A History of Roman Literature - From the Earliest Period to the Death of Marcus Aurelius
by Charles Thomas Cruttwell
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Ennius produced a few scattered imitators, but not until upwards of two generations after his death, if we except the doubtful case of Accius. The first is MATIUS, who translated the Iliad into hexameters. This may be more properly considered as the sequel to Livius, but the few fragments remaining show that his versification was based on that of Ennius. Gellius, with his partiality for all that was archaic, warmly praises this work.

HOSTIUS wrote the Bellum Istricum in three books. This was no doubt a continuation of the great master's Annales. What the war was is not quite certain. Some fix it at 178 B.C.; others as late as 129 B.C. The earlier date is the more probable. We then have to ask when Hostius himself lived. Teuffel inclines to place him before Accius; but most commentators assign him a later date. A few lines are preserved in Macrobius, [10] which seem to point to an early period, e.g.

"non si mihi linguae Centum atque ora sient totidem vocesque liquatae,"

and again,

"Dia Minerva, semol autem tu invictus Apollo Arquitenens Latonius."

His object in quoting these is to show that they were copied by Virgil. A passage in Propertius has been supposed to refer to him, [11]

"Splendidaque a docto fama refulget avo,"

where he would presumably be the grandfather of that Hostia whom under the name of Cynthia so many of Propertius's poems celebrate. Another poet of whom a few lines are preserved in Gellius and Macrobius is A. FURIUS of Antium, which little town produced more than one well-known writer. His work was entitled Annals. Specimens of his versification are—

"Interea Oceani linquens Aurora cubile."

"Quod genus hoc hominum Saturno sancte create?"

"Pressatur pede pes, mucro mucrone, viro vir." [12]



200-103 B.C.

Satire, as every one knows, is the one branch of literature claimed by the Romans as their own. [1] It is, at any rate, the branch in which their excellence is most characteristically displayed. Nor is the excellence confined to the professed satirists; it was rather inherent in the genius of the nation. All their serious writings tended to assume at times a satirical spirit. Tragedy, so far as we can judge, rose to her clearest tones in branding with contempt the superstitions of the day. The epic verses of Ennius are not without traces of the same power. The prose of Cato abounds with sarcastic reflections, pointedly expressed. The arguments of Cicero's theological and moral treatises are largely sprinkled with satire. The whole poem of Lucretius is deeply imbued with it: few writers of any age have launched more fiery sarcasm upon the fear of death, or the blind passion of love than he has done in his third and fourth books. Even the gentle Virgil breaks forth at times into earnest invective, tipped with the flame of satire: [2] Dido's bitter irony, Turnus' fierce taunts, show that he could wield with stern effect this specially Roman weapon. Lucan and Seneca affect a style which, though grotesque, is meant to be satirical; while at the close of the classical period, Tacitus transforms the calm domain of history into satire, more burning because more suppressed than that of any of his predecessors. [3]

The claim to an independent origin advanced by Quintilian has been more than once disputed. The name Satire has been alleged as indicative of a Greek original (Satyrion). [4] It is true this can no longer be maintained. Still some have thought that the poems of Archilochus or the Silli may have suggested the Roman form of composition. But the former, though full of invective, were iambic or personal, not properly satirical. And the Silli, of which examples are found in Diogenes Laertius and Dio Chrysostom, were rather patched together from the verses of serious writers, forming a kind of Cento like the Carmen Nuptiale of Ausonius, than original productions. The Roman Satire differed from these in being essentially didactic. Besides ridiculing the vices and absurdities of individuals or of society, it had a serious practical purpose, viz. the improvement of public culture or morals. Thus it followed the old Comedy of Athens in its plain speaking, and the method of Archilochus in its bitter hostility to those who provoked attack. But it differed from the former in its non-political bias, as well as its non-dramatic form: and from the latter in its motive, which is not personal enmity, but public spirit. Thus the assertion of Horace, that Lucilius is indebted to the old comedians, [5] must be taken in a general sense only, and not be held to invalidate the generally received opinion that, in its final and perfected form, Satire was a genuine product of Rome.

The metres adopted by Satire was originally indifferent. The Saturae of Ennius were composed in trochaics, hexameters, and iambics; those of Varro (called Menippean, from Menippus of Gadara), mingled together prose and verse. [6] But from Lucilius onwards, Satire, accurately so called, was always treated in hexameter verse. [7]

Nevertheless, Horace is unquestionably right in saying that it had more real affinity for prose than for poetry of any kind—

"Primum ego me illorum, dederim quibus esse poetis, Excerpam numero: neque enim concludere versum Dixeris esse satis; neque si quis scribat, uti nos, Sermoni propiora, pates hunc esse poetam." [8]

The essence of satiric talent is that it should be able to understand the complexities of real life, that it should penetrate beneath the surface to the true motives of action, and if these are bad, should indicate by life- like touches their ridiculous or contemptible nature. There is room here for great variety of treatment and difference of personnel. One may have a broad and masculine grasp of the main outlines of social intercourse; another with subtler analysis may thread his way through the intricacies of dissimulation, and lay bare to the hypocrite secrets which he had concealed even from himself; a third may select certain provinces of conduct or thought, and by a good-humoured but discriminating portraiture, throw them into so new and clear a light, as to enable mankind to look at them, free from the prejudices with which convention so often blinds our view.

The qualifications for excelling in this kind of writing are clearly such as have no special connection with poetry. Had the modern prose essay existed at Rome, it is probable the satirists would have availed themselves of it. From the fragments of Lucilius we should judge that he found the trammels of verse somewhat embarrassing. Practice had indeed enabled him to write with unexampled fluency; [9] but except in this mechanical facility he shows none of the characteristics of a poet. The accumulated experience of modern life has pronounced in favour of abandoning the poetic form, and including Satire in the domain of prose. No doubt many celebrated poets in France and England have cultivated verse satire; but in most cases they have merely imitated, whereas the prose essay is a true formation of modern literary art. Conington, in an interesting article, [10] regards the progressive enlargement of the sphere of prose composition as a test of a nation's intellectual advance. Thus considered, poetry is the imperfect attempt to embody in vivid language ideas which have themselves hardly assumed definite form, and necessarily gives way to prose when clearness of thought and sequence of reasoning have established for themselves a more perfect vehicle. However inadequate such a view may be to explain the full nature of poetry, it is certainly true so far as concerns the case at present before us. The assignment of each special exercise of mind to its proper department of literature is undoubtedly a late growth of human culture, and such nations as have not attained to it, whatever may be the splendour of their literary creations, cannot be said to have reached the full maturity of intellectual development.

The conception of Satire by the ancients is illustrated by a passage in Diomedes: [11] "Satira dicitur carmen apud Romanos nunc quidem maledicum et ad carpenda hominum vitia archaeae comoediae charactere compositum, quale scripserunt Lucilius et Horatius et Persius; at olim carmen quod ex variis poematibus constabat satira cocabatur, quale scripserunt Pacuvius et Ennius." This old-fashioned satura of Ennius may be considered as half-way between the early semi-dramatic farce and the classical Satire. It was a genuine medley, containing all kinds of subjects, often couched in the form of dialogue, but intended for recitation, not for action. The poem on Scipio was classed with it, but what this poem was is not by any means clear; from the fragment that remains, describing a calm after storm in sonorous language, we should gather that Scipio's return voyage from Africa may have formed its theme. [12] Other subjects, included in the Saturae of Ennius, were the Hedyphagetica, a humorous didactic poem on the mysteries of gastronomy, which may have suggested similar effusions by Lucilius and Horace; [13] the Epicharmus and Euhemerus, both in trochaics, the latter a free translation of the iera anagraphae, or explanation of the gods as deified mortals; and the Epigrams, among which two on the great Scipio are still preserved, the first breathing the spirit of the Republic, the second asserting with some arrogance the exploits of the hero, and his claims to a place among the denizens of heaven. [14]

Of the Saturae of Pacuvius nothing is known. C. LUCILIUS (148-103 B.C.), the founder of classical Satire, was born in the Latin town of Suessa Aurunca in Campania. He belonged to an equestrian family, and was in easy circumstances. [15] He is supposed to have fought under Scipio in the Numantine war (133 B.C.) when he was still quite a youth; and it is certain from Horace that he lived on terms of the greatest intimacy, both with him, Laelius, and Albinus. He is said to have possessed the house which had been built at the public expense for the son of King Antiochus, and to have died at Naples, where he was honoured with a public funeral, in the forty-sixth year of his age. His position, at once independent and unambitious (for he could not hold office in Rome), gave him the best possible chance of observing social and political life, and of this chance he made the fullest use. He lived behind the scenes: he saw the corruption prevalent in high circles; he saw also the true greatness of those who, like Scipio, stood aloof from it, and he handed down to imperishable infamy each most signal instance of vice, whether in a statesman, as Lupus, [16] Metellus, or Albucius, or in a private person, as the glutton Gallonius.

