CHINA CONFUCIUS AND THE GREAT WALL

IN philosophic depth, Confucius cannot be compared with Buddha, and his practical teaching suffers from the universal fault of his countrymen, namely, the tendency to look backward instead of forward. His teachings were later expounded by Mencius (371-288 B.C.). The Chinese had yet another religion called Taoism which surpassed Confucianism in its attempt to explain the universe, but which was contaminated by superstitious practices. These religions were forced to take second place when Buddhism reached China in the first century B.C. The ordinary man, however, whatever his nominal creed, refused to give up his candles and his incense, and his prayers for help directed to his local deities. The Chinese early attained a high degree of civilisation, and then developed no further. Their system of education demanded a knowledge of the sacred books edited by Confucius. As these books harp on the twin virtues of filial piety and respect for the past, the people's lack of originality is not surprising. Nor did their language help to counteract this conservatism, consisting, as it did, of thousands of symbols, each of them representing a word or part of a word. Not even Babylonian, with its four or five hundred syllables, could be more difficult than this. Yet the people were not lacking in energy. They built roads and canals and made the land fertile. One of their kings in the third century B.C. built the Great Wall of China, 1500 miles long, to protect the northern countries from the raids of the nomad Huns, another Mongol tribe. Those who are accustomed to marvel at the remains of Roman roads and walls cannot deny that they appear quite insignificant compared with this gigantic feat of-construction. THE WEST ENTERS WORLD HISTORY : ROME IT was a fortunate event that geography placed Italy and 1. Greece back to back. Italy with a rugged east coast has all its good harbours on the west. Greece, on the other hand, faces east towards the ancient civilisations, and presents its mountainous west coast to Italy. Thus Greece was enabled to learn the rudiments of civilisation from Egypt and Babylon, and to develop its own culture before being absorbed by the military power of Rome. Italy offered an opportunity for the growth of larger associations than the Greek city-states. Three groups of peoples inhabited the country. There were the warlike and uncultured Indo-European tribes who had entered Italy in the second millennium B.C. ; the Etruscans, who held the whole of the west coast down to the Tiber, and lay across the whole breadth of Italy to the north of Rome ; and the prosperous Greek colonies in the south. The site of Rome lies fourteen miles from the mouth of the River Tiber, which flows into the Tuscan sea half way down the west coast of Italy. The advantages of this position were numerous. It was far enough from the sea to be safe from raiding pirates, and the hills on which the town was built rose up above the malarial swamps of the plain and kept away fevers and plagues. Here, moreover, the lowest practicable ford across the river made the city the centre of traffic routes from north to south. Rome's first appearance on the stage of history was not brilliant. Together with a group of tribes in the district called Latium, south of the Tiber, she was conquered by the Etruscans. Her native kings were expelled and a line of Etruscan rulers laboured to make the city prosperous. Republican sentiment later branded them as tyrants, but they gave Rome her military training and her passion for building, her religious system and her faith in divination. In 509 B.C. these kings were expelled by a rising of the native Latins, led by the tribal chiefs.