The Ruins of Empires has 90 ratings and 34 reviews. Owlseyes said: I’ve read the book some years ago: an amazing reflection on ancient civilizations. Ruins of Empire. Les Ruines, ou méditations sur les révolutions des empires ( ) by Constantin François Chasseboeuf, comte de Volney () is one . Or, Meditation on the Revolutions of Empires: Volney’s Answer to Dr. Priestley and a Biographical Notice by Count Daru. Prefaces; The Ruins of Empire.

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Here an opulent City once flourished; this was the seat of a powerful Empire. I will dwell in solitude amidst the ruins of cities: I will enquire of the monuments of antiquity, what was the wisdom of former ages: I will ask the ashes of legislators, what causes have erected and overthrown empires; what are the principles of national prosperity and misfortune: The plan of this publication was formed nearly ten years ago; and allusions to it may be seen in the Preface to Travels in Syria and Egypt, as well as at the end of that work, published in The performance was in some forwardness when the lf of in France interrupted it.

Volney’s Ruins: Or, Meditation on the Revolutions of Empires

Persuaded that a development of the theory of political truth could not sufficiently acquit a citizen of his debt to society, the author wished to add practice; and that particularly at a time when a single duins was of consequence in the defence of the general cause.

The same desire of public benefit which induced him ruijs suspend his work, has since engaged him to resume it; and though it may not possess the same merit as if it had appeared Edition: It is with this view he has endeavoured to give to these truths, hitherto treated as abstract, a form likely to gain them a reception.

It was found impossible not to shock the violent prejudices of some readers; but the work, so far from being the fruit of a disorderly and perturbed spirit, has been dictated by a sincere love of order and humanity.

After reading this performance it will be asked, how it was possible, into have had an idea of what did not take place till the year ?

The solution is simple: Solitary Ruins, sacred Tombs, ye mouldering and silent Walls, all hail! To you I address my Invocation. While the vulgar shrink from your aspect with secret terror, my heart finds in the contemplation a thousand delicious sentiments, a thousand admirable recollections. Pregnant, I may truly call you, with useful lessons, with pathetic and irresistible Edition: A while ago the whole world bowed the neck in silence before the tyrants that oppressed it; and yet in that hopeless moment you already proclaimed the truths that tyrants hold in abhorrence: From your caverns, whither the musing and anxious love of Liberty led me, I saw escape its venerable shade, and with unexpected felicity direct its flight, and marshal my steps the way to renovated France.

Tombs, what virtues and potency do you exhibit! Tyrants tremble at your aspect; you poison with secret alarm their impious pleasures; they turn from you with impatience, and, coward like, endeavour to forget you amid the sumptuousness of their palaces. It is you that bring home the rod of justice to the powerful oppressor; it is you that wrest the ill-gotten gold from the merciless extortioner, and avenge the cause of him that has none to help; you compensate the narrow enjoyments of the poor, by dashing with care the goblet of the rich; to the unfortunate you offer a last and inviolable Edition: The wise man looks towards you, and scorns to amass vain grandeur and useless riches with which he must soon part: Thus do you rein in the wild sallies of cupidity, calm the fever of tumultuous enjoyment, free Edition: We ascend the eminence you afford us, and, viewing with one glance the limits of nations and the succession of ages, are incapable of any affections but such as are sublime, and entertain no ideas but those of virtue and glory.

Ye Ruins, I will return once more to attend your lessons! I will resume my place in the midst of your wide Edition: I will leave the tragic scene of the passions, will love my species rather from recollection than actual survey, will employ my activity in promoting their happiness, and compose my own happiness of the pleasing remembrance that I have hastened theirs.


The Ruins: or a Survery of the Revolutions of Empires – Online Library of Liberty

Directing all my attention to what concerns the happiness of mankind in a state of society, I entered cities, and studied the manners of their inhabitants; I gained admission into palaces, and observed the conduct of those who govern; I wandered voolney the country, and examined the condition of the peasants: Every day I found in my route fields abandoned by the plough, villages deserted, and cities in ruins.

Frequently I met with antiquemonuments; wrecks of temples, palaces, and fortifications; pillars, aqueducts, sepulchres. By these objects my thoughts were directed to past ages, and my mind absorbed in serious and profound meditation. Arrived at Hamsa on the borders of the Orontes, and being at no great distance from the city of Palmyra, situated in the desert, I resolved to examine for myself its boasted monuments.

Constantin François de Chassebœuf, comte de Volney

After three days travel in barren solitude, and having passed cpunt a valley filled with vount and tombs, my Edition: It consisted of a countless multitude of superb columns standing erect, and which, like the avenues of our parks, extended in regular files farther than the eye could reach. Among these columns magnificent edifices were observable, some entire, others in a state half demolished.

The ground was covered on all sides with fragments of similar buildings, cornices, capitals, shafts, entablatures, and pilasters, all constructed of a marble of admirable whiteness and exquisite workmanship. After a walk of three quarters of an hour along these ruins, I voolney the inclosure of a vast edifice which had formerly been a temple dedicated to the sun; and I accepted the hospitality of some poor Arabian peasants, who had established their huts in the very area of the temple.

Volney, The Ruins, Contents

Here I resolved for some days to remain, that I might contemplate, at leisure, voljey beauty of so many stupendous works. Every day I visited some coynt the monuments which covered the plain; and one evening that, my off lost in reflection, I had Edition: The sun had just sunk below the horizon; a streak of red still marked the place of his descent, behind the distant mountains of Syria: The dusk increased, and already I could distinguish nothing more than the Edition: The solitariness of the situation, the serenity of evening, and the grandeur of the scene, impressed my mind with religious thoughtfulness.

