THE EVOLUTION OF LOVE
BY EMIL LUCKA
TRANSLATED BY ELLIE SCHLEUSSNER
LONDON: GEORGE ALLEN & UNWIN LTD. RUSKIN HOUSE, 40 MUSEUM STREET, W.C.1
First published in Great Britain 1922
(All rights reserved)
Printed in Great Britain by UNWIN BROTHERS, LIMITED, THE GRESHAM PRESS, LONDON AND WOKING
The object of this book, which is addressed to all cultured men and women, is to set forth the primitive manifestations of love and to throw light on those strange emotional climaxes which I have called "Metaphysical Eroticism." I have taken no account of historical detail, except where it served the purpose of proving, explaining and illustrating my subject. Nor have I hesitated to intermingle psychological motives and motives arising from the growth and spread of civilisation. The inevitable result of a one-sided glimpse at historical facts would have been a history of love, an undertaking for which I lack both ability and inclination. On the other hand, had I written a merely psychological treatise, disregarding the succession of periods, I should have laid myself open to the just reproach of giving rein to my imagination instead of dealing with reality.
I have availed myself of historical facts to demonstrate that what psychology has shown to be the necessary phases of the evolution of love, have actually existed in historical time and characterised a whole period of civilisation. The history of civilisation is an end in itself only in the chapter entitled "The Birth of Europe."
My work is intended to be first and foremost a monograph on the emotional life of the human race. I am prepared to meet rather with rejection than with approval. Neither the historian nor the psychologist will be pleased. Moreover, I am well aware that my standpoint is hopelessly "old-fashioned." To-day nearly all the world is content to look upon the sexual impulse as the source of all erotic emotion and to regard love as nothing more nor less than its most exquisite radiation.
My book, on the contrary, endeavours to establish its complete independence of sexuality.
My contention that so powerful an emotion as love should have come into existence in historical, not very remote times, will seem very strange; for, all outward profession of faith in evolution notwithstanding, men are still inclined to take the unchangeableness of human nature for granted.
The facts on which I have based my arguments are well known, but my deductions are new; it is not for me to decide whether they are right or wrong. In the first (introductory) part I have made use of works already in existence, in addition to Plato and the poets, but the second and third parts are founded almost entirely on original research.
TRANSLATOR'S INTRODUCTION 9
FIRST STAGE: THE SEXUAL INSTINCT 21
SECOND STAGE: LOVE
I. THE BIRTH OF EUROPE 39
II. THE DEIFICATION OF WOMAN (FIRST FORM OF METAPHYSICAL EROTICISM):—(a) The Love of the Troubadours; (b) The Queen of Heaven; (c) Dante and Goethe; (d) Michel Angelo 115
III. PERVERSIONS OF METAPHYSICAL EROTICISM:— (a) The Brides of Christ; (b) Sexual Mystics 217
THIRD STAGE: THE BLENDING OF SEXUALITY AND LOVE
I. THE LONGING FOR THE SYNTHESIS 231
II. THE LOVE-DEATH (SECOND FORM OF METAPHYSICAL EROTICISM) 251
III. THE CONFLICT BETWEEN SEXUALITY AND LOVE.—THE SEEKER OF LOVE AND THE SLAVE OF LOVE 266
IV. THE REVENGE OF SEXUALITY.—THE DEMONIACAL AND THE OBSCENE 275
CONCLUSION: THE PSYCHOGENETIC LAW.—THE INDIVIDUAL AS AN EPITOME OF THE HUMAN RACE 284
Since the triumphant days of the Mechanists some twenty-five years ago, the wedge of Pragmatism—a useful tool to be used and discarded—has been driven between materialism and idealism, and it appears that the whole tendency of philosophy is now in the latter direction. Even in England the influence of Bergson has led modern thought away from the pure materialism of the monists, and it seems probable that Benedetto Croce's Philosophy of the Spirit will carry the movement a step nearer towards the idealistic concept of reality. And among the latest signs of the new tendency must be counted the brilliant work of Emil Lucka, the young Austrian "poet-philosopher," whose conception of the development of love must rank with the most daring speculations in recent psychology.
In the great reaction of the last century, love, that most cogent motive of human thought and action, fell from its high estate and came to be regarded as an instinct not differing in any essential from hunger and thirst, and existing, like them, from the beginning, eternal and immutable, manifesting itself with equal force in the heart of man and woman, and impelling them towards each other. But Emil Lucka, in his remarkable new book, The Three Stages of Love (which was recently published in Berlin, and has already created a sensation in literary circles abroad), leads us on to speculative heights from which we may look back upon the whole theory of evolution not as a bar but as a bridge. "My book is intended as a monograph of the emotional life of the human race," he says in the preface, and "I am prepared to meet with rejection rather than with approval." There has been abundance of criticism and controversy, but Lucka has stated his case and drawn his conclusions with such admirable precision and logic, that his work has aroused admiration and appreciation even in the ranks of his opponents.
Love is a theme which at all times and in all countries has been of primary interest to men and women, and therefore this book, which throws an illuminating ray of light in many a dark place still wrapped in mystery and silence, not only impresses the psychologist, but also fascinates the general reader with its wealth of interesting detail and charm of expression.
The three vitally important points which the author develops are as follows:—
Love is not a primary instinct, but has been gradually evolved in historical time.
Ernst Haeckel's biogenetic law is expanded in a psychogenetic law.
Only man's emotions have undergone evolution, and therefore have a history, while those of woman have experienced no change.
Lucka's book will probably not please the advanced feminists, but the delicate, although perhaps involuntary homage to her sex which is implied in his theories ought to rouse a feeling of gratification in the heart of every right-feeling woman. The very limitations and restrictions which he lays upon her raise and glorify her. For while man has been the "Odysseus wandering through heaven and hell, passing from the bestial to the divine to return again and become human, woman has always been the same, unchangeable and without problems. That which he has set up to-day as his highest erotic ideal, the blending of sexual and spiritual love, has been her natural endowment from the beginning. Never perfect, he falls into error and sin where she cannot err, for her instinct is Nature herself, and she knows not the meaning of sin."
Schopenhauer's "instinct of philoprogenitiveness" has to-day become an article of faith with the learned and the unlearned. This sub-conscious instinct for the service of the species which, in love, is supposed to rise to consciousness, and whose purpose is the will to produce the best possible offspring, is conceded by scientists who reject not only Schopenhauer's metaphysic, but metaphysic in general. Even Nietzsche, that arch-individualist, has proved by many of his pronouncements, and most strikingly by his well-known definition of marriage, that he has not escaped its fascinations. "Schopenhauer ignores all phenomena which are not in support of his myth," says Lucka, who denies this instinct of philoprogenitiveness and would substitute for it a "pairing-instinct." "The experience of others," he argues, "not our own instinct, has taught us that children may, not necessarily must, be the result of the union of the sexes. Into the mediaeval ideal which reached its climax in metaphysical love, the idea of propagation did not enter. Moreover, the desire for children is frequently unaccompanied by any sexual desire, and therefore to manufacture an instinct of philoprogenitiveness is fantastic metaphysic, and is entirely opposed to intellectual reality. This was well understood in the long period of antiquity which strictly separated the sexual impulse and the desire for children."
Lucka distinguishes three great stages in the evolution of love. In vivid and fascinating pictures he unfolds the erotic life of our primitive ancestors, basing his statements on accepted authorities. The sexual impulse in those remote days, unconscious of its nature and far-reaching consequences, was entirely undifferentiated from any other powerful instinct. Every woman of the tribe belonged to every male who happened to desire her. As is still the case with the aborigines of Central and Northern Australia, the phenomena of pregnancy and childbirth were attributed to witchcraft. The concept of father had not yet been formed; the family congregated round the mother and saw in her its natural chief; gynecocracy was the prevailing form of government. In early historical and pre-classical times, promiscuity was systematised by religion in India and the countries round the Mediterranean and survived in the Temple Prostitution and the Mysteries. Man as yet felt himself only as a part of nature, and aspired to no more than a life in harmony with her laws. The worship of fertility and the endless renewal of life was the object of the orgiastic cults of Adonis and Astarte in the East, and Dionysus and Aphrodite in Greece; unbridled licentiousness and blind gratification of the senses their sacrament.
