The Ancient City: A Study of the Religion, Laws, and Institutions of Greece and Rome

The Ancient City: A Study of the Religion, Laws, and Institutions of Greece and Rome

With this influential study, French historian Numa Denis Fustel de Coulanges initiated a new approach to Greek and Roman city organization.

Fustel de Coulanges' 1864 masterpiece, La Cité antique, drew upon physical evidence as well as ancient documents rather than the usual post-Classical histories.

Fustel cites ancient Indian and Hebrew texts as well as Greek and Roman sources.

Read Online The Ancient City: A Study of the Religion, Laws, and Institutions of Greece and Rome

Ce qui se dessine, c'est, selon la thèse de Fustel De Coulanges, une apparition 'naturelle' de la religion qu'il imagine et déduit à travers les rites les plus anciens, puis il pose comme principe que ces idées religieuses ont dicté les règles politiques de propriété, de règlement des cité, qu'elles en sont la source. Créés et accaparées par les seuls riches et puissants, ces règles religieuses antiques perdent peu à peu de leur importance à mesure que les pauvres gagnent des droits, jusqu'à ce qu'après un cycle de révolutions, le Christianisme sépare définitivement la religion de lÉtat, et mette un terme aux révolutions et aux malheurs en réconciliant riches et pauvres, demandant à tous de ne plus tant se préoccuper du confort de cette vie que celle d'une autre, hypothétique. Pareil pour "Le droit de propriété fut transformé dans son essence ; les bornes sacrées des champs disparurent ; la propriété ne découla plus de la religion, mais du travail ".

"But that which was merely the effort and energy of a courageous sect the Stoics," the author notes, "Christianity made a universal and unchangeable rule for succeeding generations." By proclaiming that "religion is no longer the state, and that to obey Caesar is no longer the same thing as to obey God," Christ broke "the alliance which paganism and the empire wished to renew."

You wouldn't think a book about the religious system of early Greeks and Romans and how it related to government would be so interesting. The early religious idea of worshiping the family's gods was the basis not only for marriage, but reproducing, since only the male heir of the father could continue to uphold the rites. I'm not even all that interested in Greek or Roman history but I enjoyed the book very much.

This very detailed, yet easy to read, well translated work explaining the evolvement of religious beliefs and rites, along with political changes, in Greece and Rome (and India), is most interesting. The book covers several centuries and we see the changes as they evolved in the religious and political scene over the years. In the midst of the changes which took place in institutions, in manners, in religious ideas, and in laws, patriotism itself had changed its nature; and this is one of the events which contributed most to the great progress of Rome. Toward the end of the book we learn how Christianity changed the conditions of government and marked the end of ancient society. It was the end of the road from the time when every god protected exclusively a single family or a single city, and existed only for that. We have sought to place in a clear light this social system of the ancients, where religion was absolute master, both in public and private life; where the state was a religious community, the king a pontiff, the magistrate a priest, and the law a sacred formula; where patriotism was piety, and exile excommunication; where individual liberty was unknown; where man was enslaved to the state through his soul, his body, and his property; where the notions of law and of duty, of justice and of affection, were bounded within the limits of the city; where human association was necessarily confined within a certain circumference around a pryraneum; and where men saw no possibility of founding larger societies.

Los motivos que movían a las personas para agruparse, partiendo de familias, en grupos cada vez más amplios y la evolución de esos motivos que conllevaban, a su vez, la evolución de las sociedades en las que residían, es el amplio cuadro que nos detalla de forma muy amena este autor ya clásico. Ver cómo se miden en una balanza las fuerzas revolucionarias de unos contra las fuerzas conservadoras de los otros es lo que realmente llama la atención. Es el caso de este libro; nos planteamos muy vivamente hoy día la misma pregunta, la riqueza sigue siendo, como en la República de Roma, el factor determinante a la hora de determinar la condición de vida más probable de los miembros de la sociedad?

De Coulanges's purpose in writing it was to show how different the worldview of the ancient Greeks and Romans was from our own, to prevent the common mistake of believing the ancients to be too much like ourselves.

The essential idea is that no one living in the modern age (although actually the book was written in the 19th century) can adequately understand the thinking of the citizens of early Classic Greece and Rome, whose lives were entirely structured around a very primitive form of Indo-Aryan ancestor worship.

  • English

  • History

  • Rating: 4.26
  • Pages: 416
  • Publish Date: October 27th 2006 by Dover Publications
  • Isbn10: 0486447308
  • Isbn13: 9780486447308