It is possible that he now and then misapplied his pen to abuse his own enemies or those of his friends, for we know that the honourable Mucius Scaevola was violently attacked by him; [17] and there is a story that being once lampooned in the theatre in a libellous manner, the poet sued his detractor, but failed in obtaining damages, on the ground that he himself had done the same to others. Nevertheless, there can be no doubt whatever that on the whole he nobly used the power he possessed, that his trenchant pen was mainly enlisted on the side of patriotism, virtue, and enlightenment, and that he lashed without mercy corruption, hypocrisy, and ignorance. The testimony of Horace to his worth, coming from one who himself was not easily deceived, is entitled to the highest consideration; [18] that of Juvenal, though more emphatic, is not more weighty, [19] and the opinion, blamed by Quintilian, [20] that he should be placed above all other poets, shows that his plain language did not hinder the recognition of his moral excellence.

Although a companion of the great, he was strictly popular in his tone. He appealed to the great public, removed on the one hand from accurate learning, on the other from indifference to knowledge. "Nec doctissimis," he says, [21] "Manium Persium haec legere nolo, Junium Congum volo." And in another passage quoted by Cicero, [22] he professes to desire that his readers may be the Tarentines, Consentines, and Sicilians,—those, that is, whose Latin grammar and spelling most needed improvement. But we cannot extend this humility [23] to his more famous political allusions. Those at any rate would be nothing if not known to the parties concerned; neither the poet's genius nor the culprit's guilt could otherwise be brought home to the individual.

In one sense Lucilius might be called a moderniser, for he strove hard to enlarge the people's knowledge and views; but in another and higher sense he was strictly national: luxury, bribery, and sloth, were to him the very poison of all true life, and cut at the root of those virtues by which alone Rome could remain great. This national spirit caused him to be preferred to Horace by conservative minds in the time of Tacitus, but it probably made his critics somewhat over-indulgent. Horace, with all his admiration for him, cannot shut his eyes to his evident faults, [24] the rudeness of his language, the carelessness of his composition, the habit of mixing Greek and Latin words, which his zealous admirers construed into a virtue, and, last but not least, the diffuseness inseparable from a hasty draft which he took no trouble to revise. Still his elegance of language must have been considerable. Pliny speaks of him as the first to establish a severe criticism of style, [25] and the fragments reveal beneath the obscuring garb of his uncouth hexameters, a terse and pure idiom not unlike that of Terence. His faults are numerous, [26] but do not seriously detract from his value. The loss of his works must be considered a serious one. Had they been extant we should have found useful information in his pictures of life and manners in a state of moral transition, amusement in such pieces as his journal of a progress from Rome to Capua, [27] and material for philological knowledge in his careful distinctions of orthography and grammar.

As a favourable specimen of his style, it will be sufficient to quote his definition of virtue:

"Virtus, Albine, est pretium persolvere verum Quis in versamur, quis vivimus rebus potesse. Virtus est homini scire id quod quaeque habeat res. Virtus scire homini rectum, utile, quid sit honestum, Quae bona, quae mala item, quid inutile, turpe, inhonestum. Virtus, quaerendae finem rei scire modumque; Virtus divitiis pretium persolvere posse. Virtus, id dare quod reipsa debetur honori, Hostem esse atque inimicum hominum morumque malorum Contra, defensorem hominum morumque bonorum; Magnificare hos, his bene velle, his vivere amicum; Commoda praeterea patriai prima putare, Deinde parentum, tertia iam postremaque nostra."

We see in these lines a practical and unselfish standard—that of the cultivated but still truly patriotic Roman, admitting the necessity of knowledge in a way his ancestors might have questioned, but keeping steadily to the main points of setting a true price upon all human things, and preferring the good of one's country to personal advantage. This is a morality intelligible to all, and if it falls below the higher enlightenment of modern, knowledge, it at least soars above the average practice. We are informed [28] that Lucilius did not spare his immediate predecessors and contemporaries in literature any more than in politics. He attacked Accius for his unauthorised innovations in spelling, Pacuvius and Ennius for want of a sustained level of dignity. His satire seems to have ranged over the whole field of life, so far as it was known to him; and though his learning was in no department deep, [29] it was sound so far as it went, and was guided by natural good taste. He will always retain an interest for us from the charming picture given by Horace of his daily life; how he kept his books beside him like the best of friends, as indeed they were, and whatever he felt, thought, or saw, intrusted to their faithful keeping, whence it comes that the man's life stands as vividly before one's eyes as if it had been painted on a votive tablet. Then the way in which Laelius and Scipio unbent in his company, mere youth as he was compared to them, gives us a pleasing notion of his social gifts; he who could make the two grave statesmen so far forget their decorum as to romp in the manner Horace describes, must at least have been gifted with contagious light-heartedness. This genial humour Horace tried with success to reproduce, but he is conscious of inferiority to the master. In English literature Dryden is the writer who most recalls him, though rather in his higher than in his more sportive moods.



The last class of dramatic poets whom we shall mention in the first period are the writers of Atellanae. These entertainments originated at the little town of Atella, now St Arpino, between Capua and Naples in the Oscan territory, and were at first composed in the Oscan dialect. Their earliest cultivation at Rome seems to date not long after 360 B.C., in which year the Etruscan histriones were first imported into Rome. The novelty of this amusement attracted the Roman youths, and they began to imitate both the Etruscan dancers and the Oscan performers, who had introduced the Atellane fables into Rome. After the libellous freedom of speech in which they at first indulged had been restrained by law, the Atellanae seem to have established themselves as a privileged form of pleasantry, in which the young nobles could, without incurring the disgrace of removal from their tribe or incapacity for military service, indulge their readiness of speech and impromptu dramatic talent. [1] During rather more than two centuries this custom continued, the performance consisting of detached scenes without any particular connection, but full of jocularity, and employing a fixed set of characters. The language used may have been the Oscan, but, considering the fact that a knowledge of that dialect was not universal at Rome, [2] it was more probably the popular or plebeian Latin interspersed with Oscan elements. No progress towards a literary form is observable until the time of Sulla, but they continued to receive a countenance from the authorities that was not accorded to other forms of the drama. We find, for example, that when theatrical representations were interdicted, an exception was made in their favour. [3] Though coarse and often obscene, they were considered as consistent with gentlemanly behaviour; thus Cicero, in a well-known passage in one of his letters, [4] contrasts them with the Mimes, secundum Oenomaum Accii non, ut olim solebat, Atellanam, sed, ut nunc fit, mimum introduxisti; and Valerius Maximus implies that they did not carry their humour to extravagant lengths, [5] but tempered it with Italian severity. From the few fragments that remain to us we should be inclined to form a different opinion, and to suspect that national partiality in contrasting them with the Graecized form of the Mimi kept itself blind to their more glaring faults. The characters that oftenest reappear in them are Maccus, Bucco, and Pappus; the first of these is prefixed to the special title, e.g. Maccus miles, Maccus virgo. He seems to have been a personage with an immense head, who, corresponding to our clown or harlequin, came in for many hard knocks, but was a general favourite. Pappus took the place of pantaloon, and was the general butt.

NOVIUS (circ. 100 B.C.), whom Macrobius [6] calls probatissimus Atellanarum scriptor, was the first to reduce this species to the rules of art, giving it a plot and a written dialogue. Several fragments remain, but for many centuries they were taken for those of Naevius, whence great confusion ensued. A better known writer is L. POMPONIUS (90 B.C.) of Bononia, who flourished in the time of Sulla, and is said to have persuaded that cultured sensualist to compose Atellanae himself. Upwards of thirty of his plays are cited; [7] but although a good many lines are preserved, no fragments are long enough to give a good notion of his style. The commendations, however, with which Cicero, Seneca, Gellius, and Priscian load him, prove that he was classed with good writers. From the list given below, it will be seen that the subjects were mostly, though not always, from low life; some remind us of the regular comedies, as the Syri and Dotata. The old-fashioned ornaments of puns and alliteration abound in him, as well as extreme coarseness. The fables, which were generally represented after the regular play as an interlude or farce, are mentioned by Juvenal in two of his satires: [8]

"Urbicus exodio risum movet Atellanae Gestibus Autonoes;"

and in his pretty description of a rustic fete—

"Ipsa dierum Festorum herboso colitur si quando theatro Maiestas, tandemque redit ad pulpita notum Exodium, cum personae pallentis hiatum In gremio matris formidat rusticus infans; Aequales habitus illic, similemque videbis Orchestram et populum...."

They endured a while under the empire, when we hear of a composer named MUMMIUS, of some note, but in the general decline they became merged in the pantomime, into which all kinds of dramatic art gradually converged.

