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1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

Charity And Charities

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The word " charity," or love, represents the principle of the good life. It stands for a mood or habit of mind and an endeavour. From it, as a habit of mind, springs the social and personal endeavour which in the widest sense we may call charity. The two correspond. Where the habit of mind has not been gained, the endeavour fluctuates and is relatively purposeless. In so far as it has been gained, the endeavour is founded on an intelligent scrutiny of social conditions and guided by a definite purpose. In the one case it is realized that some social theory must be found by us, if our action is to be right and consistent; in the other case no need of such a theory is felt. This article is based on the assumption that there are principles in charity or charitable work, and that these can be ascertained by a study of the development of social conditions, and their relation to prevalent social aims and religious or philosophic conceptions. It is assumed also that the charity of the religious life, if rightly understood, cannot be inconsistent with that of the social life.

Perhaps some closer definition of charity is necessary. The words that signify goodwill towards the community and its members are primarily words expressive of the affections of family life in the relations existing between parents, and between parent and child. As will be seen, the analogies underlying such phrases as " God the Father," " children of God," " brethren," have played a great part in the development of charitable thought in pre-Christian as well as in Christian days. The germ, if we may say so, of the words (AcXia, hy6,iro 7, amor, love; amicitia, friendship, is the sexual or the parental relation. With the realization of the larger life in man the meaning of the word expands. Caritas, or charity, strikes another note - high price, and thus dearness. It is charity, indeed, expressed in mercantile metaphor; and it would seem that it was associated in thought with the word ? cams, which has also a commercial meaning, but signifies as well favour, gratitude, grate, kindness. Partly thus, perhaps, it assumed and suggested a nobler conception; and sometimes, as, for instance, in English ecclesiastical documents, it was spelt charitas. `Ayairn, which in the Authorized Version of the Bible is translated charity, was used by St Paul as a translation of the Hebrew word hesed, which in the Old Testament is in the same version translated " mercy " - as in Hosea vi. 6, " I desired mercy, and not sacrifice." This word represents the charity of kindness and goodness, as distinguished from almsgiving. Almsgiving, sedagah, is translated by the word iXEmuocinm in the Septuagint, and in the Authorized Version by the word " righteousness." It represents the deed or the gift which is due - done or made, not spontaneously, but under a sense of religious obligation. In the earlier Christian period the word almsgiving has this meaning, and was in that sense applied to a wide range of actions and contracts, from a gift to a beggar at a church door to a grant and a tenure of land. It also, in the word almoner, represented the fulfilment of the religious obligation with the aid of an agent or delegate. The words charity or love ( caritas or ayairr i), on the other hand, without losing the tone with which the thought of parental or family love inspires them, assume a higher meaning. In religious thought they imply an ideal life, as represented by such expressions as " love ( agape) of God." This on the one side; and on the other an ideal social relation, in such words as " love of man." Thus in the word " charity " religious and social associations meet; and thus regarded the word means a disciplined and habitual mood in which the mind is considerate of the welfare of others individually and generally, and devises what is for their real good, and in which the intelligence and the will strive to fulfil the mind's purpose. Charity thus has no necessary relation to relief or alms. To give a lecture, or to nurse a sick man who is not in want or " poor," may be equally a deed of charity; though in fact charity concerns itself largely with the classes usually called " the poor," and with problems of distress and relief. Relief, however, is not an essential part of charity or charitable work. It is one of many means at its disposal. If the world were so poor that no one could make a gift, or so wealthy that no one needed it, charity - the charity of life and of deeds - would remain.

The history of charity is a history of many social and religious theories, influences and endeavours, that have left their mark alike upon the popular and the cultivated thought of the present day. The inconsistencies of charitable effort and argument may thus in part be accounted for. To understand the problem of charity we have therefore (I) to consider the stages of charitable thought - the primitive, pagan, Greek and Roman, Jewish and Christian elements, that make up the modern consciousness in regard to charity, and also the growth of the habit of " charity " as representing a gradually educated social instinct. (2) We have also to consider in their relation to charity the results of recent investigations of the conditions of social life. (3) At each stage we have to note the corresponding stage of practical administration in public relief and private effort - for the division between public or " poor-law " relief and charity which prevails in England is, comparatively speaking, a novelty, and, generally speaking, the work of charity can hardly be appreciated or understood if it be considered without reference to public relief. (4) As to the present day, we have to consider practical suggestions in regard to such subjects as charity and economic thought, charity organization, friendly visiting and almonership, co-operation with the poor-law, charity and thrift, parochial management, hospitals and medical relief, exceptional distress and the " unemployed," the utilization of endowments and their supervision, and their adaptation to new needs and emergencies. (5) We have also throughout to consider charitable help in relation to classes of dependants, who appear early in the history of the question - widows and orphans, the sick and the aged, vagrants and wayfarers.

First in the series come the charities of the family and of hospitality; then the wider charities of religion, the charities of the community, and of individual donors and of mutual help. These gradually assumed importance in communities which consisted originally of self-supporting classes, within which widows and orphans, for instance, would be rather provided for, in accordance with recognized class obligations, than relieved. Then come habitual almsgiving, the charitable endowment, and the modern charitable institution and association. But throughout the test of progress or decadence appears to be the condition of the family. The family is the source, the home and the hearthstone of charity. It has been created but slowly, and there is naturally a constant tendency to break away from its obligations and to ignore and depreciate its utility. Yet the family, as we now have it, is itself the outcome of infinite thought working through social instinct, and has at each stage of its development indicated a general advance. To it, therefore, constant reference must be made.

Part I.-Primitive Charity The study of early communities has brought to light the history of the development of the family. " Marriage in its lowest phases is by no means a matter of affection or companionship "; and only very slowly has the position of both parents been recognized as implying different but correlative responsibilities towards their child. Only very slowly, also, has the morality necessary to the making of the family been won. Charity at earlier stages is hardly recognized as a virtue, nor infanticide as an evil. Hospitality - the beginning of a larger social life - is non-existent. The self-support of the community is secured by marriage, and when relations fail marriage becomes a provision against poverty. Then by the tribal system is created another safeguard against want. But apart also from these methods of maintenance, at a very early stage there is charitable relief. The festivals of the solstices and equinoxes, and of the seasons, are the occasions for sacrifice and relief; and, as Christmas customs prove, the instinct to give help or alms at such festival periods still remains. Charity is concerned primarily with certain elemental forces of social life: the relation between these primitive instincts and impulses that still influence charity should not, therefore, be overlooked. The basis of social life is also the basis of charitable thought and action.

