Theodor Mommsen.

The History of Rome, Book V The Establishment of the Military Monarchy online

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and it was above all the gentler course to call the consul alone
to account and to leave the senatorial college wholly out of the case;
for which reason in the grounds of the proposal directed against
Cicero the decree of the senate, in virtue of which he ordered
the execution, was directly described as supposititious. Even against
Cicero the holders of power would gladly have avoided steps
that attracted attention; but he could not prevail on himself either
to give to those in power the guarantees which they required,
or to banish himself from Rome under one of the feasible pretexts
on several occasions offered to him, or even to keep silence.
With the utmost desire to avoid any offence and the most sincere alarm,
he yet had not self-control enough to be prudent; the word had
to come out, when a petulant witticism stung him, or when his self-
conceit almost rendered crazy by the praise of so many noble lords
gave vent to the well-cadenced periods of the plebeian advocate.

Clodius

The execution of the measures resolved on against Cato and Cicero
was committed to the loose and dissolute, but clever and pre-
eminently audacious Publius Clodius, who had lived for years
in the bitterest enmity with Cicero, and, with the view of satisfying
that enmity and playing a part as demagogue, had got himself converted
under the consulship of Caesar by a hasty adoption from a patrician
into a plebeian, and then chosen as tribune of the people
for the year 696. To support Clodius, the proconsul Caesar remained
in the immediate vicinity of the capital till the blow was struck
against the two victims. Agreeably to the instructions
which he had received, Clodius proposed to the burgesses to entrust
Cato with the regulation of the complicated municipal affairs
of the Byzantines and with the annexation of the kingdom of Cyprus,
which as well as Egypt had fallen to the Romans by the testament
of Alexander II, but had not like Egypt bought off the Roman
annexation, and the king of which, moreover, had formerly given
personal offence to Clodius. As to Cicero, Clodius brought in
a project of law which characterized the execution of a burgess
without trial and sentence as a crime to be punished with banishment.
Cato was thus removed by an honourable mission, while Cicero
was visited at least with the gentlest possible punishment and,
besides, was not designated by name in the proposal. But they did not
refuse themselves the pleasure, on the one hand, of punishing
a man notoriously timid and belonging to the class of political
weathercocks for the conservative energy which he displayed,
and, on the other hand, of investing the bitter opponent
of all interferences of the burgesses in administration
and of all extraordinary commands with such a command conferred
by decree of the burgesses themselves; and with similar humour
the proposal respecting Cato was based on the ground of the abnormal
virtue of the man, which made him appear pre-eminently qualified
to execute so delicate a commission, as was the confiscation
of the considerable crown treasure of Cyprus, without embezzlement.
Both proposals bear generally the same character of respectful
deference and cool irony, which marks throughout the bearing of Caesar
in reference to the senate. They met with no resistance.
It was naturally of no avail, that the majority of the senate,
with the view of protesting in some way against the mockery
and censure of their decree in the matter of Catilina, publicly
put on mourning, and that Cicero himself, now when it was too late,
fell on his knees and besought mercy from Pompeius; he had to banish
himself even before the passing of the law which debarred him
from his native land (April 696). Cato likewise did not venture
to provoke sharper measures by declining the commission
which he had received, but accepted itand embarked for the east.(12)
What was most immediately necessary was done; Caesar too
might leave Italy to devote himself to more serious tasks.




Chapter VII

The Subjugation of the West

The Romanizing of the West

When the course of history turns from the miserable monotony
of the political selfishness, which fought its battles
in the senate-house and in the streets of the capital, to matters
of greater importance than the question whether the first monarch
of Rome should be called Gnaeus, Gaius, or Marcus, we may well
be allowed - on the threshold of an event, the effects of which still
at the present day influence the destinies of the world - to look round us
for a moment, and to indicate the point of view under which the conquest
of what is now France by the Romans, and their first contact
with the inhabitants of Germany and of Great Britain, are to be
apprehended in their bearing on the general history of the world.

