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Title: The Grandeur That Was Rome: a survey of Roman culture and civilisation

Author: J. C. Stobart

Release date: March 15, 2018 [eBook #56747]
Most recently updated: January 24, 2021

Language: English

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List of Illustrations
Illustrations in the Text
(In certain versions of this etext [in certain browsers] clicking on the image will bring up a larger version.)
Chronological Summary
Index: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, V, W, X, Y, Z

(etext transcriber's note)





“Mr. Stobart does a real service when he gives the reading but non-expert public this fine volume, embodying the latest results of research, blending them, too, into as agreeable a narrative as we have met with for a long while.... There is not a dull line in his book. He has plenty of humour, as a writer needs must have who is to deal with men from the human standpoint.... It is beautifully produced, and the plates, both in colour and monochrome, are as numerous and well-chosen as they are striking and instructive.”—The Guardian.

“Mr. Stobart has produced the very book to show the modern barbarian the meaning of Hellenism. He exhibits the latest discoveries from Cnossus and elsewhere, the new-found masterpieces along with the old. He criticises and appraises the newest theories, ranging from the influence of malaria to the origins of drama. He has something for everybody.... The book is nobly illustrated ... no such collection of beautiful things of this kind has yet been placed before the English public.”—THE Saturday Review.

“He really helps to make ancient Greece a living reality; and the illustrations, a conspicuous feature of the book, are good and well selected, the photographic views gaining much from the reproduction on a dull-surfaced paper.”—Times.

“A more beautiful book than this has rarely been printed.... The pictures of Greek scenery, sculpture, vases, etc., are exceptionally good.”—Evening Standard.

“No better guide through the labyrinth of things Hellenic has appeared in our day, and both brush and camera yield of their choicest to make the book an enduring joy.”—Daily Chronicle.


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A Survey of Roman Culture
and Civilisation: by

J. C. Stobart, M.A.

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3 Adam Street, Adelphi
All rights reserved

Printed by
Tavistock Street Covent Garden



This book is a continuation of “The Glory that was Greece,” written with the same purpose and from the same point of view.

The point of view is that of humanity and the progress of civilisation. The value of Rome’s contribution to the lasting welfare of mankind is the test of what is to be emphasised or neglected. Hence the instructed reader will find a deliberate attempt to adjust the historical balance which has, I venture to think, been unfairly deflected by excessive deference to literary and scholastic traditions. The Roman histories of the nineteenth century were wont to stop short with the Republic, because “Classical Latin” ceased with Cicero and Ovid. They followed Livy and Tacitus in regarding the Republic as the hey-day of Roman greatness, and the Empire as merely a distressing sequel beginning and ending in tragedy. From the standpoint of civilisation this is an absurdity. The Republic was a mere preface. The Republic until its last century did nothing for the world, except to win battles whereby the road was opened for the subsequent advance of civilisation. Even the stern tenacity of the Roman defence against Hannibal, admirable as it was, can only be called superior to the still more heroic defence of Jerusalem by the Jews, because the former was successful and the latter failed. From the Republican standpoint Rome is immeasurably inferior to Athens. In short, what seemed important and glorious to Livy will not necessarily remain so after the lapse of nearly two thousand years. Rome is so vast a fact, and of consequences so far-reaching, that every generation may claim a share in interpreting{viii} her anew. There is the Rome of the ecclesiastic, of the diplomat, of the politician, of the soldier, of the economist. There is the Rome of the literary scholar, and the Rome of the archæologist.

It is wonderful how this mighty and eternal city varies with her various historians. Diodorus of Sicily, to whom we owe most of her early history, was seeking mainly to flatter the claims of the Romans to a heroic past. Polybius, the trained Greek politician of the second century B.C., was writing Roman history in order to prove to his fellow-Greeks his theory of the basis of political success. Livy was seeking a solace for the miseries of his own day in contemplating the virtues of an idealised past. Tacitus, during an interval of mitigated despotism, strove to exhibit the crimes and follies of autocracy. These were both rhetoricians, trained in the school of Greek democratic oratory. Edward Gibbon, too (I write as one who cannot change trains at Lausanne without emotion), saw the Empire from the standpoint of eighteenth-century liberalism and materialism. Theodor Mommsen made Rome the setting for his Bismarckian Cæsarism, and finally, M. Boissier has enlivened her by peopling her streets with Parisians. It is, in fact, difficult to depict so huge a landscape without taking and revealing an individual point of view. There is always something fresh to see even in the much-thumbed records of Rome.

Although a large part of this book is written directly from the original sources, and none of it without frequent reference to them, it is, in the main, frankly a derivative history intended for readers who are not specialists. Except Pelham’s Outlines, which are almost exclusively political, there is no other book in English, so far as I am aware, which attempts to give a view of the whole course of ancient Roman History within the limits of a single volume, and yet the Empire without the Republic is almost as incomplete as the Republic without the Empire. As for the Empire, although nothing can supersede or attempt to replace The Decline and Fall, yet the schola{ix}r’s outlook on the history of the Empire has been greatly changed since Gibbon’s day by the discovery of Pompeii and the study of inscriptions. Therefore while I fully admit my obligations to Gibbon and Mommsen (as well as to Dill, Pelham, Bury, Haverfield, Greenidge, Warde Fowler, Cruttwell, Sellar, Walters, Rice Holmes, and Mrs. Strong, and to Ferrero, Pais, Boissier, Seeck, Bernheim, Mau, Becker, and Friedlander) this book professes to be something more than a compilation, because it has a point of view of its own.

The pictures are an integral part of my scheme. It is not possible with Rome, as it was with Greece, to let pictures and statues take the place of wars and treaties. Wars and treaties are an essential part of the Grandeur of Rome. They should have a larger place here, were they less well known, and were there less need to redress a balance. But the pictures are chosen so that the reader’s eye may be able to gather its own impression of the Roman genius. When the Roman took pen in hand he was usually more than half a Greek, but sometimes in his handling of bricks and mortar he revealed himself. For this reason—and because I must confess not to be a convinced admirer of “Roman Art”—there is an attempt to make the illustrations convey an impression of grand building, vast, solid, and utilitarian, rather than of finished sculpture by Greek hands. Pictures can produce this impression far more powerfully than words. Standing in the Colosseum or before the solid masonry of the Porta Nigra at Trier, one has seemed to come far closer to the heart of the essential Roman than ever in reading Vergil or Horace. The best Roman portraits are strangely illuminating.

I have to acknowledge with gratitude the permission given me by the Director of the Königlichen Messbildanstalt of the Royal Museum at Berlin to reproduce four of the magnificent photographs of Dr. O. Puchstein’s discoveries at Ba’albek. I am indebted also to Herr Georg Reimer, of Berlin, for allowing me to reproduce four of the complete series of Reliefs from Trajan’s Column published by him in heliogravure under the{x} care of Professor Cichorius. The coloured plate of the interior of the House of Livia is reproduced by permission of the German Archæological Institute from Luckenbach’s Kunst und Geschichte (grosse Ausgabe, erster Teil); and from the same work I have been allowed to reproduce the reconstruction of the Roman Forum in the time of Cæsar. Professor Garstang has kindly supplied a photograph, with permission to reproduce of the bronze head of Augustus discovered by him at Meroe and recently presented to the British Museum. The Cambridge University Press has allowed me to give two pictures from Prof. Ridgeway’s Early Age of Greece; and the photograph of the Alcántara Bridge was kindly supplied by Sr. D. Miguel Utrillo, of Barcelona. The majority of photographs have been supplied by Messrs. W. A. Mansell and Co.; but for many subjects, especially of Roman remains outside Italy, I must acknowledge my indebtedness to a number of amateur photographers, who not only avoid the hackneyed point of view but also achieve a high level of technique. Sir Alexander Binnie has kindly permitted the inclusion of eight photographs and Mr. C. T. Carr of four; while I must also make acknowledgment to Miss Carr, Mr. R. C. Smith, and Miss K. P. Blair.

As before, I am much indebted to Mr. Arnold Gomme for his assistance with the proofs.

J. C. S.

Canterbury, 1912{xi}


 The Perspective of Roman History: Latinism: Italy and the Roman1
 The Growing Republic: The Constitution: The Early Roman: Early Religion: Law16
 The Provinces: The Imperial City44
 The Gracchi: Marius: Sulla: Pompeius and Cæsar: Late Republican Civilisation82
 The Senate: The People and the Magistrates: Army and Treasury: The Provinces160
 Reformation of Roman Society: Augustan Literature: Art: Architecture223
 The Principate: Imperial Rome: Education and Literature: Art: Law: Philosophy and Religion253



The cameo on the front cover of this volume is from a sardonyx head of Germanicus in the Carlisle collection.




Engraved by Emery Walker from a photograph by Bruckmann of the original in the Glyptothek, Munich. An idealised portrait of the emperor in middle life. He wears the corona civica. See p 169
Engraved by Emery Walker from a photograph by Mansell & Co. of the original marble in the British Museum. An idealised portrait-bust of a lady of the imperial family, possibly Antonia, the work of a Greek artist of the Augustan Age. The name “Clytie” has no authority: the frame of petals is purely decorative
From a photograph by Anderson. The view is taken from the Capitol, looking S.E. at the Arch of Titus, on the left of which part of the Colosseum is visible. The background on the right is filled by the Palatine Hill and the substructures of Caligula’s Palace, in front of which the walls of the Temple of Augustus are visible. To the right of the middle are three columns and part of the entablature of the Temple of Castor. In the centre is the Column of Phocas. The foreground is occupied by the Arch of Severus (l.) the Temple of Saturn (r.) and two Corinthian columns of the Temple of Vespasian
From a photograph by Anderson. The ruined arches belonged to the Aqueduct of Claudius. See p. 293
From a photograph by Anderson. Modern view showing a typical hill-town or arx. Spoletium is chiefly famous in ancient history for its {xiv}gallant repulse of Hannibal in 217 B.C.
From a photograph by Anderson of the original bronze in the Palace of the Conservatori, Rome. The wolf herself is ancient, probably of Etruscan workmanship. See p. 18
Primitive Etruscan work. A horned and bearded god
From photographs by Mansell & Co, of the originals in the British Museum, showing the development of Etruscan bronze-work
Drawn from Vase F. 488 in the Etruscan Room, British Museum. A curiously debased design, which like much of Etruscan art suggests unintelligent copying of Greek models
From a photograph by Mansell & Co. of the original in the Terra-cotta Room, British Museum. The reader will notice the close resemblance of this work, particularly the relief depicting the battle and the mourners, to Greek relief-work of the sixth century B.C.
From a photograph by Anderson. The remains of Roman tombs may be seen on each side of the road
From photographs by C.T. Carr. The scene of the famous battle of 217 B.C., in which Hannibal ambushed the Roman army on the shores of the lake
From a photograph by Almari of the original bronze statue in the Archæological Museum, Florence. One of the rare examples of early republican portraiture, found near Lake Trasimene, a statue of Aulus Metilius (unknown to history) in the guise of an orator. It is assigned to the end of the third century B.C., and is said to represent the transition between Etruscan and Roman portraiture. I think, however, that it would be true to describe it as a Roman head, probably copied from a death-mask, upon a Greek body. Where is the Etruscan element?
From a photograph by Brogi of the original bronze in the Naples Museum. The authenticity of the portrait cannot be guaranteed, but it is a fine example of Republican portraiture
Possibly imported from Greece
From photographs by Mansell & Co. of the originals in the British Museum. These two bronze statuettes show the essential similarity of Roman and Etruscan (or Greek) armour, which consists mainly of a {xv}cuirass of leather plated with metal
From photographs of the original in the British Museum. The scabbard is in the scale of 1:4. The sword was only 21 in. long and 2½ in. at the greatest breadth. It was found at Mainz. The scabbard is of wood ornamented with plates of silver-gilt. At the top is a relief showing Tiberius welcoming Germanicus on his victorious return from Germany (A.D. 17) In the centre is a portrait medallion of Tiberius. The relief at the bottom indicates the return of the standards of Varus to a Roman temple. Below is an Amazon armed with the German battle-axe
From a photograph by Tryde of the original marble in the Jacobsen collection at Copenhagen. There is no sufficient reason to doubt the authenticity of this famous portrait of Pompey the Great. It closely resembles a beautiful gem in the Chatsworth collection
From a photograph by Alinari of the original in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence. A fine ancient portrait; but its authenticity cannot be guaranteed
From a photograph by Anderson. Erected in 78 B.C. Notice the Ionic columns used purely as ornament
From a photograph by Alinari. Commonly known as “The Temple of the Sibyl,” but more properly assigned to Vesta. This is considered to be work of about 80 B.C. The style is Corinthian
18(Fig. 1) VENUS GENETRIX120
From a photograph by Alinari of the statue in the Louvre. Described on p. 156
From a photograph by Alinari of the statue in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence. This celebrated and once admired statue is now regarded as typical of the degenerate Greek work produced for the Roman market. The technique is still admirable
From a photograph by the Graphic Gesellschaft of the original black basalt head in the Berlin Museum. Its antiquity is not above suspicion
From a photograph by Anderson of the original in the Vatican, Rome. A fine portrait, undoubtedly a close copy of an authentic original, as is the equally famous example in the British Museum
From a photograph by Anderson of the bust in the Capitoline Museum, Rome. The authenticity of this has been doubted, but on insufficient grounds. Evidently a work of about the same period as the “Young {xvi}Augustus” (plate 25)
Plate from “The Art of the Romans” by H. B. Walters, by kind permission of Messrs Methuen & Co. Arretine pottery takes its name from Arretium (Arezzo), the chief centre of this native Italian industry. It is distinguished by the fine crimson clay of which it is made. The designs stamped in relief from moulds are generally imitated from Greek metal-work or Samian ware. The pieces are seldom more than 6 in. in height
1. Coin of Pontus, with head of Mithradates the Great. See pp. 103, 158
2. Silver Tetradrachm, with heads of Antony and Cleopatra. See pp. 122, 155
3. Denarius of Sulla Rev Q. Pompeius Rufus, consul with Sulla in 88 B.C.
4. Denarius of Julius Cæsar Rev figure of Victory, with name of L Æmilius Buca, triumvir of the mint
5. Coin of Tiberius, with head of Livia and inscription SALVS AVGVSTA
Collotype plate from a photograph by Mansell & Co. of the original in the Gem Room, British Museum. Probably the work of Dioscorides, who had the exclusive right of portraying Augustus
From a photograph by Anderson of the statue in the Vatican, Rome. The emperor is depicted as a triumphant general, haranguing his troops. In the centre of the breastplate is a Parthian humbly surrendering the standards to a Roman soldier
From a photograph by Anderson of the bust in the Vatican, Rome. A distinctly Greek portrait, possibly taken during his early days at Apollonia; an authentic original bust
From a photograph supplied by Prof. Garstang of the original bronze, discovered by him in 1910, at Meroe in Egypt, and since presented to the British Museum
From a photograph by Alinari of the bust in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence. The design of the bust is inconsistent with the belief that this is a contemporary portrait. But it resembles the portraits of the general on the coins
This fine marble bridge was begun by Augustus and completed by Tiberius. Ariminum was the northern terminus of the great Flaminian Road
From photographs by C. T. Carr. The amphitheatre was erected by {xvii}Diocletian about A.D. 290 and was restored by Napoleon. It would contain about 20,000 spectators. Verona was the capital under Theodoric the Ostrogoth
This is part of the great aqueduct which supplied Nismes with water. The bridge has a span of 880 feet across the valley of the Gardon. The lower tiers are built of stone without mortar or cement of any kind.
The amphitheatre at Nismes is larger than that of Verona. There are sixty arches on the ground and first floors, with larger apertures at the four cardinal points
Notice the consoles in the attic story. These are pierced with round holes to contain the poles which once supported an awning for the protection of the spectators from the heat
Arles (Arelate) was one of the chief towns of Gallia Narbonensis, and a colony of Augustus. The upper part of the arch has perished. The sculptures represent chained captives. There is no inscription and the date of the monument is uncertain
This mausoleum was erected by three brothers Julius to the memory of their parents. Thousands of Gauls took the name of Julius in honour of Cæsar and Augustus. The style, which is essentially Græco-Roman, is appropriate to the period of Augustus. The reliefs again represent captives.
Plates 29-32 are from photographs taken by Sir Alexander Binnie
From a photograph by Neurdein. Apparently erected to the memory of C. Marius, who defeated the Teutons at Aquæ Sextiæ in 102 B.C. The neighbourhood of Orange (Arausio) was the scene of a great Roman defeat three years earlier. But the style of the monument points to a date at least a century later. The style of the reliefs is dated by the best authorities in the reign of Tiberius. The name of the sculptor, Boudillus, appears to be Gallic
From a photograph by Brogi. Remains of a handsome Corinthian colonnade which formerly belonged to the palace of Maximian. In the fourth century A.D., Mediolanum was frequently a place of imperial residence. In this period Milan was larger than Rome
From a photograph by Almari. This famous statue, which stands in the Loggia dei Lanzi, at Florence, is popularly called after the wife of Arminius, who died in exile at Ravenna. It is probably a typical Teutonic captive and very possibly occupied a place in the niche of a triumphal arch. Mrs. Strong assigns it to the period of Trajan {xviii}
From a photograph by Alinari of the original in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence. Augustus introduced Cæsar-worship into Rome by means of these altars to the Lares (household gods) and the Genius of Augustus. This altar dates from A.D. 2. Augustus is in the centre, Livia his wife to the right, and Gaius or Lucius Cæsar to the left. Mrs Strong describes these reliefs as “a series of singular charm”
From a photograph by Anderson of the original in the Villa Medici, Rome. An earlier example of the favourite sacrificial theme. The artist has sacrificed, as usual, the hinder part of his victim to his desire to introduce as many as possible of the portrait studies. The relief has been much and badly restored
From a photograph by Brogi of the original in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence. Discussed on pp. 244-245
From a photograph by Anderson of the original in the Museo delle Terme, Rome. The scene is a sacrifice. The majestic bearded figure on the right is perhaps emblematical of the senate—one of the finest conceptions of Græco-Roman art and little inferior to the elders on the Parthenon frieze. Above the attendants on the left is a small shrine of the Penates
1. A silver mirror-case of exquisite design: the central medallion represents Leda and the swan
2. One of the beautiful examples of Augustan art in which natural forms are used with brilliant decorative effect
From photographs by Giraudon of the originals in the Louvre
39(Fig. 1) GERMANICUS180
Sardonyx cameo from the Carlisle collection. Photograph by Mansell & Co.
Photograph by Mansell & Co. Sardonyx cameo probably by Dioscorides, A.D. 13
Below: German captives and Roman soldiers erecting a trophy
Above: Augustus and Roma enthroned. Behind them are Earth, Ocean, and (?) the World, who is crowning him with the corona civica. Behind his head is his lucky sign—the constellation of Capricornus. Tiberius escorted by a Victory is stepping out of his triumphal chariot and Germanicus stands between
From a photograph by Mansell & Co. of the original in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris. The largest and finest sardonyx cameo in existence. It is cut in five layers of the stone so that wonderful effects of tinting are produced, sometimes at the expense of the modelling. Tiberius and his mother Livia occupy the centre. Germanicus and his mother {xix}Antonia stand before him. The figures to the left may be Gaius (Caligula) and the wife of Germanicus. Behind the throne Drusus is looking up to heaven, where the deified Augustus floats, surrounded by allegorical figures. Below are barbarian captives
41(Figs. 1 and 3) STUCCO RELIEFS184
From photographs by Anderson of the originals in the National Museum, Rome. Much of the ornamentation of Roman villas was in stucco or terra-cotta taken from the mould and often tinted. Both the flying Victory and the Bacchic relief showing a drunken Silenus are extremely graceful specimens of the art, both essentially Greek
From a photograph by Anderson of the fragment in the Museo delle Terme, Rome. A fine example of the naturalistic ornament of the Augustan period
From a photograph by Anderson of the original in the Museo delle Terme, Rome. Quoted by Wickhoff as “a triumph of the Augustan illusionist style” a design of plane-leaves, admirable in fidelity to nature. Observe the rich mouldings of the framework
From a photograph by Mansell & Co. of the original in the British Museum. From the tomb of a poet. The Muse stands before him holding a tragic mask
From a photograph by Giraudon of the original in the Louvre. The inscription shows that this altar was dedicated to the spirits of Amemptus, a freedman of the Empress Livia. It belongs therefore to about A.D. 25.
From the types of ornament employed one may conjecture that Amemptus was a Greek actor and musician. The decorative effect is very charming and the detail most beautifully worked out
Eight Ionic unfluted columns with part of the entablature. The columns stand upon a lofty base. The Temple of Saturn, which contained the treasury of the senate, was rebuilt in 42 B.C.
From photographs by R.C. Smith. The most complete example of the round temple still existing, the Temple of Vesta in the Forum having disappeared. This is probably a temple of “Mother Dawn.” The five Corinthian columns of Pentelic marble were probably imported from Greece. Most authorities assign it to the Augustan restoration, but others place it among the earliest Republican works. The tiled roof is of course modern, and somewhat spoils its effect. This little temple stood in the Forum Boarium (cattle market)
From photographs by Anderson and Brogi. See p. 251
From a photograph kindly supplied by Sir Alexander Binnie. Perhaps the finest, certainly the most complete example of Græco-Roman {xx}architecture. The style is Corinthian, but characteristic Roman developments are the high podium or base, and the fact that the surrounding peristyle is “engaged” or attached to the wall except in front (pseudo-peripteral). This temple was dedicated to M. Aurelius and L. Verus. It was surrounded by an open space and then a Corinthian colonnade. Nismes, once the centre of a flourishing trade in cheese, is especially rich in Roman remains
From a photograph by Anderson. The theatre, built by Augustus in B.C. in memory of his ill-fated nephew, was constructed in three tiers, Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. The upper story has disappeared, and the elevation of the ground floor has been spoilt by the rise in the level of the ground
From a photograph by Anderson. The splendid cortile of the Farnese Palace, designed by Michael Angelo, is copied from the Theatre of Marcellus, exhibiting the same succession of orders. The juxtaposition of these two plates should assist the reader’s imagination to re-create the original splendours of Roman architecture from the existing ruins
From a photograph by Anderson. Erected by Augustus in honour of his beloved sister, who was married first to M. Marcellus then to M. Antony. She was the mother of Marcellus, great-grandmother of Nero and Caligula. She died in 11 B.C. The colonnade was probably built some years before her death. It enclosed the temples of Jupiter Stator and Juno, it also contained a public library and a senate-house which was destroyed by fire in the reign of Titus
From a photograph by Almari of the original in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence. A sacrifice, probably a work of the time of Domitian. The heads, most of them portraits, are of admirable execution, but the overcrowded design is unpleasing. The architectural background is typical of the Flavian period. This slab was used by Raphael in his cartoon of Paul and Barnabas at Lystra

1. Nero
2. Trajan
3. Vespasian
4. Hadrian

5. Marcus Aurelius
6. Domitian
7. Vitellius
8. Galba

From originals in the British Museum
From a photograph by Gibson & Son. See pp. 261-262
From a photograph by Frith. An example of military architecture, truly Roman in character. Probably dates from the time of Gallienus (A.D. 260){xxi}
On the left, the emperor surrounded by his staff is haranguing his troops. Observe how the ranks of the army are portrayed in file. On the right, fortifications are being constructed (Cichorius, plate xi)
On the left, horses are being transported across the Danube, Trajan is seen steering his galley, sheltered by a canopy. On the right he is landing at the gates of a Roman town on the river banks. The temples are visible within the walls (Cichorius, plate xxvi)
A cavalry battle, in which the Romans are charging the mail-clad Sarmatians. The reader will notice the resemblance between the latter and the Norman knights of the Bayeux tapestry (Cichorius, plate xxviii)
On the left the Romans, in testudo formation, are attacking a Dacian fortress. In the centre Trajan is receiving the heads of the defeated enemy (Cichorius, plate li)
Four collotype plates, reproduced by special permission from Prof. Cichorius’s “Die Reliefs der Traianssaule” (Berlin, Georg Reimer, 1896) Photographs by Donald Macbeth
From a photograph by Alinari of the original in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence. An example of “continuous narration” in relief-work. The sarcophagus is ornamented with typical scenes in the life of a Roman gentleman—the chase, the greeting by his slaves, sacrifice, marriage. The design is described as “subtly interwoven” or “fatiguing and confused” according to the taste of the onlooker
From a photograph by Graudon of the original relief in the Louvre. The source of this slab is unknown; it evidently belongs to the beginning of the second century A.D., and refers to the Dacian Wars of Trajan, or possibly of Domitian. The contrast between the proud calm Roman and the wild barbarian is very fine, and recalls similar contrasts in Greek sculpture. In the background a Dacian hut and an oak-tree are seen
From a photograph by Brogi. Shows the emblems captured in Jerusalem (A.D. 70) being carried in triumph at Rome. We can distinguish the seven-branched candlestick, the table for the show-bread and the Sacred Trumpets. The tablets were inscribed with the names of captured cities
From a photograph by Donald Macbeth of plate xxvi in Robert Wood’s “Ruins of Palmyra,” 1753. The city of Palmyra, traditionally founded by Solomon, at a meeting-point of the Syrian caravan routes, first rose into prominence in the time of Gallienus, when Odenathus, its{xxii} Saracen prince, was acknowledged by the emperor as “Augustus,” i.e. a colleague in the imperial power. After his assassination his widow Zenobia succeeded to his power and ruled magnificently as Queen of the East until she was defeated and made captive by Aurelian. The architectural remains are Corinthian in style, embellished with meaningless oriental ornament
Heliopolis or Ba’albek was the centre of a fertile region of Cœle-Syria on the slopes of Anti-Lebanon. It was always a centre of Baal or Sun worship, it was a city of priests and its oracle attracted great renown in the second century A.D. when it was consulted by Trajan. Antoninus Pius built the great Temple of Zeus (Jupiter), one of the wonders of the world. The worship was rather that of Baal than of Zeus, and oriental in character. It included the cult of conical stones such as that brought to Rome by Elagabalus. The architecture is of the most sumptuous Corinthian style, with some oriental modifications
Here we observe the oriental round arch forming the lowest course. The material of the buildings is white granite with decorations of rough local marble
Observe the rather effective juxtaposition of fluted and unfluted columns
This small circular temple is of a style without parallel in antiquity. The nature of the cult is unknown
The last four plates are reproduced by special permission of the Director of the Royal Museum, Berlin, from photographs supplied by the Königlichen Messbildanstalt. They are plates xvii, xxi, xxii, and xxx respectively, in Puchstein and Von Lupke’s “Ba’albek,” published for the German Government by G. Reimer, Berlin
Timgad (Thamugadi) was founded by Trajan as a Roman colony in A.D. 100. It is on the edge of the Sahara in the ancient province of Numidia. It has recently been explored by the French. The photograph shows the Capitol raised on an artificial terrace. Two of the Corinthian columns have been re-erected
A view of the main street, spanned by a triumphal arch in honour of Trajan. The ruts of the carriage-wheels are still visible as at Pompeii.
From photographs by Miss K. P. Blair
From a photograph by d’Agostino. The new street revealed by the most recent excavations of Prof. Spinazzola. The photograph shows us a “hot-wine shop” with the bar and the wine-jars
From a photograph by Abeniacar. Another of the most recent finds, a fresco of the Twelve Gods{xxiii}
From a photograph by Anderson of the bust in the Capitoline Museum, Rome. A splendid example of the realistic portraiture in the third century A.D.
From a photograph by Mansell & Co. of the bust in the British Museum. All the portraits of the virtuous philosopher agree in producing this aspect of tonsorial prettiness which belies the character of a manly and vigorous prince
From a photograph by Mansell & Co. of the bust in the British Museum
From a photograph by Mansell & Co. of the bust in the British Museum
From photographs by Anderson of the originals in the Vatican, Rome
Represents a military review. The infantrymen with their standards are grouped in the centre, while the emperor leads a procession of the cavalry with their vexilla, who march past with what Mrs Strong describes as a “fine and pleasing movement.” Discussed on p. 292
Antoninus and his less virtuous consort are being borne up to heaven on the back of Fame or the Genius. The youth reclining below bears the obelisk of Augustus to indicate that he personifies the Campus Martius. The figure on the right is Rome. The composition of the scene displays a ludicrous want of imagination
From photographs by Anderson. See p. 293
See p. 293
The Arch of Constantine is adorned with borrowed reliefs, mainly from the Forum of Trajan. It is the best preserved of the Roman arches. From photographs by R. C. Smith
From a photograph by Anderson. Described on p. 293. In the foreground is the ruined apse of the Temple of Venus and Rome, built by Hadrian
From a photograph by Anderson. The great Forum of Trajan was constructed by the Greek architect Apollodorus between A.D. 111 and 114. The base of the column formed a tomb destined to contain the conqueror’s ashes. At the top was his statue, now replaced by an image of St. Peter. The story of the Dacian war is told on the spiral relief about 1 metre broad. See plates 53-56{xxiv}
From photographs by Anderson. The Antonine Column was constructed on the model of the Column of Trajan, seventy-five years later, and thus affords an insight into the progress of relief sculpture at Rome. The later work shows more attempt at individual expression, not always successful, and the scenes are less crowded. They depict episodes from the German and Sarmatian wars of A.D. 171-175, (a) represents the decapitation of the rebels and (b) the capture of a German village: the huts are being burned while M. Aurelius serenely superintends an execution
(Fig. 1) from a photograph by Giraudon of the Mondragore bust in the Louvre
(Fig. 2) from a photograph by Mansell & Co. of the bust in the British Museum
The significance of the artistic cult of Antinous in the age of Hadrian is discussed on p. 293. It is probably only the diffidence of our native archæologists which has allowed the colossal Mondragore bust its supremacy. The British Museum portrait represents him younger and in the guise of a youthful Dionysius, the expression far more human, and the treatment of the hair far less elaborate and effeminate
From a photograph by Anderson
(Fig. 1). Marcus Aurelius accompanied by Bassæus Rufus, prætorian prefect, is riding through a wood and receiving the submission of two barbarian chiefs. In my judgment this scene, and especially the figure of the foot soldier at the emperor’s side, is the chef-d’œuvre of Roman historical relief-work
(Fig. 2). Marcus and Bassæus are sacrificing in front of the temple of the Capitoline Jove. These panels probably belonged to a triumphal arch erected in honour of the German and Sarmatian wars of A.D. 171-175. From photographs by Anderson of the originals in the Conservatori Palace, Rome
From photographs by Alinari. This splendid monument at Beneventum on the Appian Way was erected in A.D. 114 in expectation of the emperor’s triumphant return from the East, where, however, he died. It is constructed of Greek marble and once carried a quadriga in bronze. The reliefs on the inside (Fig. 1) depict the triumph of Trajan after his Parthian campaign. Those on the outside (Fig. 2) represent the Dacian campaigns
From a photograph by Anderson of the original in the National Museum, Rome. A fine example of decorative art. The motive of the garlanded skull is a favourite one. This altar was, as the inscription shows, a work of Hadrian’s time{xxv}
From a photograph by Alinari of the fragments in the Lateran Museum, Rome. Monument to a physician, and his family of about a.d. 100. The scheme is ugly and barbaric, but it includes some very fine decorative work. The facades of five Roman buildings are shown—the Temple of Isis, the Colosseum, two triumphal arches, and the Temple of Jupiter Stator. The temples are open and the images visible
From a photograph by Lacoste, kindly supplied by Sr. D. Miguel Utrillo. This superb bridge over the Tagus is 650 feet long. The design exhibits a rare combination of grace with strength
From a photograph by Anderson. The Castel S. Angelo, restored as a fortress by Pope Alexander VI. (Borgia), consists mainly of the Mausoleum of Hadrian; the bridge leading to it was also constructed for the emperor’s funeral. The circular tower was formerly ornamented with columns between which were statues. The famous Barberini Faun was one of them. There was a pyramidal gilt roof, and a colossal quadriga at the top. The whole building was formerly faced with white Parian marble. Besides Hadrian, all the Antonines, and Septimius Severus and Caracalla were buried here. The castle has had a stirring history in mediæval times also. The building is modelled upon the Mausoleum of Caria
From photographs by R. C. Smith. See p. 296
From the originals in the British Museum, after photographs by Donald Macbeth
From the original in the British Museum, said to have been found in a columbarium on the Appian Way
From photographs by R. C. Smith. The upper picture shows how the buried city has been dug out of the ashes from Vesuvius which form the subsoil of the surrounding country. The lower picture is a general view, showing Corinthian columns which formed a colonnade round the open impluvium
From photographs by Brogi. The upper picture shows the Cupids engaged as goldsmiths; the lower shows them as charioteers, Apollo and Artemis below. Two examples of the elegant mythological style of the Greek decline, but extremely effective for the purpose. This art is held to have originated in Alexandria
Collotype plate from a photograph by Brogi. Probably a copy of one{xxvi} of the great pictures of the old Greek masters, Timanthes, about 400 B.C. If so it is the most important example of early painting in existence. The psychological motive of the composition is a study of grief. Calchas the prophet is grieved with foreknowledge, Ajax and Odysseus are sorrowfully obeying commands which they do not understand. Iphigenia herself shows the fortitude of a martyr, but Agamemnon’s grief, since he was her father, is too great for a Greek to exhibit. Hence his face is hidden. Above appears the deer which Artemis allowed to be substituted for the maiden
Reproduced by permission of the German Institute of Archæology, from Luckenbach’s “Kunst und Geschichte” (grosse Ausgabe, Teil I, Tafel IV), by arrangement with R. Oldenbourg, Munich
From a photograph by Brogi of the fresco now in the Vatican. In the centre is the veiled bride, Venus is encouraging her, Charis is compounding sweet essences to add to her beauty, Hymen waits on the bride’s left seated on the threshold stone, outside is a group of three maidens, a musician, a crowned bridesmaid, and a tire-woman. At the other side the bride’s family is seen. This is without question the most charming example of ancient painting
From a photograph by Brogi of the original, discovered at Pompeii, now in the National Museum, Naples. An example of Hellenic metal-work of the Augustan age
From a photograph by Mansell & Co. of the statue in the British Museum. Represents the Mithraic sacrament of Taurobolium in which the worshippers received new life by bathing in the blood of a bull. Mithras wears a Phrygian cap, for the Mithraic religion, though it arose in Persia, only began to form artistic expression when it passed through the art region of Asia Minor. This motive constantly recurs in the monuments of the second and third century all over Europe
From a photograph by Alinari. This little church which contains the tombs of the Emperor Honorius, her brother, and of Constantius III., her husband, as well as a sarcophagus of the Empress in marble, formerly adorned with plaques of silver, is eloquent of the shrunken glory of the Western Empire in the fifth century. It was founded about A.D. 440. It is built in the form of a Latin cross, and is only 49 ft. long, 41 ft. broad. The interior contains beautiful mosaics. Ravenna contains many other relics of this period when it was the seat of the Roman government
From a photograph by Giraudon of the original in the Louvre. In the centre Constantine is represented on horseback with spear reversed in token of victory. Round him are Victory, a suppliant barbarian, and Earth with her fruits. To the left is a Roman soldier bearing a{xxvii} statuette of Victory. Below the nations of the East bring their tribute. Above two Victories, in process of transition, into angels, support a medallion of Christ, still of the beardless type associated with Apollo and Sol Invictus. The emblems of sun, moon, and stars show that Christian Art is not yet severed from paganism
From a photograph by Miss Carr. Diocletian planned this great palace, which is more like a city or fortress, at Spalato (Salonæ) on the Dalmatian coast, for his place of retirement. Its external walls measured 700 ft. by 580 ft. It was fortified on three sides and entered by three gates. The arcading in which the oriental arch springs from the Roman column is the most interesting architectural feature of the extensive ruins now existing
From a photograph by Anderson. Shows the really degenerate art of the fourth century A.D. In this battle (A.D. 312) Constantine defeated his rival Maxentius, who was drowned with numbers of his men in the Tiber. The relief shows the drowning


The style of the design points to about 350 B.C., and we have no real evidence of a coinage any earlier. The design is not primitive though it is clumsily cast. The head of Janus is often found on Greek coins and so is the galley prow. The weight of the As sank from 12 to 1 oz. in the course of republican history
An example of Etruscan painting which does not differ from Greek. This is probably a head of Hercules, whose name is found on Etruscan inscriptions
From Ridgeway’s “Early Age of Greece.” Black ware decorated with incised ornament: hippocamps or sea-horses on one: found at Falern in Tuscany. Pottery of this type is found on prehistoric sites all over the Mediterranean
The woollen toga was the official dress of the Roman citizen. It was generally worn over a tunic, though antiquarians, like Cato, wore the toga alone. It was worn in the natural colour of the wool, but candidates for office wore it specially whitened, and magistrates had a purple border
It is clearly only a provincial development of the Arretine ware which is itself imitated from the Samian ware of Greece
A reconstruction of the great frontier lines which encircled the Empire to the North along the Rhine and Danube. This is the style of the limes of Upper Germany
See p. 294



questa del Foro tuo solitudine
ogni rumore vince, ogni gloria,
e tutto che al mondo è civile,
grande, augusto, egli è romano ancora.

The Perspective of Roman History

ATHENS and Rome stand side by side as the parents of Western civilisation. The parental metaphor is almost irresistible. Rome is so obviously masculine and robust, Greece endowed with so much loveliness and charm. Rome subjugates by physical conquest and government. Greece yields so easily to the Roman might and then in revenge so easily dominates Rome itself, with all that Rome has conquered, by the mere attractiveness of superior humanity. Nevertheless this metaphor of masculine and feminine contains a serious fallacy. Greece, too, had had days of military vigour. It was by superior courage and skill in fighting that Athens and Sparta had beaten back the Persian invasions of the fifth century before Christ, and thus saved Europe for occidentalism. Again it was by military prowess that Alexander the Great carried Greek civilisation to the borders of India, Hellenising Asia Minor, Syria, Persia, Egypt, Phœnicia and even Palestine. This he did just at the moment when Rome was{2} winning her dominion over Latium. Instead, then, of looking at Greece and Rome as two coeval forces working side by side we must regard them as predecessor and successor. Rome is scarcely revealed as a world-power until she meets Greek civilisation in Campania near the beginning of the third century before Christ. The physical decline of Greece is scarcely apparent until her phalanx returns beaten in battle by the Roman maniples at Beneventum. Moreover, in addition to this chronological division of spheres there is also a geographical division. Greece takes the East, Rome the West, and though by the time that Rome went forth to govern her Western provinces she was already pretty thoroughly permeated with Greek civilisation, yet the West remained throughout mediæval history far more Latin than Greek. When Constantine divided the empire he was only expressing in outward form a natural division of culture.

The resemblances between Rome and Greece even from the first are very clearly marked. In many respects they are visibly of the same family, and, though we no longer speak as confidently of “Aryan” and “Indo-European” as did the ethnologists and philologists of the nineteenth century, yet there remains an obvious kinship of language, customs, and even dress. Many of the most obvious similarities, such as those of religion, are now seen to be the result of later borrowing, but there remains a distinct cousinship, whether derived from the conquest of both peninsulas by kindred tribes of northern invaders, as Ridgeway holds, or from the existence of an aboriginal Mediterranean face, as Sergi believes—or from both.

But with all these resemblances, one of the most interesting features of ancient history lies in the psychological contrast between Greece and Rome, or rather between Athens and Rome. Athens is rich in ideas, full of the spirit of inquiry, and hence fertile in invention, fond of novelty, worshipping brilliance of mind and body. Rome is stolid and conservative, devoted to tradition and law. Gravity and{3} the sense of duty are her supreme virtues. Here we have the two types that succeed and conquer, set side by side for comparison. To which is the victory in the end?

To the Englishman of to-day Rome is in some ways far more familiar than Greece. Apart from obvious resemblances in history and in character, Rome touches our own domestic history, and any man who has marked the stability of old Roman foundations or the straightness of old Roman roads has already grasped a fundamental truth about her. He is surely not far wrong in the general sense of irresistible power, of blind energy and rigid law, which he associates with the name of Rome. Thus, there is not as there was in the case of Greece any radical misconception of the Roman character to be combated.

But there is, it appears, a widely prevalent false perspective in the common view of Roman history. The modern reader, especially if he be an Englishman, is a very stern moralist in his judgment of other nations and ages. In addition to this he is a citizen of an empire now extremely self-conscious and somewhat bewildered at its own magnitude. He cannot help drawing analogies from Roman history and seeking in it “morals” for his own guidance. The Roman empire bears such an obvious and unique resemblance to the British that the fate of the former must be of enormous interest to the latter. For this reason alone we are apt to regard the fall of Rome as the cardinal point of Roman history. To this must be added the influence of Gibbon’s great work. By Gibbon we are led to contemplate above all things (with Silas Wegg) her Decline and Fall. Thus Rome has become for many people simply a colossal failure and a horrible warning. We behold her first as a Republic tottering to her inevitable ruin, and then as an Empire decaying from the start and continuing to fester for some five hundred years. This is one of the cases which prove that History is made not so much by heroes or natural forces as by historians. It is an accident of historiography{4} that the Republic was not described by any great native historian until its close, when amid the horrors of civil war men set themselves to idealise the heroes of extreme antiquity and thus left a gloomy picture of unmitigated deterioration. As there was no great historian in sympathy with the imperial regime, the reputation of the early Empire was left mainly in the hands of Tacitus and Suetonius, the former of whom riddled it with epigrams while the latter befouled it with scandal. Nearly all Roman writers had a rhetorical training and a satirical bent: all Romans were praisers of the past. Thus it is that Roman virtue has receded into an age which modern criticism declares to be mythological. It is a further accident that the genius of Rome’s greatest modern historian was also strongly satirical. It was a natural affinity of temper which led Gibbon to continue the story of Tacitus and to dip his pen into the same bitter fluid.

Thus Rome has found few impartial historians and hardly any sympathetic ones. But is it possible to be sympathetic? While every true scholar feels a thrill at the name of Greece, scarcely any one loves Ancient Rome. At the first mention of her name the average man’s thoughts fly to the Colosseum and the Christian martyr “facing the lion’s gory mane” to the music of Nero’s fiddle. His second thought is to formulate his explanation of her decline and fall. The explanations are as various as political complexions. “Luxury,” says the moralist, “Heathendom,” says the Christian, “Christianity,” replies Gibbon. The Protectionist can easily show that it was due to the Importation of free corn, while the Free Trader draws attention to the enormous burdens which Roman trade had to bear. “Militarism,” explains the peace-lover; “neglect of personal service,” replies the conscriptionist. The Liberal and the Conservative can both draw valuable conclusions from Roman history in support of their respective attitudes of mind. “If it had not been for demagogues like Marius and the Gracchi,” says the Conservative, “Rome might have continued to exhibit the courage and patriotism{5} which she displayed under senatorial guidance in the war against Hannibal, instead of rushing to her doom by way of sedition and disorder.” With equal justice the Liberal points to the stupid bigotry with which that corrupt oligarchy, the senate, delayed necessary reforms. That, he says, was the cause of the downfall of Rome. That was the writing on the wall.

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Whether it is or is not possible to love Ancient Rome, I would suggest that this attitude of treating her merely as a subject for autopsies and a source of gloomy vaticinations for the benefit of the British Empire is a preposterous affront to history. The mere notion of an empire continuing to decline and fall for five centuries is ridiculous. It is to regard as a failure the greatest civilising force in all the history of Europe, the most stable form of government, the strongest military and political system that has ever existed.

It is just at this point that our own generation can add something of great importance to the study of Roman history. Whatever may be said for its faith, hope is the great discovery of our age. By the help of that blessed word “Evolution” we have learnt not to put our Golden Ages in the past but in the future. In many instances we have discovered that what our fathers called decay was really progress. May it not be so with Rome?

The destiny or function of Rome in world-history was nothing more or less than the making of Europe. The modern family of European nations are her sons and daughters, and some of her daughters have grown up and married foreign husbands and given birth to offspring. For this great purpose it was necessary that the city itself should pass through the phases of growth, maturity and decay. In political terms, it was part of the Roman destiny to translate the civilisation of the city-state into that of the nation or territorial state. Having evolved the Province it was necessary that the City should expire. Conquest on a colossal scale was part of the programme, absolute centralised{6} dominion was another part. For this purpose the change from republic to autocracy was necessary.

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Greece, as we have seen elsewhere, by her system of small states enclosed and protected by city walls, had been able, long before the world at large was nearly ripe for it, to develop a civilised culture with habits of thought and speech which are now called European or Occidental. It was in a highly concentrated social life and under artificial conditions that Athens had laid the foundation of all our arts, sciences and philosophies. It was, however, as we saw, impossible for the civic democracy to expand naturally. She could hold a little empire for a few years by means of precarious sea-power. She could throw off a few daughter cities made in her own likeness. But for missionary work on a large scale the city-state was not adapted. Something much larger than a city and much more single-minded than a democracy was necessary for that purpose. The genius of Alexander the Great, an autocrat and a semi-barbarian, enabled him to do much towards propagating Hellenism in the eastern part of the Mediterranean littoral. But his early death prevented the fulfilment of his task and the half of him that was Greek made him consider the planting of new Greek cities the only means for fulfilling it.

Here then was the part which Rome had to play. She had to do for the West what Alexander had attempted for the East. In some respects her task was harder, for her work lay among warlike barbarians, but easier in that she had not to face the corrupting influence of a rival and more ancient civilisation.

Rome too began as a city-state and it was while she was still in that condition that Greek civilisation came to her and took her by storm. It was the new wine that burst the old bottle when Rome attempted to transform herself into a Greek democracy, and failing became a monarchy once more. It was not, therefore, a case of “decline and fall” when Rome ceased to be a republic. No liberal need heave a sigh for the departed republic. It was an oligarchy that had for a century{7} deserved to be replaced by something better, and the change was even an upward step in liberty for all but a few hundreds of Roman nobles. If we can but turn our minds away from the gossip of the court and the spite of the discontented aristocracy to a just survey of that majestic and enduring system of provincial government, we shall be able to discern progress where historians would have us lament decay.

It was progress again when Rome gradually ceased to be a city-state with a surrounding territory and became successively the capital of an empire and then one of half a dozen great centres of government. Finally it was progress, as we ought by now to be able to see, when the artificial ramparts on the Rhine and Danube broke down and the new nations came into their inheritance. By that time Rome had accomplished her work and the phase of the city-state was over.

Some such convictions as these are, I think, inevitable to any one who views European history as a whole in the light of any theory of historical evolution. Rome has long been the playground of satirists and pessimists. Unfortunately at this date it is difficult if not impossible to shake their verdict and to read Roman history in the new light. To do so you cannot follow the authorities, for they were all on the side of deterioration. The idea of progress was unknown to the ancient world, and above all others the Romans believed that their Golden Age was behind them. It becomes necessary therefore to extract truth from unwilling witnesses, always a precarious and suspicious undertaking. All the Roman men of letters believed with Horace:

damnosa quid non imminuit dies?
ætas parentum peior auis tulit
nos nequiores, mox daturos
progeniem uitiosiorem.[1]

Unless we are prepared to accept the rank of progenies vitiosissima we are compelled to discount this whole tendency of thought and read our authorities between the lines. They were all rhetoricians, all bent on praising the past at the expense of the present and the future; none of them were over-scrupulous in dealing with evidence. If all the historians had perished and only the inscriptions remained we should have a very different picture of the Roman empire, a picture much brighter and, I think, much more faithful to truth.


Hellenism we know and understand; every true classical scholar is a Hellenist by conviction. But what is Latinism and who are our Latinists? The altar fires are extinct and the votaries are scattered. Except for a small volume of the choicest Latin poetry of the Augustan age, what that is Latin gives us pleasure to-day? Greek studies seem to attract all that is most brilliant and genial in the world of scholarship: Latin is mainly relegated to the dry-as-dusts. Who reads Lucan out of school hours? Who would search Egypt for Cicero’s lost work “De Gloria”? Who would recognise a quotation from Statius?

It has not always been so. Once they quoted Lucan and Seneca across the floor of the House of Commons. The eighteenth century was far more in sympathy with Ancient Rome than we are. In those days it would not have seemed absurd to argue the superiority of Vergil over Homer. Down to that day Latin had remained the alternative language for educated people, the medium of international communication, even for diplomacy, until French gradually took its place. Only if you specifically sought to reach the vulgar did you write in English. Though Dr. Johnson could write a very pretty letter in French, he used habitually to converse with Frenchmen in Latin; not that it made him more intelligible, for, in fact, no foreigner could understand the English pro{9}nunciation of Latin; but that he did not wish to appear at a disadvantage with a mere Frenchman by adopting a foreign jargon. As for public inscriptions, though half the literary men in London signed a round-robin entreating the great autocrat to write Oliver Goldsmith’s epitaph in English, Johnson “refused to disgrace the walls of Westminster Abbey with an English inscription.”

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What is the cause of the eclipse which Latin studies are still suffering? One cause, perhaps, is to be found in the misuse of the language by the pedagogues and philologists of the past in the school and the examination-room. But another cause is the recent discovery of the true Greek civilisation, whereby scholars have come to realise that Latin culture is in the main only secondary and derivative. At the present moment we are passing through a stage of revolt against classicism, convention, and artificiality. We know that Greek culture, truly discerned, is neither “classic” nor conventional nor artificial, but Latinism is still apparently subject to all these terms. The Latinity of Cicero, Vergil, Ovid, Horace, Lucan, and the greater part of the giants, in fact all the Latin of our schools is—what Greek is not—really and truly classical. They were not writing as they spoke and thought. They had studied the laws of expression in the school of rhetoric, and on pain of being esteemed barbarous they wrote under those laws. Style was their aim. Their very language was subject to arbitrary laws of syntax and grammar. The English schoolboy who approaches Cicero by way of the primer’s rules and examples is entering into Latin literature by much the same road as the Romans themselves. The Romans were grammarians by instinct and orators by education. Thus Latin is fitted by nature for schoolroom use, and for all who would learn and study words, which after all are thoughts, Latin is the supremely best training-ground. The language marches by rule. Rules govern the inflexions and the concords of the words. The periods are built up logically and beautifully in obedience to{10} law. Latin, of all languages, least permits translation. You have only to translate Cicero to despise him.

In the world of letters, as in that of politics, there are the virtues of order and the virtues of liberty. Our own eighteenth century was logical in mind because it had to clothe its thoughts in a language of precision. But even Pope and Addison are rude barbarians compared with Vergil and Cicero. De gustibus non est disputandum—let some prefer the plain roast and others the made dish. Latin may be an acquired taste, but no sort of excellence is mortal. Latin will come into its own again along with Dryden and Congreve, along with patches and periwigs. Meanwhile it must be a very dull soul who is unmoved by the grandeur of Roman history, the triumphant march of the citizen legions, the dogged patriotism which resisted Hannibal to the death, and the pageantry and splendour of the Empire. One must be blind not to admire the massive strength of her ruined monuments, arches, bridges, roads, and aqueducts. And one must be deaf indeed not to enjoy the surges of Ciceronian oratory or the rolling music of the Vergilian hexameter. Greece may claim all the charm of the spring-time of civilisation, but Rome in all her works has a majesty which must command, if not love, wonder and respect. Mommsen justly remarks that “it is only a pitiful narrow-mindedness that will object to the Athenian that he did not know how to mould his State like the Fabii and Valerii, or to the Roman that he did not learn to carve like Phidias and to write like Aristophanes.”

Under the flowing toga of Latinism the natural Roman is concealed from our view. It is possible that the progress of research and excavation may to some extent rediscover him and distinguish him, as it has already done for his Hellenic brother, from the polished courtiers of the Augustan age who have hitherto passed as typical products of Rome.

It is astonishing how little we really know of Rome and the Romans after all that has been said and written about{11} them. The ordinary natural Roman is a complete stranger to us. It is certain that he did not live in luxury like Mæcenas, but how did he live and what sort of man was he? We can discern that his language was not in the least like that of Cicero. It appears that he neither dreaded nor disliked emperors like Nero, as did Tacitus and Juvenal. As for his religion, much has already been done, and more still remains to be done, to show that he did not really worship the Hellenised Olympians who pass in literature for his gods. Recent scholarship has done something to reveal to us the presence of a real national art in Rome, or at any rate of an artistic development on Italian soil which made visible steps of its own out of Hellenic leading-strings. Thus there is some hope that the real Roman will not always elude us. But for the present in the whole domain of art, religion, thought, and literature, Greek influence has almost obliterated the native strain. For the present, therefore, we must be content to regard Roman civilisation as mainly derivative, and our principal object will be to see how Rome fulfilled her task as the missionary of Greek thought. This object, together with the unsatisfactory nature of the records, must excuse the haste with which I have passed over the earlier stages of Roman republican history. It is obvious that the first three centuries of our era will be the important part of Roman history from this point of view. Also, if the progress of civilisation be our main study, nothing in Roman history before the beginning of the second century B.C. can come directly under our attention. When the Romans first came into contact with the Greeks they were still barbarians, with no literature, no art, and very little industry or commerce. The earlier periods will only be introductory.

Italy and the Roman

The pleasant land of Italy needs no description here. Our illustrations[2] will recall its sunny hill-sides, its deep{12} shadows, its vineyards and olive-yards. But there are one or two features of its geography which have a bearing upon the history of Rome.

To begin with, the geographical unity of the Italian peninsula is more apparent than real. The curving formation of the Apennines really divides Italy into four parts—(1) the northern region, mainly consisting of the Po valley, a fertile plain which throughout the Republican period was scarcely considered as part of Italy at all, and was, in fact, inhabited by barbarian Gauls; (2) the long eastern strip of Adriatic coast, an exposed waterless and harbourless region, with a scanty population, which hardly comes into ancient history; (3) the southern region of Italy proper, hot, fertile, and rich in natural harbours, so that it very early attracted the notice of the Greek mariners, and was planted with luxurious and populous cities long before Rome came into prominence; and (4) the central plain facing westward, in which the river Tiber and the city of Rome occupy a central position. Etruria and Latium together fill the greater part of it. Its width is only about eighty miles, so that there is no room for any considerable rivers to develop, and, in fact, there are only four rivers of any importance in a coast-line of more than 300 miles. We may call the whole of this region a plain in distinction from the Apennine highlands; but it is, of course, plentifully scattered with hills high enough to provide an impregnable citadel, and to this day crowned with huddled villages.

Rome herself on her Seven Hills began her career by securing dominion over the Latin plain which surrounded her on all sides but the north. The Roman Campagna,[3] which is now desolate and fever-stricken, was once all populous farmland. The river Tiber, though its silting mouth and tideless waters now render it useless for navigation, was in the flourishing days of Ancient Rome navigable for small vessels and Ostia was a good artificial harbour at its mouth. Thus{13} it is history rather than geography which has made Rome into an unproductive capital. We may conclude that geography has placed Rome in a favourable position for securing the control of the Mediterranean and especially of the western part of it.

It is worth while also to notice the neighbours by whom she was surrounded when she first struggled forward into the light. Just across the Tiber to the north of her were the Etruscans of whom we shall see more in the next chapter. Their pirate ships scoured the sea while their merchants did business with the Greeks of Sicily, Magna Græcia and Massilia. It was perhaps her position at the tête du pont that led to Rome’s early prominence in war. Across the water on the coast of Africa was the dreaded city of Carthage, which had for centuries been striving to establish itself on the island of Sicily. All these were seafaring, commercial peoples, but it was not by sea that Rome met them. Behind Rome, among the valleys and on the spurs of the Apennines, were a whole series of sturdy highland clans who like all highlanders noticed the superior fatness of the valley sheep. It was against these Umbrians, Marsians, Pelignians, Sabines, and Samnites that the cities of the plain were constantly at feud, and it was mainly her struggles with these that kept the Roman swords bright in early days.

As to the Romans themselves and their origin there is little that we can say for certain. Ancient ethnology is not by any means yet secure of its premises. One thing is clear enough, if we can place any reliance whatever upon literary records—the national characteristics of the ancient Roman were very unlike those of the modern Italian. The one was bold, hardy, grave, orderly and inartistic: the other is sensitive, vivacious, artistic, turbulent and quick-witted. There is not a feature in common between them and yet the modern Italian is surely the normal South European type. As you go southwards through France you find the people approaching these characteristics more and more. The{14} Spaniard and the Greek share them. The Ancient Roman of republican days, unless he is a literary invention, is assuredly no southerner in temperament, though the southern qualities undoubtedly begin to grow clear as Roman history progresses. And then the whole of early Roman history is marked by a strife between the two orders Patrician and Plebeian, which is certainly not simply a struggle between two political parties, nor a mere conflict between rich and poor. There is a division between the two of religion and custom in such matters as burial, for example, and marriage-rites. The patricians fear contamination of their blood if the plebeians are allowed to intermarry with them. These considerations and others like them have led Prof. Ridgeway to formulate for Rome, as he has already done with success for Greece, a theory of northern invasion and conquest in very early days. Probably it is a theory which can never be proved nor disproved, so woefully scanty is our evidence for the earliest centuries of Roman history. But it explains the great riddle of Roman character as no other theory does.

The archæology of the spade does not help us much though it has made some interesting discoveries on the soil of Italy. There is of course at the base a Neolithic culture resembling that of the rest of Europe. Then there is a phase of pile-dwellings widely spread among the marshes of the Lombard plain called the “Terramare” civilisation. As this phase belongs to the bronze age we may infer that civilisation developed later in Italy than in Greece owing to the lack of fortified cities. In this Terramare period the dead were carefully buried whole, often folded up into a sitting posture to fit their contracted graves. Then comes an Early Iron period, called “The Villanova,” where the cremated ashes of the dead are collected in urns and deposited in vaults generally walled with flat slabs of stone. Above these two stages come Etruscan and Gallic remains and then those of the Rome of history. It is probable enough that the Iron Age of the Villanova culture repre{15}sents a conquest from the north. It is likely that in prehistoric times Italy experienced the same fate as throughout the ages of history. The Alpine passes are easier from north to south than in the reverse direction, and the smiling plains of North Italy have always possessed an irresistible attraction for the barbarian who looks down upon them from those barren snow-clad heights. Whether the invader be an Umbrian or Gaulish or Gothic or Austrian warrior, Italia must pay the price for her “fatal gift of beauty.{16}



arx æternæ dominationis.

THAT Rome was not built in a day is the only thing we really know about the origin of Rome. There is, however, nothing to prevent us from guessing. The modern historian of the Economic School would picture to us a limited company of primeval men of business roaming about the world until they found a spot in the centre of the Mediterranean, a convenient depot alike for Spanish copper and Syrian frankincense, handy for commerce with the Etruscans of the north, the Sicilian Greeks of the south, and the Carthaginians of the African coast. They select a piece of rising ground on the banks of the river Tiber, about fifteen miles from its mouth, a spot safe and convenient for their cargo-boats, and there they build an Exchange, found a Chamber of Commerce (which they quaintly term senatus), and institute that form of public insurance which is known as “an army.” Thus equipped they proceed by force or fraud to acquire a number of markets, to which in due course they give the name of “Empire.”

This picture, being modern, is naturally impressionistic and rather vague in its details. From all accounts a good{17} deal of engineering would be required to make the natural Tiber suitable for navigation on a large scale. Not only does its mouth silt up every year and its channel constantly change, but just between the hills on the very floor of Rome every spring made pools and swamps. Nor is there any tide in the Mediterranean to help the rowers up to the city against the stream. The Etruscans, who diversified their commercial operations with systematic piracy, held almost the whole of this western coast in subjection. The Greeks of the south, who have plenty to say about Etruscan and Carthaginian seafarers, have forgotten to mention their early Roman customers. But perhaps that is because the primeval trader from Rome cannot have had anything much to sell, and certainly had no money at all to buy with. In founding his Bourse he seems to have forgotten to provide a Mint; at any rate, long after the Sicilian Greeks had evolved a most exquisite coinage of silver and gold, the Romans were still content with the huge and clumsy copper as. I think we may confidently dismiss external trade from among the causes of the early rise of Rome. The coinage is the surest evidence we possess, no foreign trade could have passed in the Mediterranean on a basis of the copper as, and in Latin the equivalent for “money” is a word denoting “cattle.” Whoever the early Romans were, they were mainly, as all their religion and traditions show, land-soldiers and farmers.

Livy takes a more sensible view. He admits that the current accounts of the foundation of the city are involved in mystery and miracle, but he asserts with justice that if any city deserved a miraculous origin Rome did. Thereupon he proceeds to relate the pleasant tale of her foundation in the year 753 B.C. by Romulus and Remus.

It is surely unprofitable to search very deeply for grains of truth in the sands of legend which cover the early traditions of Rome, but it is sometimes interesting to conjecture how and why the legends were invented. The story of Romulus and Remus, for example, may have taken its rise in a{18}

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Roman As (bronze, full size)

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“sacristan’s tale” about an ancient work of art representing a wolf suckling two babes. A fairly ancient copy of this motive is preserved in the famous Capitoline Wolf.[4] The{19} wolf at least is ancient, and the children have been added in modern times from representations of the famous group on ancient coins. It is possible that the original statue may go back to days of totemistic religion when the wolf was the ancestor of a Roman clan.

The Seven Kings of Rome are for the most part mere names which have been fitted by rationalising antiquarians, presumably Greek, with inventions appropriate to them. Romulus is simply the patron hero of Rome called by her name. Numa, the second, whose name suggests numen, was the blameless Sabine who originated most of the old Roman cults, and received a complete biography largely borrowed from that invented for Solon. Tullus Hostilius and Ancus Martius were the hostile and martial inventors of military systems. Servius Tullius was a man of servile origin, and on this foundation Freeman built his belief that the Roman kingship was a career open to talent!

As for the two Tarquins, the latter of whom was turned by Greek historians into a typical Greek tyrant and made the subject of an edifying Greek story of tyrannicide closely modelled on the story of Harmodius, their names are said to be Etruscan. There is a recent theory that the saving of Rome by Horatius and his comrades is fable designed to conceal the real conquest of Rome by the Etruscans. As a matter of fact there is a good deal of other evidence for that theory: reluctant admissions in history and literature, records of an ancient treaty of submission, the fact that the ritual and ornament of supreme authority at Rome seems to be of Etruscan origin, and above all the evidence of the stones. There are traces of very early skill and activity in building at Rome, and, unless the Romans afterwards declined very remarkably in the arts and crafts, their early works, such as the walls and some of the sewers, must have been built under foreign influence. That some sort of early kingship at Rome is more than a legend is certain; the whole fabric of the Roman constitution and its fundamental theory of imperium{20} imply the existence of primeval kingship. On the whole, then, we may well believe that at some early period the city of Rome under Etruscan princes formed part of an empire which embraced a number of ports and towns up and down the Italian coast, though it did not necessarily concern itself with the intervening and surrounding territories. During all the early centuries of Rome it must have been a constant struggle between civilised walled towns on or near the coast and warlike hill tribes, quite uncivilised, from the mountainous interior.

These mysterious Etruscans have formed the theme of an internecine war of monographs. On the whole we may pronounce that those scholars who maintain their Lydian origin have completely demolished the arguments of those who aver that they sprang from the Rhætian Alps—and vice versâ. It remains possible, therefore, that the Etruscans came from nowhere in particular but were as aboriginal and autochthonous as any European people. It is true that we cannot make out much of their language, but that is also true of the aboriginal Cretans—and of many other autochthonous peoples. Their earliest remains are of a type familiar to us in the earliest strata of production all over the Mediterranean coast-lands—prehistoric polygonal masonry, a beehive tomb, incised bucchero nero vases and so forth. Their later and finer work shows a distinct cousinship with that of Greece though sometimes curiously debased and uncouth in spirit. In bronze-working they were very skilful.[5] They developed painting to a high pitch in early times, and the British Museum possesses some interesting examples from Cære. It was indeed believed by Pliny that Corinthian painters had settled in Etruria, that being the usual account by which the ancients explained resemblances. But we may believe that the art of painting is indigenous on the soil of Tuscany. Their pottery is very similar to that of Greece.[6] It appears that the flourishing period of Etruscan art coincided with that of the greatest{21}

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FIG. 2.
Plate V.
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Etruscan Fresco. Head of Hercules

extent of their empire, namely, the sixth and early fifth centuries B.C. Their plastic work was mostly in terra-cotta, for the native marbles do not seem to have been quarried. Some of their terra-cotta coffins, adorned with conventional portraits of the deceased and finished off by the application of paint, show considerable technical skill, but always that strange grotesque spirit.[7] From all accounts these Etruscans were a superstitious and cruel race. It was from them that the Romans learnt their bloody craft of divination by the inspection of the entrails of newly slain victims, and there is little doubt that the victims had not always been the lower animals. We are told that the insignia of royalty at Rome—the toga with scarlet{22}

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Prehistoric Etruscan Pottery

or purple stripes, the toga with purple border, the sceptre of ivory, the curule chair, the twelve lictors with their axes in bundles of rods—were borrowed from the Etruscans. Thus it seems that the ancient garb of the Roman citizen, a tunic covered by a long mantle or toga, a costume which is essentially the same as the chiton and himation of the Greeks, started as a fashion introduced by their more civilised northern neighbours. It seems clear also that the earliest Roman art, the decoration of temples with painted terra-cotta ornaments, was Etruscan in origin. Some of the earliest statues of the gods seem to have been painted, for we hear of a very ancient red Jupiter. Thus there is some probability that Rome passed through a period, perhaps in the sixth century, of alien rule and alien civilisation. Remembering the cousinship between Greece and Etruria we shall find that Rome had been prepared for the reception of Greek culture in very early times.{23}

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The Roman Toga

The fifth century seems to have been a period of decline for the Etruscan power. The Greek republics, with, as I hope we agreed, their northern stiffening, had advanced far beyond their Etruscan kinsmen in intelligence, and the tyrant Hiero of Syracuse defeated them in a great sea-fight in 474 B.C. It is agreeable to the historian to have a fact so certain and a date so well attested in all the wilderness of legend that surrounds the early history of Italy. Then the warlike hill tribes of the Southern Apennines began to press upon their southern colonies, and finally the Gauls from the north swept down upon Etruria at the beginning of the fourth century and broke up their declining empire for ever. It was probably during this period that the Romans expelled their Etruscan princes, and replaced royalty by a pair of equal colleagues sharing most of the royal power and regal emblems except crown and sceptre. So we get to the Rome of the earliest credible tradition—a Rome governed by two consuls and a senate of nobles. It is a city composed of farm-houses and in each house the head of the family rules in patriarchal majesty.{24}

The Growing Republic

Thus it is necessary to throw overboard a great mass of edifying and famous history in the interest of youth. There were no contemporary records, the annals and fasti upon which Livy’s immediate predecessors relied in the first century B.C. are demonstrably of late concoction. Everywhere we can see the influence of Greek artists importing fragments of Greek history, rationalising names and customs, antedating and reduplicating later constitutional struggles, writing appropriate speeches for early parliamentarians who never existed, and generally demonstrating the power of Greek invention to flatter Roman credulity. The great families of 200 B.C. and onwards found themselves as rich and powerful as nabobs; they had great historic names, and when there was a funeral in the family they sent out a long procession of waxen images to represent the noble ancestors of the deceased. At such times there would be funeral orations recounting the deeds of those heroic ancestors. Every family had its traditions, as glorious and as authentic as those of the descendants of Brian Boru. When literature came into fashion and needy Greek scribes offered a plausible stilus to any rich patron, Roman history began to exist, sometimes bearing respectable Roman names but always written in Greek. It is thus that we get the series of heroic actions attributed to Fabii and Horatii and deeds of wicked pride ascribed to ancestral Claudii. Whatever it may cost us in pangs for the fate of pretty tales I fear we must not scruple to use the knife freely in this region of literary history. A glance at the following coincidences will help to allay our scruples: Tarquin the Roman tyrant was driven out in the same year as Hippias the Athenian tyrant (510 B.C.); the Twelve Tables at Rome were drawn up in the same year as the code of Protagoras at Thurii (451 B.C.); 300 Fabii died to a man in the battle of Cremera just about the same time as 300 Spartans died to a man with Leonidas at{25} Thermopylæ in 480 B.C. To put it briefly: Nothing anterior to the Gallic invasion of 390 B.C. and very little for nearly another century can be accepted on literary evidence alone.

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So far as we can read the stones, the earliest Rome consisted of a settlement on the Palatine Hill, with a citadel and a temple on the Capitol, and with a forum or market on the low ground between them. On the Esquiline Hill was a plebeian settlement. It was a pastoral and agricultural community, expressing wealth in terms of cattle, ploughing and reaping so much of the Campagna as their farmers could reach in a day or their armies protect. From the very earliest times the community consisted of a few great houses of patrician blood with numerous clients and slaves. In every house the father was king absolute, with power of life and death over his sons, daughters, and slaves. Daughters passed from the hand of the father to the hand of the husband, like any other property, by a form of sale. Out of remote antiquity comes a piece of genuine Latin:


—“If a boy beats his father and the father complains let the boy be devoted to the gods of parents,” i.e. slain as a sacrifice. It was a commonwealth of such parents—no republican lovers of liberty, be sure—whose chiefs met to discuss policy in the temple, as the Senate, and who themselves assembled in a body, fully armed, as the comitium, to vote upon the Senate’s decrees conveyed by the consuls.

Grim and despotic in peace these Roman aristocrats were fierce and tenacious in war. As soon as she was free, if not earlier, Rome appeared as a member of the Latin League which ruled over the Plain of Latium under the presidency of Alba Longa. This piece of tradition is attested by many survivals in ritual. Her earliest wars were against neighbours like Gabii, whose very name made the later Romans smile, so insignificant a village it was. It was in these little contests{26} that the early Romans learnt their trade as warriors, and if any one seeks to know the causes of Rome’s victorious career the answer is, I suppose, that she fought very bravely and obeyed her generals better than her enemies obeyed theirs. Discipline was her secret, and discipline came, no doubt, from the strict patriarchal system in her homes, a system assuredly not of Mediterranean birth.

Whether the geese who cackled were authentic or merely ætiological fowls I know not, but it is certain that Rome did not suffer so severely from the Gallic invasion as did her neighbours across the Tiber. Probably it was only the last wave of a great invasion which reached as far as Rome, burnt the Palatine settlement and the humble wattled dwellings of the poor on the Esquiline, and failed to storm the Capitol. At any rate the Gallic invasion of 390 B.C. seems to have started the Romans on their career of conquest, mainly at the expense of the Etruscans. But there were incessant wars with all her neighbours; every summer the army marched out as a matter of course. If it was not a decaying Etruscan town to be taken by siege it was a Latin neighbour, or failing them a Volscian or Sabine community from the hills. Summer, while the corn could be left to do its own growing, was the time for battle. To have been at peace in summer would have been slackness, to wage war in winter a grave solecism. So in short space Rome became an important little town, head of the Latin League and probably the strongest unit in Central Italy. It appears that she began about now to emerge into international notice by the great powers, for we have a treaty of 348 B.C., which may probably be accepted as genuine though the actual date is not so certain, between Rome and Carthage, wherein the Romans, in consideration of promising not to trade in Carthaginian waters, are permitted to do business with the Carthaginian ports in Sicily and acknowledged as suzerains of the Latin League. Thus Rome has apparently by this time some overseas traffic.

If no other art, diplomacy seems always to have been at{27} home on Roman soil, and in all her works Rome shows a genius for statecraft. It must have been at some very early date that she discovered her great secret of divide et impera. She had already become so far the greatest power in the Latin League, that she had equal rights with all the others combined. The allies, it seems, claimed to supply the general of the allied army on alternate days and to have a half-share of the plunder. Against these very modest demands Rome was firm. She fought the League and beat it in 338; then she divided and ruled the cities. With each she made a separate treaty, granting to each two of the rights of citizenship—the right to trade and the right to marry with her citizens. But she allowed no such rights between the other members of the League, however close neighbours they might be. In this way Rome became the staple market of all Latium; all traffic passed through her hands and her wealth and population increased.

These city-states had no means of ruling otherwise than tyrannically. Their whole constitution forbade it. We have seen elsewhere[8] that citizenship in a city-state implied membership of a corporate body, a close partnership in a company of unlimited liability with very definite privileges and responsibilities. Full citizenship at Rome meant a vote in electing the city magistrates and a vote in the comitium, which decided matters like peace and war. It was obvious that you had to be very jealous about extending these rights to outsiders. But Rome went part of the way, granted parts of the citizen rights, and thereby showed finer imperial statecraft than any Greek state had yet discovered. Her first offshoot was Ostia, the town she planted at the mouth of her river only fifteen miles off, her first Colonia. The men of Ostia remained citizens of Rome, and might vote in the elections if they thought it worth while, but were exempt from the duty of serving in the army because their own town formed a standing garrison in the Roman service. Then{28} when the Romans made conquests in Etruria or Campania or any region where the natives spoke a foreign language and therefore could not fight in the legions under Roman officers, they would receive the “citizenship without vote,” which enabled them simply to trade and marry like Romans. Thirdly, some of the Latin towns became merely municipia, that is, country towns enjoying full Roman citizenship if they came to the city, but at home a local constitution with considerable powers of self-government and a magistracy modelled on that of Rome, namely, senators and consuls under other names. All this granting of rights—without any tribute—was, according to the ways of ancient city-states, surprising generosity or the deepest statesmanship. Already Rome begins to show the genius of empire-building: she was relentless and unscrupulous in conquering, but generous and broad-minded in governing. Such was the wisdom of her council of despots—the Senate.

