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I. The East i

II. " Armenia Capta, SiGNis Receptis " . . . , 28

III. The Great Social Laws of the Year 18 b.c. . . 45

IV. The " LuDi S^culares " 76

V. The Egypt of the West ...... 104

VI. The Great Crisis in the European Provinces . . 121

VII. The Conquest of Germania .... . . 142

VIII. " H^c EST Italia Diis Sacra" 166

IX. The Altar of Augustus and of Rome .... 185

X. Julia and Tiberius 213

XI. The Exile of Julia 243

XII. The Old Age of Augustus 269

XIII. The Last " Decennium " 291

XIV. Augustus and the Great Empire .... 325
Index 355


Greece before the Roman conquest — Greece and the Romaa
conquest — Greece in the second century of the repubUc — The
inability of Rome to remedy the sufferings of Greece — Policy
of Augustus in Greece — The theatrical crisis at Rome — The
Syrian pantomimes — Pylades of Cilicia — The temple of Rome
and Augustus at Pergamum — Asia Minor — The manufac-
turing towns in the Greek republics of the coast — The
agricultural monarchies of the highlands — The cults of Mithras
and Cybele — The unity of Asia Minor — Asiatic Hellenism
and Asiatic religions — The Greek republics in the Asiatic
monarchy — Asia Minor after a century of Roman rule —
Weakness, crisis and universal disorder — The critical position
of Hellenism and the Jews — Jewish expansion in the east —
The worship of Rome and Augustus in Asia Minor — The
Greek renaissance.

When Greece was declared a Roman province in 146 b.c. tireece after
the decadence of the whole country had already begun, conquest.
Her territorial and maritime empire had gradually fallen away,
her commercial supremacy had disappeared, her capital had
been exhausted and her industries ruined, art and study were
decaying, and the sources of her former wealth had run dry.
The forges of Laconia, which had been maintained by a pros-
perous trade in swords, lances, helmets, trephines, files and
hammers, were now silent ; * the bronze foundries of Argos,
once busy and famous, had been closed ; t and closed also were
the celebrated workshops of the artists of Sicyon.l JEginz
had gradually lost her maritime trade and had closed her

* Xenophon (Hell. III. iii. 7) speaks of this industry, which is never
heard of under the empire.

t Pindarus in Athen. i. 50 (28), i. 49 (27 D.); Pollio, i. 149; .<Elius,
v.h. iii. 25. Nothing is heard of this Industry afterwards.

: PUny, XXXVI. iv. i ; Strabo, VIII. vi. 23.

V » A


21 B.C. well-known bronze foundries, while the smaller hardware
articles for which she was especially famous were no longer
produced ; * the marvellous prosperity of Athens was now
buried beneath the ruins of her maritime empire. Her com-
merce died when she lost the empire of the sea and was no longer
able to support it with privileges of every kind ; expenditure
upon her fleet, her army and her public works became impossible
when the tribute of the allies had been cut off ; with the
Athenian empire had crumbled the system of cleruchies and
territorial possessions which brought agricultural products,
wood and metals into Greece from every quarter. The conse-
quence had been universal ruin ; the shipyards of the Piraeus
had decayed like the armourers' shops ; the Attic vases in red
and black which had once been sent to the houses of the rich
throughout the Mediterranean were no longer in fashion.
The silver-mines of Laurium, the chief source of Athenian
wealth, were exhausted ; every trade and every art which had
formerly supplied the needs and the luxury of Athens had sunk
to vanishing-point. The wealthy city, the metropolis of a vast
empire and a great commercial centre, had become the deserted
capital of a little country some forty miles square, exporting
merely a little oil, a little honey, a little marble and some
famous perfumes, the last remnants of the wide commercial
connections by means of which she had ruled in former years.f
Corinth alone remained a flourishing commercial and manu-
facturing centre amid the universal decadence.
Economic The decay of the great industrial and commercial towns

epression. ^-^^^ brought poverty upon the whole of Greece ; agricultural
work proved unprofitable, and the artisans could find no employ-
ment in the secondary towns ; yet at the same time, as in great
and small republics, the peasants flocked to the towns from the
most distant parts of the country and abandoned the country
as the nation grew poorer. The vices attendant upon wealth,
luxury, the thirst for pleasure, avarice, the gambling spirit,

* Bliimner, L'Attivitd, Industriale dei Popoli dell' Antichitd Classica.
in the Biblioteca di Storia Economica (Milan, Society Editrice Libraria,
vol. ii. part i, p. 592).

