Roman Republic and Empire b - RR160B4b
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The last were some were dreaming of restoring the old republic and its constitution when that was centuries old and the empire far beyond that in its development. One occasion an emperor who was [unknown] didn’t know what to do turned the government over to the senate and said you run the country I’m a military man I don’t know what to do and the senate pondered and pondered and pondered for a while and they said well you take it over for a while and we’ll investigate you. That’s about all the senate had become, an investigating body documenting all the horrible things the emperor and various people were doing. That was their idea of things. There was nothing that could be saved and more than anyone else it was one of the church fathers, the Presbyter Salvian [??] who saw the issue. And his book The Governance of God is almost terrifying reading because he said there must be judgment because there is a God. And he said Rome is dying but it continues to laugh and he is the one who wrote and I’ve cited this a number of times at different meetings but some of you I’m sure have not heard it. He was in Trier when Trier was overcome by the barbarians and the games were going on in the circus, when the barbarians entered Trier. And he wrote that the city was noisy with the shouts of the raped and the dying and the shout of the people cheering in the coliseum. [00:03:09]
And when the city was razed, burned to the ground,...
And when the city was razed, burned to the ground, the survivors and the city council looked to the emperor asking him to rebuild the coliseum and start up the circus and the games to improve public moral. And so he said thus it is in Rome. Should they survive? Should they survive. One of the interesting sidelights is that over the generations it has become increasingly easy to chart the course of the various barbarian bands as they moved into the empire, they were just a few thousand! There were tens of millions of Romans and a few thousand wandering barbarians destroyed it all because there was nobody to make a stand and fight and too many who felt oh let it go, what’s the use. So you can’t talk about it as a war in which Rome fell. Just wandering bands of barbarians. It would be like saying that five years from now the American Indians were going to take over the United States, it would be comparable. Percentage wise it would be about the same, many the Indians would have an edge by a considerable margin because there are several hundred thousand Indians, about half a million and the barbarians all told numbered in the tens of thousands only. It collapsed; no one felt there was anything to defend. And these bands of barbarians as they would go through an area people would hide their gold, they would bury it, figuring we’ll come back to it after it’s over, well sometimes they did and sometimes they were all wiped out and they didn’t. And every now and then somebody in Europe will dig up a hoard of ancient gold and the historians will immediately put it down on their maps, another pinpoint on a map. And with these pin points they can trace very accurately now just where these different bands went because the route of their travel is the route of the gold discoveries. [00:06:18]
Rome at the same time was decimated by plagues and...
Rome at the same time was decimated by plagues and epidemics. It was not for lack of sanitary facilities. Bathing, health, hygiene, everything was at an all-time high but the will to live was gone. There was no meaning, no purpose to life and so Rome fell. The tragedy I think can be best be accented by a fact I referred to in a Chalcedon Report of about a year ago. Rome with a population going into the millions finally had a population generations after its fall as it declined of only five hundred, of only five hundred. That’s how radical the breakdown was. And farmers and peasants in the area would move into the palaces and the bathes and the public buildings and dismantled them and took the rocks for fencing and for building barns and corrals. Rome was finished. Sodonieus [sp??] did not believe that any such thing would happen, oh God wouldn’t let all this wonderful work of man disappear, but God did because it was His work that was going to stand and stand it did. But that’s another story and we’ll come to that in subsequent weeks. Let’s bow our heads in prayer before we go onto the question period.
Almighty God our Heavenly Father we give thanks unto Thee that it is not the government of men that finally rules us but Thy government and Thine alone. The very hairs of our heads are all numbered, to the smallest detail of all creation Thy providence rules and overrules. And so our Father in this confidence we commit ourselves into Thy keeping and dedicate ourselves to Thy service that we might reconstruct all things in terms of Thy sovereign word. In Jesus’s name, Amen.
Are there any questions now? Yes? [00:09:16]
[Rushdoony] Very good analogy and well put. Incidentally before I forget a couple of little things I’d like to add. We are now self-consciously in a period of Roman revival. Have you ever noticed Roman spas that are advertised and so on? There’s a self-conscious turning to things roman in the worst period of Rome. Do you know where the bikini came from? From Rome! The bikini appeared first in civilization as a Roman style and it was self-consciously adopted from Roman murals and fashions. I’ll show you a picture of Roman bikinis from the mosaic [unknown] of a Roman villa in Sicily and it’ll give you an idea of just how…where…they got that idea.
