The Worlds Greatest Books, Volume XIII. - Religion and Philosophy
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G. The Rabbis allowed the aforementioned ingredients to be used for the Sabbath fires, though not for the Sabbath lamps. Why are wicks made of the above materials prohibited? Because they give but a flickering light. The oily substances mentioned are forbidden because they do not adhere to the wick.

About extinguishing the Sabbath lamp.

M. He who extinguishes the Sabbath lamp for fear of non-Jews or robbers or of evil spirits, or in order that the sick may sleep, is free from guilt. But if the object is merely to save expense the lamp extinguisher stands condemned.

Three things to say on the Sabbath eve.

M. I. Have ye tithed the food to be eaten on the

Sabbath? 2. Have ye made the erub? 3. Light ye the Sabbath lamp.

Man's two Sabbath angels.

G. As he returns home from the Synagogue on the Sabbath eve, every man is accompanied by two angels, one good, the other evil. If, on coming home, the man finds the lamp lit, the tables spread, and everything in order, the good angel says, "May the coming Sabbath be as this present one." To which the evil angel is compelled reluctantly to respond "Amen." But if everything be in disorder the bad angel says, "May the coming Sabbath be as the present one." To which the good angel is obliged reluctantly to respond, "Amen."

The overturning of Mount Sinai. (9).

G. When the Israelites refused to believe the words of Moses after he had returned from the mountain, the Holy One, blessed be He, inverted the mountain above them like a top, and said unto them, "If ye receive the Law, well, but if not, your graves shall be here."

Lucky and unlucky birthdays.

G. Rabbi Simon ben Levi said that whoever is born on the first day of the week (Sunday) will be either thoroughly good or thoroughly bad, because on that day light and darkness were created. If on the second day of the week, he will be stingy, because the waters were divided on that day. If on the third day, he will be rich and prosperous, because on that day abundant vegetation was created. If on the fourth day, he will be wise and happy, because on that day the luminaries were fixed. If on the fifth day, he will be good-natured, because fishes and fowls were then created, and these are fed by God alone. If on the sixth day, he will be likely to give himself to good works, because that is the Sabbath preparation day. If, however, he be born on the Sabbath, he will also die on the Sabbath, as a punishment for his desecration of that sacred day by his birth.

2. TREATISE ON THE PASSOVER (Pesakhin). No. 3 in order.

M. On the eve of the fourteenth Nisan, search must be made for leaven by the light of a lamp (10).

G. What means the Hebrew word or? (Translated above "on the eve of"). Rabbi Huna says it means, "when the day begins to dawn": but according to Rabbi Jehuda it means "at night," but in Genesis xliv, 3, and 2nd Sam. xxiii, 4, the verb means "to get day, to dawn," so that Rabbi Huna is right. Abazi said that no student should enter upon his studies just before the dawn of the fourteenth Nizan, lest he forget to search for leaven.

G. To Amorain (11) propose the following question: "Suppose a man let a house to another, telling him that he had removed all leaven but subsequently it was found that some leaven had been left. Is the agreement to take the house binding?" Abazi said, "Yes, it is, for it is better that each householder sees for himself that all leaven has been removed. Before beginning the search for leaven a blessing must be said, as, indeed, before any religious act is performed."

By the light of the lamp.

G. The light of the sun or of the moon or of a flame of fire may not be used in searching for leaven, as the Rabbis say is taught in Zephaniah i, 12 (I will search Jerusalem with lights), and Prov. xx, 27 (Man's soul is Jehovah's lamp searching the inner chambers of the body.)

3. TREATISE ON NEW YEAR'S DAY (Rosh Hashshanah). No. 8 in order.

G. The generation before the flood was punished with boiling water. (12).

4. TREATISE ON THE ROLL (13) (Megillah). No. 10 in order.

M. The Megillah (i.e., Esther) is sometimes read on the 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, or 15th of the month Adar, not earlier nor later (for details see the Mishnah and Gemara).

G. Rabbi Jehuda says on the authority of Samuel, that the book of Esther does not defile the hands (14), i.e., that this book was not given by the inspiration of God. Samuel, however, explained that Esther was dictated by the Spirit of God, but only to be orally repeated, and not to be written.

G. When a scroll of the Law has become through age unfit for use it is to be buried in an earthen vessel, as is said in Jeremiah xxii, 14, "And put them in an earthen vessel, that they may continue many days." A scroll of the Law ought never to be sold unless the object be to enable the seller to study the Law better, or to take himself a wife. Rabbi Simon ben Gemaliel said "whoever sells a scroll of the Law, or a daughter, though he does it because he has nothing to eat, will have no good from the purchase money."


Those under an obligation to offer the burnt offerings during the three great annual Feasts.

M. Everyone is under an obligation to offer the burnt offering except the following: A deaf man, a fool, a child, one of doubtful sex, one of double sex, a woman, a slave, a lame man, a blind man, a sick man.

What is meant by a child? One not able to ride upon his father's shoulders in order to go up from Jerusalem to the Temple. So say the School of Shammai, but the Hillel School define child, "One unable to take hold of his father's hand to go from Jerusalem to the Temple."

G. What does the expression "everyone" include?

Him who is half a slave and half free and also him who is lame on the first day and well on the second day, as well as the man who is blind in one eye, except the deaf man, a fool, and a child, and so forth. A deaf man is like a fool and a child, for he is not responsible for his actions any more than they are.


G. Tohu is a green line (Heb. Qav or Qaw) which surrounds the entire world, and from which darkness proceeds. (15).


G. Resh Lagish used to say, "There are seven heavens, named as follows: 1. Vilon (equals Velum, a curtain). 2. Ragiang. 3. Sheklagim. 4. Zebul. 5. Mangon. 6. Makon. 7. Ngarabot."


G. Satan and his fellow-fallen angels are in the habit of listening from behind a curtain to the words which God speaks to the angels in heaven (17).


[This division deals with betrothals, marriage, divorce, and the like. One treatise discusses vows.]


M. A childless widow is under an obligation to marry the eldest unmarried brother of her deceased husband. If that brother-in-law refuses to marry her, she is allowed in the presence of the nation's leaders to loose his shoe from his foot, to spit in his face, and to say to him, "Thus shall be done to the man who will not build up his brother's house." (see Deut. xxii, 9).

The following classes of women are released from the necessity of marrying any brother-in-law: 1. The illegitimate daughter of the brother. 2. Her daughter. 3. The daughter of his illegitimate son. 4. His wife's daughter. 5. Her son's daughter. 6. Her daughter's daughter. 7. His mother-in-law. 8. The mother of his mother-in-law. 9. The mother of his father-in-law, and so forth.

2. TREATISE ON VOWS (Nedarim). No. 3 in order.

The Scriptures Given as a Punishment for Men's Sin.

G. If the Israelites had not been guilty of sin they would never have required more Scripture than the Pentateuch and the Book of Joshua. The last is indispensable as it records the way in which the land was divided among the Israelites. The other Scriptures (the Prophets and the Writing) because in much wisdom there is grief. (Eccles. i, 18).

3. TREATISE ON BETROTHALS (Qidushin). No. 7 in order.

The Families Who went up from Babylon to Jerusalem.

M. Ten kinds of families left Babylon for Palestine after the edict of Cyrus went forth in B.C. 538 permitting the nation to return. These were as follows: 1. Priests. 2. Levites. 3. Israelites. 4. Degraded Priests (lit. profaned ones). 5. Proselytes (19). 6. Freedmen. 7. Bastards. 8. Netinim. 9. Those of unknown lineage. 10. Foundlings. The three first are allowed to intermarry: the last six may also intermarry. All those whose mother is known but not their father are said to be of unknown lineage. A foundling is one picked up in the streets whose parents are both unknown.

The Evil of Idolatry.

G. The worship of idols is so grave a sin that he who renounces or disavows it does as much as if he confessed his belief in the whole law.

Sons More Desirable than Daughters.

G. The world cannot exist without males and females, yet blessed is he whose children are boys, and unlucky he whose children are girls. Cf. Baba Bathra, p. 113, col. I:—"Whoever does not leave a son to be heir, God will heap wrath upon him."


[In this division the principal part of the civil and criminal court of the Hebrews is included. See especially the treatise "Sanhedrin."]

1. TREATISE CALLED LIT. Chap. I, or THE FIRST GATE. (20)(Heb. Baba Qama.)

Damages to be made good by those responsible for them.