Nevertheless these “allies” were more sensible of the liberties they had lost than of the rights they had gained by coming under the expanding wing of Rome. The latter part of the fourth century shows the growing state embarked upon a terrific struggle which lasted on and off from summer to summer for nearly fifty years. Her principal foes were the warlike Samnites of the Southern Apennines, closely akin, it seems, to the dominant race at Rome. This tremendous conflict is clearly the turning-point of Roman history. At various stages nearly all the peoples of Italy rose and enrolled themselves among the enemy, the Latins, the Etruscans, the Umbrians, the Marsi, the Gauls (for they too were brought in again by the Etruscans in their last efforts for freedom) and the Samnites themselves, a race of born fighters under competent generals. Once, in 321 B.C., both consuls and the entire army of Rome were entrapped at the Caudine Pass, but Rome never thought of surrender. Doggedly her Senate refused to know when it was beaten and continued the struggle. Fortunately it was one purpose{29} against many, and Rome beat her enemies in detail until she was able to emerge victorious.

The history of that great conflict has come down to us in an incomplete state full of fairy-tales and omissions, but it is clear that the Roman Senate showed extraordinary resolution and tenacity, as it did in the next century against foreign enemies. Beaten to its knees again and again it refused any terms of peace short of victory. That is a marvellous thing, if Rome was really one among many towns of Latium. It is to be noted that this was the war in which she learnt the new system of fighting whereby she was fated to conquer the world. Hitherto in ancient warfare a battle array had meant a solid line in which the men stood shoulder to shoulder in several ranks, pressing on with spear and shield against a similar line of the enemy. It was largely a question of weight in the impact. You tried to make your line deep enough to prevent yielding and long enough to envelop the enemy’s flank: once you could turn or break the enemy’s line victory was yours. But the Romans, either because they were often outnumbered on the field of battle, or, as some say, in fighting the Gallic warriors with their long swords, found it necessary to fight not shoulder to shoulder but in open order—not in a solid phalanx but in open companies or “maniples.” This had a far-reaching effect: it made every Roman soldier a self-reliant unit, who could fence skilfully with his favourite weapon, the sword, instead of merely pushing a long pike as his neighbours did. It is clear that only an army of natural soldiers could have adopted such an innovation successfully. Once established, it made the Roman soldier invincible. The maniple of 200 men was not only far more mobile than a solid phalanx, but it covered a length of ground equal to that of three times its own numbers. Formerly only the front rank—the principes—had required a full suit of armour and it was only the richest who could afford it. Now the whole army had to be properly equipped, and this reacted upon the social and political system of the city.{30}

The Constitution

In ancient times a man’s rights as citizen depended entirely upon his duties as a soldier. The comitium was the army, and the preponderance of voting power went to the rich who could afford a panoply. Now the soldiers were equalised and therefore the citizens claimed equality. We cannot put much faith in Livy’s story of the struggle between the two orders for political equality; the details, which include elaborate reports of the speeches delivered, are clearly free compositions based upon much later controversies between the republicans and democrats of Livy’s own earlier days. There is a great deal of confusion and contradiction in the accounts of the various legislative measures by which the plebeians were gradually admitted to equality with the patricians. But the story of the Secession of the Plebs—there are two such stories, but probably that is the result of duplication—is so distinctive and peculiarly Roman that it scarcely seems like an invention. To put it shortly, the plebeians won their rights by means of that very modern weapon—a strike. Being refused the rights for which they were agitating, they refused to join the citizen levy, but marched out under arms to the neighbouring Sacred Mount, and threatened to set up a new Rome of their own there. The political instinct was healthy and strong among them: the plebeians formed themselves into a second corporation organised like the patricians. Where the patricians had their two consuls with two prætors under them, the plebeians had their two tribunes and two ædiles. Where the patrician army had its comitium meeting in groups called “curies,” the plebeians had their assembly meeting in tribes. So the new magistracies and the new meetings became part and parcel of the Roman republic. The tribunes were protected not so much by laws as by an oath: their persons were declared sacred, and they had the right to thrust their sacred persons between the plebeian offender and the consul’s lictor who came to arrest him, thus{31} expressing the ultimate sovereignty of the army of Roman citizens. That is, in broad outline, how the story of political equality at Rome has come down to us. But it must not be supposed that even now the Roman republic was in anything but externals like the Greek democracy. The Roman comitia never debated like the Athenian ecclesia. They assembled to listen to such speeches as the magistrates or their invited friends might choose to make upon topics which had previously been selected, discussed and decreed by the senate; they were there to ratify the senate’s decisions with “Yes” or “No.” Even then they did not vote as individuals; each “century,” each “cury,” or each “tribe,” according to the form of meeting summoned, was a single voting unit. Everything in the system tended to put real power into the hands of the executive. When you get the executive able to control policy you get efficiency, but if you want liberty you must adopt other means. The senate at Rome gradually came to consist entirely of retired magistrates, and so to exhibit all the knowledge, competence, experience, and bigoted self-confidence which we expect from retired functionaries.

The republican constitution had invented two devices to save itself from tyranny, and, according to tradition, had invented them at the very beginning of republicanism. One was the collegial system by which every magistracy was held in commission by two or more colleagues. There were two consuls from the first, sharing between them most of the royal prerogatives, heads of the executive in peace and supreme generals in war, with power of life and death, or full imperium, at any rate on the field of battle. There was at first only one prætor, for he was then merely the consuls’ lieutenant in time of war; but when, as soon happened, the prætor became a judge in time of peace, that office, too, was given to a pair of colleagues. There were, it is said, at first two tribunes of the plebs, principally charged with the protection and leadership of their own order; but as the city grew their numbers were increased to ten. So there were{32} two ædiles, who principally looked after affairs of police in the city. There were two censors, ranking highest of all in the hierarchy of office because their sphere was so largely connected with religion. Their duty was to number the people and to expiate that insult to heaven with a solemn rite of purification. In numbering they also had to assess every man’s property for the purpose of fixing his rank in the army and in the state. All these magistrates had powers of jurisdiction in various spheres. All the priests and prophets, too, of whom there were many varieties, were formed into colleges. Only the pontifex maximus stood alone without a colleague—and he had an official wife. We are too familiar with the working of “boards” and “commissions” to misunderstand the purpose of this system. Theory required unanimity in each board, each member of it had power to stop action by the others, one powerful weapon to that end being the religious system whereby nothing could be attempted without favourable omens. You had only to announce unpropitious auspices to stop any action whatever.

The other great check against official tyranny was the system of annual tenure. All magistrates, except the censors, who had a lengthy task before them and therefore held office for five years, were annual. While this was some safeguard for liberty, it told heavily against efficiency, especially in the case of military leadership by the consuls. It also meant the gradual creation of a great number of office-holders, past and present. It was not quite so effective as the corresponding Athenian system of balloting for office in checking personal eminence, but it certainly succeeded in putting a great number of nonentities and failures into high office—even the supreme command of the legions.

The Early Roman

It is only very dimly that we can trace the outlines of public history as Rome grew to be a power in Italy. We can scarcely hope to trace the lineaments of the individual{33} Roman even in outline. It is sometimes said that even if the earliest history of the city is admitted to be apocryphal, we can draw valuable deductions as to the Roman character from the sort of actions which were regarded as praiseworthy in the earliest times. There is some truth in that view, though it might be objected that most of these stories took literary shape only in the second and first centuries B.C. It might be added that men often admire qualities just because they feel that they themselves cannot claim them. But, on the whole, I think we can get from this period of legendary history some insight into Roman character. There is a remarkable difference between the Roman hero and the Greek. Greek mythology busies itself very largely with stories of cleverness—how Heracles outwitted his foes, smart équivoques by the oracles, ingenious devices of Themistocles, wise sayings of Thales and Solon. It is mainly the intellectual virtues that Greek history of the borderland admires. But the Roman of the same historical area is not clever. Most of the old Roman stories are in praise of courage—for example, the contempt of pain shown by Scævola, who held his right hand in the flames to demonstrate Roman fortitude; the courage of the maiden Clœlia, who swam the river, or of Horatius, who held the bridge against an army; the devotion to his country of Quintus Curtius, who leapt in full armour into the chasm which had opened in the Forum. Many of them celebrate the true Roman virtue of sternness and austere devotion to law, as when the Roman fathers condemned their sons to death for breaking the law under most excusable circumstances. The love of liberty is extolled in Brutus, the love of equality in Valerius and Cincinnatus, called from the plough-tail to supreme command. Austere chastity in females and the strict demand for it in their proprietors is praised in the stories of Lucretia and Virginia. All these we may well set down as the virtues admired and, we hope, practised in early Rome; they form a consistent and quite distinctive picture.{34}

But the early Roman had few accomplishments to embellish his virtues. Art and civilisation either did not exist or have perished without leaving any traces. It is likely enough that all the city’s energies were occupied with the one business of fighting. Some hints of civilising reform hang about the name of Appius Claudius, who was censor about 318-312 B.C. In his time we date some of the military changes mentioned above, and they seem to have accompanied economic changes which point to growing wealth at Rome. Copper gave place to silver as the standard of exchange, and therewith the copper as depreciated in value, so that the Roman unit of historical times, the sestertius of 2½ as value, was a coin worth about 2d. Land was no longer the sole basis of property; it became possible for a man to become rich by trade, and accordingly landless citizens were now drafted into the ancient tribes for the first time. To this great censor also belongs the first of the famous Roman military roads, the Appian Way, which led southwards to the Greek cities of Campania. Even to-day the Via Appia, flanked with its ruined tombs—for the Romans often buried their dead along the highways—running like a dart across the barren Campagna, is one of the most striking spectacles which modern Rome has to offer.[9]

Of anything which can be dignified with the name of literature we have scarcely a relic. What there is seems ludicrously rustic and uncouth. Consider, for an example, the ancient hymn of the Salii, the jumping priests of Mars. There were twelve of them, all men of patrician family; they dressed in embroidered tunics, with the striped toga, a breastplate of bronze, a conical cap with a spike; they carried each a sacred shield, and as they made their annual processions through the city at the beginning of each campaigning year, they leaped into the air and thumped their shields with sticks; trumpeters preceded them, and they sang this ghostly chant:{35}

TRIVMPE (quinquies)

which is probably to be translated:

Help us, O Lares (thrice)
And, O Mars, let not plague or ruin attack our people (thrice)
Be content, fierce Mars. Leap the threshold. Halt. Strike (thrice)
In alternate strain call upon all the heroes. (thrice)
Help us, Mars (thrice)
Leap (five times).

Early Religion

In our quest for the essential Roman we shall find nothing more illuminating than religion. With some people culture takes the place of religion, but it is far commoner to find religion taking the place of culture: it did so with the Hebrews, and it does so to a great extent among the English. The Romans were never a really religious people. Probably they lacked the imagination to be really devout. They had scarcely any native mythology. But they were ritualists and formalists to the heart’s core. If those Salii had jumped only four times at the word “Triumpe,” the whole value of the rite would have been lost: if no worse thing befell them they would have had to begin again from the beginning. Thus religion, always conservative, and generally the richest hunting-ground for the antiquarian in search of prehistoric history, is almost our only source of information as to the mind of the early Roman. Of course, Roman religion is so deeply overlaid with Greek mythology that it takes some digging to discover the real gods of old Rome. But that is being done by the patience and insight of such scholars as Mr. Warde Fowler and Dr. J. G. Frazer, so that{36} we now have a good deal of information about the original Roman religion.

Mr. Warde Fowler makes two important conclusions about the early Romans from his study of the twofold character of Mars, who, in spite of the later primacy of Jupiter, is undoubtedly the true Roman male god: “(1) that their life and habits of thought were those of an agricultural race, and (2) that they continually increased their cultivable land by taking forcible possession in war of that of their neighbours.” This was the Roman method of making agriculture pay. The spring of the year and the month which still bears the name of Mars was not only the season of returning life to nature, but it was also the time when the god and his worshippers buckled on their armour to seek fresh ploughlands, just as did the primitive Germans. It was Europe’s first method of extensive farming, and the habit clung to the Romans long after they had ceased to be farmers. In the spring it was time to look about you and consider where and with whom you should begin to fight this year.

Some of these old Roman festivals are worth a brief description, for they and they alone are the authentic history of the early Romans. For example, on the Ides of March the lower classes streamed out to the Campus Martius on the banks of the river and spent the day in rustic jollity with wine and song in honour of Anna Perenna—the recurring year. On another day there was a ceremony like that of the Hebrew scapegoat. Two dates in the calendar are marked for the king to dissolve the comitia. The assembly had to be summoned by the blast of special trumpets of peculiar un-Italian shape (some say Etruscan), and the trumpets had to be purified by a special service on the previous day. Although the Romans abolished their political kingship, religion required the retention of the title for numerous ceremonial purposes. Then there were the Parilia in honour of the old shepherd god Pales, when sheepfolds were garlanded with green, the sheep were purified at the dawn, and rustic sacrifices were{37} paid to avert the wrath of the deity in case you had unwittingly disturbed one of the mysterious powers who dwell in the country—the nymphs and fauns of pool and spring and tree. There was a prayer to this effect of which Ovid has given us the substance, and “this prayer,” adds Mr. Warde Fowler, “must be said four times over, the shepherd looking to the east, and wetting his hands with the morning dew. The position, the holy water, and the prayer in its substance, though now addressed to the Virgin, have all descended to the Catholic shepherds of the Campagna.” There were other primitive agricultural deities, such as Robigus (the red rust on the corn), on whose festival you sacrificed red puppies; Terminus (the boundary god), to whom you slaughtered a sucking-pig on the boundary stone; or Ops Consiva, the deity who protected your buried store of corn. Such names and their attributes indicate a certain poverty of religious imagination. There were more abstract, or, rather, less tangible powers, such as Lares, the spirits of the dead ancestors who figured as guardian angels of the home; the Penates, the spirits who watched over the store-cupboard; the Genius, a man’s luck; the Manes, the kindly dead; or the Lemures, dangerous ghosts of the unburied. The house, like the fields, was full of unseen presences to be appeased with appropriate ritual, which had to be most punctiliously performed. Every year at the Lemuria the master of the house would rise at midnight and, with clean hands and bare feet, walk through the house, making a special sign with his fingers and thumbs to keep off the ghosts. He fills his mouth with black beans and spits them out as he goes, carefully keeping his eyes averted, and saying, “With these I redeem me and mine.” Nine times he speaks these words without looking round, and the ghosts come behind him unseen to gather up the beans. Then the father washes himself again, and clashes the pots together to frighten the spirits away. When he has repeated the words “Depart, ye kindly spirits of our ancestors” nine times, he looks round at last and the ceremony is complete.{38}

The history of Rome, as Mr. Warde Fowler discerns it in religion, begins with an extremely simple rustic worship of natural forms, meteoric stones, sacred trees and animals such as the Mother Wolf or Mars’ woodpeckers; to this stage belong many of the curious spells and charms against ghosts. This sort of worship is not distinctively Roman, but common to the greater part of Central Europe. From these savage local cults we pass to the more centralised worship which belongs to the household, and that household an agricultural one. The father is the priest, and his principal deity is Janus, the god of the doorway; his sons are the subordinate flamines; and his daughters have special charge of Vesta, who presides over the family hearth-fire. Their agricultural activities are reflected in the more orderly rural ceremonies in honour of Saturn, Ops, and Vesta. Thirdly, we have a series of cults which indicate the beginnings of a community with the king for chief priest, supported by State Vestals and flamines. The Latin Festival marks the participation of Rome in the Latin League, whose presiding deity was Jupiter. In these three stages it is mainly an affair of formless powers or “numina,” deities very scantily realised, with little or no personality, scarcely to be termed anthropomorphic at all. Instead of temples there was nothing but altars, chapels, groves.

If we view these changes in the light of ethnology we shall probably agree that the first of them is the common ground of prehistoric Mediterranean worship. It is what we find in Crete at the earliest period. But we have come to regard the strict monogamous patriarchal family as especially the contribution of the north to the civilisation of Europe. Unfortunately those deities who are most certainly plebeian, such as Ceres, Flora, and Diana, do not seem to belong to the earlier strata of religion.

However that may be, it seems that we can trace in the next succeeding stage a period of public worship connected with clearly anthropomorphic deities who have temples,{39} priests, and probably images of their own. Towards the end of the monarchic period we find those distinctly Etruscan characteristics of which I have already spoken. Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva are an Etruscan trinity. Now begins the pre-eminence of greater gods more or less personified and closely resembling those of the Greeks—such as Mercury, Ceres, and Diana. It is now that the important priestly colleges, pontifices, and augurs are founded, largely replacing, as being more important politically, the old agricultural brotherhood of the Fratres Arvales and the martial fraternity of the Salii.

Thus in religion as in art the Romans were prepared by their Etruscan connections for their subsequent capture by Greek civilisation. It was inevitable that a Greek should recognise Diana as Artemis, Minerva as Pallas, Mercury as Hermes, and Juno as Hera. It was equally inevitable that the Romans should be willing to clothe these bare and chilly abstractions with the charming fabric of Greek mythology. That process, and the simultaneous reception at Rome of Oriental cults, form still later stages in the progress of that strange medley which passed in the Rome of literature for religion.

There is little to elevate or inspire in Roman religion. The only virtue belonging to it was reverence and the strict sense of duty which a Roman called pietas, explaining it as “justice towards the gods.” “Religion” meant “binding obligation” to the Romans; its source was fear of the unseen, its issue was mainly punctilious formalism. No doubt the gods would punish disrespect to a parent or rebellion against the state, no doubt a fugitive or a slave had altars and sanctuaries where he might claim mercy; but there is little more than that to connect virtue with religion at Rome. On the other hand, we are not to suppose that when the lascivious rites of Isis and Ashtaroth or the Paphian Venus came to Rome in later days they came to corrupt a race of pious puritans. True Roman deities like Flora, Fortuna Virilis, and Anna Perenna had a native bestiality of their own. The simple{40} rustic is seldom a natural puritan, and we must beware of idealising our Early Roman as a Scottish Covenanter. There was savage cruelty in many of the early rites, such as the Ver Sacrum when all the offspring of men and cattle within a specified period was devoted to the gods, or the Fordicidia when unborn calves were burnt. Human sacrifice looms large in the early religion, and it was probably only a later refinement which limited it to criminals or volunteers.

Mommsen has drawn our attention to the business-like relation between worshipper and god, for that is also typical of the old Roman character. “The gods,” he says, “confronted man just as a creditor confronted a debtor.... Man even dealt in speculation with his god: a vow was in reality as in name a formal contract between the god and the man by which the latter promised to the former for a certain service to be rendered a certain equivalent return.” Nay, he might venture to defraud his god. “They presented to the lord of the sky heads of onions or poppies, that he might launch his lightnings at these rather than at the heads of men. In payment of the offering annually demanded by father Tiber, thirty puppets plaited of rushes were annually thrown into the stream.” It may be true, as Mr. Warde Fowler argues, that the bargain sometimes took the form of a lively sense of favours to come, but a votum was essentially a business transaction.

The deity was very dimly visualised: the cult was everything, the god nothing. The true Latin god does not marry or beget children—did not, at least, till the Greek theologians came over and married them all suitably and provided them with families. Before history began the Romans had forgotten the little they had ever known about their most ancient deities. The rite, perhaps the altar, was preserved, but no one remembered the object of it. This is a typical Roman prayer as we have it in old Cato: “This is the proper Roman way to cut down a grove. Sacrifice with a pig for a peace-offering. This is the verbal formula:

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Whether thou art a{41} god or a goddess to whom that grove is sacred, may it be justice in thine eyes to sacrifice a pig for a peace-offering in order that the sanctity may be restrained. For this cause, whether I perform the sacrifice or any one else at my orders, may it be rightly done. For that cause in sacrificing this pig for a peace-offering I pray thee honest prayers that thou mayest be kind and propitious to me and my house and my slaves and my children. For these causes be thou blessed with the sacrifice of this pig for a peace-offering.” To misplace a word in this formula would have been fatal. The vagueness of the address is typical: the wood is sacred, no doubt, to some invisible numen; the woodman must guard himself against addressing the wrong power. Much of the Roman worship is thus offered “to the Unknown God.”


It was this quality of precision and formalism which made Rome the lawgiver of Europe. In the battle between law and sentiment the Roman sword has been thrown with decisive effect into the scale of law. All Roman law was originally a series of formulæ, and like all ancient law a part of religion. First the king and then the priests were the only people who knew these formulæ. Thus the king was the sole judge both in private and public right; he might summon a council of advisers or he might delegate his powers to an inferior officer, such as the prætor or the prefect of the city, or the trackers of murder. Both these rights, that of choosing a consilium and of delegating authority, with, however, a right of appeal from the lower to the higher functionary, remained inherent in the Roman magistracy. In all cases, private or public, the king or the magistrate who replaced him had to pronounce the jus first: that is, to state the proper formula for the case in question; then he would send the case for trial of fact, or judicium, before judge or jury. The formula would run “if it appears that A. B. has been {42}guilty of—— condemn him to ——; if not, acquit him.” Jus, human right, was inseparably connected with fas, divine right: no layman could properly interpret either. For a long time it was necessary for one of the priests to be present in court to see that the proper formularies of action were observed with strict verbal accuracy. This was, of course, an enormously powerful weapon in the hands of the patricians.

Then in the course of the struggle between the orders came the usual demand for written laws. The famous story of the Decemviri and their commission to Athens in 451 B.C. is unfortunately very dubious history. It is full of romantic elements, it is part of that systematic depreciation of the Claudii in Roman history which Mommsen has traced to its probable source, it has elements which look as if they were borrowed from the story of the thirty tyrants at Athens, and there is no confirmation from the Athenian side. Professor Pais believes that the fifth century is much too early for such a code. There are, it is true, in the fragments of the Twelve Tables which have come down to us, some enactments closely resembling those of the Greek codes—regulations, for example, limiting the expense of funerals—but we find such laws in other codes than that of Solon. One would like to have fuller details about that later Appius Claudius, the famous censor of 312 B.C. It is said that he desired to reduce the now complicated bulk of legal formulæ to writing simply for the benefit of the priests, but that a low-born scribe, one Flavius, whom he employed for the purpose as his clerk, fraudulently revealed these judicial secrets to the public. The whole tendency of the Claudian falsifications is to make out that the Claudii were tyrannical and anti-democratic. It certainly looks as if the dishonesty of the freedman had been put into the story for the purpose of robbing the famous censor of his credit for helping the people to a knowledge of law.

The whole fabric of Roman law was supposed to rest upon the foundation of the Twelve Tables. Only fragments of them have come down to us. They are undoubtedly very{43} ancient and primitive, more so, it would seem, than the Athenian law of 451 B.C. Fines are to be paid in metal by weight. A creditor has the right to carve up the body of his debtor. Plebeian may not intermarry with patrician. But they also carried something of a charter of liberties for the citizens in that capital punishment could not be inflicted without right of appeal to the assembly, and no law could be proposed against an individual. The language of this famous code is of a rugged simplicity and directness that is truly Roman. On the whole Roman law is merciful, considering its strict character: though much of Roman pleading, as we have it in the mouth of Cicero, is full of appeals to sentiment, Roman law itself allows no appeal to anything so vague as abstract justice. The written letter stands, and there can be no pleading without a legal formula.

The character of the ancient Roman is best described by his favourite virtue of gravitas. In that word is implied serious purpose, dignified reserve, fidelity to one’s promise, and a sense of duty. Levity is its opposite, and among the things repugnant to true Roman gravity were art, music, and literature. It is on the battlefield, in the senate-house, and the law-courts that the old Roman is most truly at home.{44}



quæ neque Dardanus campis potuere perire
nec quom capta capi, nec quom combusta cremari,
augusto augurio postquam incluta condita Roma est.

THE great Samnite wars, which had lasted on and off from 343 to 290 B.C., had been the school of Roman valour. In her citizen legions Rome had evolved a fighting machine unequalled, probably, until the Musketeers of Louis XIV. and Marlborough. Also she was learning politics and the art of government. She was now mistress over the greater part of Italy; all, in fact, except the Gallic plain in the north and the Greek cities of the south. The Pyrrhic war which followed after a short breathing-space forms the transition between domestic expansion and foreign conquest. Our business here is not with wars and battles for their own sake, but it will be important to observe in what manner Rome was launched on her career of empire-making. Seeley has shown how the British Empire grew up in a haphazard manner, without any wise policy to direct its growth, with continual neglect of opportunities, and often in contemptuous ignorance of the work that private citizens were undertaking for its honour and advancement. We shall see that it was very much the{45} same with the Roman Empire. One responsibility leads to another, one conquest leads to many entanglements: if the coast is to be held the hinterland must be conquered. Thus power follows capacity, and the doctrine which seems so unjust, “To him that hath shall be given, from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he seemeth to have,” is fulfilled in all the dealings between Providence and imperial peoples. By coming into contact with the Greeks of the south Rome was brought definitely to deal with a superior but declining civilisation. The career of Agathocles, the brigand tyrant of Sicily, had lately shown how easy a thing it was to make empires among the opulent and luxurious cities of the Calabrian and Bruttian shores.

One summer’s day in 282 B.C. the people of Tarentum were seated in their open-air theatre, watching the performance of a tragedy. They looked out above the stage over the blue waters of the Gulf of Calabria, and there they saw a small detachment of the Roman fleet sailing into their harbour. The ships were on a voyage entirely peaceful, but there was an old treaty forbidding the Romans to pass the Lacinian Promontory, and these barbarians had lately been interfering in the affairs of their Greek neighbours, always in favour of oligarchy against democracy. The mob was seized with a sudden access of fury; they rushed down to the harbour, butchered or enslaved the sailors, and put the admiral to death. The Roman Senate met this atrocious insult with calm, even with generosity. But the Tarentine mob would have no peace. Looking abroad for a champion they invited the Prince of Epirus to their aid. Pyrrhus was a young man of charm, ability, and ambition almost equal to that of Alexander the Great, whose career he longed to emulate in the West. He was called the first general of his day, and he brought with him 20,000 infantrymen of the phalanx, 2000 archers, 500 slingers, and 3000 cavalry. Moreover he had twenty Indian war elephants. The boastful Greeks had offered to provide 350,000 infantry, but when it{46} came to the point they would do nothing but hire a few mercenaries. However, Pyrrhus was victorious in the first battle near Heraclea. The victory was won, it is said, by the final charge of the elephants. The simple Romans had never seen an elephant before; they called them “snake-hands” and “Lucanian cows,” and their horses were even more alarmed than they. But the next time the Romans had to meet elephants they provided themselves first with wonderful machines, in which chariots were mysteriously blended with chafing-dishes, and then when these failed, with fiery darts, which converted this heavy cavalry into engines of destruction for their owners. That is rather typical of the simple Roman and his way of encountering monsters.

After the victory of Heraclea, Pyrrhus sent to Rome with overtures of peace a smooth-tongued courtier named Cineas, who was much impressed with the incorruptibility of the political chiefs and their wives. It was he who described the Senate as a “council of kings,” so grave and majestic was their bearing and discourse. Nevertheless the Roman Senate would have made terms if it had not been for the great Censor Appius Claudius, now blind and infirm, who laid down for the first time the celebrated doctrine that Rome never listened to terms while there were foreign troops on Italian soil. Therefore, although the Romans had lost 15,000 men, fresh conscripts eagerly enrolled themselves to make a new army.

Meanwhile Pyrrhus, after another incomplete “Pyrrhic” victory, was proceeding unchecked over the island of Sicily. There he drove the Carthaginians from point to point until they concentrated in their great stronghold of Lilybæum in the west. But all the time his position was desperate. The coalition on which he depended was composed of faithless and useless allies. While his stiff Epirot phalanx was depleted at every victory, fresh levies of Roman citizens seemed to spring from the soil to replace the losses of every defeat. So at length it came to the battle of the Arusine Plain, near Beneventum, in which the Romans were completely victorious.{47} Thus Pyrrhus leaves to history the reputation not of a conqueror but of an adventurer. The Romans had thus faced and overthrown the Greek phalanx at its best, and were now masters of Italy from Genoa to Reggio, with Sicily obviously inviting their next advance. That Rome was now formally accepted among the great powers of the Mediterranean world is shown by an embassy offering alliance with Ptolemy of Egypt.

She had a breathing-space of eleven years before the first of her two great conflicts with the Carthaginians. Carthage, a colony of the Phœnicians of Tyre, had grown rich and prosperous on the fertile soil of the modern Tunis. She was an aristocracy wholly devoted to trade, and living uncomfortably amid a surrounding population of dangerous native subjects. War was not her main business, but when she sought fresh markets she was apt to fight with horrible ferocity, sacrificing her prisoners in hundreds to hideous gods when she was victorious, and impaling her generals when she was not. As a military power she varied greatly: the comparatively puny Greek states of Sicily had been maintaining a fairly equal struggle against her for centuries. But she used the British system of sepoy troops, and thus everything depended on the general. Had it not been for the inexperience of the Romans at sea and the extraordinary genius of Hannibal, Carthage would never have come as near victory as she did. We have no history of the struggle from the Punic side, and Carthage herself must remain somewhat of a mystery even when illuminated by the brilliant imagination of the author of Salammbô.

In entering upon this war, which Rome did ostensibly in response to an appeal from a parcel of ruffianly outlaws for whom she had no sympathy whatever, we can for once discover no motive but desire of conquest. Messina, the home of the said ruffians, was for her merely the tête du pont which led from Bruttium into Sicily. The conquest of that rich Greek island was plainly the objective, but she plunged into war{48} without foreseeing the immensity of her undertaking. The chief interest of the First Punic War, which lasted from 264 to 241, lies in the creation of a Roman navy which occurred in the course of it. Although we may agree with Mommsen that “it is only a childish view to believe that the Romans then for the first time dipped their oars in water,” yet tradition says that the Romans constructed a fleet in a great hurry, taking for model a stranded Carthaginian galley. It was at any rate her first war-fleet worth mentioning. The tradition is proved by the lack of seamanship displayed by the Romans, for every storm cost her enormous losses by shipwreck. The device by which she overcame the Punic ships—a sort of grappling gangway on pulleys affixed to her masts, so that her soldiers could fight the enemy as if on shore—was a successful but essentially a landlubberly invention, and no doubt accounts for many of her losses by shipwreck. Her annual consuls, transformed for the occasion into annual admirals, had not even as much opportunity as Colonel Blake to learn their trade. And, though Rome launched fleet after fleet until at length she became mistress of the seas, she never treated her navy with respect. The ships were rowed by slaves and manned chiefly by subject allies, but the real business of fighting was done by the 120 legionaries on each vessel, who came into action when the enemy was grappled and the gangway fast in her deck. So the war dragged on for nearly a generation until at length the Carthaginians made peace, and Rome gained the coveted island. Britain is not the only empire in history which wins victories by “muddling through.”

The peace was clearly nothing more than a respite: the command of the Western Mediterranean was not yet settled. Rome spent the interval in making fresh conquests. First she seized the opportunity, while Carthage was involved with her native rebels, to annex the islands of Sardinia and Corsica, alleging with more ingenuity than geographical exactitude that these were some of the islands between Sicily{49} and Africa which Carthage had agreed to surrender. Here we behold the simple Roman as a diplomat. Then she was compelled to intervene in Illyria in order to clear the Adriatic of piracy, and so acquired territory across the water. Soon afterwards the Gauls of the northern plain began under pressure from their kinsmen across the Alps to threaten invasion; and Rome, after failing to gain the favour of heaven by the pious expedient of burying a male and female Gaul alive in her Forum, marched out to meet them, slaughtered them in thousands, and thus rounded off her control over the peninsula. Much of this looks like conscious empire-building.

In the Second Punic War, which lasted from 218 to the end of the century, Rome was not the aggressor. At Carthage by this time the native rebellion had been put down with a heavy hand. It seems that Carthage had its party system, the democracy, as usual in ancient cities, being for war, and the aristocracy of rich merchants for peace. The democracy was led by the celebrated Barca family, who had long supplied the state with famous generals and now occupied a position of unrivalled eminence. Constitutionally a Carthaginian could rise no further than to be one of the two shophets who corresponded to the Roman consuls, but actually the Barcas were more like a family of dictators. From the first Hamilcar Barca foresaw that Rome was still the enemy, and he is said to have made his little son Hannibal swear an oath at the altar that he would prosecute that enmity to the death. But first it was necessary to acquire resources and an army for the purpose. This he resolved to do, as Julius Cæsar did after him, by foreign conquest. Without orders from home he led his army into Spain, and there began to build up a province and a native army under his absolute control. Though Cadiz was already a Carthaginian market and there was already a Greek colony at Saguntum, and the ships of Tarshish were known even to King Solomon, this is the first real appearance of Spain in history. There was{50} metal to be had from the mines, gold, copper, and silver, and there were hardy warriors in the hills who only needed training to become excellent soldiers. So Carthage began to acquire a western substitute for her lost province of Sicily. Hamilcar died; his son-in-law, Hasdrubal, was assassinated; and then the army chose for its leader Hamilcar’s son Hannibal, then a young man of twenty-nine.

This man, though his history was written exclusively by his enemies, stands out as one of the greatest leaders in history. In strategy he was supreme; in statesmanship he had the gift which Marlborough shared of being able by his personal influence to hold unwilling allies together even in adverse circumstances. He was a cultivated man who spoke and wrote Greek and Latin. He is charged by the jealousy of the Romans with cruelty and perfidy, but in fact history has nothing to substantiate these charges: on the contrary his actions are often magnanimous and honourable. His brilliance as a general largely sprang from his power of entering into the mind of his enemy. This was the man who inherited his father’s deep-laid plans of vengeance, and set out, his heart burning with hatred of Rome, to fulfil them.

We cannot dwell upon his wonderful march over the Alps and his brilliant series of victories on the soil of Italy. Hannibal’s whole plan of campaign was, briefly, to invade Italy by land with a compact striking force and raise the unwilling subjects of Rome against her, while the main force of Carthage attacked Sicily and Italy by sea. But it contained three serious miscalculations which brought it eventually to ruin. First, the southern Gauls on whom Hannibal relied for his communications and his base proved fickle and untrustworthy allies; secondly, he found that Rome’s mild imperial system had not produced unwilling subjects such as Carthage possessed in Africa; and thirdly, he hoped for support from Philip of Macedon, but here he was foiled by Roman diplomacy. Moreover, while the Romans showed a tenacity and power of recuperation unexampled in history, Carthage her{51}self, now in the hands of the commercial oligarchs, gave him grudging and uncertain support. The firmness and courage of the Roman senate and people were amazing. Beaten again and again in the field at the Ticino, the Trebia, Lake Trasimene, and Cannæ, Rome never lost her pride. She refused offers of help from King Hiero of Syracuse, she could find time to order the Illyrian chiefs to pay their tribute, she actually summoned Philip of Macedon to surrender her fugitive rebel Demetrius. She kept an army in Spain; a fleet still cruised in Greek waters; she had an army in Sicily, while four legions besieged Capua; she had troops in Sardinia, three legions in North Italy, two legions as a garrison in the capital—no fewer than 200,000 citizens under arms. When the foolish demagogue Varro returned in defeat and disgrace from the awful disaster at Cannæ, the senate thanked him for not having committed suicide—“for not having despaired of the salvation of his country.”

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No doubt Rome owed something, but not as much as her poets and orators pretended, to the cautious tactics of Quintus Fabius. At any rate, he gave her time to grow used to the presence of the invader and to recover from the shock of the three disasters with which the war opened. The Romans had never before been called upon to face a consummate strategist. Pyrrhus had been, within the limitations of Greek warfare, a clever tactician; he had even shown the originality to copy the Roman manipular system in his later battles. But Hannibal was more than a strategist; he was a psychologist who knew when the opposing general was rash and when he was wary, who had spies everywhere and could supplement their intelligence by disguising himself to do his own scouting. Scouting was an art that the Romans had yet to learn by bitter experience. At the Trasimene Lake[10] they blundered straight into the most obvious of natural death-traps. But the Romans were always good learners, and, as usually happens, the amateur patriot army steadily improved during the war{52} while the hired professionals steadily deteriorated. The actual strategy by which Hannibal won most of his battles was simple enough. It was the policy of a long weak centre into which the Roman legions buried themselves deep while the two strong wings of the enemy closed round on their flanks and rear. In his Numidian horsemen Hannibal had the finest light cavalry yet known to European warfare.

For a time all went brilliantly for the invader. Italians, Greeks, and Gauls joined his victorious standard. Rome was on the brink of despair. The very gods began to tremble; their statues sweated blood, two-headed lambs were born with alarming frequency, and cows in Apulia uttered prophetic warnings with human voices; the most horrible of omens portended destruction. But the city and the senate never lost heart and gradually as the years passed by Hannibal began to see that his cause was lost. The Latin allies stood firm for Rome. The Romans were able to hold Sicily and even despatch a brilliant and lucky young general named Scipio to reconquer Spain. Thus the longed-for reinforcements were cut off. The stupid aristocracy of Carthage were jealous of their great soldier, and when at last a reinforcing Punic army from Spain managed to slip through into Italy, Nero caught it at the River Metaurus just before the junction was effected. The first news of that battle came to Hannibal when the Romans tossed over the rampart into his camp the bleeding head of the defeated general, his own brother Hasdrubal. Horace has sung of this tragic episode in his noblest manner:

quid debeas, o Roma, Neronibus
testis Metaurum flumen et Hasdrubal
devictus et pulcer fugatis
ille dies Latio tenebris.
. . . . . . . . . .
dixitque tandem perfidus Hannibal:
“cerui, luporum præda rapacium,
sectamur ultro quos opimus
fallere et effugere est triumphus
. . . . . . . . . .{53}
“Carthagini iam non ego nuntios
mittam superbos. occidit, occidit
spes omnis et fortuna nostri
nominis Hasdrubale interempto.”[11]

This was in 207: in 206 Scipio won a decisive victory in Spain and in 205 made a counter-invasion upon the coast of Carthage. It was only “a forlorn hope of volunteers and disrated companies,” but it caused the recall of Hannibal and gained valuable African allies for Rome. The last scene of the duel was the victory of Zama in 202 in which Scipio won his title of Africanus and became the hero and saviour of Rome.[12] Carthage ceded Spain and the Spanish islands, lost her whole war-fleet, came under Roman suzerainty and agreed to pay an enormous indemnity. But her end was not yet. For another fifty years she was permitted to exist on sufferance in humiliation and agony.

Now, frightful as had been the losses of Rome in this seventeen-years’ conflict, and great as was her exhaustion, she proceeded in the very year following the peace with Carthage to enter upon a fresh series of campaigns. The Gauls of the north made a desperate revolt, sacked Piacenza and invested Cremona, but the Romans quickly brought them to reason. The Gauls could not, of course, receive any of the rights of citizenship as yet, but they received back their independence, and were left free of tribute to act as a bulwark against their northern cousins. There was incessant fighting in Spain also. In Sardinia there were perpetual slave-drives, until the market was glutted with slaves, and the phrase was begotten “as cheap as a Sardinian.” How could the senate at such{54} a moment declare a fresh war with the greatest of European powers? Was it under pressure of that greedy commercial party at Rome of which we are beginning to hear so much? The suggestion is absurd. There were hard knocks and little money to be got from Macedon; and it is difficult to conceive how any powerful commercial interests could have arisen at Rome during the seventeen years of the Hannibalic War. If ever there was a nation whose early history declined the economic interpretation it was the Romans. Even when the Romans had conquered Macedon they shut down the famous gold mines because they did not know how to manage them! Nor, I think, was it any large-minded Welt-politik which led Rome into the Second Macedonian War. Doubtless Philip and the Greeks were dangerous and uncomfortable neighbours, and no doubt it was true that Philip of Macedon and Antiochus of Syria had formed a compact to divide up the realms of the boy-king of Egypt. But the war could probably have been postponed for years by negotiation. Philip did not want to fight Rome: he had not even ventured to intervene while she was almost prostrate before Hannibal. The fact is that the Romans were by habits and instinct a fighting people. From the earliest times they had inherited the custom of an annual summer campaign. Peace did not present itself to them, or most of their neighbours, as a desirable condition to be preserved as long as possible. They were soldiers and nought else, and what are soldiers for but for fighting? It is only blind optimism which can believe that nations are even now actuated habitually in their international relations by foresight and policy. “The plain truth is,” said William James, “that people want war. They want it anyhow; for itself, and apart from each and every possible consequence. It is the final bouquet of life’s fireworks.” That is certainly true of the Romans: the Roman state, as a whole, needed its customary annual campaign. It was the business of her statesmen and diplomats to choose the enemy and prepare a casus belli. To imagine the states of 200 B.C. as always{55} calculating their actions solely on the basis of commercial interest must be unhistorical.

In their attack on Philip the Romans were allied with the most respectable elements in Levantine politics: Rhodes, the commercial republic; Pergamum, the kingdom of the cultivated Attalus; Athens, the ancient home of art and learning; Egypt, the centre of commerce and literature. Elsewhere[13] I have described how the simple Romans comported themselves in this land of higher civilisation. They trod almost reverently into the circle of Greek culture; they were flattered when the Athenians initiated them into the Eleusinian Mysteries, or when the Achæan League permitted them to take part in the Isthmian games. And when they had beaten Philip—not without difficulty, nor without indispensable aid from the Ætolian cavalry—at Cynocephalæ, they made no attempt at annexation. Leaving Philip crippled, they were content. Flamininus, their Philhellenic general, was proud to proclaim the liberty of Greece before he retired. He and many of his officers carried away with them an ineffaceable impression. They were returning to barbarism from a land rich in ancient temples of incredible splendour, crowded with works of art. They had seen the tragedies in the theatres, the runners in the games. They had heard the philosophers disputing in the colonnades, the orators haranguing in the market-place. A world glowing with life undreamt-of, where there were other things to live for than battle, had suddenly flashed upon their eyes.

The next great war was against Philip’s accomplice, Antiochus of Syria. This war was as inevitable as the last. Antiochus, puffed up with the pretensions of an Oriental King of Kings, was eager to match his strength against the parvenus Romans. Rome seemed, and perhaps was, reluctant to undertake the apparently enormous task at this moment, though Pergamum and Rhodes invoked her assistance. One strong cause for war was that Antiochus had given a home to{56} Hannibal, Rome’s hunted but dreaded foe. If the Great King had but had the sense to give Hannibal power over his great host it might yet have gone hard with the Romans. As it was, the battle of Magnesia (190) was one of those tame victories in which Oriental hosts are butchered by superior Western weapons and methods of fighting. But even with the wealth of Syria spread out at her feet, Rome annexed nothing; not out of any spirit of self-denial, for she exacted an indemnity of almost four million sterling, but because she was not prepared to undertake the responsibility of governing regions so vast and so much more civilised than herself.

Actually, of course, the effect of these wars was to give Rome complete command of the Mediterranean coast-lands. Though she did not annex, she accepted suzerainty; that is, she controlled, or attempted to control, foreign policy. Rome is the patron; Macedonia, Syria, Egypt, Pergamum, Rhodes, Bithynia, Athens, the two leagues and all the ancient states of Greece are her clients. The position of policeman and nurse of the Ægean world had been thrust upon Rome because she was strong and just. Even that was a terrific and bewildering responsibility. Every day fresh embassies came to Rome to complain of neighbours and solicit assistance—clever Greeks who would talk your head off with sophistries, and rich Asiatics who would corrupt you with bribes and blandishments. There was no one within reach who would stand up and fight squarely. In the West there were Provinces, in the East allies; it was difficult to know which gave most trouble.

So we come to the next stage, when the Romans began to annex and subjugate. It was the only way. In Macedonia, after Philip had been conquered and pardoned, Perseus arose and rebelled. After Perseus had been crushed and his kingdom dismembered, a bastard pretender arose and headed a revolt, joined by the Greeks. Obviously there was nothing for it but to round off the business by sending a permanent army under a permanent general to Macedonia, and to call it{57} his “province.” Not even yet did the Romans dream of making cities like Athens her subjects. These free cities, however, needed a sharp lesson; and Corinth, as an almost impregnable fortress which had been a centre of Achæan mischief, was selected for destruction and destroyed in 146 B.C.

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In the same year came the end of Carthage. During the last fifty years there had been incessant trouble there. Rome had left Carthage prostrate before her dangerous African enemies, and refused all her appeals to be allowed to defend herself. All the time Carthage was undoubtedly recovering financially from her defeat, in spite of her large annual tribute. This sight moved the fears and jealousy of the Romans. It was not sufficient to have ordered the expulsion of Hannibal. The Romans who had grown up under the shadow of the great Punic War had sucked in hate and fear of Carthage with their mother’s milk. Intelligent people like Scipio, who had seen Carthage in the dust, might mock at their fears. It was the Old Roman party, with their spokesman Cato and his stupid parrot-cry of delenda est Carthago, who constantly kept their nerves on edge, until at last in sheer panic they obeyed. The long feud between Carthage and the Berber chief Masinissa came to a head in 154. Masinissa appealed to Rome, and Rome ordered Carthage to dismiss her army and burn her fleet. Carthage, now desperate, refused, went to war with Masinissa, and was beaten. Then Rome declared war upon her—the Third Punic War. Two consuls landed with a large army and Carthage offered submission. The consuls demanded complete disarmament. Carthage submitted. Then the consuls demanded that the existing city should be destroyed and the inhabitants settled ten miles inland. That meant not only the destruction of their homes and hearths and temples, but the end of the commerce for which they lived. This preposterous demand shows that Cato’s policy had triumphed. Carthage could not submit to this, and there followed one of those frightful sieges in which{58} the Semitic peoples show their amazing tenacity. Three years it lasted, by favour of the gross incompetence of the Roman generals; until at last a Scipio came to turn the tide once more. Carthage was destroyed utterly with fire and sword, her very site laid bare, and the soil sown with salt, in token that man should dwell there no more.

The destruction of these two cities, Corinth and Carthage, together with other facts such as the unreasonable irritation which Rome displayed against her Greek allies, Rhodes and Pergamum, have been taken by some modern historians to indicate, once more, a policy of commercial jealousy instigating the destruction of rival markets. In the one case, however, it has been proved that Corinth was no longer a great centre of Greek commerce when she was destroyed, and in the case of Carthage it was the party of Cato, who was much more of a farmer than a company-promoter, that urged destruction. A man of business might indeed be foolish enough to want to close the principal markets which bought and sold with him—there are such business men to-day—but he would scarcely be so mad as to have a fine commercial centre with its docks and quays utterly destroyed and cursed for ever. Similarly, when Macedon was conquered her rich gold mines were shut down by order of the senate. The truth is that Rome was tired and exhausted with her colossal wars, irritable and nervous beyond expression with the gigantic task of government which she had found thrust upon her. Surrounded with false friends and secret enemies, she was losing the noble sang froid she had displayed in times of real crisis. Corinth was destroyed as a warning to the Greeks, Carthage as an expiation for the lemures of the unburied Roman dead.

The Provinces

In considering the ancient, imperial, and provincial systems it is necessary for the modern to divest himself of all the geographical notions which spring from the study of maps.{59} The ancients probably had only the most vague notions of territory. Natural frontiers such as mountains, rivers, and coasts were of course familiar to them, from the strategic point of view. Within those were cities great and small, which in the case of civilised people formed the units of life and government. In the case of barbarians there were tribes and nations, seldom sufficiently settled to produce any notion of geographical area. Thus when Rome conquered Sicily she was acquiring not so much one geographical unit, an island, as a collection of states of various types and constitutions. Similarly in the case of Spain; she said and thought that she acquired Spain, although the greater part of the Iberian peninsula remained unconquered for another century and a half. To remember the limitations of ancient geographical knowledge is essential to the understanding of the Roman provincial system. Provincia means in the first instance a sphere of official duty, a man’s provincia might be the feeding of the sacred geese or it might be the control of an army. It was not for a long time that the word came to connote a territorial area. When it did so, the day of the city-state was at an end.

The earliest Roman provinces were Sicily, acquired by conquest in the First Punic War, 241 B.C., then Corsica and Sardinia, annexed in the diplomatic intrigues which followed. Spain, or rather “the Spains.” Further and Hither, were the fruit of the Second Punic War (201). After the Third Punic War (146) the territory of Carthage became a province under the name of Africa. At the same time the Macedonian Wars gave Rome the province of Macedonia. To complete the list so far as the Roman Republic is concerned: Attalus III. bequeathed his kingdom to Rome in 133, and this became the province of Asia. In 121 the conquest of Southern Gaul gave Rome Gallia Narbonensis. In 103 the prevalence of piracy on the southern coasts of Asia Minor compelled the Romans to make Cilicia a province. In 81 a legislative act of Sulla brought the already conquered{60} Cisalpine Gaul into the same category. The King of Bithynia imitated Attalus in bequeathing his kingdom to Rome. Cyrene also was bequeathed to Rome and united in one province with Crete in 63. In 64 Pompeius the Great deposed the King of Syria and annexed his kingdom. About the same time, on the death of Mithradates, Pontus was added to Bithynia as a united province. In 51 Julius Cæsar completed the conquest of Gaul and added it as Gallia Comata to the old province of Narbonensian Gaul. Finally in 31 Octavianus added Egypt to the list.

It was not the Roman way to think a situation out with the logic and directness of a Greek or a Frenchman. More like the Englishman, he took things as they came and made the best of them with as little derangement as possible of his pre-existing system and preconceived ideas. The Roman Empire was not governed on a system as it was not acquired by a policy. When Sicily came into the Roman hands, it came piecemeal in the course of the war. Various cities accepted Roman “alliance” on various terms. Rome had never been able to grant full citizenship to Greek states, because their inhabitants, speaking a foreign language, could not give the equivalent in military service. If Sicily had been Italian it would no doubt have entered the Roman alliance as a collection of municipia; as it was, the sixty-five or so separate Sicilian states continued to enjoy for the most part their previous constitutions under various agreements with Rome. Some were “free,” some were “free and confederate”; similarly of kings who yielded to Rome, some were styled “allies,” some “allies and friends.” The cities would have their charters and the kings would have their personal treaties with Rome which lapsed with their death. But in a region conquered in war most of the tribes or states were simply “stipendiary,” that is, tribute-paying. The stipendium paid was originally, and in theory, an indemnity or a contribution for the maintenance of a military force by people who were unqualified to give personal service. It was{61} generally settled by a commission of ten members of the senate, who went out to organise a newly acquired territory. Even these tributary states had their charters from Rome. The stipendium was by no means extortionate. In Macedonia, for example, the people only paid to Rome half as much as they had previously paid to their kings. In Sicily and Sardinia the tillers of the soil paid a tithe, generally in kind (that is, in corn), to the Roman treasury, and the town-dwellers probably paid a poll-tax. It was an error of the jurists, who confused this tithe with the tenth paid by occupants of Roman public land, which afterwards led to the dangerous legal theory that Rome had acquired the whole soil of the country conquered by her arms and leased it back for a consideration to the original proprietors. As a matter of fact, few of the provinces were remunerative to the Roman state. Spain, where warfare was incessant, was certainly a heavy loss. Macedonia was no source of profit. Sicily, largely owing to the Roman Peace, became the granary of the capital, but Asia alone was a source of great wealth to the treasury. There were, of course, harbour dues for the provinces as for Italy herself.

On the whole, it is fair to say that local autonomy was generally preserved. Either through policy or, more probably, because the Romans habitually took things as they found them, the previous laws and constitutions of conquered units, whether cities or tribes, remained in force. In Syracuse, for example, the law of King Hiero remained, and it was much better for the Sicilians to pay their taxes to Rome than to be subject to the personal extortions of a monster like Agathocles. In law-suits between citizens of one Sicilian state the trial was to be held in that state by a native judge and according to the native laws—possibly with a right of appeal to the Roman governor. In suits between Romans and Sicilians the judge was to be a native of the defendant’s state. So far the Roman sway is the mildest, the most benevolent system of government which has ever been{62} imposed by an empire upon conquered subjects. Athens, it will be remembered, had grown rich and beautiful by misapplying the contributions of allies which she had converted into the tribute of subjects. Sparta had put garrisons into every conquered city. So had Carthage. No modern power allows as much local autonomy to conquered territories as Rome granted to hers.

But in every conquered territory it was necessary to have an armed force, large or small according to circumstances, and for the soldiers a general. As all the Roman magistrates were military in the first instance, but also judicial and executive—as, in fact, the nature of Roman ideas of imperium implied an unlimited competence in every department of rule, the provincial general was also, necessarily, a provincial judge and administrator free from all control during his year of office. No doubt the Romans, if they had possessed the wisdom and retrospective foresight so lavishly displayed by their modern critics, would, in sending officers to distant parts, have revised their notions of imperium and defined the spheres of duty which they entrusted to their generals. If they had studied political science they might have learnt that it is wise to separate the legal functions from the administrative, and both from the military. Or if they had made historical researches, they might have discovered that the Persian administrative system of three independent functionaries in each satrapy was the best that had yet been discovered. But they did none of these things: they simply blundered on in the old Roman way, more maiorum. They did not foresee the demoralising effect of absolute power in an alien and subject land. They did not foresee the necessity for central control in a Roman Colonial Office; there was not even any Latin equivalent for the Franco-Grecian term “bureaucracy.” Thus they were compelled to trust to the honour and sense of justice which was, when this colossal experiment began, still believed to exist in the heart of a Roman officer and gentleman, unaware that corruption{63} was beginning even then to taint the whole body of their aristocracy.

They might, one would think, have realised the super-human temptations in the path of a Roman governor. He went out, with a company of his own friends, chiefly ambitious young men, for a staff, with a senatorial legate chosen by himself, and a juvenile quæstor as his subordinate to keep accounts, if he could: for there was no competitive examination in book-keeping. The governor went for a year only among a people whose traditions, laws, and even language, were probably quite unknown to him. He left an austere and barbarous republic to act as monarch among flattering Greeks or cringing Asiatics. No power on earth could even criticise him while he held the imperium: afterwards he might be impeached, it is true, but before a court of his own friends. He had just completed a civic magistracy, and these were won and held by means of lavish bribes and public entertainments. Opportunities to recoup himself were irresistible.

True to the mos maiorum, the Romans invented no new magistracy for the provinces. Already as early as the Samnite Wars they had found it necessary sometimes to break down the annual system by proroguing a magistrate’s term of office in order that he might finish a campaign. If he were prætor or consul, he continued for another year as proprætor or proconsul. When Sicily was conquered the Romans added another prætor to the two functionaries already existing, another for Sardinia, and two more for Spain; but after that the new provinces were entrusted to proprætors and proconsuls, or, in case of a war, to the consuls themselves during the latter part of their year of office. The senate decided what the magisterial provinces should be, which of them should be consular, and then generally the qualified officers balloted for them.

The same want of elasticity in the Roman system spoilt their good intentions in the matter of finance. As we have seen, the State imposed no crushing burdens upon its vassals.{64} Had the stipendium been honestly collected by official emissaries under proper control, the provincials would have had little cause of complaint. But the Romans here again provided no new functionaries for the new duty. In some cases they allowed the subject communities to collect their own taxes and forward the required aggregate to Rome, and in such cases there was a great deal of peculation on the way. But where this was impossible the senate farmed out the collection of taxes under contract to certain individuals who bought them at auction. The publicani quickly grew into a regular institution, grouping themselves into capitalist syndicates which combined tax-farming with money-lending. Banks were established in every provincial centre. This capitalist class soon established itself as a political body at Rome, where it exerted a powerful and sinister influence over public policy. Just below the senatorial order were the equites. Of old they had been real cavalry, for it was only the rich who could afford to maintain a horse and the necessary equipment; now it was mainly a titular distinction, implying a certain income. It was here that the bankers of Rome and the financial interests were grouped in a single powerful class. For a time these “horsemen” actually secured control of the jury courts which tried charges of extortion. Then the lot of the provincials was wretched indeed: to pay their greedy and extortionate tax-gatherers they had often to borrow from the same individuals in their capacity of usurers, and then, if they ventured to journey to Rome with a complaint, they would meet the same evil class in the very judges who heard their complaints. This was how “publican and sinner” came to be an appropriate conjunction.

The corruption, as we shall see later, began to be serious with the acquisition of Asia. At first the incompetence due to the inexperience of the governors and their staffs was the chief failing of the system. But when Asia with its stored-up capital, its possibilities of exploitation, and its extreme help{65}lessness, fell to Rome, traders and money-lenders swarmed down upon it, so that there were 80,000 Italians there when Mithradates ordered his famous massacre. Thus money poured into the capital, and there was an unseemly scramble for wealth. But for the present we are only concerned with the system of provincial government as it was in the beginning. I think we may conclude that it started with the best intentions, but with two inherent defects, both due to the conservatism of the Roman character. Their constitution was municipal and their outlook parochial. Their empire-building was precisely of the narrow-minded, well-intentioned character that one would expect if the Marleybone Borough Council suddenly found itself presented with Ireland, France, and half Spain, and asked to govern them.

The Imperial City

A poor man cannot become a millionaire without at least altering his way of living, and a little backward provincial town cannot find itself the mistress of a great empire without undergoing very profound modifications. In 208 B.C. Rome was struggling for her life with a foreign enemy raging at her gates. Fifty years later she was mistress in the Mediterranean, and owner of more land than she could conceive.

One of the effects of the change was a prodigious influx of wealth into the city. In war indemnities alone six or seven millions sterling must have flowed into the coffers of a state which had till recently conducted its business with lumps of copper. In loot Rome was said to have gained above two millions in the Syrian War, and about the same in the Third Macedonian. Vast tracts of public land were gained, and there was a steady influx of tributary corn and money: public mines, such as those in Spain, must be added. There never had been regular direct taxation in the city: a Roman paid his dues in the form of personal service, and a tributum was the mark of defeat. But now all taxation ceased at Rome except an indirect tariff on salt and the customs at the ports.{66} Henceforth Rome was living on her empire and growing fat upon it. It is true that expenditure was also increasing. In the earliest days there had been no public finance. A war was conducted by a citizen army, who marched out for a few days’ campaigning in the neighbourhood, wearing their own armour and carrying a commissariat provided by their wives. The only public expense was the religious duty of providing beasts for sacrifice, and even that was largely defrayed by fines paid to the treasury. But now expeditions cost money, armies soldiering for months in distant lands had to be fed and maintained, ships had to be built, equipment and machines provided. Nevertheless, with wise financial administration the treasury ought to have had a decent surplus. But wisdom in finance was lacking: although we are assured that book-keeping was one of the points in which the old Roman paterfamilias especially took pride, yet the public treasury of Rome, which had the temple of Saturn for its bank, was managed by the quæstors, the lowest grade of Roman official life, consisting of young men just beginning a public career. That fact alone will show how far more important the Romans regarded warfare than finance, and how far wrong are those historians who make Roman greatness dependent upon economic advantages. The maladministration of finance was not due to dishonesty at first: Polybius, the Greek historian, who was brought up in the heart of Greek politics under Aratus, the cunning chief of the Achæan League, and came to Rome in the second century as a hostage, was genuinely astonished at Roman honesty. Their financial errors were due to sheer inexperience in the handling of large sums of money.

Little of this vast influx of money was spent upon public works. To begin with, there was not the taste for fine architecture at Rome, nor indeed for art of any sort. The private houses were still mainly built of unbaked bricks or tiles, often with thatched or shingled roofs: the interiors of the bare simplicity of a country farm-house. And then{67} Roman religion, which, as we have seen, was always somewhat cold towards the high Olympian gods, offering its real devotion to obscurer rustic powers, made little claim for temples and stately shrines. Temples had been built under the Etruscan domination in the fifth century B.C. But thereafter for a period of four centuries there is an almost complete blank in the annals of Roman archæology. If anything was built between Tarquin and Sulla it was generally of wood and brick or rubble with no architectural pretensions. Augustus swept it all away with contempt. Of course it was the fashion for Cato and the old Roman party to say they preferred good old Roman temples with the painted terra-cotta ornaments to all the new-fashioned fripperies of Greece; but that is only the spleen of the outraged Philistine. These centuries of growth are empty of art.

What the nouveaux riches of the second century B.C. found to spend their money on it is hard to say. In 218 B.C. the people passed a resolution as the Lex Claudia forbidding senators to engage in foreign commerce. It is very unlikely that the senate would have allowed that if they had already been deeply involved in business. But this enactment checked the only fruitful use of wealth: it turned, and was possibly intended to turn, the money of the great houses into land speculation. This was followed by disastrous results. The Punic Wars had thrown millions of acres out of cultivation. That land which had belonged to rebels passed to the Roman state as public land and the scramble for it was the cause of momentous political conflicts in the succeeding generation. But rich senators acquired enormous estates without any deep interest in their economic productiveness. Like the old English squire the old Roman senator was not a professional nor even a very serious landowner, and moreover he was an absentee. Thus large tracts of Central Italy became the estates of rich men who added park to park and villa to villa rather as a hobby than for any good reason. The common notion of Italy before the Punic Wars as a vast{68} smiling cornfield, dotted with little farm-houses and country cottages full of stalwart husbandmen, is both unhistorical and ungeographical. The Italian farmer lived—like the mediæval European farmer—mostly in townships which he called “cities,” and it was only the plain-land in the vicinity of a town which was regularly ploughed and sown. A glance at the map will show how little of Central Italy is suited for cereal cultivation. But, if the records are true, 400 Italian townships had been destroyed in the great wars and that meant, perhaps, 400,000 acres out of cultivation. And what had become of their inhabitants? Thousands, of course, had left their bones on Roman battlefields, but thousands more, when their term of service was done, went to swell the proletariat of Rome. There they herded in ill-built, ill-drained quarters on the low ground of the city. Physically and morally they declined. What is perhaps worse, they could not perpetuate their breed under the new conditions. It takes generations for the human animal to adapt itself to new conditions. Modern Europe has seen the enormous influx into towns accompanied by a decline in the birth-rates, and the swollen town-populations are only maintained by constant influx from the country. It has truly been said that the future rests with the race which can most readily adapt itself to such new conditions. But the Romans never could. The humbler quarters of the city, though they grew more and more populous, grew, it seems, by immigration and not by natural increase. Thus the populace of Rome became more and more cosmopolitan, less and less Roman. These generalisations are apparently well founded, but it must not be forgotten that we know scarcely anything of the free poor at Rome. A nation of orators generally forgets to speak of the butcher, the baker, and his colleagues. It is as impossible to believe that all trade and industry at Rome was carried on by slaves as that the poor of a city can live by bread alone. “Bread and the circus” is a respectable phrase, as true as epigrams ever are, but it cannot be the whole truth.{69}

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Map of Italy, showing ground over 1000 feet high

As we have seen in the case of Greece, all ancient city-states undertook duties which the modern individualistic community regards, up to the present at least, as private and not public. The city-state regarded it as part of its business to see that its shareholders did not starve, therefore the supply of corn and the price of it was always a matter of state supervision. From the earliest days of Roman history there had been officers charged with the duty of securing{70} the city’s corn-supply at reasonable charges. Now the corn was beginning to arrive in the form of tribute from Sicily and Africa. Soon we shall have the agrarian laws and all the disorder that resulted from them. But it is important to observe that the depopulation of the Italian countryside resulted from war and politics as well as from economic causes. Of course economic causes kept it depopulated. Nature never intended Central Italy for a wheat-growing land; the vine, the olive, and the fig are its best products. Now that the seas were open for free imports it no longer paid to plough and sow the stony upland farms.

So the land passed out of cultivation. As in England, grazing was found to be cheaper, easier, and more profitable than agriculture. Oxen were used for ploughing or reserved for sacrifice. The Italians, like the Greeks, seldom ate meat and then little but smoked bacon, but as all Romans wore the woollen toga sheep-farming was profitable. In summer the sheep grazed on the Sabine hills, in winter on the Latin plain among the stubble of the cornfields or beneath the olive-trees. Wild slave-shepherds tended them.

Slavery was the canker at the root of ancient civilisation. It assumed more awful proportions at Rome than in Greece owing to the hard materialism of the Roman character. Of course it had existed from the earliest times as the common lot of the prisoner of war. The sturdy Roman farmer, so dear to Roman rhetoric, was after all little more than a sturdy slave-driver. The actual field labour had always been in the hands of slaves. As early as 367 B.C., if we may believe the records of that age, legislation had attempted to fix a certain proportion of free labour on country estates. From the first, too, the slave had been the merest chattel, a colleague of the dog, a little lower even than the wife or daughter of the Roman house-father. It was cheaper to buy slaves than to let them breed, cheaper to sell them for what they would fetch when they grew old than to keep them. You could dodge the gods, who enjoined holidays even for slaves, by{71} giving your slaves work indoors on feast-days—such are some of the maxims of the venerable Cato, who is the type of the old Roman squire, and who personally attended to the scourging of his slaves after dinner. Now slaves were becoming more numerous and cheaper than ever—you might have to pay as much as £1000 for a pretty boy or girl—but a wild Sardinian or Gaul or Spaniard cost very little. Hence began the really pernicious system of specialised slavery. A wealthy Roman moved neither hand nor foot for himself. To have only ten slaves was contemptible poverty. Each slave was trained simply for one special task—cook, barber, footman, bearer, lacquey, or schoolmaster. The shepherds and gladiators might retain their manhood, as indeed they did, and showed it in frightful revolts during this and the succeeding generation. But the domestic slaves of the capital had no hope but to cringe and wheedle their way into favour by flattering and corrupting their masters. One alleviation of the slave’s lot there was: it was easier for a slave to earn his freedom at Rome than in Greece. But this type of person when liberated, and his children after him, made the worst type of citizen, and tended still further to corrupt the tone of the proletariat. Worse than domestic slavery was the plantation system, which during all this period was growing in the country. At its worst it meant huge slave barracks, in which the slaves lived in dungeons underground and worked by day in gangs, chained night and day. It was a profitable system of agriculture and it rapidly ousted free labour. In the city too, in the merchant ships and the mines, a cruel and vicious system of servitude was destroying free industry. Truly the hollowest of historic frauds was the eighteenth-century view of an idealised Roman republic of citizens, free, equal, and fraternal. It inspired the Convention and coloured the periods of Mirabeau, but so far as the records prove, the virtuous and liberal old Roman never existed.

Equality beyond the name was certainly unknown at Rome. All government was in the hands of a close circle of{72} aristocrats whose stronghold was in the senate. By virtue of the client system the great houses of the Claudii, the Cornelii, the Fabii, the Livii, the Flaminii, the Julii, and a dozen others kept the high offices of state exclusively in their hands. By this time the censors drew up the senate-lists chiefly from the ranks of ex-magistrates, and the magistracies became a graduated course. It required extraordinary pushfulness or wealth or patronage for a new man to insinuate himself into the charmed circle. The old patriciate had gone, politically at least, and only survived for religious purposes, but Rome still remained a thrall to aristocracy of a far more dangerous type, an aristocracy of office. One of the troubles of Rome lay in the fact that this aristocracy was daily becoming less warlike and less competent.

A great deal of nonsense has been talked about the luxury of the Romans as one of the causes of their decline. Even Mommsen relates with shocked emotion that they imported anchovies from the Black Sea and wine from Greece. Two hot meals a day they had and “frivolous articles” including bronze-mounted couches. There were professional cooks, and actually bakers’ shops began to appear about 171 B.C. It is true that all this luxury would pale into insignificance before the modern artisan’s breakfast-table with bread from Russia, bacon from America, tea from Ceylon or coffee from Brazil, sugar from Jamaica, and eggs from Denmark. Cato would have swooned at the sight of our picture-frames coated with real gold, for he publicly stigmatised a senator who had £30 worth of silver plate. The truth is that Rome having grown rich was just beginning to grow civilised. It is the everlasting misfortune of Rome that events occurred in that order.

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In conquering Macedon Rome had become acquainted with civilisation. At that date civilisation meant Hellenism slightly tinctured with Orientalism, a culture which, though still alive and still original and creative, was certainly past its prime. The Hellenistic period of Greek art has been unjustly{73} depreciated in comparison with the more youthful and virile age of Pericles. But it could still boast of great scholars, scientists, and philosophers, both at Alexandria and Athens. Theocritus, Bion, and Moschus form a group of original poets who are really great, and an art that could produce the lovely Aphrodite of Melos cannot with justice be termed decadent. Politically, morally, and physically Greece was no doubt long past the vigour of her youth, but intellectually she was still well qualified to play the part of schoolmistress to the lusty young barbarian of the West. We have seen that in very remote times Rome had come under Etruscan influences which were closely akin to Greek. There had been some interchange, if tradition may be trusted, of Greek and Etruscan art and artists. Greek painters had worked in Rome at a very early date. Then came perhaps two centuries of relapse in the cultural sense while Rome was busy with warfare and conquest. In 300 B.C. she was almost entirely destitute of accomplishments, and even, if we may except law, politics, and military skill, of civilisation. The war with Pyrrhus, the conquest of Tarentum and then of Sicily brought in Greek slaves, and semi-Greek South-Italian citizens who were bound to have some influence. Then came direct dealings with Greece in the three Macedonian wars, and every Roman who had fought with Flamininus or Paulus returned to Rome if not an apostle of culture at any rate a man who had seen civilisation with his own eyes and could no longer regard old Roman ways as sufficient for man’s happiness. How could eyes that had seen the Zeus of Pheidias at Olympia glowing with ivory and gold be content with the old vermilion Jove of his native temple?

Nevertheless it was very slowly that culture filtered in. All through the third century and for the first half of the second Rome was still incessantly occupied with war. Her tastes were brutalised and demoralised by it. When drama painfully began, the dramatists sadly lamented that their audiences would desert the theatre for the sight of a rope-{74}dancer or a beast-baiting or, better still, a pair of gladiators. From the first it was vain to attempt the creation of a national drama for a people whose craving was for the sight of blood. Gladiatoral combats are said to have been of Etruscan origin. They first appeared at Rome in the early part of the third century in connection with funeral displays. From every African expedition wild beasts were brought home to be slaughtered in the Roman amphitheatres. These bloody shows indicate the real tastes of the Romans from the earliest times. They are no spurious growth of the so-called “degenerate Empire.” On one occasion, when the music of some Greek flute-players failed to please a Roman audience, the presiding magistrate ordered the unlucky artists to fight one another, and the hoots of the crowd were instantly transformed to rapturous applause.

All the arts were held in contempt, all were entrusted to slaves or the poorest kind of citizens. Thus Hellenic civilisation was transported to Rome under a double disadvantage. Not only was Greek civilisation itself already past its prime, but it was interpreted largely by slaves. Every Roman of position had Greeks among his retinue—not, of course, the citizens of famous cities like Athens or Alexandria, which were still free, but low-caste, half-barbarian wretches from the great market at Delos or from the southern towns of Italy—for clerks, accountants, scribes, jesters, procurers, physicians, pedagogues, flute-players, philosophers, cooks, concubines, and schoolmasters. We may be sure that it was not the most favourable type of Hellenism that would creep into Rome by such channels as these. But it was precisely in this manner that Roman literature began. The noble general M. Livius Salinator brought from Tarentum in about 275 B.C. a Greek slave named Andronikos, as a tutor for his sons. This man received his liberty, and as Livius Andronicus set up a school. For his school he required books, and as there was no other text-book in Latin but the XII Tables, he undertook the translation of Homer’s Odyssey into the native{75} Italian measure of Saturnian verse. His work was, of course, very indifferently performed, but it remained a primer of education down to the schooldays of Horace. Emboldened by this success he proceeded to supply the Roman stage with translations of Greek tragedies.

Such was the beginning; the sequel was not much more promising. Nævius was a Campanian who translated Greek comedies and tragedies. In the former he attempted the old Greek custom of political allusions, but speedily found that there was no such liberty of speech in Rome as had prevailed in the palmy days of Athenian comedy. An allusion to the Metellus family brought the famous and thoroughly old Roman poetical retort:

dabunt malum Metelli Nævio poetæ,

and was fulfilled by the imprisonment of the dramatist. Thus the beginnings of literature at Rome were by no means easy. The dramatists were hampered by severe police restrictions as well as by the barbarity of their public. It is interesting to note that both these poets also attempted the epic style. Livius Andronicus was actually commissioned by the priests to celebrate the victory of Sena in verse, and Nævius wrote an account of the First Punic War.

For comedy the Romans appear to have had some natural taste. It seems that a very rude and barbaric form of dramatic dialogue mixed with buffoonery was native to Italy in the Fescennine Songs, though even these are said to have been of Etruscan invention. So the Romans at their festivals were content to listen to comedies if the humour was obvious enough, if there was plenty of horseplay. The setting was wretched indeed. Instead of the magnificent marble theatres of Greece, wooden booths were temporarily erected in the amphitheatre, and a noisy disorderly audience listened with good-humoured contempt to the efforts of the actors who tried to amuse them. Sometimes the chorus would be sung by trained musicians, while the actors on the stage illustrated the inaudible words by{76} pantomimic gestures. It was utterly crude and inartistic from beginning to end, and in deplorable contrast to the beginnings of Drama in Greece. There it had been a national service of worship to the gods. Here it was a trivial amusement in the hands of slaves and foreigners.

