THE VICTORY OF THE GERMANS.—Augustus avoided war when he could. His aim was to defend the frontiers of the empire rather than to extend them. The Parthians were prevailed on to return of their own accord the standards and prisoners taken from the army of Crassus. But in Germany, Drusus, the brave step-son of Augustus, made four campaigns on the east of the Rhine, as far as the Weser and the Elbe. On his way back from the Elbe, a fall from his horse terminated his life (9 B.C.). His brother, Tiberius, managed to establish the Roman power over a part of the Germanic tribes on the right bank of the river (4 B.C.) Long before (27 B.C.) the western shore of the river had been formed into two provinces, Upper and Lower Germany. An incapable and incautious general, Quintilius Varus, excited the freedom-loving Germans to revolt under the brave chief of the Cherusci, Arminius (or Hermann). Three Roman legions were annihilated in the Teutoburg forest, Varus taking his own life. The civil and military chiefs who were taken captive, the Germans slew as a sacrifice to their gods. The rest of the prisoners were made slaves. "Many a Roman from an equestrian or a senatorial house grew old in the service of a German farmer, as a servant in the house, or in tending cattle without." There in the forest of Teutoburg the Germans practically won their independence. On hearing the bad news, Augustus, for several days, could only exclaim, "Varus! give me back my legions!" After the death of Augustus, in his seventy-sixth year, the noble son of Drusus, Germanicus, conducted three expeditions against Arminius (A.D. 14-16), obtained a victory over him, and took his wife prisoner, who died in captivity; but the Romans permanently held only the left bank of the Rhine.
ROMAN LIFE.—Various particulars characteristic of Roman ways have been, or will be, incidentally referred to. A few special statements may be given in this place. The Romans, like the Greeks, built a town round a height (or capitol) where was a stronghold (arx), a place of refuge. Here temples were erected. The forum, or market-place, was near by, where the courts sat, and where the people came together to transact business. The dwellings were on the sides of the hill, or on the plain beneath. The streets were narrow. The exterior of the houses was plain. They were of brick, generally covered with stucco, and whitewashed. Glass was too costly to be much used: hence the openings in the walls were few. When the space became valuable, as in Rome, the houses were built high. The chief room in the house was the atrium, which, in earlier times, was not only the common room but also the bedroom of the family. In the primitive dwellings it had been the only room. A passage led from it through a door-way into the street. In front and on both sides were apartments, and in the rear a walled court, or garden. Large houses had several inclosed courts. Rich men and nobles built magnificent palaces. The walls of Roman dwellings within were decorated with fresco-paintings, some of which at Pompeii are left in all their freshness. Round the dinner-table were couches, on which those who partook of the meal reclined. In other rooms chairs were plentifully supplied. Lamps were very numerous and of beautiful design, but the wick was so small that they gave but little light. There was little furniture in the atrium. Statues stood round the walls of this room, if the house were one of the better sort, and in open presses on the walls were the images or masks of the distinguished ancestors of the family. At a funeral of a member of the household they were worn in the procession by persons representing the deceased progenitors.
DRESS.—The principal material of a Roman's dress was woolen cloth. The main article of wearing apparel for a man was the toga, thrown over the shoulders, and brought in folds round the waist in a way to leave the right arm free. Under it was a tunic. At the age of about seventeen, the boy publicly laid aside the toga with a purple hem, and put on the white toga, the token of citizenship. Women wore a long tunic girded about the waist, with a tunic and a close-fitting vest beneath. Except on a journey or in an open theater, as a protection from the sun, neither men nor women wore any covering on the head. Women, when they walked abroad, wore veils which did not cover the face. The color and form of the shoes varied with the rank of the individual, and were significant of it. In the house, sandals were used.
ORDER OF OCCUPATIONS.—The interval from sunrise to sunset was divided into twelve hours. The seventh hour of the day began at noon. At the third hour, there was usually a light meal, which was followed by business, or visits of friendship. The wealthy Roman was followed about the city by a throng of clients, who called on him with their morning greeting before he rose, and received their gift of food or money. At noon came the prandium, or more substantial breakfast. This was followed by a short sleep, in the case of those who were at leisure to take it. Then came games and physical exercise of various sorts. A favorite recreation, both for young and old, was ball-games. Exercise was succeeded by the bath, for which the Romans from the later times of the republic had a remarkable fondness. In private houses the bathing conveniences were luxurious. The emperors built magnificent bath-houses, which included gymnasia, and sometimes libraries. What is now called the Turkish bath was very much in vogue. Dinner, or the cena, the principal meal, was about midway between noon and sunset. The fork was not used at the table, but only in carving; but spoons, and sometimes, it would appear, knives, were used by the host and his guests. The food was so carved that it was usually taken with the fingers. At the table, the toga was exchanged for a lighter garment, and sandals were laid aside. The beverage was wine mixed with water. At banquets of the rich, after the dessert of fruit and cakes had been taken, there was, in later times, the convivium, or social "drinking-bout." Under the empire, this became often a scene of indecent revelry. The Roman dinner-table was not so likely as a Greek repast to be enlivened by flashes of intellect and of wit, or by music furnished by the guests. Musicians were more commonly hired performers, as were also the dancers. The Romans enjoyed games of chance. Playing with dice, and gambling along with it, became common.
MARRIAGE AND THE HOUSEHOLD.—There were two kinds of marriage. By one the wife passed entirely out of the hands (manus) of the father into the hands of the husband, or under his control. There was frequently a religious rite (confarreatio); but, when this did not take place, the other customary ceremonies were essentially the same. At the betrothal the prospective bride was frequently presented with a ring, and with some more valuable gift, by the man whom she was to marry. In the household, notwithstanding the supreme authority of the husband, the wife had an honored position and an active influence. The children were, in law, the property of the father. Their lives were at his disposal. The mother had charge of their early training. The father took the principal charge of the young boy, taught him athletic exercises, and took him to the forum with him. Schools began to exist in the early period. Boys and girls studied together. The pedagogue was the servant who accompanied the child to school, and conducted him home. Greek was studied. The law of the Twelve Tables was committed to memory. Virgil and Horace became school-books, along with Cicero and earlier writers. In the later republican period, Greeks took the business of teaching largely into their hands. There were flourishing schools of rhetoric managed both by Greek and by Latin teachers. Young Romans who could afford to do so went to Athens and other cities in the East for their university training.
SLAVES.—Town-slaves were found in the richer families in great numbers (p. 152). They were not only employed in menial occupations: they were clerks, copyists, sculptors, architects, etc., as well as actors and singers. The work of the farm-slaves was harder. They were shut up in the night in large barracks, made partly under ground, into which was admitted but little light or air. They often worked in chains. In town and country both, the unlimited power of the master led to great severity and cruelty in the treatment of slaves. Women as well as men were often guilty of brutal harshness. Females as well as males were the sufferers. The town-slave, however, might be favored by his master: he might be allowed to save money of his own, and might, perhaps, buy his freedom, or receive it as a gift. During the holidays of the Saturnalia, slaves were allowed unusual privileges and pleasures. The freedmen could become citizens, and were then eligible to any office.
MAGISTRATES.—A Roman who sought office went round soliciting votes. This was called ambitio (from ambire, to go round), whence is derived the English word ambition. He presented himself in public places in a toga specially whitened, and was hence called a candidate (from candida, meaning white). He sought to get support by providing shows and games. The voting was by ballot. Magistrates had their seats of honor, which were made in a particular shape. In the different forms used in the trial of causes, there was one general practice,—the magistrate laid down the law, and referred the judgment as to the facts in the case to an umpire, either an individual or a special court.
THE JULIAN IMPERIAL HOUSE.
C. JULIUS CAESAR, m. Aurelia. + C. JULIUS CAESAR. + Julia, m. M. Atius Balbus. + Atia, m. C. Octavius. + C. Octavius (adopted as son by the will of Julius) became C. JULIUS CAESAR OCTAVIANUS AUGUSTUS, m. 2, Scribonia; + Julia m. 2, M. Vipsanius Agrippa. + Agrippina, m. Germanicus. + CAIUS (Caligula), m. Caesonia, + Julia Drusilla. + Agrippina, m. Cn. Domitius. + L. DOMITIUS NERO, m. Poppaea Sabina. + Claudia Augusta. + Julia, m. AEmilius Paulus. + AEmilia Lepida, m. 1, CLAUDIUS; 2, Junius Silanus. + Junia Calvina, m. VITELLIUS.
3, Livia. + TIBERIUS (adopted as son by Augustus).
THE CLAUDIAN IMPERIAL HOUSE.
TIBERIUS CLAUDIUS NERO. m. Livia Drusilla (afterwards wife of AUGUSTUS). + TIBERIUS CLAUDIUS NERO. + Drusus Claudius Nero, m. Antonia, daughter of the Triumvir and niece of Augustus. + Germanicus, m. Agrippina. + TI. CLAUDIUS DRUSUS, m. 5, Valeria Messalina. + Octavia, m. NERO. + Britannicus. + By adoption, NERO.
CHAPTER II. THE EMPERORS OF THE AUGUSTAN HOUSE.
