Reports on Judaism, Christianity, and Roman Thought:


  1. Carefully read your texts.
  2. While reading, think about how you will answer the study questions.
  3. Write answers to the questions in sentences.
  4. Report to the class about the main ideas of the reading. (Don’t just tell the story but explain its significance.)
  5. Be ready to lead the class in a discussion of the review questions at the end of your section.



Animated History of the Near East


  • 1200 BC   Exodus
  • 1000 BC  Golden Age of Israel: Saul, David and Solomon
  • 722 BC    Assyrians conquer Northern Kingdom (Israel)
  • 586 BC    Babylonians conquer Southern Kingdom (Judea); Destruction of 1st Temple
  • 586-539 BC   Babylonian Captivity
  • 538 BC: The Persian king Cyrus allows the exiles back, and encourages them to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem
  • 164 BC: The Jews revolt against the Seleucid kings under the leadership of the Maccabbees brothers
  • 63 BC: The Romans conquer Judaea and soon install the family of Herod the Great as rulers of Judaea
  • 66-73 and 132-5 AD: Two great Jewish rebellions against the Romans end in the destruction of the Temple and the expulsion of the Jews from near Jerusalem

Test Questions: 

  1. How does the ambiguity of the ancient Hebrew myths (like The Garden of Eden, The Flood, and Job) teach us about the nature of the covenant between God and his chosen people? 
  2. Describe the path to the truth that must be followed according to ancient Hebrew thought.  

Genesis 1-3, 6-9

Genesis 1: Judaism vs. Greek Thought:

  • Compare Greek conceptions of the divine with the ancient Hebrew conception of God?
  • What is the difference between an immanent God and a transcendent God?
  • How did the ancient Hebrews see man's place in the natural world differently from the Greeks?
  • How is the Hebrew conception of the relationship between God and humans different?

Genesis 1:
The Creation:

[1] In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
[25] … and God saw that it was good
[27]  So God created man in his own image
[28] Be fruitful, and multiply
Judaism Greek Religion
Monotheism: one God and that God is Good!
(Greek animism: nature is alive with spirits.)
God is transcendent. (Greek Gods are omnipotent but human in character.)
Nature is created for the use of humans.
(Nature is possessed by spirits of gods who can only be appeased, not changed.)
Humans have been created to control Nature. (Nature and the gods determine human fate)
Nature is matter, the creation of God. (Nature is spirit—until the Ionian philosophers.)
Man and Woman are equal in eyes of God.
(Women must be honored but repressed.)

Genesis 2: Dueling Origins of Man and Woman Myths:

  • Speculate about why the rabbis who compiled the various books of the Bible chose to include a second creation myth.
  • How are the origins of man and woman different in this version? 
  • What was the relationship between man and God like in the Garden?
  • Why did God place the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden and then forbid Adam and Eve from tasting of its fruit?
  • How does evil come into the world? (Compare this myth with the Oedipus myth.)
  • Would life have been better if humans had never become conscious?

Genesis 1

[27]  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

The Creation: Genesis 1: God created man and woman as equals.

Genesis 2

[7] And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground
[22] And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, 
made he a woman

The Creation: Genesis 2: Man and Woman are not equal.

Man was created from the dust of the earth. (echoes of Prometheus myth)
Woman was created from Adam's Rib: (She doesn't even have a name until they get thrown out of Eden!)
Consubstantiality of marriage is emphasized, but they leave no doubt about who is on top in the family hierarchy!

The Eden Myth: The Origin of Evil

Genesis 3: Eden and The Fall of Man 

Paradise = Ignorance of Good and Evil
[8] And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden

The subtil Serpent seduces Eve, and Eve seduces Adam.
[5] ….Ye shall be as Gods …

They eat and realize they are naked
[7] And the eyes of them both were opened

[22] now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also 
of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever...

The Fall: The Consequences of Adam and Eve’s Disobedience

  • Shame (and Pleasure)
  • The Serpent is demonized.
  • Eve bears children in pain.
  • Food now can only be produced through toil; it is not freely available.
  • Death comes into the world.

Adam and Eve are ejected from garden.
(Why? If they eat of tree of life, they'd be like gods!)

Thesis Idea: The Eden Myth (Compare The Fall to Oedipus Rex!)

The Fall of Man is The Origin of Evil, yet also...
The Birth of Human Consciousness and Human Dignity.

  • Humans are created in the image of God, and we are given free will. 
  • Evil comes into the world through free human choice: human disobedience. 
  • Even so, humans have been freed by Eve's choice! Our fates are no longer determined by nature as the fates of animals are.
  • Therefore, we are now responsible for our choices! With God's gift of free will, we are now capable not only of evil but also of good.
  • Surely, God intended that we eat from the Tree of Knowledge; otherwise, he would not have put the Tree in the garden.

A brilliant vision of the facts of life!

Genesis 6-9: God Starts Over: Noah and the Flood

  • Why does God decide to destroy his own creation? (What does that tell you about this early conception of God? How can this God be perfect if he made a mistake in creating humans?)
  • What other myths have you studied about a god's search for one righteous person?
  • Describe the covenant that God makes with Noah after the flood.
  • What becomes the historical mission of God's chosen people?

Genesis 6: The Flood

God starts over. Yep, he just wipes humanity from the face of the earth. 
He repents of ever having made man!

[6] And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth

Armageddon by Flood

Free Will has led to rampant Blasphemy and Disobedience on a huge scale, so... 
God destroys his creation and starts over!

Noah's Ark: The Covenant:

Noah is chosen because he is a good man.
He demands that God promise not to do it again! 

[18] But with thee will I establish my covenant; 
[9] And, behold, I establish my covenant with you,
[13] I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.

The Birth of History: a linear sequence of events leading to a final Apocalyptic moment: the accomplishment of righteousness ON EARTH, not in heaven.