\ See Blumner, op. cii. p. 562 fi.


municipal pride and intrigue, far from disappearing, continued
to develop with increasing force. Thus Greece had been
ravaged by terrible domestic evils until the time of the Roman
conquest. To preserve some outward show in the towns, to
pay the artists and workmen, to keep up the schools of athletes,
the great games and the intellectual traditions, to satisfy the
ambitions and the animosities of the many political oligarchies
in the great and small towns, Greece had squandered the
wealth accumulated by her ancestors and had compromised
her prospects in every direction. Parties and towns, as if in
parody of their ancient power, had embarked upon war, revolu-
tion, plunder and violence ; every district had been impove-
rished by these disturbances and by the unbridled luxury of
public and private life. Celibacy and debt, the two great
scourges of the ancient world, which constantly suffered from
want of capital and diminished population even in the most
prosperous epochs, had brought desolation even to the country-
side. By degrees, large estates worked by slaves or landj
entirely deserted had replaced districts formerly populous,
while in the towns art languished and morals deteriorated, in
spite of the most desperate efforts. Want and corruption,
walking, as usual, hand in hand, entered the palace of the noble,
the house of the merchant and the humble dwelling of the

Midway upon this ruinous career Greece was annexed by The efiFects of
Rome, but the progress of her destruction was rather accele- ^^^ Roman

. , rry J conquest.

rated than restramed. To understand the true nature of the
Roman empire we must abandon one of the most general
and most widespread misconceptions, which teaches that Rome
administered her provinces in a broad-minded spirit, con-
sulting the general interest and adopting wide and beneficent
principles of government for the good of the subjects. Subject
countries have never been so governed, either bv Rome or by
any other empire ; domination has never been advantageous
to subject races except by accident ; the dominant race has
invariably attempted to secure the largest possible profit for
itself with the least possible amount of risk and trouble. As
in all countries subjugated by her, Rome had allowed affairs


in Greece to follow their natural course for good or for evil
until they became dangerous or disastrous to her own interests.
By the destruction of Corinth, the last great industrial and com-
mercial town in Greece, Rome had forced the country to live
upon the feeble resources of her territory and the infamous
means of subsistence to which a decadent people resorts ;
Greece was reduced to exhibiting her antiquities and her
monuments to strangers and to advertising the miraculous
cures of Epidaurus. Moreover, Rome had divided the countrv
into an infinite number of little states, the majority of which
included merely the territory of one town. Sparta, Athens,
and a few other towns had preserved their independence and
some of their adjacent territory ; Sparta held part of Laconia
and Athens the whole of Attica and some of the islands. These
towns in alliance with Rome continued to live under their
old institutions and laws without paying tribute or admitting
a foreign governor. The rest of the country had been incor-
porated with Macedonia and divided into a large number of
towns, paying tribute and self-governing, with their own laws
and their own institutions, but under the supremacy of a
Roman governor and the Roman Senate. Thus the little wars
and revolutions which had formerly harassed the country
had been suppressed in favour of peace. Unfortunately,
when peace is not produced by the natural balance of domestic
forces, but is imposed from without, it is comparable merely
with the lethargy produced by narcotics, which stifle pain for a
moment but rather aggravate the disease. The fax Romana
had neither regenerated Greece nor brought any particular
advantage to the country, for the little wealth that peace
had brought had been seized by Rome. The great war with
Mithridates, the civil wars of the last thirty years, the imposts,
taxes and other depredations of the political factions, added
to the ordinary taxation and to the extortions of the publicani,
had reduced Greece to utter exhaustion, overwhelmed with
debt property already involved, discouraged the small land-
holders, diminished the population, weakened the tottering
governments and scattered the last remnants of capital. Even
the treasury in the temple of Delphi was empty at the time


vi'hen Augustus visited Greece. The fair mother of Hellenism, 21 b.c.
once so rich and powerful, was now a beggar among the nations,
enslaved to Rome, with all the rags and sores of infamous

