The History of Rome (Volumes 1-5)
by Theodor Mommsen
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Inland Intercourse in Italy

Respecting the internal intercourse of the Italians with each other our written authorities are silent; coins alone furnish some information. We have already mentioned(28) that in Italy, with the exception of the Greek cities and of the Etruscan Populonia, there was no coinage during the first three centuries of Rome, and that cattle in the first instance, and subsequently copper by weight, served as the medium of exchange. Within the present epoch occurred the transition on the part of the Italians from the system of barter to that of money; and in their money they were naturally led at first to Greek models. The circumstances of central Italy led however to the adoption of copper instead of silver as the metal for their coinage, and the unit of coinage was primarily based on the previous unit of value, the copper pound; hence they cast their coins instead of stamping them, for no die would have sufficed for pieces so large and heavy. Yet there seems from the first to have been a fixed ratio for the relative value of copper and silver (250:1), and with reference to that ratio the copper coinage seems to have been issued; so that, for example, in Rome the large copper piece, the -as-, was equal in value to a scruple (1/288 of a pound) of silver. It is a circumstance historically more remarkable, that coining in Italy most probably originated in Rome, and in fact with the decemvirs, who found in the Solonian legislation a pattern for the regulation of their coinage; and that from Rome it spread over a number of Latin, Etruscan, Umbrian, and east-Italian communities, —a clear proof of the superior position which Rome from the beginning of the fourth century held in Italy. As all these communities subsisted side by side in formal independence, legally the monetary standard was entirely local, and the territory of every city had its own monetary system. Nevertheless the standards of copper coinage in central and northern Italy may be comprehended in three groups, within which the coins in common intercourse seem to have been treated as homogeneous. These groups are, first, the coins of the cities of Etruria lying north of the Ciminian Forest and those of Umbria; secondly, the coins of Rome and Latium; and lastly, those of the eastern seaboard. We have already observed that the Roman coins held a certain ratio to silver by weight; on the other hand we find those of the east coast of Italy placed in a definite proportional relation to the silver coins which were current from an early period in southern Italy, and the standard of which was adopted by the Italian immigrants, such as the Bruttians, Lucanians, and Nolans, by the Latin colonies in that quarter, such as Cales and Suessa, and even by the Romans themselves for their possessions in Lower Italy. Accordingly the inland traffic of Italy must have been divided into corresponding provinces, which dealt with one another like foreign nations.

In transmarine commerce the relations we have previously described(29) between Sicily and Latium, Etruria and Attica, the Adriatic and Tarentum, continued to subsist during the epoch before us or rather, strictly speaking, belonged to it; for although facts of this class, which as a rule are mentioned without a date, have been placed together for the purpose of presenting a general view under the first period, the statements made apply equally to the present. The clearest evidence in this respect is, of course, that of the coins. As the striking of Etruscan silver money after an Attic standard(30) and the penetrating of Italian and especially of Latin copper into Sicily(31) testify to the two former routes of traffic, so the equivalence, which we have just mentioned, between the silver money of Magna Graecia and the copper coinage of Picenum and Apulia, forms, with numerous other indications, an evidence of the active traffic which the Greeks of Lower Italy, the Tarentines in particular, held with the east Italian seaboard. The commerce again, which was at an earlier period perhaps still more active, between the Latins and the Campanian Greeks seems to have been disturbed by the Sabellian immigration, and to have been of no great moment during the first hundred and fifty years of the republic. The refusal of the Samnites in Capua and Cumae to supply the Romans with grain in the famine of 343 may be regarded as an indication of the altered relations which subsisted between Latium and Campania, till at the commencement of the fifth century the Roman arms restored and gave increased impetus to the old intercourse.

Touching on details, we may be allowed to mention, as one of the few dated facts in the history of Roman commerce, the notice drawn from the annals of Ardea, that in 454 the first barber came from Sicily to Ardea; and to dwell for a moment on the painted pottery which was sent chiefly from Attica, but also from Corcyra and Sicily, to Lucania, Campania, and Etruria, to serve there for the decoration of tombs—a traffic, as to the circumstances of which we are accidentally better informed than as to any other article of transmarine commerce. The commencement of this import trade probably falls about the period of the expulsion of the Tarquins; for the vases of the oldest style, which are of very rare occurrence in Italy, were probably painted in the second half of the third century of the city, while those of the chaste style, occurring in greater numbers, belong to the first half, those of the most finished beauty to the second half, of the fourth century; and the immense quantities of the other vases, often marked by showiness and size but seldom by excellence in workmanship, must be assigned as a whole to the following century. It was from the Hellenes undoubtedly that the Italians derived this custom of embellishing tombs; but while the moderate means and fine discernment of the Greeks confined the practice in their case within narrow limits, it was stretched in Italy by barbaric opulence and barbaric extravagance far beyond its original and proper bounds. It is a significant circumstance, however, that in Italy this extravagance meets us only in the lands that had a Hellenic semi-culture. Any one who can read such records will perceive in the cemeteries of Etruria and Campania —the mines whence our museums have been replenished—a significant commentary on the accounts of the ancients as to the Etruscan and Campanian semi-culture choked amidst wealth and arrogance.(32) The homely Samnite character on the other hand remained at all times a stranger to this foolish luxury; the absence of Greek pottery from the tombs exhibits, quite as palpably as the absence of a Samnite coinage, the slight development of commercial intercourse and of urban life in this region. It is still more worthy of remark that Latium also, although not less near to the Greeks than Etruria and Campania, and in closest intercourse with them, almost wholly refrained from such sepulchral decorations. It is more than probable—especially on account of the altogether different character of the tombs in the unique Praeneste—that in this result we have to recognize the influence of the stern Roman morality or—if the expression be preferred—of the rigid Roman police. Closely connected with this subject are the already-mentioned interdicts, which the law of the Twelve Tables fulminated against purple bier-cloths and gold ornaments placed beside the dead; and the banishment of all silver plate, excepting the salt-cellar and sacrificial ladle, from the Roman household, so far at least as sumptuary laws and the terror of censorial censure could banish it: even in architecture we shall again encounter the same spirit of hostility to luxury whether noble or ignoble. Although, however, in consequence of these influences Rome probably preserved a certain outward simplicity longer than Capua and Volsinii, her commerce and trade—on which, in fact, along with agriculture her prosperity from the beginning rested—must not be regarded as having been inconsiderable, or as having less sensibly experienced the influence of her new commanding position.

Capital in Rome

No urban middle class in the proper sense of that term, no body of independent tradesmen and merchants, was ever developed in Rome. The cause of this was—in addition to the disproportionate centralization of capital which occurred at an early period—mainly the employment of slave labour. It was usual in antiquity, and was in fact a necessary consequence of slavery, that the minor trades in towns were very frequently carried on by slaves, whom their master established as artisans or merchants; or by freedmen, in whose case the master not only frequently furnished the capital, but also regularly stipulated for a share, often the half, of the profits. Retail trading and dealing in Rome were undoubtedly constantly on the increase; and there are proofs that the trades which minister to the luxury of great cities began to be concentrated in Rome—the Ficoroni casket for instance was designed in the fifth century of the city by a Praenestine artist and was sold to Praeneste, but was nevertheless manufactured in Rome.(33) But as the net proceeds even of retail business flowed for the most part into the coffers of the great houses, no industrial and commercial middle-class arose to an extent corresponding to that increase. As little were the great merchants and great manufacturers marked off as a distinct class from the great landlords. On the one hand, the latter were from ancient times(34) simultaneously traders and capitalists, and combined in their hands lending on security, trafficking on a great scale, the undertaking of contracts, and the executing of works for the state. On the other hand, from the emphatic moral importance which in the Roman commonwealth attached to the possession of land, and from its constituting the sole basis of political privileges—a basis which was infringed for the first time only towards the close of this epoch (35)—it was undoubtedly at this period already usual for the fortunate speculator to invest part of his capital in land. It is clear enough also from the political privileges given to freedmen possessing freeholds,(36) that the Roman statesmen sought in this way to diminish the dangerous class of the rich who had no land.

Development of Rome as A Great City

But while neither an opulent urban middle class nor a strictly close body of capitalists grew up in Rome, it was constantly acquiring more and more the character of a great city. This is plainly indicated by the increasing number of slaves crowded together in the capital (as attested by the very serious slave conspiracy of 335), and still more by the increasing multitude of freedmen, which was gradually becoming inconvenient and dangerous, as we may safely infer from the considerable tax imposed on manumissions in 397(37) and from the limitation of the political rights of freedmen in 450.(38) For not only was it implied in the circumstances that the great majority of the persons manumitted had to devote themselves to trade or commerce, but manumission itself among the Romans was, as we have already said, less an act of liberality than an industrial speculation, the master often finding it more for his interest to share the profits of the trade or commerce of the freedman than to assert his title to the whole proceeds of the labour of his slave. The increase of manumissions must therefore have necessarily kept pace with the increase of the commercial and industrial activity of the Romans.