With the growth of civilisation and the development of personality there slowly crept into the minds of men a distaste for this irregular sexuality and a desire for a less chaotic state of things. This longing and the wish for legitimate heirs gradually overcame promiscuity and, in Greece, led to the establishment of the monogamous system. It must not be assumed, however, that the Greek ideal of marriage bore any resemblance to our modern conception. True, the wife occupied an honoured position as the guardian of hearth and children and was treated by her husband with affection and respect, but she was not free. Nor was her husband expected to be faithful to her. Marriage in no way restricted his liberty, but left him free to seek intellectual stimulation in the society of the hetaerae, and gratification of the senses in the company of his slaves. Love in our sense was unknown to the ancients, and although there is a modern note in the legends of the faithful Penelope, and the love which united Orpheus and Eurydice, yet, so Lucka tells us, these instances should be regarded rather as poetic divinations of a future stage of feeling than actual facts then within the scope of probability. Even Plato, in whom all wisdom and ante-Christian culture culminated, was still, in this respect, a citizen of the old world, for he, too, knew as yet nothing of the spiritual love of a man for a woman. To him the love of an individual was but a beginning, the road to the love of perfect beauty and the eternal ideas.
On the threshold of the second stage of the erotic life stands Christianity, which, in sharp contrast to antiquity and to the classical period, sought the centre and climax of life in the soul. The founder of the "religion of love" discovered the individual, and by so doing laid the foundation for that metaphysical love which found its most striking expression in the deification of woman and the cult of the Virgin Mary. How this change of mental attitude was brought about is worked out in a brilliant chapter, entitled "The Birth of Europe." The revivifying influence of Christ's preaching and personality was stifled after the first centuries by the rigid dogma and formalism which had altered his doctrine almost past recognition. The Church was building up its political structure and tolerated no rival. Art, literature, music, all the enthusiasm and profound thought of which the human mind is capable, were pressed into her service. Independent thought was heresy, and the death of every heretic became a new fetter which bound the intellect of man. But about the year 1100, when the mighty edifice was complete, and the pope and his bishops looked down upon kings and emperors and counted them their vassals, when the barbaric peoples which made up the population of Europe had been sufficiently schooled and educated in the new direction, a longing for something new, a yearning for art, for poetry, for beauty, began to stir the hearts of men and women. It found expression in the ideal of chivalry, the Holy Sepulchre and the Holy Grail, and suddenly love, bursting out in a brilliant flame, shed its radiance on the sordid relationship which had hitherto existed between the sexes, and transfigured it. Woman, the despised, to whom at the Council of Macon a soul had been denied, all at once became a queen, a goddess. The drudge, the patiently suffering wife, were things of the past. A new ideal had been set up and men worshipped it with bended knees.
"She shines on us as God shines on his angels,"
It was in a small country in the South of France, in Provence, that the new spirit was born. The troubadours, wandering from castle to castle, sang the praise of love, genuine love, the earlier ones without admixture either of speculation or metaphysic. The dogma that pure love was its own reward inasmuch as it made men perfect, was framed later on.
"I cannot sin when I am in her mind,"
wrote Guirot Riquier, and Dante, in the "Vita Nuova," calls his beloved mistress "the destroyer of all evil and the queen of all virtues." The monk Matfre Ermengau, who wrote a text-book on love, says:
Love makes good men better, And the worst man good.
The later troubadours drew a much sharper distinction between spiritual and sensual love. The latter was regarded as degrading and base (at least in principle) and woe to the man who held, or rather, avowed, another opinion. His reward was the contempt of every man and woman of culture. "I ask no more of my mistress than that she should suffer me to serve her," protested Bernart de Ventadour.
It goes without saying that, in spite of this high ideal, sensuality flourished undiminished, and a troubadour who loudly sang the praise of chastity and blatantly professed his entire disinterestedness in the service of his mistress, did not see the least inconsequence in carrying on a dozen intrigues at the same time with other women. Sordello, one of the best known poets of this period, was charged by a contemporary with having changed his mistress over a hundred times, and he himself, impudently bragging, proclaims that
None can resist me; all the frowning husbands Shall not prevent me to embrace their wives, If I so wish....
Another poet, Count Rambaut III., of Orange, recommended to his fellow-men as the surest way of winning a woman's favour, "to break her nose with a blow of the fist." "I myself," he continued, "treat all women with tenderness and courtesy, but then—I am considered a fool."
As may be expected, sublimated, metaphysical love was not without its caricatures and eccentricities. One of the most grotesque figures of the period of the troubadours was Ulrich von Lichtenstein, a German knight. As a page, we are told, he drank the water in which his mistress had washed her hands. Later on he had his upper lip amputated because it displeased his lady-love, and on another occasion he cut off one of his fingers, had it set in gold and used as a clasp on a volume of his poems which he sent as a present to his inamorata.
At the famous Courts of Love, the most extraordinary questions were seriously discussed and decided. A favourite subject for debate was the relationship between love and marriage, and some of the decisions which have been preserved for us prove without a doubt that those two great factors in the emotional life were considered irreconcilable. At the Court of the Viscountess Ermengarde of Narbonne, the question whether the love between lovers was greater than the love between husband and wife was settled as follows: "Nature and custom have erected an insuperable barrier between conjugal affection and the love which unites two lovers. It would be absurd to draw comparisons between two things which have neither resemblance nor connection."
The contrast between the new, spiritualised love and the older, sexual, instinct created that dualism so characteristic of the whole mediaeval period. Sexuality and love were felt as two inimical forces, the fusion of which was beyond the range of possibility. While on the one hand woman was worshipped as a divine being, before whom all desire must be silenced, she was on the other hand stigmatised as the devil's tool, a power which turned men away from his higher mission and jeopardised the salvation of his soul. Wagner portrayed this dualism perfectly in Tannhauser. "A man of the Middle Ages," says Lucka, "would have recognised in this magnificent work the tragedy of his soul."
It was but a small step from the worship of a beloved mistress to the cult of the Virgin Mary. The Church, hostile at first, finally acquiesced, and "through her official acknowledgment of a female deity, open enmity between the religion of the Church and the religion of woman was avoided." A woman, that is to say, the Virgin Mary, had stepped between God and humanity as mediator, intercessor and saviour.
Both Dante, the inspired woman-worshipper of the Middle Ages, and the more modern Goethe, saw in metaphysical love the triumph over all things earthly. And far above either of these intellectual heroes looms the awe-inspiring figure of Michelangelo, the scoffer, to whom love came late in life; in his ecstatic adoration of Vittoria Colonna, the enthusiasm of Plato and the passion of Dante are blended in a more transcendent flame.
Sexual Mystics and the Brides of Christ present the darker aspect of metaphysical love. All the latter, including even Catherine of Siena (a clever politician who kept up a correspondence with the leading statesmen of her time), Marie of Oignies, and St. Teresa, are stigmatised as victims of hysteria and consigned to the domain of pathology.
While the first stage was characterised by the reign of unbridled sexual instinct, the second by the conflict between spiritual and sensual love, the third stage represents our modern conception, the blending of spiritual and sensual love, which is "not the differentiated sexual instinct, but a force embracing the psycho-physical entity of the beloved being without any consciousness of sexual desire." It shares with the purely metaphysical love the lover's longing to raise his mistress above him and glorify her without any ulterior object and desire. "In this stage there is no tyranny of man over woman, as in the sexual stage; no subjection of man to woman, as in the woman-worship of the Middle Ages; but complete equality of the sexes, a mutual give and take. If sexuality is infinite as matter, spiritual love eternal as the metaphysical ideal, then the synthesis is human and personal." The apotheosis of this perfect love Lucka finds in the Liebestod (the death of the lovers in the ecstasy of love), in Wagner's Tristan und Isolde.
An interesting chapter on erotic aberrations, the demoniacal and the obscene, completes the third part of the book.