M. There are four principal causes of damage to life and property. I. The Ox. 2. The Uncovered Pit. 3. The Man who sets fire to anything. 4. The Fire which starts of its own accord through neglect.

Whenever damage is done in any of these four ways the one that is responsible for it must make the loss good.

G. The Rabbis teach that there are many specific forms of the above four kinds of injuries, i.e., the ox can do an injury with his horns, his teeth, or his feet.

Accident through falling over a jug or barrel.

M. If anyone places a jug on a public road and another person stumbles over it and breaks it, the latter is not liable for the breakage. But if he is injured by the fall, the owner of the barrel is liable for the damage.

G. The Mishnah uses "jug" in the first clause and "barrel" in the second. Rabbi Papa said that the same thing is meant in both cases.

On breaking a jug full of water on a public road.

M. If a jug full of water breaks on a public road and its contents cause a person to slip, or if in any way one is injured by the pieces, he who carries the jug is liable for any injury. Rabbi Jehuda, however, says he is only liable if he breaks it intentionally.

2. TREATISE CALLED THE MIDDLE CHAPTER (Heb. Baba Metsia). 2nd in order.

G. It was Elijah's custom to frequent the Rabbi's council chamber. On one occasion, being later than usual, Rabbi asked him to explain his delay. Elijah answered as follows: "It is my business to wake up Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob one after the other, to wash each one's hand, and to wait until each one has said his prayers and returned to rest." "But," said Rabbi, "why don't they all rise at the same time?" "Because," was Elijah's reply, "if they all three prayed at once, their united prayers would precipitate the advent of the Messiah before its appointed time." "Then," said Rabbi, "have we amongst us such praying people?" Elijah said there were, mentioning Rabbi Khizah and his sons. Rabbi then proclaimed a fast, which Rabbi Khizah and his sons came to observe. When repeating the 18 benedictions (21) they were about to say "Thou restorest life to the dead" when the world was convulsed and it was asked in Heaven who revealed to them the secret. Elijah was then beaten sixty times with a rod of fire. He afterwards came down like a fiery bear and scattered the congregation.

3. TREATISE CALLED THE LAST CHAPTER (Baba Bathra). No. 3 in order.

G. The members of the Great Synagogue who wrote the Book of Ezekiel, the Books of the twelve minor prophets, the Book of Daniel, and the Book of Ezra (22).

4. TREATISE CALLED SANHEDRIN. NO. 4 in order. [It treats at length of the institution of the municipal and provincial courts called Sanhedrin from a Greek word, and also of the great Sanhedrin, or Bethdin, at Jerusalem.]

Jewish Courts and their Constitution.

G. [The Sanhedrin was composed of 71 members. If an Israelite had a point of law to decide, he first proposed it to the Court which met in his own city. If they failed to decide the matter, it was submitted to the judgment of the Court of the next city. If the Justices of the immediate district failed to come to a decision, the case was laid before the Court which met at the entrance of the Temple area. In the event of their failing to decide, they appealed to the Court which met at the entrance to the ante-court. Failure in this Court was followed by an appeal to the Supreme Court of 71, where the matter was finally disposed of by a majority of votes.

The Sanhedrin sat in a semicircle in order that the members might be able to see one another. There were two notaries, one on the right and the other on the left, to count the "Ayes" and "Noes" in all cases of voting.]

The authorship of the BOOK OF EZRA.

G. [The Book of Ezra was written by Nehemiah. He does not attach his name to it because he gave too much attention to his own merits, as it is written (Neh. v, 19) "Think upon me, my God, for good, according to all that I have done for my people."

5. TREATISE ON IDOLATRY (Aboda Zara). No. 8 in order.

M. It is forbidden to have any dealings with non-Jews for three days before they hold their unholy festivals (23). One must not lend them any money, for that could be useful to them in preparing for the festival. Nor must one borrow from them, for they would gain thereby and be more able, out of the interest, to meet the expenses of their coming feasts. Similarly, one must not pay them any money, even though due, nor in return must payment be received.

Rabbi Jehuda, however, maintains that payment should be allowed because that is a displeasure and a disadvantage to those who pay.

M. When there is an idol in the city one may go to that city, providing that the road does not lead to the idol alone. Jews are not allowed to sell to non-Jews any of the following things, because they can be used for purposes of heathen worship:—Fir cones, white figs, or their stems, frankincense, and a white cock. A white cock may, however, be sold if one of its claws has been cut off, since non-Jews do not sacrifice an animal when an organ is lacking.

THE BOOK OF YASHAR (see 2nd Sam. i, 18).

G. What is meant by the Book of Yashar? Rabbi Khyiah bar Abba on the authority of Rabbi Jokhanan says "It is the book of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, they being called righteous (yesharim), and concerning whom it is written, Numb, xxiii, 10, 'Let me die the death of the righteous'" (yesharim).

6. TREATISE CALLED "SENTENCES OF THE FATHERS" (Heb. Pirga Abot). No. 9 in order.

[This treatise, on which no Gemara has been handed down, contains moral precepts, aphorisms, and so forth, of the elder Tannain. It has been often translated, an excellent rendering by the late Dr. Charles Taylor having been published by the Cambridge Press.]

The Two Tables of the Law.

M. The two Tables of the Law, handed to Moses on Mount Sinai, were created, along with nine other things, at the time when the world was made, and at sunset, before the first Sabbath began.



Extent of the Temple Area.

M. The Temple Mount was 500 cubits square. The space was largest on the south, next largest on the east, the third largest being on the north, and the least, westward. All who entered this area did so on the south side, going round and passing on to the left.



The Aramaic passages in Ezra and Daniel make the hands unclean (25). But Aramaic written in Hebrew characters and Hebrew written in Aramaic (Syriac) characters, or in the primitive Hebrew characters (much like the Phoenician) do not make the hands unclean. Scriptures, though the matter is the same, never make the hands unclean unless the characters or letters, in which they are written, are the square Assyrian letters introduced by Ezra, the second Moses.

* * * * *



Zoroastrianism, or, more correctly, Zarathustraism, is derived from Zoroaster, or, more strictly, Zarathustra, the founder of the religion. Modern scholarship inclines to the belief that this great religious leader was born in West Media about B.C. 600, and carried on his great work in Bactria. The religion with which his name is connected is really a reformed and spiritualised kind of that Magism which prevailed in Media and contiguous countries. The priests, who are called "Atharvans," fire-priests, in the Avesta (compare the same name in Hinduism, the Atharvan Veda, etc.) are identical with the Magi, priests of the religion which Zarathustra (Zoroaster) found in his original and adopted home. According to some, the founder of Zarathustrianism lived at a very much earlier time, and there are great scholars (Tiele, Darmesteter, Edouard Meyer) who wholly deny the historicity of such a character. No doubt, in later years, there gathered around Zarathustra an immense number of fictitious and silly legends, as was the case with Buddha, Jesus, and even Muhammad; but that each one of these religious teachers lived and wrought is beyond the reach of reasonable doubt.


This is the Bible of the Zarathustrians and of their modern representatives, the Parsees, who flourish for the most part in Bombay. The title "Zend Avesta" is an anomaly, for "Zend" is not the name of a language at all, but means "commentary," the word "Avesta" connoting the original text on which the commentary is written. The original title denotes Avesta and Zend, which is a correct description, for what is now known as the Zend Avesta is really a combination of text (Avesta) and commentary (Zend), just as the Jewish Talmud is a combination of Mishnah (text) and Gemara (commentary, or, literally, completion). The word "Avesta" denotes (perhaps literally) knowledge, being cognate with the Sanscrit word "Veda." But A.V.W. Jackson derives it from a form Upasta, denoting "the original text." Darmesteter makes the word Old Persian, denoting "law."

The existing Avesta is more like a prayer book than a Bible, for it is as a liturgical work that it took on its present form, and as such that it is now generally used, though the part called "Vendidad" includes a large number of laws for religious ceremonies and the like.

What is known to modern scholars as the Avesta is, however, only a portion of the original work, the latter having been largely lost through the conquests over Persia of Alexander the Great, and especially owing to the more thorough subjugation of the Sassanid Persians by the Muslims in A.D. 632. The latter were much more bigoted and uncompromising in their treatment of other religions and their literatures than were Alexander the Great and his successors. The original Avesta, as described in Pahlavi text which have come down to us, contain twenty-one Nasks or books. These existed, in a more or less incomplete state, down to the ninth century of our era, to which century the Pahlavi work "Dindard" belongs.

