Theodor Mommsen.

The History of Rome, Book I The Period Anterior to the Abolition of the Monarchy online

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into great repute.

This centralizing process, by which several small communities
became absorbed in a larger one, of course was far from being an
idea specially Roman. Not only did the development of Latium and
of the Sabellian stocks hinge upon the distinction between national
centralization and cantonal independence; the case was the same
with the development of the Hellenes. Rome in Latium and Athens
in Attica arose out of a like amalgamation of many cantons into
one state; and the wise Thales suggested a similar fusion to the
hard-pressed league of the Ionic cities as the only means of saving
their nationality. But Rome adhered to this principle of unity with
more consistency, earnestness, and success than any other Italian
canton; and just as the prominent position of Athens in Hellas
was the effect of her early centralization, so Rome was indebted
for her greatness solely to the same system, in her case far more
energetically applied,

The Hegemony of Rome over Latium - Alba

While the conquests of Rome in Latium may be mainly regarded as
direct extensions of her territory and people presenting the same
general features, a further and special significance attached to
the conquest of Alba. It was not merely the problematical size and
presumed riches of Alba that led tradition to assign a prominence
so peculiar to its capture. Alba was regarded as the metropolis
of the Latin confederacy, and had the right of presiding among the
thirty communities that belonged to it. The destruction of Alba,
of course, no more dissolved the league itself than the destruction
of Thebes dissolved the Boeotian confederacy;(7) but, in entire
consistency with the strict application of the -ius privatum- which
was characteristic of the Latin laws of war, Rome now claimed the
presidency of the league as the heir-at-law of Alba. What sort
of crises, if any, preceded or followed the acknowledgment of this
claim, we cannot tell. Upon the whole the hegemony of Rome over
Latium appears to have been speedily and generally recognized,
although particular communities, such as Labici and above all
Gabii, may for a time have declined to own it. Even at that time
Rome was probably a maritime power in contrast to the Latin "land,"
a city in contrast to the Latin villages, and a single state in
contrast to the Latin confederacy; even at that time it was only in
conjunction with and by means of Rome that the Latins could defend
their coasts against Carthaginians, Hellenes, and Etruscans, and
maintain and extend their landward frontier in opposition to their
restless neighbours of the Sabellian stock. Whether the accession
to her material resources which Rome obtained by the subjugation
of Alba was greater than the increase of her power obtained by
the capture of Antemnae or Collatia, cannot be ascertained: it is
quite possible that it was not by the conquest of Alba that Rome
was first constituted the most powerful community in Latium; she
may have been so long before; but she did gain in consequence of
that event the presidency at the Latin festival, which became the
basis of the future hegemony of the Roman community over the whole
Latin confederacy. It is important to indicate as definitely as
possible the nature of a relation so influential.