TIBERIUS.—During the long reign of the prudent Augustus, there was peace within the borders of the empire. He said of himself, that he "found Rome of brick, and left it of marble." This change may be taken as a symbol of the growth of material prosperity in the Roman dominions. But in his private relations, the emperor was less fortunate. His daughter Julia, a woman of brilliant talents, disgraced him by her immorality, and he was obliged to banish her. Her two elder sons died when they were young. The empire devolved on his adopted step-son Tiberius (14-37), who endeavored to continue the same conservative policy. Tiberius was at first alarmed by mutinies among the troops in Pannonia and on the Rhine. The army of the Rhine urged Germanicus, the emperor's adopted son and probable successor, to lead it to Rome, promising to place him on the throne, but Germanicus succeeded in quieting the disturbance. As there were during this reign no great wars, Tiberius was able to devote himself more exclusively to the civil administration. He transferred from the popular assembly to the Senate the right of choosing the magistrates, emphasizing in this way the dual system that Augustus had created. The rights of the Senate he appeared scrupulously to respect. For the more effective government of the city of Rome he established there a permanent prefecture and brought together in a camp before the Viminal gate the nine praetorian cohorts. Unhappily this Praetorian Guard, which might serve to overawe the city mobs, might also interfere in the affairs of government. Indeed, a little later it had to be counted with in the choice of emperors. The notorious Sejanus was prefect during a large part of this reign, and acquired so completely the confidence of Tiberius that he began to plot his overthrow. He had already caused Drusus, the son of Tiberius, to be poisoned in order to remove one obstacle. Finally the emperor discovered his plots and caused him to be arrested and put to death (31). For several years Tiberius had been living in retirement on the island of Capreae. There his enemies represented him as given over to debauchery, while the lives of Roman citizens were never safe from his suspicions or from the accusations of the delators, men who presented formal charges of crime, there being no public prosecutors. Earlier in his reign Tiberius had shown a serious purpose to improve the administration of justice, but with the lapse of years he became distrustful and cruel. He had, moreover, changed the law of treason so that to write or speak slightingly of the emperor was interpreted as conspiracy to bring the commonwealth into contempt and was punished with death. Although he was justly hated by the Roman nobles, in the provinces he was respected because he sought to protect them against extortion and to foster their general interests. He died in the year 37 at the age of seventy-eight.
CALIGULA.—There was no law for the regulation of the succession. But the Senate, the praetorians, and the people united in calling to the throne Caius, the son of Germanicus (37-41). This ruler, called Caligula, at first mild and generous in his doings, soon rushed into such excesses of savage cruelty and monstrous vice that he was thought to be half-deranged. He was fond of seeing with his own eyes the infliction of tortures. His wild extravagance in the matter of public games and in building drained the resources of the empire. After four years, this madman was cut down by two of his guards whom he had grievously insulted.
CLAUDIUS.—Claudius, the uncle and successor of Caligula, and the son of Drusus and Antonia, was not bad, but weak. He was a student and a recluse in his habits. His favorites and nearest connections were unprincipled. The depravity of his wife, Messalina, was such that he did right in sanctioning her death. The immoral and ambitious Agrippina, whom he next married, had an influence less malign. But she was unfaithful to her husband; and this fact, together with the fear she felt that Nero, her son by her first marriage, would be excluded from the throne, impelled her to the crime of taking the life of Claudius by poison.
NERO.—Nero reigned from 54 to 68. He was the grandson of Germanicus, and had been the pupil of the philosopher Seneca, and of Burrus, an excellent man, the captain of the Praetorian Guard. The first five years of Nero's reign were honorably distinguished from the portion of it that followed. When a warrant for the execution of a criminal was brought to him, he regretted that he had ever learned to write. His first great crime was the poisoning of Britannicus, the son of Claudius. Nero became enamored of a fierce and ambitious woman, Poppaea Sabina. On the basis of false charges, he took the life of his wife, Octavia, the daughter of Claudius (A.D. 62). His criminal mother, Agrippina, after various previous attempts made by him to destroy her, was dispatched by his command (A.D. 59). His unbridled cruelty and jealousy moved him to order Seneca, one of the men to whom he owed most, to commit suicide. He came forward as a musician, and nothing delighted him so much as the applause rendered to his musical performances. He recited his own poems, and was stung with jealousy when he found himself outdone by Lucan. His eagerness to figure as a charioteer prompted him, early in his reign, to construct a circus in his own grounds on the Vatican, where he could exhibit his skill as a coachman to a throng of delighted spectators. At length he appeared, lyre in hand, on the stage before the populace. Senators of high descent, and matrons of noble family, were induced by his example and commands to come forward in public as dancers and play-actors. The public treasure he squandered in expensive shows, and in the lavish distribution of presents in connection with them.
THE CHRISTIANS.—Nero has the undesirable distinction of being the first of the emperors to persecute the Christians. In A.D. 64 a great fire broke out at Rome, which laid a third of the city in ashes. He was suspected of having kindled it; and, in order to divert suspicion from himself, he charged the crime upon the Christians, who were obnoxious, Tacitus tells us, on account of their "hatred of the human race." Their withdrawal from customary amusements and festivals, which involved immorality or heathen rites, naturally gave rise to this accusation of cynical misanthropy. A great number were put to death, "and in their deaths they were made subjects of sport; for they were covered with the hides of wild beasts, and worried to death by dogs, or nailed to crosses, or set fire to, and, when day declined, were burned to serve for nocturnal lights." At length a feeling of compassion arose among the people for the victims of this wanton ferocity. Prior to this time, while the Christians were confounded with the Jews as one of their sects, they had been more protected than persecuted by the Roman authorities. Now that they were recognized as a distinct body,—the adherents of a new religion not identified with any particular nation, but seeking to spread itself everywhere,—they fell under the condemnation of Roman law, and were exposed to the hostility of magistrates, as well as to the wrath of the fanatical populace.
Nero was a great builder. The ground which had been burnt over in the fire he laid out in regular streets, leaving open spaces, and limiting the height of the houses. But a large area he reserved for his "Golden House," which, with its lakes and shady groves, stretched over the ground on which the Coliseum afterwards stood, and as far as the Esquiline.
THE CITY OF ROME.—Ancient Rome was mostly built on the left bank of the Tiber. It spread from the Palatine, the seat of the original settlement, over six other hills; so that it became the "city of seven hills." All of them appeared higher than they do now. Of these hills the Capitoline was the citadel and the seat of the gods. In earlier days, from a part of the summit, the Tarpeian Rock, criminals were hurled. In time the hill became covered with public edifices, of which the grandest was the Temple of "Capitoline Jupiter." On the Palatine were eventually constructed the vast palaces of the emperors, the ruins of which have been uncovered in recent times. The walls of Servius Tullius encompassed the seven hills. The walls constructed by Aurelian (270-275 A.D.), Probus, and Honorius (402 A.D.), inclosed an area twelve miles in circumference. The streets were most of them narrow; and, to economize space, the houses were built very high. One of the finest, as well as most ancient, thoroughfares was the Via Sacra, which ran past the Coliseum, or the Flavian amphitheater, and under the Triumphal Arch of Titus, erected after the capture of Jerusalem, along the east of the Forum to the Capitol. There was a particular street in Rome where shoemakers and booksellers were congregated. The central part of the city was thronged, and noisy with cries of teamsters and of venders of all sorts of wares. The fora—one of which, the "Roman Forum," between the Capitoline and the Palatine, was the great center of Roman life—were open places paved, and surrounded with noble buildings,—temples, and basilicas, or halls of justice. The fora were either places for the transaction of public business, or they served the purpose of modern market-places. Among the public buildings of note were the vast colonnades, places of resort both for business and for recreation. The sewers, and especially the aqueducts, were structures of a stupendous character. Among the most imposing edifices in ancient Rome were the baths. Those built by Diocletian had room for three thousand bathers at once. In these establishments the beauty of the gardens and fountains without was on a level with the elegance of the interior furnishings, and with the attraction of the libraries, paintings, and sculptures, which added intellectual pleasure to the physical comfort for which, mainly, these gigantic buildings were constructed. Besides the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, there were many other temples, some of which were but little inferior to that majestic edifice.
The triumphal arches—as that of Titus, already mentioned, which was built of Pentelic marble—and the commemorative columns—as the Column of Trajan, which stood in the forum that bears his name—were among the architectural wonders of the ancient capital of the world. The plain, named of old the Campus Martius, on the north-west side of the city, and bordering on the Tiber, contained, among the buildings and pleasure-grounds by which it was covered, the Pantheon, and the magnificent mausoleum of Augustus. On the south-west of the Coelian Hill, the Appian Way turns to the south-east, and passes out of the Appian Gate. It is skirted for miles with sepulchral monuments of ancient Romans, of which the circular tomb of Metella Caecilia is one of the most interesting. There are varying estimates of the population of ancient Rome. Probably the number of free inhabitants, in the early centuries of the empire, was not far from a million; and the slaves were probably almost as many.