The savage is the civilized man in the rough. " The lowest races have," Lord Avebury writes, " no institution of marriage." Many have no word for " dear " or " beloved." The child belongs to the tribe rather than to the parent. In these circumstances a problem of charity such as the following may arise: Am I to starve, while my sister has children whom she can sell ? a question asked of Burton by a negro. From the point of view of the tribe, an ablebodied man would be more valuable than dependent children, and the relationship of the larger family of brothers and sisters would be a truer claim to help than that of mother and child. Subsequently the child is recognized as related, not to the father, but to the mother, and there is " a kind of bond which lasts for life between mother and child, although the father is a stranger to it." Slowly only is the relative position of both parents, with different but correlative responsibilities, recognized. The first two steps of charity have then been made: the social value of the bond between the mother, and then between the father, and the child has been recognized. Until this point is reached the morality necessary to the making of the family is wanting, and for a long time afterwards it is hardly won. The virtue of chastity - the condition precedent to the higher family life - is unrecognized. Indeed, the set of such religious thought as there may be is against it. Abstract conceptions, even in the nobler races, are lacking. The religion of life is vaguely struggling with its animality, and that which it at last learns to rule it at first worships. In these circumstances there is little charity for the child and little for the stranger. " There is," Dr Schweinfurth wrote in his Heart of Africa, " an utter want of wholesome intercourse between race and race. For any member of a tribe that speaks one dialect to cross the borders of a tribe that speaks another is to make a venture at the hazard of his life." The religious obligations that fostered and sanctified family life among the Greeks and Romans and Jews are unknown. Much later in development comes charity for the child, with the abhorrence of infanticide - against which the Jewish-Christian charity of 2000 years ago uttered its most vigorous protests. If the child belonged. primarily to the tribe or state, its maintenance or destruction was a common concern. This motive influenced the Greeks, who are historically nearer the earlier forms of social life than ourselves. For the common good they exposed the deformed child; but also " where there were too many, for in our state population has a limit," as Aristotle says, " the babe or unborn child was destroyed." And so, to lighten their own responsibilities, parents were wont to do in the slow years of the degradation of the Roman empire, though the interest of the state then required a contrary policy. The transition to our present feeling of responsibility for child-life has been very gradual and uncertain, through the middle ages and even till the 18th century. Strictly it may be said that all penitentiaries and other similar institutions are concrete protests on behalf of a better family life. The movement for the care of children in the 18th century naturally and instinctively allied itself with the penitentiary movement. The want of regard for child-life, when the rearing of children becomes a source of economic pressure, suggests why in earlier stages of civilization all that charitable apparatus which we now think necessary for the assistance of children is wanting, even if the need, so far as it does arise, is not adequately met by the recognized obligations of the clan-family or brotherhood.

In the case of barbarous races charity and self-support may be considered from some other points of view. Self-support is secured in two ways - by marriage and b y slavery. " For a man or woman to be unmarried after the age of thirty is unheard of " (T. H. Lewin, Wild Races of South-East India). On the other hand, if any one is without a father, mother or other relative, and destitute of the necessaries of life, he may sell himself and become a slave. Thus slavery becomes a provision for poverty when relations fail. The clan-family may serve the same purpose. David Livingstone describes the formation of the clan-family among the Bakuena. " Each man, by virtue of paternity, is chief of his own children. They build huts round his.. .. Near the centre of each circle of huts is a spot called a ` kotla,' with a fireplace; here they work, eat, &c. A poor man attaches himself to the ` kotla ' of a rich one, and is considered a child of the latter." Thus the clan-family is also a poor-relief association.

Studies in folklore bring to light many relations between the charity of the old world and that of our own day.

In regard to the charity of the early community, we may take the 8th century B.C. as the point of departure. The Odyssey (about Boo B.C.) and Hesiod (about 700 B.C.) are roughly parallel with Amos (816-775), and represent two streams of thought that meet in the early Christian period. The period covered by the Odyssey seems to merge into that of Hesiod. We take the former first, dealing with the clan-family and the phratry, which are together the self-maintaining unit of society, with the general relief of the poor, with hospitality, and with vagrancy. In Hesiod we find the customary law of charity in the earlier community definitely stated, and also indications of the normal methods of neighbourly help which were in force in country districts. First of the family and brotherhood, or phratry. The family ( Od. viii. 582) included alike the wife's father and the daughter's husband. It was thus a clanlike family. Out of this was developed the phratry or brotherhood, in which were included alike noble families, peasants and craftsmen, united by a common worship and responsibilities and a common customary law ( themis) . Zeus, the god of social life, was worshipped by the phratry. He was the father of the law ( themis). He was god of host and guest. Society was thus based on law, the brotherhood and the family. The irresponsible man, the man worthy of no respect or consideration, was one who belonged to no brotherhood, was subject to no customary law, and had no hearth or family. The phratry was, and became afterwards still more, " a natural gild." Outside the selfsustaining phratry was the stranger, including the wayfarer and the vagrant; and partly merged in these classes was the beggar, the recognized recipient of the alms of the community. To change one's abode and to travel was assumed to be a cause of reproach ( Il. ix. 648). The " land-louper " was naturally suspected. On the other hand, a stranger's first thought in a new country was whether the inhabitants were wild or social ( Si?cacoc ), hospitable and God-fearing (Od. xiii. 201). Hospitality thus became the first public charity; Zeus sent all strangers and beggars, and it was against all law (9E,ucs) to slight them. Out of this feeling - a kind of glorified almsgiving - grew up the system of hospitality in Greek states and also in the Roman world. The host greeted the stranger (or the suppliant). An oath of friendship was taken by the stranger, who was then received with the greeting, Welcome (xaipe), and water was provided for ablution, and food and shelter. In the larger house there was a guests' table. In the hut he shared the peasant's meal. The custom bound alike the rich and the poor. On parting presents were given, usually food for the onward journey, sometimes costly gifts. The obligation was mutual, that the host should give hospitality, and that the guest should not abuse it. From early times tallies were exchanged between them as evidence of this formal relationship, which each could claim again of the other by the production of the token. And further, the relationship on either sidd became hereditary. Thus individuals and families and tribes remained linked in friendship and in the interchange of hospitalities.

