World History in the Light of Anthroposophy
and as a Foundation for Knowledge of the Human Spirit
26 December 1923, Dornach
Thirteen years ago, almost to the day, in a course of lectures 1See Occult History. Historical Personalities and Events in the Light of Spiritual Science by Rudolf Steiner, Anthroposophical Publishing Company, London, 1957. that I gave in Stuttgart between Christmas and New Year, I spoke of the same events that we shall treat of in the present course of lectures. Only we shall have to alter the standpoint somewhat. In the first two introductory lectures we have been at pains to acquire an understanding for the radical change in man's life of thought and feeling that has come about in the course of human evolution, prehistoric as well as historic. In to-day's lecture, at any rate to begin with, we shall not need to go back more than a few thousand years.
You know that from the standpoint of Spiritual Science we have to regard as of paramount importance in its consequences for human evolution the so-called Atlantean catastrophe which befell the Earth in the time commonly known as the later Ice Age. It was the last Act in the downfall of the Atlantean continent, which continent forms to-day the floor of the Atlantic Ocean; and following it we have as we have often described, five great successive epochs of civilisation, leading up to our own time. Of the two earliest of these we have no trace in historical tradition, for the literature remaining in the East, even all that is contained in the magnificent Vedas, in the profound Vedantic philosophy, is but an echo of what we should have to describe, if we wanted to recall these ancient epochs. In my Outline of Occult Science I have always spoken of them as the Ancient Indian and the Ancient Persian.
To-day we shall not have to go so far back as this; we will direct our thoughts to the period which I have often designated as the Egypto-Chaldean, the period preceding the Graeco-Latin. We have already had to draw attention to the fact that during the time between the Atlantean catastrophe and the Greek period, great changes took place in regard to man's power of memory and also in regard to the social life of humanity. A memory such as we have to-day — the temporal memory, by means of which we can take ourselves back in time — was not in existence in this third Post-Atlantean period; man had then, as we have described in an earlier lecture, a memory that was linked to rhythmic experience. And we have seen how this rhythmic memory proceeded from a still earlier memory that was particularly strong in the Atlantean period, namely, the localised memory, where man only bore within him a consciousness of the present, but used all manner of things which he found in the external world or which he himself set there, as memorials by means of which he put himself into relationship with the past; and not alone with his own personal past, but with the past of humanity in general.
In this connection we have not only to think of memorials that were on the Earth; in those ancient times the constellations in the heavens served man as memorials, especially in their recurrences and in the variations of these recurrences. From the constellations man perceived how things were in earlier times. Thus did heaven and earth work together to build for an ancient humanity the localised memory.
Now the man of long past times was different in the whole constitution of his being from the man of a later time, and still more so from the man of our own time. Man to-day, in his waking condition, bears the Ego and astral body within him unnoticed, as it were; most people do not notice how the physical bears within it, along with the etheric body, a much more important organisation than itself, namely, the astral body and the Ego-organisation. You, of course, are familiar with these connections. But an ancient humanity felt this fact of their own being quite differently.
And it is to such a humanity that we must return, when we go back to the third epoch of Post-Atlantean civilisation, — the Egypto-Chaldean. At that time man experienced himself as spirit and soul still to a great extent outside his physical and etheric body, even when awake. He knew how to distinguish: This I have as my spirit and soul, — we, of course, call it the Ego and the astral body — and it is linked with my physical body and my etheric body. He went through the world in this experience of twofold-ness. He did not call his physical and his etheric body ‘I.’ He called ‘I’ only his soul and spirit, that which was spiritual and was in a manner connected downward with his physical and etheric bodies, had a connection with them that he could observe and feel. And in this spirit and soul, in this Ego and astral body, man was made aware of the entry of the Divine-spiritual Hierarchies, even as to-day he feels the entry of natural substances into his physical body.
