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accompanied with Brutus. They found the ravished beauty
in agonies of shame and revenue, and after she „ .. , T

° o ' Dfnth of Lu-

had revealed the scandalous facts, she plunged a cretia -
dagger in her own bosom and died, invoking revenge. Her
relatives and friends carried her corpse to the market-
place, revealed the atrocity of the crime of Sextus, and de-
manded vengeance. The people rallied in the Forum at
Rome, and the assembled Curiae deprived Tarquin of his
throne, and decreed the banishment of his accursed

n m A ,, „ . . , Bnnishraent

lamily. On the news of the insurrection, the of the
tyrant started for the city with a band of chosen
followers, but Brutus reached the army after the king had
left, recounted the wrongs, and marched to Rome, whose
gates were already shut against Tarquin. He fled to Etruria,

406 Rome in its Infancy. [Chap. XXVI.

with two of his sons, but Sextus was murdered by the people
of Gabii.

Thus were the kings driven out of Rome, never to return.
In the revolution which followed, the patricians recovered
their power, and a new form of government was instituted,
republican in name, but oligarchal and aristocratic in reality,
two hundred and forty-five years after the foundation of the
The restora- city, b. c. 510. Historical criticism throws doubt
er'todiepX- on ^ ne chronology which assigns two hundred and
tricians. forty-five years to seven elective kings, and some
critics think that a longer period elapsed from the reign of
Romulus to that of Tarquin than legend narrates, and that
there must have been a great number of kings whose names
are unknown. As the city advanced in wealth and numbers,
the popular influence increased. The admission of commons
favored the establishment of despotism, and its excesses led
to its overthrow. It would have been better for the com-
mons had Brutus established a monarchy with more limited
powers, for the plebeians were now subjected to the tyranny
of a proud and grasping oligarchy, and lost a powerful pro-
tector in the king, and the whole internal history of Rome,
for nearly two centuries, were the conflicts betAveen the ple-
beians and their aristocratic masters for the privileges they
were said to possess under the reign of Tullius. Under the
patricians the growth of the city was slow, and it was not
till the voices of the tribunes were heard that Rome ad-
vanced in civilization and liberty. Under the kings, the
progress in arts and culture had been rapid.

Mommsen, in his learned and profound history of Rome,
enumerates the various forms of civilization that existed on
the expulsion of the Tarquins, a summary of which I present.
Law and justice were already enforced on some of the elemen-
tal principles which marked the Roman jurisprudence. The
punishment of offenses against order was severe, and compen-
Junspru- sation for crime, where injuries to person and prop-
dence. ert y were slight, was somewhat similar to the

penalties of the Mosaic code. The idea of property was asso-

Chap. XXVI.] Roman Laws. 407

elated with estate in slaves and cattle, and all property passed
freely from hand to hand ; but it was not in the power of
the father arbitrarily to deprive his children of their heredi-
tary rights. Contracts between the State and a citizen were
valid without formalities, but. those between private persons
were difficult to be enforced. A purchase only founded an
action in the event of its being a transaction for ready money,
and this was attested by witnesses. Protection was afforded
to minors and for the estate of persons not capable of bear-
ing arms. After a man's death, his property descended to
his nearest heirs. The emancipation of slaves was difficult,
and that of a son was attended with even greater difficulties.
Burgesses and clients were equally free in their private
rights, but foreigners were beyond the pale of the law. The
laws indicated a great progress in agriculture and commerce,
but the foundation of law was the State. The greatest
liberality in the permission of commerce, and the most rigor-
ous procedure in execution, went hand in hand. Women
were placed on a legal capacity with men, though restricted
in the administration of their property. Personal credit was
extravagant and easy, but the creditor could treat the
debtor like a thief. A freeman could not, indeed, be tortur-
ed, but he could be imprisoned for debt with merciless
severity. From the first, the laws of property were stringent
and inexorable.

