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The Ancient City by Numa Denis Fustel de Coulanges
The Ancient City by Fustel de Coulanges doesn’t get enough attention on the right. It should be foundational to all embarking on this path. I get asked from time to time what books should a man read and I often go to the heroic classics like Iliad and Beowulf. If I were to go into books important to right wing ideology, I believe The Ancient City would be near the top of the list. This book is very important for “sensitive young men” to read. To give them an idea of how much culture and heritage has been stolen from them. How watered down and atomized our people have become.
This isn’t the first time I’ve talked about this book. There are three substacks inspired by the first couple chapters in The Ancient City. The first was “Are Americans Still a People?,” which was one of the most popular poasts for RESAVAGER last year. The second was “Forging a People From a Mass,” which was a sequel to the first. The third, called “The Sacred Fire,” was focused on the importance of fire to our ancestors. The purpose of The Ancient City is to outline how a people became a tribe and than, a city. What you find when you go back to the beginning was not the stupid cave man drawing on rock, but a very complex culture and heritage. This culture was far more complicated than anything we see today.
Coulanges starts with the family. When you read about the ancient family, you see customs that still exist even today though we have no understanding of WHY we do them. When you look back to ancient times and religion, you think about The Gods, but they didn’t come around till much later. In the earliest societies, each family had its own religion, it’s own gods. These gods were often times the ancestors. Each family had its own hearth fire which itself was a god. The hearth fire could be said to be the most important god. Even Agamemnon put the hearth fire above all other gods, returning to it first after coming back from the Trojan War.
Each family had its own religion, it’s own gods, and even their own rites. These were sacred and secret to the family. The father — the patriarch — was the priest of the family. He was in charge of the family’s sacred hearth fire while he was alive and it passed down to his eldest son when he died. The family would share a meal by this hearth every day with a plate left specifically for the ancestors who were believed to be wandering their land. If they were not fed in the afterlife, they would become angry. This is likely where we got the concept of ghosts.
The custom of sharing meals with family obviously still exists today. Families still share meals together whether breakfast or dinner. No, there’s not always a fire, but that’s where the custom originated. The importance of the hearth fire can be traced back to the first men who relied on fire to survive in the wild. Think about how much the fire must have meant to primitive man. His father had showed him how to make fire and that fire kept him warm still, long after his father had passed.
Their father still lived on in that fire. The hearth fire was sacred to them. It became god. It’s not hard to imagine the warmth and comfort the first men got from the fire. The health fire was never supposed to burn out. It represented their gods, their ancestors, and their glorious bloodline.
The Ancient City first lays out how the family and then how the city came about.
The land of each family was owned by the patriarch. It was more than just land, for the patriarch’s ancestors and gods roamed the grounds. It was holy to him. People not belonging to his family could not cross onto his land without permission. They were barred from ever seeing the patriarch’s hearth fire. When a daughter was married into another family, the father would have to perform religious rites to dispossess the daughter from his family’s gods and ancestors. The man marrying her would then take her from the land of her father and initiate her before his own hearth fire. Here we see the custom of carrying the bride away come about.
As you can see from what I’ve laid out, there is much depth to the cultures of ancient peoples. The removal of this depth has made it easier for tyrants to manipulate the masses toward their own ends. Coulanges goes into the formation of cities which in itself was another religious act. The forming of cities often meant new gods, often being the founders of the cities themselves such as Theseus and Athens. Another important facet of ancient cities and religions is often times Jupiter of one city was a different god from the Jupiter of another. Some cities might have multiple gods named Heracles. The land chosen for the city was very important, ancient peoples had to get special omen from their gods on its location. Lycurgus for example, saw the Oracle at Delphi for this task.
Coulanges does a magnificent job of explaining how ancient peoples came together. For those uninitiated in this knowledge, it almost feels like world building. He goes further into how complex the societies became. What happened when warfare made the plebs more important and how democracy became co-opted by popular tyrants. You don’t realize the effort it took to make Greek democracies work. Often times, those participating in democracy did not have time for labor. This was the first step in its corruption. You had to make money somehow.
You must read this book and remember what’s been stolen from your bloodline. The shallow mass we call America can hardly be considered a people next to the citizens of an ancient city. When I talk about The Way of the Fathers, Coulanges’ work is what I’m talking about. Americans must remember that they belong to ancient bloodlines and getting those bloodlines into the future is very much their concern and their duty to their ancestors. There is much power in the way the ancients thought about the world. Many of their ideas still exist in our customs. What they represent is the foundation of our own people and we will not conquer again until we settle the crimes made against them.