Herodotus, Strabo, Pliny, Polybius, Diodorus Siculus, Titus Livius, Pausanias, on the geography and resources of the ancient nations. See an able chapter on Mediterranean prosperity in Louis Napoleon’s History of Caesar. Smith’s Dictionary of Ancient Geography is exhaustive. Wilkinson has revealed the civilization of ancient Egypt. Professor Becker’s Handbook of Rome, as well as his Gallus and Charicles shed much light on manners and customs. Dyer’s History of the City of Rome is the fullest description of its wonders that I have read. Niebuhr, Bunsen, and Platner, among the Germans, have written learnedly, but also have created much doubt about things supposed to be established. Mommsen, Curtius, and Merivale are also great authorities. Nor are the magnificent chapters of Gibbon to be disregarded by the student of Roman history, notwithstanding his elaborate and inflated style.
WEAPONS, ENGINES, DISCIPLINE.
In surveying the nations of antiquity nothing impresses us more forcibly than the perpetual wars in which they were engaged, and the fact that military art and science seem to have been among the earliest things that occupied the thoughts of men. Personal strife and tribal warfare are coeval with the earliest movements of humanity.
The first recorded act in the Hebraic history of the world after the expulsion of Adam from Paradise is a murder. In patriarchal times we read of contentions between the servants of Abraham and of Lot, and between the petty kings and chieftains of the countries where they journeyed. Long before Abraham was born, violence was the greatest evil with which the world was afflicted. Before his day mighty conquerors arose and founded kingdoms. Babylon and Egypt were powerful military States in pre-historic times. Wars more or less fierce were waged before nations were civilized. The earliest known art, therefore, was the art of destruction, growing out of the wicked and brutal passions of men,—envy and hatred, ambition and revenge; in a word, selfishness. Race fought with race, kingdom with kingdom, and city with city, in the very infancy of society. In secular history the greatest names are those of conquerors and heroes in every land under the sun; and it was by conquerors that those grand monuments were erected the ruins of which astonish every traveller, especially in Egypt and Assyria.
But wars in the earliest ages were not carried on scientifically, or even as an art. There was little to mark them except brute force. Armies were scarcely more than great collections of armed men, led by kings, either to protect their States from hostile invaders, or to acquire new territory, or to exact tribute from weaker nations. We do not read of military discipline, or of skill in strategy and tactics. A battle was lost or won by individual prowess; it was generally a hand-to-hand encounter, in which the strongest and bravest gained the victory.