History of Rome from the Earliest times down to 476 AD
by Robert F. Pennell
1  2  3  4  5     Next Part
Home - Random Browse



By Robert F. Pennell

Revised Edition


This compilation is designed to be a companion to the author's History of Greece. It is hoped that it may fill a want, now felt in many high schools and academies, of a short and clear statement of the rise and fall of Rome, with a biography of her chief men, and an outline of her institutions, manners, and religion.

For this new edition the book has been entirely rewritten, additional matter having been introduced whenever it has been found necessary to meet recent requirements.

The penults of proper names have been marked when long, both in the text and Index. The Examination Papers given are introduced to indicate the present range of requirement in leading colleges.

The maps and plans have been specially drawn and engraved for this book. The design has been to make them as clear and open as possible; consequently, names and places not mentioned in the text have, as a rule, been omitted.


(Illustration: GAIUS IULIUS CAESAR.)



Italy is a long, narrow peninsula in the southern part of Europe, between the 38th and 46th parallels of north latitude. It is 720 miles long from the Alps to its southern extremity, and 330 miles broad in its widest part, i.e. from the Little St. Bernard to the hills north of Trieste. It has an area of nearly 110,000 square miles, about that of the State of Nevada.

The Alps separate Italy on the north and northwest from the rest of Europe. The pass over these mountains which presents the least difficulties is through the Julian Alps on the east. It was over this pass that the Barbarians swept down in their invasions of the country. The Apennines, which are a continuation of the Alps, extend through the whole of the peninsula. Starting in the Maritime Alps, they extend easterly towards the Adriatic coast, and turn southeasterly hugging the coast through its whole extent. This conformation of the country causes the rivers of any size below the basin of the Po to flow into the Tyrrhenian (Tuscan) Sea, rather than into the Adriatic.

Northern Italy, between the Alps and the Apennines, is drained by the Padus (Po) and its tributaries. It was called GALLIA CISALPINA (Gaul this side of the Alps), and corresponds in general to modern Lombardy. The little river Athesis, north of the Padus, flows into the Adriatic. Of the tributaries of the Padus, the Ticinus on the north, and the Trebia on the south, are of historical interest.

The portion of Northern Italy bordering on the Mediterranean is a mountainous district, and was called LIGURIA. In this district on the coast were Genua and Nicaea. The district north of the Athesis, between the Alps and the Adriatic, was called VENETIA, from which comes the name Venice. Here were located Patavium (Padua), Aquileia, and Forum Julii.

Gallia Cisalpina contained many flourishing towns. North of the Padus were Verona, Mediolanum (Milan), Cremona, Mantua, Andes, and Vercellae, a noted battle-field. South of this river were Augusta Taurinorum (Turin), Placentia, Parma, Mutina, and Ravenna. The Rubicon, a little stream flowing into the Adriatic, bounded Gallia Cisalpina on the southeast. The Mucra, another little stream, was the southern boundary on the other side of Italy.

CENTRAL ITALY, Italia Propria, or Italy Proper, included all of the peninsula below these rivers as far down as Apulia and Lucania. In this division are the rivers Tiber, Arnus, Liris, and Volturnus, which empty into the Mediterranean, and the Metaurus, Aesis, and Aternus, which empty into the Adriatic.

The most important subdivision of Central Italy was LATIUM, bordering on the Tyrrhenian Sea. North of it on the same coast was ETRURIA, and to the south was CAMPANIA. On the Adriatic coast were UMBRIA, PICENUM, and SAMNIUM.

The cities of Latium were Rome, on the Tiber, and its seaport, Ostia, near the mouth of the same river. Ten miles northwest of Rome was Veii, an Etruscan city, and about the same distance southeast was Alba Longa. Nearly the same distance directly south of Rome, on the coast, was Lavinium, and east-northeast of Rome was Tibur. Neighboring to Alba Longa were Tusculum and the Alban Lake. The Pomptine Marshes were near the coast, in the southern part of Latium. Lake Regillus was near Rome.

In Etruria were Florentia, Faesulae, Pisae, Arretium, Volaterrae, Clusium, and Tarquinii; also Lake Trasimenus. In Campania were Capua, Neapolis (Naples), Cumae, Baiae, a watering place, Herculaneum, Pompeii, Caudium, Salernum, Casilinum, and Nola. The famous volcano of Vesuvius was here, and also Lake Avernus.

In Umbria, on the coast, were Ariminum and Pisaurum; in the interior were Sentinum and Camerinum. The river Metaurus, noted for the defeat of Hasdrubal, was likewise in Umbria.

In Picenum was Ancona. In Samnium were Cures and Beneventum.

SOUTHERN ITALY included APULIA and CALABRIA on the Adriatic, LUCANIA and BRUTTUM on the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Apulia is the most level of the countries south of the Rubicon. Its only stream is the Aufidus, on the bank of which at Cannae was fought a famous battle. Arpi, Asculum, and Canusium are interior towns.

In Calabria (or Iapygia) were the cities of Brundisium and Tarentum.

The chief towns in Lucania and Bruttium were settled by the Greeks. Among them were Heraclea, Metapontum, Sybaris, and Thurii, in Lucania; and Croton, Locri, and Rhegium, in Bruttium.

The islands near Italy were important. SICILY, with an area of about 10,000 square miles, and triangular in shape, was often called by the poets TRINACRIA (with three promontories). The island contained many important cities, most of which were of Greek origin. Among these were Syracuse, Agrigentum, Messana, Catana, Camarina, Gela, Selinus, Egesta (or Segesta), Panormus, Leontini, and Enna. There are many mountains, the chief of which is Aetna.

SARDINIA is nearly as large as Sicily. CORSICA is considerably smaller. ILVA (Elba) is between Corsica and the mainland. IGILIUM is off Etruria; CAPREAE is in the Bay of Naples; STRONGYLE (Stromboli) and LIPARA are north of Sicily, and the AEGATES INSULAE are west of it.


So far as we know, the early inhabitants of Italy were divided into three races, the IAPYGIAN, ETRUSCAN, and ITALIAN. The IAPYGIANS were the first to settle in Italy. They probably came from the north, and were pushed south by later immigrations, until they were crowded into the southeastern corner of the peninsula (Calabria). Here they were mostly absorbed by the Greeks, who settled in the eighth and seventh centuries all along the southern and southwestern coast, and who were more highly civilized. Besides the Iapygians, and distinct from the Etruscans and Italians, were the Venetians and the Ligurians, the former of whom settled in Venetia, the latter in Liguria.

The ETRUSCANS at the time when Roman history begins were a powerful and warlike race, superior to the Italians in civilization and the arts of life. They probably came from the north, and at first settled in the plain of the Po; but being afterwards dislodged by the invading Gauls, they moved farther south, into Etruria. Here they formed a confederation of twelve cities between the Arno and the Tiber. Of these cities the most noted were Volsinii, the head of the confederacy, Veii, Volaterrae, Caere, and Clusium. This people also formed scattering settlements in other parts of Italy, but gained no firm foothold. At one time, in the sixth century, they were in power at Rome. Corsica, too, was at this time under their control. Their commerce was considerable. Many well preserved monuments of their art have been discovered, but no one has yet been able to decipher any of the inscriptions upon them. The power of these people was gradually lessened by the Romans, and after the fall of Veii, in 396, became practically extinct.

The ITALIANS were of the same origin as the Hellenes, and belonged to the Aryan race, a people that lived in earliest times possibly in Scandinavia. While the Hellenes were settling in Greece, the Italians entered Italy.

At this time the Italians had made considerable progress in civilization. They understood, in a measure, the art of agriculture; the building of houses; the use of wagons and of boats; of fire in preparing food, and of salt in seasoning it. They could make various weapons and ornaments out of copper and silver; husband and wife were recognized, and the people were divided into clans (tribes).

That portion of the Italians known as the LATINS settled in a plain which is bounded on the east and south by mountains, on the west by the Tyrrhenian Sea, and on the north by the high lands of Etruria.

This plain, called LATIUM (flat country), contains about 700 square miles (one half the size of Rhode Island), with a coast of only fifty miles, and no good harbors. It is watered by two rivers, the Tiber, and its tributary, the Anio. Hills rise here and there; as Soracte in the northeast, the promontory of Circeium in the southwest, Janiculum near Rome, and the Alban range farther south. The low lands (modern Campagna) were malarious and unhealthy. Hence the first settlements were made on the hills, which also could be easily fortified.

The first town established was ALBA; around this sprung up other towns, as Lanuvium, Aricia, Tusculum, Tibur, Praeneste, Laurentum, Roma, and Lavinium.

These towns, thirty in number, formed a confederacy, called the LATIN CONFEDERACY, and chose Alba to be its head. An annual festival was celebrated with great solemnity by the magistrates on the Alban Mount, called the Latin festival. Here all the people assembled and offered sacrifice to their common god, Jupiter (Latiaris).

(Illustration: Latium)


We have learned the probable origin of the LATINS; how they settled in Latium, and founded numerous towns. We shall now examine more particularly that one of the Latin towns which was destined to outstrip all her sisters in prosperity and power.