DEATH OF NERO: GALBA.—Growing jealous of the legates who commanded armies on the frontiers, Nero determined to destroy them. They consequently revolted; and war between the troops of two of them issued in the death of Vindex, the general in Gaul. But Galba was deputed to carry on the contest; and Nero, being forsaken even by his creature, Tigellinus, and the praetorians, at last gained courage to call on a slave to dispatch him, and died (A.D. 68) at the age of thirty. The principal events out of Italy, during his reign, were the revolt of the Britons under the brave queen Boadicea (A.D. 61), and the suppression of it by Suetonius Paulinus; the war with the Parthians and Armenians, extending slightly the frontier of the empire; and the beginning of the Jewish war. Despite the corruption at Rome, her disciplined soldiers still maintained their superiority on the borders.
OTHO: VITELLIUS.—With the death of Nero, the Augustan family came to an end. Galba began the series of military emperors. A Roman of the old type, simple, severe, and parsimonious, he pleased nobody. The praetorians killed him, and elevated Otho, a profligate noble, to the throne; but he was obliged to contend with a rival aspirant, Vitellius, commander of the German legions, who defeated him, and became emperor A.D. 69. Vitellius was not only vicious, like his predecessor, but was cowardly and inefficient. The Syrian and Egyptian legions refused to obey so worthless a ruler, and proclaimed their commander, Flavius Vespasian, as emperor. As Vespasian's general, Antonius, approached Rome, Vitellius renounced the throne, and declared his readiness to retire to private life. His adherents withstood him; and, in the struggle that followed between the two parties in the city, the Capitoline Temple was burned. The Flavian army took Rome, and Vitellius was put to an ignominious death (A.D. 69).
CHAPTER III. THE FLAVIANS AND THE ANTONINES.
VESPASIAN: THE JEWISH WAR.—Vespasian, the first in the list of good emperors, restored discipline in the army and among the praetorians, instituted a reform in the finances, and erected the immense amphitheater now called the Coliseum, for the gladiatorial games. By his general, Cerealis, he put down the revolt in Germany and Eastern Gaul, and thus saved several provinces to the empire. Civilis, the leader of the rebellion, had aimed to establish an independent German principality on the west of the Rhine. Vespasian had begun the war with the Jews while Nero reigned (A.D. 66). The Romans had to face a most energetic resistance. Among the captives taken by them in Galilee was the Jewish historian, Josephus. At the end of A.D. 67, all Galilee was subdued. The fanatical, or popular, party, the Zealots, got the upper hand at Jerusalem. The city was torn with the strife of violent factions. In A.D. 70 commenced the memorable siege by Titus, the son of Vespasian, the details of which are given by Josephus. The fall of the city was attended with the conflagration of the temple. Although the estimate given by Josephus of the number that perished during the siege, which he places at eleven hundred thousand, is exaggerated, it is true that the destruction of life was immense. The inhabitants of the city who were not killed were sold as slaves. In Britain a most competent officer—Agricola, the father-in-law of Tacitus—was made governor in A.D. 78. He conquered the country as far north as the Tyne and the Solway, and built a line of forts across the isthmus between England and Scotland.
TITUS (A.D. 79-81).—Vespasian's firm and beneficent reign was followed by the accession of Titus, who had been previously associated by his father with himself in the imperial office. Titus was mild in temper, but voluptuous in his tastes, and prodigal in expenditures. One of the marked events of his short reign was the destruction of the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum by a great eruption of Vesuvius (A.D. 79). The uncovering of the streets and buildings of Pompeii in recent times has added much to our knowledge of ancient arts and customs. A terrible fire and destructive pestilence at Rome were regarded as sent by the gods, not on account of the sins of the emperor, but of the nation.
DOMITIAN (A.D. 81-96).—Domitian, the younger brother of Titus, succeeded him. By nature autocratic, he refused to share the government with the senate, as Augustus had planned. In order the more completely to control this body he assumed the censorship for life. In the latter part of his reign Domitian, like Tiberius, was gloomy and suspicious, and committed many acts of tyranny. He was killed by the freedmen of his own palace (A.D. 96). His war with the Dacians on the Danube had been concluded by the dubious stipulation to pay them an annual tribute as a reward for abstaining from predatory incursions into Moesia (A.D. 90). For the first time, Rome purchased peace of her enemies. Domitian was guilty of persecuting the Christians, among whom, it is now known, was included at least one member of his own family, his niece, Flavia Domatilla, who was also allied to him by marriage. The epistle of Clement of Rome, the oldest extant Christian writing after the Apostles, refers to the barbarities inflicted upon Christian disciples by this tyrant.
NERVA (A.D. 96-98).—The Senate now took the initiative, and placed on the throne one of their own number, Nerva, an old man of mild and virtuous character. The administration was in every point in contrast with the preceding. But the best thing Nerva did was to provide for the curbing of the praetorians by appointing, with the concurrence of the Senate, a most competent man to be his colleague and successor.
TRAJAN (A.D. 98-117).—Trajan was a native of Spain, and had been brought up in the camp. He belongs among the very best of the Roman emperors. He upheld the ancient laws and institutions of the state. He provided for the impartial administration of justice. He restored freedom of speech in the Senate. He founded schools, and establishments for the care of orphans, facilitated commerce by building new roads, bridges, and havens, and adorned Rome with a public library, and with a new and magnificent forum, or market-place, where "Trajan's Column" was placed by Senate and people as a monument of his victories and services.
He relished the society of literary men like the historian Tacitus. He was an intimate friend of Pliny (the younger), whose correspondence while he was governor of Bithynia throws much light upon the emperor's character and policy. Trajan's own manner of life was simple, and free from luxury. To the people he furnished lavishly the diversions which they coveted. He made an aggressive war against the Dacians on the Danube, and constituted a new province of Dacia. He carried his arms into the Parthian territory; and three new provinces—Armenia, Mesopotamia, and Assyria—were the fruit of his campaign in the East. In a letter to Pliny, he defined the policy to be pursued towards Christians, who had become very numerous in the region where Pliny governed. The effect of the emperor's rescript was to place Christianity among the religions under the ban of the law. This decision was long in force, and guided the policy of future emperors towards the new faith. HADRIAN (A.D. 117-138).—Trajan was succeeded by Hadrian, a lover of peace,—a cultivated man, with extraordinary taste in the fine arts, and their generous patron. He was diligent and full of vigor in the transaction of public business. Although genial and affable, his temper was not so even as that of Trajan; and he was guilty of occasional acts of cruelty. He spent the larger portion of his reign in traveling through his dominions, personally attending to the wants and condition of his subjects. He constructed great works in different portions of the empire: in Rome, his Mausoleum (now the Castle of St. Angelo), and his grand temple of Rome and Venus. He began the wall connecting the Scottish friths. A fresh revolt broke out among the Jews (A.D. 131), under a fanatic named Bar-Cocaba, which was suppressed in 135. Jerusalem was razed to the ground; and the Jewish rites were forbidden within the new city of AElia Capitolina, which the emperor founded on its site. This gave a finishing blow to the Jewish and Judaizing types of Christianity within the limits of the Church.
ANTONINUS PIUS (A.D. 138-161).—Antoninus Pius was the adopted son and successor of Hadrian. He was one of the noblest of princes, a man of almost blameless life. His reign was an era of peace, the golden age in the imperial history. He fostered learning, was generous without being prodigal, was firm yet patient and indulgent, and watched over the interests of his subjects with the care of a father. It is a sign of the happiness of his reign that it does not afford startling occurrences to the narrator.
MARCUS AURELIUS (A.D. 161-180).—Hardly less eminent for his virtues was the next in the succession of sovereigns, Marcus Aurelius (161-180). "A sage upon the throne," he combined a love of learning with the moral vigor and energy of the old Roman character, and with the self-government and serenity of the Stoic school, of the tenets of which he was a noble exemplar as well as a deeply interesting expounder. A philosopher was now on the throne; and his reign gives some countenance to the doctrine of Plato, that the world could be well governed only when philosophers should be kings, or kings philosophers. He endured with patience the grievous faults of his wife Faustina, and of his brother by adoption, and co-regent, Lucius Verus. He protected the eastern frontier against Parthia. In the war with the Marcomanni, he drove the German tribes back over the Danube, and gained a signal victory over the Quadi in their own land. His great object was to strike terror into the barbarian enemies of the empire on the north, and prevent future incursions. Although victorious in many of his battles, he failed to accomplish this result. The danger from barbarian invasion increased with the lapse of time. Before his work was finished, Marcus Aurelius died at Vindobona (Vienna), in March, 180. During his reign, there was persecution of Christians. Especially the churches of Lyons and Vienne have left a record of their sufferings. The virtuous emperors, who were strenuous in their exertions to maintain the old laws and customs, were apt to be more severe in their treatment of Christians, whom they ignorantly regarded as a mischievous sect, than were those emperors who were men of looser principles.
