The Ancient City

Book Details

Author  Numa Denis Fustel De Coulanges
Publisher  Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication Date   May 1, 1980
ISBN  0801823048
Pages  416

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This historic book may have numerous typos and missing text. Purchasers can usually download a free scanned copy of the original book (without typos) from the publisher. Not indexed. Not illustrated. 1874 edition. Excerpt: ... BOOK THIRD. THE CITY. CHAPTER I. The Phratry and the Cury. The Tribe. As yet we have given no dates, nor can we now. In the history of these antique societies the epochs are more easily marked by the succession of ideas and of institutions than by that of years. The study of the ancient rules of private law has enabled us to obtain a glimpse, beyond the times that are called historic, of a succession of centuries during which the family was the sole form of society. This family might then contain within its wide compass several thousand human beings. But in these limits human association was yet too narrow; too narrow for material needs, since this family hardly sufficed for all the chances of life; too narrow for the moral needs of our nature, for we have seen how incomplete was the knowledge of the divine, and how insufficient was the morality of this little world. The smallness of this primitive society corresponded well with the narrowness of the idea then entertained of the divinity. Every family had its gods, and men neither conceived of nor adored any save the domestic 154 divinities. But he could not have contented himself long with these gods so much below what his intelligence might attain. If many centuries were required for him to arrive at the idea of God as a being unique, incomparable, infinite, he must at any rate have insen-sibly approached this ideal, by enlarging his conception from age to age, and by extending little by little the horizon whose line separated for him the divine Being from the things of this world. j>Ehe religious idea and human society went on, thereFore, expanding at the same time. The domestic_religiqn forbade two families to mingle and unite; but it was possible for several families, without_...

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