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were perpetrated in the name of that great and august
character who had won the world by his sword. The pres-
tige of that mighty name sanctioned their atrocities and up-
held their power. Caesar still lived, although assassinated,
and the triumvirs reigned as his heirs or avengers, even as
Louis Napoleon grasped the sceptre of his uncle, not from
any services he had rendered, but as the heir of his conquests.



552 Wars after the Death of Caesar. [Chap. xli.

The Romans loved Cresar as the French loved Napoleon,
and submitted to the rule of the triumvirs, as the French
submitted to the usurpations of the proscribed prisoner of
Ham. And in the anarchy which succeeded the assassination
of the greatest man of antiquity, it must need be that the
strongest would seize the reins, since all liberty and exalted
patriotism had fled.

But these usurpers did not secure their power without one
Cassias and more last struggle of the decimated and ruined
OiTarfstoc- 7 aristocracy. They rallied under the standards of
racy. Brutus and Cassius in Macedonia and Syria. The

one was at the head of eight legions, and the other of eleven,
a still formidable force. Sextus Pompeius also still lived,
and had intrenched himself in Sicily. A battle had still to
be fought before the republic gave its last sigh. Cicero
ought to have joined these forces, and might have done so,
but for his vacillation. So Lepidus, as consul, took control
of Rome and the interests of Italy, while Antonius marched
against Brutus and Cassius in the East, and Octavius assailed
Sextus in Sicily ; unable, however, to attack him without
ships, he joined his confederate. Their united forces were
concentrated in Philippi, in Thrace, and there was fought
the last decisive battle between the republicans, if the sena-
torial and aristocratic party under Brutus and Cassius can
be called republicans, and the liberators, as they called them-
selves, or the adherents of Csesar. The republicans had a
force of eighty thousand infantry and twenty thousand
cavalry, while the triumvirs commanded a still superior
force. The numbers engaged in this great conflict exceeded
Battle of a ^ former experience, and the battle of Philippi
Philippi. was t k e mos t memorable in Roman annals, since
all the available forces of the empire were now arrayed
against each other. The question at issue was, whether
power should remain with the old constitutional party, or
with the party of usurpation which Csesar had headed and
led to victory. It was whether Rome should be governed
by the old forms, or by an imperator with absolute authority.



Chap, xli.] Battle of Philippi. 553

The forces arrayed on that fatal battle-field — the last conflict
for liberty ever fought at Rome — were three times as great
as fought at Pharsalia. On that memorable battle-field the
republic perished. The battle was fairly and bravely fought
on both sides, but victory inclined to the Caesarians, in two
distinct actions, after an interval of twenty days, b. c. 42.
Both Cassius and Brutus fell on their own swords, and their
self-destruction, in utter despair of their cause, effectually
broke up their party.

The empire was now in the hands of the triumvirs. The
last contest was decisive. Future struggles were worse than
useless. Destiny had proclaimed the extinction of Roman iib-

x-> tt • f t • i r- erty extin-

Koman liberties tor ever. It was vice and taction guished.
which had prepared the way for violence, and the last appeal
to the sword had settled the fate of the empire, henceforth to
be governed by a despot.

But there being now three despots among the partisans of
Caesar, who sought to grasp his sceptre, Which should pre-
vail? Antonius was the greatest general ; Octavius was the
greatest man ; Lepidus was the tool of both. The real
rivalry was between Octavius and Antonius. But they did
not at once quarrel. Antonius undertook the subjugation of
the eastern provinces, and Octavius repaired to Rome. The
former sought, before the great encounter with his rival, to
gain military eclat from new victories ; the latter to conti'ol
factions and parties in the capital. They first got rid of
Lepidus, now that their more powerful enemies were sub-
dued, and compelled him to surrender the command in Italy
and content himself with the government of Africa. Anto-
nius, commanding no less than twenty-eight legions, which,
with auxiliaries, numbered one hundred and seventy thousand,
had perhaps the best chance. His exactions were awful ; but
he squandered his treasures, and gave vent to his passions.