Thesis Idea: The Flood and The Covenant:

Huge emphasis on ethics in Jewish worldview:

  •  God searches the world looking for one righteous person. (Where have we heard that story before?)
  • God finds goodness in Noah with whom he establishes a special relationship.
  • The origin of the covenant: if the chosen people follow God's law, then God will not destroy the world (again).
  • Mission: The Jews will protect the world from destruction by teaching ethics. The Jews are chosen for a special responsibility: to save the world from a second destruction.


Exodus 19-23: The Law:

Moses on Mt. Sinai: 

  • What sustains the chosen people during their journey in the wilderness?
  • How does God communicate truth to humans according to this myth?
  • What is the nature of God's law?
  • How has the relationship between God and man evolved since Eden?

The Torah:  

  • What is the Torah?
  • What is the purpose behind the creation of such a specific and exacting code of behavior?

Hebrew Law: 

Exodus: parting of Red Sea; 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness: faith in covenant
Maps of the Holy Land (Powerpoint)

The Covenant: A relationship between God and Man: You follow my laws and me, and you will be treasured on earth. 

Moses on Mt. Sinai: The 10 Commandments:

  • a prophetic vision (unlike the Greek path to truth)
  • Revealed Truth is divine and beyond human (ie. rational) comprehension.
  • Prophecy: the ecstatic experience of a prophet in an altered state of being. The truth is revealed through a transforming imaginative experience. NOT THROUGH LOGIC. 

 [18] And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly.
[19] And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice.
[20] And the LORD came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount:
[1] And God spake all these words, saying...
[The Ten Commandments]

  • One God: no idols, no myths but my own.
  • Keep my name sacred (no name in vain).
  • Keep the Sabbath holy.
  • Honor your parents.
  • Thou Shalt Not: commit murder, theft, adultery, false witness, covetousness.

The Torah

  • 613 different laws and commandments that we are meant to follow. 
  • Very specific: Kosher, Temple, Prayer.
  • Setting a legal mould for the daily life of all Jews.
  • Mischief? Consequence: an eye for an eye
  • Equality? The under classes have rights too.

Thesis Idea: Hebrew Law

  • Fear and reverence combined. Thou shalt not…. (Ethics)
  • The Law: Revealed Truth is divine and beyond human (ie. rational) comprehension.
  • Prophecy: Truth is revealed through the visionary experience of a prophet in an altered state of consciousness: a transforming, ecstatic imaginative experience. NOT THROUGH LOGIC 
  • The Torah: a very specific code for living: applies universally

The Prophets: Amos, Isaiah, Isaiah2

Maps of the Holy Land (Powerpoint)


  • How does the story of Amos reaffirm the Hebrew belief in the essential nature of revelation as the path to truth?
  • What does Amos prophesize?
  • Does this vision indicate a break in the covenant between god and his chosen people?


  • What were the historical events that surrounded the Babylonian captivity?
  • How long were the Jews kept in captivity?
  • What does Isaiah prophesize?
  • How would Christians interpret this prophecy?

Prophecy: divine revelation: the direct line to the truth: beyond rational process.

Amos comes out of the desert after having had a vision. He prophesizes the coming destruction of Israel. The people have not followed the laws; they have broken the covenant. Therefore, the Destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem is assured! Generations of exile in Babylon must be suffered! Yet after that period of penance and contrition, the temple will be rebuilt.

5:16 Because of Israel’s sins this is what the Lord,
the God who leads armies, the Sovereign One, says:
“In all the squares there will be wailing,
in all the streets they will mourn the dead.
They will tell the field workers to lament
and the professional mourners to wail.
5:17 In all the vineyards there will be wailing,
for I will pass through your midst,” says the Lord.
5:24 Justice must flow like water,
right actions like a stream that never dries up.

9:14 I will bring back my people, Israel;
they will rebuild the cities lying in rubble and settle down.
They will plant vineyards and drink the wine they produce;
they will grow orchards and eat the fruit they produce.
9:15 I will plant them on their land
and they will never again be uprooted from the land I have given them,”
says the Lord your God.

Isaiah: Written during the captivity in Babylon, Isaiah prophesizes the coming liberation of the Jews
and their reunion with God. Prophecy of Jesus? 

45:17 Israel will be delivered once and for all by the Lord;
you will never again be ashamed or humiliated.

53:3 He was despised and rejected by people,
one who experienced pain and was acquainted with illness;
people hid their faces from him;
he was despised, and we considered him insignificant.
53:4 But he lifted up our illnesses,
he carried our pain;
even though we thought he was being punished,
attacked by God, and afflicted for something he had done.
53:5 He was wounded because of our rebellious deeds,
crushed because of our sins;
he endured punishment that made us well;
because of his wounds we have been healed.

Isaiah 2

[2] And it shall come to pass in the last days,
that the mountain of the LORD's house shall be established
in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills;
and all nations shall flow unto it.
[3] And many people shall go and say,

Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways,
and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law,
and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
[4] And he shall judge among the nations,

and shall rebuke many people:
and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks:
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more.

Job: The Problem of Undeserved Suffering

  • How did the writer of this story revise and improve upon a more ancient legend?
  • How did the original tale go? How was it changed?
  • What is Job's novel response to the tragedy that comes upon him?
  • How do the three counselors advise Job to cope with his tragedy?
  • Why does Job reject their advice?
  • What boon does Job receive from his confrontation with God?
  • Do you find the 'happy ending' satisfying?

Compare the Job Myth with Oedipus Rex:

  • How do these different cultures respond differently to tragedy?
  • How do these stories describe two fundamentally different visions of the relationship between man and God?

Job and The Problem of Undeserved Suffering: 

The Ancient Legend of Job:

God inflicts a terrible fate upon a righteous man who sustains his faith and
thus achieves God’s reward.