To-day man's experience in the physical body is of the following nature. He knows that with the process of nourishment, with the process of breathing, he receives the substances of the external kingdoms of Nature. Before, they are outside; then they are within him. They enter him, penetrate him and become part of him. In that earlier age, when man experienced a certain separation of his soul-and-spirit nature from his physical and etheric nature, he knew that Angels, Archangels and other Beings up to the highest Hierarchies are themselves spiritual substance that penetrates his soul and spirit and becomes — if I may put it so — part of him. So that at every moment of life he was able to say: In me live the Gods. And he looked upon his Ego, not as built up from below by means of physical and etheric substances, but as bestowed on him through grace from above, as coming from the Hierarchies. And as a burden, or rather as a vehicle, in which he feels himself borne forward in the physical world as in a vehicle of life — so did he conceive of his physical-etheric nature. Until this is clearly grasped, we shall not understand the course of events in the evolution of mankind.
We could trace this course of events by reference to many different examples. To-day we will follow one thread, the same that I touched upon thirteen years ago, when I spoke of that historic document 2The Epic of Gilgamesh was discovered in the ruins of a palace of Assurbanipal written in cuneiform characters on twelve tablets. This text is based on older Sumerian documents of which fragments remain. which represents the most ancient phase of the evolution we have now to consider, — I mean, the Epic of Gilgamesh.
The Epic of Gilgamesh has in part the character of a Saga, and so to-day I will set before you the events that I described thirteen years ago, as they manifest themselves directly to spiritual vision.
In a certain town in Asia Minor — it is called Erech 3Called Erech in the Bible (1 Moses 10, 10), the city is named Uruk in the cuneiform text. in the Epic — there lived a man who belonged to the conquering type of which we spoke in the last lecture, the type that sprang so truly and naturally out of the whole mental and social conditions of the time. The Epic calls him Gilgamesh. We have then to do with a personality who has preserved many characteristics of the humanity of earlier times. Clear though it is, however, to this personality that he has, as it were, a dual nature, — that he has on the one hand the spirit-and-soul nature into which the Gods descend, and on the other hand, the physical-and-etheric into which substances of the Earth and the Cosmos, physical and etheric substances, enter, — it is none the less a fact that the representative people of his time are already passing through a transition into a later stage of human evolution. The transition consisted in this. The Ego-consciousness, which a comparatively short time previously was above in the sphere of spirit and soul, had now, if I may so express it, sunk down into the physical and etheric, so that Gilgamesh was one of those who began no longer to say ‘I’ to the spirit-and-soul part of their being, in which they felt the presence of the Gods, but to say ‘I’ to that which was earthly and etheric in them. Such was the stage of development in the human soul life of that time.
But along with this condition of soul, where the Ego has drawn down from the spirit and soul and entered as conscious Ego into the bodily and etheric, this personality had still left in him habits belonging to the past; and especially the habit of experiencing memory solely in connection with rhythm. He still retained also that inward feeling that one must learn to know the forces of death, because the death-forces can alone give to man that which brings him to powers of reflection.
Now owing to the fact that in the personality of Gilgamesh we have to do with a soul who had already gone through many incarnations on Earth and had now entered into the new form of human existence which I have just described, we find him at this point in a physical existence that bore in it a strain of uncertainty. The justification, as it were, of the habits of conquest, the justification, too, of the rhythmic memory, were beginning to lose their validity for the Earth. And so the experiences of Gilgamesh were throughout the experiences of an age of transition.
Hence it came about that when this personality, in accordance with the old custom, conquered and seized the city that in the Epic is called Erech, dissensions arose in the city. At first he was not liked. He was regarded as a foreigner and indeed would never have been able alone to meet all the difficulties that presented themselves in consequence of his capture of the city. Then there appeared, because destiny had led him thither, another personality — the Epic of Gilgamesh calls him Eabani 4The cuneiform text has Enkidu or Engidu. — a personality who had descended relatively late to the Earth from that planetary existence which Earth-humanity led for a period, as you will find described in my Outline of Occult Science.
You know how during the Atlantean epoch souls descended, some earlier, some later, from the different planets, having withdrawn thither from the Earth at a very early stage of Earth evolution.
