leads the mind astray into wild sentimentality; science and art are like the steeds attached to Plato‘s car of the soul; “sound common sense“ (whose loss Professor Virchow lamented) proves its worth not least of all in pulling the reins tight and not permitting these noble animals to bolt with its natural, sound judgment. The very fact that we are living beings gives us an infinitely rich and unfailing capacity of hitting upon the right thing, even without learning, wherever it is necessary. Whoever simply and with open mind questions nature — the “mother“ as the old myths called her — can be sure of being answered, as a mother answers her son, not


always in blameless logic, but correctly in the main, intelligibly and with a sure instinct for the best interests of the son. So is it, too, in regard to the question of the significance of race: one of the most vital, perhaps the most vital, questions that can confront man.


Nothing is so convincing as the consciousness of the possession of Race. The man who belongs to a distinct, pure race, never loses the sense of it. The guardian angel of his lineage is ever at his side, supporting him where he loses his foothold, warning him like the Socratic Daemon where he is in danger of going astray, compelling obedience, and forcing him to undertakings which, deeming them impossible, he would never have dared to attempt. Weak and erring like all that is human, a man of this stamp recognises himself, as others recognise him, by the sureness of his character, and by the fact that his actions are marked by a certain simple and peculiar greatness, which finds its explanation in his distinctly typical and super-personal qualities. Race lifts a man above himself: it endows him with extraordinary — I might almost say supernatural — powers, so entirely does it distinguish him from the individual who springs from the chaotic jumble of peoples drawn from all parts of the world: and should this man of pure origin be perchance gifted above his fellows, then the fact of Race strengthens and elevates him on every hand, and he becomes a genius towering over the rest of mankind, not because he has been thrown upon the earth like a flaming meteor by a freak of nature, but because he soars heavenward like some strong and stately tree, nourished by thousands and thousands of roots — no solitary individual, but the living sum of untold souls striving for the same goal. He who has eyes to see at once detects Race in


animals. It shows itself in the whole habit of the beast, and proclaims itself in a hundred peculiarities which defy analysis: nay more, it proves itself by achievements, for its possession invariably leads to something excessive and out of the common — even to that which is exaggerated and not free from bias. Goethe‘s dictum, “only that which is extravagant (überschwänglich) makes greatness,“ is well known. * That is the very quality which a thoroughbred race reared from superior materials bestows upon its individual descendants — something “extravagant“ — and, indeed, what we learn from every racehorse, every thoroughbred fox-terrier, every Cochin China fowl, is the very lesson which the history of mankind so eloquently teaches us! Is not the Greek in the fulness of his glory an unparalleled example of this “extravagance“? And do we not see this “extravagance“ first make its appearance when immigration from the North has ceased, and the various strong breeds of men, isolated on the peninsula once for all, begin to fuse into a new race, brighter and more brilliant, where, as in Athens, the racial blood flows from many sources — simpler and more resisting where, as in Lacedaemon, even this mixture of blood had been barred out. Is the race not as it were extinguished, as soon as fate wrests the land from its proud exclusiveness and incorporates it in a greater whole? † Does not Rome teach us the same

* Materialien zur Geschichte der Farbenlehre, the part dealing with Newton‘s personality.
† It is well known that it was but gradually extinguished, and that in spite of a political situation, which must assuredly have brought speedy destruction on everything Hellenic, had not race qualities here had a decisive influence. Till late in the Christian era Athens remained the centre of intellectual life for mankind; Alexandria was more talked of, the strong Semitic contingent saw to that; but any one who wished to study in earnest travelled to Athens, till Christian narrow-mindedness for ever closed the schools there in the year 529, and we learn that as late as this even the man of the people was distinguished in Athens “by the liveliness of his intellect, the correctness of his language and the sureness of his taste“ (Gibbon,


lesson? Has not in this case also a special mixture of blood produced an absolutely new race, * similar in qualities and capacities to no later one, endowed with exuberant power? And does not victory in this case effect what disaster did in that, but only much more quickly? Like a cataract the stream of strange blood overflooded the almost depopulated Rome and at once the Romans ceased to be. Would one small tribe from among all the Semites have become a world-embracing power had it not made “purity of race“ its inflexible fundamental law? In days when so much nonsense is talked concerning this question, let Disraeli teach us that the whole significance of judaism lies in its purity of race, that this alone gives it power and duration, and just as it has outlived the people of antiquity, so, thanks to its knowledge of this law of nature, will it outlive the constantly mingling races of to-day. †
What is the use of detailed scientific investigations as to whether there are distinguishable races? whether race has a worth? how this is possible? and so on. We turn the tables and say: it is evident that there are such races: it is a fact of direct experience that the quality of the race is of vital importance; your province is only to find out the how and the wherefore, not to deny the facts themselves in order to indulge your ignorance. One of the greatest ethnologists of the present day,

chap. xl.). There is in George Finlay‘s book, Medieval Greece, chap. i., a complete and very interesting and clear account of the gradual destruction of the Hellenic race by foreign immigration. One after the other colonies of Roman soldiers from all parts of the Empire, then Celts, Teutonic peoples, Slavonians, Bulgarians, Wallachians, Albanesians, &c., had moved into the country and mixed with the original population. The Zaconians, who were numerous even in the fifteenth century, but have now almost died out, are said to be the only pure Hellenes.
* Cf. p. 109, note.
† See the novels Tancred and Coningsby. In the latter Sidonia says: “Race is everything; there is no other truth. And every race must fall which carelessly suffers its blood to become mixed.“


Adolf Bastian, testifies that, “what we see in history is not a transformation, a passing of one race into another, but entirely new and perfect creations, which the ever-youthful productivity of nature sends forth from the invisible realm of Hades.“ * Whoever travels the short distance between Calais and Dover, feels almost as if he had reached a different planet, so great is the difference between the English and French, despite their many points of relationship. The observer can also see from this instance the value of purer “inbreeding.“ England is practically cut off by its insular position: the last (not very extensive) invasion took place 800 years ago; since then only a few thousands from the Netherlands, and later a few thousand Huguenots have crossed over (all of the same origin), and thus has been reared that race which at the present moment is unquestionably the strongest in Europe. †
Direct experience, however, offers us a series of quite different observations on race, all of which may gradually contribute to the extension of our knowledge as well as to its definiteness. In contrast to the new, growing, Anglo-Saxon race, look, for instance, at the Sephardim, the so-called “Spanish Jews“; here we find how a genuine race can by purity keep itself noble for centuries and tens of centuries, but at the same time how very necessary it is to distinguish between the nobly reared portions of a nation and the rest. In England, Holland and Italy there are still genuine Sephardim but very few, since

* Das Beständige in den Menschenrassen und die Spielweite ihrer Veränderlichkeit, 1868, p. 26.
† Mention should also be made of Japan, where likewise a felicitous crossing and afterwards insular isolation have contributed to the production of a very remarkable race, much stronger and (within the Mongoloid sphere of possibility) much more profoundly endowed than most Europeans imagine. Perhaps the only books in which one gets to know the Japanese soul are those of Lafcadio Hearn: Kokoro, Hints and Echoes of Japanese Inner Life; Gleanings in Buddha Fields, and others.


they can scarcely any longer avoid crossing with the Ashkenazim (the so-called “German Jews“). Thus, for example, the Montefiores of the present generation have all without exception married German Jewesses. But every one who has travelled in the East of Europe, where the genuine Sephardim still as far as possible avoid all intercourse with German Jews, for whom they have an almost comical repugnance, will agree with me when I say that it is only when one sees these men and has intercourse with them that one begins to comprehend the significance of Judaism in the history of the world. This is nobility in the fullest sense of the word, genuine nobility of race! Beautiful figures, noble heads, dignity in speech and bearing. The type is Semitic in the same sense as that of certain noble Syrians and Arabs. That out of the midst of such people Prophets and Psalmists could arise — that I understood at the first glance, which I honestly confess that I had never succeeded in doing when I gazed, however carefully, on the many hundred young Jews — “Bochers“ — of the Friedrichstrasse in Berlin. When we study the Sacred Books of the Jews we see further that the conversion of this monopolytheistic people to the ever sublime (though according to our ideas mechanical and materialistic) conception of a true cosmic monotheism was not the work of the community, but of a mere fraction of the people; indeed this minority had to wage a continuous warfare against the majority, and was compelled to enforce the acceptance of its more exalted view of life by means of the highest Power to which man is heir, the might of personality. As for the rest of the people, unless the Prophets were guilty of gross exaggeration, they convey the impression of a singularly vulgar crowd, devoid of every higher aim, the rich hard and unbelieving, the poor fickle and ever possessed by the longing to throw themselves into the arms of the wretchedest and filthiest idolatry. The


course of Jewish history has provided for a peculiar artificial selection of the morally higher section: by banishments, by continual withdrawals to the Diaspora — a result of the poverty and oppressed condition of the land — only the most faithful (of the better classes) remained behind, and these abhorred every marriage contract — even with Jews! — in which both parties could not show an absolutely pure descent from one of the tribes of Israel and prove their strict orthodoxy beyond all doubt. * There remained then no great choice; for the nearest neighbours, the Samaritans, were heterodox, and in the remoter parts of the land, except in the case of the Levites who kept apart, the population was to a large extent much mixed. In this way race was here produced. And when at last the final dispersion of the Jews came, all or almost all of these sole genuine Jews were taken to Spain. The shrewd Romans in fact knew well how to draw distinctions, and so they removed these dangerous fanatics, these proud men, whose very glance made the masses obey, from their Eastern home to the farthest West, † while, on the other hand, they did not disturb the Jewish people outside of the narrower Judea more than the Jews of the Diaspora. ‡ — Here, again, we have a most interesting object-lesson on the origin and worth of “race“! For of all the men whom we are wont to characterise as Jews, relatively few are descended from these great genuine Hebrews, they are rather the descendants of the Jews of the Diaspora,

* Natural children are not at all taken into the community by orthodox Jews. Among the Sephardim of East Europe to-day, a girl who is known to have gone wrong is immediately taken by the plenipotentiaries of the community to a strange land and provided for there; neither she nor her child can venture ever to let anything be heard of them, they are regarded as dead. Thus they provide against blind love introducing strange blood into the tribe.
† See Graetz, as above, chap. ix., on The Period of the Diaspora.
‡ In Tiberias, for example, there was a Rabbi‘s school which for centuries set the fashion. (Regarding the ennobling of the Sephardim by Gothic blood, see below.)


Jews who did not take part in the last great struggles, who, indeed, to some extent did not even live through the Maccabean age; these and the poor country people who were left behind in Palestine, and who later in Christian ages were banished or fled, are the ancestors of “our Jews“ of to-day. Now whoever wishes to see with his own eyes what noble race is, and what it is not, should send for the poorest of the Sephardim from Salonici or Sarajevo (great wealth is very rare among them, for they are men of stainless honour) and put him side by side with any Ashkenazim financier; then will he perceive the difference between the nobility which race bestows and that conferred by a monarch. *


It would be easy to multiply examples. But I think that we now have all the material that is necessary for a systematic analysis of our knowledge regarding race, from which we may then derive the cardinal principles of a conscious and appropriate judgment. We are not reasoning from hypothetical conditions in the remote past to possible results, but arguing from sure facts back to their direct causes. The inequality of gifts even in what are manifestly related races is evident; it is, moreover, equally evident to every one who observes more closely that here and there, for a shorter or a longer time, one tribe does not only distinguish itself from the

* The Goths, who in a later age went over to Mohammedanism in great crowds, and became its noblest and most fanatical protagonists, are said to have at an earlier period adopted Judaism in great numbers, and a learned specialist of Vienna University assures me that the moral and intellectual as well as the physical superiority of the so-called “Spanish“ and “Portuguese“ Jews is to be explained rather by this rich influx of Teutonic blood than by that breeding which I have singled out to emphasise, and the importance of which he too would not incline to underestimate. Whether this view is justifiable or not may remain an open question.


others, but is easily pre-eminent among them because there is something beyond the common in its gifts and capabilities. That this is due to racial breeding I have tried to illustrate graphically by the preceding examples. The results deducible from these examples (and they can be multiplied to any extent) enable us to affirm that the origin of such noble races is dependent upon five natural laws.
(1) The first and fundamental condition is undoubtedly the presence of excellent material. Where there is nothing, the king has no rights. But if I am asked, Whence comes this material? I must answer, I know not, I am as ignorant in this matter as if I were the greatest of all scholars and I refer the questioner to the words of the great world-seer of the nineteenth century, Goethe, “What no longer originates, we cannot conceive as originating. What has originated we do not comprehend.“ As far back as our glance can reach, we see human beings, we see that they differ essentially in their gifts and that some show more vigorous powers of growth than others. Only one thing can be asserted without leaving the basis of historical observation: a high state of excellence is only attained gradually and under particular circumstances, it is only forced activity that can bring it about; under other circumstances it may completely degenerate. The struggle which means destruction for the fundamentally weak race steels the strong; the same struggle, moreover, by eliminating the weaker elements, tends still further to strengthen the strong. Around the childhood of great races, as we observe, even in the case of the metaphysical Indians, the storm of war always rages.
(2) But the presence of excellent human material is not enough to give birth to the “extravagant“; such races as the Greeks, the Romans, the Franks, the Swabians, the Italians and Spaniards in the period of their splendour,


the Moors, the English, such abnormal phenomena as the Aryan Indians and the Jews only spring from continued inbreeding. They arise and they pass away before our eyes. Inbreeding means the producing of descendants exclusively in the circle of the related tribesmen, with the avoidance of all foreign mixture of blood. Of this I have already given striking examples.
(3) But inbreeding pur et simple does not suffice: along with it there must be selection, or, as the specialists say, “artificial selection.“ We understand this law best when we study the principles of artificial breeding in the animal and vegetable worlds; I should recommend every one to do so, for there are few things which so enrich our conceptions of the plastic possibilities of life. * When one has come to understand what miracles are performed by selection, how a racehorse or a Dachshund or a choice chrysanthemum is gradually produced by the careful elimination of everything that is of indifferent quality, one will recognise that the same phenomenon is found in the human race, although of course it can never be seen with the same clearness and definiteness as in the other spheres. I have already advanced the example of the Jews; the exposure of weak infants is another point and was in any case one of the most beneficial laws of the Greeks, Romans and Teutonic peoples; hard times, which only the strong man and the hardy woman can survive, have a similar effect. †
(4) There is another fundamental law hitherto little heeded, which seems to me quite clear from history, just as it is a fact of experience in the breeding of animals:

* The literature is very great: for simplicity, comprehensibility and many-sidedness I recommend to every layman especially Darwin‘s Animals and Plants under Domestication. In the Origin of Species the same subject is treated rather briefly and with too much bias.
† Jhering demonstrates with particular clearness that the epoch of the migrations, which lasted for many centuries, necessarily had upon the Teutonic peoples the effect of an ever more and more ennobling artificial selection (Vorgeschichte, p. 462 f.).


the origin of extraordinary races is, without exception, preceded by a mixture of blood. As that acute thinker, Emerson, says: “we are piqued with pure descent, but nature loves inoculation.“ Of the Aryan Indians of course we can say nothing as regards this, their previous history being hidden in the misty distance of time; on the other hand, with regard to the Jews, Hellenes and Romans the facts are perfectly clear, and they are no less so in regard to all the nations of Europe which have distinguished themselves by their national achievements and by the production of a great number of individuals of “extravagant“ endowments. With regard to the Jews I refer the reader to the following chapter, as regards the Hellenes, Romans and English I have often pointed to this fact; * nevertheless, I would urge the reader not to grudge the labour of carefully reading in Curtius and Mommsen those chapters at the beginning which, on account of the many names and the confusion of detail, are usually rather glanced through than studied. There has never been so thorough and successful a mixture as in Greece: with the old common stock as basis there have gradually sprung up in the valleys, separated by mountains or seas, characteristically different tribes, composed here of huntsmen, there of peaceful farmers, in other parts of seafarers, &c.; among these differentiated elements we find a mixing and crossing, so fine that a human brain selecting artificially could not have reasoned the matter out more perfectly. In the first place we have migrations from East to West, later from West to East over the Aegean Sea; in the meantime, however, the tribes of the extreme North (in the first place the Dorians) advanced to the extreme South, forcing many of the noblest who would not submit to bondage from the South to that North from which they themselves had just come, or over the sea to

* See especially pp. 109, 272, 286 and 293.