If the Atellanae were the most indigenous form of literature in which the young nobles indulged, the different kinds of love-poem were certainly the least in accordance with the Roman traditions of art. Nevertheless, unattainable as was the spontaneous grace of the Greek erotic muse, there were some who aspired to cultivate her.

Few kinds of verse more attracted the Roman amateurs than the Epigram. There was something congenial to the Roman spirit in the pithy distich or tetrastich which formed so considerable an element in the "elegant extracts" of Alexandria. The term epigram has altered its meaning with the lapse of ages. In Greek it signified merely an inscription commemorative of some work of art, person, or event; its virtue was to be short, and to be appropriate. The most perfect writer of epigrams in the Greek sense was Simonides,—nothing can exceed the exquisite simplicity that lends an undying charm to his effusions. The epigrams on Leonides and on Marathon are well known. The metre selected was the elegiac, on account of its natural pause at the close of the second line. The nearest approach to such simple epigrams are the epitaphs of Naevius, Ennius, and especially Pacuvius, already quoted. This natural grace, however, was, even in Greek poetry, superseded by a more artificial style. The sparkling epigram of Plato addressed to a fair boy has been often imitated, and most writers after him are not satisfied without playing on some fine thought, or turning some graceful point; so that the epigram by little and little approached the form which in its purest age the Italian sonnet possessed. In this guise it was cultivated with taste and brilliancy at Alexandria, Callimachus especially being a finished master of it. The first Roman epigrammatists imitate the Alexandrine models, and, making allowance for the uncouth hardness of their rhythm, achieve a fair success. Of the epigrams of Ennius, only the three already quoted remain. [9] Three authors are mentioned by Aulus Gellius [10] as having raised the Latin Epigram to a level with Anacreon in sweetness, point, and neatness. This is certainly far too high praise. Nor, even if it were so, can we forget that the poems he quotes (presumably the best he could find) are obvious imitations, if not translations, from the Greek. The first is by Q. LUTATIUS CATULUS, and dates about 100 B.C. It is entitled Ad Theotimum:

"Aufugit mi animus; credo, ut solet, ad Theotimum Devenit: sic est: perfugium illud habet. Quid si non interdixem ne illuc fugitivum Mitteret ad se intro, sed magis eiiceret? Ibimus quaesitum: verum ne ipsi teneamur Formido: quid ago? Da, Venus, consilium."

A more pleasing example of his style, and this time perhaps original, is given by Cicero. [11] It is on the actor Roscius, who, when a boy, was renowned for his beauty, and is favourably compared with the rising orb of day:

"Constiteram exorientem Auroram forte salutans, Cum subito e laeva Roscius exoritur. Pace mihi liceat, caelestes, dicere vestra: Mortalis visust pulcrior esse deo."

This piece, as may be supposed, has met with imitators both in French and Italian literature. A very similar jeu d'esprit of PORCIUS LICINUS is quoted:

"Custodes ovium, teneraeque propaginis agnum, Quaeritis ignem? ite huc: Quaeritis? ignis homo est. Si digito attigero, incendam silvam simul omnem, Omne pecus: flamma est omnia quae video."

This Porcius wrote also on the history of literature. Some rather ill- natured lines on Terence are preserved in Suetonius. [12] He there implies that the young poet, with all his talent, could not keep out of poverty, a taunt which we have good reason for disbelieving as well as disapproving. Two lines on the rise of poetry at Rome deserve quotation—

"Poenico bello secundo Musa pinnato gradu Intulit se bellicosam Romuli in gentem feram."

A certain POMPILIUS is mentioned by Varro as having epigrammatic tastes; one distich that is preserved gives us no high notion of his powers—

"Pacvi [13] discipulus dicor: porro is fuit Enni: Ennius Musarum: Pompilius clueor."

Lastly, VALERIUS AEDITUUS, who is only known by the short notices in Varro and Gellius, wrote similar short pieces, two of which are preserved.


"Dicere cum conor curam tibi, Pamphila, cordis, Quid mi abs te quaeram? verba labris abeunt Per pectus miserum manat subito mihi sudor. Si tacitus, subidus: duplo ideo pereo."


"Quid faculam praefers, Phileros, qua nil opus nobis? Ibimus, hoc lucet pectore flamma satis. Illam non potis est vis saeva exstinguere venti, Aut imber caelo candidus praecipitans. At contra, hunc ignem Veneris, si non Venus ipsa, Nulla est quae possit vis alia opprimare."

We have quoted these pieces, not from their intrinsic merit, for they have little or none, but to show the painful process by which Latin versification was elaborated. All these must be referred to a date at least sixty years after Ennius, and yet the rhythm is scarcely at all improved. The great number of second-rate poets who wrought in the same laboratory did good work, in so far that they made the technical part less wearisome for poets like Lucretius and Catullus. With mechanical dexterity taste also slowly improved by the competing effort of many ordinary minds; but it did not make those giant strides which nothing but genius can achieve. The later developments of the Epigram will be considered in a subsequent book.



There are nations among whom the imagination is so predominant that they seem incapable of regarding things as they are. The literature of such nations will always be cast in a poetical mould, even when it takes the outward form of prose. Of this class India is a conspicuous example. In the opposite category stand those nations which, lacking imaginative power, supply its place by the rich colouring of rhetoric, but whose poetry, judged by the highest standard, does not rise above the sphere of prose. Modern France is perhaps the best example of this. The same is so far true of ancient Rome that she was unquestionably more productive of great prose writers than of poets. Her utilitarian and matter-of-fact genius inclined her to approach the problems of thought and life from a prosaic point of view. Her perceptions of beauty were defective; her sense of sympathy between man and nature (the deepest root of poetry) slumbered until roused by a voice from without to momentary life. The aspirations and destiny of the individual soul which had kindled the brightest light of Greek song, were in Rome replaced by the sovereign claims of the State. The visible City, throned on Seven Hills, the source and emblem of imperial power, and that not ideal but actual, was a theme fitted to inspire the patriot orator or historian, but not to create the finer susceptibilities of the poet. We find in accordance with this fact, that Prose Literature was approached, not by strangers or freedmen, but by members of the noblest houses in Rome. The subjects were given by the features of national life. The wars that had gained dominion abroad, the eloquence that had secured power at home, the laws that had knit society together and made the people great; these were the elements on which Prose Literature was based. Its developments, though influenced by Greece, are truly national, and on them the Roman character is indelibly impressed. The first to establish itself was history. The struggles of the first Punic war had been chronicled in the rude verse of Naevius; those of the second produced the annals of Fabius and Cincius Alimentus.

From the earliest period the Romans had a clear sense of the value of contemporary records. The Annales Maximi or Commentarii Pontificum contained the names of magistrates for each year, and a daily record [1] of all memorable events from the regal times until the Pontificate of P. Mucius Scaevola (133 B.C.). The occurrences noted were, however, mostly of a trivial character, as Cato tells us in a fragment of his Origines, and as we can gather from the extracts found in Livy. The Libri Lintei, mentioned several times by Livy, [2] were written on rolls of linen cloth, and, besides lists of magistrates, contained many national monuments, such as the treaty between Rome and Carthage, and the truce made with Ardea and Gabii. Similar notes were kept by the civil magistrates (Commentarii Consulares, Libri Praetorum, Tabulae Censoriae) and stored up in the various temples. The greater number of these records perished in the capture of Rome by the Gauls, and when Livy speaks of them as existing later, he refers not to the originals, but to copies made after that event. Such yearly registers were continued to a late period. One of the most important was discovered in the sixteenth century, embracing a list of the great magistracies from 509 B.C. till the death of Augustus, and executed in the reign of Tiberius. Another source of history was the family register kept by each of the great houses, and treasured with peculiar care. It was probably more than a mere catalogue of actions performed or honours gained, since many of the more distinguished families preserved their records as witnesses of glories that in reality had never existed, but were the invention of flattering chroniclers or clients.

The radical defect in the Roman conception of history was its narrowness. The idea of preserving and handing down truth for its own sake was foreign to them. The very accuracy of their early registers was based on no such high principle as this. It arose simply from a sense of the continuity of the Roman commonwealth, from national pride, and from considerations of utility. The catalogue of prodigies, pestilences, divine visitations, expiations and successful propitiatory ceremonies, of which it was chiefly made up, was intended to show the value of the state religion, and to secure the administration of it in patrician hands. It was indeed praiseworthy that considerations so patriotic should at that rude period have so firmly rooted themselves in the mind of the governing class; but that their object was rather to consolidate their own power and advance that of the city than to instruct mankind, is clear from the totally untrustworthy character of the special gentile records; and when history began to be cultivated in a literary way, we do not observe any higher motive at work. Fabius and Cincius wrote in Greek, partly, no doubt, because in the unformed state of their own language it was easier to do so; but that this was not in itself a sufficient reason is shown by the enthusiasm with which not only their contemporary Ennius, but their predecessors Livius and Naevius, studied and developed the Latin tongue. Livius and Ennius worked at Latin in order to construct a literary dialect that should also be the speech of the people. Fabius and Cincius, we cannot help suspecting, wrote in Greek, because that was a language which the people did not understand.