In Gilgamesh we have to do with an individuality, who returned comparatively early to the Earth; thus at the time of which we are speaking he had already experienced many Earth incarnations.
In the other individuality who had now also come to that city we have to do with one who had remained comparatively long in planetary existence and only later found his way back to Earth. You may read of this from a somewhat different point of view in my Stuttgart lectures of thirteen years ago.
Now this second individuality formed an intimate friendship with Gilgamesh; and together they were able to establish the social life of the city on a really permanent footing. This was possible because there remained to this second personality a great deal of the knowledge that came from that sojourn in the Cosmos beyond the Earth, and that was preserved for a few incarnations after the return to Earth. He had, as I said in Stuttgart, a kind of enlightened cognition; clairvoyance, clairaudience and what we may call clair-cognition. Thus we have in the one personality what remained of the old habits of conquest and of the rhythmically-directed memory, and in the other what remained to him from vision and penetration into the secret mysteries of the Cosmos. And from the flowing together of these two things, there grew up, as was indeed generally the case in those olden times, the whole social structure of that city in Asia Minor. Peace and happiness descended upon the city and its inhabitants, and everything would have been in order, had not a certain event taken place that set the whole course of affairs in another direction.
There was in that city a Mystery, the Mystery of a Goddess, and this Mystery preserved very many secrets relating to the Cosmos. It was, however, in the meaning of those times, what I may call a kind of synthetic Mystery. That is to say, in this Mystery revelations were collected together from various Mysteries of Asia. And the contents of these Mysteries were cultivated and taught there in diverse ways at different times. Now this was not easily understood by the personality who bears the name of Gilgamesh in the Epic, and he made complaint against the Mystery that its teachings were contradictory. And seeing that the two personalities of whom we are speaking were those who really held the whole ordering of the city in their hands and that complaints against the Mystery came from so important a quarter, trouble ensued; and at length things became so difficult that the priests of the Mysteries appealed to those Powers Who in former times were accessible to man in the Mysteries. It will not surprise you to hear that in the ancient Mysteries man could actually address himself to the Spiritual Beings of the higher Hierarchies; for, as I told you yesterday, to the ancient Oriental, Asia was none else than the lowest heaven and in this lowest heaven man was aware of the presence of Divine-spiritual Beings and had intercourse with them. Such intercourse was especially cultivated in the Mysteries. And so the priests of the Istar Mysteries turned to those Spiritual Powers to whom they always turned when they sought enlightenment; and it came about that these Spiritual Powers inflicted a certain punishment upon the city.
What happened was expressed at the time in the following way: Something that is really a higher spiritual force, is working in Erech as an animal power, as a terrible spectral animal power. Trouble of all kinds befell the inhabitants, physical illnesses and more especially diseases and disturbances of the soul. The consequence was that the personality who had attached himself to Gilgamesh and who is called Eabani in the Epic, died; but in order that the mission of the other personality might be continued on Earth, he remained with this personality spiritually, even after death. Thus when we consider the later life and development of the personality who in the Epic bears the name of Gilgamesh, we have still to see in it the working together in the two personalities; but now in such a way that in the subsequent years of Gilgamesh's life he receives intuitions and enlightenment from Eabani, and so continues to act, although alone, not simply out of his own will, but out of the will of both, from the flowing together of the will of both.
What I have here placed before you is something that was fully possible in those olden times. Man's life of thought and feeling was not then so single and united as it is to-day. Hence it could not have the experience of freedom, in the sense in which we know it to-day. It was quite possible, either for a spiritual Being who had never incarnated on Earth to work through the will of an earthly personality, or, as was the case here, for a human personality who had passed through death and was living an after-death existence, to speak and act through the will of a personality on Earth. So it was with Gilgamesh. And from what resulted in this way through the flowing together of the two wills, Gilgamesh was able to recognise with considerable clearness at what point he himself stood in the history of mankind. Through the influence of the spirit that inspired him, he began to know that the Ego had sunk down into the physical body and etheric body, — which are mortal; and from that moment the problem of immortality began to play an intensely strong part in his life. His whole longing was set on finding his way by some means or other into the very heart of this problem. The Mysteries, wherein was preserved what there was to say on Earth in those days concerning immortality, did not readily reveal their secrets to Gilgamesh. The Mysteries had still their tradition, and in their tradition was preserved also in great measure the living knowledge that was present on Earth in Atlantean times, when the ancient original wisdom ruled among men.