STATE OF MORALS.—The Roman Empire, in the declining days of heathenism, presented the spectacle of a flourishing civilization in contrast with extreme moral degeneracy. Rich and populous cities; stately palaces; beautiful works of art—as vases, statues, carved altars—on every hand; bridges and aqueducts, and noble highways, binding land to land; institutions of education in the provincial cities as well as in Rome; a thriving trade and commerce; a rapid spread of the Roman language, of the Roman legal system, and Roman culture and manners over the subject countries,—these are among the signs and fruits of civilization. But with all this outward prosperity and elegance, there was a growing sensuality, a decay of manly feeling, a disregard of the sanctity of the marriage tie, an insatiable hunger for wealth and for the pleasures of sense. One of the most corrupting features in the social condition was slavery. Every Roman of moderate means aspired to own at least a few slaves. Some owned from ten to twenty thousand, mostly field-hands. Many householders possessed as many as five hundred. Horace gives it as a sign of the simplicity of his life as a bachelor, that he is waited on at table by only three slaves. Slave-holding among the Romans brought in temptations to all sorts of brutality and vice. It brought a poisonous atmosphere into every household. Nothing more clearly illustrates the moral degradation of this period than the character of the sports in which people of all ranks delighted. The most attractive theatrical performances came to be comedies, from the Greek and Latin plays of the same order, where scenes were introduced from the licentious stories of the Greek mythology. But the Pantomime, which was often of an unchaste and even obscene character, gradually usurped the place of every other exhibition on the stage. The chief amusements of the people of all classes were the Circus and the Arena. In the Circus, before hundreds of thousands of spectators, nobles of ancient lineage competed in the chariot race. Gladiatorial games, which had first taken place at funerals, and in honor of deceased friends, acquired an almost incredible popularity. At the games instituted by Augustus, ten thousand men joined in these bloody combats. In the festivals under the auspices of Trajan, in A.D. 106, eleven thousand tame and wild animals were slain. Not satisfied with seeing pairs of men engage in mortal conflict, the Romans were eager to witness bloodshed on a larger scale. The emperors provided actual battles between hundreds and, in some cases, thousands of men, which were beheld by countless spectators. On an artificial lake in Caesar's garden, Augustus gave a sea-fight in which three thousand soldiers were engaged. The effect of these brutal spectacles of agony and death was inevitably to harden the heart.
LITERATURE.—If the sanguinary fights in the arena excited little or no condemnation, the prevalence of various other sorts of immorality, at variance with the practice of better days, could not fail to call out different forms of censure.
One of these forms of protest was through the satirical poets. Of these caustic writers, Persius (34-62) is obscure and of a moderate degree of merit. Juvenal (about 55-135), on the contrary, is spirited and full of force. Martial (43-101), a Spaniard by birth, was the author of numerous short poems of a pithy and pointed character, called epigrammata. All these poets, if we make proper discount for the exaggeration of satire, are very instructive as to the manners and morals of their time. Lucian (120-200), who wrote in Greek, the best known of whose works are his "Dialogues," touched with his broad humor a great many of the superstitions and follies of the day.
The popular teachers in the imperial time were the rhetoricians, analogous to the Greek Sophists,—teachers of rhetoric and eloquence,—one of whom, Quintilian (who was born about 40, and died about 118), was the first to receive from the public treasury a regular salary, and had among his pupils the younger Pliny and the two grand-nephews of Domitian. The influence of the mania for rhetoric was more and more to impart an artificial character to literature and art. The epic poems of such writers as Lucan and Statitis are to a large extent imitations; although Lucan's principal poem, "Pharsalia," gives evidence of poetic talent. Where there was so little productive genius, it was natural that grammarians and commentators should abound. There was one great writer, the historian Tacitus (about 54-117), who towers above his contemporaries, and in vigor and conciseness has seldom been equaled. The elder Pliny (23-79), whose curiosity to witness the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 cost him his life, was a famous observer and author in natural history. His nephew, the younger Pliny, the friend of Trajan, has left to us ten books of "Epistles," which present an agreeable picture of the life and thoughts of a cultivated Roman gentleman. The philosopher Seneca, with the exception of Marcus Aurelius, the most eminent expositor of the Roman Stoic school, was a voluminous author. No ancient heathen writer has uttered so many thoughts and precepts which bear a resemblance to teachings of the New Testament.
The study that nourished most in this period is Jurisprudence. It is the classic era of the jurists. Persons versed in the law were preferred by the emperors for high offices. Men who would have been statesmen under the Republic, found a solace and delight in legal studies. Among the most learned jurists of this era, were Caius Papinian, and Ulpian. Of the Greek writers, one of the most important is Plutarch (about 50-120), whose "Lives," and "Essays" (or Moralia), are among the most delightful and instructive of all the works of antiquity. One of the noblest philosophical writers of that or of any other period is the Stoic Epictetus (50-c.120).
The two most popular systems of philosophy in the closing days of the Republic and the early period of the Empire, were the Stoic and the Epicurean. The severity of the Stoic doctrine was somewhat softened by its Roman teachers; but the rigorous self-control, the superiority to misfortune, and the contempt of death, which it recommended, found favor with noble Romans in dark days. Cato and other champions of the falling Republic were disciples of this school. Later, New Platonism, of a mystical and contemplative type, secured many adherents.
SKEPTICISM.—Long before the fall of the Republic, faith in the old mythology had begun to decline. This change followed upon an intimate contact of the Romans with the Greek religion. It was hastened by the familiarity acquired by the Romans with so great a variety of heathen systems. The decay of morality was attended with a spread of skepticism as regards the supernatural world altogether. In the course of the debate in the Roman Senate on the punishment of the confederates of Catiline, Julius Caesar opposed their execution, on the ground that death puts an end to consciousness, and thus to all suffering. It does not appear that in that body, where Cicero and Cato were present, any one disputed this tenet. Cicero in his philosophical essays advocates the doctrine of immortality by arguments, mostly gathered from Greek sources,—arguments some of which are of more and some of less weight. His correspondence, on the contrary, even in times of bereavement, affords no proof that this consoling truth had any practical hold upon his convictions.
SUPERSTITION.—The spread of skepticism was attended, as time went on, with a re-action to the other extreme of superstition. Magic and sorcery came into vogue. There was an eagerness to become acquainted with Oriental religious rites, and to pay homage to deities worshiped in the East with mysterious ceremonies. Another tendency strongly manifest was towards what is called syncretism, or a mingling of different religious systems. It was hoped that the truth might be found by combining beliefs drawn from many different quarters. This eclectic drift was signally manifest in religion as well as in philosophy.
CHAPTER IV. THE EMPERORS MADE BY THE SOLDIERS: THE ABSOLUTE MONARCHY.
COMMODUS.—Rome had enjoyed good government for eighty-four years. This was owing to the fact that her sovereigns had been nominated to their office, instead of inheriting it. None of the emperors during this interval had male children. Marcus Aurelius made the mistake of associating with him in power his son Commodus, who was eighteen years old when his father died, and reigned alone from 180 to 192. He began his despicable career as sole ruler by buying peace of the Marcomanni and the Quadi. He turned out to be a detestable tyrant, who was likewise guilty of the worst personal vices. He was strangled in his bedroom by one of his concubines, Marcia, with the assistance of others, all of whom he was intending to kill. At this time the army, where there had been more energy and virtue than in any other class, began to decline in discipline. Society was growing more and more corrupt. It proves the inherent strength of the organization of the Roman Empire, that, amid all the causes of disintegration and decay, it lasted for two centuries longer.
I. EMPERORS MADE BY THE SOLDIERS.
We now enter upon a period of military license. The emperors are appointed by the soldiers. The rulers, when the soldiers fall out with them, are slain. In the course of ninety-two years, from 192 to 284, twenty-five emperors, with an average reign of less than four years for each, sat on the throne. Only two reigns exceeded ten years. Ten emperors perished by violence at the hands of the soldiers. A real advantage in this way of making emperors, was, that supreme power might thus devolve on able generals; but another, and a fatal result, was the demoralizing of the armies, by whose favor the rulers of the state were set up and pulled down.
TO ALEXANDER SEVERUS (A.D. 222).—The assassins of Commodus, with the assent of the praetorians, made a worthy senator, Pertinax, emperor; but his honesty and frugality, and his disposition to maintain discipline among the soldiers, caused them to murder him three months after his accession (193). It is said that they then sold the imperial office at auction to a rich senator, but the leaders of the armies in different regions refused their consent. Of these, Septimius Severus (193-211) made his way to the throne, and put down his rivals. The empire became a military despotism. A garrison of forty thousand troops, the prefect of whom was in power second only to the sovereign, took the place of the old praetorians. Severus was a good general. In a war against the Parthians, he captured Ctesiphon, their capital. Caracalla, his son (211-217), was a base tyrant. He was murdered by the praetorian prefect, Macrinus, who reigned for a short time (217-218), but perished in consequence of his attempts to reform the discipline of the army. Heliogabalus (218-222) was not more cruel than others had been, but his gross and shameless debauchery was without a precedent.
POWER OF THE PROVINCES: DISCORD.—In the reign of Caracalla is placed the Edict which gave the rights of citizenship to all the free inhabitants of the Roman Empire. The provinces had been steadily rising in power and influence. At Rome, among officials of the highest grade, as well as in the higher professions, there was a throng of provincials. The provinces were disposed to nominate emperors of their own. It was hard for the central authority to keep under control the frontier armies. To add to these sources of division, there was a growing jealousy between the East and West, owing to a difference in language, ideas, and interests. Persia was soon to threaten the empire on the East, and Gothic barbarians to invade its territories.