The Revision of the Job Legend:

Satan and God debate whether a good man can keep his faith under adversity:
Satan destroys Job's property and all of his children!
... But Job remains faithful to God. 
Next Satan inflicts a terrible skin disease on Job. 
...Still, Job remains faithful to God....

HOWEVER, he finally questions God's justice: "Why me? Why?"
He rejects life, but not his God. Instead, he rebukes God:

3:[11] Why died I not from the womb? why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly?

7:11 Therefore I will not refrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.
[12] Am I a sea, or a whale, that thou settest a watch over me?
[13] When I say, My bed shall comfort me, my couch shall ease my complaint;
[14] Then thou scarest me with dreams, and terrifiest me through visions:
[15] So that my soul chooseth strangling, and death rather than my life.
[16] I loathe it; I would not live always: let me alone; for my days are vanity.
[17] What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him?
[18] And that thou shouldest visit him every morning, and try him every moment?
[19] How long wilt thou not depart from me, nor let me alone till I swallow down my spittle?
[20] I have sinned; what shall I do unto thee, O thou preserver of men? why hast thou set me as a mark against thee, so that I am a burden to myself?
[21] And why dost thou not pardon my transgression, and take away mine iniquity? for now shall I sleep in the dust; and thou shalt seek me in the morning, but I shall not be.

He complains that God rewards evil and punishes righteousness:

21: [7] Wherefore do the wicked live, become old, yea, are mighty in power?
[8] Their seed is established in their sight with them, and their offspring before their eyes.
[9] Their houses are safe from fear, neither is the rod of God upon them.
[10] Their bull gendereth, and faileth not; their cow calveth, and casteth not her calf.
[11] They send forth their little ones like a flock, and their children dance.
[12] They take the timbrel and harp, and rejoice at the sound of the organ.
[13] They spend their days in wealth, and in a moment go down to the grave.
[14] Therefore they say unto God, Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways.
[15] What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? and what profit should we have, if we pray unto him?

The Counselors Offer Rational Explanations for the Problem of Evil:

Job's friends suggest that he suffers for the sins of his children or that he suffers because of some secret sin that he has committed, but Job rejects these explanations. His wife even suggests that he forsake God or condemn him.

...But Job will neither surrender to despair nor relent in his accusations.

Job continues to question God and demands an explanation for his suffering.


[1] Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said,
[2] Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?
[3] Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.
[4] Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.
[5] Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?
[6] Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof;
[7] When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
[8] Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb?

Who are you to question the ways of God? 
Where were you at the creation of the earth? 
Some questions have no rational answer. 
Bad things do happen to good people. 

... Seen in a whirlwind, Job receives a prophetic vision of God's truth,  a truth beyond good and evil, a truth which issues from the heart of the universe, at the core of its structure.
At this moment, the narrative reverts to the more ancient legend:  Job's wealth is restored. He remarries and starts a new family. But is the ending really so happy? What of the innocent children who died?

Thesis Idea: Job 

Another Great Essay Question!

Compare Job to Oedipus Rex: Contrast the Hebrew conception of undeserved suffering with the Greek vision of Tragedy:

What boon does Job return with after his vision of God amidst the whirlwind?
What boon does Oedipus receive at the moment that he gouges out his eyes?

Judaism Test Questions:

1. How does the ambiguity of the ancient Hebrew myths (like The Garden of Eden, The Flood, and Job) teach us about the nature of the covenant between God and his chosen people? 

2. Describe the path to the truth that must be followed according to ancient Hebrew thought. 


Christianity Test Questions:

3. How does the teaching of Jesus integrate ancient Greek and ancient Hebrew thought?

4. What methods did the early church fathers (Peter, Paul and Augustine) use to successfully spread Christianity?

How did St. Augustine solve the theological problem of evil?

Matthew, 4-7, The Sermon on the Mount

3. How does the teaching of Jesus integrate ancient Greek and ancient Hebrew thought?

  • How does Jesus redefine the law?
  • How is Jesus' notion of prayer similar to Socrates' daily method?
  • How does Jesus' promise of salvation redefine the covenant?

The Sermon on the Mount: a summary of Jesus' ethical teaching.

Matthew 5:1 The Beatitudes:

The Good News of Christianity

[1] And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:
[2] And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,
[3] Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
[4] Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
[5] Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
[6] Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
[7] Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
[8] Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
[9] Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
[10] Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
[11] Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

[14] Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
[15] Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
[16] Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
[17] Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

Jesus teaches a new covenant that transforms and fulfills ancient Hebrew Law:  

[21]  Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
[22] But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment

[27] Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
[28] But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
[29] And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
[30] And if thy right hand offend thee, cut if off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

[39] But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
[43] Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
[44] But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you

  • Murder: even being angry with your brother is liable to judgment.
  • Adultery: even looking at a woman with lust is a sin..
  • No longer an eye for an eye: instead, love your enemy; "turn the other cheek".
  • The moral: go against your natural, instinctive response.
  • Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

Path to the Truth: Look inward for the root of sin:

Matthew 5: [5] And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
[6] But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

Matt.7 [1] Judge not, that ye be not judged.
[2] For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
[3] And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
[4] Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
[5] Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

  • Similar to the Socratic Method: the examined life except this examination is spiritual not rational:
  •  Prayer: a daily, private relationship with God
  • Judge not lest ye be judged.

Salvation: The Christian Re-definition of Plato’s Realm of Forms: Eternal Life

Matthew 6: [19] Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
[20] But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

Matthew 7: [7] Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
[8] For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

  • In Plato's Republic, he argued that only philosophers possessed the humility, discipline and intelligence to find their way to the light of reason. They, therefore, should rule absolutely. Instead, Christianity teaches that the least on earth shall be the greatest in heaven; anyone, gentile or Jew can achieve salvation through faith.
  • Heaven: instead of a philosopher achieving clarity of perception of perfect forms , Christianity offers the righteous eternal life: salvation. 