The real cause of his overthrow was Cleopatra, for had he
not been led aside by his inordinate passion for this Cleopatra

, . , -. , , . . , and Anto-

woman, and had he exercised his vast power with uius.

the wisdom and ability which he had previously shown,



554 Wars after the Death of CcBsar. [Chap. xli.

the most able of all of Ca?sar's generals, he probably would
have triumphed over every foe. On his passage through
Cilieia, he was met \rs[ Cleopatra, in all the pomp and luxury
of an Oriental sovereign. She came to deprecate his wrath,
ostensibly, and ascended the Cydnus in a bark with gilded
stern and purple sails, rowed with silver oars, to the sound
of pipes and flutes. She reclined, the most voluptuous of
ancient beauties, under a spangled canopy, attended by
Graces and Cupids, while the air was scented with the per-
fumes of Olympus. She soon fascinated the most powerful
man in the empire, who, forgetting his ambition, resigned
himself to love. Octavius, master of himself, and of Italy,
confiscated lands for the benefit of the soldiers, and prepared
for future contingencies. Though Antonius married Octavia,
the sister of Octavius, he was full of intrigues against him •
and Octavius, on his part, proved more than a match in
duplicity and concealed hostilities. They, however, pre-
tended to be friends ; and the treaty of Brundusium, cele-
brated by Virgil, would seem to indicate that the world was.
now to enjoy the peace it craved. After a debauch, Antonius
left Rome for the East, and Octavius for Gaul, each with a
view of military conquests. Antonius, with his new wife, had
seemingly forgotten Cleopatra, and devoted himself to the
duties of the camp with an assiduity worthy of Cresar him-
War between self. Octavius has a naval conflict with Sextus,

Octavius and . „ _ .

Sextus. and is defeated, but bextus tails to profit from his

victory, and Octavius, with the help of his able lieutenants,
and re-enforced by Antonius, again attacks Sextus, and is
again defeated. In a third conflict he is victorious, and Sex-
tus escapes to the East. Lepidus, ousted and cheated by
both Antonius and Octavius, now combines with Sextus and
the Pompeians, and makes head against Octavius ; but is
deserted by his soldiers, and falls into the hands of his
enemy, who spares his life in contempt. He had owed his
elevation to his family influence, and not to his own abilities.
Sextus, at last, was taken and slain.

At this juncture Octavius was at the head of the Caesarian



Chap. XLL] Cleopatra. 555

party. He had won the respect and friendship of the Ro-
mans by his clemency and munificence. He was not a great
general, but he was served by a great general, Agrippa, and
by another minister of equal talents, Mecsenas. He controlled
even more forces than Antonius, no less than forty-five legions
of infantry, and twenty-five thousand cavalry, and thirty-
seven thousand light-armed auxiliaries. Antonius, on the
other hand, had forfeited the esteem of the Romans by his
prodigalities, by his Oriental affectations, and by his slavery
to Cleopatra.

This artful and accomplished woman again met Antonius
in Asia, and resumed her sway. The general of one hundred
battles became effeminated by his voluptuous dalliance, so
that his Parthian campaign was a failure, even though he led
an army of one hundred thousand men. He was obliged to
retreat, and his retreat was disastrous. It was while he was
planning another campaign that Octavia, his wife, and the.
sister of his rival, — a woman who held the most dignified
situation in the world, — brought to his camp both money and
troops, and hoped to allay the jealousies of her husband, and
secure peace between him and her brother. But Antonius
heartlessly refused to see this noble-minded woman, while he
gave provinces to Cleopatra. At Alexandria this abandoned
profligate plunged, with his paramour, into every excess of
extravagant debauchery, while she who enslaved him only
dreamed of empire and domination. She may have loved
him, but she loved power more than she did debauchery.
Her intellectual accomplishments were equal to her personal
fascinations, and while she beguiled the sensual Roman with
costly banquets, her eye was steadily directed to the estab-
lishment of her Egyptian throne.

The rupture which Octavia sought to prevent between her
brother and her husband — for, with the rarest magnanimity
she still adhered to him in spite of his infatuated love for
Cleopatra — at last took place, when Octavius was triumphant
over Sextus, and Antonius was unsuccessful in the distant
East. Octavius declared war against the queen of Egypt,



556 Wars after the Death of Casar. [Chap. XLL

and Antonius divorced Octavia. Throughout the winter of
b. c. 31, both parties prepared for the inevitable conflict, for
Rome now could have but one master. The fate of the em-
pire was to be settled, not by land forces, but a naval battle,
and that was fought at Actium, not now with equal forces,
for those of Antonius had been weakened by desertions.
Moreover, he rejected the advice of his ablest generals, and
put himself under the guidance of his mistress, while Octavius
listened to the counsels of Agrippa.

