Page:The World's Famous Orations Volume 5.djvu/43

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I believe, also, you will find one important thing not much noted, that there was a very great deal of deep religion in both nations. This is pointed out by the wiser kind of historians, and particularly by Ferguson, who is very well worth reading on Roman history, and who, I believe, was an alumnus of our own university. His book is a very creditable work. He points out the profoundly religious nature of the Roman people, notwithstanding their ruggedly positive, defiant, and fierce ways. They believed that Jupiter Optimus Maximus was lord of the universe, and that he appointed the Romans to become the chief of nations, provided they followed his commands—to brave all danger, all difficulty, and stand up with an invincible front, and be ready to do and die; and also to have the same sacred regard to truth of promise, to thorough veracity, thorough integrity, and all the virtues that accompany that noblest quality of man, valor—to which latter the Romans gave the name of "virtue" proper (virtus, manhood), as the crown and summary of all that is ennobling for a man.

In the literary ages of Rome this religious feeling had very much decayed away; but it still retained its place among the lower classes of the Roman people.

Of the deeply religious nature of the Greeks, along with their beautiful and sunny effulgencies of art, you have striking proof, if you look for it. In the tragedies of Sophocles there is a most