In religion, the ancient Romans, like the Greeks, personi-
fied the powers of nature, and also abstractions, like

c t iiii Religion.

sowing, field labor, war, boundary, youth, health,
harmony, fidelity. The profoundest worship was that of the
tutelary deities, who presided over the household. Next to
the deities of the house and forest, held in the greatest vene-
ration, was Hercules, the god of the inclosed homestead, and,
therefore, of property and gain. The souls of departed
mortals were supposed to haunt the spot where the bodies
reposed, but dwelt in the depths below. The hero ob1eots of
worship of the Greeks was uncommon, and even worshl P-
Numa was never worshiped as a god. The central object

408 Rome in Us Infancy. [Chap. XXVI.

of worship was Mars, the god of war, and this was conducted
by imposing ceremonies and rites. The worship of Vesta
was held with peculiar sacredness, and the vestal virgins
were the last to yield to Christianity. The worshipers of
the gods often consulted priests and augurs, who had great
colleges, but little power in the State. The Latin worship
was grounded on man's enjoyment of earthly pleasures, and
not on his fear of the wild forces of nature, and it gradually
sunk into a dreary round of ceremonies. The Italian god was
simply an instrument for the attainment of worldly ends, and
not an object of profound awe or love, and hence the Latin
worship was unfavorable to poetry, as well as philosophical

Agriculture is ever a distinguishing mark of civilization,
and forms the main support of a people. It early

Agriculture. . . y x . . ,

occupied the time of the Latins, and was their chief
pursuit. In the earliest ages arable land was cultivated in
common, and was not distributed among the people as their
special property, but in the time of Servius there was a dis-
Fruits and tribution. Attention was chiefly given to cereals,
cereals. j-^ roo ts and vegetables were also diligently culti-

vated. Vineyards were introduced before the Greeks made
settlements in Italy, but the olive was brought to Italy by
the Greeks. The fig-tree is a native of Italy. The plow
was drawn by oxen, while horses, asses, and mules were used
as beasts of burden. The farm was stocked with swine and
poultry, especially geese. The plow was a rude instru-
ment, but no field was reckoned perfectly tilled unless the
furrows were so close that harrowing was deemed unneces-
sary. Farming on a large scale was not usual, and the pro-
prietor of land worked on the soil with his sons. The use
of slaves was a later custom, when large estates arose.

Trades scarcely kept pace with agriculture, although in
the time of IsTuma eight guilds of craftsmen were

Trades. ...

numbered among the institutions of Rome — flute-
blowers, goldsmiths, coppersmiths, carpenters, fullers, dyers,
potters, and shoemakers. There was no yield for workers in

Chap. XXVI.] Commerce. 409

iron, winch shows that iron was a later introduction than

Commerce was limited to the mutual dealings of the
Italians themselves. Fairs are of great anti-

, . . . , , ,, , . , -. Commerce.

quit}'", distinguished from ordinary markets, and
barter and traffic were carried on in them, especially that of
Soracte, being before Greek or Phoenicians entered from the
sea. Oxen and sheep, grain and slaves, were the common
mediums of exchange. Latium was, however, deficient of
articles of export, and was pre-eminently an agricultural

The use of measures and weights was earlier than the art
of writing, although the latter is of high antiquity. M
Latin poetry began in the lyrical form. Dancing and wei g ht »-
was a common trade, and this was accompanied with pipers,
and religious litanies were sung from the remotest antiquity.
Comic songs were sung in Saturnian metre, accompanied by
the pipe. The art of dancing Avas a public care, and a power-
ful impulse was early given by Hellenic games. But in all
the arts of music and poetry there was not the easy develop-
ment as in Greece. Architecture owed its first impulse to
the Etruscans, who borrowed from the Greeks, and was not
of much account till the reisrns of the Tuscan kings.



The Tarquins being expelled, political power fell into the
Heroic hands of the patricians, under whose government

Roman"* tne city slowly increased in wealth and popula-
history. t j on> £> ut ^ wag ^ e ^g^g p er i ^ f Roman his-
tory, and the legends of patriotic bravery are of great

The despotism of Tarquinius Superbus inflamed all classes

with detestation of the very name of king — the wealthy

classes, because they were deprived of their ancient

The consuls. ,

powers ; the poorer classes, because they were op-
pressed with burdens. The executive power of the State
was transferred to two men, called consuls, annually elected
from the patrician ranks. But they ruled with restricted
powers, and were shorn of the trappings of royalty. They
could not nominate priests, and they were amenable to the
laws after their term of office expired. They were elected
by the Comitia Centuriata, in which the patrician power
predominated. They convened the Senate, introduced
embassadors, and commanded the armies. In public, they
were attended by lictors, and wore, as a badge of authority,
a purple border on the toga.