Fourteen miles from the mouth of the Tiber, the monotonous level of the plain through which the river flows is broken by a cluster of hills (Footnote: The seven hills of historic Rome were the Aventine, Capitoline, Coelian, Esquiline (the highest, 218 feet), Palatine, Quirinal, and Viminal. The Janiculum was on the other side of the Tiber, and was held by the early Romans as a stronghold against the Etruscans. It was connected with Rome by a wooden bridge (Pons Sublicius).) rising to a considerable height, around one of which, the PALATINE, first settled a tribe of Latins called RAMNES,—a name gradually changed to ROMANS.

When this settlement was formed is not known. Tradition says in 753. It may have been much earlier. These first settlers of Rome were possibly a colony from Alba. In the early stages of their history they united themselves with a Sabine colony that had settled north of them on the QUIRINAL HILL. The name of TITIES was given to this new tribe. A third tribe, named LUCERES, composed, possibly, of conquered Latins, was afterwards added and settled upon the COELIAN HILL. All early communities, to which the Romans were no exception, were composed of several groups of FAMILIES. The Romans called these groups GENTES, and a single group was called a GENS. All the members of a gens were descended from a common ancestor, after whom the gens received its name.

The head of each family was called PATER-FAMILIAS, and he had absolute authority (Footnote: Called patria potestas.) over his household, even in the matter of life and death.

The Roman government at first was conducted by these Fathers of the families, with a KING, elected from their own number, and holding office for life. His duties were to command the army, to perform certain sacrifices (as high priest), and to preside over the assembly of the Fathers of the families, which was called the SENATE, i. e. an assembly of old men (Senex).

This body was probably originally composed of all the Fathers of the families, but in historical times it was limited to THREE HUNDRED members, holding life office, and appointed during the regal period by the king. Later the appointment was made by the Consuls, still later by the Censors, and for nearly one hundred years before Christ all persons who had held certain offices were thereby vested with the right of seats in the Senate. Hence, during this later period, the number of Senators was greatly in excess of three hundred. The Senators, when addressed, were called PATRES, or "Fathers," for they were Fathers of the families.

The Romans, as we saw above, were divided at first into three tribes, Ramnes, Tities, and Luceres Each tribe was subdivided into ten districts called CURIAE, and each curia into ten clans called GENTES (3 tribes, 30 curiae, and 300 gentes). Every Roman citizen, therefore, belonged to a particular family, at the head of which was a pater-familias; every family belonged to a particular gens, named after a common ancestor; every gens belonged to a particular curia; and every curia to a particular tribe.

We have learned that in the early government of Rome there was a king, and a senate that advised the king. Besides this, there was an assembly composed of all Roman citizens who could bear arms. (Footnote: We must remember that at this time no one was a Roman citizen who did not belong to some family. All other residents were either slaves or had no political rights, i.e. had no voice in the government.) This assembly of Roman citizens met, from time to time, in an enclosed space called the COMITIUM, which means a place of gathering or coming together. This was between the Palatine and Quirinal hills near the FORUM, or market-place. This assembly itself was called the COMITIA CURIATA, i.e. an assembly composed of the 30 curiae. This body alone had the power of changing the existing laws; of declaring war or peace; and of confirming the election of kings made by the senate. The voting in this assembly was taken by each curia, and the majority of the curiae decided any question.


The position of Rome was superior to that of the other towns in the Latin Confederacy. Situated on the Tiber, at the head of navigation, she naturally became a commercial centre. Her citizens prospered and grew wealthy, and wealth is power. Her hills were natural strongholds, easily held against a foe. Thus we see that she soon became the most powerful of the Latin cities, and when her interests conflicted with theirs, she had no scruples about conquering any of them and annexing their territory. Thus Alba was taken during the reign of Tullus Hostilius, and his successor, Ancus Marcius, subdued several cities along the river, and at its mouth founded a colony which was named OSTIA, the seaport of Rome.

At this time (about 625) the Roman territory (ager Romanus) comprised nearly 250 square miles, being irregular in shape, but lying mostly along the southern bank of the Tiber and extending about ten or twelve miles from the river. It was not materially increased during the next two centuries.

The original founders of Rome and their direct descendants were called PATRICIANS, i. e. belonging to the Patres, or Fathers of the families. They formed a class distinct from all others, jealously protecting their rights against outsiders. Attached to the Patricians was a class called CLIENTS, who, though free, enjoyed no civil rights, i. e. they had no voice in the government, but were bound to assist in every way the Patrician, called PATRON, to whom they were attached. In return, the latter gave them his support, and looked after their interests. These clients corresponded somewhat to serfs, worked on the fields of their patrons, and bore the name of the gens to which their patron belonged. Their origin is uncertain; but they may have come from foreign towns conquered by the Latins, and whose inhabitants had not been made slaves.

In addition to the clients there were actual slaves, who were the property of their masters, and could be bought or sold at pleasure. Sometimes a slave was freed, and then he was called a LIBERTUS (freedman) and became the client of his former master.

As Rome grew into commercial prominence, still another class of people flocked into the city from foreign places, who might be called resident foreigners, corresponding in general to the Metics at Athens. Such were many merchants and workmen of all trades. These all were supposed to be under the protection of some patrician who acted as their patron.

These three classes, clients, slaves, and resident foreigners, were all of a different race from the Romans. This should be constantly borne in mind.

We have learned that Rome, as she grew in power, conquered many of the Latin towns, and added their territory to hers. The inhabitants of these towns were of the same race as the Romans, but were not allowed any of their civil rights. Most of them were farmers and peasants. Many of them were wealthy. This class of inhabitants on the ager Romanus, or in Rome itself, were called Plebeians (Plebs, multitude). Their very name shows that they must have been numerous. They belonged to no gens or curia, but were free, and allowed to engage in trade and to own property. In later times (from about 350) all who were not Patricians or slaves were called Plebeians.


Until the time of Servius Tullius (about 550) the army was composed entirely of patricians. It was called a Legio (a word meaning levy), and numbered three thousand infantry called milites, from mille, a thousand, one thousand being levied from each tribe. The cavalry numbered three hundred at first, one hundred from each tribe, and was divided into three companies called Centuries.

During the reign of Servius the demands of the plebeians, who had now become numerous, for more rights, was met by the so called SERVIAN reform of the constitution. Heretofore only the patricians had been required to serve in the army. Now all males were liable to service. To accomplish this, every one who was a land-owner, provided he owned two acres, was enrolled and ranked according to his property. There were five "Classes" of them. The several classes were divided into 193 subdivisions called "Centuries," each century representing the same amount of property. In the first class there were forty centuries in active service, composed of men under forty-six, forty centuries of reserve, and eighteen centuries of cavalry.

In the second, third, and fourth classes there were twenty centuries each, ten in active service, and ten in reserve. The fifth class had thirty centuries of soldiers, and five of mechanics, musicians, etc.

The first four ranks of the troops were made up of the infantry from the first class. All were armed with a leather helmet, round shield, breastplate, greaves (leg-pieces), spear, and sword. The fifth rank was composed of the second class, who were armed like the first, without breastplate. The sixth rank was composed of the third class, who had neither breastplate nor greaves. Behind these came the fourth class, armed with spears and darts, and the fifth class, having only slings.

Each soldier of the infantry paid for his own equipments; the cavalry, however, received from the state a horse, and food to keep it.

This new organization of both patricians and plebeians was originally only for military purposes,—that the army might be increased, and the expenses of keeping it more equitably divided among all the people. But gradually, as the influence of the wealthy plebeians began to be felt, the organization was found well adapted for political purposes, and all the people were called together to vote under it. It was called the COMITIA CENTURIATA, i.e. an assembly of centuries. The place of meeting was on the CAMPUS MARTIUS, a plain outside of the city.

In this assembly each century had one vote, and its vote was decided by the majority of its individual voters. The tendency of this system was to give the wealthy the whole power; for since each century represented the same amount of property, the centuries in the upper or richer classes were much smaller than those in the lower or poorer classes, so that a majority of the centuries might represent a small minority of the people. The majority of the wealthy people at Rome were still patricians, so the assembly was virtually controlled by them. In this assembly magistrates were elected, laws made, war declared, and judgment passed in all criminal cases.

(Illustration: CAMPANIA)


Of the seven traditional kings of Rome, the last three were undoubtedly of Etruscan origin, and their reigns left in the city many traces of Etruscan influence. The Etruscans were great builders, and the only buildings of importance that Rome possessed, until a much later period, were erected under this dynasty. The names of these kings are said to have been LUCIUS TARQUINIUS PRISCUS, SERVIUS TULLIUS, his son-in-law, and LUCIUS TARQUINIUS SUPERBUS.

Under the first of these kings were built the fine temple of JUPITER CAPITOLINUS, on the Capitoline Hill, and near by shrines to JUNO and MINERVA. This temple to Jupiter was called the CAPITOLIUM, and from it we get our word CAPITOL. It was looked upon as the centre of Roman religion and authority, and at times the Senate was convened in it.

During this reign the famous CLOACA MAXIMA, or great sewer intended to drain the Campagna, is also said to have been constructed. This sewer was so well built that it is still used.

Under the second king of this dynasty, Servius Tullius, the city was surrounded with a wall, which included the Palatine, Quirinal, Coelian, and Aventine hills, and also the Janiculum, which was on the opposite side of the river, and connected with the city by a bridge (pons sublicius).

The establishment of the new military organization, mentioned in the previous chapter, was attributed also to this king.

The pupil will notice the similarity between these reforms of Tullius and those of Solon of Athens, who lived about the same time. Thus early was the Greek influence felt at Rome.

