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took care to blunt. Besides the check involved in the nature of the
office - under which the lists of the members of the aristocratic
corporations were liable to revision only at intervals of five years
- and besides the limitations resulting from the right of veto vested
in the colleague and the right of cancelling vested in the successor,
there was added a farther check which exercised a very sensible
influence; a usage equivalent to law made it the duty of the censor
not to erase from the list any senator or knight without specifying in
writing the grounds for his decision, or, in other words, adopting, as
a rule, a quasi-judicial procedure.

Remodelling of the Constitution According to the Views of the Nobility
Inadequate Number of Magistrates

In this political position - mainly based on the senate, the equites,
and the censorship - the nobility not only usurped in substance the
government, but also remodelled the constitution according to their
own views. It was part of their policy, with a view to keep up the
appreciation of the public magistracies, to add to the number of these
as little as possible, and to keep it far below what was required by
the extension of territory and the increase of business. Only the
most urgent exigencies were barely met by the division of the judicial
functions hitherto discharged by a single praetor between two judges
- one of whom tried the lawsuits between Roman burgesses, and the
other those that arose between non-burgesses or between burgess and
non-burgess - in 511, and by the nomination of four auxiliary consuls
for the four transmarine provinces of Sicily (527), Sardinia including
Corsica (527), and Hither and Further Spain (557). The far too
summary mode of initialing processes in Rome, as well as the
increasing influence of the official staff, are doubtless traceable
in great measure to the practically inadequate numbers of the
Roman magistracy.

Election of Officers in the Comitia

Among the innovations originated by the government - which were none
the less innovations, that almost uniformly they changed not the
letter, but merely the practice of the existing constitution - the most
prominent were the measures by which the filling up of officers' posts
as well as of civil magistracies was made to depend not, as the letter
of the constitution allowed and its spirit required, simply on merit
and ability, but more and more on birth and seniority. As regards the
nomination of staff-officers this was done not in form, but all the
more in substance. It had already, in the course of the previous
period, been in great part transferred from the general to the
burgesses;(13) in this period came the further step, that the whole
staff-officers of the regular yearly levy - the twenty-four military
tribunes of the four ordinary legions - were nominated in the -comitia
tributa-. Thus a line of demarcation more and more insurmountable was
drawn between the subalterns, who gained their promotion from the
general by punctual and brave service, and the staff, which obtained
its privileged position by canvassing the burgesses.(14) With a view
to check simply the worst abuses in this respect and to prevent young
men quite untried from holding these important posts, it became
necessary to require, as a preliminary to the bestowal of staff
appointments, evidence of a certain number of years of service.
Nevertheless, when once the military tribunate, the true pillar of the
Roman military system, was laid down as the first stepping-stone in
the political career of the young aristocrats, the obligation of
service inevitably came to be frequently eluded, and the election of
officers became liable to all the evils of democratic canvassing and
of aristocratic exclusiveness. It was a cutting commentary on the new
institution, that in serious wars (as in 583) it was found necessary
to suspend this democratic mode of electing officers, and to leave
once more to the general the nomination of his staff.