The bearers of this original wisdom, however, who once went about on Earth as Spiritual Beings, had long ago withdrawn and founded the cosmic colony of the Moon. For it is pure childishness to suppose that the Moon is the dead frozen body that modern physics describes. The Moon is, before all, the cosmic world of those Spiritual Beings Who were the first great teachers of earthly humanity, the Beings Who once brought to earthly humanity the primeval wisdom and Who, when the Moon had left the Earth and sought a place for itself in the planetary system, withdrew also and took up their abode on this Moon.
He who to-day through Imaginative cognition is able to attain to a true knowledge of the Moon, gains knowledge too of the Spiritual Beings in this cosmic colony, Who were once the teachers of the ancient wisdom to humanity on Earth. What they had taught was preserved in the Mysteries, and also the impulses whereby man himself is able to come into a certain relationship with this ancient wisdom.
The personality who is called Gilgamesh in the Epic had, however, no living connection with these Mysteries of Asia Minor. But through the super-sensible influence of the friend who, in the after-death existence, was still united with him, there arose in Gilgamesh an inner impulse to seek out paths in the world whereby he might be able to come to an experience concerning the immortality of the soul. Later on, in the Middle Ages, when man desired to learn something concerning the spiritual world, he would sink down into his own inner being. In more modern times one could say that a still more inward process is followed. In those olden times, however, of which we are speaking, it was a matter of clear and exact knowledge to man that the Earth is not the mere lump of rock which the geology books would lead one to imagine, but that the Earth is a living being, — a living being, moreover, endowed with soul and spirit. As a tiny insect that runs over a human being may learn something of that human being as it passes over his nose and forehead, or through his hair, as the insect acquires its knowledge in this way by making a journey over the human being, so in those times it was by setting forth upon journeys over the Earth and by learning to know the Earth with its different configurations in different places, that man gained insight into the spiritual world. And this he was able to do, whether access to the Mysteries were permitted to him or no. It is in truth no mere superficial account that relates how Pythagoras and others wandered far and wide in order to attain their knowledge. Men went about the Earth in order to receive what was revealed in its manifold configurations, in all that they could observe from the different forms and shapes of the Earth in different places; and not of the Earth in its physical aspect alone, but of the Earth too as soul and spirit.
To-day men may travel to Africa, to Italy, — and yet, with the exception of external details, at which they gape and stare, their experience in these places may be very little different from their experience at home. For man's sensitiveness to the deep differences that subsist between different places of the Earth has gone.
In the period with which we are now dealing, it had not died out. Thus the impulse to wander over the Earth and thereby receive something that should help to the solution of the problem of immortality, betokened something full of meaning for Gilgamesh.
So he set forth upon his wanderings. And they had for him a result that was of very great significance. He came to a region that is nearly the same as we now call Burgenland, a district much talked of in recent times and concerning which there has been a good deal of contention as to whether it should belong to Hungary or not. The whole social conditions of the country have of course greatly changed since those far off times. Gilgamesh came thither and found there an ancient Mystery — the High Priest of the Mystery is called Xisuthros 5This is the Sumerian name Ziusudra used by Berossus, priest of Bel in Babylon, who wrote a history of Babylon and Chaldea in Greek around 280 B.C. based on the archives of the Temple in Babylon. In cuneiform script it is Utnapishtim. in the Epic — an ancient Mystery that was a genuine successor, as it were, of the old Atlantean Mysteries; only, of course, in a changed form, as must of necessity be the case after so long a time had elapsed.