During the reign of Tullius a temple in honor of DIANA was erected on the Aventine, to be used by all the Latin towns.

Tarquinius Superbus added to the AGER ROMANUS the territory of the city of GABII, and planted two military colonies, which were afterwards lost. The dynasty of the Tarquins ended with the overthrow of this king, and a Republic was established, which lasted until the death of Julius Caesar.


At the close of the dynasty of the Tarquins, the regal form of government was abolished, and instead of one king who held office for life, two officers, called CONSULS, were elected annually from the PATRICIANS, each of whom possessed supreme power, and acted as a salutary check upon the other; so that neither was likely to abuse his power. This change took place towards the close of the sixth century before Christ.

In times of great emergency a person called DICTATOR might be appointed by one of the Consuls, who should have supreme authority; but his tenure of office never exceeded six months, and he must be a patrician. He exercised his authority only outside of the city walls. It was at this time, about 500, that the COMITIA CENTURIATA came to be the more important assembly, superseding in a great measure the COMITIA CURIATA.

We must remember that in this assembly all criminal cases were tried, magistrates nominated, and laws adopted or rejected. We must not forget that, since it was on a property basis, it was under the control of the patricians, for the great mass of plebeians were poor. Still there were many wealthy plebeians, and so far the assembly was a gain for this party.

About this time the Senate, which heretofore had consisted solely of Fathers of the families (Patres), admitted into its ranks some of the richest of the landed plebeians, and called them CONSCRIPTI. (Footnote: This is the origin of the phrase used by speakers addressing the Senate, viz.: "Patres (et) Consripti") These, however, could take no part in debates, nor could they hold magistracies.

In the Senate, thus constituted, the nomination of all magistrates made in the Comitia Centuriata was confirmed or rejected. In this way it controlled the election of the Consuls, whose duties, we must remember, were those of generals and supreme judges, though every Roman citizen had the privilege of appealing from their decision in cases which involved life.

Two subordinate officers, chosen from the patricians, were appointed by the Consuls. These officers, called QUAESTORES, managed the finances of the state, under the direction of the Senate.

The wars in which the Romans had been engaged, during the century preceding the establishment of the Republic, had impoverished the state and crippled its commerce. This was felt by all classes, but especially by the small landed plebeians whose fields had been devastated. They were obliged to mortgage their property to pay the taxes, and, when unable to meet the demands of their creditors, according to the laws they could be imprisoned, or even put to death.

The rich land-owners, on the other hand, increased their wealth by "farming" the public revenues; i.e. the state would let out to them, for a stipulated sum, the privilege of collecting all import and other duties. These, in turn (called in later times Publicans), would extort all they could from the tax-payers, thus enriching themselves unlawfully. So the hard times, the oppression of the tax-gatherer, and the unjust law about debt, made the condition of the poor unendurable.

The military service, too, bore hard upon them. Many were obliged to serve more than their due time, and in a rank lower than was just; for the Consuls, who had charge of the levy of troops, were patricians, and naturally favored their own party. Hence we see that the cavalry service was at this time made up entirely of young patricians, while the older ones were in the reserve corps, so that the brunt of military duty fell on the plebeians.

This state of things could not last, and, as the opportunity for rebelling against this unjust and cruel oppression was offered, the plebeians were not slow in accepting it.

The city was at war with the neighboring Sabines, Aequians, and Volscians, and needed extra men for defence. One of the Consuls liberated all who were confined in prison for debt, and the danger was averted. Upon the return of the army, however, those who had been set free were again thrown into prison. The next year the prisoners were again needed. At first they refused to obey, but were finally persuaded by the Dictator. But after a well-earned victory, upon their return to the city walls, the plebeians of the army deserted, and, marching to a hill near by, occupied it, threatening to found a new city unless their wrongs were redressed. This is called the First Secession of the Plebs, and is said to have been in 494.

The patricians and richer plebeians saw that concessions must be made, for the loss of these people would be ruin to Rome. Those in debt were released from their obligations, and the plebeians received the right to choose annually, from their own numbers, two officers called TRIBUNI PLEBIS, who should look after their interests, and have the power of VETOING any action taken by any magistrate in the city. This power, however, was confined within the city walls, and could never be exercised outside of them.

The person of the Tribunes was also made sacred, to prevent interference with them while in discharge of their duties, and if any one attempted to stop them he was committing a capital crime. Thus, if the Consuls or Quaestors were inclined to press the law of debt to extremes, or to be unjust in the levying of troops, the Tribunes could step in, and by their VETO stop the matter at once.

This was an immense gain for the plebeians, and they were justified in giving the name of SACRED MOUNT to the hill to which they had seceded.

The number of Tribunes was afterwards increased to five, and still later to ten.


The next gain made by the plebeians was the annual appointment from their own ranks of two officers, called AEDILES. (Footnote: The word "Aedile" is derived from Aedes, meaning temple.) These officers held nearly the same position in reference to the Tribunes that the Quaestors did to the Consuls. They assisted the Tribunes in the performance of their various duties, and also had special charge of the temple of Ceres. In this temple were deposited, for safe keeping, all the decrees of the Senate.

These two offices, those of Tribune and Aedile, the result of the first secession, were filled by elections held at first in the Comitia Centuriata, but later in an assembly called the COMITIA TRIBUTA, which met sometimes within and sometimes without the city walls.

This assembly was composed of plebeians, who voted by "tribes" (tributa, meaning composed of tribes), each tribe being entitled to one vote, and its vote being decided by the majority of its individual voters. (Footnote: These "tribes" were a territorial division, corresponding roughly to "wards" in our cities. At this time there were probably sixteen, but later there were thirty-five. The plebeians in the city lived mostly in one quarter, on the Aventine Hill.)

The Comitia Tributa was convened and presided over by the Tribunes and Aediles. In it were discussed matters of interest to the plebeians. By it any member could be punished for misconduct, and though at first measures passed in it were not binding on the people at large, it presently became a determined body, with competent and bold leaders, who were felt to be a power in the state.

The aim of the patricians was now to lessen the power of the Tribunes; that of the plebeians, to restrain the Consuls and extend the influence of the Tribunes. Party spirit ran high; even hand to hand contests occurred in the city. Many families left Rome and settled in neighboring places to escape the turmoil. It is a wonder that the government withstood the strain, so fierce was the struggle.

The AGRARIAN LAWS at this time first become prominent. These laws had reference to the distribution of the PUBLIC LANDS. Rome had acquired a large amount of land taken from the territory of conquered cities. This land was called AGER PUBLICUS, or public land.

Some of this land was sold or given away as "homesteads," and then it became AGER PRIVATUS, or private land. But the most of it was occupied by permission of the magistrates. The occupants were usually rich patricians, who were favored by the patrician magistrates. This land, so occupied, was called AGER OCCUPATUS, or possessio; but it really was still the property of the state. The rent paid was a certain per cent (from 10 to 20) of the crops, or so much a head for cattle on pasture land. Although the state had the undoubted right to claim this land at any time, the magistrates allowed the occupants to retain it, and were often lenient about collecting dues. In course of time, this land, which was handed down from father to son, and frequently sold, began to be regarded by the occupants as their own property. Also the land tax (TRIBUTUM), which was levied on all ager privatus, and which was especially hard upon the small plebeian land-owners, could not legally be levied upon the ager occupatus. Thus the patricians who possessed, not owned, this land were naturally regarded as usurpers by the plebeians.

The first object of the AGRARIAN LAWS was to remedy this evil.

SPURIUS CASSIUS, an able man, now came forward (486?), proposing a law that the state take up these lands, divide them into small lots, and distribute them among the poor plebeians as homes (homesteads). The law was carried, but in the troublesome times it cost Cassius his life, and was never enforced.


The plebeians were now (about 475) as numerous as the patricians, if not more so. Their organization had become perfected, and many of their leaders were persistent in their efforts to better the condition of their followers. Their especial aim was to raise their civil and political rights to an equality with those of the patricians. The struggle finally culminated in the murder of one of the Tribunes, Gnarus Genucius, for attempting to veto some of the acts of the Consuls.

VALERO PUBLILIUS, a Tribune, now (471) proposed and carried, notwithstanding violent opposition by the patricians, a measure to the effect that the Tribunes should hereafter be chosen in the Comitia Tributa, instead of the Comitia Centuriata. Thus the plebeians gained a very important step. This bill is called the PUBLILIAN LAW (Plebiscitum Publilium). (Footnote: All bills passed in the Comitia Tributa were called Plebiscita, and until 286 were not necessarily binding upon the people at large; but this bill seems to have been recognized as a law.)

For the next twenty years the struggle continued unabated. The plebeians demanded a WRITTEN CODE OF LAWS.

We find among all early peoples that the laws are at first the unwritten ones of custom and precedent. The laws at Rome, thus far, had been interpreted according to the wishes and traditions of the patricians only. A change was demanded. This was obtained by the TERENTILIAN ROGATION, a proposal made in 461 by Gaius Terentilius Harsa, a Tribune, to the effect that the laws thereafter be written. The patrician families, led by one Kaeso Quinctius, made bitter opposition. Kaeso himself, son of the famous Cincinnatus, was impeached by the Tribune and fled from the city.