The battle had scarcely begun before Cleopatra fled, fol-
lowed by Antonius. The destruction of the Antonian fleet
was the consequence. This battle, b. c. 31, gave the empire
of the world to Octavius, and Antonius fled to Alexandria
with the woman who had ruined him. And it was well that
the empire fell into the hands of a politic and profound states-
man, who sought to consolidate it and preserve its peace,
rather than into those of a debauched general, with insatiable
passions and blood-thirsty vengeance. The victor landed in
Egypt, while the lovers abandoned themselves to despair.
Antonius, on the rumor of Cleopatra's death, gave himself a
mortal wound, but died in the arms of her for whom he had
sacrificed fame, fortune, and life. Cleopatra, in the interview
which Octavius sought at Alexandria, attempted to fascinate
him by those arts by which she had led astray both Coesar
and Antonius, but the cold and politic conqueror was un-
moved, and coldly demanded the justification of her political
career, and reserved her to grace his future triumph. She
eluded his vigilance, and destroyed herself, as is supposed,
by the bite of asps, since her dead body showed none of the
ordinary spots of poison. She died, b. c. 30, in the fortieth
year of her age, and was buried as a queen by the side of her
lover. Her son Ca?sarion, by Julius Cassar, was also put to
death, and then the master of the world " wiped his blood-
stained sword, and thrust it into the scabbard." ~No more
victims were needed. No rivalship was henceforth to be
dreaded, and all opposition to his will had ceased.

Octavius reduced Egypt to the form of a Roman province,



Chap. XLL] Octavius as Emperor. 557

and after adjusting the affairs of the East, among which was
the confirmation of Herod as sovereign of Judea, he returned
to Rome to receive his new honors, and secure his undivided
sovereignty. Peace was given to the world at last. The
imperator dedicated temples to the gods, and gave games
and spectacles to the people. The riches of all previous
conquests were his to dispose and enjoy — the extent of
which may be conjectured from the fact that Caesar alone had
seized an amount equal to one hundred and seventy million
pounds, not reckoning the relative value to gold in these
times. Divine honors were rendered to Octavius as the
heir of Caesar. He assumed the prsenoinen of imperator,
but combined in himself all the great offices of the republic
which had been overturned. As censor, he purged and con-
trolled the Senate, of which he was appointed princeps, or
chief. As consul he had the control of the annies of the State ;
as perpetual proconsul over all the provinces of the empire, he
controlled their revenues, their laws, their internal reforms,
and all foreign relations. As tribune for life, he initiated
legal measures befoi'e the Comitia of the tribes ; as Pontifex
Maximus, he had the regulation of all religious ceremonials.
All these great offices were voted him by a subservient peo-
ple. The only prerogative which remained to them was the
making of laws, but even this great and supreme power he
controlled, by assuming the initiation of all laws and
measures, — that which Louis Napoleon has claimed in the
Corps Legislatif. He had also resorted to edicts, which had
the force of laws, and ultimately composed no small part of
the Roman jurisprudence. Finally, he assumed the name of
Cassar, as he had of Augustus, and consummated the reality
of despotism by the imposing title of imperator, or
emperor.



CHAPTER XLII.

THE KOMAN EMPIRE ON THE ACCESSION OF AUGUSTUS.

Octavius, now master of the world, is generally called
Augustus Caesar — the name he assumed. He was the first
of that great line of potentates whom we call emperors. Let
us, before tracing the history of the empire, take a brief sur-
vey of its extent, resources, population, institutions, state of
society, and that development of art, science, and literature,
which we call civilization, in the period which immediately
preceded the birth of Christ, when the nations were subdued,
submissive to the one central power, and at peace Avith each
other.