The Senate, a great power, still retained its dignity. The
members were elected for life, and were the advi-

The Senate. , , tit

sers of the consuls. Iney were elected by the con-
suls; but, as the consuls were practically chosen by the
wealthy classes, men were chosen to the Senate who belonged
to powerful families. The Senate was a judicial and legisla-
tive body, and numbered three hundred men. All men who

Chap. XXVII.] Early Legends. 411

had held ciirule magistracies became members. Their deci-
sions, called Senatus Consulta, became laws — leges.

The Roman government at this time was purely oligarchic.
The aristocratical element prevailed. Nobles virtually con-
trolled the State.

Brutus, on the overthrow of the monarchy, was elected
Brutus the tne ^ rst consu ^ B - c - 507, with L. Tarquinius Col-
first consul, latinus ; but the latter was not allowed to possess
his office, from hatred of his family, and he withdrew peace-
ably to Lavinium, and Publius Valerius was elected consul
in his stead — a harsh measure, prompted by necessity.

The history of Rome at this period is legendary. The
The legends story o-oes that Tarquin, at the head of the armies

of ancient .. ....

Bome. of Veii and Tarquinii, seeking to recover his throne,

marched against Rome, and that for thirteen years he strug-
gled with various success, assisted by Porsenna, king of Etru-
ria. The legends say Horatius Codes defended a bridge,
single-handed, against the whole Etrurian army — that Mam-
illus, the ruler of Tuscalum, fought a battle at Lake Regillns,
in which the cause of Tarquin was lost — the subject of the
most beautiful of Macaulay's lays — and that Mutius Sca3vola
attempted to assassinate Porsenna, and, as a pix>of of his for-
titude, held his hand in the fire until it was consumed, w T hich
act converted Porsenna into a friend. Another interesting
legend is related in reference to Brutus, who slew his own
sons for their sympathy with, and treasonable aid, to the
banished king. These stories are not history, but still shed
light on the spirit of the time. It is probable that Tarquin
Tarquin at made desperate efforts to recover his dominion,
r^coyeVhis aided by the Etruscans, and that the first wars of

the republic were against them.
The Etruscans were then in the height of their power, and
were in close alliance with the Carthaginians. Etruria was
a larger State than Latium, from which it was separated by

the Tiber. It was bounded on the west by the

Etruria. m i • ^ 1 -i-iia

Tyrrhenian Sea, on the north by the Appenmes,
and the east by Umbria. Among the cities were Veii and

412 The Roman Republic. [Chap, xxyii.

Tarquinii, the latter the "birthplace of Tarquinius Priscus, and
the former the powerful rival of Rome.

In the war with the Etruscans, the Romans were worsted,
War with and they lost all their territory on the right hank

the EtrilS- f i rri-l 1 1 1 • i 1

cans. oi the liber, won by the kings, and were thrown

back on their original limits. But the Etruscans were driven
hack, by the aid of the Latin cities, beyond the Tiber. It
took Rome one hundred and fifty years to recover what she
had lost.

It was in these wars with the Etruscans that we first read
of dictators, extraordinary magistrates, appointed


in great political exigencies. The dictator, or com-
mander, was chosen by one of the consuls, and his authority
was supreme, but lasted only for six months. He had all
the powers of the ancient kings.

The misfortunes of the Romans, in the contest with the
Etruscans, led to other political changes, and internal
troubles. The strife between the patricians and the plebeians
now began, and lasted two centuries before the latter were
admitted to a full equality of civil rights. The cause of the
conflict, it would appear, was the unequal and burdensome.
Oppression taxation to which the plebeians were subjected, and
of t™pie- es especially vexations from the devastations which
war produced. They were small land-owners, and
their little farms were overrun by the enemy, and they were
in no condition to bear the burdens imposed upon them :
and this inequality of taxation was the more oppressive, since
they had no political power. They necessarily incurred
debts, which were rigorously exacted, and they thus became
the property of their creditors.

In their despair, they broke out in open rebellion, in the
Their rebel- fifteenth year of the republic, during the consulship
lion. f p u \)ii us Servilius and Appius Claudius — the

latter a proud Sabine nobleman, who had lately settled in
Rome. They took position on a hill between the Anio and
Tiber, commanding the most fertile part of the Roman ter-
ritory. The patriciau and wealthy classes, abandoned by

Chap, xxyii ] The Tribunes. 413

the farmers, who tilled the lands, were compelled to treat, in
spite of the opposition of Appius Claudius. And the result
was, that the plebeians gained a remission of their debts, and
the appointment of two magistrates, as protectors, under the
name of tribunes.