Restrictions on the Election of Consuls and Censors

In the case of civil offices, the first and chief object was to
limit re-election to the supreme magistracies. This was certainly
necessary, if the presidency of annual kings was not to be an empty
name; and even in the preceding period reelection to the consulship
was not permitted till after the lapse often years, while in the case
if the censorship it was altogether forbidden.(15) No farther law was
passed in the period before us; but an increased stringency in its
application is obvious from the fact that, while the law as to the ten
years' interval was suspended in 537 during the continuance of the war
in Italy, there was no farther dispensation from it afterwards, and
indeed towards the close of this period re-election seldom occurred at
all. Moreover, towards the end of this epoch (574) a decree of the
people was issued, binding the candidates for public magistracies to
undertake them in a fixed order of succession, and to observe certain
intervals between the offices, and certain limits of age. Custom,
indeed, had long prescribed both of these; but it was a sensibly
felt restriction of the freedom of election, when the customary
qualification was raised into a legal requirement, and the right of
disregarding such requirements in extraordinary cases was withdrawn
from the elective body. In general, admission to the senate was
thrown open to persons belonging to the ruling families without
distinction as to ability, while not only were the poorer and humbler
ranks of the population utterly precluded from access to the offices
of government, but all Roman burgesses not belonging to the hereditary
aristocracy were practically excluded, not indeed exactly from the
senate, but from the two highest magistracies, the consulship and the
censorship. After Manius Curius and Gaius Fabricius,(16) no instance
can be pointed out of a consul who did not belong to the social
aristocracy, and probably no instance of the kind occurred at all.
But the number of the -gentes-, which appear for the first time in the
lists of consuls and censors in the half-century from the beginning of
the war with Hannibal to the close of that with Perseus, is extremely
limited; and by far the most of these, such as the Flaminii, Terentii,
Porcii, Acilii, and Laelii, may be referred to elections by the
opposition, or are traceable to special aristocratic connections.
The election of Gaius Laelius in 564, for instance, was evidently
due to the Scipios. The exclusion of the poorer classes from the
government was, no doubt, required by the altered circumstances of the
case. Now that Rome had ceased to be a purely Italian state and had
adopted Hellenic culture, it was no longer possible to take a small
farmer from the plough and to set him at the head of the community.
But it was neither necessary nor beneficial that the elections should
almost without exception be confined to the narrow circle of the
curule houses, and that a "new man" could only make his way into that
circle by a sort of usurpation.(17) No doubt a certain hereditary
character was inherent not merely in the nature of the senate as
an institution, in so far as it rested from the outset on a
representation of the clans,(18) but in the nature of aristocracy
generally, in so far as statesmanly wisdom and statesmanly experience
are bequeathed from the able father to the able son, and the inspiring
spirit of an illustrious ancestry fans every noble spark within the
human breast into speedier and more brilliant flame. In this sense
the Roman aristocracy had been at all times hereditary; in fact, it
had displayed its hereditary character with great naivete in the old
custom of the senator taking his sons with him to the senate, and of
the public magistrate decorating his sons, as it were by anticipation,
with the insignia of the highest official honour - the purple border of
the consular, and the golden amulet-case of the triumphator. But,
while in the earlier period the hereditariness of the outward dignity
had been to a certain extent conditioned by the inheritance of
intrinsic worth, and the senatorial aristocracy had guided the state
not primarily by virtue of hereditary right, but by virtue of the
highest of all rights of representation - the right of the excellent,
as contrasted with the ordinary, man - it sank in this epoch (and with
specially great rapidity after the end of the Hannibalic war) from its
original high position, as the aggregate of those in the community who
were most experienced in counsel and action, down to an order of lords
filling up its ranks by hereditary succession, and exercising
collegiate misrule.

Family Government

Indeed, matters had already at this time reached such a height, that
out of the grave evil of oligarchy there emerged the still worse evil
of usurpation of power by particular families. We have already
spoken(19) of the offensive family-policy of the conqueror of Zama,
and of his unhappily successful efforts to cover with his own laurels
the incapacity and pitifulness of his brother; and the nepotism of the
Flaminini was, if possible, still more shameless and scandalous than
that of the Scipios. Absolute freedom of election in fact turned to
the advantage of such coteries far more than of the electing body.
The election of Marcus Valerius Corvus to the consulship at twenty-
three had doubtless been for the benefit of the state; but now, when
Scipio obtained the aedileship at twenty-three and the consulate at
thirty, and Flamininus, while not yet thirty years of age, rose from
the quaestorship to the consulship, such proceedings involved serious
danger to the republic. Things had already reached such a pass, that
the only effective barrier against family rule and its consequences
had to be found in a government strictly oligarchical; and this was
the reason why even the party otherwise opposed to the oligarchy
agreed to restrict the freedom of election.