If the dreams of those who wished to embellish the world Rome's
at their pleasure had been possible of realisation, if the domina- aiieviat^the
tion of man over man could have become the self-sacrifice <i»stress.
of the conqueror for the benefit of the conquered, Augustus
might have been able to attempt the most marvellous enterprise
in Roman history, the regeneration of Greece. Great as was
his admiration for the poetry of Virgil, it was not from thence
that he drew his political wisdom. He was but too well aware
that the power of Rome was very limited compared with her
prestige, and that the empire largely rested upon the illusions
of its subjects, who were disunited, ignorant and despondent,
and greatly exaggerated the Roman power. He remembered
that Rome could not maintain troops in the majority of the
provinces, that the most she could do was to send a governor
and a few incompetent officials to each province year by year ;
that in no case could she introduce her laws, her religion, any
new institutions or any moral principle likely to bind her
subjects to herself, and that, in short, she must be content in
the majority of cases to govern the subject peoples through
their own national institutions. He thus realised that he could
do little or nothing for Greece, and that Greece was the one
country where it would be most difficult to apply Virgil's
great precept. Pads . . . imponere morem. On the economic
side the great scourge of Greece was her poverty, for which
there were many causes : debt, diminishing population, the
want of capital and the decay of manufacture. Rome had done
her utmost to alleviate these evils by her efforts to restore
Corinth, and if Greece wished to revive her prosperity she
must rely principally upon herself. Moreover, it was not
strictly true to say that all her resources were exhausted.
Both her past history and the territory she held could provide
c pportunities. Corinth, for instance, speedily revived not only
throurli help from Rome, but also because the colonists had
discovered in the ruins overthrown by Mummius a mine of


21 B.c antiquities which could be sold at a high price, especially at
Rome. Thus a new town might be rebuilt from the spoils
and ashes of the old.* Similarly, the landholders of Elis were
beginning to cultivate fibre-bearing plants, hemp, flax and
cotton ; numbers of women were established at Patras and
worked at weaving these materials, especially the byssus, an
excellent fibre in which an export trade was beginning.!
Moreover, the tree of Pallas, the olive, grew in many parts
of Greece, and was a tree of golden fruit in antiquity, as the oil
was used for the most varied purposes, for cooking, lighting,
medicine, and as soap and unguents, especially in the gymna-
siums, baths and athletic schools. Unfortunately the poverty
of Greece was not merely the result of circumstance ; it was
due to many moral vices, public and private : luxury, frivolity,
moral degradation, the corruption of justice, a mixture of
civic arrogance and civic indifference, the spirit of chicanery,
the domination of a little minority of rich men and the servility
of the numerous poor. Against such vices Greece and Rome
w"ere equally powerless. From time to time Rome might be
able to check some of the worst abuses ; but she was unable
to correct vices inherent in national institutions which the
Roman governors were bound to use, in traditions which they
were bound to respect, in interests which they could not
outrage, and in minds which it was dangerous to wound.
The policy of However, Augustus' stay in Greece merely marked one
Augustus in stage of a journey far greater in length and very different in
intention. Preparations were in progress, probably in Mace-
donia, to organise the army which he was to lead into Asia
during the summer or autumn ; he proposed to invade Armenia
in the following spring simultaneously with another army

* Strabo, VIII. vi. 23.

f Pausanias, V. v. 2, VII. xxi. 14. In my opinion it is reasonable
to suppose that the cultivation of these plants was now begun in Greece,
and this for two reasons. In the first place, at this time, as we shall see,
many other similar attempts were made in different parts of the empire ;
secondly, Augustus established a colony at Patras in 14 B.C., so that
this town must then have shown some prospect of prosperity, and
therefore the textile industry which afterwards brought prosperity
must have been begun. Hence we may conclude that textile plants
were now cultivated in Elis.