There may be much in Lucka's theories which will rouse the scepticism of the monists; some of his deductions may appear to his readers a little strained, but no thinking man or woman can read his brilliant Conclusion without denying him the tribute of sincere admiration. In this last chapter he applies Haeckel's biogenetic law to the domain of the spirit. As the human embryo passes through the principal stages of the development of the individual from lower forms of life, so the growing male must pass through the stages of psychical development through which the race has passed. The gynecocratic government of prehistoric time is revived in the nursery, where the mother rules supreme and the sisters dominate. The normal, healthy school-boy, preferring the company of his school-fellows to all others, shunning his mother and sisters, ashamed of his female relatives, is the modern individual representative of those early leagues and unions of young men who opposed matriarchy and finally brought about its overthrow and the establishment of male government. The promiscuous sexuality characteristic of adolescence reproduces the first, merely sexual, stage of the erotic life of the race in the life of the individual. As a rule this phase is followed by a period of woman-worship; love has conquered the sexual instinct and the latter is felt as base and degrading. Atavism is not so much the persistence of the earlier, as the absence of the later stages of psychical development.
I need not emphasise the fact that the three stages are often intermingled and not traceable with equal clearness in the life of every individual. Many men never advance beyond the first stage and others are fragmentary and undeveloped; but certain phases are more or less distinguishable in every well-endowed male individual. Lucka finds a perfect illustration of his theory in the life and works of Richard Wagner, whose operas The Fairies (based on Shakespeare's Measure for Measure), Tannhauser, and Tristan und Isolde, successively illustrate the three stages through which the great poet-composer and impassioned lover passed, and reflect the principal halting-places in the erotic evolution of the race. In Parsifal, Wagner's last and maturest work, he conjectures a potential fourth stage, divined by the genius of the great musician and thinker, a sublimation of our modern ideal, a stage when love will be freed from all sexual feeling (a conception not unlike Otto Weininger's), but to which we have not yet attained and which we are even unable fully to grasp.
I have not been able to do more than touch upon the principal features of this book, the fame of whose brilliant author has long spread beyond the boundaries of his own native country. Emil Lucka was born in Vienna in 1877, and has already achieved a number of remarkably fine books, most of which have been translated into Russian, French, and other foreign languages. He is as yet unknown in England, this being the first of his works to appear in English.
 cf. Hartland's "Primitive Paternity" and Frazer's "Golden Bough."
THE EVOLUTION OF LOVE
THE FIRST STAGE: THE SEXUAL INSTINCT
To the generations slowly rising from the dark abyss of time to the twilight of the Middle Ages, the satisfaction of the sexual instinct offered fewer difficulties than the gratification of any other need or desire. With every unpremeditated and cursory indulgence the craving disappeared from consciousness and left the individual free to give his mind to the acquisition of the necessities of life which were far more difficult to obtain. Primitive, prehistoric man lived in the moment. When there was plenty of food he gorged to repletion, heedless of the starvation which might be his fate to-morrow or the day after. His thought had neither breadth nor continuity. It never occurred to him that there might be a connection between an abrupt and quickly forgotten embrace and the birth of a child by a woman of the tribe after what appeared to be an immeasurable lapse of time. He suspected witchcraft in the phenomena of pregnancy and childbirth (to this day the aborigines of Central and Northern Australia do not realise the connection between generation and birth). As a rule it was remembered that a certain woman had given birth to a certain child by the fact of her having carried it about and fed it at her breast. Occasionally it was forgotten to which mother a child belonged; perhaps the mother had died; perhaps the child had strayed beyond the boundaries of the community and the mother had failed to recognise it on its return. But it was clear beyond all doubt that every child had a "mother." The conception of "father" had not yet been formed. Experience had taught our primitive ancestors two undeniable facts, namely "that women gave birth to children" and "that every child had a mother."
We must assume that sexual intercourse was irregular and haphazard up to the dawn of history. Every woman—within the limits of her own tribe, probably—belonged to every man. Whether this assumption is universally applicable or not, must remain doubtful; later ethnologists, more particularly von Westermarck, deny it because it does not apply to every savage tribe of the present day. Herodotus tells us that promiscuity existed in historical times in countries as far removed from each other as Ethiopia and the borders of the Caspian Sea. There can be no reasonable doubt that sexual intercourse took the form of group-marriage, the exchange or lending of wives, and other similar arrangements.
The relationship between mother and child having been established by Nature herself, the first human family congregated round the mother, acknowledging her as its natural chief. This continued even after the causal connection between generation and birth had ceased to be a mystery. In all countries on the Mediterranean, more especially in Lycia, Crete and Egypt, the predominance of the female element in State and family is well attested; it is reflected in the natural religions of the Eastern races—both Semitic and Aryan—and we find innumerable traces of it in Greek mythology. The merit of discovering this important stage in the relationship of the sexes is due to Bachofen. "Based on life-giving motherhood," he says, "gynecocracy was completely dominated by the natural principles and phenomena which rule its inner and outer life; it vividly realised the unity of nature, the harmony of the universe which it had not yet outgrown.... In every respect obedient to the laws of physical existence, its gaze was fixed upon the earth, it worshipped the chthonian powers rather than the gods of light." The children of men who had sprung from their mother as the flowers spring from the soil, raised altars to Gaea, Demeter and Isis, the deities of inexhaustible fertility and abundance. These early races of men realised themselves only as a part of nature; they had not yet conceived the idea of rising above their condition and setting their intelligence to battle with its blind laws. Incapable of realising their individuality, they bowed in passive submission to nature's undisputed sway. They were members of a tribe, and the fragmentary existence of the single individual was of no importance when it clashed with the welfare of the clan. The family—centred round the mother—and the tribe were the real individuals, in the same way as the swarm of bees, and not the individual bee, makes the whole. They lived in complete harmony with nature; they had no spiritual life, no history, for civilisation and the creation of intellectual values which are the foundation of history depend on the rise of a community above primitive conditions. Differentiation had hardly begun to exert its modifying influence; all men (not unlike the Eastern Asiatics of our day) resembled each other in looks, character and habits.
In the countries on the Mediterranean (as well as in India and Babylonia) the first stage of sexual intercourse, irresponsible and promiscuous, was systematised by religion. The annual spring-festivals in honour of Adonis, Dionysus, Mylitta, Astarte and Aphrodite, celebrated unbridled licentiousness. The whole community greeted the re-awakening vitality of the earth by an unrestrained abandonment to passion. Man aspired to be no more than the flower which scatters its seed to the winds. The incomprehensible lords of cupidity and rank vegetation did not suffer the individualisation of desire. The complete union of the male and female qualities, as manifested both in nature and man, was solemnised in the Orgies, and not by any means the relationship of an individual man to an individual woman, or sexuality connected with individuals and dominated by them. Nor was this unfettering of instinct a symbolical act; for it to be so, man must have stood over against nature as an intellectual being, mirroring and transforming her acts by his own deeds. He was as yet far from this. His ambition did not reach beyond the desire to fulfil nature in himself. Before the majesty of sex—worshipped in the vague, shadowy mothers of mankind, Rhea, Demeter, Cybele, and their human offspring, the phallic Dionysus and the hundred-breasted goddess of Ephesus—the individual with his piteous limitations shrank into insignificance. Sex was immortal, sex and primary matter, the [Greek: ule] contrasted by Aristotle with the [Greek: eisos], the form. "The female principle is the mother of the body, but the mother of the spirit is the male." The substance of those ancient cults was birth and death, meaningless, purposeless, apparently without rhyme or reason; their sacrament the perpetual union of the sexes. Between the succeeding generations there was but one bond, the natural bond of motherhood. It was the first tie realised by mankind, a tie not felt as a concrete relationship between two individuals, but as a general, maternal, natural force. The presiding divinities were the "mothers," the eternal, incorporeal deities, enthroned outside time and space, and therefore immortal givers of life and preservers of mankind. Before their silent greatness the desire of man to know his whence and whither, to win shape and individuality, became blasphemy. They had given immortality to sex, but upon the individual they had laid the curse of death.
Thus we have first a stage of fatherless, natural conception, corresponding with the philosophical theories which maintained that all created things had sprung from the elements. Later ages discovered a spiritual principle, a becoming, or an eternal being, and finally a conflict between spirit and matter.