Belonging to an ancient house whose traditions were exclusive and aristocratic, FABIUS (210 B.C.) addressed himself to the limited circle of readers who were conversant with the Greek tongue; to the people at large he was at no pains to be intelligible, and he probably was as indifferent to their literary, as his ancestors had been to their political, claims or advantages. The branch to which he belonged derived its distinguishing name from Fabius Pictor the grandfather of the historian, who, in 312 B.C. painted the temple of Salus, which was the oldest known specimen of Roman art, and existed, applauded by the criticism of posterity, until the era of Claudius. This single incident proves that in a period when Roman feeling as a rule recoiled from practising the arts of peace, members of this intellectual gens were already proficients in one of the proscribed Greek accomplishments, and taken into connection with the polished cultivation of the Claudii, and perhaps of other gentes, shows that in their private life the aristocratic party were not so bigoted as for political purposes they chose to represent themselves. [3] As to the value of Fabius's work we have no good means of forming an opinion. Livy invariably speaks of him with respect, as scriptorum longe antiquissimus; and there can be little doubt that he had access to the best existing authorities on his subject. Besides the public chronicles and the archives of his own house, he is said to have drawn on Greek sources. Niebuhr, also, takes a high view of his merits; and the unpretending form in which he clothed his work, merely a bare statement of events without any attempt at literary decoration, inclines us to believe that so far as national prejudices allowed, he endeavoured to represent faithfully the facts of history.

Of L. CINCIUS ALIMENTUS (flor. 209 B.C.) we should he inclined to form a somewhat higher estimate, from the fact that, when taken prisoner by Hannibal, he received greater consideration from him than almost any other Roman captive. He conversed freely with him, and informed him of the route by which he had crossed the Alps, and of the exact number of his invading force. Cincius was praetor in Sicily 209 B.C. He thus had good opportunities for learning the main events of the campaign. Niebuhr [4] says of him, "He was a critical investigator of antiquity, who threw light on the history of his country by researches among its ancient monuments. He proceeded in this work with no less honesty than diligence; [5] for it is only in his fragments that we find a distinct statement of the early relations between Rome and Latium, which in all the Annals were misrepresented from national pride. That Cincius wrote a book on the old Roman calendar, we are told by Macrobius; [6] that he examined into ancient Etruscan and Roman chronology, is clear from Livy." [7] The point in which he differed from the other authorities most strikingly is the date he assigns for the origin of the city; but Niebuhr thinks that his method of ascertaining it shows independent investigation. [8] Cincius, like Fabius, began his work by a rapid summary of the early history of Rome, and detailed at full length only those events which had happened during his own experience.

A third writer who flourished about the same time was C. ACILIUS (circ. 184 B.C.), who, like the others, began with the foundation of the city, and apparently carried his work down to the war with Antiochus. He, too, wrote in Greek, [9] and was afterwards translated into Latin by Claudius Quadrigarius, [10] in which form he was employed by Livy. Aulus Postumius Albinus, a younger contemporary of Cato, is also mentioned as the author of a Greek history. It is very possible that the selection of the Greek language by all these writers was partly due to their desire to prove to the Greeks that Roman history was worth studying; for the Latin language was at this time confined to the peninsula, and was certainly not studied by learned Greeks, except such as were compelled to acquire it by relations with their Roman conquerors. Besides these authors, we learn from Polybius that the great Scipio furnished contributions to history: among other writings, a long Greek letter to king Philip is mentioned which contained a succinct account of his Spanish and African campaigns. His son, and also Scipio Nasica, appear to have followed his example in writing Greek memoirs.

The creator of Latin prose writing was CATO (234-149 B.C.). In almost every department he set the example, and his works, voluminous and varied, retained their reputation until the close of the classical period. He was the first thoroughly national author.

The character of the rigid censor is generally associated in our minds with the contempt of letters. In his stern but narrow patriotism, he looked with jealous eyes on all that might turn the citizens from a single-minded devotion to the State. Culture was connected in his mind with Greece, and her deleterious influence. The embassy of Diogenes, Critolaus, and Carneades, 155 B.C. had shown him to what uses culture might be turned. The eloquent harangue pronounced in favour of justice, and the equally eloquent harangue pronounced next day against it by the same speaker without a blush of shame, had set Cato's face like a flint in opposition to Greek learning. "I will tell you about those Greeks," he wrote in his old age to his son Marcus, "what I discovered by careful observation at Athens, and how far I deem it good to skim through their writings, for in no case should they be deeply studied. I will prove to you that they are one and all, a worthless and intractable set. Mark my words, for they are those of a prophet: whenever that nation shall give us its literature, it will corrupt everything." [11]

With this settled conviction, thus emphatically expressed at a time when experience had shown the realization of his fears to be inevitable, and when he himself had so far bent as to study the literature he despised, the long and active public life of Cato is in complete harmony. He is the perfect type of an old Roman. Hard, shrewd, niggardly, and narrow-minded, he was honest to the core, unsparing of himself as of others, scorning every kind of luxury, and of inflexible moral rectitude. He had no respect for birth, rank, fortune, or talent; his praise was bestowed solely on personal merit. He himself belonged to an ancient and honourable house, [12] and from it he inherited those harsh virtues which, while they enforced the reverence, put him in conflict with the spirit, of the age. No man could have set before himself a more uphill task than that which Cato struggled all his life vainly to achieve. To reconstruct the past is but one step more impossible than to stem the tide of the present. If Cato failed, a greater than Cato would not have succeeded. Influences were at work in Rome which individual genius was powerless to resist. The ascendancy of reason over force, though it were the noblest form that force has ever assumed, was step by step establishing itself; and no stronger proof of its victory could be found than that Cato, despite of himself, in his old age studied Greek. We may smile at the deep-rooted prejudice which confounded the pure glories of the old Greek intellect with the degraded puerilities of its unworthy heirs; but though Cato could not fathom the mind of Greece, he thoroughly understood the mind of Rome, and unavailing as his efforts were, they were based on an unerring comprehension of the true issues at stake. He saw that Greece was unmaking Rome; but he did not see that mankind required that Rome should be unmade. It is the glory of men like Scipio and Ennius, that their large- heartedness opened their eyes, and carried their vision beyond the horizon of the Roman world into that dimly-seen but ever expanding country in which all men are brethren. But if from the loftiest point of view their wide humanity obtains the palm, no less does Cato's pure patriotism shed undying radiance over his rugged form, throwing into relief its massive grandeur, and ennobling rather than hiding its deformities.

We have said that Cato's name is associated with the contempt of letters. This is no doubt the fact. Nevertheless, Cato was by far the most original writer that Rome ever produced. He is the one man on whose vigorous mind no outside influence had ever told. Brought up at his father's farm at Tusculum, he spent his boyhood amid the labours of the plough. Hard work and scant fare toughened his sinews, and service under Fabius in the Hannibalic war knit his frame into that iron strength of endurance, which, until his death, never betrayed one sign of weakness or fatigue. A saying of his is preserved [13]—"Man's life is like iron; if you use it, it wears away, if not, the rust eats it. So, too, men are worn away by hard work; but if they do no work, rest and sloth do more injury than exercise." On this maxim his own life was formed. In the intervals of warfare, he did not relax himself in the pleasures of the city, but went home to his plough, and improved his small estate. Being soon well known for his shrewd wit and ready speech, he rose into eminence at the bar; and in due time obtained all the offices of state. In every position he made many enemies, but most notably in his capacity of censor. No man was oftener brought to trial. Forty-four times he spoke in his own defence, and every time he was acquitted. [14] As Livy says, he wore his enemies out, partly by accusing them, but still more by the pertinacity with which he defended himself. [15] Besides private causes, he spoke in many important public trials and on many great questions of state: Cicero [16] had seen or heard of 150 orations by him; in one passage he implies that he had delivered as many as Lysias, i.e. 230. [17] Even now we have traces, certainly of 80, and perhaps of 13 more. [18] His military life, which had been a series of successes, was brought to a close 190 B.C., and from this time until his death, he appears as an able civil administrator, and a vehement opponent of lax manners. In the year of his censorship (184 B.C.) Plautus died. The tremendous vigour with which he wielded the powers of this post stirred up a swarm of enemies. His tongue became more bitter than ever. Plutarch gives his portrait in an epigram.

Pyrron, pandaketaen, glaukommaton, oude thanonta Porkion eis aidaen Persephonae dechetai.

