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The History of Rome (Volumes 1-5)
by Theodor Mommsen
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10. Only we must, of course, not forget that like pre-existing conditions lead everywhere to like institutions. For instance, nothing is more certain than that the Roman plebeians were a growth originating within the Roman commonwealth, and yet they everywhere find their counterpart where a body of -metoeci- has arisen alongside of a body of burgesses. As a matter of course, chance also plays in such cases its provoking game.



CHAPTER III

The Settlements of the Latins



Indo-Germanic Migrations

The home of the Indo-Germanic stock lay in the western portion of central Asia; from this it spread partly in a south-eastern direction over India, partly in a northwestern over Europe. It is difficult to determine the primitive seat of the Indo-Germans more precisely: it must, however, at any rate have been inland and remote from the sea, as there is no name for the sea common to the Asiatic and European branches. Many indications point more particularly to the regions of the Euphrates; so that, singularly enough, the primitive seats of the two most important civilized stocks, —the Indo-Germanic and the Aramaean,—almost coincide as regards locality. This circumstance gives support to the hypothesis that these races also were originally connected, although, if there was such a connection, it certainly must have been anterior to all traceable development of culture and language. We cannot define more exactly their original locality, nor are we able to accompany the individual stocks in the course of their migrations. The European branch probably lingered in Persia and Armenia for some considerable time after the departure of the Indians; for, according to all appearance, that region has been the cradle of agriculture and of the culture of the vine. Barley, spelt, and wheat are indigenous in Mesopotamia, and the vine tothe south of the Caucasus and of the Caspian Sea: there too the plum, the walnut, and others of the more easily transplanted fruit trees are native. It is worthy of notice that the name for the sea is common to most of the European stocks—Latins, Celts, Germans, and Slavonians; they must probably therefore before their separation have reached the coast of the Black Sea or of the Caspian. By what route from those regions the Italians reached the chain of the Alps, and where in particular they were settled while still united with the Hellenes alone, are questions that can only be answered when the problem is solved by what route—whether from Asia Minor or from the regions of the Danube—the Hellenes arrived in Greece. It may at all events be regarded as certain that the Italians, like the Indians, migrated into their peninsula from the north.(1)

The advance of the Umbro-Sabellian stock along the central mountain-ridge of Italy, in a direction from north to south, can still be clearly traced; indeed its last phases belong to purely historical times. Less is known regarding the route which the Latin migration followed. Probably it proceeded in a similar direction along the west coast, long, in all likelihood, before the first Sabellian stocks began to move. The stream only overflows the heights when the lower grounds are already occupied; and only through the supposition that there were Latin stocks already settled on the coast are we able to explain why the Sabellians should have contented themselves with the rougher mountain districts, from which they afterwards issued and intruded, wherever it was possible, between the Latin tribes.

Extension of the Latins in Italy

It is well known that a Latin stock inhabited the country from the left bank of the Tiber to the Volscian mountains; but these mountains themselves, which appear to have been neglected on occasion of the first immigration when the plains of Latium and Campania still lay open to the settlers, were, as the Volscian inscriptions show, occupied by a stock more nearly related to the Sabellians than to the Latins. On the other hand, Latins probably dwelt in Campania before the Greek and Samnite immigrations; for the Italian names Novla or Nola (newtown), Campani Capua, Volturnus (from -volvere-, like -Iuturna- from -iuvare-), Opsci (labourers), are demonstrably older than the Samnite invasion, and show that, at the time when Cumae was founded by the Greeks, an Italian and probably Latin stock, the Ausones, were in possession of Campania. The primitive inhabitants of the districts which the Lucani and Bruttii subsequently occupied, the Itali proper (inhabitants of the land of oxen), are associated by the best observers not with the Iapygian, but with the Italian stock; and there is nothing to hinder our regarding them as belonging to its Latin branch, although the Hellenizing of these districts which took place even before the commencement of the political development of Italy, and their subsequent inundation by Samnite hordes, have in this instance totally obliterated the traces of the older nationality. Very ancient legends bring the similarly extinct stock of the Siculi into relation with Rome. For instance, the earliest historian of Italy Antiochus of Syracuse tells us that a man named Sikelos came a fugitive from Rome to Morges king of Italia (i. e. the Bruttian peninsula). Such stories appear to be founded on the identity of race recognized by the narrators as subsisting between the Siculi (of whom there were some still in Italy in the time of Thucydides) and the Latins. The striking affinity of certain dialectic peculiarities of Sicilian Greek with the Latin is probably to be explained rather by the old commercial connections subsisting between Rome and the Sicilian Greeks, than by the ancient identity of the languages of the Siculi and the Romans. According to all indications, however, not only Latium, but probably also the Campanian and Lucanian districts, the Italia proper between the gulfs of Tarentum and Laus, and the eastern half of Sicily were in primitive times inhabited by different branches of the Latin nation.

Destinies very dissimilar awaited these different branches. Those settled in Sicily, Magna Graecia, and Campania came into contact with the Greeks at a period when they were unable to offer resistance to their civilization, and were either completely Hellenized, as in the case of Sicily, or at any rate so weakened that they succumbed without marked resistance to the fresh energy of the Sabine tribes. In this way the Siculi, the Itali and Morgetes, and the Ausonians never came to play an active part in the history of the peninsula. It was otherwise with Latium, where no Greek colonies were founded, and the inhabitants after hard struggles were successful in maintaining their ground against the Sabines as well as against their northern neighbours. Let us cast a glance at this district, which was destined more than any other to influence the fortunes of the ancient world.