Of the three great comedians, Plautus, though a genuine free Italian of Umbria, had been reduced by poverty to the position almost of a slave; Cæcilius was a prisoner of war from the neighbourhood of Milan, who had been brought to Rome as a slave and then set free; Terence was a Carthaginian by birth, belonging as a slave to the Senator Terentius Lucanus, and subsequently being liberated became a friend of the younger Scipio. Ennius, the “father” of epic verse and tragedy, was a client of the elder Scipio and a Greek-speaking Calabrian by birth. Pacuvius, the best of the early tragedians, was a native of Brundisium, and therefore more Greek than Roman; he too belonged to the Scipionic circle. The activity of these writers belongs mainly to the first half of the second century. Not one of them was a Roman by origin, still less was there anything distinctively Roman in their work. Except from the linguistic point of view there is little to be said about any of them. The comic dramatists were engaged in translating the work of the Greek comedians of the third phase, especially Menander and Philemon. To meet the demand for more plot, more action, with less dialogue and less poetry, they would generally make a patchwork of two or three Greek plays. From the artistic point of view the work was clumsily done. There was little pretence of Romanising the characters or the scenes, generally they were frankly Greek with strange intrusions from Roman life. The source from which they drew was by now a stereotyped comedy of manners with stock characters—the heavy father, either an indulgent debauchee or a stingy curmudgeon; the old woman, generally a procuress; the gay and profligate young hero; the fair heroine, generally a meretrix, and a background of{77} parasites, bullies, pandars, slave-dealers, and scoundrelly slaves, who came in for recurrent beatings to the great entertainment of the audience. The situations are also “taken from stock,” facial resemblances, disguised strangers, mistaken identities, veiled women and so forth. The “love interest,” such as it is, almost invariably centres round the desire of a young profligate for a courtesan. The atmosphere is generally brutal and immoral. There is often a ludicrous want of dramatic imagination in the stage management. Yet the comedies of Plautus and Terence have played a larger part in monasteries and schoolrooms than any other literature in the world, and through Shakespeare and Molière have had a decisive influence in the history of the drama. We do not possess enough of the original Greek sources to say very definitely how much was contributed by the Roman dramatists of their own. Where we do get passages for comparison the Latin version has generally lost a great deal in wit and neatness of expression. The prologues, so far as they are genuine, are at any rate in the case of Plautus extremely bald and crude. “Now I will tell you why I have come forward here and what I intend in order that you may know the name of this play. For so far as the story goes it is a short one. Now I will tell you what I was anxious to inform you of: the name of this play in Greek is Onagos—Demophilus (or Diphilus?) composed it, Maccius turned it into Latin. He wishes it called Asinaria, if you please.” And so he proceeds to unwind his plot and relate how the young spendthrift Argyrripus won the favours of the courtesan Philenium by duping her mother, the procuress, and cheating his mother, a shrew, out of twenty minæ by the co-operation of his immoral old father who hoped to secure the young woman for himself.

It would be wrong, however, to underrate the literary merits of Plautus and Terence. These authors reveal to us something of the natural speech of the Roman—Plautus in particular, for Terence is already far more “classical” in his language. It is not always easy to say how far the{78} amusement which we get from them is legitimate, or how far it is laughter at the expense of their antique artlessness and clumsiness. But Plautus has a rich vein of simple humour and an irresistible sly appeal to his audience which often makes one unconscious of the garbage in which he is dealing. Terence has a polish, a graceful way of putting the obvious, and a purity of diction which sometimes makes his young men seem almost gentlemen and his young women almost virtuous. There is a great deal of sound worldly morality in Terence and some pure sentiment. But it is necessary here to lay stress upon the fact that the literary arts of Rome never possessed the fresh innocence or even the simple coarseness of youth. It was little harm, perhaps, that the gladiators, the rope-dancers, the bear-baiters, and the charioteers won the day in the affections of Roman audiences.

Father Ennius, too, in his tragedies was little more than a translator. He was employed consciously by the great Scipio to educate and broaden the Roman taste. He had learnt of the Greek philosophers to disbelieve in the gods, or rather he had learnt the deadly Euhemerist doctrine that the gods of Olympus are but the memories of long dead human heroes, or that they sit, as Epicurus also taught,

“On the hills ... together careless of mankind.”
“ego deum genus esse dixi et dicam semper cælitum,
sed eos non curare opinor quid agat humanum genus,
nam si curent, bene bonis sit, male malis, quod nunc abest.”

At the age of fifty Ennius set himself to relate the whole of Roman history in eighteen books of epic verse. No one claims for him the rank of a great poet, but he shaped for Vergil’s hand that magnificent instrument the Latin hexameter, and many scholars believe that he vitally affected the literary language of Rome by preserving the terminal inflexions which were dropping out of current speech. All the fragments of Ennius that have survived, though often rough and ugly, yet possess a massive dignity of their own,{79} and often a most solemn majesty of cadence, as in the lines with which I have headed this chapter. But here again we must notice that the rugged father of Latin poetry had already taken over the scepticism of the declining religion of Greece.

For many generations now Roman religion had been losing its native character and becoming cosmopolitan and denationalised. As we have seen, its genuinely native elements were mainly rural and now the Roman was a townsman with a townsman’s light scepticism and craving for novelty and sensation. Jupiter and Minerva and the other high gods had from the first been largely foreigners; at any rate few discernibly Latin ideas appear in the cults or personalities. As early as 204 B.C., that is, in the throes of the Great Punic War, the worship of Cybele—the Great Mother of Phrygian ritual—had been introduced along with its begging eunuch priests. Apollo with appropriate athletic games had arrived a few years earlier. New gods multiplied, old gods became hellenised, Roman priesthoods became more and more political, being simply obtained by popular election like any other public office, or crack dining-clubs for the aristocracy. As the gods multiplied faith declined. In 186 B.C. the Senate discovered a whole system of secret nocturnal orgies which under the name of Bacchic mysteries had spread with extraordinary rapidity throughout Italy. Ten thousand men were arrested and condemned, mostly to death, but the associations flourished unchecked.

Morality, public and private, was equally unsound. Publicly we have sufficient stories of bribery by candidates for office—not to mention the systematic corruption of the electorate by corn-doles and shows—to prove that political uncleanness was of very old standing in Rome. As for private virtue it may be that the world of pimps and prostitutes which flits across the Plautine stage is borrowed from Athens, but it was certainly familiar at Rome and rapidly domesticated itself. Slavery had always existed there, and immorality is{80} inseparable from slavery. Now with a mob of retired soldiers gathered promiscuously and without employment in the capital immorality was multiplied in every class. As early as 234 B.C. there was public complaint of the unwillingness of the Roman men of good family to face the responsibilities of marriage. Already, as in the case of C. Calpurnius Piso, there were horrible domestic tragedies in great houses. Divorce was already common. As usual the Pharisees of the day strove to combat immorality with prudishness. Cato the Censor punished a Roman senator for kissing his wife in the presence of their daughter.


Now, let it be remembered that this very age of which we are speaking, the age of conquest in the Punic and Greek wars, is the heroic age of Roman history, the age to which poets and historians of the empire looked back as golden. We do not rely upon satirists or gossip-dealers for this gloomy picture of Rome in her palmy days. The facts upon which it is based are beyond dispute. What inference are we to draw? Reviewing those facts and especially noticing the dates, we see that all the vicious features of Roman society, the cruelty, the idleness, the debauchery, the political corruption, the lack of artistic taste, the immorality and crime in the noble houses, the injustice and oppression of the poor and helpless, are no products of the Empire, but deeply engrained in the Roman character and entwined about the roots of her history. In our pursuit of old Roman virtue we may go to the furthest bounds of historical record in vain. No doubt, before Rome began to be a city and long before she began to have a history, there were simple laborious rustics on the Latin plains, who possessed, for want of opportunity, the virtuous abstinences of the poor. But it is manifestly false to ascribe degeneration either to the fall of the Republican system of government or to the introduction of civilisation. If one cause more than another is to be assigned for the rapid growth of evil tendencies it is the exhaustion{81} consequent upon incessant warfare and the brutality engendered by continual life in camp. The only thing that could mitigate the latter was surely education and culture. Instead, then, of Greek civilisation being the cause of degeneracy at Rome we may more truthfully assert that it came to save her from ruin at a time when she was threatened with internal decay. Had it come earlier or been accepted more willingly it might have done more to brighten the darker pages of Roman history. It was their starved souls, empty of ideals, devoid even of reasonable occupation for their leisure or harmless use for their wealth, which rendered the aristocracy of Rome so utterly vulgar and debased.{82}



urbem uenalem et mature perituram si emptorem inuenerit.
Jugurtha in Sallust

THERE is no doubt that many of the disquieting symptoms which we have just noted as afflicting Roman society in the second century B.C. might have been allayed, and possibly even the causes removed, by a wise and foreseeing government. In dealing with the allies and subjects who formed her vast and growing empire any modern politician could have told the senate that they had to choose one of two courses—either centralisation or devolution of power, either a just and firm system of control or a liberal grant of autonomous rights. But the senate had no policy. It left things to shape themselves. Again, the agrarian difficulty of a deserted countryside and an idle, disorderly city proletariat could easily have been solved if it had been taken early, before the habit of city-life grew upon the discharged warriors. Again the senate did nothing till it was too late. Then, having acquired an overseas empire all over the Mediterranean, the senate, if it had not been blind, should have seen that it was necessary to maintain a strong navy and police the seas in the interests of commerce. But again the government neglected its duty. For these and many other sins of negligence there was a heavy reckoning to be paid. It required no oracle to foretell disaster.{83}

While the mass of the senate sat by inert and helpless, allowing the helm of state to sway from side to side in their nerveless fingers, two small parties in the state had policies of their own. There was Cato (it is difficult to find a party for him to lead), who believed that by repeating the mystic words mos maiorum he could put the clock back to the days of Cincinnatus, if not of Numa, mistaking symptoms for diseases and hoping, like many another revivalist, to make people virtuous by making them uncomfortable, a task doomed to failure from the start.

Over against these were set a party who may almost be termed liberals, in that they were prepared to go forward hopefully in company with the spirit of their age. Their foremost representatives were the Scipios, who acted as patrons to many of the literary circle we have just described, and were themselves eager to accept the new culture. Unfortunately there was very little wisdom or foresight among them, and, above all, there was an aristocratic pride which would have rendered them impossible as leaders even if they had had any idea of a destination. As a family the Scipios were by no means uniformly competent, and most of them subsisted on the glamour of the name, which itself had been very largely due to the good luck and opportunity of Scipio Africanus, the Elder and the Younger.

The special feature which distinguishes the age which we have now to consider—that is, roughly, the hundred years from 146 B.C. onwards—is that the historian’s attention now begins to be focussed on a series of personal biographies. One might almost say it is already clear that some individual must dominate this ill-constructed imperial city, and the only question left is who it shall be. In the true polity of the city-state the influence of personality is reduced to a minimum, and various devices, such as the lot at Athens or the double and annual consulship at Rome, are employed to prevent that individual predominance which so easily turns to despotism. It is not due so much to envy as to an instinct{84} of self-preservation that republics are notoriously ungrateful to their great men. But personal eminence, if it is dangerous to the liberty of a republic, is almost essential to the government of a great empire and the control of huge armies. The incompetence of the annual generals, now that warfare was on a large scale and conducted far from the overseeing eye of the administration, became more noticeable. Already in the Third Macedonian War it had been disgracefully apparent. Now the long campaigns against Viriathus in Spain and Jugurtha in Africa reveal pitiful ineptitude, coupled with shameless dishonesty, in the republican generals of the aristocracy. Roman armies are no longer invincible in the field, they are not even disciplined.

The Gracchi

But first we have to recall a futile attempt at reform of the economic distresses of the imperial city. It is not so much the actual schemes of the brothers Gracchus which interest us—for the schemes themselves were unworkable and contained as much folly as wisdom—as the manner in which reform was proposed and defeated. The Gracchi themselves, though of plebeian origin, belonged by numerous ties to the liberal aristocracy. Their famous mother, Cornelia—one of the many Roman women who by their influence help to make Roman history so different from Greek—was the daughter of Scipio Africanus. Tiberius, the elder brother, was married to a Claudia; among his friends were Scævola and Crassus. Thus on all sides he belonged to the circle of progressive nobles. His education had been such as one would expect from such surroundings. As their father had died at an early age, it was Cornelia’s task to make her two “jewels” worthy of her glorious name. Accordingly she employed the most eminent Greeks for their tutors. The boys were trained, no doubt, in Greek oratory to declaim in praise of liberty and tyrannicides, in Greek history and political science to divide constitutions up into monarchies,{85} aristocracies, and democracies, and to believe that in the latter all power belongs to the people. At the same time their military training was not neglected; in horsemanship and feats of arms they outshone all their comrades. Their prospects were in every way brilliant and hopeful. While still a youth of about sixteen, Tiberius was elected augur. The proud aristocrat, Appius Claudius, as it is related by Plutarch, offered him the hand of his daughter, and, having secured it, rushed home to announce her betrothal. As soon as his wife heard of it she exclaimed: “Why in such a hurry unless you have got Tiberius Gracchus for our daughter?” It is the misfortune of rhetorical history that all its good characters appear to be prigs and all its bad ones scoundrels; but it is certain that if Tiberius had been content with the easy road to fame which stretched before him in youth, he might without trouble have had the world at his feet. He accompanied his brother-in-law, the younger Africanus, in the last expedition against Carthage. In camp he was the most distinguished of the young officers, and the first to scale the walls of the city. He served his quæstorship in Spain, and there showed all the diplomatic skill of the Cornelian family. He saved an army of 20,000 men from destruction at Numantia. The Spaniards loved him no less for his name than for his uprightness. Thus at the age of thirty-one he had his future assured. A brilliant orator with distinguished public service behind him, he was obviously destined for the consulship in the near future, and then for a huge province, for wealth, fame, and honour.

Call him a prig and a doctrinaire, if you will, for not being content with that prospect. In passing through, on his way to Spain, he had seen the pleasant lands of Tuscany lying forlorn and desolate, chained gangs of foreign slaves working in the fields or tending the flocks of absentee Roman landlords, while the sturdy peasants who should have been in their place were loafing in the streets of Rome. The public land, conquered in war, had sometimes been simply embezzled{86} by Roman politicians; sometimes granted to veteran soldiers only to fall into the hands of speculators. The old Licinian land-law, which had limited the amount of land which might be held in one hand, was openly flouted, and leases were treated as freeholds.

Seeing these things, the young man was filled with a passion for reform, and deliberately devoted his life to that task. The modern historians who call him prig and demagogue do not deny the awful mischief which he set himself to repair. It is hard to know what he should have done to please them. The senate, by now an entrenched stronghold of property dishonestly acquired and privilege dishonestly maintained, could obviously never be converted. Filled with Greek ideas, Tiberius determined to appeal to the demos. That of course was a mistake. There was no such thing as a demos at Rome, and there never had been. The relation between Senate and Comitia was not in the least the same as that between Council and Assembly in Greece. At Rome the Senate deliberated and the Comitia ratified; at Athens the Council prepared business for the Assembly to discuss and decide. It is not that the letter of the constitution really matters—when people are hungry it does not—but that there was lacking at Rome the very elements of democracy, an articulate commons, an organised will of the people. Failing that, any attempt to pose as champion of the people must be a fraud, conscious or unconscious. But it is grossly unfair to Gracchus to suppose that it was conscious. He thought that he was living in a democracy, he thought that a tribune of the plebs might fairly claim to be champion of the people, unaware that the plebs was now an anachronism, and the tribunate merely a clumsy brake on the wheels of the state. In 133 B.C. Tiberius had himself elected as one of the ten tribunes, and immediately prepared to introduce the millennium by legislative process.

He proposed to enforce the old Licinian laws by which no individual citizen could claim a large holding of public{87} land. Then presently, in his childlike ignorance of the tenacity of property, annoyed at the resistance he encountered, he further proposed to make his measure retrospective, so as to evict thousands of noble land-grabbers. The land thus escheated to the state he proposed to lease on nominal terms as small holdings to the poorer citizens of Rome. The distribution was to be carried out by a commission of three. Very unwisely, but probably because there were no men of standing in the senate whom he could trust, he made this commission a family party consisting of himself, his father-in-law, and his young brother. Property was immediately up in arms against him. The liberal senators discovered, as even liberals are apt to do, that one’s own property has a sanctity far superior to other people’s. Accordingly, they took the Roman constitutional method of putting up another tribune to veto the proposals of Tiberius. Thereupon Tiberius, with his fantastic notions of the people and the people’s rights, declared that a tribune who opposed the people was no tribune, and so had Octavius deposed. The senate’s answer was the only constitutional answer left to them, a threat of prosecution when the tribunate should be over. That, of course, made it necessary for Tiberius to perpetuate his office. He gathered a band of followers sworn to protect his life, proposed a string of attractive measures to secure popular support, and stood for a second term of office. The senate put up more tribunes to veto his election. Thus the state was at a deadlock; there were no more resources for such a situation within constitutional limits, so the senators simply girt up their togas and, led by a Scipio, marched down into the forum to settle the question of reform in a truly Roman manner. Tiberius Gracchus was murdered, and his followers left for judicial assassination.

Ten years later Gaius Gracchus, with a similar programme and the added motive of piety to his brother’s memory, took up the campaign afresh. The senate, indeed, having slain the author of reform, had been forced to allow the reforms{88} themselves at any rate to start. Some lands had been redistributed, and when another Scipio got a decree passed to stop the work of the land commission, he too was assassinated. It is clear that by this time the agrarian agitation had been largely appeased; what follows is political merely. The reformers had got the constitution altered to permit the re-election of tribunes, and in 123 Gaius was elected to that office; he was rather more practical, and therefore far more dangerous, than his brother, but the passion for vengeance against the stubborn and brutal nobility had no doubt blinded his judgment. Coupled with the land-agitation there was now a loud demand for political rights by the Italians, who were debarred even from the elementary rights of market and marriage with each other.

The platform upon which Gaius Gracchus stood was a radical one. Henceforth every poor citizen was to be supplied with cheap corn at less than half price, about 4d. a bushel. The land commission was to be restored. The Assembly was to be reorganised upon a new basis, which would destroy the preponderant voting power of the nobility. New colonies were to be founded, including one at Carthage—a most salutary measure. Easier terms of military service were to be granted, including free equipment and the right of appeal. By these measures, some of them wise and just, some of them mere vote-catching devices, Gaius won the support of the people. Then he turned to the second estate—the capitalist Equites. To buy their favour he took up their demand that the taxes of “Asia,” as the Romans called their new province bequeathed to them by King Attalus III., should be put up for auction not locally but in Rome. It seemed to the Romans that since the Asiatics were bound to be plundered in any case, as indeed the inhabitants of Asia Minor always had and always have been plundered, the proceeds might as well flow straight into the pockets of Roman capitalists. To this he added the proposition that the jury-lists should henceforth be drawn from the Equestrian order and the senators excluded.{89} It was probably more iniquitous that money-lenders and governors should be tried by a jury of money-lenders exclusively than that they should come before a jury of governors past and future. Neither would seem to us or to the provincials an ideal arrangement.

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FIG. 1.
FIG 2.
Plate XII.

Much of this policy, we have to admit, was pure demagogy, but for that the conservative nobles, who cared nothing for the welfare of the state, and were impervious to anything but force, are directly responsible. Gracchus got his measures through the comitia, and secured his re-election for the next year. Feeling that his policy had secured him a large and faithful party of supporters, he now prepared to introduce a measure which he knew to be necessary for the salvation of his country, but which he must equally well have known to be unpopular at Rome, namely, the grant of citizen rights to the Italians. By this we see that Gaius Gracchus, if he sometimes stooped to the arts of the demagogue, was also capable of real statesmanship. The progressive grant of burgess rights as soon as subject peoples were sufficiently Romanised to be fit for them was the old Roman policy, which had made the city great in the past, and kept her safe in the shock of invasion. But the Romans had now become jealous and exclusive. The proposal was detested in Rome. Each side organised its gangs of roughs; there were daily riots in the streets, and at last the senatorial party once more charged down into the forum and slaughtered the second reformer as they had slaughtered the first. In the prosecutions that followed no fewer than 3000 of his partisans were executed.

In all this it is evident that the Roman political system had completely broken down. The constitution had always been incredibly ill-defined. There is no doubt that sovereignty legally belonged to the people, and that senatorial government was a usurpation, as the Gracchi called it. By calling the citizen body of Rome a mob or a rabble you do not alter the rights of the case. It was largely the fault of the Government that they had been allowed to become so selfish, so disorderly,{90} and so corrupt. The extraordinary machinery of the tribunate—ten magistrates, each with an absolute veto upon all government—had made it impossible to find any constitutional method of reform. The policy of Gaius Gracchus was the only possible one if Rome was to be saved, and as a matter of plain fact it was the policy which after a century of unceasing bloodshed Rome eventually adopted. It was to be a disguised monarchy, like that of Pericles at Athens, working on the basis of the tribunician powers. The old ascendancy of the Senate could not stand a challenge; not only did it rest upon no legal title, but it had lost whatever claim to respect it ever possessed on the score of patriotism or statesmanship. For the agrarian problem it had no policy but to hold fast to its ill-gotten lands; to the demands of the Italian allies it had nothing but a miserly “no.” It watched with indifference the ruin of Italy, the degeneracy of Rome, and the oppression of the provincial world. The policy of the Gracchi may have included dreams and nightmares, but it did look forward and hold out hopes. The Gracchi had now definitely started a party system. They had laid the foundation of a democratic movement, and it is Rome’s misfortune that this foundation was built of such rotten materials. The democracy had been bought by bribes, but it had failed to exhibit a spark of disinterested statesmanship. If ever a state needed a master that state was Rome. Henceforth until a master came the condition of Rome and Italy and the provinces was simply deplorable. Nothing could be done in politics without a hired gang of bravos.


The next conspicuous attempt at reform comes from a genuine son of the people, one of the very few peasants who emerge into the light of history at Rome. In the wretchedly mismanaged Jugurthan war Gaius Marius had shouldered his way to the front by sheer courage and capacity for war through a crowd of cowardly and incompetent aristocrats, who almost openly trafficked with the foreign enemy of Rome. The{91} course of this business requires a brief sketch if we are to understand the condition of Roman government at this period.

The king of the client state of Numidia dying divided his realm between two legitimate sons and one illegitimate, the latter being Jugurtha. This amiable bastard straightway murdered one of his brothers and attacked the other, who fled to the Roman province and appealed to the senate for protection. Jugurtha, already knowing the ropes of senatorial policy, sent envoys with well-filled purses, and easily convinced the senate of his innocence and good intentions. The senate decided to send out a commission to divide the kingdom equitably between Jugurtha and his half-brother. The result of its labours was that Adherbal got the desert and the capital, while Jugurtha got all the fertile part of the country, and the commission returned home rich and happy. Jugurtha had now only to obtain the capital, but as Adherbal refused to fight and kept appealing to Rome, there was nothing for it but to besiege Cirta. Numerous envoys came to Jugurtha from the senate in the course of the siege, but he easily assured them of his pacific intentions. As soon as he had taken the city he put his rival to death with torture, and massacred the entire male population, including a great number of Italian and Roman citizens.

The senate did not feel that this course of action was entirely meritorious, but it required the stimulus of a democratic agitation and another troublesome tribune to induce them to declare war. The senate sent out two of its best men in Bestia and Scaurus; the latter especially was generally reputed to be a veritable Aristides, for he had ventured to protest against the former iniquities. When the Roman army arrived, Jugurtha knew better ways than fighting. He submitted at discretion, surrendered the Roman deserters, whom of course he did not want to keep, and a few elephants, which he soon afterwards repurchased privately. In return he was permitted to retain his kingdom. Once more there were{92} outcries at Rome, voiced by the same democratic tribune Memmius, who insisted that Jugurtha should be summoned to Rome to answer for his sins. Meekly but with bulging moneybags Jugurtha arrived. As soon as Memmius began to cross-examine him another tribune interposed his veto. During his visit Jugurtha was able to purchase a strong party in the senate; he also had time to procure the assassination of an obnoxious fellow-countryman in the city itself. This outrage, combined with the ambition of the new consul, Spurius Albinus, led to another declaration of war, Jugurtha himself being allowed to go home and prepare for it. As he departed he uttered the famous words, “Ah, Rome! Venal city! She would sell herself if she could find a purchaser.”

When Albinus led out the second army, he found it utterly incapable of fighting. It was a band of cowardly brigands, who spent their time in plundering their own province; and when the consul’s brother conceived the spirited project of seizing the king’s treasury for himself, instead of waiting for the more tedious and uncertain profits of bribery, he led the Roman army into an ambush. It surrendered readily. It was forced to go under the yoke, and agree to evacuate all Numidia.

This was a little too much. Another tribune—in all this period we observe the tribunes acting as the heads of popular opposition quite in the Gracchan manner—proposed a special inquiry to investigate the matter, and bring the offenders to justice. Three of the worst—Spurius Albinus, Bestia, and L. Opimius, the destroyer of G. Gracchus—were banished, but the incorruptible Scaurus escaped condemnation by sitting on the bench. The treaty of peace was cancelled, and its author—following the usual Roman custom when armies in awkward places surrendered—was given up to the enemy.

In the third campaign the senate really tried to do its best. Q. Metellus, the new general, belonged to the party of liberal nobles who were in favour of moderate reform. He began{93} well by choosing his officers for military skill—somewhat of an innovation. Among others he chose a brave young farmer, G. Marius. Arrived in Africa, Metellus had first to reduce the Roman army to order, and then, having failed to get his enemy assassinated, marched out to fight him. Jugurtha was beaten in battle (for the Roman army could still fight under decent leadership), and henceforth was driven to guerilla warfare, in which he displayed such remarkable skill that the war soon came to a standstill.

At this point G. Marius, who had achieved popularity and renown through his valour, conceived the ambitious plan of standing for the consulship. It is hard to guess how such an audacious idea can have entered his head, for such an application from a man of no family was entirely without precedent. Somebody at Rome must have whispered the idea. When he asked his consul for permission to go to Rome for the purpose, Metellus was vastly diverted, and suggested that Marius had better wait until his general’s little boy was grown up, in order that he might have a Metellus for a colleague. Probably Marius had little sense of humour, for he did go to Rome, just in time, and was elected consul. Moreover, a special decree entrusted him with command of the army in Africa.

Among his officers was the young legate, L. Cornelius Sulla, and though Marius undoubtedly displayed vigour and competence, it was very largely the luck and diplomacy of Sulla which procured the seizure and surrender of the Numidian king. Marius, however, reaped the glory. Jugurtha graced his triumph (104 B.C.), and soon afterwards perished in a Roman dungeon.

Simultaneously with the Jugurthan war the Romans were called upon to face a far more serious affair, one of those great folk-wanderings from the north which occur periodically in the course of Mediterranean history. The Cimbri and Teutons, who may have numbered ancestors of our own among them, came down from the shores of the Baltic, travelling with their households in a train of waggons which took six days in{94} defiling past the onlooker. These barbarians were terrible to the Romans, with their strange aspect, their long iron swords and savage war-cries, their fair hair and giant stature. But of course they were savages compared to the Romans, and they should never have inflicted more than one defeat on intelligent generals of disciplined armies. As it was, they had to face mutinous legions and incompetent consuls. First they defeated Carbo and overran Gaul; then coming south into the province they beat Silanus and Scaurus; and then, united with the Helvetians, they inflicted a frightful disaster on Longinus, when a Roman legate had to surrender, and another Roman army was sent under the yoke. In 105 a worse thing happened: the great defeat of Arausio (Orange) seemed more fatal even than Cannæ in the extent of its losses. There was a panic in Italy, which seemed helplessly exposed to the fury of the northmen, but fortunately the aimless barbarians wandered off into the west and spent their strength on the warlike Spanish tribes.

As before, popular indignation at Rome, diverted from the real cause of the mischief, the rotten system of cliques which governed them, wasted its fury on individuals. Senators were mobbed and stoned. A proconsul was actually deposed from office. There was only one man deemed capable of dealing with the peril—Marius, the man of the people, the triumphant conqueror of Jugurtha. So, despite laws forbidding re-election, Marius became consul for a second time and a third—five times consul. This was symptomatic of a changed Rome. It was, however, necessary. Amateur generals had had a long trial. From 104 to 100 Marius was continuously chief magistrate of the state, as well as generalissimo of its armies. He did his work. First he had to get his army in hand, and accustom them to the sight of the terrible barbarians. Then he dealt two smashing blows at the Teutons and Cimbri near Aquæ Sextiæ and on the Raudine Plain. It was the misfortune of the Roman system of imperium that no general could attain to eminence in war without at the same time acquiring{95} political importance. Hence Marius in 100 B.C. found himself absolutely first in the Roman state without education or even common sense in politics. He presents a pathetic figure in the turbulent world of Roman statecraft, a war-scarred veteran, the indubitable saviour of Rome, called upon to play the part of a statesman, and yet a mere puppet in the hands of unscrupulous intriguers. First he fell into the hands of two shameless demagogues—Saturninus and Glaucia—who used him to revive the Gracchan revolution. Marius became consul for the sixth time, and a new reform programme was drawn up, including an agrarian law to divide the land conquered from the Cimbri, and incidentally all the land they had conquered, into small holdings for the Marian veterans, Latins and Italians alike. Marius was to have personal charge of the distribution, and this task would make him master of Rome for many years to come. Secondly, there was to be a still further cheapening of corn; and, thirdly, new colonies were to be founded and the Italian allies to have a share in them. Of course there was violent opposition. The senate tried all its old stratagems, tribunician veto, portents, and lastly bludgeons. To meet the latter, Marius whistled his veteran soldiers to his side, and the “Appuleian Laws” were carried, with the addition of a very obnoxious clause that each senator was to take an oath of allegiance to the new legislation within five days on pain of forfeiting his seat. Q. Metellus alone had the courage to prefer exile.

Then, it seems, the senate found it necessary to beguile the great general over to the side of aristocracy. Marius was a child in their hands. He actually boggled at taking the oath to his own laws, and added the remarkable proviso, “So far as they are valid.” Saturninus and Glaucia in their turn tried violence, and Marius led the forces of the senate against them. There was a battle in the forum, the demagogues were slain, and four magistrates of the Roman people put to death without trial. Once more reaction had triumphed. For the time being Marius was politically defunct.{96}

But one side of his work was lasting and fraught with momentous consequences for the Roman state. It was Marius, the first professional general, who formed the first professional army. We noticed that Greece, even before the end of the fifth century, had already begun to use paid and trained soldiers, partly owing to the unwillingness of her comfortable or busy citizens to engage in annual campaigns, but still more because it was found that the more highly trained and better disciplined mercenaries were far more efficient at their business. So for many centuries Rome had now been the only power in the Mediterranean world to rely upon a citizen militia. That citizen militia had indeed conquered the world; but certainly in dealing with the trained troops of Pyrrhus and Hannibal, the Roman forces had always begun with disaster and slowly been schooled to their trade by defeat. So it was now in the Jugurthan and Cimbric wars: the generals had to train their armies in the face of the enemy, and while that is no doubt the best training ground it is terribly dangerous and expensive. It implies, too, an almost inexhaustible stock of recruits to fall back upon. With the decline of Italian agriculture and the growth of city life the stock of recruits was no longer inexhaustible. Moreover the art of war was becoming more intricate. Rome found it necessary to appoint a genuine soldier for her general against Jugurtha in view of the disastrous failures of aristocratic amateurs. In the same way Marius found it necessary to overhaul the Roman fighting machine, and by the end of his five years of successive consulship he had organised a professional army on much the same system as our own. Rome like England required a highly trained expeditionary force and behind it a large reserve. The principal change instituted by Marius seemed at first a small one and required no legislative sanction. Hitherto the army had consisted only of the propertied classes, the infantry of those who could afford a suit of arms, and the cavalry of the richest citizens who could maintain one of the state horses. The minimum property for a Roman soldier{97} is said to have been £115. The poorest had originally formed a light-armed support, the three middle classes were the line, and the richest the cavalry. But the three classes of the line had by now come to be drawn up not according to property but according to length of service. This was the traditional battle formation of the Roman infantry maniples:

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with the cavalry upon the wings. But social changes were changing the army. As wealth increased and the gulf between rich and poor grew wider the comfortable burgesses were no longer obedient or willing soldiers. Bad discipline—a monstrous violation of the old Roman spirit—had begun to appear in the ranks as early as the Macedonian wars. In the Jugurthan wars it was deplorably rife. The equestrian class as the richest was also the most mutinous: as early as the third century the knights had refused to work in the trenches alongside of the legionaries. By 140 B.C. they had ceased to act as a military force and become merely a grade of honour, or rather of income, in the state, though the younger knights continued to form a corps of noble guards to the general. As for the army as a whole, the theory down to the time of Marius was still that of the annual spring campaign; each consul levied his own army for a specific purpose. This levy had become more and more difficult. The simple innovation which Marius introduced was that in the process of holding his levy he began by asking for volunteers and enrolling those first. There was generally a distinct promise of rewards on discharge. Thus instead of the moneyed classes Marius filled his ranks with the poorest and hardiest inhabitants of Rome and Italy. Of course the obligation to serve still remained part of the condition of certain subject{98} peoples. The auxiliary ranks were now supplied by foreign experts—cavalry from the Numidian deserts or the Ligurian hills, slingers from the Balearic Islands, and presently archers from Crete. Having thus professionalised his army Marius proceeded to abolish all distinctions in the ranks. All the men of the line now had a uniform equipment supplied by the state, and instead of a bewildering variety of insignia all the legionaries now fought under that emblem destined to be carried in victory to the four corners of Europe—the silver eagle. The eagle was the standard of the legion and it was regarded as sacred. In camp it rested in a special shrine and terrible was the disgrace attaching to its loss in battle. Hitherto legions had been gathered for each campaign and disbanded at its close. Now a legion had a permanent existence, a fixed number, a tradition and an esprit de corps of its own. It was now a larger unit of 6000 men; for while the maniple or company of 120 men still remained, the maniples were grouped into cohorts or battalions, which now became the regular tactical unit, and ten cohorts formed the legion.

Beside the body-armour consisting of helmet, cuirass, and cylindrical shield,[14] the uniform equipment of the legionary included the pilum, a short heavy javelin for throwing (it is interesting to notice that whereas Marius had the point loosely attached to the shaft so as to break off in the shield or body of the enemy, Julius Cæsar actually invented what may fairly be called a “Dum-Dum pilum” with a soft nose for stopping the rush of barbarians), and the short broad-bladed sword[15] which had been copied from the Spanish swordsmen in the Second Punic War. The latter was a very handy little weapon only about thirty inches long including the hilt, with two edges as well as a point, though the thrust was always advocated in preference to the cut. Marius now introduced a new drill which included lessons in fencing given in the first instance by masters from the gladiatorial schools.{99} Though bloodshed be abhorrent to the learned, many a scholar would like to have witnessed the combat between the Roman gladius and the Cimbrian claymore. It must be repeated that the Roman maniple, unlike the close Greek phalanx, stood in open order with a six-foot square of space for each man so that there was room for individual prowess in swordsmanship. Lastly, Marius still further professionalised his army by introducing a system of bounties on discharge which made the army a really attractive career for poor citizens. He promised them each a farm at the end of the war and his example was followed by other generals. In fact a veteran soldier came to expect a handsome pension on retirement.

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It is surely unnecessary to emphasise the meaning of all this. An army was now a trained corps against which no levy of recruits could stand for an instant. Hitherto it had been the chief guarantee against usurpation by a general that new armies could be summoned from the soil at any time. Now there was a weapon in the hands of a successful general against which the feeble safeguards of the republican constitution were powerless. As with the first trained army in English history, the general of such a force became master of the destinies of the state so long as the allegiance of the soldiers was personal rather than patriotic. The Roman soldier’s allegiance had always been personal and now it became more so. Moreover the Roman constitution had never sought to distinguish military from civil power. Hence that day in 100 B.C., when the Appuleian code was carried under threat of the legions of Marius, was of evil omen for the constitution. Less than twenty years were to elapse before a Roman army entered Rome in triumph to support the political enactments of Sulla. It is in reality henceforward one long state of civil war, open or concealed, between rival generals, until at last a permanent military monarchy was established. It only required a bold free spirit like that of {100}Julius Cæsar to discern the real facts of the case. Marius, as we have already seen, had not sufficient intellect to play a political part with success; Sulla attained what was really a monarchical position but retired when he had won it. Pompeius never had the courage to face the situation. Cæsar had, but he was sacrificed to the republican tradition. Finally the diplomatic Augustus realised the long inevitable fact.

Henceforth, then, it is merely a question of who shall be Emperor of Rome. The causes of the end of Rome’s incoherent constitutional system, called by us a Republic, are already clear. There are the constitutional causes—above all the inelasticity of the Roman system, which made legitimate reform impossible, provided no machinery to express the will of the people, and rendered it inevitable that rioting should accompany every change. It was a constitution essentially municipal and the tribunate was the centre of mischief. Then there are the economic causes, now working more banefully than ever, and causing the decay of the agricultural population, the rise of a dangerous uneducated city proletariat, and the corruption of the governing aristocracy. There was the political fact that the government of a vast ill-organised empire destroyed the Republican spirit and further increased corruption, while it denationalised the Roman temper. Lastly, there is the military cause, namely, the professionalisation of the army, putting excessive power into the hands of the general and replacing patriotism by esprit de corps.

It strikes the onlooker that no one of these evils, nor even the accumulation of them, need have been fatal to the republican system if there had been a genuine spirit of patriotic enthusiasm determined to overcome them. For instance, if the great men of Rome had been loyal and patriotic there is no reason why the excessive power of the generals should have led to high treason. And again, though the provincial system was misbegotten it might have been corrected and reformed. But it was the spirit that failed. Was not that just because Roman power had outstripped Roman civilisation? For the{101} upper-class Roman, faith was dead or dying, and there were no high interests of the mind to replace it. Fighting was their sole inherited interest and their tastes were correspondingly brutal and bloody. The last agony of the Republic in the period we are now considering is painful enough, but the wise will surely regard it as the period in which a new and much more hopeful order of things was gradually evolved.


On the extinction of Marius there arose Sulla. Sulla was the aristocrat of talent, almost of genius, who tried to save the state by reaction. He tried, vainly and foolishly enough, to bolster up the rickety structure of senatorial ascendancy, but had not the patience or the wisdom to attempt even that with any thoroughness. L. Cornelius Sulla was of the class of men to which Alcibiades and Alexander belong, but an inferior specimen of the class. Though of noble birth he had risen from poverty and obscurity by his own talents. He was clever—and he did the most foolish acts in history. He was handsome—and his face in later life is described as “a mulberry speckled with meal.” He was brave and successful in war; half lion and half fox, they said, and the fox was the more dangerous of the two. He secured the affections of his soldiers by giving them free licence to plunder or to murder unpopular officers. He was a rake and a gambler, reckless of bloodshed as he was careless of praise or blame, and he had that fatal belief in a star which has led better men than him to follow will-o’-the-wisps. He might have stood where Cæsar stands. He would have made a very typical bad emperor, and whatever it was that made him decline to be one, it was not patriotism. He was as cultured as Nero, and showed it by sacking Athens, plundering Delphi, and looting a famous library. Like Nero, but unlike the majority of his fellow-countrymen, he had a sense of humour.

After the shelving of Marius and the destruction of his democratic associates the governing clique pursued its old{102} course of headlong folly. For one thing the aristocrats soon fell out with the capitalists, which is always an unwise thing for aristocrats to do. The equestrian jury-courts established by Gracchus acted with brutal simplicity on behalf of their tax-gathering and tax-farming brothers against whatever honest governors proceeded from the senate. Men were condemned for honest administration in those days. For another thing the bitter cry of the Italian “allies,” who bore all the hard knocks of the Roman service, and in return got nothing but servitude, was persistently and contemptuously ignored. In 95 a consular law flatly prohibited them from ever claiming the franchise. But presently there came forward a new reformer in M. Livius Drusus. This remarkable man might be described as a third Gracchus, only that he saw the futility of the so-called democracy of Rome, and adopted other means to attain his ends. On the one hand he was a champion of the senate against the knights, and on the other hand he was resolved to give the Italians their rights. He seems to have promoted a widespread secret organisation among the Italians. He then proposed four measures: the inevitable vote-catching corn law and agrarian law, the jury-courts to be restored to the senate, the senate for that purpose to be enlarged by the inclusion of three hundred knights, and, lastly, citizenship for the allies. The first three were carried, not without violence, but the fourth was his stumbling-block. The Italians were by now so clamorous that civil war was inevitable if it were refused, and no man denied the justice of their claim. But neither justice nor expediency had any power to move the dead weight of senatorial conservatism. Drusus was murdered and his laws repealed. That was the signal for the long and terrible Social War which completed the ruin of Italy and caused grave alarm for the very existence of Rome herself. In the course of this struggle and in fear for her existence Rome yielded in fact, if not openly, to the demand of the Italians. Some states received the franchise as a reward for fidelity and others as a bait for submission. By a law of 89 all Italians who applied{103} to the prætor within sixty days received the citizenship, and this belated concession had its effect. The face of Italy had been covered with mourning to secure it. Even so the governing clique succeeded in nullifying the political value of the concession by confining the Italians along with the Roman freedmen to a few of the tribes so that their votes were almost useless.

The pressure of this war and of the great Mithradatic war which began simultaneously in Asia led to a serious economic crisis at Rome. Debt and usury were the symptoms, and when a prætor tried to meet it by reviving the old laws against usury he was murdered in his priestly robes at sacrifice. Now we begin to hear the ominous cry of “Novæ tabulæ”—the clean slate for debtors. A popular orator named Sulpicius Rufus, whose programme included the exclusion of all bankrupts from the senate, protected his valuable person with a bodyguard of 3000 hired roughs, and organised a mock senate of 300 high-spirited young bloods. Then, since Sulla with his army threatened opposition, he passed a decree giving the command of the great army destined to fight Mithradates to the old Marius. During the Social War both these generals had held command with some success, but on the whole the reputation of Marius had declined while that of Sulla had increased. Without hesitation Sulla now marched his army into Rome, and won a battle in the streets of the city. Sulpicius was of course executed, his head was nailed to the rostra, and Marius escaped under circumstances of romantic adventure. Sulla was thus in the year 88 completely master of Rome.

At this moment his real ambition was for more fighting. Mithradates, King of Pontus,[16] was then in full career of rebellion against the Roman dominion in Asia, where 80,000 Roman traders and money-lenders were murdered in a sudden mutiny. Sulla saw in Mithradates a worthy foeman, and much preferred glory on the fields of Asia to Roman politics; and{104} besides, his army was clamouring for plunder. So he hastily flung out a series of constitutional reforms designed to restore the senate to more than its ancient predominance, and then set out for the East, heedless or ignorant of the fact that he had not really changed anything. On the contrary he had left at Rome in sole charge the new consul, Cinna, the worst and most dangerous of all the demagogues. Sulla—most innocent of reprobates—seems to have fancied that an oath to obey his constitution would restrain such a man at such a time.

Consequently as soon as his back was turned a fresh revolution broke out. Cinna also brought an army to Rome and invited Marius to return. Then the old general, furious with all his disappointments, began a fearful debauch of bloodshed. Every distinguished senator left in Rome, including statesmen like L. Cæsar, soldiers like Catulus, orators like Antonius and Crassus, were butchered by his slaves and their heads displayed in the forum. In 86 Marius gained the goal of his ambition, that seventh consulship which had been promised him long ago by a prophet. In the same year he died. Now for four years Cinna ruled as monarch at Rome. Year after year he assumed the consulship and nominated the other magistrates at his own choice without the formality of election. He repealed the laws of Sulla, equalised all the citizens in the tribes, and reduced all debts by 75 per cent. It is the last measure which is truly typical of Roman democracy. Meanwhile, of course, the reckoning was in preparation across the seas. Sulla was winning glorious victories in Greece and Asia, and at length in 84, drove Mithradates to surrender temporarily. Cinna, who does not seem to have understood that a Roman army belonged not to the republic but to its general, audaciously set out to supersede Sulla, and was murdered by the troops.

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Sulla, having offered terms which the government very foolishly declined, came home in 83 after five years’ absence bearing not peace but a sword. He had five veteran legions of his own, the exiled aristocrats joined him, and among them{105} a young man called Pompeius with three more legions. The lead of the democratic party had now fallen into the hands of a young Marius, and he having no troops to oppose the returning veterans decided to join the Samnite rebels who remained unconquered from the Social War. Before leaving the city they ordered a final and still more bloody massacre of the surviving aristocrats; practically all the men of distinction left in the city suffered death. Sulla had to fight 40,000 Samnites at the Colline Gate of Rome, and after a desperate struggle was victorious. The young Marius committed suicide. Thus Sulla was once more master of Rome. His 8000 Samnite prisoners were slaughtered in the Circus. Of the Roman democrats, 80 senators, 3600 equites, and over 2000 private citizens were proscribed, and their heads nailed up in the forum. In Spain, Sertorius, an honest and valorous democrat, maintained a gallant struggle by the aid of a miraculous deer, and a native Spanish army trained on the Roman model, until at last he fell by treachery.

For two years Sulla was monarch at Rome. For the purpose he invented a sort of revival of the obsolete dictatorship, without limit of time and without a colleague. If we care for the term, Sulla was at that time as much “Emperor” as Augustus. He enacted a whole constitution of his own—which it is scarcely necessary to recount since scarcely anything of it survived—all destined to put the senate on its throne again, and then simply abdicated and retired into private life. I think he was bored with Rome and politics. It is generally admitted that he had a sense of humour. It was a very foolish thing to do. But Sulla’s star was with him and he died in his bed. His dying moments were comforted by the apparition of his deceased wife (he had had five) and son, who invited him to join them in the land of peace and bliss beyond the grave.

Sulla was hardly dead before another consul had marched against Rome with his army and suffered defeat in the city. But these were mere episodes. The streets of the sacred city{106} were in a perpetual state of war: every serious politician had to organise his gang of roughs, and when the very senate-house was burnt down in one such encounter it only seemed an excessive display of political zeal. Of constitutional government there was little pretence. The seas were swarming with pirates, no longer isolated rovers who preyed upon commerce, but an organised pirate-state with head-quarters in Cilicia, and a great fleet consisting of all the broken men and desperate outlaws of the unhappy Mediterranean world. They sailed the high seas in fleets under admirals who voyaged in state like princes. For their homes they had impregnable citadels among the creeks of the Cilician and Dalmatian coasts where they stored their families and their plunder. They were not afraid to march inland to sack a city or loot a rich temple. Commerce at sea was ruined, even the food-supply of the capital was occasionally cut off. On land and even in Italy things were not much better. All through Republican history (but seldom afterwards) we hear of risings among the slaves of Italy. Now, under the plantation system, the inaccessible Apennine highlands were swarming with desperate runaways who constantly committed minor acts of brigandage. In 73 they found a leader in Spartacus, the gladiator who was said to be of royal descent in Thrace. Starting as a mere handful the band swelled in the course of a few months to 40,000. Roman armies one after another and ten in all marched against them in vain. Two consuls were defeated, many eagles were captured, Italy was at their mercy. Respectable towns like Thurii and Nola were seized, their prisoners were crucified like slaves or forced with grim irony to fight one another to the death like gladiators. Thus the most frightful form of civil war was devastating Italy. It was necessary to raise an army of eight legions to crush the slaves, and the command was entrusted to Marcus Crassus, who even then had to decimate a legion before he could get his cowardly troops to stand and fight. After several stubborn battles, and aided by the want of discipline which was even{107} more conspicuous among the slaves than among the Romans, Crassus accomplished his task. Six thousand crucified slaves who lined the road from Capua to Rome testified to the restoration of order.

Abroad matters were little better. The war against Mithradates, which had provided so many Roman triumphs and had so often been proclaimed at an end, actually lasted for twenty-five years, and its duration was due rather to the ineptitude of the government than to the prowess of the unmilitary Asiatics. In Spain it took ten years to defeat Sertorius with his native troops, and even then the result was only accomplished by assassination. If a Hannibal had entered Italy in these latter days the state could not have survived. But there was only one military power of any consequence left in the world in those days, the Parthians. Here there were half-hellenised despots ruling over tribes of warriors only lately descended from the Caucasian and Armenian highlands, and still nursing a fierce mountain spirit though they occupied the rich plains of Mesopotamia. Crassus, the victor over the slaves, was sent to fight them with a great army, but the millionaire displayed wretched ignorance of strategy and especially of the perils of Eastern warfare. He blundered on into the wilderness and tried to meet the terrible horse-bowmen and mail-clad lancers of the East with his legions in a hollow square. The result was the great disaster of Carrhæ in 53, a defeat which amid all the shameful ignominies of this period rankled continually owing to the loss of the eagles and the tragic fate of the leader. Marcus Crassus himself was an almost wholly repulsive character, who had amassed a fortune, colossal even in those days of millionaires, by the most discreditable method. The foundations of his millions had been laid by speculating in the property of the victims of Sulla’s proscriptions. He had been a slave-trainer on a large scale and at one time he had organised a private fire-brigade which he used for acquiring house-property cheaply by blackmail. By lending money to the young spendthrifts of the aristocracy he obtained{108} great influence at Rome, and indeed figures in the wretched politics of his day as a statesman on equality with really great men like Cæsar and Pompeius. But he had no policy and was only of importance through his wealth and influence.

Pompeius and Cæsar

So we come to the final phase of the Republic—the great struggle between the giants Cæsar and Pompeius, with figures like Cicero, Cato, and Clodius in the background. I do not propose to linger over this period, because on the one hand it is so thoroughly well known as the period of fullest evidence in all Roman history, and therefore would require a volume for adequate treatment, and on the other hand because it has been such a battle-ground for partisan historians of all times that it is difficult in such a summary as this to do justice without detailed argument.

Gneius Pompeius the Great[17] had first come into prominence as a supporter of Sulla. He was of high official family and was a born soldier. That is really the secret of his career. Like Marius he was a general and no statesman, but he was a very great general, and one of the few honest men, one might almost say one of the few gentlemen, of his period. The tragedy of his life was to be born in such a period. He had disdained the minor offices of state, and relying on his military renown but in defiance of the law, he stood for the consulship in 70 B.C. As the official aristocracy objected he went over to the democrats, and allied himself with Crassus. These two, elected under threat of Pompeius’s army, straightway repealed most of the Sullan constitution, and restored the balance of power to the knights and the assembly. At the end of the year Pompeius retired into private life. This was characteristic of him; he was capable of grandiose schemes but he lived in fear of public opinion, and he was really moved when orators spoke of illegality. Meanwhile there was a loud demand for some comprehensive scheme of attack upon the pirates. No ordinary

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{109} consular command would do. Even the Roman senate was by this time convinced that it was useless to send legions and cavalry against pirate ships. Accordingly a Gabinian Law of 67 gave to Pompeius a command of unprecedented magnitude. Millions of money were voted to him, he was to be supreme over all the seas and all the coasts for fifty miles inland for three years, with a staff of twenty-five legates, and all governors were to obey his orders. The price of corn fell at once: Pompeius discovered abundance of it in the granaries of the Sicilian corn trust. Then he began a systematic drive of the seas, and in about three months had cleared them. Thousands of pirates were caught and crucified. All this made Pompeius the most powerful and the most dangerous man in Rome.

Next the tribune Manilius, in whose favour that rising novus homo the friend of our youth, Marcus Tullius Cicero, pronounced an oration, gave to Pompeius another huge commission against Mithradates, the irrepressible rebel of Asia. Pompeius succeeded where all his predecessors, from Sulla to Lucullus, had failed, and the wicked old king was driven to suicide. Then Pompeius proceeded to organise the East like an Alexander, but always in perfect loyalty to Rome.

While Pompeius was absent the so-called democracy, which mostly consisted of hired ruffians in the pay of discontented nobles, ruled the streets of the city. Among the young nobles who took this side was one more dissolute and more foppish than the rest, a notorious adulterer and spendthrift, Gaius Julius Cæsar. Though of the highest birth—the goddess Venus by her marriage with the father of Æneas was among his ancestors—he was also by lineage associated with the democracy. His aunt was the wife of Marius, and his wife was a daughter of Cinna. He began his public career quaintly enough as pontifex maximus. When Julia the widow of Marius died, young Cæsar had the audacity to display images and utter an oration in praise of Marius. This, as was intended, set all the gossips talking, and his amazing extravagance kept him well in the public eye. On one occasion he exhibited three{110} hundred gladiators in silver armour, although he was known to be penniless. Probably Crassus was his financier all along.

At this time there was another of the frequently recurring financial crises at Rome. Everybody was deeply in debt, and loud rose the cry for the clean slate, as part of the democratic programme—the only intelligible part. This was the cause of the famous conspiracy of Catiline, who, if Cicero may be trusted, proposed to seize and burn Rome by the aid of the discontented Sullan colonists in Etruria. Both Cæsar and Crassus are said to have favoured the plot, but it is exceedingly difficult to see what a large owner of Roman house property had to gain by it. Cicero was the consul for the year 63, and though it is the fashion just now to sneer at Cicero, he seems to have displayed courage and promptitude in dealing with the conspirators. Unfortunately his arrest and execution of Catiline was technically illegal. Cicero himself, as a parvenu, was naturally an aristocrat, and his policy, though futile, was intelligible. Briefly, it was to unite the senate with the capitalist class in what he called the “union of the orders” against the democratic elements of disorder. Pompeius came home from the East to find the conspiracy crushed. He and his legions were not wanted. With incredible folly and ingratitude the senate, led by Cicero, refused even to grant the lands he had promised to his veterans.

Cæsar had gone as prætor to Spain, and there began to win military renown—much to the surprise of his friends—and money. He wanted the consulship for the next year, and therefore required the support of Pompeius, who had now been driven away from the aristocratic party to which he belonged by sympathy. Crassus came in as Cæsar’s creditor and as the necessary millionaire. Thus was formed the Triumvirate of the year 60, and in 59 Cæsar became consul. By this time he had conceived high, possibly the highest, ambitions. Marius and Sulla, not to mention Alexander and Æneas, had always been much in his mind. For the present his object was to acquire a lasting office and secure the allegiance of a trained army.{111} Cæsar’s colleague in the consulship was a certain Bibulus, who tried to stop the dangerous proceedings of the democrat by seeing omens in the heavens every day, but no one, least of all Cæsar, took any notice of him. The only serious opposition came from Cato the Younger, who represented the genuine and respectable aristocracy. This Cato was a queer anachronism at Rome, an honest man. He was also, if biography may be trusted, a bigot and a priggish eccentric. He was the sort of man to go about Africa without a hat, or to sit on the judicial bench without shoes, because such was the mos maiorum. He tried to revive the ways which had been styled old-fashioned in his grandfather. Nevertheless he was upright and brave, a good soldier, and a man with a clear though impossible policy. Once again it is the fault of rhetorical history that all the good men of Rome appear as prigs and eccentrics. This man most courageously opposed his veto to the proceedings of Cæsar, though he was hustled and beaten by the democratic hirelings, then organised under that most notorious scoundrel Clodius. But the result was that though Cæsar’s laws might pass, they could afterwards be declared illegal, and Cæsar would be liable to prosecution as soon as he became a private citizen. However, he had no immediate intention of becoming a private citizen. He secured the province of Gaul for five years with four legions.

Now Gaul was not reckoned an important province. It was only the peaceful plain of Upper Italy to which the senate had added Narbonensian Gaul, a southern strip of France, chiefly considered as a step on the road to Spain. Four legions was a small consular army for those days; no one supposed that he would have much fighting. But either Cæsar had received secret intelligence or else he had very good luck. At the outset he was called to deal with a great immigration of the barbarian Helvetii, who were migrating out of Switzerland into Gaul and threatening the province.

The conservatives at Rome maintained that Cæsar’s conquests in Gaul were the result of wanton aggression—cheap{112} victories over inoffensive savages, wholly unjustifiable and unauthorised. At this point it is scarcely possible to avoid entering upon the much-debated question of Cæsar’s real character. For orthodox Romans Cæsar was the founder of the empire, a person not only of divine descent, but himself divine. All emperors took his name, until that surname of Cæsar, once a mere nickname, came, in half the languages of Europe, to be synonymous with “Emperor.” For the Middle Ages he stood with Constantine, who christianised the Empire, and Charlemagne, who revived it, as the founder of that divinely instituted polity which shared with the Church God’s viceregency on earth. In the eyes of Dante, Cæsar stood very near to Christ, for the poet peoples the frozen heart of his Inferno with three tormented figures who writhe in the very jaws of Cocytus. Along with Judas Iscariot are the two murderers of Julius Cæsar. Though the Renaissance stripped him of much of his legendary greatness, Cæsar remained for the men of Shakespeare’s day the embodiment of imperial pride. Shakespeare himself was too great an artist to make any of his characters more or less than human, but it is evidently Brutus who has the sympathies of the dramatist. In the French Revolution, again, Brutus and Cassius were heroes and glorious tyrannicides. The reaction against early nineteenth-century liberalism brought Cæsar once more into honour, and Mommsen, the prophet of Cæsarism, makes him the hero of his great history. To Mommsen Cæsar was almost divine, the clear-sighted and magnanimous “saviour” who alone saw the true path out of the disorders of his city. From this view again we are apparently now in reaction once more. To the latest critics the greatness of Cæsar and of Mommsen are alike abhorrent, and Signor Ferrero depicts his greatest fellow-countryman as an unscrupulous demagogue who blundered into renown through treachery and bloodshed.

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The historical principle by which this result is attained is rather typical of certain modern critical methods. Since the account of the Gallic Wars was written chiefly by Cæsar{113} himself, and Cæsar is by hypothesis a scoundrel, the history of these wars must be found by reading between the lines of Cæsar’s account, putting the most unfavourable construction upon everything and preferring any evidence to his, even if it be that of two centuries later. If any gaps or inconsistencies are noticed they must be treated as concealing defeats or acts of treachery. Written in this spirit, the story of the Gallic Wars is a very black one for Cæsar and Rome. Yet unbiassed readers must generally admit that Cæsar was a very careful and on the whole an honest historian. The accusation that he was capable of relentless cruelty springs from his own admissions. It was in the Roman character to despise life, and when Cæsar thought that a rebellious tribe needed a lesson he did not hesitate to massacre defenceless women and children or to lay waste miles of territory with fire and sword. But, on the other hand, his preference was for clemency and justice.

Without making him a demigod, we ought to be able to see his greatness. As a young man his ardour of soul, working in a debased society without ideals, made him simply more extravagant and more foppish than the spendthrifts and rakes who surrounded him. Doubtless the scandalous Suetonius has embellished the story of his early follies. Many of his youthful escapades were, one suspects, carefully designed to bring him into notice. It is probable that from a very early age he was ambitious, and his family connections clearly marked out his career as a democrat. He had the failure of Sulla before his eyes. The greatness of his character lay chiefly in an instinctive hatred for muddle and pretence. He could not fail to see the hopeless confusion into which the Roman state had fallen. From the first, I think, he was aiming at power for himself in order to put things straight. Whether self or country came first in his calculations, it is hard, perhaps impossible, to decide; but the historian is not necessarily a cynic when he demands strong proof of altruism in the world of politics. To obtain power the democratic side{114} was the only possible one, for the nobles stood for the predominance only of their class. Crassus was necessary to Cæsar as his banker and creditor until he had acquired a fortune for himself by conquest. Pompeius was the foremost soldier of the day, and it is probable that Cæsar deliberately sought to climb over the shoulders of Pompeius into monarchy. He saw—he could not help seeing, for it was written plainly in the history of the past century—that for power two things were necessary, the support of the mob in the forum and the backing of a veteran army. At the time when Cæsar got Gaul for his province there was a fresh movement towards imperial expansion. Foreign conquest afforded some relief for the chagrins of internal politics. By it Marius, Sulla, and Pompeius had become powerful. If Cæsar wanted to eclipse them all, he must present Rome with a new province, the most powerful of all bribes. It was in this spirit that he set out for Gaul. If his ulterior motive was selfish it is certain that he threw himself heart and soul, with all the burning energy of which his tireless spirit was capable, into the work of conquest and civilisation.

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Gallic Pottery

And what a work it was! Archæology is now beginning to prove to history that the so-called barbarians were by no means always savages. Even the “naked woad-stained” Britons had their arts and industries and political systems. The Gauls, when Cæsar attacked them, were well on the road to civilisation. Druidism was a declining force, town-life was beginning, and there was even a fairly artistic coinage. The Gallic pottery is by no means destitute of beauty. As soldiers the Gauls showed many of the qualities of their descendants, a devoted impetuosity in the charge, coupled with a lack of tenacity in resistance which always cost them dear. Much of{115} Cæsar’s success was due to his skill in dividing them against themselves, but many of his difficulties arose from their fickle disposition. Mommsen, like a true Bismarckian German, has a striking comparison of the ancient Gallic Celt with the modern Irishman.

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Gallic pottery

“On the eve,” he says, “of parting from this remarkable nation, we may be allowed to call attention to the fact that in the accounts of the ancients as to the Celts on the Loire and the Seine we find almost every one of the characteristic traits which we are accustomed to recognise as marking the Irish. Every feature reappears: the laziness in the culture of the fields; the delight in tippling and brawling; the ostentation ... the droll humour ... the hearty delight in singing and reciting the deeds of past ages, and the most decided talent for rhetoric and poetry; the curiosity—no trader was allowed to pass before he had told in the open street what he knew, or did not know, in the shape of news—and the extravagant credulity which acted on such accounts ... the childlike piety which sees in the priest a father and asks him for advice in all things” (this, by the way, was apparently a characteristic of the contemporary Germans also), “the unsurpassed fervour of national feeling, and the closeness with which those who are fellow-countrymen cling together almost like one family in opposition to the stranger; the inclination to rise in revolt under the first chance leader that presents himself, but at the same time the utter incapacity to preserve a self-reliant courage equally remote from presumption and pusillanimity, to perceive the right time for waiting and for striking, to obtain or even barely to tolerate any organisation, any sort of fixed military or political discipline. It is, and remains, at all times and places the same indolent and poetical, irresolute and fervid, inquisitive, credulous, amiable, clever, but—from a political point of view—thoroughly useless nation; and therefore its fate has been always and everywhere the same.{116}

The internal politics of Gaul seem to have been marked by a division between two parties, one the conservative party of the aristocratic knights, the other a nationalist and popular faction. Cæsar used these divisions for the furtherance of his scheme of conquest. He was not only a consummate general with an instinct for strategic points and huge combinations, but he was also a superb regimental officer in the making of soldiers. By the end of his ten years he had forged a small but invincible army devoted to his interests and entirely confident in his leadership. Personally, moreover, the Roman debauchee was the best soldier in the army. Physically he was a stranger to weariness or fatigue. He could travel immense distances with incredible rapidity, alone on horseback, or with a handful of followers. He seemed ubiquitous. In the battle, when his men wavered, he would leap down into the ranks, sword in hand, or snatch the standard from the hand of a centurion and fight among the foremost. No detail of fortification or commissariat escaped him, and he, more than any one else, showed the power of engineering in warfare. In the supreme battle against Pompeius he even carried his devotion to the spade beyond reasonable limits when he tried to circumvallate the much larger camp of his enemies. One of his most surprising exploits was when half Gaul, supposed to be pacified, rose in sudden revolt under Vercingetorix. With a much smaller army he chased the rebels into the fortress of Alesia, neglecting for the time all communication with his base, and fully aware that a still larger army would soon advance to the relief of the besieged. He therefore entrenched himself outside the gates of the city and kept off the relieving force with one hand while he continued the siege with the other. But while he was capable of brilliant strokes of audacity like this, he was also a cold and cautious organiser of victory, ready to meet his enemies on their own ground and with their own weapons.

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In this great war, which ended in the conquest of Gaul,{117} Cæsar’s expeditions to Britain were mere episodes which have been greatly exaggerated in the traditional histories of our schools. They were summer raids, like his dash across the Rhine, intended for a warning to the barbarians of the hinterland; for it seems that communication to and fro across the channel was continuous. It is probable enough that the persuasions of the Roman traders who swarmed after the eagles across Gaul had their influence also. Undoubtedly the Romans of this generation were keenly alive to commercial openings, and always on the search for mines, real or imaginary. Further, we cannot deny that Cæsar in all his undertakings had one eye upon his political position in Rome itself, and the “conquest of Britain,” that almost legendary corner of the earth, concealed in boreal mists and embosomed in the ever-flowing Ocean river, would be a sensational achievement calculated to outshine the Oriental triumphs of Pompeius. One cannot but place among the extravagances of hero-worship Mommsen’s belief that Cæsar had a prophetic insight into the true nature of the “German Peril” for Rome. When Cæsar took over the Gallic province there was no tremendous German menace. There had always been occasional irruptions of the barbarians from across the Rhine, and a steady German penetration of the Netherlands. Cæsar did not lay down any intelligible frontier policy: that was one of the achievements of Augustus. Both in Gaul and Britain it was simply a forward movement by a general of bold and untiring resolution, backed by an invincible army. The two trips to Britain, like those across the Rhine, were reconnaissances only, and the conquest of the island was one of the legacies which Cæsar intended to reserve for the future. His successor very wisely declined it. There was little immediate profit there, and the Gallic conquests had glutted the Roman market with slaves.

Gaul had submitted easily to a force of less than forty thousand Romans; then it had revolted unsuccessfully. In the end the whole country acknowledged defeat and rapidly {118}began to assimilate Latin civilisation. Meanwhile in the imperial city the Republic was slowly expiring by a natural death. Every winter Cæsar returned to the Cisalpine part of his province to receive intelligence from Rome and secure his position there. Clodius, the most evil of mob-leaders, was his agent with the democracy. Clodius had managed to hound the respectable Cicero into exile for his share in suppressing Catiline, and when Cicero, who was really popular at Rome, had at length persuaded Pompeius to allow his return, the great orator remained thenceforward a timid and reluctant servant of the triumvirate, defending their friends or prosecuting their enemies, with inward reluctance, no doubt, but with unimpaired eloquence. With his astonishing victories in Gaul the star of Julius was rising in the political heavens. The commons of Rome were not only dazzled by his successes, but captivated by his largesses. Meanwhile Pompeius was living on his military reputation, and slowly squandering it by his political incapacity. He continued to hold various high offices unknown to the constitution; he became sole consul, a thing abhorrent to the Roman system; he held the province of Spain and governed it from Italy through his legates, and at the same time continued to exercise a general oversight over the corn-supply of Rome. In fact there was scarcely anything in the future position of a Roman emperor which had not its precedent in the career of Pompeius. Had he wished it, or, more probably, had he known how to obtain it, he and not Augustus might easily have been the first Roman emperor. By taste and natural sympathies he was an aristocrat, but the force of circumstances had driven him into an uncomfortable position of alliance with Cæsar the democrat and Crassus the plutocrat. This was in a large measure the secret of his political helplessness. He, the conqueror of the East, often found himself openly flouted, nay, actually hustled and threatened in the streets, by the organised roughs. Meanwhile there was a small but tenacious opposition party of aristocrats, who had no discipline and therefore no leaders, but among whom Cato and Marcellus were the most conspicuous. They had not the{119} strength to offer any consistent resistance to Cæsar’s progress, which they watched with growing jealousy and alarm. They had not the sense to rally the respectable elements in the state to their side. Both Cicero and Pompeius would readily have joined them if they had made it possible. Instead of that, they were content to carp at Cæsar’s achievements and threaten him with a prosecution as soon as he should return to private life. That was the stupidest mistake, for it made Cæsar resolve at all costs to retain his command, and eventually precipitated the civil war.

As it can easily be seen, the coalition between Cæsar and Pompeius was not a natural one: psychologically they had nothing in common, and their interests soon began to diverge. Pompeius could hardly fail to perceive that Cæsar was climbing by his help and at his expense. The old general saw the memory of his great deeds eclipsed by the new one, and there was no lack of mischief-makers to widen the breach. The alliance had been cemented in a striking fashion at a conference at Lucca in 56 B.C. when the conservatives were threatening to annul Cæsar’s acts in Gaul. Cæsar had replied by inviting Pompeius to meet him in his southern province; he also invited those senators who were his friends to appear at the same time. Two hundred senators had answered the invitation, and for the time being the opposition died away into grumbling.

But now the breach was growing open to all men’s eyes. Cæsar’s charming daughter, Julia, who had been married to Pompeius as a pledge of union, and had done much to hold the two chiefs together, died at an early age in the year 54. In the next year Crassus, the mediating third party of the “triumvirate,” met his fate at Carrhæ. In the next there were more than ordinary disorders over the elections, culminating in a fierce battle in the forum between the rival gangs of Clodius for the triumvirate and Milo for the senate. The senate-house was burnt and Clodius slain. Pompeius then became sole consul, and proceeded, under threat of his army,{120} to introduce a series of laws almost openly aimed at Cæsar. By the Pompeian law of magistrates Cæsar would be compelled to appear in Rome as a private citizen for some months in the year 49, at the mercy of his enemies, while Pompeius himself, by having his titular command in Spain prolonged, would still be master of an army. These laws were passed at the crisis of Cæsar’s fate in Gaul, when the whole nation had risen in arms against him. But Cæsar emerged victorious, and was now, in the year 50, free to consider his position in regard to Pompeius and the senate. Cæsar himself maintains that he was reluctant to resort to violence, and I think we may believe him. Though nine legions were still under his command, he could hardly venture to denude the newly conquered province of its garrisons, while Pompeius was master of an equal number of legions, including the veteran Spanish troops, and could levy any number of recruits or reservists in Italy. Cæsar could not have faced the prospect of a civil war with any confidence as to the result, even if he had been the sort of man to provoke it without scruple. There is a further proof: as late as 50 B.C. he resigned two legions to Pompeius, which would have been madness if he had then intended to wade through bloodshed to a throne. In all the abortive negotiations which preceded the outbreak of the great civil war, Cæsar was prepared to resign everything except the one condition upon which his very life depended, namely, that he should not have to return to Rome as a defenceless private citizen. The civil war was due to the mad folly of the conservatives led by Marcellus, who had convinced themselves that Cæsar meant to sack Rome with his Gallic cavalry and to reign as tyrant over its ashes. In the end they succeeded in communicating their panic to Pompeius.

Conciliatory to the last, Cæsar was driven to show that he was in earnest. Bidden to dismiss his army, and declared a public enemy, in January 49 B.C. he took the decisive step of crossing the little river Rubicon which marked the frontier of Italy. Even then it was only a demonstration of force. Only 1500 men followed Cæsar to Rimini and Arezzo, and he still{121} offered peace on the most moderate terms. But the panic-stricken and conscience-stricken senators, still believing in the imminent sack of Rome, decided to leave their wives and children there while they saved their precious necks, in headlong flight to Capua, and then to Brindisi, and then to Greece. The great Pompeius showed equal panic. Apparently demoralised by Cæsar’s swift and decisive movements, he decided to give up Italy without a struggle and retire to the East, where all his triumphs had been won. From there he would fight for the lordship of the world.

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FIG 1.
FIG 2.

But meanwhile Cæsar, by his clemency no less than by his bold resolution, was winning all Italy to his side. Only one member of his army—his old lieutenant-general Labienus—deserted him, while fresh recruits even from the senatorial party daily joined him. Cool and methodical as ever, he left Rome to recover from its panic, and the East to wait until he had secured his hold upon the West. He knew the value of a veteran army, and therefore turned his march first to Spain. It took him but a short time to secure the capitulation of Pompeius’s lieutenants in that province, and then at last he returned to Rome. He was only in the city for eleven days, but in that time he was able to remove the panic and disorder there. He restored credit, assured the supply of corn, and got a grant of citizen rights for his faithful provincials of Cisalpine Gaul.

Meanwhile the Pompeian army was gathering in northern Greece, and the senators were breathing death and damnation against Cæsar. The final struggle on the Albanian coast and in Thessaly, which culminated in the great battle of Pharsalus (48 B.C.), decided the fate of the world. The troops were fairly equal, if numbers and training are taken into account; in numbers alone Cæsar was far inferior. But Cæsar’s men had extraordinary devotion to their general, as he had to his beloved legions. Never was there completer confidence between an army and its leader than between Cæsar and his veterans. He {122}could be merciless in discipline. Once he had to decimate the Ninth Legion, but he could move his grim legionaries to tears by a reproach. He shared all their labours, he starved with them, and marched those prodigious forced marches by their side. They trusted in his generalship, and they were not disappointed. Pompeius showed, when at last he roused himself, that he too had not forgotten the military art. It was a battle of giants; Pompeius the more orthodox tactician, Cæsar incredibly bold, rapid, and far-seeing. More than once it was touch and go. Cæsar had terrible difficulties to face, above all in the necessity of transporting his army across the wintry Adriatic in face of the enemy when he had no fleet. The feat was accomplished by sheer audacity, and then he had to face and contain a larger army, thoroughly well prepared and supplied, with no base and no communications for his own men. He actually tried to fling a line of earthworks round the Pompeian army while his own men were starving. Yet it was by generalship that the battle of Pharsalus was won.

Pompeius fled to Egypt for refuge, and was murdered there by treacherous Alexandrians and renegade Romans. Cæsar, who had received the submission of the whole provincial world with the exception of King Juba’s African realm, followed Pompeius to Egypt, and on landing was presented with his rival’s head. In Alexandria itself Cæsar had to face one of the most serious crises of his life. For six months he held the royal palace against a host of infuriated Orientals. In the palace was Cleopatra, the wife and sister of the reigning Ptolemy, and then a brilliant and fascinating young woman of twenty. Let us believe that she was beautiful, and that the portrait-painters and coin-engravers of her day were incompetent or disloyal.[18] But if rumour spoke truly, Cæsar was by no means exclusive in his devotion to female charms. Her son was named Cæsarion.

When at length Julius Cæsar escaped from the twofold entanglements of love and battle at Alexandria, he had more fighting still before he could make the earth his footstool. He spent a few days in Syria to arrange the affairs of the East, and{123} among other things gave orders to build up the wall of Jerusalem, which had been thrown down by the orders of Pompeius. Then he passed over to Asia Minor, and at Zela crushed the rebellion of a Pontic successor of Mithradates. So back to Italy for a few weeks, and there he found all in disorder, and his legions, including the faithful Tenth, mutinying for their pay. He settled the disorder at Rome by his mere presence, enacted laws to relieve the economic distress there, and, having no money to pay his soldiers, quelled their mutiny by sheer sleight of speech. Meanwhile the broken Pompeians had gathered in thousands at the court of King Juba, who himself had a formidable host. As soon as he could find time, the restless conqueror crossed straight to Africa with as many soldiers as he could muster, leaving the main force to follow. That was always Cæsar’s way—to dart straight upon the scene of danger was his first instinct. At his coming the marrow oozed out of the very bones of his foe. He had a Scipio and a Cato, and a host of notable Romans arrayed against him. At Thapsus, in April of the year 46, he smote them, and slew (it is said) fifty thousand men—fourteen legions of Romans. There at Utica, Cato died his famous Stoic death, far the noblest scene of his mistaken life, and so became a theme for the glorification of Stoic Republicanism for all time. Afranius, Scipio, King Juba, Faustus Sulla, and many others, died also. A few stragglers found their way to Spain, to continue the fight there under the two sons of Pompeius. Thither in the next year, so soon as he had leisure, Cæsar followed them, and in a last great battle at Munda he finished the resistance. Only Sextus Pompeius was left of the Pompeian party, and he escaped for a time to begin an interesting career as a gentleman-pirate.