Here, at 85 years of age, [19] the man stands before us. We see the crisp, erect figure, bristling with aggressive vigour, the coarse, red hair, the keen, grey eyes, piercingly fixed on his opponent's face, and reading at a glance the knavery he sought to hide; we hear the rasping voice, launching its dry, cutting sarcasms one after another, each pointed with its sting of truth; and we can well believe that the dislike was intense, which could make an enemy provoke the terrible armoury of the old censor's eloquence.

As has been said, he so far relaxed the severity of his principles as to learn the Greek language and study the great writers. Nor could he help feeling attracted to minds like those of Thucydides and Demosthenes, in sagacity and earnestness so congenial to his own. Nevertheless, his originality is in nothing more conspicuously shown than in his method of treating history. He struck a line of inquiry in which he found no successor. The Origines, if it had remained, would undoubtedly have been a priceless storehouse of facts about the antiquities of Italy. Cato had an enlarged view of history. It was not his object to magnify Rome at the expense of the other Italian nationalities, but rather to show how she had become their greatest, because their truest, representative. The divisions of the work itself will show the importance he attached to an investigation of their early annals. We learn from Nepos that the first book comprised the regal period; the second and third were devoted to the origin and primitive history of each Italian state; [20] the fourth and fifth embraced the Punic wars; the last two carried the history as far as the Praetorship of Servius Galba, Cato's bold accusation of whom he inserted in the body of the work. Nepos, echoing the superficial canons of his age, characterises the whole as showing industry and diligence, but no learning whatever. The early myths were somewhat indistinctly treated. [21] His account of the Trojan immigration seems to have been the basis of that of Virgil, though the latter refashioned it in several points. [22] His computation of dates, though apparently exact, betrays a mind indifferent to the importance of chronology. The fragments of the next two books are more copious. He tells us that Gaul, then as now, pursued with the greatest zeal military glory and eloquence in debate. [23] His notice of the Ligurians is far from complimentary. "They are all deceitful, having lost every record of their real origin, and being illiterate, they invent false stories and have no recollection of the truth." [24] He hazards a few etymologies, which, as usual among Roman writers, are quite unscientific. Graviscae is so called from its unhealthy climate (gravis aer), Praeneste from its conspicuous position on the mountains (quia montibus praestet). A few scattered remarks on the food in use among different tribes are all that remain of an interesting department which might have thrown much light on ethnological questions. In the fourth book, Cato expresses his disinclination to repeat the trivial details of the Pontifical tables, the fluctuations of the market, the eclipses of the sun and moon, &c. [25] He narrates with enthusiasm the self-devotion of the tribune Caedicius, who in the first Punic war offered his life with that of 400 soldiers to engage the enemy's attention while the general was executing a necessary manoeuvre. [26] "The Laconian Leonides, who did the same thing at Thermopylae, has been rewarded by all Greece for his virtue and patriotism with all the emblems of the highest possible distinction— monuments, statues, epigrams, histories; his deed met with their warmest gratitude. But little praise has been given to our tribune in comparison with his merits, though he acted just as the Spartan did, and saved the fortunes of the State." As to the title Origines, it is possible, as Nepos suggests, that it arose from the first three books having been published separately. It certainly is not applicable to the entire treatise, which was a genuine history on the same scale as that of Thucydides, and no mere piece of antiquarian research. He adhered to truth in so far as he did not insert fictitious speeches; he conformed to Greek taste so far as to insert his own. One striking feature in the later hooks was his omission of names. No Roman worthy is named in them. The reason of this it is impossible to discover. Fear of giving offence would be the last motive to weigh with him. Dislike of the great aristocratic houses into whose hands the supreme power was steadily being concentrated, is a more probable cause; but it is hardly sufficient of itself. Perhaps the omission was a mere whim of the historian. Though this work obtained great and deserved renown, yet, like its author, it was praised rather than imitated. Livy scarcely ever uses it; and it is likely that, before the end of the first century A.D. the speeches were published separately, and were the only part at all generally read. Pliny, Gellius, and Servius, are the authors who seem most to have studied it; of these Pliny was most influenced by it. The Natural History, especially in its general discussions, strongly reminds us of Cato.

Of the talents of Cato as an orator something will be said in the next section. His miscellaneous writings, though none of them are historical, may be noticed here. Quintilian [27] attests the many-sidedness of his genius: "M. Cato was at once a first-rate general, a philosopher, an orator, the founder of history, the most thorough master of law and agriculture." The work on agriculture we have the good fortune to possess; or rather a redaction of it, slightly modernized and incomplete, but nevertheless containing a large amount of really genuine matter. Nothing can be more characteristic than the opening sentences. We give a translation, following as closely as possible the form of the original: "It is at times worth while to gain wealth by commerce, were it not so perilous; or by usury, were it equally honourable. Our ancestors, however, held, and fixed by law, that a thief should be condemned to restore double, a usurer quadruple. We thus see how much worse they thought it for a citizen to be a money-lender than a thief. Again, when they praised a good man, they praised him as a good farmer, or a good husbandman. Men so praised were held to have received the highest praise. For myself, I think well of a merchant as a man of energy and studious of gain; but it is a career, as I have said, that leads to danger and ruin. But farming makes the bravest men, and the sturdiest soldiers, and of all sources of gain is the surest, the most natural, and the least invidious, and those who are busy with it have the fewest bad thoughts." The sententious and dogmatic style of this preamble cannot fail to strike the reader; but it is surpassed by many of the precepts which follow. Some of these contain pithy maxims of shrewd sense, e.g. "Patrem familias vendacem non emacem esse oportet." "Ita aedifices ne villa fundum quaerat, neve fundus villam." The Virgilian prescription, "Laudato ingentia rura: exiguam colito," is said to be drawn from Cato, though it does not exist in our copies. The treatment throughout is methodical. If left by the author in its present form it represents the daily jotting down of thoughts on the subject as they occurred to him.

In two points the writer appears in an unfavourable light—in his love of gain, and in his brutal treatment of his slaves. With him farming is no mere amusement, nor again is it mere labour. It is primarily and throughout a means of making money, and indeed the only strictly honourable one. However, Cato so far relaxed the strictness of this theory that he became "an ardent speculator in slaves, buildings, artificial lakes, and pleasure-grounds, the mercantile spirit being too strong within him to rest satisfied with the modest returns of his estate." As regarded slaves, the law considered them as chattels, and he followed the law to the letter. If a slave grew old or sick he was to be sold. If the weather hindered work he was to take his sleep then, and work double time afterwards. "In order to prevent combinations among his slaves, their master assiduously sowed enmities and jealousies between them. He bought young slaves in their name, whom they were forced to train and sell for his benefit. When supping with his guests, if any dish was carelessly dressed, he rose from table, and with a leathern thong administered the requisite number of lashes with his own hand." So pitilessly severe was he, that a slave who had concluded a purchase without his leave, hung himself to avoid his master's wrath. These incidents, some told by Plutarch, others by Cato himself, show the inhuman side of Roman life, and make it less hard to understand their treatment of vanquished kings and generals. For the other sex Cato had little respect. Women, he says, should be kept at home, and no Chaldaean or soothsayer be allowed to see them. Women are always running after superstition. His directions about the steward's wife are as follows. They are addressed to the steward:— "Let her fear you. Take care that she is not luxurious. Let her see as little as possible of her neighbours or any other female friends; let her never invite them to your house; let her never go out to supper, nor be fond of taking walks. Let her never offer sacrifice; let her know that the master sacrifices for the whole family; let her he neat herself, and keep the country-house neat." Several sacrificial details are given in the treatise. We observe that they are all of the rustic order; the master alone is to attend the city ceremonial. Among the different industries recommended, we are struck by the absence of wheat cultivation. The vineyard and the pasture chiefly engage attention, though herbs and green produce are carefully treated. The reason is to be sought in the special nature of the treatise. It is not a general survey of agriculture, but merely a handbook of cultivation for a particular farm, that of Manlius or Mallius, and so probably unfit for wheat crops. Other subjects, as medicine, are touched on. But his prescriptions are confined to the rudest simples, to wholesome and restorative diet, and to incantations. These last have equal value assigned them with rational remedies. Whether Cato trusted them may well be doubted. He probably gave in such cases the popular charm-cure, simply from not having a better method of his own to propose.