the islands and the Hellenic coast of Asia. But every one of these shiftings meant mixture of blood. Thus, for example, the Dorians did not all move to the Peloponnese, portions of them remained at every stopping-place in their slow wanderings and there fused with the former population. Indeed, these same original Dorians, whose special unity is such an apparent characteristic, knew in the old times that they were composed of three different stems, one of which moreover was called “Pamphyle,“ that is, “the stem of people of various descent.“ The most exuberant talent showed itself where the crossing had been happiest — in New Ionia and in Attica. In New Ionia “Greeks came to Greeks, Ionians returned to their old home, but they came so transformed that from the new union of what was originally related, a thoroughly national development, much improved, rich, and in its results absolutely new, began in the old Ionian land.“ But most instructive is the history of the development of the Attic and particularly of the Athenian people. In Attica (just as in Arcadia, but nowhere else) the original Pelasgic population remained; it “was never driven out by the power of the stranger.“ But the coastland that belonged to the Archipelago invited immigration; and this came from every side; and while the alien Phoenicians only founded commercial stations on the neighbouring islands, the related Greeks pressed on into the interior from this side and that side of the sea, and gradually mingled with the former inhabitants. Now came the time of the already mentioned Dorian migrations and the great and lasting changes; Attica alone was spared; and thither fled many from all directions, from Boeotia, Achaea, Messenia, Argos and Aegina, &c.; but these new immigrants did not represent whole populations; in the great majority of cases they were chosen men, men of illustrious, often of royal birth. By their influx the one


small land became exceptionally rich in genuine, pure nobility. Then and then only, that is, after a varied crossing, arose that Athens to which humanity owes a greater debt than could ever be reckoned up. * — The least reflection will show that the same law holds good in the case of Germans, French, Italians and Spaniards. The individual Teutonic tribes, for example, are like purely brutal forces of nature, till they begin to mingle with one another; consider how Burgundy, which is rich in great men, owes its peculiar population to a thorough crossing of the Teutonic and the Romance elements, and develops its characteristic individuality by long-continued political isolation; † the Franks grow to their full strength and give the world a new type of humanity where they mingle with the Teutonic tribes who preceded them and with Gallo-Romans, or where they, as in Franconia, form the exact point of union of the most diverse German and Slavonic elements; Swabia, the home of Mozart and Schiller, is inhabited by a half-Celtic race; Saxony, which has given Germany so many of its greatest men, contains a population quickened almost throughout by a mixture of Slavonic blood; and has not Europe seen within the last three centuries how a nation of recent origin — Prussia — in which the

* See Curtius: Griechische Geschichte, i. 4, and ii. 1 and 2. Count Gobineau asserts that the extraordinary intellectual and above all artistic talent of the Greeks is to be explained by an infiltration of Semitic blood: this shows to what senseless views one is forced by fundamental hypotheses which are false, artificial and contrary to history and natural observation.
† This thorough crossing was caused by the fact that the Burgundians settled individually over the whole land and each of them became the “hospes“ of a former inhabitant, of whose cultivated land be received two-thirds, and of his buildings and garden a half, while woods and pastures remained common property. Now though there might not be much sympathy between the new-comer and the old possessor, yet they lived side by side and were solidly united in disputes about boundaries and such-like questions of property; thus crossing could not be long deferred. (Cf. especially Savigny, Geschichte des römischen Rechts im Mittelalter, chap. v. div. 1.)


mixture of blood was still more thorough, has raised itself by its pre-eminent power to become the leader of the whole German Empire? — It cannot of course be my task to give a detailed proof of what is here simply pointed out; but as I am advocating especially the great importance of purely-bred races, I desire particularly to emphasise the necessity, or at least the advantage, of mixture of blood and that not merely to meet the objection of one-sidedness and bias a priori, but because it is my conviction that the advocates of this theory have injured it very much by disregarding the important law of crossing. They get then to the mystical conception of a race pure in itself, which is an airy abstraction that retards instead of furthering. Neither history nor experimental biology has anything to say for such a view. The race of English thoroughbreds has been produced by the crossing of Arabian stallions with ordinary, but of course specially chosen, English mares, followed by inbreeding, yet in such a way that later crossing between varieties not far removed, or even with Arabians, is advisable from time to time; one of the noblest creatures that nature possesses, the so-called “genuine“ Newfoundland dog, originated from the crossing of the Eskimo dog and a French hound; in consequence of the isolated position of Newfoundland, it became by constant inbreeding fixed and “pure,“ it was then brought to Europe by fanciers and raised to the highest perfection by artificial selection. — Many of my readers may be amused at my constant references to the breeding of animals. But it is certain that the laws of life are great simple laws, embracing and moulding everything that lives; we have no reason to look upon the human race as an exception; and as we are unfortunately not in a position to make experiments in this matter with human beings, we must seek counsel from the experiments made with plants and animals. — But I cannot


close my discussion of the fourth law without emphasising another side of this law of crossing; continued inbreeding within a narrow circle, what one might call “close breeding,“ leads in time to degeneration and particularly to sterility. Countless experiences in animal breeding prove that. Sometimes in such a case a single crossing, applied, for example, only to single members of a pack of hounds, will suffice to strengthen the weakened race and restore its productivity. In the case of men the attraction of Passion provides sufficiently for this quickening, so that it is only in the highest circles of the nobility and in some royal houses * that we observe increasing mental and physical degeneration in consequence of “close breeding.“ †
The slightest increase of remoteness in the degree of relationship of those marrying (even within the strict limits of the same type) suffices to give all the great advantages of inbreeding and to prevent its disadvantages. Surely it is manifest that here we have the revelation of a mysterious Law of Life, a Law of Life so urgent that in the vegetable kingdom — where fructification within one and the same blossom seems at the first glance the natural and unavoidable thing — there are in most cases the most complicated arrangements to hinder this and at the same time to see that the pollen, when not borne by the wind, is carried by insects from the one individual flower to the other. ‡ When we perceive

* See the facts in Haeckel: Natürliche Schöpfungsgeschichte (lect. 8). Still more detail in a book by P. Jacoby, which I have unfortunately not before me, his Études sur la sélection dans ses rapports avec l‘hérédité chez l‘homme.
† In this connection too we have the well-known evil results of marriage between near relatives: the organs of sense (in fact the whole nervous system) and the sexual organs suffer most frequently from this. (See George H. Darwin‘s lectures, Die Ehen zwischen Geschwisterkindern und ihre Folgen, Leipzig, 1876.)
‡ I should recommend the large number of people who unfortunately still keep aloof from natural science, to read carefully Christian Konrad Sprengel‘s Das entdeckte Geheimnis der Natur im Bau und in der Befrucht-


what is so evidently a fundamental law of nature, we are led to suppose that it is not by mere chance that pre-eminent races have sprung from an original fusing of different stems, such as we have observed in history; the historical facts rather provide still further proof for the view that mixture of blood supplies particularly favourable physiological conditions for the origin of noble races. *
(5) A fifth law must also be mentioned, although it is restrictive and explanatory rather than contributive of any new element to the question of race. Only quite definite, limited mixtures of blood contribute towards the ennoblement of a race, or, it may be, the origin of a new one. Here again the clearest and least ambiguous examples are furnished by animal breeding. The mixture of blood must be strictly limited as regards time, and it must, in addition, be appropriate; not all and any crossings, but only definite ones can form the basis of ennoblement. By time-limitation I mean that the influx of new blood must take place as quickly as possible and then cease; continual crossing ruins the strongest race. To take an extreme example, the most famous

ung der Blumen, 1793. The whole German nation ought to be proud of this work: since 1893 there has been a facsimile reprint of it (Mayer and Müller, Berlin) and it can be read by any layman. Of more recent publications Hermann Müller‘s Alpenblumen, ihre Befruchtung durch Insekten und ihre Anpassungen an dieselben (Engelmann, 1881) is specially stimulating, clear by reason of the many illustrations, and complete. A summary account, which includes plants other than European, is found in the same author‘s Blumen und Insekten in Trewendt‘s Encyklopädie der Naturwissenschaften. There are certainly few speculations that introduce us so directly to the most mysterious wonders of nature as this revelation of the mutual relations of the plant and animal worlds. What are all our knowledge and hypotheses in comparison with such phenomena? They teach us to observe faithfully and to be satisfied with the circle of things attainable. (During the printing of this book Knuth‘s Handbuch der Blütenbiologie, published by Engelmann, began to appear.)
* For this question of the mixture of blood indispensable to the origin of pro-eminently gifted races Reibmayr‘s book, Inzucht und Vermischung beim Menschen, 1897, should be consulted.


pack of greyhounds in England was crossed once only with bulldogs, whereby it gained in courage and endurance, but further experiments prove that when such a crossing is continued, the characters of both races disappear and quite characterless mongrels remain behind. * Crossing obliterates characters. The limitation to definitely appropriate crossings means that only certain crossings, not all, ennoble. There are crossings which, far from having an ennobling influence, ruin both races, and moreover, it frequently happens that the definite, valuable characters of two different types cannot fuse at all; in the latter case some of the descendants take after the one parent, others after the other, but naturally with mingled characteristics, or again, genuine real mongrels may appear, creatures whose bodies give the impression of being screwed together from parts that do not fit, and whose intellectual qualities correspond exactly to the physical. † Here too it should be remarked that the union of mongrel with mongrel brings about with startling rapidity the total destruction of all and every pre-eminent quality of race. It is therefore an entirely mistaken idea that mixture of blood between different stems invariably ennobles the race, and adds new qualities to the old. It does so only with the strictest limitations and under rare and definite conditions; as a rule mixture of blood leads to degeneration. One thing is perfectly clear: that the crossing of two very different types contributes to the formation of a noble race only when it takes place very seldom and is followed by strict inbreeding (as in the case of the English thoroughbred and the Newfoundland dog); in all other cases crossing is a success only when it takes place between those closely related, i.e., between those that belong to the same funda-

* Darwin, Animals and Plants, chap. xv.
† For this too there are numerous examples in Darwin. As regards dogs in particular, examples will occur to every one.


mental type. — Here too no one who knows the detailed results of animal breeding can doubt that the history of mankind before us and around us obeys the same law. Naturally, it does not appear with the same clearness in the one case as in the other; we are not in a position to shut in a number of human beings and make experiments with them for several generations; moreover, while the horse excels in swiftness, the dog in remarkable and plastic flexibility of body, man excels in mind: here all his vigour is concentrated, here too, therefore, is concentrated all his variability, and it is just these differences in character and intelligence that are not visible to the eye. * But history has carried out experiments on a large scale, and every one whose eye is not blinded by details, but has learned to survey great complexes, every one who studies the soul-life of nations, will discover any amount of proofs of the law here mentioned. While, for example, the “extravagantly“ gifted Attics and the uniquely shrewd and strong Roman race are produced by the fusion of several stems, they are nevertheless nearly related and noble, pure stems, and these elements are then, by the formation of States, isolated for centuries, so that they have time to amalgamate into a new solid unity; when, on the other hand, these States are thrown open to every stranger, the race is ruined, in Athens slowly, because owing to the political situation there was not much to get there, and the mixing in consequence only took place gradually

* We must, however, not overlook the fact that, if we could make experiments in breeding with men, very great differences in physique also could certainly be achieved in regard to size, hair, proportions, &c. Place a dwarf from the primeval forest of the Middle Congo, little more than 3 feet high, the whole body covered with hair, beside a Prussian Grenadier of the Guards: one will see what plastic possibilities slumber in the human body. — As far as the dog is concerned, we must remember also that the various breeds “certainly originate from more than one wild species“ (Claus, Zoologie, 4th edit. ii. 458); hence its almost alarming polymorphism.


and then for the most part with Indo-European peoples, * in Rome with frightful rapidity, after Marius and Sulla had, by murdering the flower of the genuine Roman youth, dammed the source of noble blood and at the same time, by the freeing of slaves, brought into the nation perfect floods of African and Asiatic blood, thus transforming Rome into the cloaca gentium, the trysting-place of all the mongrels of the world. † We observe the same on all sides. We see the English race arising out of a mutual fusion of separated but closely related Teutonic tribes; the Norman invasion provides in this case the last brilliant touch; on the other hand, geographical and historical conditions have so wrought that the somewhat more distantly related Celts remained by themselves, and even to-day only gradually mingle with the ruling race. How manifestly stimulating and refreshing, even to the present day, is the influence of the immigration of French Huguenots into Berlin! They were alien enough to enrich the life there with new elements and related enough to produce with their Prussian hosts not “mongrels that seem screwed together“ but men of strong character and rare gifts. To see the opposite, we need only look over to South America. Where is there a more pitiful sight than that of the mestizo States there? The so-called savages of Central Australia lead a much more harmonious, dignified and, let us say, more “holy“ life than these unhappy Peruvians, Paraguayans, &c., mongrels from two and often more than two incongruous races, from two cultures

* It is very instructive to observe, on the other hand, that the Hellenes in Ionia, who were subject to every kind of mongrel crossing, disappeared much more quickly.
† Long before me Gibbon had recognised the physical degeneration of the Roman race as the cause of the decline of the Roman Empire; now that is more fully demonstrated by O. Seeck in his Geschichte der Unterganges der antiken Welt. It was only the immigration of the vigorous Teutonic peoples that kept the chaotic empire artificially alive for a few centuries longer.


with nothing in common, from two stages of development, too different in age and form to be able to form a marriage union — children of an unnatural incest. Any one who earnestly desires to know what race signifies can learn much from the example of these States; let him but consult the statistics, he will find the most different relations between the pure European or pure Indian population and the half-caste, and he will see that relative degeneration goes exactly hand in hand with the mixture of blood. I take the two extreme examples, Chile and Peru. In Chile, the only one of these States * that can make a modest claim to true culture and that can also point to comparatively well-ordered political conditions, about 30 per cent. of the inhabitants are still of pure Spanish origin, and this third is sufficient to check moral disintegration. † On the other hand, in Peru, which, as is well known, gave the first example to the other republics of a total moral and material bankruptcy, there are almost no Europeans of pure race left; with the exception of the still uncivilised Indians in the interior the whole population consists of Cholos, Musties, Fusties, Tercerones, Quarterones, &c., crossings between Indians and Spaniards, between Indians and Negroes, Spaniards and Negroes, further between the different races and those mestizos or crosses of the mestizo species among each other; in recent years many thousands of Chinese have been added… here we see the promiscuity longed for by Ratzel and Virchow in progress, and we observe what the result is! Of course it is an extreme example, but all the more instructive. If the enormous force of surrounding civilisation did not artificially support such a State on all sides, if by any chance it were isolated and left to itself, it would in a short time fall a prey to total

* In Portugese Brazil the conditions are essentially different.
† According to Albrecht Wirth, Volkstum und Weltmacht in der Geschichte, 1901, p. 159, the Chilians also derive advantage from the fact that their Indians — the Araucani — are of particularly noble race.


barbarism — not human, but bestial barbarism. All these States are moving towards a similar fate. * — Here too I leave it to the reader to think over the matter and to collect evidence with regard to this fifth law, which shows us that every crossing is a dangerous matter and can only help to ennoble the race when definite conditions are observed, as also that many possible crossings are absolutely detrimental and destructive; once the eyes of the reader are opened, he will find everywhere both in the past and in the present proofs of this law as well as of the other four. †
These then are the five principles which seem to me to be fundamental: the quality of the material, inbreeding, artificial selection, the necessity of crossings, the necessity of strictly limiting these crossings both in respect of choice and of time. From these principles we further deduce the conclusion that the origin of a very noble human race depends among other things upon definite historical and geographical conditions; it is these that unconsciously bring about the ennobling of the original material, the in-breeding and the artificial selection, it is these too — when a happy star shines over the birthplace of a new people — that produce happy tribal marriages and prevent the prostitution of the noble in the arms of the ignoble. The fact that there was a time in the nineteenth century when learned investigators, with Buckle at their head, could assert that geographical conditions produced the races, we may now appropriately

* As is well known, very similar conditions prevail in the Spanish colonies. The island of Porto Rico forms the sole exception: here the native Caribbees were exterminated, and the result is a pure Indo-European population, distinguished for industry, shrewdness and love of order: a striking example of the significance of race!
† In his book Altersklassen und Männerbunde (p. 23), Heinrich Schurtz comes to the conclusion that, “Successful crossings are possible and advantageous only within a certain sphere of relationship. If the relationship is too close, really near blood-relationship, sickly tendencies are not counterbalanced but increased; if it is too remote, no felicitous mixing of the qualities is possible.“


mention with the scant honour of a paraleipsis; for that doctrine is a blow in the face of all history and all observation. On the other hand, every single one of the laws enumerated, and in addition the examples of Rome, Greece, England, Judea and South America in particular, let us see so clearly in how far the historical and geographical conditions not only contribute to the origin and the decline of a race but are actually decisive factors therein, that I can refrain from further discussion of the matter. *


Is the question of race now exhausted? Far from it! These biological problems are remarkably complex. They embrace, for example, the still so mysterious subject of heredity, in regard to the fundamental principles of which the most important specialists are more at variance every day. † Besides, many other circumstances which profounder study reveals would have to be taken into account. Nature is in fact inexhaustible; however deep we sink the plummet, we never reach the bottom. Whoever would make a study of these matters must not, for example, overlook the fact that small numbers of foreign elements are wont in a short time to be entirely absorbed by a strong race, but that there is, as the chemists say, a definite capacity, a definite power of absorption, beyond