This new office introduced the first great change in the con-
dition of the plebeians. The tribunes had the power The Tri .
of putting a stop to the execution of the law which banes -
condemned debtors to imprisonment or a military levy. Their
jurisdiction extended over every citizen, even over the con-
sul. There was no appeal from their decisions, except in the
Comitia Tributa, where the plebeian interest pre- comitiaTri-
dominated — an assembly representing the thirty buta-
Roman tribes, according to the Servian constitution, but
which, at first, had insignificant powers. The persons of the
tribunes were inviolable, but their power was negative.
They could not originate laws ; they could insure the
equitable administration of the laws, and prevent wrongs.
They had a constitutional veto, of great use at the time, but
which ended in a series of dangei-ous encroachments.

The office of rediles followed that of tribunes. There
were at first two, selected from plebeians, whose
duty it was to guard the law creating tribunes,
which was deposited in the temple of Vesta. They were
afterward the keepers of the resolutions of the Senate as
well as of the plebs, and had the care of public buildings,
and the sanitary j^olice of the city, the distribution of corn,
and of the public lands, the superintendence of markets and
measures, the ordering of festivals, and the duty to see that
no new deities or rites were introduced.

One year after the victory of the plebeians, a distinguished
man appeared, who was their bitter enemy. This was Caius
Marcius, called Coriolanus, from his bravery at n . ,

J Coriolanus.

the capture of a Volscian town, Corioli. When a
famine pressed the city, a supply of corn was sent by a
Sicilian prince, but the proud patrician proposed to the
Senate to withhold it from the plebeians until they surren-

414 The Roman Hepublie. [Chap, xxyii.

dered their privileges. The rage of the plebeians was in-
tense, and he was impeached by the tribunes, and con-
demned by the popular assembly to exile. He went over, in
indignation, to the Volscians, became their general, defeated
the Romans, and marched against their city. In this emer-
gency, the city was saved by the intercession of his mother,
Volumnia, who went to seek him in his camp, accompanied
by other Roman matrons.

A greater man than he, was Spurius Cassius, who ren-
Spuriua dered public services of the greatest magnitude,
Cassius. y e j. a man w ] 10ge illustrious deeds no poet sang.
He lived in a great crisis, when the Etruscan war had de-
stroyed the Roman dominions on the right bank of the Tiber,
and where the Volscians and Acquians were advancing with
superior forces. Rome was in danger of being conquered,
and not only conquered, but reduced to servitude. But he
concluded a league with the Latins, and also with the Her-
nicians — a Sabine people, who dwelt in one of the valleys of
the Appenines, by which the power of Rome was threatened.
He is also known as the first who proposed an agrarian
law. It seems that the patricians had occupied

Agrarian law. . . „

the public lands to the exclusion of the plebeians.
Spurius Cassius proposed to the Comitia Centuriata that the
public domain — land obtained by conquest — should be mea-
sured, and a part reserved for the use of the State, and
another portion distributed among the needy citizens — a just
proposition, since no property held by individuals was med-
dled with. This popular measure was carried against
violent opposition, but when the term of office of Cassius
as consul expired, he was accused before the curiae, who
assumed the right to judge a patrician, and he lost his life.
He was accused of seeking to usurp regal power, because he
had sought to protect the commons against his own order.
" His law was buried with him, but its spectre haunted the
rich, and again and again it arose from its tomb, till the
conflicts to which it led destroyed the commonwealth."
The following seven years was a period of incessant war

Chap. XXVII.] Cincinnatus. 415

with the Acquians and Veientines, as well as dissensions in the
city, during which the great house of the Fabii arose to power
for Fabius was chosen consul seven successive

Fab i us.

years, and even proposed the execution of the
agrarian law of Cassius, for which he was scorned by the
patricians, and left Rome in disgust, with his family, and
all were afterward massacred by the Veientines. But one
of the tribunes accused the consuls for their opposition of
the tribunes for the execution of the agrarian law. He was
assassinated. This violation of the sacred person of a
tribune created great indignation among the commons, and
Volero, a tribune, proposed the celebrated " Publilian Law,"
that the tribunes henceforth, as well as the plebeian rediles,
should be elected by the plebeians themselves in the Comitia
Tributa. Great disorders followed, but the com- increased

•it t i c\ -\ -i ^ power (if

mons prevailed, and the benate adopted the pie- plebeians.
biscitum, and proposed it to the Comitia Curiata, and it
became a law. This step raised the authority of the tri-
bunes, and added to Roman liberties.

