« НазадПродовжити »
tration of the consideration displayed by the Romans for the tastes and the sciences of their subjects. Beyond their own powers, their trophy, but not their creation, it found a habitation amongst them as an alien; and though it had its admirers, its inspiration was degraded and its sanctity profaned. Instead, however, of any misgivings concerning the abuses of its teachings, the tenderest poet of Rome exulted in the inability of his countrymen to become the disciples, and in turn the authors, of those sublime or gentle works, than which few can have a higher rank amongst the offspring of the human hand, or mind, or heart.
Returning to the philosophy of which some general account is essential to the history of liberty in Rome, we may endeavour to draw up its profounder principles from the depths of dogmas and stormy demonstrations, wherein they now silently repose. The old barriers of the East, shaken by Thales and Pythagoras, were broken down, as we have observed, by Socrates.' It was the part of this great and good man, not only to free the human spirit from some of its restraints, but to direct it to some of its highest ends, towards which, as he seemed to inculcate, there could be a security, so to speak, of progress, provided they were faithfully pursued. Without forming any rigorous system, he contented himself with commending to his hearers the earnestness, and, to a certain degree, the confidence, in which, as he knew full well, the virtue of any system then possible was comprised. The disciples who caught the greatest share of this inspiration were Plato and Aristotle, both of whom were confident and earnest, as Socrates had taught, though after a manner peculiar to themselves. Plato lived in a visionary sphere, from which he emerged at various seasons to relate the sounds he had heard and the sights he had beheld, almost always with his master imagined at his side. Aristotle, on the contrary, devoted himself to what he would have called a more practical wisdom, and wrote with patient and marvellous sagacity of the world as it was before his eyes and within his mind. One was the real, perhaps, and the other the ideal philosopher; while each in his own way proved his loyalty to his great instructor, with the striking exception before remarked, of denying their knowledge to the mass of their fellow-beings.
9 Diog. Laert., I. 13, 18.
8 - Excudent alii,” etc. Æn. VI. 847 et seq. Cf. Hor., Epist. II. 1. 28 et seq.
In other schools, more directly connected with the later studies of the learned in Rome, the questions concerning human conduct which Aristotle and Plato had avoided, or else answered by general professions concerning human knowledge, were introduced as the prominent objects of philosophy. Here, again, the methods of seeking the same ends were divided into almost totally opposite courses.
10 « Il n'y a pas de système So- Socrates, “Parens philosophiæ jure cratique, mais il y a un esprit So- dici potest.” De Fin. Bon. et Mal., cratique." Cousin, Hist. Phil., II. 1. Leç. II. Hence, as Cicero said of
The Stoics, following the impulse received from their master, Zeno, trusted in the indulgence of reason and in the mortification of the affections; while the nearly contrary doctrines of Epicurus were obeyed by his disciples in yielding to the affections, and in employing reason chiefly where its exercise would banish weariness, or pain, or superstition." If it be right to distinguish these different systems with reference to the spirit in which they were embraced at Rome, where Porcius Cato was a Stoic, and men of adverse principles were Epicureans,12 we may consider the Stoics as inclined to fall back upon the past with more implicit obedience to its principles, while the Epicureans may be counted as having preferred the present, without concern for its corruptions or its changes.
Meanwhile, the anxiety of many minds attracted them to a third school, bearing the name of the New Academy, perhaps originally instituted as a nursery of doctrines midway between the two extremes described. Its adherents professed conformity to reason 13 as the means and the end of human attainments, at the same moment that they denied the security of its uses or its results. Carneades, more distinguished as the expounder, especially at Rome, than Arcesilaus, the founder, of the Academy, maintained that the probability of the truth was all that could be procured in science, ethics, or religion ; 14 and though the general system of the philosophers who called themselves the New Academicians was variously subdivided, the denied possibility of absolute knowledge was the common spring to every separate stream of opinion.15 The toilsome resolution of the Stoics and the indolent trustfulness of the Epicureans came to a fitting termination in the skepticism and the lassitude to which the New Academy surrendered. 16
11 This is the most significant 12 See Ritter's Hist. of Ancient point of all. Compare what Cicero Phil., Book XII. ch. 2. says of Epicurus, “Balbutientem 13 Triv uèv yàp cúda povlav Tepede natura deorum ” (De Divin., I. yiveobai dià rîs opovýoews, K. t. d. 3), with the resolute verses of the Sext. Emp., cited by Ritter et PrelEpicurean Lucretius, I. 63 et seq., ler, Hist. Phil. Gr. et Rom., Sect. V. 1197 et seq.
The object of this summary review must not be mistaken for any thing more extensive than the exposition of the relation of the schools it enumerates to the Romans as men or citizens rather than as scholars. For to them, that is, to the highest of them, devoted, as they were, to conquests and to luxuries, the pursuit of philosophy, like that of art, was for a long time valuable only according to its increase of their ease, their entertainment, or their pride. If it could minister to the graces of the private individual, or to the powers of the orator over the Senate and the brawling Forum, or, again, to the majesty of the general and the governor in presence of the subject and the vanquished, it was then a necessary part of their education and their ambition. But that it could become, as the greatest of its votaries in Rome declared, the parent of works and words good in themselves,18 was not until his own time considered as the especial recommendation of philosophy.
14 See Tennemann's Manual Hist. 16 “ Perturbatricem autem harum Phil., Sect. 168, or the authorities omnium rerum,” says Cicero (De cited by Ritter et Preller, op. cit., Legg., I. 13), “ Academiam, hanc Sect. 423 – 425, and notes. ab Arcesila et Carneade recentem,
15 See the preceding note, and exoremus, ut sileat. Nam si," etc. compare Cic., Acad. Post., I. 12; Pr., II. 21, 45; De Orat., III. 18.
It was Cicero, indeed, in whom the thought of philosophy as the standard of right and wrong to its believers appears to have been preëminent. - Every correction of our frailties and our sins,” he says, “is to be obtained from philosophy. As in the time when the pleasure and the duty of my youth impelled me to throw myself into its arms, so now, in this season of great misfortune, I have escaped, after being tossed by dreadful storms, into the same haven from which I departed. Othou philosophy, the guide of life, the searcher after virtue, the router of vice, what were we or what were human life without thee ?”19 If the eager philosopher belonged to any school in particular, it was to that of the New Academy; but he was rather an eclectic according to his own inclinations, accepting the theories of one system and the observances of another in proportions suitable to form the body of wisdom he had imagined as the ideal of earth and heaven.20 This he would then have taught to his fellow-men, not, indeed, with
17 See Cicero's accounts of his 20 “ Princeps omnium virtutum studies in Brut., 89-91 ; De Off., illa sapientia, ..... illa sapientia II. 1; Tuscul. Quæst., IV. 26, V.3; rerum est divinarum atque humanaDe Amicit., 5; Paradox., Proem. rum scientia, in qua continetur deo18 Cic., Brut., 93.
rum et hominum communitas, et 19 And so on. Tuscul. Quæst., societas inter ipsos.” De Off., I. V. 2. See Ibid., I. 26.