A saint without superstition, a scholar without ostentation, a warrior who fought only in defense of his country, a conqueror whose laurels were never stained with cruelty, a prince never cast down by adversity, nor lifted up to insolence in the hour of triumph–there is no other name in English history to compare with his.
Julius Caesar, the greatest man of initiative the world has ever seen, had a nephew known as Caesar Augustus.
The grandeur that was Rome occurred in the reign of Augustus. It was Augustus who said, “I found your city mud and I left it marble!” The impetus given to the times by Julius Caesar was conserved by Augustus. He continued the work his uncle had planned, but before he had completed it, he grew very weary, and the weariness he expressed was also the old age of the nation. There was lime in the bones of the boss.
When Caesar Augustus said, “Rome is great enough–here we rest,” he merely meant that he had reached his limit, and had had enough of road-building. At the boundaries of the Empire and the end of each Roman road he set up a statue of the god Terminus. This god gave his blessing to those going beyond, and a welcome to those returning, just as the Stars and Stripes welcome the traveler coming to America from across the sea. This god Terminus also supplied the world, especially the railroad world, a word.
Julius Caesar reached his terminus and died, aged fifty-six, from compulsory vaccination. Augustus, aged seventy-seven, died peacefully in bed.
The reign of Augustus marks the crest of the power of Rome, and a crest is a place where no man nor nation stays–when you reach it, you go over and down on the other side.
When Augustus set up his Termini, announcing to all mankind that this was the limit, the enemies of Rome took courage and became active. The Goths and Vandals, hanging on the skirts of Rome, had learned many things, and one of the things was that, for getting rich quick, conquest is better than production. The barbarians, some of whom evidently had a sense of humor, had a way of picking up the Termini and carrying them inward, and finally they smashed them entirely, somewhat as country boys, out hunting, shoot railroad-signs full of holes.
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In the Middle Ages the soldier was supreme, and in the name of protecting the people he robbed the people, a tradition much respected, but not in the breach.
To escape the scourge of war, certain families and tribes moved northward. It was fight and turmoil in Southern Europe that settled Norway, Sweden and Denmark, and produced the Norsemen. And in making for themselves a home in the wilderness, battling with the climate and unkind conditions, there was evolved a very strong and sturdy type of man.
On the north shore of the Baltic dwelt the Norsemen. Along the southern shore were scattered several small tribes or families who were not strong enough in numbers to fight the Goths, and so sought peace with them, and were taxed–or pillaged–often to the point of starvation. They were so poor and insignificant that the Romans really never heard of them, and they never heard of the Romans, save in myth and legend. They lived in caves and rude stone huts. They fished, hunted, raised goats and farmed, and finally, about the year Three Hundred, they secured horses, which they bought from the Goths, who stole them from the Romans.
Their Government was the Folkmoot, the germ of the New England Town Meeting. All the laws were passed by all the people, and in the making of these laws, the women had an equal voice with the men.