Latium

The plain of Latium must have been in primeval times the scene of the grandest conflicts of nature, while the slowly formative agency of water deposited, and the eruptions of mighty volcanoes upheaved, the successive strata of that soil on which was to be decided the question to what people the sovereignty of the world should belong. Latium is bounded on the east by the mountains of the Sabines and Aequi which form part of the Apennines; and on the south by the Volscian range rising to the height of 4000 feet, which is separated from the main chain of the Apennines by the ancient territory of the Hernici, the tableland of the Sacco (Trerus, a tributary of the Liris), and stretching in a westerly direction terminates in the promontory of Terracina. On the west its boundary is the sea, which on this part of the coast forms but few and indifferent harbours. On the north it imperceptibly merges into the broad hill-land of Etruria. The region thus enclosed forms a magnificent plain traversed by the Tiber, the "mountain-stream" which issues from the Umbrian, and by the Anio, which rises in the Sabine mountains. Hills here and there emerge, like islands, from the plain; some of them steep limestone cliffs, such as that of Soracte in the north-east, and that of the Circeian promontory on the south-west, as well as the similar though lower height of the Janiculum near Rome; others volcanic elevations, whose extinct craters had become converted into lakes which in some cases still exist; the most important of these is the Alban range, which, free on every side, stands forth from the plain between the Volscian chain and the river Tiber.

Here settled the stock which is known to history under the name of the Latins, or, as they were subsequently called by way of distinction from the Latin communities beyond the bounds of Latium, the "Old Latins" (-prisci Latini-). But the territory occupied by them, the district of Latium, was only a small portion of the central plain of Italy. All the country north of the Tiber was to the Latins a foreign and even hostile domain, with whose inhabitants no lasting alliance, no public peace, was possible, and such armistices as were concluded appear always to have been for a limited period. The Tiber formed the northern boundary from early times; and neither in history nor in the more reliable traditions has any reminiscence been preserved as to the period or occasion of the establishment of a frontier line so important in its results. We find, at the time when our history begins, the flat and marshy tracts to the south of the Alban range in the hands of Umbro-Sabellian stocks, the Rutuli and Volsci; Ardea and Velitrae are no longer in the number of originally Latin towns. Only the central portion of that region between the Tiber, the spurs of the Apennines, the Alban Mount, and the sea—a district of about 700 square miles, not much larger than the present canton of Zurich—was Latium proper, the "plain,"(2) as it appears to the eye of the observer from the heights of Monte Cavo. Though the country is a plain, it is not monotonously flat. With the exception of the sea-beach which is sandy and formed in part by the accumulations of the Tiber, the level is everywhere broken by hills of tufa moderate in height though often somewhat steep, and by deep fissures of the ground. These alternating elevations and depressions of the surface lead to the formation of lakes in winter; and the exhalations proceeding in the heat of summer from the putrescent organic substances which they contain engender that noxious fever-laden atmosphere, which in ancient times tainted the district as it taints it at the present day. It is a mistake to suppose that these miasmata were first occasioned by the neglect of cultivation, which was the result of the misgovernment in the last century of the Republic and under the Papacy. Their cause lies rather in the want of natural outlets for the water; and it operates now as it operated thousands of years ago. It is true, however, that the malaria may to a certain extent be banished by thoroughness of tillage—a fact which has not yet received its full explanation, but may be partly accounted for by the circumstance that the working of the surface accelerates the drying up of the stagnant waters. It must always remain a remarkable phenomenon, that a dense agricultural population should have arisen in regions where no healthy population can at present subsist, and where the traveller is unwilling to tarry even for a single night, such as the plain of Latium and the lowlands of Sybaris and Metapontum. We must bear in mind that man in a low stage of civilization has generally a quicker perception of what nature demands, and a greater readiness in conforming to her requirements; perhaps, also, a more elastic physical constitution, which accommodates itself more readily to the conditions of the soil where he dwells. In Sardinia agriculture is prosecuted under physical conditions precisely similar even at the present day; the pestilential atmosphere exists, but the peasant avoids its injurious effects by caution in reference to clothing, food, and the choice of his hours of labour. In fact, nothing is so certain a protection against the "aria cattiva" as wearing the fleece of animals and keeping a blazing fire; which explains why the Roman countryman went constantly clothed in heavy woollen stuffs, and never allowed the fire on his hearth to be extinguished. In other respects the district must have appeared attractive to an immigrant agricultural people: the soil is easily laboured with mattock and hoe and is productive even without being manured, although, tried by an Italian standard, it does not yield any extraordinary return: wheat yields on an average about five-fold.(3) Good water is not abundant; the higher and more sacred on that account was the esteem in which every fresh spring was held by the inhabitants.

Latin Settlements

No accounts have been preserved of the mode in which the settlements of the Latins took place in the district which has since borne their name; and we are left to gather what we can almost exclusively from a posteriori inference regarding them. Some knowledge may, however, in this way be gained, or at any rate some conjectures that wear an aspect of probability.

Clan-Villages

The Roman territory was divided in the earliest times into a number of clan-districts, which were subsequently employed in the formation of the earliest "rural wards" (-tribus rusticae-). Tradition informs us as to the -tribus Claudia-, that it originated from the settlement of the Claudian clansmen on the Anio; and that the other districts of the earliest division originated in a similar manner is indicated quite as certainly by their names. These names are not, like those of the districts added at a later period, derived from the localities, but are formed without exception from the names of clans; and the clans who thus gave their names to the wards of the original Roman territory are, so far as they have not become entirely extinct (as is the case with the -Camilii-, -Galerii-, -Lemonii-, -Pollii-, -Pupinii-, -Voltinii-), the very oldest patrician families of Rome, the -Aemilii-, -Cornelii-, -Fabii-, -Horatii-, -Menenii-, -Papirii-, -Romilii-, -Sergii-, -Voturii-. It is worthy of remark, that not one of these clans can be shown to have taken up its settlement in Rome only at a later epoch. Every Italian, and doubtless also every Hellenic, canton must, like the Roman, have been divided into a number of groups associated at once by locality and by clanship; such a clan-settlement is the "house" (—oikia—) of the Greeks, from which very frequently the —komai— and —demoi— originated among them, like the tribus in Rome. The corresponding Italian terms "house" -vicus-or "district" (-pagus-, from -pangere-) indicate, in like manner, the joint settlement of the members of a clan, and thence come by an easily understood transition to signify in common use hamlet or village. As each household had its own portion of land, so the clan-household or village had a clan-land belonging to it, which, as will afterwards be shown, was managed up to a comparatively late period after the analogy of household—land, that is, on the system of joint-possession. Whether it was in Latium itself that the clan-households became developed into clan-villages, or whether the Latins were already associated in clans when they immigrated into Latium, are questions which we are just as little able to answer as we are to determine what was the form assumed by the management on joint account, which such an arrangement required,(4) or how far, in addition to the original ground of common ancestry, the clan may have been based on the incorporation or co-ordination from without of individuals not related to it by blood.