* If, for example, the climate of Attica had been the decisive thing, as is often asserted, it would be impossible to understand why the genius of its inhabitants was produced only under certain racial conditions and disappeared for ever with the removal of these conditions; on the other hand, the importance of the geographical and historical conditions becomes quite clear, when we observe that they isolated Attica for centuries from the ceaseless changes brought about by the migrations, but at the same time contributed to the influx of a select, noble population from different but related tribes, which mingled to form a new race.
† The reader will find an interesting summary of the different opinions of modern times in Friedrich Rohde‘s Entstehung und Vererbung individueller Eigenschaften, 1895.


which a loss of the purity of the blood, revealed by the diminution of the characteristic qualities, is involved. We have an instance of this in Italy, where the proudly passionate and brilliant families of strong Teutons, who had kept their blood pure till the fourteenth century, later gradually mingled with absolutely mongrel Italians and Italiots and so entirely disappeared (see chaps. vi. and ix.): crossing obliterates characters. The careful observer will further notice that in crossings between human stems, which are not closely related, the relative generative power is a factor which can prevail after centuries and gradually bring about the decline of the nobler portion of a mixed people, because in fact this generative power often stands in inverse relation to the nobility of the race. * In Europe at the present day we

* Professor August Forel, the well-known psychiatrist, has made interesting studies in the United States and the West Indian islands, on the victory of intellectually inferior races over higher ones because of their greater virility. “Though the brain of the negro is weaker than that of the white, yet his generative power and the predominance of his qualities in the descendants are all greater than those of the whites. The white race isolates itself (therefore) from them more and more strictly, not only in sexual but in all relations, because it has at last recognised that crossing means its own destruction.“ Forel shows by numerous examples how impossible it is for the negro to assimilate our civilisation more than skin-deep, and how so soon as he is left to himself he everywhere degenerates into the “most absolute primitive African savagery.“ (For more detail on this subject, see the interesting book of Hesketh Pritchard, Where Black rules White, Hayti, 1900; any one who has been reared on phrases of the equality of mankind, &c., will shudder when he learns how matters really stand so soon as the blacks in a State get the upper hand.) And Forel, who as scientist is educated in the dogma of the one, everywhere equal, humanity, comes to the conclusion: “Even for their own good the blacks must be treated as what they are, an absolutely subordinate, inferior, lower type of men, incapable themselves of culture. That must once for all be clearly and openly stated.“ (See the account of his journey in Harden‘s Zukunft, February 17, 1900) — For this question of race-crossings and the constant victory of the inferior race over the superior, see also the work of Ferdinand Hueppe, which is equally rich in facts and perceptions, Über die modernen Kolonisationsbestrebungen und die Anpassungsmöglichkeit der Europäer an die Tropen (Berliner klinische Wochenschrift, 1901). In Australia, for example, a process of sifting is quietly but very quickly going on, whereby the tall


have an example of this: the short round skulls are constantly increasing in numbers and so gradually superseding the narrow “dolichocephali,“ of which, according to the unanimous testimony of excavated tombs, almost the whole of the genuine old Teutonic, Slavonic and Celtic races consisted; in this we see the growing predominance of an alien race which had been conquered by the Indo-Teutonic (to-day it is mostly called “Turanic“), and which by animal force gradually overpowers the mentally superior race. * In this connection too perhaps should be mentioned the peculiar fact that dark eyes are becoming so much more prevalent than grey and blue, because in marriages between people with differently coloured eyes the dark are almost without exception much more frequently represented in the descendants than the light. †
If I were minded to follow up this argument it would land us in one of the thorniest branches of modern science. This, however, is absolutely unnecessary for my purpose. Without troubling myself about any definition, I have given a picture of Race as it is exhibited in the individual character, in the mighty achievements of genius, in the most brilliant pages of the history of man: in the next

fair Teuton — so strongly represented in the English blood — is disappearing, while the added element of the homo alpinus is gaining the upper hand.
* There is a clear and simple summary in Johannes Ranke, Der Mensch, ii. 296 ff. The discussion of all these questions in Topinard‘s L‘Anthropologie, Part II., is more thorough, but for that reason much more difficult to follow. It is remarkable that the latter only uses the word “race“ to denote a hypothetical entity, the actual existence of which at any time cannot be proved. Il n‘y a plus de races pures. Who seeks to prove that there ever were any in this a priori sense of anthropological presuppositions? Pure animal races are obtained only by breeding and on the fundamental basis of crossing; why should the opposite hold of men? — Besides, this whole “Turanic“ hypothesis is, like all these things, still very much of an airy abstraction. See further details in chap. vi.
† Alphonse de Candolle: Histoire des Sciences et des Savants depuis deux Siècles, 2e éd., p. 576.


place I have called attention to the most important conditions which scientific observation has pointed out as laying the foundation for the origin of noble races. That the introduction of contrary conditions must be followed by degeneration, or at any rate by the retarding of the development of noble qualities, seems to be in the highest degree probable, and might be proved in many ways by reference both to the past and the present. I have purposely exercised caution and self-restraint. In such labyrinthine tangles the narrowest path is the safest. The only task which I have proposed to myself has been to call into being a really vivid representation of what Race is, of what it has meant for mankind in the past and still means in the present.


There is one point which I have not expressly formulated, but it is self-evident from all that I have said; the conception of Race has nothing in it unless we take it in the narrowest and not in the widest sense: if we follow the usual custom and use the word to denote far remote hypothetical races, it ends by becoming little more than a colourless synonym for “mankind“ — possibly including the long-tailed and short-tailed apes: Race only has a meaning when it relates to the experiences of the past and the events of the present.
Here we begin to understand what nation signifies for race. It is almost always the nation, as a political structure, that creates the conditions for the formation of race or at least leads to the highest and most individual activities of race. Wherever, as in India, nations are not formed, the stock of strength that has been gathered by race decays. But the confusion which prevails with regard to the idea of race hinders even the most learned from understanding this great significance of


nations, whereby they are at the same time prevented from understanding the fundamental facts of history. For, in fact, what is it that our historians to-day teach us concerning the relation of race to nation?
I take up any book by chance — Renan‘s discourse, What is a Nation? In hundreds of others we find the same doctrines. The thesis is clearly formulated by Renan: “The fact of race,“ he writes, “originally of decisive importance, loses significance every day.“ * On what does he base this assertion? By pointing to the fact that the most capable nations of Europe are of mixed blood. What a mass of delusive conclusions this one sentence contains, what incapacity to be taught by what is evident to the eye! Nature and history do not furnish a single example of pre-eminently noble races with individual physiognomies, which were not produced by crossing: and now we are to believe that a nation of such distinct individuality as the English does not represent a race, because it originated from a mixture of Anglo-Saxon, Danish and Norman blood (stems moreover that were closely related)! I am to deny the clearest evidence which shows me that the Englishman is at least as markedly unique a being as the Greek and the Roman of the most brilliant epochs, and that in favour of an arbitrary, eternally indemonstrable abstraction, in favour of the presupposed, original “pure race.“ Two pages before, Renan himself had stated on the basis of anthropological discoveries that among the oldest Aryans, Semites, Turanians (les groupes aryen primitif, sémitique primitif, touranien primitif) one finds men of very different build of body, some with long, others with short skulls, so that they too had possessed no common “physiological unity.“ What delusions will not arise, as soon as man seeks for supposed “origins“! Again and again I must

* Renan: Discours et Conférences, 3e éd., p. 297, “Le fait de la race, capital à l‘origine, va donc toujours perdant de son importance.“


quote Goethe‘s great remark: “Animated inquiry into cause does infinite harm.“ Instead of taking the given fact, the discoverable as it is, and contenting ourselves with the knowledge of the nearest, demonstrable conditions, we ever and again fancy we must start from absolutely hypothetical causes and suppositions lying as far back as possible, and to these we sacrifice without hesitation that which is present and beyond doubt. That is what our “empiricists“ are like. That they do not see further than their own noses, we gladly believe from their own confession, but unfortunately they do not see even so far, but run up against solid facts and complain then about the said facts, not about their own shortsightedness. What kind of thing is this originally “physiologically uniform race“ of which Renan speaks? Probably a near relation of Haeckel‘s human apes. And in favour of this hypothetical beast I am to deny that the English people, the Prussians, the Spaniards have a definite and absolutely individual character! Renan misses physiological unity: does he not comprehend that physiological unity is brought about by marriage? Who then tells him that the hypothetical aboriginal Aryans were not also the result of gradual development? We know nothing about it: but what we do know entitles us to suppose it from analogy. There were among them narrow heads and broad ones: who knows but this crossing was necessary to produce one very noble race? The common English horse and the Arabian horse (which doubtless was produced originally by some crossing) were also “physiologically“ very different, and yet from their union was produced in the course of time the most physiologically uniform and noblest race of animals in the world, the English thoroughbred. Now the great scholar Renan sees the English human thoroughbred, so to speak, arising before his eyes: the ages of history are before him. What does he deduce therefrom? He says: since the English-


man of to-day is neither the Celt of Caesar‘s time nor the Anglo-Saxon of Hengist, nor the Dane of Knut, nor the Norman of the Conqueror, but the outcome of a crossing of all four, one cannot speak of an English race at all. That is to say because the English race, like every other race of which we have any knowledge, has grown historically, because it is something peculiar and absolutely new, therefore it does not exist! In truth, nothing beats the logic of the scholar!

Was ihr nicht rechnet
Glaubt ihr, sei nicht wahr. *

Our opinion concerning the importance of nationality in the formation of race must be quite different. The Roman Empire in the imperial period was the materialisation of the anti-national principle; this principle led to racelessness and simultaneously to intellectual and moral chaos; mankind was only rescued from this chaos by the more and more decisive development of the opposite or national principle. † Political nationality has not always played the same rôle in the production of individual races as it has in our modern culture; I need only refer to India, Greece and the Israelites; but the problem was nowhere solved so beautifully, successfully and as it appears so lastingly, as by the Teutonic peoples. As though conjured up out of the soil there arose in this small corner of Europe a number of absolutely new, differentiated national organisms. Renan is of opinion that race existed only in the old “polis,“ because it was only there that the numerical limitation had permitted community of blood; this is absolutely false; one need only reckon back a few centuries, and every one has a hundred thousand ancestors; what, therefore, in the narrow circle of Athens took place in a com-

* What you do not reckon, / You fancy, is not true.
† This forms the subject of the eighth chapter (vol. ii.).


paratively short time, namely, the physiological union, took place in our case in the course of several centuries and is still continued. Race formation, far from decreasing in our nations, must daily increase. The longer a definite group of countries remains politically united, the closer does the “physiological unity“ which is demanded become, and the more quickly and thoroughly does it assimilate strange elements. Our anthropologists and historians simply presuppose that in their hypothetical primitive races the specific distinguishing characteristics were highly developed, but that they are now progressively decreasing; there is consequently, they aver, a movement from original complexity to increasing simplicity. This supposition is contrary to all experience, which rather teaches us that individualisation is a result of growing differentiation and separation. The whole science of biology contradicts the supposition that an organic creature first appears with clearly marked characteristics, which then gradually disappear; it actually forces us to the very opposite hypothesis that the early human race was a variable, comparatively colourless aggregate, from which the individual types have developed with increasing divergence and increasingly distinct individuality; a hypothesis which all history confirms. The sound and normal evolution of man is therefore not from race to racelessness but on the contrary from racelessness to ever clearer distinctness of race. The enrichment of life by new individualities seems everywhere to be one of the highest laws of inscrutable nature. Now here in the case of man the nation plays a most important part, because it almost always brings about crossing, followed by inbreeding. All Europe proves this. Renan shows how many Slavs have united with the Teutonic peoples, and asks somewhat sneeringly whether we have any right to call the Germans of to-day “Teutonic“: well, we need not


quarrel about names in such a case — what the Germans are to-day Renan has been able to learn in the year 1870; he has been taught it too by the German specialists, to whose industry he owes nine-tenths of his knowledge. That is the valuable result of the creation of race by nation-building. And since race is not a mere word, but an organic living thing, it follows as a matter of course that it never remains stationary; it is ennobled or it degenerates, it develops in this or that direction and lets this or that quality decay. This is a law of all individual life. But the firm national union is the surest protection against going astray: it signifies common memory, common hope, common intellectual nourishment; it fixes firmly the existing bond of blood and impels us to make it ever closer.


Just as important as the clear comprehension of the organic relation of race to nation is that of the organic relation of race to its quintessence, the hero or genius. We are apt to fancy we must choose between hero-worship and the opposite. But the one as well as the other testifies to poverty of insight. What I have said in the general introduction need not be repeated; but here, where the question of race is in the forefront, this problem takes a particularly clear form, and with some power of intuition we must surely perceive that the influence of intellectually pre-eminent units in a race, like the human, the individuality of which depends upon the development of its intellectual faculties, is immeasurable, for good and for evil; these units are the feet that carry and the hands that mould, they are the countenance on which we others gaze, they are the eye which beholds the rest of the world in a definite way and then communicates what it has seen to the rest of the organism.


But they are produced by the whole corporation; they can arise only from its vital action, only in it and from it do they gain importance. What is the use of the hand if it does not grow out of a strong arm as part and parcel of it? What is the use of the eye if the radiant forms which it has seen are not reflected in a dark, almost amorphous brain mass lying behind it? Phenomena only gain significance when they are united to other phenomena. The richer the blood that courses invisibly through the veins, the more luxuriant will be the blossoms of life that spring forth. The assertion that Homer created Greece is indeed literally true, but remains onesided and misleading as long as we do not add: only an incomparable people, only a quite definite, ennobled race could produce this man, only a race in which the seeing and shaping eye had been “extravagantly“ developed. * Without Homer Greece would not have become Greece, without the Hellenes Homer would never have been born. It was the same race which gave birth to the great seer of forms that produced the inventive seer of figures, Euclid, the lynx-eyed arranger of ideas, Aristotle, the man who first perceived the system of the cosmos, Aristarchus, and so on ad infinitum. Nature is not so simple as scholastic wisdom fancies: if great personality is our “most precious gift,“ communal greatness is the only soil on which it can grow. It is the whole race, for instance, that creates the language, and therewith at the same time definite artistic, philosophical, religious, in fact even practical possibilities, but also insuperable limitations. No philosopher could ever arise on Hebrew soil, because the spirit of the Hebrew language makes the interpretation of metaphysical thoughts absolutely impossible; for the same reason no Semitic people could possess a mythology in the same sense

* Any one who wants to gain a vivid conception of the extraordinary strength of these races, capable of serving as basis for a Homer, should read the description of the strongholds of Tiryns and Mycenae from the Atridean time, as they still stand to-day after tens of centuries.


as the Indians and the Teutonic peoples. One sees what definite paths are marked out even for the greatest men by the common achievements of the whole race. * But it is not a question of language alone. Homer had to find the myths in existence in order to be able to mould them into shape; Shakespeare put upon the stage the history which the English people had made; Bach and Beethoven spring from races which had attracted the attention of the ancients by their singing. And Mohammed? Could he have made the Arabs a world-power, had they not as one of the purest bred races in the world possessed definite “extravagant“ qualities? But for the new Prussian race, could the Great Elector have begun, the Great Frederick have extended, and the Great William have completed the structure which is now United Germany?


The first task set us in this chapter is now fulfilled; we have got a clear concrete idea of what race is and what it signifies for mankind; we have seen too, from some examples of the present time, how fatal the absence of race, that is, the chaos of unindividualised, speciesless human agglomerates, is. Any one who perceives this and ponders over it will gradually realise what it signifies for our Teutonic culture that the inherited culture of antiquity, which at important points still not only forms the foundations but also the walls of the structure, was not transmitted to us by a definite people but by a nationless mixture without physiognomy, in which mongrels held the whip-hand, namely, by the racial chaos of the decaying Roman Empire. Our whole intellectual development is still under the curse of this unfortunate intermediate

* According to Renan (Israël, i. 102) the Hebrew language is utterly incapable of expressing a philosophical thought, a mythological conception, the feeling of the Infinite, the emotions of the human soul or even pure observation of nature.


stage; it is this that supplied weapons to the anti-national, anti-racial powers even in the nineteenth century.
Even before Julius Caesar, the Chaos begins to appear; through Caracalla it is elevated to the official principle of the Roman Empire. * Throughout the whole extent of the Empire there was thorough mixing of blood, but in such a way that real bastardising, that is, the crossing of unrelated or of noble and ignoble races occurred almost wholly in the most southern and eastern parts, where the Semites met the Indo-Europeans — that is to say, in the capitals Rome and Constantinople, along the whole north coast of Africa (as well as on the coasts of Spain and Gaul), above all in Egypt, Syria and Asia Minor.
It is as easy as it is important to form an idea of the area of this complicated geographical condition. The Danube and the Rhine almost meet at their source. The two river-districts fit so closely into each other that there is, it is said, in the neighbourhood of the Albula Pass a small lake, which when there is high water flows on the one side into the Albula and the Rhine, on the other into the Inn and the Danube. Now if we follow the courses of these rivers, up the Rhine from the mouth of the old Rhine near Leyden and down the Danube till it falls into the Black Sea, we get an unbroken line crossing the Continent from north-west to south-east; this, roughly speaking, forms the northern boundary of the Roman Empire for a long period of time; except in parts of Dacia (the Roumania of to-day) the Romans never asserted themselves for long north and east of this line. †

* See p. 124.
† The Roman fortified boundary did indeed include a considerable portion north of the Danube and east of the Rhine, because the limes branched off westwards above Regensberg, came near Stuttgart, then north again till it met the Maine west of Würzburg. But this tithe-land, as it was called, was not colonised by Italians, but, as Tacitus tells us, by “the most fickle of the Gauls“ (Cf. Wietersheim, Völkerwanderung, i. 161 ff.).