How does the teaching of Jesus integrate ancient Greek and ancient Hebrew thought

Ancient Greek thought:

  •  the truth can be understood through the exercise of reason 
  • the soul exists and moral law exists as well: Socrates' rational soul vs. a personal soul in Paradise
  • the path to truth is the examined life: the rigorous exercise of reason (Socratic dialectic) vs. Christianity (faith, prayer and a personal relationship with God)
  •  Ideal Realm (Greek) vs. Heaven (Christian) 
  • New Golden Mean: as long as you believe, you can attain salvation. Unlike Plato, who believed that only the most rigorous of philosophers can find his way out of the dark cave and into the light, Jesus teaches that ANYONE, Jew or Gentile, can find salvation simply through faith. 

Ancient Hebrew thought:

  • Path to truth: Prophetic, visionary insight; revealed truth
  • An examined life via prayer: a personal relationship with God
  • New Covenant: Thou shalt not…. (10 Commandments) vs. Thou shalt love thy neighbor.
  • Jewish Mission: Save the World vs. Christian Mission: Personal Salvation.


The Acts of the Apostles

          The Spread of Christianity (YouTube)

4. What methods did the early church fathers (Peter, Paul and Augustine) use to successfully spread Christianity?

Describe the Pentecost, the moment in which the Catholic Church was born.
In what ways was the Conversion of Saul a model for the early church's evangelical method?

The Acts of the Apostles: The Birth of the Catholic Church

         Growth of Christian Religion:

         Missionary purpose of religion

         Blame the Jews, coerce conversion

Acts 2: The Day of the Pentecost 

Describe the Pentecost, the moment in which the Catholic Church was born.

Christ Ascends into Heaven:

Acts 1: [4] And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.
[5] For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
[6] When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
[7] And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.
[8] But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
[9] And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.


The Pentecost: 

Acts 2: [1] And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
[2] And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
[3] And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
[4] And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.


         The moment when the Holy Spirit descended upon the twelve disciples in tongues of fire: they are filled with the spirit and begin speaking in tongues, speaking in all sorts of different languages. They also are filled with new ideas: a new reliance on religion instead of reason. 

         The Pentecost: the Birth of the Church occurs at the moment when the disciples are filled with the Holy Spirit (Father, Son and Holy Ghost); this moment marked the beginning of the church's mission: to convert everyone to Christianity. (from Judaism’s linear view of history: fulfilling God's plan.)

Peter's Ministry

[38] Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
[39] For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.

In what ways was the Conversion of Saul a model for the early church's evangelical method?

Acts 8: The Conversion of Saul 

Acts 9: [1] And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,
[2] And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.
[3] And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:
[4] And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
[5] And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
[6] And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.
[7] And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.
[8] And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.
[9] And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.

         Saul: a persecutor of Christians undergoes a conversion on the road to Damascus: blinding, bright light, thunder: an apocalyptic moment of insight. He changes his name to Paul and becomes the greatest missionary in the history of the Church: he travels everywhere spreading the good news of Christianity. (Maps of Paul's Journeys)

         Peter: Christ's crucifixion and resurrection were foretold in ancient prophecy. 

         Conversion of Saul: a persecutor of Christians is converted to Christianity and is renamed Paul: the selected missionary to bring the word of God to the Gentiles.

         Conversion: 'and the Lord added day by day to those who were saved.'

St. Paul’s Letters to the Corinthians and the Romans 

How did Paul create a missionary message which attracted people of the Hellenistic World?
How did Paul's conception of the sacraments of the church help his missionary purpose?
Explain his understanding of justification through faith, not acts .

Spread of Christianity: 2nd-4th Cent. CE

Letter to the Corinthians: (Corinth- Greece)

How do you create a message which will attract people of the Hellenistic World?
Paul's missionary method:

1.The Good News of Christianity (people in an excessivly rationalistic world are receptive to this new, emotionally charged message)

         Salvation for all 

         justification by faith

         universal message

         1Cor.13: On Lovelove/revelation is the path to truth

2. Incorporation of Ancient Ritual into Christianity: message that the old faiths have prepared the way for this new form of religion.

         Hierarchy of Church reflects the sexist hierarchy of Greek society: God-Christ- Man- Woman: 

         Marriage roles of men and women are defined; ground rules of relationships.

         Monogamy, woman's subservience to the man.

1 Cor 7: [3]Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.
[4] The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.

1 Cor 11: [3] But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.
[8] For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man.
[9] Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.

Eucharist: 1Cor.10 :The Lord’s Supper:

Last Supper: bread and wine: this is my flesh; this is my blood. (Compare to the ancient Dionysian fertility rituals during which wine and song intoxicate the participants and lead to the moment of catharsis when the participants consume the raw flesh of a sacrificial victim. (Acknowledgement of the animal origins of our nature) How are the Christian missionaries transforming the old ritual so that it will serve a new purpose?

[23]That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:
[24] And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.
[25] After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
[26] For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.
[27] Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

.         Worship of the Virgin Mary

         Celebration of Pagan Holidays: Winter Solstice: Christmas; Spring Planting: Easter

1Cor.13: When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.


The Day of Judgment: The Resurrection:

I Cor 15:[51] Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
[52] In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
[53] For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
[54] So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
[55] O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
[56] The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
[57] But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.


On Love

1Cor.13: [1] Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong, or a clanging cymbal.
[2] And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing.
[3] And though I give away all I have, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, I gain nothing.
[4] Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude.
[5] Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
[6] It does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices  in the right;
[7] Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
[8] Love never ends: as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.
[9] For our knowledge is imperfect, and our prophecy is imperfect.
[10] But when the perfect comes, then the imperfect will pass away.
[11] When I was a child, I thought like a child, I spoke like a child, I reasoned like a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
[12] For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I understand fully, even as I have been fully understood.
[13] So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.


Letter to the Romans


3 Rom 21-31 Justification Through Faith, not by Works Alone

1 Rom  [16] For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
[17] For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

3 Rom [23] For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
[24] Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
[25] Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
[26] To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
[27] Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.
[28] Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.


