Fall 1948 • Vol. X No. 4 NonfictionOctober 1, 1948 |

The Resurrected Romans

"We suffer not only from the living but from the dead. Le mort saisit le vif!"    —Marx, Preface to Capital. In the past history had been at the mercy of poetry, thought Marx. The great revolutions had taken place as costume dramas. In the act of creating new social forms men had ceased to behave "realistically." They lost touch with the time and place they occupied as living men—they became, more or less automatically, actors playing a part. "Thus Luther donned the mask of the Apostle Paul, the Revolution of 1789 to 1814 draped itself alternately as the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire."1 Social reality gave way to dramatic mimesis because history did not allow human beings to pursue their own ends. They were thrown into roles prepared for them in advance. Beginning in a situation which they had not created, they were transformed by a "plot" that operated according to certain rules. "Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they

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