Cantons

These clanships, however, were from the beginning regarded not as independent societies, but as the integral parts of a political community (-civitas-, -populus-). This first presents itself as an aggregate of a number of clan-villages of the same stock, language, and manners, bound to mutual observance of law and mutual legal redress and to united action in aggression and defence. A fixed local centre was quite as necessary in the case of such a canton as in that of a clanship; but as the members of the clan, or in other words the constituent elements of the canton, dwelt in their villages, the centre of the canton cannot have been a place of joint settlement in the strict sense—a town. It must, on the contrary, have been simply a place of common assembly, containing the seat of justice and the common sanctuary of the canton, where the members of the canton met every eighth day for purposes of intercourse and amusement, and where, in case of war, they obtained for themselves and their cattle a safer shelter from the invading enemy than in the villages: in ordinary circumstances this place of meeting was not at all or but scantily inhabited. Ancient places of refuge, of a kind quite similar, may still be recognized at the present day on the tops of several of the hills in the highlands of east Switzerland. Such a place was called in Italy "height" (-capitolium-, like —akra—, the mountain-top), or "stronghold" (-arx-, from -arcere-); it was not a town at first, but it became the nucleus of one, as houses naturally gathered round the stronghold and were afterwards surrounded with the "ring" (-urbs-, connected with -urvus-, -rurvus-, perhaps also with -orbis-). The stronghold and town were visibly distinguished from each other by the number of gates, of which the stronghold has as few as possible, and the town many, the former ordinarily but one, the latter at least three. Such fortresses were the bases of that cantonal constitution which prevailed in Italy anterior to the existence of towns: a constitution, the nature of which may still be recognized with some degree of clearness in those provinces of Italy which did not until a late period reach, and in some cases have not yet fully reached, the stage of aggregation in towns, such as the land of the Marsi and the small cantons of the Abruzzi. The country if the Aequiculi, who even in the imperial period dwelt not in towns, but in numerous open hamlets, presents a number of ancient ring-walls, which, regarded as "deserted towns" with their solitary temples, excited the astonishment of the Roman as well as of modern archaeologists, who have fancied that they could find accommodation there, the former for their "primitive inhabitants" (-aborigines-), the latter for their Pelasgians. We shall certainly be nearer the truth in recognizing these structures not as walled towns, but as places of refuge for the inhabitants of the district, such as were doubtless found in more ancient times over all Italy, although constructed in less artistic style. It was natural that at the period when the stocks that had made the transition to urban life were surrounding their towns with stone walls, those districts whose inhabitants continued to dwell in open hamlets should replace the earthen ramparts and palisades of their strongholds with buildings of stone. When peace came to be securely established throughout the land and such fortresses were no longer needed, these places of refuge were abandoned and soon became a riddle to after generations.

Localities of the Oldest Cantons

These cantons accordingly, having their rendezvous in some stronghold, and including a certain number of clanships, form the primitive political unities with which Italian history begins. At what period, and to what extent, such cantons were formed in Latium, cannot be determined with precision; nor is it a matter of special historical interest The isolated Alban range, that natural stronghold of Latium, which offered to settlers the most wholesome air, the freshest springs, and the most secure position, would doubtless be first occupied by the new comers.

Alba

Here accordingly, along the narrow plateau above Palazzuola, between the Alban lake (-Lago di Castello-) and the Alban mount (-Monte Cavo-), extended the town of Alba, which was universally regarded as the primitive seat of the Latin stock, and the mother-city of Rome as well as of all the other Old Latin communities; here, too, on the slopes lay the very ancient Latin canton-centres of Lanuvium, Aricia, and Tusculum. Here are found some of those primitive works of masonry, which usually mark the beginnings of civilization and seem to stand as a witness to posterity that in reality Pallas Athena when she does appear, comes into the world full grown. Such is the escarpment of the wall of rock below Alba in the direction of Palazzuola, whereby the place, which is rendered naturally inaccessible by the steep declivities of Monte Cavo on the south, is rendered equally unapproachable on the north, and only the two narrow approaches on the east and west, which are capable of being easily defended, are left open for traffic. Such, above all, is the large subterranean tunnel cut—so that a man can stand upright within it—through the hard wall of lava, 6000 feet thick, by which the waters of the lake formed in the old crater of the Alban Mount were reduced to their present level and a considerable space was gained for tillage on the mountain itself.

The summits of the last offshoots of the Sabine range form natural fastnesses of the Latin plain; and the canton-strongholds there gave rise at a later period to the considerable towns of Tibur and Praeneste. Labici too, Gabii, and Nomentum in the plain between the Alban and Sabine hills and the Tiber, Rome on the Tiber, Laurentum and Lavinium on the coast, were all more or less ancient centres of Latin colonization, not to speak of many others less famous and in some cases almost forgotten.

The Latin League

All these cantons were in primitive times politically sovereign, and each of them was governed by its prince with the co-operation of the council of elders and the assembly of warriors. Nevertheless the feeling of fellowship based on community of descent and of language not only pervaded the whole of them, but manifested itself in an important religious and political institution—the perpetual league of the collective Latin cantons. The presidency belonged originally, according to the universal Italian as well as Hellenic usage, to that canton within whose bounds lay the meeting-place of the league; in this case it was the canton of Alba, which, as we have said, was generally regarded as the oldest and most eminent of the Latin cantons. The communities entitled to participate in the league were in the beginning thirty—a number which we find occurring with singular frequency as the sum of the constituent parts of a commonwealth in Greece and Italy. What cantons originally made up the number of the thirty old Latin communities or, as with reference to the metropolitan rights of Alba they are also called, the thirty Alban colonies, tradition has not recorded, and we can no longer ascertain. The rendezvous of this union was, like the Pamboeotia and the Panionia among the similar confederacies of the Greeks, the "Latin festival" (-feriae Latinae-), at which, on the "Mount of Alba" (-Mons Albanus-, -Monte Cavo-), upon a day annually appointed by the chief magistrate for the purpose, an ox was offered in sacrifice by the assembled Latin stock to the "Latin god" (-Jupiter Latiaris-). Each community taking part in the ceremony had to contribute to the sacrificial feast its fixed proportion of cattle, milk, and cheese, and to receive in return a portion of the roasted victim. These usages continued down to a late period, and are well known: respecting the more important legal bearings of this association we can do little else than institute conjectures.