[General talking and laughing]
In case you didn’t notice a while back one fashion designer tried to introduce togas for men. [laughter] It didn’t catch on. Yes? [Background talking and laughter] Yes, well put.
[Rushdoony] Oh yes, that’s true.
[Rushdoony] They were copied, from this mural in particular.
[General talking and laughter] [00:12:00]
[Rushdoony] While I’m at it there are a couple of other...
[Rushdoony] While I’m at it there are a couple of other pictures I’d like to show you because I think they are very revealing, these will be of some of the emperors and I think it shows how progressively the impossibility of ruling Rome began to leave its mark on the emperors. The first pictures will be of some of the early Emperors beginning with Octavian, the young man, who was portrayed, to us it seems a little of a fixed stare but that fixed stare was the idea of the Romans, that you were looking off into eternity. Now these emperors or the early ones, and you can see there’s a self-assurance or a self-confidence. But then when I turn the page you will see the difference because then come these two at the top of the page and then at the bottom down here one of the later emperors, a worried, worried man. And all the later emperors look sick. [Unintelligible]..and now…this one up at the top is Commodus. Commodus was the son of Marcus Aurelius the philosopher and here is, look at that picture, he’s not a happy man.
[Rushdoony] That’s Caracalla, no. Yes, that’s Caracalla. [General talking] well Commodus his dates are 180-192, Caracalla, 211-217 but [unknown] to 249-251 and he’s the one who looks worried and from that time on they were. Now Commodus was the son of the philosopher emperor, Marcus Aurelius, the stoic philosopher. And with Commodus you have a son who was trained to be the ideal emperor after Plato’s Republic.
[Man speaks unintelligible] [00:14:42]
[Rushdoony] Yes he does...
[Rushdoony] Yes he does! [General laughter] Now Commodus realized that if nothing really exists in the way of a god then all philosophy is ridiculous. So he became the total sensualist. He had a double harem of three hundred girl and three hundred boys, this is Commodus. And this double harem included a Christian girl who was the one who assassinated him finally but he was so popular in Rome because of his total contempt of all law, of all meaning, this is Commodus.
[Rushdoony] It’s Michael Grant, The World of Rome…[becomes unintelligible]
[Same woman is speaking]
[Rushdoony] Yes, the question is why do so many conservatives idealize Rome and present Rome and Cicero as though the ideals of Cicero and Christianity were one and the same? The answer is of course these people are humanists. In The One and the Many I deal with some length with cicero. Now Cicero was thoroughly a humanist, he was a conservative, the leading conservative of the day, he was very much for religion and for the old Roman gods, he didn’t believe in a one of them. But if you insist on doing away with them he felt what are the people going to believe in, then they are going to steal from us, so keep them in line, keep them believing that the gods are going to punish them if they steal. [00:17:30]
Of course that was the position similar to Voltaire...
Of course that was the position similar to Voltaire’s. Voltaire wanted to retain Christianity for the common people. When he had a group of philosophers in his room once ridiculing Christianity he silenced them when his servant came into the room to serve them because as he told them when the servant left, he said I don’t want him to hear this kind of talk because he doesn’t believe there’s a god he’ll steal from me. Now this was Cicero, now what could Cicero give to anybody. He had no faith to give to anyone, but it’s not surprising that so many conservatives have glorified Cicero. They go to what he says and sometimes Cicero said some very fine things. But he also said some very scoundrely things. Cicero was an attorney who defended a client once in court who had been accused of rape and his attitude was well that girl didn’t come from any family of consequence, she’s a nobody, she should have been flattered that my client raped her. That was the kind of man Cicero was, this great hero.
[Woman speaks unintelligibly]
[Rushdoony] Right, a very good question, how do the powers like Rome arise? Well first of all there was a kind of military discipline to begin with, and this horror of the flesh they had led them to be disciplined in the early period. Then at the same time they were able to take advantage of the fact that the other powers roundabout were in their decline. The Etruscans whom they destroyed in Italy as the rival power were an old power that was declining, that was becoming corrupt, and very, very decadent. Then in the Greeks whom they also overthrew they had a similar thing. People would become degenerate and soft and therefore were easily overthrown. The Carthaginians were a little harder to overthrow. So the Carthaginians were the one major power until they ran across Mithridates which I deal with, he was quite a character, wild, wild sort of character if you recall from reading about him, but I think one of the most interesting in history. [00:20:23]
Somebody ought to do a life of Mithridates someday...