The Avesta which exists to-day may be divided thus:—

I. The strictly canonical parts, including the following, which will be more fully described in connection with the summaries.

1. Yasnas, including the Gathas. 2. Vispereds. 3. Vendidads.

II. The Apocryphal Avesta usually called the Khorda Avesta, or the short Avesta. This is much less esteemed than the Avesta proper. It comprises,

1. Yashts (invocation). 2. Minor Prayers.

The language of the Avesta can be correctly described only as Avestan, for no other literature in the same language exists. It resembles the Pahlavi, or Ancient Persian, but it is identical with no language. The Zend, or commentary, is written in the Pahlavi language.

The present writer wishes to express his obligation to the translation of the Avesta by Spiegel (in German); Hang in his "Essays on Sacred Language, Writing, and Religion of the Parsees "; and also to those by Darmesteter and L.H. Mills in the "Sacred Books of the East," volumes iv, xxiii, xxxiii. On the question whether or not the Achaemenian kings of Persia, Cyrus I., and so forth, were Zarathustrians, see "Century Bible,"—Ezra—Nehemiah—Esther.


[This section of the Avesta constitutes the principal liturgical text-book of the great Yasna ceremony, which is made up chiefly of the preparation and offering of the Parahoma (the juice of the homa or soma plant mixed with milk and aromatic ingredients). There are seventy-two chapters in the Yasnas, though they contain a good number of repetitions. It is in this main part of the Avesta that the five metrical Gathas are to be found, these being the oldest and by far the most important of the Avesta.]

CHAPTER I. THE PROCLAMATION OF SALVATION. I (Zarathustra) make known to Ahura-Mazda the Great God, that I am about to offer him my prayers and sacrifices. (Yasnas.) He is the greatest and best, the most powerful and wise. I pay homage, also, to the bountiful immortals (the Amensha-Spentas), the guardians of the world. And to the body of the sacred cow and its soul; (i) to Ahura (Jupiter), Mithra the sun, to the star Sirius; and to the Fravashis (guardian angels of the saints). If I have offended thee, oh thou greatest one, Ahura-Mazda, or if I have diminished ought of the sacrifices (Yasnas) due to thee, forgive me, O forgive me, thou unerring one. I declare myself to be a Mazdaist, a Zarathustrian, a sworn foe to the Daevas (2) and a worshipper of Ahura-Mazda.

CHAPTER 4. We present as offerings, pure thoughts, kind words, beneficent works, the Homa (Soma) flesh-offerings, zaothras (3), the holy veresma (4), suitable prayers, Gatha hymns, and mathra (the Vedic mantra) sacred songs—these all we present as sacrifices to Ahura-Mazda, the holy Srosh (5), to the bountiful immortals, to the Fravashis, and souls of the pure, and also to the sacred fire of Ahura-Mazda.

CHAPTER 8. I offer to thee, O Ahura-Mazda, sacrifices of all kinds. Mayest thou, O all-powerful, all-wise one, rule over thy creatures, over all waters and trees, all empires and dominions, causing fertility, happiness, and universal justice to abound in the world. In all conflicts between light and darkness, between the good and the bad, let the right prevail, O thou king of righteousness. I, Zarathustra, urge heads of families, chiefs of clans, and rulers of states, to follow the true religion, that revealed by Ahura-Mazda and proclaimed by his prophet Zarathustra.

CHAPTERS 9 AND 10. [In some manuscripts these chapters are designated Homa-Yashts, because they celebrate the praises of Homa and have the form of Yashts. In these chapters Homa is personified, as, also, in the Vedas, is the Sanscrit Soma. In the period before the separation of the Iranians and Indians the worship of the Homa plant (the god of inspiration, etc.) bulked largely. It died out, however, among the Iranians at an early period, perhaps owing to its prevalence among their Indian rivals, who traced to it that very courage with which they contended against the Iranians. The present chapters belong to the period of the revival of the Homa cult among the Mazdaists or Zarathustrians. This comparatively late date is confirmed by the vocabulary and style of the chapters.]

When Zarathustra was engaged in singing the Dathas and attending the sacred fire, Homa appeared before him in resplendently supernatural guise and explained "I am Homa, whom thou shouldst worship as the sages and prophets of old have done." "Tell me," replied Zarathustra, "who was it that first worshipped thee by extracting thy juice from the plant?" "The first," said Homa, "was Vivan-Ghvant whose reward was the birth of his august and renowned son, Yima, (6) the king, in whose reign there was neither death, nor scorching heat, nor benumbing cold, but when fulness of life, perfection of happiness, and unfailing justice prevailed. The second to worship me," said Homa, "was Athwya, the blessed one, and to him as a reward was born Thraetaona, who slew the three-mouthed, three-tailed, six-eyed, thousand-scaled dragon that wrought such dire havoc in the world. The third to worship me was Thrita, to whom, in recompense, were born two sons of illustrious name, one great as ruler of men, and the other a brave warrior who slew the man-and-horse-swallowing dragon. The fourth was thine own distinguished father, Pourushasha, and the reward that he received was to have thee, O great prophet of men, for his son." On hearing which Zarathustra immediately set about walking around the sacred fire singing lustily the praises of the god Homa, whom his father had worshipped. "It is Homa," sang the prophet, "that gives men knowledge of things new and old. Even men buried under a weight of book-lore receive from him inspiration and perception of truth that no books can impart. It is Homa that gives kind and wealthy husbands to unwed maidens; that fills the sky with clouds and refreshes the ground with life-giving showers, causing the plants to grow on the lofty mountains on whose brow thine own sacred plant (asclepias) flourishes."

CHAPTER 12. [Profession of faith on the part of the new convert, uttered by the ancient Iranians on their giving up the worship of Daevas and the nomad life, and on their being received into the religious community established by Zarathustra.]

Now cease I to be a Daeva worshipper and make profession of the religion of Ahura-Mazda, proclaimed by Zarathustra. I ascribe all good things everywhere to Ahura-Mazda, the true, shining and holy one. I will never more molest Mazdaists. I will forsake the Daevas, the false and wicked originators of all the mischief in the universe. I forsake also all Daeva like beings, witches, wizards, and the like. I belong to the Mazdaist religion, and will support it to my dying day. There is no joy of virtue but has come from Ahura-Mazda.

CHAPTER 19. The importance and value of the Ahuna-Vairya prayer, said Zarathustra to Ahura-Mazda "O holiest and best of beings, what words taughtest thou me before the world was, or human life began its history?" "It was," responded the supreme being, "the Ahuna-Vairya prayer. Whoever, O Zarathustra, recites this prayer or intones it, or even whispers it under his breath, I will carry him safely across the bridge which leads to paradise. But whoever cuts this prayer short by a half, a third, a fourth, or by any quantity, his soul shall I keep out of paradise and it shall wander in sorrow for ever."

CHAPTER 22. ADORATION OF THE FRAVASHIS (GUARDIAN ANGELS OF THE SAINTS). I will praise the Fravashis, who have existed from time immemorial. Those of the houses, villages, and provinces, who preserve order in the heavens above, on the earth, and in the waters. I praise the Fravashis of Ahura-Mazda, the Fravashis of the bountiful immortals, and those of Zarathustra and of the Holy Counsellors. All good Yazads (7) deserve homage and sacrifice.

CHAPTER 35. AHURA-MAZDA AND THE IMMORTALS ADORED AND SUPPLICATED. We adore thee, O thou great God, Ahura-Mazda, and also the bountiful immortals. We laud all good thoughts and words and deeds that have been, are, or will be. It is our duty to live the good life, for that is best for both worlds. Thine, O lofty spirit, is the kingdom, thine the power, and thine the glory. Thy righteous rule surpasses every other rule; thy praise all other praise; thy hymns are the loftiest and best.

CHAPTER 57. IN HONOUR OF SROSH. We pay homage to thee, Srosh, the obedient and blessed one, the first of creatures to worship Ahura-Mazda, the Creator. Thou didst also worship the bountiful immortals, and wast the first to brandish the veresma and to sing the Gathas. Thou didst slay the all-destroying demon, and thou protectest the world and its denizens. Thou sleepest not, nor slumberest day or night. Thou teachest men the true religion—that of Ahura-Mazda.