ALEXANDER SEVERUS: PERSIA.—Alexander Severus (222-235) was a man of pure morals, and sincerely disposed to remedy abuses and to govern well. But the evils were too great for the moderate degree of vigor with which he was endowed. The overthrow of the Parthian kingdom, in 226, created, in the New Persian Monarchy, a formidable enemy to Rome. Alexander did little more than check the advance of Persia. In a war against the Germans, he was slain by his own soldiers.
TO DECIUS (A.D. 249).—The fierce and brutal Maximin, who had excited the soldiers of Alexander Severus to mutiny, reigned from 235 to 238. The Senate roused itself to resist his advance into Italy; and he, and his son with him, were killed in his tent by his soldiers. Gordian (238-244) at least held the frontier against the attacks of the Persians. Philip, an Arabian, probably a Roman colonist, after reigning from 244 to 249, was supplanted by Decius, whom his rebellious Moesian and Pannonian soldiers raised to power.
DECIUS TO CLAUDIUS (A.D. 250-268).—The short reign of Decius was marked by the first general persecution of the Christian Church. During his reign, the Goths (A.D. 250) invaded the empire. They traversed Dacia, and crossed the Danube. They ravaged Moesia, and even made their way into Thrace. Decius was defeated by them in Moesia, and slain. The peril of the empire continually increased. The German tribes on the north, the Goths on the Lower Danube and the Euxine, and Persia in the east, arrayed themselves in hostility.
The reigns of Valerian (253-260) and of his associate and successor, Gallienus (260-268), were marked by continuous disaster. Numerous independent rulers—"the thirty tyrants"—established themselves, generally for a very short time, in different regions. In the East, one kingdom, the capital of which was Palmyra, and which had for a ruler Zenobia, the widow of its founder, lasted for ten years (264-273). The Goths occupied Dacia, and from the Cimmerian Bosphorus sent out their predatory expeditions in all directions, plundering cities, including Athens and Corinth, and carrying off immense booty to their homes south of the Danube. The Persians conquered Armenia, took Valerian prisoner, advanced into Syria, and burned Antioch.
TO DIOCLETIAN (A.D. 284).—It would seem as if the Roman empire was on the verge of dissolution. But a series of vigorous emperors—among them Claudius (268-270) and Aurelian (270-275)—quelled rebellion within its borders, and re-established its boundaries; although Aurelian gave up to the Goths Dacia, which had been of no benefit to the empire. Probus (276-282) was a prudent as well as valiant ruler. Carus (282-283) invaded Persia, captured Seleucia and Ctesiphon, and might, perhaps, have completed the conquest of the country, but for his death. Numerianus (283-284) was the last in the succession of rulers during this period of military control, of which the corruption of the army was the worst result.
II. THE ABSOLUTE MONARCHY (TO A.D. 375).
DIOCLETIAN.—Once more the gigantic and weakened frame of the Roman Empire was invigorated by a change in the character of the chief rulers and in the method of government. Diocletian (284-305), one of a number of energetic emperors who were of Illyrian birth, first stripped the imperial office of its limitations, and converted it into an absolute monarchy. This new system was carried to its completion by Constantine. Diocletian took from the Senate what political jurisdiction was left to it. He abolished the difference between the treasury of the state and the private coffers of the prince. The precedence of Rome was taken away by making other great cities to be seats of government. There were to be two emperors under the title of Augustus, with two Caesars under them; and thus the empire was divided, for administrative purposes, into four parts. Maximian, the second Augustus, was to rule over Italy, Africa, and the islands, with Milan for his residence. Constantius Chlorus had the western provinces, —Spain, Gaul, and Britain. At Nicomedia, Diocletian, a man of imposing presence and of great talents as a statesman, exercised rule for twenty years with efficiency and success. The new system, if it involved the peril of strife among the regents, led to a more vigilant and efficient government in the different provinces, and provided for a peaceful succession to the throne. But the government came to resemble, in the omnipotence of the emperor, in the obsequious homage paid to him, and in the cringing manners of the court, an Oriental despotism. The old heathen religion was considered by conservative Romans to be an essential part of the imperial system, and indispensable to the unity of the empire. It was this view, in connection with other influences, which moved Diocletian, near the close of his reign, in 303, to set on foot a systematic persecution of the Christian Church, by a series of extremely severe and well-contrived measures, through which it was designed to extirpate the new religion. The last great persecution, in the reign of Decius, cruel though it had been, did not approach in severity this final effort to exterminate the disciples of the Christian faith, who had now become very numerous. Terrible sufferings were inflicted, but without avail. In 305 Diocletian, partly on account of a serious illness, formally abdicated, and obliged Maximian to do the same. Civil wars followed, until Constantine, the son of Constantius, gained the supremacy, first as joint ruler with Licinius, who governed in the East, and then, after a bloody struggle which began in A.D. 314, as sole master of the empire (A.D. 323).
CONSTANTINE (A.D. 306-337).—The career of Constantine was stained by acts of cruelty towards members of his own family. In the closing period of his life, he was less just and humane than in earlier days. The change which had taken place in the imperial system was signally manifest in his removal of the seat of government to CONSTANTINOPLE, which was built up by him, and named in his honor. Placed between Europe and Asia, on a tongue of land where it was protected from assault, it was admirably suited for a metropolis. But the change of capital involved dangers for the western portions of the empire, exposed as they were to the assaults of the barbarians. The changes in the government begun by Diocletian were completed by Constantine. The empire was divided, for purposes of government, into four prefectures, each of which was subdivided into dioceses. Constantine established, likewise, different classes of nobles, the type of modern systems of nobility. He organized the army afresh, under the Master of the Horse and Master of the Foot, each, however, commanding, in action, both infantry and cavalry, and each having under him dukes and counts. In short, the system of central and despotic administration, with subordinate rulers, which Diocletian began, was perfected by Constantine. Diocletian, in order to fortify the imperial power against the army, had shared his power with "a cabinet of emperors," which his genius enabled him to control. To prevent the breaking up of the empire through the system of viceroys thus created to preserve it, Constantine separated the civil authority from the military as regards the subordinate rulers, while both functions were united in himself. He still further exalted his throne by giving it even more of an Oriental character, by creating a multitude of officials, who were satellites of the sovereign, and by becoming the secular head and guardian of the Christian Church. The arrangements of his court, with its grades of officials, from the chamberlain downwards, were after the Oriental pattern.
THE DOWNFALL OF HEATHENISM.
PROGRESS OF CHRISTIANITY.—The failure of the grand attempt of Diocletian to exterminate Christianity was an indication of its coming triumph. Its progress had been gradual yet rapid, and, in its earlier stages especially, obscure. Of the labors of most of the apostles we know little. On the approach of the Jewish war (p. 180), the Apostle John, and other Christians with him, had repaired to Asia Minor. There, at Ephesus, this apostle lived until the reign of Trajan, and from that center exerted a wide influence, the traces of which are marked and various. The cities were the principal scenes of early missionary work. They were the "strategic points." In them it was easier for Christian preachers to gain a hearing, and in them they were exempt from the hindrance created by strange dialects. Wherever Christians went, even for purposes of trade or mechanical industry, they carried the seeds of the new doctrine. Even with regard to the churches of Alexandria and Carthage, which became so flourishing, and in the case of the church at Rome itself, we can not say how they were first planted. The exultant terms in which the ecclesiastical writers at the end, and even as early as the middle, of the second century speak of the increasing number of the converts, proves that the Christian cause was fast gaining ground. Its adherents were sometimes of the higher class, but mostly from the ranks of the poor.
PERSECUTIONS.—Persecution from the side of the heathen began among the populace. Always when fire, tempest, or plague occurred, they were ascribed to the wrath of the heathen gods at the desertion of their altars, and the cry was for Christian blood. But Christianity, from the time of Trajan, was an illegal religion. Magistrates might at any time require Christians to do homage to the emperor's bust, or to burn incense to the old divinities. To make a proselyte of a Roman citizen, or to meet in private companies for worship, was unlawful. The persecutions by public authority have been said to be ten; but this number is too small if all of them are reckoned, and too large if only those of wide extent are included. The constancy with which even young women and children sometimes endured the torture, excited wonder in the beholders. Among the more noted martyrs are Ignatius, bishop of Antioch (116); Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, who had been a pupil of the Apostle John, and was put to death in 155; and Cyprian, the aged bishop of Carthage, one of the leading ecclesiastics of the time, who suffered under Valerian in 258.
