“The Code of Hammurabi” by Hammurabi

The Code of Hammurabi, one of the oldest surviving codes of law, was enacted by the sixth king of Babylon, Hammurabi. Like the Mosaic Law, a large portion of the code deals with property rights and family relations. The prominent feature of the code, however, is its emphasis on individual responsibility, imposing heavy penalties on neglect and sloth, from which even the judges and governors … Continue reading “The Code of Hammurabi” by Hammurabi

“The Rise of the Roman Empire” by Polybius

The Roman Constitution The Roman Constitution has three interdependent elements: monarchy (The Consuls), aristocracy (The Senate) and democracy (The Tribunes of the People). Their respective share of power in the whole state are regulated with a scrupulous regard to equality and equilibrium. This, according to Aristotle, is the golden mean of the form of government. Polybius attributes the original conception of this type of constitution … Continue reading “The Rise of the Roman Empire” by Polybius

“Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans I” by Plutarch

The Laws of Lycurgus Long before Adam Smith developed the idea that commerce was necessary for the accumulation of wealth, Lycurgus, the legendary Spartan lawgiver, had used this principle to curb the avarice of his countrymen, and laid down a constitution for one of the most eminent commonwealths in the ancient world. The Spartan Constitution, according to Plutarch, was also the model for Plato’s Republic, … Continue reading “Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans I” by Plutarch

“Cyropaedia” by Xenophon

He who rules himself well can rule the world. Plato writes in Republic that the principle of justice is the same for an individual as it is for a state. Therefore, the person who is eligible to govern a state must be a philosopher, i.e. lover of wisdom. Xenophon has found concrete expression of this ideal in the person of Cyrus, the founder of the … Continue reading “Cyropaedia” by Xenophon

“Bethink Yourselves” by Leo Tolstoy

Tolstoy wrote “Bethink Yourselves” in protest of the Russo-Japanese war, the first of a series of global wars in the 20th century. It happened six years before Tolstoy’s death and ten years before World War I. The title is a reference to verses in the Gospels (Mark 1:5, Luke 13:5, etc), which are alternatively translated as “Repent”. This article and his treatise “The Kingdom of … Continue reading “Bethink Yourselves” by Leo Tolstoy

“On the Significance of Science and Art” by Leo Tolstoy

Ever since men have been in existence, they have been in the habit of deducing, from all pursuits, the expressions of various branches of learning concerning the destiny and the welfare of man, and the expression of this knowledge has been art in the strict sense of the word. Ever since men have existed, there have been those who were peculiarly sensitive and responsive to … Continue reading “On the Significance of Science and Art” by Leo Tolstoy