Urban Police

A similar indication of the rising importance of urban life in Rome is presented by the great development of the urban police. To this period probably belong in great measure the enactments under which the four aediles divided the city into four police districts, and made provision for the discharge of their equally important and difficult functions—for the efficient repair of the network of drains small and large by which Rome was pervaded, as well as of the public buildings and places; for the proper cleansing and paving of the streets; for obviating the nuisances of ruinous buildings, dangerous animals, or foul smells; for the removing of waggons from the highway except during the hours of evening and night, and generally for the keeping open of the communication; for the uninterrupted supply of the market of the capital with good and cheap grain; for the destruction of unwholesome articles, and the suppression of false weights and measures; and for the special oversight of baths, taverns, and houses of bad fame.

Building— Impulse Given to It

In respect to buildings the regal period, particularly the epoch of the great conquests, probably accomplished more than the first two centuries of the republic. Structures like the temples on the Capitol and on the Aventine and the great Circus were probably as obnoxious to the frugal fathers of the city as to the burgesses who gave their task-work; and it is remarkable that perhaps the most considerable building of the republican period before the Samnite wars, the temple of Ceres in the Circus, was a work of Spurius Cassius (261) who in more than one respect, sought to lead the commonwealth back to the traditions of the kings. The governing aristocracy moreover repressed private luxury with a rigour such as the rule of the kings, if prolonged, would certainly not have displayed. But at length even the senate was no longer able to resist the superior force of circumstances. It was Appius Claudius who in his epoch-making censorship (442) threw aside the antiquated rustic system of parsimonious hoarding, and taught his fellow-citizens to make a worthy use of the public resources. He began that noble system of public works of general utility, which justifies, if anything can justify, the military successes of Rome even from the point of view of the welfare of the nations, and which even now in its ruins furnishes some idea of the greatness of Rome to thousands on thousands who have never read a page of her history. To him the Roman state was indebted for its great military road, and the city of Rome for its first aqueduct. Following in the steps of Claudius, the Roman senate wove around Italy that network of roads and fortresses, the formation of which has already been described,(39) and without which, as the history of all military states from the Achaemenidae down to the creator of the road over the Simplon shows, no military hegemony can subsist. Following in the steps of Claudius, Manius Curius built from the proceeds of the Pyrrhic spoil a second aqueduct for the capital (482); and some years previously (464) with the gains of the Sabine war he opened up for the Velino, at the point above Terni where it falls into the Nera, that broader channel in which the stream still flows, with a view to drain the beautiful valley of Rieti and thereby to gain space for a large burgess settlement along with a modest farm for himself. Such works, in the eyes of persons of intelligence, threw into the shade the aimless magnificence of the Hellenic temples.

Embellishment of the City

The style of living also among the citizens now was altered. About the time of Pyrrhus silver plate began to make its appearance on Roman tables, and the chroniclers date the disappearance of shingle roofs in Rome from 470.(40) The new capital of Italy gradually laid aside its village-like aspect, and now began to embellish itself. It was not yet indeed customary to strip the temples in conquered towns of their ornaments for the decoration of Rome; but the beaks of the galleys of Antium were displayed at the orator's platform in the Forum(41) and on public festival days the gold-mounted shields brought home from the battle-fields of Samnium were exhibited along the stalls of the market.(42) The proceeds of fines were specially applied to the paving of the highways in and near the city, or to the erection and embellishment of public buildings. The wooden booths of the butchers, which stretched along the Forum on both sides, gave way, first on the Palatine side, then on that also which faced the Carinae, to the stone stalls of the money-changers; so that this place became the Exchange of Rome. Statues of the famous men of the past, of the kings, priests, and heroes of the legendary period, and of the Grecian -hospes- who was said to have interpreted to the decemvirs the laws of Solon; honorary columns and monuments dedicated to the great burgomasters who had conquered the Veientes, the Latins, the Samnites, to state envoys who had perished while executing their instructions, to rich women who had bequeathed their property to public objects, nay even to celebrated Greek philosophers and heroes such as Pythagoras and Alcibiades, were erected on the Capitol or in the Forum. Thus, now that the Roman community had become a great power, Rome itself became a great city.

Silver Standard of Value

Lastly Rome, as head of the Romano-Italian confederacy, not only entered into the Hellenistic state-system, but also conformed to the Hellenic system of moneys and coins. Up to this time the different communities of northern and central Italy, with few exceptions, had struck only a copper currency; the south Italian towns again universally had a currency of silver; and there were as many legal standards and systems of coinage as there were sovereign communities in Italy. In 485 all these local mints were restricted to the issuing of small coin; a general standard of currency applicable to all Italy was introduced, and the coining of the currency was centralized in Rome; Capua alone continued to retain its own silver coinage struck in the name of Rome, but after a different standard. The new monetary system was based on the legal ratio subsisting between the two metals, as it had long been fixed.(43) The common monetary unit was the piece of ten -asses- (which were no longer of a pound, but reduced to the third of a pound), the -denarius-, which weighed in copper 3 1/3 and in silver 1/72, of a Roman pound, a trifle more than the Attic —drachma—. At first copper money still predominated in the coinage; and it is probable that the earliest silver -denarius- was coined chiefly for Lower Italy and for intercourse with other lands. As the victory of the Romans over Pyrrhus and Tarentum and the Roman embassy to Alexandria could not but engage the thoughts of the contemporary Greek statesman, so the sagacious Greek merchant might well ponder as he looked on these new Roman drachmae. Their flat, unartistic, and monotonous stamping appeared poor and insignificant by the side of the marvellously beautiful contemporary coins of Pyrrhus and the Siceliots; nevertheless they were by no means, like the barbarian coins of antiquity, slavishly imitated and unequal in weight and alloy, but, on the contrary, worthy from the first by their independent and conscientious execution to be placed on a level with any Greek coin.

Extension of the Latin Nationality

Thus, when the eye turns from the development of constitutions and from the national struggles for dominion and for freedom which agitated Italy, and Rome in particular, from the banishment of the Tarquinian house to the subjugation of the Samnites and the Italian Greeks, and rests on those calmer spheres of human existence which history nevertheless rules and pervades, it everywhere encounters the reflex influence of the great events, by which the Roman burgesses burst the bonds of patrician sway, and the rich variety of the national cultures of Italy gradually perished to enrich a single people. While the historian may not attempt to follow out the great course of events into the infinite multiplicity of individual detail, he does not overstep his province when, laying hold of detached fragments of scattered tradition, he indicates the most important changes which during this epoch took place in the national life of Italy. That in such an inquiry the life of Rome becomes still more prominent than in the earlier epoch, is not merely the result of the accidental blanks of our tradition; it was an essential consequence of the change in the political position of Rome, that the Latin nationality should more and more cast the other nationalities of Italy into the shade. We have already pointed to the fact, that at this epoch the neighbouring lands—southern Etruria, Sabina, the land of the Volscians, —began to become Romanized, as is attested by the almost total absence of monuments of the old native dialects, and by the occurrence of very ancient Roman inscriptions in those regions; the admission of the Sabines to full burgess-rights at the end of this period(44) betokens that the Latinizing of Central Italy was already at that time the conscious aim of Roman policy. The numerous individual assignations and colonial establishments scattered throughout Italy were, not only in a military but also in a linguistic and national point of view, the advanced posts of the Latin stock. The Latinizing of the Italians was scarcely at this time generally aimed at; on the contrary, the Roman senate seems to have intentionally upheld the distinction between the Latin and the other nationalities, and they did not yet, for example, allow the introduction of Latin into official use among the half-burgess communities of Campania. The force of circumstances, however, is stronger than even the strongest government: the language and customs of the Latin people immediately shared its predominance in Italy, and already began to undermine the other Italian nationalities.