Under the same patronage of Zeus and the same laws of hospitality were vagrants and beggars. The vagrant and loafer are sketched in the Odyssey - the vagrant who lies glibly that he may get entertainment, and the loafer who prefers begging to work on a farm. These and the winter idlers, whom Hesiod pictures - a group known to modern life - prefer at that season to spend their time in the warmth of the village smithy, or at a house of common resort (AE r) - a common lodging-house, we might say - where they would pass the night. Apparently, as in modern times, the vagrants had organized their own system of entertainment, and, supported by the public, were a class for whom it was worth while to cater. The local or public beggars formed a still more definite class. Their begging was a recognized means of maintenance; it was a part of the method of poor relief. Thus of Penelope it was said that, if Odysseus' tale were true, she would give him better clothes, and then he might beg his bread throughout the country-side. Feasts, too, and almsgiving were nearly allied, and feasts have always been one resource for the relief of the poor. Thus naturally the beggars frequented feasts, and were apparently a recognized and yet inevitable nuisance. They wore, as part of their dress, scrips or wallets in which they carried away the food they received, as later Roman clients carried away portions of food in baskets ( sportula) from their patron's dinner. Odysseus, when he dresses up as a beggar, puts on a wallet as part of his costume. Thus we find a system of voluntary relief in force based on a recognition of the duty of almsgiving as complete and peremptory as that which we shall notice later among the Jews and the early Christians. We are concerned with country districts, and not with towns, and, as social conditions that are similar produce similar methods of administration, so we find here a general plan of relief similar to that which was in vogue in Scotland till the Scottish Poor Law Act of 1845.

In Hesiod the fundamental conceptions of charity are more clearly expressed. He has, if not his ten, at least his four commandments, for disobedience to which Zeus will punish the offender. They are: Thou shalt do no evil to suppliant or guest; thou shalt not dishonour any woman of the family; thou shalt not sin against the orphan; thou shalt not be unkind to aged parents.

The laws of social life are thus duty to one's guest and duty to one's family; and chastity has its true place in that relation, as the later Greeks, who so often quote Hesiod (cf. the so-called Economics of Aristotle), fully realized. Also the family charities due to the orphan, whose lot is deplored in the Iliad (xxii. 490), and to the aged are now clearly enunciated. But there is also in Hesiod the duty to one's neighbour, not according to the " perfection " of " Cristes lore," but according to a law of honourable reciprocity in act and intent. " Love him who loves thee, and cleave to him who cleaveth to thee: to him who would have given, give; to him who would not have given, give not." The groundwork of Hesiod's charity outside the family is neighbourly help (such as formed no small part of old Scottish charity in the country districts); and he put his argument thus: Competition, which is a kind of strife, " lies in the roots of the world and in men." It is good, and rouses the idle " handless " man to work. On one side are social duty ( Sire ) and work, done briskly at the right season of the year, which brings a full barn. On the other side are unthrift and hunger, and relief with the disgrace of begging; and the relief, when the family can do no more, must come from neighbours, to whose house the beggar has to go with his wife and children to ask for victual. Once they may be helped, or twice, and then they will be refused. It is better, Hesiod tells his brother, to work and so pay off his debts and avoid hunger (see Erga, 391, &c., and elsewhere). Here indeed is a problem of to-day as it appeared to an early Greek. The alternatives before the idler - so far as his own community is concerned - are labour with neighbourly help to a limited extent, or hunger.

Hesiod was a farmer in Boeotia. Some 530 years afterwards a pupil of Aristotle thus describes the district and its community of farmers. " They are," he says, " well to do, but simple in their way of life. They practise justice, good faith, and hospitality. To needy townsmen and vagabonds they give freely of their substance; for meanness and covetousness are unknown to them." The charitable method of Homeric and Hesiodic days still continued.

Part Ii. - Charity Among The Greeks Society in a Greek state was divided into two parts, citizens and slaves. The citizens required leisure for education, war and government. The slaves were their ministers and servants to enable them to secure this leisure. The Greek We have therefore to consider, on the one hand, the state. position of the family and the clan-family, and the maintenance of the citizen from public funds and by public and private charities; and on the other hand the condition of the slaves, and the relation between slavery and charity.

The slaves formed the larger part of the population. The census of Attica, made between 317 and 307 B.C., gives their numbers at 400,000 out of a population of about 50o,000; and even if this be considered excessive, the proportion of slaves to citizens would certainly be very large. The citizens with their wives and children formed some 12% of the community. Thus, apart from the resident aliens, returned in the census at 10,000, and their wives and children, we have two divisions of society: the citizens, with their own organization of relief and charities; and the slaves, permanently maintained by reason of their dependence on individual members of the civic class. Thus, there is no poverty but that of the poor citizens. Poverty is limited to them. The slaves - that is to say, the bulk of the labouring population - are provided for.

From times relatively near to Hesiod's we may trace the growth and influence of the clan-family as the centre of customary charity within the community, the gradual increase of a class of poor either outside the clan-family or eventually independent of it, and the development of a new organization of relief introduced by the state to meet newer demands. We picture the early state as a group of families, each of which tends to form in time a separate group or clan. At each expansion from the family to the clan the members of the clan retain rights and have to fulfil duties which are the same as, or similar to, those which prevailed in the family. Thus, in Attica the clan-families (genos ) and the brotherhoods (phratria ) were " the only basis of legal rights and obligations over and above the natural family." The clan-family was " a natural guild," consisting of rich and poor members - the well-born or noble and the craftsman alike. Originally it would seem that the land was divided among the families of the clan by lot and was inalienable. Thus with the family was combined the means of supporting the family. On the other hand, every youth was registered in his phratry, and the phratry remained till the reforms of Cleisthenes (509 B.C.) a political, and even after that time a social, organization of importance.