By virtue of the law, that a people which has grown into a state
absorbs its neighbours who are in political nonage, and a civilized
people absorbs its neighbours who are in intellectual nonage -
by virtue of this law, which is as universally valid and as much
a law of nature as the law of gravity - the Italian nation (the only
one in antiquity which was able to combine a superior political
development and a superior civilization, though it presented
the latter only in an imperfect and external manner) was entitled
to reduce to subjection the Greek states of the east which were ripe
for destruction, and to dispossess the peoples of lower grades
of culture in the west - Libyans, Iberians, Celts, Germans - by means
of its settlers; just as England with equal right has in Asia reduced
to subjection a civilization of rival standing but politically
impotent, and in America and Australia has marked and ennobled,
and still continues to mark and ennoble, extensive barbarian
countries with the impress of its nationality. The Roman aristocracy
had accomplished the preliminary condition required for this task -
the union of Italy; the task itself it never solved, but always
regarded the extra-Italian conquests either as simply a necessary
evil, or as a fiscal possession virtually beyond the pale
of the state. It is the imperishable glory of the Roman democracy
or monarchy - for the two coincide - to have correctly apprehended
and vigorously realized this its highest destination. What
the irresistible force of circumstances had paved the way for,
through the senate establishing against its will the foundations
of the future Roman dominion in the west as in the east; what thereafter
the Roman emigration to the provinces - which came as a public
calamity, no doubt, but also in the western regions at any rate
as a pioneer of a higher culture - pursued as matter of instinct;
the creator of the Roman democracy, Gaius Gracchus, grasped
and began to carry out with statesmanlike clearness and decision.
The two fundamental ideas of the new policy - to reunite
the territories under the power of Rome, so far as they were Hellenic,
and to colonize them, so far as they were not Hellenic - had already
in the Gracchan age been practically recognized by the annexation
of the kingdom of Attalus and by the Transalpine conquests of Flaccus:
but the prevailing reaction once more arrested their application.
The Roman state remained a chaotic mass of countries without thorough
occupation and without proper limits. Spain and the Graeco-Asiatic
possessions were separated from the mother country by wide
territories, of which barely the borders along the coast
were subject to the Romans; on the north coast of Africa the domains
of Carthage and Cyrene alone were occupied like oases; large tracts
even of the subject territory, especially in Spain, were but nominally
subject to the Romans. Absolutely nothing was done on the part
of the government towards concentrating and rounding off
their dominion, and the decay of the fleet seemed at length
to dissolve the last bond of connection between the distant
possessions. The democracy no doubt attempted, so soon as it
again raised its head, to shape its external policy in the spirit
of Gracchus - Marius in particular cherished such ideas - but as it
did not for any length of time attain the helm, its projects
were left unfulfilled. It was not till the democracy practically took
in hand the government on the overthrow of the Sullan constitution
in 684, that a revolution in this respect occurred. First of all
their sovereignty on the Mediterranean was restored - the most
vital question for a state like that of Rome. Towards the east,
moreover, the boundary of the Euphrates was secured by the annexation
of the provinces of Pontus and Syria. But there still remained beyond
the Alps the task of at once rounding off the Roman territory towards
the north and west, and of gaining a fresh virgin soil there
for Hellenic civilization and for the yet unbroken vigour
of the Italic race.

Historical Significance of the Conquests of Caesar

This task Gaius Caesar undertook. It is more than an error,
it is an outrage upon the sacred spirit dominant in history,
to regard Gaul solely as the parade ground on which Caesar
exercised himself and his legions for the impending civil war.
Though the subjugation of the west was for Caesar so far a means
to an end that he laid the foundations of his later height of power
in the Transalpine wars, it is the especial privilege of a statesman
of genius that his means themselves are ends in their turn. Caesar
needed no doubt for his party aims a military power, but he did not
conquer Gaul as a partisan. There was a direct political necessity
for Rome to meet the perpetually threatened invasion of the Germans
thus early beyond the Alps, and to construct a rampart there
which should secure the peace of the Roman world. But even this
important object was not the highest and ultimate reason for which Gaul
was conquered by Caesar. When the old home had become too
narrow for the Roman burgesses and they were in danger of decay,
the senate's policy of Italian conquest saved them from ruin.
Now the Italian home had become in its turn too narrow; once more
the state languished under the same social evils repeating themselves
in similar fashion only on a greater scale. It was a brilliant
idea, a grand hope, which led Caesar over the Alps - the idea
and the confident expectation that he should gain there for his
fellow-burgesses a new boundless home, and regenerate the state
a second time by placing it on a broader basis.