Somebody ought to do a life of Mithridates someday because in terms of an old fashioned romantic character but a scoundrely one Mithridates was it. And he was as I point out I believe, eleven years old, and his father died and he became king. He knew that there were too many out to kill him and gain power, so he just ran for his life, and he lived for seven years as a fugitive among the common people. He learned twenty one languages of the people in his realm and when he was seventeen and he was a giant of a man, just enormous, the stories of his physical strength are staggering, he came back and cleaned house at the palace and took over the country. And he was an enormously popular with the people because he had lived among them, he spoke their language, he had their tastes, once some years after he just dropped out of sight for a time and wandered around to see what the people were thinking, for months. He was somewhat irresponsible but he was a very popular leader, if he had been a better disciplined and organized man Rome could never have taken him. He was quite a character.
[Rushdoony] Oh relatives and other military leaders had a working alliance and were jockeying for power but they were hoping they could catch up with him and eliminate him you see because as long as he was alive nobody had power securely. But he wandered everywhere and lived the life of a bum and a ragamuffin, lived by his wits, quite a man, yes. [00:22:30]
[Rushdoony] Yes, mhmm. I would say the majority of them are, but they are under an illusion when they think Cicero was someone to idealize.
[Same women speaks]
[Rushdoony] The average one doesn’t. Now [unknown] who is a very fine woman and a very superior writer nonetheless has written a book glorifying Cicero. And this has been very popular with many conservatives in and out of the Birch Society. And I think to glorify Cicero is certainly a sad mistake, a sad mistake. With so many great Christians that deserve treatment to go to Cicero I just can’t see it.
[Same woman speaks]
[Rushdoony] Oh well I have seen many, I didn’t refer to the society if you will recall, but there are many people in and out of the Birch Society, conservatives of every stripe, who very commonly will cite Cicero as a great conservative hero. There have been several books written lately in which this key note is mentioned. But Cicero is no sound hero, he was not a conservative in any sense that would be acceptable to a Christian. Yes?
[Rushdoony] What race? Oh yes. The ancient Egyptians were Hamitic but they were very definitely a white people, the Assyrians were also. And there are as I indicated many Assyrians to this day, they are a fair number of them in California of the seventy to hundred thousand Assyrians still living. And by and large they are a mild mannered little to the tall side and more light complexioned than most Middle Eastern people. Yes? [00:25:00]
[Rushdoony] Yes. The statement was that at the dinner, last month, I had stated that the purpose of Chalcedon and of the Chalcedon Guild was godly reconstruction through Jesus Christ. And this is our purpose, and this is why we cannot waste our time with humanists like Cicero or Emerson or anyone else whose answer leads in the wrong direction. Now tonight I was working on the lesson for a couple weeks for Sunday morning, on patience, and we shall see when we talk about patience and when ministers talk about it from the pulpit they are talking about something that is a completely pagan stoic idea. One which Cicero would understand far better than Jesus Christ. Well, I don’t want to get ahead of that [laughter] but you see we have been so brainwashed, so brainwashed by generations of compromise between Christianity and humanism that by and large we have to work to separate ourselves from these things and to eliminate them from our own thinking. Sunday morning we dealt with the biblical meaning of hope, for example, and how hope as the bible means it is something different than what the world means by that hope. Yes?
[Question unintelligible] [00:27:35]
[Rushdoony] Yes, first of all we have to say that at...
[Rushdoony] Yes, first of all we have to say that at the beginning all the potentialities of all races were present in Adam and Eve. So that the potentially of all races were present in Adam and Eve which meant their children were less related to each other because of the tremendous genetic potential than say, two English men are related to each other. Now, as various peoples went to different parts of the world and because separated they would begin to emphasis certain qualities that they regarded as desirable. For example, in China, way way back, the idea of a barbarian was of a hairy man and you can see what this did. If someone who was bearded and hairy was a barbarian the man who had a heavy beard was not likely to find a wife very readily, you see. So you bred out people. So the Chinese, the Orientals, tended progressively to breed towards a certain standard of beauty. Then for example in many parts of Europe, well the Indo-European peoples generally up until about a century ago, the standard of beauty was a big nose. Indo-European, yes. And this was important, you go back for example to some of the great men of England of the middle ages and look at their pictures, it’ll surprise you how the big nosed, the eagle beaked, you see, that was the standard, the eagle among the Indo-European peoples appears on their standards again and again, and the eagle beak very prominently. And as a result the big nose was very popular until the last century when it suddenly began to be unpopular and it is being bred out. There was a good reason for its popularity, incidentally, the eagle beak, the large nose, is a very good health factor in that it does eliminate many infections. The negro peoples with a flat nose carry air into their lungs before it is properly warmed up by the large nose of the Indo-European peoples and therefore they more readily contract respitory ailments. [00:30:34]
Now you see these changes have occurred, you can go...