Finally it was arranged that the Comitia Centuriata should select from the people at large ten men, called the DECEMVIRATE, to hold office for one year, to direct the government and supersede all other magistrates, and especially to draw up a code of laws to be submitted to the people for approval. A commission of three patricians was sent to Athens to examine the laws of that city, which was now (454) at the height of its prosperity. Two years were spent by this commission, and upon their return in 452 the above mentioned Decemvirate was appointed.

The laws drawn up by this board were approved, engraved on ten tables of copper, and placed in the Forum in front of the Senate-House. Two more tables were added the next year. These TWELVE TABLES were the only Roman code.

The DECEMVIRI should have resigned as soon as these laws were approved, but they neglected to do so, and began to act in a cruel and tyrannical manner. The people, growing uneasy under their injustice, finally rebelled when one of the Decemviri, Appius Claudius, passed a sentence that brought an innocent maiden, Virginia, into his power. Her father, Virginius, saved his daughter's honor by stabbing her to the heart, and fleeing to the camp called upon the soldiers to put down such wicked government.

A second time the army deserted its leaders, and seceded to the SACRED MOUNT, where they nominated their own Tribunes. Then, marching into the city, they compelled the Decemviri to resign.

The TWELVE TABLES have not been preserved, except in fragments, and we know but little of their exact contents. The position of the debtor was apparently made more endurable. The absolute control of the pater familias over his family was abolished. The close connection heretofore existing between the clients and patrons was gradually relaxed, the former became less dependent upon the latter, and finally were absorbed into the body of the plebeians. Gentes among the plebeians now began to be recognized; previously only the patricians had been divided into gentes.

Thus we see, socially, the two orders were approaching nearer and nearer.

In 449 Valerius and Horatius were elected Consuls, and were instrumental in passing the so called VALERIO-HORATIAN laws, the substance of which was as follows:—

I. Every Roman citizen could appeal to the Comitia Centuriata against the sentence of any magistrate.

II. All the decisions of the Comitia Tributa (plebiscita), if sanctioned by the Senate and Comitia Centuriata, were made binding upon patricians and plebeians alike. This assembly now became of equal importance with the other two.

III. The persons of the Tribunes, Aediles, and other plebeian officers, were to be considered sacred.

IV. The Tribunes could take part in the debates of the Senate, and veto any of its decisions.

Two years later (447), the election of the Quaestors, who must still be patricians, was intrusted to the Comitia Tributa. Heretofore they had been appointed by the Consuls.

In 445 the Tribune Canuleius proposed a bill which was passed, and called the CANULEIAN LAW, giving to the plebeians the right of intermarriage (connubium) with the patricians, and enacting that all issue of such marriages should have the rank of the father.

Canuleius also proposed another bill which he did not carry; viz. that the consulship be open to the plebeians. A compromise, however, was made, and it was agreed to suspend for a time the office of Consul, and to elect annually six MILITARY TRIBUNES in the Comitia Centuriata, the office being open to all citizens. The people voted every year whether they should have consuls or military tribunes, and this custom continued for nearly a half-century. The patricians, however, were so influential, that for a long time no plebeian was elected.

As an offset to these gains of the plebeians, the patricians in 435 obtained two new officers, called CENSORS, elected from their own ranks every five years (lustrum) to hold office for eighteen months.

The duties of the Censors were:—

I. To see that the citizens of every class were properly registered.

II. To punish immorality in the Senate by the removal of any members who were guilty of offences against public morals.

III. To have the general supervision of the finances and public works of the state. This office became in after years the most coveted at Rome.

A few years later, in 421, the plebeians made another step forward by obtaining the right of electing one of their number as Quaestor. There were now four Quaestors.

Thus the patricians, in spite of the most obstinate resistance, sustained loss after loss. Even the rich plebeians, who had hitherto often found it for their interest to side with the patricians, joined the farmers or lower classes.

Finally, in 367, the Tribunes Licinius and Sextius proposed and passed the following bills, called the LICINIAN ROGATIONS.

I. To abolish the six military tribunes, and elect annually, as formerly, two Consuls, choosing one or both of them from the plebeians.

II. To forbid any citizen's holding more than 500 jugera (300 acres) of the public lands, or feeding thereon more than 100 oxen or 500 sheep.

III. To compel all landlords to employ on their fields a certain number of free laborers, proportionate to the number of their slaves.

IV. To allow all interest hitherto paid on borrowed money to be deducted from the principal, and the rest to be paid in three yearly instalments.

These rogations were a great gain for the poorer classes. It gave them an opportunity for labor which had previously been performed mostly by slaves. They were less burdened by debts, and had some prospect of becoming solvent. But most of all, since the office of Consul was open to them, they felt that their interests were now more likely to be protected. The temple of CONCORDIA in the Forum was dedicated by Camillus as a mark of gratitude for the better times that these rogations promised.

The plebeians, however, did not stop until all the offices, except that of Interrex, were thrown open to them. First they gained that of Dictator, then those of Censor and of Praetor, and finally, in 286, by the law of HORTENSIUS, the plebiscita became binding upon all the people without the sanction of the Senate and Comitia Centuriata. After 200 the sacred offices of PONTIFEX and AUGUR also could be filled by plebeians.

Thus the strife that had lasted for two centuries was virtually ended; and although the Roman patricians still held aloof from the commons, yet their rights as citizens were no greater than those of the plebeians.

To recapitulate:—

Full citizenship comprised four rights, viz.: that of trading and holding property (COMMERCIUM); that of voting (SUFFRAGIUM); that of intermarriage (CONNUBIUM); and that of holding office (HONORES).

The first of these rights the plebeians always enjoyed; the second they obtained in the establishment of the COMITIA TRIBUTA; the third by the CANULEIAN BILL; the fourth by the LICINIAN and subsequent bills.


The first authentic history of Rome begins about 400. The city then possessed, possibly, three hundred square miles of territory. The number of tribes had been increased to twenty-five. Later it became thirty-five.

In 391 a horde of Celtic barbarians crossed the Apennines into Etruria and attacked CLUSIUM. Here a Celtic chief was slain by Roman ambassadors, who, contrary to the sacred character of their mission, were fighting in the ranks of the Etrurians. The Celts, in revenge, marched upon Rome. The disastrous battle of the ALLIA, a small river about eleven miles north of the city, was fought on July 18, 390. The Romans were thoroughly defeated and their city lay at the mercy of the foe. The Celts, however, delayed three days before marching upon Rome. Thus the people had time to prepare the Capitol for a siege, which lasted seven months, when by a large sum of money the barbarians were induced to withdraw.

During this siege the records of the city's history were destroyed, and we have no trustworthy data for events that happened previous to 390.

The city was quickly rebuilt and soon recovered from the blow. In 387 the lost territory adjacent to the Tiber was annexed, and military colonies were planted at Sutrium and Nepete upon the Etruscan border, and also at Circeii and Setia. (Footnote: These military colonies, of which the Romans subsequently planted many, were outposts established to protect conquered territory. A band of Roman citizens was armed and equipped, as if for military purposes. They took with them their wives and children, slaves and followers, and established a local government similar to that of Rome. These colonists relinquished their rights as Roman citizens and became Latins; hence the name LATIN COLONIES.) The neighboring Latin town of TUSCULUM, which had always been a faithful ally, was annexed to Rome.

The trying times of these years had caused numerous enemies to spring up all around Rome; but she showed herself superior to them all, until finally, in 353, she had subdued the whole of Southern Etruria, and gained possession of the town of CAERE, with most of its territory. The town was made a MUNICIPIUM, the first of its kind.

The inhabitants, being of foreign blood and language, were not allowed the full rights of Roman citizenship, but were permitted to govern their own city in local matters as they wished. Many towns were subsequently made MUNICIPIA. Their inhabitants were called CIVES SINE SUFFRAGIO, "citizens without suffrage."

During the next ten years (353-343) Rome subdued all the lowland countries as far south as TARRACINA. To the north, across the Tiber, she had acquired most of the territory belonging to VEII and CAPENA.

In 354 she formed her first connections beyond the Liris, by a treaty with the SAMNITES, a race that had established itself in the mountainous districts of Central Italy. This people, spreading over the southern half of Italy, had in 423 captured the Etruscan city of CAPUA, and three years later the Greek city of CUMAE. Since then they had been practically masters of the whole of Campania.

After the treaty of 354 mentioned above, both the Romans and Samnites had, independently of each other, been waging war upon the Volsci. The Samnites went so far as to attack Teanum, a city of Northern Campania, which appealed to Capua for aid. The Samnites at once appeared before Capua, and she, unable to defend herself, asked aid of Rome.

Alarmed at the advances of the Samnites, Rome only awaited an excuse to break her treaty. This was furnished by the Capuans surrendering their city unconditionally to Rome, so that, in attacking the Samnites, she would simply be defending her subjects.

Thus began the SAMNITE WARS, which lasted for over half a century with varying success, and which were interrupted by two truces. It is usual to divide them into three parts, the First, Second, and Third Samnite Wars.


The accounts of this war are so uncertain and confused that no clear idea of its details can be given. It resulted in no material advantage to either side, except that Rome retained Capua and made it a municipium, annexing its territory to her own.

THE LATIN WAR (340-338).