THE CHURCH UNDER CONSTANTINE.—The accession of Constantine made Christianity the predominant religion in the Roman Empire. His conversion was gradual. More and more he came to rely for support in his conflicts with his rivals upon the God of the Christians. The sign of the cross, which he said that he beheld in the sky, and which led him to make the cross his standard, may have been an optical illusion occasioned partly by his own mental state at the moment, when, after prayer, he was standing at noon-day in the door of his tent. He remained, like many others in that day, not without relics of the old beliefs, as is seen from inscriptions on his coins, and other evidences. His own baptism he deferred until he was near his end, on account of the prevalent idea that all previous guilt is effaced in the baptismal water. The edict of unrestricted toleration was issued from Milan in 312. Constantine did not proscribe heathenism. He forbade immoral rites, and rites connected with magic and sorcery. But, with this exception, heathen worshipers were not molested. But the emperor gave his zealous personal countenance to the Christian cause, and marks of his favor to its adherents. By the privileges and immunities which he granted to the Church and its ministers, he did more than he would have been likely to effect by the use of severity against its adversaries. ORGANIZATION OF THE CHURCH.—The early Christian societies were little republics, at first under the supervision of the apostles. Their organization shaped itself partly after the model of the synagogue, and partly from the pattern of the civil communities and the voluntary associations about them. In the apostolic age a body of elders or bishops and a body of deacons in each church guided its affairs, while the members took an active part in the choice of their officers, and in the general direction of ecclesiastical proceedings. In the second century, when we get a distinct view of the churches after the obscure interval that follows the age of the apostles, we find that over the elders is a bishop, whose office grows in importance as the churches become larger, as the need of more compact organization is felt, and as the clergy become more and more distinct from the laity. The bishop of the city church acquires jurisdiction over the adjacent country churches. The bishop in the capital of each province comes to exercise a certain superintendence within the province. This is the metropolitan system. More and more the bishops of the great cities, especially Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch, exercise a parallel supervision in larger divisions of the empire. This is the patriarchal system. As early as the closing part of the second century, the catholic or universal church presents itself before us, conceived of as a unity which is made such by the hierarchy of bishops, and by connection with the apostolic sees,—the churches founded by the apostles in person. As the apostles were thought of as having a head in Peter, the bishops of Rome, who were looked on as his successors, had accorded to them a precedence over other bishops. The grandeur of Rome, the strength of the church there, its services to other churches in the empire, especially in the West, together with many other considerations additional to its alleged historic relation to Peter and to Paul, gave to the Roman See, as time went on, a growing and acknowledged pre-eminence. The custom of holding synods helped to build up the unity of the Church, and to give power and dignity to its officials.
SECTS: THEOLOGY.—The Church from the beginning had to contend with opposing sects. There was a desire to amalgamate the Christian doctrine with other systems. On the Jewish side, the Ebionites clung to the Old Testament ritual observances, a part of them being bitterly hostile to the Apostle Paul, and another part, the Nazareans, not sharing this fanatical feeling, but still adhering to the Jewish ceremonies. On the other hand, the Gnostics introduced a dualism, and ascribed to the Demiurge—a second deity, either subordinate to the supreme God, or antagonistic to him—the origination of this world and of the Old Testament religion. They made a compound of Christianity, Judaism, and heathen religion and speculation, each Gnostic sect giving to one or the other of these ingredients the preponderance in the strange and often fantastic medley. The controversy with heathenism was prosecuted with the pen. Of the numerous defenses of Christianity, now addressed to heathen rulers and now to its opponents in private stations, the most remarkable work in the first three centuries was the writing of Origen—who was the most eminent of the teachers of theology at Alexandria—in reply to Celsus. Origen, after scholarly labors so vast as to earn for him the title of the Adamantine, died in 254, in consequence of his sufferings in the Diocletian persecution. Two defenses of the Christian faith, composed about the middle of the second century by Justin Martyr, are specially instructive as to the state of Christian opinion and the customs of the Church. The first great center of theological activity was Alexandria, where philosophy was studied in a liberal spirit. In the East, the questions relative to the divinity of Jesus and the relation of the divine to the human nature, engrossed attention. In the West, it was the practical aspects of theology, the doctrine of sin and of the deliverance of the will by grace, which were chiefly discussed. The Arian controversy grew out of the assertion by Arius, a presbyter of Alexandria, that Jesus was the first-made of all beings, the instrument of the creation of all other beings, but himself a creature. The leader of the orthodox opposition to this opinion was the famous Alexandrian archdeacon, afterwards bishop, Athanasius. This debate it was which led to the assembling, under the auspices of Constantine, of the Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325), the first of a series of General Councils, for the adjudication of doctrinal disputes, that were held in this and the following centuries. The Arian doctrine was condemned at Nicaea, and, after a long contest in the period subsequent, was finally determined to be heretical. In the West, the main controversy was that raised by Pelagius, respecting the power of the will, the native character of men, and the agency of God in their conversion. In this debate, Augustine (354-430), the most eminent theologian of the West, bishop of Hippo in North Africa, was the renowned champion of the doctrine of grace against what he considered an exaggerated assertion of free-will. Pelagianism was condemned in the West, and nominally in the East where views intermediate between the Pelagians and Augustinians commonly prevailed. The most eminent scholar contemporary with Augustine was Jerome, who died in 420, the author of the Latin version of the Scriptures, called the Vulgate. Preceding Augustine in North Africa, early in the third century, was Tertullian, a vigorous and fervid writer, who first made Latin the vehicle of theological discussion; and, a little later, Cyprian, whose works relate chiefly to church unity and hierarchical government, of which he was a devoted champion. Late in the second century, Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons in Gaul, one of the most eminent ecclesiastics of that day, composed an elaborate work against the Gnostic heresies. Irenaeus had known Polycarp, a disciple of John the apostle.
CHRISTIAN LIFE.—Passing within the sphere of Christian life, there can be no doubt that Christianity exerted a power, of which there had been no experience before, in reforming the character and conduct of those even who had been addicted to crime and vice. The fraternal feeling of Christians for one another impressed the heathen about them as something new and singularly attractive. It expressed itself in unstinted charity for those in poverty, and in helpfulness for all sorts of distress. The church was a home for the weary and friendless. In the strong reaction against the sensuality of a dissolute society, ascetic tendencies appeared, which, in process of time, issued in monasticism. Anthony of Thebes, born about 250, was one of the earliest and most celebrated of the Anchorites, who chose a hermit life, and abjured all the luxuries of life and most of the comforts which belong to social existence. To the Anchorites succeeded the Caenobites, societies of monks who dwelt in a common habitation under fixed rules; and these were naturally followed by confederacies of such communities under one organization. The monastic vows were poverty, or the renunciation of property; celibacy, or abstinence from marriage; and obedience to the conventual superior. Sometimes in the early centuries great evils and abuses sprang up in connection with monastic life. For example, monks might become fanatical and violent. But they furnished numerous examples of sincere piety, and of unselfish and intrepid self-sacrifice for the welfare of others.
CHANGES IN WORSHIP.—As the Church grew in numbers and wealth, costly edifices were constructed for worship. The services within them became more elaborate. At length art was called in to adorn the Christian sanctuaries. Sculpture and painting were enlisted in the work of providing aids to devotion. Relics of saints and martyrs were cherished as sacred possessions. Religious observances were multiplied; and the Church, under the Christian emperors, with its array of clergy and of imposing ceremonies, assumed much of the stateliness and visible splendor that had belonged to the heathen system which it had supplanted.
LAST DAYS OF HEATHENISM.—When Christianity had become powerful, its disciples forgot the precepts of their Master, and sometimes persecuted the heathen. Christian mobs demolished the old temples. The great temple of Serapis in Alexandria was destroyed, and the statue of the god was broken in pieces. Theodosius I. (379-395) made the celebration of heathen rites a capital offense, and confiscated the property by which heathen worship had been supported. Arians, too, he persecuted, but with less harshness. The Eastern emperor, Justinian, suppressed the school of New Platonic philosophers at Athens, and banished the teachers (529). Heathenism lingered in remote districts, and was hence called paganism, or the religion of rustics. The last adherents of the ancient religion inhabited in the seventh century remote valleys of the Italian islands. The oracles were for ever dumb. The old divinities were never more to be invoked. But it was not by force that heathenism was extirpated. If it had not lost its vitality, it would have survived the penal laws against it. It perished by the expulsive energy of a better faith.
CAUSES OF THE TRIUMPH OF CHRISTIANITY.—The causes of the spread and triumph of Christianity lie ultimately in the need which men feel of religion, especially in times of dread and distress, and in the intrinsic excellence which was felt to belong to Christianity. In the first and second centuries the dreary feeling engendered by the hollow skepticism that prevailed was favorable to the Christian cause. There was a void to be filled, and the gospel came to fill it. In the third century, when the progress of Christianity was specially rapid, there was a perceptible revival of religious feeling among the heathen; and this, too, operated to the advantage of the gospel. At least it must have done so in numerous instances. In that century the terrible plagues which desolated the empire, with the sufferings that sprung from wild anarchy and misgovernment, made the church a welcome asylum for the afflicted. In the first place, Christianity was a religion. It was neither a merely speculative nor a merely moral system. It took hold of the supernatural. Secondly, it presented to a corrupt society a moral ideal of spotless perfection. Thirdly, it offered, in the doctrine of the cross, a welcome solace,—consolation in life, with a sense of reconciliation, and the hope of everlasting good. Other causes, such as Gibbon enumerates, were operative. But these are themselves mostly effects or aspects of the gospel; or they were auxiliary, not principal, causes.
