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conquests


Conquests:

Picturesque Tales of Progress


 Part One



I. 

Flying the flag, the bulls rushed forward, snorting. In the afternoon they assembled and fell on each other till everyone was dead. There followed a lively banquet. The interchange of compliments was brought to a close. Men wept and women wailed. Shading his eyes they were led through a maze of hallways and chambers. They were struck silent in surprise. They sat on the slope of the hill. Flames and fire burned up all the grass. 

The enormous harbor bustled with activity. Here on the rocky shore with snow peaks rising beyond with a rattle of oars the waters were ruffled by a gentle breeze and, driven by the wind, the shores finally disappeared. Many comforts and luxuries, walking sedately with their elders, handling beautiful wares, children playing everywhere, she who was the source of life represented her power over earth and air with bands of dancing priests in sacred caves in the mountains. Here the ground fell away, dropping off abruptly while in great pits a light shafts a bird to enhance the joyous scene. 

In the center of this small room, when the palace blazed with light, the food was delicious and stone seats rising one above the other were already filled. He dashed the poisoned wine from her lips and embraced his son. News quickly spread and people came to see what was occurring. A thunderbolt appearing from a calm sky, it was now a blackened wreck. Other cities suffered from the foe and added wild cries, an orgy of noise, a mad clamor and din so that everything whirled a little faster, back and forth in a maze. 

Her bedroom breathed the spirit of perfumed womanhood, glittering like glass, very spacious and easy, so remarkable jumbled together. They had wasp-like little waists and their hair was held in place by hairpins, wrought in gold. Slowly the streets became more crowded. They acknowledged the vastly superior power across the blue stretch of waves. They were cut off from their neighbors by a mountain chain. They turned to the sea filling the spaces that were unknown as their only chance for life, with no more than a moment’s pity for the crumpled heaps of flesh being carried away. 

Warriors like grain sprouted from the earth. She came by night, moved by love and pity. They threw down a necklace they were setting with gems. They fell in a heap to the ground. They were left alone to tell the pitiful little tale. With a roar flames shot up and the great walls fell in showers of sparks. On the dark decks below they did things like nobody else, feeling keenly the kinship to uncultured savages. They sat down among the mountains, protected from sun and wind. No one knew where, magnificently full of life, rising in series, light, airy, graceful structures were massively built. A well-made system of drains and pipes flushed through the palace. Busily chatting, they could sit and work on a raised seat bright with colored cushions. The sea has covered over the islands dotting the face of the water. They had room to spread out and called into life a happy flock whose heads were crowned with plumes. 

Statues of the heads were placed in sacred shrines. She suckled a kid on a rocky field, sprung into being by itself at the foot of the tree, with a flower in her hand made of ivory, all products of nature, ritual dancers pleasing her by their dances. Flying fish, full of life and exuberant joy with a quaint design remain along the wall running almost the entire length, square stone pits sunk into the floor, large jars quite elaborate with spiral designs, larger above than below, a marvelous work of inlay. They wait before the chambers of their mistress by flights of steps with pillared porticoes. Crystal eyes and other emblems of the sea, an exciting moment from the bull ring, middle-weight boxers with bare hands on a hillside under an awning, the very spirit of grace, all entangled in it, performing gymnastic feats on the backs of bulls, a mixture of memory and romance - they were lamenting and tearing their hair. 

He rides through the air. Monsters were common, so long believed to be nothing but fable. The last voyage of the dead surmounted by doves, falling through the air in peculiar postures, a permanent possession of the world where the people were still simple savages in their own original ways. Clay tablets covered with writing remained a mystery. So important was the sea as they sailed, the people painted and seemed literally to talk to each other although startled and angry. Dark-colored bands and discs, with one big eye in the center of the cheek, he planted his staff imperiously on the ground in his curious ceremonial cloak. The beauty of the material, with long curls hanging down over his shoulders, occasioned great surprise. Sailing between rocks and shoals, a woman was baking bread with her arms around a boy going to the temple. 



II. 

The center of life on a towering hill, wandering about in search of a prophet — what could it mean? He slew him for having told the truth. A little ball went flying through the air, twinkling in the light. Such news to the long-waiting wife who was in despair, in reality mad, wrapped in a cloud dragged through the dust, full of rage their heads appeared above the bundles and bales. Such enormous stones lay in a pool along a narrow gate approached by these waters at intervals along its course on top of a great mound, he who sought her hand to take an oath to protect her seized with a madness of love, shed hot tears. She opened a secret door and slew the boy. A savage rush of all the winds together snapped the mast. He would never lead them forth to face them all, the smoke of burning cypress and cedar wood, struggling through the waves in his battered craft. He urged his steeds with flowing manes, issued through the thicket, shrieked aloud and sought to take him home without waiting for thanks. 

Frowning fortifications across the little islands, a vast array of corridors, stairways and halls. They turned their longing eyes eastward, with all the skill and strength of powerful men along the craggy rocks that edged the shore. He struggled with his hands to tear the slimy snakes away. He was the first to leave the shore and there in splendor reigned. They gave him an old robe to wrap himself in. They raided their homes and palaces and learned of a new metal, iron. They went away in a rage. Discord stirred up strife at once, quarreling with clamor, until he seized the sword and soiled his noble face. Driven like frightened fawns, they stood upon the walls and strangled him, which he had not the strength to break, with each passing year, following their own impulses like the weakest humans. 

But in the course of future flights in the beginning, live snakes writhe yet come too late, long wearied. Lovingly, they bore him across. She knew his tale was true. They have shields that cover their entire body. They were afraid to decide the matter. She lost her importance and ordered thinking began to seek the world so diversified in its manifestations. 

They must capture before they can settle. He called them to come. He went down the mountain. His simple life no longer satisfied him. He turned his plough aside, proving he was sane. He was forced to his knees by a sword. He looked like this. He shone no more among the host. He went into his perfumed chamber to rest on his well-carved couch but heard the mingled shouts and groans of those who slew and fell, and he tore his hair. He let them in but shut the gates and wouldn’t yield to their request. They resorted to tricks. His ship was wrecked. He plunged into the deep and donned the garment she’d given. Then all the pretty players shrieked aloud and fell into a whirling eddy. 

He did a thousand things well. And the gods came down from heaven seeking safe refuge. They were made so small the people came in a stream, finding them already dead. He remembered one he had forgot. It sent its poison quickly through his blood. They left it standing on the plain. She remembered all the wrongs she had suffered. She was sorrowful and repented of her past refusal. 

Unwary men waste their days in dreams. He was wrecked, borne, the sole survivor on strange, savage shores. They feasted together in his honor that day. It remained a savage land. They fought against the gods themselves. Fresh with springs, smiling in innocent joy, all wrapped up beneath the cold snows of the peak, a bee-hive shaped tomb had been dug. Ridiculous little mules heavily loaded down blocked every attempt to advance. Firm in his determination, the last struggle was hard and fierce. He couldn’t withstand the flaming brands that threatened to extinguish the ships. He vowed in grief and quenched his eager thirst. Her heart still had sympathy with them as they made their journeys over unknown seas. 

He was nearly crushed to death. They flung insult after insult at his head. They were in a sportive mood. They chafed at the delay. They affectionately fawned. He sorely regretted his oath and while he hesitated the monster slowly moved. He gazed far off across the sea and couldn’t take his mind off his woes. Swarming like an army they filled the place. In his arms once more he held his dear and faithful wife. 

Much of their strength and energy seemed missing after the war. The moment came. They thought little of farming or trading. Beyond this they did not go. 



III. 

The wild shepherd tribes in separate straggling groups, like little flurries of snow spreading among all the people through the inner urge of the spirit hid in the darkness of the earth, brought forth plants amid scornful taunts. “I do not fear to die,” he said, sent out alone to act as a secret service man. When they went into battle they wore purple robes. 

He was not impressed by him being able to foretell when an eclipse would occur. The moon and stars moved according to fixed laws, the real cause of things, he boldly declared to men who liked to think, but the people refused to hearken. To crown the event he made the taxes smaller. They threatened with sullen muttering, puzzling over the letters, and learned how cruel and unjust they had been to them. 

She was a stern woman in a plain severe tunic. He is pouring out oil to rub himself. They were enjoying a cup of wine together when the Gates of Dawn were opened and out leapt the Sun. They floated helplessly on the waters. Only a slender thread held the tribes together. Scattered here and there were fields of wheat. When times were slow, they took to the seas. They became small farmers living in little villages. Life was exceedingly simple. They slumbered at ease in the sunshine or wandered in or out. Further union with others was repugnant to them. They could endure any hardship or pain, learning implicit obedience even on the coldest nights. 

