Voltaire: Ancient and Modern

‘The Chinese, more than a two hundred years before our era, constructed that “Great Wall” which was not able to save them from the invasion of the Tartars. The Egyptians, three thousand years before, had overloaded the Earth with their astonishing Pyramids, which had a base of about ninety thousand square feet. Nobody doubts that, if one wishes to undertake today these useless works, one could easily succeed by a lavish expenditure of money. The great wall of China is a monument to fear; the pyramids are monuments to vanity and superstition. Both bear witness to a great patience in the peoples, but to no superior genius. Neither the Chinese nor the Egyptians would have been able to make even a statue such as those which our sculptors form today.’

Excerpt from ‘The Portable Voltaire’ by Ben Ray Redman.

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Portrait of Voltaire
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Hercules Crowned by Glory by Martin Van den Bogaert.