Christianity encourages the pursuit of a new path to the truth:

         Very intuitive, trans-rational way of approaching the truth

         Christian Love: The Resurrection: Faith- ultimate good: eternal life

         Integrating Hebrew prophecy with Greek Idealism

         Faith: salvation by grace

St. Augustine’s City of God

5. How did St. Augustine solve the theological problem of evil?

  • How did St. Augustine solve the problem of evil?
  • Explain Augustine's conception of original sin.
  • Explain Augustine's conception of predestination.
  • How does Augustine distinguish between the Earthly City and the City of God.

St. Augustine was a North African who was originally a neo-Platonist but converted to Christianity and lived most of his life (354-430 AD) in the cities near ancient Carthage. His philosophical quest was to explain how evil could exist in a universe created by a benign and omnipotent God. Epicurus had articulated the problem of evil that tormented philosophers in this way:


Epicurus could not understand how:

  • If God is willing to prevent evil but is not able to prevent evil, then he is not omnipotent.
  • If God is able to prevent evil but is not willing to prevent evil, then he is not benevolent.
  • Evil is either in accordance with God’s intention or contrary to it.
  • Thus, either God cannot prevent evil or he does not want to prevent evil.
  • Therefore, it follows that God is either not omnipotent or he is not benevolent. He cannot be both omnipotent and benevolent.

 St. Augustine’s answer to Epicurus’ challenge to the existence of God was to combine Plato's philosophy with Christianity.


But first think about how previous thinkers and prophets have struggled with the same philosophical problem:

  • Age of Mythology   Life and Death are united in one Ironic Truth.
  • Socrates                    Evil is ignorance; the Soul is innate and good.
  • Sophocles                 Evil is innate and ineradicable.
  • Ancient Hebrews     Evil stems from human disobedience (free will)
  • Jesus                         Evil is unavoidable, but grace is possible.

St. Augustine was not originally a Christian. As a young man, he experimented with the different religions that thrived in his region. At first he was a Manichean: Manichaeism was a religion which asserted that a cosmic war was being waged in the universe between forces of good and evil, light and dark, spirit and matter.  But this explanation of evil did not satisfy Augustine: he could not understand how evil could derive from a good source.  He turned next to Neo-Platonism which taught that all existence is divine in nature. There is only light-- and the absence of light. St. Augustine sought to reconcile this Platonic notion of good and evil with Christianity. 

Follow his theological reasoning:

  1. You cannot escape from Plato's Cave with reason because Christian truth can only be perceived through faith.
  2. The Platonic Ideals (Forms) of Perfect Truth, Perfect Beauty and Perfect Justice exist with God.
  3. Evil is the absence of God. Since only good can come from God, evil derives from human disobedience, from falling away from the light.
  4. The Universe is dualistic, divided between a perfect heaven and the corrupt physical world.
  5. Human nature is similarly dual: our physical bodies are corrupt but our souls can know God.
  6. All humankind was lost to corruption with Man's disobedience (The Fall of Adam), but through God's grace and Jesus’ sacrifice, certain people have been chosen to be redeemed.
  7. Predestination: Those who have been damned and those who have been saved have been preordained, YET we still possess free will and should strive to imitate Jesus. (We have free will, but God knows what we will do.) 

So, for St. Augustine:

  •  Life is a pilgrimage towards God: all nations and all tongues can find their way to God.
  • History is the unfolding of God's plan and the eventual accomplishment of  Christianity’s mission.
  • Since before the beginning of time, Humanity has been divided into two groups: the elect and the damned.  
  •  Predestination and Original Sin

The City of God: A Linear Vision of History

Through this sequence of thought, St. Augustine built the theology which would dominate Roman Catholicism throughout the Middle Ages. The Universe is divided into the elect and the damned, into the City of God and the City of the World, and the struggle between the two unfolds in the history of civilization. God's triumph is assured. Eventually, the Day of Judgment will come at the end of time, and perfect justice will be achieved.

City of God (413-426 AD) Book XIV, Chap. 27-28

Of the nature of the two cities, the earthly and the heavenly: "there is a city of God, and its Founder has inspired us with a love which makes us covet its citizenship. To this Founder of the holy city the citizens of the earthly city prefer their own gods, not knowing that He is the God of gods, not of false, i.e., of impious and proud gods, who, being deprived of His unchangeable and freely communicated light, and so reduced to a kind of poverty-stricken power, eagerly grasp at their own private privileges, and seek divine honors from their deluded subjects; but of the pious and holy gods, who are better pleased to submit themselves to one, than to subject many to themselves, and who would rather worship God than be worshipped as God."

"Accordingly, two cities have been formed by two loves: the earthly by the love of self, even to the contempt of God; the heavenly by the love of God, even to the contempt of self. The former, in a word, glories in itself, the latter in the Lord. For the one seeks glory from men; but the greatest glory of the other is God, the witness of conscience."

City of God (413-426 AD) Book XV Chap 1

Of the two lines of the human race which from first to last divide it: "This race we have distributed into two parts, the one consisting of those who live according to man, the other of those who live according to God. And these we also mystically call the two cities, or the two communities of men, of which the one is predestined to reign eternally with God, and the other to suffer eternal punishment with the devil."

Earthly City vs. Heavenly City

Rational wisdom vs. divine reason
Material success vs. spiritual good
Pagan honor vs. Christian faith
Pleasure, virtue vs. eternal life as ultimate good

Original Sin and Predestination:

"each man, being derived from a condemned stock, is first of all born of Adam evil and carnal, and becomes good and spiritual only afterwards, when he is grafted into Christ by regenerationso was it in the human race as a whole. When these two cities began to run their course by a series of deaths and births, the citizen of this world was the first-born, and after him the stranger in this world, the citizen of the city of God, predestinated by grace, elected by grace, by grace a stranger below, and by grace a citizen above."