From the most ancient times there were held, in connection with the religious festival on the Mount of Alba, assemblies of the representatives of the several communities at the neighbouring Latin seat of justice at the source of the Ferentina (near Marino). Indeed such a confederacy cannot be conceived to exist without having a certain power of superintendence over the associated body, and without possessing a system of law binding on all. Tradition records, and we may well believe, that the league exercised jurisdiction in reference to violations of federal law, and that it could in such cases pronounce even sentence of death. The later communion of legal rights and, in some sense, of marriage that subsisted among the Latin communities may perhaps be regarded as an integral part of the primitive law of the league, so that any Latin man could beget lawful children with any Latin woman and acquire landed property and carry on trade in any part of Latium. The league may have also provided a federal tribunal of arbitration for the mutual disputes of the cantons; on the other hand, there is no proof that the league imposed any limitation on the sovereign right of each community to make peace or war. In like manner there can be no doubt that the constitution of the league implied the possibility of its waging defensive or even aggressive war in its own name; in which case, of course, it would be necessary to have a federal commander-in-chief. But we have no reason to suppose that in such an event each community was compelled by law to furnish a contingent for the army, or that, conversely, any one was interdicted from undertaking a war on its own account even against a member of the league. There are, however, indications that during the Latin festival, just as was the case during the festivals of the Hellenic leagues, "a truce of God" was observed throughout all Latium;(5) and probably on that occasion even tribes at feud granted safe-conducts to each other.

It is still less in our power to define the range of the privileges of the presiding canton; only we may safely affirm that there is no reason for recognizing in the Alban presidency a real political hegemony over Latium, and that possibly, nay probably, it had no more significance in Latium than the honorary presidency of Elis had in Greece.(6) On the whole it is probable that the extent of this Latin league, and the amount of its jurisdiction, were somewhat unsettled and fluctuating; yet it remained throughout not an accidental aggregate of various communities more or less alien to each other, but the just and necessary expression of the relationship of the Latin stock. The Latin league may not have at all times included all Latin communities, but it never at any rate granted the privilege of membership to any that were not Latin. Its counterpart in Greece was not the Delphic Amphictyony, but the Boeotian or Aetolian confederacy.

These very general outlines must suffice: any attempt to draw the lines more sharply would only falsify the picture. The manifold play of mutual attraction and repulsion among those earliest political atoms, the cantons, passed away in Latium without witnesses competent to tell the tale. We must now be content to realise the one great abiding fact that they possessed a common centre, to which they did not sacrifice their individual independence, but by means of which they cherished and increased the feeling of their belonging collectively to the same nation. By such a common possession the way was prepared for their advance from that cantonal individuality, with which the history of every people necessarily begins, to the national union with which the history of every people ends or at any rate ought to end.



Notes for Book I Chapter III

1. I. II. Italians

2. Like -latus- (side) and —platus— (flat); it denotes therefore the flat country in contrast to the Sabine mountain-land, just as Campania, the "plain," forms the contrast to Samnium. Latus, formerly -stlatus-, has no connection with Latium.

3. A French statist, Dureau de la Malle (-Econ. Pol. des Romains-, ii. 226), compares with the Roman Campagna the district of Limagne in Auvergne, which is likewise a wide, much intersected, and uneven plain, with a superficial soil of decomposed lava and ashes—the remains of extinct volcanoes. The population, at least 2500 to the square league, is one of the densest to be found in purely agricultural districts: property is subdivided to an extraordinary extent. Tillage is carried on almost entirely by manual labour, with spade, hoe, or mattock; only in exceptional cases a light plough is substituted drawn by two cows, the wife of the peasant not unfrequently taking the place of one of them in the yoke. The team serves at once to furnish milk and to till the land. They have two harvests in the year, corn and vegetables; there is no fallow. The average yearly rent for an arpent of arable land is 100 francs. If instead Of such an arrangement this same land were to be divided among six or seven large landholders, and a system of management by stewards and day labourers were to supersede the husbandry of the small proprietors, in a hundred years the Limagne would doubtless be as waste, forsaken, and miserable as the Campagna di Roma is at the present day.

4. In Slavonia, where the patriarchal economy is retained up to the present day, the whole family, often to the number of fifty or even a hundred persons, remains together in the same house under the orders of the house-father (Goszpodar) chosen by the whole family for life. The property of the household, which consists chiefly in cattle, is administered by the house-father; the surplus is distributed according to the family-branches. Private acquisitions by industry and trade remain separate property. Instances of quitting the household occur, in the case even of men, e. g. by marrying into a stranger household (Csaplovies, -Slavonien-, i. 106, 179). —Under such circumstances, which are probably not very widely different from the earliest Roman conditions, the household approximates in character to the community.

5. The Latin festival is expressly called "armistice" (-indutiae-, Macrob. Sat. i. 16; —ekecheipiai—, Dionys. iv. 49); and a war was not allowed to be begun during its continuance (Macrob. l. c.)

6. The assertion often made in ancient and modern times, that Alba once ruled over Latium under the forms of a symmachy, nowhere finds on closer investigation sufficient support. All history begins not with the union, but with the disunion of a nation; and it is very improbable that the problem of the union of Latium, which Rome finally solved after some centuries of conflict, should have been already solved at an earlier period by Alba. It deserves to be remarked too that Rome never asserted in the capacity of heiress of Alba any claims of sovereignty proper over the Latin communities, but contented herself with an honorary presidency; which no doubt, when it became combined with material power, afforded a handle for her pretensions of hegemony. Testimonies, strictly so called, can scarcely be adduced on such a question; and least of all do such passages as Festus -v. praetor-, p. 241, and Dionys. iii. 10, suffice to stamp Alba as a Latin Athens.



