Philosophical Europe ||| The Political Progress ||| European Witness ||| EU News
European Forum ||| Special Homages: Meister Eckhart / David Copperfield
From Hutton Webster's, Early European History (1917); edited for this on-line publication, by ELLOPOS
VII. THE LATER EMPIRE: CHRISTIANITY IN THE ROMAN WORLD, 180-395 A.D.
» Contents of this ChapterPage 21
CHRISTIAN INFLUENCE ON SOCIETY
MORAL TEACHINGS OF CHRISTIANITY
The new religion certainly helped to soften and refine manners by the stress which it laid upon such "Christian" virtues as humility, tenderness, and gentleness. By dwelling on the sanctity of human life, Christianity did its best to repress the very common practice of suicide as well as the frightful evil of infanticide. It set its face sternly against the obscenities of the theater and the cruelties of the gladiatorial shows. In these and other respects Christianity had much to do with the improvement of ancient morals.
SOCIAL TEACHINGS OF CHRISTIANITY
Perhaps even more original contributions of Christianity to civilization lay in its social teachings. The belief in the fatherhood of God implied a corresponding belief in the brotherhood of man. This doctrine of the equality of men had been expressed before by ancient philosophers, but Christianity translated the precept into practice. In this way it helped to improve the condition of slaves and, by favoring emancipation, even tended to decrease slavery. Christianity also laid much emphasis on the virtue of charity and the duty of supporting all institutions which aimed to relieve the lot of the poor, the sick, and the downtrodden.
CHRISTIANITY AND THE GERMANS
At the close of the fourth century the Germanic tribes living nearest the frontiers had been visited by missionaries and had become converts to Christianity. The fact that both Romans and Germans were Christians tended to lessen the terrors of the invasions and to bring about a peaceful fusion of the conquerors and the conquered.
Cf. The Ancient Greece * The Ancient Rome
Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) * Western Medieval Europe * Renaissance in Italy