In this manner the amazing Cæsar conquered the world. Now it was unquestionably his. What was he to make of it? This story has been told in vain unless it has shown that the city of Rome was rotten to the core, with no sound elements left in it. Cæsar himself was a solitary prodigy; he had no supporters worthy of his confidence. Labienus had deserted{124} him, Quintus Cicero, another of his legates in Gaul, had also fought against him. Mark Antony was perhaps his right-hand man, but Antony was nothing but a brilliant orator and a fair soldier; of character or reputation he had not a shred. Brutus, to whom Cæsar was personally devoted, had fought against him, and was—in spite of Shakespeare and republican tradition—a vain and shallow egoist. Cæsar had no brother and no legitimate son. Across in Apollonia his little great-nephew Octavius was still at school. Julius Cæsar had to reorganise a broken world alone. For a hundred years there had been no peace in Rome, and no proper government in the empire. Every year of its lingering agony, the Republic had drawn closer to the inevitable issue in Monarchy. Even Cicero, when he tried to console himself for the horrible disorders of Roman life by depicting an ideal commonwealth, had been compelled to build it round a princeps who should maintain order, and thus allow liberty to exist. In practice also the last century had seen a succession of “princes”—Gracchus, Marius, Cinna, Sulla, Pompeius—all from the necessity of the case forced into unconstitutional positions. And now Cæsar had succeeded without a rival. Sulla had resigned power, and his work had almost immediately fallen to pieces. There was now, even more than then, no chance of building up a senatorial party, and indeed Cæsar had been the lifelong victim of senatorial arrogance and folly. It was equally impossible to build up a Roman democracy out of the demoralised loungers in the forum.

Obviously monarchy was the only solution. Cæsar was fifty-five years old, spent with war and labour, and, as I have said, quite alone. He was a man without beliefs or illusions or scruples. Not a bad man: for he preferred justice and mercy to tyranny and cruelty, and he had a passion for logic and order. He was not the sort of man to make compromises. His sudden successes had taught him to despise his enemies. He was not, of course, ignorant that the Romans (if there were any true Romans left) had it in their blood to hate the title of Rex. Every Roman schoolboy was brought up to declaim in{125} praise of regicides. But possibly in time they could be accustomed to the hideous idea. For the present, old-fashioned titles like Dictator, Consul, and Tribune would suffice. But the office must be made hereditary, and the boy Octavius was already marked for adoption and succession. The title of Rex could wait. Cæsar would feel his way gently.

But patience was not one of his virtues. Actually fortune only left him less than two years, and those broken by tedious campaigns in the Spanish provinces, for the regeneration of Roman society. In that time he restored the finances, rearranged the provincial system, abolished the political clubs which had been centres of disorder at Rome, reformed the Calendar, dedicated a new forum and new temples, restored and revised the senate, founded a system of municipal government for Italy, settled his veterans on the land, and was preparing a great expedition to chastise the Parthians.

Most of these acts were wisely done, but in one thing Cæsar miscalculated. His brilliant successes and the adulation with which he was surrounded led him to despise his enemies. He would not stoop to flatter antiquarian prejudices or to cast a decent veil over his monarchical position. You may treat people as slaves and they will admire you for it, but when you call them slaves they will begin to resent it. Cæsar failed to rise from his chair to receive the senators. In his reformed senate he included representatives of the equestrian class, provincials and even distinguished soldiers of quite humble birth. He allowed his statue to be set up beside the Seven Kings of Rome. He accepted a gilt chair, he permanently retained the triumphant general’s laurel-crown, partly because he was bald and keenly sensitive about it; and then either through his orders or by their own officiousness his friends began to throw up ballons d’essai in the direction of kingship. At the Lupercalia Antony offered him a crown of gold. It was spread abroad that an ancient Sibylline prophecy had foretold that the Parthians could only be conquered by a king and that Cæsar was to adopt the title for the purpose of his Eastern expedition.{126} It was trifles like these, and trivial jealousies, trivial requests declined in the name of justice, that led to the great conspiracy. No doubt the influence of rhetorical patriotism had its effect upon many of the conspirators. An unknown hand wrote “O that thou wert living!” upon the statue of old Brutus the Liberator. But neither Brutus nor Cassius deserves our admiration. It was pique not patriotism that sharpened their daggers. Sixty senators conspired together, and on the eve of setting out for Parthia—the Ides of March, 44 B.C.—Julius Cæsar was slain.

And then, having slain the tyrant and liberated the republic, the patriots were helpless. A doctrinaire like Cicero might still dream of restoring the commonwealth; but the only real question was who should succeed. The people only cried for peace. It was not so much the speech of Mark Antony as the funeral of Cæsar, cleverly stage-managed by Calpurnia, and the genuine sorrow of his veterans, which gradually turned the popular feeling against the conspirators. The senate did not venture to declare Cæsar a tyrant, they confirmed his acts, but there was no proposal to punish the murderers. The whole conclusion was a feeble compromise.

The man who should have grasped the helm was Mark Antony. He was left sole consul, there was a legion and the prætorian cohort under arms only waiting the word. The conspirators had only a few gladiators in their pay. Antony had every right to arrest them. But Antony was not the man for the part. With all his talents his character was feeble. He was always dependent on his surroundings and generally under feminine influence. Once it had been the dancer Cytheris, at present it was the aggressive Fulvia; for a time Octavia almost reformed him, but Cleopatra easily ensnared him. He was a rake and a spendthrift, always in debt. He was timid of public opinion: just now the aristocratic society in which he moved was prating of tyrannicide. Antony wanted to be in the fashion. There were dramatic embracements between Antony and Brutus.{127}

Now the testament of Cæsar, which had just been confirmed by the senate, named young Gneius Octavius as heir to three-quarters of his estate. At the end of the will was a codicil adopting him. Henceforth until he gets the title of Augustus this young Cæsar must be called Octavianus, though he never accepted that name for himself. The “second heirs” named in case the first should fail or decline to succeed included D. Brutus, one of the murderers, and Mark Antony himself. Whosoever should accept the heirship would be bound by all Roman ideas of honour to undertake the chastisement of the murderers. Antony seems to have assumed that the obscure young man would not be likely to accept the inheritance. He therefore got together all Cæsar’s papers, and began to spend Cæsar’s immense fortune as only Antony could. He began also to manipulate Cæsar’s papers, inserting anything he liked among Cæsar’s “acts,” selling honours, raising taxes, recalling exiles to please Fulvia. For some time no one ventured to complain. Leading senators like Cicero retired to the country remarking that the tyrant was dead but the tyranny still alive. Then, of course, Antony had to provide himself with a province to ensure his future safety. Moreover, the cry of the veterans for revenge began to move him to play the Cæsarian. Thus Antony was virtually master of the Roman world and the sky was dark with menace.

Into this dangerous arena steps the nineteen-year-old Octavian. His guardian advised him to have nothing to do with his perilous inheritance. Historians have often dubbed him a coward. But alone and unfriended this youth left his tutors at Apollonia and came to Rome to take up his trust. It meant, first, revenge upon the conspirators; and secondly, a quarrel with Antony. It meant, in fact, two more civil wars, and Octavian had seen nothing of warfare. He set to work coolly and warily. There was still a magic in the name of Cæsar, and the veterans rallied to him and besought him to march against Brutus and Cassius. Part of his duties as executor was to pay a million sterling in donations to the{128} Roman people. He sold his property and began to distribute the largess, man by man, tribe by tribe, until the sum was paid. He gave magnificent games in his “father’s” honour, with the lucky star of Julius publicly exhibited. He bought an army of 10,000 men with borrowed money. Two of Antony’s legions deserted to him bodily, and the very veterans of Antony’s bodyguard offered to murder their general if young Cæsar would give the signal.

But there was no haste in his method. Antony was to be used first and then destroyed. Octavian tried for a time to work with the senate, and even marched against Antony under their orders, but the incredible folly of the senate, who were persuaded by Cicero that “the boy” was negligible, drove him into the famous triple alliance of Antony, Octavian, and Lepidus. These three were appointed under threat of their armies to a kind of dictatorship in commission, “a triumvirate to reorganise the state.” Revenge was the explicit motive of this league. They began with the usual horrid proscription of all the senatorial aristocrats to be found in Rome. This was mainly Antony’s work. His creditors, his enemies and his wife’s enemies were slain wholesale, and, among them, Cicero. Eighteen towns of Italy were destroyed to provide lands for the veterans.

Meanwhile the tyrannicides had gathered in the East, and now Antony and the young Cæsar set out in pursuit of them. In the two battles of Philippi the luck of Octavian and the skill of Antony triumphed over their dispirited adversaries. Brutus and Cassius fell. A few of the “patriots” survived and joined Sextus Pompeius who was still at large in the Mediterranean. In the warfare at Philippi Octavian’s inexperience and real want of talent for generalship had been very apparent in contrast to Antony. Lepidus was already a nonentity. Antony went off to the East; and while he was holding his court of justice in Cilicia there sailed into harbour the splendid royal yacht of Cleopatra. The people left the judgment seat to see the famous Queen, and Antony too was soon at her feet.{129} Signor Ferrero would have us believe, relying partly on the mature age of Cleopatra, that it was policy, not love, which made Antony dally at Alexandria. Policy no doubt was there, but everything that we know of Antony leads us to believe that he was just the man to be captured by a celebrated courtesan, particularly if she were also a queen. Certainly his sojourn in the East lowered his character both as a politician and as a soldier.

Octavian had to face Rome and the West. His task was full of perils but also full of possibilities. The soldiers were mutinous, he himself was grievously sick, and the redoubtable Fulvia, who was her husband’s real agent at Rome, very soon perceived that he was an enemy to be fought. Octavian had to fight another small civil war at Perugia before he could call himself master even of Italy, and then fight Sextus Pompeius in the Sicilian waters. Luckily he had at his side a splendid soldier—general and admiral by turns as were all good Roman fighting-men—Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa.[19] He had also as his agent at Rome Mæcenas, an astute diplomatist and man of business. So though he himself often displayed feebleness and was often in danger he accomplished his task and became master of the West. Thus the lordship of the world was reduced to a plain duel.

Antony had actually married Cleopatra after Fulvia’s death and Octavia’s divorce, and as consort of the Egyptian queen reigned in Oriental majesty. He had marched against the Parthians and failed ignominiously. He was assigning provinces and princedoms to Cleopatra and her dubious offspring. It was easy for Octavian to represent Antony as a renegade Roman threatening to introduce Oriental monarchy into Rome. When at last it came to the final civil war Octavian appeared as fighting in the public cause of Rome against Egypt, with Antony as a mere deserter on the Egyptian side. The great naval battle of Actium (31 B.C.), which decided the mastery of the world for Octavian, was thus a{130} triumph for the Roman arms over the barbarians. Actually it was a degenerate Antony who sailed away at the crisis of the battle in the wake of the queen’s yacht. The glory of the day was Agrippa’s. The luck as usual was the young Cæsar’s. He was able to inaugurate his reign at Rome by presenting her with Egypt, the richest country in the world. In 29 B.C. he came home to celebrate a glorious triple triumph and to open a new era as the first Roman Emperor.

Late Republican Civilisation

Such is a brief sketch of the hundred and four years from the day when Tiberius Gracchus first arose to challenge the senatorial oligarchy to the day when the Empire was established upon the ruins of the Republic. It is perhaps the most terrible century in the history of the world. Rome had become the centre of the world, the only hope for civilisation, and Rome was filled with bloodshed and corruption. For the provinces there was no decent government, only a succession of licensed plunderers. In the city itself there was a long series of personal struggles for the mastery; politics meant organised rioting by gangs of roughs, questions were solved by the dagger or by the swords of senators. At intervals there came from each side alternately the murderous proscriptions, in which every man of spirit or eminence on the opposing side was marked down for destruction. Often their sons and grandsons perished with them, and in any case their fortunes were destroyed. Besides the proscriptions there had been of late a series of civil wars on a great scale in which thousands of the bravest Romans perished by each other’s swords. A successful foreign war may have some compensating effect in stiffening the moral fibre of a nation and exalting its spirit. But civil war is disastrous in every way. It is only the meanest who survive and the evil passions which it arouses have no compensation.

In such a period it is wonderful that civilisation should have been able to make any advances at all. But in spite of{131} the public turmoil private citizens were amassing enormous fortunes out of the plunder of the world, and living, though always on the edge of a volcano, in state and luxury like kings. It is now our task to see something of private life and culture in the Rome of the expiring Republic.

Money was easily made in those days and lavishly spent. Even an honest man like Cicero, governing a comparatively poor province like Cilicia, made at least £20,000 by his year of office while he remitted to the provincials a million, which, as he says, any governor of average morality would have retained. Legacies were a very frequent source of revenue especially to pleaders, and it was customary for a rich testator at Rome to make large bequests to his friends. Cicero gained £200,000 by such legacies. Foreign kings and states paid handsomely for legal advice or support. Although a barrister was supposed to give his services for nothing yet gifts and legacies were not refused. For the financier or business man there were many channels to affluence. There were mines all over the empire to be financed and exploited. Although there was little genuine industry at Rome, yet the training and use of slaves for various undertakings was a lucrative business. Crassus trained a salvage brigade for Rome and went about to fires with them in order to make bids for the purchase of the burning property. Atticus trained a company of copying clerks and made money by the sale of books. He also kept gladiators and hired them out to magistrates for the games. Fortunes were made, as in the case of Crassus, by buying up the confiscated property of the proscribed. Land speculation was rendered extremely profitable by the frequent assignation of farm-lands to veteran soldiers who were generally glad to sell them at once. The extravagance of the Roman nobles led to a very brisk traffic in loans at high interest. There was a great deal of genuine commercial speculation in ships and cargoes, generally by companies, and Cato advises the investor to put his money in fifty different enterprises rather than in one at a time. Commerce overseas{132} was, however, forbidden to the senators by the Claudian law, and these speculated chiefly in land, on which they made a profit by slave-labour. But the most profitable business of all was tax-farming, in which the equestrian classes joined together in capitalist rings. In these and other ways prodigious fortunes were accumulated. The stored-up capital of the Roman world is astounding in its magnitude compared even to that of modern times. The real property of Pompeius sold for £700,000. Æsopus, the popular actor, left £200,000. After the most lavish donations to the public Crassus left nearly two millions sterling by will. On the death of Cæsar the treasury contained eight millions in bullion of which a million was the dictator’s own property.

But all the wealth of the Roman empire was shared by a very narrow circle. The gulf between rich and poor was far deeper than it is to-day. We hear of poor nobles and rich upstarts, but of a respectable middle class with traditions of its own there is little trace. There is an aristocracy of a few thousand families, and nothing else but a vast proletariat, silent and hungry, dependent on their bounty, bribed with money, bribed with free corn, and bribed with bloody spectacles. They lived miserably in huge tenement blocks or in hovels on the outskirts of the city. The only career open to them was in the army, and that was chiefly filled by the stronger rustics. They had nothing to do but lounge in the streets, gape at gladiators and actors and shout for the most generous politicians of the day. No doubt there were honest citizen cobblers, but Roman history is silent about them.

That section of the city which is to be styled Society was as proud and reckless as the French aristocracy before the Revolution. The senate had now become almost literally a hereditary rank. A child born into one of these princely houses was tended by a multitude of slaves. By this time there was some attempt at a liberal education. Attended by a slave pedagogue the boy would go daily to the school of some starved Greek, who would teach him his letters and his figures. The staple{133} of education was the delivery of artificial declamation on the model of Isocrates or Demosthenes. After this stage a young man would commonly be sent abroad to Athens or Rhodes to finish his education with a little philosophy or mathematics, but chiefly with oratory. Returned to Rome, his destiny placed him in a circle of foppish youths, who devoted their principal attention to dress and manicure. Bejewelled and scented, they practised every vice, natural and unnatural. In due course, with no effort but a few bribes from the parental purse, they became priests and augurs, thus entering what were in reality aristocratic dining-clubs. Dining was now the principal art of Rome. Macrobius has preserved the menu of one of these priestly dinners of the Republic, at which the priests and vestals were present. The party began with a prolusion like the Russian or Swedish system of hors d’œuvres, in which seventeen dishes of fish and game were presented. The dinner itself contained ten more courses, “sow’s udder, boar’s head, fish-pasties, boar-pasties, ducks, boiled teals, hares, roasted fowls, starch-pastry, Pontic-pastry.” Such was the State religion of Rome in the first century before Christ. At intervals the young noble’s father’s friends would invite him to join their staff on foreign service. If he had the good fortune to serve with Pompeius or Lucullus in the East or with Cæsar in Gaul, he might get a taste of real manliness, and serve his country as tribune of the soldiers. But more often in a peaceful province like Sicily or Africa he was merely initiated into the arts of extortion, and enjoyed all the vicious opportunities of the younger sons of princes. Thus fortified by experience he would return to Rome to seek the suffrages of his fellow-citizens for the quæstorship, the first rung on the ladder of office. Votes were to be won by bribery, direct or indirect. One candidate would spread a banquet for a whole tribe; another would seek to outshine his rivals by providing strange beasts from Africa—among Cicero’s correspondence there is an urgent appeal for Cilician panthers to be slain in the arena—or by dressing his gladiators in silver armour. Similar requirements accompanied his progress{134} through all the stages of office on a progressively lavish scale. As quæstor he would be a judge or a comptroller of the treasury for a single year. Then as ædile he would conduct the public festivals, preside in the ædile’s court, control the markets and streets of Rome. So he rose to be consul, commander of legions and president of the state, and then in due course governor of an enormous province. From his quæstorship onwards his seat in the senate was assured.

In his home the noble Roman lived like a king, waited upon by an enormous retinue. There was much luxury and little comfort. The houses of the Romans were on a far more luxurious scale than those of the Greeks. The only genuine Roman taste that can be called liberal was the hobby of collecting beautiful town houses and country seats. Cicero, who was a man of modest income and tastes, seems to have possessed about eighteen different estates, and gave nearly £30,000 for his town house. The qualities prized in the choice of a mansion were space and coolness, and the Romans of this age were by no means insensible to the charms of scenery. The coast round Naples and Baiæ was dotted with sumptuous villas, and the gay world spent its summer there in much the same way as the cosmopolitan crowds at Biarritz. Besides his great town house and his family mansion at Arpinum, and his country houses at Tusculum and elsewhere, Cicero had marine villas all along the coast at Antium, Formiæ, Cumæ, Puteoli, and Pompeii, and all along the Campanian road were his private “inns,” where he lodged on his journeys. His favourite villa was the one at Tusculum, the scene of many of his literary labours, and among others of the famous Tusculan Disputations. It had previously belonged to Sulla, and was adorned with paintings in commemoration of Sulla’s victories. It was situated on the top of a hill along with many other villas of the aristocracy, and commanded a delightful view of the city about twelve miles away. The park attached to it was extensive, and through it there ran a broad canal. He had books everywhere, but his principal library was deposited at Antium. At Puteoli{135} he constructed a cloister and a grove on the model of Plato’s Academy.

The principal feature of the Roman house was its large colonnaded hall, with a roof open in the middle to admit light and air. This roof sloped inwards, and allowed the rain to fall into a central tank, delightful for coolness, no doubt, but probably very unwholesome. In old days the atrium had been the common room of the Roman family. It still retained a symbolical marriage-bed, a symbolical spinning-wheel, the portraits of the ancestors, and the ceremonial altar to the family gods, who were now stored away in a cupboard close at hand. Most of the rooms opened directly out of the atrium. As they are seen in the ruins of Roman villas, they appear to have been comparatively small and ill-lighted. The larger houses themselves were generally built of local limestone with facings of stucco, though the greater part of Rome was still in this first century b.c. constructed of sun-baked bricks. It was considered unheard-of luxury when Mamurra faced his walls with marble slabs. The floors were generally tessellated. It was an innovation of the Roman architect to build houses of three or more stories, but it was probably only a starveling poet who would live on the fourth floor. A noble’s house would spread over the ground regardless of space, but the bedrooms and sometimes the dining-room were upstairs. Externally the Roman house was a little finer than the Greek, being fronted with a pillared forecourt and a dwelling for the concierge. At the back the atrium opened into a colonnaded garden with a fountain, flower-beds, and shrubbery.

As the Roman’s house was built mainly with a view to coolness, so his daily life was that of a southerner. Rome was never a healthy city in the summer, and all who could afford it fled to the country or the sea-side. Almost every Roman known to us in literature was either an invalid or a valetudinarian. Malarial fever in its periodic form was very widely spread, and most of our distinguished friends pursued a medical regimen. Cæsar was subject to fits of epilepsy, Cicero{136} was of weak constitution, Horace was a martyr to ophthalmia as well as malaria, Augustus was always ailing and often at death’s door. The Roman’s most amiable idiosyncrasy was his devotion to the bath. Every considerable house had an elaborate bathing department with at least a hot room built over a furnace, and a cold room with a swimming-tank. But there were also public baths, on an ever-increasing scale of magnificence. Agrippa alone built 170 of them at Rome. Rich and poor alike made it their daily practice to bathe after exercise, just before their principal meal in the early afternoon. The custom of the noon-tide siesta was universal, except with prodigies of industry like Cicero. A great deal of time was spent in lounging abroad through the streets or under shady colonnades. The streets of Rome, as of all ancient cities, were extremely narrow, but in the busy parts of the city all wheeled traffic was forbidden.

The wealthy Romans have a name for abominable luxury and gluttony. As to the general question of its influence in destroying the morality of Rome I have already ventured to express disbelief in the popular view. From all that we read, it does not appear that the ordinary Roman was naturally addicted to intemperance either in eating or drinking. The praise of wine is with Horace a literary pose; personally he had a poor head and a poor stomach. The Italian is not, and probably never was a great natural eater or drinker judged by northern standards. But rhetoricians and satirists have delighted to dwell upon the immensity of Roman dinner-parties which often lasted all day and included a hideous series of curious and exotic dainties. This was the form which, in default of any nobler ideals, wealth at Rome had chosen for its display. Time hung heavily on this slave-tended aristocracy: to dine from dawn to daylight was one of the ways of killing it. So the guests reclined on their couches, dancers jigged before them, musicians played, occasionally a tumbler or a tight-rope walker would appear, in literary households a slave would read philosophy; and all the time the soft-footed slaves were coming and going with dishes of strange morsels gathered{137} from the ends of the earth, and rare wines from the four corners of the globe. A dish of nightingales’ tongues is not the sort of thing to please one who is a gourmet by conviction or natural taste. Eating was for most of these poor starved imaginations the only form of culture they understood. It was, however, conducted with tremendous ceremony. There was a “tricliniarch” to marshal his “decuries” of slaves as each dish came into the room. There was a special “structor” to arrange the dishes, a special “analecta” to pick up the fragments that the diners dropped. Carving was a science with various branches, as in old England, and the skilful carver had his scheme of gesticulations for each kind of dish. There was another slave specially appointed to cry out the name and quality of each plat. In addition to these every guest had his own footman standing behind his couch. The most characteristic and the most unpleasant feature of a Roman banquet was the manner in which the diners assisted nature to provide them with an appetite. Even Julius Cæsar “took his vomit” both before and after his dinner-party with Cicero.

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The public shows, which formed the chief recreation of rich and poor alike, grew yearly more brutal and bloody. As they were the means by which ambitious candidates for office sought to canvass popularity, the principal aim was to present something novel and startling. No doubt the more refined spectators regarded the butchery of wild beasts or paid gladiators with disgust, but the populace at large only shouted for more blood. Five hundred lions were slaughtered on one day at the triumphal games given by Pompeius. Cicero writes that the wholesale destruction of elephants in the arena actually moved the people to pity. There were still some real theatrical performances in Rome. Actors and mimics, indeed, if they were handsome and graceful, made large fortunes. Most Roman nobles of a literary bent amused themselves with writing tragedies. Cicero’s soldier brother composed four on a fortnight’s journey to Gaul. But these were only employed to bore one’s friends at dinner. Original literary dramas were even{138} less often staged at Rome than they are in London. Plautus and Terence for comedy, and Pacuvius, Attius, and Ennius for tragedy, had already become classics and were still regularly performed. The drama died stillborn at Rome.

Historians of Rome, fortified by Juvenal and Petronius, love to depict the vices of the emperors and the imperial period. The later Republic can show us a morality no more exalted. The fragments of Varro’s satires written in the heyday of the Republic are in precisely the same strain of despondency as are the satires of Juvenal. For him, too, virtue is a thing of the past. Sober fact compels us to see that the aristocratic society of Republican Rome was hideously immoral. Voluntary celibacy and “race-suicide” were already rife. The family was a decaying institution, divorce was common, and the sterility of wickedness had long been at work to sap the ranks of the nobility. Even Cicero divorced his wife Terentia upon a trivial pretext after a long period of happy conjugal life in order to marry an heiress. Cæsar had four wives of his own, not to mention Cleopatra, without begetting a single legitimate son. Cato, the strict censor of morals, having been jilted in his youth, married a wife, divorced her for adultery after she had borne him two sons, married another, lent her for six years to the orator Hortensius, and on his death resumed her again. Mark Antony married Fadia, then Antonia, then divorced her and lived publicly with Cytheris the actress, then married Fulvia, who had already been twice a widow, then married Octavia, then Cleopatra. These marriages were made and dissolved freely for political reasons. A large part of Roman politics was carried on in the salons of the Roman ladies, and if half of what Cicero alleges be true Messalina herself had her republican prototypes in women like Clodia and Fulvia. Beside almost promiscuous relations between the sexes, the darker forms of Oriental vice were extremely fashionable among the gilded youth of Rome.

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FIG 1.
FIG 2.
Plate XX

Religion was almost purely formal or political. Augurships and priesthoods still existed as the perquisite of aristo{139}cratic families. People still uttered the formulæ of oaths and vows. There was still some belief in omens and prodigies, the altars still smoked with sacrifice when triumphant generals went up to the capitol, but few prayers ascended to Jupiter in sincerity. Instead the importation of strange deities continued. Again and again in this first century before Christ the senate tried to expel the worship of Isis from the precincts of Rome, but it always returned, and eventually the triumvirs built a temple to Isis and Serapis as a measure to court popular favour. The Magna Mater of the Phrygian corybants had long been firmly established at Rome.

I think it was general materialism and immorality which killed the old State religion at Rome. Greek philosophy had generally been able to exist amicably by the side of religion. It now came in to fill up the gap left by the absence of real religious feeling. But at Rome, though Stoicism afterwards became a powerful force of inspiration to the noblest minds, philosophy was in the main a form of literary activity for dilettantists. Cato of Utica was a Stoic by temperament before he became one by doctrine. Cicero amused his leisure by recasting and combining the doctrines of the leading Greek schools in a Roman form of dialogue, in imitation of Plato; but with him it was more of a literary exercise than anything else, and Cicero has added little or nothing to the world’s stock of philosophical ideas. Only in the poet Lucretius does the fire of philosophy burn with genuine ardour. Lucretius had before him the task of proselytising at Rome for the doctrines of Epicurus and Democritus. People accustomed to the modern associations of the word “epicure” may wonder what there was to arouse the enthusiasm of a poet in the philosophy of Epicurus. That creed offered a rational explanation of the universe. With its theory of spontaneous atomic creation, and its surprising foreknowledge of some at least of the ideas of natural selection and evolution, it claimed to satisfy the intellect of mankind and to drive out all the grovelling superstition and empty rites which had usurped at Rome, as they{140} tend to do always and everywhere, the throne of religion. All the enthusiasm with which the nineteenth century approached the new discoveries of science glowed in the heart of this rugged poet of the first century before Christ. “Voluptas” was his only goddess, but it was no vulgar pleasure of the body upon earth. It was the spirit soaring to freedom and knowledge. This atheist Epicurean is, in the true sense of the word, the most religious of all poets. He explains the nature of lightning in order that his fellow-creatures may not live in fear of thunderbolts. He explains with the same confident logic the nature of death in order that they may not fear the natural resolution of body and soul into their primordial atoms. He is moved almost to tears by the folly and sorrow of his brother-men, and he pleads with them to suffer the sacred lamp of philosophy to shine upon their darkened minds:

at nisi purgatum est pectus, quæ prælia nobis
atque pericula sunt ingratis insinuandum?
quantæ tum scindunt hominem cupedinis acres
sollicitum curæ? quantique perinde timores?
quidue superbia, spurcitia ac petulantia, quantas
efficiunt cladeis? quid luxus, desidiæque?
hæc igitur qui cuncta subegerit, ex animoque
expulerit dictis, non armis, nonne decebit
hunc hominem numero diuom dignarier esse?[20]

His doctrine is medicine for the feverish unrest of the day:

exit sæpe foras magnis ex ædibus ille
esse domi quem pertæsum est, subitoque reuentat;
quippe foris nihilo melius qui sentiat esse.
currit agens mannos ad uillam præcipitanter
auxilium tectis quasi ferre ardentibus instans:
oscitat extemplo tetigit quom limina uillæ{141}
aut abit in somnum grauis, atque obliuia quærit,
aut etiam properans urbem petit atque reuisit.
hoc se quisque modo fugit ...[21]

He has a compassionate scorn for the mourner:

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aufer abhinc lacrumas, barathre, et compesce querelas ...
cedit enim rerum nouitate extrusa uetustas
semper et ex aliis aliud reparare necesse est;
nec quisquam in barathrum, nec Tartara deditur alta.
materies opus est ut crescant postera sæcla;
quæ tamen omnia te, uita perfuncta, sequentur:
nec minus ergo ante hæc quam tu cecidere cadentque.
sic alid ex alio nunquam desistet oriri;
uitaque manciplo nulli datur, omnibus usu.[22]

Death has no sting for him:

num quid ibi horribile apparet? num triste uidetur
quidquam? non omni somno securius exstat?[23]

Lucretius was, of course, set down by Cicero, as was Shakespeare by Dryden, as being rude and unpolished. His poem is indeed sheer didactic argument with occasional digressions, and he strings his points together with the bald transitional words and phrases of argumentative prose. But in{142} virility of thought and expression, even in majesty of sound and force of vivid imagery, he is, when he cares to be, on a plane quite above and away from the ordinary sphere of classic Latin poetry. Almost alone among Roman writers he has a message of his own to deliver. His fellow-countrymen thought little of him, and failed to preserve any details of his biography. The monks of the Middle Ages consigned him to the hell he had flouted, and Jerome provided him, five hundred years after his death, with an end edifying to piety, but quite incredible to any one who has read his work with sympathy. He was said to have died of a love potion, and to have composed his poem in the intervals of delirium. He appears to have lived between 100 and 50 B.C.

In addition to the tragedies and epics which noblemen threw off as an elegant pastime for their superfluous leisure hours, love-poetry, pasquinades, and vers de société travelled merrily from salon to salon. If Lucretius carries the heaviest metal of Latin poets, Catullus has by far the lightest touch. He writes with an ease which makes Horace seem laboured, and with a simplicity which makes Propertius and even Ovid look like pedants, though Catullus himself, like all Romans, thought fit occasionally to adopt the classical pose, and fill his verses with learned allusions. If it were not for the influence of the schoolroom, to which most of Catullus’s work is for the best of reasons unknown, he would be recognised as possessing far more of the vital spark of poetry than Horace. Roman culture, being mainly second-hand, is almost entirely lacking in the quality of fresh youth which we enjoy in such writers as Chaucer and the early Elizabethan singers. Catullus, therefore, the earliest important lyric poet of Rome, is by no means unsophisticated. On the contrary, he is a clever son of the forum—a boulevardier, one might say—with a pretty but savage wit in reviling democrats like Cæsar and Mamurra. But, with his truly Italian scurrility, he combines the quintessence of Italian charm. When the inspiration takes him he is simple, direct, and natural. Indeed, the shorter poems of Catullus seem to me to reveal more of the

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essential Roman than all the rest of Roman literature put together. We have the innocent pleading of the April lover in:

soles occidere et redire possunt:
nobis cum semel occidit breuis lux
nox est perpetua una dormienda.
da mi basia mille, deinde centum,
dein mille altera, dein secunda centum,
deinde usque altera mille, deinde centum.[24]

and the awful simplicity of his wrath at betrayal:

Cæli, Lesbia nostra, Lesbia illa,
illa Lesbia, quam Catullus unam
plus quam se atque suos amavit omnes,
nunc in quadriuiis et angiportis
glubit magnanimi Remi nepotes.

We have a more genuine-sounding love of nature in his praises of Sirmio, and a more natural pathos in the famous lament for his brother, than any other Latin poet can give us. In one species of composition, the Epithalamium, he is supreme. For example:

flere desine, non tibi Au-
runculeia, periculum est
nequa femina pulchrior
clarum ab Oceano diem
uiderit uenientem.
talis in uario solet
diuitis domini hortulo
stare flos hyacinthinus.
sed moraris, abit dies:
prodeas, noua nupta.
prodeas, noua nupta, si
iam uidetur, et audias{144}
nostra uerba. uiden? faces
aureas quatiunt comas:
prodeas noua nupta.[25]

The music of this, with its beautiful imagery and refrains, is no doubt based upon an Alexandrian foundation. There is a distinct echo of Theocritus. But it is also distinctively Italian, and the greatest of modern Italian poets, Carducci, writes like a legitimate descendant of Catullus. Catullus has as little biography as Lucretius. He must have died at an early age in the fifties B.C. He was a poor man. He had only a town house and two villas, one on the Lago di Garda and one at Tivoli. He hated Cæsar and loved Cicero. That his “Lesbia” was the infamous Clodia is generally asserted. I do not believe it.

These two poets, Lucretius and Catullus, then, stand almost alone as representatives of Republican Roman literature on the poetical side. Both are Romanising various Alexandrian Greek modes, but both have something genuinely Roman, a quality which we may best describe as virility, to add to their originals. This was the point from which a genuine Roman literature might have taken its departure. Instead of that, the next era is that of a courtly school of classicists, largely writing to order, who gave to Latin its distinctively classical bent.

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Cicero, the most classical of all classics, is, however, far the greatest literary product of the Republic. He is, indeed, far too vast a figure for these modest pages. By his colossal industry and immense fertility of genius his influence dominates the whole field of Latin prose literature. He is not only the greatest of all orators, but he stands as the type of the orator in life as in literature. We of this generation, who live in the eclipse of rhetoric, do not find it easy to be just to him. With such gifts of eloquence, such a power of uttering tremendous{145} phrases about duty and patriotism, we cannot but feel affronted at his political incapacity. Mommsen, who is all for action, peppers him with contemptuous expressions—“a statesman without insight, opinion or purpose”; “a short-sighted egoist”; “a journalist of the worst description”; “his lawyer’s talent of finding excuses—or, at any rate, words—for everything.” And, indeed, among men like Cæsar with legions at their backs, or creatures like Clodius with their packs of hooligans, a man of golden words and honest principles does cut a sorry figure on the pages of history—so much the worse for history! He had, as we have seen, a policy, his talents made him a leader among the moderates of the senate, and his character made him genuinely popular among all the more respectable classes of society. But Rhetoric is one of the feminine Muses, and Cicero’s nature was as soft and sympathetic as a woman’s. So he turns his coat at a word from Pompeius, utters brave words one day and eats them on the next, publishes magnificent denunciations which he has not had the courage to deliver. Moreover, we see his intimate thoughts revealed in all the frankness of an unexpurgated private correspondence—and there are few statesmen, certainly very few orators, whose reputations can sustain that test. Thus the golden words often ring hollow. His vanity is often ludicrous, as when he writes to Lucceius, to beseech a conspicuous place in his history, even if the truth has to be distorted for the purpose; or when he loiters at Brundisium, with his lictors’ rods continually wreathed in laurel for the futile hope of a triumph. Certainly he was an egoist. Probably in their private correspondence all men are. But he was also a gentleman, one of the few Romans of his day with whom one would care to shake hands in Elysium.

To Mommsen, Cæsar is the “sole creative genius” of Roman history. We may well ask what he created. Certainly not the empire, for that fell to pieces at his death, and had to be re-created on a new plan by his successor. Not even the Gallic province, for though he conquered it, he left the problem of its organisation to Augustus. Possibly the Lex{146} Julia municipalis. But Cicero[26] created Latin prose out of next to nothing and left it to the world as its grandest form of literary expression. The splendid Latin period, with its clear logical order, its chain of dependent clauses each in its place with absolute precision, a thought built of words as a temple is built of marble, is the best expression of Roman grandeur, as typical and as enduring as a Roman road or wall. It was not mere art. It was the natural expression of a Roman mind trained in law and rhetoric. It was perhaps the finest thing the Romans ever made, and the Latin period is the true justification for retaining Latin in its place for the education of young barbarians accustomed to string their random ideas together like dish-clouts on a line. Although it was the result of long training under all the most distinguished masters of Rome and Greece, and was perfected with infinite labour, Cicero’s style, when once achieved, was extraordinarily rapid and fluent, as the number of his works can testify. It is true that, like many great stylists—Dryden, for example—he came to believe that style was everything. He was prepared to write a geography of the world or a history of Rome. He only wanted a few notes from his brother Quintus to write an account of Britain. His multitudinous philosophical works were, as we have seen, more style than philosophy, thrown off in a few months to while away the time at his Tusculan villa at intervals when the temperature of Rome, literally or politically, was too high to suit his health. In such work he may fairly be called a journalist, though a very great one. When he writes of a subject he really understands, such as rhetoric, he is at his best. Again, in his forensic speeches or writings he is much better as an advocate than as a lawyer. His mind is not capable of juristic precision, he is neither deep nor subtle, and so far his influence is wholly detrimental in the history of Roman law. He would probably infuriate a trained judge; but give him a jury, and, if possible, a large Italian one, and he is irresistible, now with translucent rapid narra{147}tive, now with clever mystification, breaking off into thundering appeals to conscience or heaven, or again with passionate denunciation of his opponent or majestic encomium for his client. In the senate he is not at his best. We are told that a few blunt words from Cato had more power to move that assembly of practical men than all the Catilinarian orations. But if Rome had been governed as Greece was, by orations in the market-place, Cicero would have been in Cæsar’s place as dictator of the world. Imagine the Roman mob assembling in 63 B.C. to hear their consul’s account of Catiline’s flight—

tandem aliquando, Quirites, L. Catilinam, furentem audacia, scelus anhelantem, pestem patriæ nefarie molientem, uobis atque huic urbi ferrum flammamque minitantem, ex urbe uel eiecimus, uel emisimus, uel ipsum egredientem uerbis prosecuti sumus. abiit, excessit, euasit, erupit. nulla iam pernicius a monstro illo atque prodigio mœnibus ipsis intra mœnia comparabitur. non enim iam inter latera nostra sica illa uersabitur: non in Campo, non in foro, non in Curia, non denique intra domesticas parietes, pertimescemus[27]

—his voice screams with passion, or sinks into pathos; presently he drops into the tones of calm reason or fluent narrative; as he nears his peroration his eyes flash, his hands gesticulate, his body sways from side to side, his foot stamps the ground, he seems to foam at the mouth:

dolebam, dolebam, patres conscripti, rempublicam uestris quondam meisque consiliis conseruatam, breui tempore esse perituram ... audite, audite, patres conscripti, et cognoscite reipublicæ uolnera....[28]


“Why, you did not even stamp your foot!” he exclaims in rebuking the coolness of an opposing counsel. It is true that there were purists of the severer school of Roman oratory who thought such vehemence meretricious and undignified. The true Roman eloquence of the old school is to be found in that ambassador who came to the Carthaginian senate with “peace or war,” gathered in the folds of his mantle and briefly commanded them to choose; or that other who drew a circle in the dust round the Great King and demanded an answer before he left the circle. Cicero had studied his art both in the flowery Asiatic and the severer Attic schools. There was still, his critics complained, too much Asia in his style. But that was part of the tendency of his age. The austerity of Cato, with his simple formulæ, was gone for ever. The Romans of this age are more emotional, more sentimental, more characteristically Southern.

If we reproach Cicero with weakness and cowardice in his political life, the story of his end may atone for it. After Cæsar’s murder, when Antony was master of Rome, a man utterly unscrupulous and wedded to a still more unscrupulous wife, Cicero flung away all his timidity and hesitation. Convinced that the consul was trying to re-establish a monarchy, the old orator came down to the senate and launched at him the series of ferocious but most eloquent philippics. Some were spoken, some merely written and published. It was courting death in the cause of liberty. Cicero was not blind to the danger he was running. But he is probably sincere when he says that life has no more attractions for him.

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defendi rempublicam adolescens; non deseram senex: contempsi Catilinæ gladios; non pertimescam tuos. quin etiam corpus libenter obtulerim, si repræsentari morte mea libertas ciuitatis potest; ut aliquando dolor populi Romani pariat quod iamdiu parturit. etenim si, abhinc prope annos uiginti, hoc ipso in templo, negaui posse mortem immaturam esse consulari, quanto uerius nunc negabo seni! mihi uero, iam etiam optanda mors est, perfuncto rebus iis quas adeptus{149} sum quasque gessi. duo modo hæc opto: unum, ut moriens populum Romanum liberum relinquam; hoc mihi maius a dis immortalibus dari nihil potest: alterum ui ita cuique eueniat, ut de republica quisque mereatur.[29]

As he foresaw so plainly, the philippics caused his doom. When the triumvirate drew up its proscription-lists, Octavian is said to have pleaded for his life. But Antony’s wrath was implacable. Cicero’s head and his hands were nailed to the rostra from which he had so often poured out his rhetoric, and the virago Fulvia, so the story goes, thrust her needle through his eloquent, venomous tongue.

Julius Cæsar, that miracle of energy, beside being a competent grammarian and no mean poet, was reputed the second of Roman orators. Of that we have little means of judging. Certainly he could quell a mutiny by a speech, and his Commentaries were not the least wonderful of his achievements. Professedly they are mere notes for a real historian—by “historian” the Romans always meant “orator”—to dress up for literature. They are mere despatches intended to inform the senate and the world of the progress of his campaigns. They were written at odd moments in a prodigiously active life. Their style is so simple and so correct that we cast them as pearls before the fourth-form schoolboy. Yet they are in reality a triumphant product of the rhetorical art; so simple, they must be honest; so modest, they must be candid. You would scarcely think that they are a defence or a{150} vindication. In the same easy flow of narrative breathless escapes are concealed. Who remembers from his schooldays Cæsar’s description of that moment, so pregnant with human destiny, when the eagle first alighted on our shores in the hands of the gallant centurion of the Tenth Legion? Cæsar seems more like a Greek than a Roman in his directness as in his reticence. Fortunately for history Cæsar had far more natural curiosity than most of the Romans. It is surprising how little Cicero really tells us of Roman or Cilician life in all his voluminous correspondence. But Cæsar went out to explore as well as to conquer. It may even be true that his visit to Britain was, as he asserts, partly due to curiosity. He notes our little insular peculiarities—our custom of sharing wives, our habit of keeping the hare, the hen, and the goose as pets because our religion forbids us to eat them. He sees the superior civilisation of Kent. He observes our clothing of skins, our dyeing ourselves blue with woad, our long hair and moustaches, our horsemen and charioteers, our innumerable population and crowded buildings, our plenteous store of cattle, our metals—bronze, iron, and tin. He is equally observant in Gaul and Germany. The debt that history owes to him for these records is incalculable.

Lesser lights such as Sallust and Nepos dabbled in history and have had the good fortune to survive. Livy, though he wrote under Augustus, is a true Republican in mind and sympathy. His majestic history of Rome is the work of a rhetorician setting out to extol the glories of the Republic. Although he sometimes displays a rudimentary critical instinct in comparing his authorities, his main task was to Latinise Polybius and to embellish with first-century style the dry annals of Fabius Pictor and Licinius Macer. It is not the least of our many grievances against the monks that they allowed so much of Livy to disappear.

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The golden age of classical literature covers this last half-century of the Republic and the first half-century of the Empire. There is, on the whole, little trace of division{151} between the general character of Republican and Imperial letters except that with Augustus the principal writers are definitely engaged under the Emperor’s banner of reform. The main characteristic of both is rhetoric and convention. It is to Alexandria and its state-fostered writing-club that the world owes convention in literature. The Romans drew their inspiration from Greece but mainly from Alexandria, and as literature at Rome was now chiefly in the hands of a clique of nobles it was possible for a classical style to grow strong there. Cicero and his friends evolved a style, not only of literature but even of thought, which could pronounce itself as “urbane,” and all else as barbarian or rustic. Roman literature of the first centuries before and after Christ was as much under the domination of epithets like “urbane” and “humane” as was the literature of the eighteenth century under “elegant” and “ingenious.” Even Livy as an outsider was suspected of mingling “Patavinity” with his Latinity. It is the aristocracies of literature, such as the court of Louis XIV. or of Charles II., or such as the coffee-house cliques of Addison’s day or the Johnsonian clubs, which create and maintain our periods of classical convention.

Literature, as we have already seen occasion to remark, since it works in the most plastic medium, is generally the first of the arts to develop; and literature is only yet beginning. But then Rome borrowed her arts wholesale from Greece, and thus her culture has no true infancy. The burning problem of Roman originality in Art must be reserved until we reach the Augustan age. For the present we must still deny the existence of any really spontaneous art growth at Rome during the Republic. Where native art may be looked for with the highest probability of finding it is in architecture, portrait-sculpture, and painting; in architecture, partly because the Romans had a natural passion for building and partly because their religious and social habits called for quite distinct types of construction in palaces, halls, amphitheatres, triumphal arches, fora, and other secular buildings upon which the Greeks{152} had wasted little of their attention; in portraiture because it was a peculiar custom at Rome to make and display images of their ancestors, whereas the Greeks in their love of the ideal had until latterly shrunk from the presentation of casual human lineaments and still idealised them as far as possible, and also because the Etruscans, who were the first nurses of Roman culture, had developed portraiture for themselves; and in painting, partly owing to the same Etruscan influence and partly because the Romans, using inferior building materials such as brick, limestone, and terra-cotta covered with stucco, were naturally drawn to mural painting for the sake of ornament. But if we look for originality here we are disappointed. Undoubtedly hundreds of magnificent villas were being run up all over Italy from Como to Sorrento, but a Roman villa was more an affair of landscape gardening than of architecture. It consisted mainly of a series of courts and colonnades sprawling at large over the ground. The walls were built of coarse tufa or peperino; they were only just beginning to be incrusted with marble slabs. As a city Rome was still contemptible—a huddled mass of narrow, tortuous alleys. Augustus swept away as much of it as he could afford to demolish, and his historians remark that “he found Rome built of brick and left it built of marble.” There were of course ancient temples, venerable with dignity, and no doubt to us they would have seemed beautiful with the picturesqueness of antiquity. But with Gracchans and Marians and Clodians rioting at large through the city, many of these venerable shrines were destroyed by fire. The Roman ruins as seen by the modern traveller are almost all of Imperial times. The great Temple of Jupiter on the Capitol was rebuilt four times. The round temple of Vesta was frequently destroyed and restored. Although for religious reasons the plan of the original was generally preserved in these rebuildings, the details were in accordance with the style of the day. Nevertheless the plans are interesting. The round shrines of Vesta and Mater Matuta[30] are clearly an archi{153}tectural development from a round hut constructed of wood with a thatched roof. Indeed the Temple of Vesta is said to have been modelled on the hut of Romulus. It was perhaps originally the king’s house in which the princesses tended the sacred fire. The Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus also was, if we may trust the coins, built on an un-Greek plan with three naves instead of a single nave with aisles.

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The only two considerable relics of Republican architecture are the Tabularium and the Temple of Fortuna Virilis, both dating from the period of Sulla. In that period, when Rome had just discovered Greek culture, when the armies of Sulla and Lucullus came home laden with Greek spoil, there was a temporary outburst of artistic activity at Rome. It was, however, entirely in the hands of foreign artists. In 143, Metellus, the victor of Macedonia, built the first marble temple at Rome in the Campus Martius. Sulla himself carried off the huge columns of the unfinished temple of Olympian Zeus at Athens to adorn the Roman Capitol. The Cyprian Greek Hermodorus was employed to construct temples and docks. The Romans had indeed their native principles of building, which from a merely constructive point of view were in advance of anything that the Greeks had evolved for themselves. Greek architecture of the best period had been almost exclusively devoted to the service of religion. Their efforts were almost limited to the perfecting of the Doric and Ionic temple, and when they had to build a secular building like the gate of the Acropolis, they were still content with a mere adaptation of Doric temple to their new purpose. Their building material was marble, and with their peculiar artistic discretion the Greeks saw that marble was at its best in the austere lines of pediment and columns. But the Romans, before they imported marble, had made a beginning with brick and cement, which require quite different methods of architecture. In prehistoric “Servian” days they had discovered or learnt from the Etruscans the use of the vault and arch, at any rate for tunnels, but it is characteristic of their artistic poverty that they had made little architectural use of{154} these important principles. The triumphal arch seems to have been a Roman invention, and several triumphal arches were built in republican days, but unfortunately we have no information as to their style. The Sullan revival of art was purely an importation of foreign models. In the Temple of Fortuna Virilis built in 78 B.C. we see how the Romans used their imported architecture.[31] The graceful Ionic columns support nothing. They are used for ornament as the West African native uses his European clothes. The Greeks had indeed used engaged columns, as in the Erechtheum, to complete the design where there was no space for a free colonnade, but the Romans built them into their walls for the sake of ornament. This is typical. Culture was to the Greeks a vital part of their existence, to the Romans it was an embellishment.

But Roman architecture, having made this effort, had relapsed again until the days of the Cæsars. There was more destroying than building in the evil days of Cicero’s prime. The selfish plutocrats were too busy building their villas to give a thought to the gods’ or the city’s adornment.

It was much the same with the other arts. Take the coins, for example. The clumsy copper As, with the head of Janus on the obverse and the prow of a ship on the reverse,[32] had of old weighed 12 ounces. All through republican history it was gradually shrinking; in 217 B.C. it was fixed at one ounce, in 89 B.C. at half an ounce. Long before that, however, silver had taken its place. As we have remarked, silver was not coined, though no doubt it circulated, at Rome before 268 B.C.. From 217 onwards silver became the real standard of value, and about 80 B.C. the copper coinage ceased altogether for a time. Not only were the original designs of the “heavy copper” borrowed from Greece, but there is not the least sign in the Roman coinage of any artistic development as time progresses. Simply, as Head remarks, “the degree of excellence attained in any particular district depended upon the closeness of its relations, direct or indirect, with some Greek city, or at least with{155} a population imbued with the spirit of Greek art.” There are coins of Sulla, both silver and gold, doubtless of Greek workmanship, which display fairly artistic designs.[33] But the coins of Antony and Cleopatra, interesting as they are historically, and designed, of course, in the Hellenised East, are much inferior.[33] We notice an attempt at portraiture, but the striking resemblance between the Roman triumvir and the Egyptian queen suggests the question which of the pair was the original.

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In sculpture, too, the most ardent supporters of Roman originality can find little to comfort them in the closing century of the Republic. We have seen how the victories of Mummius and his successors had created a taste and a market for Greek works of art. With those of Sulla and Lucullus immense quantities of loot had crossed the Adriatic, and Rome began to be what New York is now, the home of connoisseurs and collectors. As connoisseurs are wont to do, the Roman millionaires studied commercial values rather than artistic qualities. No doubt in time their taste improved from the days when Mummius had warned his men that any of the Greek masterpieces destroyed in transit would have to be replaced by new ones. But they still went very largely by the names of the artists: a genuine Praxiteles or Scopas was worth immense sums. Every villa now required statues for its adornment—Greek originals, if possible; if not, copies. For the most part they were reckoned purely as objects of value along with handsome tables, vases, bowls, and signet-rings. When Cicero buys Greek statues he prefers Muses to Bacchantes as being more appropriate to his studies. The question of artistic value scarcely enters his mind. The most famous named sculptor of this period is the Italian-Greek Pasiteles, who visited Rome about 90 B.C. and there made original statues for Roman temples. Pasiteles, of course, was of the Hellenic decline. He was a metal-worker by training, and his work is like that of Cellini, more decorative than creative. It is{156} jewellery on a large scale. He evolved no new style of his own, but set himself to copy and elaborate ancient types to meet the artificial demand for antiquities. Many of the “archaistic” works in our museums belong to this period of production, and as decoration many of them are extremely charming. We have other names of the Pasitelean school, all Greek, such as Stephanus and Menelaus, but there is very little originality or interest in them. The Venus Genetrix in the Louvre is undoubtedly a fine statue, and is probably a faithful copy of the original by Arcesilaus of the first century B.C.[34] But the face, at any rate, quite visibly goes back to the Greek sculpture of the fifth century, and perhaps, as has been suggested, to Alcamenes. It is in the treatment of the transparent drapery that the present artist shows his skill. Skill there was in abundance in those Greek chisels of the first century; even the Farnese Hercules of Glycon and the Medici Venus[35] are astonishing as efforts of chisel-craft, utterly debased and debasing as they are.

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We know from history that portrait statues had long been common at Rome. The forum was full of them. We saw in an earlier chapter how the old Etruscans had placed terra-cotta portraits of the deceased upon their tombs, and how the old Romans preserved wax images of their forefathers for use at funerals. Most primitive peoples have an instinctive dread of portraiture as a sort of blasphemy. Perhaps the early growth of facial portraiture at Rome was helped by the worship of a man’s genius, his luck, his spirit, his guardian angel. The genius naturally was depicted in the likeness of the man himself. So the imagines in a Roman atrium were no mere portraits of defunct ancestors. Rather they were visible presentments of invisible presences. Unfortunately very few unquestionably genuine examples of republican portraiture have survived. Portraits of ancient celebrities were freely constructed at all times, and it is not easy to date them. We have not at Rome as we have in Greece a clear line of artistic{157} development which enables the trained archæologist to date any casual work of art to within half a century almost at a glance. It is now a question of employing more or less skilful Greeks. It is probable that most of the portraits already illustrated in this book were executed under the Cæsars, but they may well go back to earlier if ruder likenesses, and in any case the portraits are interesting for their own sake. The portraits of Julius Cæsar, both the white marble bust in the Vatican Museum[36] and the still more striking example in black basalt in the Barracco Museum at Rome, are, however, almost certainly of contemporary or, at the latest, Augustan date, so real and vivid is the portraiture. There is another very fine black basalt head of Julius in Berlin,[37] but its authenticity has been questioned. It certainly corresponds very closely with the profile of the dictator on his coins.[38] The bust of M. Brutus may also be identified by comparison with the coins. That of Cicero is probable but not so certain.

This art of realistic portraiture, then, is claimed as the great contribution of ancient Rome to artistic progress. It yet remains to be shown that any part of the work was done by native artists. At present the evidence is all in favour of Greek authorship. But the Romans may claim the credit of demanding or even inspiring realism. Roman archæologists, especially those who, like Wickhoff and Mrs. Strong, are concerned to plead the cause of Roman originality in art, often seem to assume that the Greeks of the best period could not express individuality, in fact that the ideal tendency of their statues, portraits included, is due to convention if not to the sheer limitations of their craftsmanship. Elsewhere we have seen that much of the apparent simplicity of Greek work of the best period is really elaborate self-restraint. All their religious ideas forbade them to express divinity with any marks of time or place upon face or feature. So when it came—as it came slowly—to portraying a statesman like Pericles, or a monarch like Alexander, they deliberately honoured them by{158} idealising them and smoothing away the accidentals. Thus they concealed the inordinately long skull of Pericles by depicting him in a helmet. They could be realistic enough when they chose to be, but that was never in the adornment of temples except just so far as to indicate the barbarity of Centaurs or Giants in contrast to the perfection of the Greek. Myron’s Cow has perished without offspring, but the slave-boys on the tombstones are realistic enough—to say nothing of the Ludovisi Reliefs. Realism was no new discovery of the Romans. On the contrary, so far as it was an innovation it was an act of indulgence, a breaking down of self-imposed barriers. Even then, was it inspired by any abstract passion for the naked truth, such as moved Cromwell to command his portrait-painter to include the warts? Not entirely. The Romans were a rhetorical, not a realistic people. I believe that Roman realism in portraiture is chiefly due to the national custom of preserving the imagines taken from the death-masks of the illustrious dead. On Greek soil the Greek artists were still idealising their portraits—witness the fine head of Mithradates on the coins of Pontus;[39] but when their Roman sitters asked for realism they gave it—gave it sometimes with the unexpected thoroughness of Mr. Sargent. Besides coins and statues there are very fine portraits on the gems of the first century B.C.

Towards painting too we saw that the Romans had inherited some traditional bent. We hear of Greek painters highly esteemed at Rome in this period as well as of imported Greek pictures fetching enormous prices. The Romans loved colour, and their villa walls were commonly stuccoed and painted, if not incrusted with marble, while their floors began to be inlaid with pictorial mosaic. But we have little or nothing of this date to show. It should, however, be noted that the graphic taste of the Romans together with their habit of treating art as mere decoration was now leading to a new phase of pictorial sculpture which will have important effects{159} in the bas-relief work of the Augustan period. In revenge Italy was now turning out a system of plastic decoration for vases in the Aretine pottery[40] which was new and full of possibilities.

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On the whole the verdict must go against Rome—at any rate republican Rome—as regards artistic originality. The Rome of Cicero’s day was amazingly rich and dreadfully poor. It had a high culture in some respects, but it was too corrupt, morally and politically, to produce good work of its own. If there had been any possible rival in the field, Rome would assuredly have perished in the course of that distracted century. If she had perished then, what would she have left to the world? A few second-hand comedies, Lucretius, Catullus, and Cicero; a small equivalent for all the blood that she had shed, and all the groans of her provincials.{160}



ultima Cumæi uenit iam carminis ætas;
magnus ab integro sæclorum nascitur ordo.
iam redit et Virgo, redeunt Saturnia regna,
iam noua progenies cælo demittitur alto.

VERGIL’S Fourth Eclogue, from which my text is quoted, is often called the “Messianic Eclogue.” It is a strange poem. In the midst of a book of pastoral eclogues very closely modelled on the Idylls of Theocritus, the young poet from Mantua inserts one in which he invites the Sicilian Muses, that is, the Muses of Theocritus, to assist him in a loftier strain than usual. His poem is a vision, a prophecy of a return of the golden age to accompany the birth of a child. It is not easy to determine what child. The poem was written for the consulship of Pollio, who had helped Vergil to recover his paternal farm. Thus it is very probable that the poem was really a piece of very gross flattery directed to a patron. Nevertheless the prophecies of peace on earth which it foreshadows chime so strangely with the Messianic language of Isaiah that the scholars of the Middle Ages alternatively placed Vergil among the prophets or condemned him as a wizard. But apart from that approaching event to be witnessed in an obscure village of the client-princedom of Judæa there was even in secular{161} history a general expectation of better days to come. The Virgin Justice did in sober fact return to the Roman world when Octavian, in 29 B.C., came home to celebrate his triumph over the three continents.

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FIG. 1.
FIG 2.
Plate XXX.

I make high claims for Octavian[41]—or as he may now be called by anticipation “Augustus”—in history. Julius Cæsar has usurped the credit of inventing that wonderful system the Roman Empire. The credit really belongs to Augustus. Monarchy, indeed, had for two generations at the least become inevitable at Rome, as everybody, from Catiline to Cicero, was bound to admit. In the scramble to realise it Julius Cæsar had won the day and had thereupon proceeded to introduce his conception of its proper form. He died before his plans were perfected and we have no means of knowing his inner purpose. But we know that he had spurned the dignity of the senate, had taken some of the paraphernalia of royalty and set up his statue alongside of the old kings of Rome. His plan of a naked despotism had failed, because he had not reckoned with the tyrannicide sentiment of the Roman nobles. His assassination was no mere episode or accident. It was impossible to live like an oriental despot in the republican city without an oriental bodyguard. Julius Cæsar had failed through pride. When he fell, the whole dreary round of proscriptions, triumvirate, and civil wars had to begin again. The inevitable monarchy had to be devised afresh on a different basis: that was the task of Augustus. He devised it in such a manner that it lasted in the West for just five centuries and in the East for nearly fifteen. Indeed it can hardly be said to be totally extinct now in the twentieth. Judged by results then, the work of Augustus was clearly a consummate piece of statesmanship. When we consider the methods by which that result was obtained we shall, I think, esteem Augustus as the greatest statesman in the history of the world.

Augustus has never been a popular hero. The pure statesman who has no dashing feats of arms to his credit, and who{162} has left us no records of impassioned eloquence, does not lend himself to idealisation. Augustus had no contemporary biographer, nor even any very great historian ancient or modern. The early Empire is in the gap between the end of Mommsen and the beginning of Gibbon. Dr. Gardthausen has collected all the available material about Augustus but has scarcely succeeded in making him clear or real to us as a man. Tacitus touched him off in a few satirical epigrams as the crafty tyrant who “bribed the army with gifts, the populace with cheap corn, and the world with the blessings of peace, and so grew greater by degrees while he concentrated in his own hands the functions of the senate, the magistrates, and the laws.” For biographical particulars we have to go to Suetonius’s Lives of the Twelve Cæsars, a most unsatisfactory source. Suetonius’s pages teem with human interest, but for purposes of history they are provoking and baffling. He is a patient bookworm who compiles systematic little biographies without a glimmer of the biographical sense. As imperial librarian he had access to most valuable sources of information but he had no critical instinct in using them. He simply collected scraps from various sources and grouped them under headings. For a list of virtues he would go to a courtier’s panegyrics and then turn to a seditious pamphlet for a catalogue of vices. His own instinctive preference being for scandal, he has touched nothing which he has not defiled. It is chiefly due to Suetonius that Augustus appears as a selfish hypocrite, Tiberius as a libidinous tyrant, Gaius as a maniac, Claudius as a pedantic clown, and Nero as a monster of wickedness. And yet under these five reigns the Empire was growing steadily in peace and prosperity. The rulers who were omnipotent cannot have been altogether such as they are described. The factious senators who still dreamed of unreal republican glories and still treasured the memories of Cato as a saint and Brutus as a martyr were not, of course, allowed free criticism of their monarchs. They revenged themselves by writing secret libels, many but not all of which logic and common sense can easily{163} disprove. When it came to popular reigns like those of Vespasian or Hadrian the censorship of the press was removed for a time, and then the senatorial Republicans like Tacitus and Juvenal took ample revenge upon the dead. The scurrilous pamphlets were unearthed and exalted into historical documents and so passed down to our historians as history. It is a suspicious and thankless task to attempt the rehabilitation of these emperors. The world is rightly sceptical of the process which it calls “whitewashing.” Moreover the necessary data are wanting. We can only allow our imaginations to suggest how different the story would look if it had been told from a sympathetic point of view.

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It is very difficult to form any complete idea of the character of Augustus as a man. He had shown daring and ambition when as an obscure lad he had crossed to Italy in 44 B.C. to take up his perilous inheritance as Cæsar’s heir. He had been cool and diplomatic even in those earliest days in the way he intrigued with the senate against Antony, and then with Antony and Lepidus against the senate. He had had extraordinary luck when both the consuls died in the engagements round Modena, and left him, the prætor, in charge of a great army. Then we have the infamous acts of the triumvirate, when the unfortunate senators and knights were proscribed in hundreds, and Cicero, with whom the young Cæsar had been on intimate terms, was handed over without apparent compunction to Antony’s vengeance. Admirers said that in this he was overborne by his older colleague, and yielded reluctantly to a stern necessity for destroying the tyrannicide party. Enemies declared that even if he had been reluctant to begin the bloodshed he was the most cruel of persecutors when it started. In the fourteen years of civil war that followed, he had succeeded in winning his way through to victory more by coolness and luck than by any display of generalship. I do not think that we can fairly accuse him of cowardice. It was a bold act when he rode alone and unarmed into the camp of the rebellious and hostile Lepidus, and took his legions away{164} from him without a blow. He had not the dashing gallantry of Antony, or the fiery vigour of Julius, but he must have had the gift of nerve and coolness. He had certainly come through the most terrible difficulties and dangers from open enemies and rebellious armies by land and sea. In the last duel with Antony luck had been with him once more. Like the rake and gambler that he was, Antony had thrown away his game for the sake of Eastern ambitions and Eastern dalliance. Then there was that last scene of Cleopatra’s tragedy, when the conqueror came to her palace after Antony had committed suicide. She tried to win him by the same arts that had won his “father” and his rival. Dressed in her finest robes she came weeping to him, and displayed the picture and the letters of Julius wet with her tears. He judged her splendour coldly as a future ornament for his triumph at Rome, and when she disappointed him of that by a suicide staged as all her life had been for theatrical effect, he hunted down her two elder children with the same cold ferocity as before. Policy forbade them to survive. That was all he thought of.

And now at the age of thirty-four, with this record behind him, he had come back to Rome to celebrate his many triumphs. No doubt the few remaining nobles at Rome trembled at his coming. Remembering the proscriptions some of them might well tremble, especially those who had sided with his enemies, with Sextus Pompeius, or with L. Antonius, or with Marcus. On the other hand, some might remember the clemency which Julius Cæsar had displayed in his hour of triumph.

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FIG. 1.
FIG 2.
Plate XXXII.

Augustus had to restore confidence and order in a shattered world. He had to deal with provinces ruined and desolate, a form of government quite visibly obsolete, an aristocracy with immense traditions of pride and power now thoroughly corrupt and effete, a Roman mob which still called itself lord of the world, but which was in a political sense hopeless, armies which were dangerous to the state, conscious of their power {165} and destitute of real patriotism. He had at his side a trusty general in Agrippa,[42] who had won many battles for him, though that in itself was generally a dangerous circumstance, and an astute diplomat in Mæcenas, who for the past ten years had been governing Rome in Cæsar’s name without holding any clear official position. But beyond these two it was hard to know where to turn for support. The civil wars and proscriptions had almost destroyed the race of Brutus, but all that was left of the aristocracy was still jealous and hostile under a cover of abject sycophancy, ready to stab him with their tongues if they had not the courage to use the stiletto. Nevertheless, Augustus had one great asset. The Roman world, exhausted with a whole generation’s civil war, was longing for repose. It was ready to fall down and worship the man who would give it that. Thus the broad outlines of his policy were clear before him. He must undertake a work of healing. The fall of Julius warned him that he must not be openly a monarch, but the failure of Sulla and the actual state of Rome were equally eloquent to prove that he must retain the power in his own hands. In the lassitude following upon grave illness—for the dangers and exposure of the civil wars had shattered his health—he may have cherished occasional thoughts of a real abdication. But in his brain he must have known that it was impossible. It was, of course, equally impossible for him to govern the whole world directly without help. For that purpose the machinery of the whole constitution with its senate and magistracies had to be preserved, at any rate for the present. These were the broad lines upon which his policy was shaped.

The splendour of Cæsar’s triumph must have confirmed the Romans’ impression that they had now a king. For three days they saw a constant procession of prisoners, emblems of captured cities and conquered princes. Some of Cleopatra’s surviving children were among his train. The three days were apportioned to the three continents, the first for the Illyrian war of 34, the second for Actium, and the third for{166} Egypt. Cartloads of money from the Egyptian treasury rolled up the streets, and the bank rate at Rome fell instantly from eleven to four. There was one significant change. In old republican days the victor had been led into the city by his colleague and the senators, now they followed humbly in the rear. Lavish triumphal gifts were distributed: about £11 to every soldier, and about £4 to every citizen. Even the boys got a present in the name of Cæsar’s dear young nephew Marcellus. Thus Cæsar passed in his gold-embroidered purple toga, with a laurel branch in his hand, while a slave stood behind holding a golden crown of victory over his head. Of the horses that drew the chariot one was mounted by the fourteen-year-old Marcellus, famous for his early death, and for Vergil’s beautiful lines about him, and the other by his still younger stepson, Tiberius. Thus he was drawn up to the Capitol to deposit his laurels and his costly offerings at the feet of Jupiter.

There were festivities on many a day to follow. Temples were dedicated, one to the deified Julius and one to Venus, the goddess mother of the Julian house. There were games in which the foreign captives fought to the death. On another day the boys of the nobility fought a Battle of Troy in the circus. On another there was a great beast-hunt of strange animals from Egypt when the rhinoceros and hippopotamus made their first appearance in Europe. And then for the first time for nearly two hundred years, that is, for the first time since the Punic Wars, the temple of the war-god Janus was solemnly closed. L’Empire c’est la paix. There are many signs of the earnest longing for Peace in the Roman world. “Pax” and “Irene” became common names in the West and East; “Pax” was the legend on coins. This was a new thing at Rome. Hitherto war had been the desired as well as the normal condition. But even the Romans had now drunk their fill of bloodshed in those dreary civil wars. It was upon this new condition of things that Augustus had the wisdom to build his monarchy. The army was greatly reduced at once. Fortu{167}nately the treasury of Egypt enabled them to be dismissed without dissatisfaction. The foreign hirelings who had served as a bodyguard were replaced by native soldiers. A change in the imperator’s form of address to his troops indicated that they were now subject to the civil rule of a constitutional state: henceforth they were not “fellow-soldiers” but “soldiers.”

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And now the work of reconstruction began in earnest. Acting merely as one of the two consuls and in obedience to a law passed through the senate and comitia, Augustus restored the depleted ranks of the patrician order. It is true that the patricians had no political privileges but they still had great significance in the domain of religion and their restoration as the first official act of the new regime marked a deliberate desire to conciliate the aristocracy and enlist its services in support of order. Then a census of the Roman citizens was taken for the first time in forty years. The number found was 4,063,000 heads, which was to be increased by 170,000 in the next twenty years. The census and purification of the people was accompanied by a revision of the senate-roll. Here Augustus already showed his intention to break away from the policy of Julius. Whereas Julius had aroused the most bitter resentment by introducing provincials and common soldiers into the ranks of the senate, and Antony also had secured the appointment of all sorts of disreputable friends of his own, Augustus with infinite caution and tact reduced, strengthened, and purified the roll. Then since the numbers had been reduced and it was necessary to secure a respectable quorum for the transaction of business, the senate was induced to pass a standing order that its members must not go abroad even to the provinces without permission of its president. As Cæsar was the president it meant a concentration of all the possible leaders of opposition at Rome and under his eyes. During this same year, 28 B.C., the other side of Augustan rule came into prominence, the splendid liberality which turned Rome from a decaying and ruinous city of brick into a city of marble and made this epoch to stand out next to that of Pericles as{168} an age of brilliant culture. No fewer than eighty-two temples were built or restored in that year. Among the rest a magnificent marble temple to Apollo with a public library annexed to it was erected on the Palatine. Libraries were new and significant things at Rome. The first had been built by Vergil’s patron Asinius Pollio only nine years earlier.

The time was now ripe for the all-important settlement of the constitution which historians have agreed to call the establishment of the Empire. It is important to narrate the actual proceedings, at this point, somewhat more minutely than the scope of this work generally allows. The establishment of the Empire was such a delicate and equivocal act that it has been open to various interpretations ever since. Probably in the clever brain of Augustus it was intended to be equivocal from the first, so that republican aristocrats at Rome might still believe themselves to be free, while the populace had a prince to whom they might look for their patron, and the provincials, particularly those of the orient, might have a splendid monarch for their instincts of adulation.

Towards the close of the year 28 Augustus had issued a proclamation formally reversing all the illegal acts of himself and his colleagues during the Triumvirate. It would not call the dead back to life, it would not restore Cicero to the senate, it did not even give back the land to the burghers of those eighteen confiscated townships. But it marked contrition, and restitution of some sort was to follow. At the beginning of his seventh consulship on January 13, 27 B.C., Cæsar convened a meeting of the senate and made them a long speech in which he spoke with pride of his own and his “deified father’s” benefactions to the state. At the end, with a true Italian instinct for the theatre he turned to the astonished fathers and exclaimed: “And now I give back the Republic into your keeping. The laws, the troops, the treasury, the provinces are all restored to you. May you guard them worthily.” Dio Cassius, who has given us a long speech certainly of his own composition, paints the mingled feelings of the audience, the

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indifference of those who were in the secret, the uneasiness of those who feared that it was another trap to catch the unwary and the joy of those who believed and hoped. The immediate reply of the senate was, it appears, to grant him further honours—the “civic crown” of oak leaves awarded to one who had saved the life of a fellow-citizen, in token that Augustus had saved the lives of all his countrymen, and laurel-trees to be planted at his gate in sign of perpetual victory.[43] Then they conducted a long and solemn debate upon the proper cognomen to be conferred upon their saviour and at length decided upon the name “Augustus.” In these proceedings we have the measure of the Augustan senate. Already they had the instinct of courtiers. Augustus knew it, and therefore knew what he was about in this dramatic “restoration of the Republic.” Coins of the period bear the legend “Respublica restituta,” and Ovid, though a courtier, was free to say

redditaque est omnis populo prouincia nostro
et tuus Augusto nomine dictus auus.

Augustus himself records this occurrence in the great inscription, in which he afterwards described his achievements: “In my sixth and seventh consulship, when by universal consent I had acquired complete dominion over everything both by land and sea, I restored the State from my own control into the hands of the Senate and People.”