Book XV Chap 14 
Concerning the eradication of the love of human praise because all the glory of the righteous is in God.
Book V, Chap. 15 
Concerning the temporal reward which God granted to the virtues of the Romans.

... For as to those who seem to do some good that they may receive glory from men, the Lord also says, "Verily I say unto you, they have received their reward."

Book V, Chap. 16 
Concerning the reward of the holy citizens of the celestial city, to whom the example of the virtues of the Romans are useful.

Book XIX, Chap. 4 
What the Christians believe regarding the Supreme Good and Evil, in opposition to the philosophers, who have maintained that the Supreme Good is in themselves

- Virtue and Pleasure vs. Eternal Life

Book XIX, Chap. 17 
What produces peace, and what discord, between the heavenly 
and earthly cities.

- Critique of Socrates
Book VIII Chap 4 - Concerning Plato
- Does Plato get into heaven, according to Augustine?

Christianity Test Questions

3. How does the teaching of Jesus integrate ancient Greek and ancient Hebrew thought?

4. What methods did the early church fathers (Peter, Paul and Augustine) use to successfully spread Christianity?

5. How did St. Augustine solve the theological problem of evil?


Roman Thought:

Roman Test Questions: 

6. What do the ancient founding myths of Rome (Romulus and Remus, The Rape of the Sabine Women, The Suicide of Lucretia, The Execution of Titus Manlius) teach us about Roman character and values?

7. How did Cicero define the law for the Roman Empire?

8. Explain why Lucretius did not fear death?

9. How did Marcus Aurelius' personal philosophy combine elements of Stoicism, Epicureanism and Materialism?

10. What vision of the barbarian 'other' did Tacitus create?

Introduction: An Overview of Roman History

Founded in 753 BC 

The Republic:

  • becomes a republic in 509 BC
  • not a democracy, but certainly not a monarchy
  • magistrates were elected who chose two consuls each year
  • power in the Roman Republic was skewed towards the Senate and aristocracy
  • in times of civil emergency, dictators would emerge who temporarily were granted absolute power

Roman Expansion:

Internal Politics of Rome: Complicated and Full of Strife

  • Assassination of Julius Caesar 44 BC.
  • Fears that Caesar, the great general, would name himself king
  • Power struggle after Caesar's assasination: Pompey, Marc Antony, Octavius Caesar
  • Antony and Cleopatra declare power in the East, Pompey in the West
  • Battle of Actium 27 BC.
  • Octavius consolidates power and in 27 BC. names himself emperor: Augustus Caesar

Imperial Rule

Livy, The History of Rome from its Foundation

6. What do the ancient founding myths of Rome (Romulus and Remus, The Rape of the Sabine Women, The Suicide of Lucretia, The Execution of Titus Manlius) teach us about Roman character and values? 

Explain how the following myths teach us about the central values of the Roman state:


History of the Roman Republic

Romulus and Remus:

  • The Founding Myth of Rome
  • Mother: Vestal Virgin raped by Mars
  • Twin Brothers to be killed by an evil step-uncle who left the babes in the Tiber River in a basket
  • Infants found on a riverbank by a she-wolf which nurses them.
  • The infants found by common peasants and raised on a farm.
  • When they came of age, they are discovered to be of royal blood and they restore the rightful king.
  • They leave to found a new city and they argue over who should be king. Romulus kills Remus and takes the throne.

The Rape of the Sabine Women

  • The young city of Rome has no women. 
  • Women are needed to marry the workers building the city.
  • So, the Romans invite their neighbors, the Sabines, to a festival where they kill all the men steal their women.

Suicide of Lucretia

  • The wife of a Roman patrician is raped by a decadent nobleman.
  • She felt guilty that her family's honor has been destroyed.
  • So, Lucretia commits suicide after telling her family of the attack.

The Death of Titus Manlius Torquatus' Son (Commentary)

  • A general puts his son to death for disobeying orders even though the son's actions led to victory.

Roman Empire Expansion

Cicero, On the Laws  

7. How did Cicero define the law for the Roman Empire?

  • How did Cicero distinguish between Roman Law, Local Law, and Natural Law? 
  • How would this conception of Natural Law grow into one of Natural Rights?
  • What makes this conception of law ideal for the administration of an empire?

 Cicero: (106-43 BC) On the Laws:

Natural Law is inherent everywhere in nature; it is a divine law which provides perfect justice. This higher law is innate and universal; it exists, as does the spark of divinity, in all people at all times and in all places.

Book 2: "law was neither a thing to be contrived by the genius of man, nor established by any decree of the people, but a certain eternal principle, which governs the entire universe, wisely commanding what is right and prohibiting what is wrong."

Example: "Again, though in the reign of Tarquin there was no written law concerning adultery, it does not therefore follow that Sextus Tarquinius did not offend against the eternal law when he committed a rape on Lucretia, daughter of Tricipitius. For, even then he had the light of reason from the nature of things, that incites to good actions and dissuades from evil ones; and which does not begin for the first time to be a law when it is drawn up in writing, but from the first moment that it exists. And this existence of moral obligation is co-eternal with that of the divine mind."

Distinction between Roman Law vs Civil Law: natural law is based in nature itself (physis); therefore, it applies not only to Romans but to the conquered peoples as well. Civil law (nomos) is local and applies only to the residents of a particular locality.

"Therefore, as that Divine Mind, or reason, is the supreme law, so it exists in the mind of the sage, so far as it can be perfected in man. But with respect to civil laws, which are drawn up in various forms, and framed to meet the occasional requirements of the people, the name of law belongs to them not so much by right as by the favor of the people."

Natural Rights: Everyone everywhere is born with basic, inalienable rights.

