The Unity of Civilization eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 343 pages of information about The Unity of Civilization.

R.L.  Poole, Illustrations of Mediaeval Thought.  Williams & Norgate.

H. Rashdall, Universities of Europe in the Middle Ages.  Clarendon

A.L.  Smith, Church and State in the Middle Ages.  Clarendon Press.

H.O.  Taylor, The Mediaeval Mind.  Macmillan.

E. Troeltsch, Die Soziallehren der christlichen Kirchen (II.  Kapitel).

P. Vinogradoff, Roman Law in Mediaeval Europe.  Harper.


[Footnote 15:  I should like to dedicate this essay to my friend and old pupil, the Rev. Bede Jarrett, O.P., to whom I owe much, and to whose book on Mediaeval Socialism I should like to refer my readers.]

[Footnote 16:  Pirenne, Revue Historique, liii. p. 82.]

[Footnote 17:  De Vulgari Eloquio, 1. viii.]

[Footnote 18:  De Monarchia, 1. x.]

[Footnote 19:  Cf.  Carlyle, Mediaeval Political Theory in the West, ii. 219-22.]

[Footnote 20:  Cf.  E.R.  Bevan, Stoics and Sceptics.]

[Footnote 21:  Die Soziallehren der christlichen Kirchen, p. 242.]



You know the story of Sophocles’ Antigone:  how, when two brothers disputed the throne of Thebes, one, Polynices, was driven out and brought a foreign host against the city.  Both brothers fall in battle.  Their uncle takes up the government and publishes an edict that no one shall give burial to the traitor who has borne arms against his native land.  The obligation to give or allow decent burial, even to an enemy, was one which the Greeks held peculiarly sacred.  Yet obedience to the orders of lawful authority is an obligation binding on every citizen.  No one dares to disregard the king’s order save the dead man’s sister.  She is caught in the act and brought before the king.  ‘And thou,’ he says, ‘didst indeed dare to transgress this law?’ ‘Yes,’ answers Antigone, ’for it was not Zeus that published me that edict; not such are the laws set among men by the Justice who dwells with the Gods below; nor deemed I that thy decrees were of such force that a mortal could override the unwritten and unfailing statutes of heaven.  For their life is not of to-day or yesterday but from all time, and no man knows when they were first put forth.’[22]

There you have the assertion of a law supreme and binding on all men, eternal, not to be set aside by human enactment.

And now turn to this passage from the traveller and historian Herodotus, an almost exact contemporary of Sophocles.  He has been telling how Cambyses, king of the Persians, has been wantonly insulting the religion and customs of the Egyptians.  ‘The man must have been mad,’ he says: 

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The Unity of Civilization from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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