網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

1

[graphic]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

OUR INHERITANCE FROM THE OLD WORLD

3

designed such graceful pillars for buildings. No one can be a good architect unless he studies the architecture of the Greeks. Grecian sculpture remains a model for the world. American students may be seen in the great museums, studying the statues of Grecian gods, goddesses, and heroes. The Greeks gave the world the theater and plays which were not equaled until the time of William Shakespeare, nearly two thousand years later.

The poetry and stories of the Greeks still rank among the best. In Homer's Odyssey (od'1-sň) we may read about the adventures of the hero Ulysses (Odys'seus in Greek); how, for instance, he outwitted the one-eyed giant Polyphemus (pol-i-fē’mus) and the goddess Circe (sûr'sē). We admire Jason, whose brave deeds won the Golden Fleece, and we naturally ask ourselves what is to be the Golden Fleece that we shall win. With breathless interest we follow the journey of Hercules (hûr'kúlēz), who fearlessly pursued Death beyond the grave and forced him to restore to life the heroine Alces'tis, who had died to save her husband. We may find some of these stories in Hawthorne's Wonder Book and Tanglewood Tales, Kingsley's Greek Heroes, and Church's Stories from Homer:

In many of our homes and schools, as well as in our art galleries and public buildings, we may see traces of the beauty which we owe to Greece. What the Romans gave.—

The Romans conquered a large part of the known world and helped to civilize it. Rome, still an important city of modern Italy, was the capital of the great Roman Empire. America inherited the greatest things which the Romans gave to the world.

No other people had equaled the Romans in building bridges, roads, aqueducts, arches, baths, and great structures for entertainment, like the Colosse'um. This vast building could seat 50,000, or nearly as many as lived in both New York and Boston when Washington was President, and nearly twice as many as Chicago (shi-kô'go) had in 1850. We may still travel over some of the roads which the Romans built, and gaze at parts of their aqueducts. Later Europe learned much from the Romans about the art of building. American engineers continue to study their bridges, roads, and arches.

The Romans conquered Greece, but civilization owes them a debt for preserving Greek art and literature and for allowing the Greeks to teach them. The Romans could not equal the Greeks in making beautiful things. The Roman work was strong, massive, and enduring, rather than graceful.

[graphic]

ROMAN BRIDGE IN ITALY, BUILT OVER 1900 YEARS AGO, AND STILL IN USE

The Romans were great lawmakers as well as builders. They gave their conquered provinces better laws than they had before. Roman influence may be traced in the present laws of France, Holland, Italy, Spain, Germany, South America, and our own state of Louisiana, which framed its first laws while it was a French colony. We now usually follow the Roman custom of allowing our cities to govern themselves.

The Roman government finally accepted Christianity (313 A.D.), and Rome became the headquarters from which missionaries went to teach Christianity to the peoples of western Europe. Christianity had come by way of Rome to the English long before they settled in America.

The Romans gave a large part of Europe a nearly uniform language-the Latin. The Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Roumanian are modern languages much like the Latin.

OUR INHERITANCE FROM THE OLD WORLD

5

How Rome held back the barbarians and saved civilization.Enemies always threatened the borders of the vast Roman Empire. The Romans had a standing army along the Rhine and Danube, which was able to keep out the half-civilized northern races until the empire became sufficiently civilized and Christianized to teach the world. When the conquerors finally came, the Christian religion had become strong enough to help civilize them, or the world would again have been plunged into darkness. If the line of soldiers on the borders of the Roman Empire had not held while the Romans were doing such great things for the world, the development of Spain and England and other European nations would have been very different, and even America might be heathen to-day.

The northern races conquer Rome.-The Romans by their conquests had secured wealth without earning it, and slaves to work for them. Victorious generals brought to Italy throngs of white captives whom they sold as slaves, sometimes at prices equivalent to only ten dollars each. Dependence on slaves, and on wealth taken from conquered people, helped destroy the former self-reliance of the Romans. They finally became too weak to hold their line against the northern races.

The Romans called all the northern people “ Germans.” The “German,” or Teutonic, tribes were related, but they differed as much from one another as children of the same grandparents. Among these tribes were ancestors of the modern English, Dutch, Germans, Scandinavians, and part of the French and Italians. Many of the northern people broke through the Roman line, overran Italy and other Roman lands, and caused the downfall of the Western Roman Empire (476 A.D.).

The victors destroyed much and made the civilized world almost despair for a long period, but they did not uproot Roman civilization. Their coming was really necessary to save it. The same result followed that often happens when tired players on a football team are replaced by stronger men. The northern people learned that the Roman roads, houses, education, and

« 上一頁繼續 »