And it was so that in this ancient Mystery centre they knew how to judge and appraise the faculty of knowledge that Gilgamesh possessed. He was met with understanding. A test was imposed upon him, one that in those days was often imposed on pupils of the Mysteries. He had to go through certain exercises, wide-awake, for seven days and seven nights. It was too much for him, so he submitted himself only to the substitute or alternative for the test. Certain substances were made ready for him, of which he then partook, and by means of them received a certain enlightenment; although, as is always the case when certain exceptional conditions are not assured, the enlightenment might be doubtful in some respects. Nevertheless a degree of enlightenment was there, a certain insight into the great connections in the Universe, into the spiritual structure of the Universe. And so, when Gilgamesh had ended his wandering and was returning home again, he did in fact possess a high spiritual insight.
He travelled along the Danube, following the river on its northern bank, until he came again to his home, to the home of his choice. But before he reached home, because he did not receive the initiation into the Post-Atlantean Mystery in the other way that I described, but instead in a somewhat uncertain way, he succumbed to the first temptation that assailed him and fell into a terrible fit of anger over an event that came to his notice, — something, in effect, which he heard had taken place in the city. He heard of the event before he reached the city, and burst out into a storm of anger; and in consequence, the enlightenment he had received was almost entirely darkened, so that he arrived home without it.
Nevertheless, — and this is the peculiar characteristic of this personality — he still had the possibility, through the connection with the spirit of his dead friend, of looking into the spiritual world, or at least of receiving information thence.
It is, however, one thing by means of an initiation to acquire direct vision into the spiritual world, and another thing to receive information from a personality who is in the after-death condition. Still, we may say with truth that something of an insight into the nature of immortality did remain with Gilgamesh. I am setting aside just now the experiences that are undergone by man after death; these do not yet play very strongly into the consciousness of the next incarnation, nor did they in those days; — into the life, into the inner constitution they do work very strongly, but not into the consciousness.
You now have before you these two personalities whom I have described and who together bring to expression the mental and spiritual constitution of man in the third Post-Atlantean period of civilisation at about the middle point of its development, — two personalities who still lived in such a way that the whole manner of their life was in itself strong evidence of the duality in man's nature. The one — Gilgamesh — was conscious of this duality; he was one of the first to experience the descent of the Ego-consciousness, the descent of the Ego into the physical and etheric nature in man. The other, inasmuch as he had passed through but few incarnations on Earth, had a clairvoyant knowledge, by means of which he was able to know that there is no such thing as matter, but that everything is spiritual and the so-called material only another form of the spiritual.
Now you can imagine that, if a man's being were so constituted, he could certainly not think and feel what we think and feel to-day. His whole thinking and feeling was indeed totally different from ours. And what such personalities could receive in the way of instruction was of course quite unlike what is taught to-day at school or in the universities. Everything of a spiritual or cultural nature that men received in those days came to them from the Mysteries, whence it was spread abroad as widely as possible among men by all manner of channels. It was the wise men, the priests, in the Mysteries, who were the true teachers of humanity.
Now it was characteristic of these two personalities that in the incarnation that we have described they were unable just because of their special constitution of soul, to approach the Mysteries of their own land. The one who is named Eabani in the Epic stood near the Mysteries through his sojourn in the extra-earthly regions of the Cosmos; the one who is named Gilgamesh experienced a kind of initiation in a Post-Atlantean Mystery, which however only bore half fruit in him. The result of all this was that both felt in their own being, as it were, something that made them kin to the primeval times of earthly humanity. Both were able to put the question to themselves: How have we become what we are? What share have we had in the evolution of the Earth? We have become what we are through the evolution of the Earth; what part have we played in its evolution?
The question of immortality that was the occasion of such suffering and conflict to Gilgamesh, was connected in those days with a necessary vision into the evolution of the Earth in primeval times. One could not think or feel — using the words in the sense of those times — about the immortality of the soul unless one had at the same time some vision of how human souls who were already there in very early phases of the Earth's evolution, during the Ancient Sun and Ancient Moon embodiments, saw approaching them, that which later has become what we call earthly. Men felt they belonged to the Earth. They felt that to know himself, man must behold and recognise his connection with the Earth.
