Roman Private Life. -- By: J. L. Lincoln

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 003:10 (May 1846)
Article: Roman Private Life.
Author: J. L. Lincoln


Roman Private Life.1

Prof. J. L. Lincoln

Brown University.

The labors of German scholars, within the present century, have given a new character to the study of Greek and Roman Antiquities. It is no slender praise, to say of the German manner of discussing this subject, that it is sensible and intelligent and full of life; for exactly in such qualities as these, consists the great superiority of the German authors over all their predecessors. In the text-books of Potter and Adams, which are honored at least by time and long use, we discover not the faintest trace of any true, living conception of Greek and Roman life; it is just as if the people, whose manners and customs are dryly detailed, had never lived at all, but had a mere dim, traditional being. It is far otherwise with the German writers, to whom we now refer. They seem to us more like travellers, coming from a region remote indeed, but yet belonging to our own world, and recording their own impressions of a people, parted from us by the long interval of ages, but yet human beings, like ourselves, who once lived and moved on the earth, and with all their lofty destinies, shared the common allotments of human existence;

we behold in their works, intelligent and comprehensive views of the life of the great nations of classic antiquity, from which, as they pass before us, we catch the living spirit of Greek and Roman civilization. It is in this manner, that the department of Classic Antiquities has gathered, in the hands of the Germans, a completely new character. Not only have they given it, by their large and accurate learning, that well-ordered, organic system, which it so much needed; but with the healthful and genial spirit, characteristic of German scholarship, they have animated and informed with a living soul, this hitherto dry and repulsive study. Till comparatively a recent period, the Greek Antiquities had received in Germany a disproportionate share of attention. The labors of Boeckh, Ottfried Müller, Jacobs and others, in particular brauches of inquiry, and the more extensive works of Hermann, Wachsmuth and Schömann have left unexplained scarcely a single point in the whole subject of Greek Antiquities. On the other hand, with the exception of the Roman law, which has been investigated with so much success by Savigny and other German jurists, the Roman Antiquities had been in comparative neglect. But the work of Becker, of which we have spoken in a former number of this Journal, promises to supply a want that has long been felt; and to furnish a Manual of Roman Antiquities, not inferior to the well-known books of Hermann and Wachsmuth, on the Antiquities of Greece. In this notice of the l...

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