Caesar in Spain

The campaign which Caesar undertook in 693 in Further Spain, may
be in some sense included among the enterprises which aimed at
the subjugation of the west. Long as Spain had obeyed the Romans,
its western shore had remained substantially independent of them
even after the expedition of Decimus Brutus against the Callaeci(1),
and they had not even set foot on the northern coast; while
the predatory raids, to which the subject provinces found
themselves continually exposed from those quarters, did no small
injury to the civilization and Romanizing of Spain. Against these
the expedition of Caesar along the west coast was directed.
He crossed the chain of the Herminian mountains (Sierra de Estrella)
bounding the Tagus on the north; after having conquered their
inhabitants and transplanted them in part to the plain, he reduced
the country on both sides of the Douro and arrived at the northwest
point of the peninsula, where with the aid of a flotilla brought
up from Gades he occupied Brigantium (Corunna). By this means
the peoples adjoining the Atlantic Ocean, Lusitanians and Callaecians,
were forced to acknowledge the Roman supremacy, while the conqueror
was at the same time careful to render the position of the subjects
generally more tolerable by reducing the tribute to be paid to Rome
and regulating the financial affairs of the communities.

But, although in this military and administrative debut of the great
general and statesman the same talents and the same leading ideas are
discernible which he afterwards evinced on a greater stage, his agency
in the Iberian peninsula was much too transient to have any deep effect;
the more especially as, owing to its physical and national peculiarities,
nothing but action steadily continued for a considerable time could
exert any durable influence there.

Gaul

A more important part in the Romanic development of the west
was reserved by destiny for the country which stretches between
the Pyrenees and the Rhine, the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean,
and which since the Augustan age has been especially designated
by the name of the land of the Celts - Gallia - although strictly
speaking the land of the Celts was partly narrower, partly much
more extensive, and the country so called never formed a national
unity, and did not form a political unity before Augustus.
For this very reason it is not easy to present a clear picture
of the very heterogeneous state of things which Caesar encountered
on his arrival there in 696.

The Roman Province
Wars and Revolts There

In the region on the Mediterranean, which, embracing approximately
Languedoc on the west of the Rhone, on the east Dauphine and Provence,
had been for sixty years a Roman province, the Roman arms had seldom
been at rest since the Cimbrian invasion which had swept over it.
In 664 Gaius Caelius had fought with the Salyes about Aquae Sextiae,
and in 674 Gaius Flaccus,(2) on his march to Spain, with other
Celtic nations. When in the Sertorian war the governor Lucius Manlius,
compelled to hasten to the aid of his colleagues beyond the Pyrenees,
returned defeated from Ilerda (Lerida) and on his way home
was vanquished a second time by the western neighbours
of the Roman province, the Aquitani (about 676;(3)), this seems
to have provoked a general rising of the provincials between
the Pyrenees and the Rhone, perhaps even of those between the Rhone
and Alps. Pompeius had to make his way with the sword through
the insurgent Gaul to Spain,(4) and by way of penalty for their
rebellion gave the territories of the Volcae-Arecomici
and the Helvii (dep. Gard and Ardeche) over to the Massiliots;
the governor Manius Fonteius (678-680) carried out these arrangements
and restored tranquillity in the province by subduing the Vocontii
(dep. Drome), protecting Massilia from the insurgents,
and liberating the Roman capital Narbo which they invested.
Despair, however, and the financial embarrassment which the participation
in the sufferings of the Spanish war(5) and generally the official
and non-official exactions of the Romans brought upon the Gallic
provinces, did not allow them to be tranquil; and in particular
the canton of the Allobroges, the most remote from Narbo,
was in a perpetual ferment, which was attested by the "pacification"
that Gaius Piso undertook there in 688 as well as by the behaviour
of the Allobrogian embassy in Rome on occasion of the anarchist plot
in 691,(6) and which soon afterwards (693) broke into open revolt
Catugnatus the leader of the Allobroges in this war of despair,
who had at first fought not unsuccessfully, was conquered at Solonium
after a glorious resistance by the governor Gaius Pomptinus.