[Gatha means "song," and is the same word as the Sanscrit Gita (Cf. p. 61 Bhagavad-Gita). These five gathas include yasnas 28-34, 43-46, 47-50, and 51-53. In metre, vocabulary, and matter, the gathas prove themselves to be the oldest part of the Avesta. The doctrines taught are likewise purer and more rational. Note the following:—I. There is one supreme good deity, Ahura-Mazda, the conception of whom is so lofty that, in order to save his character, a spirit of evil (Ahriman) has been invented. To the supreme good spirit are ascribed six attributes which are often personified. In the later parts of the Avesta these attributes are made independent persons (the bountiful immortals, or the Amesha Spentas). But in the Gathas they form with Ahura-Mazda a unity much resembling the Sabellian trinity. 2. The doctrine of reward and punishment that is taught in the Gathas is subjective, i.e., it makes a man's reward and punishment consist in change of character, disposition, etc.

It is a strange coincidence that the highest form of Indian and Iranian belief is to be found in the earliest literature of these religions, i.e., the Vedas and the Gathas. This does not agree with the opinion that most prevails, that in religions there is ever progress from lower to higher forms.

In these Gathas there is a unity of thought and feeling suggesting strongly unity of authorship. There is general agreement that the one author to whom at least the great bulk of the Gathas is due is Zarathustra himself. Roth, L.H. Mills, and other scholars date the Gathas as they would the Vedas, somewhere between B.C. 1200 and 1500, and they therefore fix upon the same date for the work of Zarathustra himself. Other Avestan scholars (A.V.W. Jackson, etc.) fix the date of Zarathustra's life, and therefore of the Gathas, some time near B.C. 600. If the latter opinion is held, it is probable that the substance of the Gathas is much older than the form which they take in the Avesta.]

GATHA I, Yasnas 28-34, 29, which is earlier than 28.

THE CALL OF ZARATHUSTRA. The afflicted people cry out aloud to thee, O Ahura-Mazda, and also to the Asha, the author of the divine order. Why were we made to be exposed to the attacks of suffering and of sin? The divine one asked Asha "Hast thou appointed a guardian over this people to defend them from evil?" Said Asha: "There is no man in this world that has to bear his lot of suffering and to resist moral adversaries, but the great Creator knows all about his life, and demands from him all that he is capable of. No man can choose anyone who is able to secure justice and happiness in the world." "But I," said Ahura-Mazda, "have chosen one for this great task, it is Zarathustra, the prophet and priest." On hearing of his divine appointment, Zarathustra prayed to his god, saying, "Do thou, O all-wise one, aid me, directing my thoughts, choosing for me my words, and guiding my steps, for without thee I can do nothing."

28. ZARATHUSTRA'S PRAYER FOR HELP. Teach me, O loftiest one, thy ways, and encourage me by thy promises to observe thy ceremonies. When shall I become acquainted with thine own pure mind, and know what is truly good? When shall I realise thee in my own soul, and have fellowship with thee without the mediation of man or angels? I do not ask for riches, or booty, or worldly prosperity, but for righteousness.

GRATITUDE FOR BLESSINGS ALREADY RECEIVED. Thou hast granted my requests, and given me the boon which I asked for. May I never offend thee, nor be ungrateful! Supply my lot with what thou knowest to be best, and not with what I desire. Make thou clear to me the laws which govern thy kingdom, that I may be a safe guide to others.

30. THE CREED WHICH ZARATHUSTRA IS TO PREACH. I announce to all who desire to know, the true doctrine about the Creation. Let all that listen give heed and shape their ways according to this teaching:—There were at the beginning two spirits and nothing more—a better principle and a worse. This pair existed independently each of the other. The good spirit (Ahura-Mazda) made all that he created perfect and just, like himself, but the evil spirit (Ahriman) created things that were evil. Why have the Daevas-worshippers perverted the truth and gone astray from the right path? Because the creator of evil has taken possession of them. All such as make their thoughts, words, and deeds conform to the will of the good spirit have an eternal reward, and their salvation has already begun. But such as yield to the evil impulses prompted by Ahriman shall abide eternally in woe and misery.

31. THE TWO PARTIES. Many there are who hiss at this teaching of mine, and will have none of it, but the people of Ahura give heed thereto. O supreme spirit of good, grant me by the sacred fire and the holy ritual some sign that will convince and convert men, so that all may be brought to thee and be made to abandon their Daevas. O ye bountiful immortals, will ye give me prophetic knowledge that I may lead men aside from the error of their ways; what punishment shall be his who strives to set up in our midst a king belonging to the Daeva party?

GATHA 2. 43-46.

[This part of the Avesta gives a fuller and correcter view of the work and teaching of Zarathustra than any other.]

43. The Theophany of Ahura-Mazda to Zarathustra. I saw Ahura-Mazda on high and he made known to me his truth, that I may tell it to men.

44. A PRAYER FOR KNOWLEDGE. Speak thou truly to me, O Ahura-Mazda, and not falsely as the Daevas do to their worshippers. How came this present world to be, and to be supported, if not through thee? Who made the sun and moon and stars, and the waters and the winds and the trees, who, if not thou? Reveal thou to me, O great one, the inner truth of things.

O ye crowds of men, when will ye call evil, evil, and good, good, instead of the contrary? Have the Daevas ever supplied good rulers?


[The word Vispered means "all the lords," and this section is so called because it contains invocations to all the lords or gods. It consists almost entirely of extracts from other parts of the Avesta, especially from the Yasnas. What is not found elsewhere has no special value and need not be summarised.]


[This is not strictly a liturgical work, but a priestly code describing the various purifications, penalties and expiations by which faults of various kinds are atoned for, or their consequences annulled. The existing Vendidads agree almost exactly with Nask (19) of the original Avesta, the only part of the Avesta in which one of the Nasks has been completely preserved. The Vendidads are divided into twenty-two Fargads, or sections.]

FARGAD 3. THE SANCTITY OF AGRICULTURE. The earth should be cultivated, 1. that it may bring forth food for man and beast, 2. because it promotes human piety. "How is it, O great creator," asks Zarathustra, "that religion is to be spread?" "By cultivating barley," was the answer, "for he who cultivates barley, cultivates purity. When barley is threshed or ground, and when flour is produced, devils whistle, whine, and waste away, knowing full well that man's idleness is their only opportunity." (Cf. compare Dr. Watts' line "Satan finds some mischief still, for idle hands to do.")

FARGAD 4. CIVIL AND CRIMINAL LAW. Whoever refuses to restore property to one to whom he knows it belongs by right, is a thief. Every day and night that he keeps this property he is guilty of theft. "How many kinds of property are there?" asked Zarathustra. "These six," was the answer. "1. That made by mere words. 2. That made by striking hands. 3. That made by depositing a sheep as security. 4, 5, 6. Those cases in which the security is respectively an ox, a man's value, and the value of a full field." Then there follow details of penalties for violating these several contracts:—e.g., for breaking the first—300 stripes of the rod, and so forth.

FARGADS 5-18, give the laws for the treatment of dead bodies. The two determining principles are—1. That a dead body is impure. 2. The elements earth, fire, and water, are absolutely pure and sacred. Bodies are not, therefore, to be buried, or they would pollute the earth; nor are they to be burnt, or they would pollute fire, nor thrown into water of any kind. They must be carried up to a lofty mountain, placed on stones, or iron plates, and exposed to dogs and vultures. Impurity from contact with a dead body, etc., is removed by pure water (Cf. the water of baptism). Then there follow laws prescribing the counter-charms to be used against evil spirits; the methods by which the sacred fire must be made and used, and so forth.

FARGAD 19, treats of the fate of the soul after death.

The Aprocryphal or Khorda Avesta

[The Yashts resemble closely the prayers of the Yasnas and the Vispereds, differing only in this, that each one of the twenty-four extant is devoted to the traits of a single deity, or at least of one class of divine beings (the bountiful immortals, and so forth). The usual word in the Yashts for the superhuman beings at rest is Yazads.]

YASHT I. The names of Ahura-Mazda and their efficacy.

Asked Zarathustra, "What, O Most High, are the most effective counter-charms (mantras) against evil spirits?" He received for answer that the pronunciation of the twenty different names of Ahura-Mazda are the best and strongest spells. These are the following:—1. The Revealer. 2. The Herd-giver, etc., etc. The twentieth and last is Mazda, the All-knowing One.