Progress of Hellenism in Italy— Adoption of Greek Habits at the Table

These nationalities were at the same time assailed from another quarter and by an ascendency resting on another basis—by Hellenism. This was the period when Hellenism began to become conscious of its intellectual superiority to the other nations, and to diffuse itself on every side. Italy did not remain unaffected by it. The most remarkable phenomenon of this sort is presented by Apulia, which after the fifth century of Rome gradually laid aside its barbarian dialect and silently became Hellenized. This change was brought about, as in Macedonia and Epirus, not by colonization, but by civilization, which seems to have gone hand in hand with the land commerce of Tarentum; at least that hypothesis is favoured by the facts, that the districts of the Poediculi and Daunii who were on friendly terms with the Tarentines carried out their Hellenization more completely than the Sallentines who lived nearer to Tarentum but were constantly at feud with it, and that the towns that were soonest Graecized, such as Arpi, were not situated on the coast. The stronger influence exerted by Hellenism over Apulia than over any other Italian region is explained partly by its position, partly by the slight development of any national culture of its own, and partly also perhaps by its nationality presenting a character less alien to the Greek stock than that of the rest of Italy.(45) We have already called attention(46) to the fact that the southern Sabellian stocks, although at the outset in concert with the tyrants of Syracuse they crushed and destroyed the Hellenism of Magna Graecia, were at the same time affected by contact and mingling with the Greeks, so that some of them, such as the Bruttians and Nolans, adopted the Greek language by the side of their native tongue, and others, such as the Lucanians and a part of the Campanians, adopted at least Greek writing and Greek manners. Etruria likewise showed tendencies towards a kindred development in the remarkable vases which have been discovered(47) belonging to this period, rivalling those of Campania and Lucania; and though Latium and Samnium remained more strangers to Hellenism, there were not wanting there also traces of an incipient and ever-growing influence of Greek culture. In all branches of the development of Rome during this epoch, in legislation and coinage, in religion, in the formation of national legend, we encounter traces of the Greeks; and from the commencement of the fifth century in particular, in other words, after the conquest of Campania, the Greek influence on Roman life appears rapidly and constantly on the increase. In the fourth century occurred the erection of the "-Graecostasis-"—remarkable in the very form of the word—a platform in the Roman Forum for eminent Greek strangers and primarily for the Massiliots.(48) In the following century the annals began to exhibit Romans of quality with Greek surnames, such as Philipus or in Roman form Pilipus, Philo, Sophus, Hypsaeus. Greek customs gained ground: such as the non-Italian practice of placing inscriptions in honour of the dead on the tomb—of which the epitaph of Lucius Scipio (consul in 456) is the oldest example known to us; the fashion, also foreign to the Italians, of erecting without any decree of the state honorary monuments to ancestors in public places —a system begun by the great innovator Appius Claudius, when he caused bronze shields with images and eulogies of his ancestors to be suspended in the new temple of Bellona (442); the distribution of branches of palms to the competitors, introduced at the Roman national festival in 461; above all, the Greek manners and habits at table. The custom not of sitting as formerly on benches, but of reclining on sofas, at table; the postponement of the chief meal from noon to between two and three o'clock in the afternoon according to our mode of reckoning; the institution of masters of the revels at banquets, who were appointed from among the guests present, generally by throwing the dice, and who then prescribed to the company what, how, and when they should drink; the table-chants sung in succession by the guests, which, however, in Rome were not -scolia-, but lays in praise of ancestors—all these were not primitive customs in Rome, but were borrowed from the Greeks at a very early period, for in Cato's time these usages were already common and had in fact partly fallen into disuse again. We must therefore place their introduction in this period at the latest. A characteristic feature also was the erection of statues to "the wisest and the bravest Greek" in the Roman Forum, which took place by command of the Pythian Apollo during the Samnite wars. The selection fell—evidently under Sicilian or Campanian influence—on Pythagoras and Alcibiades, the saviour and the Hannibal of the western Hellenes. The extent to which an acquaintance with Greek was already diffused in the fifth century among Romans of quality is shown by the embassies of the Romans to Tarentum—when their mouthpiece spoke, if not in the purest Greek, at any rate without an interpreter—and of Cineas to Rome. It scarcely admits of a doubt that from the fifth century the young Romans who devoted themselves to state affairs universally acquired a knowledge of what was then the general language of the world and of diplomacy.

Thus in the intellectual sphere Hellenism made advances quite as incessant as the efforts of the Romans to subject the earth to their sway; and the secondary nationalities, such as the Samnite, Celt, and Etruscan, hard pressed on both sides, were ever losing their inward vigour as well as narrowing their outward bounds.

Rome and the Romans of This Epoch

When the two great nations, both arrived at the height of their development, began to mingle in hostile or in friendly contact, their antagonism of character was at the same time prominently and fully brought out—the total want of individuality in the Italian and especially in the Roman character, as contrasted with the boundless variety, lineal, local, and personal, of Hellenism. There was no epoch of mightier vigour in the history of Rome than the epoch from the institution of the republic to the subjugation of Italy. That epoch laid the foundations of the commonwealth both within and without; it created a united Italy; it gave birth to the traditional groundwork of the national law and of the national history; it originated the -pilum- and the maniple, the construction of roads and of aqueducts, the farming of estates and the monetary system; it moulded the she-wolf of the Capitol and designed the Ficoroni casket. But the individuals, who contributed the several stones to this gigantic structure and cemented them together, have disappeared without leaving a trace, and the nations of Italy did not merge into that of Rome more completely than the single Roman burgess merged in the Roman community. As the grave closes alike over all whether important or insignificant, so in the roll of the Roman burgomasters the empty scion of nobility stands undistinguishable by the side of the great statesman. Of the few records that have reached us from this period none is more venerable, and none at the same time more characteristic, than the epitaph of Lucius Cornelius Scipio, who was consul in 456, and three years afterwards took part in the decisive battle of Sentinum.(49) On the beautiful sarcophagus, in noble Doric style, which eighty years ago still enclosed the dust of the conqueror of the Samnites, the following sentence is inscribed:—

-Cornelius Lucius—Scipio Barbatus, Gnaivod patre prognatus, —fortis vir sapiensque, Quoius forma virtu—tei parisuma fuit, Consol censor aidilis—quei fuit apud vos, Taurasia Cisauna—Samnio cepit, Subigit omne Loucanum—opsidesque abdoucit.-

_-'_-'_-'_ -'_-'_-'_

Innumerable others who had been at the head of the Roman commonwealth, as well as this Roman statesman and warrior, might be commemorated as having been of noble birth and of manly beauty, valiant and wise; but there was no more to record regarding them. It is doubtless not the mere fault of tradition that no one of these Cornelii, Fabii, Papirii, or whatever they were called, confronts us in a distinct individual figure. The senator was supposed to be no worse and no better than other senators, nor at all to differ from them. It was not necessary and not desirable that any burgess should surpass the rest, whether by showy silver plate and Hellenic culture, or by uncommon wisdom and excellence. Excesses of the former kind were punished by the censor, and for the latter the constitution gave no scope. The Rome of this period belonged to no individual; it was necessary for all the burgesses to be alike, that each of them might be like a king.

Appius Claudius

No doubt, even now Hellenic individual development asserted its claims by the side of that levelling system; and the genius and force which it exhibited bear, no less than the tendency to which it opposed itself, the full stamp of that great age. We can name but a single man in connection with it; but he was, as it were, the incarnation of the idea of progress. Appius Claudius (censor 442; consul 447, 458), the great-great-grandson of the decemvir, was a man of the old nobility and proud of the long line of his ancestors; but yet it was he who set aside the restriction which confined the full franchise of the state to the freeholders,(50) and who broke up the old system of finance.(51) From Appius Claudius date not only the Roman aqueducts and highways, but also Roman jurisprudence, eloquence, poetry, and grammar. The publication of a table of the -legis actiones-, speeches committed to writing and Pythagorean sentences, and even innovations in orthography, are attributed to him. We may not on this account call him absolutely a democrat or include him in that opposition party which found its champion in Manius Curius;(52) in him on the contrary the spirit of the ancient and modern patrician kings predominated —the spirit of the Tarquins and the Caesars, between whom he forms a connecting link in that five hundred years' interregnum of extraordinary deeds and ordinary men. So long as Appius Claudius took an active part in public life, in his official conduct as well as his general carriage he disregarded laws and customs on all hands with the hardihood and sauciness of an Athenian; till, after having long retired from the political stage, the blind old man, returning as it were from the tomb at the decisive Moment, overcame king Pyrrhus in the senate, and first formally and solemnly proclaimed the complete sovereignty of Rome over Italy.(53) But the gifted man came too early or too late; the gods made him blind on account of his untimely wisdom. It was not individual genius that ruled in Rome and through Rome in Italy; it was the one immoveable idea of a policy—propagated from generation to generation in the senate—with the leading maxims of which the sons of the senators became already imbued, when in the company of their fathers they went to the council and there at the door of the hall listened to the wisdom of the men whose seats they were destined at some future time to fill. Immense successes were thus obtained at an immense price; for Nike too is followed by her Nemesis. In the Roman commonwealth there was no special dependence on any one man, either on soldier or on general, and under the rigid discipline of its moral police all the idiosyncrasies of human character were extinguished. Rome reached a greatness such as no other state of antiquity attained; but she dearly purchased her greatness at the sacrifice of the graceful variety, of the easy abandon and of the inward freedom of Hellenic life.