A mantle was embroidered by a peasant woman. They refused to blame everything that occurred to the foolish whim of some god, but searched for a sacred principle sprung originally from air. Easily roused to anger, they looted the kingdom in its sprawling unwalled city, which they had to keep down by force in constant fear of uprising and revolt. 

They had a simple method of keeping their business accounts and anyone could learn them. They decided stones were bones and threw them behind them. As soon as they were born, they devoured them. The winds brought rumbling and storms of dust. They forever played on their shepherd pipes. He secretly lit a torch. He gave intelligence to the horse. He had a box in his house that held a number of things. A wearisome life of endless drill came as a joyous sort of relief. 

Existence for many was simply unbearable. They demanded that the laws should at least be written down. They had never reasoned with an open and frank mind. He rose up to threaten the liberty of all the growing world. They had little yearning for beauty. They turned out hard men, self-controlled and powerful. They stayed shut up and little visited by strangers, clinging to ancient customs, their iron warriors feared throughout the world. 

The world seemed a little place. They had certain tales, the result of deep musings and ponderings, seeking the truth of things. No moon floated in majesty. Their constant discontent was almost unbearable. They could easily degenerate into weak sensuality and ribald drinking songs. They had his name and guarantee that his word was true. They began to sing a beautiful new form of poetic verse. Sturdy poems of deeds slowly grew to fervent songs of joy in nature’s radiant scenes. 

The changing world did not exist, with its colorful myths. They felt and dreamed and sometimes perceived fundamental truths. None gave heed or hearkened, but they closed the door under cover of night. They lay buried in a heap. So deep was the interest, breathing the terrible fumes, writhing and raving in the gloomy forests, they first had a chance to speak. A coin was placed in his mouth. He made maidens of gold who could walk around and think. He was the greatest harper of his age. Simple and harsh, he saw at once how foolish they were. He forced them to take a magic drink before the dawn of history, who had risen up and gathered in their shaggy garments. They had left their simple brethren far behind. Their chief city was brilliant and luxurious. 



IV. 

Led by an arch fiend in a distant land, they pursued and defeated them. They were easily attacked by any foe. In this extremity of danger they were for turning tail and running away. A wonderful empire still obeyed the Great King across the narrow strait. They were untamable fellows pouring down in hordes at the very border. They were pitched ignominiously down a well. He had a hall of a hundred columns. Their only hope lay in a wooden wall. 

From a mountain kingdom, alarmed by this newly-risen cloud, never doubting victory, leagued together to destroy her, they followed the curve of the sea. Enormous fear and excitement seized the small city. They could not come until after the full moon had passed. They were cleverly arranged and the thin center gave way, forming powerful wings. Jealousy was rife as usual but the desperate need wiped out old feuds. He found them as pert and aggressive as ever. They were repulsed. Slowly, in steady order, they moved on. 

They began to rebuild it without any help from outside. That made matters look different. They were never again to return. New energies awoke. There was nothing to make him suspicious. The sea could not be seen. The shores were full of corpses, there was no room to retreat. He grew puffed up with pride. Pretenders sprang up everywhere. He turned his attention to Europe. In the early days of his power he felt himself capable of constantly choosing the good. So matters went until he refused to respond to the wicked rabble and was swallowed up in the maw of the voracious young empire. He was too egotistical, too selfish. He held his head too high to yield an inch. Lovers of freedom were developing, flamed with indignation in search of bold adventure, a bitter foe. The fire of his bold spirit, banners defiantly flying, was called up for trial. The short-sighted citizens thought they would never return and continued the policy of fighting, but they had to give up and march down again. They gallantly yielded command following a motley throng and agreed to fall back into that narrow little road, sullen red flares leaping into the sky, a seasonal storm which arose over the mountain road. Camping in the open, keeping their own skin safe by sitting behind the wall with all their household possessions entrenched on the rocky height, they fluttered like startled antelopes beating the water in quick and rhythmic motions, churning the waves into foam. Shouts and cries arose, crashed, staggered and sank, stoned to death by the anger of the mob, swallowed up by the slave mentality of the East. Such a mixture of rich and poor within the space of a single generation would never meet again, carved from the solid classes of the people - simple, valiant people who cordially hated him - who spend their weary years in exile. 



V. 

Immediately after leaving their homes in ashes, basely jealous and eager to keep her helpless, the children toiled in hot haste. He boldly told his elaborate dreams, entered into plots and introduced into his household luxurious habits and customs. Always dissatisfied, he returned to the scene of the action and blocked up the door with stones. He died of hunger and thirst, exactly like his fellows in the upper row. As soon as he arrived he fled across Asia and refused to give up his guest, which has besmirched so much wise advice. They shirked paying their dues and spread rule by a privileged few. This request sparked a large dispute. They were avowedly ready for war. 

Now he became an outstanding leader. A precipitous rock was not too steep to climb. The power of one intelligent mind ever thinking set him apart from other men. They became obedient servants. In all sincerity he wished the people to rule. The crown of the Holy Hill became crowded with stately temples, marble and white. 

His spear point caught the rays of the sun on a little side porch, peerless in loveliness, shaded with graceful trees. All the rich desire to reproduce ideal beauty arranged blocks and squares, living natural form, in the spirit of their freer life running parallel, which created much interest. Only a door decorated the blank wall that rose from the street, narrow, crooked, tortuous, lit only by openings on a central court, except for a fire in the kitchen where wood or charcoal were burned. “A free city cannot exist without slaves,” they said. 

They lived in great seclusion and entertained themselves with music, beautiful embroidery and perfumed robes. She took a last, longing look. He saw that he behaved himself properly in the streets. Everybody was expected to learn how to use his muscles. It was a pleasure to watch him. 

It was their duty to be as graceful as possible. He wanted someone to share his dreams and interests. The two remained warmly devoted to each other. He was struck to his core. He was a man of lively fancy and a traveler in many lands. He showed great penetration and insight. He was a handsome and dignified man who rarely unbent to become friends with anybody. 

The dining room was now brilliantly aglow with the light of oil lamps. They carried heavy clubs to protect their masters. There were no knives or forks. The dogs devoured the bread thrown on the floor. It was in a dignified way a very pleasant evening. They were all escorted home. 

Worshipers gathered by night on the mountain, dancing wildly and still more wildly, till they had worked themselves into a frenzy and some person from the legend separated himself and began to talk to the chorus. The word tragedy meant only a sad play. They grew out of the riotous mummeries of masked revelers. He was in perfect sympathy with the belief that man’s life was governed by the whims of the gods. They made fun of everybody under the sun. He won the victory in the struggle between good and evil in his heart. They appeared on the streets and the housetops. Acrobats were dancing in and out. People came from all quarters. His costume was grotesquely padded. 

Open to the sky, carved into solid rock, rising tier on tier, in a circular space they sang and danced. They were given permission to see as much as they could. Carefully veiled, of course, the women were eager, vivacious and fluttering. Sudden blasts alerted the audience, kneeling with arms outstretched in a solemn hush. They could express no changes of emotion. 

They left him on a mountain to die. He ran away to escape his fate. He supported his tottering legs with a staff. She threw herself from the rock and died. The audience was overcome with sympathy. The silent spectacle of the eager throng now powerless, all sick, unconsciously the cause, so noble, enthralled, swiftly sweeping them on to its terrible climax. 

They spun the thread of life and learned to make thrilling plots. He met a man who thrust him from the road. He tried to unravel the mystery further. It brought an audible gasp, in a frenzy of misery, with both hands tearing at his hair. That infant born so long ago raged all about as if following some guide. Entwined in a noose, with one terrific groan he lifted the knife and stabbed his eyes so the blood ran down his face in a shower of gore. How deep the billows of calamity roll, still exalted and tense! 

Politicians talked and gestured. One man stood conspicuously apart. The people who passed paid him their deepest respect. He was content to be poor and go barefoot in the snow, trapping unwary strangers. He wanted to start them on the road. It made him bitter foes. Intelligence sets all things in order for us to decide what is good and then do it. 

They dug into the bowels of the earth so they could make evil seem good, cut loose, swinging in a basket, gazing at the sun. It awaked roars of laughter. Trying to calculate the lengths of the leaps of a flea, he suffered so much from his son that he burned the place down! That little inner voice is only bad through ignorance. He saw his course and he pursued it, talking of life eternal on the day of his death, cheerful and content, his body burned or buried. He died of a broken heart. He thought for himself. 