A few sessions later, but still in the beginning of the year 27, the senate decided upon its real answer, no doubt concocted at the suggestion of Augustus. The senate accepted the restitution of most of the provinces, and undertook to govern them for the future by means of senatorial magistrates very much as they had been governed of old. But three provinces which were still unsettled, and required soldiers, and money, and a general, called for special treatment. Cæsar was therefore entreated to take for his province Syria, Gaul, and Spain. Gaul was not yet completely organised; besides Julius had{170} publicly imposed the task of adding Britain to it upon his successor. Syria was of the utmost importance, because the Parthians were still “riding unavenged” flushed with fresh victories over Antony. This was another of the legacies of Julius. Spain was still largely unconquered and in great disorder. I think, in opposition to Ferrero, that military needs were more powerful than economic motives in the selection of these provinces. It is to be noted that there was no question of the restitution of Egypt. Cæsar had never completely given this kingdom to the state. He still kept it for the sake of its treasures, as a private domain, and governed it through an agent, a mere knight, not even a senator. Over these three great provinces Augustus received consular authority—much as Pompeius had received it for the war against the pirates—for ten years. But at the same time he promised to restore these provinces also, as soon as they should be completely pacified. The ingenious nature of the whole compromise will be manifest when it is perceived that this arrangement of provinces left the senate with scarcely a single legion under its command, while the bulk of the Roman army was concentrated in Cæsar’s provinces.

Now let us consider the constitutional position of Augustus in these years from 27 to 23, when a slight rearrangement was effected. Augustus continued each year to be elected consul with a colleague for one year, until he had far outstripped even the record of Marius. In addition to this he had “consular power” over his enormous province, which included all the armies of the state. That power was ostensibly granted for ten years, but as a matter of fact it was renewed with some ceremony at intervals of ten or five years throughout the reign. Constitutionally he was by no means master of the world although, of course, he was so in reality. He says himself: “I excelled all in prestige, but of authority I had no more than my colleagues in each office.” For the maintenance of his domestic dignity, he had in addition to the consulship various privileges of tribunician authority. His person was{171} protected by the sanctity of that office, and it is probable that all prosecutions for treason were taken on that point. He was also chief priest. He was also president of the senate, princeps senatus, but that simply meant that his name came first on the roll, so that he had the right to speak first. Only when Cæsar said “aye” it would be a bold man who would say “no.”

For the lawyer this exhausts his titles to power, but in reality he was something very much more than consul with tribunician powers. The one word that embraces all his authority, constitutional and real alike, is the word “princeps.” “Princeps” is not the title of any office, it merely expresses dignity. He is “the chief,” he is “Cæsar the August, the son of the God Julius, ten times hailed as general.” It is historically misleading to speak of these early principes as “Emperors,” for that word implies notions of purple and crowns really foreign to their position. Any stout republican who chose to be deceived could still boast that he was governed by senate and comitia, by consuls, prætors, ædiles, tribunes, and the rest of them. It is even historically false to believe that the senate and magistrates had ceased to exist for practical purposes. They had, as we shall presently see, a very real function in the state, especially when Cæsar was abroad, as in the earlier years of his rule he constantly was. It was impossible for one man to govern the whole empire. Little by little when a complete imperial bureaucracy was evolved, the senate really sank into insignificance, but for the present Cæsar and the senate were to some extent colleagues in the government of the empire.

It is equally unhistorical to assert, as does the foremost of living historians in Germany, Dr. Eduard Meyer, that this “Restoration” was a genuine abdication, and that Cæsar only continued to act as the senate’s executive officer. Sometimes he did act in that capacity, often he made a pretence of so acting. Especially when there was anything disagreeable to be done, he liked to get it authorised by a decree of the senate. But no intelligent Roman can have failed to perceive that there was no real equilibrium between Cæsar and Senate. Cæsar{172} had not only the control of nearly all the legions; but at the very gate of Rome he had the only troops in Italy, the prætorian guard, at his beck and call. Roman generals had always had their life-guards. The law forbade the presence of an army at Rome, but Cæsar had shown his usual ingenuity in circumventing the spirit of the law, while respecting its letter. An army meant a legion, and a legion consisted of ten cohorts generally of three hundred men each. Very well, Cæsar would only have nine cohorts. But as each consisted of a thousand men, he found himself in command of a force equal to three legions in permanent quarters at the gates of Rome. If he thus had the men, he had the money too. The senatorial provinces were now, thanks to a long regime of senatorial governors, mostly the poor ones. Cæsar had the enormous treasury of Egypt in his pocket, Spain was rich in undeveloped mines, and Gaul had great possibilities as yet unexploited. Moreover, Augustus had inherited an immense patrimony from Julius, and the legacies of admiring friends also increased his wealth. Thus it came about that the senatorial treasury simply could not exist without help from the imperial purse. His private wealth, too, enabled him to keep the Roman mob happy with cheap or free corn, public shows, and handsome buildings, and to satisfy the troops with lavish bounties. There was no real equilibrium.

On the other hand, Augustus was very careful not to wound republican sensibilities. He was himself of a distinctly historical and antiquarian turn of mind. He never performed a function or assumed an office without assuring himself that it was not new to the constitution. Thus when he was asked to undertake censorial duties he declined the “censorial authority,” which the senate conferred upon him, but carried out the duties by virtue of his power as consul, having assured himself that in the olden times consuls had performed the duties of the censor. He was also most punctilious in his use of forms. We shall see later something of the republican simplicity of his mode of life. He never failed, as his “divine father{173}” Julius had done, to treat the senate with outward marks of respect. Call him a “crafty tyrant” if you will. It is much more just to call him a diplomatic reformer engaged in a necessary work of repair, working it with infinite patience, tact, and subtlety, by the most ingenious system of compromises known to history.

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Plate XXXV.

In the year 23 B.C. there was a slight and not very important readjustment of the constitutional situation. After his return from a troublesome war in Spain, and after a very serious illness which had brought him to the brink of death, he formally abdicated the consulship, alleging his ill-health as the motive. It was, indeed, more than a pretence. The continual tenure of the consulship involved a continual series of ceremonial duties, which added to the immense burdens of his position. But there were political motives as well. He was now in his eleventh consulship, and for a nation of antiquarians it was distinctly unpleasant that any man should compile a list of this magnitude. Moreover, the consul had to have an apparently equal colleague, and there was no longer at Rome an unlimited supply of nobles fit to be Cæsar’s colleagues. Besides, it blocked the road to honour, it was difficult to find men of consular rank for the consular provinces. More than all, it was unnecessary. Therefore in order that he might not be molested with reproaches, he retired to his Alban Villa, and sent a letter to the senate not only renouncing the consulship, but suggesting as his successor a notorious republican, who had fought for Brutus against him, and still honoured the memory of Brutus as a martyr in the cause of liberty.

That this was another solemn farce, or rather another deep stroke of statecraft, is quite clear. The senate replied by offering him the very powers he needed to maintain his real position unimpaired. The consular power over the provinces was continued without any new enactment as “proconsular.” He received certain additional powers inherent in the tribunate, and henceforth dates his years of rule not by consulships, but years of tribunician power. His imperium over the provinces{174} was defined as “superior” to that of other magistrates, and he received the special right which belonged to the consuls of proposing a motion at any meeting of the senate. Practically, then, he was relieved of some tiresome duties, his position was made to look more republican, and at the same time he had increased rather than diminished his authority.

By this time the principate had taken its permanent form. Its powers vary considerably with the varying force of the individual emperors, and it tends by mere prescription as well as by the development of an administrative hierarchy of officials to grow more absolute as the years advance. But constitutionally very little change was made in the course of the next three centuries. It always remained a compromise, and something of illegitimacy always clung to it. From time to time the senate actually remembered that it was a governing council. It had always to be reckoned with. As for the comitia of the Populus Romanus, they continued to exist both for legislation and elections as long as Augustus was alive. But in reality the princeps had taken the place of the people in the government of Rome. Tiberius, the next successor of Augustus, suppressed the comitia as unnecessary, and though once or twice in later times an antiquarian emperor might get a plebiscite passed for the sake of old times, the Populus Romanus was extinct. It perished without a groan.

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The personality of a monarch had been thrust almost surreptitiously into the frame of a republican constitution. Skilfully as it had been done, the illegitimacy of the proceedings entailed certain awkward consequences. There could be no open talk of a succession. Thus when Augustus recovered from his grave illness in 23 B.C. he offered to read his will to the senate to prove that he had nominated no successor. On the contrary, he had formally handed to Piso, the other consul, a written statement of the disposition of the forces and the moneys in the treasury. That was true enough, but he had handed his signet ring, the ring by virtue of which Mæcenas had governed Rome for ten years, to Agrippa, the man who{175} would certainly have taken his place if he had died at that time. In reality there is little doubt that in his own mind Augustus had planned to make young Marcellus, the brilliant child of his beloved sister Octavia, his heir and successor. That this ultimate intention was plain to Agrippa when Cæsar recovered is shown by Agrippa’s sulky retirement into private life. Although Augustus could not directly or legally nominate a successor, he could train a young prince for the succession, and in his own lifetime raise him to such a point of honour that he would naturally step into the vacant place. The newly born Empire had the great good fortune that Augustus, in spite of his feeble health, lived to a ripe age and held the principate for forty-one years. But it had the misfortune to be governed by a sterile race. Not for a hundred years until Titus, did a son succeed his father. Augustus had nephews, stepchildren, and grandchildren, but he had only one child by his three wives, and she was the immoral Julia. All his life long he was vexed with tiresome dynastic problems, and each youth whom he selected for his successor seemed to be destined to a premature death. At the last he was driven sorely against his will to nominate his stepson Tiberius. This fact is mentioned here because it is surely a vital fact in determining the future of the principate. If each of the first half-dozen holders of that office had been surrounded by a blooming family on the scale of modern royalty, it is very likely that the principate would have settled down quietly into a hereditary monarchy. As it was, the whole system was upset by continual intrigues for the succession, often leading to actual civil warfare. Thus the army and the prætorian guard came to acquire its fatal domination over Roman politics.

The Senate

For all his moderation Augustus had successfully gathered all the strings of policy into his own hands. In his three revisions of the senate-list he succeeded in securing a body absolutely subservient to his wishes, and the only trouble it{176} caused him was by its excess of zeal for his dignity. As a rule it merely registered his decrees, conferred honours on the kinsmen he delighted to honour, and sometimes shouldered the responsibility for an unpopular proposal. It was to some extent a safety-valve for the expression of public opinion, but the more tyrannical emperors (and Augustus undoubtedly became more absolute as his system developed) kept a very tight hand upon it. When an embassy came from an independent foreign power, such as Parthia, it went first to a powerful senator, just as in republican days to seek a patronus or champion. Now that champion was, of course, none other than the princeps. By him the ambassadors were introduced to the senate, who heard their case and deliberated upon it. As of old, they would necessarily entrust the settlement of the matter to a commissioner chosen from their own body. Again, the commissioner was of course the princeps. The senate sometimes undertook state impeachments as a high court of justice, but now it was only Cæsar’s enemies whom they impeached, and in one case—that of the prefect of Egypt—they displayed an excess of zeal in Cæsar’s cause which brought down a rebuke upon their heads. The senate was used often as a medium of publication. Cæsar would go down to the house and read a speech to them when he intended to reach a wider public. When he was abroad, he would send regular reports and despatches to them. Cæsar, like all Roman magistrates, had his consilium or board of advisers. This was now organised to consist of so many representative senators, who sat in conjunction with the young princes of the imperial house, and any other important people whom Cæsar might select for his privy council. Towards the end, when Augustus grew old and infirm, a committee of senators sitting in the palace was competent to transact business. But as a rule he was very careful to respect the senatorial traditions. Decrees of the senate and laws were passed with all the old formalities, but now they were all in reality Cæsar’s laws and Cæsar’s decrees. On the whole, however, we may well believe that the senat{177}e’s decline into impotence was largely its own fault. So far as the records show, the Augustan senate never displayed the least trace of spirit or, if that is too much to expect, even of initiative or efficiency. There was grumbling and a little feeble plotting, but if the senate had chosen to take Augustus at his word whenever he spoke of abdication, they might easily have recovered real power, though indeed they could not have done without a princeps. For one thing the mob would not have suffered it. Cæsar was, and remained, the patron of the inarticulate commons, and that was not only the origin of the principate but the main support of its power throughout. When we speak of unpopular emperors such as Nero or Domitian we generally mean only that they were unpopular with the notables of the senate. If they failed to retain the regard of the common people and the common soldiers their reigns speedily came to an end. Cæsar’s pretended abdication in 23 B.C. was shortly afterwards followed by a famine at Rome and the populace besieged the senate-house, threatening it with fire unless fresh powers were conferred upon their champion.

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German historians have invented the term Dyarchy to describe the balance of power between Cæsar and senate. The government of Rome had always been to some extent a Dyarchy of senate and people as its title shows—“Senatus Populusque Romanus.” In many respects the princeps had taken the place of the people. But such a description loses sight of reality. You cannot in this whole period show an army set in motion by a senatorial governor without authority from Augustus, save in the single case of M. Primus when it was instantly followed by a prosecution; nor a single tax imposed, nor a law so much as proposed without Cæsar’s authority, nor a candidate elected without his concurrence, nor a treaty made otherwise than in accordance with his suggestion. The true relation between them is practically that of a monarch and his council. Three times Cæsar revised the roll of the senate, reducing it from over one thousand members to six hundred, and for all his tact and ingenuity arousing the fiercest resentment. There{178} were violent scenes in the house, Augustus wore a shirt of mail, and went accompanied by ten stalwart senators. It is clear that he was purging the house of his opponents just as Cromwell did. On other occasions he would present his friends with the amount of property needed to complete their qualification for the senate. Thus it is no exaggeration to call the senate his council of state. If it is objected that the senate still governed rich and important provinces, that is more apparent than true. No longer did the governor of a senatorial province go out girt with the sword that signifies imperium or wearing the military cloak. Now he goes in his toga as a mere civilian functionary. That little change must have been bitterly galling to the proud aristocracy. Augustus had persuaded them to pass an ordinance forbidding them to go abroad without his permission. He made them fine their members for non-attendence, and it is highly significant that it was difficult to keep a quorum of the senate for public business. He chose his own order for asking their opinions and thus promoted them in honour or degraded them as he pleased. It was mainly the poor and unimportant provinces which had fallen to their share. Asia was the richest and most important, but almost throughout the period there is some scion of the imperial house with a general control over the affairs of the East. There is an inscription in Cyprus which proves that even when that island was under senatorial government a proconsul was sent out “by the authority of Cæsar and a decree of the senate” to restore order. Finally by the end of the reign the senate had become so feeble and unreal that twenty of its members sitting in Cæsar’s house were able to pass decrees which had the full validity of the old sovereign council of Rome.

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These considerations are enough to prove that Monarchy is the only term which can properly describe the real nature of the new government. Nevertheless, here as elsewhere in this system of compromise and half-way houses, we must walk warily between two fallacies. The senate is there and will{179} always be there. When Constantine made a new Rome he made a new senate. As we study the subsequent progress of the Empire we shall sometimes find the senate really supreme. It chose Galba and Nerva. It dared to depose Maximin. It really governed through Tacitus and Probus. It was its constant aim to get its members declared immune from prosecution and sometimes it succeeded; but more often it served as a whipping-stock when Cæsar was in a bad temper. Only in this sense is there any meaning in the term Dyarchy: if we take the whole period of the principate from Augustus to Diocletian there is some trace of equilibrium, faint though it be. And we must not fall into the error of despising the letter of a constitution for the sake of its spirit. Though a king of England never refuses a bill in practice, it nevertheless remains important that he may. The letter is always there for reference, if not for use, and the spirit is always liable to be brought up for trial before it. The practice depends upon personal forces which are transitory, the theory is always there awaiting its opportunity.

The People and the Magistrates

Nevertheless, if it is to the letter of the constitution that one appeals, we must not forget the existence of a third element in the constitution of Augustus—the People. As we have seen, the plebiscite and the lex still passed formally through the comitia. The plebiscite had of late republican years become a weapon of opposition to the senate. Yet even under Augustus we can point to a few measures passed in this form. None were of much importance—one was merely the conferring of the new title of “Father of his Country” upon Cæsar. Another concerned aqueducts. The judicial functions of the populus were entirely abrogated by Augustus, and there only remained that which, after all, had always been its most important function, the elections. Popular election in the comitia was still under Augustus, the only path to the senate and the magistracies. It is true that the magistracies had all paled{180} into insignificance before the new and mighty office of the princeps. For this reason, perhaps, Augustus did not deprive them of what they regarded not only as an ancient right, but still more as a source of income. Here also there might have been effective opposition. The populus might have returned to office, and so to the senate, a series of champions of freedom. But except Egnatius Rufus, there were no such champions. The patron of the people, the man whose munificence fed them and gave them the shows they lived for, was Cæsar. No one could bribe against his purse. He had, moreover, two direct methods of securing the return of his nominees. In virtue of his tribunician powers he had the right to draw up the list of candidates, and in the second place it had always been the practice for candidates to put forward the names of their principal supporters. Augustus in his early days of strict deference to constitutional etiquette used to go down to the forum and personally canvass for his friends, afterwards, however, he reverted to the brusquer methods of Julius, and merely issued a fly-sheet to the electors bearing the names of his nominees. Thus the elections became more and more a form, and Tiberius transferred them to the senate without arousing much opposition. In the whole period of Augustus we have only one instance of his failure to pass a law which he desired and then it was due to the organised opposition of the knights who demanded its rejection publicly in the theatre.

The equestrian order still remained the stronghold of the wealthy bourgeoisie. Owing to their wealth and their want of political recognition, they had always been somewhat of a danger to the republican constitution. It is typical of the skilful statesmanship of Augustus that he saw this and provided an honourable outlet for their ambitions as well as utilising their services on behalf of the state. He had begun his period of rule by putting a mere eques into the seat of the Ptolemies as his prefect of Egypt. Subsequently the imperial legates and procurators who administered the imperial provinces for him were often chosen from this order. In finance he made great{181} use of them, and along with a certain number of clever Greek freedmen they filled the greater part of the new bureaucracy which he gradually created. Mæcenas himself, who was probably at the head of the whole great system, and who acted almost as prime minister to Augustus until he fell out of favour, was content with equestrian rank. Social honours such as rich men love were freely bestowed upon them. The young princes of the imperial house rode at the head of the knights with silver lances as “Princes of the Youth.” Sometimes Augustus treated the equestrian order as if it were a third limb of the constitution on an equality with the senate and people.

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FIG. 1.

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Plate XXXIX.

Thus it was part of the system of Augustus to provide careers for talent in every class. Even the slaves and freedmen had immense opportunities in Cæsar’s bureaux. For the freedmen in the country towns, where they were often the richest inhabitants, he invented the special titular distinction of “Augustals,” their principal duty being to give dinners and festivals in his honour, precisely the sort of duty to flatter their pride without doing any harm.

As for the ancient magistracies of the Roman people, while they were strictly preserved, they were utterly disarmed. Consulships remain important only as leading to a subsequent proconsulship over a province. The prætors still sat in their courts of justice but really important cases came up to Cæsar on appeal. The tribunes were of no account beside their mighty colleague. Magistracies were bestowed as marks of imperial favour. Often there would be two or three successive consuls in a single year. Cæsar himself would sometimes deign to take a consulship when he wished to honour a colleague or a relative. Here again, however, the impotence of the magistracies was very largely due to the intellectual bankruptcy of the Roman nobility. They could not perform the simplest task such as the charge of the corn-supply without bungling and requiring the assistance of Cæsar. But on one occasion when a certain ædile organised a fire-brigade of his own and became very zealous in extinguishing fires, he received a hint that his{182} zeal was unwelcome in the highest quarters. Thus the magistracies declined little by little into mere decorations, or became once more what they had been in the beginning, municipal officers for the city of Rome. But even there they were superseded by the organising activity of the princeps. He resuscitated the ancient office of city prefect and put him in charge of the new police and the new fire-brigade while two other new prefects commanded the prætorian guards. These two officers soon began to overshadow the old magistracies.

Army and Treasury

Dio Cassius rightly asserts that the real power of Augustus rested upon two things—the control of the army and of the finances. We have already seen that in the so-called abdications of Augustus there was no surrender of these and no suggestion of their surrender. In view of the present tendency among historians to attach real importance to the restoration of the Republic in 27 B.C. and again in 23 B.C. it is all the more important to remember that the twenty-three legions which with their auxiliaries and reserves formed the entire military force of the Roman Empire took their oath solely to Augustus and were with one exception stationed exclusively in his provinces, fought under his auspices and took their orders from no other but Cæsar and his legates. Beyond these he had a prætorian corps of 9000 men in permanent cantonments within striking distance of Rome, as well as a drilled bodyguard of slaves in his own house. In view of these facts it is absurd to limit our conception of the power of Cæsar to a survey of the constitutional offices which he held. It is only in the language of lawyers and pedants that his authority rested upon consular and tribunician powers. Everybody knew that a letter sealed with Cæsar’s sphinx was backed by the swords of 140,000 legionaries. The military situation of Augustus is therefore of the utmost importance.

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Augustus was, as we have seen, a statesman and not a soldier. The stories of his cowardice, repeated by Suetonius,{183} are confessedly drawn from the venomous letters of his enemy, Antony. Augustus had emerged successfully through five civil wars, had crossed tempestuous seas in small boats, had faced mutinous armies and every sort of hardship. But all his instincts were for peace and statecraft. We have seen that it was the need of a standing army at Rome which led to the need of permanent generals, and this to the downfall of the old Roman constitution. When Cæsar built his throne on the ruins of the Republic the plain fact was that the general had become monarch. Thus, in spite of the fact that Augustus was not of a military character, and in spite of all his efforts to prevent it, the monarchy of the Roman Empire was eventually revealed as a military despotism. It was the irony of fate that such a man as Augustus should have founded such a monarchy.

But for the present the ugly fact that the army had bestowed the purple was decently concealed. Augustus from the very beginning of his power did his best to reduce the military element in the state. During the civil wars, and indeed for fifty years before they began, the troops had made and unmade consuls, there had been constant mutinies and blackmail in the army. Cæsar’s own first consulship had been obtained in this way. A centurion had marched into the senate-house and cried, “If you will not make him consul, this”—and he tapped the hilt of his sword—“this shall.” But now the older discipline was revived. Agrippa in particular was a stern disciplinarian of the old school. The soldiers were flattered no longer. No more legionary coins were issued. For an honour a legion was allowed to call itself Augusta, for a punishment the title was revoked. The highest military distinction, the triumph, was gradually reserved for the princeps and the members of his house alone. Even when the title of Imperator was earned by a victorious general it was transferred to him. But it was his aim to see that no private citizen should have the opportunity of securing the high military honours. Agrippa might have been dangerous and{184} accordingly he was brought into the family by marriage with Cæsar’s daughter. But for the rest the conduct of important operations was almost always confided to one of the young princes—to Tiberius, or Drusus, or Germanicus. And they were always victorious. When Quintilius Varus, a general of humbler birth, was allowed to lead a great army he conveniently pointed the moral by a signal failure. No senatorial governor might now levy troops or declare war on his own account.

The only hand that the senate still had in military affairs was that a “senatus consultum” was generally asked for a new levy of troops. This was probably because it concerned the state treasury, but partly also because it served to shift an unpleasant responsibility off the shoulders of the princeps. It is not likely that Augustus had forgone the right to levy.

It still remained the legal duty of every Roman citizen to serve in the army. But since the days of Marius that duty had become obsolete, no one wanted the city riff-raff in the legions. Soldiering had become a profession, and there was never now any general levy of the kind involved in modern conscription. There must have been some compulsion upon the upper classes to serve as officers, for Suetonius tells of a Roman knight who was sold into slavery because he had chopped off his son’s thumbs in order to evade military service. There had been a “City Legion” fighting at Actium, but the army was now mainly recruited from Italy and the imperial provinces. Allied princes like Herod the Great had their own militias, but were also liable to be asked for contributions of trained auxiliaries to the imperial army. From the provinces troops were demanded in proportion to their warlike activity. The Dutch horsemen were famous, and the Batavians supplied large contributions of cavalry. The only people in the East who were enrolled in the legions were the Galatians, who were, of course, Gauls by ancestry. Augustus himself had a bodyguard of German slaves. As a rule only freemen were enrolled in the legions, but at the crisis of the great Pannonian and German revolts,

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FIG. 1
FIG. 2
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Plate XLI.


the duty was laid upon rich citizens of equipping and maintaining for six months a certain number of freedmen and slaves who were promised their liberty and citizenship at the end of six months. These would probably consist very largely of gladiators. This fact is evidence of serious military weakness in the Roman Empire. Although there were over four million full Roman citizens, there were only about 140,000 men in the ranks of the legions, and as there was a very long period of service, twenty-five years and more, it follows that only a small number of recruits would be wanted every year. It seems a dangerously small army to hold such vast frontiers.

Augustus was successful in reducing the enormous rate of pay which had prevailed during the civil wars. After the death of Augustus the troops mutinied and demanded an increase of their pay to a denarius (less than a franc) a day. Augustus established a special military chest to provide pensions for his veterans in place of the farms which they were still accustomed to expect.

How greatly—how dangerously—Augustus had reduced the size of the army may be seen from the fact that there were at least fifty legions during the civil wars, and only twenty-five at the death of Augustus. These troops were for the most part stationed along the northern and eastern frontiers.

In Spain3  legions
Lower Germany    4
Upper Germany4

To these must be added the 9000 men of the prætorian guard, who enjoyed shorter service (sixteen years) and double pay. The prætorians had to be genuine Italians, and when inside the walls of Rome wore civilian dress. There were also three{186} “urban cohorts” as police—a new and most salutary invention—and a “cohort of watchmen” for the prevention of fire. Obviously with a service of twenty-five years there could be no reserve. But some of the veterans of the prætorian guard were used as paymasters or engineers. There were also colonies of time-expired soldiers planted as garrisons in dangerous country.

The legions themselves were stationed in great fortified camps along the frontiers of their various provinces. There were thus huge spaces of country totally without military forces. For warfare on the shores of the Black Sea troops had to be summoned from Syria. There was no such thing as a readily mobilised striking force in Italy. This was an inconvenience and a danger, but Augustus did not mean to organise a military monarchy. Professor Gardthausen has a clever comparison of the problems before the Roman army with those that face the British Empire. The problems were remarkably similar, for greater speed of transport counteracts the greater distances. Both peoples made great use of the system of drilling native troops and expecting provinces to guard themselves. But the Romans would have been saved much trouble if they had been able to adopt our system of a compact and highly trained expeditionary force backed by a citizen army for home defence. To be sure, the Romans now lived in a state of peace far more profound than any that the world has enjoyed before or since. Their wars were of their own making. Within the circle of the armed frontiers Pax Romana reigned supreme. The Roman citizens hung up their swords for ever.

The creation of a standing fleet was not the least of Cæsar’s achievements. The Mediterranean was now properly policed and commerce was free to circulate. The Italian navy was divided into two flotillas, one for the Western Mediterranean and one for the Adriatic. Great artificial docks were constructed for them, one for the Mediterranean fleet at Misenum by opening up a connection between the Avernian and Lucrine{187} lakes and the sea and thus creating a small land-locked harbour which was used for exercising the rowers in rough weather. The construction of this Portus Julius, which was carried out by Agrippa with a lofty disregard both of the gastronomic fame of the Lucrine oysters and of the mythological celebrity of the lake of Avernus as the gateway to the underworld, excited a wonder which has been reflected both by Horace and Vergil.

Similarly a base for the Adriatic fleet was constructed by great engineering works at Ravenna. A third harbour was created on the coast of Gaul at Fréjus (Forum Julii). The Tiber was dredged and restored to navigation. Flotillas of small vessels were maintained on the Rhine.

The navy, however, did not even in these days attain to anything like the status of the army. It was “my fleet”—the private property of the emperor, equipped and maintained out of his own pocket, and manned chiefly by his slaves. Even the “prefects of the fleet” were generally freedmen and foreigners. A Roman admiral, as Mommsen remarks, ranked below a procurator or a tax-collecter. Thus the Romans never to the end of their days realised the meaning or importance of sea-power. Their navy was only for police work and on several occasions, as for example in the Dalmatian War, they failed to perceive that naval operations might have been of the greatest assistance to their army. It is true that there were no hostile navies in the world, but the empire was so distributed that marine communication might have been of very great value.

The control of finance was a necessary corollary to the control of the troops. The Republic had been shipwrecked on finance almost as much as on the military system, and there is some truth in Mommsen’s epigram: “the Romans had bartered their liberty for the corn-ships of Egypt.” Perhaps the most sinister light in which we can regard the statesmanship of Augustus is that suggested by Tacitus. He was buying the support of all classes in the state systematically. But to that the Republic had already accustomed them.

We must clear our minds of the modern idea of a budget{188} and a coherent public system of finance. The Romans had never paid taxes and their financial administration had rested in the hands of young men just beginning their public career as quæstors. This was because finance was a comparatively recent idea at Rome. It was not part of the mos maiorum at Rome to have a financial policy, and Rome had always been a military and not a commercial state. Even now it was a cheap empire. If we except the corn-supply, the pay of the army was the only large head of expenditure. On the whole, one with another, the provinces were more than self-supporting, and as time went on a prudent policy of development made them extremely profitable. As we shall see later, the encouragement of natural resources and the exploitation of minerals all over the Empire added enormously to the Roman wealth. Officials and magistrates had generally been expected not only to give their services for nothing but even to pay for their honours handsomely with public works and entertainments. Public works undertaken by the state were generally carried out by slaves or soldiers. When marble was needed it was usually requisitioned from Greece or Numidia. But it was inevitable that the man who controlled the army should also possess the revenues. Julius Cæsar had simply appropriated the treasury. Augustus as usual reached the same end by a more devious path.

The enormous treasures which he disbursed were his favourite weapons of statecraft. If he had a friend to get into the senate he would simply make him a present of the necessary income. To retain the goodwill of the commons he scattered those immense largesses which he has recorded on the Ancyran monument. To the Roman plebs he distributed over six millions sterling in eight donations. On another occasion of financial stress he lent more than half a million without interest. When the soldiers had to be rewarded after Actium he was able to save himself from the unpopular necessity of confiscation by finding six millions in cash to buy them land. There was scarcely a town in the empire which had not some splendid{189} building to bear witness of its debt to Cæsar’s generosity, and we shall see how he transformed the whole aspect of the metropolis. In addition to all this he often replenished the state treasury out of his own pocket. Over a million and a half was thus transferred. No wonder that a man who could thus pour his gold into the treasury should come to regard it as his own.

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FIG. 1.

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FIG. 2.

Plate XLII.

To the Roman mind it was unbecoming to a free gentleman to be asked to pay taxes in a free country. They held that a tributum was only for slaves to pay. Moreover it was one of the limitations of the power of Augustus that he had no constitutional right to impose taxation on Italy. Twice indeed he proposed to inflict a property-tax on Roman citizens. In A.D. 4 and 13 he took a census of all properties above £2000 as a preliminary measure, but on the second occasion at least it is explained by the historian as a shrewd stroke of diplomacy to make people acquiesce in the existing death-duties. The serious financial embarrassment of these years was caused by the expense of the gratuities paid to time-expired soldiers. The soldier’s daily pay of about sixpence was only pocket-money, he had always expected a farm on his discharge. Under Augustus this allowance of land was commuted for a bounty of about £125 for the legionary, or £185 for the prætorian guard. Of course, with a service of over twenty years and constant fighting, the number of veterans discharged each year must have fallen considerably below the 20,000 recruits enrolled, but still it was a heavy expense. In some cases the veterans were retained under the colours and in some cases land in new countries was still given. But this burden led to the establishment of a new military chest in A.D. 6. This was filled in the first instance by a donation of nearly two millions from Augustus and Tiberius, but it was maintained by two indirect taxes which fell upon the Roman citizens—very much to their annoyance. One was a tax of one per cent. on all objects bought and sold, the other a five per cent. tax on legacies. The latter was not imposed purely for revenue. It{190} was intended, along with other laws, to discourage celibacy, since it only fell upon those who died without heirs of kin. What appears to be a distinct tax is another upon the sale of slaves.

The other large head of expenditure was that of the Roman corn-supply. Two hundred thousand people received free corn and the rest of the citizens always expected to buy it very cheaply. Most of this corn came from Egypt and Sicily as taxation paid in kind. The control of the supply was in the hands of a new department, cura annonæ, but owing to its mismanagement there were several periods of famine, on which occasions either Augustus himself or some member of his family had to step in and put things straight.

The general expenses of administering the Empire were not as great as modern analogies would lead us to suppose. No doubt the imperial legates and procurators received wages out of the imperial fiscus. It is commonly stated that all provincial magistrates now received a fixed salary instead of being left to plunder the provincials. The truth is that the higher magistrates of Rome never had received and did not for a long time yet receive a salary. But they had always claimed an allowance for their travelling expenses technically called “mule and tent money,” and this had been fixed on a generous scale which really amounted in practice to a salary. The only change was that instead of allowing these fees to be subject to contract on the regular contract system of the republican treasury, the governors now received a fixed grant calculated according to the necessary scale of expenses in the various provinces. For the provinces an immense saving was effected in this manner but it must have been more expensive to the central treasury.

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The finances of the provinces were gradually brought into order and arranged with consummate skill. The little information that we possess tends to show that nowhere was the Augustan reformation more beneficent or more brilliantly successful. In Gaul the land-tax and property-tax were fixed{191} in 26 on a fairly high scale, it is true, but the development of commerce and agriculture fostered by the Romans made their incidence a light burden in comparison with the rapidly increasing wealth of the province. By this time the state had accepted the theory of tribute which the Roman lawyers had developed upon false principles. Tribute was now regarded, not as a commutation of the liability to military service, which was its real origin, but as a rent paid to Rome for the continued enjoyment of lands which had passed to her by right of conquest. The tribute was everywhere reassessed upon a new valuation systematically conducted. Generally it represented a tithe of the corn harvest and 20 per cent. of liquid products, such as oil and wine. In the senatorial provinces the old system of tax-farming by contractors survived for a time, but in his own provinces Augustus instituted an imperial board of revenue administered by Roman knights or Greek slaves and freedmen as his fiscal procurators. We have, indeed, three known cases of embezzlement by native agents. One, Eros, had advertised his insolent rapacity in Egypt by purchasing a celebrated fighting quail for an immense sum of money, and then cooking it for his dinner. Another, Licinius, a native Gaul set to collect taxes in his own country, disarmed Cæsar’s wrath like the servant in the parable by showing rooms full of silver and gold, which he professed to have stored up in his master’s interest. In this case it is zealous extortion which is charged against him. One of his methods was to extort fourteen months’ taxes in the year by pointing out to the innocent natives that since December was by its very name the tenth month, they had two more monthly contributions to pay before the end of the year. A paymaster, also a slave, who died in Tiberius’s reign, was notorious for the retinue of fourteen persons who attended him on his travels. He had his private cooks and physicians. But these are isolated cases. On the whole it is clear that the provinces were rejoicing at their deliverance from the oppression of the Republic. They were always anxious to be transferred from the senate to Cæsar. If{192} the tax-gatherer was still at their door, he was now a man under independent authority with a master who would listen to petitions and appeals. Moreover, they now had a government which assisted them to pay by intelligently developing their resources.

The public treasury of the senate was no longer entrusted to mere quæstors. Augustus at first instituted prefects for this also. But the dearth of administrative capacity at Rome compelled him to transfer the charge to the prætors. However, he kept an eye upon its administration himself, as is shown by the fact that when he died he left to the state an account of the condition of the treasury.

It is still too early to speak of a definite system of division between the public “ærarium” and the emperor’s private “fiscus.” But the budget of the senate would include:

Revenue Expenditure
5% legacy duty.Army and police.
2% or 4% duty on sale of slaves.Religion.
1% on merchandise.Corn-supply.
Customs and harbour dues.Water-supply.
Confiscations from state offenders.  Fire brigade.
Intestate estates.Administration.
Public lands. 
Provincial tribute. 
State mines and works. 
Mintage of copper. 

The budget of the fiscus would include:

Revenue Expenditure
Tribute of Cæsar’s provinces, especially Egypt and Gaul.    Provincial administration and salaries.
Legacies (£15,000,000 in the last twenty years).Largess and bounties.
Private domains.Temples and public buildings.
Family inheritance. 
Aurum coronarium (a complimentary gift on accession).Loans and gifts.
Private mines and works.The fleets.
Mintage of silver and gold.Games and shows.


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FIG. 1.

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FIG. 2.

Plate XLIV.

The Provinces

Turning now to a rapid survey of the Roman world from a geographical point of view we shall see the work of restoration and repair, proceeding with the same methodical thoroughness which makes this regime one of the most beneficent in the history of civilisation. We have already seen something of the provincial system as it was reorganised in 27 B.C. The provinces which fell to the share of the senate were these:

These were governed by annual magistrates, chosen by lot from a list selected by the senate—the first two by proconsuls of consular rank, the others also by governors termed proconsuls but actually only of prætorian rank, that is, ex-prætors. Africa was the only one of these provinces which contained troops and the senatorial governors went out in civilian dress as administrators only. Cæsar’s provinces were:

To these were gradually added:

These were all governed by legates of Cæsar, commonly{194} chosen from the ranks of the senate, with the title of proprætor. They held office for as long as Cæsar desired, and were provided with a staff, chosen by him, of trained financiers. In addition to these, other districts under prefects were gradually accumulated:

And others again under procurators:

Further, there were a large number of “allied” or “client” kingdoms and republics:

Pontus with Bosphorus.    Emesa.
Judæa (till A.D. 6).Galilæa and Peræa.

And the allied states:

In his own provinces Cæsar was supreme in all things; he had the right of making peace, war, and alliance, without consulting the senate. Though he governed through legates or procurators, the Roman law had always granted a right of appeal from a lower magistrate to his superior. This was the source of Paul’s “appeal unto Cæsar” from the procurator of Judæa. In the senatorial provinces his imperium, which had been specially defined as “superior” (maius), gave him precedence when he was actually present. And we have many cases of his{195} interference in senatorial provinces. Cæsar’s legates, such as Agrippa, Tiberius, and Gaius, constantly act as overlords in Asia, though a decree of the senate is required for this. We hear of Augustus founding colonies in Sicily. Moreover, the princeps had sole authority over the army, and for any military operations it would be necessary to borrow troops of him.

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The Roman Empire at Its Fullest Extent

The foundations of this great empire were not hastily or carelessly laid. Although of feeble constitution and by nature a man of peace, Augustus spent the first half of his long reign more abroad than at home, in fighting rebels and organising or reforming with unwearied energy. To this part of his work we are unable to devote sufficient attention through lack of material. The ancient historians prefer to record small victories over barbarian tribes, or the petty gossip of the Roman streets, while they have little to say about the tireless administration which in one generation transformed the Roman world from a horrible chaos into that scene of peace and prosperity shown to us in the pages of Strabo and Pliny. So while our eyes are fixed upon the sins and follies of Roman emperors and courtiers, until we get an impression of rotten tyranny conducted according to the caprice of monsters and fools, all the time the greater part of Europe was advancing in peace to a state of general culture and civilisation such as it had never known before, and such as it never knew again until the nineteenth century. A casual glance over the inscriptions of a provincial town probably gives us a truer impression than all the rhetoric of the historians. In Pompeii, for example, a small and unimportant suburb of Naples which scarcely comes into the view of history, we see a busy and useful municipal life carried on in absolute security. There were the ten councillors (decuriones), who corresponded to the Roman senate, and there were two local consuls bearing the title of “duumviri.” In most cases a small municipality would have its “patronus” also, a local squire, perhaps, who in some measure corresponded to the princeps, and who would represent the interests of the town at Rome, or with the Roman{196} prætor. His main business, however, was to equip his town with baths, temples, and colonnades, or to provide it with public banquets. For the rich freedmen, in whose hands was much of the trade of the place, Augustus had provided the new office of Seviri Augustales, which we have already described. There were no rates, for private munificence took their place. There was no direct taxation in Italy, and the indirect taxes were inconsiderable. Internal trade was free. The obligation to military service was so widely distributed that it fell very lightly on Italy, and the natives accordingly became less and less warlike. All the Italian peoples were now Roman citizens. Trade was greatly assisted by the improvement of communications which took place during this period. The care of roads properly devolved upon the senate, but as they showed their usual incompetence in this department the princeps had to step in and organise a special Board of Roads with a curator for each of the trunk lines of communication. Augustus also established an imperial post with a system of stages and relays, which lasted on until the coming of railways. The vehicles and horses were maintained by the roadside communities, and imperial messengers who carried a diploma or passport were allowed to travel express by this means. The great road to Rimini, the Flaminian Way, was the first to be repaired, and Augustus adorned its terminal city with a handsome marble bridge[44] and triumphal arch, possibly as a compensation for the trouble which he himself had inflicted upon the town during the civil wars. Flourishing historic cities like Turin and Brescia owe their origin to colonies founded by Augustus. Towns like Perugia which had been almost destroyed in the civil wars now grew up again and flourished. In all, Augustus founded twenty-eight colonies in Italy, and supplied 90,000 veterans of the civil wars with land which he had bought and paid for. That the sea was now safe for trade and fishery must have meant a great deal to the coast towns. Augustus himself wrote an account of the condition of Italy, and Pliny{197} confesses to using it as his authority. In all the long and important history of Italy it is doubtful whether she has ever enjoyed such peace and prosperity as began for her in the reign of Augustus.

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A broad view of foreign politics showed Augustus two vital points of danger—the North and East. To the north the fierce and warlike barbarians of Germany had been checked indeed by Julius, but also exasperated. Tribes more or less akin to them extended southwards across the Danube and even to the Austrian Tyrol, where they were little more than a week’s march from the gates of Rome. A strong frontier policy was needed here. In the East there were the Parthians, the only possible rival power to Rome. The Romans at Carrhæ noticed that while the chiefs wore their hair parted and curled and their faces painted in the Persian fashion, the warriors had the unkempt locks of barbarian Thrace. It is likely enough that these Parthian bowmen had come in round the shores of the Black Sea from Thrace or South Russia. They had all the characteristics of northern nomads, but their kings had a good deal of Hellenic culture. They could boast of a choice collection of Roman eagles captured not only from Crassus at Carrhæ, but from two armies sent against them by Antony. Thousands of Roman prisoners were still working as slaves on the banks of the Euphrates. The task of punishing them had been definitely laid upon Augustus as a legacy from Julius, who had been slain at the moment when he was about to undertake it himself. Moreover, the Romans felt the loss of those standards very acutely, and not the least motive for their acquiescence in monarchy had been the hope that a monarch would retrieve their honour in this quarter. The earlier poems of Horace constantly express hopes of vengeance.

The manner in which Augustus satisfied these ardent aspirations of national pride is characteristic of him. Instead of the armies and bloody battles which historians demand of their favourites, Augustus achieved his object by luck and strategy. When he was organising the affairs of the East in{198} 29 B.C., after the conquest of Egypt, he had left the Parthian question unsolved. For this, Mommsen takes him to task, but there is little doubt that it would have been folly to undertake a great and perilous war at that moment while the affairs of Rome were still in disorder. Moreover the attitude of the army compelled him to return home. Instead of fighting, he was content to set up rival powers on the Parthian frontier. The Parthians hated their king Phraates and there was a deposed rival in the field, Tiridates, to whom Augustus now gave shelter in the province of Syria, hoping, as indeed happened, that his presence in the neighbourhood would keep Phraates civil. At the same time Augustus set up a buffer kingdom of Lesser Armenia on the Parthian border and in the south strengthened and reinstated Herod the Great. Four or five legions were left to guard Syria.

In 23 B.C. it chanced that Tiridates had managed to kidnap the child of Phraates and was keeping him in custody in the Roman province. It is significant of the changed relations between Parthia and Rome that, instead of marching into Syria to recover the child, Phraates sent an embassy to Rome, whither also Tiridates came in person. Of course the senate made the restoration of the child conditional upon the return of the standards and prisoners. Phraates consented, but there was some delay in carrying out the contract and this may have been secretly arranged to enable Augustus to conduct the affair in a more striking fashion. Augustus marched out with an army and at his mere approach the standards and captives were given up with due formalities. It was really a Roman triumph, almost as great as if it had been attained by bloodshed, for all the world could see the humiliation of Parthia. Augustus, that astute tactician, took care that the event should not be allowed to lose its impressiveness for the mere lack of bloodshed. The return of the standards was treated as a Roman triumph. They were placed with every solemnity in the temple of Mars the Avenger. Coins were struck representing the suppliant Parthian on his knees and the same scene is depicted in relief{199} on the centre of Cæsar’s breastplate on the famous statue. The poets broke out into dutiful pæans.

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nunc petit Armenius pacem, nunc porrigit arcum
Parthus eques timida captaque signa manu

cries Ovid. Vergil, after his manner, speaks of the Euphrates flowing more quietly in future. The odes of Horace and the elegies of Propertius contain similar loyal allusions. Ferrero, who regards Augustus as a feeble trickster just as he regards Julius as a shabby adventurer, has nothing but contempt for this episode. But seeing that the Parthians were now utterly weakened by their internal feuds and quite submissive to Rome it would have been folly to embark upon their conquest. That they gave much trouble in the future is true enough, but that might fairly be left for the future to deal with. Extermination might have quieted them for ever, but Augustus had really no excuse for making war upon them.

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Surrender of the Standards

On the same visit to the East a still more elaborate system of buffer states forming a double semicircle round Parthia was organised. Armenia yielded to Rome and received at the hands of Tiberius a new king who had been educated at Rome. Augustus himself explains that although he might have made Armenia into a Roman province he preferred to follow the example of “our ancestors” and give the crown to a native king. Augustus never pretended to be a world-conqueror. Similarly Media Atropatene received a new king of Roman education, so did Commagene and Emesa. These formed the outer ring of buffer states.

The central state behind them was Galatia, an arid highland district inhabited by the descendants of those Gauls who had burst into the Greek world under Brennus. Though they had acquired some tincture of Greek civilisation and had a capital of some importance at Ancyra, they still spoke the{200} Gaulish language and were still a warlike race. For these reasons, on the death of their king, Augustus preferred to turn their country into a province. To the north was the very friendly kingdom of Polemo in Pontus, and to the south other friendly princedoms as well as the Roman provinces of Cilicia, Syria, and Cyprus.

For all this elaborate bulwark, the Parthian question was not really settled. They continued to exercise an undue influence in Armenia, and in A.D. 1 there was another solemn mission to the East and a conference between Phraates the Parthian king and Gaius the grandson of Augustus. Once more the Parthian professed submission, and once more the court poets struck their obsequious lyres. When Phraates died, his uncle Orodes who succeeded ruled with such cruelty that he was assassinated. Thereupon the Parthians sent to Rome for a king and Augustus gave them a nephew of the murdered tyrant, a youth also of Roman education. We note this proceeding as common in the foreign policy of Augustus. He must have had something like a school for young barbarian princes at Rome, but whether the lessons that they learnt in Roman society were altogether salutary is doubtful.

Behind this wall the great provinces of Asia, Syria, and Bithynia were wrapped in profound security. Here Greek culture continued to flourish with periodical incursions of oriental religion and philosophy. In every considerable town the Jews formed a great and growing section of the population but even they were half Greek in their ways of life. The country was rich and lazy and utterly unwarlike. Civilisation had risen to a high pitch and it was probably this part of the world which sent to Rome those artists who contributed to the revival of sculpture. Pretty little epigrams in Greek elegiacs seem to have been their principal literary accomplishment. These provinces have very little history—happily for them—at this period. We know them best from the Acts of the Apostles, where we get a glimpse of their superstitions, their eagerness to embrace new religions. We see the fanaticism of{201} Ephesus with its magnificent temple of Diana and stately worship, a religion of oriental character overlaid with Greek culture, and only rivalled in its attractions by the Roman amphitheatre. For these people as for the rest of the world Augustus had his policy. Since worship was their instructive need and Euhemerism had accustomed them to worship men, he set up an elaborate cult of himself, or rather, by a subtle distinction without a difference, a cult of “the genius of Augustus.” Temples were built to “Rome and Augustus” and an elaborate hierarchy of “High Priests,” “Asiarchs,” and “Bithyniarchs,” which became the highest social distinctions in the society of the day. This was his method of securing the allegiance of nations devoted to religion and flattery. Here in the near future was to be the field of that momentous conflict between this State religion and Christianity, with other oriental faiths, such as Mithraism, also claiming their proselytes.

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As for old Greece, the Romans never denied their spiritual debt to her, and accordingly they regarded Greece with something of the veneration which a man feels for his university. Augustus himself had been educated at Apollonia, he sent his heirs to various Greek cities for their education. It would have seemed sacrilege to educated Romans to put a legate in charge of Athens. Hence we find Greece enjoying quite an exceptional position in the empire, indeed without exception the freest and most favoured part of it. Towns such as Athens, Lacedæmon, Thespiæ, Tanagra, Platæa, Delphi, and Olympia were free and almost sovereign. Athens continued to coin her silver drachms with the old design of Pallas and the owl, elected her own archons and generals, held assemblies and even had a sort of empire extending over all Attica, part of Bocotia and five islands of the Cyclades. One Julius Nicanor, her “new Themistocles,” purchased the island of Salamis and presented it to his city in the civilised manner of empire-building. Sparta, too, though now shrunken to the size of a village, bore rule over Northern Laconia, while in the south there was a free confederacy to keep her in order. Beside these cities of{202} ancient renown stood the new and splendid creation of Augustus—Nicopolis, the city of victory founded on the promontory of Actium in commemoration of the great victory of 31. Nicopolis had its great athletic festival like Olympia and ruled over a considerable territory. In addition to these free cities there were some Roman colonies. Corinth rose again from her ashes as an important commercial city founded by Julius Cæsar. Patras, on the Corinthian Gulf, a new foundation of Augustus, became one of the most important cities of Greece, as it is to-day. The rest of Southern Greece, consisting mainly of obscure villages, formed the new senatorial province of Achaia and was governed by a proconsul at Corinth. It was a poor unmilitary province. The northern part formed the senatorial province of Macedonia. Thessalonica and Apollonia were the principal centres of government and civilisation in this region. In Greece, as elsewhere, Augustus made it his aim to focus a national unity upon religion. The old Achæan league was revived as a religious gathering with Argos for its centre, and the Delphic Amphictyony, the oldest surviving institution in Europe, became the basis of a Panhellenic confederacy which met annually for religious purposes under Roman patronage, a sort of Eisteddfod combining religion with culture. It sacrificed to Cæsar, and here, too, we find a president called “Helladarch.” But although Greece had liberty and peace, something was amiss with her. Her shrunken population continued to decline. In Strabo’s Geography, Thebes is a mere village.

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Crossing the water we find that the newly conquered kingdom of Egypt was the key to the whole position of Augustus. It was the wealth of Egypt which had reconciled Rome to monarchy and it was by means of that wealth that he continued to hold the allegiance of his subjects. Like Greece it had an ancient civilisation which impressed the Romans as something beyond their comprehension. Alexandria, in particular, as the gateway to the wealth of Egypt, and as the greatest existing centre of Greek culture, not to mention its huge population{203} and commercial advantages, seemed to the Romans a really dangerous rival. The fear of that rivalry had been felt very acutely at Rome when news came of the ambitious schemes of Cleopatra and the subservience of Antony. Augustus was really heading something like a national crusade when he declared war upon them. The same fears now actuated him in settling the treatment of Egypt as a province. Though he writes “I added Egypt to the Roman empire,” he treated it rather as an imperial domain under a prefect or viceroy closely attached to his interests. Its first prefect was Cornelius Gallus, a knight from the Gallic colony of Fréjus, a poet himself and a friend of Vergil. Cornelius Gallus was in fact the hero of the famous eclogue: neget quis carmina Gallo? It was specially ordained that no senator might visit Egypt without the express permission of Cæsar. The native Egyptians were already overridden by a Greek aristocracy dating from Alexander’s conquest. They had no rights, and no nationality was designed for them as it had been elsewhere. Augustus accepted the elaborate bureaucratic system which he had found in existence when he came. The Greek aristocracy lived almost exclusively in Alexandria, possessing a municipal constitution, magistracy, and priesthood of their own. The ecclesia was stopped but otherwise there was no attempt to Romanise Egypt. The old Egyptian worship of Isis and Osiris had conquered all its conquerors and continued to make inroads even into Rome itself where Augustus was forced to accept it as irresistible. All that had happened in Egypt was that Augustus had taken the place of the Ptolemies in the official religion. It was the motive of fear which led to the appointment of a mere knight as viceroy, though he had three legions under his command. The officials under him were knights or freedmen. The taxes remained very heavy, as was necessary, but now the Egyptians were placed in a better position to pay them. Even before the civil war was quite ended in 29 B.C. Augustus had employed his soldiers to clear the canals and raise the level of the dams which ensure the Egyptian harvests.{204} This process continued, and Egypt never had such prosperity again until Lord Cromer came to resume the work of Augustus. The harvest depended simply on the height to which the Nile rose. The ancient Nilometer at Elephantine records that the Nile rose to an unprecedented height in the latter days of Augustus. Formerly a level of eight ells had meant famine, now it ensured a tolerable harvest. Another inscription found at Coptos gives us the names of the Roman soldiers who built reservoirs of water along the great roads. Then the trade with India along the Red Sea first began to grow great. Whereas in the time of Cleopatra hardly twenty ships sailed to India in a year, there was already in Strabo’s day (about A.D. 18) a great fleet of Indiamen. Taxes on exports and imports returned a huge revenue to the imperial purse.

The prefect who represented his master on the throne of the Ptolemies was in a difficult position. To Rome he was a mere servant, to the Egyptians something like a god. Against these flattering influences Gallus the poet had not strength to resist. He allowed statues to be erected to him and even had his own achievements engraved upon the pyramids. A traitorous friend reported these indiscretions at Rome. Augustus was content to recall him and forbid him to live in the provinces or to enter his presence. But the officious senate voted his condemnation to banishment, and confiscated all his property to Augustus, whereby Gallus was driven to suicide. Then Augustus was sorry and complained that it was hard not to be able to scold one’s friends like a private man. This was the first case of that disease known as delatio (informing) which was afterwards to become such a pest under the Empire. It is satisfactory to learn that the informer was very rudely treated in Roman society. From Egypt, as a base, expeditions were made in the time of Augustus to Arabia and the Soudan. Arabia Felix was to the Romans a kind of Eldorado of boundless wealth, as Horace writes to a friend who was joining the campaign. The Arabs brought their incense into the Syrian markets and already traded with India from Aden, but the{205} national wealth of the country was exaggerated and its difficulties unknown. This expedition of 25 B.C., which was on a very large scale and included contingents from Judæa, was one of the few deliberate wars of conquest ever planned by Augustus. He learnt a lesson by its failure in the burning and trackless deserts. The other campaign against the black Æthiopians of the Soudan under their warlike but one-eyed queen Candace was more successful. Petronius the legate penetrated as far as the Second Cataract and sent a thousand prisoners to Rome, but Augustus seems to have been content to make the First Cataract his southern frontier.

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FIG. 1.

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FIG. 2.

Plate XLIX.

The neighbouring client kingdom of Judæa is of importance not only because the days of Augustus saw the birth of that Child in Bethlehem who was destined to conquer Rome and through Rome the world, but because its throne was occupied by the ablest and most remarkable man, next to Augustus, in the whole Empire. Herod the Great, an Edomite Arab by birth, had succeeded to the throne of the Maccabees in 37 B.C. He was not only a daring warrior but a singularly skilful diplomat who was always able to cover up his crimes by adroit flattery and a fascinating manner. He was very successful in trimming between the rivals throughout the civil wars and even shared the favours of Cleopatra with his Roman masters. In these ways he increased his domains by the addition of Gadara, Samaria, and the Philistine coast towns. In compliment to Augustus he refounded Samaria with great splendour as the Greek city of Sebaste and built Greek theatres, Roman amphitheatres, and baths in Jerusalem itself. He even instituted quinquennial games there, wherein naked athletes performed to the infinite disgust of the Jews. He took his sons to Rome for their education and there he met and fascinated both Augustus and Agrippa. He even persuaded Agrippa to visit Jerusalem for the opening of his magnificent new temple in 15 B.C. Agrippa came and sacrificed a whole hecatomb to Jehovah to the apparent delight of the people. Later on Herod made a grand tour of Asia Minor, scattering lavish gifts everywhere{206} and receiving complimentary inscriptions in return. He succeeded in obtaining valuable privileges for his fellow-Jews scattered abroad in those regions. Henceforth they were not forced to render military service and had special permission to keep the Sabbath.

In 9 and 8 B.C., however, he got into trouble with Augustus for conducting a military expedition against the Arabs without permission. This was the greatest offence that a client king could commit, and Augustus declared that henceforth he would treat Herod not as a friend, but as a subject. But in the next year a humble embassy was sent to Rome with the historian Nicolaus as its spokesman. Herod received the gracious permission to deal with his rebellious sons as he thought fit, and accordingly strangled two of them. Herod’s family history is a deplorable record of crimes and intrigues. He seems to have had ten wives, and on his death in 4 B.C., he left three wills among which Augustus had to decide. Seeing that Judæa was so rich and powerful as to be a possible source of danger, he decided to split it up into three. Then began a whole series of troubles, in the course of which the Jews of Jerusalem actually attacked a Roman legion. In revenge the legate of Syria, Quintilius Varus, crucified 2000 of the inhabitants. In the final award Judæa fell to Archelaus, Galilee to Herod Antipas. Ten years later, however, the infamous Archelaus was deposed at the petition of his subjects, and Judæa was made subject to the province of Syria with a procurator of its own. Herod Antipas continued to rule his petty kingdom until about A.D. 34, when it also was united to the province. He is the Herod whom Christ denounced as “that fox,” and he is the Herod of Christ’s Judgment, when he happened to be at Jerusalem on a visit to Pontius Pilatus, the Roman procurator. Pilate was a Roman knight, but Felix, one of his successors, was only a freedman. The seat of the Roman government was not at Jerusalem, but at Cæsarea, so that the prætorium in which the trial of Jesus took place must have been the temporary head-quarters of Pilate in the palace built by Herod the Great.

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The procurator only commanded auxiliary troops, and nearly all the “Roman soldiers” mentioned in the Gospels must have been of Jewish birth. As soon as it was a province, but not before, Judæa had to pay tribute to Cæsar. Hence the existence of a “chief of the publicans” like Zacchæus. As usual, the Romans preserved what they could of native institutions, and the Sanhedrin continued to act as a national council, so far as could be permitted. Thus it might try Jesus, but it could not pronounce the death sentence. On the other hand, another procurator, Festus, committed Paul to the Sanhedrin for judgment. The fact is that the Jewish law was so peculiarly national that a bewildered and well-intentioned Roman knight like Pilate might often say “take ye Him and judge Him according to your law.” The Roman government was so tolerant of the religion of its subjects that even a Roman citizen who ventured to enter the Holy of Holies was punished with death. The Jewish religion was expressly under Roman protection. Agrippa, as we have seen, had sacrificed to Jehovah, but later on we find Augustus commending his grandson Gaius for not having worshipped Jehovah. As a matter of fact, with the spread of the newer forms of Hellenic philosophy the religious feeling of the world, which had long ago given up its faith in the Olympian mythology, was turning more and more towards monotheism and a mystical system of ethics. The higher Pharisaism, which Paul had learnt at the feet of Gamaliel, was decidedly influenced by Stoicism. Hence the Jewish religion even before its Christian development was extremely fascinating to the Roman mind, and it had to be forbidden in the capital. Even at Jerusalem the Jews were expected to sacrifice, not to but for “Cæsar and the Roman People” every day. Augustus paid for this ritual out of his own pocket. In deference to the feeling of the Jews, the coins struck for Judæa bore no portrait of Cæsar, and even the standards, because they bore portraits, were ordered not to be carried into the Holy City. It is true that the silver denarius of Syria circulated in Judæa to some extent, and it is of such a coin that Christ{208} was speaking when He asked: “Whose image and superscription is this?”

The province of Africa with Numidia was handed over to the senate as peaceful in 27 B.C., and it was one of the only two Roman provinces which Augustus never visited. Nominally it stretched from the boundary of the kingdom of Mauretania at the river Ampsaga on the west to the borders of the Cyrenaica on the east. But actually it consisted of the islands of fertility on the Tunisian coast. Carthage had been colonised by Julius Cæsar and was now refounded by Augustus. There was no inland frontier. In the desert behind the mountains there still flourished the wild Gætulian nomads who occasionally descended upon the peaceful province and provided a Roman triumph. This was the reason why a legion was still kept in Africa. The neighbouring kingdom of Mauretania was assigned to an interesting young royal couple. The husband was Juba, a descendant of Masinissa, who had been educated as a Roman, had served in the Roman army and was so complete a Greek scholar that he wrote among many other works a history of the Drama. The wife was a daughter of Cleopatra by Antony, who had ridden in Cæsar’s triumph at Rome. Both Mauretania and its eastern neighbour Numidia, which had been added to the Roman province, now settled down to wealth and happiness under the Roman rule. The splendid ruins which still survive indicate a prosperity which has not as yet been completely recovered.

Cyrene, where the descendants of the Romans are now carving out a province for themselves, though geographically a part of the African continent, was historically regarded as a Greek island, and united in one province with Crete. It consisted of a group of five Greek cities with a large intermixture of Jews. Cyrene has no history in this period, but after the siege of Jerusalem there was a terrible outburst of Jewish fanaticism. Thousands of Roman citizens were tortured and slain.

Perhaps no country in the world has had such a chequered{209} and miserable history as the pleasant island of Sicily with its rich volcanic soil. For four hundred years it had been mainly Greek. The eastern end, at least, had been scattered with important city-states which, under the leadership of Syracuse, had waged incessant conflict with the Carthaginian invaders in their western strongholds. We have seen how the Romans finally drove out the Semitic element and conquered the Greeks. During the latter part of republican history the island had been of vital importance to Rome as supplying through its tribute the chief part of the corn-supply. At the same time it had been cruelly exploited and oppressed by Roman governors like Verres. Then during the civil wars Sextus Pompeius had made it his head-quarters, and it had been laid under heavy contributions by both sides. Messina, its richest town, had been the scene of a sack and massacre. No country had more to hope from the Pax Augusta, and it now began to enjoy one of its brief periods of rest. Augustus spent the winter of 22 in Sicily at the beginning of his tour in Greece. He founded colonies at six famous cities of old. While he was in the island the Sicilians offered him a kind of round-robin of complaint against the extortion of his procurator. Augustus instantly dismissed the offender and replaced him by his own valued tutor, the philosopher Areus. It was thoroughly in accordance with his policy to put a Greek philosopher in charge of a Greek island.

So far we have been surveying the treatment of that part of the Roman world which was already quite civilised and mainly Greek. We now turn to the barbarian West and North, mainly consisting of newly conquered Cæsarian provinces. In these quarters, the nearer parts of Spain and the Narbonensian province of Gaul were the only regions which could be called civilised. As soon as the provisional settlement of 27 b.c. was effected Augustus hurried away to Gaul. It was generally thought that he was on his way to conquer Britain, for that was the second of the two tasks which Julius had left to his successor. Accordingly the loyal Horace dutifully prays:{210}

serues iturum Cæsarem in ultimos
orbis Britannos.[45]

But this was not the time, and Augustus was not the man, for dazzling conquests. “Hasten slowly” was his favourite motto, and his empire policy was founded on the same principle. For the present the Ocean, then called British, was boundary enough. Augustus was reducing the army and Britain would have taken at least a legion to keep it quiet. So Britain had to delay its prospects of civilisation until Gaul and Spain were organised and the German frontier settled. We have the record of British chiefs coming to Rome with unknown petitions during the period, but beyond that there is silence on our island. As for Gaul, Julius had done the work of conquest thoroughly enough, and the Gauls as an adaptable people were taking to Roman civilisation with avidity. There were indeed corners of it not yet enlightened and the whole government required organisation. Augustus went straight to the capital of the old province, Narbonne, and there he arranged a census and a land register, not, as Ferrero observes, out of mere statistical curiosity. Probably no tribute had come in from Gaul during the civil wars, and Augustus was much concerned with finance. For the moment an outbreak in Spain called the emperor away, but five years later he returned to complete his work. The old province, which has passed into history as Provence, was now handed back to the senate as completely pacified, and the rest of Gaul was eventually divided into three parts: Aquitania, the half-Spanish south-west; Lugdunensis (the east and centre stretching right across France with its capital Lyons or Lugdunum on its eastern border); and Belgica (the northern part with Trier—Augusta Treverorum, not yet founded—and Rheims as its chief towns). This division was mainly, though not entirely, based on racial considerations. Together the three formed one of Cæsar’s provinces as Gallia Comata.{211}

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The treatment of the conquered land was wise and humane. Druidical religion, already a waning force, was permitted to exist, though it included human sacrifice and was hostile to the Romans. In the reign of Claudius it was forbidden. But other native deities were actually encouraged by the state, and Augustus himself built an altar to some strange Gallic spirits. But side by side with the native religion he fostered the new cult, as in Asia, of “Rome and Augustus.” There had always been tribal councils which culminated in a great national gathering at Lugdunum once a year. Apparently the presiding priests had been elected from the well-born natives and were in opposition to the Druids. Augustus made skilful use of this organisation and fostered it in order to make it a centre for Roman patriotism. He set up a great altar at Lugdunum inscribed “to Rome and Augustus.” It was constructed in a sacred grove, and was surrounded by statues emblematic of the sixty Gallic tribes. The elected priest had to be a Roman citizen of Gallic birth. It soon became a distinction coveted by the grandsons of those who had fought against Julius. This is very characteristic of the systematic empire-building which went on in the days of Augustus. Lugdunum rose to be a great imperial city, the only city in Gaul which possessed full Roman citizenship and had a mint of its own. From it a great and elaborate road system radiated to all parts of France very much in the same directions as the modern railways. Schools were founded and the study of Latin encouraged though not enforced. The Gauls took very ardently to their new studies, displaying in particular a remarkable faculty for rhetoric. The principle came into force that when a town or district could show that it spoke Latin it received important rights of citizenship, including that great privilege, the use of Roman law. The land system of Gaul differed essentially from that of Italy in that it was based on tribes and cantons instead of cities. Already the towns were growing as centres for the tribes, but to this day many of the names of French cities are those of tribes rather than towns: thus Lutetia of the Parisii{212} is Paris, Durocortorum of the Remi is Rheims, Divodurum of the Mediomatrici is Metz, and Agedincum of the Senones is Sens. The tribute ultimately fixed was a high one but on the whole justly regulated. It is probable that the ugly story of Licinius and his extortions is told as an exceptional occurrence. In any case Gaul was taught how to grow rich and prosperous. Mines of silver and gold were successfully exploited, the culture of flax was encouraged, and the soil was found to be admirably suited to cereal crops. Gaul became a hive of industry and a source of ever-increasing wealth. She purchased oil and wine from Italy as well as the articles of Eastern luxury which passed through the hands of Roman merchants. A 2½ per cent. duty was charged at the frontier both on imports and exports. Such were some of the methods by which the Romanisation of Gaul was effected, and the foundations so well and truly laid that through all the invasions of Franks and Burgundians, Gaul remained Roman in speech and thought, and remains so to this day.[46]

Of all the momentous problems which Augustus had to face, the delimitation of the northern frontier was the weightiest. It has always been one of the disputed questions of Roman history, why Augustus, who was generally so cautious and so unwilling to embark upon adventures, deliberately chose to cross the Rhine and plunge into those impenetrable forests of whose dangers and difficulties Julius Cæsar had left so clear a warning. Was it his aim to forestall the danger of a German invasion of Gaul? On the other hand, the Rhine might well seem a sufficient frontier, as indeed for many centuries it was. Was it his aim to exercise his troops in difficult warfare and perhaps secure military renown for the young men whom he had destined for the succession? These are scarcely adequate motives for a man like Augustus. Did he hope to acquire wealth out of Germany as he had done out of Gaul? He must have known that the virgin forests and undrained morasses of Germany would scarcely balance the difficulties and dangers of{213} a campaign there, and that the Germans were far behind their Gallic cousins in civilisation. The problem seems to me insoluble unless we accept the theory that the whole scheme was part of the search for a natural strategic frontier undertaken with false notions of geography. It is certain that many of the ancients believed that they would find the Ocean again where Russia is, and that the Caspian Sea was part of it. In that case the Romans may have hoped to round off their empire satisfactorily in this direction. It would explain the curious tactics by which Roman expeditions crossing the Rhine and plunging into the heart of Germany ordered their fleets to coast along the Dutch and Danish shores.

From whatever motives it was undertaken, this penetration of Germany and its ultimate failure was a fact of vast consequence in the history of Europe. From one point of view the history of Europe may be described as a record of the various relations between the Roman and the German elements, with occasional incursions from the Celtic or Turanian fringes. It is one long contest between Latin and Teutonic race, religion, language, law, and ideas political and economic. Hence it is impossible to overrate the importance of the moment when the first round of that age-long contest was fought out and settled. Hidden among the forests in those mysterious wildernesses beyond the Rhine were the numerous tribes who were destined one day to form the nations of Europe. Here were the Saxons of Saxony and England, the Swabians, the Franks, the Vandals, the Burgundians, the Goths, the Lombards, and many others, yet unnamed, the germs of the nations.

It was by no means their first entrance on the stage of history. We believe that the dominant races of historical Greece, and perhaps of historical Rome, traced back their ancestry to the central regions of Europe. Since then history had recorded several alarming incursions of northern barbarians, and in a general sense the story of the Mediterranean peoples shows how wave after wave of strong warriors from the North descended upon the fertile peninsulas of the South, which{214} always absorbed and assimilated them, until finally they became a prey to the enervating influences of climate, melted into the native strain, and had to make room for a fresh wave of untamed northerners. Read in this light, extraordinary interest attaches to the moment when all-conquering Rome attempted to conquer the wilds which sheltered these mighty tribes. If she had succeeded in taming and Romanising the Germans also, as she had done with the Spaniards and Gauls, the course of history might have been very different. But even then, though she knew it not, behind the Teutonic peoples lay the Slavs, and behind them the Tartars and the Huns. The task of civilising the world from a single centre was impossible. Augustus would have been wiser to choose a strong frontier first and then proceed gradually by peaceful penetration. Probably Augustus judged that the policy of buffer states which he had applied in the East was not applicable to barbarians. As it was, conquest was the method he selected, contrary to his usual custom and contrary to his natural inclination. Herein success led to over-confidence and so to disaster.

We always term the people over the wall “barbarians,” but the Germans had their various political and social systems and some of their tribes were more civilised than others. By comparing the Commentaries of Cæsar with the Germania of Tacitus we get a fairly comprehensive notion of German institutions, which, it must be remembered, were those of our own ancestors. They had no cities. Like the Gauls they were grouped in tribes and the tribes were subdivided into cantons, the cantons into villages. They lived on the produce of their flocks and herds, on the chase, and on a primitive type of “extensive” agriculture, which involved fresh ploughlands every year and thus caused continual unrest and jostling of tribe against tribe. This was what made them such troublesome neighbours to the Gauls, and led to those gigantic “treks” which meet us from time to time in history. Their only political system was a fighting organisation; hereditary chiefs and princes led them in battle and the general in a large{215} movement was elected from amongst the princes by the freemen of the tribe. In peace there was no general magistracy, but the elders and priests administered justice in the villages. Among the warriors there was a rough freedom and equality. The free warrior had very considerable rights, but only as a warrior. Among the Suevi, according to Cæsar, there were a hundred cantons, each of which furnished a thousand men to the army for a year’s service while the rest stayed at home to carry on agriculture and hunting. But this seems, if it is accurate, to be an exceptional degree of organisation. The chastity, the patriotism, the honesty of these barbarians as well as their courage and gigantic stature were favourite themes for Roman eloquence. It is likely enough that Tacitus heightened their virtues with his satirical instinct in order to point a moral to his fellow-countrymen.

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Julius Cæsar had left the Rhine as the frontier of his Gallic provinces, though he had crossed it twice by way of reconnaissance. Quite at the beginning of Augustus’s presidency, the Suevi had had to be chased back across the Rhine, and the Treveri across the Moselle. At this time, Germany was still for administrative purposes a part of the Gallic provinces, and as a rule there was some high officer in charge of both. The Rhine was not impassable to the barbarians, and moreover there were Germanic tribes on both sides of it, such as the Treveri of Trier and the Ubii of Cologne, who were in frequent intercourse with their neighbours on the other side. This made the river a somewhat insufficient boundary. There were inroads of German barbarians in 29, 25, 20 and 16 B.C. In the latter case a Roman legate was surprised and defeated, and the eagle of the Fifth Legion carried off in triumph.

This brought Augustus to the spot, and he spent two years in studying the problems of Gaul and Germany. In 12 B.C. the first campaign was undertaken under the command of Drusus, his younger stepson. Drusus, who was not yet twenty-five, was the most brilliant figure of his day, brave, handsome, virtuous, adored by the soldiers, and a thoroughly capable{216} general. On this occasion he crossed the Rhine and descended into Dutch territory, laying waste the lands of the Sygambri and the other hostile tribes who had provoked these punitive measures. He accepted the submission of the Frisians who lived on the coast of North Holland. During the winter his troops seem to have been employed in cutting a canal from the Rhine to the Zuyder Zee. Next year he crossed again, marched on, and threw a bridge across the Lippe, crossed the territory of the Cherusci—the most warlike of all the tribes—and halted on the banks of the Weser. He built a great fort at the junction of the Lippe and the Alme or Ems, and cut a highway along the banks of the Lippe to join the new fort Aliso with a great camp on the Rhine near Xanten. In the next year there was more building and settling, and in 9 B.C. came the great effort. Drusus marched out into Suabia and Cheruscia, crossed the Weser, ravaging everywhere, and reached the Elbe. This river he essayed to cross, but he could not, and, as the historians put it, omens appeared to forbid further progress. This then was the Roman limit. Somewhere between the Saale and the Weser, Drusus fell from his horse and sustained injuries which resulted in his death. Augustus, though greatly grieved, determined to continue his operations. Tiberius was sent to continue the work, and 40,000 Sygambrians were transported into Roman territory.