But the general attitude towards sexual intercourse underwent a change as soon as here and there individuals appeared who were conscious of their individuality. Natural selection could not come into play in a community the members of which resembled one another so closely that all personal characteristics were obliterated in a general monotony. One woman was as good as another, although in all probability a healthy, youthful and strong individual would be preferred to a sickly, puny specimen. But apart from this, the wish to choose a partner instead of being content with the first comer, must have coincided historically with the outward, and later on with the inward differentiation of the race. I cannot prove my theory by quoting chapter and verse from ancient writers, but obviously a feeling of preference could not have arisen until individuals had begun to show very noticeable traces of difference. Therefore with growing differentiation a new factor—modest at first and operating within narrow limits—the factor of choice, had come into the sexual life. The slow development of personality gave birth to the feeling which rebelled against universal sexual intercourse and gynecocracy in general. The men desired to shape their own world; they had no share in the immortality of maternal life. As (relatively speaking) single individuals they stood over against the material bond of the generations living in the chain of the mothers. Demigods, the sons of the gods of light and mortal mothers, were credited with the salvation of men from a confused, chaotic existence, and the introduction of new conditions of life, no longer based on the dictates of nature but on the moulding genius of man. "Hercules, Theseus and Perseus overthrew the ancient powers of darkness. They laid the foundations of man's great achievement, civilisation, and were the first to worship the gods of light. They delivered humanity from the gross materialism in which it had hitherto been steeped; they were the awakeners of spiritual life, which is a higher life than the life of the senses; they were as incorruptible as the sun from whence they came, the heroes of a new civilisation distinguished by gentleness, a higher endeavour and a new dispensation." (Bachofen.)
Heinrich Schurtz has proved (though not in connection with matriarchy) that side by side with the family, unions of unmarried men existed in many countries at a very early time. The object of these unions, which had nothing of the rigidity of blood-relationship, was fellowship. As soon as the boys had outgrown the care of their mother they were compelled to combine for the purpose of playing games and later on for war and hunting; these men's unions therefore were the outcome of the necessary conditions of life. It is obvious that innovations and inventions of all sorts originated in these unions rather than with the temperamentally conservative women, and that we have to look upon them as the hotbed of all spiritual and social evolution. These confederations and leagues not based on a natural or blood-relationship, but on a feeling of brotherhood and friendliness, might well have been an attack upon the natural ties of the family, an expression of a feeling of hostility to and contempt for women, and probably stood in close relationship to a striking characteristic of the past: a widely spread homosexuality.
Whether Schurtz gives us a correct picture of these men's unions or not, there can be no doubt that the struggle against matriarchy originated in them. This struggle led eventually to the victory of the male principle, the acknowledgment of the authority of the father, the institution of male government which deprived women of all legal rights, and the dominion of the spiritual; the victory of the gods of light over the dark lords of fertility. This revolution of principles was perhaps the completest revolution humanity has ever known.
A long road, marked by numerous compromises and limitations, led from casual intercourse to the final establishment of the monogamous system. Free intercourse had been sanctioned by the gods, who suffered no restrictions and modifications, and sacrifices in the shape of a temporary universal unfettering of instinct were required to pacify their anger and reconcile them to the new system. The first and most important of these compromises was the temple-prostitution practised by many nations in Asia Minor, the Greek Archipelago, India and Babylonia. Many a girl gained in this way the marriage portion which enabled her later on to find a husband, to whom she invariably remained strictly loyal. Thus all religious requirements were satisfied. At first this was an annually recurring rite, but gradually it became an isolated ceremony in the life of every female individual. "In the place of the annual surrender," says Priester, "we now have a single act; the hetaerism of the matrons is succeeded by the hetaerism of the maids; instead of being practised during marriage, it is practised in spinsterhood; the blind surrender has given way to a yielding to certain individuals."...
With the growth of civilisation a few girls, the hierodules, were set apart for the purpose of pacifying the offended deities and their act ransomed the rest of the female citizens.
It was not on erotic grounds, but for political and social reasons that the Greek introduced monogamy. The reason which weighed in the scales more heavily than all others was the necessity for legitimate offspring. It was natural that a man of property should desire a legitimate heir who would inherit it on his death. The right of succession from father to son, incorporated later on in the Roman Right, originated during this period. But this was not the only advantage connected with the possession of a son: religion taught that after death the body required sacrificial food which could only be provided by the legitimate male descendants of the deceased. (The same belief was held by the Indians and Eastern Asiatics.) In several Greek States marriage was compulsory and bachelors were fined. At the same time the contraction of a marriage did not interfere with the personal freedom of the man; he was at liberty to go to the hetaerae for intellectual stimulation (unless he happened to prefer the friends of his own sex) and to his slaves for the pleasures of the senses. His wife, although she was not free, was respected by him as the guardian of his hearth and children. There was but one legal reason for divorce: sterility, which frustrated the object of matrimony. Conjugal love as we understand it did not exist; it is a feeling which was entirely unknown to the ancients.
With the exception of the gradually weakening hold of religion on the imagination of the people towards the decline of the Roman Empire, no perceptible change occurred in the social life of the old world until the dawn of the Middle Ages. To quote Otto Seeck: "A wife had no other task than to produce legitimate offspring; and yet she gave herself airs and graces, embittered her husband's life with her jealousy and bad temper or, worse even, set all tongues wagging with her evil conduct. Is it to be wondered at that marriage was merely regarded as a duty to the State, and that a great number of men were not sufficiently patriotic to take such a burden upon their shoulders?"
Thus the victory of the male spiritual principle over universal sexual intercourse ushered in the second stage which checked the sexual impulse and directed it upon certain individuals, a distinction however, which bears no relation to love.
Monogamy had conquered, in principle at least and as an ideal.
The profoundly mystical core of the most powerful Greek tragedy which has come down to our time, the Orestes of Aeschylus, represents the victory of the new gods of light over the old maternal powers. Orestes has sinned against the old law, for in order to avenge his father's death, he has slain his mother. The sun-god Apollo and the sinister Erinnys, the upholders of the old maternal right, are waging war over the justifiableness of the deed. To the Erinnys, matricide is the foulest of all crimes, for man is more nearly related to the mother than to the father. But Apollo had commanded the deed, so that the father's murder should not remain unavenged.
Not to the mother is the child indebted For life; she tends and guards the kindling spark The father lighted; she but holds his pledge.——
he explains. And the answer is the lament of the Erinnys:
Thus thou destroy'st the gods of ancient times!
Athene, the virgin goddess, the motherless daughter of Zeus, appearing as mediator between the opponents, decides in favour of the new dispensation which places the father's claim above the mother's. Orestes is free of guilt; his deed was justifiable according to the canons of the new law. The tragedy is the symbolical commemoration of the victory of the male principle in Greece. But Athene is the embodiment of the new hermaphroditic ideal of the Greek which stood in close connexion to their homosexuality, and with which I propose to deal later on.
There is a psychical law ordaining that nothing which has ever quickened the soul of man shall be entirely lost. Were it not so, the storehouses of the soul would stand empty. New values are created, but the old verities endure; as a rule they are relegated to a lower sphere, to inferior social layers, but they persist and frequently merge into the new. This law applies without exception to the relationship between the sexes; we shall come upon it again and again. During the second stage, characterised by the spiritual love foreign to the ancients, the purely sexual impulse continued as an unimpaired force, but it had lost its prestige and was not only regarded as ignoble and base, but also stigmatised as sinful and demoniacal. The hearts of men were stirred by new ideals.
A similar attitude, perhaps not quite so uncompromising because the contrast was less pronounced, existed in classical Greece. The more highly developed, self-conscious Hellenic genius, shrinking from promiscuous intercourse, had systematised the instinct and set up a new ideal in Platonic love. But below the surface raged the unbridled natural force, and in perfect harmony with the Greek spirit—it was not hysterically hidden, but assigned a place in the new system. Wrapped in the obscurity of the Mysteries, concealed from the gaze of the new gods of light, it attempted to assuage its inextinguishable thirst. The Mysteries were the annual tribute paid as a ransom by Apollo-worshipping Hellas to chaotic Asia, so that she might be free to pursue her higher psycho-spiritual aims. The brilliant civilisation of Athens was based on the dark cult of the Mysteries. On the festivals of the hermaphroditic Dionysus and Demeter, which are identical with the cults of Adonis and Mylitta, the impersonal, generative elements were worshipped. Thus, below the surface of the Greek State, founded on masculine values and attempting to restrict intercourse for the benefit of a more systematised progeniture, flourished the orgiastic cult of the ancient Eastern deities, who had vouchsafed to mortals a glimpse of the great secret of life in the ardour of procreation and conception. The women upheld the religion of passion as an end in itself; bacchantes, men in female attire, emasculated priests, sacrificed to the blindly bountiful gods. We are told that Dionysus conquered even the Amazons and converted them to his worship. Euripides described in the Bacchantes—the subject of which is the war between the uncontrolled sexual impulse and the new order of things—how Dionysus traversed all Asia and finally arrived in Hellas accompanied by a crowd of abandoned women. But his religion was more than a cult of wine and sensual pleasure, it embraced a gentle worship of nature, throwing down the barrier between man and beast—impassable by the spirit of civilisation—and lovingly including every living creature. We read in the Bacchantes that the women who had fled from the town to follow the irresistible stranger, Dionysus, dwelled in the mountains, binding their hair with tame adders, carrying in their arms the cubs of wolves and the young deer, and feeding them with the milk of their breasts; that milk and wine welled up when they struck the earth with the thyrsus; and so on. Dionysus implores Pentheus, the representative of the Hellenic masculine system, not to venture undisguised among the maenads: "They'll murder you if they divine your sex," and, knowing the secret of the male and female temper:
. . . . . . . . . First let His mind be clouded by a slight disorder For, conscious of his manhood he will never Wear women's garb; insane, he's sure to wear it.