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Aristotle was born at Stagira, a Greek colony on the Macedonian frontier, in 384 B.C., when Plato was forty-three, fifteen years after the death of Socrates. Going to Athens, he became one of Plato's pupils in philosophy at the age of twenty. In 342 he became tutor to the future Alexander the Great, and some years later opened, again at Athens, his own school, whose disciples were called the Peripatetics. He died in 322 B.C. His works laid the systematic foundations of every science known in his time. His various treatises on logic were comprised in the "Organon"; he dealt with psychology and metaphysics; with rhetoric and the principles of literary criticism. He also systematised the natural sciences; and the two works here given, "the Ethics" and "Politics," have profoundly influenced ethical and political thought from his own day to ours. In particular, his classification of the virtues, and his doctrine that virtue lies in a "mean," have dominated a vast amount of moral speculation. The treatises as we know them are so crabbed and condensed in style as to give the impression that they are to a large extent not the finished works, but notes and summaries.


Every art and science, every action, has for its end some good, whether this be a form of activity or an actual product. The ends of minor arts are only means to the ends of superior arts. If there is one supreme end, this is The Good, inquiry into which belongs to the supreme Social Science [for which the Greek term is Politics]. The name given to this supreme good, the attainment of which is the object of Politics, is Happiness, good living, or welfare.

But Happiness itself is variously defined; some identify it with Pleasure, others with Honour—the first a degrading, and the second an inadequate view. Platonists find it in an abstract Idea of Good, a Universal which precludes particulars. There is a great deal to be said against this doctrine, even as a question of logic or metaphysic; but apart from that, the theory is out of court, for the all sufficient reason that its practical value is nil—knowledge of the great Universal Good in the abstract is of no practical use whatever in everyday life, which is a fundamental point for us.

If, then, there is a supreme dominating Good to be aimed at, what are the essential characteristics it must display? The Good of all Goods, the Best, must be complete in itself, a consummation. Whatsoever is a means to some end beyond fails so far of completeness; when we say that our end must be "complete," it follows that it must always be an end, never a means. It is not merely one amongst others of which it is the best, but the one in which all the others are summed up. It is of itself quite sufficient for the individual, and that not merely in isolation, but as a member of society—which it is his nature to be.

Let us then define Happiness as Man's Work—the performance of his function as man. Everything has some specific function, the performance of which is its Good, and man, too, must have a specific function. Now, this cannot be the kind of life which he shares with the vegetable or with the brute creation, therefore it must be the active life of his distinctive—i.q., his rational—part, exercised in accordance with the virtue or virtues which perfect it, and in his life as a whole, not merely at moments.

Testing our conclusions by the judgments of common experience, we gather support from them. Goods external, and goods of the body, are reckoned inferior to goods of the soul, which is recognised as the seat of activities. The identification of happiness with virtue, however, necessitates the distinction between active virtue and virtuousness. As conducing to active virtue, the other kinds of goods are elements in happiness. We must assume it to be not something granted to us, outside our own control, but attainable by effort and education.

Virtues are of two kinds: of the intellect, acquired by study; and moral, acquired by practice. The moral virtues are not implanted by nature, but we have the capacity for them by nature, and achieve them by practice, as by practice we acquire excellence in the arts, or control over our passions. Education, then, is of the utmost importance, since the state or habit of virtue is the outcome of virtue in act.

The manner, the "how" of action, must be in accord with Right Reason, whereof we shall speak elsewhere. Here we must recognise that we are not laying down universal propositions, but general rules which are modified by circumstances. Our activities must lie in a mean between the two extremes of excess and defect, and this applies both to the process of generating virtue, and to its manifestation. The virtues are concerned with pleasure and pain, because these act as inducements or opposing influences; Beauty, Advantage, and Pleasure being the three standing inducements, and Pleasure entering into both the others; so that in one aspect Virtue is the Best action in respect to pleasure.

But it does not lie in the mere act; the act must be born of knowledge and of choice done for its own sake, and persistently—the first, knowledge, being the least important; to make it the most important is a speculative error.

Now, there are three modes of mind: feeling or passion, faculty, and habit. We do not praise or blame passion in itself, or the faculty; therefore virtue can lie in neither, but must be found in habit or condition. The virtuous habit or condition is what enables that whereof it is the virtue to perform its function, which, in the case of man, is the activity of the soul, preserving always a middle course between excess and deficiency, by choice.

In another sense, however, we must remember that there are qualities in themselves wrong, and that virtue may be presented as not something intermediate, but a consummation. But when we name each of these virtues—Courage, Temperance, Liberality, etc.; the social virtues, or good manners; the virtues concerned with the passions—we can name the corresponding excess or deficiency. Justice and the intellectual virtues demand a separate analysis.

Each virtue stands in opposition to each of the extremes, and each of these to the other extreme, though in some cases the virtue may be more antagonistic to one extreme than to the other, as courage to cowardice more than to rashness. In individual cases, it is difficult to avoid being deflected towards one or other of the extremes.

Before proceeding with this analysis, we must examine the question of choice. To be praiseworthy, an act must be voluntary. An act is not voluntary if it is the outcome of external compulsion. Where there is a margin of choice, an act must still, on the whole, be regarded as voluntary, though done "against our will." Of properly involuntary acts, we must distinguish between the unintentional and the unwilling, meaning by the latter, in effect, what the agent would not have done if he had known.

Choice is not the same thing as a voluntary act; nor is it desire, or emotion, or exactly "wish," since we may wish for, but cannot make choice of, the unattainable. Nor is it Deliberation—rather, it is the act of decision following deliberation. If man has the power to say yes, he has equally the power to say no, and is master of his own action. If we make a wrong choice through ignorance for which we are ourselves responsible, the ignorance itself is culpable, and cannot excuse the wrong choice; and so, when the choice is the outcome of a judgment disordered by bad habits, men cannot escape by saying they were made so—they made themselves so. To say they "could not help" doing wrong things is only an evasion.


Virtues, then, are habits, issuing in acts corresponding to those by which the habit was established, directed by Right Reason, every such act being voluntary, and the whole process a voluntary process.

We may now turn to the analysis of the several virtues.

Courage has to do with fear. Not all kinds; for there are some things we ought to fear, such as dishonour and pauperism, the fear of which is compatible with dauntless courage, while the coward may not fear them. Fearlessness of what is in our control, and endurance of what is not, for the sake of true honour, constitute the courageous habit. Its excess is rashness or foolhardiness, the deficiency cowardice. Akin to it, but still spurious, is the courage of which the motive is not Honour but honours or reputation. Spurious also is the courage which arises from the knowledge that the danger is infinitesimal; so is that which is born of blind anger, or of elated self-confidence, or of mere unconsciousness of danger. True Courage lies in resisting a temptation to pleasure or to escaping pain, and, above all, death, for Honour's sake. The exercise of a virtue may be very far from pleasant, except, of course, in so far as the end for which it was exercised is achieved.

Temperance is concerned with pleasures of the senses; mainly of touch, in a much less degree of taste; but not of sight, hearing, or smell, except indirectly. Of carnal pleasures, some are common to all, some have an individual application. Temperance lies in being content to do without them, and desiring them only so far as they conduce to health and comfort. The characteristic of intemperance is that it has to do with pleasures only, not with pains. Hence, it is more purely voluntary than cowardice, as being less influenced by perturbing outward circumstances as concerns the particular case, though not the habit.

Liberality is concerned with money matters, and lies between extravagance and meanness. Really it means the right treatment of money, both in spending and receiving it—the former rather than the latter. A man is not really liberal who lavishes money for baser purposes, or takes it whence he should not, or fails to take due care of his property. The liberal man tends to err in the direction of lavishness. Extravagance is curable, but is frequently accompanied by carelessness as to the objects on which the money is spent and the sources from which it is obtained. The habit of meanness is apt to be ineradicable, and is displayed both in the acquisition and in the hoarding of money.

Munificence is a virtue concerned only with expenditure on a large scale, and it implies liberality. It lies between vulgar ostentation and niggardliness. It is possible only for the wealthy, and is concerned mainly with public works, but also with private occasions of ceremony. The error of vulgar ostentation is misdirection of expenditure, not excess. Niggardliness abstains from a proper expenditure.

Magnanimity is the virtue of the aristocrat; its excess is self-glorification, its deficiency self-depreciation. The magnanimous man will bate nothing of his claim to honour, power and wealth, not as caring greatly for them, but as demanding what he knows to be his due. This character involves the possession of the virtues; the man must act in the grand manner and on the grand scale. He knows his own superiority, does not conceal it, and acts up to it. Self-glorification overrates its own capacities; self-depreciation underrates them and shuns its responsibilities, being the more reprehensible of the two.