He preserved his master’s ideas by writing them in a book. We were actually dreaming that life could be guided into better ways. All men should be happy. What will bring the highest measure of good? They entertained themselves with a dog and cat fight. They thought happiness was normal but they still had no standards of conduct. Pleasures which are no pleasures bring sorrow and grief in their wake, the wildest and ugliest vices. 

He had many powerful enemies. They sought to strike at him. He was thrown into prison. A wonderful statue of ivory and gold standing on a golden pedestal was set aside for the state. He squinted at the figures which decorated the shield. He was condemned to pay a heavy fine. His pleading saved her from a sentence of death, yet his power was still supreme. They ravaged the fields and open spaces. They clamored in a frenzy to be led against the foe. He strained his authority. Their resources were endless. 

The people fell ill by the hundreds. All activity lay shattered in darkness and gloom. The war was to drag along. They were ready to sell their souls to gain the favor of the crowd. He made a ranting speech to stir up hate. They led them into many blunders and crimes. They departed without a moment’s delay. They well knew his flippant and irreverent disrespect. He told them their most closely kept secrets. On his way he escaped and lived for a time quite simply. He lolled in magnificence. The opportunity came. He lived in a castle built from his earlier spoils. They always portrayed active, interesting scenes from life. They were called “inferiors.” The long pent-up hatred of the nobles wreaked vengeance on the people. Greedy, despotic and cruel, they shot him with a volley of arrows. 

Miles inland they marched away wondering where they were going. They balked at the news but rewards stilled their murmurs. Fighting with furious courage, they proceeded to slay them. Girt about by enemies, two thousand miles from home, they made a gallant retreat. Nightwatches by the firelight, wild animals in the mountains, terrible faces on the plains, fighting in dangerous passes, were like dark fantasies in a dream. They were exhausted by their ceaseless struggle against snow and wind, suffering from ravenous hunger. Appeased by sacrifice, they were able to look down upon the sea. They gave a mighty shout. They all set a-running and embraced one another. Their eyes filled with tears. He returned to a pretty country estate to lead a happy life. 

He was the first general to try this. He passed through the gates unnoticed, mingling with the crowd. They were asked to lift their teasing veils and reveal their feminine charms. They buried their daggers deep. He massed an overwhelming force. The survivors appeared on the streets in mourning. Twenty years of agony followed. Clad in the skins of beasts, they united their scattered tribes. He forced them to quarrel. His flaming words stirred for a moment but had no lasting effect. He threw off the mask and crushed them. 

They were fearless in the pursuit of truth. They were known over all the earth, henceforth to be submerged. Their worst faults were their constant, petty jealousy, bickering and selfish individualism. They never got together as a whole. They brought new light to the world. They saved our civilization from tyranny and despotism. 



VI. 

He trained to endure and excel and awaited the great adventure. He fired his mind with heroic tales of leadership. He was stricken with fever and died in his splendid palace. He replaced the veterans of the army. The different kingdoms remained almost as separate as before. 

He was rash and headlong, yet singularly lovable. He was warmer and more impulsive. He felt a delicate tenderness for all who were weak or unhappy. He never lost a battle. His heart was fired with a vision. The walls around the city sprang up in haste under the pick and spade of the energetic soldiers. 

In disgust he ordered the horse away. They hadn’t the skill or the grit. He knew more about it than they. He was utterly wild and untrained. He was quieted and got over his nervousness. He was eager to gallop ahead, and he let him go at last, directing him with his feet. 

He was interested more in things than in ideas. He liked to study birds and plants and make logic into a science. He presented in orderly fashion everything that man knew. 

The chariots bristled with sword blades. He made his last stand. His efforts were in vain. He lost the battle and was slain. He cried out in indignation. He saw his own shadow dance up and down on the ground. He swung himself up on the horse’s back. He was stabbed by his own attendants. He went with the zeal of an explorer. He sent back collections of plants and animals. 

He undertook to entertain them. He was absent from home. He was not interested in trifling topics. He persisted through the most stubborn siege of all. They came to be very friendly. He could never hope to defeat him. He dreamed of conquering the world on a beautiful horse. Revolt broke out everywhere. He leveled the city to the ground. He pushed his war engines up to the wall. A fire-ship burned the towers. The troops were placed aboard ships. Their army was huge in numbers. They had become the finest soldiers in the world. 

He offered his horse that the king might escape. Infuriated by pain, they leapt and sprang in the air. Wherever a way was opened, the fugitives burst through. Rashly he fought that day, slaying troops left and right, driving them off in a panic, cut-down to the man. He found an ancient wagon. He suddenly and boldly smote it with his sword and cut it through with a stroke. 

Still he kept pressing on. He went zigzagging through Asia Minor. He threw them as a wall before the chariot. His long spear pierced a gallant noble. He feared he would fall alive into the enemy’s hands. He threw aside all the insignia of his splendid office. His mother and family were treated with the greatest kindness and courtesy. He stood towering aloft in his chariot. And now he was wounded. At first the battle seemed to go against him. 

They hurled missiles at the workmen. They put stones in the water to prevent the approach of the galleys. Marching up the coast, he freed the cities and set up democracies in them. He came to the city riding in a wagon. He found a short, bold way out of a difficulty. He made sure he left no enemies in the rear. 

They threw open their gates and heartily bid him welcome. He was energetically planning a new activity, frightening them all into submission. “How much I owe to my father,” he said to himself at that time. In the middle of the channel, the ship stopped for a moment. From a golden goblet he poured a libation. 

The boy grew in strength. His father was suddenly assassinated. With marvelous speed he restored order and then turned swiftly to quiet the savage tribes. He turned about like lightning and fell on the city. He carried his arms eastward. The spectators burst out cheering. From that day on, he was his best friend. What sort of a man was he in a military way, what constituted his strength, what were his methods of inland travel? What about the length of the roads? He brought to all the beauty and perfection of his culture. He established various cities all built on a large and comfortable plan, well paved, with sufficient lighting and a good water supply. 

Civilization was spreading throughout the world. He did not crush them out wholly. This seemed a good superstition. They were welcomed at court and given high offices. He had proven himself worthy of succession to the throne. He prayed so much for the birth of a child. He found the world of subjects inviting investigation, with all the warmth of his soul, clearly and independently, with exact rules. 

They sent soldiers in time of war. He had done what he had set out to do. His adventures marked an epoch in the onward march of humanity. He sometimes betrayed himself in furious outbursts of temper. More naturally, he found expression in a deep romantic fervor. He sought to govern by reason rather than compulsion. He spoke of it constantly. 



VII. 

He did all in his power. Scholars gathered from all over the earth. The customs official confiscated his goods. His column of writing was smoothly stretched in front of him. He never gave land to anybody. So matters went. He encouraged merchants and craftsmen. There were many Jews living there. Wrapped in his white dress, he holds a sacred bowl. He had come there for one purpose only. They carefully gave each other a tip. He sent a man to collect a debt from a rascally old sheikh. They were always snooping about, searching for smuggled goods. He won his own private estate at the point of a sword. They were always grumbling that they didn’t get their seed in time. 

He methodically filed all the letters. There was a little shrine adjoining a statue. He was out of a job. They were at the height of their power. These were the struggles of a self-made man. In the spacious grounds of the Royal Museum students listened to teachers. He was a shrewd businessman who carried pomp and magnificence wherever he went. Alack! What a nuisance! They didn’t like the decision of the officials. They were far too independent and stirred up riots. Overseeing a vast estate might seem a big enough job for any mortal man, but he had still more to do. He built an observatory for the study of astronomy. Sometimes they degenerated into the grossest devotees of purely sensual pleasure. He ruled from a new city. They surrounded their villas with gardens. None of your daydreams and your visions! he said. They gained many victories but could not destroy their foe. The others were not so hard to deal with but they were great complainers. They laid down the law to him. He scribbled little notes to remind himself the next day what to do. Their purpose was praiseworthy but it was soon afterward followed by murder. Every day he contradicted more that was reasonable. This was a scheme. He had to build entirely the agricultural life of the vast country that lay outside the city. 

They began now to make many new devices. A magnificent parade marked his accession to the throne. Everyone was supported by yearly gifts. Some were carrying shrubs or branches to which had been fastened all sorts of unusual birds. It was not for the sake of ideals that he left his boyhood home. The wild impetuosity and unconquerable courage of the barbarians, who preferred death to captivity, slaying his wife and himself, in defeat after many weary struggles, overflowing into Asia, finally driven, settled as peaceful colonists. 

He found a good place with him. Everyone wove wool or made pottery. It was the richest city in he world — big banks, big stores, big depots of merchandise prospering there, making plenty of money! He built up a fleet that controlled the Mediterranean. Slyness and craft were qualities ever admired by them. What were they but a pack of common laborers? They were granted the use of flocks and herds. They talked politics too much. They gave him references from people of high standing. He was requested to investigate the theft of a cow. He was flushed with his recent victory. 