under Archelaus, king of Cappadocia. Thus Augustus, with 21 b.c.
his diminutive suite and his modest ceremonial, was not
visiting this exhausted province for the purpose of extorting
its few remaining possessions ; at the same time he had no
intention of attempting to regenerate it upon the lines of
poetical policy preached by Cicero and Virgil. His inclination
was rather to readjust to the necessities of the time the old
Greek policy of Titus Quintius Flamininus and the aristocratic
party, which consisted in concealing the impotence of Rome
beneath a show of profound respect for Greek liberty and in
leaving Greece to the disintegrating influence of her own vices,
so that she would be forced to blame rather herself than Rome
for her own misfortunes. During his stay Augustus carried
out several reforms, and projected others which were executed
later ; these were intended to alleviate the disintegrating
policy of the previous century and to restore to Greece some
vestiges or some show of her old liberty.* He separated
Greece from Macedonia and made one province of it, includ-
ing Thessalia, Epirus, the Ionian Islands, Euboea and some
of the iEgean Islands ; the name of the new province
was Achaia, and the governor was to reside at Corinth.f
He reorganised the old Amphictyonic council, which met
every year at Delphi, though its sessions had lost much of their
former solemnity ; he attempted to establish a diet to which
every town in the new province of Achaia should send a repre-
sentative, and which was to meet every year ; X he gave freedom
to several towns, including the league of Laconian cities which

* Here may be quoted the judicious observation of Hertzburg,
Histotre de la Grece sous la Domination romaine (French translation, by
Bouche Leclercq, Paris, 1887, vol. i. p. 465) : " Augustus introduced
a series of measures to regulate the situation of a certain number of
Greek cities ; this was done more particularly between the years 22
and 19 B.C., during which the emperor traversed a large part of the
eastern provinces and gave its final form to his provincial government.
. . . Unfortunately we do not know the provisions or the date of
any but a few of them." As the ilate of these measures cannot be
determined, they have been assigned by conjecture to this journey.

* See Hertzburg, op. cit. p. 464 ff. The statement that the division
was made at this moment is conjectural.

t Hert'.burg, op. cit. p. 474 fi. ; Mommsen, Le Provincie Romane,
Rome, 1887, vol. i. p. 244.



21 B.C.

Dispute at
Rome con-
cerning the

occupied the southern part of Laconia.* He also remodelled
the territory of Athens and Sparta, and forbade Athens to
continue her practice of selling the title of citizen, a base
expedient which had been carried to excess by the unhappy
town.f There is no evidence that Augustus increased the
tribute ; the poverty of the provinces forbade any such pro-
ceeding. On the contrary, he apparently attempted to derive
profit from the property which the republic possessed in Greece ;
to a great Laconian family, that of the Eurycles who had fought
with him at Actium, he gave the island of Cythera, which had
become State property, naturally under condition of the pay-
ment of a vectigal ; t then, during the autumn of the year
21, while the army was crossing the Bosphorus on its way
to Bithynia, he went to Samos, where he proposed to pass the
winter in preparing for the Armenian expedition and in super-
vising the affairs of Asia Minor.

Meanwhile Agrippa had married Julia, and after the recent
disturbances Rome had recovered its usual tranquillity ; §
but no sooner had the disturbances in the streets been sup-
pressed than another war broke out in the metropolis between
the actors and authors, with the Roman theatres as the battle-
field. The upstart aristocracy around Augustus had attempted
to hide its lack of descent by professing loud admiration for
the past history of Rome and attempting to revive the theatre
of Ennius, Naevius, Accius, Pacuvius, Cscilius, Plautus and
Terence — in other Avords, the Greek theatre which the Roman
writers had imitated. It became one of the duties of a citizen
to miss no performance of the classical works, to applaud
loudly, to exclaim on every possible occasion that nothing so
line could ever be written, and that the re valval of a national
theatre was required to spread moral and patriotic ideas among
the people. All good citizens were to work at this noble enter-
prise. Horace himself was advised to put on the cothurnus ;
but the patriotism of Horace was by no means intense. At
Philippi he had thrown away his shield, and he now felt
no desire to risk the hisses of the Roman public upon the

* Pausanias, III. xxii. 6. f Dion, liv. 7.