Government of the Nobility
Internal Administration

The government bore the stamp of this gradual change in the spirit of
the governing class. It is true that the administration of external
affairs was still dominated at this epoch by that consistency and
energy, by which the rule of the Roman community over Italy had been
established. During the severe disciplinary times of the war as to
Sicily the Roman aristocracy had gradually raised itself to the height
of its new position; and if it unconstitutionally usurped for the
senate functions of government which by right foil to be shared
between the magistrates and the comitia alone, it vindicated the step
by its certainly far from brilliant, but sure and steady, pilotage
of the vessel of the state during the Hannibalic storm and the
complications thence arising, and showed to the world that the Roman
senate was alone able, and in many respects alone deserved, to rule
the wide circle of the Italo-Hellenic states. But admitting the noble
attitude of the ruling Roman senate in opposition to the outward foe
- an attitude crowned with the noblest results - we may not overlook
the fact, that in the less conspicuous, and yet far more important
and far more difficult, administration of the internal affairs of the
state, both the treatment of the existing arrangements and the new
institutions betray an almost opposite spirit, or, to speak more
correctly, indicate that the opposite tendency has already acquired
the predominance in this field.

Decline in the Administration

In relation, first of all, to the individual burgess the government
was no longer what it had been. The term "magistrate" meant a man who
was more than other men; and, if he was the servant of the community,
he was for that very reason the master of every burgess. But the
tightness of the rein was now visibly relaxed. Where coteries and
canvassing flourish as they did in the Rome of that age, men are chary
of forfeiting the reciprocal services of their fellows or the favour
of the multitude by stern words and impartial discharge of official
duty. If now and then magistrates appeared who displayed the gravity
and the sternness of the olden time, they were ordinarily, like Cotta
(502) and Cato, new men who had not sprung from the bosom of the
ruling class. It was already something singular, when Paullus, who
had been named commander-in-chief against Perseus, instead of
tendering his thanks in the usual manner to the burgesses, declared
to them that he presumed they had chosen him as general because
they accounted him the most capable of command, and requested them
accordingly not to help him to command, but to be silent and obey.

As to Military Discipline and Administration of Justice

The supremacy and hegemony of Rome in the territories of the
Mediterranean rested not least on the strictness of her military
discipline and her administration of justice. Undoubtedly she was
still, on the whole, at that time infinitely superior in these
respects to the Hellenic, Phoenician, and Oriental states, which were
without exception thoroughly disorganized; nevertheless grave abuses
were already occurring in Rome. We have previously(20) pointed out
how the wretched character of the commanders-in-chief - and that not
merely in the case of demagogues chosen perhaps by the opposition,
like Gaius Flaminius and Gaius Varro, but of men who were good
aristocrats - had already in the third Macedonian war imperilled the
weal of the state. And the mode in which justice was occasionally
administered is shown by the scene in the camp of the consul Lucius
Quinctius Flamininus at Placentia (562). To compensate a favourite
youth for the gladiatorial games of the capital, which through his
attendance on the consul he had missed the opportunity of seeing, that
great lord had ordered a Boian of rank who had taken refuge in the
Roman camp to be summoned, and had killed him at a banquet with his
own hand. Still worse than the occurrence itself, to which various
parallels might be adduced, was the fact that the perpetrator was not
brought to trial; and not only so, but when the censor Cato on account
of it erased his name from the roll of the senate, his fellow-senators
invited the expelled to resume his senatorial stall in the theatre
- he was, no doubt, the brother of the liberator of the Greeks,
and one of the most powerful coterie-leaders in the senate.