There is a nameless virtue which stands to magnanimity in the same relation as that of liberality to munificence; these being concerned with honours, as those with money. The excess is ambition, the deficiency is the lack of it; but here terminology fails us.

Good temper is a mean between ill-temper—whether of the irascible, the sulky, or the cantankerous kind—and something for which we have no name (poor-spiritedness). Friendliness comes between the excessive desire to please and boorishness. It is a social virtue which might be defined as goodwill plus tact. Sincerity [there is no English term quite corresponding to the Greek] is the quality opposed on the one side to boastfulness, and on the other to mock-modesty; it is displayed by the man who acknowledges, but who never exaggerates his own merits. In the social display of wit and humour, there is a marked mean between the buffoon and the dullard or prig. Shame is a term implying a feeling rather than a habit; like fear, it has a physical effect, producing blushes, and seems, in fact, to be fear of disrepute. To the young, it is a safeguard against vice; the virtuous man need never feel it; to be unable to feel it implies the habit of vice. Continence is not properly in the category of moral virtues.


We come now to Justice. A specific habit differs from a specific faculty or science, as each of the latter covers opposites, e.g., the science of health is also the science of sickness; whereas the habit of Justice does not cover but is opposed to the habit of Injustice. Justice itself is a term used in various senses; and the senses in which injustice is used vary correspondingly. Confusion is apt to arise from these varying senses not being distinguished. Injustice includes law-breaking, grasping and unfairness. Grasping is taking too much of what is good only; unfairness is concerned with both what is good and what is injurious. But in the legal sense, whatever law lays down is assumed to be just. Law, however, covers the whole field of virtuous action as it affects our neighbours, so that in this general sense justice is an inclusive term equivalent to righteousness. We, however, must confine ourselves to the specific sense of the terms.

Grasping is, in fact, included in unfairness, which is the real opposite of specific justice; it includes law-breaking only so far as the law is broken for the sake of gain. The justice with which we are concerned has two branches: Distributive, of honours and the like among citizens by the State, and of private property by contract and agreement; and Corrective, the remedying of unfair distribution. There are always two parties, and justice is the mean between the unfairness which favours A and the unfairness which favours B. Distributive justice takes into consideration the merits of the parties; corrective justice is concerned only with restoring a balance which has been disturbed. The distribution is a question not of equality, but of right proportion; and this applies to retribution, which is recognised as one of its aspects, e.g., the retribution for an officer striking a private and for a private striking an officer. Proportional requital is the economic basis of society, arrived at by the existence of a comparatively unfluctuating currency which provides a criterion.

In the State, as such, justice is obtained from the law and its administrators; justice is the virtue of the magistrate. Since he has nothing to gain or lose himself, it has been supposed that justice is "another's good," not our own. In the family, justice does not come in, the whole household being, in a sense, parts of the pater familias; and as you cannot be unjust to yourself, you cannot be unjust to your household. In the State, what is just is fixed partly by the nature of things, partly by law or convention.

As to individual acts, injury may arise from a miscalculation, or from an incalculable accident; it becomes a wrong when it was intentional but not premeditated, an injustice when premeditated. An act prima facie unjust is not so if done with the free consent of the person injured. It is the agent of distribution, not the recipient, who is unjust (when they are different persons); and similarly, the agent, not the instrument. And even the agent of unjust distribution is not really unjust unless he was really actuated by motives of personal gain.

The performance of a particular act is easy. To perform it rightly as the outcome of a right habit, is not; nor is it easy to be confident as to what is right in the particular case. The man who is just, having the habit, does not find it easy to act unjustly.

What we must call equity may be opposed to justice, but only in the legal sense of that term. It is justice freed from the errors incidental to the particular case, for which the law cannot provide. Injustice, again, is found in self-injury or suicide; which the law penalises, not because the individual thereby treats himself unjustly, but because he does an injustice to the community. It is only by metaphor that a man may be called unjust to himself, an expression which means that the relation between one part of him and another part of him is analogous to the unjust relation between persons.


The ensuing discussion of intellectual virtue requires some remarks on the soul. We distinguish in the rational part, that which knows, concerned, with the unchanging; and that which reasons, concerned with the changing. Our intellects and our propensions—not our sense-perceptions, which are shared with animals—guide our actions and our apprehension of truth. Attraction and repulsion, in correspondence with affirmation and denial, combine to form right choice; the practical—as opposed to the pure—reason having an external object, and being a motive power.

There are five modes of attaining truth: (1) Concerning things unalterable, defined as demonstrative science; (2) concerning the making of things changeable, art; (3) concerning the doing—not making—of things changeable, prudence; (4) intuitive reason, the basis of demonstrative science; (5) wisdom, the union of intuitive reason and science.

Wisdom and prudence are the two virtues of the intellect. Wisdom implies intuitive reason, which grasps undemonstrable first principles; it is concerned with the interests not of the moment, the individual, or the locality. Whereas prudence is concerned precisely with these; it is essentially practical. Wisdom cannot be identified with statesmanship; which, again, is not the same as prudence—which applies to the self, and to the family, as well as to the State; it differs from wisdom as requiring experience.

Wisdom, knowledge of the ultimate bases, is equally without practical bearing for those who have acquired a right habit and for those who have not; just as a knowledge of medical theory is of no use to the average man. But being an activity of the soul, ipso facto, it conduces to happiness. The general conclusion is that what we have called "prudence" shows the means to the end which the moral virtues aim at. It is not a moral virtue, but the moral virtues accord with it. Both are necessary to the achievement of goodness.

We come now to a second group of qualities, concerned with conduct. We have dealt with the virtues and their opposing vices. We pass by the infra-human and the supra-human bestiality and holiness; but have still to deal with Continence and its contrasted qualities, which are concerned with the passions.

In the popular view, continence, self-control, is adherence to our formed judgment. Incontinence is yielding to passion where we know it to be wrong, and may be indulged in the pursuit of vengeance, honour, or gain. A number of prima facie contradictions are started out of the popular views. We find that a man does not act against complete knowledge or knowledge of which he is fully conscious. The knowledge may, so to speak, be there, but is in abeyance, a condition which is palpably exemplified in a drunken man. Now, incontinence is concerned with pleasures, which are necessary—as for sustenance of life—and unnecessary but, per se, desirable, as honour. Incontinence is a term applied only by analogy in the case of the latter; its proper concern—as with the moral vice, which we call intemperance—is with the former. It implies, however, violent desire, which intemperance does not. We have examples of such desires in a morbid or diseased form, species of mania; but here again the term incontinence is only applied by analogy. Its legitimate application, in short, is restricted to the normal.

Incontinence in respect of anger is not so bad as in respect of desire. It is often constitutional, it is in itself painful, and it is not wanton, being in all three points unlike the other. What we spoke of as bestiality is more horrible than vice or incontinence, as being inhuman; but it does less harm. Incontinence means transgressing the ordinary standards in respect of pleasure and pain. Such transgression, when of set purpose, and not followed by repentance—consequently, incurable—is the moral vice of intemperance; which, being characterised by the absence of violent desire, is worse than incontinence. The latter is open, and is curable. The confusion between the two is due to their issuing in like acts; the passionate impulse is temporary; it is not a formed habit of wrong choice.

Continence is acting on conviction in resistance to passion; not merely sticking to any and every opinion, which is really rather more like incontinence. The other extreme, of actual apathy, is rare. Continence differs from temperance, as implying resistance to strong desires; whereas temperance implies that such desires are not active. Prudence—but not the acuteness which is sometimes confused with prudence—is incompatible with incontinence, which is least curable when the outcome of weakness.

Here it becomes necessary to make some inquiry as to Pleasure and Pain. Some maintain that pleasure is never good, some that it is partly good and partly not; some that it is good, but not the best But it cannot be bad per se, since it may be defined as the unimpeded activity of a formed faculty. Pleasure, as such, is not a hindrance to any activity, but its fulfilment; e.g., the pleasure of speculative inquiry does not hinder it. As a matter of fact, everyone does pursue pleasure; the denial that it is good results from thinking of it as meaning only bodily pleasures. And even they are not evil, but only the excessive pursuit of them. As to pleasure being fleeting, that is only because circumstances vary. The pleasure of the unchanging would be permanent.