Bounds
Relations to Rome

Notwithstanding all these conflicts the bounds of the Roman
territory were not materially advanced; Lugudunum Convenarum,
where Pompeius had settled the remnant of the Sertorian army,(7)
Tolosa, Vienna and Genava were still the most remote Roman townships
towards the west and north. But at the same time the importance
of these Gallic possessions for the mother country was continually
on the increase. The glorious climate, akin to that of Italy,
the favourable nature of the soil, the large and rich region lying
behind so advantageous for commerce with its mercantile routes
reaching as far as Britain, the easy intercourse by land and sea
with the mother country, rapidly gave to southern Gaul an economic
importance for Italy, which much older possessions, such as those
in Spain, had not acquired in the course of centuries; and as
the Romans who had suffered political shipwreck at this period sought
an asylum especially in Massilia, and there found once more Italian
culture and Italian luxury, voluntary emigrants from Italy also
were attracted more and more to the Rhone and the Garonne.
"The province of Gaul," it was said in a sketch drawn ten years
before Caesar's arrival, "is full of merchants; it swarms with Roman
burgesses. No native of Gaul transacts a piece of business without
the intervention of a Roman; every penny, that passes from one hand
to another in Gaul, goes through the account books of the Roman
burgesses." From the same description it appears that in addition
to the colonists of Narbo there were Romans cultivating land
and rearing cattle, resident in great numbers in Gaul; as to which,
however, it must not be overlooked that most of the provincial land
possessed by Romans, just like the greater part of the English
possessions in the earliest times in America, was in the hands
of the high nobility living in Italy, and those farmers and graziers
consisted for the most part of their stewards - slaves or freedmen.

Incipient Romanizing

It is easy to understand how under such circumstances civilization
and Romanizing rapidly spread among the natives. These Celts
were not fond of agriculture; but their new masters compelled them
to exchange the sword for the plough, and it is very credible
that the embittered resistance of the Allobroges was provoked in part
by some such injunctions. In earlier times Hellenism had also
to a certain degree dominated those regions; the elements
of a higher culture, the stimulus to the cultivation of the vine
and the olive,(8) to the use of writing(9) and to the coining of money,
came to them from Massilia. The Hellenic culture was in this case
far from being set aside by the Romans; Massilia gained through
them more influence than it lost; and even in the Roman period
Greek physicians and rhetoricians were publicly employed
in the Gallic cantons. But, as may readily be conceived, Hellenism
in southern Gaul acquired through the agency of the Romans the same
character as in Italy; the distinctively Hellenic civilization
gave place to the Latino-Greek mixed culture, which soon made
proselytes here in great numbers. The "Gauls in the breeches,"
as the inhabitants of southern Gaul were called by way of contrast
to the "Gauls in the toga" of northern Italy, were not indeed
like the latter already completely Romanized, but they were even now
very perceptibly distinguished from the "longhaired Gauls"
of the northern regions still unsubdued. The semiculture becoming
naturalized among them furnished, doubtless, materials enough
for ridicule of their barbarous Latin, and people did not fail
to suggest to any one suspected of Celtic descent his "relationship
with the breeches"; but this bad Latin was yet sufficient
to enable even the remote Allobroges to transact business
with the Roman authorities, and even to give testimony in the Roman
courts without an interpreter.

While the Celtic and Ligurian population of these regions
was thus in the course of losing its nationality, and was languishing
and pining withal under a political and economic oppression,
the intolerable nature of which is sufficiently attested by their
hopeless insurrections, the decline of the native population here
went hand in hand with the naturalizing of the same higher culture
which we find at this period in Italy. Aquae Sextiae and still
more Narbo were considerable townships, which might probably be
named by the side of Beneventum and Capua; and Massilia, the best
organized, most free, most capable of self-defence, and most
powerful of all the Greek cities dependent on Rome, under its
rigorous aristocratic government to which the Roman conservatives
probably pointed as the model of a good urban constitution,
in possession of an important territory which had been considerably
enlarged by the Romans and of an extensive trade, stood by the side
of those Latin towns as Rhegium and Neapolis stood in Italy
by the side of Beneventum and Capua.