Another series of treatises were those addressed to his son, in one of which, that on medicine, he charitably accuses the Greeks of an attempt to kill all barbarians by their treatment, and specially the Romans, whom they stigmatise by the insulting name of Opici. [28] "I forbid you, once for all, to have any dealings with physicians." Owing to their temperate and active life, the Romans had for more than five hundred years existed without a physician within their walls. Cato's hostility to the profession, therefore, if not justifiable, was at least natural. He subjoins a list of simples by which he kept himself and his wife alive and in health to a green old age. [29] And observing that there are countless signs of death, and none of health, he gives the chief marks by which a man apparently in health may be noted as unsound. In another treatise, on farming, also dedicated to his son, for whom he entertained a warm affection, and over whose education he sedulously watched, he says,—"Buy not what you want, but what you must have; what you don't want is dear at a farthing, and what you lack borrow from yourself." Such is the homely wisdom which gained for Cato the proud title of Sapiens, by which, says Cicero, [30] he was familiarly known. Other original works, the product of his vast experience, were the treatise on eloquence, of which the pith is the following: "Rem tene: verba sequentur;" "Take care of the sense: the sounds will take care of themselves." We can well believe that this excellent maxim ruled his own conduct. The art of war formed the subject of another volume; in this, too, he had abundant and faithful experience. An attempt to investigate the principles of jurisprudence, which was carried out more fully by his son, [31] and a short carmen de moribus or essay on conduct, completed the list of his paternal instructions. Why this was styled carmen is not known. Some think it was written in Saturnian verse, others that its concise and oracular formulas suggested the name, since carmen in old Latin is by no means confined to verse. It is from this that the account of the low estimation of poets in the early Republic is taken. Besides these regular treatises we hear of letters, [32] and apophthegmata, or pithy sayings, put together like those of Bacon from divers sources. In after times Cato's own apophthegms were collected for publication, and under the name of Catonis dicta, were much admired in the Middle Ages. We see that Cato's literary labours were encyclopaedic. In this wide and ambitious sphere he was followed by Varro, and still later by Celsus. Literary effort was now becoming general. FULVIUS NOBILIOR, the patron of Ennius and adversary of Cato, published annals after the old plan of a calendar of years. CASSIUS HEMINA and Calpurnius Piso, who were younger contemporaries, continued in the same track, and we hear of other minor historians. Cassius is mentioned more than once as "antiquissimus auctor," a term of compliment as well as chronological reference. [33] Of him Niebuhr says: "He wrote about Alba according to its ancient local chronology, and synchronised the earlier periods of Rome with the history of Greece. He treated of the age before the foundation of Rome, whence we have many statements of his about Siculian towns in Latium. The archaeology of the towns seems to have been his principal object. The fourth book of his work bore the title of Punicum bellum posterius, from which we infer that the last war with Carthage had not as yet broken out."

About this epoch flourished Q. FABIUS MAXIMUS SERVILIANUS, who is known to have written histories. He is supposed to be miscalled by Cicero, [34] Fabius Pictor, for Cicero mentions a work in Latin by the latter author, whereas it is certain that the old Fabius wrote only in Greek. The best authorities now assume that Fabius Maximus, as a clansman and admirer of Pictor, translated his book into Latin to make it more widely known. The new work would thus be indifferently quoted as Fabius Pictor or Fabius Maximus.

L. CALPURNIUS PISO FRUGI CENSORIUS (Cons. 133), well known as the adversary of the Gracchi, an eloquent and active man, and staunch adherent of the high aristocratic party, was also an able writer of history. That his conception of historical writing did not surpass that of his predecessors the annalists, is probable from the title of his work; [35] that he brought to bear on it a very different spirit seems certain from the quotations in Livy and Dionysius. One of the select few, in breadth of views as in position, he espoused the rationalistic opinions advocated by the Scipionic circle, and applied them with more warmth than judgment to the ancient legends. Grote, Niebuhr, and others, have shown how unsatisfactory this treatment is; illusion is lost without truth being found; nevertheless, the man who first honestly applies this method, though he may have ill success, makes an epoch in historical research. Cicero gives him no credit for style; his annals (he says) are written in a barren way. [36] The reader who wishes to read Niebuhr's interesting judgment on his work and influence is referred to the Introductory Lectures on Roman History. In estimating the very different opinions on the ancient authors given in the classic times, we should have regard to the divers standards from time to time set up. Cicero, for instance, has a great fondness for the early poets, but no great love for the prose writers, except the orators, nearly all of whom he loads with praise. Still, making allowance for this slight mental bias, his criticisms are of the utmost possible value. In the Augustan and early imperial times, antiquity was treated with much less reverence. Style was everything, and its deficiency could not be excused. And lastly, under the Antonines (and earlier [37]), disgust at the false taste of the day produced an irrational reaction in favour of the archaic modes of thought and expression, so that Gellius, for instance, extols the simplicity, sweetness, or noble vigour of writings in which we, like Cicero, should see only jejune and rugged immaturity. [38] Pliny speaks of Piso as a weighty author (gravis auctor), and Pliny's penetration was not easily warped by style or want of style. We may conclude, on the whole, that Piso, though often misled by his want of imagination, and occasionally by inaccuracy in regard to figures, [39] brought into Roman history a rational method, not by any means so original or excellent as that of Cato, but more on a level with the capacities of his countrymen, and infinitely more productive of imitation.

The study of Greek rhetoric had by this time been cultivated at Rome, and the difficulty of composition being materially lightened [40] as well as its results made more pleasing, we are not surprised to find a number of authors of a somewhat more pretentious type. VENNONIUS, CLODIUS LICINUS, C. FANNIUS, and GELLIUS are little more than names; all that is known of them will be found in Teuffel's repertory. They seem to have clung to the title of annalist though they had outgrown the character. There are, however, two names that cannot be quite passed over, those of SEMPRONIUS ASELLIO and CAELIUS ANTIPATER. The former was military tribune at Numantia (133 B.C.), and treated of that campaign at length, in his work. He was killed in 99 B.C. [41] but no event later than the death of Gracchus (121 B.C.) is recorded as from him. He had great contempt for the old annalists, and held their work to be a mere diary so far as form went; he professed to trace the motives and effects of actions, rather, however, with the object of stimulating public spirit than satisfying a legitimate thirst for knowledge. He had also some idea of the value of constitutional history, which may be due to the influence of Polybius, whose trained intelligence and philosophic grasp of events must have produced a great impression among those who knew or read him.

We have now mentioned three historians, each of whom brought his original contribution to the task of narrating events. Cato rose to the idea of Rome as the centre of an Italian State; he held any account of her institutions to be imperfect which did not also trace from their origin those of the kindred nations; Piso conceived the plan of reducing the myths to historical probability, and Asellio that of tracing the moral causes that underlay outward movements. Thus we see a great advance in theory since the time, just a century earlier, when Fabius wrote his annals. We now meet with a new element, that of rhetorical arrangement. No one man is answerable for introducing this. It was in the air of Rome during the seventh century, and few were unaffected by it. Antipater is the first to whom rhetorical ornament is attributed by Cicero, though his attainments were of a humble kind. [42] He was conspicuous for word painting. Scipio's voyage to Africa was treated by him in an imaginative theatrical fashion, noticed with disapproval by Livy. [43] In other respects he seems to have been trustworthy and to have merited the honour he obtained of being abridged by J. Brutus.

In the time of Sulla we hear of several historians who obtained celebrity. The first is CLAUDIUS QUADRIGARIUS (fl. 100 B.C.). He differs from all his predecessors by selecting as his starting-point the taking of Rome by the Gauls. His reason for so doing does him credit, viz. that there existed no documents for the earlier period. [44] He hurried over the first three centuries, and as was usual among Roman writers, gave a minute account of his own times, inserting documents and speeches. So archaic was his style that his fragments might belong to the age of Cato. For this reason, among others, Gellius [45] (in whom they are found) greatly admires him. Though he outlived Sulla, and therefore chronologically might be considered as belonging to the Ciceronian period, yet the lack of finish in his own and his contemporaries' style, makes this the proper place to mention them. The period, [46] as distinct from the mere stringing together of clauses, was not understood even in oratory until Gracchus, and in history it was to appear still later. Cicero never mentions Claudius, nor VALERIUS ANTIAS (91 B.C.), who is often associated with him. This writer, who has gained through Livy's page the unenviable notoriety of being the most lying of all annalists, nevertheless obtained much celebrity. The chief cause of his deceptiveness was the fabrication of circumstantial narrative, and the invention of exact numerical accounts. His work extended from the first mythical stories to his own day, and reached to at least seventy-five books. In his first decade Livy would seem to have followed him implicitly. Then turning in his later books to better authorities, such as Polybius, and perceiving the immense discrepancies, he realised how he had been led astray, and in revenge attacked Antias throughout the rest of his work. Still the fact that he is quoted by Livy oftener than any other writer, shows that he was too well-known to be neglected, and perhaps Livy has exaggerated his defects.

L. CORNELIUS SISENNA, (119-67 B.C.), better known as a statesman and grammarian, treated history with success. His daily converse with political life, and his thoughtful and studious habits, combined to qualify him for this department. He was a conscientious man, and tells how he pursued his work continuously, lest if he wrote by starts and snatches, he might pervert the reader's mind. His style, however, suffered by this, he became prolix; this apparently is what Fronto means when he says "scripsit longinque." To later writers he was interesting from his fondness for archaisms. Even in the senate he could not drop this affected habit. Alone of all the fathers he said adsentio for adsentior, and such phrases as "vellicatim aut sultuatim scribendo" show an absurd straining after quaintness.