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We know little of the work of the next dozen years. Another legate reached the Elbe. A great viaduct was constructed between the Ems and the Rhine. During this period the pacification was apparently proceeding with rapidity. Many of the young Germans came into the Roman camp and learnt Roman ways and Latin speech. The head-quarters were still at Vetera Castra near Xanten and at Mogontiacum (Mainz), with summer quarters at Aliso. In A.D. 4 fresh campaigns were undertaken by Tiberius. For many of these expeditions the Roman historians offer no excuse or justification. They record with pride the immense slaughter and devastation that accompanied them. It is hard to resist the conclusion that much of this fighting was undertaken for{217} its own sake, or to exercise the legions. In A.D. 5 the greatest expedition of all was undertaken. There was a great “durbar” at which the wild Chauci and Cherusci handed in their weapons and did obeisance to the Roman general. The Langobardi—later known as the Lombards—submitted, and Tiberius crossed the Elbe itself, while the fleet which had “circumnavigated the recesses of the Ocean” sailed up the river to meet the army with supplies. All seemed to be going well: Germany was nearly conquered. There only remained the powerful kingdom of the Marcomanni under King Marbod, who dwelt in the fastnesses of Bohemia. Marbod was an able ruler who alone in Germany had succeeded in establishing a strong throne, and had drilled a powerful army of 70,000 foot and 4000 horse. As the historian Velleius observes, his Alpine boundaries were only two hundred miles from Italy, and this formidable power was a real menace to the safety of the empire. Accordingly elaborate plans were made for his destruction by an invasion from three sides at once. Unfortunately just at the moment when the armies were converging upon their prey, there broke out the great Pannonian and Illyrian revolt of A.D. 6, which brought all the tribes of Austria down upon the Romans. It was one of the most dangerous moments in Roman history. Fifteen legions were employed against them, and the military resources of the Empire strained almost to breaking-point. Luckily for Rome, Marbod made no attempt to join the revolt, and the barbarians were under divided leadership. Germanicus, the son of Drusus, helped Tiberius to crush them, but it took three or four years to accomplish it.

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Portrait of Varus

Meanwhile Germany itself had to be content with inferior legates. Quintilius Varus was one of those amiable men who cause mutinies by kindness. He fancied that Germany was tranquil. He went about founding cities, holding assizes, collecting tribute and{218} giving justice according to Roman law precisely “as if he had been a city prætor in the Forum at Rome and not a general in the German forests.” Accordingly in A.D. 9 a plot was hatched against him. He was enticed away into the recesses of the Saltus Teutoburgiensis and slaughtered. Then the Cheruscan army swept down upon the three Roman legions and destroyed them.

In itself the disaster was not overwhelming. Three legions had perished, but fifteen more, flushed with their recent victory over the Illyrians, were at hand to avenge them. The Cheruscans immediately submitted and Germanicus found no serious opposition when he penetrated Germany on an errand of chastisement. But for Augustus the reverse was decisive. He was now an old enfeebled man. When he heard of the disaster he beat his head against the wall and was often heard to cry: “Varus, give me back my legions.” He saw that there was no end to these adventures in the forest and no profit in them. As a frontier the Elbe was no better than the Rhine. Therefore he had the supremely good sense to accept the Rhine as his frontier. Henceforth Rhine and Danube with roads and forts along them, and with special arrangements to strengthen the angle where the rivers run small—that should be bulwark enough for the present. And so it was.

The patriotism of German historians has made of this defeat of Varus rather more than it deserves. Arminius the young Cheruscan who led the attack was a patriot though a traitor. He had been, says Velleius, a faithful ally in previous campaigns and had even attained Roman citizenship and equestrian rank. He spoke Latin fluently. His very name is most probably a Latin cognomen, though the patriotism of the Germans will call him “Hermann.” So the German student of to-day sings over his beer:

Dann zieh’n wir aus zur Hermannschlacht
Und wollen Rache haben.
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It was not half so gallant an act of revolt as that of our British{219} lady, Boadicea, but it had the merit of success. The Germans were able to develop their strength behind the artificial ramparts of the Rhine and Danube until the time came for them to burst through in conquest.

It is commonly said that Augustus immediately after A.D. 9 formed two provinces called Upper and Lower Germany along the Rhine as if to conceal his loss of the real Germany. This is not exact. In the warfare of Tiberius’s days the historians speak only of the Upper or the Lower Army in Germany, and Augustus in his monument speaks of Germany in the singular. Under Tiberius ample revenge was taken for the defeat and Germanicus again and again traversed Germany. The Varus disaster was only one of the episodes which decided the Romans to halt at the Rhine. Aliso was long retained as an outpost, and colonies of Roman veterans were planted on German soil. The Cheruscans and Arminius were defeated in a tremendous battle at Idistavisus near Minden on the Weser in A.D. 16. But on the way back the Roman fleet was shipwrecked and a great many prisoners fell into the hands of the Germans. Some of these were sold as slaves to the Britons and many eventually returned to Rome bringing back marvellous stories of their adventures. As for Marbod, he was defeated in a battle with the Cheruscans and took refuge on Roman soil, where he lived for eighteen years at Ravenna. Arminius, his conqueror, began to play the tyrant in his native tribe and was slain by the treachery of his kinsmen at the age of thirty-seven. His wife Thusnelda and his son had long ago fallen into the hands of the Romans and the boy grew up as a Roman citizen.

The headquarters of the Rhine legions continued to be at Mainz and Xanten with summer quarters at the new Colonia which became Cologne. Four legions of the Upper Army were stationed at the former, and four of the Lower Army at the latter. In due course, we cannot say when, these became the centres of two separate provinces. On the Danube there were three legions in Pannonia, the great new Austrian province.{220} Along this frontier there was now a double line of Cæsarian provinces. Rhætia and Noricum were conquered in 15 B.C. Then there were tedious and unprofitable campaigns in the southern Swiss valleys as the result of which a row of little Alpine prefectures was established. There is still a fine monument to Augustus on the heights above Monaco enumerating forty-six Alpine tribes made subject to Rome. It was erected by the gratitude of the Italian farmers, for the Alpine tribes had always scourged the plains. Roads were constructed here and there over the Alps. The principal pass to Germany lay by way of Turin and the St. Bernard with Augusta (Aosta) to guard it. In Pannonia the old route from Aquilegia over the Julian Alps was restored and a new Via Claudia constructed up the valley of the Adige from Tridentum (Trent) to Augusta (Augsburg). To round off the Danube frontier Mœsia or Mysia was conquered quite at the beginning of the period and added as an Imperial province, probably in A.D. 6, under a prefect. It stretched along the south bank of the Danube, down to the Black Sea, and embraced part of the Balkan high lands. Thus with strong legions posted in permanent encampments all along the Rhine and Danube, Rome had now a satisfactory northern frontier which only required guarding to keep Rome and Italy in security.

Spain had never been entirely subjugated though it had been in the possession of the Republic for nearly two centuries. Parts of it indeed were almost as Roman as Rome. Gades and Corduba, for example, were centres of learning and literature, soon to produce citizens of renown in Lucan, Seneca, Martial, Quintilian, and an emperor in Trajan—a most distinguished galaxy. But a great part of Spain was still in the hands of wild and chivalrous barbarians. Particularly in the north-west the Cantabrians and Asturians were a menace to the peaceful province. For eight years and more the Romans continued to fight them with brief intervals termed “victories.” Augustus himself came over in 26 B.C. and directed operations comfortably from Tarraco. The leader of the rebels was a{221} hero-chief called Corocotta who so exasperated the Romans that

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Augustus offered £10,000 for his capture. This sum the brigand earned by walking into the Roman camp to surrender, and Augustus, charmed at the idea, gave him his liberty as well as the reward. He married a Roman wife and died a Roman citizen as Gaius Julius Caracuttus. Cæsar himself fell seriously ill in the course of the long campaign. Both sides increased in ferocity. The Romans crucified their prisoners and the Spaniards mocked them from the cross. Finally Augustus had to send for Agrippa to finish the business, which he did in 19 B.C. Now Spain was really conquered for ever and even the northern highlanders laid down their arms and accepted civilisation. Bætica, the southern part of the peninsula, was given to the senate to govern, and the northern half divided into the two imperial provinces, Tarraconensis and Lusitania, the latter corresponding roughly to modern Portugal. In Spain also altars were erected to Rome and Augustus. Roads radiated out from Tarraco. Many towns were founded, such as Cæsar Augusta (Saragossa), Augusta Emerita (Merida), Pax Julia (Beja), Legiones (Leon), Asturica Augusta (Astorga). The Celtic religion and probably the very language quickly became extinct. Even in the time of Augustus there were fifty communities with full Roman citizenship. New mines were discovered and vigorously worked, new industries, especially in metal, carefully fostered.


This brief and imperfect sketch of the Roman Empire, as it took shape under the all-seeing eye of Augustus, should indicate, more than all the triumphs she won in battle, more, even, than the story of the Punic Wars, the real “Grandeur that was Rome.” The true greatness of the Roman lies in his indomitable energy and his practical good sense, not to be obscured by the surface of rhetorical culture which had come to overlay it in these latter generations. Now that Rome had at last secured for herself a reasonably secure and sensible form of government, she was able to exercise her natural capacity for{222} affairs and to play the part which destiny had assigned to her of propagating civilisation throughout Europe. If the historians would allow us, we should gladly turn away from the wars and proscriptions to study the quiet useful work which she was performing now and henceforth in every corner of her empire. The motive was, no doubt, self-interest, but it was that broad and far-seeing selfishness which in the realm of public affairs is the nearest approach to altruism. The Republic that sucked the blood of her provinces is detestable to all right-thinking men. The autocracy that cleared out the canals in Egypt, planted flax and encouraged pottery in Gaul, irrigated Africa and taught agriculture to the Moorish nomads, set the wild Iberians to mining and weaving, built aqueducts and roads everywhere, established a postal system and policed land and sea so effectively that a man might fare from York to Palmyra, or from Trier to Morocco “with his bosom full of gold,” may be tyranny governing in its own interests, but it is an institution for which the world has every reason to be grateful.{223}

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Pater argentarius, ego Corinthiarius.
Anonymous satire on Augustus quoted by Suetonius

THROUGHOUT his great task of repairing a world which had fallen to pieces, Augustus was by no means ignorant of the fact that it is the “spirit that maketh alive.” Indeed it was his constant endeavour to alter facts without changing their names. He was well aware that Sulla had failed miserably when he tossed the Romans a constitution and left nothing but an oath to support it. To adjust frontiers and organise new provinces with the help of his trusty and invincible little legionaries was probably the pleasantest and the easiest part of Cæsar’s task. To reform the ancient imperial city with her centuries of proud and brutal tradition was equally essential, but it was desperate work. For the Empire of Augustus was born into the world suffering from degeneration of the heart. The nobility, upon which everything that was great and glorious in Roman history depended, was morally corrupt, intellectually inert, spiritually void, and even physically decrepit and sterile. The civil wars and proscriptions had systematically pruned away all that was virile and spirited in its ranks. The trimmers and nonentities had survived. The women, long since deprived of the iron control which had kept them in order under the old system of the Roman family, dominated society with an influence that{224} was generally evil. The Roman boudoir with its throng of slaves and parasites was not only profligate, but it had already begun to produce the type of murderous intriguers which we meet more prominently in the Messalinas and Faustinas of imperial history. But as there were virtuous exceptions like Octavia and Agrippina among the women, so there were among the men a few nobles of probity and honour who had somehow, probably by hiding themselves away on their country estates, survived all the conflicts of the past generation. But these, who read Roman history in the same light as Livy, were lovers of the old regime, suspicious and bitterly jealous of the new. We have seen that one of the first official acts of Augustus was to restore the patriciate. But it is easier to make peers than patricians, and we may be sure that there was little love between the old aristocracy and the new. Augustus himself, though the “son of the god Julius” and descended through his mother from Venus and Anchises, was on the father’s side only just respectable. By nature and instinct, however, he was an aristocrat. All his life long he strove to win over the aristocracy to the support of his regime. But he failed, and failed disastrously. Whence throughout the history of the Empire we have in existence more or less prominently a conservative opposition of old nobles, genuine or spurious, sometimes plotting manfully and dying nobly, but more often sneering and writing in secret against the emperors.

But most of the old aristocracy lacked the spirit to oppose Augustus. The few plots which came to light were contemptible affairs. Some of the nobles came down to the senate and devoted their intellects to the choice of a new cognomen for the new Cæsar, or vied with one another in proposing fresh titles of honour for him. But they soon discovered that flattery was not very lucrative in the face of their chilly and statuesque master. Politics at Rome had lost their savour when there was no chance of blood to follow. The noble senators had to be coerced into attending at the curia; they devoted their gifts to drawing-room battles, they collected objets{225} de luxe, they wrote bad verses and sometimes bad histories, and they practised all the vices. They had no religion and very little philosophy. Above all the old Roman family upon which the piers of Roman society had rested was now in ruins. To be the husband of one wife from marriage to death was, so far as the records go, a rare exception. This was no innovation of the Empire. For a century or more men had changed their wives every few years for the sake of a fortune or a political alliance.

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FIG. 1.

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FIG. 2.

Plate LVII.

Augustus set before himself, as one of the most important phases of his task of regeneration, the moral purification of this society. He had provided the provinces with a new religion which involved a new social organisation. But the cloak of republicanism in which he had chosen to drape his autocracy forbade him to make himself a god in Rome. On the contrary he steadily forbade extravagant flattery. He was not even to be called “dominus.” It is true that the mayors of the new boroughs into which he divided Rome were allowed to set up altars to the Lares and Genius of Augustus.[47] Outside the city throughout Italy there were temples to Augustus and priests in his service. As usual it was a mere quibble when he declined divine honours in Rome. Vergil had plainly called him a god at the very moment when he was dyeing his hands in Roman blood. Julius Cæsar had been formally deified and Augustus regularly styled himself “divi filius.” The title of “augustus” itself carried the notion of transcendent power. Thus the emperor stood on the threshold of heaven, at any rate for the poorer classes, even in Rome itself. But for the aristocracy something else was needed: it is of little profit to claim divinity in a society of atheists. For Roman society, as typified by Ovid, the gods were little more than a literary convention, and it would do a respectable man little credit to be enrolled in their company.

For the reformation of Roman society Augustus had recourse to three methods—legislation, culture, and example. The legislation consisted of a whole series of laws solemnly{226} passed through senate and comitia in the years 18 and 17 B.C. To give them additional sanctity they were called Julian laws. There was one enacting heavier penalties for adultery, another permitting marriage between citizens and freedwomen, designed to meet the circumstance that men outnumbered women in the ranks of the aristocracy. There were also sumptuary laws to curb extravagance. There were laws imposing penalties on celibacy and discouraging the fortune-hunters who lay in wait for the rich bachelor’s legacies. Fiscal privileges were granted to the fathers of families, and Augustus himself went down to the house and read the senate an old speech of Metellus on the increase of population. Unfortunately the emperor himself had not set a good example in the matter of parentage. He had had three wives but only one child, a daughter. Still he exhibited himself in the theatre in the capacity of a father by collecting the children of Germanicus about his knees. Of course legislation proved quite helpless in the matter, besides arousing a good deal of ill-feeling which was chiefly displayed in the ranks of the knights.

Augustus was in a very difficult position when it came to setting an example. The principal evils which his social code was designed to remedy were the prevalence of adultery, the frequency of divorce, voluntary celibacy and formal marriages contracted without intention of producing offspring, and finally, as a consequence of celibacy, the prevalence of a regular profession of fortune-hunting. There was scarcely one of these necessary reforms to which Cæsar himself came with clean hands. He had begun his matrimonial career by repudiating his young betrothed; he had then married an immature virgin, and divorced her for political reasons before the marriage was consummated; in the third place he had married Scribonia, who had already had two husbands, and whose son was already a man at the time of her marriage to Augustus. She was many years older than he, and the marriage was intended to secure a reconciliation with Sextus Pompeius. This third matrimonial venture was terminated in a manner which shocked even{227} Roman society.

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On the very day when Scribonia became a mother by him, Augustus put her away charging her with immorality, though he kept her infant Julia as his own and only child. He had been fascinated, it seems, by the fair face and brilliant abilities of Livia Drusilla. Livia was of the highest ancestry in Rome, a descendant of Appius Claudius, and attached by adoption to another very noble family, the Livii. Also she had married another scion of the illustrious Claudian house, the proudest in Rome, and at the age of fifteen had become the mother of Tiberius. Her father had chosen the losing side at Philippi, and committed suicide after the battle. Her husband, Claudius Nero, had taken arms against Augustus—or Octavian, as he then was—in the Perusine War, and his life was forfeited. His beautiful wife sued the conqueror for mercy, and mercy was granted upon conditions. Nero was compelled not only to divorce his wife, but to act the part of a father and give her away in marriage to Augustus. She was then not only the mother of Tiberius, but just about to become the mother of Drusus, who was born in the house of Augustus three months after the marriage. This, then, was the model family on the Palatine which was to set an example to the Roman aristocracy—a daughter whose mother had been divorced on the day of her birth, a mother who had been sold by her husband, and two stepsons whose father had been divorced. The sequel scarcely improved matters. Julia grew up and was married first to the boy Marcellus, then to Agrippa, by whom she had a large family, and when Agrippa died, Tiberius was forced to put away his wife, Agrippa’s daughter Vipsania, whom he really loved, and marry the widow Julia, whose immorality he knew and detested. At last the profligacy of Julia grew so open and notorious that Augustus was informed of it and compelled to banish her in company with her mother Scribonia, who had survived to see her shame. Later on a second Julia, the daughter of the first, suffered a precisely similar fate.

As for Livia the empress, if we choose to call her by that{228} title, there is no doubt that she was a singularly beautiful and clever woman, who managed to retain the affections of Augustus for over forty years—in itself a remarkable feat in Roman society. History records in her favour many acts of royal mercy and charity. She seconded her husband’s efforts at reform, and established a powerful ascendancy over him and over Tiberius. There is no whisper against her chastity when once she entered the household of Augustus. But on the other hand there are very serious charges of crime made by contemporaries and recorded by Tacitus, charges which are supported by the strongest circumstantial evidence. The suspicion is that she was fighting all her life long without remorse or scruple for the succession of her son Tiberius. Augustus did not intend to be succeeded by a Claudius. This he showed again and again in the most public manner. His aim, as soon as he knew that he was destined to leave no male offspring of his own body, was to leave the succession in the sacred Julian line, the family descended from Venus, the house of the star. But that could only be secured through the female line. His first choice was the brilliant young Marcellus, son of his sister Octavia. Marcellus, who had been the first husband of Julia, died of a mysterious complaint just as he came of age. Then Augustus married Julia to Agrippa, and two of her sons, Gaius and Lucius, were next chosen for the succession. They grew up and came of age. Just as they were beginning public life, Tiberius having been banished to make way for them, they too died in the same year, Lucius on board ship as he was sailing to Marseilles, Gaius as the sequel to an assassin’s blow given him in Armenia. In the first case we have no details. In the second, Gaius was recovering from his wound, but he turned aside to an obscure town on the southern coast of Asia Minor, refused the warship which had been sent to convey him home, and begged to be allowed to live there in obscurity. The circumstance is full of suspicion and mystery. Moreover, before his rivals were dead Tiberius had word, from a well-informed prophet, of their approaching decease, and returned to{229} Rome. He himself, living in banishment, must be acquitted of active complicity in the crime. Julia was banished to a lonely island. Her third son was also put out of sight for no crime but sulkiness and grumbling against his stepmother. Deprived of all his hopes, Augustus with very marked reluctance adopted Tiberius, but in his old age he still cherished the idea of a reconciliation with Julia’s third son, Agrippa Postumus, and actually visited in secret the remote island where he was interned. But as soon as Augustus was dead—and his death was carefully concealed as long as possible—Agrippa Postumus was murdered, and this time we have direct evidence that the crime was Livia’s. This sort of domestic intrigue, marked by hideous murders, is one of the blackest features of imperial history at Rome. It arose very largely from the illegitimate character of the imperial throne, and the absence of any legalised system of succession.

Nevertheless, out of these unpromising materials Augustus endeavoured to organise a model Roman family of the old style. Livia and Julia were set to work at spinning and weaving. Augustus would wear no cloaks but of their making. Julia was solemnly counselled never to do or say anything which she would be ashamed to write in her diary. Once when she built a palace for herself Augustus had it demolished. The house on the Palatine was of the simplest character, with a humble portico of the local tufa from Alba and no decorated pavements. In food and drink he was most abstemious, and indeed the prodigious industry of his life left little time for banquets. A slice of bread made from inferior flour, with a relish of pickled fish or dates or olives, often served him for the day. He never drank more than a pint of wine. He slept winter and summer in the same room, and spent most of the year in the city, unless he was travelling. His favourite country seat was on the island of Capri where he could be sure of freedom. His pleasures were simple and almost childish. He liked a little mild gambling, he was fond of playing knuckle-bones with little slave-boys. He attended the circus{230} as a matter of duty and was very strict in enforcing decency of behaviour there. He set his face against changes of fashion and insisted that Roman citizens should wear the old-fashioned toga in public. All his instincts seem to have been for simplicity and clemency. He never permitted a freedman to appear at his dinner-table, but when a slave of his once pushed his master into the way of a charging wild boar in order to shield himself Augustus dismissed the matter with a joke. On the other hand, when the tutor and servants of Gaius showed themselves tyrannical and overbearing to the provincials after their young master’s death, Cæsar had them drowned like rats. Towards personal abuse of himself he was singularly indifferent. It remains difficult to visualise the character of Augustus. Originally he was a typical Roman, as callous towards bloodshed and suffering as the rest of them and quite unscrupulous in his progress towards power. But when he had attained it he had the greatness of mind to perceive that his work of repair could only be done by setting an example of virtuous living and moderation. Self-control was perhaps his most powerful quality.

Twice his self-command broke down. Once when he heard of the defeat of Varus in Germany with the loss of his three legions, and again when some one, probably Livia, revealed to him the scandal concerning Julia. Apart from the blow to his honour as a man, it was the undoing of all his measures for reform and the open publication of their futility. “Her orgies,” men said, “had been conducted upon the very rostra whence her father’s laws against adultery had been proclaimed.” Her accomplices included the flower of the old aristocracy, a Scipio and a Gracchus. Augustus hid himself from the sight of men, banished his daughter to a remote island and officially informed the senate by letter of her disgrace. He was heard to cry out that he envied the father of Phœbe, one of Julia’s slaves who had hanged herself when the scandal went abroad. He quoted a Greek verse:

“O that I had been unwedded and died without a child,”

and he spoke of his wicked daughter as the cancer of his life.

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Legislation was obviously futile, and example had broken down. It was only from within that Roman society could be reformed, only by supplying a spiritual influence which could counteract the materialism and immorality of the day. Augustus had tried in the provinces to raise up a new religion of loyalty and patriotism centred round the altar “to Rome and Augustus.” But that was obviously impossible in Rome itself. The only inspiring motive—in addition to Stoicism which could never be a popular creed—had been, for the last two or three centuries, patriotism, the worship of the sacred city and her glorious destinies. But even that had been shattered by the civil wars. Augustus now set himself deliberately to the task of creating a new Rome and a new Roman culture. He himself, like most of the nobles of his day, had received a Greek education. It was what we should call a good classical education in philosophy, literature, and rhetoric. Besides that he had been initiated into the Eleusinian mysteries at Athens, and they were probably the most powerful source of inspiration in the Mediterranean world, for even eclectics like Cicero admitted that they carried with them a hope of immortality. Augustus was himself deeply imbued with Greek culture and like most Roman nobles had dabbled in literature. Thus it is not surprising that the type of civilisation which he fostered in the new Rome was quite as much Greek as Italian. The age of Augustus was in fact the culmination of Græco-Roman culture alike in arts and letters because the fusion between the two races was now complete.

Elsewhere I have ventured to rebel against the current practice in history of subordinating the arts to politics and declaring that artistic production depends upon political facts. It is not so. Literary and artistic results are due to literary and artistic causes. The Roman literary language had only just attained perfection. Cicero had perfected it for prose, and it only remained for poetry to produce a Vergil. Everybody{232} at Rome from Augustus downwards was busily writing hexameters in his spare time, and the recitals which were given at every dinner-party formed one of the social inflictions of the day. Just as Julius Cæsar and Cicero had thrown off their epics, so the great men of the succeeding age were poets—Augustus, Pollio, Mæcenas, Gallus, and all of them except Agrippa. But alongside of these distinguished amateurs, professional literary men of humble birth were now coming to the front. Vergil and Horace are not originally the products of the Augustan age, for they were both established poets before it began. But the conditions of art at Rome were such that a professional man of letters depended very closely upon a patron. That was the tradition handed on from the days of Plautus, when the writers had nearly always been foreign slaves or clients. Cicero, Cæsar, Lucretius, and Catullus had not been of the client class. They had flourished in that brief interval when it still seemed possible for Rome to develop a genuine free literature of her own. But that possibility had been killed like so many other hopes by the civil wars, and now the choice lay mainly between distinguished scribblers or obsequious literary craftsmen. Thus we get a second courtly period of literature like that of the Ptolemies at Alexandria, like that of Louis XIV. or of our own Stuart age when poets wrote to please individual patrons. The patron, if he be a man of taste, generally demands a very high degree of finish, and thus it is the courtly ages which produce the finished craftsmanship. It may be remarked that the ages of private patronage have given the world much of its greatest literature.

In the age of Augustus there was no censorship of letters such as generally prevailed under the stricter emperors of later days. Livy was permitted to publish his great history without curtailment of its strong republican tendency. When libels and pasquinades appeared against Cæsar he was content to contradict them in a proclamation. Nevertheless he made his influence weightily felt in the world of letters. He gave more than £10,000 to Varius for a tragedy which posterity has not{233} thought worth while to preserve. He was himself a kindly and patient listener at the recitation of poems and history, speeches and dialogues, which formed the usual mode of first publication in those days. He only insisted that his own deeds should not form the subject of trivial composition by inferior authors. Horace appears at first to have been warned off from treatment of imperial politics. Vergil too in his early days received a hint not to sing of wars and kings. But later on both these writers were explicitly enlisted in the service of the state. In this part of the work Mæcenas was the emperor’s chief agent. Mæcenas, whose name has come to symbolise literary patronage, was a wealthy noble of an old Etruscan family who was content, like Cicero’s friend Atticus, to pull the wires of state largely by keeping generous hospitality and knowing all the important characters of his day. Luxurious and effeminate in his tastes, he gathered a group of talented authors round his table, and very distinctly suggested to them the lines upon which he desired them to work. Vergil, Varius, Horace, and Propertius were members of his salon. Another noble of high lineage, M. Valerius Messalla, maintained a rival coterie whose most prominent member was the elegiac poet Tibullus. Vergil, a half-Italian native of Mantua, who was not even a citizen by birth, had sprung into fame with his Bucolics, a series of pastoral idylls in the style of Theocritus. But though he was a provincial by birth, though he writes of shepherds and sings pathetically of his ancestral farm, nothing is more untrue than to regard him as a son of the soil, or an inspired ploughboy after the manner of Robert Burns. On the contrary he had received an elaborate education in the style of the day under Greek masters at Cremona, Milan, and Rome. He was steeped in Greek philosophy and letters. His shepherds are not the unsophisticated rustics of the Mantuan plain. They are shepherds “à la Watteau,” borrowed from the pages of Theocritus, and though many a brilliant epithet displays the Italian’s loving observation of nature, the background of the work is artificial and literary rather than rustic or natural. His shepherds, like{234} Sidney’s, talk politics under a transparent disguise, which is often extremely incongruous.

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They are often engaged in praising Gallus or Varus or Pollio, the young poet’s patrons. It was the success of the Bucolics which led Mæcenas to choose Vergil for carrying out an important literary project. A poet was required to sing the praises of country life in such a manner as to encourage the movement “back to the land,” which Augustus was trying to foster. In his Georgics Vergil frankly admits that he is fulfilling the “hard commands” of Mæcenas. The Georgics are a treatise on husbandry, but here again it is not first-hand work. We are informed that Vergil’s poetry had regained him his paternal farm at Mantua. But the Georgics were not written on the farm. They were diligently composed in a library at Naples. They arose from the study of Aratus and Hesiod, not from memory of Italian life, and even in those gorgeous passages where Vergil is praising a country life, it is not of the Italian farm that he is thinking but of literary hills and dells in Greece. I think it is clear that the poet took little pleasure in his task. He very gladly digresses from the description of soils and mattocks to tell us a charming piece of Greek mythology or to introduce a literary reference. Octavian had been a “powerful god” already in the Eclogues before he became Augustus. Now the only question is which of the stars shall receive him after death. “Already the blazing Scorpion contracts his arms and leaves thee more than a fair share of heaven.” Vergil pauses to depict the triumph of Augustus—Nile flowing with blood, Asia tamed, the Niphates driven back, the Parthian conquered. No literary catchword was ever more absurd than the phrase “rustic of genius” applied to Vergil. As soon as he had the means, he gladly turned his back upon his ancestral farm to become a student and a courtier. Nevertheless Mæcenas was magnificently served. Vergil had already forged a weapon of matchless music and eloquence in his surging hexameters, and he used it to depict the honest joys of rustic toil, the laborious tranquillity of the farm, the beauty and interest of nature. He was{235} instantly recognised by Augustus as the destined laureate of the new Rome.

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The Æneid was solemnly devoted to the altar of Rome and Augustus. Homer was the Greek model here, as Theocritus had been for the Bucolics and Hesiod for the Georgics. The origin of Rome was to be linked on to the Trojan story as had already been done by the inventive Greeks. Æneas had fled from Troy to Italy, and had left his son Julus (the eponymous hero of the Julian house) to found an heroic kingdom in Italy long before the genuine Roman heroes. Thus the humble native story of Romulus was superseded. Piety was to be the great virtue honoured by this poem, for piety towards the memory of Julius Cæsar was the principal title upon which Augustus rested his claim to honour. There were other analogies, perhaps. Dido most probably suggested Cleopatra to the Roman reader. But it is to the praise of Rome, to the glorification of that sense of filial duty which the Romans called “piety” that the great epic is mainly devoted. Here again, though the eloquence is so splendid and the versification so majestic, the Æneid like its predecessors is a work of the study quite clearly written to order. The plot is carelessly constructed. Æneas himself, with all his piety, never for a moment lives. The religious motives which led to his desertion of Dido barely satisfy us. Æneas makes the speeches, and the gods continually intervene when danger threatens him. Our sympathies are generally with the enemy, with Turnus or Camilla. Æneas is as chilly and statuesque as Augustus himself.

It is in the famous Sixth Book, which tells of the descent to Hades, that the praise of Rome is most elegant and most explicit. Here we are shown the heroes of Roman history side by side with the heroes of the Greeks, and here the young Marcellus, lately dead, is introduced in those immortal and touching lines which caused Octavia his mother to swoon when the poet recited them. Here too the poet pronounces in very significant language the Roman idea of the destiny of his race.{236}

excudent alii spirantia mollius æra,
credo equidem, uiuos ducent de marmore uoltus,
orabunt causas melius, cælique meatus
describent radio, et surgentia sidera dicent:
tu regere imperio populos, Romane, memento;
hæ tibi erunt artes, pacisque imponere morem,
parcere subiectis, et debellare superbos.

“Others shall mould, I doubt not, the breathing bronze more delicately and draw the living features out of marble, others shall plead causes more eloquently, map out the wanderings of the sky with the rod, and tell the risings of the stars. Thou, Roman, forget not to govern the nations under thy sway. These shall be thy arts: to impose the rule of peace, to spare the subject, and defeat the proud.” In these lines we hear the proud Philistinism of an imperial people. This is the genuine Roman (dare I add “British”?) attitude towards the arts and sciences. They are for others to provide, for Greeks and Egyptians. Even oratory, the highest achievement of the Roman genius in literature, is thus scornfully thrown to the foreigner. The Romans knew that they could buy or seize better statues than they could carve: their task was to conquer and govern—not an ignoble art.

The Æneid is explicitly a national laureate poem. The poet seeks to enshrine all Roman life in his pages, to epitomise Roman history and to introduce allusions to characteristic pieces of myth and ritual. He inserts whole lines of Ennius or Lucretius when they please him. They are superseded and replaced. Just like Dryden, he feels that he is the heir of the ages. The extraordinary popularity which Vergil attained even in his own lifetime grew in the course of a few centuries almost into a cult. His tomb became an object of pilgrimage; in early Christian times he became a prophet and in the Middle Ages a wizard. The gentleness and purity of his personal life played their part in the creation of this strange Vergilian legend.

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Horace had less of the courtier’s suppleness and required winning to the imperial cause. It took two efforts of Mæcenas{237} to secure him and we have letters preserved in which Augustus very good-humouredly confesses his disappointment that Horace has refused a secretaryship. Horace was the son of a freedman, as he was not in the least ashamed to confess. But his father had managed to secure for Quintus the education of a gentleman under Greek teachers in Rome, himself attending the boy to school in place of the rascally pedagogue slaves who usually undertook that office. Horace had further enjoyed a University education at Athens, where he had fallen under the spell of Brutus, for whom he fought at Philippi. He was, and remained, a Republican by instinct, but Mæcenas won him over to the cause of Cæsarism. He made his reputation with the Satires, a species of composition which may be termed truly Italian. The satire is a conversational medley written in the language of prose with the rhythm of poetry. In this Horace was imitating the old Roman master Lucilius. It is much to the credit of his critical discernment that Mæcenas was able to descry the brilliant abilities of Horace in this very uninspiring medium. For though his Satires were sometimes bitterly satirical in the modern sense of the word, Horace’s chief literary asset was the charm of a sunny, genial character. He had in addition a gift for composition and an industry which brought him almost but not quite to the level of original genius. It seems to have been Mæcenas who set him to the writing of lyrical odes. Biting satires might have been the most effective literary weapon in republican days, but the glorification of the new regime required something of a loftier strain. Vergil was engaged upon its epic, Horace was instructed to write its occasional verse. The Greek lyrists of the older period had as yet remained unimitated in Latin. Accordingly just as when the young Vergil had wanted to sing of kings and battles “Apollo had plucked his ear and admonished him that a shepherd should feed fat sheep and sing a slender song,” so Horace was deliberately set down to the task of celebrating the new Rome in the style of Sappho and Alcæus and Anacreon. That he accomplished his task so superbly is a proof of his{238} energy and versatility. He himself, a gentle valetudinarian whose idea of a banquet was a mess of cabbage and pot-herbs, had to strike the lyre of revelry and sing of wine and love. He sang without conviction, without a spark of Sapphic fire or a note of natural music, but the noble rhetoric of the Roman schools in the golden age supported him. He laboured for the right word never in vain. No writer has ever equalled his matchless gift for making truisms sound true. No other writer has been able to assert that “it is sweet and comely to die for the fatherland,” or that “life is short” with an equal air of genuine wisdom. Latin with its terse precision is the ideal language for the expression of platitudes. His patriotic eloquence is Roman rhetoric of the best kind. But perhaps his real strength lies in drama. It is strange that Latin of the classical period failed at producing a native drama so completely as it did. Perhaps it was because the writers of that age were so completely under Greek influences that their natural Italian genius for the theatre was stifled under the load of a classical convention. Certainly Horace had the gift, and in such passages as the dramatic duologue (Ode ix. of Book III.) Donec gratus eram tibi, or the Epode of the witches (v.) At, o deorum, or the still more famous Epistle about the bore, he exhibits himself, like Browning, as a dramatist gone astray. Regarded from the purely lyrical point of view, the Century Hymn, which he wrote to order as Rome’s laureate in succession to Vergil, is perhaps his greatest achievement. The Secular Games of 17 B.C. were intended to bring visibly before men’s eyes the glories of the new monarchy and incidentally to carry in their train the salutary but unpopular measures of the Julian moral reform. So the choir of noble youths and maidens were taught to sing in their prayer to Diana:

diua, producas subolem patrumque
prosperes decreta super iugandis
feminis prolisque nouæ feraci
lege marita,[48]
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where the goddess is besought to increase the population of Rome and favour the senate’s decrees about marriage. The fourth book of the Odes was added after a long interval at the direct request of Augustus. It is intended to bring the achievements of Augustus and his family, particularly the triumphs of Tiberius and Drusus, into favourable comparison with the heroic stories of republican history. It is most melancholy to observe that Mæcenas, to whom Horace was genuinely attached and whose name constantly occurs in his earlier writings, here drops out of the poet’s verse because he had fallen out of Cæsar’s favour.

Although Horace is in his Odes as classical and conventional as all the Roman writers of his age, his Satires and Epistles are more intimate than any other Latin work of the great period. In them we get real glimpses of life at Rome, or on a country estate. We cannot fail to be struck with its idleness and emptiness. In the city he saunters from the forum to the baths, from the baths to the dinner-table with time and boredom for his only enemies. In the country he sometimes, it is true, toys with husbandry, or shows a faint interest in landscape-gardening or loiters among his books, but the life is to the last degree super-civilised and unreal. The very ideas of hope and progress were alien to the ancient world. The eyes of the Romans were always turned behind them, so that they could not see the greatness of the vista that was now opening for them in front.

The elegists—such as the graceful melancholy Tibullus, or Propertius, the pedant who often stumbled into poetry, and a host of others who are mere names to us—would hardly, but for their prominence in the schoolroom, deserve serious attention. Callimachus the Alexandrian was their model, himself scarcely a first-rate poet. The whole idea of writing love poetry in an absolutely regular distich of hexameter and pentameter was inartistic and unreal. Their fluent prolixity makes them insufferably tedious out of school. It is difficult to sustain interest in the relations between the bards and the{240} married ladies with Greek pseudonyms to whom their verses are addressed. From our point of view the chief interest in these writers lies in the fact that nearly all of them were at one time or another invited to praise the new regime. Tibullus, indeed, who enjoyed a modest competence of his own, limits his praises to his immediate patron Messalla, and frankly admits that war and battles disgust him. But Propertius makes an attempt to carry out his commission, and describes the battle of Actium fifteen years after its occurrence. But though he invites Bacchus to assist his Muse, it is wretched stuff and the poet himself turns from it with disgust. The famous elegy upon Cornelia, daughter of the injured Scribonia, beginning desine, Paulle, meum lacrimis urgere sepulcrum, is however sufficient proof that it was only the want of a really inspiring theme and a suitable medium which prevented Propertius from being in the front rank of the world’s poets.

Ovid, “this incorrigibly immoral but inexpressibly graceful poet,” as Mr. Cruttwell called him, is a far more interesting personality. I think he may fairly be called the wickedest writer on the world’s bookshelves. Others may be wicked through ignorance, or by accident, or out of high animal spirits, but Ovid is immoral on principle, a conscientious and industrious perverter. His greatest work, “The Art of Loving,” is quite frankly a guide to adultery, the precepts it contains being perfectly practical and evidently based on expert knowledge. In his Amores, Metamorphoses, and Fasti he took for his field the domain of religion and exhibited celestial sin in the most captivating light. We have already seen how the loves of the gods came to take their place in the Olympian mythology, and how thinking pagans like Plato regarded them. To such men they were already relics of barbarism, but Ovid draws them out into the light again, gilds them with his wit and makes them altogether charming for the Roman drawing-room. The strange and uncouth old ritual of Italian nature-worship is piquantly dressed out for the up-to-date blasphemer. Nobody who had read Ovid could possibly worship Jupiter any

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more. It was all done with consummate art and unblushing impudence. When the sad Niobe is bereft of her seven fair children by the arrows of the jealous gods, our poet, ingeniously parodying Vergil, observes:

heu quantum hæc Niobe, Niobe distabat ab illa.

In telling the dreadful tragedy whereby the Greeks had explained the sorrow of Philomela, the nightingale, our poet cheerfully describes the slaughter of the children, adding:

pars inde cauis exultat aënis,
pars ueribus stridunt.

And so he moves from one lovely myth to another, preserving them indeed for our archæologists, but delicately with the breath of his profanity defiling them for ever.

Now Ovid is far more typical of the civilisation of his day than either Vergil or Horace. For Ovid was a Roman noble, rich and gifted, who in earlier days would have passed creditably from one high office to another in the state, humorously plundering a province or two, gracefully collecting objects of art in Asia and possibly losing a battle or two through negligence. He actually started on a public career as a brilliant barrister, and enjoyed the ancient office of decemvir stlitibus iudicandis, something like our Masters in Chancery. But the Roman drawing-rooms soon swallowed him up in their silken entanglements, and he spent the greater part of his life whispering his poisonous little pentameters to ladies like Julia. Of course a single poet with Ovid’s sinister gifts was doing far more to corrupt Rome than all the Julian legislation could do to reform it, and we may fairly conclude that Ovid with his attacks on the traditional Roman morality and religion, together with effeminate bards like Tibullus who sang of the horrors of war, were more than undoing the patriotic work of Vergil and Horace. The plain fact is that though you may hire writers you cannot purchase the spirit of a people, and so Augustus and Mæcenas found, to the great misfortune of the Roman Empire. They failed in their attempt to capture literature.{242} Oppression failed even more signally than corruption. Henceforth all the literary talent of Rome is on the opposition side. Lucan extols republicanism, Tacitus assails the emperors with satirical history, Petronius pillories Nero with satirical romance, Juvenal with satirical poetry. Only the younger Pliny is loyal, and to be praised by Pliny is a very doubtful recommendation. Roman literature had imbibed the republican ideals from its Greek foster-mother. The schoolmasters of Rome continued to teach their pupils to declaim against tyrants.

But Ovid himself was not permitted to flourish in his wickedness. A sudden decree from Cæsar Augustus fell upon him like a thunderbolt. He was banished for ever and bidden to betake himself to Tomi, on the Black Sea, near the mouth of the Danube. From that inhospitable region he continued to pour forth elegiacs, Epistles and Tristia, wherein he protests his innocence, recants anything and everything he has ever said, and bewails the horrors of arctic existence among the barbarians. The actual cause of his banishment is one of the most piquant mysteries in literary history. He has seen something which he ought not to have seen: his eyes have destroyed him. It is fairly clear that his banishment synchronised with the banishment of the younger Julia, and we may well believe that the old emperor, shocked and horrified by this second scandal in his own house, attributed it to the corrupting influence of that singer of gilded sins. The banishment was certainly well merited and the only pity is that it came too late to effect its purpose. The unmanly tone of the Tristia, the effeminate appeals to everybody in Rome including a hitherto forgotten wife, reveal Ovid in his true character. It is a little strange that generations of British youth have been trained not only in the study but even in the imitation of this author.

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When we term the Golden Age of Roman literature “Augustan” we ought to remember that it began long before Augustus and ended before his death. Thus with all his patronage he may more justly be called the finisher than the author of it. Of all the great writers, only Ovid, to whom the{243} simple life and bracing air of the Sarmatians afforded an unusual longevity, outlived Augustus. Summing up the characteristics of the literature of this day, we may say that courtliness and artificiality were its most prominent characteristics. The freshness of Catullus, the stern conviction of Lucretius, the fire of Cicero were extinct. Nearly all that was native in Roman letters had perished; only the crispness of epigram, the bite of satire and the dignified music of the language itself remained as the Italian heritage. Greece had quite definitely triumphed over Rome. Technical excellence continued, for this has always been the mark of “Augustan” periods. But the well-meant efforts of the state to capture literature for its own service had failed. The horrors of the civil war outweighed the glories of the new regime and with all his benevolence the emperor could never outlive the memory of his proscriptions. Literature never forgave the murder of Cicero though the author of Thyestes might be loaded with treasure. Indeed the widespread misery of those terrible days in 40 B.C. came home personally to most of our middle-class writers. Vergil, Horace, Tibullus, and Propertius had each and all received ineffaceable memories in the loss of their patrimonies. It was little wonder that even though they sang of wars and victories when “Cynthius plucked their ear” their natural instinct was to compare Mars and Venus very much to the disadvantage of the former.

When we turn to consider the Art of the period, we must not forget to carry with us the light that we have obtained from the study of its literature. For Augustus and his assistants were attempting precisely similar ends in both regions. With temples, baths, circuses, amphitheatres, colonnades, libraries, and statues the new regime was to flourish its magnificence in the eyes of the world and, above all, to dazzle the citizens of Rome, fill up the emptiness of their lives, and make them forget, if it were possible, the magnitude of their loss. Money was lavished upon this object by the emperor and all his friends, and the building activity which transformed Rome{244} from a city of brick into a city of marble must have given work and pay to vast numbers of the poor. But the magnificence has all perished, as all magnificence must, and it is left for us by the study of a few ruined monuments, a few statues and busts, an altar here, a cornice there, to estimate the spirit of Rome in conformity with its literature.

Roman art supplied much of their inspiration to the artists of the Renaissance. Michael Angelo and Raphael learnt their art by copying the antiquities, and much of the Renaissance architecture was direct imitation of the Augustan age. But with the birth of archæology as a science in the nineteenth century, scholars became accustomed to leap straight over the Roman era, or to regard it merely as a phase of the Hellenistic decline. From that view, undoubtedly erroneous and unjust, there has latterly been an attempt to escape. Wickhoff and Riegl, whose foremost interpreter in this country is Mrs. Strong, have argued that Roman art has an existence per se, not only possessing characteristic excellences of its own, but in many points transcending the limits of Greek art. To such pioneers we owe a deep debt of gratitude. They have undoubtedly drawn our attention to real merits and real steps of progress in the art of the Romans. But on the whole they have failed, as it seems to an onlooker, to prove their case. Partly it is in the long run a question of taste. A convinced Romanist like Mrs. Strong displays for our admiration many works of art which trained eyes, accustomed to Greek and modern art, often refuse to admire. I would take as an instance the well-known “Tellus Group,” a slab from the Augustan Altar of Peace,[49] preserved in the Uffizi Gallery at Florence. To me it seems a laborious composition, executed with care and skill, but wholly without inspiration or imagination. It is purely conventional allegory. How would the designer of an illuminated ticket for an agricultural exhibition depict Mother Earth? He would design a group (would he not?) with a tall and richly bosomed lady for his central figure, he would put

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{245} two naked babes upon her lap, at her feet would be a cow and a sheep, while the background would be filled with flowers and trees. The cornucopia would occupy a prominent position. If he were asked to fill his space with additional figures, he would throw in Air and Water, one on each side, designed on the same plan. There would be little motive in the group, little connection between the figures. The designer’s aim would be that the spectator in a casual glance might observe the fitness of it all—Earth sitting between Air and Water—note it, and pass on. This is just what the Roman artist has done. He has earned his money. He has carved most skilfully and diligently, he has introduced all the conventional emblems. He has drawn his metaphor from stock. I cannot see that he has put any love or religion or indeed faith of any kind into his work. The only thing my eye cares to dwell upon is the absurdity of Air, who is riding (backwards) on a wholly inadequate swan, pretending to form one of a group with the immovably seated Earth. This then is the first point of criticism against the Romanists. I have put it as a mere subjective impression, which involves simply a question of taste. But in reality it is more. They are failing or have failed to make out their case, chiefly because the critical world of art-lovers declines to follow their expressions of enthusiasm, and can give reasons for its refusal.

Secondly, we have a right to ask the apostles of Roman art what they mean by their claims. How justly may we call works like the Altar of Peace,[50] or even the Column of Trajan, “Roman Art”? Was any of it executed by Roman artists? We have just read the true Roman attitude towards art in Vergil’s scornful excudent alii. We may be sure that the Altar of Peace was executed by Greeks. The only named sculptors of the period are Greeks. This is indeed admitted, but then the Roman claim takes one of two forms, (1) that work executed in the Roman Empire may be called Roman, which is absurd, or (2) that apart from mere execution there{246} are in the work certain characteristic innovations which are due to Roman inspiration. The latter claim is true, to some extent, and important.

Just as Mæcenas “plucked the ear” of the poets, and instructed them when to sing or when to refrain from singing of kings and battles, so the patron of art gave instructions to the Greek artists. It is clear enough what instructions he gave. Like Cromwell he cried “Paint me as I am, warts and all. Leave your idealism, your perfect profiles, your serene gods in the tranquillity of Olympus, and depict men with the living emotions displayed in frown and wrinkle.” That was excellent advice, no doubt, but he seems to have gone further. He seems, like the good Dr. Primrose, to have demanded value for his money by insisting upon so many portraits to the square yard of surface to be decorated. Is not this the explanation of the crowded figures in the new style of relief work, as exhibited at Rome from the Altar of Peace to the Column of Trajan? In the friezes of the Mausoleum, the fourth-century Greek sculptors had discovered the advantage of free spacing so that each figure has a value of its own. The florid taste of the millionaire Attalids of Pergamum had made a reactionary movement in the direction of crowded and tangled forms. Now these Roman friezes carry the demand a stage further. In these processions we have a compact mass of faces, each admirably and no doubt faithfully portrayed, but ruining by their very numbers the artistic success of the whole. The spectator is not to admire a composition. As in Frith’s “Derby Day” he is to pick out a face here and there and cry “That is Agrippa: that is Messalla: that is Germanicus.” In its essence such a demand is not the mark of a people with any sense of art. On the contrary it is the measure of their crudity and Philistinism. Nevertheless this new demand enabled the versatile Greek genius to win for itself fresh triumphs, especially in realistic portraiture and narrative relief-work.

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FIG. 1.
FIG 2.
Plate LXVII.

Part of the claim which Wickhoff and his followers make for the originality of Roman art is based upon the belief that{247} the limitations of Greek art are not self-imposed; for example, that the Greeks did not know how to express emotion in the plastic arts, that they could not make realistic portraits, that through ignorance they never perceived the beauty of a stark corpse, that Pheidias lacked the intelligence to find a dramatic centre for the Parthenon frieze, and so forth. Such assumptions as these are easily disproved. Greeks were capable of realism (witness the Ludovisi reliefs[51]) but they preferred to idealise. In portraying giants, barbarians, or slaves they could express transient emotions, but for Greeks and gods in statuary they deliberately preferred serenity. The Greeks sought to conceal their art rather than to display it, as we have learnt from the discovery of the subtle secrets of their architecture, and it is rash to assert of any principle of craftsmanship that the Greeks did not know it. Many of the claims of Rome to originality may be refuted by this consideration.

What I believe to be the true statement of the case is this: Greek art did not come to an end with the death of Praxiteles or the Roman conquest. Its central impulse passed over from the impoverished mainland to the still flourishing communities of the East, to Antioch on the Mæander where the Aphrodite of Melos was produced, to Rhodes where the Laocoön was carved, to Ephesus, and farther east still, even into Parthia and possibly India. It was by no means stereotyped but still producing new forms to meet fresh demands, as for sarcophagi in Sidon, or for paintings and mosaics in Egypt. In the course of this period the art of the Greeks was much influenced by the East. The Romans at first were content to take Greek art as they found it. In the days of Mummius they were merely like rich transatlantic collectors in search of beautiful, still more of precious and unique, commodities. They had no doubt some slaves of their own working in Rome at the arts and crafts. Some of these would be Greeks of inferior birth and capacity reproducing old Greek work for the Roman market. But some of them may well have been{248} Italians, some Etruscans preserving the old artistic traditions of their race. This “collecting” era lasted down to the time of Augustus. We have seen it as late as Cicero and Atticus. There was little demand for new creations in those days. Few temples were being built. The artists were still scattered about the Levant. There was little to attract them to Rome.

But when Augustus decided to build a new Rome of marble, founding or restoring his eighty temples, with arches and theatres innumerable all over the Empire, there must have been a great influx of artists from Greece and Asia Minor. Now begins an art to which we may fairly apply the term Græco-Roman in the sense that it was the work of Greek artists under oriental influences supplying Roman demands. The new demands entailed still further artistic developments; some of them, but not all, to be regarded by those who view the history of art as a whole, as improvements. One main effect of Roman conditions was that art largely ceased its service of religion and became devoted to secular purposes. Thus the limitations of the best Greek art, self-imposed as they were, now broke down. The effect is seen especially in portraiture, where the Romans had a tradition of realism resulting from the use of the death-mask in making wax images of the illustrious deceased. Hence in the decoration of the great Altar of Peace at Rome, the Greek artists, who would naturally have produced a frieze of gods or idealised worshippers, were asked for portraits of the men of the day. I think it is clear that enormous skill was devoted to the likenesses of men and very little care to the gods. The composition of the whole was of little account. A little later the demand for historical reliefs on arches and columns was met by the development of quite new features in the art of sculpture, namely, those spatial or tridimensional effects of perspective which are so remarkable on the Trajan column.[52] This art seems to have begun in Alexandrian times but Rome may claim the credit for its development. It was necessary, if sculpture was to do that{249} for

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which it was surely never intended—to tell a story. The Parthenon frieze was religious ornament, the Trajan column is secular history. When the Romans required ornament they were content with decoration merely and the artists complied with the wonderful skill which they had probably learnt in Asia. Never have there been such exquisite natural designs in wreaths and festoons of flowers and fruit as in the sculpture of the Augustan age.[53] It is the same with the art of the goldsmith, as we see in the wonderful discoveries of silver made at Hildesheim and Bosco Reale[54] or in the great imperial cameos wrought in sardonyx.[55] There was money and skill in plenty. But what was lacking was a spirit to animate it.

If we could be sure of our ground in setting down realism as the Roman contribution to the history of Art, it would be a great achievement for Rome. Realism is undoubtedly a fine thing though idealism is a finer. Unfortunately it seems that Hellenic art in the eastern centres was developing realism, or at least illusionism, for itself on its own soil. On the whole, in the controversy between the archæologists, Strzygowski, who claims the East as the inspiring force in Roman days, seems to have the best of it. The coins of Asia Minor present realistic portraiture quite distinct from that which was native on Roman soil. Thus the exquisite festoons of flowers, fruit, and birds, all botanically and anatomically correct to the last feather or stamen, are probably the product of Greece and the East. But we may well believe that the nature of the Roman patron’s demands assisted this movement. The Roman, if we may judge by Pliny the Roman art-critic, was just the man to insist that an apple should not resemble a pear or to count the petals of a poppy. This sort of criticism affords excellent discipline for the artist. The statues of the period, such as the Venus Genetrix by Arcesilaus in the Louvre[56] and the Orestes and Electra group by Stephanus at Naples, are not very interesting works. They are plainly late-born issues of Greek sculpture, though in the latter there{250} is an attempt at expression which seems to be derived from the influence of portraiture. The “Electra,” for example, has the same look in her eyes, a frowning look as of one standing in strong sunlight, that we see in the portrait of Agrippa. Portraiture had taught the sculptor of this day new secrets about the setting of the human eye. They had learnt the effect produced by deepening the hollow under the brow and by making the direction of the glance diverge from that of the head and body. But much of this was a legacy from Scopas. In little things like the hang of Electra’s robe there is visible degeneration. Here, as in the Tellus Group, the contour of the bosom is made to support the falling drapery, an unnatural and very unpleasing effect.

The architecture of the period is distinguished by similar characteristics. It is distinctly Græco-Roman with much of the subtle harmony of fine Greek work lost. The temples are, on the whole, the least interesting part of the work, for they are pale copies of Greek architecture not always very artistically adapted. A good many of the ruined monuments of Rome to which the pious traveller now directs his footsteps date from the Augustan period. Many of the temples of the Republic were now rebuilt on the old plan with more sumptuous materials, as, for example, the round shrine of Mater Matuta,[57] commonly called the Temple of Hercules. Technical innovations include the debasement of the Doric column by omitting those subtle flutings which gave it all the grace whereby its strength was saved from clumsiness, and by erecting it upon a pedestal. But the Romans preferred the more exuberant Corinthian order with its florid capital of acanthus foliage, a type which the Greeks had used very sparingly and seldom externally. Again, the Romans had discovered improved methods of construction which enabled them to use a wider span in roofing, but they made no artistic advantage out of this fact. On the contrary, by dispensing with the peristyle or surrounding colonnade they rendered the exterior of their temples much less interesting.{251}

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FIG. 1.
FIG 2.

The principal surviving relics of Augustan temples are eight columns of the Temple of Saturn[58] which still stand in the Forum at Rome. The celebrated Pantheon[59] is now recognised to be a work of Hadrian’s time though its plan probably repeats that of the temple erected on the site by Agrippa. But the clearest picture of the ecclesiastical architecture of the day is to be seen on the reliefs of the Altar of Peace, which reproduce the appearance of actual temples with almost photographic exactitude. The finest extant example is undoubtedly the temple at Nismes, known as the Maison Carrée,[60] a graceful erection of this period which exhibits the Corinthian style without undue extravagance.

As the Romans of this day had scarcely any trace of genuine religious feeling it is not surprising that they had little of their own to contribute to temple architecture except wealth and magnificence. But they were naturally devoted to building and that was the favourite extravagance of the rich. Nothing but a few pavements survives of all the handsome villas which dotted the hill-sides at Tibur and Præneste, or lined the coast at Baiæ, Naples, and Surrentum. But there are several secular buildings of Augustan date in which we can see a handsome Græco-Roman style of architecture wherein Greek columns and entablatures were used by Roman architects chiefly as ornament. The Theatre of Marcellus,[61] built in 13 B.C., still presents considerable remains, which though much defaced exhibit an appearance of bygone splendour. The lower story is Doric, the second is Ionic, and the third which has perished was probably in the Corinthian style. We may judge its effective appearance from the copy of its elevation which Michael Angelo produced in his design for the inner court of the Farnese Palace at Rome.[62] The Renaissance learnt much of its architecture from Augustan Rome and these very designs may be seen springing up around us to-day in the banks and town-halls of London. Thus Augustan Rome holds a{252} supremacy for secular building even greater than Periclean Athens achieved for temples. Where magnificence and solidity—and it may be added cheapness—are the principal motives of construction, the Græco-Roman style of the First Century B.C. is unmatched.

The most gorgeous of the architectural creations of Augustus was, however, that Temple of Mars the Avenger which he set up in memory of his triumph over Antony and his punishment of the conspirators. Round it was a piazza (forum) adorned with imaginary portrait statues of all the Roman heroes of history with biographical inscriptions on the bases. In all the Augustan culture we see the impress of the prince’s own Græco-Roman taste. It was all planned to achieve his object of dazzling the multitude and yet gaining over to his side the highest intellect and taste of his day. His own tastes were refined and fastidious: he hated extravagance and utility was always before his eyes. “He read the classics in both tongues” says Suetonius, “principally in order to find salutary precepts and examples for public and private life. He would copy these out word for word and send them to his servants or to the governors of armies and provinces or to the magistrates of the city whenever they required his admonitions. He used to read whole volumes to the Senate, and often publish them in an edict.” We learn further that he always prepared his more important orations most carefully, writing them down and keeping the manuscript close at hand. This practice he followed even in his discourse with his wife. Augustan culture has just this quality: it takes immense pains and succeeds by virtue of them. It lacks a good deal in spontaneity but it makes up in excellence of technique.{253}

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FIG. 1.

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FIG. 2.




Ambitionem scriptoris facile auerseris, obtrectatio et liuor pronis auribus accipiuntur quippe adulationi fœdum crimen seruitutis, malignitati falsa species libertatis inest.—Tacitus.

IN these words, pregnant and terse as ever, Tacitus gives us a key to the true reading of imperial Roman history. “It is easy,” he says, “to discount the self-interest of the historian and to reject his eulogies, but his malicious criticisms are greedily swallowed. For flattery bears the odious stamp of servility, while malignity wears the false disguise of independence.” Thus out of his own mouth the foremost historian of the early Empire gives us the right to read the literary sources in a spirit favourable to the emperors. So when the historians describe Tiberius as a bloodthirsty tyrant who hid himself away in the island of Capri, and there (at the age of seventy!) began to devote himself to disgusting orgies of lust and cruelty, we shall prefer to reject that story as absurd, and to regard Tiberius as a proud and reserved aristocrat who found it impossible to tolerate the mixture of adulation and spite with which he was treated by the other nobles of Rome, and withdrew from the capital in order to escape it. When Gaius (Caligula) is represented as a lunatic, we merely understand that he was unpopular; when we are told that he made his horse a consul, we recognise a satirist’s humorous exaggeration of his neglect of some noble family’s claims to that office;{254} when we read that he set his army to collect oyster shells on the coast of Normandy, we only conclude that his surrender of the projected invasion of Britain was a subject of ridicule in Rome. Claudius is described as a stupid and clumsy pedant, deformed and inarticulate: in reality he seems to have been a scholar with a leaning towards antiquarian and republican traditions. Even in the case of Nero, the savage ferocity with which he is charged is chiefly due to the fact that his hand lay heavy on the senators. He was undoubtedly popular with the commons, and his real offence was to possess more refinement and culture than was considered proper in a Roman noble, to be too fond of Greeks and art and music. Nevertheless it is impossible to write history in whitewash, and the only safe method of dealing with a period like this is to ignore the personalities on the throne of the Cæsars, and to attempt a broad treatment of the general tendency of these times.

But by neglecting the gossip and the personalities we do, I fear, run the risk of missing much of the interest of the period, and perhaps we lose an important part of the truth. We must not allow ourselves to be wholly deprived of that impression of purple and splendour which hangs about the Golden House of Nero, nor to forget the taint of crime which clings to the palaces of the Cæsars. The latter in particular is an essential part of imperial history. As we have seen, this Empire founded on compromise was and remained illegitimate. The succession was always open to question; there was no law of heredity. This fact was emphasised by the barrenness of the Roman aristocracy. For a hundred years no prince had a son to succeed him, so that the palace was always full of intrigue. Finally, the wickedness of the women is one of the most sinister features of the time. Though it was, indeed, no innovation of the Empire, it now gains a terrible significance in the dynastic conflicts which surrounded the throne. Every one of the early reigns is stained with murders and fearful {255}crimes in the palace. No doubt much of this history is false and malicious. For example, it is by no means likely that Germanicus was poisoned. There were always scandal-mongers to hint at poison when any member of the ruling house died of disease. But even with the most liberal discount for exaggeration, the record is a black one. Let us select two typical stories, in order to suggest the kind of satanic halo which surrounds the imperial houses, as the ancient historians depict them.

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Claudius, the conqueror of Britain, was in reality the ablest and best of the Claudian Cæsars who succeeded Augustus, but his wife Messalina, thirty-four years his junior, was a creature of shameless lust and remorseless cruelty. Valerius Asiaticus, a Gaul by birth but now the richest noble of his day, was in possession of the far-famed gardens of Lucullus. Messalina coveted the park and accused him to her husband, with the inevitable result. Asiaticus died like a gentleman. He took his usual exercise, he bathed and dined quite cheerfully, and then he opened his veins, “but not until he had inspected his funeral pyre and ordered its removal to another place, for fear that the smoke should injure the thick foliage of the trees.” So died this lover of gardens. Messalina’s sins grew more open, until at last she went through a public pantomime of marriage with one of her paramours, Silius, a consul-elect. The ceremony was performed before a number of witnesses duly invited. Claudius was at that time guided by the counsels of three Greek secretaries, and one of them determined to reveal the shameful truth to the emperor. Tacitus tells the story of her ruin in graphic language. She was celebrating the vintage feast in the gardens she had wickedly gained for herself. The presses were being trodden, the vats were overflowing, women girt with skins were dancing, as Bacchanals dance in their worship or their frenzy. Messalina with flowing hair shook the thyrsus, and Silius, at her side, crowned with ivy and wearing the buskin, moved his head in time with some lascivious chorus. One of the guests had climbed a tree in sport and reported a “hurricane from Ostia.” It was truer than he knew,{256} for just then messengers began to arrive with news that Claudius was on his way from Ostia, coming with vengeance. The revels ceased, the revellers fled in all directions, and Messalina, left deserted, mounted a garden cart to proceed along the road to meet her husband. Her appeal failed, though Claudius would undoubtedly have relented but for the interference of the freedman Narcissus. After dinner, warmed with the wine, he bade some one go and tell “that poor creature” to come before him on the morrow to plead her cause. But Narcissus had already sent soldiers to her, and she was driven to suicide. “Claudius was still at the banquet when they told him that Messalina was dead, without mentioning whether it was by her own or another’s hand. Nor did he ask the question, but called for his cup and finished the repast as usual.”

Nero, too, in the pages of Suetonius appears so incredible in his wickedness that the exaggeration is obvious. Of his splendid new palace the Golden House we read: “The portico was so high that it could contain a colossal statue of himself a hundred and twenty feet in height; and the space it included was so vast that it had a triple colonnade, a mile in length, and a lake like a sea, surrounded with buildings that looked like a city. It had a park with cornfields, vineyards, pastures, and woods containing a vast number of animals of all kinds, wild and tame. Parts of it were entirely overlaid with gold, and incrusted with jewels and pearl. The supper-rooms were vaulted and the compartments of the ceilings, which were inlaid with ivory, were made to revolve and scatter flowers. They also contained pipes to shed scents upon the guests. The chief banqueting-room was circular and revolved perpetually day and night, according to the motion of the celestial bodies. The baths were supplied with water from the sea and the Albula.” At the dedication of this magnificent building, all that he said in praise of it was: “Now at last I have begun to live like a gentleman.” They charged Nero with the murder of all his relatives, and there is a grim sort of humour in the story of his frequent attempts upon his mother’s life. His{257} grievance against her was that she was too strict. First, he deprived her of her bodyguard, and suborned people to harass her with lawsuits which drove her out of the city. In her retirement he set others to follow her about by land and sea with abuse and scurrilous language. Three times he attempted her life by poison, but finding she had previously rendered herself immune by the use of antidotes, he next designed machinery to make the floor above her bed-chamber collapse while she was asleep. When this failed he constructed a special coffin-ship, which could be made to fall in pieces, and then sent her a loving invitation to visit him at Baiæ, the Brighton of the Romans. The ships of her escort were likewise instructed to ram her by accident on the way home. He attended her to the vessel in a very cheerful spirit and kissed her bosom at parting with her. After which he sat up late at night waiting with great anxiety for the joyful news of her decease. But news arrived that the accident had miscarried, the dowager empress was swimming to shore. When her freedman came joyfully to narrate her escape, Nero pretended that the man had come to assassinate him and ordered her to be put to death. Suetonius adds “on good authority” that he went to view her corpse and criticised her blemishes to his followers, and then called for drink. After this he was haunted by her ghost.

The famous story of his death is told with a little restraint, and the latter part of it is not incredible. When the first bad news came of the revolt of Vindex with the legions of Gaul, Nero summoned his privy council and held a hasty consultation with them about the crisis, but spent the rest of the day in showing them a hydraulic organ and discoursing upon the intricacies of the invention. Then he composed a skit upon the rebels, and prepared a pathetic speech which was to make the mutineers return to his allegiance in tears. He sat down to compose the songs of triumph which should be sung upon that occasion. In preparing his expedition his first thought was to provide carriages for the band: he equipped all his{258} concubines as Amazons with battle-axes and bucklers. But when he heard of the revolt of the Spanish army under Galba also, he fell into a temper and tore the dispatch to pieces. He broke his precious cups and put up a dose of Locusta’s poison in a golden box. He ordered the prætorian guard to rally round him, but they only quoted Vergil to him:

“Is death indeed so hard a lot?”

At midnight he awoke and found that the guards had deserted his bedside. Even his bedding and his golden box of poison had been stolen. So he stumbled out into the night as if he would throw himself into the Tiber. But a few faithful slaves came to him and a freedman offered him his country villa for a refuge, and Nero rode thither in a shabby disguise. An earthquake shook the ground and a flash of lightning darted in his face; he heard the soldiers in the prætorian camp shouting for Galba. Skulking among bushes and briers, he crawled on all fours to a wretched outhouse of his freedman’s villa. There he ordered them to dig a grave and line it with scraps of marble. The water and wood for his obsequies were prepared, while he uttered the famous words “qualis artifex pereo!” either meaning “What an artist the world is losing!” or (more probably) “What an artistic death!” A dispatch came to announce that he had been declared a public enemy by the senate, and was to be punished according to the ancient custom of the Romans. He asked what sort of death that meant, and was informed that the criminal was generally stripped naked and scourged to death with his head in a pillory. Then he took up daggers and tried the points, but still he dared not die. He begged one of his attendants to give him the example. At last he heard the horsemen coming, quoted a line of the Iliad very appropriately, and drove, with the help of his secretary, a dagger into his throat.

Now, even of this, three-quarters is pure rhetoric. For example, it was impossible that Nero should have heard the soldiers in the Esquiline Camp from the road which he took to{259} his servant’s villa. The details are the invention of malice, or the attempt of a literary artist to improve his story. Even Suetonius admits that the populace continued to deck Nero’s tomb with spring and summer flowers, that they dressed up his image and placed it on the rostra as if he were still alive, and that a pretender, who arose in his name twenty years later, was received with acclamation among the Parthians.

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FIG. 1.
FIG 2.
Plate LXXI.

Having made this concession to the literary tradition which can be shown to be very largely fiction, we may now endeavour to gather up the fragments of history and briefly trace the progress of the Empire during its first century. First, as to its geographical growth; although Augustus had bequeathed in his testament the advice not to enlarge the frontiers of the Empire, and Tiberius had observed the precept, yet conquest still remained an object of ambition in the heart of every emperor who sought military renown or fresh sources of revenue. Britain, the declined legacy of Julius, was obviously beckoning the Romans. Diplomatic relations with the many kings of that island had always been frequent, and it was found that Britain was an inconvenient neighbour for a rapidly Romanising Gaul. There was a continual coming and going across the water, for there were kindred peoples on each side. Especially, it was the last refuge of the anti-Roman force of Druidism, a religion which was already declining and was suppressed by Claudius in Gaul. That this was so is shown by the forward movement of the Romans in the direction of Anglesey. The details of the conquest of Britain are, in spite of voluminous discussions, by no means certain. Aulus Plautius Silvanus with four legions, and with the future emperor Vespasian as one of his brigadiers, defeated Cymbeline and ten other kings of South Britain, crossed the Thames and conquered Colchester (Camulodunum), which became a Roman colonia and the centre of government. This was in A.D. 43, and Claudius himself spent a fortnight in our island in order to receive the honours of victory. The conquest was not too easily achieved, for there{260} were five great battles in which the emperor, though absent, received the titles of victory. Plautius himself seems to have reached the line of the Trent and Severn. Ostorius Scapula, his successor, was mainly occupied in subduing the Silures of the Welsh mountains, and in the conquest of the elusive prince Caradoc. The mercy shown to that defeated hero proves that the Romans had advanced in humanity since the days of Jugurtha. The two succeeding legates made no fresh advance, but Suetonius Paulinus in A.D. 59-61 established Chester as his western camp. While he was engaged in the conquest of Anglesey, leaving only the ninth legion to hold the conquered province, there broke out the great rebellion under the heroic Boudicca. There never has been a quarrel in this island which has not had money as its root. It was not so much the oppressive nature of the tribute as the vexatious methods of the Roman financiers, who still as in republican days swarmed in the wake of eagles, that stirred the Iceni and their queen into revolt. Camulodunum, Verulamium, and Londinium were taken and sacked and there was an immense slaughter of Roman civilians and Romanised Britons. But vengeance followed: no barbarians could stand against the strategy and discipline of the legions.

Succeeding governors were mainly content to pacify and civilise the island.

One of the extraordinarily pungent chapters of Tacitus shows us the Roman method of empire-building in Britain. “The following winter,” he says of A.D. 79, “was spent in useful statecraft. To make a people which was scattered and barbarous, and therefore prone to warfare, grow accustomed to peace and quietness by way of their pleasures, Agricola used to persuade them by private exhortations and public assistance to build temples, forums, and houses, with praise for the eager and admonitions for the laggard. Thus they could not help embarking on the rivalry for honour. Now he began to instruct the sons of chieftains in the liberal arts, to extol the natural abilities of the Britons above the

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{261} studious habits of Gaul, so that those who lately rejected even the Roman language now became zealous for oratory. So even our dress came into esteem, and the toga was commonly worn. The next step was towards the attractions of our vices, lounging in colonnades, baths, and refined dinner-parties. They were too ignorant to see that what they call civilisation was really a form of slavery.” There is no doubt that the Britons took as readily as their Gallic cousins to the Roman civilisation. Many of them took Roman names and became Roman citizens. They learnt the pleasures of the bath and the amphitheatre, their mines were exploited, arts and industries were introduced, agriculture was improved. The Druids hid themselves away in the unconquered fastnesses of Wales or crossed over to the Hibernian island which the Romans never had leisure to conquer. Meanwhile the Britons were learning to worship the obsolete gods of Rome, and presently the Eastern deities who came in their train.

