History of European Morals from Augustus to Charlemagne ( of Volume 1
Excerpt: ...and his eloquence commanded the most various audiences in the most distant lands. His special mission, however, was to popularise Stoicism by diffusing its principles through the masses of mankind. 600 The names, and in some cases a few fragments, of the writings of many other rhetorical philosophers, such as Herod Atticus, Favorinus, Fronto, Taurus, Fabianus, and Julianus, have come down to us, and each was the centre of a group of passionate admirers, and contributed to form a literary society in the great cities of the empire. We have a vivid picture of this movement in the "Attic Nights" of Aulus Gellius-a work which is, I think, one of the most curious and instructive in Latin literature, and which bears to the literary society of the period of the Antonines much the same relation as the writings of Helvetius bear to the Parisian society on the eve of the Revolution. Helvetius, it is said, collected the materials for his great work on "Mind" chiefly from the conversation of the drawing-rooms of Paris at a time when that conversation had attained a degree of pg 314 perfection which even Frenchmen had never before equalled. He wrote in the age of the "Encyclopaedia," when the social and political convulsions of the Revolution were as yet unfelt; when the first dazzling gleams of intellectual freedom had flashed upon a society long clouded by superstition and aristocratic pride; when the genius of Voltaire and the peerless conversational powers of Diderot, irradiating the bold philosophies of Bacon and Locke, had kindled an intellectual enthusiasm through all the ranks of fashion; 601 and when the contempt for the wisdom and the methods of the past was only equalled by the prevailing confidence in the future. Brilliant, graceful, versatile, and superficial, with easy eloquence and lax morals, with a profound disbelief in moral excellence, and an intense appreciation of intellectual beauty, disdaining all pedantry, superstition, and..
- Paperback | 172 pages
- 189 x 246 x 9mm | 318g
- 13 Sep 2013
- Illustrations, black and white