This line divides Europe (if we include the African and Asian possessions of Rome) into two almost equal parts. In the south the great transfusion of blood (as the doctors call the injecting of strange blood into an organism) took place. If Maspero in his history of the peoples of the Classical East entitles one volume “The First Chaos of Races,“ then we may well speak here of a second chaos. In Britain, in Rhetia, in the extreme north of Gaul, &c., it seems indeed that in spite of the Roman sway there was no thorough fusion; in the rest of Gaul too, as well as in Spain, the newly imported elements from Rome had at least several centuries of comparative isolation to mingle with the former inhabitants before other elements came, a circumstance which rendered possible the formation of a new and very characteristic race, the Gallo-Roman. In the south-east, on the other hand, and especially in all centres of culture (which, as already pointed out, all lay in the south and the east), there was a medley all the more fundamentally pernicious in that those who came in streams from the Levant were themselves nothing but half-castes. For example, we must not imagine that the Syrians of that time were a definite nation, a people, a race: they were rather a motley agglomeration of pseudo-Hittite, pseudo-Semitic, pseudo-Hellenic, pseudo-Persian, pseudo-Scythian mongrels. What the French call un charme troublant — superficial cleverness combined with a peculiar sort of beauty — is often the characteristic of the half-caste; one can observe this daily at the present day in cities like Vienna, where people of all nations meet; but the peculiar unsteadiness, the small power of resistance, the want of character, in short, the moral degeneracy of these people is equally marked. I name the Syrian because I prefer examples to wordy enumerations; he was the very pattern of the bastard sundered from all national relationship, and for that very reason, up to the


time of the Teutonic invasion, and even later, he played a leading part. We find Syrians upon the imperial throne; Caracalla belongs to them, and Heliogabalus, that monster robed in silk and gold, tricked out like a dancing girl, was imported direct from Syria; we find them in all administrative offices and prefectures; they, like their counterpart, the African mongrels, have great influence in the codification of the Law and an absolute casting-vote in the constitution of the universal Roman Church. Let us look more closely at one of these men; we shall in that way gain a lively picture of the civilised fraction of the Empire of that day with its pushing culture-mongers, and at the same time obtain an insight into the soul of the Chaos of Peoples.


Every one, I fancy, knows the author Lucian, at least by name; his exceptional talents force him upon our notice. Born on the banks of the Euphrates, not far from the first spurs of the Tauric mountain range (in which energetic races of Indo-European descent still lived), in addition to the Syrian patois, the boy begins to learn to murder Greek. Having shown a talent for drawing and sculpture he is apprenticed to a sculptor, but only after a family council has been held to decide how the boy may as speedily as possible make a fortune. During his whole life, in spite of the amount of his subsequent wealth, this desire for money remains the guiding star — no, that is too fine an expression — the driving impulse of this gifted Syrian; in his Nigrinus he admits with enviable frankness that money and fame are the things dearest to him in the world, and even as an old man he writes expressly, that he accepts the high official position offered by the Gladiator-Emperor Commodus for the sake of the money. But in art he


makes no progress. In a famous book The Dream, * which, however, as far as I know, is not appreciated according to its true purport by any historian, Lucian tells us why he gave up art and preferred to become a jurist and belles-lettrist. In a dream two women had appeared to him: the one “looked like work,“ had hard hands, her dress covered over and over with plaster; the other was elegantly dressed and stood calmly there; the one was Art, the other — he who does not know will never guess, the other was — Culture. † Poor Art tries to inspire her new disciple with zeal by the example of Phidias and Polycletus, of Myron and Praxiteles, but in vain; for Culture proves convincingly that Art is an “ignoble occupation“; that the artist remains the whole day bent over his work in a dirty smockfrock, like a slave; even Phidias was only “a common workman,“ who “lived from the toil of his hands“; whoever, on the other hand, chooses Culture instead of Art, has the prospect of riches and high offices, and when he goes for a walk in the street, the people will nudge each other and say, “See, there goes that famous man!“ ‡ Quickly making up his mind Lucian sprang to his feet: “I left the ugly toilsome life and went over to Culture.“ To-day sculptor, to-morrow advocate; he who is born without a definite calling can choose any; § whoever seeks gold and fame does not need to look aloft and runs no risk of falling into the well, like the hero of the German fairy

* Not to be confused with the Dream of the Shoemaker Micyllus.
† Greek word παιδεία German Bildung; so the best translators. It is not a question of the education of children, and “Science“ would imply too much. The possible objection that the first woman does not introduce herself as “Art“ simply, but as the “Art of cutting Hermae“ may be met by the rejoinder that later she is described as Τέχνη and that the appeal to Phidias and other artists admits no doubt about the intention.
‡ The faint echo we have heard in the nineteenth century: “When the best names are named, mine too will be mentioned“ (Heine).
§ Cf. p. 242.


tale. Do not imagine that The Dream is a satire; Lucian gave it as a lecture in his native town, when he visited it later, honoured and wealthy; he himself tells us that he set up his life as an example to the youth of Samosata. Such men, otherwise so clever, never understand what a bitter satire their fate is on the life of the really great; how otherwise could a Heine have placed himself on the same plane as a Goethe? Lucian had chosen Culture, and to acquire it he went to Antioch. Athens was indeed still the great high school of knowledge and taste, but was considered old-fashioned; Syrian Antioch and the so-called “Hellenic“ Ephesus, which nevertheless was even in the second century thoroughly saturated with alien elements, offered much greater attractions to the cosmopolitan youth of the Roman Empire. There Lucian studied law and eloquence. But to him as an intelligent man the abuse of the Greek language by his teachers was painful; he guessed the value of a pure style and moved to Athens. It is characteristic that he ventured after a short spell of study to appear there as advocate and orator; in the meantime he had learned everything, except propriety; the Athenians taught him this, they laughed at the “barbarian“ with his pedantic tags of strange culture and thereby gave him a valuable hint; he disappeared to a place where taste was not so indispensable, to Marseilles. This seaport of the Phoenician Diaspora had just received by the arrival of thousands of Jews from Palestine such a clearly marked character that it was simply called “the city of the Jews“; but Gauls, Romans; Spaniards, Ligurians, all conceivable races met there. Here, in New Athens, as the inhabitants, with a delicate recognition of their own intellectual worth, called it, Lucian lived for many years and became a rich man; he gave up the profession of advocate, for which he would have needed to learn Latin thoroughly; besides, there was great competition, and even in Antioch he had not had great success


as a pleader; what these mushroom plutocrats chiefly wanted was Culture, modern Culture and rules of etiquette. Had not “Culture“ been Lucian‘s ideal, his dream? Had he not studied in Antioch and “spoken openly“ even in Athens? Accordingly he gave lectures; but the listeners did not laugh at him, as in Athens, but paid any entrance fee that he cared to ask. Besides, he travelled over all Gaul as professional orator, at that time a very profitable business: to-day commemorating the virtues of a dead person, whom he had never seen in life, to-morrow taking part in the celebration of a religious festival that was given in honour of some local Gallo-Roman divinity, whose name a Syrian could not even pronounce. Any one who wishes to get an idea of this oratory should look at the Florida of Apuleius, a contemporary but African mestizo; * this is a collection of shorter and longer oratorical passages written for effect, to be put into any speech whatever, in order that the audience might think it a sudden inspiration, and be startled and carried away by the great knowledge, wit and pathos of the orator; there it is all in stock: the profound, the pointed, the clever anecdote, the devoutly submissive, the proud claims of freedom, even the excuse for being unprepared and the thanks for the statues that might be offered to the orator as a surprise! Just such things are pictures of a man and not of a man only, but of a whole Culture or, to use Lucian‘s word, of a whole παιδεία. Any one who has seen Prince Bismarck in one of his great speeches struggling to express himself will understand what I mean. — When forty years of age Lucian turned his back on Gaul; to settle in a definite place, to link his life perpetually with that of any country never occurs to him; besides

* Apuleius boasts expressly of his mixed origin: He too studied in Syria and Egypt and travelled in Greece, hence had practically the same educational course as Lucian.


there were no nations; if Lucian returns for a short visit to his native place it is not from heartlonging but, as he himself honestly confesses, to show his rich garments to those who knew him when poor. * Then he settles in Athens for a considerable period, but keeps silent this time and industriously studies philosophy and science in the honest endeavour to find at last what lies concealed behind this lauded Hellenic culture. That this man, who for twenty years had taught “Hellenic culture“ and gained riches and honour from it, suddenly notices that he never understood even the elements of this culture, is an almost pathetic trait and a proof of exceptional gifts. For that reason I have chosen him in particular. In his writings one finds, alongside of puns and many good jokes and in addition to fine narrative, many a sharp and sometimes pathetic remark. But what could be the result of this study? Little or nothing. We men are not pieces in a game of draughts; there was just as little possibility of becoming a different person by learned instruction in Athens as there is to-day of becoming a “beautiful personality“ in Berlin, as Professor Virchow hopes from the influence of the University there — if one is not already such at matriculation. With nothing is a man‘s knowledge so intimately bound up as with his Being, in other words, with his definite individuality, his definite organisation. Plato expressed the opinion that knowledge was remembrance; modern biology gives the word a slightly different interpretation but agrees with the philosopher. In a perfectly significant sense we can say that each man can only know, what he is. Lucian himself

* The Fliegende Blätter of 1896 has a picture which shows a Counsellor of Commerce and his wife just entering their carriage:
“She: Where shall we drive to to-day?“
“He: Of course through the town; to make the people envy us!“
That is exactly the same stage of culture.


felt that all that he had learned and taught hitherto was mere tinsel — matters of fact, not the soul from which these facts grow: the covering but without the body, the shell but without the kernel. And when at last he understood this and broke the shell, what did he find? Nothing. Of course nothing. Nature has first to produce the kernel, the shell is a later accrescence; the body must be born before it can be clothed; the hero‘s heart must beat before heroic deeds can be achieved. The only kernel Lucian could find was himself; as soon as he tore from his body the rags of Roman Law and Hellenic poetry, he revealed a clever Syrian mestizo, a bastard born of fifty unrecorded crossings, the man who, with the unerring instinct of youth, had despised Phidias as a workman, and had chosen the career that with the least possible trouble would earn for him most money and the applause of the vulgar herd. All the philologists in the world may assure me that Lucian‘s remarks about religion and philosophy are profound, that he was a daring opponent of superstition, &c., I shall never believe it. Lucian was utterly incapable of knowing what religion and philosophy are. In many of his writings he enumerates all possible “systems“ one after another; for example, in Icaromenippus, in the Selling of Philosophical Characters, &c.; it is always only the most superficial element that he comprehends, the formal motive power, without which the utterance of a thought is not possible, but which in truth must not be confused with the thought itself. So, too, in regard to religion. Aristophanes had scoffed as Voltaire did in later days; but the satire of both these men had its origin in a positive, constructive thought, and everywhere one sees the flash of fanatical love for the people of the homeland, for the firm, definite, related community, which embraced and supported each one of them with its traditions, its faith and its great men; Lucian, on the


other hand, scoffs like Heine, * he has no noble aim, no profound conviction, no thorough understanding; he drifts about aimlessly like a wreck on the ocean, nowhere at home, not without noble impulses, but without any definite object to which he might devote himself, learned, but yet one of those monsters of learning who, Calderon says,

know everything and understand nothing.

But one thing he understood and therein lies for us his whole importance as a writer; he understood the spirit that he resembled, namely, the totally bastardised, depraved and degenerate world around him; he pictures it and scourges it, as only one who himself belonged to it could, one who knew its motives and methods from his own experience. Here the kernel was not lacking. Hence his delightful satires on the Homeric critics, on the learned professions which were rotten to the core, on religious swindlers, on puffed-up, rude and ignorant millionaires, on medical quacks, &c. Here his talent and his knowledge of the world together contributed to the accomplishment of great things. — And in order that my description may not be incomplete, I may add that the second stay in Athens, if it did not teach Lucian the meaning of mythology, or of metaphysics, or of the heroic character, yet became for him a new source of money-making. Here he turned his attention industriously to authorship, wrote his Conversations of the Gods, his Conversations of the Dead, in all probability most of his best things. He invented a light form of dialogue (for which he gave himself the title of “Prometheus the author“!); at bottom they are good feuilletons, of the kind which the philistine to this day likes to read in

* The one fault in this second comparison is that Heine did belong to a definite people and in consequence possessed a more definite physiognomy.


the morning with his coffee. They brought him in considerable sums of money, when he began to travel again and delivered them in public as lectures. But this fashion also passed, or perhaps with age he had tired of a vagabond life. He discarded the one legacy, Hellenic art and philosophy, and turned to the other — Roman Law; he became State Advocate (as some say) or President of the Court (as others say) in Egypt and died in this office.
I think that a single career such as this shows us, more clearly than many a learned exposition, what the mental chaos was, which at that time lay sheltered beneath the uniform mantle of the tyrannical Roman Empire. We cannot say of a man like Lucian that he was immoral; no, what we learn from such an example is that morality and arbitrariness are two contradictory ideas. Men who do not inherit definite ideals with their blood are neither moral nor immoral, they are simply “without morals.“ If I may be allowed to use a current phrase to explain my meaning, I should say they are neither good nor bad, equally they are neither beautiful nor ugly, deep nor shallow. The individual in fact cannot make for himself an ideal of life and a moral law; these very things can only exist as a gradual growth. For this reason it was very wise of Lucian, in spite of his talent, to give up in time his idea of emulating Phidias. He could become an orator for the Massillians, and a President of Court for the Egyptians, even, if you will, a feuilletonist for all time, but an artist or a thinker never.