Notes for Book II Chapter VIII

1. I. XI. Punishment of Offenses against Order

2. II. I. Right of Appeal

3. II. III. The Senate, Its Composition

4. II. I. Law and Edict

5. II. III. Censorship, the Magistrates, Partition and Weakening of the Consular Powers

6. II. III. Laws Imposing Taxes

7. I. VI. Class of —Metoeci— Subsisting by the Side of the Community

8. I. V. The Housefather and His Household, note

9. II. III. Praetorship

10. II. III. Praetorship, II. V. Revision of the Municipal Constitutions, Police Judges

11. The view formerly adopted, that these -tres viri- belonged to the earliest period, is erroneous, for colleges of magistrates with odd numbers are foreign to the oldest state-arrangements (Chronol. p. 15, note 12). Probably the well-accredited account, that they were first nominated in 465 (Liv. Ep. 11), should simply be retained, and the otherwise suspicious inference of the falsifier Licinius Macer (in Liv. vii. 46), which makes mention of them before 450, should be simply rejected. At first undoubtedly the -tres viri- were nominated by the superior magistrates, as was the case with most of the later -magistratus minores-; the Papirian -plebiscitum-, which transferred the nomination of them to the community (Festus, -v. sacramentum-, p. 344, Niall.), was at any rate not issued till after the institution of the office of -praetor peregrinus-, or at the earliest towards the middle of the sixth century, for it names the praetor -qui inter jus cives ius dicit-.

12. II. VII. Subject Communities

13. This inference is suggested by what Livy says (ix. 20) as to the reorganization of the colony of Antium twenty years after it was founded; and it is self-evident that, while the Romans might very well impose on the inhabitant of Ostia the duty of settling all his lawsuits in Rome, the same course could not be followed with townships like Antium and Sena.

14. II. I. Restrictions on the Delegation of Powers

15. People are in the habit of praising the Romans as a nation specially privileged in respect to jurisprudence, and of gazing with wonder on their admirable law as a mystical gift of heaven; presumably by way of specially excusing themselves for the worthlessness of their own legal system. A glance at the singularly fluctuating and undeveloped criminal law of the Romans might show the untenableness of ideas so confused even to those who may think the proposition too simple, that a sound people has a sound law, and a morbid people an unsound. Apart from the more general political conditions on which jurisprudence also, and indeed jurisprudence especially, depends, the causes of the excellence of the Roman civil law lie mainly in two features: first, that the plaintiff and defendant were specially obliged to explain and embody in due and binding form the grounds of the demand and of the objection to comply with it; and secondly, that the Romans appointed a permanent machinery for the edictal development of their law, and associated it immediately with practice. By the former the Romans precluded the pettifogging practices of advocates, by the latter they obviated incapable law-making, so far as such things can be prevented at all; and by means of both in conjunction they satisfied, as far as is possible, the two conflicting requirements, that law shall constantly be fixed, and that it shall constantly be in accordance with the spirit of the age.

16. II. II. Relation of the Tribune to the Consul

17. V. V. The Hegemony of Rome over Latium Shaken and Re-established

18. Venus probably first appears in the later sense as Aphrodite on occasion of the dedication of the temple consecrated in this year (Liv. x. 31; Becker, Topographie, p. 472).

19. II. III. Intrigues of the Nobility

20. I. VI. Organization of the Army

21. II. III. Increasing Powers of the Burgesses

22. I. VI. the Five Classes

23. According to Roman tradition the Romans originally carried quadrangular shields, after which they borrowed from the Etruscans the round hoplite shield (-clupeus-, —aspis—), and from the Samnites the later square shield (-scutum-, —thureos—), and the javelin (-veru-) (Diodor. Vat. Fr. p. 54; Sallust, Cat. 51, 38; Virgil, Aen. vii. 665; Festus, Ep. v. Samnites, p. 327, Mull.; and the authorities cited in Marquardt, Handb. iii. 2, 241). But it may be regarded as certain that the hoplite shield or, in other words, the tactics of the Doric phalanx were imitated not from the Etruscans, but directly from the Hellenes, As to the -scutum-, that large, cylindrical, convex leather shield must certainly have taken the place of the flat copper -clupeus-, when the phalanx was broken up into maniples; but the undoubted derivation of the word from the Greek casts suspicion on the derivation of the thing itself from the Samnites. From the Greeks the Romans derived also the sling (-funda- from —sphendone—). (like -fides- from —sphion—),(I. XV. Earliest Hellenic Influences). The pilum was considered by the ancients as quite a Roman invention.

24. I. XIII. Landed Proprietors

25. II. III. Combination of the Plebian Aristocracy and the Farmers against the Nobility

26. Varro (De R. R. i. 2, 9) evidently conceives the author of the Licinian agrarian law as fanning in person his extensive lands; although, we may add, the story may easily have been invented to explain the cognomen (-Stolo-).

27. I. XIII. System of Joint Cultivation

28. I. XIII. Inland Commerce of the Italians

29. I. XIII. Commerce in Latium Passive, in Etruria Active

30. I. XIII. Etrusco-Attic, and Latino-Sicilian Commerce

31. I. XIII. Etrusco-Attic, and Latino-Sicilian Commerce

32. II. IV. Etruria at Peace and on the Decline, II. V. Campanian Hellenism

33. The conjecture that Novius Flautius, the artist who worked at this casket for Dindia Macolnia, in Rome, may have been a Campanian, is refuted by the old Praenestine tomb-stones recently discovered, on which, among other Macolnii and Plautii, there occurs also a Lucius Magulnius, son of Haulms (L. Magolnio Pla. f.).

34. I. XIII. Etrusco-Attic, and Latino-Sicilian Commerce, II. II. Rising Power of the Capitalists

35. II. III. The Burgess Body

36. II. III. The Burgess Body

37. II. III. Laws Imposing Taxes

38. II. III. The Burgess Body

39. II. VII. Construction of New Fortresses and Roads

40. We have already mentioned the censorial stigma attached to Publius Cornelius Rufinus (consul 464, 477) for his silver plate.(II. VIII. Police) The strange statement of Fabius (in Strabo, v. p. 228) that the Romans first became given to luxury (—aisthesthae tou plouton—) after the conquest of the Sabines, is evidently only a historical version of the same matter; for the conquest of the Sabines falls in the first consulate of Rufinus.

41. II. V. Colonizations in the Land of the Volsci

42. II. VI. Last Campaigns in Samnium

43. II. VIII. Inland Intercourse in Italy

44. I. III. Localities of the Oldest Cantons

45. I. II. Iapygians

46. II. V. Campanian Hellenism

47. II. VIII. Transmarine Commerce

48. II. VII. The Full Roman Franchise

49. II. VI. Battle of Sentinum

50. II. III. The Burgess-Body

51. II. VIII. Impulse Given to It

52. II. III. New Opposition

53. II. VII. Attempts at Peace


Art and Science

The Roman National Festival— The Roman Stage

The growth of art, and of poetic art especially, in antiquity was intimately associated with the development of national festivals. The thanksgiving-festival of the Roman community, which had been already organized in the previous period essentially under Greek influence and in the first instance as an extraordinary festival, —the -ludi maximi- or -Romani-,(1) —acquired during the present epoch a longer duration and greater variety in the amusements. Originally limited to one day, the festival was prolonged by an additional day after the happy termination of each of the three great revolutions of 245, 260, and 387, and thus at the close of this period it had already a duration of four days.(2)

A still more important circumstance was, that, probably on the institution of the curule aedileship (387) which was from the first entrusted with the preparation and oversight of the festival,(3) it lost its extraordinary character and its reference to a special vow made by the general, and took its place in the series of the ordinary annually recurring festivals as the first of all. Nevertheless the government adhered to the practice of allowing the spectacle proper —namely the chariot-race, which was the principal performance—to take place not more than once at the close of the festival. On the other days the multitude were probably left mainly to furnish amusement for themselves, although musicians, dancers, rope-walkers, jugglers, jesters and such like would not fail to make their appearance on the occasion, whether hired or not But about the year 390 an important change occurred, which must have stood in connection with the fixing and prolongation of the festival, that took place perhaps about the same time. A scaffolding of boards was erected at the expense of the state in the Circus for the first three days, and suitable representations were provided on it for the entertainment of the multitude. That matters might not be carried too far however in this way, a fixed sum of 200,000 -asses- (2055 pounds) once for all appropriated from the exchequer for the expenses of the festival; and the sum was not increased up to the period of the Punic wars. The aediles, who had to expend this sum, were obliged to defray any additional amount out of their own pockets; and it is not probable that they at this time contributed often or considerably from their own resources. That the new stage was generally under Greek influence, is proved by its very name (-scaena-, —skene—). It was no doubt at first designed merely for musicians and buffoons of all sorts, amongst whom the dancers to the flute, particularly those then so celebrated from Etruria, were probably the most distinguished; but a public stage had at any rate now arisen in Rome and it soon became open also to the Roman poets.

