HISTORIC CATACLYSMS AT THE DAWN OF THE
The decline and fall of the Roman Empire and the appearance on the
scene of peoples from the East the great migrations are
a phenomenon of history to which the attention of true research must
again and again be turned. For the present day still contains many an
after-effect of these catastrophic happenings.
A true understanding of these events is impossible to merely exoteric
history. For we must look into the souls of the human beings who took
part in these migrations and witnessed the downfall of the Roman
Ancient Greece and Rome flourished in the epoch of human evolution
when the Intellectual or Mind-Soul was unfolding. Indeed the Greeks
and Romans were most essentially the bearers of this unfolding
process. But in the Greek and Roman peoples the evolving of this stage
of the soul did not contain the seed from out of which the
Spiritual Soul could truly have developed. All the contents of soul
and spirit, latent in the Intellectual or Mind-Soul, blossomed forth
luxuriantly in the life of ancient Greece and Rome. But Greece and
Rome were unable, out of their own inherent powers, to pass on to the
new stage of the Spiritual Soul.
The stage of the Spiritual Soul did, of course, appear none the less.
But the Spiritual Soul was as something implanted from without into
the character of the Greek or Roman something that did really
not proceed out of the personality.
The connection with and severance from the Divine Spiritual Beings, of
which we have said so much in these studies, takes place with varying
intensity in the course of succeeding ages. In olden times, it was a
power entering into human evolution with the impulse of a mighty
living process. In the Greek and Roman experience of the first
Christian centuries it was a feebler power but it still existed. While
he was unfolding the fullness of the Intellectual or Mind Soul within
him, the Greek or Roman felt unconsciously, but with no less
deep a meaning for his soul a loosening or severance from the
Divine-Spiritual nature and a growing independence of the human. But
this ceased in the first Christian centuries. The early dawn of the
Spiritual Soul was felt as a renewed union, a closer connection with
the Divine-Spiritual. Men evolved back again, from a greater to a
lesser degree of independence of soul. Nor could they receive the
Christian content into the human Spiritual Soul, for they were unable
to receive the Spiritual Soul itself into their human being.
Thus they came to regard the Christian content as some think given to
them from outside from the spiritual outer world not as
something with which they could become united through their own
faculties of Knowledge.
But it was different with the peoples coming from the North-East, who
now entered on the scene of history. They had passed through the stage
of the Intellectual or Mind Soul in a condition which, to them,
conveyed a feeling of dependence on the spiritual world. They only
began to feel something of human independence when, with the
beginnings of Christianity, the earliest forces of the Spiritual Soul
In them the Spiritual Soul appeared as something deeply bound up with
the human being. They felt a glad sense of unfolding force within them
when the Spiritual Soul was stirring into life.
It was into this new-springing life of the dawning Spiritual Soul that
the Christian content entered in these peoples. They felt the
Christian content as something springing to life within their souls,
not as something given from outside.
Such was the mood in which these peoples approached the Roman Empire
and all that was connected with it. Such was the mood of Arianism in
contrast to Athanasianism. It was a deep inner conflict in
In the Spiritual Soul of the Greek and Roman, external as it was to
man, there worked, to begin with, the Divine Spiritual essence, not
uniting fully with the earthly life, but raying into it from without.
And in the Spiritual Soul of the Franks, the Germanic tribes, etc.,
which was only just dawning into life, such of the Divine-Spiritual as
was able to unite with mankind worked as yet but feebly.
To begin with, the Christian content living in the Spiritual Soul that
hovered over man grew and expanded in outer life. On the other hand,
that Christian content which was united with the human soul, remained
as an inner urge, an impulse within the human being waiting for future
development for a development which can only take place when a
certain stage has been attained in the unfolding of the Spiritual
In the time from the first Christian centuries until the evolutionary
epoch of the Spiritual Soul, the dominant spiritual life was a
Spirit-content hovering above mankind a content with which man
was quite unable to unite himself in Knowledge. He therefore united
with it in an outward way. He explained it, and pondered
on the question: how, and why, and to what degree the faculties of the
soul were insufficient to bring about the full union with it in
Knowledge. Thus he distinguished the realm into which Knowledge can
penetrate, from that into which it cannot. It became the proper thing
to renounce the exercise of those faculties of soul which rise with
Knowledge into the spiritual world. And at length the time approached
the turn of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in
which the forces of the soul that inclined towards the Spirit were
diverted from the Spiritual altogether, so far as active Knowledge was
concerned. Men began to live their conscious life in those forces of
the soul only, which are directed to the sense-perceptible.
Blunt indeed became the powers of Knowledge for spiritual things
most of all in the eighteenth century.
The thinkers of humanity now lost the spiritual content from their
Ideas. In the Idealism of the first half of the nineteenth century,
the Spirit-empty Ideas themselves are represented as the creative
substance of the world. Thus Fichte, Schelling, Hegel. Or again, they
point to a Supersensible which vanishes into thin air because it is
bereft of Spirit. Thus Spencer, John Stuart Mill, and others. The
Ideas are dead when they no longer seek the living Spirit.
There is no escaping the fact, lost was the sense of spiritual vision
for the things of the Spirit. A continuation of the old
life of spiritual Knowledge is impossible. With the Spiritual Soul
unfolding within him, man's faculties of soul must strive onward to
reach their new union with the Spirit-world, a union elementary,
immediate and living. Anthroposophy would fain be such a striving.
In the spiritual life of this age, it is just the leading
personalities who to begin with do not know what Anthroposophy
intends. Wide circles of people who follow in their wake are thereby
kept away from Anthroposophy. The leading people of today live in a
soul-content which in the course of time has grown altogether
unaccustomed to use the spiritual forces. For them, it is as though
one would call upon a man having an organ paralysed, to use it.
Paralysed were the higher faculties of Knowledge from the sixteenth
into the latter half of the nineteenth century. And mankind remained
utterly unconscious of the fact; indeed, the one-sided application of
Knowledge-powers directed to the outer world of sense was regarded as
a sign of special progress.
Further Leading Thoughts issued from the Goetheanum for the Anthroposophical Society (with reference to the foregoing study: Historic Cataclysms at the Dawn of the Spiritual Soul)
180. The Greeks and Romans were the peoples predestined by their very
nature for the unfolding of the Intellectual or Mind-Soul. They
developed this stage of the soul to perfection. But they did not bear
within them the seeds of a direct, unbroken progress to the Spiritual
Soul. Their soul-life went under in the Intellectual or Mind-Soul.
181. In the time from the origin of Christianity until the age of the
unfolding of the Spiritual Soul, a world of the Spirit was holding
sway which did not unite with the forces of the human soul. The latter
contrived to explain the world of the Spirit, but they
could not experience it in living consciousness.
182. The peoples advancing from the North-East in the great
migrations, encroaching on the Roman Empire, took hold of the
Intellectual or Mind-Soul more in the inner life of feeling.
Meanwhile, imbedded in this element of feeling, the Spiritual Soul was
evolving within their souls. The inner life of these peoples was
waiting for the present time, when the re-union of the soul with the
world of the Spirit is fully possible once more.