Antiquity Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 54 quotes )
Antiquity! thou wondrous charm, what art thou? that being nothing art everything? When thou wert, thou wert not antiquity - then thou wert nothing, but hadst a remoter antiquity, as thou calledst it, to look back to with blind veneration; thou thyself being to thyself flat, jejune, modern! What mystery lurks in this retroversion? or what half Januses are we, that cannot look forward with the same idolatry with which we for ever revert! The mighty future is as nothing, being everything! the past is everything, being nothing!
To return to antiquity [in literature]: that has been done. To return to the Middle Ages: that too has been done. Remains the present day. But the ground is shaky: so where can you set the foundations? An answer to this question must be found if one is to produce anything vital and hence lasting. All this disturbs me so much that I no longer like to be spoken to about it.
The dialectic of antiquity tended towards leadership (the great individual and the masses--the free man and the slaves); so far the dialectic of Christendom tends towards representation (the majority sees itself in its representative and is set free by the consciousness that it is the majority which is represented, in a sort of self-consciousness); the dialectic of the present age tends towards equality, and its most logical--though mistaken--fulfilment is levelling, as the negative unity of the negative reciprocity of all individuals.
It has been the will of Heaven," the essay began, "that we should be thrown into existence at a period when the greatest philosophers and lawgivers of antiquity would have wished to live...a period when a coincidence of circumstances without example has afforded to thirteen colonies at once an opportunity of beginning government anew from the foundation and building as they choose. How few of the human race have ever had the opportunity of choosing a system of government for themselves and their children? How few have ever had anything more of choice in government than in climate?
Ben and I walked by the Forum, which, with the green grass still growing among the stones, seems to be a double ruin: a ruin of antiquity and a monument to the tender sentiments of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century travelers, for we see not only the ghosts of Romans here but the shades of ladies with parasols and men with beards and little children rolling hoops.
Her antiquity in preceding and surviving succeeding tellurian generations: her nocturnal predominance: her satellitic dependence: her luminary reflection: her constancy under all her phases, rising and setting by her appointed times, waxing and waning: the forced invariability of her aspect: her indeterminate response to inaffirmative interrogation: her potency over effluent and refluent waters: her power to enamour, to mortify, to invest with beauty, to render insane, to incite to and aid delinquency: the tranquil inscrutability of her visage: the terribility of her isolated dominant resplendent propinquity: her omens of tempest and of calm: the stimulation of her light, her motion and her presence: the admonition of her craters, her arid seas, her silence: her splendour, when visible: her attraction, when invisible.
On the human imagination events produce the effects of time. Thus he who has travelled far and seen much is apt to fancy that he has lived long; and the history that most abounds in important incidents soonest assumes the aspect of antiquity. In no other way can we account for the venerable air that is already gathering around American annals. When the mind reverts to the earliest days of colonial history, the period seems remote and obscure, the thousand changes that thicken along the links of recollections, throwing back the origin of the nation to a day so distant as seemingly to reach the mists of time; and yet four lives of ordinary duration would suffice to transmit, from mouth to mouth, in the form of tradition, all that civilized man has achieved within the limits of the republic.....Thus, what seems venerable by an accumulation of changes is reduced to familiarity when we come seriously to consider it solely in connection with time.
In this pilgrimage in search of modernity I lost my way at many points only to find myself again. I returned to the source and discovered that modernity is not outside but within us. It is today and the most ancient antiquity; it is tomorrow and the beginning of the world; it is a thousand years old and yet newborn. It speaks in Nahuatl, draws Chinese ideograms from the 9th century, and appears on the television screen. This intact present, recently unearthed, shakes off the dust of centuries, smiles and suddenly starts to fly, disappearing through the window. A simultaneous plurality of time and presence: modernity breaks with the immediate past only to recover an age-old past and transform a tiny fertility figure from the neolithic into our contemporary. We pursue modernity in her incessant metamorphoses yet we never manage to trap her. She always escapes: each encounter ends in flight. We embrace her and she disappears immediately: it was just a little air. It is the instant, that bird that is everywhere and nowhere. We want to trap it alive but it flaps its wings and vanishes in the form of a handful of syllables. We are left empty-handed. Then the doors of perception open slightly and the other time appears, the real one we were searching for without knowing it: the present, the presence.
His error lay in supposing that this age, more than any past or future one, is destined to see the tattered garments of Antiquity exchanged for a new suit, instead of gradually renewing themselves by patchwork; in applying his own little life span as the measure of an interminable acheivement; and, more than all, in fancying that it mattered anything to the great end in view whether he himself should contend for it or against it.
... I believe in some sense much akin to the belief of faith, that I noticed, felt, or underwent what I describe—but it may be that the only reason childhood memories act on us so strongly is that, being the most remote we possess, they are the worst remembered and so offer the least resistance to that process by which we mold them nearer and nearer to an ideal which is fundamentally artistic, or at least nonfactual; so it may be that some of these events I describe never occurred at all, but only should have, and that others had not the shades and flavors—for example, of jealousy or antiquity or shame—that I have later unconsciously chosen to give them...