CHAPTER IV

The Beginnings of Rome



Ramnes

About fourteen miles up from the mouth of the river Tiber hills of moderate elevation rise on both banks of the stream, higher on the right, lower on the left bank. With the latter group there has been closely associated for at least two thousand five hundred years the name of the Romans. We are unable, of course, to tell how or when that name arose; this much only is certain, that in the oldest form of it known to us the inhabitants of the canton are called not Romans, but Ramnians (Ramnes); and this shifting of sound, which frequently occurs in the older period of a language, but fell very early into abeyance in Latin,(1) is an expressive testimony to the immemorial antiquity of the name. Its derivation cannot be given with certainty; possibly "Ramnes" may mean "the people on the stream."

Tities, Luceres

But they were not the only dwellers on the hills by the bank of the Tiber. In the earliest division of the burgesses of Rome a trace has been preserved of the fact that that body arose out of the amalgamation of three cantons once probably independent, the Ramnians, Tities, and Luceres, into a single commonwealth—in other words, out of such a —synoikismos— as that from which Athens arose in Attica.(2) The great antiquity of this threefold division of the community(3) is perhaps best evinced by the fact that the Romans, in matters especially of constitutional law, regularly used the forms -tribuere- ("to divide into three") and -tribus- ("a third") in the general sense of "to divide" and "a part," and the latter expression (-tribus-), like our "quarter," early lost its original signification of number. After the union each of these three communities—once separate, but now forming subdivisions of a single community—still possessed its third of the common domain, and had its proportional representation in the burgess-force and in the council of the elders. In ritual also, the number divisible by three of the members of almost all the oldest colleges—of the Vestal Virgins, the Salii, the Arval Brethren, the Luperci, the Augurs— probably had reference to that three-fold partition. These three elements into which the primitive body of burgesses in Rome was divided have had theories of the most extravagant absurdity engrafted upon them. The irrational opinion that the Roman nation was a mongrel people finds its support in that division, and its advocates have striven by various means to represent the three great Italian races as elements entering into the composition of the primitive Rome, and to transform a people which has exhibited in language, polity, and religion, a pure and national development such as few have equalled, into a confused aggregate of Etruscan and Sabine, Hellenic and, forsooth! even Pelasgian fragments.

Setting aside self-contradictory and unfounded hypotheses, we may sum up in a few words all that can be said respecting the nationality of the component elements of the primitive Roman commonwealth. That the Ramnians were a Latin stock cannot be doubted, for they gave their name to the new Roman commonwealth and therefore must have substantially determined the nationality of the united community. Respecting the origin of the Luceres nothing can be affirmed, except that there is no difficulty in the way of our assigning them, like the Ramnians, to the Latin stock. The second of these communities, on the other hand, is with one consent derived from Sabina; and this view can at least be traced to a tradition preserved in the Titian brotherhood, which represented that priestly college as having been instituted, on occasion of the Tities being admitted into the collective community, for the preservation of their distinctive Sabine ritual. It may be, therefore, that at a period very remote, when the Latin and Sabellian stocks were beyond question far less sharply contrasted in language, manners, and customs than were the Roman and the Samnite of a later age, a Sabellian community entered into a Latin canton-union; and, as in the older and more credible traditions without exception the Tities take precedence of the Ramnians, it is probable that the intruding Tities compelled the older Ramnians to accept the —synoikismos—. A mixture of different nationalities certainly therefore took place; but it hardly exercised an influence greater than the migration, for example, which occurred some centuries afterwards of the Sabine Attus Clauzus or Appius Claudius and his clansmen and clients to Rome. The earlier admission of the Tities among the Ramnians does not entitle us to class the community among mongrel peoples any more than does that subsequent reception of the Claudii among the Romans. With the exception, perhaps, of isolated national institutions handed down in connection with ritual, the existence of Sabellian elements can nowhere be pointed out in Rome; and the Latin language in particular furnishes absolutely no support to any such hypothesis.(4) It would in fact be more than surprising, if the Latin nation should have had its nationality in any sensible degree affected by the insertion of a single community from a stock so very closely related to it; and, besides, it must not be forgotten that at the time when the Tides settled beside the Ramnians, Latin nationality rested on Latium as its basis, and not on Rome. The new tripartite Roman commonwealth was, notwithstanding some incidental elements which were originally Sabellian, just what the community of the Ramnians had previously been—a portion of the Latin nation.

Rome the Emporium of Latium

Long, in all probability, before an urban settlement arose on the Tiber, these Ramnians, Tities, and Luceres, at first separate, afterwards united, had their stronghold on the Roman hills, and tilled their fields from the surrounding villages. The "wolf-festival" (Lupercalia) which the gens of the Quinctii celebrated on the Palatine hill, was probably a tradition from these primitive times—a festival of husbandmen and shepherds, which more than any other preserved the homely pastimes of patriarchal simplicity, and, singularly enough, maintained itself longer than all the other heathen festivals in Christian Rome,

Character of Its Site

From these settlements the later Rome arose. The founding of a city in the strict sense, such as the legend assumes, is of course to be reckoned altogether out of the question: Rome was not built in a day. But the serious consideration of the historian may well be directed to the inquiry, in what way Rome can have so early attained the prominent political position which it held in Latium—so different from what the physical character of the locality would have led us to anticipate. The site of Rome is less healthy and less fertile than that of most of the old Latin towns. Neither the vine nor the fig succeed well in the immediate environs, and there is a want of springs yielding a good supply of water; for neither the otherwise excellent fountain of the Camenae before the Porta Capena, nor the Capitoline well, afterwards enclosed within the Tullianum, furnish it in any abundance. Another disadvantage arises from the frequency with which the river overflows its banks. Its very slight fall renders it unable to carry off the water, which during the rainy season descends in large quantities from the mountains, with sufficient rapidity to the sea, and in consequence it floods the low-lying lands and the valleys that open between the hills, and converts them into swamps. For a settler the locality was anything but attractive. In antiquity itself an opinion was expressed that the first body of immigrant cultivators could scarce have spontaneously resorted in search of a suitable settlement to that unhealthy and unfruitful spot in a region otherwise so highly favoured, and that it must have been necessity, or rather some special motive, which led to the establishment of a city there. Even the legend betrays its sense of the strangeness of the fact: the story of the foundation of Rome by refugees from Alba under the leadership of the sons of an Alban prince, Romulus and Remus, is nothing but a naive attempt of primitive quasi-history to explain the singular circumstance of the place having arisen on a site so unfavourable, and to connect at the same time the origin of Rome with the general metropolis of Latium. Such tales, which profess to be historical but are merely improvised explanations of no very ingenious character, it is the first duty of history to dismiss; but it may perhaps be allowed to go a step further, and after weighing the special relations of the locality to propose a positive conjecture not regarding the way in which the place originated, but regarding the circumstances which occasioned its rapid and surprising prosperity and led to its occupying its peculiar position in Latium.