"Law is the highest reason, implanted in Nature, which commands what ought to be done and forbids the opposite. This reason, when firmly fixed and fully developed in he human mind, is Law. …. Now if this is correct, then the origin if justice is to be found in Law, for Law is a natural force; it is the mind and reason of the intelligent man, the standard by which Justice and Injustice are measured. (Perry 433)

"However we define man, a single definition will apply to all. This is a sufficient proof that there is no difference in kind between man and man; for if there were one, one definition could not be applicable to all men; and indeed reason, which alone raises us above the level of the beasts and enables us to draw inferences, to prove and disprove, to discuss and solve problems, and to come to conclusions, is certainly common to us all, and, though varying in what it learns, at least in the capacity to learn it is invariable." (Perry 435)

On the Laws:

  • A Platonic dialogue on the topic, "What is the ideal law?"
  • All people are born with the ability to reason. (innate knowledge)
  • Plato: Reason inheres in nature. All share in the ability to reason. From Reason comes the law, and from the law comes justice. So Justice derives from the natural world itself. 
  • Law is universal. (ex. The Rape of Lucretia would be wrong in all places and all times.)
  • Evil derives from ignorance of the law.
  • Man and God are both members of the same commonwealth.
  • Divine Law= Human Law (Reason)

Thesis Idea: What makes this conception of law ideal for the administration of an empire?

Lucretius, On the Nature of Things  (99-50 BC)

8. How did Lucretius teach us to overcome our fear of death and to lead our lives?

Attacks on Religion and Superstition: 

Proem: I fear perhaps thou deemest that we fare 
An impious road to realms of thought profane; 
But 'tis that same religion oftener far 
Hath bred the foul impieties of men

"religion mothers crime and wickedness" (452)
- example: Agamemnon's sacrifice of Iphigenia

Defense of Reason:

Then be it ours with steady mind to clasp 
The purport of the skies- the law behind 
The wandering courses of the sun and moon; 
To scan the powers that speed all life below; 
But most to see with reasonable eyes 
Of what the mind, of what the soul is made, 
And what it is so terrible that breaks 
On us asleep, or waking in disease, 
Until we seem to mark and hear at hand 
Dead men whose bones earth bosomed long ago. . . .

Deductive reasoning:

Axiom 1: Nothing comes from nothing

Nothing from nothing ever yet was born. 
Fear holds dominion over mortality 
Only because, seeing in land and sky 
So much the cause whereof no wise they know, 
Men think Divinities are working there. 
Meantime, when once we know from nothing still 
Nothing can be create, we shall divine 
More clearly what we seek: those elements 
From which alone all things created are, 
And how accomplished by no tool of Gods.

 [If they could, apples would grow from orange trees, seeds would spring forth at any time,
time and growth would not be of the essence.]

Aristotle's Conception of the Soul:

Each birth goes forth upon the shores of light 
From its own stuff, from its own primal bodies. 
And all from all cannot become, because 
In each resides a secret power its own.
Again, why see we lavished o'er the lands 
At spring the rose, at summer heat the corn, 
The vines that mellow when the autumn lures, 
If not because the fixed seeds of things 
At their own season must together stream, 
And new creations only be revealed 
When the due times arrive and pregnant earth 
Safely may give unto the shores of light 
Her tender progenies?

Book 3: Mind and Soul are One:

                                Mind and soul, 
I say, are held conjoined one with other, 
And form one single nature of themselves;

The Substance of the Mind

Now, of what body, what components formed 
Is this same mind I will go on to tell. 
First, I aver, 'tis superfine, composed 
Of tiniest particles- that such the fact 
Thou canst perceive, if thou attend, from this: 
Nothing is seen to happen with such speed 
As what the mind proposes and begins; 

Mind Atoms:

                                      Now, then, 
Since nature of mind is movable so much, 
Consist it must of seeds exceeding small 
And smooth and round.

Axiom 2: Nature resolves each object to its basic atoms but does not ever utterly destroy it. (454)

Fear of Death is the root of evil in the world. 

Accepting Death:

                  Therefore death to us 
Is nothing, nor concerns us in the least, 
Since nature of mind is mortal evermore....

When comes that sundering of our body and soul 
Through which we're fashioned to a single state, 
Verily naught to us, us then no more, 
Can come to pass, naught move our senses then...

And, even if time collected after death 
The matter of our frames and set it all 
Again in place as now, and if again 
To us the light of life were given, O yet 
That process too would not concern us aught, 
When once the self-succession of our sense 
Has been asunder broken....

                   fixed end 
Of life abideth for mortality; 
Death's not to shun, and we must go to meet. 
Besides we're busied with the same devices, 
Ever and ever, and we are at them ever, 
And there's no new delight that may be forged 
By living on.

[If anything could perish absolutely, it might suddenly be taken from our sight…
from what would new life spring? How would life sustain itself? Why wouldn't
the universe have consumed itself in the long time it has been around?]

Materialism/ Epicureanism

  • Only the observation of verifiable facts revealed by the senses can lead to truth.
  • Fear and uncertainty about the afterlife is the root cause of human problems.

Matter is indestructible.

  • Atoms are the basic element of the universe, and they combine to take the many different forms of matter. 
  • Although these forms can be broken down, the atoms are indestructible.

Death should not be feared:

  • We already know what happens at the moment of death: the body begins to decompose to its basic elements.
  • Our true being exists in mind and spirit, and the these aspects of the self leave at the moment of death.
    The individual consciousness does not survive. That cannot be avoided.
  • Even so, matter is indestructible. Our bodies will be broken down to the basic elements, and then
    these elements will combine to create new forms.
  • Life will come from death. This cycle repeats itself continually.
  • Without uncertainty, our fear of death should disappear.

Ultimate Good: Human Pleasure

  • Since the universe is material, the ultimate good is material as well: the gratification of our senses.


  • 'Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die."