C. LICINIUS MACER (died 73 B.C.) the father of the poet Calvus, was the latest annalist of Rome. Cicero, who was his enemy, and his judge in the trial which cost him his life, criticises his defects both as orator and historian, with severity. Livy, too, implies that he was not always trustworthy ("Quaesita ea propriae familiae laus leviorem auctorem facit," [47]) when the fame of his gens was in question, but on many points he quotes him with approval, and shows that he sought for the best materials, e.g. he drew from the lintei libri, [48] the books of the magistrates, [49] the treaty with Ardea, [50] and where he differed from the general view, he gave his reasons for it.

The extent of his researches is not known, but it seems likely that, alone of Roman historians, he did not touch on the events of his day, the latest speech to which reference is made being the year 196 B.C. As he was an orator, and by no means a great one, being stigmatised as "loquacious" by Cicero, it is probable that his history suffered from a rhetorical colouring.

In reviewing the list of historians of the ante-classical period, we cannot form any high opinion of their merits. Fabius, Cincius, and Cato, who are the first, are also the greatest. The others seem to have gone aside to follow out their own special views, without possessing either accuracy of knowledge or grasp of mind sufficient to unite them with a general comprehensive treatment. The simultaneous appearance of so many writers of moderate ability and not widely divergent views, is a witness to the literary activity of the age, but does not say much for the force of its intellectual creations.

NOTE.—The fragments of the historians have been carefully collected and edited with explanations and lists of authorities by Peter. (Veterum Historicorum Romanorum Relliquiae. Lipsiae, 1870.)


On the Annales Pontificum. (Chiefly from Les Annales des Pontifes, Le Clerc.)

The Annales, though not literature in the proper sense, were so important, as forming materials for it, that it may be well to give a short account of them. They were called Pontificum, Maximi, and sometimes Publici, to distinguish them from the Annales of other towns, of families, or of historical writers. The term Annales, we may note en passant, was ordinarily applied to a narrative of facts preceding one's own time, Historiae being reserved for a contemporary account (Gell. v. 8). But this of course was after its first sense was lost. In the oldest times, the Pontifices, as they were the lawyers, were in like manner the historians of Rome (Cic. de Or. ii. 12). Cicero and Varro repeatedly consulted their records, which Cicero dates from the origin of the city, but Livy only from Aneus Martius (i. 32). Servius, apparently confounding them with the Fasti, declares that they put down the events of every day (ad Ac. i. 373); and that they were divided into eighty books. Sempronius Asellio (Gell. v. 18) says they mention bellum quo initum consule, et quo modo confectum, et quis triumphans introierit, and Cato ridicules the meagreness of their information. Nevertheless it was considered authentic. Cicero found the eclipse of the year 350 duly registered; Virgil and Ovid drew much of their archaeological lore (annalibus eruta priscis, Ov. Fast i. 7.) and Livy his lists of prodigies from them. Besides these marvellous facts, others were doubtless noticed, as new laws, dedication of temples or monuments, establishment of colonies, deaths of great men, erection of statues, &c.; but all with the utmost brevity. Unam dicendi laudem putant esse brevitatem (De Or. ii. 12). Sentences occur in Livy which seem excerpts from them, e.g. (ii. 1).—His consulibus Fidenae obssesae, Crustumina capta, Praeneste ab Latinis ad Romanos descivit. Varro, in enumerating the gods whose altars were consecrated by Tatius, says (L. L. v. 101), ut Annales veteres nostri dicunt, and then names them. Pliny also quotes them expressly, but the word vetustissimi though they make it probable that the Pontifical Annals are meant, do not establish it beyond dispute (Plin. xxxiii. 6, xxxiv. 11).

It is probable, as has been said in this work, that the Annales Pontificum were to a great extent, though not altogether, destroyed in the Gallic invasion. But Rome was not the only city that had Annales. Probably all the chief towns of the Oscan, Sabine, and Umbrian territory had them. Cato speaks of Antemna as older than Rome, no doubt from its records. Varro drew from the archives of Tusculum (L. L. vi. 16), Praeneste had its Pontifical Annals (Cic de Div. ii. 41), and Anagnia its libri lintei (Fronto, Ep. ad Ant. iv. 4). Etruria beyond question possessed an extensive religious literature, with which much history must have been mingled. And it is reasonable to suppose, as Livy implies, that the educated Romans were familiar with it. From this many valuable facts would be preserved. When the Romans captured a city, they brought over its gods with them, and it is possible, its sacred records also, since their respect for what was religious or ancient, was not limited to their own nationality, but extended to most of those peoples with whom they were brought in contact. From all these considerations it is probable that a considerable portion of historic record was preserved after the burning of the city, whether from the Annals themselves, or from portions of them inscribed on bronze erstone, or from those of other states, which was accessible to, and used by Cato, Polybius, Varro, Cicero, and Verrius Flaccus. It is also probable that these records were collected into a work, and that this work, while modernized by its frequent revisions, nevertheless preserved a great deal of original and genuine annalistic chronicle.

The Annales must be distinguished from the Libri Pontificum, which seem to have been a manual of the Jus Pontificale. Cicero places them between the Jus Civile and the Twelve Tables (De Or. i. 43.) The Libri Pontificii may have been the same, but probably the term, when correctly used, meant the ceremonial ritual for the Sacerdotes, flamines, &c. This general term included the more special ones of Libri sacrorum, sacerdotum, haruspicini, &c. Some have confounded with the Annales a different sort of record altogether, the Indigitamenta, or ancient formulae of prayer or incantation, and the Axamenta, to which class the song of the Arval Brothers is referred.

As to the amount of historical matter contained in the Annals, it is impossible to pronounce with confidence. Their falsification through family and patrician pride is well known. But the earliest historians must have possessed sufficient insight to distinguish the obviously fabulous. We cannot suspect Cato of placing implicit faith in mythical accounts. He was no friend to the aristocratic families or their records, and took care to check them by the rival records of other Italian tribes. Sempronius Asellio, in a passage already alluded to (ap. Gell. v. 18), distinguishes the annalistic style as puerile (fabulas pueris narrare); the historian, he insists, should go beneath the surface, and understand what he relates. On comparing the early chronicles of Rome with those of St Bertin and St Denys of France, there appears no advantage in a historical point of view to be claimed by the latter; both contain many real events, though both seek to glorify the origin of the nation and its rulers by constant instances of divine or saintly intervention.



As the spiritual life of a people is reflected in their poetry, so their living voice is heard in their oratory. Oratory is the child of freedom. Under the despotisms of the East it could have no existence; under every despotism it withers. The more truly free a nation is, the greater will its oratory be. In no country was there a grander field for the growth of oratorical genius than in Rome. The two countries that approach nearest to it in this respect are beyond doubt Athens and England. In both eloquence has attained its loftiest height, in the one of popular, in the other of patrician excellence. The eloquence of Demosthenes is popular in the noblest sense. It is addressed to a sovereign people who knew that they were sovereign. Neither to deliberative nor to executive did they for a moment delegate that supreme power which it delighted them to exercise. He that had a measure or a bill to propose had only to persuade them that it was good, and the measure passed, the bill became law. But the audience he addressed, though a popular, was by no means an ordinary one. It was fickle and capricious to a degree exceeding that of all other popular assemblies; it was critical, exacting, intellectual, in a still higher degree. No audience has been more swayed by passion; none has been less swayed by the pretence of it. Always accessible to flattery, Athens counts as her two greatest orators the two men who never stooped to flatter her. The regal tones of Pericles, the prophetic earnestness of Demosthenes, in the response which each met, bear witness to the greatness of those who heard them. Even Cleon owed his greatest triumphs to the plainness with which he inveighed against the people's faults. Intolerant of inelegance and bombast, the Athenians required not only graceful speech, but speech to the point. Hence Demosthenes is of all ancient orators the most business-like. Of all ancient orators, it has been truly said he would have met with the best hearing from the House of Commons. Nevertheless there is a great difference between Athenian and English eloquence. The former was exclusively popular; the latter, in the strictest sense, is hardly popular at all. The dignified representatives of our lower house need no such appeals to popular passion as the Athenian assembly required; only on questions of patriotism or principle would they be tolerated. Still less does emotion govern the sedate and masculine eloquence of our upper house, or the strict and closely-reasoned pleadings of our courts of law. Its proper field is in the addresses of a popular member to one of the great city constituencies. The best speeches addressed to hereditary legislators or to elected representatives necessarily involve different features from those which characterised orations addressed directly to the entire nation assembled in one place. If oratory has lost in fire, it has gained in argument. In its political sphere, it shows a clearer grasp of the public interest, a more tenacious restriction to practical issues; in its judicial sphere, a more complete abandonment of prejudice and passion, and a subordination, immeasurably greater than at Athens, to the authority of written law.