We may be met by the objection that out of the old Chaos of Peoples there arose men of great importance, whose influence has made itself felt upon succeeding generations, until this day, in a far more penetrating


sense. This presents no difficulty for the irrefutable acceptance of the importance of race to humanity. In the midst of a chaos single individuals may still be of perfectly pure race, or they may at least belong principally to one definite race. Such a man, for example, as Ambrosius must surely be of genuine, noble descent, of that strong race which had made Rome great; I cannot indeed prove it, for in the confusion of those times history is unable to furnish exact information as to the pedigree of any man of importance. At the same time no one can prove the contrary, so the personality of the individual must decide the question. Moreover, it must not be overlooked that, unless crossing without plan or method goes on with wild recklessness, the qualities of a dominant race will remain conspicuous for generations, though maybe in a much weakened condition, and that they are capable of flashing up again as atavism in single individuals. The breeding of animals furnishes numerous examples of this. Take a piece of paper and sketch a genealogical tree; we shall see that, as soon as we go back only four generations, an individual has already thirty ancestors, whose blood flows in his veins. If we now suppose two races A and B, such a table will clearly show how very different the hybridisation in the case of a crossing of peoples must be, from the full hybrid directly composed of A and B to the individual of whose sixteen ancestors only one was a hybrid. Besides, experience daily teaches us that exceptionally gifted and beautiful human beings are frequently produced by crossing; it is, however, as I have said, not a question of the individual only, but of his relation to other individuals, to a uniform complex; if this single mongrel enters into a definite race-centre, he may have a very quickening effect upon it; if he falls among a mere heap of beings, he is, like Lucian, only a stick among sticks, not a branch on a living tree. The immeasurable


power of ideas must also be reckoned with. They are indeed misconstrued, mishandled and abused by illegitimate successors — as we saw in the case of pseudo-Roman law and Platonic philosophy — but they continue to have a formative influence. What was it if not the death-agony of the old genuine imperial idea that held together this agglomeration of peoples till the strong Dietrich of Berne came to set them free? Whence did those men of the chaos derive their thoughts and their religion? Not from themselves, but only from Jews and Hellenes. And so all that held them together, all upon which their very existence depended, was drawn from the inheritance of noble races. Take any of the greatest men of the chaotic period, for example the venerable Augustine, distinguished alike by temperament and ability. To be unbiased, let us leave our own purely religious standpoint and ask ourselves whether there was not a hopeless chaos in the brain of this eminent man? In the world of his imagination we find the Jewish belief in Jehovah, the mythology of Greece, Alexandrine Neoplatonism, Romish priestcraft, the Pauline conception of God, and the contemplation of the Crucified Lord, all jumbled together in heterogeneous confusion. Augustine has to reject, in deference to Hebraic materialism, many incomparably loftier religious thoughts — loftier because pure and genuinely racial thoughts — which Origenes held, but at the same time he introduces into theology as predestination the ancient Aryan conception of necessity, whereby the old dogma of all Judaism, the unconditional arbitrariness of will, goes to the wall. *

* Augustine is indeed extremely cautious; he says, for example, of the prescience of God and the contradictory view, the free will of man: “We embrace both convictions, we confess to both, truly and honestly; to the one that we may believe rightly, to the other that we may live rightly“ (illud, ut bene credamus; hoc, ut bene vivamus); cf. De Civ. Dei, v. 10. With this is closely connected that further question, whether God himself is free or stands under the law; the intellect inclines clearly in the case of Augustine to


He spends twelve years writing a book against the heathen gods, but himself believes in their existence in so tangible and fetichist a sense as no cultured Greek for a thousand years before him; he looks upon them in fact as daemons and therefore creations of God; but one must not, he thinks, regard them as creators (“immundos spiritus esse et perniciosa daemonia, vel certe creaturas non Creatorem, veritas Christiana convincit“). In his chief work, De Civitate Dei, Augustine disputes in chapter after chapter with his countryman Apuleius regarding the nature of the daemons and other good and bad spirits, endeavouring, if not to deny their existence, at least to reduce them to an unimportant and uninfluential element and thus to replace crass superstition by genuine religion; nevertheless, he inclines in all earnest to the belief that Apuleius himself was changed by the unguent of the Thessalian witch into an ass, and this is all the more comical to us, because Apuleius, although he wrote a great deal about daemons, never thought of representing this transformation as an actual occurrence when he wrote his novel, The Metamorphoses or the Golden Ass. * I cannot of course enter more fully into this matter here, that would take me too far; it would deserve a whole book to itself; and yet the detailed characterisation of the intellectual condition of the noble among these sons of the chaos would be the right complement to the sketch of the frivolous Lucian. † We should see

the latter view, his dogmatic creed to the former. Is an action bad because God has forbidden it, or had he to forbid it because it is bad? In his Contra Mendacium, chap. xv., Augustine takes the second alternative; in other writings the former.
* This story seems to have been in vogue at the time; for Lucian too has a Lucius or the Enchanted Ass, which looks indeed as if it were translated from fragments of the Apuleian one. Augustine says of the transformation “aut finxit, aut indicavit,“ but he clearly inclines to the latter view.
† The irreconcilable contradictions in the religious thought and feeling of Augustine are fully discussed in the seventh chapter (vol. ii.) and the gap here left is thus to some extent filled.


that everywhere the equilibrium is disturbed. In Lucian the unfettered intellect is uppermost and lack of moral strength ruins the finest qualities; in Augustine, character wrestles with intellect in a tussle of doubtful issue, and does not rest until intellect is thrown and put in fetters.
Such were the men who handed down to us the legacy of antiquity. “We are like shipwrecked sailors thrown on the shore by the wild breakers,“ Ambrosius exclaims in pain. Philosophy and law, ideas of State, freedom, human dignity passed through their hands; it was they who raised to the dignity of acknowledged dogmas the superstition (belief in daemons, witchcraft, &c.) which formerly was found only among the most ignorant scum of the population; it was they who forged a new religion out of the most incompatible elements, who gave to the world the gift of the Roman Church, a kind of changeling born of the Roman imperial idea; at the same time it was they who with the fanaticism of the weak destroyed everything beautiful belonging to the past on which they could lay their hands, every memory of great generations. Hatred and disdain of every great achievement of the pure races were taught; a Lucian scoffs at the great thinkers, an Augustine reviles the heroes of Rome‘s heroic age, a Tertullian calls Homer “a liar.“ As soon as the orthodox emperors — Constantius, Theodosius, and others — ascend the throne (without exceptions mongrels in race, the great Diocletian being the last Emperor of pure blood *) the systematic destruction of all the monuments of antiquity begins. At the same time is introduced the deliberate lie that is supposed to further truth: such eminent Church fathers as Hieronymus and Chrysostomus encourage the pia fraus, the pious deception; immediately upon this follows the foundation of the might and right of the Roman see, not by courage and conquest, but by the colossal forgery of documents.

* Cf. also what is said on p. 129 f.


Even so respectable an historian as Eusebius has the simplicity worthy of a better cause to confess that he remodels history wherever he sees the opportunity of furthering “the good cause.“ In very truth this chaos which arose out of race fusion and the universal craze for anti-nationalism is an appalling spectacle!


Perhaps the fact has never yet been pointed out — I at least know of no book where it is — that the epidemic of asceticism which broke out at that time was directly connected with the feeling of disgust for that frightful condition of the world; some would fain see in it an unexampled religious awakening, others a religious disease; but that is interpreting the facts allegorically, for religion and asceticism are not necessarily connected. Nothing in the example of Christ could encourage asceticism; the early Christians knew it not; two hundred years after Christ Tertullian still wrote: “We Christians are not like the Brahmans and Gymnosophists of India, we do not live in forests or in banishment from the society of men: we feel that we owe God the Lord and Creator thanks for everything and we forbid the enjoyment of none of his works; we only practise moderation in order that we may not enjoy these things more than is good for us or make a bad use of them“ (Apologeticus, chap. xlii.). Why now did un-Christian asceticism all at once enter into Christianity? I for my part believe that we have here to deal with physical reasons. Even before the birth of Christ asceticism had taken its rise in the altogether bastardised Syria and Egypt; wherever blood was most mixed, it had taken a firm hold. Pachomius, the founder of the first Christian cloister, the author of the first monkish rule, is a servant of Serapis from Upper Egypt, who transferred to Christianity


what he had learned in the societies of the fasting and self-chastising ascetics of Serapis. * Any one who still possessed a spark of noble impulse in that world of the unnational chaos was bound in fact to be disgusted with himself. Nowhere, where sound conditions prevailed, has unconditional asceticism been preached; on the contrary, the ancient peoples — Aryans, Semites, Mongolians — led by a marvellous instinct, are at one in regarding the begetting of children as one of the most sacred duties; whoever died without a son was laden with a curse. In Ancient India, of course, there were ascetics; but they might not disappear into the solitude of the forest till the son of their son was born; here the intention and fundamental idea are almost diametrically opposed to the asceticism of the Syrian Christians. To-day we understand this; for we see that only one thing contributes to the ennobling of man: the begetting of pure races, the founding of definite nations. To beget sons, sons of the right kind, is without question the most sacred duty of the individual towards society; whatever else he may achieve, nothing will have such a lasting and indelible influence as the contribution to the increasing ennoblement of the race. From the limited, false standpoint of Gobineau it certainly does not much matter, for we can only decline and fall sooner or later; still less correct are they who appear to contradict him, but adopt the same hypothetical acceptation of aboriginal pure nations; but any one who understands how noble races are in reality produced, knows that they can arise again at any moment; that depends on us; here nature has clearly pointed out to us a great duty. Those men of the chaos therefore, who considered begetting a sin, and complete abstinence therefrom the highest of all virtues, committed a crime against the most sacred law of nature; they tried to prevent all good, noble men

* Cf. Otto Zöckler Askese und Mönchtum, 1897, i. 193 ff.


and women from leaving descendants, thus promoting the increase of the evil only, which meant of course that they did their best to bring about the deterioration of the human race. A Schopenhauer may joyfully collect from the Church fathers their pronouncements against marriage and see therein a confirmation of his pessimism; for me the connection is quite different: this sudden horror of the most natural impulses of man, their transformation from the most sacred duty to the most disgraceful sin, has a deeper foundation in those incomprehensible sources of our existence, where the physical and the metaphysical are not yet separated. After wars and pestilences, statistics tell us, births increase to an abnormal degree — nature helps herself; in that chaos which threatened all culture with eternal destruction, the births had to be retarded as much as possible; with horror the noble turned away from that world of sin, buried themselves in the deserts or in the caves of the hills, perched themselves on high pillars, chastised themselves and did penance. Childless they passed away. * Even where human society is in a state of disintegration, we see in fact a great connection; what each man by himself thinks and does always admits of a double interpretation — the subjective or individual, and the objective interpretation in relation to the world at large.

* In the fourth century the Roman Empire numbered hundreds of thousands of monks and nuns. It was not unusual for an abbot to have 10,000 monks in one cloister and in the year 373 the one single Egyptian town Oxyrynchus had 20,000 nuns and 10,000 monks! Now consider the total numbers of the population of that time, and it will be clear what a great influence this ascetic epidemic must have had upon the non-multiplication of the bastard races. (See further details in Lecky‘s History of European Morals, 11th ed. ii. 105 ff.)



Here we touch upon a deep scientific fact; we are touching upon the revelation of the most important secret of all human history. Every one comprehends that man can in the true sense of the word only become “man“ in connection with others. Many, too, have grasped the meaning of Jean Paul‘s profound remark, which I prefixed as motto to a former chapter, that “only through man does man enter into the light of day“; few, however, have realised the fact that this attainment of manhood — this entry into the light of life — depends in degree upon definite organic conditions, conditions which in old days were observed instinctively and unconsciously, but which, now that owing to the increase of knowledge and the development of thought the impulses of instinct have lost their power, it becomes our duty consciously to recognise and respect. This study of the Roman Chaos of Peoples teaches us that race, and nationality which renders possible the formation of race, possess a significance which is not only physical and intellectual but also moral. Here there is before us something which we can characterise as a sacred law, the sacred law in accordance with which we enter upon the rights and duties of manhood: a “law,“ since it is found everywhere in nature, “sacred,“ in so far as it is left to our free will to ennoble ourselves or to degenerate as we please. This law teaches us to look upon the physical constitution as the basis of all that ennobles. For what is the moral apart from the physical? What would a soul be without body? I do not know. If our breast conceals something that is immortal, if we men reach with our thoughts to something transcendent, which we, like the blind, touch with longing hands without ever being able to see it,


if our heart is the battlefield between the finite and the infinite, then the constitution of this body — breast, brain, heart — must be of immeasurable consequence. “However the great dark background of things may in truth be constituted, the entrance to it is open to us only in this poor life of ours, and so even our ephemeral actions contain this earnest, deep, and inevitable significance,“ says Solon in the beautiful dialogue of Heinrich von Stein. * “Only in this life!“ But wherewith do we live if not with our body? Indeed, we do not need to look forth into any world beyond (which will appear problematic to many people), as Solon does in the passage quoted; the entrance even to this earthly life is solely and only open to us through our body and this life will be for us poor or rich, ugly or beautiful, insipid or precious, according to the constitution of this our one, all-embracing organ of life. I have already shown from examples taken from methodical animal breeding and from human history how race arises and is gradually ennobled, also how it degenerates; what then is this race if not a collective term for a number of individual bodies? It is no arbitrary idea, no abstraction; these individualities are linked with one another by an invisible but absolutely real power resting upon material facts. Of course the race consists of individuals; but the individual himself can only attain to the full and noblest development of his qualities within definite conditions which are embraced in the word “race.“ This is based upon a simple law, but it points simultaneously in two directions. All organic nature, vegetable as well as animal, proves that the choice of the two parents is of decisive influence upon the individual that is born; but besides this it proves that the principle prevailing here is a collective and progressive one, because in the first place a common parent-stock must gradually be formed, from

* Helden und Welt: dramatische Bilder (Chemnitz, 1883).


which then, similarly step by step, are produced individuals who are on an average superior to those outside such a union, and among these again numerous individuals with really transcendent qualities. That is a fact of nature, just in the same sense as any other, but here, as in all phenomena of life, we are far from being able to analyse and explain it. Now what must not be lost sight of in the case of the human race is the circumstance that the moral and intellectual qualities are of preponderating importance. That is why in men any want of organic racial consistency, or fitness in the parent stock, means above all things a lack of all moral and intellectual coherence. The man who starts from nowhence reaches nowhither. The individual life is too short to be able to fix the eye on a goal and to reach it. The life of a whole people, too, would be too short if unity of race did not stamp it with a definite, limited character, if the transcendent splendour of many-sided and varying gifts were not concentrated by unity of stem, which permits a gradual ripening, a gradual development in definite directions, and finally enables the most gifted individual to live for a super-individual purpose.
Race, as it arises and maintains itself in space and time, might be compared to the so-called range of power of a magnet. If a magnet be brought near to a heap of iron filings, they assume definite directions, so that a figure is formed with a clearly marked centre, from which lines radiate in all directions; the nearer we bring the magnet the more distinct and more mathematical does the figure become; very few pieces have placed themselves in exactly the same direction, but all have united into a practical and at the same time ideal unity by the possession of a common centre, and by the fact that the relative position of each individual to all the others is not arbitrary but obedient to a fixed law. It has ceased to be a heap, it has become a form. In the same way a human


race, a genuine nation, is distinguished from a mere congeries of men. The character of the race becoming more and more pronounced by pure breeding is like the approach of the magnet. The individual members of the nation may have ever so different qualities, the direction of their activities may be utterly divergent, yet together they form a moulded unity, and the power — or let us say rather the importance — of every individual is multiplied a thousandfold by his organic connection with countless others.
I have shown above how Lucian with all his gifts absolutely squandered his life; I have shown Augustine helplessly swaying to and fro like a pendulum between the loftiest thoughts and the crassest and silliest superstition: such men as these, cut off from all racial belongings, mongrels among mongrels, are in a position almost as unnatural as a hapless ant, carried and set down ten miles from its own nest. The ant, however, would suffer at least only through outward circumstances, but these men are by their own inner constitution barred from all genuine community of life.
The consideration of these facts teaches us that whatever may be our opinion as to the causa finalis of existence, man cannot fulfill his highest destiny as an isolated individual, as a mere exchangeable pawn, but only as a portion of an organic whole, as a member of a specific race. *


There is no doubt about it! The raceless and nationless chaos of the late Roman Empire was a pernicious and fatal condition, a sin against nature. Only one ray of light shone over that degenerate world. It came from the north. Ex septentrione Lux! If we take up a map, the Europe of the fourth century certainly seems at the

* “The individuals and the whole are identical,“ the Indian thinkers had taught (see Garbe‘s Sâmkhya-Philosophie, p. 158).


first glance to be more or less in a state of chaos even north of the Imperial boundary; we see quite a number of races established side by side, incessantly forcing their way in different directions: the Alemanni, the Marcomanni, the Saxons, the Franks, the Burgundians, the Goths, the Vandals, the Slavs, the Huns and many others. But it is only the political relations that are chaotic there; the nations are genuine, pure-bred races, men who carry with them their nobility as their only possession wherever destiny drives them. In one of the next chapters I shall have to speak of them. In the meantime I should like merely to warn those whose reading is less wide, against the idea that the “barbarians“ suddenly “broke into“ the highly civilised Roman Empire. This view, which is widespread among the superficially educated, is just as little in accordance with the facts as the further view that the “night of the Middle Ages“ came down upon men because of this inroad of the barbarians.
It is this historical lie which veils the annihilating influence of that nationless time, and which turns into a destroyer the deliverer, the slayer of the laidly worm. For centuries the Teutons had been forcing their way into the Roman Empire, and though they often came as foes, they ended by becoming the sole principle of life and of might. Their gradual penetration into the Imperium, their gradual rise to a decisive power had taken place little by little just as their gradual civilisation had done; * already in the fourth century one could count numerous colonies of soldiers from entirely different Teutonic tribes (Batavians, Franks, Suevians, &c.) in the whole European extent of the

* Hermann is a Roman cavalier, speaks Latin fluently and has thoroughly studied the Roman art of administration. So, too, most of the Teutonic princes. Their troops, too, were at home in the whole Roman empire and so acquainted with the customs of so-called civilised men, long before they immigrated with all their goods and chattels into these lands.


