— Theodor Mommsen German classical scholar, historian, jurist, journalist, politician, archaeologist and writer 1817 - 1903
Vol. 1, pt. 1, Chapter 2: "Into Italy" Translated by W.P.Dickson.
The History of Rome - Volume 1
Kontext: The great problem of man, how to live in conscioues harmony with himself, with his neighbor, and with the whole to which he belongs, admits of as many solutions as there are provinces in our Father's kingdom; and it is in this, and not in the material sphere, that individuals and nations display their divergences of character. The exciting causes which gave rise to this intrinsic contrast must have been in the Græco-Italian period as yet wanting; it was not until the Hellenes and Italians separated that deep-seated diversity of mental character became manifest, the effects of which contiue to the present day. The family and the state, religion and art, received in Italy and in Greece respectively a development so peculiar and so thoroughly national, that the common basis, on which in these respects also the two peoples rested, has been so overgrown as to be almost concealed from our view. That Hellenic character, which sacrificed the whole to its individual elements, the nation to the single state, and the single state to the citizen; whose ideal of life was the beautiful and the good; and, only too often, the pleasure of idleness; whose political development consisted in intensifying the original individualism of the several cantons, and subsequently led to the internal dissolution of the authority of the state; whose view of religion first invested its gods with human attributes, and then denied their existence; which gave full play to the limbs in the sports of the naked youth, and gave free scope to thought in all its grandeur and in all its awefulness;- and taht Roman character, which solemnly bound the son to reverence the father, the citizen to reverence the ruler, and all to reverence the gods; which required nothing; and honoured nothing, but the useful act, and compelled every citizen to fill up every moment of his brief life with unceasing work; which made it a duty even in the boy to modestly to cover the body; which deemed every one a bad citizen who wished to be different from his fellows; which viewed the states as all in all, and a desire for the state's extension as the only aspiration not liable to censure,- who can in thought trace back these sharply-marked contrasts to that original unity which embraced them both, prepared the way for their development, and at length produced them?