First, as to the family - the mother and wife, and the father. Already before the age of Plato and Xenophon (450-350 B.C.) we find that the family has suffered a slow decline. The wife, according to later Greek usage, was married as a child, hardly educated, and confined to the house, except at some festival or funeral. But with the decline came criticism and a nobler conception of family life. " First, then, come laws regarding the wife," writes the author of the so-called Economics of Aristotle, and the law, " thou shalt do no wrong; for, if we do no wrong, we shall not be wronged." This is the " common law," as the Pythagoreans say, " and it implies that we must not wrong the wife in the least, but treat her with the reverence due to a suppliant, or one taken from the altar." The sanctity of marriage is thus placed among the " commandments " of Hesiod, beside the duty towards the stranger and the orphan. These and other references to the Pythagoreans suggest that they, possibly in common with other mystics, preached the higher religion of marriage and social life, and thus inspired a deeper social feeling, which eventually allied itself with the Christian movement.

Next, as to parents and children: the son was under an obligation to support his father, subject, after Solon's time, to the condition that he had taught him a trade; and after Solon's time the father had no claim for support from an illegitimate son. " The possession of children," it was said (Arist. Econ.), " is not by nature for the public good only, but also for private advantage. For what the strong may gain by their toil for the weak, the weak in their old age receive from the strong ... Thus is the nature of each, the man and the woman, prearranged by the Divine Being for a life in common." Honour to parents is " the first and greatest and oldest of all debts " (Plato, Laws, 717). The child has to care for the parent in his old age. " Nemesis, the minister of justice ( 51Kf ), is appointed to watch over all these things." And " if a man fail to adorn the sepulchre of his dead parents, the magistrates take note of it and inquire " (Xen. Mem. ii. 14). The heightened conception of marriage implies a fuller interpretation of the mutual relations of parent and child as well; both become sacred.

Then as to orphans. Before Solon's time (594 B.C.) the property of any member of the clan-family who died without children went to the clan; and after his time, when citizens were permitted to leave their property by will, the property of an intestate fell to the clan. This arrangement carried with it corresponding duties. Through the clan-family provision was made for orphans.

Any member of the clan had the legal right to claim an orphan member in marriage; and, if the nearest agnate did not marry her, he had to give her a dowry proportionate to the amount of his own property. Later, there is evidence of a growing sense of responsibility in regard to orphans. Hippodamus (about 443 B.C.), in his scheme of the perfected state (Arist. .Pol. 1268), suggested that there should be public magistrates to deal with the affairs of orphans (and strangers); and Plato, his contemporary, writes of the duty of the state and of the guardian towards them very fully. Orphans, he proposes ( Laws, 927), should be placed under the care of public guardians. " Men should have a fear of the loneliness of orphans ... and of the souls of the departed, who by nature take a special care of their own children.. .. A man should love the unfortunate orphan (boy or girl) of whom he is guardian as if he were his own child; he should be as careful and diligent in the management of the orphan's property as of his own - or even more careful still." To relieve the poverty of citizens and to preserve the citizenhood were objects of public policy and of charity. In Crete and Sparta the citizens were wholly supported out of the public resources. In Attica the system was different. The citizens were aided in various ways, in which, as often happens, legal or official and voluntary or private methods worked on parallel lines. The means were (I) legal enactment for release of debts; (2) emigration; (3) the supply of corn; (4) poor relief for the infirm, and relief for the children of those fallen in war; (5) emoluments; (6) voluntary public service, separate gifts and liberality; (7) loan societies.

(t) In 594 B.C. the labouring class in Attica were overwhelmed with debts and mortgages, and their persons pledged as security. Only by a sharp reform was it possible to preserve them from slavery. This Solon effected. He annulled their obligations, abolished the pledge of the person, and gave the labourers the franchise (but see under SoLoN). Besides the laws above mentioned, he gave power to the Areopagus to inquire from what sources each man obtained the necessaries of life, and to punish those who did not work. His action and that of his successor, Peisistratus (560 B.C.), suggest that the class of poor (i17ropoL) was increasing, and that by the efforts of these two men the social decline of the people was avoided or at least postponed. Peisistratus lent the poor money that they might maintain themselves in husbandry. He wished, it is said (Arist. Atli. Pol. xvi.), to enable them to earn a moderate living, that they might be occupied with their own affairs, instead of spending their time in the city or neglecting their work in order to visit it. As rent for their land they paid a tenth of the produce.

(2) Akin to this policy was that of emigration. Athenians, selected in some instances from the two lowest political classes, emigrated, though still retaining their rights of citizenship. In 570-565 B.C. Salamis was annexed and divided into lots and settled, and later Pericles settled more than 2750 citizens in the Chersonese and elsewhere - practically a considerable section of the whole body of citizens. " By this means," says Plutarch, " he relieved the state of numerous idle agitators and assisted the necessitous." In other states this expedient was frequently adopted.

(3) A third method was the supply of corn at reduced rates - a method similar to that adopted, as we shall see, at Rome, Constantinople and elsewhere. The maintenance of the mass of the people depended on the corn fleets. There were public granaries, where large stores were laid up at the public expense. A portion of all cargoes of corn was retained at Athens and in other ways importation was promoted. Exportation was forbidden. Public donations and distributions of corn were frequent, and in times of scarcity rich citizens made large contributions with that object., The distributions were made to adult citizens of eighteen years of age and upwards whose names were on the registers.

(4) In addition to this there was a system of public relief for those who were unable to earn a livelihood on account of bodily defects and infirmities. The qualification was a property test. The property of the applicant had to be shown to be of a value of not more than three minae (say 12). Socrates, it may be noted, adopts the same method of estimating his comparative poverty (Xen. Econ. 2.6), saying that his goods would realize about five minae (or about twenty guineas). The senate examined the case, and the ecclesia awarded the bounty, which amounted to I or 2 obols a day, rather more than i zd. or 3d. - out-door relief, as we might say, amounting at most to about is. 9d. a week. There was also a fund for the maintenance of the children of those who had fallen in war, up to the age of eighteen.

(5) But the main source of support was the receipt of emoluments for various public services. This was not relief, though it produced in the course of time the effect of relief. It was rather the Athenian method of supporting a governing class of citizens.