The cities of the LATIN CONFEDERACY had been for a long time looking with jealous eyes upon the rapid progress of Rome. Their own rights had been disregarded, and they felt that they must now make a stand or lose everything. They sent to Rome a proposition that one of the Consuls and half of the Senate be Latins; but it was rejected. A war followed, in the third year of which was fought the battle of Triganum, near Mount Vesuvius. The Romans, with their Samnite allies, were victorious through the efforts of the Consul, TITUS MANLIUS TORQUATUS, one of the illustrious names of this still doubtful period. The remainder of the operations was rather a series of expeditions against individual cities than a general war.

In 338 all the Latins laid down their arms, and the war closed. The Latin confederacy was at an end. Rome now was mistress. Four of the Latin cities, TIBUR, PRAENESTE, CORA, and LAURENTUM, were left independent, but all the rest of the towns were annexed to Rome. Their territory became part of the Ager Romanus, and the inhabitants Roman plebeians.

Besides acquiring Latium, Rome also annexed, as municipia, three more towns, Fundi, Formiae, and Velitrae, a Volscian town.

LATIUM was now made to include all the country from the Tiber to the Volturnus.

Rome about this time established several MARITIME (Roman) COLONIES, which were similar to her MILITARY (Latin) COLONIES, except that the colonists retained all their rights as Roman citizens, whereas the military colonists relinquished these rights and became Latins. The first of these colonies was ANTIUM (338); afterwards were established TARRACINA (329), MINTURNAE, and SINUESSA (296). Others were afterwards founded.

Later, when Antium was changed into a military colony, its navy was destroyed, and the beaks (rostra) of its ships were taken to Rome, and placed as ornaments on the speaker's stand opposite the Senate-House. Hence the name ROSTRA.

At this time the FORUM, which had been used for trading purposes of all kinds, was improved and beautified. It became a centre for political discussions and financial proceedings. The bankers and brokers had their offices here. Smaller Fora were started near the river, as the Forum Boarium (cattle market) and the Forum Holitorium (vegetable market).

Maenius, one of the Censors, was chiefly instrumental in bringing about these improvements.


The results of the First Samnite War and the Latin War were, as we have seen, to break up the Latin confederacy, and enlarge the domain of Rome.

There were now in Italy three races aiming at the supremacy, the Romans, the Samnites, and the Etruscans. The last of these was the weakest, and had been declining ever since the capture by the Romans of Veii in 396, and of Caere in 353.

In the contest which followed between Rome and the Samnites, the combatants were very nearly matched. Rome had her power more compact and concentrated, while the Samnites were superior in numbers, but were more scattered. They were both equally brave.

During the first five years of the war (326-321), the Romans were usually successful, and the Samnites were forced to sue for peace. In this period Rome gained no new territory, but founded a number of military posts in the enemy's country.

The peace lasted for about a year, when hostilities were again renewed. By this time the Samnites had found a worthy leader in Gavius Pontius, by whose skill and wisdom the fortune of war was turned against the Romans for seven years (321-315). He allured the Romans into a small plain, at each end of which was a defile (Furculae Caudinae). On reaching this plain they found Pontius strongly posted to oppose them. After a bloody but fruitless attempt to force him to retreat, the Romans themselves were compelled to give way. But meanwhile Pontius had also occupied the defile in their rear, and they were obliged to surrender.

A treaty was signed by the Consuls Titus Veturius and Spurius Postumius, according to which peace was to be made, and everything restored to its former condition.

Such was the affair at the Caudine Forks (321), one of the most humiliating defeats that ever befell the Roman arms. The army was made to pass under the yoke,—which was made of three spears, two stuck into the ground parallel to each other and the third placed above them,—and then suffered to depart.

Rome was filled with dismay at the news. The citizens dressed in mourning, business and amusements were suspended, and every energy was devoted to repairing the disaster. Compliance with the terms of the treaty was refused, on the ground that no treaty was valid unless sanctioned by a vote of the people. It was determined to deliver the Consuls who had signed it to the enemy.

Pontius, indignant at the broken faith, refused to accept them, and the war was renewed. It continued for seven years, when (310) the Samnites were so thoroughly whipped by QUINTUS FABIUS, then Dictator, at LAKE VADIMONIS in Etruria, that they could no longer make any effective resistance, and at last (304) agreed to relinquish all their sea-coast, their alliances and conquests, and acknowledge the supremacy of Rome.

During this war the Etruscans made their last single effort against the Roman power. An expedition was sent in 311 to attack the military colony of Sutrium, which had been founded seventy-six years before. The Consul Quintus Fabius went to the rescue, raised the siege, drove the Etruscans into the Ciminian forests, and there completely defeated them.

Six years intervened between the Second and the THIRD SAMNITE WAR (298-290). This time was employed by the Samnites in endeavoring to unite Italy against Rome. They were joined by the UMBRIANS, GAULS, and ETRUSCANS. The LUCANIANS alone were with Rome.

The war was of short duration, and was practically decided by the sanguinary battle of SENTINUM (295) in Umbria. The Samnites, led by Gellius Egnatius, were routed by the Roman Consuls QUINTUS FABIUS MAXIMUS and PUBLIUS DECIUS MUS.

In this battle the struggle was long and doubtful. The Samnites were assisted by the Gauls, who were showing themselves more than a match for the part of the Roman army opposed to them, and commanded by Decius. Following the example of his illustrious father, the Consul vowed his life to the Infernal Gods if victory were granted, and, rushing into the midst of the enemy, was slain. (Footnote: It is said that the father of Decius acted in a similar manner in a battle of the Latin war.) His soldiers, rendered enthusiastic by his example, rallied and pushed back the Gauls. The victory was now complete, for the Samnites were already fleeing before that part of the army which was under Fabius.

The war dragged on for five years, when the Consul MANIUS CURIUS DENTATUS finally crushed the Samnites, and also the SABINES, who had recently joined them. The Samnites were allowed their independence, and became allies of Rome. The Sabines were made Roman citizens (sine suffragio), and their territory was annexed to the Ager Romanus. This territory now reached across Italy from the Tuscan to the Adriatic Sea, separating the Samnites and other nations on the south from the Umbrians, Gauls, and Etruscans on the north.

In 283, at Lake Vadimonis, the Romans defeated the Senonian and Boian Gauls, and founded the military colony of SENA GALLICA.


In the early times of Rome, while she was but little known, it had been the custom of Greece to send colonies away to relieve the pressure of too rapid increase. We find them in Spain, France, Asia Minor, and especially in Sicily and Southern Italy, where the country became so thoroughly Grecianized that it was called MAGNA GRAECIA. Here were many flourishing cities, as Tarentum, Sybaris, Croton, and Thurii. These had, at the time of their contact with Rome, greatly fallen from their former grandeur, owing partly to the inroads of barbarians from the north, partly to civil dissensions, and still more to their jealousy of each other; so that they were unable to oppose any firm and united resistance to the progress of Rome. It had been their custom to rely largely upon strangers for the recruiting and management of their armies,—a fact which explains in part the ease with which they were overcome.

Of these cities TARENTUM was now the chief. With it a treaty had been made by which the Tarentines agreed to certain limits beyond which their fleet was not to pass, and the Romans bound themselves not to allow their vessels to appear in the Gulf of Tarentum beyond the Lacinian promontory. As usual, the Romans found no difficulty in evading their treaty whenever it should profit them.

Thurii was attacked by the Lucanians, and, despairing of aid from Tarentum, called on Rome for assistance. As soon as domestic affairs permitted, war was declared against the Lucanians, and the wedge was entered which was to separate Magna Graecia from Hellas, and deliver the former over to Rome.

Pretending that the war was instigated by Tarentum, Rome decided to ignore the treaty, and sent a fleet of ten vessels into the Bay of Tarentum. It was a gala day, and the people were assembled in the theatre that overlooked the bay when the ships appeared. It was determined to punish the intrusion. A fleet was manned, and four of the Roman squadron were destroyed.

An ambassador, Postumius, sent by Rome to demand satisfaction, was treated with insult and contempt. He replied to the mockery of the Tarentines, that their blood should wash out the stain. The next year one of the Consuls was ordered south.

Meanwhile Tarentum had sent envoys to ask aid of PYRRHUS, the young and ambitious KING OF EPIRUS. He was cousin of Alexander the Great, and, since he had obtained no share in the division of the conquests of this great leader, his dream was to found an empire in the West that would surpass the exhausted monarchies of the East.

Pyrrhus landed in Italy in 281 with a force of 20,000 infantry, 3,000 cavalry, and 20 elephants. He at once set about compelling the effeminate Greeks to prepare for their own defence. Places of amusement were closed; the people were forced to perform military duty; disturbers of the public safety were put to death; and other reforms were made which the dangers of the situation seemed to demand. Meanwhile the Romans acted with promptness, and boldly challenged him to battle. The armies met in 280 on the plain of HERACLEA, on the banks of the Liris, where the level nature of the country was in favor of the Greek method of fighting. The Macedonian phalanx was the most perfect instrument of warfare the world had yet seen, and the Roman legions had never yet been brought into collision with it.

The Romans, under LAEVINUS, were defeated, more by the surprise of a charge of elephants than by the tactics of the phalanx. However, they retired in good order. Pyrrhus is said to have been much impressed by the heroic conduct of the foe, and to have said, "Another such victory will send me back without a man to Epirus." He recognized the inferior qualities of his Greek allies, and determined to make a peace. A trusted messenger, CINEAS, was sent to Rome. He was noted for his eloquence, which was said to have gained more for his master than the sword. Through him Pyrrhus promised to retire to Epirus if safety was guaranteed to his allies in Italy.