The critical condition of Rome, from the renewed assaults
of the Acquians and Volscians, led to the appointment of
another very remarkable man to the dictatorship — L. Quin-

tius Cincinnatus, a patrician, who maintained the The dieta-
ry i -i tt i '• t torship of

virtues oi better days. He cultivated a little farm. Cincinnatus.
of four jugera with his own hands, and lived with great sim-
plicity. He summoned every man of military age to meet
him in the Campus Martius, and these were provided with
rations for five days. He then marched against the trium-
phant enemy, surrounded them, and compelled them to sur-
render. He made no use of his political power, and after
sixteen days, laid down the dictatorship, and retired to his
farm, b. c. 458. All subsequent ages and nations have em-
balmed the memory of this true patriot, who preferred the
quiet labors of his small farm of three and a half acres to the
enjoyment of absolute power.

But his victory was not decisive, and the Romans con-
tinued to be harassed by the neighboring nations, and they,

41 6 The Roman Republic. [Chap, xxvii.

moreover, suffered all the evils of pestilence. It was at
this time, in the three hundredth year of the city, that
they sought to make improvements in their laws — at
least, to embody laws in a written form. Greece was then
in the height of her glory, in the interval between the
Persian and Peloponnesian wars, and thither a commission
was sent to examine her laws, especially those of Solon, at
Athens. On the return of the three commissioners, a new
commission of ten was appointed to draw up a new code,
composed wholly of patricians, at the head of which was
Appius Claudius, consul elect, a man of commanding influ-
ence and talents, but ill-regulated passions and unscrupulous
ambition. The new code was engraved upon ten tables, and
subsequently two more tables were added, and these twelve
tables are the foundation of the Roman jurisprudence, that
branch of science which the Romans carried to considerable
perfection, and for which they are most celebrated. The
jurisprudence of Rome has survived all her conquests, and
is the most valuable contribution to civilization which she
ever made.

The decemvirs — those who codified the laws — came into
supreme power, and suspended the other great magistracies,
The deccm- and ruled, under the direction of Appius Claudius,

virs.— Appius . . x * .

Claudius. m an arbitrary and tyrannical manner. Their
power came to an end in a signal manner, and the history
of their fall is identified with one of the most beautiful
legends of this heroic age, which is also the subject of one of
Macaulay's lays.

Appius Claudius, who perhaps aspired to regal power,
His injustice became enamored of the daughter of a centurion,

and punish- . . ° . .

ment. L. Virginius. In order to gratify his passions,

Claudius suborned a false accuser, one of his clients, who was
to pretend that the mother of Virginia had been his slave.
Appius sat in judgment, and against his own laws, and also
the entreaties of the people, declared her to be the slave of
the accuser. Her father returned from the army, and in his
indignation plunged a dagger in her breast, preferring her

Chap. XXYII.J Ajppius Claudius. 417

death to shame. The people and soldiers rallied around the
courageous soldier, took the capitol, and compelled the de-
cemvirs to lay down their office. The result of this insurrec-
tion was the creation of ten tribunes instead of the old num-
ber, and ten continued to be the regular number of tribunes
till the fall of the republic. It was further decreed that the
votes of the plebs, passed in the Comitia Tributa, should be
binding on the whole people, provided they were confirmed
by the Senate and the assemblies of the curiae and centu-
ries. The persons of the tribunes were declared to be in-
violable, under the sanctions of religion, and they, moreover,
were admitted to the deliberations of the Senate, though
.without a vote. Thus did the commons ascend another step
in political influence, b. c. 449. The next movement of the
commons was to take vengeance on Appius Claudius, who
ended his life in prison.

The plebs, now strengthened by the plebeian nobles, who
sought power through the tribunate, insisted on Intermar .
the abrogation of the law which prevented the b^g ^ 6 "
marriage of plebeians with patricians. This was P atlician s.

Online LibraryJohn LordAnceint states and empires → online text (page 35 of 55)