CHRISTIANITY AND LIBERTY.—The founders of Christianity had no thought of becoming the authors of a political revolution. They had a very different purpose in view. To overthrow the existing order of society would have been equally unwise and impracticable. What was needed was a new spirit of justice and of love. The virtues that were called for then were the passive virtues,—gentleness, forbearance, the calm endurance of ills of which there was no present remedy. The Christian spirit, therefore, did not evoke in the disciples of the new faith sentiments of liberty akin to those which had belonged to Greek and Roman heroes. Indirectly, however, Christianity brought into human society the germs of liberty. In the first place, while it enjoined absolute submission to rulers, it made an exception whenever their commands should require disobedience to God's law. This position involved the denial to the state of that absolute supremacy accorded to it by the ancients. The allegiance to the state became a qualified allegiance. Secondly, there arose within the state another community, which took into its hands, to a large extent, the regulation of social life. The boundaries of the two authorities might be indistinct, but there was a real division of control between them. It is true that tyranny might arise within the Christian organization itself: still, its very existence planted on the earth a principle of liberty, which was destined ultimately to work out the destruction of all tyranny, whether civil or religious. For the first time the rulers of the Roman world were faced by an opposition, meek yet too inflexible for all their power to overcome. This is the first stage in the history of modern liberty. The "heroic and invincible Athanasius" as Milton styles him, boldly confronted Constantine and his successors, and chose to spend twenty years of his life in voluntary or enforced exile rather than bow to their tyrannical decrees. Ambrose, the great archbishop of Milan, compelled the Emperor Theodosius—who, in a fit of anger had ordered a massacre at Thessalonica—to do penance before he could be admitted to the communion. Such occurrences indicate that the days of imperial omnipotence, even over unarmed subjects, were past.
SUCCESSORS OF CONSTANTINE.—Constantine left his empire to his three unworthy sons. Constantine, the eldest, had the Western provinces for his share. He endeavored to wrest Italy from his brother Constans, but was slain at Aquileia (340). This event left Constans the master of the entire West. He took up his abode in Gaul, where he was slain by Magnentius, the leader of a mutinous body of soldiers (350). Constantius was at Edessa, engaged in war against the Persians. He marched westward, and routed Magnentius at Mursia, in Pannonia. This rival fled to Gaul, and was there attacked and destroyed. Gallus, the cousin of Constantius, was put to death for the murder of one of the emperor's officers (354). Julian, the brother of Gallus, was the sole remaining survivor of the family from which the emperor sprung. Constantius, under whom the whole empire was now for a few years (357-361) united, made a triumphal visit to Rome. He was the defender of the Arians, but he found it impossible to coerce the Roman Christians into the adoption of his opinion. The orthodox bishop whom he had banished, was restored. Constantius was succeeded by his cousin Julian (361-363), commonly called the Apostate. Fascinated by the heathen philosophy, and a secret convert to the old religion, he
THE IMPERIAL HOUSE OF CONSTANTINE.
CONSTANTIUS CHLORUS, m. 1, Helena; + CONSTANTINE I (the Great) m. 1, Minervina; 2, Fausta + CONSTANTINE II. + CONSTANTIUS II. + Constantia, m. GRATIAN. + CONSTANS. + CONSTANTIA, m. 1, Hannibalianus; 2, GALLUS. + HELENA, m. JULIAN.
2, Theodora. + Constantius, m. 1, Galla; 2, Basilina. + GALLUS m. Constantia, widow of Hannibalianus. + JULIAN m. Helena, daughter of Constantine I. + Constantia, m. LICINIUS.
proved that its vitality was gone, by his ineffectual exertions to rescue it, and restore its predominance. He was not without merits as a ruler. He looked out for the impartial administration of justice: he revived discipline and a military spirit in the army, and sought to infuse a better spirit into the civil administration. While he avoided cruel persecution, he directed all his personal efforts to the weakening of the Christian cause. Julian led an expedition against the Persians. He sailed down the Euphrates to Circesium, and thence proceeded into the interior of Persia. He repulsed the enemy, but was slain while engaged in the pursuit. The soldiers on the field of battle chose one of his officers, Jovian (363-364), who was a Christian, to be his successor. He conducted the retreat of the army. His reign lasted for only seven months. He showed no intolerance either towards Pagans or Arians, but he gave back to Christianity its former position. The army next chose Valentinian I. (364-375), the son of a Pannonian warrior, who associated with him, as emperor in the East, his brother Valens (364-378). Valens ruled from Constantinople. Valentinian fixed his court at Milan, and sometimes at Treves. He was an unlettered soldier, but strict and energetic in the government of the state, as well as of the army. His time was mostly spent in conflict with the barbarians on the northern frontiers. He carried forward this contest with vigor on the Rhine and on the Danube. He trained up his son Gratian to be his successor. The great event of the reign of Valens was the irruption of the Huns into Europe, and the consequent invasion of the Goths, by whom Valens was defeated and slain in 378. Several emperors followed, until, on the death of Theodosius I., (the Great) (395), the Roman Empire was divided. In 476, after successive invasions of barbarians had disorganized the western part of the Empire, the line of phantom emperors at Rome came to an end. The fourth century, in which these invasions—which overthrew the Western Empire, and transferred power to new races—occurred, forms the era of transition from ancient to mediaeval history.
LITERATURE.—The general works on Ancient History (p. 16). On Roman History as a whole: MERIVALE'S General History of Rome (from 753 B.C. to A.D. 476: 1 vol.); DURUY, History of Rome, etc. (8 vols., 410); Waegner, Rom, etc. (3 vols.); Allen, A Short Story of the Roman People; FREEMAN, Outlines of Roman History.
On the Roman Republic: MOMMSEN, The History of Rome (4 vols.); LIDDELL, A History of Rome, etc. (1 vol.); IHNE, The History of Rome (Eng. trans., 3 vols.); Michelet, History of the Roman Republic (1 vol., 12mo); Schwegler, Roemishce Geschichte (4 vols); How and Leigh, A History of Rome; Shuckburgh, A History of Rome.
On the Roman Empire: MERIVALE, History of the Romans under the Empire (7 vols ); Seeley, Roman Imperialism [three Lectures]; MOMMSEN, The Provinces (5th volume of his History, 1885); Bury, Students' Roman Empire; Bury, Later Roman Empire (2 vols.).
On special periods: IHNE, Early Rome (1 vol.); T. Arnold, History of Rome (3 vols; reaches into the second Punic war); Long, The Decline of the Roman Republic (5 vols.); R. B. Smith, Rome and Carthage; MERIVALE, The Roman Triumvirates; T Arnold, History of the Later Roman Commonwealth (2 vols.); GIBBON, History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Smith's edition); FINLAY, A History of Greece from the Conquest of the Romans to the Present Time (7 vols.); Dill, Roman Society (5th century).
Trollope, Life of Cicero (2 vols.); FORSYTH, Life of Cicero (2 vols.); Middleton's Life of Cicero; Froude, Life of Caesar (1 vol.); Boissier, Ciceron et ses Amis (1 vol., 12mo).
Treatises: Taylor, Const, and Polit. History of Rome; KUHN, Verfassung d. Roemischen Staedte; GUHL AND KOeNER, Life of the Greeks and Romans; Marquardt, Handbuch d. Roemischen Alterthuemer (7 vols.); BECKER, Gallus (an archaeological novel); Abbott, Roman Political Institutions; Greenidge, Roman Public Life; Preston and Dodge, Private Life of the Romans; Madvig, Verfassung und Verwaltung des Roem Staates (2 vols.); Lanciani (Ancient Rome, and others); Burn, Rome and the Campagna; ZIEGLER, Das alte Rom; Smith and Wace's Dictionary of Christian Biography; Smith and Cheatham's Dictionary of Christian Antiquities; FRIEDLAeNDER, Sittengeschichte Roms (2 vols.); Histories of Roman Literature by Simcox. Cruttwell, SCHMITZ, Teuffel. Mac-Kail, Fowler.
On Early Christianity: The Lives of Jesus, by NEANDER, WEISS, Farrar, Edersheim, Andrews. Neander's Planting and Training of the Church. Works on the Life of St. Paul, by CONYBEARE AND HOWSON, by Lewins, by Farrar. Fisher's The Beginnings of Christianity; Pressense, Early Days of Christianity. Church Histories of NEANDER, GIESELER, SCHAFF, Robertson, HASE, Kurtz, ALZOG. UHLHORN, Christian Charity in the Ancient Church; Ramsay, The Church and the Roman Empire, before 170 A.D.
Reber, History of Ancient Art; Wickoff, Roman Art; see Dictionaries, p. 122.
PART II. MEDIAEVAL HISTORY.
CHARACTER OF THE MIDDLE AGES.—The middle ages include the long interval between the first general irruption of the Teutonic nations towards the close of the fourth century, to the middle of the fifteenth century, when the modern era, with a distinctive character of its own, began. Two striking features are observed in the mediaeval era. First, there was a mingling of the conquering Germanic nations with the peoples previously making up the Roman Empire, and a consequent effect produced upon both. The Teutonic tribes modified essentially the old society. On the other hand, there was a reaction of Roman civilization upon them. The conquered became the teachers and civilizers of the conquerors. Secondly, the Christian Church, which outlived the wreck of the empire, and was almost the sole remaining bond of social unity, not only educated the new nations, but regulated and guided them, to a large extent, in secular as well as religious affairs. Thus out of chaos, Christendom arose, a single homogeneous society of peoples. It was in the middle ages that the pontifical authority reached its full stature. The Holy See exercised the lofty function of arbiter among contending nations, and of leadership in great public movements, like the Crusades. Civil authority and ecclesiastical authority, emperors and popes, were engaged in a long conflict for predominance. Thus there are three elements which form the essential factors in Mediaeval History,-the Barbarian element, the Roman element, with its law and civil polity, and with what was left of ancient arts and culture, and the Christian, or Ecclesiastical, element. As we approach the close of the mediaeval era, a signal change occurs. The nations begin to acquire a more defined individuality; the superintendence of the church in civil affairs is more and more renounced or relinquished; there dawns a new era of invention and discovery, of culture and reform.