The eloquence of Cineas was fortified with presents for the Senators; and though these were refused, many seemed disposed to treat with him, when the aged APPIUS CLAUDIUS CAECUS (Blind) was led into the Senate, and declared that Rome should never treat with an enemy in arms.

Cineas was deeply impressed by the dignity of the Romans, and declared that the Senators were an assembly of kings and Rome itself a temple.

Pyrrhus then tried force, and, hastily advancing northward, appeared within eighteen miles of the city. Here his danger became great. The defection he had hoped for among the Latins did not take place, and the armies which had been operating elsewhere were now ready to unite against him. He therefore retired into winter quarters at Tarentum, where he received the famous embassy of GAIUS FABRICIUS, sent to propose an interchange of prisoners. It was in vain that bribes and threats were employed to shake the courage of the men sent by the Senate; and, on his part, Pyrrhus refused to grant the desired exchange.

Many Italian nations now joined Pyrrhus, and hostilities were renewed. The armies again met in 279 on the plain of ASCULUM, in Apulia; but though the Romans were defeated, it was only another of those Pyrrhic victories which were almost as disastrous as defeat.

The same year Pyrrhus retired to Sicily to defend Syracuse against the Carthaginians, who were allied to the Romans. He remained on the island three years. Upon his return to Italy he met the Romans for the last time in 274, near BENEVENTUM, where he was defeated by the Consul MANIUS CURIOUS DENTATUS. The Romans had by this time become accustomed to the elephants, and used burning arrows against them. The wounded beasts became furious and unmanageable, and threw the army into disorder. With this battle ended the career of Pyrrhus in Italy. He returned home, and two years later was accidentally killed by a woman at Argos.

The departure of Pyrrhus left all Italy at the mercy of Rome. Two years later, in 272, the garrison at Tarentum surrendered, the city walls were demolished, and the fleet given up.


Rome was now mistress of all Italy south of the Arnus and Aesis. This country was divided into two parts.

I. The AGER ROMANUS, including about one quarter of the whole, bounded on the north by CAERE, on the south by FORMIAE, and on the east by the APENNINES.


The Ager Romanus was subdivided, for voting and financial purposes, into thirty-three, afterwards thirty-five districts (tribes), four of which were in Rome. The elections were all held at Rome.

These districts were made up,—

a. Of ROME.

b. Of the ROMAN COLONIES, mostly maritime, now numbering seven, but finally increased to thirty-five.

c. Of the MUNICIPIA (towns bound to service).

d. Of the PRAEFECTURAE (towns governed by a praefect, who was sent from Rome and appointed by the Praetor).


a. Of the LATIN (military) COLONIES, now numbering twenty-two, afterwards increased to thirty-five.

b. Of the ALLIES of Rome (Socii), whose cities and adjoining territory composed more than one half of the country controlled by Rome.

These allies were allowed local government, were not obliged to pay tribute, but were called upon to furnish their proportion of troops for the Roman army.

The inhabitants of this country were divided into five classes, viz.—

a. Those who possessed both PUBLIC and PRIVATE RIGHTS as citizens, i. e. FULL RIGHTS. (Footnote: Public rights consisted of the jus suffragii (right of voting at Rome); jus honorum (right of holding office), and jus provocationis (right of appeal). Private rights were jus connubii (right of intermarriage); and jus commercii (right of trading and holding property). Full rights were acquired either by birth or gift. A child born of parents, both of whom enjoyed the jus connubii, was a Roman citizen with full rights. Foreigners were sometimes presented with citizenship (civitas))

b. Those who were subjects and did not possess full rights.

c. Those who were ALLIES (Socii).

d. Those who were SLAVES, who possessed no rights.

e. Those who were RESIDENT FOREIGNERS, who possessed the right of trading.

To class a belonged the citizens of Rome, of the Roman colonies, and of some of the Municipia.

To class b belonged the citizens of most of the Municipia, who possessed only private rights, the citizens of all the Praefecturae, and the citizens of all the Latin colonies.


Even at this early date, the necessity of easy communication with the capital seems to have been well understood. Roads were pushed in every direction,—broad, level ways, over which armies might be marched or intelligence quickly carried. They were chains which bound her possessions indissolubly together. Some of them remain today a monument of Roman thoroughness, enterprise, and sagacity,—the wonder and admiration of modern road-builders. By these means did Rome fasten together the constantly increasing fabric of her empire, so that not even the successes of Hannibal caused more than a momentary shaking of fidelity, for which ample punishment was both speedy and certain.


The three most noted men of the period embraced in the two preceding chapters were Appius Claudius, the Censor and patrician; and Manius Curius Dentatus and Gaius Fabricius, plebeians.

We have seen that all plebeians who were land-owners belonged to one of the tribes, and could vote in the Comitia Tributa; this, however, shut out the plebeians of the city who owned no land, and also the freedmen, who were generally educated and professional men, such as doctors, teachers, etc.

APPIUS CLAUDIUS as Censor, in 312, deprived the landowners of the exclusive privilege of voting in the Comitia Tributa, and gave to property owners of any sort the right to vote. Eight years later this law was modified, so that it applied to the four city tribes alone, and the thirty-one rural tribes had for their basis landed property only.

During the censorship of Appius, Rome had its first regular water supply by the Appian aqueduct. The first military road, the VIA APPIA, was built under his supervision. This road ran at first from Rome as far as Capua. It was constructed so well that many parts of it are today in good condition. The road was afterward extended to Brundisium, through Venusia and Tarentum.

MANIUS CURIUS DENTATUS was a peasant, a contemporary of Appius, and his opponent in many ways. He was a strong friend of the plebeians. He obtained for the soldiers large assignments of the Ager Publicus. He drained the low and swampy country near Reate by a canal. He was the conqueror of Pyrrhus. A man of sterling qualities, frugal and unostentatious, after his public life he retired to his farm and spent the remainder of his days in seclusion as a simple peasant.

GAIUS FABRICIUS, like Dentatus, was from the peasants. He was a Hernican. As a soldier he was successful. As a statesman he was incorruptible, and of great use to his country. Previous to the battle of Asculum, Pyrrhus attempted to bribe him by large sums of money, and, failing in this, thought to frighten him by hiding an elephant behind a curtain; the curtain was suddenly removed, but Fabricius, though immediately under the elephant's trunk, stood unmoved.

In this generation we find Roman character at its best. Wealth had not flowed into the state in such large quantities as to corrupt it. The great mass of the people were peasants, small land-owners, of frugal habits and moral qualities. But comparatively few owned large estates as yet, or possessed large tracts of the Ager Publicus. A century later, when most of the available land in the peninsula was held by the wealthy and farmed by slaves, we find a great change.

The fall of TARENTUM marks an important era in Roman history. Large treasures were obtained from this and other Greek cities in Southern Italy. Luxury became more fashionable; morals began to degenerate. Greed for wealth obtained by plunder began to get possession of the Romans. From now on the moral tone of the people continued to degenerate in proportion as their empire increased.


ROME AND CARTHAGE.—FIRST PUNIC WAR. (264-241.) (Footnote: The word "Punic" is derived from Phoenici. The Carthaginians were said to have come originally from PHOENICIA, on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean. Their first ruler was Dido. The Latin student is of course familiar with Virgil's story of Dido and Aeneas.)

While Rome was gradually enlarging her territory from Latium to the Straits of Messana, on the other shore of the Mediterranean, opposite Italy and less than one hundred miles from Sicily, sprang up, through industry and commerce, the Carthaginian power.

Like Rome, Carthage had an obscure beginning. As in the case of Rome, it required centuries to gain her power.

It was the policy of Carthage to make a successful revolt of her subdued allies an impossibility, by consuming all their energies in the support of her immense population and the equipment of her numerous fleets and armies. Hence all the surrounding tribes, once wandering nomads, were forced to become tillers of the soil; and, with colonies sent out by herself, they formed the so called Libyo-Phoenician population, open to the attack of all, and incapable of defence. Thus the country around Carthage was weak, and the moment a foreign enemy landed in Africa the war was merely a siege of its chief city.

The power of Carthage lay in her commerce. Through her hands passed the gold and pearls of the Orient; the famous Tyrian purple; ivory, slaves, and incense of Arabia; the silver of Spain; the bronze of Cyprus; and the iron of Elba.

But the harsh and gloomy character of the people, their cruel religion, which sanctioned human sacrifice, their disregard of the rights of others, their well known treachery, all shut them off from the higher civilization of Rome and Greece.

The government of Carthage was an ARISTOCRACY. A council composed of a few of high birth, and another composed of the very wealthy, managed the state. Only in times of extraordinary danger were the people summoned and consulted.

Rome had made two treaties with Carthage; one immediately after the establishment of the Republic, in 500, the other about 340. By these treaties commerce was allowed between Rome and its dependencies and Carthage and her possessions in Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica. But the Romans were not to trade in Spain, or sail beyond the Bay of Carthage.

In leaving Sicily, Pyrrhus had exclaimed, "What a fine battle-field for Rome and Carthage!" If Carthage were mistress of this island, Rome would be shut up in her peninsula; if Rome were in possession of it, "the commerce of Carthage would be intercepted, and a good breeze of one night would carry the Roman fleets to her walls".