Pentheus, recognising in Dionysus the foe of a more spiritual conception of the law, the effeminate stranger who had driven the women to madness, is torn to pieces by the frenzied bacchantes who fall upon him, led by Agave, his mother, and sacrificed to the bull-god Dionysus. At the conclusion of this strange and profound epos, Agave recovers her senses and curses the acts which she has committed in her madness ... women submit to the new spiritual dispensation. We realise now why Hera, the tutelary goddess of the newly introduced monogamous system, hated Dionysus and attempted to kill him before he was born.
The subject treated in the beautiful myth of Orpheus is the relationship between the primitive sexual impulse and its individualisation on a single personality. For seven months Orpheus bewails the death of Eurydice and regards all other living creatures with indifference. This loyalty offends and infuriates the women of Thracia, who divine in it a spirit inimical to a life in harmony with nature. One night, during the celebration of the Dionysian rites, they attack the poet—the representative of the higher Hellenic poetical ideals—and rend him limb from limb. But as the head of the murdered singer floats down the river, the pale lips still frame the beloved name: Eurydice! It is certain that in those remote legendary days such love did not exist. But the prophetic Greek spirit contrasted promiscuous intercourse with love for a single woman.
So far we have encountered only a general, not an individualised, sexual instinct and, in a limited measure at least, a struggling tendency towards individualisation. But even so it was merely a question of instinct, and did not bear the least resemblance to love as we understand it to-day. Love did not exist in the old world. I admit that in the legend of Orpheus we are face to face with a sentiment which is not unlike modern love, but, as far as I am aware, this is an isolated case in Greek history, and may be regarded as a divination of something new, just as we find unmistakable anticipations of Christianity in Plato's writings. Such phenomena—the occasional occurrence of which I do not altogether deny, although I regard them as on the whole improbable as far as the sphere of my research is concerned—are not infrequently met with in history, but their effect upon civilisation was nil; they were presentiments, incomprehensible in their day, and for this very reason probably preserved as curiosities.
In spite of the fact, however, that in those far-off days spiritual love of a man for a woman was unknown, we find Plato contrasting "a base and degraded Eros with a divine Eros." Pausanias says in the "Symposium":
"The man who loves with his senses only, loves women and boys equally well. He loves the body more than the soul.... His only striving is to obtain the object of his desire, and he cares not whether it be worthy or unworthy. The Eros he worships is the ally of that younger goddess in whom male and female attributes are blended. But the other Eros is the companion of Aphrodite, Urania, the divine; unbegotten by a father, unconceived by a mother, she is the offspring of the male element, the elder one, unstained by passion.... The sensualist who loves the body more than the soul is base. His love passes away like the object of his passion. But the companion of the Olympic goddess is the Eros who fills the hearts of the lovers with the longing for virtue. The other Eros is the confederate of the debased Aphrodite." And Aristophanes, another of the participators in the feast, says: "The yearning does not seem to be a desire for the pleasures of the senses, the one taking delight in his intercourse with the other; far from it, it is obvious that each soul is craving for something which it cannot express in words, but can only divine and conjecture." And the mysterious Diotima revealed to Socrates an entirely novel principle in erotic life; the principle which guides man beyond the pleasures of the senses and—through love—leads him to the divine. "The slave of his senses runs after women; but he who loves with his soul and strives to win immortality through virtue and wisdom, seeks a great and beautiful soul that he may surrender himself to it completely." But in the opinion of the classical ages, a beautiful soul was only to be found in the body of a man; woman belonged to the lower, animal spheres; she was destined for the pleasure of the senses and the propagation of the race. Plato's theory of ideas is the philosophical victory of the male-spiritual principle over nature, matter and their warden: woman. (Perhaps it is even the revenge of the Greek genius for man's original enslavement.) "Love between men," continues the seer, "forms a stronger tie, a closer friendship, than love between parents and children; it has a mutual share in children which are immortal and far more beautiful than the children of men." She teaches Socrates that this noble love is at the root of all the magnificent creations of the spirit, as carnal love is the origin of human life. "Until he becomes aware that the beauty of all bodies is closely related, a man must love an individual with all his heart. If a man will follow after beauty, he is foolish not to conceive the beauty of all bodies as one and the same. As soon as he has learned this, he will become a lover of all beautiful forms; his fervent passion for one will diminish, he will scorn the individual and hold it cheap."
With the Hellenic homosexuality an element foreign and even hostile to the original and natural bi-sexual sensuality crept into the erotic life of the human race; it found its classical representation in the Platonic dialogues "Symposium" and "Phaedros." In conscious opposition to all sexuality Platonic love (what is usually called Platonic love is based on an obstinate misunderstanding) turns to the purely spiritual, that is to say, the conceptions of truth, beauty and goodness; it is a yearning for the supernatural, and it knows itself as the path to it. In the mutual love of all noble souls lies the germ of all higher things; it is the way to the gods of light which, in this connection, are conceived philosophically as ideas, though in the true Hellenic spirit as objective ideas, the prototypes and culminations of everything human. To grasp the meaning of Platonic love it is essential to realise that—unlike the spiritual woman-worship peculiar to the Middle Ages—it is not a personal feeling of one individual for another; platonically speaking, the love for an individual is only a first stage; the path which leads to the love of beauty and the eternal ideas. The characteristic of this metaphysical love which Plato was the first to conceive, was therefore love for the universal, and not love for an individual. The latter, as we shall find later on, is the characteristic of the true or, more modestly speaking, specifically European conception of love. Platonic love, finally, was the perception of perfection, the Socratic knowledge; its alpha and omega was not, as the mystic and true erotic would have it, its ardour and passion, the fulness of its own being. It had an alien purpose: the knowledge of things divine, by a later period Christianised and understood as the divine mysteries. To Plato, the essence and climax of antique, ante-Christian culture, every individual, even the beloved mistress, was but a preliminary, a finger-post, pointing the way to the perception of perfect beauty. True virtue is the outcome of profound knowledge; it transforms men into gods. The purely spiritual woman-worship of the Middle Ages was only another aspect of this yearning to attain to virtue and perfection through the love of an individual. We must not lose sight of the fact that it was already strongly emphasised and upheld in the Platonic ideal of love.
In the dark excesses of the Mysteries the beauty of the human form counted for nothing; voluptuousness and intoxication ruled. In the Asiatic cult of the sexes there was no room for beauty, no time for selection. The Greeks were the discoverers of the beauty of the human form. Beauty kindled the flame of love in their souls, beauty was the gauge which determined their erotic values. Their ideal was a kalokagathos, a youth beautiful in body and soul.