As to the Management of Finances

The financial system of the Roman community also retrograded rather
than advanced during this epoch. The amount of their revenues,
indeed, was visibly on the increase. The indirect taxes - there were
no direct taxes in Rome - increased in consequence of the enlargement
of the Roman territory, which rendered it necessary, for example, to
institute new customs-offices along the Campanian and Bruttian coasts
at Puteoli, Castra (Squillace), and elsewhere, in 555 and 575. The
same reason led to the new salt-tariff of 550 fixing the scale of
prices at which salt was to be sold in the different districts of
Italy, as it was no longer possible to furnish salt at one and the
same price to the Roman burgesses now scattered throughout the land;
but, as the Roman government probably supplied the burgesses with salt
at cost price, if not below it, this financial measure yielded no gain
to the state. Still more considerable was the increase in the produce
of the domains. The duty indeed, which of right was payable to the
treasury from the Italian domain-lands granted for occupation, was in
the great majority of cases neither demanded nor paid. On the other
hand the -scriptura- was retained; and not only so, but the domains
recently acquired in the second Punic war, particularly the greater
portion of the territory of Capua(21) and that of Leontini,(22)
instead of being given up to occupation, were parcelled out and let to
petty temporary lessees, and the attempts at occupation made in these
cases were opposed with more than usual energy by the government; by
which means the state acquired a considerable and secure source of
income. The mines of the state also, particularly the important
Spanish mines, were turned to profit on lease. Lastly, the revenue
was augmented by the tribute of the transmarine subjects. From
extraordinary sources very considerable sums accrued during this epoch
to the state treasury, particularly the produce of the spoil in the
war with Antiochus, 200 millions of sesterces (2,000,000 pounds), and
that of the war with Perseus, 210 millions of sesterces (2,100,000
pounds) - the latter, the largest sum in cash which ever came at one
time into the Roman treasury.

But this increase of revenue was for the most part counterbalanced by
the increasing expenditure. The provinces, Sicily perhaps excepted,
probably cost nearly as much as they yielded; the expenditure on
highways and other structures rose in proportion to the extension of
territory; the repayment also of the advances (-tributa-) received
from the freeholder burgesses during times of severe war formed a
burden for many a year afterwards on the Roman treasury. To these
fell to be added very considerable losses occasioned to the revenue
by the mismanagement, negligence, or connivance of the supreme
magistrates. Of the conduct of the officials in the provinces, of
their luxurious living at the expense of the public purse, of their
embezzlement more especially of the spoil, of the incipient system of
bribery and extortion, we shall speak in the sequel. How the state
fared generally as regarded the farming of its revenues and the
contracts for supplies and buildings, may be estimated from the
circumstance, that the senate resolved in 587 to desist from the
working of the Macedonian mines that had fallen to Rome, because the
lessees of the minerals would either plunder the subjects or cheat
the exchequer - truly a naive confession of impotence, in which the
controlling board pronounced its own censure. Not only was the duty
from the occupied domain-land allowed tacitly to fall into abeyance,
as has been already mentioned, but private buildings in the capital
and elsewhere were suffered to encroach on ground which was public
property, and the water from the public aqueducts was diverted to
private purposes: great dissatisfaction was created on one occasion
when a censor took serious steps against such trespassers, and
compelled them either to desist from the separate use of the public
property, or to pay the legal rate for the ground and water. The
conscience of the Romans, otherwise in economic matters so scrupulous,
showed, so far as the community was concerned, a remarkable laxity.
"He who steals from a burgess," said Cato, "ends his days in chains
and fetters; but he who steals from the community ends them in gold
and purple." If, notwithstanding the fact that the public property
of the Roman community was fearlessly and with impunity plundered by
officials and speculators, Polybius still lays stress on the rarity
of embezzlement in Rome, while Greece could hardly produce a single
official who had not touched the public money, and on the honesty with
which a Roman commissioner or magistrate would upon his simple word of
honour administer enormous sums, while in the case of the paltriest
sum in Greece ten letters were sealed and twenty witnesses were
required and yet everybody cheated, this merely implies that social
and economic demoralization had advanced much further in Greece than
in Rome, and in particular, that direct and palpable peculation was
not as yet so flourishing in the one case as in the other. The
general financial result is most clearly exhibited to us by the state
of the public buildings, and by the amount of cash in the treasury.
We find in times of peace a fifth, in times of war a tenth, of the
revenues expended on public buildings; which, in the circumstances,
does not seem to have been a very copious outlay. With these sums, as
well as with fines which were not directly payable into the treasury,
much was doubtless done for the repair of the highways in and near the
capital, for the formation of the chief Italian roads,(23) and for the
construction of public buildings. Perhaps the most important of the
building operations in the capital, known to belong to this period,
was the great repair and extension of the network of sewers throughout
the city, contracted for probably in 570, for which 24,000,000
sesterces (240,000 pounds) were set apart at once, and to which it may
be presumed that the portions of the -cloacae- still extant, at least
in the main, belong. To all appearance however, even apart from the
severe pressure of war, this period was inferior to the last section
of the preceding epoch in respect of public buildings; between 482 and
607 no new aqueduct was constructed at Rome. The treasure of the
state, no doubt, increased; the last reserve in 545, when: they found
themselves under the necessity of laying hands on it, amounted only to
164,000 pounds (4000 pounds of gold);(24) whereas a short time after
the close of this period (597) close on 860,000 pounds in precious
metals were stored in the treasury. But, when we take into account
the enormous extraordinary revenues which in the generation after the
close of the Hannibalic war came into the Roman treasury, the latter
sum surprises us rather by its smallness than by its magnitude. So
far as with the extremely meagre statements before us it is allowable
to speak of results, the finances of the Roman state exhibit doubtless
an excess of income over expenditure, but are far from presenting a
brilliant result as a whole.