Relation of Rome to Latium

The form of the Roman hegemony over Latium was, in general, that
of an alliance on equal terms between the Roman community on the
one hand and the Latin confederacy on the other, establishing a
perpetual peace throughout the whole domain and a perpetual league
for offence and defence. "There shall be peace between the Romans
and all communities of the Latins, as long as heaven and earth
endure; they shall not wage war with each other, nor call enemies
into the land, nor grant passage to enemies: help shall be rendered
by all in concert to any community assailed, and whatever is won
in joint warfare shall be equally distributed." The stipulated
equality of rights in trade and exchange, in commercial credit
and in inheritance, tended, by the manifold relations of business
intercourse to which it led, still further to interweave the
interests of communities already connected by the ties of similar
language and manners, and in this way produced an effect somewhat
similar to that of the abolition of customs-restrictions in our own
day. Each community certainly retained in form its own law: down
to the time of the Social war Latin law was not necessarily identical
with Roman: we find, for example, that the enforcing of betrothal
by action at law, which was abolished at an early period in Rome,
continued to subsist in the Latin communities. But the simple and
purely national development of Latin law, and the endeavour to
maintain as far as possible uniformity of rights, led at length
to the result, that the law of private relations was in matter and
form substantially the same throughout all Latium. This uniformity
of rights comes most distinctly into view in the rules laid down
regarding the loss and recovery of freedom on the part of the
individual burgess. According to an ancient and venerable maxim
of law among the Latin stock no burgess could become a slave
in the state wherein he had been free, or suffer the loss of his
burgess-rights while he remained within it: if he was to be punished
with the loss of freedom and of burgess-rights (which was the same
thing), it was necessary that he should be expelled from the state
and should enter on the condition of slavery among strangers. This
maxim of law was now extended to the whole territory of the league;
no member of any of the federal states might live as a slave within
the bounds of the league. Applications of this principle are seen
in the enactment embodied in the Twelve Tables, that the insolvent
debtor, in the event of his creditor wishing to sell him, must be
sold beyond the boundary of the Tiber, in other words, beyond the
territory of the league; and in the clause of the second treaty
between Rome and Carthage, that an ally of Rome who might be taken
prisoner by the Carthaginians should be free so soon as he entered
a Roman seaport. Although there did not probably subsist a general
intercommunion of marriage within the league, yet, as has been
already remarked(8) intermarriage between the different communities
frequently occurred. Each Latin could primarily exercise political
rights only where he was enrolled as a burgess; but on the other
hand it was implied in an equality of private rights, that any Latin
could take up his abode in any place within the Latin bounds; or,
to use the phraseology of the present day, there existed, side by
side with the special burgess-rights of the individual communities,
a general right of settlement co-extensive with the confederacy;
and, after the plebeian was acknowledged in Rome as a burgess,
this right became converted as regards Rome into full freedom of
settlement. It is easy to understand how this should have turned
materially to the advantage of the capital, which alone in Latium
offered the means of urban intercourse, urban acquisition, and urban
enjoyments; and how the number of - metoeci - in Rome should have
increased with remarkable rapidity, after the Latin land came to
live in perpetual peace with Rome.

In constitution and administration the several communities not
only remained independent and sovereign, so far as the federal
obligations did not interfere, but, what was of more importance,
the league of the thirty communities as such retained its autonomy
in contradistinction to Rome. When we are assured that the position
of Alba towards the federal communities was a position superior
to that of Rome, and that on the fall of Alba these communities
attained autonomy, this may well have been the case, in so far as
Alba was essentially a member of the league, while Rome from the
first had rather the position of a separate state confronting the
league than of a member included in it; but, just as the states
of the confederation of the Rhine were formally sovereign, while
those of the German empire had a master, the presidency of Alba may
have been in reality an honorary right(9) like that of the German
emperors, and the protectorate of Rome from the first a supremacy
like that of Napoleon. In fact Alba appears to have exercised the
right of presiding in the federal council, while Rome allowed the
Latin deputies to hold their consultations by themselves under the
guidance, as it appears, of a president selected from their own
number, and contented herself with the honorary presidency at the
federal festival where sacrifice was offered for Rome and Latium,
and with the erection of a second federal sanctuary in Rome - the
temple of Diana on the Aventine - so that thenceforth sacrifice was
offered both on Roman soil for Rome and Latium, and on Latin soil
for Latium and Rome. With equal deference to the interests of
the league the Romans in the treaty with Latium bound themselves
not to enter into a separate alliance with any Latin community - a
stipulation which very clearly reveals the apprehensions entertained,
doubtless not without reason, by the confederacy with reference to
the powerful community taking the lead. The position of Rome not
within, but alongside of Latium, is most clearly apparent in the
arrangements for warfare. The fighting force of the league was
composed, as the later mode of making the levy incontrovertibly
shows, of two masses of equal strength, a Roman and a Latin. The
supreme command lay once for all with the Roman generals; year by
year the Latin contingent had to appear before the gates of Rome,
and there saluted the elected commander by acclamation as its
general, after the Romans commissioned by the Latin federal council
to take the auspices had thereby assured themselves of the contentment
of the gods with the choice that had been made. Whatever land or
property was acquired in the wars of the league was apportioned
among its members according to the judgment of the Romans. That
the Romano-Latin federation was represented as regards its external
relations solely by Rome, cannot with certainty be maintained.
The federal agreement did not prohibit either Rome or Latium from
undertaking an aggressive war on their own behoof; and if a war
was waged by the league, whether pursuant to a resolution of its
own or in consequence of a hostile attack, the Latin federal council
may have been legally entitled to take part in the conduct as well
as in the termination of the war. Practically indeed Rome must
have possessed the hegemony even then, for, wherever a single state
and a federation enter into a permanent connection with each other,
the preponderance usually falls to the side of the former.