A quality rendered as "Friendship"—though the Greek and English terms are not identical in content—now comes under examination. It is a relation to some other person or persons without which life is hardly worth living. Some account for it on the principle of "like to like," others on the opposite theory. Now, lovableness comes of goodness, or pleasantness, or usefulness. Love is not bestowed on the inanimate, and it must be mutual; it is to be distinguished from goodwill or devotion, which need not be reciprocated.

Genuine friendship must be based on goodness; what rests on pleasantness (as with the young), or on utility (as with the old), is only to be recognised conventionally as friendship. In perfection it cannot subsist without perfect mutual knowledge, and only between the good; hence it is not possible for anyone to have many real friends. Of the conventional forms, that which is born of intellectual sympathy is more enduring than what springs from sexual attraction; while what comes of utility is quite accidental. The former may develop into genuine friendship if there be virtue in both parties. Companionship is a necessary condition, in any case.

Variants of friendship, however, may subsist between unequals, as between parents and children, princes and subjects, men and women, where there is a difference in the character of the affection of the two parties. A certain degree of inequality—though we cannot lay down the limitation—makes "friendship" a misnomer. One would not desire the actual apotheosis of a friend, because that would take him out of reach; it would end friendship. Friendship lies rather in the active loving than in being loved, though most people are more anxious to be loved than to love.

Every form of social community—typified in the State—involves relationships into which friendship enters. The relationships in the family correspond to those in states; monarch to subjects as father to children, tyrant to subjects as master to slaves; autocratic rule to that of the husband, oligarchic rule to that of the wife; what we call Timocracy to the fraternal relation, and Democracy to the entirely unregulated household. In some kinds of association, friendship takes the form of esprit de corps. It may be seen that quarrels arise most readily in those friendships between equals which are based upon interest, and in friendships between unequals.

Friendship is a kind of exchange—equal between equals, and proportional between unequals; a repayment. This suggests various questions as to priority of claim—e.g., between paying your father's ransom and repaying a loan, both being in a sort the repayment of a debt. No fixed law can be laid down—i.e., it cannot be said that one obligation at all times and in all circumstances overrides all others.

The dissolution of friendship is warranted when one party has become depraved, since he has changed from being the person who was the object of friendship. But he should not be given up while there is hope of restoring his character. Again, if one develops a great superiority, friendship proper cannot persist—at least, in its first form. Our relations with a friend are much like those with our own selves; the true friend is a sort of alter ego. Friendship is not to be identified with goodwill, though the latter is a condition precedent; we may feel goodwill, but not friendship, towards a person we have never seen or spoken to. Unanimity of feeling—not as to facts, but as to ends and means—is a sort of equivalent to friendship in the body politic. The reason why conferring a benefit creates more affection than receiving it seems to be that the benefactor feels himself the maker of the other; we all incline to love what we produced—as parents their children, or the artist his own creations.

Self-love is wrong in a sense—the usual sense in which the term is used, of giving priority to oneself in the acquisition of material pleasures. But the seeking of the noblest things for oneself is really self-love, and may involve giving others, especially friends, the priority in respect of desirable things—even to resigning to another the opportunity of doing a noble deed. In this higher sense, self-love is praiseworthy.

The good man is self-sufficing, but friends are desirable, if not actually necessary to him, as giving scope for the exercise of beneficent activities, not as conferring benefits upon him. Besides, man's highest activities must be exercised not in isolation, but as a member of society, and such life lacks completeness if without friends. Finally, friendship attains its completest realisation where comradeship is complete; that is to say, in a common life.


We must revert once more to the question of Pleasure and Pain. To say that pleasure is not good is absurd; he who does so stultifies himself by his own acts. Eudoxus thought it was the good, his opinion being the weightier because of his temperateness.

It is desired for its own sake; its opposite is admittedly undesirable. But since it may be added to other good things, it cannot be the good: though to say that what every one desires is not good at all is folly. That it is not "a quality," or that it is "indeterminate," are irrelevant arguments, both statements applying to what are admittedly among "goods." The doctrine that it is a process, again, will not hold water. Pleasure is a thing complete; whereas a process is complete at no moment unless it be that of its termination. It is the completion of its appropriate activity; not in the sense that a habit makes the activity complete, but as its accompaniment and complement. Continuous it is not, just as the activity is not. It is not the complete life, but is inseparable from it. Pleasures, however, differ specifically and in value, as do the qualities with whose activities they are associated. The pleasures proper to men are those associated with the activities proper to man as man, those shared with other animals being so only in a less degree.

It remains to recapitulate the sum of our conclusions regarding Happiness. It is not a habit, but lies in the habitual activities—desirable in and for themselves not as means—exercised deliberately, excluding mere amusement. Man's highest faculty being intelligence, its activity is his highest happiness—contemplation—constant, sufficient, and sought not as a means, but as an end.

This kind of happiness belongs to the gods also. Exclusively human, but below the other, is the fulfilment of the moral life, conditioned by human society, and more affected by environments and material wants. For contemplative activity, the barest material needs suffice. But this does not of itself induce the moral life, being apart from conduct. To induce morality, not only knowledge, but the right habit of action—which does not follow from knowledge and may be implanted without it—is absolutely necessary. Compulsion may successfully establish the habit where argument might fail. Compulsion, therefore, is the proper course for the State to take.

* * * * *



Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher, was born on April 20, 121 A.D. Having been adopted by Antoninus Pius, whose daughter Faustina he married, he succeeded him as emperor in 161, but freely shared the imperial throne with Lucius Verus, who also had been adopted by Pius. Marcus Aurelius reigned until his death, on March 17, 180, in almost uninterrupted conflict with rebellious provinces, and often heavily burdened with the internal troubles of Rome. But the serenity of this august mind, and his constancy to wisdom, virtue and religion, were never shaken. For magnanimity, fidelity, resignation, fortitude and mercy, he stands unrivalled by any other figure of the pagan world. Nor did that world produce any other book which, like his, remains as an unfailing companion to every generation of the modern age. The charm of these fragmentary meditations depends greatly on their convincing candour; there is not a trace of the cant and exaggeration that so taint the moralisings of lesser men. It depends also on their iron stoicism; there are here no doubtful comforts, no rosy illusions. But it depends chiefly on the admirable and lovable human character which is revealed in them. They were written in Greek, and were probably jotted down at odd moments under the most various circumstances. Tradition says that they were intended for the guidance of his son.


The example of my grandfather Verus taught me to be candid and to control my temper. By the memory of my father's character I learned to be modest and manly. My mother taught me regard for religion, to be generous and open-handed, and neither to do an ill turn to anyone nor even to think of it. She bred me also to a plain and inexpensive way of living. I owe it to my grandfather that I had not a public education, but had good masters at home. From my tutor I learned not to identify myself with popular sporting interests, but to work hard, endure fatigue, and not to meddle with other people's affairs. Diognetus taught me to bear freedom and plain dealing in others, and gave me a taste for philosophy. Rusticus first set me to improve my character, and prevented me from running after the vanity of the Sophists, and from concerning myself with rhetorical and poetic conceits, or with the affectations of a dandy. He taught me to read an author carefully, and gave me a copy of Epictetus. Apollonius showed me how to give my mind its due freedom, to disregard everything that was not true and reasonable, and to maintain an equable temper under the most trying circumstances. Sextus taught me good humour, to be obliging, and to bear with the ignorant and thoughtless. From Maximus I learned to command myself, and to put through business efficiently, without drudging or complaint. From my adoptive father I learned a smooth and inoffensive temper, and a greatness proof against vanity and the impressions of pomp and power; I learned that it was the part of a prince to check flattery, to have his exchequer well furnished, to be frugal in his expenses, not to worship the gods to superstition, but to be reserved, vigilant and well poised.

I thank the gods that my grandfathers, parents, sister, preceptors, relatives, friends and domestics were almost all persons of probity, and that I never happened to disoblige any of them. By the goodness of the gods I was not provoked to expose my infirmities. I owe it to them also that my wife is so deferential, affectionate and frugal; and that when I had a mind to look into philosophy I did not spend too much time in reading or logic-chopping. All these points could never have been guarded without a protection from above.