Ballad Singers, -Satura- — Censure of Art

There was no want of such poets in Latium. Latin "strolling minstrels" or "ballad-singers" (-grassatores-, -spatiatores-) went from town to town and from house to house, and recited their chants (-saturae-(4)), gesticulating and dancing to the accompaniment of the flute. The measure was of course the only one that then existed, the so-called Saturnian.(5) No distinct plot lay at the basis of the chants, and as little do they appear to have been in the form of dialogue. We must conceive of them as resembling those monotonous —sometimes improvised, sometimes recited—ballads and -tarantelle-, such as one may still hear in the Roman hostelries. Songs of this sort accordingly early came upon the public stage, and certainly formed the first nucleus of the Roman theatre. But not only were these beginnings of the drama in Rome, as everywhere, modest and humble; they were, in a remarkable manner, accounted from the very outset disreputable. The Twelve Tables denounced evil and worthless song-singing, imposing severe penalties not only upon incantations but even on lampoons composed against a fellow-citizen or recited before his door, and forbidding the employment of wailing-women at funerals. But far more severely, than by such legal restrictions, the incipient exercise of art was affected by the moral anathema, which was denounced against these frivolous and paid trades by the narrowminded earnestness of the Roman character. "The trade of a poet," says Cato, "in former times was not respected; if any one occupied himself with it or was a hanger-on at banquets, he was called an idler." But now any one who practised dancing, music, or ballad-singing for money was visited with a double stigma, in consequence of the more and more confirmed disapproval of gaining a livelihood by services rendered for remuneration. While accordingly the taking part in the masked farces with stereotyped characters, that formed the usual native amusement,(6) was looked upon as an innocent youthful frolic, the appearing on a public stage for money and without a mask was considered as directly infamous, and the singer and poet were in this respect placed quite on a level with the rope-dancer and the harlequin. Persons of this stamp were regularly pronounced by the censors(7) incapable of serving in the burgess-army and of voting in the burgess-assembly. Moreover, not only was the direction of the stage regarded as pertaining to the province of the city police—a fact significant enough even in itself—but the police was probably, even at this period, invested with arbitrary powers of an extraordinary character against professional stage-artists. Not only did the police magistrates sit in judgment on the performance after its conclusion—on which occasion wine flowed as copiously for those who had acquitted themselves well, as stripes fell to the lot of the bungler—but all the urban magistrates were legally entitled to inflict bodily chastisement and imprisonment on any actor at any time and at any place. The necessary effect of this was that dancing, music, and poetry, at least so far as they appeared on the public stage, fell into the hands of the lowest classes of the Roman burgesses, and especially into those of foreigners; and while at this period poetry still played altogether too insignificant a part to engage the attention of foreign artists, the statement on the other hand, that in Rome all the music, sacred and profane, was essentially Etruscan, and consequently the ancient Latin art of the flute, which was evidently at one time held in high esteem,(8) had been supplanted by foreign music, may be regarded as already applicable to this period.

There is no mention of any poetical literature. Neither the masked plays nor the recitations of the stage can have had in the proper sense fixed texts; on the contrary, they were ordinarily improvised by the performers themselves as circumstances required. Of works composed at this period posterity could point to nothing but a sort of Roman "Works and Days"—counsels of a farmer to his son,(9) and the already-mentioned Pythagorean poems of Appius Claudius(10) the first commencement of Roman poetry after the Hellenic type. Nothing of the poems of this epoch has survived but one or two epitaphs in Saturnian measure.(11)

Roman Historical Composition

Along with the rudiments of the Roman drama, the rudiments of Roman historical composition belong to this period; both as regards the contemporary recording of remarkable events, and as regards the conventional settlement of the early history of the Roman community.

Registers of Magistrates

The writing of contemporary history was associated with the register of the magistrates. The register reaching farthest back, which was accessible to the later Roman inquirers and is still indirectly accessible to us, seems to have been derived from the archives of the temple of the Capitoline Jupiter; for it records the names of the annual presidents of the community onward from the consul Marcus Horatius, who consecrated that temple on the 13th Sept. in his year of office, and it also notices the vow which was made on occasion of a severe pestilence under the consuls Publius Servilius and Lucius Aebutius (according to the reckoning now current, 291), that thenceforward a nail should be driven every hundredth year into the wall of the Capitoline temple. Subsequently it was the state officials who were learned in measuring and in writing, or in other words, the pontifices, that kept an official record of the names of the annual chief magistrates, and thus combined an annual, with the earlier monthly, calendar. Both these calendars were afterwards comprehended under the name of Fasti—which strictly belonged only to the list of court-days. This arrangement was probably adopted not long after the abolition of the monarchy; for in fact an official record of the annual magistrates was of urgent practical necessity for the purpose of authenticating the order of succession of official documents. But, if there was an official register of the consuls so old, it probably perished in the Gallic conflagration (364); and the list of the pontifical college was subsequently completed from the Capitoline register which was not affected by that catastrophe, so far as this latter reached back. That the list of presidents which we now have —although in collateral matters, and especially in genealogical statements, it has been supplemented at pleasure from the family pedigrees of the nobility—is in substance based from the beginning on contemporary and credible records, admits of no doubt. But it reproduces the calendar years only imperfectly and approximately: for the consuls did not enter on office with the new year, or even on a definite day fixed once for all; on the contrary from various causes the day of entering on office was fluctuating, and the -interregna- that frequently occurred between two consulates were entirely omitted in the reckoning by official years. Accordingly, if the calendar years were to be reckoned by this list of consuls, it was necessary to note the days of entering on and of demitting office in the case of each pair, along with such -interregna- as occurred; and this too may have been early done. But besides this, the list of the annual magistrates was adjusted to the list of calendar years in such a way that a pair of magistrates were by accommodation assigned to each calendar year, and, where the list did not suffice, intercalary years were inserted, which are denoted in the later (Varronian) table by the figures 379, 383, 421, 430, 445, 453. From 291 u. c. (463 B. C.) the Roman list demonstrably coincides, not indeed in detail but yet on the whole, with the Roman calendar, and is thus chronologically certain, so far as the defectiveness of the calendar itself allows. The 47 years preceding that date cannot be checked, but must likewise be at least in the main correct.(12) Whatever lies beyond 245 remains, chronologically, in oblivion.

Capitoline Era

No era was formed for ordinary use; but in ritual matters they reckoned from the year of the consecration of the temple of the Capitoline Jupiter, from which the list of magistrates also started.


The idea naturally suggested itself that, along with the names of the magistrates, the most important events occurring under their magistracy might be noted; and from such notices appended to the catalogue of magistrates the Roman annals arose, just as the chronicles of the middle ages arose out of the memoranda marginally appended to the table of Easter. But it was not until a late period that the pontifices formed the scheme of a formal chronicle (-liber annalis-), which should steadily year by year record the names of all the magistrates and the remarkable events. Before the eclipse of the sun noticed under the 5th of June 351, by which is probably meant that of the 20th June 354, no solar eclipse was found recorded from observation in the later chronicle of the city: its statements as to the numbers of the census only begin to sound credible after the beginning of the fifth century,(13) the cases of fines brought before the people, and the prodigies expiated on behalf of the community, appear to have been regularly introduced into the annals only after the second half of the fifth century began. To all appearance the institution of an organized book of annals, and—what was certainly associated with it—the revision (which we have just explained) of the earlier list of magistrates so as to make it a year-calendar by the insertion, where chronologically necessary, of intercalary years, took place in the first half of the fifth century. But even after it became a practically recognized duty of the -pontifex maximus- to record year after year campaigns and colonizations, pestilences and famines, eclipses and portents, the deaths of priests and other men of note, the new decrees of the people, and the results of the census, and to deposit these records in his official residence for permanent preservation and for any one's inspection, these records were still far removed from the character of real historical writings. How scanty the contemporary record still was at the close of this period and how ample room is left for the caprice of subsequent annalists, is shown with incisive clearness by a comparison of the accounts as to the campaign of 456 in the annals and in the epitaph of the consul Scipio.(14) The later historians were evidently unable to construct a readable and in some measure connected narrative out of these notices from the book of annals; and we should have difficulty, even if the book of annals still lay before us with its original contents, in writing from it in duly connected sequence the history of the times. Such chronicles, however, did not exist merely in Rome; every Latin city possessed its annals as well as its pontifices, as is clear from isolated notices relative to Ardea for instance, Ameria, and Interamna on the Nar; and from the collective mass of these city-chronicles some result might perhaps have been attained similar to what has been accomplished for the earlier middle ages by the comparison of different monastic chronicles. Unfortunately the Romans in later times preferred to supply the defect by Hellenic or Hellenizing falsehoods.