The inner political history of Athens is the history of the extension of the franchise to the lower classes of citizens, with the privileges of holding office and receiving emoluments. In early times, either by Solon (q.v.) or previously, the citizens were classified on the basis of property. The rich retained the franchise and the right of holding office; the middle classes obtained the franchise; the fourth or lowest class gained neither. By the reforms of Cleisthenes (509 B.C.) the clan-family and the phratry were set aside for the deme or parish, a geographical division superseding the social. Finally, about 478 B.C., when all had acquired the franchise, the right to hold office also was obtained by the third class. These changes coincided with a period of economic progress. The rate of interest was high, usually 12%; and in trading and bottomry the returns were much higher. A small capital at this interest soon produced comparative wealth; and simultaneously prices were falling. Then came the reaction. " After the Peloponnesian war " (43 2 -4 0 4 B.C.), writes Professor Jebb, " the wealth of the country ceased to grow, as population had ceased to grow about 50 years sooner. The rich went on accumulating: the poor, having no means of enriching themselves by enterprise, were for the most part occupied in watching for some chance of snatching a larger share of the stationary total." Thus the poorer classes in a time of prosperity had won the power which they were able to turn to their own account afterwards. A period of economic pressure followed, coupled with a decline in the population; no return to the land was feasible, nor was emigration; the people had become town-folk inadaptable to new uses; decreasing vitality and energy were marked by a new temper, the " pauper " temper, unsettled, idle and grasping, and political power was utilized to obtain relief. The relief was forthcoming, but it was of no avail to stop the general decline. The state, it might almost be said, in giving scope to the assertion of the spirit of dependence, had ruined the self-regarding energy on which both family and state alike depended. The emoluments were diverse. The number of citizens was not large; the functions in which citizens could take part were numerous; and when payment was forthcoming the poorer citizens pressed in to exercise their rights (cf. Arist. Pol. 1293 a). All Athenian citizens could attend the public assembly or ecclesia. Probably the attendance at it varied from a few hundred to 5000 persons. In 395 B.C. the payment for attendance was fixed at 3 obols, or little more than 41d. a day - for the system of payment had probably been introduced a few years before (but see Ecclesia and refs.). A juror or dicast would receive the same sum for attendance, and the courts or juries often consisted of 500 persons. If the estimate (Bockh, Public Economy of Athens, Eng. trans. pp. 109, 117) holds good that in the age of Demosthenes (3 8 4-3 2 3 B.C.) the member of a poor family of four free persons could live (including rent) on about 3.3d. or between 2 and 3 obols a day, the pay of the citizen attending the assembly or the court would at least cover the expenses of subsistence. On the other hand, it would be less than the pay of a day labourer, which was probably about 4 obols or 6d. a day. In any case many citizens - they numbered in all about 20,000 - in return for their participation in political duties would receive considerable pecuniary assistance. Attending a great public festival also, the citizen would receive 2 obols or 3d. a day during the festival days; and there were besides frequent public sacrifices, with the meal or feast which accompanied them. But besides this there were confiscations of private property, which produced a surplus revenue divisible among the poorer citizens. (Some hold that there were confiscations in other Greek states, but not in Athens.) In these circumstances it is not to be wondered that men like Isocrates should regret that the influence of the Areopagus, the old court of morals and justice in Athens, had disappeared, for it " maintained a sort of censorial police over the lives and habits of the citizens; and it professed to enforce a tutelary and paternal discipline, beyond that which the strict letter of the law could mark out, over the indolent, the prodigal, the undutiful, and the deserters of old rite and custom." (6) In addition to public emoluments and relief there was much private liberality and charity. Many expensive public services were undertaken honorarily by the citizens under a kind of civic compulsion. Thus in a trial about 425 B.C. (Lysias, Or. 19.57) a citizen submitted evidence that his father expended more than £2000 during his life in paying the expenses of choruses at festivals, fitting out seven triremes for the navy, and meeting levies of income tax to meet emergencies. Besides this he had helped poor citizens by portioning their daughters and sisters, had ransomed some, and paid the funeral expenses of others (cf. for other instances Plutarch's Cimon, Theophrastus, Eth., and Xen. Econ.). (7) There were also mutual help societies ( g pavoc). Those for relief would appear to have been loan societies (cf. Theoph. Eth. ), one of whose members would beat up contributions to help a friend, who would afterwards repay the advance.

The criticisms of Aristotle (384-321 B.C.) suggest the direction to which he looked for reform. He (Pol. 1320 a) passes a very unfavourable judgment on the distribution of public money to the poorer citizens. The demagogues (he does not speak of Athens particularly) distributed the surplus revenues to the poor, who received them all at the same time; and then they were in want again. It was only, he argued, like pouring water through a sieve. It were better to see to it that the greater number were not so entirely destitute, for the depravity of a democratic government was due to this. The problem was to contrive how plenty ( eviropta, not poverty, airopta ) should become permanent. His proposals are adequate aid and voluntary charity. Public relief should, he urges, be given in large amounts so as to help people to acquire small farms or start in business, and the well-to-do (euiropoc ) should in the meantime subscribe to pay the poor for their attendance at the public assemblies. (This proves, indeed, how the payments had become poor relief.) He mentions also how the Carthaginian notables divided the destitute amongst them and gave them the means of setting to work, and the Tarentines (Kocva irowvvres ) shared their property with the poor. (The Rhodians also may be mentioned (Strabo xiv. c. 652), amongst whom the well-to-do undertook the relief of the poor voluntarily.) The later word for charitable distribution was a sharing (Koevwvta, Ep. Rom. xv. 26), which would seem to indicate that after Aristotle's time popular thought had turned in that direction. But the chief service rendered by Aristotle - a service which covered indeed the whole ground of social progress - was to show that unless the purpose of civil and social life was carefully considered and clearly realized by those who desired to improve its conditions, no change for the better could result from individual or associated action.

Two forms of charity have still to be mentioned: charity to the stranger and to the sick. It will be convenient to consider both in relation to the whole classical period.

With the growth of towns the administration of hospitality was elaborated.

