[LMB] Rome and Babylon was re: Bringing it back to LMB

Mitch Miller mitchmiller at entertainmenttax.com
Mon Sep 12 21:50:06 BST 2011

From: Pat Mathews <mathews55 at msn.com>

>Well... all of those things you cite come from deeply religious traditions, too. 
>Babylon and ancient Rome were not primarily inhabited by atheists: indeed, I suspect atheists were quite rare within those >populations, and that Rome had many more devoutly religious people than modern Sweden does. I'm not a Classicist, but superficial >reading has given me the impression that Romans believed that in order to be a person of good ethical standing - a virtuous man or >woman
>- you should give the gods their due and worship them faithfully. That was quite true. It was a matter of practice rather than >doctrine, and at times was closer to our saluting the flag than it was to what we'd call a worship service, but, yes. 

>That's why they were so upset with monotheists who would not do the right thing - and, BTW, referred to them as "atheists." They >were seen as a danger to the safety of the City. If the ancestral gods weren't happy, nobody's happy.

"The Peace of Nicias was not at all satisfactory, involving frequent confrontations between proxies of Athens and Sparta and occasional battles between Athenian and Spartan forces.  When, five years into that period of  tension, the people of Melos tried to break their alliance with Athens, the Athenians sent envoys to hear the Melians' case.  The Melians appealed to justice and to the legal principles encoded in the treaties of the Peace of Nicias.  The Athenians responded that 'The strong do what they will and the weak suffer what they must.'  When the Melians appealed to notions of legality, the Athenians responded that these obtain among equals, while in cases where one party is far stronger, the other must submit and make the best of submission.  The law that prevails among states is not the sort of law agitated in courts, but a law of nature.  'Of the gods we believe, and of men we know, that by a necessary law of their nature they rule wherever they can. And it is not as if we were the first to make this law, or to act upon it when made: we found it existing before us, and shall leave it to exist for ever after us; all we do is to make use of it, knowing that you and everybody else, having the same power as we have, would do the same as we do' (Rex Warner's Penguin Classics translation.)"

>From Thucydides, _History of the Peloponnesian War_ , Chapter XVII. Sixteenth Year of the War - The Melian Conference - Fate of Melos  

Mitch Miller

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