Free Gaul

Matters wore a different aspect, when one crossed the Roman frontier.
The great Celtic nation, which in the southern districts already
began to be crushed by the Italian immigration, still moved
to the north of the Cevennes in its time-hallowed freedom.
It is not the first time that we meet it: the Italians had already
fought with the offsets and advanced posts of this vast stock
on the Tiber and on the Po, in the mountains of Castile and Carinthia,
and even in the heart of Asia Minor; but it was here that the main stock
was first assailed at its very core by their attacks. The Celtic race
had on its settlement in central Europe diffused itself chiefly
over the rich river-valleys and the pleasant hill-country
of the present France, including the western districts of Germany
and Switzerland, and from thence had occupied at least the southern
part of England, perhaps even at this time all Great Britain
and Ireland;(10) it formed here more than anywhere else a broad,
geographically compact, mass of peoples. In spite of
the differences in language and manners which naturally
were to be found within this wide territory, a close mutual intercourse,
an innate sense of fellowship, seems to have knit together
the tribes from the Rhone and Garonne to the Rhine and the Thames;
whereas, although these doubtless were in a certain measure locally
connected with the Celts in Spain and in the modern Austria,
the mighty mountain barriers of the Pyrenees and the Alps
on the one hand, and the encroachments of the Romans and the Germans
which also operated here on the other, interrupted the intercourse
and the intrinsic connection of the cognate peoples far otherwise
than the narrow arm of the sea interrupted the relations
of the continental and the British Celts. Unhappily we are not
permitted to trace stage by stage the history of the internal development
of this remarkable people in these its chief seats; we must be content
with presenting at least some outline of its historical culture
and political condition, as it here meets us in the time of Caesar.

Population
Agriculture and the Rearing of Cattle

Gaul was, according to the reports of the ancients, comparatively
well peopled. Certain statements lead us to infer that in the Belgic
districts there were some 200 persons to the square mile -
a proportion such as nearly holds at present for Wales
and for Livonia - in the Helvetic canton about 245;(11) it is probable
that in the districts which were more cultivated than the Belgic
and less mountainous than the Helvetian, as among the Bituriges,
Arverni, Haedui, the number rose still higher. Agriculture
was no doubt practised in Gaul - for even the contemporaries of Caesar
were surprised in the region of the Rhine by the custom of manuring
with marl,(12) and the primitive Celtic custom of preparing beer
(-cervesia-) from barley is likewise an evidence of the early
and wide diffusion of the culture of grain - but it was not held
in estimation. Even in the more civilized south it was reckoned not
becoming for the free Celts to handle the plough. In far higher
estimation among the Celts stood pastoral husbandry, for which
the Roman landholders of this epoch very gladly availed themselves
both of the Celtic breed of cattle, and of the brave Celtic slaves
skilled in riding and familiar with the rearing of animals.(13)
Particularly in the northern Celtic districts pastoral husbandry
was thoroughly predominant. Brittany was in Caesar's time
a country poor in corn. In the north-east dense forests, attaching
themselves to the heart of the Ardennes, stretched almost without
interruption from the German Ocean to the Rhine; and on the plains
of Flanders and Lorraine, now so fertile, the Menapian and Treverian
herdsman then fed his half-wild swine in the impenetrable oak-forest.
Just as in the valley of the Po the Romans made the production
of wool and the culture of corn supersede the Celtic feeding
of pigs on acorns, so the rearing of sheep and the agriculture
in the plains of the Scheldt and the Maas are traceable
to their influence. In Britain even the threshing of corn
was not yet usual; and in its more northern districts agriculture
was not practised, and the rearing of cattle was the only known mode
of turning the soil to account. The culture of the olive and vine,
which yielded rich produce to the Massiliots, was not yet prosecuted
beyond the Cevennes in the time of Caesar.

Urban Life



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