  • The ultimate good for society is the greatest good for the greatest number of people: 
  • No god, no universal moral truth, no good and bad, moral relativism: the Sophists' view of morality

Marcus Aurelius, Thoughts  

9. How did Marcus Aurelius' personal philosophy combine elements of Stoicism, Epicureanism and Materialism?

Marcus Aurelius (121-180 AD) 

  • - last 'good' emperor
  • - philosopher king (ala Plato's Republic)
  • - stoicism: (Cicero)

Rome at its Greatest Extent, during the Reign of Emperor Trajan C.E. 116 
Deployment of the Legions C.E. 100

Plato's philosopher king who ruled in a universal city to which all peoples were welcome.

Stoicism: the search for universal truth within and without.

Everything in the universe is connected to a higher power, but we cannot ever grasp that truth completely. 

He believed in reason but also recognized that reason cannot penetrate the mysteries of the universe. 

Therefore, we should focus on our daily lives and take responsibility for our behavior. 

The greatest good is happiness on earth, so we should use reason to create the best existence possible. 

Moderation of extremes is best.

How did Marcus Aurelius' personal philosophy combine elements of Stoicism, Epicureanism and Materialism?

  • everything in the universe is connected to everything else
  •  universal law affects all things in all places at all times
  • everything harmonizes with the universe
  • the higher power is impossible to describe, so the best man can do is concentrate on their lives on earth 
  •  reason allows you to do what is necessary: duty, citizenship, honor: focus on life on earth
  • materialism
  • concerned with the present: everything should be done as if it were your last act
  • Epicureanism: ultimate good is pleasure: a happy life
  • stoic conception of soul
  • simple principles of life untouchable by the outside life; only thought can affect it
  •  immortal soul: retirement into soul: a daily meditation
  • the universe is constantly changing: your life is merely your own soul's perception of the universe

from Tacitus, Germania

10. What vision of the barbarian 'other' did Tacitus create?

Describe some of the characteristics of the "barbarian tribes" of Northern Europe who would eventually conquer the Romans.

[We came to] Germany, with its wild country, its inclement skies, its sullen manners and aspect.

Ancient [war] songs, [which they sing as they go into battle], are their only way of remembering or recording the past.

All called themselves by this self-invented name of Germans, which the conquerors had first employed to inspire terror.

All have fierce blue eyes, red hair, huge frames, fit only for a sudden exertion. They are less able to bear laborious work. Heat and thirst they cannot in the least endure; to cold and hunger their climate and their soil inure them.

[They are] rich in flocks and herds, but these are for the most part undersized, and even the cattle have not their usual beauty or noble head. It is number that is chiefly valued; they are in fact the most highly prized, indeed the only riches of the people. Silver and gold the gods have refused to them...

They choose their kings by birth, their generals for merit.

What most stimulates their courage is that their squadrons or battalions, instead of being formed by chance or by a fortuitous gathering, are composed of families and clans. Close by them, too, are those dearest to them, so that they hear the shrieks of women, the cries of infants [as they go into battle]....

Mercury is the deity whom they chiefly worship, and on certain days they deem it right to sacrifice to him even with human victims.... The Germans, however, do not consider it consistent with the grandeur of celestial beings to confine the gods within walls, or to liken them to the form of any human countenance. They consecrate woods and groves, and they apply the names of deities to the abstraction which they see only in spiritual worship.

Augury and divination by lot no people practise more diligently....It is peculiar to this people to seek omens and monitions from horses. Kept at the public expense, in these same woods and groves, are white horses, pure from the taint of earthly labour; these are yoked to a sacred car, and accompanied by the priest and the king, or chief of the tribe, who note their neighings and snortings.

When they go into battle, it is a disgrace for the chief to be surpassed in valour, a disgrace for his followers not to equal the valour of the chief. And it is an infamy and a reproach for life to have survived the chief, and returned from the field.

Whenever they are not fighting, they pass much of their time in the chase, and still more in idleness, giving themselves up to sleep and to feasting, the bravest and the most warlike doing nothing.

They are wont also to dig out subterranean caves, and pile on them great heaps of dung shelter from winter and as a receptacle for the year's produce, for by such places they mitigate the rigour of the cold.

They all wrap themselves in a cloak which is fastened with a clasp, or, if this is not forthcoming, with a thorn, leaving the rest of their persons bare.

Almost alone among barbarians they are content with one wife, except a very few among them, and these not from sensuality, but because their noble birth procures for them many offers of alliance. The wife does not bring a dower to the husband, but the husband to the wife.

In every household the children, naked and filthy, grow up with those stout frames and limbs which we so much admire. Every mother suckles her own offspring and never entrusts it to servants and nurses. The master is not distinguished from the slave by being brought up with greater delicacy. Both live amid the same flocks and lie on the same ground till the freeborn are distinguished by age and recognised by merit.

To pass an entire day and night in drinking disgraces no one. Their quarrels, as might be expected with intoxicated people, are seldom fought out with mere abuse, but commonly with wounds and bloodshed. Yet it is at their feasts that they generally consult on the reconciliation of enemies, on the forming of matrimonial alliances, on the choice of chiefs, finally even on peace and war, for they think that at no time is the mind more open to simplicity of purpose or more warmed to noble aspirations.

One and the same kind of spectacle is always exhibited at every gathering. Naked youths who practise the sport bound in the dance amid swords and lances that threaten their lives. Experience gives them skill and skill again gives grace; profit or pay are out of the question; however reckless their pastime, its reward is the pleasure of the spectators.


Roman Test Questions: 

6. What do the ancient founding myths of Rome (Romulus and Remus, The Rape of the Sabine Women, The Suicide of Lucretia, The Execution of Titus Manlius) teach us about Roman character and values?

7. How did Cicero define the law for the Roman Empire?

8. Explain why Lucretius did not fear death?

9. How did Marcus Aurelius' personal philosophy combine elements of Stoicism, Epicureanism and Materialism?

10. What vision of the barbarian 'other' did Tacitus create?