(I) There was hospitality between members of families bound by the rites of host and guest. The guest received as a right only shelter and fire. Usually he dined with the host the first The day, and if afterwards he was fed provisions were supplied to him. There were large guest-chambers (eveov) or small guest-houses, completely isolated on the right or left of the principal house; and here the guest was lodged. (2) There were also, e.g. at Hierapolis (Sir W. M. Ramsay's Phrygia, ii. 97), brotherhoods of hospitality re i bearers of the sign), which made hospitality a duty, and had a common chest and Apollo as their tutelary god. (3) There were inns or resting-places (Karayc.yma) for strangers at temples (Thuc. iii. 68; Plato, Laws, 953 A) and places of resort (Xioxn) at or near the temples for the entertainment of strangers - for instance, at a temple of Asclepius at Epidaurus (Pausanias ii. 174); and Pausanias argues that they were common throughout the country. Probably also at the temples hospitable provision was made for strangers. The evidence at present is no* perhaps sufficiently complete, but, so far as it goes, it tends to the conclusion that in pre-Christian times hospitality was provided to passers-by and strangers in the temple buildings, as later it was furnished in the monasteries and churches. (4) There were also in towns houses for strangers ( evcav ) provided at the public cost. This was so at Megara; and in Crete strangers had a place at the public meals and a dormitory. Xenophon suggested that it would be profitable for the Athenian state to establish inns for traders (Karaywyca 37 7 00-carat Athens. Thus, apart from the official hospitality of the proxenus or " consul," who had charge of the affairs of foreigners, and the hospitality which was shown to persons of distinction by states or private individuals, there was in Greece a large provision for strangers, wayfarers and vagrants based on the charitable sentiment of hospitality. Among the Romans similar customs of private and public hospitality prevailed; and throughout the empire the older system was altered, probably very slowly. In Christian times (cf. Ramsay above) Pagan temples were (about A.D. 408) utilized for other purposes, including that of hospitality to strangers.

Round the temples, at first probably village temples, the organization of medical relief grew up. Primitive medicine is connected with dreams, worship, and liturgical " pollution," punishment and penitence, and an experimental practice. Finally, systematic observation and science (with no knowledge of chemistry and little of physiology) assert themselves, and a secular administration is created by the side of the older religious organization.

Sickness among primitive races is conceived to be a material substance to be extracted, or an evil spirit to be driven away by incantation. Religion and medicine are thus at the beginning almost one and the same thing. In Anatolia, in the groups of villages (cf. Ramsay as above, i. tor) under the theocratic government of a central iepov or temple, the god Men Karou was the physician and saviour ( o-wri 7 P and o-e,q-wv ) of his people. Priests, prophets and physicians were his ministers. He punished wrongdoing by diseases which he taught the penitent to cure. So elsewhere pollution, physical or moral, was chastened by disease and loss of property or children, and further ills were avoided by sacrifice and expiation and public warning. In the temple and out of this phase of thought grew up schools of medicine, in whose practice dreams and religious ritual retained a place. The newer gods, Asclepius and Apollo, succeeded the older local divinities; and The sick. the " sons " of Asclepius became a profession, and the temple with its adjacent buildings a kind of hospital. There were many temples of Asclepius in Greece and elsewhere, placed generally in high and salubrious positions. After ablution the patient offered sacrifices, repeating himself the words of the hymn that was chanted. Then, when night came on, he slept in the temple. In the early dawn he was to dream " the heavenly dream " which would suggest his cure; but if he did not dream, relations and others - officials at the temple - might dream for him. At dawn the priests or sons of Asclepius came into the temple and visited the sick, so that, in a kind of drama, where reality and appearance seemed to meet, the patients believed that they saw the god himself. The next morning the prescription and treatment were settled. At hand in the inn or guest-chambers of the temple the patient could remain, sleeping again in the temple, if necessary, and carrying out the required regimen. In the temple were votive tablets of cases, popular and awe-inspiring, and records and prescriptions, which later found their way into the medical works of Galen and others. At the temple of Asclepius at Epidaurus was an inn ( Icanayd rywov ) with four courts and colonnades, and in all 160 rooms. (Cf. Pausanias ii. 171; and Report, Archaeol. in Greece, R. C. Bosanquet, 1899, 1900.) At three centres more particularly, Rhodes, Cnidos and Cos, were the medical schools of the Asclepiads. If one may judge from an inscription at Athens, priests of Asclepius attended the poor gratuitously. And years afterwards, in the 1 i th century, when there was a revival of medicine, we find (Daremberg, La Medecine: histoire et doctrines ) at Salerno the Christian priest as doctor, a simple and less palatable pharmacy for the poor than for the rich, and gratuitous medical relief.

Besides the temple schools and hospitals there was a secular organization of medical aid and relief. States appointed trained medical men as physicians, and provided for them medical establishments (iarpeia, " large houses with large doors full of light ") for the reception of the sick, and for operations there were provided beds, instruments, medicines, &c. At these places also pupils were taught. A lower degree of medical establishment was to be found at the barbers' shops. Out-patients were seen at the iatreia. They were also visited at home. There were doctors' assistants and slave doctors. The latter, apparently, attended only slaves (Plato, Laws, 720); they do " a great service to the master of the house, who in this manner is relieved of the care of his slaves." It was a precept of Hippocrates that if a physician came to a town where there were sick poor, he should make it his first duty to attend to them; and the state physician attended gratuitously any one who applied to him. There were also travelling physicians going rounds to heal children and the poor. These methods continued, probably all of them, to Christian times.

It has been argued that medical practice was introduced into Italy by the Greeks. But the evidence seems to show that there was a quite independent Latin tradition and school of medicine (Rene Brian, " Medecine dans le Latium et a Rome," Rev. Archeol., 1885). In Rome there were consulting-rooms and dispensaries, and houses in which the sick were received. Hospitals are mentioned by Roman writers in the ist century A.D. There were infirmaries - detached buildings - for sick slaves; and in Rome, as at Athens, there were slaves skilled in medicine. In Rome also for each regio there was a chief physician who attended to the poorer people.