They were forced to write on sheepskin. It became the greatest center of learning in the world. The population was very mixed, indeed. He bought horses for the royal army as they grazed the rolling prairies. He was too busy to bother his head with anticipations of pleasures. He carried out the work of his father. He prayed for his health. He married his sister, a custom abhorrent to them. They regarded every square inch of land as their own. He now had completed control. He was haunted by the little fussy details of his daily duties. News of progress filtered back. The fields weren’t fit for profitable cultivation. He was always hanging around, watching things like an eagle. He was especially interested in the breeding of fancy sheep. The rascal fled. The camel became the most common of work animals. In a pavilion with pillars, soldiers were ready to celebrate the festival. He kept his nose to the grindstone with praiseworthy oneness of purpose. He was the head of the village. He prepared a handsome barge to carry the princess across the water. A party of men and women were drinking to the music of a lyre. Everywhere there were birds, lotus flowers and papyrus blossoms. But he had trouble again. The management was taken out of his hands. He never got rid of rebellious laborers, who continued to go on strike. 

He engaged at once in a foreign war. But the country quickly declined.

 

 


Part Two


I. 

A restless young city seized Italy. Heeding this threat, they went no farther southward. Artisans fashioned weapons and tools skillfully from iron. Along the edges of the hills, they erected a long stone wall. They now took charge of the government. This remarkable story graphically illustrates their adventurous spirit. There was an island full of savage people. They built beautiful tombs with uniquely angular figures reclining on their sarcophagi. Those flames, so bright against the sky, were her funeral pyre. She would not let him stay. Boarding ship, he wandered far from shore. He was smitten deep with grief. Half naked, with long hair and drooping mustaches, they dropped their booty in flight. Soon after this, barbarian hordes swept down from the north. They seemed as tall as gods! The army was overcome, the city destroyed, with only the fortress on the hill left standing. 

The people took to commerce. A number of strong, able men seized control. It was one of the most romantically beautiful spots in the world. Beautiful buildings were erected. He made no treaties with them. Seven thousand soldiers were either sold into slavery or thrown in stone quarries to die a miserable death. Only a small remnant of the one-time powerful host returned. 

He made a powerful enemy. He appeared one day with a powerful brigade of war elephants, enormous, fearful beasts which scattered terror everywhere. Warriors from the highlands brought home spoils of war. They trapped them in a narrow pass in the mountains. It was only powerful outside events that delivered them from their foes. Its power received a death-blow and began to surely wane. The river was swift and strong, fair-flowing to the sea. Wild goats leapt the crags of pathless mountain tops. 

She towered above her maids. She wilily enclosed the whole of a certain hill. He united the villages into one great city where they met to exchange their wares. They knew themselves no match for these pirates. 

They came because of a fearful famine. Their gods were much alike. The tribesmen learned much. They danced in honor of the dead amid joyous outdoor scenery. The guests reclined on bronze couches with embroidered cushions. They were served by naked boys. 

The hunters shot at birds with slings and the fishermen used a loop. Unfair laws oppressed them and they began clamoring for power. They had many stories of their early heroic struggles. He had made himself king and sought to kill the rightful heirs. The current of the stream had landed them there as babes. He ploughed a trench around the hill. No city in Europe could equal it. As a sign of submission, they were clad only in their shirts. Naturally they turned to him for leadership and help. They celebrated his victories in lordly odes. They sent their fleet to help. He put them in a boat and pushed the craft into the river. They grew to sturdy manhood. Mocking, he leaped across the ditch. 

According to custom, every man could carry a weapon. From a pole was slung an urn containing ashes of the dead. No boats were permitted to land on their shores. They formed a league where a bridge and a ford crossed the stream. Glorious in conception, it seemed to breath fire. They taught their children a legend worthy of a heroic beginning. She bargained with the natives for the land. She foully murdered her husband to possess his gold. The noise of merrymaking rang through the palace court. Gleaming torches turned the night to day. He had an urge that would not let him stay. He bid his mariners to turn his prow and up the shady stream they rowed. She stood before the altar. Her hair was seen to blaze. 

It was a smiling land. It had no criss-cross mountain chain. It was called the land of twice-blooming roses. Among the narrow valleys and rolling heights dwelt wild and rugged tribes. From them the land received its name. Their majestic ruins are perfect in their symmetry. A strange stillness and regularity were quite characteristic of these intelligent and artistic settlers. Their cities were clean and healthy. They were once the most important people in the country and molded its civilization. They hunted the wild boar and built tombs elaborately decorated. 

He led his little son by the hand and bore his aged father on his back. In garden bowers and beauty spots they made festivals. They told her a stranger would shortly land on their shores. They stole wives from the surrounding tribes. They charged in wild disorder, half-naked, with terrifying cries. 



II. 

They were all hanging high in the sky, protected by well-built stone walls. They had big fan-like hands. They frightened those who had settled on the hills overlooking the river, rowing their powerful galleys and working their fields and mines. They meant to preserve their liberty and not become slaves. They kept commerce in their own hands. They refused to go to war. They disagreed among themselves. The land was covered with gardens and large plantations, everywhere intersected by canals, adorned with elegant buildings. They dined on dishes of gold and silver. 

They found a horse’s head, the sign of courage and conquest. He made a gesture of prayer with his right hand. They worshiped a hideous god of fire and his terrible wife, the goddess of the moon. Hundreds of urns were found containing the charmed bones of infants offered as a burnt sacrifice. They appointed leaders and explored new or little-known lands. At night they found a country full of fire. A lofty fire, greater then the rest, seemed to touch the sky. On the banks of the river a wandering tribe were feeding their flocks. They pelted them with stones so they couldn’t land. They found another river that was great and broad, full of crocodiles. A further shore was overhung by great mountains. They came to a great bay wherein there was an island wherein there was a lake wherein there was another island covered with trees. They heard confused shouts. Biting and tearing they slew them and flayed off their skins. 

They bowed their necks and yielded to power. They were paid off and sent home. This was the signal for war. At first they were successful but then met a bloody defeat. They had no thought of surrender. He invented bridges which turned sea fights into land fights. He had a genius for war and was a born leader of men. His spirit they could never kill. Stinging snow and sharp, whistling mountain winds which pierced them to the marrow only served to spur him on. He would be willing to give them aid but suddenly cries from the rear warned them they were surrounded. They debated a while. 

They endured cold and heat equally well. When their tasks were done, they took their rest. He could handle arms as skillfully as any soldier. He was interested in enlarging their glory and telling an interesting story. He swore undying hatred against a foe so unprincipled. They escaped a swarm of bees that had settled on a tree above their tent. They rolled down mighty stones from the precipices exposed to the open sky. His inventions were used to lift ships. A wandering soldier found him. His army had grown very small. A messenger contemptuously hurled his head into their camp. 

They became jealous. But he didn’t let discouragement or despair destroy his life. Their stern faces were deeply marked with lines of rugged character. They showed their distaste for luxury. They avoided any pitched battle. The war drums beat with horrible regularity. They turned to the army, certain of victory. They had no wish to conquer great territories. They were forced to become a fighting nation. They robbed and destroyed the homes of the wealthy. He had no great opinion of their sincerity. There seemed no more hope and he lost no time indulging in vain regrets. He reserved a secret doubt of the well-meaning of the people. They were met with great loss of both men and horses. Could they ever succeed in such an impossible enterprise? But his confidence never lagged. 

They were shaken to their depths. They waited in terror for his appearance at their gates. All these things began to tell even on the tried veterans. The people were dumb with fear. His dusky army was like a storm cloud about to break. 

He was absolutely fearless in facing danger. They saw him lying on the ground, wrapped in a military cloak. They came wholesale to his camps and were trained and equipped and welded into an army. They were greatly disturbed and remained long undetermined what to do. He conceived of a plan no one else would have dreamed of. Little did they know him! He was in his garden studying a mathematical problem. For some unaccountable reason he did not march forward. He hurled a spear against the gates. Their loyalty frustrated his plans. He rode slowly around the walls. He was defeated for the first time in his life. 

He set to work at once to reform and strengthen the government. He agreed to go into exile. He had hurt their pride and for this he must die. His life was constantly in danger. He had to keep moving. He was cut off from all who had offered him help. They were troubled. He entered their camp and escaped. They secretly conspired against him. They shook their shields above their heads. They toiled on, exhausted, cold and hungry. He was killed in battle and his wild mercenary troops rebelled. They absorbed their settlements. 

