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HELVETII ('El ouipeot, 'EXI3ilrriol)

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Originally appearing in Volume V13, Page 255 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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HELVETII ('El ouipeot, 'EXI3ilrriol), a Celtic people, whose original home was the country between the Hercynian forest (probably the Rauhe Alp), the Rhine and the Main (Tacitus, Germania, 28). In Caesar's time they appear to have been driven farther west, since, according to him (Bell. Gall. i. 2. 3) their boundaries were on the W. the Jura, on the S. the Rhone and the Lake of Geneva, on the N. and E. the Rhine as far as Lake Constance. They thus inhabited the western part of modern Switzerland. They were divided into four cantons (pagi), common affairs being managed by the cantonal assemblies. They possessed the elements of a higher civilization (gold coinage, the Greek alphabet), and, according to Caesar, were the bravest people of Gaul. The reports of gold and plunder spread by the Cimbri and Teutones on their way to southern Gaul induced the Helvetii to follow their example. In 107, under Divico, two of their tribes, the Tougeni and Tigurini, crossed the Jura and made their way as far as Aginnum (Agen on the Garonne), where they utterly defeated the Romans under L. Cassius Longinus, and forced them to pass under the yoke (Livy, Epit. 65; according to a different reading, the battle took place near the Lake of Geneva). In toe the Helvetii joined the Cimbri in the invasion of Italy, but after the defeat of the latter by Marius they returned home. In 58, hard pressed by the Germans aiel incited by one of their princes, Orgetorix, they resolved to found a new home west of the Jura. Orgetorix was thrown into prison, being suspected of a design to make himself king, but the Helvetii themselves persisted in their plan. Joined by the Rauraci, Tulingi, Latobrigi and some of the Boii—according to their own reckoning 368,000 in all—they agreed to meet on the 28th of 1 Some of the delegates, especially Bucer, were anxious to effect a union of the Reformed and Lutheran Churches. There was also a desire to lay the Confession before the council summoned at Mantua by Pope Paul III. March at Geneva and to advance through the territory of the provided for, he proceeded to enjoy life to the utmost, with Allobroges. They were overtaken, however, by Caesar •at Bibracte, defeated and forced to submit. Those who survived were sent back home to defend the frontier of the Rhine against German invaders. During the civil wars and for some time after the death of Caesar little is heard of the Helvetii. Under Augustus Helvetia (not so called till later times, earlier ager Helvetiorum) proper was included under Gallia Belgica. Two Roman colonies had previously been founded at Noviodunum (Colonia Julia Equestris, mod. Nyon) and at Colonia Rauracorum (afterwards Augusta Rauracorum, Augst near Basel) to keep watch over the inhabitants, who were treated with generosity by their conquerors. Under the name of foederati they retained their original constitution and division into four cantons. They were under an obligation to furnish a contingent to the Roman army for foreign service, but were allowed to maintain garrisons of their own, and their magistrates had the right to call out a militia. Their religion was not interfered with; they managed their own local affairs and kept their own language, although Latin was used officially. Their chief towns were Aventicum (Avenches) and Vindonissa (Windisch). Under Tiberius the Helvetii were separated from Gallia Belgica and made part of Germania Superior. After the death of Galba (A.n. 60, having refused submission to Vitellius, their land was devastated by Alienus Caecina, and only the eloquent appeal of one of their leaders named Claudius Cossus saved them from annihilation. Under Vespasian they attained the height of their prosperity. He greatly increased the importance of Aventicum, where his father had carried on business. Its inhabitants, with those of other towns, probably obtained the ius Latinum, had a senate; a council of decuriones, a prefect of public works and flamens of Augustus. After the extension of the eastern frontier, the troops were withdrawn from the garrisons and fortresses, and Helvetia, free from warlike disturbances, gradually became completely romanized. Aventicum had an amphitheatre, a public gymnasium and an academy with Roman professors. Roads were made wherever possible, and commerce rapidly developed. The old Celtic religion was also supplanted by the Roman. The west of the country, however, was more susceptible to Roman influence, and hence preserved its independence against barbarian invaders longer than its eastern portion. 'During the reign of Gallienus (26o-268) the Alamanni overran the country; and although Probus, Constantius Chlorus, Julian, Valentinian I. and Gratian to some extent checked the inroads of the barbarians, it never regained its former prosperity. In the subdivision of Gaul in the 4th century, Helvetia, with the territory of the Sequani and Rauraci, formed the Provincia Maxima Sequanorum, the chief town of which was Vesontio (Besancon). Under Honorius (395-423) it was probably definitely occupied by the Alamanni, except in the west, where the small portion remaining to the Romani was ceded in 436 by Aetius to the Burgundians. See L. von Haller, Helvetien unter den Romern (Bern, 181 I); T. Momntsen, Die Schweiz in romischer Zeit (Zurich, 1854) ; J. Brosi, Die Kelten and Althelvetier (Solothurn, 1851); L. Hug and R. Stead, " Switzerland " in Story of the Nations, xxvl.; C. Dandliker, Geschichte der Schweiz (1892-1895), and English translation (of a shorter history by the same) by E. Salisbury (1899); Die Schweiz unto den Remern (anonymous) published by the Historischer Verein of St Gall (Scheitlin and Zollikofer, St Gall, 1862); and G. Wyss, "t)ber das romische Helvetien " in Archie file schweizerische Geschichte, vii. (1851). For Caesar's campaign against the Helvetii, see T. R. Holmes, Caesar's Conquest of Gaul (1899) and Mommsen, Hist. of Rome (Eng. trans.), bk. v. ch. 7; ancient authorities in A. Holder, Altkeltischer Sprachschatz (1896), S.C. Elvetii. HELV$TIUS, CLAUDE ADRIEN (1715-1771), French philosopher and litterateur, was born in Paris in January 1715. He was descended from a family of physicians, whose original name was Schweitzer (latinized as Helvetius). His grandfather introduced the use of ipecacuanha; his father was first physician to Queen Marie Leczinska of France. Claude Adrien was trained for a financial career, but he occupied his spare time with writing verses. At the age of twenty-three, at the queen's request, he was appointed farmer-general, a post of great responsibility and dignity worth a ioo,000 crowns a year. Thus the help of his wealth and liberality, his literary and artistic tastes. As he grew older, however, his social successes ceased, and he began to dream of more lasting distinctions, stimulated by the success of Maupertuis as a mathematician, of Voltaire as a poet, of Montesquieu as a philosopher. The mathematical dream seems to have produced nothing; his poetical ambitions resulted in the poem called Le Bonheur (published posthumously, with an account of Helvetius's life and works, by C. F. de Saint-Lambert, 1773), in which he develops the idea that true happiness is only to be found in making the interest of one that of all; his philosophical studies ended in the production of his famous book De l'esprit. It was characteristic of the man that, as soon as bethought his fortune sufficient, he gave up his post of farmer-general, -and retired to an estate in the country, where he employed his large means in the relief of the poor, the encouragement of agriculture and the development of industries. De l'esprit (Eng. trans. by W. Mudford, 1807), intended to be the rival of Montesquieu's L'Esprit des leis, appeared in 1758. It attracted immediate attention and aroused the most formidable opposition, especially from the dauphin, son of Louis XV. The Sorbonne condemned the book, the priests persuaded the court that it was full of the most dangerous doctrines, and the author, terrified at the storm he had raised, wrote three separate retractations; yet, in spite of his protestations of orthodoxy, he had to give up his office at the court, and the book was publicly burned by the hangman. The virulence of the attacks upon the work, as much as its intrinsic merit, caused it to be widely read; it was translated into almost all the languages of Europe. Voltaire said that it was full of commonplaces, and that what was original was false or problematical; Rousseau declared that the very benevolence of the author gave the lie to his 'principles; Grimm thought that all the ideas in the book were borrowed from Diderot; according to Madame du Deffand, Helvetius had raised such a storm by saying openly what every one. thought in secret; Madame de Graffigny averred that all the good things in the book had been picked up in her own salon. In 1764 Helvetius visited England, and the next year, on the invitation of Frederick II., he went to Berlin, where the king paid him marked attention. He then returned to his country estate and passed the remainder of his life in perfect tranquillity. He died on the 26th of December 1771. His philosophy belongs to the utilitarian school. The four discussions of which his book consists have been thus summed up: (1) All man's faculties may be reduced to physical sensation, even'memory, comparison, judgment; our only difference from the lower animals lies in our external organization. (2) Self-interest, founded on the love of pleasure and the fear of pain, is the sole spring of judgment, action, affection; self-sacrifice is prompted by the fact that the sensation of pleasure outweighs the accompanying pain; it is thus the result of deliberate calculation; we have no liberty of choice between good and evil; there is no such thing as absolute right—ideas of justice and injustice change according to customs. (3) All intellects are equal; their apparent inequalities do not depend on a more or less perfect organization, but have their cause in the unequal desire for instruction, and this desire springs from passions, of which all men commonly well organized are susceptible to the same degree; and we can, therefore, all love glory with the same enthusiasm and we' owe all to education. (4) In this discourse the author treats of the ideas which are attached to such words as genius, imagination, talent, taste, good sense, &c. The only original ideas in his system are those of the natural equality of intelligences and the omnipotence of education, neither of which, however, Is generally accepted, though both were prominent in the system of J. S. Mill. There is no doubt that his thinking was unsystematic; but many of his critics have entirely misrepresented him (e.g. Cairns in his Unbelief in the Eighteenth Century). As J. M. Robertson (Short History of Free Thought) points out, he had great influence upon Bentham, and C. Beccaria states that he himself was largely inspired by Helvetius in his attempt to modify penal laws. The keynote of his thought was that public ethics has a utilitarian basis, and he insisted strongly on the importance of culture in national development. A sort of supplement to the De l'esprit, called De 1'homme, de ses facultes intellectuelles et de son education (Eng. trans. by W. Hooper, 1777), found among his manuscripts, was published after his death, but created little interest. There is a complete edition of the works of Helvetius, published at Paris, 1818. For an estimate of his work and his place among the philosophers of the 18th century see Victor Cousin's Philosophie sensualiste (1863); P. L. Lezaud, Resumes philosophiques (1853); F. D. Maurice, in his Modern Philosophy (1862), pp. 537 seq.; J. Morley, Diderot and the Encyclopaedists (London, 1878) ; D. G. Mostratos, Die Padagogik des Helvetius (Berlin, 1891) ; A. Guillois, Le Salon de Madame Helvetius (1894) ; A. Piazzi, Le Idee filosofche specialmente pedagogiche de C. A. Helvetius (Milan, 1889); G. Plekhanov, Beitrage zur Geschichte des Materialismus (Stuttgart, 1896) ; L. Limentani, Le Teorie psicologiche di C. A. Helvetius (Verona, 1902) ; A. Keim, Helvetius, sa vie et son leuvre (1907).
End of Article: HELVETII ('El ouipeot, 'EXI3ilrriol)
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