Now the secret knowledge that was cultivated in all Mysteries of Asia, was first and foremost cosmic knowledge; its wisdom and its teachings unfolded the origin of the evolution of the Earth in connection with the Cosmos. So that in these Mysteries there appeared before men in a living way, in such a way that it could become living Ideas in them, a far-spread vision, showing them how the Earth evolved, and how in the heave and surge of the substances and forces of the Earth, all through the Sun, Moon and Earth periods of evolution, man has been evolving together with all these substances. All this was set before men in a most vivid manner.
One of the Mysteries where such things were taught, was continued on into much later times. It was the Mystery centre of Ephesus. 6Rudolf Steiner spoke in detail about this place in the 6th lecture of Mystery Knowledge and Mystery Centres, Rudolf Steiner Press, London, 1973. This Mystery had in the very middle of its sanctuary the image of the Goddess Artemis. When we look to-day at pictures of the goddess Artemis, we have perhaps only the grotesque impression of a female form with many breasts. This is because we have no idea how such things were experienced in olden times; and it was the inner experience evoked by these things that was all-important. The pupils of the Mysteries had to go through a certain preparation before they were conducted to the true centre of the Mysteries. In the Ephesian Mysteries the centre was this image of the Goddess Artemis. When the pupil was led up to the centre, he became one with such an image. As he stood before the image, he lost the consciousness that he was there in front of it, enclosed in his skin. He acquired the consciousness that he himself is what the image is. He identified himself with the image. This identification of himself in consciousness with the divine image at Ephesus had the following effect. The pupil no longer merely looked out upon the kingdoms of the Earth that were round about him — the stones, trees, rivers, clouds and so forth — but when he felt himself one with the image, when he entered as it were into the image of Artemis, he received an inner vision of his connection with the kingdoms of the Ether. He felt himself one with the world of the stars, one with the processes in the world of the stars. He did not feel himself as earthly substance within a human skin, he felt his cosmic existence. He felt himself in the etheric. And as he did so, there rose before him earlier conditions of Earth-experience and of man's experience on Earth. He began to see what these earlier conditions had been. To-day we look upon the Earth as a great piece of rock or stone, covered with water over a large part of its surface and surrounded by a sphere of air containing oxygen and nitrogen and other substances, — containing, in fact, what the human being requires for breathing. And so on and so on. And when men begin to explain and speculate on what passes to-day for scientific knowledge, then we get a fine result indeed! For only by means of spiritual vision can one penetrate to the conditions that prevailed in the earliest primeval times. Such a spiritual vision, however, concerning primeval conditions of the Earth 7See the 5th lecture in Mystery Knowledge and Mystery Centres. and of mankind was attained by the pupils of Ephesus, when they identified themselves with the divine image; they beheld and understood how formerly what surrounds the Earth to-day as atmosphere was not as it now is; surrounding the Earth, in the place where the atmosphere is to-day, was an extraordinarily fine albumen, a volatile, fluid albumenous substance. And they saw how everything that lived on the Earth required for its own genesis the forces of this volatile, fluid albumenous substance, that was spread over the Earth, and how everything also lived in it. They saw too how that which was in a certain sense already within this substance — finely distributed but everywhere with a tendency to crystallisation — how that which was present in a finely distributed condition as silicic acid was in reality a kind of sense-organ for the Earth and could take up into itself from all sides the Imaginations and influences from the surrounding Cosmos. And thus in the silicic acid contained in the earthly albumenous atmosphere were everywhere Imaginations, concretely, externally present.
These Imaginations had the form of gigantic, plant-like organisms, and out of that which was, so to speak, ‘imagined’ into the Earth in this way, there developed later, through absorption of the atmospheric substance, — the plant; everything that is of a plant-like nature. At first it was in the environment of the Earth, in volatile, fluid form; only later did it sink down into the soil and become what is known to us as the plant.