Strong walls round the inner harbor, appearing like a circular colonnade with handsome Ionic pillars entered only by way of the harbor, reserved for ships of war, where they could watch the docks or watch the bay for hostile fleets, bustling with markets and industry and tropical gardens and groves full of strange birds and fish, surrounded by a huge wall, displaying no mark of national characteristics, for they created nothing, but the brilliant city spread far inland. 

No one dared wash their hands without asking him. On the road before the villa was a two-wheeled cart drawn by two mules with a man seated in it, preceded by a slave carrying luggage. As time went on, they thought trade was beneath them. The wood of their trees was sweet-scented and colorful. They were covered by hair. They fought for their own hearth-fires. They rose to new heights of sacrifice in the intensity of their terror. They were forced at last to sue for peace. 

The young man took command. He couldn’t always be relied on for his accuracy. They marched in a valley full of rocks and broken ground. He sought the real truth. They were shadows of men. They fought their last remains. 



III. 

They realized the enormous power of their state. They were greatly disturbed. No longer were they plain farmers. Against these changes many fought with all their might. They set out without delay. He begged permission to live the life of a private man. He decided that the time was ripe. He was a hulking, boyish person who loved escapades like a child. They clamored loudly for the repeal of the laws. Places abounded with every kind of temptation that can inflame the passions. He was impressed with their wealth and commercial abilities. He became afraid that they would rise up again. 

He was carried away by the witchery of the clever, fascinating woman. She was dressed in shimmering robes bespangled with gold, fanned with ostrich plumes before brazen censors sending forth clouds of fumes. One other matter needed attention. She was scheming to remove her from power. She grew even greedier for greater wealth. They began to travel and swagger in the streets. Rickety tenements arose. Beauty and squalor appeared huddled side by side. 

He was so young there seemed no reason to fear him. She was haunted by the possibility of losing even this bit of power. She evaded the mob and returned to her villa. He had taken a stand to dispute their control of the world. She wore her uniform: a white piece of cloth, a woolen tunic, a cloak with a woolen belt tied in a special knot. Towards the real heart of the city there was a huge rectangular space. 

They became more corrupt. They object bitterly, but the tribal council passed a law with enthusiastic acclaim. He laid plans for making it a beautiful capital city with magnificent public buildings. They saw they could not grow rich by fraud while he ruled the state. The center of attraction was the captive princess walking along in golden chains. They gave him the right to decide wars without referring to the people. A riot at once broke out. They hated him as much as the people loved him. Once again the streets were the scene of a bloody battle. They pursued by fraud and deceit their overwhelming greed for gold. 

They laid out great roads. At once he decided to win more military renown. His enemies kept quiet. He was drowned in the muddy Nile. He dearly loved splendor and seriously pondered the idea of making himself a king. Soon rumors arose that he was taking bribes. He came to the city fearlessly, with a confident swagger of power. He began to pass laws which would give them all the rights they asked. Once more they were forced to call him forth and give him the command of the army. 

The beautiful young queen outwitted them when she caused herself to be wrapped in a rug and carried into his presence. His cunning and genius caused men to grovel. He was elderly and ambitions, wearing a chaplet of laurel leaves around his grey locks. Now squabbling with one another, they laid their cases before him. The troops they hired to protect them were attacked and routed by the mob. They heard the death cries of the others and shuddered. Those who opposed his tyrannical rule were butchered in cold blood. 

He asked for an army to fight the pirates. She had already attracted attention by her beauty and charm. This proud, ambitious young princess was determined to reign, but quarrels broke out at once. They coveted their agricultural products with all their greedy souls. They were weaklings, guilty of many crimes. His success was spectacular. He seemed a conquering hero to his adoring admirers. He was tall and firm of jaw. He had distinguished himself by many brave deeds. This link no longer held them. He told with powerful simplicity how much he had done. They were a nation of great skill and ingenuity. He perceived that all was lost and knelt in submission. 

He tried to seize all power for himself. They said he instigated infamous crimes and must depart. A herd of a hundred elephants was hunted to death. He ostentatiously made some poor man a gift of a costly silver cage. Because the water was deep and they were weighed down with heavy armor, the soldiers hung back uncertainly. They fought their way to the shore. They had every part of their body shaved except for their head. He heard of weird ceremonies and horrible sacrifices offered up in the oak groves. 

They came flocking to join his standards. The campsite was carefully selected near to fuel and water. Yet he was still not satisfied. He was abashed by all the knowledge they had of his plots. He returned from the wars covered with glory. The secret watchword was not even whispered aloud. Earth walls were thrown up and carefully patrolled. Even in the coldest weather they wore no clothing except skins. Each year they are compelled to move to another spot. 

The army on its march made a line three miles long. They wore armor of bronze or leather made gay with brightly colored capes. He had to subdue savage tribes who were brave and skillful in warfare. As he rode in his chariot jolting over bad roads, he dictated his story of the wars. They combined their influence so each got what they wanted. He showed himself possessed of real ability as a leader. He asked certain grants of land to repay his faithful soldiers. He fought like a superman with the fire and courage of a demon. 

Proceeding with great care he constructed his camp. A trumpeter was always ready at the door. They paid little attention to agriculture. They bathed in the open rivers. Two naked Greeks fought with trident and net. They appeared in quick and bewildering succession. He was a man who seemed capable of any crime. He was a famous and powerful orator. He could not linger for trouble arose. They threw themselves, wildly charging, on the walls. Their helmets were adorned with horns, wings or feathers. They were trying in every way to bring him over to their side. 

He won great renown in crushing a native rebellion. Their power was completely broken. He had to flee to the East. He was determined, resourceful. Above all, he directed the public games. He bade his foot-soldiers stand their ground. His spirit was crushed. After a moment he cried: “Let the die be cast!” He now prepared for a struggle to the death. They clamored loudly. They were looking for a leader with some experience in war. He began a systematic slaughter of his foes. They shuddered with natural horror. 

He increased his political influence day by day. He had a habit of shaking hands. He seized all power for himself. He died without a voice protesting. His blotched face and glaring blue eyes were known in all the low resorts of Rome. He was a fair minded noble who had been elected tribune. They forced him to walk in triumph, and then they put him to death. All these outrageous affairs thoroughly roused the people. He was suspected of having a hand in the plot. After vainly trying to speak, he abruptly left. He was too honest and upright a man to countenance dishonesty. He had certain debts canceled. 

She urged her sons from youth to help relieve the misery of the farmers. He took up the work of his brother, and he was a resolute man. No one dared challenge him until the war created an open scandal. He bribed the Senators, and they made a good report of his acts. Honor and devotion made every soldier follow with the fury of men possessed. The standards of the legions served as rallying points in the confusion of battle, and were guarded closely. They ploughed through snow-covered hills. He built a remarkable bridge with logs cut from the forests. An eternal fire was kept burning. 

Scattered here and there were elaborate public baths where pleasure-loving people spent many hours a day. By wiping out the small-citizen farmer, the backbone of character, self-respect and independence were gone. He proposed that funds be used to buy stock for the poor people’s farms. It was written down on a small wax tablet. They wanted the men to feel at home. They fired a German town and killed German prisoners. They conquered a city in Greece, sold its people as slaves, and burned the city down. Money streamed into Rome. The foreign wars had made slaves plentiful, so leaving unemployed large numbers of Latin farmers. The street grew shabbier and shabbier, jumbled with booths and peddlers. 

It lay on the edge of the world, a curious, little-visited, mysterious corner of the earth. They were ready to cut down any who would make an attempt to land. They attained a terrible appearance in battle. He rode over a naked and hairy barbarian. Many laws were passed to make people live more simply. He gloried in his lack of feeling. They seized some flimsy excuse and for two whole years laid siege to the city fruitlessly. They took up the shout in succession and passed it on to their neighbors. They cast aside their javelins and plied their swords with force. He did the next best thing. They feared the enormous popularity he had gained and had grown exceedingly jealous of his success. They lacked wisdom and energy. 

Opening a seal ring, he took from it the poison he always carried. He left in the temple part of the spoils he had captured. Trumpeters led the advance followed by wagons laden with treasure. They would not help him with new troops and supplies. His commands proved a fatal mistake. The camp had been adorned for victory. He took horse and fled from the scene. Their decision reached him within an hour. 

What was he to do? He had not as yet shown any open hostility. He flatly refused to make peace. Awaiting a charging enemy often shatters men’s nerves. He squandered the winter in idleness and folly. Dressed as a slave, she led him through the streets of the city, knocking at doors and windows. Watching events in the world meant life and death to her. He was the central figure of all this seething, teeming crowd. Her gorgeous galley, followed by her royal flotilla, was seen to seep out to sea. Hopeless and in despair, he killed himself. One man walked the earth that her charms could not ensnare. 