Earliest Limits of the Roman Territory

Let us notice first of all the earliest boundaries of the Roman territory. Towards the east the towns of Antemnae, Fidenae, Caenina, and Gabii lie in the immediate neighbourhood, some of them not five miles distant from the Servian ring-wall; and the boundary of the canton must have been in the close vicinity of the city gates. On the south we find at a distance of fourteen miles the powerful communities of Tusculum and Alba; and the Roman territory appears not to have extended in this direction beyond the -Fossa Cluilia-, five miles from Rome. In like manner, towards the south-west, the boundary betwixt Rome and Lavinium was at the sixth milestone. While in a landward direction the Roman canton was thus everywhere confined within the narrowest possible limits, from the earliest times, on the other hand, it extended without hindrance on both banks of the Tiber towards the sea. Between Rome and the coast there occurs no locality that is mentioned as an ancient canton-centre, and no trace of any ancient canton-boundary. The legend indeed, which has its definite explanation of the origin of everything, professes to tell us that the Roman possessions on the right bank of the Tiber, the "seven hamlets" (-septem pagi-), and the important salt-works at its mouth, were taken by king Romulus from the Veientes, and that king Ancus fortified on the right bank the -tete de pont-, the "mount of Janus" (-Janiculum-), and founded on the left the Roman Peiraeus, the seaport at the river's "mouth" (-Ostia-). But in fact we have evidence more trustworthy than that of legend, that the possessions on the Etruscan bank of the Tiber must have belonged to the original territory of Rome; for in this very quarter, at the fourth milestone on the later road to the port, lay the grove of the creative goddess (-Dea Dia-), the primitive chief seat of the Arval festival and Arval brotherhood of Rome. Indeed from time immemorial the clan of the Romilii, once the chief probably of all the Roman clans, was settled in this very quarter; the Janiculum formed a part of the city itself, and Ostia was a burgess colony or, in other words, a suburb.

The Tiber and Its Traffic

This cannot have been the result of mere accident. The Tiber was the natural highway for the traffic of Latium; and its mouth, on a coast scantily provided with harbours, became necessarily the anchorage of seafarers. Moreover, the Tiber formed from very ancient times the frontier defence of the Latin stock against their northern neighbours. There was no place better fitted for an emporium of the Latin river and sea traffic, and for a maritime frontier fortress of Latium, than Rome. It combined the advantages of a strong position and of immediate vicinity to the river; it commanded both banks of the stream down to its mouth; it was so situated as to be equally convenient for the river navigator descending the Tiber or the Anio, and for the seafarer with vessels of so moderate a size as those which were then used; and it afforded greater protection from pirates than places situated immediately on the coast. That Rome was indebted, if not for its origin, at any rate for its importance, to these commercial and strategical advantages of its position, there are accordingly numerous further indications, which are of very different weight from the statements of quasi-historical romances. Thence arose its very ancient relations with Caere, which was to Etruria what Rome was to Latium, and accordingly became Rome's most intimate neighbour and commercial ally. Thence arose the unusual importance of the bridge over the Tiber, and of bridge-building generally in the Roman commonwealth. Thence came the galley in the city arms; thence, too, the very ancient Roman port-duties on the exports and imports of Ostia, which were from the first levied only on what was to be exposed for sale (-promercale-), not on what was for the shipper's own use (-usuarium-), and which were therefore in reality a tax upon commerce. Thence, to anticipate, the comparatively early occurrence in Rome of coined money, and of commercial treaties with transmarine states. In this sense, then, certainly Rome may have been, as the legend assumes, a creation rather than a growth, and the youngest rather than the oldest among the Latin cities. Beyond doubt the country was already in some degree cultivated, and the Alban range as well as various other heights of the Campagna were occupied by strongholds, when the Latin frontier emporium arose on the Tiber. Whether it was a resolution of the Latin confederacy, or the clear-sighted genius of some unknown founder, or the natural development of traffic, that called the city of Rome into being, it is vain even to surmise.

Early Urban Character of Rome

But in connection with this view of the position of Rome as the emporium of Latium another observation suggests itself. At the time when history begins to dawn on us, Rome appears, in contradistinction to the league of the Latin communities, as a compact urban unity. The Latin habit of dwelling in open villages, and of using the common stronghold only for festivals and assemblies or in case of special need, was subjected to restriction at a far earlier period, probably, in the canton of Rome than anywhere else in Latium. The Roman did not cease to manage his farm in person, or to regard it as his proper home; but the unwholesome atmosphere of the Campagna could not but induce him to take up his abode as much as possible on the more airy and salubrious city hills; and by the side of the cultivators of the soil there must have been a numerous non-agricultural population, partly foreigners, partly native, settled there from very early times. This to some extent accounts for the dense population of the old Roman territory, which may be estimated at the utmost at 115 square miles, partly of marshy or sandy soil, and which, even under the earliest constitution of the city, furnished a force of 3300 freemen; so that it must have numbered at least 10,000 free inhabitants. But further, every one acquainted with the Romans and their history is aware that it is their urban and mercantile character which forms the basis of whatever is peculiar in their public and private life, and that the distinction between them and the other Latins and Italians in general is pre-eminently the distinction between citizen and rustic. Rome, indeed, was not a mercantile city like Corinth or Carthage; for Latium was an essentially agricultural region, and Rome was in the first instance, and continued to be, pre-eminently a Latin city. But the distinction between Rome and the mass of the other Latin towns must certainly be traced back to its commercial position, and to the type of character produced by that position in its citizens. If Rome was the emporium of the Latin districts, we can readily understand how, along with and in addition to Latin husbandry, an urban life should have attained vigorous and rapid development there and thus have laid the foundation for its distinctive career.