PERIOD I. FROM THE MIGRATIONS OF THE TEUTONIC TRIBES TO THE CARLOVINGIAN LINE OF FRANK RULERS. (A.D. 375-751.)
CHAPTER I. CAUSES OF THE FALL OF THE WESTERN EMPIRE: THE TEUTONIC CONFEDERACIES.
GRADUAL OVERTHROW OF THE EMPIRE.—When we speak of the destruction of the Roman Empire by the barbarians, we must not imagine that it was sudden, as by an earthquake. It was gradual. Had the empire not been undermined from within, it would not have been overthrown from without. The Roman armies were recruited by bringing numerous barbarians into the ranks. At length whole tribes were suffered to form permanent settlements within the boundaries of the empire. A "king" with his entire tribe would engage to do military service in exchange for lands. More and more both the wealth and the weakness of Rome were exposed to the gaze of the Germanic nations. Their cupidity was aroused as their power increased. Meantime the barbarians were learning from their employers the art of war, and were gaining soldierly discipline. Their brave warriors rose to places of command. They made and unmade the rulers, and finally became rulers themselves. Another important circumstance is, that most of the Germanic tribes were converts to Christianity before they made their attacks and subverted the throne of the Caesars. In fine, there was a long preparation for the great onset of the barbarian peoples in the fifth century.
CAUSES OF THE FALL OF THE EMPIRE.—But the success of the barbarian invasions presupposes an internal decay in the empire. It was one symptom of a conscious decline, that the conquering spirit was chilled, and the policy was adopted of fixing the limits of the Roman dominion at the Rhine and the Danube. Rome now stood on the defensive. The great service of the imperial government, for which it was most valued, was to protect the frontiers. This partly accounts for the consternation of Augustus, when, in the forests of Germany, the legions of Varus were destroyed (p. 172). The essential fact is, that Rome became unable to keep up the strength of its armies. First, there were lacking the men to fill up the legions. The civil wars had reduced the population in Italy and in other countries. The efforts of Augustus to encourage marriage by bounties proved of little avail. Secondly, the class of independent Italian yeomen, which had made up the bone and sinew of the Roman armies, passed away. Slavery supplanted free labor. Thirdly, in the third century terrible plagues swept over the empire. In 166 a frightful pestilence broke out, from which, according to Niebuhr, the ancient world never recovered. It was only the first in a series of like appalling visitations. Fourthly, the death of liberty carried after it a loss of the virtue, the virile energy, by which Rome had won her supremacy. Fifthly, the new imperial system, after Diocletian, effective as it was for maintaining an orderly administration, drained the resources of the people. The municipal government in each town was put into the hands of curiales, or the owners of a certain number of acres. They were made responsible for the taxes, which were levied in a gross amount upon the town. The fiscus, or financial administration of the empire, was so managed that the civil offices became an intolerable burden to those who held them. Yet it was a burden from which there was no escape. One result was, that, while slaves were often made coloni,—that is, tillers or tenants, sharing with the owner the profits of tillage,—and thus had their condition improved, many freeholders sank to the same grade, which was a kind of serfdom. When to the exhausting taxation by government, there were added the disposition of large proprietors to despoil the poorer class of landholders, and from time to time the predatory incursions of barbarians, the small supply of Roman legionaries is easily accounted for.
THREE RACES OF BARBARIANS.—While the empire, as regards the power of self-defense, was sinking, the barbarians were not only profiting by the military skill and experience of the Romans, but were forming military unions among their several tribes. In the East, there was one civilized kingdom, Persia, the successor of the Parthian kingdom, but not powerful enough to be a rival,—certainly not in an aggressive contest. But northward and northeast of the Roman boundaries, there stretched "a vague and unexplored waste of barbarism," "a vast, dimly-known chaos of numberless barbarous tongues and savage races." A commotion among these numerous tribes, the uncounted multitudes spreading far into the plain of Central Asia, had begun as early as the days of Julius Caesar. They were made up of three races,—the Teutons, or Germanic peoples; eastward of them, the Slavonians; and, farther beyond, the Asiatic Scythians. The Slavonians, an Aryan branch, like the Teutons, had their abodes in the space between Germany and the Volga. They were a pastoral and an agricultural race, of whose religion little is known. Their incursions and settlements belong to the sixth and seventh centuries, and to the history of the Eastern Empire.
TEUTONIC CONFEDERACIES.—Of the confederacies of German tribes, the Goths are first to be mentioned. In the third century they had spread over the immense territory between the Baltic and the Black seas. They were divided into the West Goths (Visigoths) and East Goths (Ostrogoths). Their force was augmented by the junction of kindred tribes. To the east of them, towards the Don, was a tribe of mixed race, the Alani. In the third century the Goths had made their terrible inroads into Maesia and Thrace, and the brave emperor Decius had perished in the combat with them. They had pushed their marauding excursions as far as the coasts of Greece and Ionia. In the middle of the fourth century they were united, with their allied tribes, under the sovereignty of the East Gothic chieftain, Hermanric. A second league of Germanic peoples was the Alemanni, which included the formidable tribes called by Caesar the Suevi, and who, after various incursions, had established themselves on the Upper Rhine, in what is now Baden, Wuertemberg, and north-east in Switzerland, and in the region southward to the summits of the Alps. Their invasion of Italy in 255, when they poured through the passes of the Rhetian Alps, and penetrated as far as Ravenna, was repelled by Aurelian, afterwards emperor. A third confederacy was that of the Franks (or Freemen) on the Lower Rhine and the Weser. In North Germany, between the Elbe and the Rhine, were the Saxons. The Burgundians, between the Saxons and the Alemanni, made their way to the same river near Worms. East of the Franks and Saxons, were the valiant Lombards, who made their way southwards to the center of Europe, and finally to the Danube. The Frisians were situated on the shore of the North Sea and in the adjacent islands. North of the Saxons were the Danes and other peoples of Scandinavia,—Teutons all, but a separate branch of the Teutonic household. To bold and warlike tribes, now banded together, such as were the Franks and the Alemanni, the Rhine, with its line of Roman cities and fortresses, could form no permanent barrier. When they crossed it, they might be driven back; but this was only to renew their expeditions at the first favorable moment. The prey which they saw near by, and of which they dreamed in the distance, was too enticing. No more could the Danube fence off the thronging nations; all of whom had heard, and some of whom had beheld, the wealth and luxury of the civilized lands.
Beginning at the Euxine, and moving westward along the line of the Danube and the Rhine, we find, at the end of the fourth century, that the six most prominent names of Teutonic tribes are the Goths, Vandals, Burgundians, Franks, Saxons, and Lombards. Over the vast plains to the south and west of the Caspian are spread the Huns, who belong to one branch of the Scythian or Turanian group of nations.
HABITS OF THE GERMANS.—We have notices of the Germans from Julius Caesar, the most full description of them in the Germania of Tacitus. They were tall and robust, and seemed to the Romans, who were of smaller stature, as giants. Tacitus speaks of their "fiercely blue eyes." They lived in huts made of wood, and containing the cattle as well as the family. They tilled the soil, but their favorite employments were war and the chase. Capable of cruelty, they were still of a kindly temper, and fond of feasts and social gatherings, where they were apt to indulge in excessive drinking and in gambling. They were brave, and not without a delicate sense of honor. Family ties were sacred. The women were chaste, and were companions of their husbands, although subject to them. Most of the people were freemen, who were land-owners, and carried arms. The nobles were those of higher birth, but with no special privileges. The freemen owned slaves, who were either criminals or persons who had lost their freedom in gaming or prisoners of war. There were also freedmen or leti, who held land of a superior. Many freedmen lived apart, but many were gathered in villages. The land about a village was originally held in common. Each village had a chief, and each collection of villages, or hundred, possessed a chief of high rank; and there was a "king," or head of the tribe. All these chieftains were elected by the freemen at assemblies periodically held. When the duke or general was chosen, he was raised on a shield on the shoulders of the men. The judges in the trial of causes sat, with assessors or jurymen around them, in the open air. But private injuries were avenged by the individual or by his family. One marked characteristic of the Germans was the habit of devoting themselves to the service of a military leader. They paid to him personal allegiance, and followed him in war. The Germans were, above all, distinguished by a strong sense of personal independence. If their mode of living resembled outwardly that of other savage races, yet in their free political life, and in the noble promise of their language even in its rudiments, the comparison does not hold. In their faithfulness, courage, and personal purity, they are emphatically contrasted with the generality of barbarous peoples.