Extension of the Roman Territory after the Fall of Alba - Hernici - Rutulli
and Volscii

The steps by which after the fall of Alba Rome - now mistress of a
territory comparatively considerable, and presumably the leading
power in the Latin confederacy - extended still further her direct
and indirect dominion, can no longer be traced. There was no lack
of feuds with the Etruscans and with the Veientes in particular,
chiefly respecting the possession of Fidenae; but it does not appear
that the Romans were successful in acquiring permanent mastery over
that Etruscan outpost, which was situated on the Latin bank of the
river not much more than five miles from Rome, or in dislodging
the Veientes from that formidable basis of offensive operations.
On the other hand they maintained apparently undisputed possession
of the Janiculum and of both banks of the mouth of the Tiber. As
regards the Sabines and Aequi Rome appears in a more advantageous
position; the connection which afterwards became so intimate with
the more distant Hernici must have had at least its beginning
under the monarchy, and the united Latins and Hernici enclosed on
two sides and held in check their eastern neighbours. But on the
south frontier the territory of the Rutuli and still more that of
the Volsci were scenes of perpetual war. The earliest extension
of the Latin land took place in this direction, and it is here that
we first encounter those communities founded by Rome and Latium
on the enemy's soil and constituted as autonomous members of the
Latin confederacy - the Latin colonies, as they were called - the
oldest of which appear to reach back to the regal period. How
far, however, the territory reduced under the power of the Romans
extended at the close of the monarchy, can by no means be determined.
Of feuds with the neighbouring Latin and Volscian communities the
Roman annals of the regal period recount more than enough; but
only a few detached notices, such as that perhaps of the capture
of Suessa in the Pomptine plain, can be held to contain a nucleus
of historical fact. That the regal period laid not only the
political foundations of Rome, but the foundations also of her
external power, cannot be doubted; the position of the city of
Rome as contradistinguished from, rather than forming part of, the
league of Latin states is already decidedly marked at the beginning
of the republic, and enables us to perceive that an energetic
development of external power must have taken place in Rome during
the time of the kings. Certainly great deeds, uncommon achievements
have in this case passed into oblivion; but the splendour of them
lingers over the regal period of Rome, especially over the royal
house of the Tarquins, like a distant evening twilight in which
outlines disappear.