It is far more important and more practicable to follow out the course of this mercantile and strategical growth of the city of Rome, than to attempt the useless task of chemically analysing the insignificant and but little diversified communities of primitive times. This urban development may still be so far recognized in the traditions regarding the successive circumvallations and fortifications of Rome, the formation of which necessarily kept pace with the growth of the Roman commonwealth in importance as a city.

The Palatine City

The town, which in the course of centuries grew up as Rome, in its original form embraced according to trustworthy testimony only the Palatine, or "square Rome" (-Roma quadrata-), as it was called in later times from the irregularly quadrangular form of the Palatine hill. The gates and walls that enclosed this original city remained visible down to the period of the empire: the sites of two of the former, the Porta Romana near S. Giorgio in Velabro, and the Porta Mugionis at the Arch of Titus, are still known to us, and the Palatine ring-wall is described by Tacitus from his own observation at least on the sides looking towards the Aventine and Caelian. Many traces indicate that this was the centre and original seat of the urban settlement. On the Palatine was to be found the sacred symbol of that settlement, the "outfit-vault" (-mundus-) as it was called, in which the first settlers deposited a sufficiency of everything necessary for a household and added a clod of their dear native earth. There, too, was situated the building in which all the curies assembled for religious and other purposes, each at its own hearth (-curiae veteres-). There stood the meetinghouse of the "Leapers" (-curia Saliorum-) in which also the sacred shields of Mars were preserved, the sanctuary of the "Wolves" (-Lupercal-), and the dwelling of the priest of Jupiter. On and near this hill the legend of the founding of the city placed the scenes of its leading incidents, and the straw-covered house of Romulus, the shepherd's hut of his foster-father Faustulus, the sacred fig-tree towards which the cradle with the twins had floated, the cornelian cherry-tree that sprang from the shaft of the spear which the founder of the city had hurled from the Aventine over the valley of the Circus into this enclosure, and other such sacred relics were pointed out to the believer. Temples in the proper sense of the term were still at this time unknown, and accordingly the Palatine has nothing of that sort to show belonging to the primitive age. The public assemblies of the community were early transferred to another locality, so that their original site is unknown; only it may be conjectured that the free space round the -mundus-, afterwards called the -area Apollinis-, was the primitive place of assembly for the burgesses and the senate, and the stage erected over the -mundus- itself the primitive seat of justice of the Roman community.

The Seven Mounts

The "festival of the Seven Mounts" (-septimontium-), again, has preserved the memory of the more extended settlement which gradually formed round the Palatine. Suburbs grew up one after another, each protected by its own separate though weaker circumvallation and joined to the original ring-wall of the Palatine, as in fen districts the outer dikes are joined on to the main dike. The "Seven Rings" were, the Palatine itself; the Cermalus, the slope of the Palatine in the direction of the morass that extended between it and the Capitol towards the river (-velabrum-); the Velia, the ridge which connected the Palatine with the Esquiline, but in subsequent times was almost wholly obliterated by the buildings of the empire; the Fagutal, the Oppius, and the Cispius, the three summits of the Esquiline; lastly, the Sucusa, or Subura, a fortress constructed outside of the earthen rampart which protected the new town on the Carinae, in the depression between the Esquiline and the Quirinal beneath S. Pietro in Vincoli. These additions, manifestly the results of a gradual growth, clearly reveal to a certain extent the earliest history of the Palatine Rome, especially when we compare with them the Servian arrangement of districts which was afterwards formed on the basis of this earliest division.

Oldest Settlements in the Palatine and Suburan Regions

The Palatine was the original seat of the Roman community, the oldest and originally the only ring-wall. The urban settlement, however, began at Rome as well as elsewhere not within, but under the protection of, the stronghold; and the oldest settlements with which we are acquainted, and which afterwards formed the first and second regions in the Servian division of the city, lay in a circle round the Palatine. These included the settlement on the declivity of the Cermalus with the "street of the Tuscans"—a name in which there may have been preserved a reminiscence of the commercial intercourse between the Caerites and Romans already perhaps carried on with vigour in the Palatine city—and the settlement on the Velia; both of which subsequently along with the stronghold-hill itself constituted one region in the Servian city. Further, there were the component elements of the subsequent second region—the suburb on the Caelian, which probably embraced only its extreme point above the Colosseum; that on the Carinae, the spur which projects from the Esquiline towards the Palatine; and, lastly, the valley and outwork of the Subura, from which the whole region received its name. These two regions jointly constituted the incipient city; and the Suburan district of it, which extended at the base of the stronghold, nearly from the Arch of Constantine to S. Pietro in Vincoli, and over the valley beneath, appears to have been more considerable and perhaps older than the settlements incorporated by the Servian arrangement in the Palatine district, because in the order of the regions the former takes precedence of the latter. A remarkable memorial of the distinction between these two portions of the city was preserved in one of the oldest sacred customs of the later Rome, the sacrifice of the October horse yearly offered in the -Campus Martius-: down to a late period a struggle took place at this festival for the horse's head between the men of the Subura and those of the Via Sacra, and according as victory lay with the former or with the latter, the head was nailed either to the Mamilian Tower (site unknown) in the Subura, or to the king's palace under the Palatine. It was the two halves of the old city that thus competed with each other on equal terms. At that time, accordingly, the Esquiliae (which name strictly used is exclusive of the Carinae) were in reality what they were called, the "outer buildings" (-exquiliae-, like -inquilinus-, from -colere-) or suburb: this became the third region in the later city division, and it was always held in inferior consideration as compared with the Suburan and Palatine regions. Other neighbouring heights also, such as the Capitol and the Aventine, may probably have been occupied by the community of the Seven Mounts; the "bridge of piles" in particular (-pons sublicius-), thrown over the natural pier of the island in the Tiber, must have existed even then—the pontifical college alone is sufficient evidence of this—and the -tete de pont- on the Etruscan bank, the height of the Janiculum, would not be left unoccupied; but the community had not as yet brought either within the circuit of its fortifications. The regulation which was adhered to as a ritual rule down to the latest times, that the bridge should be composed simply of wood without iron, manifestly shows that in its original practical use it was to be merely a flying bridge, which must be capable of being easily at any time broken off or burnt. We recognize in this circumstance how insecure for a long time and liable to interruption was the command of the passage of the river on the part of the Roman community.