Family Pedigrees

Besides these official arrangements, meagrely planned and uncertainly handled, for commemorating past times and past events, there can scarcely have existed at this epoch any other records immediately serviceable for Roman history. Of private chronicles we find no trace. The leading houses, however, were careful to draw up genealogical tables, so important in a legal point of view, and to have the family pedigree painted for a perpetual memorial on the walls of the entrance-hall. These lists, which at least named the magistracies held by the family, not only furnished a basis for family tradition, but doubtless at an early period had biographical notices attached to them. The memorial orations, which in Rome could not be omitted at the funeral of any person of quality, and were ordinarily pronounced by the nearest relative of the deceased, consisted essentially not merely in an enumeration of the virtues and excellencies of the dead, but also in a recital of the deeds and virtues of his ancestors; and so they were doubtless, even in the earliest times, transmitted traditionally from one generation to another. Many a valuable notice may by this means have been preserved; but many a daring perversion and falsification also may have been in this way introduced into tradition.

Roman Early History of Rome

But as the first steps towards writing real history belonged to this period, to it belonged also the first attempts to record, and conventionally distort, the primitive history of Rome. The sources whence it was formed were of course the same as they are everywhere. Isolated names like those of the kings Numa, Ancus, Tullus, to whom the clan-names were probably only assigned subsequently, and isolated facts, such as the conquest of the Latins by king Tarquinius and the expulsion of the Tarquinian royal house, may have continued to live in true general tradition orally transmitted. Further materials were furnished by the traditions of the patrician clans, such as the various tales that relate to the Fabii. Other tales gave a symbolic and historic shape to primitive national institutions, especially setting forth with great vividness the origin of rules of law. The sacredness of the walls was thus illustrated in the tale of the death of Remus, the abolition of blood-revenge in the tale of the end of king Tatius(15), the necessity of the arrangement as to the -pons sublicius- in the legend of Horatius Cocles,(15) the origin of the -provocatio- in the beautiful tale of the Horatii and Curiatii, the origin of manumission and of the burgess-rights of freedmen in the tale of the Tarquinian conspiracy and the slave Vindicius. To the same class belongs the history of the foundation of the city itself, which was designed to connect the origin of Rome with Latium and with Alba, the general metropolis of the Latins. Historical glosses were annexed to the surnames of distinguished Romans; that of Publius Valerius the "servant of the people" (-Poplicola-), for instance, gathered around it a whole group of such anecdotes. Above all, the sacred fig-tree and other spots and notable objects in the city were associated with a great multitude of sextons' tales of the same nature as those out of which, upwards of a thousand years afterwards, there grew up on the same ground the Mirabilia Urbis. Some attempts to link together these different tales—the adjustment of the series of the seven kings, the setting down of the duration of the monarchy at 240 years in all, which was undoubtedly based on a calculation of the length of generations,(16) and even the commencement of an official record of these assumed facts—probably took place already in this epoch. The outlines of the narrative, and in particular its quasi-chronology, make their appearance in the later tradition so unalterably fixed, that for that very reason the fixing of them must be placed not in, but previous to, the literary epoch of Rome. If a bronze casting of the twins Romulus and Remus sucking the teats of the she-wolf was already placed beside the sacred fig-tree in 458, the Romans who subdued Latium and Samnium must have heard the history of the origin of their ancestral city in a form not greatly differing from what we read in Livy. Even the Aborigines—i. e. "those from the very beginning"—that simple rudimental form of historical speculation as to the Latin race—are met with about 465 in the Sicilian author Callias. It is of the very nature of a chronicle that it should attach prehistoric speculation to history and endeavour to go back, if not to the origin of heaven and earth, at least to the origin of the community; and there is express testimony that the table of the pontifices specified the year of the foundation of Rome. Accordingly it may be assumed that, when the pontifical college in the first half of the fifth century proceeded to substitute for the former scanty records—ordinarily, doubtless, confined to the names of the magistrates—the scheme of a formal yearly chronicle, it also added what was wanting at the beginning, the history of the kings of Rome and of their fall, and, by placing the institution of the republic on the day of the consecration of the Capitoline temple, the 13th of Sept. 245, furnished a semblance of connection between the dateless and the annalistic narrative. That in this earliest record of the origin of Rome the hand of Hellenism was at work, can scarcely be doubted. The speculations as to the primitive and subsequent population, as to the priority of pastoral life over agriculture, and the transformation of the man Romulus into the god Quirinus,(17) have quite a Greek aspect, and even the obscuring of the genuinely national forms of the pious Numa and the wise Egeria by the admixture of alien elements of Pythagorean primitive wisdom appears by no means to be one of the most recent ingredients in the Roman prehistoric annals.

The pedigrees of the noble clans were completed in a manner analogous to these -origines- of the community, and were, in the favourite style of heraldry, universally traced back to illustrious ancestors. The Aemilii, for instance, Calpurnii, Pinarii, and Pomponii professed to be descended from the four sons of Numa, Mamercus, Calpus, Pinus, and Pompo; and the Aemilii, yet further, from Mamercus, the son of Pythagoras, who was named the "winning speaker" (—aimulos—)

But, notwithstanding the Hellenic reminiscences that are everywhere apparent, these prehistoric annals of the community and of the leading houses may be designated at least relatively as national, partly because they originated in Rome, partly because they tended primarily to form links of connection not between Rome and Greece, but between Rome and Latium.

Hellenic Early History of Rome

It was Hellenic story and fiction that undertook the task of connecting Rome and Greece. Hellenic legend exhibits throughout an endeavour to keep pace with the gradual extension of geographical knowledge, and to form a dramatized geography by the aid of its numerous stories of voyagers and emigrants. In this, however, it seldom follows a simple course. An account like that of the earliest Greek historical work which mentions Rome, the "Sicilian History" of Antiochus of Syracuse (which ended in 330)—that a man named Sikelos had migrated from Rome to Italia, that is, to the Bruttian peninsula —such an account, simply giving a historical form to the family affinity between the Romans, Siculi, and Bruttians, and free from all Hellenizing colouring, is a rare phenomenon. Greek legend as a whole is pervaded—and the more so, the later its rise—by a tendency to represent the whole barbarian world as having either issued from the Greeks or having been subdued by them; and it early in this sense spun its threads also around the west. For Italy the legends of Herakles and of the Argonauts were of less importance—although Hecataeus (after 257) is already acquainted with the Pillars of Herakles, and carries the Argo from the Black Sea into the Atlantic Ocean, from the latter into the Nile, and thus back to the Mediterranean—than were the homeward voyages connected with the fall of Ilion. With the first dawn of information as to Italy Diomedes begins to wander in the Adriatic, and Odysseus in the Tyrrhene Sea;(18) as indeed the latter localization at least was naturally suggested by the Homeric conception of the legend. Down to the times of Alexander the countries on the Tyrrhene Sea belonged in Hellenic fable to the domain of the legend of Odysseus; Ephorus, who ended his history with the year 414, and the so-called Scylax (about 418) still substantially follow it. Of Trojan voyages the whole earlier poetry has no knowledge; in Homer Aeneas after the fall of Ilion rules over the Trojans that remained at home.