Slavery was so large a factor in pre-Christian and early Christian society that a word should be said on its relation to charity. Indirectly it was a cause of poverty and social degradation. Thus in the case of Athens, with the achievement of maritime supremacy the number of slaves increased greatly. Manual arts were despised as unbecoming to a citizen, and the slaves carried on the larger part of the agricultural and industrial work of the community; and for a time - until after the Peloponnesian War (404 B.C.)- slavery was an economic success. But by degrees the slave, it would seem, dispossessed the citizen and rendered him unfit for competition. The position of the free artisan thus became akin to that of the slave (Arist. Pol. 1260 a, &c.), and slavery became the industrial method of the country. Though Greeks, Romans, Jews and Christians spent money in ransoming individual slaves and also enfranchised many, no general abolition of slavery was possible. At last through economic changes the new status of coloni, who paid as rent part of the produce of the land they tilled, superseded the status of slavery (cf. above; the system turned to account by Peisistratus). But this result was only achieved much later, when a new society was being created, when the slaves from the slave prisons ( ergastula ) of Italy joined its invaders, and the slave-owner or master, as one may suppose, unable any longer to work the gangs, let them become coloni. In Greece the feeling towards the slave became constantly more humane. Real slavery, Aristotle said, was a cast of mind, not a condition of life. The slave was not to be ordered about, but to be commanded and persuaded like a child. The master was under the strongest obligation to promote his welfare. In Rome, on the other hand, slavery continued to the end a massive, brutal, industrial force - a standing danger to the state. But alike in Greece and Rome the influence of slavery on the family was pernicious. The pompous array of domestic slaves, the transfer of motherly duties to slave nurses, the loss of that homely education which for most people comes only from the practical details of life - all this in later Greece and Italy, and far into Christian times, prevented that permanent invigoration and reform of family life which Jewish and Christian influences might otherwise have produced.

Part III. - Charity In Roman Times The words that suggest most clearly the Roman attitude towards what we call charity are liberalitas, beneficentia and pietas. The two former are almost synonymous (Cicero, De Offic. i. 7, 14). Liberality lays stress on the mood - that of the liber, the freeborn, and so in a sense the independent and superior; beneficence on the deed and its purpose (Seneca, De Benef. vi. io). The conditions laid down by Cicero, following Panaetius the Stoic (185-112 B.C.) are three: not to do harm to him whom one would benefit, not to exceed one's means, and to have regard to merit. The character of the person whom we would benefit should be considered, his feelings towards us, the interest of the community, our social relations in life, and services rendered in the past. The utility of the deed or gift graded according to social relationship and estimated largely from the point of view of ultimate advantage to the doer or donor seems to predominate in the general thought of the book, though (cf. Aristotle, Eth. viii. 3) the idea culminates in the completeness of friendship where " all things are in common." Pietas has the religious note which the other words lack, loving dutifulness to gods and home and country. Not " piety " only but " pity " derive from it: thus it comes near to our " charity." Both books, the De Officiis and the De Beneficiis, represent a Roman and Stoical revision of the problem of charity and, as in Stoicism generally, there seems to be a half-conscious attempt to feel the way to a new social standpoint from this side.

As from the point of view of charity the well-being of the community depends upon the vigour of the deep-laid elemental life within it, so in passing to Roman times we consider the family first. The Roman family was unique in its Roman times. completeness, and by some of its conditions the world has long been bound. The father alone had independent authority ( suijuris ), and so long as he lived all who were under his power - his wife, his sons, and their wives and children, and his unmarried daughters - could not acquire any property of their own. Failing father or husband, the unmarried daughters were placed under the guardianship of the nearest male members of the family. Thus the family, in the narrower sense in which we commonly use the word, as meaning descendants of a common father or grandfather, was, as it were, a single point of growth in a larger organism, the gens, which consisted of all those who shared a common ancestry.

The wife, though in law the property of her husband, held a position of honour and influence higher than that of the Greek wife, at least in historic times. She seems to come nearer to the ideal of Xenophon: " the goodwife should be the mistress of everything within the house." " A house of his own and the blessing of children appeared to the Roman citizen as the end and essence V. 28 Slavery. of life " (Mommsen, Hist. Rome). The obligation of the father to the sons was strongly felt. The family, past, present and future, was conceived as one and indivisible. Each succeeding generation had a right to the care of its predecessor in mind, body and estate. The training of the sons was distinctly a home and not a school training. Brought up by the father and constantly at his side, they learnt spontaneously the habits and traditions of the family. The home was their school. By their father they were introduced into public life, and though still remaining under his power during his lifetime, they became citizens, and their relation to the state was direct. The nation was a nation of yeomen. Only agriculture and warfare were considered honourable employments. The father and sons worked outdoors on the farm, employing little or no slave labour; the wife and daughters indoors at spinning and weaving. The drudgery of the household was done by domestic slaves. The father was the working head of a toiling household. Their chief gods were the same as those of early Greece - Zeus-Diovis and Hestia-Vesta, the goddess of the hearth and home. Out of this solid, compact family Roman society was built, and so long as the family was strong attachment to the service of the state was intense. The res publica, the common weal, the phrase and the thought, meet one at every turn; and never were citizens more patient and tenacious combatants on their country's behalf. The men were soldiers in an unpaid militia and were constantly engaged in wars with the rivals of Rome, leaving home and family for their campaigns and returning to them in the winter. With a hardness and closeness inconsistent with - indeed, opposed to - the charitable spirit, they combined the strength of character and sense of justice without which charity becomes sentimental and unsocial. In the development of the family, and thus, indirectly, in the development of charity, they stand for settled obligation and unrelenting duty.

Under the protection of the head of the family " in dependent freedom " lived the clients. They were in a middle position between the freemen and the slaves. The relation between patron and client lasted for several generations; and there were many clients. Their number increased as state after state was conquered, and they formed the plebs, in Rome the plebs urbana, the lower orders of the city.

In relation to our subject the important factors are the family, the plebs and slavery.

Two processes were at work from an early date, before the first agrarian law (486 B.C.): the impoverishment of the plebs and the increase of slavery. The former led to the annona civica, or the free supply of corn to the citizens, and to the sportula or the organized food-supply for poor clients, and ultimately to the alimentarii pueri, the maintenance of children of citizens by voluntary and imperial bounty. The latter (slavery) was the standing witness that, as self-support was undermined, the task of relief became hopeless, and the impoverished citizen, as the generations passed, became in turn dependant, beggar, pauper and slave.