Put yourself in mind, every morning, that before night you will meet with some meddlesome, ungrateful and abusive fellow, with some envious or unsociable churl. Remember that their perversity proceeds from ignorance of good and evil; and that since it has fallen to my share to understand the natural beauty of a good action and the deformity of an ill one; since I am satisfied that the disobliging person is of kin to me, our minds being both extracted from the Deity; since no man can do me a real injury because no man can force me to misbehave myself; I cannot therefore hate or be angry with one of my own nature and family. For we are all made for mutual assistance, no less than the parts of the body are for the service of the whole; whence it follows that clashing and opposition are utterly unnatural. This being of mine consists of body, breath, and that part which governs. Put away your books and face the matter itself. As for your body, value it no more than if you were just expiring; it is nothing but a little blood and bones. Your breath is but a little air pumped in and out. But the third part is your mind. Here make a stand. Consider that you are an old man, and do not let this noble part of you languish in slavery any longer. Let it not be overborne with selfish passions; let it not quarrel with fate, or be uneasy at the present, or afraid of the future. Providence shines clearly through the work of the gods. Let these reflections satisfy you, and make them your rule to live by. As for books, cease to be eager for them, that you may die in good humour, heartily thanking the gods for what you have had.

Remember that you are a man and a Roman, and let your actions be done with dignity, gravity, humanity, freedom and justice; let every action be done as though it were your last. Have neither insincerity nor self-love. Man has to gain but few points in order to live a happy and godlike life. And what, after all, is there to be afraid of in death? If the gods exist, you can suffer no harm; and if they do not exist, or take no care of us mortals, a world without gods or Providence is not worth a man's while to live in. But the being of the gods, and their concern in human affairs, is beyond dispute; and they have put it in every man's power not to fall into any calamity properly so called. Living and dying, honour and infamy, pleasure and pain, riches and poverty—all these are common to the virtuous and the depraved, and are therefore intrinsically neither good nor evil. We live but for a moment; our being is in a perpetual flux, our faculties are dim, our bodies tend ever to corruption; the soul is an eddy, fortune is not to be guessed at, and posthumous fame is oblivion. To what, then, may we trust? Why, to nothing but philosophy. This is, to keep the interior divinity from injury and disgrace, and superior to pleasure and pain, and to acquiesce in one's appointed lot.


Observe that the least things and effects in Nature are not without charm and beauty, as the little cracks in the crust of a loaf, though not intended by the baker, are agreeable and invite the appetite. Thus figs, when they are ripest, open and gape; and olives, when they are near decaying, are peculiarly attractive. The bending of an ear of corn, the frown of a lion, the foam of a boar, and many other like things, if you take them singly, are far from beautiful; but seen in their natural relations are characteristic and effective. So if a man have but inclination and thought to examine the product of the universe, he will find that the most unpromising appearances have their own appropriate charm.

Do not spend your thoughts upon other people, nor pry into the talk, fancies and projects of another, nor guess at what he is about, or why he is doing it. Think upon nothing but what you could willingly tell about, so that if your soul were laid open there would appear nothing but what was sincere, good-natured, and public-spirited. A man thus qualified is a sort of priest and minister of the gods, and makes a right use of the divinity within him. Be cheerful; depend not at all on foreign supports, nor beg your happiness of another; don't throw away your legs to stand upon crutches.

If, in the whole compass of human life, you find anything preferable to justice and truth, temperance and fortitude, or to a mind self-satisfied with its own rational conduct and entirely resigned to fate, then turn to it as to your supreme happiness. But if there be nothing more valuable than the divinity within you, if all things are trifles in comparison with this, then don't divide your allegiance. Let your choice run all one way, and be resolute for that which is best. As for other speculations, throw them once for all out of your hand.


It is the custom of people to go to unfrequented places and to the seashore and to the hills for retirement; and you yourself have often wished this solitude. But, after all, this is only a vulgar fancy, for it is in your power to withdraw into yourself whenever you have a mind to it. One's own heart is a place the most free from crowd and noise in the world if only one's thoughts are serene and the mind well ordered. Make, therefore, frequent use of this retirement, therein to refresh your virtue. And to this end be always provided with a few short, uncontested notions, to keep your understanding true. Do not forget to retire to this solitude of yours; let there be no straining or struggling in the matter, but move at ease.

If understanding be common to us all, then reason, its cause, must be common, too. And so also must the reason which governs conduct by commands and prohibitions be common to us all. Mankind is therefore under one common law, and so are fellow-citizens; and the whole world is but one commonwealth, for there is no other society in which mankind can be incorporated.

Do not suppose that you are hurt, and your complaint will cease.

If a man affronts you, do not defer to his opinion, or think just as he would have you do. No; look upon things as reality presents them. When incense is thrown upon the altar, one grain usually falls before another; but it matters not.

Adhere to the principles of wisdom, and those who now take you for a monkey or a beast will make a god of you in a week.

A thing is neither better nor worse for being praised. Do virtues stand in need of a good word, or are they the worse for a bad one? An emerald will shine none the less though its worth be not spoken of.

Whatever is agreeable to You, O Universe, is so to me, too. Your operations are never mistimed. Whatever Your seasons bring is fruit for me, O Nature. From You all things proceed, subsist in You, and return to You. The poet said, "Dear City of Cecrops"; shall we not say, "Dear City of God"?

The greater part of what we say and do is unnecessary; and if this were only retrenched we should have more leisure and less disturbance. This applies to our thoughts also, for impertinence of thought leads to unnecessary action.

Mankind are poor, transitory things: one day in life, and the next turned to mummy or ashes. Therefore manage this minute wisely, and part with it cheerfully; and like a ripe fruit, when you drop, make your acknowledgments to the tree that bore you.


When you feel unwilling to rise early in the morning, make this short speech to yourself: "I am getting up now to do the business of a man; and am I out of humour for going about that I was made for, and for the sake of which I was sent into the world? Was I then designed for nothing but to doze beneath the counterpane?" Surely action is the end of your being. Look upon the plants and birds, the ants, spiders and bees, and you will see that they are all exerting their nature, and busy in their station. Shall not a man act like a man?

Be not ashamed of any action which is in accordance with Nature, and never be misled by the fear of censure or reproach. Where honesty prompts you to say or do anything, let not the opinion of others hold you back. Go forward by the straight path, pursuing your own and the common interest.

Some men, when they do you a kindness, ask for the payment of gratitude; others, more modest, remember the favour and look upon you as their debtor. But there are yet other benefactors who forget their good deeds; and these are like the vine, which is satisfied by being fruitful in its kind, and bears a bunch of grapes without expecting any thanks for it. A truly kind man never talks of a good turn that he has done, but does another as soon as he can, just like a vine that bears again the next season.

We commonly say that Aesculapius has prescribed riding for one patient, walking for another, a cold bath for a third. In the same way we may say that the nature of the Universe has ordered this or that person a disease, loss of limbs or estate, or some such other calamity. For as, in the first case, the word "prescribed" means a direction for the health of the patient, so, in the latter, it means an application suitable for his constitution and destiny.

Be not uneasy, discouraged or out of humour, because practice falls short of precept in some particulars. If you happen to be vanquished, come on again, and be glad if most of what you do is worthy of a man.

We ought to live with the gods. This is done by being contented with the appointments of Providence, and by obeying the orders of that divinity which is God's deputy; and this divine authority is no more nor less than that soul and reason which every man carries within him.


The best way of revenge is not to imitate the injury. Be always doing something serviceable to mankind; and let this constant generosity be your only pleasure, not forgetting a due regard to God.

The world is either an aggregation of atoms, or it is a unity ruled by Law and Providence. If the first, what should I stay for, where Nature is a chaos and things are blindly jumbled together? But if there is a Providence, then I adore the great Governor of the world, and am at ease and cheerful in the prospect of protection.

Suppose you had a stepmother and a mother at the same time; though you would pay regard to the first, your converse would be principally with the latter. Let the court and philosophy represent these two relations to me.

If an antagonist in the circus tears our flesh with his nails, or tilts against us with his head, we do not cry out foul play, nor are we offended, nor do we suspect him afterwards as a dangerous person. Let us act thus in the other instances of life. When we receive a blow, let us think that we are but at a trial of skill, and depart without malice or ill-will.

It is enough to do my duty; as for other things, I will not be disturbed about them.

The vast continents of Europe and of Asia are but corners of the creation; the ocean is but a drop, and Mount Athos but a grain in respect of the universe; and the present instant of time is but a point to the extent of eternity.

When you have a mind to divert your fancy, try to consider the good qualities of your acquaintance—such as the enterprising vigour of this man, the modesty of another, the liberality of a third, and so on. Let this practice be always at hand.

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