He wasted hours on the flute. He borrowed enormous sums from money-lenders. A boy held an umbrella over his head. Travel-loving Roman citizens were fascinated with Egypt and had regular tourist routes. Languages babbled freely from their tongues. At the sight of his head, he burst into tears. In spite of a few little riots, he took up his residence there. They sought to curry favor by murdering his foe. The weapon she chose to use was her power to captivate men. Her smiling face emerged. He knew they could be of no use to him. They made merry all day while he sulked in the background. He puffed up enormously. He had defeated a race of German giants! 

Before the royal canopy the brazen censers stood sending forth clouds of incense. Great purple sails hung idly in the thin air of the evening. All matter of war and policy were forgotten. Feast followed feast. She had walked in his triumph and had been allowed to escape. She rode and hunted, boated and fished with him. They were devoted to making a show. Crowds of slaves carrying sacks of wheat paraded beside fabulous floats. They fell on him with their knives and stabbed the great man to death. They were keen to wreak punishment. Amidst terror and confusion, she evaded the mob. He was never overcome by passion and never was the slave of impulse. They had every reason to fear him. 



IV. 

He had conquered the world amidst feasting and dancing and concerts of music. They were less aristocratic than the wealthier dwellers in the city. He tried to keep himself from temptations of power. There was a graceful statue of a dancing faun in the center of the pool. Children were married so young they sought romance after marriage. He began his reign with a policy of politeness. 

Great triumphal processions entered the Sacred Way and went up to the Temple of Jupiter where still may be seen today a little rounded temple crowning the hill, while to the south rises a solid mass of splendid palaces. It reached its height of attainment in art and literature. For the next two centuries they enjoyed an unbroken period of prosperity. Enormous sums were squandered on sumptuous town houses. A courtyard with a portico surrounded by one hundred graceful columns was used as a cattle market. 

Then they beheld the sea sucked back. The halls were often used for athletic contests. They halted in the midst of a strange and dreadful scene. A little city lying at the foot of the mountain was completely covered with ashes. He saw no other use for riches except to spend them. He set himself before the people in a ridiculous pose. The ancient republic had at last ceased to be. There was nothing he desired so much as what was considered impossible. 

He went around incognito in search of some evil sport. He beat those he met coming home from suppers. He regarded all as sordid wretches. The city’s streets were extremely narrow, rutted deep by chariot wheels. It was the custom for working people to live on the upper floors of their homes. His cruelties were not only excessive but subtle and unexpected. The guard stood ready to board a captive ship. The houses were decorated with statues and daintily colored frescoes. He met his death in the eruption as he went to aid a friend in the zone of destruction. He was ordered to kill himself. His health was poor and his mind unsound. His plan of simplicity in living vanished in wild extravagance, serving up for his guest loaves and other victuals modeled in gold. He placed heavy fines on unmarried or childless people. Two boys dragged a ship on a wagon. In old days, closely packed throngs stood for hours on pavement listening to orators. It remained the center of life for Rome. 

They voted that he should succeed him in all his powers. He scorned the people, ignored their demand for games. His virtuous “Odes” were meant to assist in bringing simplicity back to luxurious Rome. They suffered hardship with good cheer. Their civilization spread rapidly. They were organized and duly governed. He managed to keep the reigns of power. Suddenly they noticed two spindly legs protruding from under a curtain. He shocked them by taking part in public theatricals. He divorced a woman of unusual goodness. Many men devoured at a single feast flamingo tongues, brains of peacocks, thrush on a bed of asparagus, cows’ udders, and hares! They might retire to heave up a meal then start all over again. They found only dull satiety and a restless inner craving which turned some to philosophy. 

Little windowless dwelling rooms open to the sky were decorated with flowers, shrubbery and statues. The coaches could not be steadies even when stones were put under their wheels. On the other side, a black cloud burst into gusts, yawned again and revealed long fantastic flames that glittered like lightning. Gross darkness came rolling over the land like a torrent. 

A patient, persevering man, he was dearly loved by the people. Unfortunately , the leniency which he showed toward his barbarian neighbors contributed to the storms which later burst. Even less important provincial cities had quantities of fresh, pure water by means of aqueducts supported by arches mile after mile. He had to be always a warrior. There was a sense of pathos in their fate, a sense of human sympathy already vibrating in the underlying spirit. Records of busy activity survive in public notices scratched on various walls. 

It was a time of wild confusion. He was the merry observer of the faults of an over-ripe society. he kept funds in the treasury and encouraged strict economy. A scowling schoolmaster with clenched fist scolded a tardy schoolboy. He well deserved the title “Father of His Country.” Those happy days did not last. He surpassed all the prodigals that ever lived. He plundered the people by every form of false accusation. He permitted freedmen to govern in his name. It was reported she poisoned him so her son could come to power. 

Horses and ships were offered as lottery prizes. He made a trip to Greece to enter music contests. He married a beautiful, ambitions and thoroughly wicked woman who spurred him on to new crimes. A rumor spread that he had started the fire. She had five hundred she-asses in whose milk she bathed to preserve her velvety skin. He enjoyed singing in his private theater. The banquet room revolved perpetually, night and day, in imitation of the stars. 

They had grown strong enough to attract attention. In a fit of anger he killed her with a kick. He gave the rest of the day to study. He meant to waken her if she was still asleep. He put on the garb of the Stoics and slept on the ground. The strength of the legions could no longer stem the tide of swarming northern tribes. In that same year an event of tragic importance occurred. He tickled his throat with a peacock feather. He put the old woman out on a leaky boat. A boy with a lunch basket raised his hand in excuse. He flattered the nobles. He was holding a cornucopia as the symbol of Mother Earth. 

To maintain the frontiers as they were became his chief aim. He opened a box with pillows. A father lovingly watched a baby at his mother’s breast. He wrote the first novel of manners, which described these disgusting excesses. They quite wearied hearing and applauding him. Intersections were dotted with very high stepping-stones to keep their feet dry when rain rushed down the road. It was fitted up for the very best people. He started schools for poor children and governed exceedingly well. The buildings were tottering when they decided to flee. They made noises like bees. By force of arms they made new emperors or killed old ones. He was a dull-witted, weak-minded simpleton. He declared that he designed to govern according to the model of Augustus. He now had a dwelling fit for a man! 

It was considered beneath their dignity to do any work at all. A slave stood unclothed on a block. He could be tortured or killed at whim. He completed the siege and destruction of the city. They sought their happiness elsewhere. Some prayed for death. Others cried that the gods no longer existed. A new glory was now spreading. Lava flowed down the mountainsides. Finally, they ordered him to die. 

The city reeked with vice and shame. He charged with guilt and punished a new religious sect, called the Christians. He gave many splendid spectacles. New comedies satirized the life of the times. River barges brought merchandise to the wharves called the Emporium. They were not originators, but they were master adapters. Finally he began his schooling. He became dissatisfied with the boundaries. They began to dig through the dust and dirt. Fortunately these men had energy and ability. He broke out in enormous crimes. He erected many fine buildings. 



V. 

During these stirring times, they were coming more and more into public notice. He naturally pondered the subjects uppermost in the thought of his day. He realized in his heart the power of an irresistible force. They went away to a mountain he had appointed for them. They came and sang. They sent their children back to foreign lands. Young men of wealth wished to become men of the world to see lands beyond, to take on a broader culture. 

They adorned the buildings with beautiful colonnaded streets. He burned it to the ground and made its inhabitants slaves! The last act in the great drama was closed. He found the crowd against him and cried to dull ears his glorious invitation. He spontaneously acted for the common good. His thoughts were revolutionary, the thoughts of a young mental rebel. He was no sentimentalist. He walked along through hills with little terraces tumbling into a series of valleys. Another labored underhand to be High Priest. He built gladly a Greek gymnasium under the citadel. He made them wear a hat. 

Crowds came to hear his denunciations of sin. He felt himself impelled at last to leave all. The ideal man was the only kind of a man ever created by God. He came out of the water and wandered off into the night. A great multitude of people followed and bewailed him. His heart yearned to comfort her. His invitation to all men was to wake up out of their dream of materialism and sorrow. She had such high hopes for his future. 

There was an endless stretch of treeless hills north of the river, an undulating desert, stark, barren, grand and stern. He wandered alone, wrestling. There was a long descent to the plain below. He saw the gorgeous building with its numberless courts, the magnificently robed officials, the pomp of the ceremony. One of his earliest memories as a child must have been that terrible time when the city was destroyed. 