It was the father-in-law of Tacitus, Julius Agricola, who conquered, or at least defeated, the northern tribes of England. Among the powerful Brigantes he established a garrison at York (Eburacum), which eventually became the most important of all the Roman centres. He advanced into Scotland also, and inflicted a bloody defeat upon the wild Caledonians. But Scotland remained unconquered, as did the neighbouring island upon which also Agricola had cast his ambitious eyes. The Roman army was wanted elsewhere, and the Emperor Domitian declined to assist any further adventures. Little more of our island’s story is recorded until the travelling Emperor Hadrian came out to visit us in A.D. 122. He saw that the wild north was only to be won by a gradual advance with more or less peaceful penetration northwards. The system of fortified frontiers was already established on the Rhine and Danube, and Hadrian drew his finger across the seventy miles between Bowness and Wallsend. Across this space, where the Tyne and Solway almost overlap, the Roman lines ran straight over hill and dale, and there they are to this day as a silent proof of the{262} greatness of the Roman people.[63] This was more than a frontier: it was a vast elongated camp which looked south as well as north and frowned alike upon the Brigantes and the Caledonians. It was pierced at intervals by fortified gates and great roads ran northwards through it. On the north there was first a ditch, and then a stone wall broad enough for two or three men to walk abreast along it and nearly twenty feet high. Behind this, in a space of about 140 yards wide runs a road connecting a chain of fourteen large camps, some of which grew into towns. Southward again was the quadruple rampart of earth, a mound, a dyke, and then a double mound. This immense labour, though it is small in comparison with Roman works elsewhere, was achieved not by British slaves, but by Roman soldiers, some of whom were Britons, some Spaniards, and some Germans. It was completed gradually under various emperors. There were detached forts both north and south of the wall of Hadrian. It was Antoninus Pius who made the next step twenty years later. The Antonine wall from the Forth to the Clyde is only about half as long and of inferior strength. There were camps even north of this, in Stirlingshire for example, and it is clear that the Romans intended to feel their way into the Highlands. But that was contrary to their fates.

Gaul meanwhile was becoming as civilised as Italy herself. Numbers of the Gauls who had acquired the Latin speech received the jus Latinum, which was almost equivalent to full citizenship. Claudius admitted the chiefs of the Ædui into the Roman senate, and part of the speech in which he did so is preserved on bronze tablets at Lyons. Twice in the course of the century there were interesting attempts to give political expression to the Gallic sense of nationality. The revolt of Vindex at the close of Nero’s reign was little more than a mutiny, but the projected “Empire of the Gauls,” which was set up during the confusion which followed the fall of Vitellius, came very near success. Jealousy between the Gauls and Germans wrecked it.{263}

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In the case of Germany, it looked for a time as if Tiberius, who, of course, had personal knowledge of the difficulties and advantages of further conquest, meant to break his stepfather’s precept and annex more territory. But probably the annual expeditions of Germanicus were not intended to be more than punitive and demonstrative. Blood enough was shed, and acres enough laid waste, to appease the unburied ghosts of Varus and his legions. But though the great battle of Idistavisus was hailed as a Roman victory, Arminius himself continually eluded the Romans and the legions were more than once in peril of ambush. When Tiberius cried halt, it was open to the critics to find a malevolent explanation in his jealousy of Germanicus, but it is much more likely to have been the deliberate policy of an emperor who had knowledge of Germany. Thus, although Arminius presently fell a victim to his own ambition, and perished by the dagger of a tyrannicide kinsman, he had done his work and saved the liberty of Germany. Henceforth the Romans confined themselves to the Rhine frontier, though they had posts and summer camps beyond it. By degrees the generals of the Upper and Lower Armies in Germany developed into governors of two German provinces, but Germany was unconquered. There was a great military road along the left bank of the Rhine joining the garrison towns where the legions were quartered. Mogontiacum (Mainz) and Vetera Castra (Xanten) remained as the head-quarters, until the latter was superseded by Cologne (Colonia Agrippinensis) founded under Claudius. Trier (Augusta Treverorum), another foundation of about the same date, grew into an important centre of Roman civilisation, as its majestic Roman gate[64] and fine amphitheatre still bear witness. Under Claudius also the great Via Claudia over the Brenner Pass was completed, and the canal joining the Maas to the Rhine. This was better work for Roman soldiers than slaughtering Chatti and Chauci in their native forests. The re-entrant angle of the Rhine and Danube about the Black Forest, where the{264} rivers run small, was recognised as a danger-point. The barbarian Germans were accordingly cleared away to make room for a body of Gallic emigrants, who received lands on condition of paying a tithe of their produce as rent, and of undertaking their own defence. This was a new piece of frontier policy which was often imitated in later times.

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Roman Limes

It seems to have been the Flavian emperors, Vespasian and Domitian, who advanced a step farther. On the other side of the Rhine and beyond these Agri Decumates the Romans began to construct a line of forts and wooden watch-towers linked by a rampart of earth, and known as the Limes Trans-Rhenanus. This frontier of Upper Germany left the Rhine between Linz and Andernach, crossed the Lahn at Ems, and then turned eastwards north of Wiesbaden (Aquæ Mattiacæ) and Frankfort. After Saalburg it runs on a north-easterly curve to Gruningen, whence it turns south, and continues for more than 100 miles through Aschaffenburg and Worth to join the Rhætian limes at Lorch. From Lorch the Rhætian limes goes eastwards to join the Danube a few miles above Regensburg. At first perhaps it was little more than a police and customs limit, but it gradually grew into a formidable barrier behind which the Roman Empire rested in a too profound security. Trajan continued it. Hadrian strengthened it with a wall and palisade. Commodus further fortified and extended it. A similar bulwark ran along the Danube.

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This policy of{265} setting up immobile defences like the Great Wall of China is always a dangerous one. Useful at first and visibly strong, it tends to lull the defenders into a false security. The camps and forts grew into towns, the armies into peaceful citizens living with their wives and children and devoting themselves to trade and husbandry. Meanwhile the barbarians on the other side were growing stronger and learning the art of war as fast as the Romans were forgetting it.

After this the danger-point for the Empire shifted gradually eastwards down the Danube. Claudius had converted Thrace from an allied kingdom into a Roman province in A.D. 46. Much difficulty was caused by the Dacians, who lived just across the Danube on the north bank opposite the Roman province of Mœsia and in the modern Roumania. As the Danube was apt to become frozen in winter it ceased to offer a satisfactory frontier, so long as there were powerful enemies on the other side. At first the Romans tried the system of transplanting them, 50,000 under Augustus and 100,000 under Nero, and settling them in the province of Mœsia. But it was a stupid policy, for it meant constant intrigues between the free barbarians and their enslaved kinsfolk. Vespasian accordingly moved two legions down from Dalmatia to reinforce the two already stationed in Mœsia. But presently there arose an able and heroic king called Decebalus, who welded the Dacians into a compact and organised kingdom, and began to menace the security of the Empire. Like Marbod of Bohemia, he drilled his barbarians on the Roman model. In A.D. 85 he invaded Mœsia, won victories and did great damage. Domitian, called upon to face this peril, was content with inflicting a single defeat upon them and then accepting Decebalus as a client prince. He gave him Roman engineers and artillerymen, and even sent gifts of money which the barbarians were pleased to regard as tribute. This has been set down as cowardice, but it was certainly unwisdom in Domitian, for Decebalus grew stronger and more dangerous. It was left for Trajan, the greatest soldier of all the early emperors, to face this thorny{266} problem in the two great Dacian Wars of 101 and 105 B.C. The whole war is depicted for us by pictures in stone. The spiral reliefs which cover the column of Trajan tell us, with far more detail than the narrative of Dio, the history of the two Dacian Wars. We see the embarkation of the Roman army, we see it on the march with its scouts in advance, we see the solemn purifications, sacrifices, and harangues which preceded battle. We see the battles themselves, in which the Romans with sword and pilum defeat the Dacians and their mail-clad Sarmatian cavalry. The great bridge built across the Danube at Viminacium by the Greek architect Apollodorus is faithfully depicted. We can watch the siege of the Dacian capital, Sarmizegethusa, and observe the construction of the siege-engines. Scenes of pathos are most graphically portrayed, the torturing of Roman prisoners by the barbarian women, the suicide of the Dacian chiefs by poison, and the death of the heroic Decebalus. At intervals throughout the story there appears and reappears the calm and stately figure of Trajan, steering his ship, sacrificing for victory, leading the march or the charge, haranguing his troops, directing the labour of engineering, consulting with his officers, or receiving the submission of the foe.[65]

The end of the two wars was that Dacia was annexed and became a province of the Empire. Here, as elsewhere, Trajan showed his contempt of natural frontiers. As a gallant soldier himself, he believed in the invincibility of the Roman arms, and preferred to put his trust in legions rather than in walls. For this he has been condemned by modern historians, but history is on his side. More than anything else it was reliance on natural frontiers and artificial ramparts, with the consequent loss of military instincts, which was to be the undoing of the Roman Empire.

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FIG. 1.
FIG 2.
Plate LXXV.

On the eastern frontier it was for a long time a game of tug-of-war between Rome and Parthia, the rope being supplied by the kingdom of Armenia. The Augustan policy of filling{267} the oriental thrones with princes trained at Rome was not a great success. You might learn bad lessons at court; you might even learn to know Rome without learning to love or fear her. The princes sent to Armenia or Parthia were unstable allies and the ordinary course of events was for the Romans to send out a king to Armenia and for the Parthians to depose him. Again it was left for Trajan to attack this problem in the old Roman fashion; when the usual submissive embassy arrived, Trajan answered, as a Metellus might have done, that he wanted deeds not words, and he led his army on. Trajan found the Eastern legions, whose headquarters were at Antioch, already civilianised and orientalised so that they had become useless for fighting. At this time there were four legions in Syria, one in Judæa and one in the new province of Cappadocia. The first task was to restore discipline and energy to these troops. Then, without bloodshed, in A.D. 115 Armenia was declared a province. Parthia, distracted by civil war, was overrun, its capital Ctesiphon easily taken by siege. Mesopotamia was made a province, and to Parthia was given a new king. The client kingdom of Adiabene became a third new province under the name of Assyria. This meant that the Tigris became the eastern frontier instead of the Euphrates. Unfortunately these conquests had been too easily achieved, largely through the temporary dissensions of the Parthians, who accordingly failed to experience the salutary discipline of real defeat. Trajan died on his way home, and Hadrian, who was more of a statesman than a warrior, reversed his predecessor’s policy. He surrendered the three new provinces and even acquiesced in the Parthians’ choice of a king of their own in place of the Roman nominee. The only new provinces of Trajan’s creation which Hadrian retained were Dacia and Arabia.

Although their military force was contemptible, their spiritual zeal made the Jews the most difficult people to govern in the whole empire. Worshipping their Jealous God with fierce ardour, they could not join in the Cæsar-worship which{268} was the outward sign of loyalty and patriotism throughout the Roman world. Moreover the Semitic question had already begun to vex the soul of Europe. Throughout the East and especially in the trade centres such as Antioch, Alexandria, and Cyrene there were already large communities of Jews who lived on the usual terms of deep-rooted racial animosity with their neighbours. It is only fair to the Roman government to admit that it tried to conciliate its difficult subjects. Though the vanity of Caligula led him to accept the suggestion of erecting a colossal statue of him in the Temple at Jerusalem, yet when the philosopher Philo and his fellow-ambassadors came over to plead against the outrage the emperor good-humouredly remarked that if people refused to worship him it was more their misfortune than their fault. As a rule the Roman procurators who administered Galilee and Judæa were almost too tolerant of Jewish fanaticism. The Jews were exempt from military service: their Sabbaths were respected. A Roman soldier who tore a book of the law was put to death. It was useless to argue with such sects as the Zealots and Assassins. The Anti-Semite spirit broke out into massacres. In Cæsarea, Damascus, and elsewhere the Gentiles slew the Jews; in Alexandria and Cyrene the Jews slaughtered the Gentiles. In Jerusalem the Romans had to face violent discord between the rival factions, and naturally they sided with the more tolerant and moderate Sadducees against the stern Pharisees and the smaller sects of extremists. In A.D. 66 matters came to a crisis. A Roman garrison was attacked and destroyed: the army which came from Syria to avenge them was repulsed with slaughter. This occurred while the Emperor Nero was on one of his theatrical tours in Greece, and in the next year Vespasian was sent with an army of three legions and auxiliaries which increased its numbers to more than 50,000. During the death of Nero and the short reigns of his three successors, Vespasian was gradually subduing Palestine and driving the irreconcilables before him into Jerusalem. Vespasian himself became emperor and it was left to his son Titus to finish the tragedy.

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{269} The siege of Jerusalem (A.D. 70) was one of the most difficult tasks which the Romans ever had to face. In addition to its natural strength there were six lines of fortification to be overcome one by one, and each was defended with all the grim tenacity of which the Semite race is capable when it is on the defensive. Five months the great siege lasted, and at the end Jerusalem was a heap of ruins. Some of the temple treasures were saved for the Roman triumph, and the Arch of Titus still shows us the famous seven-branched golden candlestick being carried up to the temple of Capitoline Jove.[66] It is said that one million Jews perished in the siege and 100,000 more were sold into slavery. Jerusalem became merely the camp of the Tenth Legion. All Judæa became one province, and the scattered Jews were only allowed to keep their privileges on condition of registering their names and paying a fee of two denarii every year for their licence.

But this awful lesson had not quenched the fire of Jewish patriotism nor killed their hopes of an earthly Messiah who should restore the kingdom of David. Once again under Hadrian there was a Jewish rebellion stimulated by the fact that the emperor forbade the rite of circumcision and decreed the foundation of a Roman colony at Jerusalem with a temple to Jupiter on Mount Zion. The revolt was stamped out with merciless severity and the Jews were scattered for ever.

The only other noteworthy addition to the Roman Empire was Mauretania (Morocco), which was incorporated as a province by Caligula. The motive alleged was the emperor’s desire to possess himself of the treasures of Ptolemy, its king.

On the whole, then, we can see that the Roman Empire had almost reached its natural limits. It had seized as much as it could govern, and now, with the exception of the Parthian kingdom, all that lay outside its frontiers was naked barbarism. So the centre grew more and more unwarlike, while the legions had little to occupy their minds except the speculation whether{270} their particular general had a chance of the purple. For this reason alone the Cæsars were loth to embark on conquests, unless like Trajan they were willing to neglect everything else and undertake the campaigns in person. A victorious general was always to be dreaded by his master.

The Principate

At first sight the position of the princeps, who was absolute lord of this world, is one of immense and terrible power. But earthly power has its natural limits in human weakness. The weak or wicked emperors were generally the servants of their favourites, male or female, or they lived under fear of the legions. Without their bureaux they were helpless, and the bureaux in the skilled hands of Roman knights or Greek freedmen were acquiring the real power. But it is astonishing how much actual work was done by the more conscientious Cæsars. In Pliny’s letters we see what minute details were referred by a provincial governor to his master and how minutely they were answered. The answers may be, and no doubt sometimes are, the composition of secretaries, but there is a personal note in them which often suggests the emperor’s own dictation. Probably Trajan was exceptionally industrious and Pliny exceptionally meticulous. Nevertheless it looks as if a strong emperor actually ruled this vast domain. It is one of the merits of despotism that the monarch’s power increases automatically with his virtues and capacity. A Caligula could not do so much harm: an Augustus, a Claudius, a Trajan, or a Hadrian might benefit millions of mankind. I think it is clear that they did so. The insane work of slaughter, which is all that interests the ordinary historian, had almost ceased. All over the world the markets were full, the workshops were noisy with hammers, the seas were thronged with ships, the great highways busy with travellers. Justice was strong and even-handed. Taxes were low and equitably assessed. For the most part men had liberty to go their own ways and worship their own gods. From the accession of{271}

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Augustus to the death of Antoninus Pius—and with a few intervals one might safely go further—the world was enjoying one of its golden periods of prosperity. It is unhistorical to look ahead and pronounce this happy world to be already doomed.

Yet, on the other hand, it is idle to deny the unsound spots in this imposing fabric of empire. The weakness was at the centre. The Roman aristocracy was gay and splendid, but not happy or secure. The ghost of the Republic still haunted her streets. To make a necessary repetition: if Augustus had been succeeded by a son as wise and tactful as himself, and if the throne had then passed to a third generation with the soldierly qualities of Trajan and the statesmanship of Diocletian, the Empire might have taken shape as a strong hereditary monarchy with a senate co-operating heartily, and an army obeying loyally. But that was not fated so. Tiberius was too proud to play the comedy as Augustus had done: instead he made enemies of the aristocracy and became suspicious and tyrannical. When they lampooned and abused him, he turned into a despot. Cremutius Cordus, the historian, was executed for calling Cassius “the last of the Romans.” At last Tiberius withdrew himself in gloomy despair and left the government in the hands of an unscrupulous intriguer, the knight Sejanus, who still further harried and alienated the nobles. It is hard to know the truth about Gaius, so palpably is his story written by satirists. He may have been mad. The adulation which surrounded the Cæsars was enough to turn the head of a vain youth. He was certainly extravagant and increased his unpopularity by taxes upon litigants and prostitutes. It was the officers of the prætorian guard who conspired to assassinate him.

Claudius was chosen by the bodyguard who had murdered his predecessor and he bought their allegiance with £120 apiece. He was the uncle of Caligula, but no process of adoption had lifted him into the royal house. Still he was the grandson of Livia and his assumption of the name “Cæsar” passed without comment. Claudius set Augustus before him as his model and{272} in all things he was careful to return to republican precedents. He took the office of censor for the revision of the senate-roll. He increased the patriciate, encouraged the State religion and by personal attention improved the administration of justice. The cause of most of the trouble during the preceding reigns had been the practice of “delation.” Even under the Republic criminal prosecutions had been the easiest method of obtaining political notoriety. Tiberius and Gaius had added the motive of pecuniary gain. Claudius now repealed the obnoxious laws of treason, punished the laying of information and forbade slaves to give evidence against their masters. By the repeal of the treason laws Claudius had almost ceased to be a monarch, and he was careful to revive the old legislative processes of the republic. On the other hand, under Claudius the power of the bureaucracy was greatly increased, and the affairs of the Empire were principally conducted by the three powerful Greek secretaries.

On the death of Claudius—when the emperors died in their beds poison was invariably alleged—Nero succeeded almost as a matter of course. His mother Agrippina had secured his succession by having him raised to honour just as had been done for Tiberius by Augustus. He had already been styled “Prince of the Youth,” designated for the consulship and endowed with the proconsular power. There was, however, a possible rival in the young Britannicus, and Nero was chosen by the prætorian guard just as clearly as Claudius. During the first five years, when the young prince was engaged in enjoying himself under the guidance of the philosopher Seneca, the senate had nothing to fear, and the Roman state enjoyed its liberty, but when Tigellinus, the wicked prefect of the guard, gained his evil ascendancy over the mind of Nero there were some prosecutions of influential senators which made the whole senate tremble. Yet, even in these worst days of the worst of emperors, good administration proceeded. Nero himself made an interesting proposal for the abolition of customs in the Empire and, indeed, may fairly be called “The Father of{273} Free Trade.” But the capitalist class succeeded in suppressing the proposal. The duties on corn were, however, reduced and the collection of taxes carefully regulated. Charges of extortion against tax-collectors were given precedence in the law courts, a measure of justice beyond anything that the modern state has attempted. It was much more the dancing and singing of the princeps than the extortions of Tigellinus and the judicial murders of noblemen which caused the unpopularity which brought Nero to his doom. Among the many who fell victims to the ferocity of Tigellinus—for Nero himself was probably harmless enough—were two genuine Republicans of the old school, men who were genuine believers in the Stoic faith and who kept the birthdays of Brutus and Cassius as annual feasts. It is probable that genuine opposition of this sort was far from rare among the aristocracy of the Empire. Writers like Lucan and Tacitus were evidently in sympathy with it, and though Thrasea Pætus and Barea Soranus are famous for the Stoic deaths they died, yet they were only two out of many who lived wholly on the memory of the Republic.

Nero’s fall was caused directly by the defection of the prætorian guards, whose allegiance had been bought in the name of Galba. Nero was the last member of the Julio-Claudian family, and at his death the last shadow of dynastic claim passed away. The succession of the principate became a mere scramble in which the strongest or the luckiest or the heaviest briber won the day. Pretenders sprang up against Galba, several of the armies put forward their generals as competitors for the throne; and Galba himself had not even enough generosity to pay the bribes by which he had secured his throne. Thus the year 69 was a year of incessant civil war. Galba was murdered in the streets of Rome; Otho was defeated in battle near Bedriacum and slain in his camp, Vitellius; the choice of the legions in Germany, reigned from April to December, when Rome was once more occupied by a citizen army. The legions of Syria, seeing that their fellow-soldiers{274} of Spain and Germany had already made their generals into emperors, had determined to take a hand in the game, and now Vespasian came as the fourth Cæsar in the space of a single year.

It speaks well for the solidity of the imperial system as organised by Augustus that it survived the shock of such events as these. It proves that the system was everything and the man little or nothing.

The new Emperor Vespasian, who succeeded after all this turmoil, was different from his predecessors in that he had two grown-up sons ready to succeed him. It is said that Mucianus, a still more powerful Eastern general, had surrendered his claims because he was childless. If so, it was nobly and wisely done. Vespasian was able and willing to restore the machinery of the Augustan principate. He was himself frankly a humble Sabine with no claims of birth. He was firm but not oppressive towards the senate, and he kept control over the prætorian guard by appointing Titus, his son, to its command. He also established the succession beyond doubt by making Titus his consort. Vespasian and Titus were elected consuls year by year. Vespasian’s principal work was to restore the financial credit of the government. Unfortunately the two sons, Titus, and then Domitian, who followed him upon the throne and with him make up the “Flavian” dynasty, were scarcely worthy of their father. Titus was “the darling of the human race,” generous and mild to the senators, but too fond of his popularity to be a strong ruler, and Domitian was a genuine tyrant. With his autocratic system of rule he was naturally oppressive to the aristocracy, and his name is in consequence written on the pages of history as that of a monster of cruelty. Domitian certainly made constitutional changes which rendered the monarchy a more open fact. He took the consulship for ten years to come, he became censor and drew up the senate-roll to suit his fancy, he refused the usual request of the senators that the emperor should admit that he had no power to condemn a senator to death. Also he openly spurned the proud{275} senators and permitted the servile modes of address which Augustus and other emperors had forbidden.

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These high-handed proceedings made the senators hate and plot against him. Plots were followed by executions, and Domitian gradually became more and more tyrannical. More of the Stoic Republican party were executed, and the odious practice of delation came once more into vogue. At last there was a successful plot organised in the palace, and Domitian fell to the dagger.

With the three succeeding emperors, Nerva (96-98), Trajan (98-117), and Hadrian (117-138), we have a series of genuine constitutional rulers who show the system of the principate at its best. The excellent figure which these rulers cut on the page of history is not wholly unconnected with the fact that we have now passed beyond the region illuminated by the satire of Tacitus and the tittle-tattle of Suetonius. Their deeds speak for them. In Nerva we have the senate’s choice of a ruler, elderly, blameless, but decidedly weak. Had he not died in less than two years, he could easily have brought the throne of the Cæsars down to the ground. Knowing his own weakness, Nerva had adopted the foremost soldier of his day as his heir, and Trajan, beloved of the soldiers and ready to purchase the love of the Rome rabble, succeeded without a murmur. He spent most of his reign in the camp. In the camp he died, and the succession was by no means clear when Hadrian, a kinsman though a distant one, had the courage to seize and the luck to hold the imperial power. All these three emperors granted the senate’s claim that the emperor should not have the power to condemn a senator to death, and in some aspects the senate seemed to have regained much of its old independence. But Trajan was too masterful and Hadrian too ubiquitous to leave any real scope for senatorial initiative. It was really under these benevolent despots that the Dyarchy ceased to have any significance. As usual the benevolence of the despot was the most fatal enemy to liberty. Not only in Rome but even in the municipalities of Italy politics were ceasing to have any real{276} meaning, and men of standing had to be coerced into taking part in the comedy. The bureaucracy of the imperial palace now governed the world, and the better it governed the more quickly did the life-blood of the Roman world run dry in its veins. We now find imperial “curators” and accountants going up and down the provinces to set their finances in order. Whenever there is trouble in any corner of the earth, an imperial “corrector” travels down from Rome by the admirable system of imperial posts to set it right. Where, of old, a local squire, the patronus of the municipality, would leave a charitable legacy for the maintenance and education of poor children, the state with its admirable system of “alimenta” was beginning to assume the responsibility. The state had its Development Fund which made loans on mortgage at very low interest, generally 5 but sometimes 2½ per cent., to small farmers, and the interest was applied to orphanages and the education of the poor. Nerva has the credit for introducing this splendid system of public charity and Hadrian developed it. It was Hadrian also who gave the finishing touches to the organisation of the civil service as a close bureaucracy entirely divorced from the military profession. This service was chiefly in the hands of the knights, and it ranged in a carefully graded hierarchy of officialdom down from the three principal Secretaries of State, the Finance Minister, the Chief Secretary, and the Minister of Petitions, down to the Fiscal Advocates who looked after local revenue. Though the Roman Empire is often represented as groaning under the weight of taxation, and no doubt the more extravagant emperors did amass heavy liabilities, yet Hadrian, who followed an emperor extravagant both in warfare and building, was able to remit about nine millions sterling of arrears due to the fisc. He also introduced a system of periodical reassessments and gave the fullest liberty for his tenants-in-chief to appeal against the collectors. Hadrian it was, also, who really introduced the system of installing a junior colleague in the Empire, a plan which Augustus had foreshadowed in his elevation of Tiberius.

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This{277} plan produced one of the firmest dynasties which ever held the imperial throne, namely, the Antonines, Marcus Aurelius, Titus, Antoninus Pius, and Commodus, who ruled from Hadrian’s death in 138 to 192. The age of the first two Antonines is considered by Gibbon and many others to be the culmination of the Roman imperial system.

Two facts of very great importance stand out from this hasty review of the principate during its first two centuries. In the first place, it is still, in the strict constitutional sense, a compromise. The theory of the constitution had not changed since Augustus, if, indeed, it had ever changed. It is still a Republic—Respublica Romana—governed by senate, consuls, tribunes, and an intermittent public assembly. There is, as there nearly always had been, a princeps, that is, leading citizen, a man raised by personal eminence and prestige far above his colleagues. Certain powers are delegated to him by the state. Above all he is master of the legions because he has consular or proconsular authority over all the provinces where troops are stationed. There still remained certain theoretical limitations to his power. He could not, for example, impose a tax on Rome or Italy by his own authority. But the feebleness and sycophancy of the senate and magistracy made him actually omnipotent. When a certain senator was pointed out by Cæsar’s freedman as an enemy to Cæsar the doomed man was set upon by his colleagues and stabbed to death with their pens in the senate-house. It is true that this sycophancy was not altogether the fault of the senate. Under the tyrannical emperors like Tiberius, Nero, and Domitian, emperors who encouraged the “delator,” no senator’s life was secure. At a frown from Cæsar it was customary to go home and open one’s veins after writing a complimentary will in which one bequeathed everything to that best of rulers. This sort of behaviour led inevitably to the growth of the monarchy. The emperor was the one person who dared to act, and the more capable and well-intentioned the ruler, the more closely were the fetters {278}riveted around the necks of the Roman People. The silent growth of bureaucracy, of which the historians have little to tell us, but which we can gather from the inscriptions of the period, is both the symptom and the cause of this increasing power of the principate.

In the second place, it is important to notice that although the city of Rome was growing marvellously in riches and splendour, she was losing her old domination in the world, and becoming the capital instead of the mistress of the Empire. The magistracies of the city had almost ceased to have any importance except as inferior grades on the road to proconsulships. Italy herself was sinking into the position of one among the provinces of the Empire, and with the growth of Hadrian’s centralised system of imperial administration even the provinces were losing their significance as units of government. It seems impossible that almost the whole of Europe and large parts of Asia and Africa could ever have been governed by one man or even one bureau. Yet it was almost achieved by the Roman Empire. The world-state was almost a fact, and a few more Trajans and Hadrians would have accomplished it. The city-state idea, as a unit of patriotism, still flourished. But with the great roads stretching like railways to the four corners of the earth, and the imperial officers travelling along them, with the legions massed along the frontiers and men recruited in Spain sent to serve in Britain, the sense of territory, from which the modern state was to arise, began to develop itself.

Imperial Rome

If the external history of the Empire has suffered by being so largely in the hands of the opposition, the intimate life of the city has been still more distorted through being written for us by satirists. The humorous or venomous descriptions of Juvenal, Martial, and Petronius form our principal source of information, and Pliny, who gives us a very different picture of tranquil and cultivated leisure or of useful activity carried on in refined and elegant surroundings, has commonly been regarded as a remarkable exception. Yet the material remains are on{279}

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the side of Pliny; and we owe a great debt to modern writers, like Dr. Dill, who have been able to emphasise this point. Romances such as those of Lytton, Melville, and Sienckewicz have embroidered the theme of Juvenal, and everybody nowadays has his vision of Imperial Rome based upon such fairy-tales. It is probably vain to attempt a refutation of the popular view which pictures the Roman of the Empire as exclusively spending his time in the amphitheatre watching the lions devour the Christians, except when he was supping on nightingales’ tongues from plates of gold. Moreover these things are a not unimportant part of the truth. Imperial Rome remained as bloody and brutal in its amusements as Republican Rome. In fact, as the emperors were not only richer than the old senators, but also much more carefully watched and bitterly lampooned, so the number of wild beasts slain at a venatio of Trajan exceeded the slaughters exhibited by Pompeius. Doubtless the imperial epicure Apicius excelled the republican glutton Lucullus in the variety of his menu, and the lascivious entertainments of Petronius Arbiter and his master Nero certainly dwarfed the attempts of Sulla. At heart it was the same Roman People, enjoying the same stupid pleasures and violent sensations under circumstances of greater magnificence and refinement. It was a society founded on slavery, acknowledging no limits to the free indulgence of pleasure. But one misconception must be combated. The whole imperial period of five centuries should not be regarded as one slippery Gadarene slope down which the Romans were hurrying to destruction. Fashions came and went. Extravagance was at its height under Nero: there was a reaction towards greater simplicity under Vespasian. Under Trajan and Hadrian life was orderly and refined. Under M. Aurelius philosophy was even more fashionable than vice. Nor was bloodshed the only form of public enjoyment; the amphitheatres often presented spectacles quite as inoffensive and much more splendid than our modern hippodromes and circuses. Chariot-racing, in particular, though a good deal more dangerous than the modern steeplechase,{280} took its place along with gladiators and beast-baiting as the popular sport, and the Romans showed as much enthusiasm for Coryphæus and Hirpinus as we do for our Ormondes and Persimmons. The charioteer Lacerna had as much vogue with them as had Fred Archer with our fathers, and they took sides with the Prasina Factio even more seriously than we do with Light or Dark Blue oarsmen. The Romans had an inherited taste for blood. There were philosophers who condemned gladiatorial shows, but the defence of the ancient sportsman was similar to and perhaps not less true than the modern fox-hunter’s excuse: the gladiators themselves enjoyed the fun almost as much as the spectators.

On the whole, apart from its follies, material civilisation was steadily advancing during the whole period at present under review. In such matters as transit, public health, police, water-supply, engineering, building, and so forth, Rome of the second century left off pretty much where the reign of Queen Victoria was to resume. The modern city of Rome is obtaining its drinking-water out of about three of the nine great aqueducts which ministered to the imperial city. The hot-air system which warms the hotels of modern Europe and America was in general use in every comfortable villa of the first century A.D. Education was more general and more accessible to the poor in A.D. 200 than in A.D. 1850. The siege artillery employed by Trajan was as effective, probably, as the cannon of Vauban.

The city of Rome must have been a wonderful spectacle under the emperors. One of our modern international exhibitions might faintly recall a little of its splendours, with gilt and stucco for gold and marble. Northward from the slope of the Aventine Hill there was a succession of majestic public buildings, temple beyond temple, forum beyond forum, as each of the great emperors had added to the work of his predecessor and endeavoured to eclipse it. At your feet would be the Circus Maximus, where the chariot-races were held, and behind it the Palatine Hill crowded with palaces. To the east of it ran the Triumphal Road passing through the Arch of{281}

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The Roman Forum in the early Empire


Constantine to the Colossus of Nero and the mighty Flavian Amphitheatre known to us as the Colosseum. From there the Sacred Way led north-west through the Arch of Titus past the Temple of Venus and Rome and the Basilica of Constantine to a series of stately fora, opening one from the other and containing altars, columns, arches, statues, and temples surrounded with shady colonnades, whose cloisters served for business and pleasure. Above them on the west rose the ancient Capitoline Hill crowned with its great Temple of Jupiter and immemorial citadel. Picture these magnificent spaces filled with grave citizens in their flowing white togas, hurrying slaves in their bright tunics, visitors and barbarians from all corners of the earth, trousered Gauls, skin-clad Sarmatians, mitred Parthians. Every now and then the burly gladiators swagger through the crowd admired by every one, or a procession of the shaven begging priests of Isis passes by with strange cries and gestures. Perhaps the lictors come swinging down the hill bidding every one make way for the slaves who carry the litter of the emperor who is on his way to sacrifice. Or fancy the crowd in the Great Amphitheatre, which held more than eighty thousand spectators, with the purple and gold awnings spread to protect them from the blazing sunshine, the auditorium perfumed with scents and cooled by fountains, and the arena at their feet flooded with water to present a naval combat. It is a city wrapped in profound peace, still dreaming amid its splendours that it is the mistress of the world.

And these signs of magnificent material riches were not confined to Rome. Alexandria would almost rival her. Asiatic towns like Ephesus and Antioch presented a similar appearance of luxury and opulence. In the north Lugudunum and even Londinium had a splendour of their own. In Gades Spain had a handsome and highly civilised capital. The Roman remains at Trier utterly dwarf the comfortable erections of a prosperous modern town. Out in the desert at Palmyra[67] and Ba’albek[68] there were rising into existence those huge buildings

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{283} which testify to the industry fostered by the provincial government of the emperors. Along the sea-coast of Campania there were sea-fronts of continuous villas whose marble fragments are still washed up in the Bay of Naples. It tasks the imagination of genius to conjure up that glowing world of the past out of the ruined foundations which remain. Turner’s famous picture of Baiæ represents a successful attempt to do so. Pompeii, wonderful as it is, was only a very small and obscure country town. Yet it was lavishly provided with temples, baths, theatre, and amphitheatre.

On the coast of North Africa, where nothing but man’s labour organised under a good government is required to make the desert blossom as a rose, there was a teeming population which prospered on agriculture. Timgad (Thamugadi) was founded in the year 100 as a colony by Trajan, and it was the head-quarters of the Third Legion. Here, in the blank desert of to-day, the French explorers have revealed porticoes and colonnades, a forum, a municipal senate-house, a theatre, a capitol, rostra, a triumphal arch, baths, shrines, and temples, together with the aqueduct and fountains which alone made all this splendour possible.[69] For public munificence this age is unequalled in history. It must have been a very powerful sense of patriotism which compelled every rich man to devote so large a part of his fortune to the embellishment of his native town. The benefactions of the modern millionaire seem miserly in comparison. Pliny, who was not a very rich man as wealth was accounted in his day, presented his native town of Como with a library at a cost of nearly £9000, and maintained it with an annual endowment of more than £800. He offered to contribute one-third to the cost of a secondary school, and made the wise provision that the parents of the boys should contribute the rest, in order that they might feel an interest in the school and take pains in the choice of suitable teachers. He gave nearly £5000 more for the support of poor children. He bequeathed more than £4000 for public baths and nearly{284} £16,000 to his freedmen and for public feasts. And, as Dr. Dill has pointed out, the inscriptions of every municipal town prove that this princely generosity and patriotism were by no means the exception. “There was in those days an immense civic ardour, an almost passionate rivalry, to make the mother city a more pleasant and a more splendid home.” Among the most princely of these benefactors was the Athenian Professor of Rhetoric, Herodes Atticus, who added a new quarter to Athens in the reign of Hadrian.

Perhaps the most remarkable feature of life in the Roman Empire under the good emperors of the second century is the growth of a lower class with occupations and ideals of its own. We have already remarked that the poor free Roman of republican days scarcely emerges into the light except as a soldier. But now the inscriptions show us a happy and industrious class of artisans and humble tradesmen, grading down through the freedmen to the slaves, many of whom now lived and worked under quite tolerable conditions of life. Especially noteworthy is the social tendency of the day. Every occupation and craft was forming its guilds or “collegia” about which the inscriptions give us full and most interesting details. The collegia were not quite Friendly Societies, and still less Trade Unions, though they undoubtedly claimed political privileges and perhaps even made some attempt at collective bargaining with the public. Sometimes they obtained exemption from taxation. They dined together, they had their chapels and festivals, their colours and processions. They had officers modelled on the old Roman magistracy, with senators as committee and a quæstor as treasurer. They had their list of patrons who were expected to earn the honour by generosity. In the main they were burial clubs. Even slaves, and even gladiators, the most despised of slaves, had their guilds and fraternities: of course they were regulated by the state.

As yet, in spite of its growing centralisation and spirit of paternal despotism, the Roman government was true to its ancient principle of allowing full local autonomy. The municipal

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{285} life of a small Campanian town like Pompeii afforded scope for local ambition and a political ardour to which the election posters and the inscriptions scratched or scribbled on the walls bear eloquent witness.[70] Sometimes the name of the candidate is written with the laconic addition v. b., “a good man,” or it may be “Please make P. Furius duumvir, he’s a good man.” But occasionally the commendations are more explicit: “a most modest young man,” “he will look after the treasury,” “worthy of public office,” and so forth. Sometimes a trade-guild supports its candidate. Thus the liquor interest in politics is already noticeable in A.D. 70. The humour of the opposition is seen in such a poster as “the pickpockets request the election of Vatia as ædile.” And the intrusion of the feminine element is to be observed in “Claudium IIvir. animula facit” (“His little darling is working for Claudius as duumvir”). The wit of the Pompeian wall-scribe was brighter, though not always cleaner, than that of his modern counterpart. There is the proud inscription “Restitutus has often deceived many girls,” but there are also testimonies of conjugal affection like “Hirtia, the Dewdrop, always and everywhere sends hearty greeting to C. Hostilius, the Gnat, her husband, shepherd and gentle counsellor.” There is also an interesting account from a bakery:

1 lb. of oil6d.      bran9d.
straw7½d.a neck-wreath    4½d.
a day’s wages    7½d.  

We find advertisements like “Scaurus’s tunny jelly, Blossom Brand, put up by Eutyches, slave of Scaurus.”

Education and Literature

A noticeable feature of the times was the wide diffusion of education. Every one, it seems, could read and write, even the slaves, even the humble British workman. Many a Pompeian schoolboy has scribbled a line from Vergil, or Ovid, or{286} Propertius. Many an adult has added his or her original compositions. We have seen in the case of Pliny how the rich men interested themselves in the foundation of schools, both primary and secondary, for their native towns. In the Greek world, as may be expected, education was most highly developed and thoroughly graded from the elementary to the university stage. For elementary schools the voluntary system was in vogue, but it was under careful public supervision, and, as we have seen, the state undertook the maintenance of poor children, girls as well as boys. In contrast to the present day, the teachers were often held in high honour, and many a public inscription testifies to the gratitude of a town towards its schoolmasters. That they also received more substantial recognition is proved by the fact that they were often able to leave handsome benefactions themselves. They were elected, sometimes after an examination or after giving specimen lessons, by the local education committees, with religious ceremonies, and they took an oath of office on entering upon their duties. They had their unions and associations like other professions. In one inscription found in Callipolis, “The young men and the lads and the boys and their teachers” unite to confer a wreath of honour upon one of the mathematical masters. The teachers seem to have been subject to annual election or re-election. There were also visiting masters of special subjects. The Greek secondary school tended to lay much stress upon athletics, but it gave more attention to music and religion than similar institutions of to-day. Reading, writing, and arithmetic together with music, dancing, and drill were the staple subjects of the elementary school. “Rhetoric,” which meant the study of literature on the technical side, as well as the practice of declamations, was the main occupation in the high schools and the universities. But philosophy, moral and physical, was also carefully studied. University professors often rose to real affluence.

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In the polite world of Rome, literature was extremely fashionable. Everybody was writing and insisting upon{287} reading his compositions to his friends. These literary labours were often pursued with amazing diligence. Both Pliny and his uncle devoted themselves to reading and writing almost from morning to night, and Pliny the Younger tells how he was laughed at for carrying his notebooks with him even when he was out boar-hunting. By the time he was fourteen he had written a Greek tragedy. His sketch of a day’s doings at his country villa shows the literary perseverance of a Roman gentleman. He rose at six and began to compose in his bedroom. Then he would summon his secretary to take down the result from dictation. At ten or eleven he would continue his work in some shady colonnade, or under the trees in the garden, after which he drove out, still reading. “A short siesta, a walk, declamation in Greek and Latin, after the habit of Cicero, gymnastic exercise, and the bath, filled the space until dinner-time arrived.” Even during dinner a book was read aloud and the evening was enlivened by acting or music or conversation. Many of Pliny’s friends, such as Suetonius and Silius Italicus, emulated this studious existence, and his uncle even excelled it. The elder Pliny consulted two thousand volumes in the writing of his Natural History alone, and he left one hundred and sixty volumes of closely written notes and excerpts. Nor was this an unimportant circle of literary bookworms. On the contrary, it was the highest society of the day. The elder Pliny was on terms of daily intercourse with the Emperor Vespasian, and the younger Pliny besides being governor of Bithynia was intimate with Trajan.

At first sight we may find it strange that all this strenuous devotion to study produced so little in the way of first-rate original literature. It is of course customary to ascribe the decline—assuming that it was a decline—of the Golden Age of Augustan literature into the Silver Latin of Tacitus and Juvenal to the tyranny of emperors like Tiberius and Nero. It is perfectly true that Tiberius made it dangerous for senatorial historians to praise the murderers of a Cæsar. But that is a ludicrously {288}inadequate explanation for the eclipse of literature. The experience of Vergil showed that it was possible for a great loyalist to win fortune and glory amounting to idolisation. The senators who wanted to continue their school declamations against tyranny were certainly discouraged, but there was still plenty of room for literary activity. The truth is, as we have seen, that Augustan literature was not the work of a young Rome, but of an old and perhaps already declining Græco-Roman culture. Again it was literary, not political, causes which led to literary decline. Tacitus, who had for his themes the conquest of Britain and the wars in Germany and the East, the Siege of Jerusalem, the burning of Rome, the tragic Year of the Four Emperors, the crimes and follies of Nero, and the development of the great imperial system, complains of the lack of interest in the history of his own times compared with those of the heroic past. The tyranny that depressed literature was of its own making, the tyranny of convention, classicism and erudition. To take poetry, though so many noble writers were toying with the epic, they only produced the pedantic Thebaid of Statius, the weary Argonauticon of Silius Italicus, an imitation of an imitation of Homer, and the Pharsalia of Lucan, which, though it contains many a brilliant epigram and memorable phrase, is to the majority of mankind almost unreadable. This is simply because Lucan was consciously pursuing the path which Vergil had pointed out and producing work which was the logical succession to the style of the Æneid. The Pharsalia is unmixed declamation, rhetoric shouting at top pitch on page after page. Vergil had accomplished the literary epic to perfection: to carry it any further in the same direction was to incur tediousness. Above all, both Lucan and Silius lacked the greatest of all Vergil’s gifts, his wonderful ear for verbal music. Vergil, like Milton, presented his epic diluted for mortal ears with music and human nature. It was not in the spirit that Lucan failed. He admired the republican cause and Pompeius, its champion, quite as sincerely as Vergil admired Augustus or Milton Cromwell. Thus it was not politics, but the literary gift which caused his failure,{289} at least his failure to hold the ear of to-day. Past generations have esteemed him high among the world’s poets. Dante owed not a little to Lucan and Statius as well as to Vergil.

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It was only in its lighter forms that poetry continued to make progress. The Silvæ of Statius, which were shorter occasional poems in elegiac or lyric measures thrown off at odd moments with ease and rapidity, are far more interesting than his frigid epic. Martial, the Spanish writer of vers de société, has a pretty wit that is often surprisingly modern in its tone. Certainly Juvenal towers over all others who have attempted satire. Horace had been content with an easy familiarity of tone which might wheedle a friend into the path of good sense by poking fun at his follies. Juvenal thunders his denunciations of wickedness with a moral heat which is surprising in an age often accused of feebleness. He does, however, resemble Lucan in spoiling some of his effects by want of light and shade, by a too-persistent flow of rhetoric. He seems unable to distinguish between harmless follies like playing the flute and real delinquencies like murdering one’s mother. He clearly draws far too black a picture of the men and morals of his day. But the pulpit from which he preaches is a high one.

If Juvenal is supreme over the poets of his time, Tacitus is as clearly monarch of the prose-writers. He was continuing the work of Livy and writing from the same republican standpoint. But for history-writing he had certainly discovered a finer style of rhetoric. Both are rhetoricians first and historians a long way after, but the packed epigrams of Tacitus say more in a line than Livy is capable of thinking in a chapter. In describing a battle, a riot, or a panic, or in painting some tragic scene, such as the death of Vitellius, Tacitus is unequalled. The freedom that was permitted to him and Suetonius in depicting the crimes and follies of the earlier Cæsars affords remarkable evidence of the freedom of letters under Nerva, Trajan, and Hadrian. Here, again, it is necessary, as in the case of Juvenal, to beware of accepting too literally{290} the severity of his criticisms upon the preceding generation. To praise the past at the expense of the present was one of the traditions of Roman literature. But Tacitus was the last of Rome’s great historians and his loss was irreparable.

All the erudition of the age added little to the real advance of learning except in the domain of law. Industrious compilers like Pliny the elder have preserved a great deal of ancient lore for our study, but they are for the most part utterly uncritical and unscientific. There were no scientific thinkers like Aristotle in the Roman world. Still, some text-books which served the Middle Ages for instruction were produced under the principate, such as Vitruvius on architecture, Strabo and Pomponius Mela on geography, Columella on agriculture, Quintilian on rhetoric, and Galen on medicine. The latter was state-physician to Marcus Aurelius and was employed by him to study and combat the terrible plague which the Roman army brought back from the East. But for medical science he added little to his Greek master Hippocrates. In just the same way, the philosophers came no nearer to the core of reality than their masters of the fourth and third centuries before Christ, hard though they toiled and much as they spoke and wrote. They were indeed learning, what the old Greeks had failed or scorned to learn, how to apply doctrines to life, but in depth of thought they were so far behind that they ceased even to be able to comprehend Aristotle. Even Philo, the profound and learned Jewish philosopher, is doing little more than to attempt an application of Platonic and other Greek ideas to the teaching of Moses. Such originality as there was in the world of letters still proceeded mainly from the provinces. Greece was still putting forth original contributors to literature like the novelist Lucian, the biographer and moralist Plutarch, Pausanias the guide-book writer, Dio Chrysostom and Apollonius the preachers. Africa produced a novelist in the mysterious quack-magician Apuleius. Spain sent forth a whole galaxy of talent in the two Senecas, Martial, Lucan, and Quintilian. The younger Seneca, Nero’s complacent tutor, is

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{291} perhaps the most typical figure in the literature of the principate. Trained as a rhetorician, like all the men of his day, his literary work consists of rhetorical drama and rhetorical philosophy, including some rhetorical science. No writer has ever attained to such a position of wealth and honour by the exercise of his pen. It cannot be said that Seneca’s position was gained without defilement, or that it brought him happiness. He was largely responsible by his weak compliance for the deterioration of character in his imperial pupil. If so, it brought its own retribution, for Nero drove him to suicide. Though Seneca’s tragedies are neglected to-day, they formed the connecting-link between Euripides and the stage of the Renaissance.

It will be seen that the principal defect of thought and literature under the Empire was its lack of originality. But, after all, that had always been the deficiency of Roman writers. It was due very largely to the overwhelming incubus of Greek civilisation, from whose leading-strings the Romans, to the end of time, never escaped. That in its turn arose chiefly through the nature of their education which turned all their attention to style as the end of literary endeavour. Any one who would argue against a classical education could find no better argument than the relations between the two “classical” peoples.


With art it is much the same story; for the decoration of their villas and colonnades the Romans of the Empire continued to prefer their statues imported from Greece. Pausanias shows us that Greece, even in the second century A.D., was still teeming with works of art of every kind. Impoverished and shrunken as the old Greek cities were at this period, it shows some high-mindedness that they still retained treasures which would have fetched millions in the Trans-Adriatic markets. There was, however, a brisk trade in copies and imitations of the masterpieces. For statues, then, the Greek work of the fifth and fourth centuries almost destroyed any attempt at{292} originality by the Romans. Only in portraiture was there much progress, and here work of great power and vigour was produced. It reaches the zenith perhaps under the Flavian emperors, but their successors of the Antonine period and later are often depicted on their busts with triumphant but unsparing realism. The bust of Philip the Arabian in the Vatican is one of the most striking. Sometimes it almost seems as if there was a malicious spirit of caricature in these too faithful portraits. Can Marcus Aurelius, the philosopher prince, have presented to the world a visage so weak and so tonsorially perfect?[71] Can Caracalla have borne his bloody mind so visibly written on his face?[72] In portraiture, there is certainly progress and not decay.

Otherwise, to judge by the remains, sculptors were almost confined to bas-relief. This was the medium chosen by emperor after emperor for the narration of his exploits, and advances were unquestionably made in the art of pictorial or narrative sculpture. That this is a high art in itself may, I think, be contested. One cannot escape from a sense of the practical futility of telling the history of the Dacian Wars on a serpentine band of ornament which soared away out of sight. It is rather characteristic of the plodding Roman, who so often lost sight of the wood in his faithful contemplation of the trees. If we look for the end to which this art of narrative relief was tending, we shall find it on the basis of the column of Antoninus Pius preserved in the Vatican garden.[73] These cavalrymen placidly gyrating round the group of standard-bearers, each on his own little shelf, are so extremely life-like as to recall nothing in the world so much as pieces of gingerbreads. We begin to perceive that Madame Tussaud would have been hailed as a great creative artist in Imperial Rome. Nevertheless, without subscribing to all the superlatives of Mrs. Strong, we may admit that Art was still alive and vigorous and still scoring fresh technical triumphs in the Antonine period and even later.{293}

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Roman archæologists have recently worked out the history of Imperial Art with some precision. The reign of Tiberius continued the classical tendencies of Augustus. Under Claudius there was great constructional activity, mainly of a utilitarian character. The Claudian aqueduct, whose immense arches in brick still break the level horizon of the Campagna, is one of the greatest works of this period.[74] Nero’s was an age of Greek curio-hunting; much of Rome was rebuilt after the great fire in his reign and the Golden House must have been a stupendous sight. But on his death the Romans made haste to obliterate all traces of his work. The Flavian epoch was the culminating-point of Roman art. Vespasian destroyed Nero’s Golden House and restored the Capitol. He and his sons built the baths of Titus, the Arch of Titus[75] with the celebrated Jewish relief, and the mighty Flavian Amphitheatre, the Colosseum.[76] This was built in the style already noticed in the theatre of Marcellus, namely, with the three Greek orders of architecture, Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian, adorning the three stories of the façade; but here, as so often, the Greek façade is a mere shell to hide the solid Roman masonry of which the building is really constructed. It is noteworthy that the monuments of this age refute the historians who allege among Domitian’s other sins that he tried to destroy the works and the memory of Titus, his more popular brother. In the technical language of Wickhoff, this Flavian Age shows us “illusionism” at its height in art. Under Trajan, and in his famous column, the art of continuous narration in low relief is fully developed.[77] Hadrian, the cultured, travelling Philhellene, encouraged a reversion to the classical traditions of Greek art. The art of his period was profoundly influenced by the type of Antinous, a beautiful youth beloved by the emperor, whose romantic death by drowning in the Nile made a powerful impression upon the whole Roman world, because he was believed to have sacrificed his life for his emperor’s in obedience to an oracle. This type is preserved for us in many forms, but{294} most notably in the colossal Mondragore bust in the Louvre[78] and the bas-relief in the Villa Albani.[79] His features were utilised to represent all the young male gods on Olympus. In their tragic beauty we see a mirror of Greece tinged by the Orient, as if Dionysus had wedded Isis and this were the offspring. The Antonine period, as exhibited on the panels in the Palazzo dei Conservatori, is gifted with immense technical fluency and, as Mrs. Strong remarks, a new spiritual seriousness. As compositions they are superb, but the weakness of expression in the face of Marcus Aurelius himself quite spoils their effect for some spectators.[80]

Architecture was still mainly designed in the three Greek modes variously combined, in spite of the fact that Rome had progressed far beyond Greek limits in constructional ability. Roman builders could manage a roof-span far in excess of the Greeks. The Roman arch gave a strength in concrete vaulting which expensive marble was unable to attain. Roman brickwork denuded of the marble incrustations which generally covered it of old is probably more impressive in its ruins than it was when it was draped with Hellenism, and, to me at least, remains like the aqueduct at Pont du Gard[81] and the Bridge of Alcantara[82] seem truer witnesses of the grandeur of Rome than all the marbles in all the museums. The celebrated Castle of St. Angelo, which still keeps watch and ward over the Tiber, is nothing but the core of Hadrian’s tomb—the Moles Hadriani—once clad in a vestment of Greek marbles and covered with Greek ornament.[83] The Pantheon, in spite of the inscription which ascribes it to Agrippa, is proved by the marks on its bricks to be a restoration of Hadrian’s time. It is indeed a superb example of vaulting and a miracle of construction. The plan is that of a dome so constructed that if the sphere were complete it would rest upon the earth. The magnificent interior has lost little of its ancient splendour.[84]

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For temple architecture, although the Romans had adopted{295} the forms of Greek art they had wholly deserted the spirit of austere self-restraint upon which that art had rested. Thus they readily adopted the luxuriance of the East when it came to hand. In the splendid ruins of Heliopolis (Ba’albek) and Palmyra we see a riotous luxuriance of ornament which would have shocked the religious sense of Ictinus, but which fitly enshrined the ritual and mysteries of the Sungod. This craze for the colossal would have made the reverential Greeks tremble in fear of provoking the Nemesis of a jealous Heaven, but in its ruins it has left us superb and awful reminders of the riches and grandeur of its authors, and of the end of all riches and grandeur.

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Moles Hadriani: restored

In domestic building the Romans had almost as little regard as the Greeks for the exterior elevation of their villas and palaces. The Roman gentleman still made it his favourite hobby to collect villas, and Pliny had almost as many as Cicero. But the main idea of the villa was comfort, and the{296} main idea of Roman comfort was coolness, quiet, and beautiful scenery. Thus the wealthy man’s house consisted of a series of marble courts and cloisters spread over the ground regardless of space. Landscape and landscape-gardening were the most charming features. The Roman appreciated the scenery of Como or Sirmione, Tivoli or Naples quite as keenly as the tourist of to-day. He thought much of fresh air and good water. Nearly all Roman gentlemen were agreed in considering Rome itself, with its smells, its noise, and its perils by fire, as a pestilent place of abode, and they gladly fled to their country estates at Præneste or Baiæ. Hadrian’s villa at Tivoli[85] included reproductions of many famous buildings which he had seen and admired on his travels. The decoration of these villas encouraged two minor arts which figure prominently among their remains. The floors were commonly adorned with marble mosaic, of which we still have some charming examples.[86] The interior walls were incrusted either with marble, in the wealthier houses, or stuccoed and painted. Hence, it results that the Art of Painting is represented to us almost solely by mosaics, wall-frescoes,[87] and a few portraits on Egyptian mummy-cases. Nothing remains of the great masters of antiquity, Polygnotus, Zeuxis, and Apelles. But there may be faint echoes of their work on the frescoes of Pompeii executed by unnamed decorators. Even so there is great charm in much of this work. Professor Mau, the great authority on Pompeii, has distinguished four successive phases of painting in that city. At first the aim was to imitate the marble slabs used to cover the walls of the rich man’s house. Then growing bolder the painter imitates various forms of architectural treatment dividing up his wall space into panels and portraying cornices, columns, pilasters, and so forth. This is roughly the style of the first century B.C., and it is found in the so-called house of Livia on the Palatine Hill at Rome.[88] The third style, which Mau terms the “ornate,” was prevalent until about A.D. 50.{297}

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The architectural features now make no pretence at illusion. The columns have become mere bands of colour, and there is profuse ornament everywhere. The colours are somewhat cold. The fourth or “intricate” style once more emphasises the architectural character of the decoration, but the patterns are too intricate to present any appearance of reality. The whole wall space shows a riot of fantastic ornament often extremely graceful and effective. Flying goddesses and cupids impart a sense of airy lightness, and floral forms festoon themselves in charming curves. The pictures are smaller and the spaces wider. No more pleasing treatment of the interior walls of a house has ever been devised, at any rate for warm climates. The destruction of Pompeii by the eruption of Vesuvius in a.d. 79 brings the history of ancient painting to a premature close.[89] The subjects of the pictures are almost exclusively mythological.

The minor arts of the jeweller, the gem-engraver, the goldsmith reach a high state of technical perfection, but they do not improve in spirit or artistic feeling with the progress of the ages. Much of the furniture found at Pompeii and Herculaneum, especially the bronze-work,[90] exhibits most graceful forms, always Greek in inspiration.


The greatest intellectual achievement of the Roman people was in the domain of law. The spiritual endowment of the typical Roman included all the qualities of the lawyer—a sense of equity that was quite devoid of sentimentalism, an instinct for order, discipline, and business, a language of great clarity and precision, and above all, a devotion to ceremonies and formulæ which sternly rejected abstract casuistry. Their law took its rise in a series of religious formulæ known only to priests and to the king as chief priest. The Twelve Tables put some of the most ancient principles into words, and partly from their use as a text-book of education, were regarded almost with{298} as much veneration as the Two Tables of Moses. They were, in fact, sometimes considered as the sole fountain of jurisprudence, or at any rate as the sole code of written law. The legislative enactments of the State were on a far lower plane and no ancient people ever considered its legislature capable of turning out a daily quota of legislation as modern parliaments are supposed to do. In the main the fabric of Roman jurisprudence consisted of “case law” made by the judges on the tribunals. The Prætor Urbanus made the Civil Law of Rome, and this became permanent by means of the system of Perpetual Edicts. Religion continued to control the international law of the Roman world, an affair of ceremonies in the hands of the priestly college of heralds—the jus fetiale. But, meanwhile, the prætor peregrinus who had to decide cases between non-citizens was gradually accumulating a body of law, wrongly termed international, in the jus gentium. It was observed that there was a great deal in common between the various codes of the Italian and other Mediterranean States, and this was put together in the foreign prætor’s edict. The more philosophical jurists, inspired with the Stoic doctrines about following nature, evolved the theory that this common element of various nations was nothing but the Natural Law, jus naturæ. It was a fruitful error, and it lies at the base of much of the modern “international law” as expounded by Grotius and other seventeenth-century jurists.

The Civil Law of Rome was in the main, then, a series of precedents handed down by prætor to prætor from times beyond record. To it was added a large body of “counsel’s opinions” which drew their validity largely from the eminence of their authors. It was Hadrian who set about the systematisation of these. He organised the jurisprudentes into a regular profession. He appointed his “counsellors” from the leading barristers of the day, and he gave to the whole body of responsa prudentium, “the opinions of the learned,” the validity of statutory law. The justice and precision of the civil law was the most attractive feature of Roman civilisation to the{299} barbarian world. Gallic and British communities made haste to learn Latin in order that they might gain the “Latin right” which admitted them to the privilege of enjoying Roman law. In A.D. 212, Caracalla, who did little else to deserve the gratitude of posterity, uttered a single edict called the “Antonine Constitution” which admitted the whole empire to the privileges of Roman citizenship. Now a single code ran throughout the whole Western world. Hadrian had set his most distinguished lawyers, under the leadership of Salvius Julianus, to codify the “perpetual edict” of the prætors. It was under the Antonines that some citizen from the East, who is only known to us by the common prænomen of Gaius, wrote those learned “Institutes of Roman Law” which are still the nursery of our lawyers. But it was the great Eastern emperor Justinian (A.D. 527-565) who codified the whole body of civil law in a series of immense documents. Roman law had already conquered its barbarian conquerors, the Goths, and almost every European legal system except our own is based upon that ancient law which arose from the Twelve Tables and the prætor’s edict. The canon law of the Church was Roman law in its essence.

Philosophy and Religion

Much attention has been paid in recent years to the religious development of the Romans under the Empire, and to the momentous conflict of religions which was going on from the age of Hadrian until the final triumph of Christianity. Humanly speaking, it was “touch and go” between several religions competing for the vacant place in the faith of the Empire, and at the last the strife was practically narrowed down to a duel between two oriental monotheistic systems, Mithraism[91] and Christianity. The subject is too vast for anything like adequate treatment here. But I would emphasise one point of view which is often overlooked.

The Roman state is too often regarded merely as the enemy{300} and persecutor of the Christian religion. It is forgotten how large a share Rome may claim in its establishment. Not only did the Romans discover Christianity, but they organised it and sent it forth conquering and to conquer in the wake of the legions. It is not a case of a wicked and corrupt people suddenly converted in the midst of its sins. On the contrary it is easy to show that the thinkers of the Roman Empire were tending towards philosophic and religious ideas which made them ready to accept with astonishing rapidity both the ethical teaching and the theological revelations of the Son of God. It is unnecessary to remind the modern reader how large a part the Greek philosophy of Stoicism with its Roman modifications had played in shaping the thoughts of one Roman citizen, Paul of Tarsus. Philo, the Alexandrian Platonist, had developed a doctrine of the Divine Logos, which profoundly influenced the philosophy of the fourth Evangelist, and through him the whole course of Christian teaching.

The Romans may have added little to abstract philosophy or to metaphysics, but they made the somewhat barren abstractions of Zeno the Stoic into something more than a philosophy, into a faith which had a power to influence conduct far beyond the power of the State system of half-Greek Olympian Gods. If the power and the sincerity of a religion may be tested rather by its martyrs than by its proselytes, Stoicism had a worthy record. Men like Thrasea Pætus, Helvidius Priscus, and Barea Soranus were facing the tyrant’s frown for the sake of their Stoic sense of duty, just as truly as Peter and Polycarp.

The attitude of the Roman Government towards Christianity has been too often explained to need more than a brief recapitulation. At first Christianity was confounded with Judaism, which had already begun to make converts at Rome without seeking for them. The Roman government was extraordinarily tolerant towards creed, but it demanded an external compliance with the Cæsar-worship, which it was imposing on the provinces as a test of loyalty. But the Christians did not take the divine command “render unto

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{301} Cæsar the things that are Cæsar’s” to include scattering incense on his altars. Too many of them had been brought up in the punctilious exclusiveness of the Jewish tradition for them to display on such points the laxity which is sometimes called broad-mindedness. Even in the private intercourse of social life the Christians were unpleasantly apt to insist upon their scruples. The meat in the butchers’ shops had often been slain in sacrifice, and the Christian conscience revolted at “meat offered to idols.” The libation with which the wine-cup started on its rounds was another offence to the tender monotheistic conscience. These things made the Christians unpopular. Their close associations, their secret meetings and love-feasts, the communism which they practised, all aroused the suspicions which are begotten of mystery. Lastly, their conviction that the Second Coming and the Day of Judgment were at hand made them ardent proselytes. It made them utter prognostications of death and damnation to all around them, and to see apocalyptic visions of the fall of the kingdoms of this earth. Such prophecies were sometimes misunderstood as involving treasonable designs. The first persecution under Nero was largely the result of such suspicions.

But the official attitude of the permanent Roman Government is probably revealed in the famous correspondence between Pliny and his emperor, Trajan. Imperial Rome is not to set up an inquisition. No man is to be punished for his faith, but if he is accused to the governor and is obstinate in refusing to pay the obeisance demanded by the state he is to be punished for his contumacy. That is precisely the attitude which the most humane and enlightened Christian states have adopted towards heresy. Later, when the Faith grew in importance, and when it even reached the point of soldiers refusing the military oaths, occasional emperors, often the better emperors, strove to fight against it. Then there were sometimes inquisitions and wholesale martyrdoms as under Decius and Diocletian. But no martyrdom, however public or agonising, could quench the faith of those who saw the heavens opening and the Angels of{302} God descending with their crowns of glory. The publicity of the scenes and the constancy of the victims increased, as usual, the number of the converts. Foolish magistrates sought to encounter obstinacy with further severity, and the Faith only grew the more abundantly. It was not so much his personal conversion—for that was tardy and half-hearted—as the motive of policy to secure an advantage over Maxentius, which induced Constantine to promulgate the Edict of Milan in 313, by which toleration was extended to the Christian faith throughout the Roman Empire.

We must not be surprised that the best emperors, including the philosopher and saint, Marcus Aurelius, were the most bitterly hostile to Christianity. That is human nature. Stoic philosophers were teaching very much in common with Christian philosophy, but that renders it all the less likely that Stoic philosophers should be among the converts. Nevertheless Christian doctrine, especially in the Græco-Jewish communities of Asia Minor, was falling on prepared soil. The Stoic paradoxes had undoubtedly prepared the way for the Christian paradoxes. The doctrines of humility and asceticism were a commonplace of the Cynics. “No Cross, no Crown,” “He who would save his life must lose it”—such sayings as these would gain immediate assent from thoughtful Romans. Epictetus, a heathen slave of Domitian’s day, wrote his answer to the tyrant: “No man hath power over me. I have been set free by God. I know His Commandments; henceforth no man can lead me captive.” The Stoics were daily teaching that it is hard for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God. This is the creed of Marcus Aurelius: “To venerate the gods and bless them, and to do good to men, and to practise tolerance and self-restraint.” The horrors of the amphitheatre are one side of imperial society. But on the other side Musonius Rufus, a Stoic who stood high in the favour of Vespasian and Titus, went among the soldiers to preach against militarism. Slave-drivers as the Romans were, they were beginning to feel a sense of the brotherhood of man.

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{303} Seneca was calling the slaves “humble friends.” “Man is a holy thing to man,” he says; and such teaching was reflected even in the legislation of the day. Juvenal pleads passionately for kindness to slaves and for moral purity in the home. Seneca not only feels that men are brothers, but that God is the Father of us all. We have seen how public charity was finding expression in the alimenta and the free schools. “Love them that hate you” would not strike the Romans of the second century as anything more than a strong expression of the truth they had already begun to recognise. Thus the practical side of Christian ethics found its harmonies in the conduct as well as the theory of the more enlightened pagans. Peace and humanitarianism were in the air of the Antonine Age.

As for religious dogma the whole tendency of thought was towards monotheism. “God is a Spirit” would find an instant acquiescence among educated Romans, even though they frequented the temples of a hundred different gods. Philosophy among Greeks and Romans alike had always been monotheistic. On the subject of immortality the philosophers were divided. Marcus Aurelius and Seneca are on the whole not hopeful. Probably the beliefs of the common folk—as testified in the epitaphs of their cemeteries—were equally divided. The laconic epitaph: “I was not, I was: I am not, I care not,” is common. But other epitaphs equally common express the hope of reunions in the other world or even of being “received among the number of the gods.” But on the whole the commonest view of Death was as a happy release and an unending sleep. It was the immediate hope of eternal bliss, which was the greatest thing that Christianity had to offer to the pagan world.

Rome, then, was in many ways prepared for the reception of Christianity, whose doctrines found an echo in the aspirations of the day. She did much to give to Christian theology its Western form, and of course the ritual and practice of the Roman Church was in many ways merely a continuation of old{304} pagan rites and ceremonies. Ancient deities became Christian saints without change of rite or cult; images were often adapted and even names scarcely altered. But, in fact, the whole conception of that mighty Church which conquered the world, including the barbarian invaders, was the offspring of the Roman political system. It was her genius for statecraft which made Rome the Eternal City. In one form or another she has governed the world for twenty centuries.{305}

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Musæ quid facimus? τὶ κεναῖσιν ἐν ἐλπίσιν αὔτως
ludimus ἀϕραδίῃσιν ἐν ἤματι γηράσκοντες;
Σαντονικοῖς camp οισν, ὄπῃ κρύος ἄσπετον ἐστίν,
erramus gelido-τρομεροὶ rigidique poetæ.

I SHOULD have preferred to leave the Roman world at the height of its grandeur, when the whole vast territory was enjoying prosperity, if not peace, under the virtuous and benevolent Antonines. In that way this book would best create the true impression of Rome, not as a lamentable failure, but as the conspicuous success which it assuredly was. But as the reader will probably follow the old Greek maxim and desire to see the end before recording a judgment, a few pages are added containing a very brief summary of the closing scenes. It is necessary to notice that even the closing scenes cover a period of two hundred years, and that this progress is not even yet entirely downhill. They include good and bad reigns, periods of prosperity as well as disaster.

Here again the impression of pessimism which we get from reading the account of the Empire is due to the historians as much as to the history. Lampridius and the other writers of the Augustan History are small-minded writers who label the various princes as good or bad largely according to their treatment of the senate. The Augustan historians are trained in the school of Suetonius, they dwell upon gossip and can form no large political judgments. Very little of the gossip is authentic. If they have decided to revile an emperor they{306} repeat the scandals narrated by Suetonius about Tiberius or Nero. It is only in their accounts of military action that they can be trusted, and this fact creates a false preponderance of warfare in the annals of the period.

The succession to the imperial throne continued to be the weak point of the whole system. The throne itself passed through unspeakable degradations. The guards who murdered Pertinax formally put the succession up to auction in the prætorian camp. Septimius Severus (193-198) gave a brief respite of strong government which almost destroyed the fiction of senatorial authority, for Severus held the proconsular power even over Rome and Italy. Caracalla was probably the worst of all the emperors in personal vice and brutality, but he was the author of that famous decree which conferred the citizenship on all the western provinces. In Elagabalus (218-222) Rome had for master the vile and effeminate priest of the Sungod, who brought the fetish-stone of Emesa into the city and attempted to make all the gods bow down to it. Alexander Severus was a blameless prince, and Maximin the Thracian drove the barbarians back behind the limites of the Rhine and Danube. After the Gordians the senate enjoyed for a brief space the opportunity of governing Rome through their nominee Pupienus, but the disorders of the period may be gauged from the fact that in the eighteen years following Alexander Severus, who died in 235, twelve persons wore the purple. Then Gallienus assumed it, having for his colleague that Valerian who was the first of Roman emperors to be taken prisoner by the enemy. Strange and horrible tales hung about his mysterious fate when taken captive by Shapur, the Persian king. In the latter years of Gallienus the Empire was practically divided, for his rebellious general Postumus was recognised as emperor throughout Gaul, Spain, and Britain. In this period, too, Palmyra rose into independent power as the meeting-place of the caravan routes across the Syrian plains. Under the famous Queen Zenobia it practically ruled over the eastern parts of the Empire, and its splendid ruins prove its wealth and{307} magnificence. Gallienus then almost allowed the Empire to disintegrate under his feeble grasp, but his successor Claudius Gothicus (268) was a man and a soldier. He smote the Goths and would have restored the Empire in full, but the plague, which had never wholly disappeared since the time of Marcus Aurelius, carried him off in the third year of his reign. The task was left for Aurelian, that Pannonian peasant whose brilliant generalship hurled back the enemy on every side, while his statesmanship restored the authority of the emperor and even the financial credit of the Empire. The mighty wall with which he surrounded Rome is, however, a sad testimony of the dark days upon which the imperial city had fallen. The Palmyrene kingdom was defeated and the rich city plundered. The rebel Empire of the Gauls was destroyed for ever. The grandest triumph ever witnessed in Rome was that of Aurelian in 274. It is thus described by Vopiscus:

“There were three royal chariots. One was that of Odenathus, brilliant with jewellery in gold, silver, and gems; the second, similarly constructed, was the gift of the Persian king to Aurelian; the third was the design of Zenobia herself, who hoped to visit Rome in it. Wherein she was not deceived, for she entered the city in it after her defeat. There was another chariot yoked to four stags, which is said to have belonged to the king of the Goths. On this Aurelian rode to the Capitol, there to sacrifice the stags which he had vowed to Jupiter the Highest and Mightiest. Twenty elephants went before, tamed beasts of Libya and two hundred different beasts from Palestine, which Aurelian immediately presented to private individuals in order that the treasury might not be burdened with their maintenance. Four tigers, giraffes, elks, and other creatures were led in procession. Eight hundred pairs of gladiators, as well as captives from the barbarian tribes, Blemyes, Axiomitæ, Arabs, Eudæmones, Ludians, Bactrians, Hiberi, Saracens, Persians, all with their various treasures; Goths, Alani, Roxolani, Sarmatians, Franks, Suevi, Vandals, Germans advanced as captives with their hands bound. Among them also were the Palmyrene chiefs, who survived, and the Egyptian rebels. Ten women whom Aurelian had taken fighting in male attire among the Goths were in the{308} procession, while many of these ‘Amazons’ had been slain. In front of each contingent a placard bearing the name of the tribe was carried. Among them was Tetricus (the ‘emperor’ of the Gallic Empire) in a scarlet cloak, a yellow tunic, and Gallic breeches. There walked Zenobia too, laden with jewels and chained with gold chains which others carried. In front of the conquered princes their crowns were borne along labelled with their names. And next the Roman People followed, the banners of the guilds and camps, the mailed soldiers, the royal spoils, the whole army and the senate (although it was saddened to see that some members of its body were among the captives) added much to the splendour of the show. It was not until the ninth hour that the Capitol was reached, and the palace much later.”

Aurelian endeavoured to establish Mithraism as the state religion, and earned the gratitude of the vulgar by supplementing the free supply of corn with a daily ration of pork. Oil and salt were given gratuitously, and he even prepared to supply free wine. The three emperors who succeeded Aurelian, Tacitus, Probus, and Carus, were men of good character, and the first two were, once more, the nominees of the senate.

Throughout this troubled age the causes of confusion were twofold. On the one hand the Empire itself was so vast and scattered that it tended now to fall to pieces of its own momentum, as the seedbox opens to scatter its seeds. Britain, Gaul, Germany, Palmyra—each in its turn began to feel a unity of its own. Rome was far away, and the government was often weak and negligent. Here was an opportunity for the local generals to carve out thrones for themselves. While the emperor hurried this way and that fresh rebellions broke out in his rear. It was no one’s fault in particular. The world-state was impossible in theory as in practice. It was only possible while the provinces were barbarian. When they became civilised and self-conscious they were bound to feel their natural unity.

