After a decade as emperor, with doctrinal disputes put to rest, Theodosius felt he was in a position to crack down. In 391, he issued the formal imperial edict banning traditional sacrifice and religious ritual. The mandate was enforced by imperial troops, by social fear, and, here and there, by the partially approved thuggery of Christian zealots. Theodosius died in 395, and it was only in 399 that real temple busting came to Roman Africa, for example; and when it did come, it was quick and decisive. Not since Caracalla, who conferred full Roman citizenship on all free inhabitants of the empire in the early third century, had a single emperor done so much to affect so many lives, irreversibly. Ramsay MacMullen has noted the supreme confidence of the Christians at that time, leading to a nearly complete cessation of serious efforts to proselytize for their religion.26 Henceforth, Christianity was a matter of requirement, and persuasion was irrelevant. Pope Gregory’s mission to con
That last Galerian persecution backfired completely. The young general Constantine (son of Constantius, who had ruled Britain for Diocletian and himself briefly succeeded to an unsteady throne) saw a chance to grasp for power. Diocletian had created a college of imperial leaders and put in motion a complicated system of succession and promotion that collapsed as soon as it was implemented in 305. In a welter of emperors and would-be emperors, Constantine emerged from the pack, establishing himself first in the west, and eventually in all of the empire.
He was the victor of a critical battle in 312 for control of the Milvian bridge, just upriver on the Tiber where it protected the approaches to the city of Rome. Constantine told a story afterward of a vision he had before the battle and how he and his men had fought under Christ’s protection. For the rest of his life—he lived and reigned until 337—he was consistently the best Christian emperor he could be. This is not to
The latter quality derived from the more stiff-necked qualities of Judaism. Judaism takes its name from a place, Judaea, and the ancient word for a member of the cult, Judaeus, meaning “person from Judaea.” Judaean pride convinced itself that the one and only true god visited his temple on a hilltop just at the boundary between cultivated land and the desert, in Jerusalem. Anyone would agree that a provincial god might do such a thing, but to claim that this one local god was uniquely true and powerful—such self-assurance would strike almost everyone as bizarre.
At the heart of Judaism, however, was the Judaeans’ assurance that their god was still local, and therefore that only they should worship him. They made certain that joining his cult—through circumcision—involved a high degree of commitment and difficulty. They argued that Yahweh was the one and only god; yet, ironically, it also did not matter if most of the world owed him no allegiance and went on about
He saw everything as it was; everything asked him, Dost remember. He remembers! he sees broad fields; between the fields, woods and villages. It is night now. At this hour his lantern usually fllummates the darkness of the sea; but now he is m his native village.
His old head has dropped on his breast, and he is dreaming. Pictures are passing before his eyes quickly, and a little disorderly. He does not see the house in which he was born, for war had destroyed it ; he does not see his father and mother, for they died when he was a child, stfll th village is as if he had left it yesterday—the line of cottages with light in the windows, the mound, the mill, the two ponds °PPoslt® other, and thundering all night with a chorus of frogs.
Once he had been on guard in that village all night; now that past stood bef°re b at once in a series of views. He is an Uhlan again and he stands there on guard; at a distance is the public-house; he looks with swimming eyes. Th
Who shinest in Ostrobrama and preservest The castle town Novgrodek with its trusty people,
As Thou didst give me back to health in childhood,
When by my weeping mother placed beneath Thy care I raised my lifeless eyelids upward,
And straightway walked unto Thy holy threshold,
To thank God for the life restored me,
So by a wonder now restore us to the bosom of our birthplace.”
The swollen wave broke through the restraint of his will. The old threw himself on the ground; his milk-white hair was mingled with the sand of the sea. Forty years had passed since he had seen his country, and God knows how many since he heard his native speech; and now that speech had come to him itself it had sailed to him over the ocean, and found him in solitude on another hemisphere it so loved, so dear so beautiful!