Roman Empire; * in Spain, in Gaul, in Italy, in Thrace, indeed often even in Asia Minor, it is Teutons in the main that finally fight against Teutons. It was Teutonic peoples that so often heroically warded off the Asiatic peril from the Eastern Empire; it was Teutonic people that on the Catalaunian fields saved the Western Empire from being laid waste by the Huns. Early in the third century a bold Gothic shepherd had been already proclaimed Emperor. One need only look at the map of the end of the fifth century to see at once what a uniquely beneficent moulding power had here begun to assert itself. Very noteworthy too is the difference which reveals itself here in a hundred ways, between the innate decency, taste and intuition of rough but pure, noble races and the mental barbarism of civilised mestizos. Theodosius, his tools (the Christian fanatics) and his successors had done their best to destroy the monuments of art; on the other hand, the first care of Theodoric, the Eastern Goth, was to take strong measures for the protection and restoration of the Roman monuments. This man could not write, to sign his name he had to use a metal stencil, but the Beautiful, which the bastard souls in their “Culture,“ in their hunting after offices and distinctions, in their greed of gold had passed by unheeded, the Beautiful, which to the nobler souls among the Chaos of Peoples was a hateful work of the devil, the Goth at once knew how to appreciate; the sculptures of Rome excited his admiration to such a degree that he appointed a special official to protect them. Religious toleration, too, appeared for a time wherever the still unspoiled Teuton became master. Soon also there came upon the scene the great Christian missionaries from the highlands of the north, men who convinced not by means of “pious lies“ but by the purity of their hearts.
It is nothing but a false conception of the Middle Ages,

* See Gobineau: Inequality of the Human races, Bk. VI. chap. iv.


in conjunction with ignorance as to the significance of race, which is responsible for the regrettable delusion that the entry upon the scene of the rough Teutons meant the falling of a pall of night over Europe. It is inconceivable that such hallucinations should be so long-lived. If we wish to know to what lengths the bastard culture of the Empire might have led, wo must study the history, the science and the literature of the later Byzantium, a study to which our historians are devoting themselves to-day with a patience worthy of a better subject. It is a sorry spectacle. The capture of the Western Roman Empire by the Barbarians, on the contrary, works like the command of the Bible, “Let there be Light.“ It is admitted that its influence was mainly in the direction of politics rather than of civilisation; and a difficult task it was — one that is even now not wholly accomplished. But was it a small matter? Whence does Europe draw its physiognomy and its significance — whence its intellectual and moral preponderance, if not from the foundation and development of Nations? This work was in very truth the redemption from chaos. If we are something to-day — if we may hope perhaps some day to become something more — we owe it in the first instance to that political upheaval which, after long preparation, began in the fifth century, and from which were born in the fulness of time new noble races, new beautiful languages, and a new culture entitling us to nourish the keenest hopes for the future. Dietrich of Berne, the strong wise man, the unlearned friend of art and science, the tolerant representative of Freedom of Conscience in the midst of a world in which Christians were tearing one another to pieces like hyenas, was as it were a pledge that Day might once more break upon this poor earth. In the time of wild struggle that followed, during that fever by means of which alone European humanity could recover and awaken from the hideous


dream of the degenerate curse-laden centuries of a chaos with a veneer of order to a fresh, healthy, stormily pulsing national life — in such a time learning and art and the tinsel of a so-called civilisation might well be almost forgotten, but this, we may swear, did not mean Night, but the breaking of a new Day. It is hard to say what authority the scribblers have for honouring only their own weapons. Our European world is first and foremost the work not of philosophers and book-writers and painters, but of the great Teuton Princes, the work of warriors and statesmen. The progress of development — obviously the political development out of which our modern nations have sprung — is the one fundamental and decisive matter. We must not, however, overlook the fact that to these true and noble men we equally owe everything else that is worth possessing. Every one of those centuries, the seventh, the eighth, the ninth, produced great scholars; but the men who protected and encouraged them were the Princes. It is the fashion to say that it was the Church that was the saviour of science and of culture; that is only true in a restricted sense. As I shall show in the next division of the first part of this book, we must not look upon the Early Christian Church as a simple, uniform organism, not even within the limits of the Roman union in Western Europe; the centralisation and obedience to Rome which we have lived to see to-day, were in earlier centuries absolutely unknown. We must admit that almost all learning and art were the property of the Church; her cloisters and schools were the retreats and nurseries in which in those rough times peaceful intellectual work sought refuge; but the entry into the Church as monk or secular priest meant little more than being accepted into a privileged and specially protected class, which imposed upon the favoured individual hardly any return in the way of special duties. Until the thirteenth century every educated


man, every teacher and student, every physician and professor of jurisprudence belonged to the clergy: but this was a matter of pure formality, founded exclusively upon certain legal conditions; and it was out of this very class, that is, out of the men who best knew the Church, that every revolution against her arose — it was the Universities that became the high-schools of national emancipation. The Princes protected the Church, the learned clerics on the contrary attacked her. That is the reason why the Church waged unceasing war against the great intellects which, that they might work in peace, had sought refuge with her; had she had her way, science and culture would never again have been fledged. But the same Princes who protected the Church also protected the scholars whom she persecuted. No later than the ninth century there arose in the far north (out of the schools of England, which even in those early days were rich in important men) the great Scotus Erigena: the Church did all that she could to extinguish this brilliant light, but Charles the Bald, the same man who was supposed to have sent great tribute to the Pope of Rome, stretched his princely hand over Scotus; when this became insufficient, Alfred bade him to England where he raised the school of Oxford to a pinnacle of success, till he was stabbed to death by monks at the bidding of the central government of the Church. From the ninth century to the nineteenth, from the murder of Scotus to the issue of the Syllabus, it has been the same story. A final judgment shows the intellectual renaissance to be the work of Race in opposition to the universal Church which knows no Race, the work of the Teuton‘s thirst for knowledge, of the Teuton‘s national struggle for freedom. Great men in uninterrupted succession have arisen from the bosom of the Catholic Church; men to whom, as we must acknowledge, the peculiar catholic order of thought with its all-embracing


greatness, its harmonious structure, its symbolical wealth and beauty has given birth, making them greater than they could have become without it; but the Church of Rome, purely as such, that is to say, as an organised secular theocracy, has always behaved as the daughter of the fallen Empire, as the last representative of the universal, anti-national Principle. Charlemagne by himself did more for the diffusion of education and knowledge than all the monks in the world. He caused a complete collection to be made of the national poetry of the Teutons. The Church destroyed it. I spoke a little while ago of Alfred. What Prince of the Church, what schoolman, ever did so much for the awakening of new intellectual powers, for the clearing up of living idioms, for the encouragement of national consciousness (so necessary at that time), as this one Prince? The most important recent historian of England has summed up the personality of this great Teuton in the one sentence: “Alfred was in truth an artist.“ * ‘Where, in the Chaos of Peoples, was the man of whom the same could be said? In those so-called dark centuries the farther we travel northward, that is to say, the farther from the focus of a baleful “culture,“ and the purer the races with which we meet, the more activity do we find in the intellectual life. A literature of the noblest character, side by side with a freedom and order worthy of the dignity of man, develops itself from the ninth to the thirteenth century in the far-away republic of Iceland; in the same way, in remote England, during the seventh, eighth and ninth centuries we find a true popular poetry flourishing as it seldom has done since. † The passionate love of music which then came to light touches us as though we heard the beating of the wings of a guardian angel sent down from heaven, an angel heralding the

* Green: History of the English People, Bk. I. c. iii.
† Olive F. Emerson: History of the English Language, p. 54.


future. When we hear King Alfred taking part in the songs of his chosen choir — when a century later we see the passionate scholar and statesman Dunstan never, whether on horseback or in the Council Chamber, parted from his harp: then we call to mind the old Grecian legend that Harmonia was the daughter of Ares the God of War. Fighting, in lieu of a sham order, was what our wild ancestors brought with them, but at the same time they brought creative power instead of dreary barrenness. And as a matter of fact in all the more important Princes of that time we find a specially developed power of imagination: they were essentially fashioners. We should be perfectly justified were we to compare what Charlemagne was and did at the end of the eighth and beginning of the ninth centuries, with what Goethe did at the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth centuries. Both rode a tilt against the Powers of Chaos, both were artists; both “avowed themselves as belonging to the race which out of darkness is striving to reach the light.“
No! and a thousand times no! The annihilation of that monstrosity, a State without a nation, of that empty form, of that soulless congeries of humanity, that union of mongrels bound together only by a community of taxes and superstitions, not by a common origin and a common heart-beat, of that crime against the race of mankind which we have summed up in the definition “Chaos of Peoples“ — that does not mean the falling darkness of night, but the salvation of a great inheritance from unworthy hands, the dawn of a new day.
Yet even to this hour we have not succeeded in purging our blood of all the poisons of that Chaos. In wide domains the Chaos ended by retaining the upper hand. Wherever the Teuton had not a sufficient majority physically to dominate the rest of the inhabitants by assimilation, as, for instance, in the south, there the


chaotic element asserted itself more and more. We have but to look at our present position to see where power exists and where it is wanting, and how this depends upon the composition of races. I am not aware whether any one has already observed with what peculiar exactitude the modern boundary of the universal Church of Rome corresponds with what I have pointed out as the general boundary of the Roman Imperium, and consequently of the chaotic mongreldom. To the east I admit that the line does not hold good, because here in Servia, Bosnia, &c., the Slavonic invaders of the eighth century and the Bulgarians annihilated everything foreign; in few districts of modern Europe is Race so uncontaminated, and the pure Slavs have never accepted the Church of Rome. In other places too there have been encroachments on both sides of the old boundary-line, but these have been unimportant, and moreover easily explained by political relations. On the whole the agreement is sufficiently striking to give rise to serious thought: Spain, Italy, Gaul, the Rhenish provinces, and the countries south of the Danube! It is still morning, and the powers of darkness are ever stretching out their polypus arms, clinging to us with their powers of suction in a hundred places, and trying to drag us back into the Night out of which we were striving to escape. We can arrive at a judgment upon these apparently confused, but really transparent, conditions, not so much by poring over the details of chronicles, as by obtaining a clear insight into the fundamental historical facts which I have set out in this chapter.



“Let us forget whence we spring. No more talk of ‘German,‘ or of ‘Portuguese‘ Jews. Though scattered over the earth we are nevertheless a single people — RABBI SALOMON LIPMANN-CERFBERR in the opening speech delivered on July 26, 1806, at the meeting preparatory to the Synedrium of 1807 which Napoleon called together.


HAD I been writing a hundred years ago, I should hardly have felt compelled at this point to devote a special chapter to the entrance of the Jews into Western history. Of course the share they had in the rise of Christianity, on account of the peculiar and absolutely un-Aryan spirit which they instilled into it, would have deserved our full attention, as well as also the economic part which they played in all Christian countries; but an occasional mention of these things would have sufficed; anything more would have been superfluous. Herder wrote at that time: “Jewish history takes up more room in our history and more attention than it probably deserves in itself.“ * In the meantime, however, a great change has taken place: the Jews play in Europe, and wherever European influence extends, a different part to-day from that which they played a hundred years ago; as Viktor Hehn expresses it, we live

* Von den deutsch-orientalischen Dichtern, Div. 2.


to-day in a “Jewish age“; * we may think what we like about the past history of the Jews, their present history actually takes up so much room in our own history that we cannot possibly refuse to notice them. Herder in spite of his outspoken humanism had expressed the opinion that “the Jewish people is and remains in Europe an Asiatic people alien to our part of the world, bound to that old law which it received in a distant climate, and which according to its own confession it cannot do away with.“ † Quite correct. But this alien people, everlastingly alien, because — as Herder well remarks — it is indissolubly bound to an alien law that is hostile to all other peoples — this alien people has become precisely in the course of the nineteenth century a disproportionately important and in many spheres actually dominant constituent of our life. Even a hundred years ago that same witness had sadly to confess that the “ruder nations of Europe“ were “willing slaves of Jewish usury“; to-day he could say the same of by far the greatest part of the civilised world. The possession of money in itself is, however, of least account; our governments, our law, our science, our commerce, our literature, our art… practically all branches of our life have become more or less willing slaves of the Jews, and drag the feudal fetter il not yet on two, at least on one leg. In the meantime the “alien“ element emphasised by Herder has become more and more prominent; a hundred years ago it was rather indistinctly and vaguely felt; now it has asserted and proved itself, and so forced itself on the attention of even the most inattentive. The Indo-European, moved by ideal motives, opened the gates in

* Gedanken über Goethe, 3rd ed. p. 40. The passage as it stands reads, “From the day of Goethe‘s death, the 22nd March, 1832, Börne dated the freedom of Germany. In reality, however, one epoch was with that day closed and the Jewish age in which we live began.“
† Bekehrung der Juden. Abschnitt 7 of the Untersuchungen des vergangenen Jahrhunderts zur Beförderung eines geistigen Reiches.


friendship: the Jew rushed in like an enemy, stormed all positions and planted the flag of his, to us, alien nature — I will not say on the ruins, but on the breaches of our genuine individuality.
Are we for that reason to revile the Jews? That would be as ignoble as it is unworthy and senseless. The Jews deserve admiration, for they have acted with absolute consistency according to the logic and truth of their own individuality, and never for a moment have they allowed themselves to forget the sacredness of physical laws because of foolish humanitarian day-dreams which they shared only when such a policy was to their advantage. Consider with what mastery they use the law of blood to extend their power: the principal stem remains spotless, not a drop of strange blood comes in; as it stands in the Thora, “A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the Lord“ (Deuteronomy xxiii. 2); in the meantime, however, thousands of side branches are cut off and employed to infect the Indo-Europeans with Jewish blood. If that were to go on for a few centuries, there would be in Europe only one single people of pure race, that of the Jews, all the rest would be a herd of pseudo-Hebraic mestizos, a people beyond all doubt degenerate physically, mentally and morally. For even the great friend of the Jews, Ernest Renan, admits, “Je suis le premier à reconnaître que la race sémitique, comparée à la race indo-européenne, représente réellement une combinaison inférieure de la nature humaine.“ * And in one of his best but unfortunately little-known writings he says again, “L‘épouvantable simplicité de l‘esprit sémitique rétrécit le cerveau humain, le ferme à toute idée délicate, à tout sentiment fin, à toute

* Histoire générale et système comparé des langues sémitiques, 5e éd. p. 4. It will make little difference to this view when I show, as I shall do immediately, that the Jews are not pure Semites but half Syrians.


recherche rationelle, pour le mettre en face d‘une éternelle tautologie: Dieu est Dieu“; * and he demonstrates that culture could have no future unless Christian religion should move farther away from the spirit of Judaism and the “Indo-European genius“ assert itself more and more in every domain. That mixture then undoubtedly signifies a degeneration: degeneration of the Jew, whose character is much too alien, firm and strong to be quickened and ennobled by Teutonic blood, degeneration of the European who can naturally only lose by crossing with an “inferior type“ — or, as I should prefer to say, with so different a type. While the mixture is taking place, the great chief stem of the pure unmixed Jews remains unimpaired. When Napoleon, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, dissatisfied that the Jews, in spite of their emancipation, should remain in proud isolation, angry with them for continuing to devour with their shameful usury the whole of his Alsace, although every career was now open to them, sent an ultimatum to the council of their elders demanding the unreserved fusion of the Jews with the rest of the nation — the delegates of the French Jews adopted all the articles prescribed but one, namely, that which aimed at absolute freedom of marriage with Christians. Their daughters might marry outside the Israelite people, but not their sons; the dictator of Europe had to yield. † This is the admirable law by which real Judaism was founded. Indeed, the law in its strictest form forbids marriage altogether between Jews and non-Jews; in Deuteronomy vii. 3, we read, “Thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son“; but, as a rule, emphasis is laid only on the last clause; for example, in Exodus

* De la Part des peuples sémitiques dans l‘histoire de la civilisation, p. 39.
† In the second book I shall find it necessary to give more details concerning this famous synedrium and its casuistic distinction between religious and civil law — a distinction which neither Talmud nor Thora recognises.


xxxiv. 16, the sons alone are forbidden to take strange daughters, not the daughters to take strange sons, and in Nehemiah xiii., after both sides have been forbidden to marry outside the race, only the marriage of a son with a foreign wife is described as a “sin against God.“ That is also a perfectly correct view. By the marriage of a daughter with a Goy, the purity of the Jewish stem is in no way altered, while this stem thereby gets a footing in the strange camp; on the other hand, the marriage of a son with a Goya “makes the holy seed common“ as the book of Ezra ix. 2, drastically expresses it. * The possible conversion of the Goya to Judaism would not help matters: the idea of such a conversion was rightly quite strange to the older law — for the question is one of physical conditions of descent — but the newer law says, with enviable discernment: “Proselytes are as injurious to Judaism as ulcers to a sound body.“ † Thus was the Jewish race kept pure in the past and it is still kept so: daughters of the house of Rothschild have married barons, counts, dukes, princes, they submit to baptism without demur; no son has ever married a European; if he did so he would have to leave the house of his fathers and the community of his people. ‡

* In the new literal translation of Professor Louis Segond the passage reads, “the sacred race defiled by mixture with strange peoples“; in the translation of De Wette it is, “they have mingled the holy seed with the peoples of the earth.“
† From the Talmud, according to Döllinger, Vorträge i. 237. In another place the Talmud calls the proselytes a “burden.“ (See the Jew Philippson: Israelitische Religionslehre, 1861, ii. 189.)
‡ How pure the Jewish race still is, has been shown by Virchow‘s great anthropological examination of all the school children of Germany; Ranke gives details in his book, Der Mensch, 2nd ed. ii 293: “The purer the race, the smaller is the number of mixed forms. In this connection it is certainly a very important fact that the smallest number of mixed forms was found among the Jews, whereby their decided isolation as a race from the Teutonic peoples, among which they live, is shown most clearly.“ — Measurements in America have, according to the American Anthropologist, vol. iv., in the meantime led to the conviction that there too the Jewish race “has kept itself absolutely pure.“ (Quoted from the Politisch-anthropologische Revue, 1904, March, p. 1003.)