In "Phaedros" Plato contrasts with far greater force than in the "Symposium" him "who craves for sensual pleasure like the beasts in the fields" with him "who strives after beauty and perfection." To the latter "the face of the beloved is the reflection of the sublimely beautiful." He would like to sacrifice to her, as to the immortal gods. All beautiful bodies represent to him in an increasing measure the idea of the beauty of form, which again is subordinate to the beauty of the soul. It points the way to metaphysical beauty, the eternal and imperishable idea of mankind. Socrates could scorn the beauty of the individual because he saw in it merely an imperfect reflection of perfect beauty. In its truest sense Platonic love is, therefore, impersonal; it is not spiritual love for a human being, but a peculiar characteristic of the Greek cult of beauty. We shall again meet this principle of beauty-worship in metaphysical love, the adoration of woman; thanks to Plato, it has for all time become the inalienable property of the human mind. The striving to rise above all individualism was another ideal which a later period revived. But the pivot round which the emotions revolved was the love for a beloved individual, the modern, European, fundamental motive, as opposed to the antique Platonic cult of ideas. Thus Plato, too, was a citizen of the old world, at whose threshold stood universal sexual intercourse, tolerating nothing personal, knowing of no individuals, acknowledging only unchecked, uncontrollable instinct, and whose decline was again characterised by the extreme impersonality of ideas. It had traversed the path of human existence in a huge cycle. Starting from an unconscious existence in complete harmony with nature, it had passed through individualised man to the loftiest spiritual conceptions in the impersonal world of ideas.
The Hellenic ideal of beauty was almost invariably realised in the male form. The Greeks of the classical period disdained woman; she was for them inseparably connected with base sensuality, but their contempt had its source partly in a feeling of horror. The days when matriarchy was the form of government were not very remote; it survived in a great number of myths and also, subconsciously perhaps, in the soul of man. To the Greek mind woman was the embodiment of the dark side of love, and it was merely the logical conclusion of this conception when, at a later period, she was regarded as the devil's tool. It is certain that the origin of the idea must be sought in Plato's time.
In intercourse with women man dimly felt the vague elementary condition from which he had struggled hard to emerge, and fled to the more familiar companions of his own sex. Would not love between man and man deliver him from the basely sensual, strengthen his spirituality and lead him to the gods? In this connection Zeus is called in "Phaedros" [Greek: philios], the maker of friendships. Plato, in propounding this doctrine, drew thereby the most radical conclusion of the new, apparently male, but at heart hermaphroditic ideal of civilisation, conceived in the heroic epoch and elaborated and brought to perfection by the Greek of classical times. This ideal was the victory of the spiritual principle over promiscuous sexuality and irresponsible propagation and, quite in the true Hellenic spirit, it was again interpreted materially.
Because individualised love was an unknown quantity to the ancients, they ornamented their sarcophagi with symbols of ecstatic life, with dancing and embracing fauns and maenads. Generations passed away, but new ones arose, embracing and begetting life—for life was eternal. Death was vanquished in the ecstasy of the nameless millions, for the true meaning of life lay in the preservation of the species. The death of the individual did not have a deep and poignant meaning until the soul had become the centre and climax of life. An individual had passed away for ever—nothing could recall him. Death had become the final issue, the terror, because it destroyed the greatest of all things: self-conscious man. But love, too, had changed; it was no longer sexual impulse, depending on the body and perishing with it, but a craving of the soul, conscious of itself and stretching out feelers far beyond the earth. A new pang had come into the world, but also a new reconciliation.
THE SECOND STAGE: LOVE
THE BIRTH OF EUROPE
The memory of the figure and preaching of Christ had so powerfully influenced the centuries that it had gradually permeated and transformed not only the Platonic doctrine of ideas—that maturest fruit of Greek wisdom—but also the Semitic mediaeval monotheism. Something new had sprung into being, something which expressed a hitherto unknown feeling for life and for humanity, vague and uncertain in the beginning, but growing in clearness and uniformity. On the throne of the Roman emperors sat a bishop, whose power was increasing with the development of the new civilisation, and whom the final victory of the new transcendental world-principle had made master of the world. The building up of this new civilisation had absorbed the intellectual force of a thousand years; it had monopolised thought and every form of energy. The reward was great. For the first time in the annals of the world the questionings of brooding intelligence were fully answered, the anguish of the tortured soul was stilled. The purpose of the universe, the destiny of man, were comprehended and interpreted, good and evil being finally known. At the close of the first Christian millenary, all moral and intellectual values were grouped round and dominated by one supreme ideal; the loftiest value in this world and the next, side by side with the greatest secular power, were in the hands of the Church; together with the imperium she had succeeded to the spiritual and ethical inheritance of the dead civilisations. Without her uncouth barbarism reigned, and it was her task, while elaborating the system of the universe for which she stood, to teach and convert the new nations, to spread a uniform Christian civilisation.
On the mere face of it it must seem strange that a religion which had grown on foreign soil, out of foreign spiritual assumptions, should have been accepted so readily and quickly by nations to whom it must have been alien and unintelligible. The love of war and valour of the Teutonic tribes and Christian asceticism were diametrically opposed ideals, and very often their relationship was one of direct hostility. I need only remind the reader of the contempt expressed for the chaplain by Hagen (in the "Song of the Niebelungen"). On the other hand, the ancient Celtic and Teutonic races shared one profound characteristic with the Christian world, the consequences of which were sufficiently far-reaching to raise the religion of Christ to the religion of Europe. The characteristic common to the still uncultivated European spirit and Christianity, and meaningless alike to the Asiatic barbarians, the Jews of the Old Testament and the Greeks, was the importance which both attached to the individual soul. Through the Christian religion this new intuition which saw in the soul of man the highest of values, became the centre and pivot of life and faith—a position to which even Plato, to whom the objective, metaphysical idea was the essential, never attained. It had been the most personal experience of Christ, and centuries after his death the nations rediscovered it as their highest value. It entitled Christianity to become the natural religion of Europe, and the soul of its new system of civilisation. It formed the most complete contrast to all Asiatic cults, Brahminism and Buddhism, a fact which, since Schopenhauer, one is inclined to overlook. To the Indian, the soul of man is not an entity; his consciousness is a republic, as it were, composed of diverse spiritual principles and metaphysical forces which are not centralised into an "I-centre," but exist impersonally, side by side. This may be a great conception, but it is foreign to the feeling of the citizen of Europe. To the latter the I, the soul, the personality, is the pivot round which life turns. The evolution of the European world-feeling is in the direction of the independent development of all psychical forces and their fusion into a unity of ever-increasing intimacy. New values will be created, but the fusing power of the soul will strive with growing intensity to co-ordinate and unify the internal and external life; personality will recreate the world in conformity with its own purposes, that is to say, it will found the system of objective civilisation. The incapacity of the Indian to produce a civilisation perfect in every direction is explained by his one-sided, morally-speculative thought. The world is to him nothing but a moral phenomenon, he admits no other explanation; he seeks its true meaning and the possibility of its salvation in the realisation of the vanity of life, not in the liberating deed, and not in the inward change.
The kernel of matured and spiritualised Christianity, which reached its apex in the German mystics, lies in the soul of man, eager to shed everything which is subjective and accidental, and become spirit, profound, divine reality. Eckhart, the great perfecter of this European religion, deliberately and in direct contradiction to the dogma of his time, placed man above the "highest angels," whom he considered subject to limitations; "man," he argues, "thanks to his freedom, is able to reach a goal to which no angel could aspire. For he is always new, infinitely exalted above the limitations of the angels and all finite reason." Of the relationship between the soul and God he says; "The soul of the righteous man shall be with God, his equal and compeer, no more and no less." The Upanishads, on the other hand, maintain that the core of the world is not to be found in the soul of the individual but in Brahma, the universal soul, outside whom there is no reality. "The individual soul is but a phantasm of the universal soul, as the reflection of the sun in the water is but a phantasm of the sun." The sole purpose of the world is the extinction of individual consciousness, its absorption in Brahma, the end of all suffering: "When feeling has ceased, pain must cease, too, and the world be delivered." The Indian lacks the central conception of love, for which he substitutes knowledge. Primitive Christianity conceived the connection between body and soul, the encumbering of the soul by the body, as it were, as a temptation or a punishment; according to the Vedas, it is merely a delusion to which the sage is not subject. Before his keen vision, the deception falls to the ground, and by this very fact he is delivered. To the feeling of Europe and Christianity, however, life and the universe are genuine, deep realities, the touchstone of the soul. Love is the soul's greatest treasure and the only true path to God; knowledge can never take its place. "The divine stream of love flowing through the soul," says Eckhart, "carries the soul along with it to its origin, to the bourne of all knowledge, to God."