The empire was not so large as it subsequently became,
Prosperity nor was it at that height of power and prosperity

of the em- , . . „ ., ., ° „ l , .

pire. which followed a century of peace, when uninter-

rupted dominion had reconciled the world to the rule of the
Caesars. But it was the golden age of imperial domination,
when arts, science, and literature flourished, and when the
world rested from incessant wars. It was not an age of
highest glory to man, since all struggles for liberty had
ceased ; but it was an age of good government, when its
machinery was perfected, and the great mass of mankind felt
secure, and all classes abandoned themselves to pleasure, or
gain, or uninterrupted toils. It was the first time in the his-
tory of the world, when there was only one central authority,
and when the experiment was to be tried, not of liberty and
self-government, but of universal empire, growing up from
universal rivalries and wars — wielded by one central and
irresistible will. The spectacle of the civilized world obedi-
ent to one master has sublimity, and moral grandeur, and



Chap, xlil] Grandeur of the Empire. 559

suggests principles of grave interest. The last of the great
monarchies which revelation had foretold, and the greatest
of all — the iron monarchy which Daniel saw in prophetic
vision, reveals lessons of profound significance.

The empire then embraced all the countries 'bordering on
the Mediterranean — that great inland sea upon Extent of
whose shores the most famous cities of antiquity the empiro -
flourished, and toward which the tide of Assyrian and Per-
sian conquests had rolled, and then retreated for ever. The
boundaries of this mighty empire were great mountains, and
deserts, and oceans, and impenetrable forests. On the east
lay the Parthian empire, separated from the Roman by the
Tigris and Euphrates, and the Armenian Mountains, beyond
which were other great empires not known to the Greeks, like
the Indian and the Chinese monarchies, with a different civil-
ization. On the south were the African deserts, not pene-
trated even by travelers. On the west was the ocean ; and
on the north were barbaric tribes of different names and
races — Slavonic, Germanic, and Celtic. The empire extended
over a territory of one million six hundred thousand square
miles, and among its provinces were Spain, Gaul, Sicily,
Africa, Egypt, Syria, Asia Minor, Achaia, Macedonia, and
Illyricuui — all tributary to Italy, whose capital was Rome.
The central province numbered four millions who were free,
and could furnish, if need be, seven hundred thousand foot,
and seventy thousand horse for the armies of the republic.
It was dotted with cities, and villages, and villas, Citie8 of the
and filled with statues, temples, and works of art, empue -
brought from remotest provinces — the spoil of three hundred
years of conquest. In all the provinces were great cities,
once famous and independent — centres of luxury and wealth-
Corinth, Athens, Syracuse, Carthage, Alexandria, Antioch,
Ephesus, Damascus, and Jerusalem, with their dependent
cities, all connected with each other and the capital by gran-
ite roads, all favored by commerce, all rejoicing in a uniform
government. Rome, the great mistress "who ruled over one
hundred and twenty millions, contained an immense popula-



500 Roman Civilization. [Chap. xlti.

tion, variously estimated, in which were centred whatever
wealth or power had craved. This capital had become rapidly
ornamented with palaces, and temples, and works of art, with
the subjugation of Greece and Asia Minor, although it did not
reach the climax of magnificence until the time of Hadrian.
In the time of Augustus, the most imposing buildings were
the capitol, restored by Sulla and Caesar, whose gilded roof
alone cost $15,000,000. The theatre of Pompey could ac-
commodate eighty thousand spectators, behind which was a
portico of one hundred pillars. Caesar built the Forum Ju-
Magnificence bum, three hundred and forty feet long, and two
of Kome. hundred wide, and commenced the still greater
structures known as the Basilica Julia and Curia Julia.
The Forum Romanum was seven hundred feet by four hun-
dred and seventy, surrounded with basilica, halls, porticoes,
temples, and shops — the centre of architectural splendor, as
well as of life and business and pleasure. Augustus restored
the Capitoline Temple, finished the Forum and Basilica Julia,
built the Curia Julia, and founded the imperial palace on the
Palatine, and erected many temples, the most beautiful of
which was that of Apollo, with columns of African marble,
and gates of ivory finely sculptured. He also erected the
Forum Augxxsti, the theatre of Marcellus, capable of holding
twenty thousand spectators, and that mausoleum which con-
tained the ashes of the imperial family to the time of Had-
rian, at the entrance of which were two Egyptian obelisks.
It was the boast of this emperor, that he found the city of
brick and left her of marble. But great and beautiful as
Rome was in the Augustan era, enriched not only by his
own munificence, but by the palaces and baths which were
erected by his ministers and courtiers, — the Pantheon, the
Baths of Agrippa, the Gardens of Maecenas, — it was not until
other emperors erected the Imperial Palace, the Flavian
Amphitheatre, the Forum Trajanun, the Basilica Ulpia, the
Temple of Venus and Rome, the Baths of Caracalla, the
Arches of Septimius Severus and Trajan, and other wonders,
that the city became so astonishing a wonder, with its pal-



Chap, xlii] The Wealth of Senators. 561

aces, theatres, amphitheatres, baths, fountains, bronze statues
of emperors and generals, so numerous and so grand, that
we are warranted in believing its glories, like its population,
surpassed those of both Paris and London combined.