Enlargement of the City of Rome - Servian Wall

While the Latin stock was thus tending towards union under the
leadership of Rome and was at the same time extending its territory
on the east and south, Rome itself, by the favour of fortune and
the energy of its citizens, had been converted from a stirring
commercial and rural town into the powerful capital of a flourishing
country. The remodelling of the Roman military system and the
political reform of which it contained the germ, known to us by
the name of the Servian constitution, stand in intimate connection
with this internal change in the character of the Roman community.
But externally also the character of the city cannot but have changed
with the influx of ampler resources, with the rising requirements
of its position, and with the extension of its political horizon.
The amalgamation of the adjoining community on the Quirinal with
that on the Palatine must have been already accomplished when the
Servian reform, as it is called, took place; and after this reform
had united and consolidated the military strength of the community,
the burgesses could no longer rest content with entrenching the
several hills, as one after another they were filled with buildings,
and with possibly also keeping the island in the Tiber and the
height on the opposite bank occupied so that they might command
the course of the river. The capital of Latium required another
and more complete system of defence; they proceeded to construct
the Servian wall. The new continuous city-wall began at the river
below the Aventine, and included that hill, on which there have been
brought to light recently (1855) at two different places, the one
on the western slope towards the river, the other on the opposite
eastern slope, colossal remains of those primitive fortifications - portions
of wall as high as the walls of Alatri and Ferentino, built of large
square hewn blocks of tufo in courses of unequal height - emerging
as it were from the tomb to testify to the might of an epoch, whose
buildings subsist imperishably in these walls of rock, and whose
intellectual achievements will continue to exercise an influence
more lasting even than these. The ring-wall further embraced the
Caelian and the whole space of the Esquiline, Viminal, and Quirinal,
where a structure likewise but recently brought to light on a
great scale (1862) - on the outside composed of blocks of peperino
and protected by a moat in front, on the inside forming a huge
earthen rampart sloped towards the city and imposing even at the
present day - supplied the want of natural means of defence. From
thence it ran to the Capitoline, the steep declivity of which towards
the Campus Martius served as part of the city-wall, and it again
abutted on the river above the island in the Tiber. The Tiber
island with the bridge of piles and the Janiculum did not belong
strictly to the city, but the latter height was probably a fortified
outwork. Hitherto the Palatine had been the stronghold, but now
this hill was left open to be built upon by the growing city; and on
the other hand upon the Tarpeian Hill, standing free on every side,
and from its moderate extent easily defensible, there was constructed
the new "stronghold" (-arx-, -capitolium-(10)), containing the
stronghold-spring, the carefully enclosed "well-house" (-tullianum-),
the treasury (-aerarium-), the prison, and the most ancient place
of assemblage for the burgesses (-area Capitolina-), where still in
after times the regular announcements of the changes of the moon
continued to be made. Private dwellings of a permanent kind,
on the other hand, were not tolerated in earlier times on the
stronghold-hill;(11) and the space between the two summits of the
hill, the sanctuary of the evil god (-Ve-diovis-), or as it was
termed in the later Hellenizing epoch, the Asylum, was covered with
wood and presumably intended for the reception of the husbandmen
and their herds, when inundation or war drove them from the plain.
The Capitol was in reality as well as in name the Acropolis of Rome,
an independent castle capable of being defended even after the city
had fallen: its gate lay probably towards what was afterwards the
Forum.(12) The Aventine seems to have been fortified in a similar
style, although less strongly, and to have been preserved free from
permanent occupation. With this is connected the fact, that for
purposes strictly urban, such as the distribution of the introduced
water, the inhabitants of Rome were divided into the inhabitants
of the city proper (-montani-), and those of the districts situated
within the general ring-wall, but yet not reckoned as strictly
belonging to the city (-pagani Aventinensis-, -Ianiculenses-,
-collegia Capitolinorum et Mercurialium-).(13) The space enclosed
by the new city wall thus embraced, in addition to the former
Palatine and Quirinal cities, the two federal strongholds of the
Capitol and the Aventine, and also the Janiculum;(14) the Palatine,
as the oldest and proper city, was enclosed by the other heights
along which the wall was carried, as if encircled with a wreath,
and the two castles occupied the middle.

