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and caught something of his generous spirit. Remains of the Chaldean Magi, descendants of those associated with Daniel, devoted themselves to devout contemplation. But the majority, even of thinkers, throughout the bounds of the civilized world, including Rome and Greece, portions of Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt, were the followers of a sensual or sceptical materialism. The better portion were Academics, whose distinguishing feature, at this time, was a spirit of universal doubt. While rejecting the grosser materialism, and in some cases living a virtuous life, they held themselves aloof from all fixed opinions on the higher metaphysics.* The superior orders of society were distinguished only by an intenser corruption. Their motto was, “ Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die." Even their females had often to be put to death secretly for their crimes. The old Lucretian chastity was lost. Once distinguished for their purity of manners, the gentler sex were corrupted by the coarse and sensual indulgences, which, with foreign religions, and abounding luxury, had infected Rome. Divorce and consequent licentiousness of manners were excessively prevalent, especially among the higher classes. Cato the Censor made desperate, but vain efforts to restore the ancient simplicity of manners, and check the progress of national demoralization. The senate, once the pride of Rome, on account of its stern integrity, was tainted with crime. Rome, indeed, even in her palmiest days, was relentless and cruel. But the gladiatorial exhibitions, of which even delicate females were passionately fond, grew more and more bloody. Whole hecatombs of men were sacrificed, under the eyes of pleasure-loving crowds. The young patrician beauty, languishing on purple couches, “by a sign of her jewelled finger,” condemned the poor gladiator to die, to amuse herself with the sight of his expiring agonies. The banquets of the wealthy were scenes of debauchery. the luxurious Egyptians placed a real skeleton at their feasts, to whet the appetites of the guests, and deepen the pleasure of the passing hour, so the Greek and Roman epicures, on festive days, placed upon their tables, at their orgies, (fit em. blem of intellectual and moral despair,) the skeleton of ivory or silver, as a memento of the rapidity of life, and the duty of “ quick and unlimited enjoyment.” So much was despair the fashion of the times, that even Stoicism, the only moral strength of this period, was much less an heroic struggle than a mournful resignation."

* We learn from Sallust, in Catilina, c. 57, p. 309, that Julius Cæsar made no scruple in denying before the people that man had any thing to hope or fear after death; and even Cato, the stoic philosopher, in this applauded his noble philosophical spirit. Cicero informs us (De Inventione, lib. i. c. 29,) that the majority of the philosophers of his day were considered the encmies of the gods and religion.

The very poets, rising occasionally in the olden time to the character of prophets, laughed to scorn, not merely the mythologies of bygone times, but the doctrines of the existence of God, and the immortality of the soul. The sublimest of them all, Lucretius, born ninety-five years before Christ, was an atheist, and his spirit only represents the spirit of the age in which he lived, Virgil has no moral character. Horace is gay and licentious. Lucian among the Greeks, and Persius and Juvenal among the Latins, somewhat later, joke and sneer, as, perhaps, was natural in their circumstances, at all things, sacred and profane. In some of these writers the reader will find the most detestable affections treated with rnuch detail, as things of daily practice, both among the vulgar and the refined. The temples themselves were not free from pollution ; from which circumstance Ovid takes occasion to advise those females who would preserve their honor not to visit such places. In the city of Rome, according to Valerius Maximus, there were seven thousand Bacchanals, among whose mysteries prostitution and murder found a prominent place. Opposed by the government, and partially suppressed, they were never wholly banished from the city. Crimes without a name continued to be enacted in their secret orgies. A very few moralists, chiefly Stoics, said fine things on the subject of virtue, but could offer no resistless motives to enforce it. The tide of popular corruption swept onward, in spite of their subtile theories and finespun imaginings. Their attempts at reform were spider webs to bind Leviathan, straws to stem the currents of the ocean. The later sophists and rhetoricians, a heartless and infidel race, controlled the popular will, and gave law to society. In a word, “ the foundations were destroyed.” Old things were passing away. Night and chaos were enveloping the moral world.

* For an account of the private manners of the Greeks and Romans see Bekker's Charicles and Gallus. See also Pericles, by one of the authors of Small Books on Great Subjects.

+ The ancients intimate that Lucretius was somewhat insane, (they say from a love philter,) and that he wrote his work under this influence. He committed suicide in his forty-fourth year.

If any one should call this declamation, or incline to think our picture too deeply colored, let him read attentively the pages of Lucian and Juvenal, or let him visit, as we have done, the disintombed cities of Herculaneum and Pompeii, and especially the Bourbon Museum, at Naples, in which are preserved, for the private inspection of scientific gentlemen, some of the most secret ornaments, sculptures, and paintings, found both in private houses and in the temples of the gods, and he will be satisfied that our statements are literally correct. Indeed, persons not familiar with the subject have no idea of the extreme corruption of manners, which polluted the most polished of the ancient nations. The revolution effected by Christianity, in this respect, is immense. Imperfect as it still is, owing to partial development, the change is one of the most striking and benignant in the history of man."

The following, from a source not usually suspected of overstatement on such matters, will corroborate this : “ While religious scepticism was thus in the ascendant, morality, public and private, had reached its lowest landmark. Those incitements to vice, of which our laws prohibit even the sale, were, as Juvenal assures us in a satire (Sat. ii., near the commencement) specially levelled against the sensualism of the period, publicly paraded in every street, and filled the infant mind with impressions that stifled the development of its moral nature. The only part of their mythology for which the people seemed to have any relish, was that which administered to the passions, so easily excited; and the only temples that could command a crowd were those of Flora and the Bona Dea. At the festivals of those deities, before the Roman day had sunk to its shortlived twilight, crowds, not only of courtesans, but of orderly matrons, might be seen wending their way to the shrines of these goddesses in the Via Sacra, not simply with unveiled breasts, or with bodies negligently exposed, but in an absolute state of nudity. In the spacious and magnificent baths which the prodigality of successive emperors had reared in the imperial city, both sexes were indulged, at the vile price of a farthing, in promiscuous bathing. In the crowded theatres, when the first scenes of the play had been acted, and the minds of the auditors were inflamed with obscene verses, a sea of voices usually called out, Nudentur mima, and the order was no sooner issued than obeyed. Valerius Marimus, lib. ii. c. 6. Obscenities far more polluting than any to be seen in the worst penny theatre that attracts the dregs of our London population, were enacted in the Flavian amphitheatre for the amusc.

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