X Dion, liv. 6. § See Horace, Epist. II. i. 49 ff.


stage.* What was more unfortunate was the fact that he even 21 b.c.
ventured to criticise these old and admired writers ; he declared
that their verses were clumsy and their language coarse and im-
pure. t Happily there were many citizens more zealous than
Horace, who were ready to do anything to help the republic,
even to write tragedies, Asinius composed a large number ;
Augustus himself had composed or drafted at least one, under
the title of Ajax,t though he preferred in general to encourage
others by gifts of money. He had given, for instance, a very
considerable sum to Lucius Varus Rufus for his ThyesteSy
which was generally regarded as a masterpiece. § Literary
men of the middle classes who were attempting to win the
favour of the great by their pens, also composed numerous
pieces, as, for instance, Gaius Fundanius, whose comedies
somewhat amused Horace ; || doubtless there were many like
him whose names have been lost. However, while the Romans
were attempting to represent the grandeur of Ajax, Achilles
and Thyestes in noble iambic lines, two rivals from the east
appeared ; these were Pylades of Cilicia and Bathyllus of Alex-
andria, who put upon the stage a form of entertainment
hitherto unknown to the Romans, the pantomime.U Invisible
voices accompanied by gentle music sang a story ; the actor
or mime, wearing a handsome mask and dressed in a beautiful
silk costume, performed in gesture, following the music, the
scene related by the invisible voices. At the conclusion of
the scene the actor disappeared, and during a musical interlude
changed his costume, the man becoming a woman, the young
man an old one, or the man a god ; he then returned to act
a further instalment of the story. Usually the mimes chose
their subjects from the innumerable adventures of the Greek

* Horace, Epist. II. i. 177-193.

t Horace, Epist. II. i. 156-176. % Suetonius, Aug. 85.

§ See Teuffcl Schwabe, Geschichte der rotniscken Literatur, Leipzig,
1890, vol. i. p. 480, § 2.

II Horace, Sat. I. x. 40, and the Comm. Porph. : Solum I'llis tetn-
foribus Fundanium dicit comcpdiam beve scribere at Pollionem traqadiam,
qu-7> Irimelris versibus fere texilur, epicum autem carmen validissime
Variion, tnolle vera ait et elegans Vergilium. Sed apparet, cum hoc
Hornlni% sm'herrt. sola adhuc Bucolica el Georgica in notilia fuisse.

^ Sdiiit Jerome, ad Chron. Eus., an. 732/22.


21 B.C. gods, from the Homeric and Cyclic poems, or from the ancient
Greek myths preserved in tragedy, with a preference for sen-
sual episodes and terrible catastrophes such as the madness
of Ajax. Sometimes their lines were written by competent
poets, but their chief object, to which end the poetry and music
were subordinated, was to tickle or to shock the nerves of the
spectators by a great number of different scenes, tragical or
comical, chaste or sensual, sentimental or terrible, bound to-
gether by a slender thread of plot. Thus to understand or
to enjoy the entertainment required little intellectual effort ;
the spectator needed only to listen and look and to watch the
fugitive details, which might be forgotten immediately. As-
suming that a work of art is perfect in proportion as it resembles
a living form, from which no one member can be cut off, or in
proportion as it expresses eternal truths by the action of human
characters, these pantomimes would certainly be considered very
degenerate works in comparison with real tragedy. However,
they proved so successful at Rome that Pylades soon became
a popular favourite. The great classical works necessitated
some mental effort if real intellectual enjoyment was to be
derived from them ; the public preferred the easier enjoyment
of the pantomime, and its preference testified to the frivolity
of a corrupt society. At the same time people may have
had some reason to prefer the quick and lively acting of the
mimes to the wearisome tragedies of the day, which were pain-
ful imitations of the great models, preserving their gravity
without their poetry, and therefore heavy and wearisome in the
Augnistusat However, the authors of these wearisome tragedies, the

national actors, and all persons of reputation raised their
hands in horror and protested in their loudest tones. How
could such men as Pylades and Bathyllus be allowed to drive
Accius and Pacuvius from the theatres of Rome ? This petty
theatre war is by no means the trifling affair that it is often
thought to be. It showed how facts were running counter to
the intentions of men in the theatres as well as in the sphere of
morals and administration. Men wished to revive the old
Roman traditions, and straightway oriental novelties were



forthcoming. The dispute grew fiercer. However, even if 21 b.c.
Augustus thought that the chief of the State was bound to
devote his attention to pubHc entertainments, he had no time
at the moment to spend upon the actors of Rome and their
quarrels, for he was proposing to give the peoples of Asia Minor,
on a larger stage, a very different spectacle from that provided
by the mimes of Pylades and Bathyllus ; he was about to go up

Online LibraryGuglielmo FerreroThe greatness and decline of Rome (Volume 5) → online text (page 1 of 37)