Page:Queen Moo and the Egyptian Sphinx.djvu/34

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tian era.[1] These causes may be found in the destruction of Carthage, of its commerce and its ships, by the Romans under Publius Scipio. The Romans never were navigators. After the fall of Carthage, public attention being directed to their conquests in Northern Africa, in Western Asia, and in Greece; to their wars with the Teutons and the Cimbri; to their own civil dissensions and to the many other political events that preceded the decadence and disintegration of the Roman Empire; the maritime expeditions of the Phœnicians and of the Carthaginians — their discoveries of distant and transatlantic countries became well-nigh forgotten. On the other hand, those hardy navigators kept their discoveries as secret as possible.

With the advent and ascendency of the Christian Church, the remembrance of the existence of such lands that still lingered among students,[2] as that of the Egyptian and Greek civilizations, was utterly obliterated from the mind of the people.

If we are to believe Tertullian and other ecclesiastical writers, the Christians, during the first centuries of the Christian era, held in abhorrence all arts and sciences, which, like literature, they attributed to the Muses, and therefore regarded as artifices of the devil. They consequently destroyed all vestiges as well as all means of culture. They closed the academies of Athens, the schools of Alexandria; burned the libraries of the Serapion and other temples of learning, which contained the works of the philosophers and the records of

  1. Juan de Torquemada, Monarquia Indiana, lib. iii., cap. 3. Lizana (Bernardo), Devocionario de nuestra Señora de Itzamal, etc., part 1, folio 5, published by Abbé Brasseur, in Landa's Las Cosas de Yucatan, pp. 349 et passim.
  2. Clement of Rome, First Epistle to the Corinthians, chapter viii., verse 12.