It was the great remodeller of myths, Stesichorus (122-201) who first in his "Destruction of Ilion" brought Aeneas to the land of the west, that he might poetically enrich the world of fable in the country of his birth and of his adoption, Sicily and Lower Italy, by the contrast of the Trojan heroes with the Hellenic. With him originated the poetical outlines of this fable as thenceforward fixed, especially the group of the hero and his wife, his little son and his aged father bearing the household gods, departing from burning Troy, and the important identification of the Trojans with the Sicilian and Italian autochthones, which is especially apparent in the case of the Trojan trumpeter Misenus who gave his name to the promontory of Misenum.(19) The old poet was guided in this view by the feeling that the barbarians of Italy were less widely removed from the Hellenes than other barbarians were, and that the relation between the Hellenes and Italians might, when measured poetically, be conceived as similar to that between the Homeric Achaeans and the Trojans. This new Trojan fable soon came to be mixed up with the earlier legend of Odysseus, while it spread at the same time more widely over Italy. According to Hellanicus (who wrote about 350) Odysseus and Aeneas came through the country of the Thracians and Molottians (Epirus) to Italy, where the Trojan women whom they had brought with them burnt the ships, and Aeneas founded the city of Rome and named it after one of these Trojan women. To a similar effect, only with less absurdity, Aristotle (370-432) related that an Achaean squadron cast upon the Latin coast had been set on fire by Trojan female slaves, and that the Latins had originated from the descendants of the Achaeans who were thus compelled to remain there and of their Trojan wives. With these tales were next mingled elements from the indigenous legend, the knowledge of which had been diffused as far as Sicily by the active intercourse between Sicily and Italy, at least towards the end of this epoch. In the version of the origin of Rome, which the Sicilian Callias put on record about 465, the fables of Odysseus, Aeneas, and Romulus were intermingled.(20)


But the person who really completed the conception subsequently current of this Trojan migration was Timaeus of Tauromenium in Sicily, who concluded his historical work with 492. It is he who represents Aeneas as first founding Lavinium with its shrine of the Trojan Penates, and as thereafter founding Rome; he must also have interwoven the Tyrian princess Elisa or Dido with the legend of Aeneas, for with him Dido is the foundress of Carthage, and Rome and Carthage are said by him to have been built in the same year. These alterations were manifestly suggested by certain accounts that had reached Sicily respecting Latin manners and customs, in conjunction with the critical struggle which at the very time and place where Timaeus wrote was preparing between the Romans and the Carthaginians. In the main, however, the story cannot have been derived from Latium, but can only have been the good-for-nothing invention of the old "gossip-monger" himself. Timaeus had heard of the primitive temple of the household gods in Lavinium; but the statement, that these were regarded by the Lavinates as the Penates brought by the followers of Aeneas from Ilion, is as certainly an addition of his own, as the ingenious parallel between the Roman October horse and the Trojan horse, and the exact inventory taken of the sacred objects of Lavinium—there were, our worthy author affirms, heralds' staves of iron and copper, and an earthen vase of Trojan manufacture! It is true that these same Penates might not at all be seen by any one for centuries afterwards; but Timaeus was one of the historians who upon no matter are so fully informed as upon things unknowable. It is not without reason that Polybius, who knew the man, advises that he should in no case be trusted, and least of all where, as in this instance, he appeals to documentary proofs. In fact the Sicilian rhetorician, who professed to point out the grave of Thucydides in Italy, and who found no higher praise for Alexander than that he had finished the conquest of Asia sooner than Isocrates finished his "Panegyric," was exactly the man to knead the naive fictions of the earlier time into that confused medley on which the play of accident has conferred so singular a celebrity.

How far the Hellenic play of fable regarding Italian matters, as it in the first instance arose in Sicily, gained admission during this period even in Italy itself, cannot be ascertained with precision. Those links of connection with the Odyssean cycle, which we subsequently meet with in the legends of the foundation of Tusculum, Praeneste, Antium, Ardea, and Cortona, must probably have been already concocted at this period; and even the belief in the descent of the Romans from Trojan men or Trojan women must have been established at the close of this epoch in Rome, for the first demonstrable contact between Rome and the Greek east is the intercession of the senate on behalf of the "kindre" Ilians in 472. That the fable of Aeneas was nevertheless of comparatively recent origin in Italy, is shown by the extremely scanty measure of its localization as compared with the legend of Odysseus; and at any rate the final redaction of these tales, as well as their reconciliation with the legend of the origin of Rome, belongs only to the following age.

While in this way historical composition, or what was so called among the Hellenes, busied itself in its own fashion with the prehistoric times of Italy, it left the contemporary history of Italy almost untouched—a circumstance as significant of the sunken condition of Hellenic history, as it is to be for our sakes regretted. Theopompus of Chios (who ended his work with 418) barely noticed in passing the capture of Rome by the Celts; and Aristotle,(21) Clitarchus,(22) Theophrastus,(23) Heraclides of Pontus (about 450), incidentally mention particular events relating to Rome. It is only with Hieronymus of Cardia, who as the historian of Pyrrhus narrated also his Italian wars, that Greek historiography becomes at the same time an authority for the history of Rome.


Among the sciences, that of jurisprudence acquired an invaluable basis through the committing to writing of the laws of the city in the years 303, 304. This code, known under the name of the Twelve Tables, is perhaps the oldest Roman document that deserves the name of a book. The nucleus of the so-called -leges regiae- was probably not much more recent. These were certain precepts chiefly of a ritual nature, which rested upon traditional usage, and were probably promulgated to the general public under the form of royal enactments by the college of pontifices, which was entitled not to legislate but to point out the law. Moreover it may be presumed that from the commencement of this period the more important decrees of the senate at any rate—if not those of the people—were regularly recorded in writing; for already in the earliest conflicts between the orders disputes took place as to their preservation.(24)

Opinions— Table of Formulae for Actions

While the mass of written legal documents thus increased, the foundations of jurisprudence in the proper sense were also firmly laid. It was necessary that both the magistrates who were annually changed and the jurymen taken from the people should be enabled to resort to men of skill, who were acquainted with the course of law and knew how to suggest a decision accordant with precedents or, in the absence of these, resting on reasonable grounds. The pontifices who were wont to be consulted by the people regarding court-days and on all questions of difficulty and of legal observance relating to the worship of the gods, delivered also, when asked, counsels and opinions on other points of law, and thus developed in the bosom of their college that tradition which formed the basis of Roman private law, more especially the formulae of action proper for each particular case. A table of formulae which embraced all these actions, along with a calendar which specified the court-days, was published to the people about 450 by Appius Claudius or by his clerk, Gnaeus Flavius. This attempt, however, to give formal shape to a science, that as yet hardly recognized itself, stood for a long time completely isolated.

That the knowledge of law and the setting it forth were even now a means of recommendation to the people and of attaining offices of state, may be readily conceived, although the story, that the first plebeian pontifex Publius Sempronius Sophus (consul 450), and the first plebeian pontifex maximus Tiberius Coruncanius (consul 474), were indebted for these priestly honours to their knowledge of law, is probably rather a conjecture of posterity than a statement of tradition.


That the real genesis of the Latin and doubtless also of the other Italian languages was anterior to this period, and that even at its commencement the Latin language was substantially an accomplished fact, is evident from the fragments of the Twelve Tables, which, however, have been largely modernized by their semi-oral tradition. They contain doubtless a number of antiquated words and harsh combinations, particularly in consequence of omitting the indefinite subject; but their meaning by no means presents, like that of the Arval chant, any real difficulty, and they exhibit far more agreement with the language of Cato than with that of the ancient litanies. If the Romans at the beginning of the seventh century had difficulty in understanding documents of the fifth, the difficulty doubtless proceeded merely from the fact that there existed at that time in Rome no real, least of all any documentary, research.

Technical Style

On the other hand it must have been at this period, when the indication and redaction of law began, that the Roman technical style first established itself—a style which at least in its developed shape is nowise inferior to the modern legal phraseology of England in stereotyped formulae and turns of expression, endless enumeration of particulars, and long-winded periods; and which commends itself to the initiated by its clearness and precision, while the layman who does not understand it listens, according to his character and humour, with reverence, impatience, or chagrin.


Moreover at this epoch began the treatment of the native languages after a rational method. About its commencement the Sabellian as well as the Latin idiom threatened, as we saw,(25) to become barbarous, and the abrasion of endings and the corruption of the vowels and more delicate consonants spread on all hands, just as was the case with the Romanic languages in the fifth and sixth centuries of the Christian era. But a reaction set in: the sounds which had coalesced in Oscan, -d and -r, and the sounds which had coalesced in Latin, -g and -k, were again separated, and each was provided with its proper sign; -o and -u, for which from the first the Oscan alphabet had lacked separate signs, and which had been in Latin originally separate but threatened to coalesce, again became distinct, and in Oscan even the -i was resolved into two signs different in sound and in writing; lastly, the writing again came to follow more closely the pronunciation—the -s for instance among the Romans being in many cases replaced by -r. Chronological indications point to the fifth century as the period of this reaction; the Latin -g for instance was not yet in existence about 300 but was so probably about 500; the first of the Papirian clan, who called himself Papirius instead of Papisius, was the consul of 418; the introduction of that -r instead of -s is attributed to Appius Claudius, censor in 442. Beyond doubt the re-introduction of a more delicate and precise pronunciation was connected with the increasing influence of Greek civilization, which is observable at this very period in all departments of Italian life; and, as the silver coins of Capua and Nola are far more perfect than the contemporary asses of Ardea and Rome, writing and language appear also to have been more speedily and fully reduced to rule in the Campanian land than in Latium. How little, notwithstanding the labour bestowed on it, the Roman language and mode of writing had become settled at the close of this epoch, is shown by the inscriptions preserved from the end of the fifth century, in which the greatest arbitrariness prevails, particularly as to the insertion or omission of -m, -d and -s in final sounds and of -n in the body of a word, and as to the distinguishing of the vowels -o -u and -e -i.(26) It is probable that the contemporary Sabellians were in these points further advanced, while the Umbrians were but slightly affected by the regenerating influence of the Hellenes.