Let us now compare the general features of Greek and English eloquence with those of Rome. Roman eloquence had this in common with Greek, that it was genuinely popular. In their comitia the people were supreme. The orator who addressed them must be one who by passion could enkindle passion, and guide for his own ends the impulses of a vast multitude. But how different was the multitude! Fickle, impressionable, vain; patriotic too in its way, and not without a rough idea of justice. So far like that of Greece; but here the resemblance ends. The mob of Rome, for in the times of real popular eloquence it had come to that, was rude, fierce, bloodthirsty: where Athens called for grace of speech, Rome demanded vehemence; where Athens looked for glory or freedom, Rome looked for increase of dominion, and the wealth of conquered kingdoms for her spoil. That in spite of their fierce and turbulent audience the great Roman orators attained to such impressive grandeur, is a testimony to the greatness of the senatorial system which reared them. In some respects the eloquence of Rome bears greater resemblance to that of England. For several centuries it was chiefly senatorial. The people intrusted their powers to the Senate, satisfied that it acted for the best; and during this period eloquence was matured. That special quality, so well named by the Romans gravitas, which at Athens was never reached, but which has again appeared in England, owed its development to the august discipline of the Senate. Well might Cineas call this body an assembly of kings. Never have patriotism, tradition, order, expediency, been so powerfully represented as there; never have change, passion, or fear had so little place. We can well believe that every effective speech began with the words, so familiar to us, maiores nostri voluerunt, and that it ended as it had begun. The aristocratic stamp necessarily impressed on the debates of such an assembly naturally recalls our own House of Lords. But the freedom of personal invective was far wider than modern courtesy would tolerate. And, moreover, the competency of the Senate to decide questions of peace or war threw into its discussions that strong party spirit which is characteristic of our Lower House. Thus the senatorial oratory of Rome united the characteristics of that of both our chambers. It was at once majestic and vehement, patriotic and personal, proud of traditionary prestige, but animated with the consciousness of real power.

In judicial oratory the Romans, like the Greeks, compare unfavourably with us. With more eloquence they had less justice. Nothing sets antiquity in a less prepossessing light than a study of its criminal trials; nothing seems to have been less attainable in these than an impartial sifting of evidence. The point of law is obscured among overwhelming considerations from outside. If a man is clearly innocent, as in the case of Roscius, the enmity of the great makes it a severe labour to obtain an acquittal; if he is as clearly guilty (as Cluentius would seem to have been), a skilful use of party weapons can prevent a conviction. [1] The judices in the public trials (which must be distinguished from civil causes tried in the praetor's court) were at first taken exclusively from the senators. Gracchus (122 B.C.) transferred this privilege to the Equites; and until the time of Sulla, who once more reinstated the senatorial class (81 B.C.), fierce contests raged between the two orders. Pompey (55 B.C.), following an enactment of Cotta (70 B.C.), threw the office open to the three orders of Senators, Knights, and Tribuni Aerarii, but fixed a high property qualification. Augustus added a fourth decuria from the lower classes, and Caligula a fifth, so that Quintilian could speak of a juryman as ordinarily a man of little intelligence and no legal or general knowledge. [2]

This would be of comparatively small importance if a presiding judge of lofty qualifications guided, as with us, the minds of the jury through the mazes of argument and sophistry, and set the real issue plainly before them. But in Rome no such prerogative rested with the presiding judge, [3] who merely saw that the provisions of the law under which the trial took place were complied with. The judges, or rather jurors, were, in Rome as in Athens, [4] both from their number and their divergent interests, open to influences of prejudice or corruption, only too often unscrupulously employed, from which our system is altogether exempt. In the later republican period it was not, of course, ignorance (the jurors being senators or equites) but bribery or partisanship that disgraced the decisions of the bench. Senator and eques unceasingly accused each other of venality, and each was beyond doubt right in the charge he made. [5] In circumstances like these it is evident that dexterous manipulation or passionate pleading must take the place of legitimate forensic oratory. Magnificent, therefore, as are the efforts of the great speakers in this field, and nobly as they often rise above the corrupt practice of their time, it is impossible to shut our eyes to the iniquities of the procedure, and to help regretting that talent so glorious was so often compelled either to fail or to resort to unworthy methods of success.

At Rome public speaking prevailed from the first. In every department of life it was necessary for a man to express in clear and vigorous language the views he recommended. Not only the senator or magistrate, but the general on the field of battle had to be a speaker. On his return from the campaign eloquence became to him what strategy had been before. It was the great path to civil honours, and success was not to be won without it. There is little doubt that the Romans struck out a vein of strong native eloquence before the introduction of Greek letters. Readiness of speech is innate in the Italians as in the French, and the other qualities of the Romans contributed to enhance this natural gift. Few remains of this native oratory are left, too few to judge by. We must form our opinion upon that of Cicero, who, basing his judgment on its acknowledged political effects, pronounces strongly in its favour. The measures of Brutus, of Valerius Poplicola, and others, testify to their skill in oratory; [6] and the great honour in which the orator was always held, [7] contrasting with the low position accorded to the poet, must have produced its natural result. But though the practice of oratory was cultivated it was not reduced to an art. Technical treatises were the work of Greeks, and Romans under Greek influence. In the early period the "spoken word" was all-important. Even the writing down of speeches after delivery was rarely, if ever, resorted to. The first known instance occurs so late as the war with Pyrrhus, 280 B.C., when the old censor Appius committed his speech to writing, which Cicero says that he had read. The only exception to this rule seems to have been the funeral orations, which may have been written from the first, but were rarely published owing to the youth of those who delivered them. The aspirant to public honours generally began his career by composing such an oration, though in later times a public accusation was a more favourite debut. Besides Appius's; speech, we hear of one by FABIUS CUNCTATOR, and of another by Metellus, and we learn from Ennius that in the second Punic war (204 B.C.) M. CORNELIUS CETHEGUS obtained the highest renown for his persuasive eloquence.

"Additur orator Cornelius suaviloquenti Ore Cethegus ... is dictus popularibus olim ... Flos delibatus populi Suadaeque medulla." [8]

The first name on which we can pronounce with confidence is that of Cato. This great man was the first orator as he was the greatest statesman of his time. Cicero [9] praises him as dignified in commendation, pitiless in sarcasm, pointed in phraseology, subtle in argument. Of the 150 speeches extant in Cicero's time there was not one that was not stocked with brilliant and pithy sayings; and though perhaps they read better in the shape of extracts, still all the excellences of oratory were found in them as a whole; and yet no one could be found to study them. Perhaps Cicero's language betrays the warmth of personal admiration, especially as in a later passage of the same dialogue [10] he makes Atticus dissent altogether from his own view. "I highly approve (he says) of the speeches of Cato as compared with those of his own date, for though quite unpolished they imply some original talent ... but to speak of him as an orator equal to Lysias would indeed be pardonable irony if we were in jest, but you cannot expect to approve it seriously to me and Brutus." No doubt Atticus's judgment is based on too high a standard, for high finish was impossible in the then state of the language. Still Cato wrote probably in a designedly rude style through his horror of Greek affectation. He is reported to have said in his old age (150 B.C.), "Caussurum illustrium quascunque defendi nunc cum maxime conficio orationes," [11] and these written speeches were no doubt improvements on those actually delivered, especially as Valerius Maximus says of his literary labours, [12] "Cato Graecis literis erudiri concupivit, quam sero inde cognoscimus quod etiam Latinas paene iam senex didicerit." His eloquence extended to every sort; he was a successful patronus in many private trials; he was a noted and most formidable accuser; in public trials we find him continually defending himself, and always with success; as the advocate or opponent of great political measures in the senate or assembly he was at his greatest. Many titles of deliberative speeches remain, e.g. "de rege Attalo et vectigalibus Asiae," "ut plura aera equestria fierent," "aediles plebis sacrosanctos esse," "de dote" (an attack upon the luxury of women), and others. His chief characteristics were condensed force, pregnant brevity, strong common sense, galling asperity. His orations were neglected for near a century, but in the Claudian era began to be studied, and were the subjects of commentary until the time of Servius, who speaks of his periods as ill-balanced and unrhythmical (confragosa). [13] There is a most caustic fragment preserved in Fronto [14] taken from the speech de sumptu suo, recapitulating his benefits to the state, and the ingratitude of those who had profited by them; and another from his speech against Minucius Thermus, who had scourged ten men for some trivial offence [15] which in its sarcasm, its vivid and yet redundant language, recalls the manner of Cicero.

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