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In the second place, the barbarians were now grown to full{309} stature. They were no longer quarrelsome tribes which could be turned against one another by adroit statecraft, but nations much less barbarous than of old, with some organisation and a purpose above that of mere plunder. No artificial ramparts could hold them. It is very doubtful whether even the legions of Rome at their best could have resisted these repeated assaults on all sides. The first great inroad across the Danube took place in the reign of M. Aurelius. It was crushed, as the column of that emperor depicts, and Sarmatia and Marcomannia were added as short-lived provinces. It is in the third century that we begin to hear of the greater barbarian nations, or groups of tribes, of the Alemanni and the Suevi, the Franks, the Saxons, the Goths, and the Vandals. Battle after battle was fought and triumph after triumph won against them, but they still pressed on. The weaker emperors essayed to buy them with gold, the wiser with land, the craftier set them to slay one another, but still they moved forward resistlessly, wave after wave, like the sea. This again was nobody’s fault. It may have been the movement of Tartar savages in the Far East which set the Wandering of the Nations in motion. Whatever it was, all eastern and northern Europe was seething with restless movement and the tide rolled on irresistibly against the bulwarks of civilisation. Triumphs as great and glorious as those of Scipio and Marius were gained by Roman armies even in the fourth century. But the enemy was ubiquitous, the task impossible.

It is, however, true that those bulwarks were weaker than they should have been, partly by reason of the internal disorganisation caused by perpetual struggles for the succession, and partly through certain visible errors in Roman statesmanship. For one thing, the spirit of peace and humanity which was ripening in the securer central parts of the Empire had probably impaired its instincts of defence. The modern world is trying just now to believe that you can retain the power of defence when you have given up all thoughts of aggression. It may be so. The Roman world failed in the attempt.{310} Rome’s statesmen were now no longer soldiers, but lawyers and financiers. Even the prefects of the prætorian guard were lawyers. The army was a profession apart. Moreover, even the army had become so civilised that it had lost many of its martial qualities. Hadrian more than any other ruler is responsible for allowing the cannabæ or “booths” which had sprung up around the camps to grow into towns and even cities. The legions were now permanently established in their quarters, the soldiers married wives and occupied their leisure in business or husbandry. Hadrian it was, too, who in his large cosmopolitan spirit had introduced many and doubtless useful barbarian methods of fighting, so that the old Roman military traditions had fallen into desuetude. A legion was now no better than its auxiliaries. The auxiliaries were often barbarians and soon the legions themselves became completely barbarised. It was only a step further when barbarians were recruited in tribes to fight Rome’s battles under their own commanders.

Secondly, the whole Roman world was being slowly strangled with good intentions. The bureaucracy had grown so highly organised and efficient, so nicely ordered through its various grades of official life, that everybody walked in leading-strings to the music of official proclamations. Paternalism regulated everything with its watchful and benignant eye. The triumph of the system may be seen in the famous Edict of Prices issued by Diocletian in A.D. 301. Here we find scheduled a maximum price for every possible commodity of trade and a maximum wage for every kind of service. Death is the penalty for any trader who asks, or any purchaser who pays a higher price. No difference of locality or season is permitted. Trade is forbidden to fluctuate under penalty of death. This delightful scheme, which was engraved on stone in every market in Europe, was evidently the product of a highly efficient Board of Trade, which had sat late of nights over the study of statistics and political economy. Benevolent officials of this type swarmed all over the empire, spying and reporting on one another as well as on the general public.{311}

The same system of blear-eyed officialism had found a still more ingenious method of throttling the society which it was endeavouring to nurse back into infancy. It was under Severus Alexander (about A.D. 230) that the various collegia or guilds were incorporated by charter, so that every industry whatever became a close corporation. This rendered the task of administration much simpler. It meant that every human occupation became hereditary. There was, for example, a guild of the coloni or tillers of the soil. The most benevolent of the emperors, Marcus Aurelius and the two Severi, had planted barbarians on Roman soil under condition of military service in lieu of rent. This service became hereditary also. Before long each piece of ground had to supply a recruit. The decuriones, moreover, or municipal senators, who had once been the honoured magistrates of their townships, also became a caste. As they were made responsible for the collection of property tax in their boroughs, and as wealth began to decline and taxation to increase, they were reduced to a condition of penury and misery. The exemption from taxation of whole classes of society, such as the soldiers and eventually the Christian clergy, added to their burdens. Then, since many of them attempted to evade the distresses entailed upon their rank by joining the army or even selling themselves into slavery, a decree was issued which made their office hereditary. It became a form of punishment to enrol an offender among these curiales. A decree of Constantine bound all the tillers of the soil in hereditary bondage for ever. In these ways Roman society fell into stagnation. Since the progress of the Manchurian Empire in China proceeded on very similar lines, it looks as if the benevolent despotism engendered by highly centralised government of very large areas was one of the methods by which Providence is accustomed to bring great empires low.

At the close of the third century Diocletian endeavoured to save the state by a bold revolution. He swept away the hollow pretence of republicanism and frankly surrounded the{312} throne with every circumstance of majesty and ceremony. The free access which had generally been granted by the most despotic princes was replaced by an elaborate system of intermediaries. To meet the obvious needs of devolution in government, as well as to stop the incessant struggles for the succession, he invented an ingenious division of responsibility. Henceforth there were to be two Augusti, one taking the East and one the West. The Empire was not actually divided, for the joint writ of the two colleagues was to run all over it. Moreover each Augustus was to have a junior colleague, a “Cæsar,” acting as his lieutenant and prepared to step into his place. Ties of marriage were to unite all four into one close family alliance. There were now one hundred and sixteen provinces and Diocletian grouped them into thirteen “dioceses” each under a “vicar,” directly responsible to one of four “prætorian prefects,” who shared the administration of the whole. The troops were no longer subject to the provincial governors, but each army had a “Duke” (dux) of its own. Each frontier—and these were still further fortified—was under its own “Duke.” At the same time steps were taken to organise a central striking force—the comitatus of the emperors. The four Prefectures and thirteen Dioceses were as follows:

Oriens— Egypt Illyricum— Macedonia Italia— Italia
Oriens Dacia Illyricum (after Theodosius)
Pontus Galliarum— Gallia Africa
Asia Hispania  
Thracia Britannia

Italy, it will be observed, has now definitely declined into the status of a province among many, and Rome itself was not sufficiently near the frontier armies to be a convenient capital. Diocletian preferred to make his residence at Nicomedia. The senate, as a necessary consequence, receded into the background, and remained little more than a title of dignity. The emperor’s Consistory, a privy council composed of the heads of departments, took its place for practical purposes. The new hierarchy{313} of officials rejoiced in barbaric titles which would have shocked the ears of a genuine Roman.

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Naturally these advances in the direction of more and stronger government proved no alleviation of the woes which sprang from too much supervision. The most visible sign of decay was the decline of population which began to lay the central parts of the Empire desolate, and this sprang not only from economic burdens, but from racial decline. Money became so debased and worthless that the world actually went back to the system of barter.

Constantine signalised Diocletian’s plan of dividing the responsibility of government by founding a new capital at Byzantium. His motives were probably mixed. In the first place he would be free of the awkward republican traditions which still kept reasserting themselves, and in the second place Constantinople was a more central and a much more defensible situation. But, more than all, in this new Rome he could break away from the old religion. Constantine’s plan for restoring the tired and afflicted world was the adoption of Christianity. The Decree of Milan (313) made Christianity the official religion, though not the only religion, of the Empire. It was already the religion of the court—ever since Constantine had seen his famous vision of the Angel descending from Heaven with the sign of the Cross and uttering the words ἐν τούτω νίκα—“Hoc signo vinces.” Still half-pagan, the emperor had made the Cross his mascot, and in the strength of it had defeated his rival at the Milvian Bridge just outside Rome.[92] Constantine himself was by no means a saint; in murdering kinsmen he was, in fact, among the worst of the emperors, but unwittingly he saved the world by his conversion. Meanwhile the extravagance with which he adorned his new city afflicted the whole Empire with the burdens of fresh taxations.

The scheme of a divided Empire failed. After Theodosius (395) the division became permanent. The Eastern throne remained secure for another thousand years, protected by the{314} admirable strategic position of Constantinople. The contempt with which it has hitherto been treated by historians is now beginning to break down, and it is seen that the Byzantine Empire not only stood as the bulwark for the West against the East but preserved for us the inestimable treasures of Greek intellect. The Roman tradition, now inextricably mingled with the Greek, lingered on there unchanged, even to the very chariot-races which still threw society into a ferment. To this day the inhabitants of Greece and Roumania distinguish themselves from their oriental neighbours by the proud title of “Romans.”

But in the West a series of phantoms succeeded one another upon the throne. The floodgates of the Rhine and Danube frontiers broke down completely and the new nations streamed into their heritage. Then it was found how truly Constantine’s policy had saved the world. Though the Goths took and plundered Rome (410), they came in not as pagan destroyers, but as Christian immigrants, and it was Gothic generals and Gothic armies who saved Europe from destruction. About 447 the Mongolian Huns under their terrible Attila came riding into western Europe from the steppes of Russia. They crossed the Rhine half a million strong, destroying and burning as they came. The Roman emperor’s sister Honoria proposed marriage to Attila, and the proud barbarian offered her a place in his harem if she would bring half the Western Empire as her dowry. The Roman general Aetius with a half-barbarian army in alliance with the Visigoths checked them at “The Battle of Chalons” and the peril drifted away. Aetius who had saved Rome was stabbed by his ungrateful emperor.

The Vandals had already overrun Spain and streamed across to Africa, whence they issued forth to make a second sack of Rome. Britain had been deserted rather by the choice of its army than by command of any emperor, and left a prey to the pagans of the north in 406. Italy itself was wholly in the hands of the barbarians, who lived on terms of apparent

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{315} equality with the Romans. Puppets wore the imperial purple and did the behests of barbarian “Patricians,” Ricimer the Suevian, Gundobald his nephew, and finally Odoacer, a tribeless barbarian from the north. By this time the Western Empire was dismembered for ever, and western Europe was merely a series of barbarian principalities. In 476 Odoacer removed the last puppet-emperor of Rome, who bore the significant name of Romulus Augustulus. The seat of the Western Empire had long been removed from the twice-sacked city of Rome, and the later princes had ruled from Ravenna, where the little mausoleum of the Empress Placidia, sister of Honorius, still stands as a type of the shrunken glories of the last successors of Augustus.[93]

In theory the Western Empire did not come to an end in 476. The Eastern emperors now claimed authority over the whole Roman world and exercised it so far as they could obtain obedience. Strong Cæsars like Justinian made their rule respected far and wide. Geographically and politically, the West had now begun its mediæval existence as a congeries of small kingdoms generally of uncertain extent.

But in a far truer sense Rome continued to rule the world as before. Her two great legacies, the Roman Law and the Roman Church, ruled it as completely as ever the legions had done. Even in politics, the grand conception of the Christian Republic, Church and State in one, with the Pope as the successor of St. Peter bearing the keys of Heaven and Hell, while the emperor as the successor of Augustus wielded its sword, continued for another thousand years to dominate Europe. It was under the ægis of this great idea that the young nations grew up and came into their own.

Thus the true history of Rome from this point is the history of the Church, and this is no place to relate it. But it may be contended here that the visible Church was as truly a creation of the Roman spirit as was the Empire itself. Rome had seized upon the teaching of One who lived in poverty{316} and obscurity among slaves and outcasts, who preached against worldliness, formality, and ambition, who sent out His disciples to beg their way, and out of this, with her wonderful genius for government, she had created a powerful monarchy which could humble kings, and an organised ecclesiastical state which spread like a network over the earth and tamed the fury of the barbarians.

In the same way the culture of these latter days is to be found in Church History. Augustine, St. John Chrysostom, and Tertullian are its representative writers and thinkers more truly than Ausonius or Claudian. Except for the Arch of Constantine,[94] which was mainly compiled out of earlier remains, its Art is to be found in the sacred mosaics of Constantinople or Torcello, or in the Byzantine ivories such as the famous Barberini panel, showing Constantine as the establisher of the Christian Faith.[95] Architecture continues to show remarkable developments, and in the wonderful palace which Diocletian constructed for his retirement at Spalato on the Dalmatian coast there are new combinations of the Roman arch with the Greek columns which are full of promise for the birth of Gothic art.[96] The earliest Christian churches designed on the plan of a Greek cross, with a dome covering the intersection of nave and transepts, is derived from Asia Minor and bears traces of the oriental influence which is so powerful in Byzantine Art.{317}

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FIG. 1.

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FIG. 2.

Plate XCV.


753 Legendary date of the foundation of Rome
510 Legendary date of the expulsion of Tarquin, and establishment of the Republic
508 Legendary date of the Etruscan invasion under Lars Porsena
494 Legendary date of the First Secession of the Plebeians
480 Possibly authentic date of first treaty between Rome and the Latins, drawn up by Sp. Cassius
474 Defeat of the Etruscans by Syracuse
450 Legendary date of the Twelve Tables
387 Conquest of Rome by the Gauls
367 Licinian Laws. (1) forbid large holdings of public land; (2) compel landlords to employ a certain proportion of free labour
351 Conquest of S. Etruria by Rome Cære becomes the first civitas sine suffragio
348 First treaty of commerce between Rome and Carthage
Samnite Wars, involving subjugation of the Latins, and eventually of all Central Italy
321 Great defeat of the Romans at the Caudine Pass
312 Censorship of Appius Claudius including (1) publication of the laws; (2) construction of Via Claudia
War with Tarentum and Pyrrhus involving conquest of South Italy{318}
268 First coinage of silver
First Punic War, involving conquest of Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica—first transmarine provinces
264 First gladiatorial games at Rome
240 Livius Andronicus. Beginning of Roman literature
222 Defeat of the Cisalpine Gauls
220 Via Flaminia to Ariminum
Second Punic War
218 Lex Claudia forbids Senators to engage in commerce
216 Romans severely defeated at Cannæ
205 Introduction of Phrygian worship of Magna Mater
202 Victory of Scipio at Zama
201 Peace with Carthage involving cession of Spain
Second Macedonian War
196 Flaminius proclaims the liberty of Greece
190 Defeat of Antiochus the Great of Syria at Magnesia
186 7000 Romans condemned for the Bacchic orgies
184 Censorship of Cato the Elder. Death of Plautus. Basilica of Cato constructed
Third Macedonian War. Egypt accepts Roman suzerainty
165 1000 Greeks, including Polybius the historian, brought to Italy as hostages
161 Greek orators and philosophers expelled (vainly)
160 Adelphi of Terence performed
148 Macedonia becomes a province
146 On destruction of Carthage, Africa becomes a province
Great influx of Greek Art Corinth destroyed
133 Tribunate and agrarian programme of Tiberius Gracchus Kingdom of Attalus bequeathed to Rome, becomes province of Asia
123 Tribunate and agrarian programme of Gaius Gracchus. Establishment of the Equites as a political power
121 Province of Gallia Narbonensis, formed by conquest of S Gaul
War with Jugurtha: triumph of Marius
Army reforms and political power of Marius War with Cimbri and Teutons
91 War against the Italian allies (Social War)
88 Conquest of Rome by Sulla, and restoration of the Senate War with Mithradates of Pontus. Massacre of Romans
87 Revolution of Cinna and Marius with great massacre of nobles
82 Return of Sulla and proscription of the democrats Defeat of the Samnites at the Colline Gate of Rome
81 Sulla dictator. Cornelian Laws improve the judicial system. Cicero’s first speech Cisalpine Gaul becomes a province. Rome refuses Egypt
78 Date of extant buildings at Rome (1) the Tabularium, (2) the Temple of Fortuna Virilis
75 Bithynia and Cyrene made provinces (both bequeathed to Rome)
73 Insurrection of slaves under Spartacus
67 Pompeius defeats the pirates
63 Consulship of Cicero, who crushes the conspiracy of Catiline Pompeius ends the Mithradatic War. New provinces organised Cilicia, Bithynia with Pontus, Syria, and Crete
60 Union of Pompeius, Cæsar, and Crassus, “the First Triumvirate”
59 Consulship of Cæsar, and grant of the province of Gaul
58 Banishment of Cicero. Theatre of Curio built Cæsar defeats the Helvetians
57 Recall of Cicero Cæsar defeats the Nervu
56 Renewal of the “Triumverate” at Lucca Cæsar defeats the Veneti by sea
55 Dedication of theatre of Pompeius Cæsar invades Britain {319}
54 Second invasion of Britain
53 Defeat of Crassus by the Parthians. Cæsar subdues the Treveri, and crosses the Rhine
52 Senate-house burnt in a riot. Pompeius passes laws against Cæsar Great revolt of Gaul under Vercingetorix crushed at Alesia
51 Final subjugation of Gaul Cicero governor of Cilicia
49 Cæsar begins the Civil War
48 Battle of Pharsalus, defeat of Pompeius Cæsar regulates Egypt, leaving Cleopatra as queen
46 Final defeat of Pompeians at Thapsus in Africa. Cæsar dictator. Dedication of new Forum Julium, and temple of Venus Genetrix
45 Cæsar enlarges the Senate and regulates the municipal constitutions of the Italian towns
44 Assassination of Cæsar. M. Antonius in command of Rome. Cicero’s Philippics
43 Octavian, Cæsar’s heir, with the consuls defeats Antony at Mutina, and is elected consul. Second Triumvirate formed, Antony, Octavian, and Lepidus. Proscription of the tyrannicide party, including Cicero
42 Battles of Philippi. Defeat of Brutus and Cassius. Temple of Saturn rebuilt
41 War at Perusia, in which Octavian crushes the revolt of L. Antonius M. Antonius with Cleopatra in Egypt
37 Library of Pollio founded. Octavian marries Livia
36 Sextus Pompeius defeated. Lepidus deprived of his army Antony defeated in Parthia
31 Defeat of Antony and Cleopatra at Actium by Octavian
30 Publication of Horace’s Epodes Conquest of Egypt
29 Triumph of Cæsar Octavianus
28 Census and restoration of Senate. Mœsia made a province
Dedication of temple and library of Palatine Apollo, eighty-two temples restored
27 “Restoration of the Republic” really the beginning of the Empire. Octavian receives the title of Augustus. Pantheon of M. Agrippa built Provinces divided between Cæsar and Senate. Cæsar takes Spain, Gaul, Syria, and keeps Egypt
23 Augustus resigns the consulship. Death of Marcellus. Vergil’s Æneid, Horace’s Odes, i, ii, iii Failure of expedition to Arabia
20 Augustus in Asia. Submission of Parthians
19 Death of Vergil Conquest of North Spain
17 Julian “Laws of Morality”. Secular games. Horace as laureate. Augustus adopts Gaius and Lucius his grandsons
16 German invasion of Gaul. Defeat of Lothus
13 Theatre of Marcellus built Drusus in Gaul for conquest of Germany
12 Dedication of Ara Pacis Augustæ
9 End of Livy’s History Death of Drusus after four campaigns in Germany
8 Death of Horace and Mæcenas Tiberius in Germany
4 Death of Herod. Probable date of birth of Christ
2 Banishment of Julia
2 Death of Lucius and mortal wounding of Gaius. Tiberius adopted
4 Building of “Maison Carrée” at Nismes Tiberius’s annual campaigns in Germany
6 Establishment of military chest at Rome. Temple of Castor rebuilt Judæa becomes a province (census of Quirinius) Great revolt in Pannonia
8 Banishment of Ovid Subjection of Pannonia
9 Defeat of Varus by Arminius in Germany
14 Death of Augustus. Succession of Tiberius. Political extinction of the comitia. Extension of law of treason and growth of informing (delatio) Revolt of Rhine and Danube armies quelled by Germanicus and Drusus
16 Germanicus defeats the Germans under Arminum’i at Idistavisus
27 Tiberius retires to Capri. Sejanus in command of Rome
37 Gaius Cæsar (Caligula), murdered by Prætorian guard Futile expedition towards Britain
41 Claudius New provinces incorporated Mauretania, Lycia, Thracia (46), and Judæa. Conquest of Britain begun (43)
54 Nero
55 Poisoning of Britannicus
61 Revolt of Boadicea in Britain
64 Fire at Rome, and first persecution of the Christians
68 Revolt of Vindex in Gaul and Galba in Spain
Year of the Four Emperors
Galba, June-Jan. 69
Otho, Jan-April
Vitellius, April-Dec.
69 Vespasian, “The Flavian Dynasty” Revolt of Batavians under Civilis
70 Erection of Colosseum, Arch of Titus, and Baths of Titus Siege and destruction of Jerusalem
79 Titus Eruption of Vesuvius Herculaneum buried in mud and Pompeii in ashes. Death of Elder Pliny
81 Domitian Progress of Agricola in Scotland. Construction of Rhætian limes
86 Wars against Dacians
96 Murder of Domitian
96 Nerva, repealed law of treason and reduced taxes
98 Trajan, built Forum Trajani, Basilica Ulpia, and Column of Trajan (101-102) First Dacian War. (105-107) Second Dacian War. Dacia becomes province (114-116) Invasion of Parthia, capture of Ctesiphon. New provinces: Armenia, Mesopotamia, Assyria, and Arabia
118 Hadrian, built Moles Hadriani, Temple of Venus and Rome, Pantheon, Villa at Tivoli, and Temple of Olympian Zeus at Athens Abandoned Armenia, Mesopotamia and Assyria. Grand tour of the empire. Hadrian’s wall in Britain. Revolt and destruction of the Jewish nation
138 Antoninus Pius, “The Antonine Dynasty.” Built Temple of Antoninus and Faustina
161 Marcus Aurelius. Plague in Italy. Statue and column of M. Aurelius War against Parthia. War with Marcomanni and Quadi. Emperor died at Vienna
180 Commodus
193 Pertinax murdered by soldiers Didius Julianus bought the throne
193 Septimius Severus proclaimed by the Illyrian legions. Great jurist Papinian flourishes Expedition to Britain. Emperor died at York. Strengthening of walls
211 Caracalla All inhabitants of provinces (except Egypt) become citizen
217 Baths of Caracalla finished
218 Elagabalus. Attempt to introduce Sun-worship
222 Severus Alexander. The jurist Ulpian and the historian Dio Cassius flourished New Persian Empire of the Sassanidæ begun
235 Maximinus Thrax
237 Gordianus I. and II. and III.
244 Philippus, the Arabian
249 Decius Persecution of Christians Defeat of the Goths in Thrace Decius fell in the fighting
251 Gallus
253 Æmilianus
253 Valerianus Wars against German invaders, Franks, Alemanni, and Goths. Expedition to Persia. Emperor capturedDecius fell in the fighting
260 Gallienus. Time of great confusion owing to pretenders. “The thirty tyrants” Tetricus sets up a rival empire in Gaul and Spain. Odenathus sets up an independent kingdom at Palmyra in Syria
268 Claudius Gothicus Defeats German invaders
270 Aurelian (“Restitutor Orbis”). Wall round Rome Sacrifices Dacia across the Danube to the Goths. Repulses Alemanni and Marcomanni from Italian soil. Defeats Zenobia and destroys Palmyra. Defeats Tetricus
273 Temple of the Sun constructed at Heliopolis (Ba’albek)
275 Tacitus (choice of the Senate)
276 Probus Drives back the Barbarians and restores the defences{324}
282 Carus, then Numerianus, then Carinus
Diocletian resided chiefly at Nicomedia in Asia Minor, leaving the west to Maximian, Constantius and Galerius appointed Cæsars. Persecution of Christians Persians defeated, Egyptian and British revolts crushed
307 Six “Augusti” claiming the purple, Constantine of Britain among them
Constantine the Great (sole emperor). to Christianity recognised by the State
325 Arian conflict, Council of Nicæa
330 Building of Constantinople
Julian the Apostate endeavours to revive Paganism
375 Beginning of the great German folk-wanderings
Theodosius After Theodosius the division of the Empire becomes permanent Visigoths received in Mœsia if Christians Massacre of Thessalonica (St. Ambrose of Milan)
395 Arcadius rules the East. Honorius rules the West
400 Alaric invades Italy
402 Imperial residence transferred from Rome to Ravenna
410 Capture and sack of Rome by Alaric
415 Visigoths found a kingdom at Toulouse
429 Vandals found a kingdom in Africa
449 Anglo-Saxons begin to settle in Britain
451 Attila and the Huns defeated by Aetius and the Goths near Châlons
452 Foundation of Venice
476 Odoacer, barbarian general, deposes the last Western emperor, Romulus Augustulus
527 Justinian, emperor. Victories of Belisarius. Codification of law



[The following list of books will serve two purposes, as a guide to the reader who wishes to inquire further on any special point, and as an acknowledgment of some of the obligations of the writer. Only works available in English are here included, and the list is selected rather than exhaustive.]

General Histories of Rome

Pelham. Outlines of Roman History. Rivingtons.

Warde Fowler. Rome. (Home University Library.) Williams and Norgate.

General Histories of the Republic

Mommsen. A History of Rome. 5 vols. Bentley.

Heitland. The Roman Republic, 3 vols. Cambridge University Press.

Myres. A History of Rome. Rivingtons.

How and Leigh. A History of Rome to the Death of Cæsar. Longmans.

General Histories of the Empire

Gibbon. Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Ed. Bury. Methuen. 7 vols.

Bury. The Student’s Roman Empire (to the Death of Marcus Aurelius). Murray.

Stuart Jones. Roman Empire. Story of the Nations. Fisher Unwin.

Special Periods and Biographies

Straciian-Davidson. Cicero. Heroes of the Nations. {326}Putnams.

Warde Fowler. Cæsar. Heroes of the Nations. Putnams.

Boissier. Cicero and his Friends. Innes.

Oman. Seven Roman Statesmen. Arnold.

Mommsen. The Provinces of the Roman Empire. 2 vols. Macmillan.

Dill. Roman Society from Nero to Marcus Aurelius. Macmillan.

—— Roman Society in the last Century of the Western Empire. Macmillan.

Rice Holmes. Cæsar’s Conquest of Gaul. Macmillan, and Clarendon Press.

Pais. Ancient Legends of Roman History. Sonnenschein.

Ferrero. Greatness and Decline of Rome. 5 vols. Heinemann.

Tarver. Tiberius the Tyrant. Constable.

Haverfield. The Romanisation of Roman Britain. Clarendon Press.


Greenidge. Roman Public Life. Macmillan.

Arnold. Roman Provincial Administration. Macmillan.

Morals and Religion

Friedlander. Roman Life and Manners. Routledge.

Warde Fowler. The Religious Experiences of the Roman People. Macmillan.

—— The Roman Festivals. Macmillan.

Glover. Conflict of Religions under the Roman Empire. Methuen.

Ramsay. The Church in the Roman Empire before A.D. 170. Putnams.


Lecky. History of European Morals. Longmans.


Cunningham. Western Civilisation in its Economic Aspects. Vol. I. Cambridge University Press.


Sellar. Roman Poets of the Augustan Age. Clarendon Press.

Cruttwell. History of Roman Literature. Griffin.

Mackail. Latin Literature. Murray.

Rushforth. Latin Historical Inscriptions. Clarendon Press.

Art and Archœology

Mrs. Strong. Roman Sculpture. Duckworth.

Walters. The Art of the Romans. Methuen.

Wickhoff. Roman Art. Macmillan.

Mau. Pompeii, its Life and Art. Macmillan.

Hill. Handbook of Greek and Roman Coins. Macmillan.


Burn. Rome and the Campagna.

Middleton. Remains of Ancient Rome. 2 vols. 1872.

Murray’s Handbooks.

Baedeker’s Guides.

Lanciani. Ancient Rome in the Light of Recent Discoveries. Macmillan.


Buckland. Roman Law of Slavery. 1908. Cambridge University Press.

Roby. Roman Private Law. 1902. Cambridge University Press.



A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, V, W, X, Y, Z

Abitene, 194
Accomplishments, early Roman, 34
“Accountants,” 276
Achæan League, 55, 202
Achaia, 193, 202
Actium, Battle of, 129, 166, 184, 188, 202, 240
Actors, 137
Acts of the Apostles, 200
Aden, 204
Adherbal, 91
Adiabene, 267
Adige, 220
Admirals, 187
Adriatic fleet, 186, 187
Adultery, law against, 226
Advertisements, 285
Ædiles, 30, 32, 134
Ædui, 262
Æsopus (actor), 132
Aetius, 314
Ætolian cavalry, 55
Afranius, 123
Africa, province of, 59, 193, 208, 283;
diocese, 312
Agathocles, 45, 61
Agedincum, 212
Agri Decumates, 264
Agricola, Julius, 260, 261
Agriculture, early Roman, 36, 70
Agrippa, General under Augustus, 165;
intended successor to Augustus, 174, 175,
disciplinarian, 183,
overlord in Asia, 195,
Herod and, 205;
and the worship of Jehovah, 207;
and the conquest of Spain, 221;
married to Julia, 227, 228,
temple erected by, 251
Agrippa, Marcus Vipsanius, 129
Agrippa Postumus, 229
Agrippina, 224
Agrippina, (mother of Nero), 256, 272
Alani, 307
Alba Longa, 25
Albinus, Spurius, 92
Alcamenes, 156
Alcantara, Bridge of, 294
Alemanni, 309
Alesia, 116
Alexander the Great, 1, 6
Alexandria, Cæsar at, 122,
and convention in literature, 151;
rivalry with Rome, 202, 282,
Jews in, 268
“Alimenta,” 276
Aliso, 216
“Allies and friends,” 28, 60
Alme, 216
Alpes Cottiæ, 194
Alpes Maritimæ, 194
Alpine tribes, 220
Alps, the, Hannibal’s march, 50,
roads over, 220
Amazons, 258, 307
Amphitheatre, the Grand, 282
Amphitheatre displays, 74;
butchery, 137
Amphitheatres, 243, 279;
in Britain, 261
Ampsaga, river, 208
Amusements, 136, 279
“Analecta,” 137
Anchises, 224
Ancus Martius, 19
Ancyra, 199
Ancyran monument, 188
{330}Andernach, 264
Andronikos, 74
Anglesey, 259, 260
Anna Perenna, 36, 39
Antinous, 293
Antioch, 247, 267, 268, 282
Antiochus of Syria, 54, 55
Antium, 134
Antonine Constitution, 299
Antonine Wall, 261
Antonines, the, 277
Antoninus Pius, 262, 271, 277,
column of, 292
Antonius (orator), 104
Antonius, L, 164
Antony, Mark, and Cæsar, 124,
and the succession, 126, 127,
and Octavian (Augustus), 127, 128, 163, 164,
the Triumvirate, 128,
victories, 128,
and Cleopatra, 128, 129, 164, 203,
and Actium, 130,
marriages, 138,
and Cicero, 148
Antony and Cleopatra, coins of, 155
Aosta, 220
Apelles, 296
Apennines, slave refugees, 106
Apicius, 279
Apollo as a Roman god, 79,
temple to, 168
Apollodorus, 266
Apollonia, 201, 202
Apollonius, 290
Appian Way, 34
Appius Claudius, 85
Appius Claudius (censor), 34, 42, 46
Appuleian Laws, 95, 99
Apuleius, 290
Aquæ Mattiacæ (Wiesbaden), 264
Aquæ Sextiæ, 94
Aqueducts, 179, 280, 283, 293
Aquilegia, 220
Aquitania, 210
Arabia, 194, 204, 267
Arabs, 307
Aratus, 234
Arausio (Orange), 94
Arcesilaus, 156, 249
Arch, the, 153, 294
Arch, triumphal, 196
Archelaus, 206
Architecture of the Republic, 151-154,
of the Augustan period, 250-252,
of the Empire, 293-297,
later Roman and early Christian, 316
Arena. See Amphitheatre
Aretine pottery, 159
Areus, 209
Arezzo, 120
Argos, 202
Aristocracy, government by, 71, 72,
debased, 81,
wealth, 132,
Augustus and, 224;
under the Empire, 254
Domitian and the, 274.
See also Patricians
Aristotle, 290
Armenia, 194, 198, 199, 200, 267, 268
Arminius, 218, 219, 263
Armour of soldiers, 29, 98
Army, professional, as constituted by Marius, 96-99,
and government, 99,
under Augustus, 182,
soldiering becomes a profession, 184,
how constituted, 184,
rate of pay, 185;
distribution of the legions, 185;
pay (finance), 188,
bounties to veterans, 189
Arpinum, 134
Art, Etruscan, 20;
early Roman, 22, 34, 66,
of the Republic, 151-159,
of the Augustan period, 243-252,
of the Empire, Greek influence, 291,
sculpture, 292,
history of, 293,
influence of Antinous, 293,
architecture, 294-297,
painting, 296,
minor arts, 297,
Byzantine, 316
“Art, Roman,” 151, 245
Art collectors under the Republic, 155
Artillery, 280
Artists, 248
Arts, the, and politics, 231
Arusine Plain, 46
“Aryan,” 2
As, the copper (coin), 17, 34, 154
Aschaffenburg, 264
{331}Ashtaroth, 39
Asia Minor, coins of, 249,
Jews in, 268,
Christianity in, 302
Asia, province of, 59;
wealth, 61, 64;
taxes, 88,
control by Augustus, 178;
senatorial province, 193,
security in, 200,
diocese, 312
“Asiarchs,” 201
Assassins, 268
Assessments for taxes, 276
Assyria, 267
Asturians, 220
Asturica Augusta (Astorga), 221
Athens and Rome, contrast between, 2,
allied with Rome, 55,
Sulla and, 101,
and education, 133,
an allied state, 194,
position of, under Rome, 201,
new quarter, 284
Athletics, 286
Atrium, the, 135
Attalids, the, of Pergamum, 246
Attalus, 55
Attalus III., 59
Attica, 201
Atticus, 131, 233
Attila, 314
Attius, 138
Augsburg, 220
Augurs, 133
Augusta Emerita (Merida), 221
Augusta (legion), 183
“Augustals,” 181
“Augustan” age, the. See Augustus
Augustan history, 305
Augusti, 312
Augustine, 316
Augustulus, Romulus, 315
Augustus (Gneius Octavius, Octavianus) adds Egypt to the Empire, 60,
Cæsar’s heir, 124, 127,
takes up his inheritance, 127;
triple alliance, 128,
pursues the tyrannicides, 128
master of the West, 129,
becomes the Emperor Augustus, 100, 130;
health, 136;
and literature, 151;
and monarchy, 161,
statesmanship, 161, 182,
Suetonius on, 162;
character, 163,
and Cleopatra, 164,
policy, 164, 165,
triumph, 165;
and peace 166,
and the patricians, 167;
takes a census, 167,
strengthens the senate, 167;
improves Rome, 167,
establishes the Empire, 168,
senate names him Augustus, 169,
“restores the Republic,” 168, 169,
constitutional position, 170,
wealth, 172,
as censor, 172,
consulships, 173;
tribunician power, 173,
successors, 174,
age and reign, 175;
and the senate, 175,
pretended abdication, 177,
powers, 177,
patron of the people, 180
and the laws, 180;
military position, 182,
creates a navy, 186,
and public finance, 188,
his generosity, 188,
his provinces, 194,
account of condition of Italy, 196,
and the Parthians, 197,
cult of himself, 201, 225;
and Egypt, 203,
and the Soudan, 204,
and Herod, 206,
and the Jews, 207;
in Sicily, 209,
and Gaul, 209,
and Germany, 212,
and Spain, 220;
results of his rule, 221,
his work, 223,
aristocracy and, 224,
plots against, 224,
flattery, 224;
and the regeneration of Roman society, 225;
as a father, 226;
marriages, 226;
and the succession, 228,
family, 229,
his habits, 229,
character, 230,
education, 231,
and literature 232;
in Vergil, 234;
in Horace, 239,
and art, 243,
and rebuilding of Rome, 244, 248,
culture, 252,
and the enlargement of the Empire, 259
Aurelian, 307
Aurelius, Marcus, Antonine dynasty, 277;
philosophy fashionable under, 279,
Galen, his state physician, 290,
portrait, 292, 294;
hostile to Christianity, 302,
and immortality, 303,
Rome under, 305,
and the barbarians, 309, 311
Ausonius, 316
Austria, 217, 220
Autonomy, local, 284
Aventine Hill, 280
Avernus, Lake of, 186
{332}Axiomitæ, 307

Ba’albek, 282, 295
Bacchic mysteries, 79
Bacchus, 240
Bactrians, 307
Bætica, 221
Baiæ, 134, 251, 257, 296;
Turner’s picture of, 283
Bakery account from Pompeii, 285
Balearic slingers, 98
Balkans, 220
Bank rate, 166
Bankrupts and the senate, 103
Banks, 64
Banquets, 133, 136, 196
Barberini panel, 316
Barcas, the, 49
Barea Soranus, 273, 300
Barristers, 298
Batanæa, 194
Batavian cavalry, 184
Baths, 136, 196, 243, 261, 283
Baths of Titus, the, 293
Battle-array, 29
Beasts for the arena, 133
Bedriacum, 273
Beja, 221
Belgica, 210
Bestia, 91, 92
Bibulus, 111
Bithynia, 60, 193, 200
“Bithyniarchs,” 201
Black Sea, 186, 220, 297
Blemyes, 307
Boadicea, 219, 260
Bœotia, 201
Bohemia, 217
Books, 131,
Cicero’s books, 134
Bosco Reale, 249
Bosphorus, 194
Brenner Pass, 263
Brennus, 199
Brescia, 196
Bribery and corruption, 79, 133
Brickwork, 294
Bridge, marble, 196
Brigantes, the, 261, 262
Britain, Cæsar’s expeditions to, 117,
Cæsar on, 150;
Augustus and, 170, 209, 210,
conquest of, 259,
empire-building in, 260;
and Roman civilisation, 261,
roads, 262;
walls, 261, 262,
and the “Latin right,” 299;
and separate unity, 308,
diocese, 312,
deserted, 314
Britannicus, 272
Britons, the, 114
Bronze-work, 297
Brotherhood of man, 302
Brundisium, 145
Bruttium, 45, 47
Brutus and liberty, 33;
as hero, 112,
against Cæsar, 124,
and the assassination of Cæsar, 126,
and the succession, 127,
fall of, 128,
bust of, 157,
as martyr, 173,
and Horace, 237
Budgets under Augustus, 192
Buffer states, 198, 199, 214
Building, early, 19,
materials (houses), 135, 153,
principles of, 153;
brickwork, 294;
villas, 295
Bureaucracy, 171, 181, 270, 272, 276, 278, 310
Burgundians, 212, 213
Byzantine (Constantinople), 313
Byzantine art, 316
Byzantine Empire, the, 313

Cadiz, 49
Cæcilius, 76
“Cæsar” (Emperor), 112
“Cæsar and the Roman People,” cult of, 207
Cæsar Augusta (Saragossa), 221
Cæsar, Gaius Julius, adds Gaul to the Empire, 60,
and the monarchy, 100,
birth and lineage, 109,
as Pontifex Maximus, 109;
and the conspiracy of Catiline, 110,
prætor to Spain, 110,
the Triumvirate, 110;
becomes Consul, 110;
conquests of Gaul, 111, 116,
honours paid to, by poets and others, 112,
account of the Gallic Wars, 112;
as historian, 113, 150,
his greatness, 113;
his work, 114,
as a soldier, 116;
and Britain, 117, 150,
{333}and Pompeius, 114, 119,
civil war, 120,
devotion of his men, 121,
conquers at Pharsalus, 121, 122,
in Egypt, 122,
and Cleopatra, 122,
conquests, 122, 123,
supporters, 124,
reforms, 125,
kingship, 125,
slain, 126,
his will, 127,
wealth of, 132,
epileptic, 135,
wives, 138,
and Roman history, 145,
as orator, 149,
his Commentaries, 149,
portraits, 157,
and monarchy, 161,
temple to, 166;
The Commentaries and Germany, 214,
deified, 225,
as poet, 232.
Cæsar, L., 104
Cæsar-worship, 231, 267, 300
Cæsarea, 206, 268
Cæsarion, 122
Cæsars, the, 254
Calabria, 45
Caledonians, the, 261, 262
Caligula (Gaius Cæsar), 253, 268, 269, 271, 272
Callimachus, 239
Callipolis, 286
Calpurnia, 126
Cameos, 249
Campagna, the Roman, 12, 25,
shepherds, 37
Campania, 28, 34, 283
Campanian Road, 134
Campus Martius, 36, 153
Camulodunum (Colchester), 259, 260
Candace, 205
Candlestick, the seven-branched golden, 269
Cannabæ, 310
Cannæ, 51
Canon law, 299
Cantabrians, 220
Capital punishment, 43
Capitol, the, 25, 153, 293, 307
Capitoline Hill, 282
Cappadocia, 194, 267
Capri, 229
Capua, 51
Caracalla, 292, 299, 306
Caradoc, 260
Carbo, 94
Carducci and Catullus, 144
Carrhæ, 119, 197
Carthage, the early Romans and, 13, 17,
Roman treaty with, 348 B.C., 26,
Pyrrhus and the Carthaginians, 46,
Carthaginian Wars, 47,
First Punic War, 48,
Second Punic War, 49,
and Hannibal, 50,
defeated, 53,
Third Punic War, 57,
siege and destruction, 58,
a province, 59,
colony at, 88;
refounded as colony by Augustus, 208,
Carthaginian invaders of Sicily, 209
Carus, 308
Carving (food), 137
Caspian Sea, 213
Cassius, 112, 126-128, 271
Castle of St. Angelo, 294
Catiline, conspiracy of, 110;
Cicero on, 147
Cato (the Censor), prayer on cutting a grove quoted, 40,
and Carthage, 57,
and slaves, 71;
and luxury, 72,
and prudishness, 80;
policy of, 83
Cato the younger (of Utica), character, 111,
and the end of the Republic, 108, 118;
death, 123,
wives, 138;
and Stoicism, 139,
and the senate, 147;
austerity, 148
Catullus, 104, 142, 232, 243
Caudine Pass, the, 28
Celibacy, tax on, 190, 226
Celtic religion, 221
Celts, the, 115
Censors, 32, 72, 272
Censorship of letters, 232
Census-taking, 32, 167
Ceres, 38, 39
Chalons, Battle of, 314
Chariot-racing, 279, 280, 314
Charlemagne, 112
Chastity, 33
Chatti, 263
Chauci, 216, 263
Cheruscia, 216, 217, 218, 219
Chester, 260
Christianity and Cæsar worship, 201, 300,
{334}conflict with Mithraism, 299;
Rome and the establishment of, 300,
Stoicism and, 300, 302,
confounded with Judaism, 300,
scruples of Christians, 301,
proselytes, 301,
inquisitions and martyrdoms, 301,
Edict of Milan, 302;
hostility of emperors, 302,
monotheism, 303,
rites and saints taken from paganism, 303,
the Church and the Roman political system, 304,
Constantine and, 313,
Rome and the Church, 315
Chronological summary of Roman history, 317-324
Chrysostom, St. John, 316
Church and state, 315
Churches, Christian, 316
Cicero, Latinity of, 9,
the translation of, 10,
and pleading in law, 43,
and Pompeius, 108,
oration on Manilius, 109,
and the conspiracy of Catiline, 110,
policy, 110,
exile, 118, 127,
slain, 128,
his gains as governor of Cilicia, 131,
his wealth, 131, 134,
his houses, 134,
and library, 134,
health, 135,
divorces his wife, 138,
and Plato, 139;
his influence on Latin literature, 144;
his policy and rhetoric, 145,
his character, 145;
creator of Latin prose, 146, 231,
his style, 146,
as a lawyer, 146;
oratory, 147;
political life, 148,
his end, 148,
bust of, 157;
and immortality, 231,
not a client, 232
Cicero, Quintus, 124, 146
Cilicia, a province, 59, 193, 200;
pirate-state at, 106,
Cicero’s gains as governor, 131
Cimbri, the invasion by the, 93;
defeated by Marius, 94
Cincinnatus, 33
Cineas, 46
Cinna (consul), 104
Circus Maximus, 280
Circuses, 243
Cirta, 91
Citizenship, Roman, 27, 30, 299
“City Legion,” 184
City prefect, 182
City-states, the, 6, 27, 69, 278
Civic ardour, 284
Civil law of Rome, 298
Civil service, the, 276
Civil War, First, 120-123
Civil War, Second, 128, 129
Civil wars, restorations after the, 196
Civilisation, early Roman, 34,
under the Republic, 130,
under Augustus, 200
Classical education, 291
Classical literature, the golden age of, 150
Classicism, 9
Claudian, 316
Claudian house, the, 227
Claudian law, 132
Claudian Way, 220
Claudii, the, 24, 42, 72
Claudius, Suetonius on, 162,
forbids Druidism, 211,
his character, 254;
best of the Claudian Cæsars, 255,
and Messalina, 255, 256,
and Germany, 263,
and Thrace, 265,
as Cæsar, 271, 272;
death, 272,
building under, 293
Claudius Gothicus, 307
Cleopatra and Cæsar, 122;
and Antony, 126, 128, 129, 138, 203,
and Augustus, 164,
and Herod the Great, 205
Cleopatra’s daughter, 208
Clergy, Christian, 311
Clerks, copying, 131
Client system, 72;
in literature, 232
Clodia, 138
Clodius, 108, 111, 118, 119
Clœlia, 33
Cohorts, 98;
urban, 186,
of watchmen, 186
Coinage, early, 17,
copper, 34
Coins under the Republic, 154,
portraits on, 158;
legionary, 183,
with Parthian suppliant, 198;
for Judæa, 207,
of Asia Minor, 249
Colchester, 259, 260
Collecting art objects, 225, 248
{335}“Collegia,” 284
Collegial system, 31
Colline Gate, the, 105
Coloni (tillers of the soil), 311
Colonia Agrippinensis (Cologne), 215, 219, 263
Colonnades, 196, 243, 250
Colosseum, the, 282, 293
Columella, 290
Columns in architectures, 154
Comedy, 75-77
Comitatus, the, 312
Comitia, 25, 30, 36, 86, 174, 179
Commagene, 194, 199
Commander of legions, 134
Commerce, 131
Commodus, 264, 277
Como, 283, 296
Companies, commercial, 131
Consilium, 176
Constantine, Arch of, 280, 316,
Basilica of, 282
Constantine, Emperor, Cæsar and, 112,
and a new senate, 179;
and Christianity, 302, 313,
and tillers of the soil, 311,
founds Constantinople, 313
Constantinople founded, 313,
mosaics of, 316
Constitution of ancient Rome, 30
Consuls, 25, 30, 31, 63, 125, 134, 181, 193
Copper coinage, 34, 154
Coptos, 204
Corduba, 220
Cordus, Cremutius, 271
Corinth destroyed, 57, 58;
restored by Julius Cæsar, 302;
and Greek art, 247
Corinthian column, the, 250
Corn, duty on, 273
Corn-supply, 69, 109, 181, 188, 190, 209, 308
Corn trust, Sicilian, 109
Cornelia, mother of the Gracchi, 84
Cornelia, daughter of Scribonia, 240
Cornelii, the, 72
Corocota (Gaius Julius Caracuttus), 221
“Correctors,” 276
Corsica, 48, 59, 193
Coryphæus, 280
Courage an early Roman virtue, 33
Crassus, Marcus, subdues the rising of the slaves, 106,
defeated at Carrhæ, 107, 119,
his wealth, 107, 132,
and Cæsar, 110, 114, 118,
the conspiracy of Catiline, 110
Crassus (orator), 84, 104
Cremera, Battle of, 24
Cremona, 53
Cretan archers, 98
Crete, 38, 60, 193, 208
Cross, the, Constantine and, 313
Cruttwell, C. T., on Ovid, 240
Ctesiphon, 267
Culture and religion, 35
Cumæ, 134
Cura annonæ, 190
“Curators,” 276
Curiales, 311
Curies, 30
Curtius, Quintus, 33
Curule chair, the, 22
Customs duties, 272
Cybele, the worship of, 79
Cyclades, the, 201
Cymbeline, 259
Cynics, the, 302
Cynocephalæ, 55
Cyprus, 178, 193, 200
Cyrenaica, 193, 208
Cyrene, 60, 208, 268
Cytheris, 126, 138

Dacia, 265, 266, 267, 312
Dalmatia, 193, 265
Dalmatian War, 187
Damascus, 268
Danish shores, 213
Dante and Cæsar, 112,
Dante’s debt to Roman poets, 289
Danube, the, 197, 218, 219, 220, 263, 264, 265, 306, 309, 314
Danube frontier, 220
Dead, burial of the, 34
Death, 303
Death-duties, 189
{336}Death-masks, 248
Debtors, punishment of, 43
Decebalus, 265
Decemviri, 42
Decius, 301
Decuriones, 195, 311
“Delation,” 204, 272, 275, 277
Delphi, 101, 201
Delphic Amphictyony, the, 202
Demetrius, 51
Democracy, the Gracchi and, 86, 90,
Julius Cæsar and, 109
Democritus, 139
Denarius, silver, 207
Despotism, benevolent, 311
Development fund, 276
Diana, 38, 39, 238
Diana of Ephesus, Temple of, 201
Dictator, 125
Dill, Dr. Samuel, on Pliny, 279, 284
Dining, 133
Dinner-parties, 136
Dio Cassius, 168, 182
Dio Chrysostom, 290
“Dioceses,” 312
Diocletian, 271, 301, 310, 311
Diocletian, palace of, 316
Diplomacy, Roman, 26
Discipline, Roman, 26, 183,
of army, 97
Divination, Etruscan, 21
Divodurum, 212
Divorce, 80, 136, 226
Docks, 186
Domitian, unpopular, 177,
and Britain, 261,
and imperial expansion, 264,
and Decebalus, 265,
a tyrant, 274,
and the senate, 274,
assassination, 275,
and Titus, 293
Doric architecture, 153,
column, 250
Drama, beginnings, 73,
Greek tragedies translated for Roman stage, 75;
comedies, 75,
under the Republic, 137
Drinking, 136
Druidism, 114, 211, 259
Drusus, 184, 215, 227, 239
Drusus, M. Livius, 102
Dukes (dux), 312
Durocortorum, 212
Dutch horsemen, 184
Dutch shores, 213
Dutch territory, 216
Duties, customs, 212, 273
Duumviri, 195
Dyarchy, the, 177, 275

Eagle, the silver (standard), 98
Eagles, Roman, captured, 197
East, the, and Roman art, 249
Eating, 136
Eburacum (York), 261
Edict of Milan, 302
Edicts, perpetual, 298, 299
Education beginnings, 74,
under the Republic, 132,
in Gaul, 211,
and schools in 200 a.d., 280;
Pliny endows a secondary school, 283,
and schools under the Empire, 285-286
Egnatius Rufus, 180
Egypt allied against Philip of Macedon, 55,
conquered by Octavian (Augustus), 60, 130, 166,
Pompeius and Cæsar in, 122,
private possession of Augustus, 170, 172,
prefect of, 180, 194,
corn-supply, 190;
wealth, 202,
under Augustus, 203;
religion, 203,
taxes, 203;
canals and irrigation, 203,
reservoirs, 204,
position of prefect, 204,
and Greek art, 247;
rebels in the triumph of Aurelian, 307,
a diocese, 312
Elagabalus, 306
Elbe, the, 216, 217, 218
Election posters, 285
Electra (sculpture), 249, 250
Elephantine, Nilometer at, 204
Elephants, 46
Eleusinian mysteries, 55, 231
Emesa, 194, 199;
fetish-stone, 306
Empire-building, 28, 44, 211
Empire, the early, history, 162;
establishment of, 168;
illegitimate, 254;
during its first century, 259;
limits of the, 269,
junior colleagues to Cæsar, 276,
weak through its vastness, 308;
decay, 313;
divided, 313;
{337}dismembered, 314
Empire, the Eastern, 313
Ems, 216, 264
Ennius, 76, 78, 138, 236
Ephesus, 201, 247, 282
Epictetus, 302
Epicurus, 139
Epirot phalanx, 46
Equality, 33, 71
Equestrian class (Equites), 64, 88, 97, 180
Eros (Egyptian tax-gatherer), 191
Esquiline Camp, 258
Esquiline Hill, 25
Ethics, Christian, 302, 303
Etruria, conquests, 28,
Sullan colonists in, 110
Etruscans, the, neighbours at beginning of Rome, 13;
piracy, 13, 17,
remains, 14, 20,
conquest of Rome, 19,
their origin, 20,
art, 20, 22,
character, 21,
divination, 21;
costumes, 22,
decline of the Etruscan power, 23,
Etruscan princes of Rome, 20, 23,
enemy of Rome, 28;
gods, 39,
portraiture, 152, 156,
and Roman architecture, 153,
and Roman art, 248
Eudæmones, 307
Euhemerism, 201
Euphrates, the, 197, 267
Europe, Rome and the making of, 5;
Germany and the history of, 213
Extortion, 133, 191, 209, 212, 273
Extravagances, 279

Fabii, the, 24, 72
Fabius, Pictor, 150
Fabius, Quintus, 51
Family, the, 225
Famine, 190
Farnese Palace, 251
“Father of his country,” 179
Fatherhood, 226
Fatherhood of God, 303
Fathers, power of, 25
Fauns, 37
Faustina, 224
Feasting, 133, 136
Felix, 206
Fencing, 98
Ferrero, Signor G., on Cæsar’s character, 112,
on Augustus, 199,
and Gaul, 210
Festivals, early Roman, 36
Festus, 207
Fever, malarial, 135
Fifth Legion, 215
Finance, beginnings, 66,
under Augustus, 187,
gifts, 188,
property-tax and death-duties, 189,
of the senate, 192
Financial corruption, 64
Financiers, 194
Fire-brigade, 181, 186
Flamines, 38
Flaminian Way, 196
Flaminii, the, 72
Flamininus, 55
Flavian age, the, 293
Flavian dynasty, 274
Flax, 212
Flora, 38, 39
Footmen, 137
Fordicidia, 40
Formiæ, 134
Fortifications, frontier, 261, 262, 264
Fortuna Virilis, 39;
Temple of, 153, 154
Fortune-hunters, 226
Forum, the, 33, 252
Forum Julii (Fréjus), 187
Forums, 280, 282
Fowler, W. Warde, 35
France, roads of, 211
Frankfort, 264
Franks, 212, 213, 307, 309
Fratres Arvales, 39
Frazer, J. G., 35
“Free” states, 60
Freedmen, 181
Freeman, E. A., 19
Fréjus, 187
French Revolution, the, and the Roman Republic, 71
Frescoes, 296
Friezes, 246
{338}Frisians, 216
Frontiers, 223;
fortified, 261,
natural, 266
Fulvia, 126, 127, 129, 138, 149
Furniture, 297

Gabii, 25
Gabinian Law, 109
Gadara, 205
Gades, 220, 282
Gætulian nomads, 208
Gaius (Emperor). See Caligula
Gaius, over-lord in Asia, 195
and the Parthian king, 200,
and the succession, 228,
tutor and servants of, 230
Gaius, “Institutes” of, 299
Galatia, 193, 199
Galatians, 184
Galba, 179, 258, 273
Galen, 290
Galilee, 194, 206, 268
Gallia. See Gaul
Gallienus, 306, 307
Gallus, Cornelius, 203, 204, 232, 234
Gamaliel, 207
Games, public, 137
Gardening, 296
Gardthausen, Dr., on Augustus, 162,
on the Roman Army and the British Empire, 186
Gaul, The Gauls and Etruria, 23, 28,
Gallic invasion of 390 b.c., 25, 26,
conquest of the Gauls, 49,
allies of Hannibal, 50,
revolt of the Gauls, 53, 117,
Southern Gaul, 59,
Cisalpine Gaul, 60;
Gallia Narbonensis, 59, 193, 209,
Gallia Comata, 60, 210,
conquest by Cæsar, 111,
Cæsar and the Gallic wars, 112,
the Gauls, time of Cæsar, 114,
politics, 116;
and Augustus, 169, 172,
province, 193;
Gauls in Galatia, 199;
under Augustus, 209-211;
gods, 211,
tribes, 211;
German inroads, 215;
revolt against Nero, 257,
and Britain, 259;
civilisation, 262,
nationality, 262,
“Empire of the Gauls,” 262,
Gallic communities and the “Latin right,” 299;
Gallic empire destroyed, 307;
unity, 308,
diocese, 312
Geese, sacred, 59
Gems, portraits on, 158
Generosity, public, 284
Genius (luck), 37, 156
Geographical knowledge, ancient, 59
Germanicus as General in Germany, 184, 217, 218, 219, 263,
Augustus and the children of, 226,
the poisoning of, 255
Germany, Cæsar and the Germans, 117,
German slaves bodyguard, 184,
German revolt, 184,
province Germania, 193,
Augustus and, 197, 212,
and its conquest, 214-220
social system and tribes, 214,
inroads into Gaul, 215,
unconquered, 263;
Germans in the triumph of Aurelian, 307,
unity, 308
Ghosts (Lemures), 37
Gibbon, Edward, influence of, on view of Roman history, 3;
and the Roman imperial system, 277
Gladiatorial combats, 74
Gladiators, 71, 131, 133, 137, 185, 280, 282
Glaucia, 95
Gluttony, 136, 279
Glycon, 156
Gods, loves of the, in Ovid, 240
Gods, Roman. See Religion
Gold mines of Macedon, 54, 58
Golden House, the, of Nero, 256, 293
Goldsmith art, 249
Gordians, the, 306
Goths, the, 213, 299, 307, 309, 314
Government, Roman, benevolent, 61;
local autonomy to conquered territories, 62;
want of policy by senate, 82
Governors, Roman, 63, 134
Gracchi, the, 84
Gracchus, Gaius, takes up reform, 87;
elected a tribune, 88,
his policy, 88-89,
murdered, 89
Gracchus, Tiberius, 84,
training, 85,
and the land, 85, 86;
{339}and democracy, 86,
elected a tribune, 86,
murdered, 87
Græco-Roman culture under Augustus, 231,
and Roman literature, 288
Gravitas, 43
Greece, resemblances between Rome and, 1,
Greece and expansion, 6;
influence of, on Rome, 72, 74, 81,
influence of, on Roman literature, 151,
and Roman architecture, 153, 250, 251,
influence of, on portraiture, 157,
Roman veneration for Greece, 201,
and Roman education, 201,
position of, in the Roman Empire, 201,
Greek religion, 207,
and Roman art, 243-252
Greek cities, 194
Greek culture, extent of, 200,
in Rome, 231
Greek drama for the Roman stage, 75, 76
Greek mythology and Roman religion, 35, 39
Greek philosophy in Rome, 139
Greek sculpture in Rome, 155
Grotius, 298
Grove, prayer on cutting down a, 40,
sacred, 211
Gruningen, 264
Guilds (collegia), 284, 311
Gundobald, 314

Hadrian visits Britain, 261;
strengthens the Limes Trans-Rhenanus, 264
and the Parthians, 267,
as Emperor, 275, 276,
life under, 279,
freedom of letters under, 163, 289,
and Greek art, 293,
and law, 299;
and the army, 310
Hadrian, wall of, 261
Hadrian’s villa, 296
Hamilcar, 49
Hannibal, genius of, 47,
and foreign conquest, 49;
becomes leader of the Carthaginians, 50;
his greatness and character, 50,
march over the Alps, 50;
as a strategist, 51,
defeats, 52, 53,
Antiochus and, 56
Harbour dues, 61
Harbours, 187
Hasdrubal, 50, 52
Head, Barclay, on Roman coins, 154
Heating of houses, 280
Heliopolis. See Ba’albek
“Helladarch,” 202
Hellenism, 10, 72, 74
Helvetians, the, 94, 111
Heraclea, 46
Herculaneum, 297
Hercules, the Farnese, 156
Hercules, Temple of, 250
Hermann. See Arminius
Hermodorus, 153
Herod Antipas, 206
Herod the Great, 184, 198, 205, 206
Herodes Atticus, 284
Hesiod, 234
Hexameter, the Latin, 78, 232
Hiberi, 307
Hiero of Syracuse, 23, 51, 61
Hildesheim, 249
Hippocrates, 290
Hirpinus, 280
Hispania Bætica, 193
Hispania. See Spain
Historians, 138, 150, 305
Historical reliefs (sculpture), 248
History, the arts and politics in, 231
History, early Roman, worthlessness of, 24,
Tacitus and Roman history, 253, 289,
lack of interest, 288
Holland, North, 216
Holy of Holies, 207
Homer’s Odyssey translated, 74
Honoria, 314
Horace quoted on the past of Rome, 7;
Latinity of, 9,
on Hannibal, 52;
his health, 136,
on the Portus Julius, 187;
and the Parthians, 197, 199,
and Arabia Felix, 204;
on the conquest of Britain, 209,
educated in Greece, 237,
and Cæsarism, 237;
Satires, 237,
lyrical odes, 237;
drama, 238,
Odes, 238;
Century Hymn, 238,
Secular Games, 238,
celebrates Augustus, 239,
pictures the life of Rome, 239;
losses in the Civil War, 243,
{340}and satire, 289
Horatii, 24
Horatius and the saving of Rome, 19, 33
Hortensius, 138
Houses, 134, 135, 152, 296
Humanitarianism, 303
Huns, the, 214, 314

Iceni, the, 260
Ictinus, 295
Idealism in Greek art, 158
Ides of March, 36, 126
Idistavisus, 219, 263
Illyria, 48
Illyrian War, 166,
revolt, 217
Illyricum, 193, 312
Imagines, 156, 158
Immortality, 303
Imperator, 183
Imperial administration centralised, 278,
junior colleagues to Cæsar, 276,
imperial succession, 306
Imperium, 31
India, trade with, 204,
Greek art, 247
Informers. See “Delation”
Inquisitions, 301
Inscriptions from Pompeii, 285
International law, 298
Intrigue, 224, 229
Ionic columns, 154
Ireland, 261
“Irene,” 169
Irish, Gallic Celts and the, compared, 115
Isis, 39, 139, 203;
priests of, 282
Isthmian games, 55
Italian “allies” and the franchise, 102
Italians, citizen rights for, 88-89
Italian, the modern, and the ancient Roman compared, 13
Italy, divisions of, 12,
invasions, 15,
Civil War, 106,
under Augustus, 196;
colonies in, 196,
a province, 278, 312;
and the barbarians, 314
Ivories, Byzantine, 316

James, Wm., on war, 54
Janus, 38, 154, 166
Jerome and Lucretius, 142
Jerusalem, Cæsar and, 123,
under Augustus and the Herods, 205, 206, 207,
destruction of, 268
Jesus Christ, 205, 206
Jewellery, 297
Jewish law, 207;
religion, 207
Jews in the Roman provinces, 200, 208,
under Augustus, 205-207,
under the Empire, 267-269
See also Judæa
John, St., and Philo, 300
Johnson, Dr., and Latin, 8
Juba, King, 122, 123, 208
Judæa, province, 194,
under Augustus, 205-207;
government and conquest, 267, 268
Judaism, 300
Jugurtha, 84, 91-93
Julia (daughter of Augustus), 175, 227, 228, 229, 230
Julia (the younger), Ovid and, 241, 242
Julian Alps, 220
Julian laws, 226
Julianus, Salvius, 299
Julii, the, 72
Julius Nicanor, 201
Juno, 39
Jupiter, 38, 39, 79, 139, 240, 307
Jupiter Capitolinus, Temple of, 152, 153, 269, 282
Jupiter, Temple of, in Mount Zion, 269
Jurisprudentes, 298
Jus fetiale, 298;
jus gentium, 298,
jus naturæ, 298
Justice, 270, 272
Justinian, 299, 315
Juvenal and emperors, 11, 138, 163, 242, 278,
Latin of, 287;
and satire, 289;
and ethics, 303

Kent, 150
King, the, 41
Kingship, early, 19
Knuckle-bones, 229

Labienus, 121, 123
{341}Labour, free, and slavery, 71
Lacedæmon, 201
Lacerna, 280
Lacinian Promontory, the, 45
Laconia, Northern, 201
Lahn, river, 264
Lampridius, 305
Land as property, 34,
land speculation, 67, 131,
neglect of the, 85,
Tiberius Gracchus and, 87,
Gaius Gracchus and, 88,
Marius and, 95,
Licinian land law, 86,
land-tax in Gaul, 190,
land system of Gaul, 211
Langobardi See Lombards
Lares, 37
Latin, use of, 9,
culture, 9,
eclipse of Latin studies, 9
Latin festival, 38
Latin League, the, 25, 26, 27
Latin period, the (literature), 146
“Latin right,” 299
Latin and Teutonic races, contest between, 213
Latinism, 8
Latium, Plain of, 25
Law, Roman devotion to, 33,
early Roman, 41-43,
in Gaul, 211,
Julian laws, 225-226,
under the Empire, 297-299,
a legacy to the world, 315
Legates, 193
Legion, composition of a, 98, 172
Legionaries, the, 98
Legiones (Leon), 221
Lemures, 37
Leon, 221
Lepidus, 128, 163
Lesbia, 143
Levies for army, 97
Lex, the, 179
Lex Claudia, 67
Liberty, love of, 33,
religious, 270
Libraries, 168, 243, 283
Licinian laws, 86
Licinius (tax-gatherer in Gaul), 191, 212
Licinius Macer (annalist), 150
Lictors, 30, 282
Ligurian cavalry, 98
Lilybæum, 46
Limes Trans-Rhenanus, 264,
Rhætian, 264
Linz, 264
Lippe, 216
Literature, early Roman, 34,
beginnings of, 75;
of the Republic, 142-151,
in Rome under Augustus, 231,
patrons, 232,
the State and, 241, 243,
golden age of (“Augustan”), 242,
popularity of, under the Empire, 286,
and tyranny, 287,
its eclipse, 287,
freedom of, 289,
lack of originality, 291
Livia Drusilla, 227, 228
Livia, house of, 296
Livii, the, 72
Livius Andronicus, 74
Livy and the foundation of Rome, 17,
and political equality, 30;
as historian, 150, 151,
freedom accorded to, 232;
and Tacitus compared, 289
Loans, 131
Local government in Roman provinces, 61
Logos, the Divine, 300
Lombards, 213, 217
London (Londinium), 260, 282
London, modern, Roman architecture in, 251
Longinus, 94
Lorch, 264
Lucan, Latinity of, 9,
and Spain, 220, 290,
and republicanism, 242, 273,
the Pharsalia, 288
Lucca, conference at, 119
Lucceius, 145
Lucian, 290
Lucilius, 237
Lucius, 228
Lucretia, 33
Lucretius and Epicurean philosophy, 139,
quoted, 140, 141,
as poet, 141, 142, 243,
a free poet, 232,
Vergil’s use of, 236
Lucrine Lake, 186
Lucullus, 153
{342}Lucullus, gardens of, 255
Ludians, 307
Lugdunensis, 210
Lugdunum (Lyons), 210, 211, 262, 282
Lupercalia, 125
Lusitania, 221
Lutetia, 211
Luxury, 72, 134, 136
Lycaonia, 193
Lycia, 194
Lyons See Lugdunum
Lytton, Lord, 279

Maas, the, 263
Macedonia, 56, 59, 61, 193, 202, 312
Macedonian War, Second, 54
Macedonian War, Third, 65
Macrobius, 133
Mæcenas, Octavian’s agent at Rome, 129, 165,
his rank, 181,
a poet, 232,
and literary patronage, 233,
and Vergil, 234,
and Horace, 237, 239
Magistracy, the, 41, 72,
magistracies, 278
Magistrates, 30, 32, 62, 179, 181, 190, 311
Magnesia, 56
Mainz, 216, 219, 263
Maison Cairée, 251
Mamurra, 135
Manes, 37
Manilius (tribune), 109
Maniples, battle formation, 29, 97;
number of men, 98
Mantua, Vergil and, 233, 234
Marble, 188
Marbod, King, 217, 219
Marcellus, nephew of Augustus, 166;
probable successor to Augustus, 175;
married to Julia, 227;
death, 228,
in Vergil, 235
Marcellus opposed to Cæsar, 118, 120
Marcellus, Theatre of, 251, 293
Marcomanni, 217
Marcomannia, 309
Marcus, 164
Marius, Gaius, and reform, 90,
chosen as officer against Jugurtha, 93;
elected consul, 93,
commands the army in Africa, 93,
re-elected consul, 94,
chief magistrate of the state, 94;
defeats the Teutons and Cimbri, 94,
and the land, 95,
and the senate, 95,
and a professional army, 96,
massacre by, and death, 104,
Cæsar and, 109
Marius the younger, 105
Mark Antony. See Antony
Marriage, 80,
marriage laws, 226
Mars, 36
Mars, priests of See Salii
Mars the Avenger, 198,
Temple of, 252
Mars’ woodpeckers, 38
Marsians, 13, 28
Martial, 220, 278, 289
Martyrdoms of Christians, 301
Masinissa, 57, 208
Mater Matuta, shrine of, 152, 250
Materialism and religion, 139
Mau, Prof., 296
Mauretania, 194, 208, 269
Mausoleum, friezes of the, 246
Maxentius, 302
Maximin the Thracian, 179, 306
Media Atropatene, 199
Medicine, 290
Mediomatrici, the, 212
Mediterranean fleet, 186
Mediterranean, Roman command of the, 56
Mediterranean worship, prehistoric, 38
Melville, G. J. W., 279
Memmius, 92
Menander, 76
Mercury, 39
Merida, 221
Mesopotamia, 107, 267
Messalina, 138, 224, 255
Messalla, M. Valerius, 233, 240
Messengers, imperial, 196
Messiah, the, 269
“Messianic Eclogue,” Vergil’s, 160
Messina, 47, 209
Metaphysics, 300
{343}Metaurtus, River, 52
Metellus family, 75
Metellus, Q, 92, 95, 153
Metellus, Q Cæcilius, 226
Metz, 212
Meyer, Dr. Edouard, 171
Michael Angelo, 244, 251
Milan, Edict of, 302, 313
Militarism, 302
Military despotism, 183
Military service under Gaius Gracchus, 88,
under the Republic, 96-97,
Roman citizens and, 184,
Italians and, 196,
Jews exempt, 268;
barbarians and, 311
Milo, 119
Milvian Bridge, 313
Minden, 219
Minerals, 188
Minerva, 39, 79
Mines, 117, 131, 221,
in Gaul, 212
Mint at Lyons, 211
Misenum, 186
Mithradates, King of Pontus, 60, 103,
massacre by, 65,
duration of war against, 107,
defeated by Pompeius, 109,
portrait on coin, 158
Mithradatic War, 103
Mithraism, 201, 299, 308
Modena, 163
Mœsia, 194, 220, 265
Mogontiacum (Mainz), 263
Moles Hadriani, 294
Mommsen, Theodor, on Greece and Rome, 10;
on Roman religion, 40,
on Roman luxury, 72,
on Cæsar, 112,
on the Gauls, 115,
on Augustus, 198
Monaco, monument to Augustus at, 220
Monarchy, Cæsar and, 124,
hereditary, 175,
Augustus and the, 183,
growth of, 277
Money, 313
Monotheism, 207, 303
Morality, 79, 136, 138
Morocco See Mauretania
Mosaics, 158, 247, 296, 316
Moselle, the, 215
Mucianus, 274
Mule and tent money, 190
Mummius, 155, 247
Munda, 123
Municipal government, 284
Municipal life, 195
Municipal senators, 311
Municipia, 28
Mural painting, 152
Music in schools, 286
Musonius Rufus, 302
Mysia. See Mœsia
Mythology, early Roman, 36, 37, 38.
See also Religion

Nabatæa, 194
Nævius, 75
Naples, 134, 251, 296
Naples, Bay of, 283
Narbonne, 210
Narcissus, 256
Nations, wandering of the, 309
Natural law, 298
Nature-worship, 240
Navy, 48, 186, 187
Neolithic culture, 14
Nepos, 150
Suetonius on, 162, 256, 306,
unpopular, 177;
Petronius satirises, 242;
the historians and, 254,
his Golden House, 256,
murders, 256,
attempts upon his mother’s life, 257,
story of his death, 257;
posthumous honours, 259,
and the Jews, 268;
accession, 272,
administration, 272-273,
his fall, 273,
entertainments, 279,
tyranny, 287;
and Seneca, 291,
Greek curio-hunting, 293,
Christian persecution, 301
Nero, Claudius, 227
Nero, colossus of, 282
Nerva, 179, 275, 276, 289
Nicolaus, 206
Nicomedia, 312
Nicopolis, 202
Nile, the, 204
Ninth Legion, 122, 260
Niobe, 241
Nismes, Temple of, 251
{344}Nobility, 223, 224
Nola, 106
Nomads, Northern, 197
Noricum, 194, 220
Northern descents on the Mediterranean peoples, 213
Numa, 19
Numantia, 85
Numidia, 92, 208
Numidian cavalry, 52, 98
Nymphs, 37

Ocean, the, 210, 213, 217
Octavia, 126, 129, 138, 175, 224, 228, 235
Octavius, (tribune), 87
Octavius, Octavian. See Augustus
Odenathus, 307
Odoacer, 314
Officialism See Bureaucracy
Oil, free, 308
Olympia, 201
Olympian mythology, 207, 240
Omens, 32, 139
Opimius, L., 92
Ops Consiva, 37, 38
Oratory, 144, 147, 148
Orestes (sculpture), 249
Oriens, 312
Ornament in sculpture, 249,
painted, 297
Orodes, 200
Osiris, 203
Ostia, 12, 27, 255
Otho, 273
Ovid, Latinity of, 9;
and Augustus, 169,
and the defeat of Parthia, 199,
and the gods, 225,
an immoral writer, 240;
and the loves of the gods, 240,
and nature-worship, 240;
typical of the civilisation of his day, 241,
as a barrister,