The view of an illustrious city deserted, the remembrance of past times, their comparison with the present state of things, all combined volnney raise my heart to a strain of sublime meditations.

I sat down on the base of a column; and there, my elbow on my knee, and my head resting on my hand, sometimes turning my eyes towards the desert, and sometimes fixing them on the ruins, I sell into a profound reverie.

Here, said I to myself, an opulent em;ires once flourished; this was the seat of a powerful empire. Yes, these places, now so desert, a living multitude formerly animated, and an active crowd circulated in the streets which at present are so solitary. Within those walls, where a mournful silence reigns, the noise of the arts and the shouts of joy and festivity continually resounded.

These heaps of marble formed regular palaces, these prostrate pillars were the majestic ornaments of temples, these ruinous galleries present the outlines of public places.

There a numerous people assembled for the respectable duties of its worship, or the anxious cares of its subsistence: And now a mournful skeleton is all that subsists of this opulent city, and nothing remains of its powerful government but a vain and obscure remembrance!

To the tumultuous throng which crowded under these porticos, the solitude of death has succeeded. The silence of the tomb is substituted for the hum of public places. The opulence of a commercial city is changed into hideous poverty. The palaces of kings are become the receptacle of deer, and unclean reptiles inhabit the sanctuary of the Gods.

What glory is here eclipsed, and how many labours are annihilated! Thus perish the works of men, and thus do nations and empires vanish away!

The history of past times strongly presented itself to my thoughts. I called to mind those distant ages when twenty celebrated nations inhabited the country around me. I pictured to vlney the Assyrian on the banks of the Tygris, the Chaldean on Edition: I enumerated the kingdoms of Damascus and Idumea; of Jerusalem and Samaria; and the warlike states of the Philistines; and the commercial republics of Phenicia. This Syria, said I to myself, now almost depopulated, then contained a hundred flourishing cities, and abounded with towns, villages, and hamlets b.


Every where one might have seen cultivated fields, frequented roads, and crowded habitations. What are become of so many productions of the hand of man? Where are those ramparts of Nineveh, those walls of Babylon, those palaces empres Persepolis, those temples of Balbec and of Jerusalem?

Where are those fleets of Tyre, those dockyards of Arad, those work-shops of Sidon, and that multitude of mariners, pilots, merchants, and soldiers?

Where those husbandmen, those harvests, that picture of animated nature of which the earth seemed proud? I have traversed this desolate country, I have visited the places that were the Edition: I looked for those ancient people and their works, and all I could find was a faint trace, like mepires what the foot of a passenger leaves on the sand.

The temples are thrown down, the palaces demolished, the ports filled up, the towns destroyed, and the earth, stript of inhabitants, seems a dreary burying-place, For what cause is the fortune of these countries so empides changed? Why are so many cities destroyed? Why is not that ancient population re-produced and perpetuated? Thus absorbed in contemplation, new ideas continually presented themselves to conut thoughts.

Every thing, continued I, misleads my judgment, and fills my heart with trouble and uncertainty. Counr these countries enjoyed what constitutes the glory and felicity of mankind, they were an unbelieving people who inhabited them: Numerous flocks, fertile ot, abundant harvests, every thing that should have been the reward of piety, was in the hands of idolaters: The earth under these blessed hands produces only briars and wormwood.

Man sows in anguish, and reaps vexation and cares; war, famine, and pestilence, assault him in turn. Yet, are not these the children of the prophets? This Christian, pf Mussulman, this Jew, are they not the elect of Heaven, loaded with gifts empirea miracles? Why then is this race, beloved of the Divinity, deprived of the favours which were formerly showered upon the Edition: Why do these lands, consecrated by the blood of the martyrs, no longer boast their former temperature and fertility?

Why have those favours been banished as it were, and ot for so many ages to other nations and different climes? I recollected its fields so richly cultivated, its roads so admirably executed, its towns inhabited by an immense multitude, its ships scattered over every ocean, its ports filled with the produce of either India; and comparing the activity of its commerce, the extent of its navigation, the magnificence of its buildings, the arts and industry of its inhabitants, with all that Egypt and Syria Edition: But the charm of my reverie was presently dissolved by the last step in the comparison.

Reflecting that if the places before me had once exhibited this animated picture: The idea brought tears into my eyes; and covering my head with the flap of my garment, I gave myself up to the most gloomy meditations on human affairs.

A mysterious God exercises his incomprehensible judgments! In the mean time a noise struck my ear, like to the agitation of a flowing robe, and the slow steps of a foot, upon the dry and rustling grass. Alarmed, I drew my mantle from my head; and casting round me a timid glance, suddenly, by the obscure light of the moon, through the pillars and ruins of a temple, I thought I saw, at my left, a pale apparition, enveloped in an immense drapery, similar to what spectres are painted when issuing out of the tombs.

I shuddered; and while in this troubled state, I was hesitating whether to fly, or ascertain the reality of the vision, a hollow voice, in grave and solemn accents, thus addressed me:. How long will man importune the heavens with unjust complaint?

How long, with vain clamours, will he accuse Fate as the author of his calamities? Will he then never open his Edition: This truth every where presents itself in radiant brightness; and he does not see it!

Empirds voice of reason strikes his ear; and he does not hear it! And you, sacred temples! What is this blind fatality, that, without order or laws, sports with the lot of mortals? What this unjust necessity, which confounds the issue of emoires, be they those of prudence or those of folly?