In consequence of this progress of jurisprudence and grammar, elementary school-instruction also, which in itself had doubtless already emerged earlier, must have undergone a certain improvement. As Homer was the oldest Greek, and the Twelve Tables was the oldest Roman, book, each became in its own land the essential basis of instruction; and the learning by heart the juristico-political catechism was a chief part of Roman juvenile training. Alongside of the Latin "writing-masters" (-litteratores-) there were of course, from the time when an acquaintance with Greek was indispensable for every statesman and merchant, also Greek "language-masters" (-grammatici-)(27)—partly tutor-slaves, partly private teachers, who at their own dwelling or that of their pupil gave instructions in the reading and speaking of Greek. As a matter of course, the rod played its part in instruction as well as in military discipline and in police.(28) The instruction of this epoch cannot however have passed beyond the elementary stage: there was no material shade of difference, in a social respect, between the educated and the non-educated Roman.

Exact Sciences— Regulation of the Calendar

That the Romans at no time distinguished themselves in the mathematical and mechanical sciences is well known, and is attested, in reference to the present epoch, by almost the only fact which can be adduced under this head with certainty—the regulation of the calendar attempted by the decemvirs. They wished to substitute for the previous calendar based on the old and very imperfect -trieteris-(29) the contemporary Attic calendar of the -octaeteris-, which retained the lunar month of 29 1/2 days but assumed the solar year at 365 1/4 days instead of 368 3/4, and therefore, without making any alteration in the length of the common year of 354 days, intercalated, not as formerly 59 days every 4 years, but 90 days every 8 years. With the same view the improvers of the Roman calendar intended—while otherwise retaining the current calendar—in the two inter-calary years of the four years' cycle to shorten not the intercalary months, but the two Februaries by 7 days each, and consequently to fix that month in the intercalary years at 22 and 21 days respectively instead of 29 and 28. But want of mathematical precision and theological scruples, especially in reference to the annual festival of Terminus which fell within those very days in February, disarranged the intended reform, so that the Februaries of the intercalary years came to be of 24 and 23 days, and thus the new Roman solar year in reality ran to 366 1/4 days. Some remedy for the practical evils resulting from this was found in the practice by which, setting aside the reckoning by the months or ten months of the calendar (30) as now no longer applicable from the inequality in the length of the months, wherever more accurate specifications were required, they accustomed themselves to reckon by terms of ten months of a solar year of 365 days or by the so-called ten-month year of 304 days. Over and above this, there came early into use in Italy, especially for agricultural purposes, the farmers' calendar based on the Egyptian solar year of 365 1/4 days by Eudoxus (who flourished 386).

Structural and Plastic Art

A higher idea of what the Italians were able to do in these departments is furnished by their works of structural and plastic art, which are closely associated with the mechanical sciences. Here too we do not find phenomena of real originality; but if the impress of borrowing, which the plastic art of Italy bears throughout, diminishes its artistic interest, there gathers around it a historical interest all the more lively, because on the one hand it preserves the most remarkable evidences of an international intercourse of which other traces have disappeared, and on the other hand, amidst the well-nigh total loss of the history of the non-Roman Italians, art is almost the sole surviving index of the living activity which the different peoples of the peninsula displayed. No novelty is to be reported in this period; but what we have already shown(31) may be illustrated in this period with greater precision and on a broader basis, namely, that the stimulus derived from Greece powerfully affected the Etruscans and Italians on different sides, and called forth among the former a richer and more luxurious, among the latter—where it had any influence at all—a more intelligent and more genuine, art.

Architecture— Etruscan

We have already shown how wholly the architecture of all the Italian lands was, even in its earliest period, pervaded by Hellenic elements. Its city walls, its aqueducts, its tombs with pyramidal roofs, and its Tuscanic temple, are not at all, or not materially, different from the oldest Hellenic structures. No trace has been preserved of any advance in architecture among the Etruscans during this period; we find among them neither any really new reception, nor any original creation, unless we ought to reckon as such the magnificent tombs, e. g. the so-called tomb of Porsena at Chiusi described by Varro, which vividly recalls the strange and meaningless grandeur of the Egyptian pyramids.

Latin— The Arch

In Latium too, during the first century and a half of the republic, it is probable that they moved solely in the previous track, and it has already been stated that the exercise of art rather sank than rose with the introduction of the republic.(32) There can scarcely be named any Latin building of architectural importance belonging to this period, except the temple of Ceres built in the Circus at Rome in 261, which was regarded in the period of the empire as a model of the Tuscanic style. But towards the close of this epoch a new spirit appeared in Italian and particularly in Roman architecture;(33) the building of the magnificent arches began. It is true that we are not entitled to pronounce the arch and the vault Italian inventions. It is well ascertained that at the epoch of the genesis of Hellenic architecture the Hellenes were not yet acquainted with the arch, and therefore had to content themselves with a flat ceiling and a sloping roof for their temples; but the arch may very well have been a later invention of the Hellenes originating in more scientific mechanics; as indeed the Greek tradition refers it to the natural philosopher Democritus (294-397). With this priority of Hellenic over Roman arch-building the hypothesis, which has been often and perhaps justly propounded, is quite compatible, that the vaulted roof of the Roman great -cloaca-, and that which was afterwards thrown over the old Capitoline well-house which originally had a pyramidal roof,(34) are the oldest extant structures in which the principle of the arch is applied; for it is more than probable that these arched buildings belong not to the regal but to the republican period,(35) and that in the regal period the Italians were acquainted only with flat or overlapped roofs.(34) But whatever may be thought as to the invention of the arch itself, the application of a principle on a great scale is everywhere, and particularly in architecture, at least as important as its first exposition; and this application belongs indisputably to the Romans. With the fifth century began the building of gates, bridges, and aqueducts based mainly on the arch, which is thenceforth inseparably associated with the Roman name. Akin to this was the development of the form of the round temple with the dome-shaped roof, which was foreign to the Greeks, but was held in much favour with the Romans and was especially applied by them in the case of the cults peculiar to them, particularly the non-Greek worship of Vesta.(37)

Something the same may be affirmed as true of various subordinate, but not on that account unimportant, achievements in this field. They do not lay claim to originality or artistic accomplishment; but the firmly-jointed stone slabs of the Roman streets, their indestructible highways, the broad hard ringing tiles, the everlasting mortar of their buildings, proclaim the indestructible solidity and the energetic vigour of the Roman character.

Plastic and Delineative Art

Like architectural art, and, if possible, still more completely, the plastic and delineative arts were not so much matured by Grecian stimulus as developed from Greek seeds on Italian soil. We have already observed(38) that these, although only younger sisters of architecture, began to develop themselves at least in Etruria, even during the Roman regal period; but their principal development in Etruria, and still more in Latium, belongs to the present epoch, as is very evident from the fact that in those districts which the Celts and Samnites wrested from the Etruscans in the course of the fourth century there is scarcely a trace of the practice of Etruscan art. The plastic art of the Tuscans applied itself first and chiefly to works in terra-cotta, in copper, and in gold-materials which were furnished to the artists by the rich strata of clay, the copper mines, and the commercial intercourse of Etruria. The vigour with which moulding in clay was prosecuted is attested by the immense number of bas-reliefs and statuary works in terra-cotta, with which the walls, gables, and roofs of the Etruscan temples were once decorated, as their still extant ruins show, and by the trade which can be shown to have existed in such articles from Etruria to Latium. Casting in copper occupied no inferior place. Etruscan artists ventured to make colossal statues of bronze fifty feet in height, and Volsinii, the Etruscan Delphi, was said to have possessed about the year 489 two thousand bronze statues. Sculpture in stone, again, began in Etruria, as probably everywhere, at a far later date, and was prevented from development not only by internal causes, but also by the want of suitable material; the marble quarries of Luna (Carrara) were not yet opened. Any one who has seen the rich and elegant gold decorations of the south-Etruscan tombs, will have no difficulty in believing the statement that Tyrrhene gold cups were valued even in Attica. Gem-engraving also, although more recent, was in various forms practised in Etruria. Equally dependent on the Greeks, but otherwise quite on a level with the workers in the plastic arts, were the Etruscan designers and painters, who manifested extraordinary activity both in outline-drawing on metal and in monochromatic fresco-painting.

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