Now you see these changes have occurred, you can go back from the old plates, the pictures, the drawings, and see the difference in some of the European peoples in terms of what became their standard of beauty. Just in the past two or three hundred years you can see it. To make a point, now one of the interesting things is, is to see what photographers in the United States, photography is a century or so old and before that the dagortype, considered was found in beauty. Well, what the photographers chose as the standard of beauty in the last century almost till World War One was still the old fashioned standard of the Greek statuary of a woman with a very large nose and much heavier than the average American woman was. Because when you get to the pictures you find that the average American woman in the last century was quite slim, quite slim, you might say fashionably slim in terms of today’s standards, and one reason was because she worked hard. In those days she chopped wood, she baked, she was on the go, she didn’t put on weight very readily. So what they considered beautiful and what the average American woman was too different things you see. But their standard of beauty was still the old fashioned standard. So the ideal people have of beauty is very different. Now in Japan you are seeing a very marked change in the appearance of the Japanese girls, especially the girls. First, through eating different things, eating a lot of milk, they are getting much larger in size, and second, there’s a different standard, the old fashioned type Japanese girl is finding difficult to marry, she’s winding up the secretary and the girl who looks more American is winding up with a husband. So the Japanese are changing in their appearance very drastically.
[Question unintelligible] [00:33:30]
[Rushdoony] Yes individuals have influenced standards...
[Rushdoony] Yes individuals have influenced standards too.
[Same man keeps talking]
[Rushdoony] Well the near east has always been through the centuries until fairly recent times the target of many peoples. And you had for example Paul’s letter to the Galatians, who were the Galatians, they were Celts, they would say Scotch or Irish. Well what were they doing down there? Well they were doing what just everybody else at that time was trying to do, horn in on the area that had the best climate, that was beautifully wooded, that had nice streams, that had a lot of very desirable features, you see. So that just as since World War Two everybody has been heading for California which has half ruined California, for centuries everybody has been heading for the Middle East, which ruined that area. It’s no longer what it was in those days. So you had all kinds of peoples. So you had the Gails who went down and founded an area of Galatia and the Scythians who were there and got shoved out and they wound up in Scotland finally. So you see there were tremendous migrations of people heading for that area from all over the world.
[Question unintelligible] [00:35:18]
[Rushdoony] Yes it was as I point out...
[Rushdoony] Yes it was as I point out; it was a center in terms of the fact that three continents made that their highway. So the trade of the world went through the Middle East. It made it a tremendously wealthy area and a very desirable area. Yes?
[General uproarious laughter]
[Rushdoony] Yes. Either one.
[Rushdoony] The Indo- European peoples were a group of peoples thinking a common language who perhaps originated in what is now Lithonia and spread over a vast territory and conquered it. Not as a unity but as just differing bands. In Asia they were once very extensive and the [unknown] of India today and some of the upper castes are descendants of the Indo-Europeans and their old language is an Indo-European language. The Persians are an Indo-European people speaking an Indo-European language. The Armenians. Then in Europe of course the various European peoples excepting the Basks and the Gaels, or Celts. They are survivors of people who previously, well first you had the Bask people apparently in Western Europe, and then they were wiped out and the survivors pushed up into the [unknown]. Then the Galatians or Galls or Celts and they were crowded out by the Indo-European peoples and the Galls were overcome by the Romans in what is now France and they survive today in the Britons, the Britannia, France, the Irish, the Welsh and the Scots. So the Indo-European peoples took over most of these areas and at one time you could say their strong hold was the Middle East, Persia and portions of India. That was the center, really, for a long, long time of the Indo-European peoples.
[Question unintelligible] [00:38:20]
[Rushdoony] By these Indo-Europeans? Yes, wherever...
[Rushdoony] By these Indo-Europeans? Yes, wherever they went they assimilated a great many in Europe, for example, there’s a great deal of assimilation there of the old Bask and Celtic population as well of Mongols. You see to this day you have two groups in Europe who speak Mongol tongues. Does anyone know who they are? No, the Russians speak Slavic which is an Indo-European language. The Hungarians are one, yes. And the other? The Finns! The Finns, yes. All you can find in them of their Mongol background is the high cheek bone. Sometimes the eyes, yes. Well our time really is up now so read on through to the rest of your text for next time, you may not be able…