Italian Subjects
Passive Burgesses

The change in the spirit of the government was most distinctly
apparent in the treatment of the Italian and extra-Italian subjects of
the Roman community. Formerly there had been distinguished in Italy
the ordinary, and the Latin, allied communities, the Roman burgesses
-sine suffragio- and the Roman burgesses with the full franchise. Of
these four classes the third was in the course of this period almost
completely set aside, inasmuch as the course which had been earlier
taken with the communities of passive burgesses in Latium and Sabina,
was now applied also to those of the former Volscian territory, and
these gradually - the last perhaps being in the year 566 Arpinum,
Fundi, and Formiae - obtained full burgess-rights. In Campania Capua
along with a number of minor communities in the neighbourhood was
broken up in consequence of its revolt from Rome in the Hannibalic
war. Although some few communities, such as Velitrae in the Volscian
territory, Teanum and Cumae in Campania, may have remained on their
earlier legal footing, yet, looking at the matter in the main, this
franchise of a passive character may be held as now superseded.


On the other hand there emerged a new class in a position of
peculiar inferiority, without communal freedom and the right to
carry arms, and, in part, treated almost like public slaves
(-peregrini dediticii-); to which, in particular, the members of
the former Campanian, southern Picentine, and Bruttian communities,
that had been in alliance with Hannibal,(25) belonged. To these were
added the Celtic tribes tolerated on the south side of the Alps, whose
position in relation to the Italian confederacy is indeed only known
imperfectly, but is sufficiently characterized as inferior by the
clause embodied in their treaties of alliance with Rome, that no
member of these communities should ever be allowed to acquire
Roman citizenship.(26)


The position of the non-Latin allies had, as we have mentioned
before,(27) undergone a change greatly to their disadvantage in
consequence of the Hannibalic war. Only a few communities in this
category, such as Neapolis, Nola, Rhegium, and Heraclea, had during
all the vicissitudes of that war remained steadfastly on the Roman
side, and therefore retained their former rights as allies unaltered;
by far the greater portion were obliged in consequence of having
changed sides to acquiesce in a revision of the existing treaties to
their disadvantage. The reduced position of the non-Latin allies is
attested by the emigration from their communities into the Latin:
when in 577 the Samnites and Paelignians applied to the senate for a
reduction of their contingents, their request was based on the ground
that during late years 4000 Samnite and Paelignian families had
migrated to the Latin colony of Fregellae.


That the Latins - which term now denoted the few towns in old Latium

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