The work, however, was not complete so long as the ground, protected
by so laborious exertions from outward foes, was not also reclaimed
from the dominion of the water, which permanently occupied the
valley between the Palatine and the Capitol, so that there was
perhaps even a ferry there, and which converted the valleys between
the Capitol and the Velia and between the Palatine and the Aventine
into marshes. The subterranean drains still existing at the
present day, composed of magnificent square blocks, which excited
the astonishment of posterity as a marvellous work of regal Rome,
must rather be reckoned to belong to the following epoch, for
travertine is the material employed and we have many accounts of
new structures of the kind in the times of the republic; but the
scheme itself belongs beyond doubt to the regal period, although
presumably to a later epoch than the designing of the Servian wall
and the Capitoline stronghold. The spots thus drained or dried
supplied large open spaces such as were needed by the new enlarged
city. The assembling-place of the community, which had hitherto been
the Area Capitolina at the stronghold itself, was now transferred to
the flat space, where the ground fell from the stronghold towards
the city (-comitium-), and which stretched thence between the
Palatine and the Carinae, in the direction of the Velia. At that
side of the -comitium- which adjoined the stronghold, and upon the
stronghold-wall which arose above the -comitium- in the fashion
of a balcony, the members of the senate and the guests of the city
had the place of honour assigned to them on occasion of festivals
and assemblies of the people; and at the place of assembly itself
was erected the senate-house, which afterwards bore the name of the
Curia Hostilia. The platform for the judgment-seat (-tribunal-),
and the stage whence the burgesses were addressed (the later rostra),
were likewise erected on the -comitium- itself. Its prolongation in
the direction of the Velia became the new market (-forum Romanum-).
At the end of the latter, beneath the Palatine, rose the
community-house, which included the official dwelling of the king
(-regia-) and the common hearth of the city, the rotunda forming
the temple of Vesta; at no great distance, on the south side of the
Forum, there was erected a second round building connected with the
former, the store-room of the community or temple of the Penates,
which still stands at the present day as the porch of the church
Santi Cosma e Damiano. It is a feature significant of the new city
now united in a way very different from the settlement of the "seven
mounts," that, over and above the hearths of the thirty curies
which the Palatine Rome had been content with associating in one
building, the Servian Rome presented this general and single hearth
for the city at large.(15) Along the two longer sides of the Forum
butchers' shops and other traders' stalls were arranged. In the
valley between the Palatine and Aventine a "ring" was staked off
for races; this became the Circus. The cattle-market was laid out
immediately adjoining the river, and this soon became one of the
most densely peopled quarters of Rome. Temples and sanctuaries
arose on all the summits, above all the federal sanctuary of Diana on
the Aventine,(16) and on the summit of the stronghold the far-seen
temple of Father Diovis, who had given to his people all this glory,
and who now, when the Romans were triumphing over the surrounding
nations, triumphed along with them over the subject gods of the

The names of the men, at whose bidding these great buildings of
the city arose, are almost as completely lost in oblivion as those
of the leaders in the earliest battles and victories of Rome.
Tradition indeed assigns the different works to different kings - the
senate-house to Tullus Hostilius, the Janiculum and the wooden
bridge to Ancus Marcius, the great Cloaca, the Circus, and the
temple of Jupiter to the elder Tarquinius, the temple of Diana and
the ring-wall to Servius Tullius. Some of these statements may
perhaps be correct; and it is apparently not the result of accident
that the building of the new ring-wall is associated both as to date
and author with the new organization of the army, which in fact bore
special reference to the regular defence of the city walls. But
upon the whole we must be content to learn from this tradition - what
is indeed evident of itself - that this second creation of Rome stood
in intimate connection with the commencement of her hegemony over
Latium and with the remodelling of her burgess-army, and that, while
it originated in one and the same great conception, its execution
was not the work either of a single man or of a single generation.
It is impossible to doubt that Hellenic influences exercised
a powerful effect on this remodelling of the Roman community, but
it is equally impossible to demonstrate the mode or the degree of
their operation. It has already been observed that the Servian
military constitution is essentially of an Hellenic type;(17)
and it will be afterwards shown that the games of the Circus were
organized on an Hellenic model. The new -regia-with the city hearth
was quite a Greek - prytaneion - , and the round temple of Vesta,
looking towards the east and not so much as consecrated by the
augurs, was constructed in no respect according to Italian, but
wholly in accordance with Hellenic, ritual. With these facts before
us, the statement of tradition appears not at all incredible that
the Ionian confederacy in Asia Minor to some extent served as a model
for the Romano-Latin league, and that the new federal sanctuary on
the Aventine was for that reason constructed in imitation of the
Artemision at Ephesus.

Notes for Book I Chapter VII

1. I. IV. Earliest Limits of the Roman Territory

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Online LibraryTheodor MommsenThe History of Rome, Book I The Period Anterior to the Abolition of the Monarchy → online text (page 12 of 27)