Marx Engels on Art and Literature

Ancient Slavery and World Culture


From: Frederick Engels, Message of Greetings to the Socialists of Sicily, September 26 1894;
Source: Marx Engels On Literature and Art, Moscow 1976;
Transcribed: by Andy Blunden.

The ancient poets of Sicily, Theocritus and Moschus, celebrated the idyllic life of the shepherd slaves, their contemporaries. This was, without doubt, poetic dreaming. But where is there a contemporary poet who would be so bold as to celebrate the idyllic life of the “free” worker of present-day Sicily? Would not the peasants of this island be happy if they could cultivate their plots even under the harsh conditions of the Roman system of metayage? This is the situation to which the capitalist system has led: free men mourn for the slavery of the past !

But they can take fresh heart. The dawn of a new and better society for the oppressed classes of all lands is breaking. Everywhere the oppressed are closing ranks; everywhere they are reaching out to each other over frontiers and over different languages. The army of the international proletariat is forming and the approaching new century will lead it to victory!