These details are somewhat premature; they really belong to a later portion of the book; but my object has been at once and by the shortest way to meet the objection — which unfortunately is still to be expected from many sides — that there is no “Jewish question,“ from which would follow that the entrance of the Jews into our history had no significance. Others, again, talk of religion: it is a question, they say, of religious differences only. Whoever says this overlooks the fact that there would be no Jewish religion if there were no Jewish nation. But there is one. The Jewish nomocracy (that is, rule of the law) unites the Jews, no matter how scattered they may be over all the lands of the world, into a firm, uniform and absolutely political organism, in which community of blood testifies to a common past and gives a guarantee for a common future. Though it has many elements not purely Jewish in the narrower sense of the word, yet the power of this blood, united with the incomparable power of the Jewish idea, is so great that these alien elements have long ago been assimilated; for nearly two thousand years have passed since the time when the Jews gave up their temporary inclination to proselytising. Of course, I must, as I showed in the preceding chapter, distinguish between Jews of noble and of less noble birth; but what binds together the incompatible parts is (apart from gradual fusing) the tenacity of life which their national idea possesses. This national idea culminates in the unshakable confidence in the universal empire of the Jews, which Jehovah promised. “Simple people who have been born Christians“ (as Auerbach expresses it in his sketch of Spinoza‘s life) fancy that the Jews have given up that hope, but they are very wrong; for “the existence of Judaism depends upon the clinging to the Messianic hope,“ as one of the very moderate and liberal Jews lately wrote. * The whole Jewish religion is in fact founded on

* Skreinka: Entwickelungsgeschichte der jüdischen Dogmen, p. 75.


this hope. The Jewish faith in God, that which can and may be called “religion“ in their case, for it has become since the source of a fine morality, is a part of this national idea, not vice versa. To assert that there is a Jewish religion but no Jewish nation is simply nonsense. *
The entry of the Jews into the history of the West signifies therefore beyond doubt the entrance of a definite element, quite different from and in a way opposed to all European races, an element which remained essentially the same, while the nations of Europe went through the most various phases; in the course of a hard and often cruel history it never had the weakness to entertain proposals of fraternity, but, possessed as it was of its national idea, its national past, and its national future, felt and still feels all contact with others as a pollution; thanks also to the certainty of its instinct, which springs from strict uniformity of national feeling, it has always been able to

* At the Jewish congress held in Basle in 1898, Dr. Mandelstam, Professor in the University of Kiev, said in the chief speech of the sitting of August 29, “The Jews energetically reject the idea of fusion with the other nationalities and cling firmly to their historical hope, i.e., of world empire“ (from a report of one who took part in the congress in Le Temps, Sept. 2, 1898). The Vienna newspapers of July 30 and 31, 1901, report a speech on Zionism which the Vienna Rabbi, Dr. Leopold Kahn, delivered in a room of the orthodox Jewish school in Pressburg. In this speech Dr. Kahn made the following admission: “the Jew will never be able to assimilate himself; he will never adopt the customs and ways of other peoples. The Jew remains Jew under all circumstances. Every assimilation is purely exterior.“ Words well worth laying to heart! In the Festschrift zum 70. Geburtstage A. Berliner‘s, 1903, Dr. B. Felsenthal publishes a series of Jewish Theses in which he supports with all his energy the thesis that Jewry is a people, not a religion, “Judaism is a special stem, and every Jew is born into this stem.“ This stem is, according to him, “one of the ethnically purest peoples that exist.“ Felsenthal reckons that from Theodosius to the year 1800, “perhaps not quite 300 non Semites were adopted into the Jewish race,“ and it is characteristic that he denies proselytes the right of looking upon themselves as full-blooded Jews. “The Jewish people, the Jewish stem is the given fact, the constant thing, the necessary substratum, the substantial kernel. The Jewish religion is something attached to this kernel, a quality — an accident, as it is called in the language of the philosophical schools.“ I quote from the special impression, made by Itzkowski, Berlin.


exercise a powerful influence upon others, while the Jews themselves have been influenced but skin-deep by our intellectual and cultural development. To characterise this most peculiar situation from the standpoint of the European, we must repeat the words of Herder: the Jewish people is and remains alien to our part of the world; from the standpoint of the Jew the same fact is formulated somewhat differently; we know from a former chapter how the great free-thinking philosopher Philo put it: “only the Israelites are men in the true sense of the word.“ * What the Jew here says in the intolerant tone of racial pride was more politely expressed by Goethe, when he disputed the community of descent of Jews and Indo-Europeans, no matter how far back the origin was put: “We will not dispute with the chosen people the honour of its descent from Adam. We others, however, have certainly had other ancestors as well.“ †


These considerations make it our right and our duty to look upon the Jew in our midst as a peculiar and, in fact, alien element. Outwardly his inheritance was the same as ours; inwardly it was not so: he inherited quite a different spirit. One single trait is all that is necessary to reveal in an almost alarming manner to our consciousness the yawning gulf which here separates soul from soul: the revelation of Christ has no significance for the Jew! I do not here speak of pious orthodoxy at all. But read, for example, in Diderot, the notorious free-thinker, the wonderful words on the Crucified One, see how Diderot represents man in his greatest sorrow turning to the

* See p. 217.
† Conversations with Eckermann, October 7, 1828. Giordano Bruno made a similar assertion, viz., that only the Jews were descended from Adam and Eve, the rest of mankind were of much older origin. (See Lo spaccio della bestia trionfante.)


Divine One, and makes us feel that the Christian religion is the only religion in the world. „Quelle profonde sagesse il y a dans ce que l‘aveugle philosophie appelle la folie de la croix! Dans l‘état où j‘étais, de quoi m‘aurait servi l‘image d‘un législateur heureux et comblé de gloire? Je voyais l‘innocent, le flanc percé, le front couronné d‘épines, les mains et les pieds percés de clous, et expirant dans les souffrances; et je me disais: Voilà mon Dieu, et j‘ose me plaindre!“ I have searched through a whole library of Jewish books in the expectation of finding similar words — naturally not belief in the divinity of Christ, nor the idea of redemption, but the purely human feeling for the greatness of a suffering saviour — but in vain. A Jew who feels that is in fact no longer a Jew, but a denier of Judaism. And while we find even in Mohammed‘s Koran at least a vague conception of the importance of Christ and profound reverence for His personality, a cultured, leading Jew of the nineteenth century calls Christ “the new birth with the deathmask,“ which inflicted new and painful wounds upon the Jewish people; he cannot see anything else in Him. * In view of the cross he assures us that “the Jews do not require this convulsive emotion for their spiritual improvement,“ and adds, “particularly not among the middle classes of the inhabitants of the cities.“ His comprehension goes no further. In a book, republished in 1880 (!)‚ by a Spanish Jew (Mose de Leon) Jesus Christ is called a “dead dog“ that lies “buried in a dunghill.“ Besides, the Jews have taken care to issue in the latter part of the nineteenth century several editions (naturally in Hebrew) of the so-called “censured passages“ from the Talmud, those passages usually omitted in which Christ is exposed to our scorn and hatred as a “fool,“ “sorcerer,“ “profane person,“ “idolater,“ “dog,“ “bastard,“ “child of lust,“ &c.; so, too, his sublime

* Graetz: Volkstümliche Geschichte der Juden, i, 591.


mother. * We certainly do the Jews no injustice when we say that the revelation of Christ is simply something incomprehensible and hateful to them. Although he apparently sprang from their midst, he embodies nevertheless the negation of their whole nature — a matter in which the Jews are far more sensitive than we. This clear demonstration of the deep cleft that separates us Europeans from the Jew is by no means given in order to let religious prejudice with its dangerous bias settle the matter, but because I think that the perception of two so fundamentally different natures reveals a real gulf; it is well to look once into this gulf, so that on other occasions, where the two sides seem likely to unite each other, we may not be blind to the deep abyss which separates them.
When we understand what a chasm there is between us we are forced to a further conclusion. The Jew does not understand us, that is certain; can we hope to understand him, to do him justice? Perhaps, if we are really intellectually and morally superior to him, as Renan insisted in the passage quoted above, and as other perhaps more reliable scholars have likewise said. † But we should

* See Laible: Jesus Christus im Talmud, p. 2 ff. (Schriften des Institutum Judaicum in Berlin, No. 10; in the supplement the original Hebrew texts are given.) This absolutely impartial scholar, who is, moreover, a friend of the Jews, says: “The hatred and scorn of the Jews was always directed in the first place against the person of Jesus“ (p. 25). “The Jesus-hatred of the Jews is a firmly established fact, but they want to show it as little as possible“ (p. 3). Hatred of Christ is described by the same scholar as the “most national trait of Judaism“ (p. 86); he says, “at the approach of Christianity the Jews were seized ever and again with a fury and hatred that were akin to madness“ (p. 72). Even to-day no orthodox Jew may use the name of Christ either in speech or in writing (pp. 3 and 32); the most common cryptonyms are “the bastard,“ “the hanged,“ often, too, “Bileam.“
† See especially the famous passage in Lassen‘s Indische Altertumskunde, where the great Orientalist proves in detail his view that the Indo-European race is “more highly and more fully gifted,“ that in it alone there is “perfect symmetry of all mental powers.“ (See i. 414, of the 1847 edition.)


then have to judge him from the lofty heights of our superiority, not from the low depths of hatred and superstition, and still less from the swampy shallows of misunderstanding in which our religious teachers have been wading for the last two thousand years. It is surely an evident injustice to ascribe to the Jew thoughts which he never had, to glorify him as the possessor of the most sublime religious intuitions, which were perhaps more alien to him than to any one else in the world, and at best are to be found only in the hearts of a few scattered individuals as a cry of revolt against the special hardness of heart of this people — and then to condemn him for being to-day quite different from what he should be according to such fictitious conceptions. It is not only unfair, but as regards public feeling, regrettably misleading; for through his connection with our religious life — a connection which is entirely fictitious — his head seems enveloped in a kind of nimbus, and then we are greatly incensed when we find no holy person under this sham halo. We expect more of the Jews than of ourselves, who are merely the children of the heathen. But the Jewish testimony is very different and more correct; it leads us to expect so little that every noble trait discovered later and every explanation found for Jewish failings gives us genuine pleasure. Jehovah, for instance, is never tired of explaining, “I have seen this people and behold it is a stiff-necked people,“ * and Jeremiah gives such a characterisation of the moral constitution of the Jews that Monsieur Edouard Drumont could not wish it to be more richly coloured, “And they will deceive every one his neighbour, and will not speak the truth: they have taught their tongue to speak lies, and weary themselves to commit iniquity.“ † Little wonder, after this description, that Jeremiah calls the Jews “an

* Exodus xxxii. 9, xxxiv. 9; Deuteronomy ix. 13, &c.
† ix. 5.


assembly of treacherous men,“ and knows only one desire, “Oh that I had in the wilderness a lodging-place of wayfaring men; that I might leave my people and go from them.“ For our incredible ignorance of the Jewish nature we are ourselves solely to blame; never did a people give so comprehensive and honest a picture of its own personality as the Hebrew has done in his Bible, a picture which (so far as I can judge from fragments) is made more complete by the Talmud, though in faded colours. Without, therefore, denying that it must be very difficult for us who are “descended from other ancestors“ to form a correct judgment of the “alien Asiatic people,“ we must clearly see that the Jews from time immemorial have done their best to inform the unprejudiced about themselves, a circumstance which entitles us to hope that we may gain a thorough knowledge of their nature. As a matter of fact, the events which take place before our eyes should be sufficient for that. Is it possible to read the daily papers without becoming acquainted with Jewish ways of thinking, Jewish taste, Jewish morals, Jewish aims? A few annual volumes of the Archives israélites teach us in fact more than a whole anti-Semitic library, and indeed not only about the less admirable, but also about the excellent qualities of the Jewish character. But here, in this chapter, I shall leave the present out of account. If we are to form a practical and true judgment concerning the significance of the Jew as joint-heir and fellow-worker in the nineteenth century, we must above all become clear as to what he is. From what a man is by nature follows of strict necessity what he will do under certain conditions; the philosopher says: operari sequitur esse; an old German proverb expresses the same thing in a more homely way, “Only what a man is, can one get out of him.“



Pure history in this case does not bring us either quickly or surely to our goal, and besides it is not my task to furnish a history of the Jews. As in other chapters, so here too I have a horror of copying what has been written before. Every one, of course, knows how and when the Jews entered into Western history: first by the Diaspora, then by being scattered. Their changing fortunes in various lands and times are likewise no secret to us, although, indeed, much that we know is absolutely untrue, and of much that we ought to know we are entirely ignorant. But I do not need to tell any one that throughout the Christian centuries the Jews played an important though at times circumscribed rôle. Even in the earliest Western Gothic times they understood how to acquire influence and power as slave-dealers and financial agents. Though they were not everywhere, as they were among the Spanish Moors, powerful Ministers of State, who, following the example of Mardochai, filled the most lucrative posts with “their many brothers,“ though they did not attain everywhere, as they did in Catholic Spain, to the rank of Bishop and Archbishop, * yet their influence was always and everywhere great. The Babenberg princes as early as the thirteenth century set their successors the example of letting Jews manage the finances of their States and honouring these administrators with titles of distinction; † the great Pope Innocent III. gave important posts at his Court to Jews; ‡ the knights of France had to pledge their

* See the book of the Jew, David Mocatta, The Jews in Spain and Portugal, where a detailed account is given of how there were in Spain “generations and generations of secret Jews who mingled with all classes of society and were in possession of every post in the State and especially in the Church!“
† Graetz, ii. 503.
‡ Israel Abrahams: Jewish Life in the Middle Ages.


goods with the Jews, in order to be able to take part in the Crusades; * Rudolf von Habsburg favoured the Jews in every way; he vindicated them “as servants of his imperial exchequer,“ and by freeing them from being subject to ordinary justice he made it very difficult indeed for any action brought against them to be carried through; † in short, what I call the entrance of the Jews into Western history has never ceased to make itself felt at all times and places. If any one were qualified to study history for the sole purpose of disentangling the question of Jewish influence, he would, I think, bring to light some unexpected facts. Without this detailed study the fact of this influence can only be established clearly and beyond doubt where the Jews were in considerable numbers. In the second century, for example, the Jews on the island of Cyprus are more numerous than the other inhabitants; they resolve to found a national State and with this intent follow the procedure known from the Old Testament: they slay in one day all the other inhabitants, 240,000 in number; and in order that this island State may not be without support on the mainland, they at the same time slay the 220,000 non-Jewish inhabitants of Cyrene. ‡ In Spain they pursue the same policy with greater caution and astonishing perseverance. Under the rule of that thoroughly Western Gothic king, who had showered benefits on them, they invite their kinsmen, the Arabs, to come over from Africa, and, not out of any ill-feeling, but simply because they hope to profit thereby, they betray their noble protector; under the Kalifs they then acquire gradually an even larger share in the government; “they concentrated,“ their great supporter the historian Heman writes, “the intellectual and the material powers al-

* André Réville: Les payans au Moyen-Age, 1896, p. 3.
† See among others Realis: Die Juden und die Judenstadt in Wien, 1846, p. 18, &c.
‡ Mommsen: Römische Geschichte, v, 543.


together in their own hands“; the prosperous Moorish State was, it is true, thereby intellectually and materially ruined: but this was a matter of indifference to the Jews, as they had already obtained as firm a footing in the Christian State of the Spaniards which was destined to take the place of the Moorish one. “The movable wealth of the land was here absolutely in their power; the heritable property they made gradually theirs by usury and the purchase of mortgaged estates of nobles. From the offices of Secretary of State and Minister of Finance downwards all the offices which had to do with taxes and money were in Jewish hands. Through usury almost all Aragon was mortgaged to them. In the cities they formed the majority of the wealthy population.“ * But here, as elsewhere, they were not always shrewd; they had employed their power to obtain all kinds of privileges; for example, the oath of a single Jew sufficed to prove debt claims against Christians (the same was the case in the Archduchy of Austria and in many places), while the testimony of a Christian against a Jew had no weight before a tribunal, and so on; these privileges they abused so outrageously that the people finally revolted. The same would probably have happened in Germany if the Church and intelligent statesmen had not put a stop to the evil in time. Charlemagne had written to Italy for Jews to manage his finances; soon, as farmers of taxes, they secured for themselves wealth and influence in every direction, and used these to get important concessions for their people, such as commercial privileges, less severe punishment for crime and the like; the whole population was even forced to make Sunday their market day, as Saturday, the customary market day, did not suit the Jews because it was

* Heman: Die historische Weltstellung der Juden, 1882, p. 24 ff. For a somewhat differently tinged account which, however, in actual facts is entirely at one with this, see Graetz Volksth. Gesch. d. Juden, ii. 344 ff.


their Sabbath; it was at that time fashionable for courtiers to visit the synagogues! But the reaction set in soon and strongly, and not only, as the historians are wont to represent it, as the result of priestly agitation — such things belong to the shell, not to the kernel of history — but in the first place because the Teuton is in fact just as much a born merchant and industrialist as he is a born warrior, and because, as soon as the growth of cities awakened these instincts in him, he saw the game of his unfair rival, and, full of violent indignation, demanded his removal. And so, if such were the purpose of this chapter, we could trace the ebb and flow of Jewish influence to the present day, when all the wars of the nineteenth century are so peculiarly connected with Jewish financial operations, from Napoleon‘s Russian campaign and Nathan Rothschild‘s rôle of spectator at the Battle of Waterloo to the consulting of the Bleichröders on the German side and of Alphonse Rothschild on the French side at the peace transactions of the year 1871, and to the “Commune,“ which from the beginning was looked upon by all intelligent people as a Jewish-Napoleonic machination.