He aroused the antagonism of the law-bound Jews. The temple was filled with riot and reveling by the Gentiles. He sent an old man of Athens to convince them. They were forced to march in a drunken procession, which violated their most sacred feelings. They burnt incense at the doors of their houses. They were driven into secret places, wherever they could flee for succor. He put a leather girdle around his loins. They looked for a mighty prince who should come in theatrical fashion. He wanted happiness for all and not merely the favored few who were strongest or most lifted. He destroyed the non-essential and left only what they could understand. 

All through history great leaders of thought have stood alone with the crowd against them. They were caught off-guard. They wished to content the multitude. They arrayed him in gorgeous apparel and sent him back to them. They scourged him and led him to a courtyard. It crystallized his own thoughts. The spirit of God settled gently in his heart. 

The river flowed between sheer mud cliffs into the weird Dead Sea. It was a tremendous decision for a man of the common people. He knew that recognizing faults and casting them out was necessary. He watched the children dancing and playing their pipes. He seemed like other youths, an earnest, kindly fellow who supported his widowed mother. A great leather roll in a silver case stood on the reader’s desk. The young man’s inner musings responded to the glorious dreams of the prophets. They educated him to read and write. 

They were scourged with whips until they died. He answered in a loud voice. He was honored with gifts. They fled to the hills and forsook the city. Many went into the wilderness to dwell there. He knew that morality is a matter of inner motives and not of outward acts. He was a man unique and different. That vast expansion of spirit is a mystery unexplainable to the crowd. He was lit with a warm inner light. The emphasis was all on the side of the power of good, a real yearning for good. He came down from the mountain and dwelt in the midst of the throng. 

They thought he had gone mad. They thought “he was beside himself.” They were infuriated and dragged him off to a neighboring precipice. 

Some lived alone in the desert and denied themselves all worldly pleasures, owning all things in common, fasting often, taking no wives. They were sincere and zealous. They were busy in so many ways. Everything prospered in their hands. He carefully veiled his words in figures of angels and birds. Aliens kept the stronghold. All the visions that followed were late additions. 

In those days of oppression, faith in a Messiah sprang to a white hot heat. The visions grew more dramatic, fiery and intense. They got ready go against him. He fought all his life long. He leapt suddenly on the foe and overthrew the whole host. But in spite of all he did, the people regarded him sourly. One by one, he ordered them slain. He was nearly maddened with grief. Remorse for this terrible act haunted him all his life. He really meant well. His last days were pitifully sad. He ordered the slaughter of babies. He had a tigerish manner of dealing with his foes. Slowly his life became one long nightmare of suspicions and torturing doubts. 

All sense of unity vanished when he died. They began to object to all this. He was admitting worldly features that they detested. He sent for help from the rising power of the world. He invited the old man, maimed and pathetic, to come and live in comfort and ease. For him, the only way out was to put the old man to death. 

The eyes of all of them fastened on him. Gradually he gathered a group of disciples. None among them could really grasp it all. Over the waves and meadows a snow-crowned peak gleamed white against the sky. He treated them as his equals and friends. Their testimony didn’t agree. They spat in his face and buffeted him with their hands. He went out and wept bitterly. 

He wanted to show by an outward sign that they devoted themselves to saving the world from its sorrows. He consecrated them through truth. A multitude came with lanterns and torches and carried swords and staves. “See what power you have to overcome every evil!” he always seemed to say. The people were astonished at his doctrine. They went through the towns healing everywhere. They showed them those things which they heard and saw.. 

It once again blossomed forth as an independent nation. He dreamed of creating an empire. He said it was better to die in battle than see of his calamity of his people. The king gathered all his forces. He removed himself and the valiant men with him to smite the camp by night. They put the well-equipped host to flight. They returned to despoil the tents and got much gold and silver. 

They didn’t want to stain their honor. He met his death fighting against overwhelming odds, resourceful and resolute to the very end. The remnant fled. He kept him in prison so he wouldn’t raise a sedition. He hated her forever but wouldn’t reject her. They sat by and heard his promise. The story spread on the wings of the wind. Money-changers with piles of coins on little tables exchanged money from all over the earth. They could have done nothing more serious for their hero. 

At last by wholesale murder he gained control of the land. He heard that the king was dead. Affairs of the kingdom required his presence. They assembled and cast ashes on their heads. They enhanced his glory by marching in chains. They had refused to die unresisting. They believed in a splendid court. He was not particular about being ceremonially clean. He set himself up above accredited teachers who had spent years in study. 

The most satisfactory pictures of Jesus are built on a knowledge of his character. The climax of the wrath came when they heard many more people were flocking to him. They commanded them to report to them. Behind him rose the ravines. As usual a multitude followed at his heels. The next day he came again into the crowded, narrow streets. He didn’t want their hearts to be troubled or afraid. He healed the blind and the lame. It was an all too spectacular act! 

They had omitted the weightier matters. He said the time would come when men would worship the Father in spirit and truth. The coins they minted bore no likeness of living things. He build a new temple with beautiful outer courts and splendid colonnades where visitors could lounge. Plots against him smoldered even in his own household. He didn’t want to stain his honor. They called on him to settle their quarrels when he was seeking more military laurels. 

The tithe was scrupulously extracted. They interpreted scripture to the common folk. There was overlaid much editing by later writers. This hope deepened in the dark days. They felt a spiritual need. They were comforted. They were filled. They were called. They were persecuted. They prayed for them. They departed. They were pure in heart. They hungered and thirsted. They inherited the earth. They ate the things that were set before them. He fell on his face and prayed. They sat there while he went yonder. He treated women with a frankness, a sympathy and understanding they weren’t accustomed to getting from men. Many faithful women came to hear him. He never judged anyone whose heart was humble. They took no account of his inner musings. He was not educated. He laughed with merry children. 

In a carpenter’s shop was a windowless room. There they saw him plain. Being discomfited, they fled. They rushed in to kill him suddenly. He said, “Hail, Master!” and kissed him. He cut off his ear. He was treasurer and carried the money for the band. A maid came. He was warming himself by the fire. He alone had power to sentence a man to death. He held his peace and said nothing. He began to curse and swear. He suffered scourging. 

The child came skipping with loving responsiveness. Some of his sayings were not always popular. They complained that he didn’t do more miracles. They ate the flesh of the truth he taught and drank the blood of his experience. He was the living bread, the spirit and the life. 

An executioner beheaded John in prison. The King was sorry and gave the head to the damsel who gave it to her mother. The ever-alert state police were on the look-out for agitators. He was preaching love and mercy and an honest heart. An unself-conscious grace meant the essence of heaven. He was an ever-living inspiration for his sense of Oneness with God. They were deeply stirred with alarm. At the request of the multitude he set free one condemned prisoner. He discovered he came from his province. Part of the arch still exists. They naturally imagined him as a Greek with no beard. 

It was the most sacred spot on earth. A foreign yoke was a desecration to them. They wore on their broad brows phylacteries containing snatches of scripture. They believed that righteousness consisted in absolute obedience. It was a hideous persecution. He broke the second commandment by decorating things with images of men and gods. He had proved strong enough to bring peace and order. They took council among themselves. They could no longer think. 

They offered him wine, but he refused. They wagged their heads and said, “Let Christ come down from the cross so that we can believe.” They took hold of him. He bowed his head and gave up his spirit. Her heart yearned to comfort him. He went and begged for the body. He rolled a great stone. 

Love and brotherhood and obedience had again been refused by men. But there was another ending. They found the tomb empty! He had proved that life is deathless. With awe and great joy they ran to tell his disciples. 



VI. 

He was a soldier of Christ. He thought a heavenly kingdom would return to earth. He now accepted his teachings. The Law did not satisfy him. He secretly longed for a positive inspiration. He breathed out threatenings and slaughter. His God still remains a cold and distant theory. All that happens must be in accord with reason. They were unterrified and tranquil. The two men differed so sharply that at last they separated. A slave girl, practicing magic, annoyed him. He had to struggle on the one hand with those who were bound by unimportant details and on the other hand with those who interpreted his struggle as an occasion to be licentious. 

The crazy man sprang at them and overpowered them with violence. They saw more clearly that he did no magic. He had been making large profits by the sale of silver images. They cut the ropes that held the small boat. The bow struck and could not be moved. With rising spirits in the glory of a glowing spring, they landed in a beautiful bay. 