The very general identification of the Christian and Indian mystics—a fact which is accounted for by their common metaphysical tendency—is based on an error; Indian mysticism and Christian mysticism originated in different concepts; here the centre of all being is laid in love and in the soul of man, there it is contained in knowledge and in Brahma. But ultimately, at the termination of the world-process, they will meet, although coming from different directions. "While the soul worships a God, realises a God and knows of a God," says Eckhart, "it is separated from God. This is God's purpose, to annihilate Himself in the soul, so that the soul, too, shall lose itself. For God has been called God by the creatures." The words "The soul creates God from within, is connected with the divine and becomes divine itself," are highly significant. To the Vedantist the soul of man is an emanation from the world-soul: "Although God differs from the individual soul, the individual soul does not differ from God." At this point it is no longer an easy matter to distinguish the feeling of the Christian mystic from the feeling of the Brahmin; though their valuations of man, life and the world differ, nay, are even opposed to each other, they finally meet in God. We read in the Vedanta: "The force which created and maintains the universe, the eternal principle of all being, dwells entirely and undividedly in every one of us. Our self is identical with the supreme deity and only apparently differentiated from it. Whosoever has mastered this truth has become at one with all creation; whosoever has not mastered it, is a stranger and a foe to all creatures."
I do not intend to depreciate Indian wisdom; I merely desire to point out its inherent dissimilarity to Western thought; my task of laying hold of the spirit of Europe in its crises and watching its growth is bound to be advanced by this division.
The religious experience of Christ, based on the realisation of the divine nature of the soul, and the road of the soul to God, has established the fundamental Western principle. A world-system was built up which emanated from the innermost depth of the individual soul and, very consistently, related all existing things, heaven and earth, the creation and the destruction of the world, salvation and perdition, to the soul of man. This was achieved with the aid of a naive metaphysic, created by the Greek genius and externalised by the crude intellect of barbarians; this metaphysic drew its whole content from a unique revelation, and the essential was frequently hidden by dialectic and speculation. One may safely say that the first millenary strove, if not exactly to set aside the original principle of Christianity, yet to bind it by dogma in such a way that it often became completely obscured. A long training was necessary before the immature nations of barbarians were fit to become citizens of the spiritual world, before they could fully assimilate the new traditions and grasp their innermost meaning, which by this very fact became altered and modified. This process of education came to a temporary conclusion about the year 1100. At last the European nations had outgrown the guardianship of the Church with its antiquated methods; a new, a creative epoch was dawning; the civilisation of Europe, opposed to all barbarism and orientalism, rose like a brilliant star on the horizon of the world. Spontaneous feeling for the race, for nature and for the divine verities had again become possible.
I shall have to exceed the limits of my subject in this chapter, for I propose showing the seeds from which, in the time of the Crusades, the new soul of the European, throwing off the lethargy of the first Christian millenary, began to grow with extraordinary vigour and rapidity; that new soul which experienced a wider, if not deeper, unfolding in the period of the Renascence, and to this day pervades and fertilises our spiritual life. I might have been less digressive, but I hope that two reasons will justify my prolixity; the first is the great importance of the subject from the point of view of a history of civilisation, and the second and more particular one is its close inner relationship to my principal theme. For, in complete contrast with the sexuality on which heretofore the relationship between husband and wife had been based, a new feeling, that of spiritual love, had come into existence and quickly reached its climax. Projected not only on the other sex, but also on God and on nature, it permeated the age and explains its great and unprecedented manifestations: the spiritual love between man and woman (which deteriorated later on into the deification of woman), the new religion of the German mystics, the awakening appreciation of the beauty of nature, the sudden outburst of German poetry—no sooner born than it reached perfection—the specifically European Gothic architecture, so completely independent of the old art. All these new creations had their origin in the strange craving of the period for something novel and romantic, something hitherto unknown. This longing begot the ideal of chivalry and a wealth of half human, half preter-human conceptions, such as the Holy Sepulchre and the Holy Grail. And all at once, something unprecedented, something of which the race had as yet no experience, had come to pass: love, which had nothing in common with sensuality, which was even deliberately hostile to it, love which welled up in one soul and flowed into the other—presupposing personality—love was there! If, therefore, I have gone into detail, I hope that it has served to elucidate the principal theme of this part of my book, namely, the spiritual part of man for woman aspiring to the metaphysical, which is so alien to our modern feeling.
It is necessary to begin by sketching a background which shall set off the new phenomenon. The spiritual achievement of the first millenary was the construction of the Christian system of the universe the Church had complete knowledge of all things in heaven and earth—symbols merely of the eternal verities; her wisdom almost equalled divine wisdom, for the secrets of life and death had been revealed and surrendered to her; St. Chrysostom's words uttered in the fourth century, "The Church is God," had become a fact. The profoundest wisdom, the greatest power, were hers; the loftiest ideal had been realised as it has never been realised before or since. As the wisdom of the Church had been a direct gift of God, so her power, too, had divine origin and reached beyond this earthly life. The Church alone held the key to eternal bliss, her curse meant everlasting damnation. To be excommunicated was to be bereaved of temporal and eternal happiness. A man who had been excommunicated was worse off than a wild beast; he was surrendered to the devils in hell, and he knew it. There was but one road to salvation: to do penance and humbly submit to the Church. This has been symbolised for all times by the memorable submission of the Roman-German emperor, who stood for three days, barefooted and fasting, in the snow in the courtyard of Canossa, before he was received back into the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God was synonymous with the Church; Jews and pagans were the natural children of the devil, but the dissenter, the heretic who dared to question a single proposition of the divine system, or was bold enough to think on original lines—in other words in contradiction to tradition—voluntarily turned his back on God, and with seeing eyes went into the kingdom of the devil. He was wholly evil, and no earthly punishment fitted his crime. The emperor Theodosius, as far back as A.D. 380, had called such heretics "insane and demented," and the burning of their bodies at the stake which prevented their souls from falling into the hands of the devil, was looked upon as a great and undeserved mercy. But not only during their lifetime, but after their death, too, the hand of the Church fell heavily on all those who had strayed beyond her pale; their bodies were dragged from their graves and thrown into the carrion-pit. A man whom the Church had excommunicated was buried in the cemetery of a German convent. The Archbishop of Mayence ordered the exhumation of the body, threatening to interdict divine service in the convent if his command were disobeyed. But the abbess, Hildegarde of Bingen (1098-1179), a woman of great mental power and an inspired seer, opposed him. Having received a direct message from God, she wrote to the bishop as follows: "Conforming to my custom, I looked up to the true light, and God commanded me to withhold my consent to the exhumation of the body, because He Himself took the dead man from the pale of the Church, so that He might lead him to the beatitude of the blessed.... It were better for me to fall into the hands of man than to disobey the command of my Lord." The saint had interpreted the will of God, and the archbishop, sanctioning a sudden rumour that the deceased had received absolution at the eleventh hour, yielded. But the bishop's yielding by no means countenanced the belief that God might, for once, tolerate the body of an excommunicate in sacred ground, far from it—the vision of the abbess Hildegarde had merely served to correct an error.
All those who dared to oppose the clergy by word or deed were doomed to everlasting perdition—this was a fact which it were futile to doubt; at the most, a man shrugged his shoulders at certain damnation for the sake of mundane pleasures—a rich legacy in the hour of death might save him. Not infrequently the fear of the devil was transformed into indifference, and sometimes even into demonolatry. A single ungodly thought might involve eternal death, and as many a man, more particularly many a priest, realised his inability to live continuously in the presence of God, he surrendered his soul to the anti-god, not from a longing for the pleasures of the senses, but from despair. The worship of the devil, far from being an invention of fanatical monks, actually existed, and was often the last consolation of those who held themselves forsaken by God. The hierarchy did not hesitate a moment to make the utmost use or the power conferred upon them by the mental attitude of the people. The government of kings and princes, in addition to the ecclesiastical government, could only be a transient, sinful condition; the time was bound to come when the pope would be king of the earth, and the great lords of the world his vassals, appointed by him to keep the wicked world in check, and deposed by him if he found them incapable, worshippers of the devil, or disobedient to the Church. The whole world was a hierarchy whose apex reached heaven and bore, as the representative of its invisible summit, the pope. He stood, to quote Innocent III., "in the middle, between God and humanity." The same great pope has left us a document entitled On the Contempt of the World, which treats of the absolute futility of all things mundane. There is no reason to look upon the union of this unquenchable thirst for power and complete "other-worldiness" as a contradiction. The kingdom of God, Augustine's Civitas Dei, must of necessity be established that the destiny of the world may be fulfilled. Every pope must account to God for his share in the advancement of the only work which mattered, and the greater the power the ruler of this world had acquired over the souls of men, the more he trembled before God, weighed down by the burden of his enormous responsibility. "The renunciation of the world in the service of the world-ruling Church, the mastery of the world in the service of renunciation, this was the problem and ideal of the middle ages" (Harnack). But not only the pope, every priest, as a direct member of the kingdom of God, was superior to the secular rulers. This was taught emphatically by the great St. Bernard of Clairvaux, for instance, and Gregory VII., the wildest fanatic of the kingdom of God, said, in writing to a German bishop: "Who then who possesses even small knowledge and reasoning power, could hesitate to place the priests above the kings?" Even the emperor Constantine, though he was still largely under the sway of the imperial idea, distinctly acknowledged the bishops as his masters; according to the legend he handed to the Bishop of Rome the insignia of his power, sceptre, crown and cloak, and humbly held the bridle of the prelate's horse.