You know the difference between right and wrong,' he repeated finally. 'Man, why did you need Initiation—by the Golden Dawn, or by anybody else? You are a genius, a sage, a giant among men. You have solved the problem which philosophers have been debating since antiquity—the mystery about which no two nations or tribes have ever agreed, and no two men or women have ever agreed, and no intelligent person has ever agreed totally with himself from one day to the next. You know the difference between right and wrong. I am overawed. I swoon. I figuratively kiss your feet.
When I think of antiquity, the detail that frightens me is that those hundreds of millions of slaves on whose backs civilization rested generation after generation have left behind them no record whatever. We do not even know their names. In the whole of Greek and Roman history, how many slaves' names are known to you? I can think of two, or possibly three. One is Spartacus and the other is Epictetus. Also, in the Roman room at the British Museum there is a glass jar with the maker's name inscribed on the bottom, 'FELIX FECIT'. I have a mental picture of poor Felix (a Gaul with red hair and a metal collar round his neck), but in fact he may not have been a slave; so there are only two slaves whose names I definitely know, and probably few people can remember more. The rest have gone down into utter silence.
Whether Hindus or Greeks, Egyptians or Japanese, Chinese, Sumerians, or ancient Americans -- or even Romans, the most "modern" among people of antiquity -- they all placed the Golden Age, the Age of Truth, the rule of Kronos or of Ra or of any other gods on earth -- the glorious beginning of the slow, downward unfurling of history, whatever name it be given -- far behind them in the past.
The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected. Even when the revolutionist might himself repent of his revolution, the traditionalist is already defending it as part of his tradition. Thus we have two great types -- the advanced person who rushes us into ruin, and the retrospective person who admires the ruins. He admires them especially by moonlight, not to say moonshine. Each new blunder of the progressive or prig becomes instantly a legend of immemorial antiquity for the snob. This is called the balance, or mutual check, in our Constitution.
The ancient world found an end to anarchy in the Roman Empire, but the Roman Empire was a brute fact, not an idea. The Catholic world sought an end to anarchy in the church, which was an idea, but was never adequately embodied in fact. Neither the ancient nor the medieval solution was satisfactory – the one because it could not be idealized, the other because it could not be actualized. The modern world, at present, seems to be moving towards a solution like that of antiquity: a social order imposed by force, representing the will of the powerful rather than the hopes of the common men. The problem of a durable and satisfactory social order can only be solved by combining the solidarity of the Roman Empire with the idealism of St. Augustine’s City of God. To achieve this a new philosophy will be needed
You Christians studied them,” Settembrini exclaimed, “studied the classical poets and philosophers until you broke out in a sweat, attempted to make their precious heritage your own, just as you used the stones of their ancient edifices for your meeting houses. Because you were well aware that no new art could come from your own proletarian souls and hoped to defeat antiquity with its own weapon. And so it will be again, so it will always be. And you with your crude visions of a new morning will likewise have to be taught by those whom—so at least you would like to persuade yourselves, and others—you despise. For without education you cannot prevail before humanity, and there is only one kind of education—you call it bourgeois, but in fact it is human.
Distance and antiquity (the emphases of space and time) pull on our hearts. If we are already sobered by the thought that men lived two thousand five hundred years ago, how could we not be moved to know that they made verses, were spectators of the world, that they sheltered in light, lasting words something of their ponderous, fleeting life, words that fulfill a long destiny?
To give you an idea of my state of mind I can not do better than compare it to one of those rooms we see nowadays in which are collected and mingled the furniture of all times and countries. Our age has no impress of its own. We have impressed the seal of our time neither on our houses nor our gardens, nor on anything that is ours. On the street may be seen men who have their beards trimmed as in the time of Henry III, others who are clean-shaven, others who have their hair arranged as in the time of Raphael, others as in the time of Christ. So the homes of the rich are cabinets of curiosities: the antique, the gothic, the style of the Renaissance, that of Louis XIII, all pell-mell. In short, we have every century except our own—a thing which has never been seen at any other epoch: eclecticism is our taste; we take everything we find, this for beauty, that for utility, another for antiquity, still another for its ugliness even, so that we live surrounded by debris, as if the end of the world were at hand.
And even as this old guide-book boasts of the, to us, insignificant Liverpool of fifty years ago, the New York guidebooks are now vaunting of the magnitude of a town, whose future inhabitants, multitudinous as the pebbles on the beach, and girdled in with high walls and towers, flanking endless avenues of opulence and taste, will regard all our Broadways and Bowerys as but the paltry nucleus to their Nineveh. From far up the Hudson, beyond Harlem River where the young saplings are now growing, that will overarch their lordly mansions with broad boughs, centuries old; they may send forth explorers to penetrate into the then obscure and smoky alleys of the Fifth Avenue and Fourteenth Street; and going still farther south, may exhume the present Doric Custom-house, and quote it as a proof that their high and mighty metropolis enjoyed a Hellenic antiquity.
It would therefore be a good thing for us to obey laws and customs because they are laws: to know that there is no right and just law to be brought in, that we know nothing about it and should consequently only follow those already accepted. In this way we should never give them up. But the people are not amenable to this doctrine, and thus, believing that truth can be found and resides in laws and customs, they believe them and take their antiquity as a proof of their truth (and not just of their authority, without truth). Thus they obey them but are liable to revolt as soon as they are shown to be worth nothing, which can happen with all laws if they are looked at from a certain point of view.