The great patrician families - " an oligarchy of warriors and slaveholders " - did not themselves engage in trade, but, entering on large speculations, employed as their agents their clients, libertini or freedmen, and, later, their slaves. The constant wars, for which the soldiers of a local militia were eventually retained in permanent service, broke up the yeomanry and very greatly reduced their number. Whole families of citizens became impoverished, and their lands were in consequence sold to the large patrician families, members of which had acquired lucrative posts, or prospered in their speculations, and assumed possession of the larger part of the land, the ager publicus, acquired by the state through conquest. The city had always been the centre of the patrician families, the patron of the trading libertini and other dependants. To it now flocked as well the metoeci, the resident aliens from the conquered states, and the poorer citizens, landless and unable for social reasons to turn to trade. There was thus in Rome a growing multitude of aliens, dispossessed yeomen and dependent clients. Simultaneously slavery increased very largely after the second Punic War (202 B.C.). Every conquest brought slaves into the market, for whom ready purchasers were found. The slaves took the place of the freemen upon the old family estates, and the free country people became extinct. Husbandry gave place to shepherding. The estates were thrown into large domains ( latifundia ), managed by bailiffs and worked by slaves, often fettered or bound by chains, lodged in cells in houses of labour (ergastula ), and sometimes cared for when ill in infirmaries (valetudinaria). In Crete and Sparta the slaves toiled that the mass of citizens might have means and leisure. In Rome the slave class was organized for private and not for common ends. In Athens the citizens were paid for their services; at Rome no offices were paid. Thus the citizen at Rome was, one might almost say, forced into a dependence on the public corn, for as the large properties swallowed up the smaller, and the slave dispossessed the citizen, a population grew up unfit for rural toil, disinclined to live by methods that pride considered sordid, unstable and pleasureloving, and yet a serious political factor, as dependent on the rich for their enjoyments as they were on their patrons or the prefect of the corn in the city for their food.

It is estimated, from extremely difficult and uncertain data, that the population of Rome in the time of Augustus was about 1,200,000 or 1,500,000. At that time the plebs urbana numbered 320,000. If this be multiplied by three, to give a low average of dependants, wives and children, this section of the population would number 960,000. The remainder of the 1,500,000, 540,000, would consist of (a) slaves, and ( b ) those, the comparatively few, who would be members of the great clan-families (gentes). Proportionately to Attica this seems to allow too small a population of slaves. But however this be, we may picture the population of Rome as consisting chiefly of a few patrician families ministered to by a very large number of slaves, and a populace of needy citizens, in whose ranks it was profitable for an outsider to find a place in order that he might participate in the advantages of state maintenance.

In Rome the clan-family became the dominant political factor. As in England and elsewhere in the middle ages, and even in later times, the family, in these circumstances, assumes an influence which is out of harmony with the common good. The social advantage of the family lies in its annona g g Y civics.

self-maintenance, its home charities, and its moral and educational force, but if its separate interests are made supreme, it becomes uncharitable and unsocial. In Rome this was the line of development. The stronger clan-families crushed the weaker, and became the " oligarchy of warriors and slaveholders." In the same spirit they possessed themselves of the ager publicus. The land obtained by the Romans by right of conquest was public. It belonged to the state, and to a yeoman state it was the most valuable acquisition. At first part of it was sold and part was distributed to citizens without property and destitute (cf. Plutarch, Tib. Gracchus). At a very early date, however, the patrician families acquired possession of much of it and held it at a low rental, and thus the natural outlet for a conquering farmer race was monopolized by one class, the richer clan-families. This injustice was in part remedied by the establishment of colonies, in which the emigrant citizens received sufficient portions of land. But these colonies were comparatively few, and after each conquest the rich families made large purchases, while the smaller proprietors, whose services as soldiers were constantly required, were unable to attend to their lands or to retain possession of them. To prevent this (367 B.C.) the Licinian law was passed, by which ownership in land was limited to 500 jugera, about 312 acres. This law was ignored, however, and more than two centuries later the evil, the double evil of the dispossession of the citizen farmer and of slavery, reached a crisis. The slave war broke out (134 B.C.) and (133 B.C.) Tiberius Gracchus made his attempt to re-endow the Roman citizens with the lands which they had acquired by conquest. He undertook what was essentially a charitable or philanthropic movement, which was set on foot too late. He had passed through Tuscany, and seen with resentment and pity the deserted country where the foreign slaves and barbarians were now the only shepherds and cultivators. He had been brought up under the influence of Greek Stoical thought, with which, almost in spite of itself, there was always associated an element of pity. The problem which he desired to solve, though larger in scale, was essentially the same as that with which Solon and Peisistratus had dealt successfully. At bottom the issue lay between private property, considered as the basis of family life for the great bulk of the community, with personal independence, and pauperism, with the annona or slavery. In 133 B.C. Tiberius Gracchus became tribune. To expand society on the lines of private property, he proposed the enforcement of " the Licinian Rogations "; the rich were to give up all beyond their rightful 312 acres, and the remainder was to be distributed amongst the poor. The measure was carried by the use of arbitrary powers, and followed by the death of Tiberius at the hands of the patricians, the dominant clan-families. In 132 B.C. Caius Gracchus took up his brother's quarrel, and adopting, it would seem, a large scheme of political and social reform, proposed measures for emigration and for relief. The former failed; the latter apparently were acceptable to all parties, and continued in force long after C. Gracchus had been slain (1 21 B.C.). Already, at times, there had been sales of corn at cheap prices. Now, by the lex frumentaria he gave the citizens - those who had the Roman franchise - the right to purchase corn every month from the public stores at rather more than half-price, 63 asses or about 3.3 d. the peck. This, the fatal alternative, was accepted, and henceforth there was no possibility of a reversion to better social conditions.

The provisioning of Rome was, like that of Athens, a public 'service. There were public granaries (267 B.C.), and there was a quaestor to supervise the transit of the corn from Sicily and, later, from Spain and Africa, and an elaborate administration for collecting and conveying it. The lex frumentaria of Caius was followed by the lex Octavia, restricting the monthly sale to citizens settled in Rome, and to 5 modii (14 bushels). According to Polybius, the amount required for the maintenance of a slave was 5 modii a month, and of a soldier 4. Hence the allowance, if continued at this rate, was practically a maintenance. The lex Clodia (58 B.C.) made the corn gratuitous to the plebs urbana. Julius Caesar (5 B.C.) found the number of recipients to be 320,000, and reduced them to 150,000. In Augustus's time they rose to 200,000. There seems, however, to be some confusion as to the numbers. From the Ancyranum Monumentum it appears that the plebs urbana who received Augustus's dole of 60 denarii (37s. 6d.) in his eighth consulship numbered 320,000. And (Suet. Caes. 41) it seems likely that in Caesar's time the lists of the recipients were settled by lot; further, probably only those whose property was worth l


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Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Charity And Charities'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/bri/c/charity-and-charities.html. 1910.

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