At this time the island was shared by three powers,—HIERO, king of Syracuse, the CARTHAGINIANS, and the MAMERTINES, a band of brigands who came from Campania. The latter, making Messana their head-quarters, had been pillaging all of the island that they could reach. Being shut up in Messana by Hiero, they asked aid of Rome on the ground that they were from Campania. Although Rome was in alliance with Hiero, and had but recently executed 300 mercenaries for doing in Rhegium what the Mamertines had done in Sicily,—she determined to aid them, for Sicily was a rich and tempting prey.

Meanwhile, however, through the intervention of the Carthaginians, a truce had been formed between Hiero and the brigands, and the siege of Messana was raised. The city itself was occupied by a fleet and garrison of Carthaginians under HANNO, The Romans, though the Mamertines no longer needed their aid, landed at Messana and dislodged the Carthaginians.

Thus opened the FIRST PUNIC WAR. The Romans at once formed a double alliance with Syracuse and Messana, thus gaining control of the eastern coast of Sicily and getting their first foothold outside of Italy.

The most important inland city of Sicily was AGRIGENTUM. Here the Carthaginians the next year (262) concentrated their forces under HANNIBAL, son of Cisco. The Romans besieged the city, but were themselves cut off from supplies by Hanno, who landed at Heraclea in their rear. Both besieged and besiegers suffered much. At last a battle was fought (262), in which the Romans were victorious, owing to their superior infantry. Agrigentum fell, and only a few strongholds on the coast were left to the Carthaginians.

The Romans now began to feel the need of a fleet. That of Carthage ruled the sea without a rival: it notonly controlled many of the seaports of Sicily, but also threatened Italy itself. With their usual energy, the Romans began the work. (Footnote: In 259, three years previous to the battle of Ecnomus, the Romans under Lucius Scipio captured Blesia, a seaport of Corsica, and established there a naval station.) A wrecked Carthaginian vessel was taken as a model, and by the spring of 260 a navy of 120 sail was ready for sea.

The ships were made the more formidable by a heavy iron beak, for the purpose of running down and sinking the enemy's vessels; a kind of hanging stage was also placed on the prow of the ship, which could be lowered in front or on either side. It was furnished on both sides with parapets, and had space for two men in front. On coming to close quarters with the enemy, this stage was quickly lowered and fastened to the opposing ship by means of grappling irons; thus the Roman marines were enabled to board with ease their opponents' ship, and fight as if on land.

Four naval battles now followed: 1st, near LIPARA (260); 2d, off MYLAE (260); 3d, off TYNDARIS (257); 4th, off ECNOMUS (256).

In the first of these only seventeen ships of the Romans were engaged under the CONSUL GNAEUS CORNELIUS SCIPIO. The fleet with its commander was captured.

In the second engagement, off Mylae, all the Roman fleet under GAIUS DUILIUS took part. The Carthaginians were led by Hannibal, son of Gisco. The newly invented stages or boarding-bridges of the Romans were found to be very effective. The enemy could not approach near without these bridges descending with their grappling irons and holding them fast to the Romans. The Carthaginians were defeated, with the loss of nearly half their fleet.

A bronze column, ornamented with the beaks of the captured vessels, was erected at Rome in honor of this victory of Duilius. The pedestal of it is still standing, and on it are inscribed some of the oldest inscriptions in the Latin language.

The third engagement, off Tyndaris, resulted in a drawn battle.

In the fourth engagement, off Ecnomus, the Carthaginians had 350 sail. Thirty Carthaginian and twenty-four Roman vessels were sunk, and sixty-four of the former captured. The Punic fleet withdrew to the coast of Africa, and prepared in the Bay of Carthage for another battle. But the Romans sailed to the eastern side of the peninsula which helps to form the bay, and there landed without opposition.

MARCUS ATILIUS REGULUS was put in command of the Roman forces in Africa. For a time he was very successful, and the Carthaginians became disheartened. Many of the towns near Cartilage surrendered, and the capital itself was in danger. Peace was asked, but the terms offered were too humiliating to be accepted.

Regulus, who began to despise his opponents, remained inactive at Tunis, near Carthage, neglecting even to secure a line of retreat to his fortified camp at Clupea. The next spring (255) he was surprised, his army cut to pieces, and he himself taken prisoner. He subsequently died a captive at Carthage.

The Romans, learning of this defeat, sent a fleet of 350 sail to relieve their comrades who were shut up in Clupea. While on its way, it gained a victory over the Carthaginian fleet off the Hermean promontory, sinking 114 of the enemy's ships.

It arrived at Clupea in time to save its friends. The war in Africa was now abandoned. The fleet, setting sail for home, was partly destroyed in a storm, only eighty ships reaching port.

Hostilities continued for six years without any great results. Panormus was taken in 254; the coast of Africa ravaged in 253; Thermae and the island of Lipara were taken in 252, and Eryx in 249.

DREPANA and LILYBAEUM were now the only places in Sicily, held by Carthage. A regular siege of Lilybaeum was decided upon, and the city was blockaded by land and sea; but the besieging party suffered as much as the besieged, its supplies were frequently cut off by the cavalry of the Carthaginians, and its ranks began to be thinned by disease.

The Consul, Publius Claudius, who had charge of the siege, determined to surprise the Carthaginian fleet, which was stationed at Drepana (249). He was unsuccessful, and lost three fourths of his vessels. Another fleet of 120 sail sent to aid him was wrecked in a violent storm.

The Romans were now in perplexity. The war had lasted fifteen years. Four fleets had been lost, and one sixth of the fighting population. They had failed in Africa, and the two strongest places in Sicily were still in the enemy's hands. For six years more the war dragged on (249-243).

A new Carthaginian commander, HAMILCAR BARCA (Lightning), meanwhile took the field in Sicily. He was a man of great activity and military talent, and the Romans at first were no match for him. He seemed in a fair way to regain all Sicily. The apathy of the Senate was so great, that at last some private citizens built and manned at their own expense a fleet of 200 sail.

GAIUS LUTATIUS CATALUS, the Consul in command, surprised the enemy and occupied the harbors of Drepana and Lilybaeum in 242. A Carthaginian fleet which came to the rescue was met and destroyed off the AEGATES INSULAE in 241. Hamilcar was left in Sicily without support and supplies. He saw that peace must be made.

Sicily was surrendered. Carthage agreed to pay the cost of the war,—about $3,000,000,—one third down, and the remainder in ten annual payments. Thus ended the First Punic War.


Twenty-three years elapsed between the First and Second Punic Wars. The Carthaginians were engaged during the first part of this time in crushing a mutiny of their mercenary troops.

Rome, taking advantage of the position in which her rival was placed, seized upon SARDINIA and CORSICA, and, when Carthage objected, threatened to renew the war, and obliged her to pay more than one million dollars as a fine (237).

The acquisition of Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica introduced into the government of Rome a new system; viz. the PROVINCIAL SYSTEM.

Heretofore the two chief magistrates of Rome, the Consuls, had exercised their functions over all the Roman possessions. Now Sicily was made what the Romans called a provincia, or PROVINCE. Sardinia and Corsica formed another province (235).

Over each province was placed a Roman governor, called Proconsul. For this purpose two new Praetors were now elected, making four in all. The power of the governor was absolute; he was commander in chief, chief magistrate, and supreme judge.

The finances of the provinces were intrusted to one or more QUAESTORS. All the inhabitants paid as taxes into the Roman treasury one tenth of their produce, and five per cent of the value of their imports and exports. They were not obliged to furnish troops, as were the dependants of Rome in Italy.

The provincial government was a fruitful source of corruption. As the morals of the Romans degenerated, the provinces were plundered without mercy to enrich the coffers of the avaricious governors.

The Adriatic Sea at this time was overrun by Illyrican pirates, who did much damage. Satisfaction was demanded by Rome of Illyricum, but to no purpose. As a last resort, war was declared, and the sea was cleared of the pirates in 229.

"The results of this Illyrican war did not end here, for it was the means of establishing, for the first time, direct political relations between Rome and the states of Greece, to many of which the suppression of piracy was of as much importance as to Rome herself. Alliances were concluded with CORCYRA, EPIDAMNUS, and APOLLONIA; and embassies explaining the reasons which had brought Roman troops into Greece were sent to the Aetolians and Achaeans, to Athens and Corinth. The admission of the Romans to the Isthmian Games in 228 formally acknowledged them as the allies of the Greek states."

The Romans now began to look with hungry eyes upon GALLIA CISALPINA. The appetite for conquest was well whetted. There had been peace with the Gauls since the battle of Lake Vadimonis in 283. The ager publicus, taken from the Gauls then, was still mostly unoccupied. In 232 the Tribune Gaius Flaminius (Footnote: Gaius Flaminius, by his agrarian laws gained the bitter hatred of the nobility. He was the first Governor of Sicily, and there showed himself to be a man of integrity and honesty, a great contrast to many who succeeded him.) carried an agrarian law, to the effect that this land be given to the veterans and the poorer classes. The law was executed, and colonies planted. To the Gauls this seemed but the first step to the occupation of the whole of their country. They all rose in arms except the Cenomani.

This contest continued for ten years, and in 225 Etruria was invaded by an army of 70,000 men. The plans of the invaders, however, miscarried, and they were hemmed in between two Roman armies near TELAMON in 222, and annihilated. The Gallic king was slain at the hands of the Consul MARCUS CLAUDIUS MARCELLUS. PAGE 61 Rome was now mistress of the whole peninsula of Italy, excepting some tribes in Liguria, who resisted a short time longer.