Simply implored forgiveness
In the sobbing which shook him there was no pain only a suddenly aroused immen
The society had sent him the books with thanks. The books came in the natural way; but at the first moment the old man could not seize those thoughts. Polish books in Aspinwall, on his tower, amid his solitude—that was for him something uncommon, a certain breath from past times, a kind of miracle.
Now it seemed to him, as to those sailors in the night, that something was calling him by name with a voice greatly beloved and nearly forgotten. He sat for a while with closed eyes, and was almost certain that, when he opened them, the dream would be gone.
The package, cut open, lay before him, shone upon clearly by the afternoon sun, and on it was an open book. When the old man stretched his hand toward it again, he heard in the stillness the beating of his own heart. He looked; it was poetry. On the outside stood printed in great letters the title, underneath the name of the author.
Strange to Skavinski
The name was not strange to Skavinski;
Whole weeks passed in this way, so that no one saw him and he saw no one. The only signs that the old man was living were the disappearance of the provisions left on shore, and the light of the lantern kindled every evening with the same regularity with which the sun rose in the morning from the waters of those regions.
Evidently, the old man had become indifferent to the world. Homesickness was not the cause, but just this—that even homesickness had passed into resignation. The whole world began now and ended for Skavinski on his island. He had grown accustomed to the thought that he would not leave the tower till his death, and he simply forgot that there was anything else besides it.
Ceasing to exist
Moreover, he had become a mystic; his mild blue eyes began to stare like the eyes of a child, and were as if fixed on something at a distance. In presence of a surrounding uncommonly simple and great, the old man was losing the feeling of personal
Farther on, between Aspinwall and Panama, was a great forest over which every morning and evening hung a reddish haze of exhalations—a real tropical forest with its feet in stagnant water, interlaced with lianas and filled with the sound of one sea of gigantic orchids, palms, milk-trees, iron-trees, gum-trees.
Through his field-glass the old man could see not only trees and the broad leaves of bananas, but even legions of monkeys and great marabous and flocks of parrots, rising at times like a rainbow cloud over the forest. Skavinski knew such forests well, for after being wrecked on the Amazon he had wandered whole weeks among similar arches and thickets. He had seen how many dangers and deaths lie concealed under those wonderful and smiling exteriors.
Torpedo fish and swarming with crocodiles
During the nights which he had spent in them he heard close at hand the sepulchral voices of howling monkeys, and the roaring of the jaguars; he saw gigant
From early morning a light eastern breeze brought a confused hum of human life, above which predominated the whistle of steamers. In the afternoon six o`clock came; the movements in the harbor began to cease; the mews hid themselves in the rents of the cliffs; the waves grew feeble and became in some sort lazy; and then on the land, on the sea, and on the tower came a time of stillness unbroken by anything.
The yellow sands from which the waves had fallen back glittered like golden stripes on the width of the waters; the body of the tower was outlined definitely in blue. Floods of sunbeams were poured from the sky on the water and the sands and the cliff. At that time a certain lassitude full of sweetness seized the old man. He felt that the rest which he was enjoying was excellent; and when he thought that it would be continuous nothing was lacking to him.
Men built houses for invalids
Skavinski was intoxicated with his own happiness; and since a
If the infinity of the sea may call out thus, perhaps when a man is growing old, calls come to him, too, from another infinity Still darker and more deeply mysterious; and the more he is wearied by life the dearer are those calls to him. But to hear them quiet is needed.
Besides old age loves to put itself aside, as if with a foreboding of the grave. The lighthouse had become for Skavinski such a half grave. Nothing is more monotonous than life on a beacon-tower. If young people consent to take up this service they leave it after a time. Lighthouse keepers are generally men not young, gloomy, and confined to themselves.
If by chance one of them leaves his lighthouse and goes among men, he walks in the midst of them like a person roused from deep slumber. On the tower there is a lack of minute impressions which in ordinary life teach men to adapt themselves to everything. All that a lighthouse keeper comes in contact with is gigantic an