Ancient Achievements

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Glories of the ancient civilization A splendid external deception Moral evils Imperial despotism Prostration of liberties Some good emperors Disproportionate fortunes Luxurious living General extravagance Pride and insolence of the aristocracy Gibbon's description of the nobles The plebeian class Hopelessness and disgrace of poverty Popular superstitions The slaves The curse of slavery Degradation of the female sex Bitter satires of Juvenal Games and festivals Gladiatorial shows General abandonment to pleasure The baths General craze for money-making Universal corruption Saint Paul's estimate of Roman vices Decline and ruin a logical necessity The Sibylline prophecy Authorities



Cleopatra Tests the Poison which She Intends for Her Own Destruction on Her Slaves.... _Frontispiece_ _After the painting by Alexander Cabanel_.

Justinian Orders the Compilation of the Pandects _After the painting by Benjamin Constant_.

The Temple of Karnak _After a photograph_.

The Laocooen _After the photograph from the statue in the Vatican, Rome_.

The Death of Archimedes _After the painting by E. Vimont_.

Race of Roman Chariots _After the painting by V. Checa_.

Sale of Slaves in a Roman Camp _After the painting by R. Coghe_.

Marcus Tullius Cicero _From the bust in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence_.

Cleopatra Obtains an Interview with Caesar _After the painting by J.L. Gerome_.

Death of Cleopatra _After the painting by John Collier_.

A Roman Bacchanal _After the painting by W. Kotarbinski_.



624 B.C.-550 A.D.

There is not much in ancient governments and laws to interest us, except such as were in harmony with natural justice, and were designed for the welfare of all classes in the State. A jurisprudence founded on the edicts of absolute kings, or on the regulations of a priestly caste, is necessarily partial, and may be unenlightened. But those laws which are gradually enacted for the interests of the whole body of the people,--for the rich and poor, the powerful and feeble alike,--have generally been the result of great and diverse experiences, running through centuries, the work of wise men under constitutional forms of government. The jurisprudence of nations based on equity is a growth or development according to public wants and necessities, especially in countries having popular liberty and rights, as in England and the United States.

We do not find in the history of ancient nations such a jurisprudence, except in the free States of Greece and among the Romans, who had a natural genius or aptitude for government, and where the people had a powerful influence in legislation, until even the name of liberty was not invoked.

Among the Egyptians, Assyrians, and Babylonians the only laws were the edicts of kings or the regulations of priests, mostly made with a view of cementing their own power, except those that were dictated by benevolence or the pressing needs of the people, who were ground down and oppressed, and protected only as slaves were once protected in the Southern States of America. Wise and good monarchs doubtless issued decrees for the benefit of all classes, such as conscience or knowledge dictated, whenever they felt their great responsibilities, as in some of the absolute monarchies of Europe; but they never issued their decrees at the suggestions or demands of those classes for whom the laws were made. The voice of the people was ignored, except so far as it moved the pity or appealed to the hearts and consciences of their rulers; the people had, and claimed, no _rights_. The only men to whom rulers listened, or by whom they were controlled, were those whom they chose as counsellors and ministers, who were supposed to advise with a view to the sovereign's benefit, and that of the empire generally.

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