Besides the silicic acid, there was imbedded also in this albumen-atmosphere another substance, lime, in a finely-divided condition. Again, out of the lime substance, under the influence of the congelation of the albumen there arose the animal kingdom. And the human being felt himself within all this. He felt one with the whole Earth. He lived in that which formed itself as plant in the Earth through Imagination, he lived too in that which was developing on Earth as animal, in the way I have described. Each single human being felt himself spread out over the whole Earth, felt himself one with the Earth. So that the human beings were all — as I have described it for the Platonic teaching in my book Christianity as Mystical Fact, in reference to the human capacity for ideas — were all each within the other.
Now destiny brought it about that the two personalities, of whom I spoke in Stuttgart and of whom I am speaking to you again here, reincarnated as adherents of the Mystery of Ephesus, and there received with deep devotion into their souls the things that I have here pictured to you in brief outline. Thereby their souls were, in a manner, inwardly established. Through the Mystery they now received as Earth-wisdom what had formerly been accessible to them only in experience, — for the most part unconscious experience.
Thus was the human experience of these personalities divided between two separate incarnations. And thereby did they bear within them a strong consciousness of man's connection with the higher, the spiritual world, and at the same time a strong, an intense capacity for feeling and experiencing all that belongs to the Earth.
For if you have two things that perpetually flow together, so that you cannot keep them apart, then they merge and lose themselves in each other. If, on the other hand, they show themselves clearly distinct, then you can judge the one by the other. And so these two personalities were able on the one hand to judge the spiritual of the higher world that came to them as a result of life-experience and that lived in them as an echo from their earlier incarnations. And now, as the origin of the kingdoms of nature was communicated to them in the Mystery of Ephesus under the influence of the Goddess Artemis, they were able, on the other hand, to judge how the things external to man on the Earth came into being, how gradually everything external to man on the Earth was formed out of a primeval substance, which substance also included man. And the life of these two personalities — it fell partly in the latter end of the time when Heraclitus 8Heraclitus of Ephesus, Greek philosopher. He lived around 500 B.C. and deposited his chief work in the Temple of Artemis. See Christianity as Mystical Fact and the Mysteries of Antiquity by Rudolf Steiner, Rudolf Steiner Press, London, 1972. was still living in Ephesus, and partly in the time that followed — became particularly rich inwardly and was powerfully lit up from within with the light of great cosmic secrets. There was in them moreover a strong consciousness of how man in his life of soul may be connected, not merely with that which lies spread out around him on the Earth, but with that too which extends upward, — when he himself reaches upward with his being. Such was the inner configuration of soul of these two personalities, who had worked together in the earlier Egypto-Chaldean epoch and then lived together at the time of Heraclitus and after, in connection with the Mystery of Ephesus. And now this working together was able to continue still further. The configuration of soul that had been developed in both, passed through death, through the spiritual world, and began to prepare itself for an Earth life that must needs again bring problems which will now of course present themselves in quite a different way. And when we observe in what manner these two personalities had to find their part later in the history of Earth evolution, we may see how through the experiences of the soul in earlier times — these experiences having their karmic continuation in the next life on Earth — things are prepared which afterwards appear in totally different form in the later life, when the personalities are once more incorporated into the evolution of humanity on Earth.
I have brought forward this example, because these two personalities make their appearance later in a period that was of extraordinary importance in the history of mankind. I indicated this in my lectures at Stuttgart thirteen years ago; in fact, I dealt with all these matters from a certain point of view. These personalities who had first in the Egypto-Chaldean epoch gone through what I may call a widely-extended cosmic life, and had then deepened this cosmic experience within them, thereby in a sense establishing their souls, now lived again in a later incarnation as Aristotle 9Greek philosopher from Stagira (384–322 B.C.). See Riddles of Philosophy by Rudolf Steiner, Anthroposophic Press, New York, 1973. and Alexander the Great. 10(356-323 B.C.). From 336 King of Macedonia. Died in Babylon. When one understands the underlying depths in the souls of Aristotle and Alexander the Great, then one can begin to understand, as I explained in Stuttgart, all that was working so problematically in these two personalities, whose lives took their course in the time when Greek culture was falling into decay and Roman rule beginning to have dominion.