Now this political and social influence of the Jews has been very variously judged, but the greatest politicians of all times have regarded it as pernicious. Cicero, for example (no great politician but an experienced statesman), displays a genuine fear of the Jews; where a legal transaction encroaches on their interest, he speaks so low that only the judges hear him, for he is well aware, as he says, that all the Jews hold together and that they know how to ruin the one who opposes them; while he thunders the most vehement charges against Greeks, against Romans, against the most powerful men of his time, he advises caution in dealing with the Jews; they are to him an


uncanny power and he passes with tlie greatest haste over that city of “suspicion and slander,“ Jerusalem: such was the opinion of a Cicero during the consulate of a Julius Caesar! * Even before the destruction of Jerusalem the Emperor Tiberius, who was, according to many historians, the best ruler that the Roman Imperium ever possessed, recognised a national danger in the immigration of the Jews. Even Frederick the Second, the Hohenstauffen, certainly one of the most brilliant men that ever wore a crown or carried a sword, a more freethinking man than any monarch of the nineteenth century, an enthusiastic admirer of the East and a generous supporter of Hebrew scholars, nevertheless held it to be his duty, contrary to the custom of his contemporaries, to debar the Jews from all public offices, and pointed warningly to the fact that wherever the Jews are admitted to power, they abuse it; the very same doctrine was taught by the other great Frederick the Second, the Hohenzollern, who gave universal freedom, but not to the Jews; similar were the words of Bismarck, while he still could speak openly, in the Landtag (1847) and the great historian Mommsen speaks of Judaism as of a “State inside the State.“ — As regards the social influence in particular, I will only quote two wise and fair authorities, whose judgment cannot be suspected even by the Jews, namely, Herder and Goethe. The former says, “A ministry, in which the Jew is supreme, a household, in which a Jew has the key of the wardrobe and the management of the finances, a department or commissariat, in which Jews do the principal business … are Pontine marshes that cannot be drained“; and he expresses the opinion that the presence of an indefinite number of Jews is so pernicious to the welfare of a European State, that we “dare not be influenced by general humane principles“; it is a national question,

* See the Defence of Lucius Flaccus, xxviii.


and it is the duty of every State to decide “how many of this alien people can be tolerated without injury to the true citizens?“ * Goethe goes still deeper: “How should we let the Jews share in our highest culture, when they deny its origin and source?“ And he became “violently enraged“ when the law of 1823 permitted marriage between Jews and Germans, prophesying the “worst and most frightful consequences,“ particularly the “undermining of all moral feelings“ and declaring that the bribery of the “all-powerful Rothschild“ must be the cause of this “folly.“ † Goethe and Herder have exactly the same opinion as the great Hohenstauffen, the great Hohenzollern, and all great men before and after them: without superstitiously reproaching the Jews with their peculiar individuality, they consider them an actual danger to our civilisation and our culture; they would not give them an active part in our life. We cannot proceed with our discussion and simply pass over such a consensus ingeniorum. For to these well-weighed, serious judgments derived from the fulness of experience and the insight of the greatest intellects we have nothing to oppose but the empty phrases of the droits de l‘homme — a parliamentary clap-trap. ‡

* Adrastea: Bekehrung der Juden.
† Wilhelm Meister‘s Wanderjahre, iii. 11, and the conversation with von Müller on September 23, 1823.
‡ I have intentionally limited my quotations. But I cannot refrain from defending in a note the great Voltaire against the almost established myth that he was altogether favourable and as superficial in his humanitarian judgment of the influence of the Jews upon our culture, as is the modern fashion. Even Jews of such broad culture as James Darmesteter (Peuple Juif, 2e éd. p. 17) print the name Voltaire in thick type and represent him as one of the intellectual originators of their emancipation. The opposite is true; more than once Voltaire advises that the Jews be sent back to Palestine. Voltaire is one of the authors whom I know best, because I prefer interesting books to wearisome ones, and I think I could easily collect a hundred quotations of a most aggressive nature against the Jews. In the essay of the Dictionnaire Philosophique (end of Section 1) he says: “Vous ne trouverez dans les Juifs qu‘un peuple ignorant et barbare, qui joint depuis longtemps la plus sordide avarice à la plus détestable superstition et à la plus invincible haine pour



On the other hand, it is certain and must be carefully observed that, if the Jews are responsible for many a shocking historical development, for the fall of many heroic, powerful peoples, still greater is the responsibility of those Europeans who have always from the most base motives encouraged, protected and fostered the disintegrating activity of the Jews, and these are primarily the Princes and the nobility — and that too from the first century of our era to the present day. Open the history of any European nation you like wherever the Jews are numerous and begin to realise their strength, you will always hear bitter complaints against them from the people, from the commercial classes, from the circles of the learned and the poets; everywhere and at all times it is the Princes and the nobility that protect them: the Princes because they need money for their wars, the nobility because they live extravagantly.

tous les peuples qui les tolèrent et qui les enrichissent.“ In Dieu et les hommes (chap. x.) he calls the Jews “La plus haïssable et la plus honteuse des petites nations.“ Enough has surely been said to make his attitude clear! But this opinion should have all the more force, since Voltaire himself in many long treatises has made a thorough study of Jewish history and the Jewish character (so thorough that he who has been decried as a “superficial dilettante“ is occasionally quoted to-day by a scholar of the first rank like Wellhausen). And so it is noteworthy when he writes (Essai sur les Moeurs, chap. xlii.): “La nation juive ose étaler une haine irréconciliable contre toutes les nations, elle se révolte contre tous ses maîtres; toujours superstitieuse, toujours avide du bien d‘autrui, toujours barbare — rampante dans le malheur, et insolente dans la prospérité.“ His judgment of their mental qualities is brief and apodeictic, “Les Juifs n‘ont jamais rien inventé“ (La défense de mon oncle, chap. vii.), and in the Essai sur les Moeurs he shows in several chapters that the Jews had always learned from other nations but had never taught others anything; even their music, which is generally praised, Voltaire cannot endure: “Retournez en Judée le plus tôt que vous pourrez … vous y exécuteriez à plaisir dans votre détestable jargon votre détestable musique“ (6me lettre du Dictionnaire). He explains elsewhere this remarkable mental sterility of the Jews by their inordinate lust for money; “L‘argent fut l‘objet de leur conduite dans tous


Edmund Burke * tells us, for example, of William the Conqueror that, as the income from “talliage“ and all kinds of other oppressive taxes did not satisfy him, he from time to time either confiscated the notes of hand of the Jews or forced them to hand them over for next to nothing, and, as almost the whole Anglo-Norman nobility of the eleventh century was under the thumb of Jewish usury, the King himself became the pitiless creditor of his most illustrious subjects. In the meantime he protected the Jews and gave them privileges of various kinds. This one example may stand for thousands and thousands. † If then

les temps“ (Dieu et les hommes, xxix.). Voltaire scoffs at the Jews in a hundred places; for instance, in Zadig (chap. x.), where the Jew utters a solemn prayer of thankfulness to God for a successful piece of fraud; the most biting satire against the Jews that exists is beyond doubt the treatise Un Chrétien contre six Juifs. And yet in all these utterances there was a certain reserve, as they were destined for publication; on the other hand, in a letter to the Chevalier de Lisle on December 15, 1773 (that is, at the end of his life, not in the heat of youth), he could speak his opinion freely: “Que ces déprépucé d‘Israël se disent de la tribu de Naphthali ou d‘Issachar, cela est fort peu important; ils n‘en sont pas moins les plus grand gueux qui aient jamais souillé la face du globe.“ Evidently this fiery Frenchman had just the same to say of the Jews as any fanatical Bishop; he differs at most in the addition which he occasionally makes to his bitterest attacks, “Il ne faut pourtant pas les brûler.“ There is a further difference in the fact that it is a humane, tolerant and learned man that utters this very sharp judgment. But how, in a man of such open mind, can we explain the existence of a view so pitilessly one-sided and so ruthlessly intolerant, a view which in its utter lack of moderation compares very unfavourably with the words of the German sages quoted above? Our age could learn much here, if it wished to! For we see that the Gallic love of equality and freedom is not based upon love of justice nor respect for the individual; and we may draw the further conclusion; understanding is not got from principles, and universal humanity does not ensure the possibility of living together in dignified peace, it is only the frank recognition of what separates our own kind and our own interests from those of others that can make us just towards an alien nature and alien interests.
* An Abridgment of English History, iii. 2.
† The famous economist Dr. W. Cunningham, in his book The Growth of English Industry and Commerce during the Early and Middle Ages (3rd ed., 1896, p. 201), compares the activity of the Jews in England from the tenth century onward to a sponge, which sucks up all the wealth of the land and thereby hinders all economic development. Interesting,


the Jews have exercised a great and historically baneful influence, it is to no small degree due to the complicity of these Princes and nobles who so shamefully persecuted and at the same time utilised the Jews. And in fact this lasts until the nineteenth century: Count Mirabeau was in closest touch with the Jews even before the Revolution, * Count Talleyrand, in opposition to the delegates from the middle classes, supported in the Constituante their unconditional emancipation; Napoleon protected them, when after such a short time bitter complaints and entreaties for protection against them were sent in to the Government from all France, and he did so although he himself had exclaimed in the Council of State, “These Jews are locusts and caterpillars, they devour my France!“ — he needed their money. Prince Dalberg sold to the Frankfort Jews, in defiance of the united citizens, the full civic rights for half a million Gulden (1811), the Hardenbergs and Metternichs at the Vienna Congress fell into the snare of the Rothschild bank, and, in opposition to the votes of all the representatives of the Bund, they supported the interests of the Jews to the disadvantage of the Germans and finally gained their point, in fact, the two most conservative States which they represented were the first to raise to hereditary nobility — an honour which was never conferred on honest and deserving Jews — those members of the

too, is the proof that even at this early period the Government did everything in its power to make the Jews take up decent trades and honest work and thereby at the same time amalgamate with the rest of the population, but all to no purpose.
* With regard to Mirabeau‘s being influenced by “the shrewd women of the Jews“ (as Gentz says) and his connection with essentially Jewish secret societies, see besides Graetz, Volks. Geschichte der Juden (iii. 600, 610 ff.), particularly L‘Abbé Lémann, L‘entrée des Israélites dans la société française, iii. chap. 7; as converted Jew this author understands what others do not, and at the same time he tells what Jewish authors keep secret. The important thing in Mirabeau‘s case was probably that from youth he was deeply in debt to the Jews (Carlyle: Essay on Mirabeau).


“alien Asiatic people“ who, in the years of general suffering and misery, had by the vilest means acquired immense wealth. * If then the Jews were for us pernicious neighbours, justice requires us to admit that they acted according to the nature of their instincts and gifts, and showed at the same time a really admirable example of loyalty to self, to their own nation and to the faith of their fathers; the tempters and the traitors were not the Jews but we ourselves. We were the criminal abettors of the Jews, and it is so to-day, as it was in the past; and we were false to that which the lowest inhabitant of the Ghetto considered sacred, the purity of inherited blood; that, too, was formerly the case, and to-day it is more so than ever. The Christian Church alone of all the great powers seems to have acted on the whole justly and wisely (of course we must discount the Bishops who were really secular Princes, as well as some of the Popes). The Church has kept the Jews in check, treated them as aliens, but at the same time protected them from persecution. Every seemingly “ecclesiastical“ persecution has its source really in economic conditions that have become unbearable; we see that nowhere more clearly than in Spain. To-day, when public opinion is so fearfully misled by the active, irreconcilable antagonism of the Jews, especially to every manifestation of the Christian faith, it may be well to remind the reader that the last act of the preparatory meeting to the first Synedrium summoned in our times, that of 1807, was a spontaneous utterance of thanks to the ministers of the various Christian Churches for the protection extended to them throughout the centuries. †

* This is, of course, an old custom of Princes, by which not only the Jews but others also profit; Martin Luther even had to write: “The Princes have thieves hanged, who have stolen a Gulden or half a one, and yet make transactions with those who rob everybody and steal more than all others“ (Von Kaufhandlung und Wucher).
† Diogène Tama: Collection des actes de l‘Assemblée des Israélites de France et du royaume d‘ltalie (Paris, 1807, pp. 327, 328; the author is a



Here we must end these hastily sketched historical fragments. They show that “the entrance of the Jews“ has exercised a large, and in many ways an undoubtedly fatal, influence upon the course of European history since the first century. But that tells us little about the Jew himself; the fact that the North American Indian dies out from contact with the Indo-European does not prove that the latter is evil and pernicious; that the Jew injures or benefits us is a judgment which is conditional in too many ways to permit of our forming a true estimate of his nature. In fact, for nineteen centuries the Jew has had not merely an outer relationship with our culture as a more or less welcome guest, but also an inner contact. As Kant rightly says, the preservation of Judaism is primarily the work of Christianity. * From its midst — if not from its stem and its spirit — Jesus Christ and the earliest members of the Christian Church arose. Jewish history, Jewish conceptions, Jewish thought and poetry became important elements in our mental life. It cannot be right to separate the outward friction entirely from the inner penetration. If we had not ceremoniously adopted the Jew into our family circle, he would no more have found a home

Jew and was Secretary of the Jewish deputy of Bouches-du-Rhône, M. Constantini). After a detailed proof the document closes with the following: “Les députés israélites arrêtent: Que l‘expression de ces sentiments sera consignée dans le procès-verbal de ce jour pour qu’elle demeure à jamais comme un témoignage authentique de la gratitude des Israélites de cette Assemblée pour les bienfaits que les générations qui les ont précédés ont reçus des ecclésiastiques des divers pays d‘Europe.“ The proposal was moved by Mr. Isaac Samuel Avigdor, representative of the Jews of the Alpes-Maritimes. Tama adds that the speech of Avigdor was received with applause and its insertion in the minutes in extenso adopted. — The Jewish historians of to-day do not say a word concerning this important event. Not only Graetz passes it over in silence, but Bédarride also in his Les Juifs en France, 1859, although he seems as if he were reporting in full from the minutes.
* Die Religion, general note to third chapter.


among us than the Saracen or the other wrecks of half-Semitic peoples who saved their existence — but not their individuality — by unconditional amalgamation with the nations of South Europe. The Jew, however, was proof against this; though now and then one of them might be dragged to the stake, the very fact that they had crucified Jesus Christ surrounded them with a solemn, awe-inspiring nimbus. And while the people were thus fascinated, the scholars and holy men spent their days and nights in studying the books of the Hebrews: struck down by the commands of Jewish shepherds like Amos and Micah, the monuments of an art, whose like the world has never since seen, fell to the ground; through the scorn of Jewish priests science sank into contempt; Olympus and Walhalla became depopulated, because the Jews so wished it; Jehovah, who had said to the Israelites, “Ye are my people and I am your God,“ now became the God of the Indo-Europeans; from the Jews we adopted the fatal doctrine of unconditional religious intolerance. But at the same time we adopted very great and sublime spiritual impulses; we were taught by prophets, who preached such strict and pure morals as could have been found nowhere else save on the distant shores of India; we became acquainted with such a living and life-moulding faith in a higher divine power that it inevitably changed our spirit and gave it a new direction. Though Christ was the master-builder, we got the architecture from the Jews. Isaiah, Jeremiah, the Psalmists became, and still are, living powers in our spiritual life.


And now, when this inner contact is beginning to grow weaker, while the outer friction referred to above is being daily more felt, now, when he cannot any longer


rid ourselves of the presence of Jews, it is not sufficient for us to know that almost all pre-eminent and free men, from Tiberius to Bismarck, have looked upon the presence of the Jew in our midst as a social