And this capital and this empire seemed to be the domain
of one man, so vast his power, so august his dignity, absolute
master of the lives and property of one hundred and _,, .

i a •> lne impe-

twenty millions, for the people were now deprived rial master,
of the election of magistrates and the creation of laws. How
could the greatest nobles otherwise than cringe to the supreme
captain of the armies, the prince of the Senate, and the high-
priest of the national divinities — -himself, the recipient of hon-
ors only paid to gods ! But Augustus kept up the forms of
the old republic — all the old offices, the old dignities, the old
festivals, the old associations. The Senate, prostrate and
powerless, still had external dignity, like the British House
of Peers. There were six hundred senators, each of whom
possessed more than one million two hundred thousand ses-
terces — about $50,000, when that sum must have represented
an amount equal to a million of dollars in gold, at the present
time, and some of whom had an income of one thousand
pounds a day, the spoil of the provinces they had adminis-
tered.

The Roman Senate, so august under the republic, still con-
tinued, with crippled legislative powers, to wield Roman
important functions, since the ordinary official enate "
business was performed by them. The provinces were gov-
erned by men selected from senatorial ranks. They wore the
badges of distinction ; they had the best places in the circus
and theatre ; they banqueted in the capitol at the public
charge ; they claimed the right to elect emperors.

The equestrian order also continued to farm the revenues
of the provinces, and to furnish judges. The The eques-
knights retained external decorations, were 're- " ans "
quired to possess property equal to one-third of the senators,
and formed an aristocratic class.

The consuls, too, ruled, but with delegated powers from the



562 Roman Civilization. [Chap. xlti.

emperor. They were bis eyes, and ears, and voice, and
hands ; but neither political experience nor military

The consuls. . . r % . „ , ' ^

services were required as qualifications of the office.
They wore the wreath of laurel on their brow, the striped
robe of white and purple, and were attended with lictors.
All citizens made Avay for them, and dismounted when they
passed, and rose in their presence. The praetors, too, con-
tinued to be the supreme judges, and the quaestors regulated
the treasury. The tribunes existed also, but without their
former independence. The prefect of the city was a new
office, and overshadowed all other offices — appointed by the
emperor as his lieutenant, his most efficient executive min-
ister, his deputy in his absence from the city.

A standing army, ever the mark of despotism, became an
imperial institution. At the head of this army
were the praetorian guards, who protected, the per-
son of the emperor, and had double pay over that of the
ordinary legionaries. They had a regular camp outside the
city, and were always on hand to suppress tumults. Twenty-
five legions were regarded as sufficient to defend the empire,
and each legion was composed of six thousand one hundred
foot and seven hundred and twenty-six horse. They were
recruited with soldiers from the countries beyond Italy.
Auxiliary troops were equal to the legions, and all together
numbered three hundred and forty thousand — the standing
army of the empire, stationed in the different provinces.
Naval armaments were also established in the different seas
and in great frontier rivers.

The revenue for this great force, and the general expenses
of the government, were derived from the public domains,
from direct taxes, from mines and quarries, from salt works,
fisheries and forests, from customs and excise, from the suc-
cession to property, from enfranchisement of slaves.

The monarchy instituted by Augustus, in all but the name,
Folic -of was a political necessity. Pompey would have
Augustus, ruled as the instrument of the aristocracy, but he
would only have been primus inter pares / Caesar recognized



Chap, xlil] Policy of Augustus. 563

the people as the basis of sovereignty ; Augustus based his
power on an organized military establishment, of which he
was the permanent head. All the soldiers swore personal
fealty to him — all the officers were appointed by him, directly
or indirectly. But he paid respect to ancient traditions,
forms, and magistracies, especially to the dignity of the Sen-
ate, and thus vested his military power, which was his true
power, under the forms of an aristocracy, which was the gov-
erning power before the constitution was subverted.

It need scarcely be said that the great mass of the people
were indifferent to these political changes. The horrors of



Online LibraryJohn LordAnceint states and empires → online text (page 47 of 55)