He had a perfect understanding of all things from the very first. Many people were coming forward with things they said they remembered. He separated what he believed true from what he knew to be false. The empire was too large, too unwieldy. They found protection only under the kindly rule of the Western Caesar. The young man bothered little about what Christians believed but he understood they were a rising power. It was now become a dangerous thing to be a Christian in Rome. Harmful, sensual pleasure had reached their height of debauchery under Nero. People began to call them a mysterious secret society. 

At last he attained the city of his dreams. In order stop the rumors, he falsely charged them with guilt. They were made the subjects of sport, covered with the hides of wild beasts and worried to death by dogs. The business was the source of their prosperity. Meanwhile, the people were shouting some one thing and some another. He told them not to be reckless. All the doors flew open and the prisoners’ chains were undone. He went on to Athens, the center of culture in the world. 

Religion offered through their emotions to bring them in touch with the gods. They were exalted in heart by a series of purification rites accompanied by prayer. Each year came back to vanquish the death of winter. Sometimes he found them in loving service to one another. Something glorious had come and uplifted their lives. What was it all about? They thought they had stamped out the faith he had taught, yet here it cropped out again! As they stared at him steadily, they saw no fear in his face. He was convinced that he had revealed to men the whole glorious nature of God. 

Suddenly he emerged out of the valley into the light of noon. It was hard for him to kick against the pricks. There in the distance it lay, a rich and luxuriant oasis. He seized on what truth there was. They were conducted through a series of scenes depicting the experience of death. He was sent to see that they were correctly taught. He told them he thought that they were superstitious in all things. That word piqued them. He found an altar with an inscription. His work there had been done. He longed to see them. They received the newcomer warmly. 

He began the first persecutions. He kept the faith. All mankind had been groping. A rude caricature was scratched on the walls of a barrack room. Christianity was growing so rapidly it was affecting the old temple worship. He repeated the question twice, adding threat of capital punishment. He sought for words to describe more fully the real meaning. He flung his thought at his readers with arresting force. He came into the hearts of men. It was the first biography written with a conscious purpose. They were forbidden to live there. He was indeed the fulfillment of the ancient prophesies. 

The sailors were afraid of being cast on the shores of Africa. They began to suspect that there was land ahead. They had hopes of being able to reach a better place. Columns sixty feet high could be seen far out at sea. It was said to have fallen from the skies. He spoke a sort of magic formula to drive out evil spirits. He fought for his principle of freedom. Another real crisis had come. They brought pressure to bear on him. They secretly let him down in a basket over the city wall. The mass of common Greeks still clung to their ancient faith. Fear of the gods oppressed them and death offered no relief. 

He tried to think of Jerusalem as the center of the universe. The leaders were about to deal violently with them. He had the beat of the sea in his heart. The streets were swarming with people from everywhere in the world. His thought broadened and germs of rebellion were sown. The larger, freer atmosphere was in his soul. How they loved these qualities needing no outward compulsion to bring forth beauty! It settled down in his heart into a steady flame. 

With difficulty they restrained the crowds from worshipping the two honest men as gods. He had been gone two years and traveled 1400 miles. The controversy was bitter. They patiently worked and waited for the joy that was to surely come. He dictated many letters. He wrote a marvelous poem on love, so earnest and warmly sincere. He fearlessly addressed a riotous mob. They took an oath not to eat or drink until they had killed him. They were afraid that some of them would tear the prisoner to pieces. They fought with desperate courage. The event was still fresh in the writer’s mind. The city was sacked and destroyed. 

It was written during a time of persecution and encouraged its readers through mysterious figures. There was need of translating the gospel into universal terms. He presented a new interpretation of its spiritual significance. None of these acts could they be forced into performing. It was a deprived and excessive superstition. There was a general demand for sacrificial animals. He learned almost by heart his vivid picturesque stories. They had lost its one great source of information. He presented a series of dramatic, heroic pictures. He caused his own death 

They bound him with chains and inquired what he had been doing. He asked if he might not speak with the people. It was a beautiful but depraved city. He was among people whose religious sense had been blunted. A throng of sailors would, he knew, carry his message to every part of the world. He had great dreams. The cripple sprang up and began to walk. His devotion was sufficient to the end. He revealed the splendid capacities that lay in every man. They led him to a house in the street called Straight. He lived there for three days, neither eating or drinking, just thinking of what had occurred, letting it sink in deeply. That quickening, pulsating urge, that invigorating spirit had come to him too! He could never forget the light on his face. He came upon them eating at their common table, rich and poor alike. He entered the dark and solemn gorge of the gloomy, breathless valley. 

Under the favor of the emperors, Christianity was to lead all other religions and supplant them all. They fought for this right and defended it. The doctrine that might makes right ended in glorious reversal. At first their ranks had consisted largely of the poorer class. They met in those miles of underground passageways where they likewise buried their dead. It was said they did abominable things in their dark little underground holes. All things horrible and disgraceful flowed to a common receptacle. They were convicted on the charge of “hating the human race.” 

He mingled with the people in the dress of a charioteer. The meeting was in confusion and most of them had no idea why they had come together. There was danger that their business would be discredited. People rushed to the theater. The girl was brought to herself and instantly changed in heart. They were singing hymns of praise when suddenly an earthquake came and shook the foundations. He drew his sword to kill himself. They appealed to his honest, humble, genuine desire to be uplifted. 

He had no joy in his life, no sunshine, no warmth. He died calmly and prayed for those who slew him. They spent some time in retirement adjusting their thoughts. It vanished into a vivid picture of a heavenly messiah. They went forth to prepare the hearts of men. 

They accepted what they said. They always resisted the Holy Spirit. Crowds of different races thronged through the streets. He could not adjust himself to the narrow national view. He was devoted with all the strength of his active, vigorous soul. He could never forget the light on the dying man’s face. The climax had come, the crisis of all his long-repressed yearnings. He was told to go into the city and do what he was told. The vision was so brilliantly illuminating, that he was struck blind. He was free at last through love alone, and not through fear of punishment or by the aid of rules! He made an art and not a science out of living. They gave him the right hand of fellowship. 

Was it Fortune, Fate or Chance that ruled human destiny? He told men they should live in harmony, rationally with each other. They witnessed the dramatic presentation of the rising of Persephone from the dead. They promised eternal life but promoted material sensation and emotional frenzy. Perplexing problems had arisen. They were conspicuous for their simplicity among the splendid buildings of the Roman world. The people were roused up and stoned him. He would not consent to his going. He rushed in and fell trembling at their feet. He worked at his trade in his spare time. How the man had changed! He had found out through experience. He stood facing the distant bay. They brought their books of magic and burned them in a great fire. The commotion spread all over the city. The magnificence of her whom all the world worshipped was a thing of the past! 

He knew no one there yet was full of warm affection. They carried him up the flight of stairs so the frenzied mob would not kill him. Absolutely convinced of the truth of his position, he fearlessly addressed the riotous mob. They weighed anchor and sailed away, but soon a violent wind rushed down. All those who could swim jumped overboard. They put him in charge of the burning city. His departure was at hand. Impetuous old fishermen stood on a street corner telling what he had done and said. He described hideous events in a history written in Rome. They kept mourning. They placed him on a level with charlatans and magicians. He felt no doubt that unruliness and obstinacy were deserving of punishment. 

After a long intermission they were now revived. He needed some nucleus about which to gather. He longed to see them. A priestess led the procession with an Egyptian serpent on her arm. They understood him in varying degrees. They actually felt an exalted sense of the triumph of Life over Death. They saw that their hope of profit was wrong. A group of workers got together somewhat like labor unions today. The controversy was bitter. All nature was forced to obey him. Death held no relief. 

He saw his mother bowed with sorrow. They went to the place in the shadow of his death. They ate at a common table, rich and poor alike. Many strange faiths merely aroused a religious frenzy by orgies of dancing and drinking. They had scattered from Jerusalem during the persecutions because there was so much hatred back there. Every pilgrim took home a copy of the image in terra-cotta. Wherever they went they preached and healed. He calmly answered the charges against him. It was their custom to partake of food of an ordinary and innocent kind. He kept his eyes fixed on his glowing inner vision. He wanted to cement more permanently the unity of the Church. 

They sang in alternate verses a hymn and bound themselves by a solemn oath. The description was so vivid it showed that the event was still very fresh in their minds. Opposed to the figure of gross materiality was the Lamb. Discussions often arose. They ran out of his house, tattered, astonished, and bruised. They recognized him as a simple, everyday man, whose spirit had found its power through the knowledge of goodness. They rushed into the crowd, tearing their clothes and shouting.

 

— from A Picturesque Tale of Progress: Conquests, Parts 1 & 2 by Olive June Beaupré, 
The Bookhouse for Children, 1955 

— June 2008
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