The theoretic backbone of this mental attitude was the doctrine of the Fathers of the Church and the older scholasticism, pronouncing the illimitable power of human perception; the world's profoundest depths had been fathomed, its riddle finally solved; there was consequently no room for philosophy, the endless meditation on the meaning of the world and the destiny of man. Science had but one task: to bring logical proof of the revealed religious verities. The greatest champion of this view was Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109), who in his treatise, Cur Deus Homo proved that God was compelled to become man in order to complete the work of salvation. Abelard preached a similar doctrine, but carried away by the fervour of thought, arrived at conclusions which he was forced to recant ignominiously; for at the end of his chain of evidence he did not always find the foregone conclusion which should have been there. This system of a final and infallible knowledge of the world is the very foundation of ecclesiastical government. The priest alone has all knowledge, for he has the doctrine of salvation. Had it occurred to any man to defend his own opinions in contradiction to the system of the Church, that man would speedily have come to the conclusion that the devil had tempted him to false observations, or false deductions, and his submission to the Church would have been the outward sign of his victory over the evil which had blinded his spiritual vision. A man had to choose between the worship of God and the worship of the devil, there was no alternative. Nobody knew the limits of human knowledge; everybody, the learned ecclesiastic as well as the unlearned, plain man, believed others to be in possession of the key to profound secrets and unlimited power. One thing only was needful: to possess one's self of the philosopher's stone; therefore the belief in witchcraft and the fear of certain men supposed to be endowed with supernatural power—the priests—were but the obvious results of a world-system, founded on a revealed and exact religion.
The Latin poets, whose study would probably have counteracted the universal barbarism, were regarded as dangerous, the gods of antiquity being identified with the demons of the Scriptures. This view was responsible for the loss of many a valuable manuscript. The favourite haunts of the demons were the convents, originally designed as battlefields on which the struggles with the demons were to be fought out, but frequently perishing in superstition and ignorance. Every monk had visions of devils; miracles occurred continually; the torturing problem was as to whether they were worked by God or the devil. Nature was merely a collection of mystic symbols, divine—or perhaps diabolical—allegories, whose meaning could be discovered by a correct interpretation of the Bible. Everything which could possibly happen was recorded in the Scriptures; they contained the true explanation of all things. It was only a matter of selecting the right word and interpreting it correctly, for every word was ambiguous and allegorical. Every natural occurrence—an eclipse of the sun, a comet, or even a fire—stood for something else; it was the symbol of a spiritual event concealed behind a phenomenon. The allegorical interpretation of the Bible was carried to the point of abstruseness because every word was considered of necessity to have an unfathomably profound meaning. The following amazing interpretation is by the highly-gifted German poet and mystic, Suso: "Among the great number of Solomon's wives was a black woman whom the king loved above all others. Now what does the Holy Ghost mean by this? The charming black woman in whom God delights more than in any other, is a man patiently bearing the trials which God sends him." Abelard's interpretation of the black woman is even worse; he maintained that though she was black outside, her bones, that is her character, were white. A really remarkable deed of bad taste was committed by the monk, Matfre Ermengau, the author of the Breviari d'Amor, at a time when civilisation had already made considerable strides. He sent his sister a Christmas present, consisting of a honey-cake, mead, and a roast capon, accompanied by the following letter: "The mead is the blood of Christ, the honey-cake and the capon are His body, which for our salvation was baked and pierced at the Cross. The Holy Ghost baked the cake in the Virgin's womb, in which the sugar of His divinity amalgamated with the dough of our humanity. In the Virgin's womb the Holy Ghost also spiced the mead and prepared it from wine; the spice is divine virtue, the wine is human blood. In addition He caused the holy capon to issue from the egg; the yolk of the egg is the deity, the white is humanity, the shell is the womb of the Virgin Mary ...," etc.
The religion of Christ was lost, man had become a stranger to his own soul—celestial warnings, signs of the Judgment Day, daemonic temptations, surrounded him, as far as he paid heed to anything super-sensuous on all sides. The French chronicler, Radulf Glaber (about A.D. 1000), might have been writing a satire on antiquity when he warned his contemporaries of the demons lurking everywhere, but more especially dwelling in trees and fountains. Of a learned man who was studying the classic poets, he said: "This man, confused by the magic of evil spirits, had the impudence to propound doctrines contradictory to our holy faith. In his opinion everything the ancient poets had maintained was true. Peter, the bishop of the town, condemned him as a heretic. At that time there were many men in Italy believing this false doctrine; they perished by the sword or at the stake." We have a letter, written at the same time by Gerbert, who later on became Pope Sylvester II., to a friend, beseeching him to obtain for him manuscripts of the Latin philosophers and poets. He wrote textbooks of astronomy, geometry and medicine, and introduced the Arabic numbers and the decimal system into Europe. In consequence he, too, was accused of magic and intercourse with Arabian pagans. A chronicler relates that he sold his soul to the devil and became pope through the devil's agency; and that, when he was on the point of death, he ordered his body to be cut to pieces so that the devil should not carry it away.
To-day we find it difficult to realise such a state of mind. Every man of our period who takes the smallest interest in things spiritual—be he the most orthodox ecclesiastic—at least knows that there are capable people in the world whose opinions differ from his, who seek fresh knowledge; he knows it, even though he may pretend that they are people who have gone astray and have been abandoned by God. No one can be entirely blind to the new values created by human intellect. But the men of the Middle Ages were swayed by a monstrous dualism, and despite their belief in the illimitable power of human cognition, they unquestioningly accepted the sacred tradition and rejected the naive evidence of the senses and intellect whenever it seemed to contradict the dogma. Thus mediaeval science did not represent what it represented in antiquity, and what it represents now, the study of the true relationship of things, but rather the application of truths revealed once and for all. There was nothing more to be discovered, and therefore scientists took a delight in logical and dialectical speculations which to a man of our day seem senseless and childish. Far into the Renascence, natural history was a medley of ancient traditions, oriental fables and superficial observations. The strangest qualities were attributed to animals with which we come almost daily into contact. The following quotations are culled from a Provencal book on zoology: "The cricket is so pleased with its song that it forgets to feed and dies singing." "When a snake catches sight of a nude man, it is so filled with fear that it does not dare to look at him; but if the man is dressed, the snake looks upon him as a weakling and springs upon him." "The adder guards the balsam; if a man desires to steal the balsam, he must first send the adder to sleep by playing on a musical instrument. But if the adder discovers that it is being duped, it closes one of its ears with its tail and rubs the other one against the ground until it is filled with earth; then it cannot hear the music and remains awake." "Of all animals there is none so dangerous as the unicorn; it attacks everybody with the horn which grows on the top of its head. But it takes such delight in virgins that the hunters place a maiden on its trail. As soon as the unicorn sees the maiden, it lays its head into her lap and falls asleep, when it may easily be caught." Of the magnet we learn among other things that it restores peace between husband and wife, softens the heart of all men and cures dropsy. "If a magnet is made into a powder and burnt on charcoal in the four corners of the house, the inhabitants imagine that they cannot keep on their legs and run away, sorely affrighted; thieves frequently profit by this fact. If a magnet is placed under the pillow of a sleeping woman, she is compelled, if she is virtuous, to embrace her husband in her sleep; if she has betrayed him, she will fall out of her bed with fear."