Three military (Latin) colonies were founded to hold the Gauls in check; PLACENTIA and CREMONA in the territory of the Insubres, and MUTINA in that of the Boii. The Via Flaminia, the great northern road, was extended from SPOLETIUM to ARIMINUM. (Footnote: During this period the Comitia Centuriata was reorganized on the basis of tribes (35) instead of money.)

Meanwhile Carthage was not idle. After subduing the revolt of the mercenaries in 237, she formed the project of obtaining SPAIN as compensation for the loss of Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica. Hamilcar Barca, by energetic measures, established (236-228) a firm foothold in Southern and Southeastern Spain.

At his death, his son-in-law, Hasdrubal, continued his work. Many towns were founded, trade prospered, and agriculture flourished. The discovery of rich silver mines near Carthago Nova was a means of enriching the treasury. After the assassination of Hasdrubal, in 220, the ablest leader was Hannibal, son of Hamilcar. Although a young man of but twenty-eight, he had had a life of varied experience. As a boy he had shown great courage and ability in camp under his father. He was a fine athlete, well educated in the duties of a soldier, and could endure long privation of sleep and food. For the last few years he had been in command of the cavalry, and had distinguished himself for personal bravery, as well as by his talents as a leader.

Hannibal resolved to begin the inevitable struggle with Rome at once. He therefore laid siege to Saguntum, a Spanish town allied to Rome. In eight months the place was compelled to capitulate (219).

When Rome demanded satisfaction of Carthage for this insult, and declared herself ready for war, the Carthaginians accepted the challenge, and the Second Punic War began in 218.


In the spring of 218 Hannibal started from Carthago Nova to invade Italy. His army consisted of 90,000 infantry, 12,000 cavalry, and 37 elephants. His march to the Pyrenees occupied two months, owing to the opposition of the Spanish allies of Rome. Hannibal now sent back a part of his troops, retaining 50,000 infantry and 9,000 cavalry, all veterans. With these he crossed the mountains, and marched along the coast by Narbo (Narbonne) and Nemansus (Nimes), through the Celtic territory, with little opposition. The last of July found him on the banks of the Rhone, opposite Avenio (Avignon). The Romans were astonished at the rapidity of his movements.

The Consuls of the year were SCIPIO and SEMPRONIUS. The former had been in Northern Italy, leisurely collecting forces to attack Hannibal in Spain; the latter was in Sicily, making preparations to invade Africa. Scipio set sail for Spain, touching at Massilia near the end of June. Learning there for the first time that Hannibal had already left Spain, he hoped to intercept him on the Rhone. The Celtic tribes of the neighborhood were won over to his side. Troops collected from these were stationed along the river, but Scipio's main army remained at Massilia. It was Hannibal's policy to cross the river before Scipio arrived with his troops. He obtained all the boats possible, and constructed numerous rafts to transport his main body of troops. A detachment of soldiers was sent up the river with orders to cross at the first available place, and, returning on the opposite bank, to surprise the Celtic forces in the rear. The plan succeeded. The Celts fled in confusion, and the road to the Alps was opened. Thus Scipio was outgeneralled in the very beginning.

His course now should have been to return to Northern Italy with all his forces, and take every means to check Hannibal there. Instead, he sent most of his troops to Spain under his brother Gnaeus Scipio, and himself, with but a few men, set sail for Pisae.

Meanwhile Hannibal hurried up the valley of the Rhone, across the Isara, through the fertile country of the Allobroges, arriving, in sixteen days from Avenio, at the pass of the first Alpine range (Mont du Chat). Crossing this with some difficulty, owing to the nature of the country and the resistance of the Celts, he hastened on through the country of the Centrones, along the north bank of the Isara. As he was leaving this river and approaching the pass of the Little St. Bernard, he was again attacked by the Celts, and obliged to make the ascent amidst continual and bloody encounters. After toiling a day and a night, however, the army reached the summit of the pass. Here, on a table-land, his troops were allowed a brief rest.

The hardships of the descent were fully as great, and the fertile valley of the Po was a welcome sight to the half-famished and exhausted soldiers. Here they encamped, in September, and recruited their wearied energies.

This famous march of Hannibal from the Rhone lasted thirty-three days, and cost him 20,000 infantry and 3,000 cavalry.

The Romans were still unprepared to meet Hannibal. One army was in Spain under Gnaeus Scipio; the other in Sicily, on its way to Africa, under the Consul Sempronius. The only troops immediately available were a few soldiers that had been left in the valley of the Po to restrain the Gauls, who had recently shown signs of defection.

Publius Cornelius Scipio, upon his return from Massilia, took command of these. He met Hannibal first in October, 218, near the river Ticinus, a tributary of the Po. A cavalry skirmish followed, in which he was wounded and rescued by his son, a lad of seventeen, afterwards the famous Africanus. The Romans were discomfited, with considerable loss.

They then retreated, crossing the Po at Placentia, and destroying the bridge behind them. Hannibal forded the river farther up, and marched along its right bank until he reached its confluence with the Trebia, opposite Placentia. Here he encamped.

Meanwhile Sempronius, who had been recalled from Sicily, relieved the disabled Scipio.

Early one raw morning in December, 218, the vanguard of the Carthaginians was ordered to cross the Trebia, and, as soon any resistance was met, to retreat. The other troops of Hannibal were drawn up ready to give the enemy a hot reception, if, as he expected, they should pursue his retreating vanguard. Sempronius was caught in the trap, and all his army, except one division of 10,000, was cut to pieces. The survivors took refuge in Placentia and Cremona, where they spent the winter. Sempronius himself escaped to Rome.

The result of TREBIA was the insurrection of all the Celtic tribes in the valley of the Po, who increased Hannibal's army by 60,000 infantry and 4,000 cavalry. While the Carthaginian was wintering near Placentia, the Romans stationed troops to guard the two highways leading north from Rome and ending at Arretium and Ariminum, The Consuls for this year were GAIUS FLAMINIUS and GNAEUS SERVILIUS. The former occupied Arretium, the latter Ariminum. Here they were joined by the troops that had wintered at Placentia.

In the spring, Hannibal, instead of attempting to pursue his march by either of the highways which were fortified, outflanked the Romans by turning aside into Etruria. His route led through a marshy and unhealthy country, and many soldiers perished. Hannibal himself lost an eye from ophthalmia. When he had arrived at Faesulae a report of his course first reached Flaminius, who at once broke camp and endeavored to intercept his enemy. Hannibal, however, had the start, and was now near LAKE TRASIMENUS.

Here was a pass with a high hill on one side and the lake on the other. Hannibal, with the flower of his infantry, occupied the hill. His light-armed troops and horsemen were drawn up in concealment on either side.

The Roman column advanced (May, 217), without hesitation, to the unoccupied pass, the thick morning mist completely concealing the position of the enemy. As the Roman vanguard approached the hill, Hannibal gave the signal for attack. The cavalry closed up the entrance to the pass, and at the same time the mist rolled away, revealing the Carthaginian arms on the right and left. It was not a battle, but a mere rout. The main body of the Romans was cut to pieces, with scarcely any resistance, and the Consul himself was killed. Fifteen thousand Romans fell, and as many more were captured. The loss of the Carthaginians was but 1,500, and was confined mostly to the Gallic allies. All Etruria was lost, and Hannibal could march without hindrance upon Rome, whose citizens, expecting the enemy daily, tore down the bridges over the Tiber and prepared for a siege. QUINTUS FABIUS MAXIMUS was appointed Dictator.

Hannibal, however, did not march upon Rome, but turned through Umbria, devastating the country as he went. Crossing the Apennines, he halted on the shores of the Adriatic, in Picenum. After giving his army a rest, he proceeded along the coast into Southern Italy.

The Romans, seeing that the city was not in immediate danger, raised another army, and placed the Dictator in command. Fabius was a man of determination and firmness, well advanced in years. He determined to avoid a pitched battle, but to dog the steps of the enemy, harassing him and cutting off his supplies as far as possible.

Meanwhile Hannibal again crossed the mountains into the heart of Italy to Beneventum, and from there to Capua, the largest Italian city dependent upon Rome. The Dictator followed, condemning his soldiers to the melancholy task of looking on in inaction, while the enemy's cavalry plundered their faithful allies. Finally, Fabius obtained what he considered a favorable opportunity for an attack. Hannibal, disappointed in his expectations that Capua would be friendly to him, and not being prepared to lay siege to the town, had withdrawn towards the Adriatic. Fabius intercepted him near Casilinum, in Campania, on the left bank of the Volturnus. The heights that commanded the right bank of the river were occupied by his main army; and the road itself, which led across the river, was guarded by a strong division of men.

Hannibal, however, ordered his light-armed troops to ascend the heights over the road during the night, driving before them oxen with burning fagots tied to their horns, giving the appearance of an army marching by torchlight. The plan was successful. The Romans abandoned the road and marched for the heights, along which they supposed the enemy were going. Hannibal, with a clear road before him, continued his march with the bulk of his army. The next morning he recalled his light-armed troops, which had been sent on to the hills with the oxen. Their engagement with the Romans had resulted in a severe loss to Fabius.

1  2  3  4  5     Next Part
Home - Random Browse