No relation is discoverable between the urban settlements thus gradually formed and the three communities into which from an immemorially early period the Roman commonwealth was in political law divided. As the Ramnes, Tities, and Luceres appear to have been communities originally independent, they must have had their settlements originally apart; but they certainly did not dwell in separate circumvallations on the Seven Hills, and all fictions to this effect in ancient or modern times must be consigned by the intelligent inquirer to the same fate with the charming tale of Tarpeia and the battle of the Palatine. On the contrary each of the three tribes of Ramnes, Tities, and Luceres must have been distributed throughout the two regions of the oldest city, the Subura and Palatine, and the suburban region as well: with this may be connected the fact, that afterwards not only in the Suburan and Palatine, but in each of the regions subsequently added to the city, there were three pairs of Argean chapels. The Palatine city of the Seven Mounts may have had a history of its own; no other tradition of it has survived than simply that of its having once existed. But as the leaves of the forest make room for the new growth of spring, although they fall unseen by human eyes, so has this unknown city of the Seven Mounts made room for the Rome of history.

The Hill-Romans on the Quirinal

But the Palatine city was not the only one that in ancient times existed within the circle afterwards enclosed by the Servian walls; opposite to it, in its immediate vicinity, there lay a second city on the Quirinal. The "old stronghold" (-Capitolium vetus-) with a sanctuary of Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva, and a temple of the goddess of Fidelity in which state treaties were publicly deposited, forms the evident counterpart of the later Capitol with its temple to Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva, and with its shrine of Fides Romana likewise destined as it were for a repository of international law, and furnishes a sure proof that the Quirinal also was once the centre of an independent commonwealth. The same fact may be inferred from the double worship of Mars on the Palatine and the Quirinal; for Mars was the type of the warrior and the oldest chief divinity of the burgess communities of Italy. With this is connected the further circumstance that his ministers, the two primitive colleges of the "Leapers" (-Salii-) and of the "Wolves" (-Luperci-) existed in the later Rome in duplicate: by the side of the Salii of the Palatine there were also Salii of the Quirinal; by the side of the Quinctian Luperci of the Palatine there was a Fabian guild of Luperci, which in all probability had their sanctuary on the Quirinal.(5)

All these indications, which even in themselves are of great weight, become more significant when we recollect that the accurately known circuit of the Palatine city of the Seven Mounts excluded the Quirinal, and that afterwards in the Servian Rome, while the first three regions corresponded to the former Palatine city, a fourth region was formed out of the Quirinal along with the neighbouring Viminal. Thus, too, we discover an explanation of the reason why the strong outwork of the Subura was constructed beyond the city wall in the valley between the Esquiline and Quirinal; it was at that point, in fact, that the two territories came into contact, and the Palatine Romans, after having taken possession of the low ground, were under the necessity of constructing a stronghold for protection against those of the Quirinal.

Lastly, even the name has not been lost by which the men of the Quirinal distinguished themselves from their Palatine neighbours. As the Palatine city took the name of "the Seven Mounts," its citizens called themselves the "mount-men" (-montani-), and the term "mount," while applied to the other heights belonging to the city, was above all associated with the Palatine; so the Quirinal height—although not lower, but on the contrary somewhat higher, than the former—as well as the adjacent Viminal never in the strict use of the language received any other name than "hill" (collis). In the ritual records, indeed, the Quirinal was not unfrequently designated as the "hill" without further addition. In like manner the gate leading out from this height was usually called the "hill-gate" (-porta collina-); the priests of Mars settled there were called those "of the hill" (-Salii collini-) in contrast to those of the Palatium (-Salii Palatini-) and the fourth Servian region formed out of this district was termed the hill-region (-tribus collina-)(6) The name of Romans primarily associated with the locality was probably appropriated by these "Hill-men" as well as by those of the "Mounts;" and the former perhaps designated themselves as "Romans of the Hill" (-Romani collini-). That a diversity of race may have lain at the foundation of this distinction between the two neighbouring cities is possible; but evidence sufficient to warrant our pronouncing a community established on Latin soil to be of alien lineage is, in the case of the Quirinal community, totally wanting.(7)

Relations between the Palatine and Quirinal Communities

Thus the site of the Roman commonwealth was still at this period occupied by the Mount-Romans of the Palatine and the Hill-Romans of the Quirinal as two separate communities confronting each other and doubtless in many respects at feud, in some degree resembling the Montigiani and the Trasteverini in modern Rome. That the community of the Seven Mounts early attained a great preponderance over that of the Quirinal may with certainty be inferred both from the greater extent of its newer portions and suburbs, and from the position of inferiority in which the former Hill-Romans were obliged to acquiesce under the later Servian arrangement. But even within the Palatine city there was hardly a true and complete amalgamation of the different constituent elements of the settlement. We have already mentioned how the Subura and the Palatine annually contended for the horse's head; the several Mounts also, and even the several curies (there was as yet no common hearth for the city, but the various hearths of the curies subsisted side by side, although in the same locality) probably felt themselves to be as yet more separated than united; and Rome as a whole was probably rather an aggregate of urban settlements than a single city. It appears from many indications that the houses of the old and powerful families were constructed somewhat after the manner of fortresses and were rendered capable of defence—a precaution, it may be presumed, not unnecessary. It was the magnificent structure ascribed to king Servius Tullius that first surrounded not merely those two cities of the Palatine and Quirinal, but also the heights of the Capitol and the Aventine which were not comprehended within their enclosure, with a single great ring-wall, and thereby created the new Rome—the Rome of history. But ere this mighty work was undertaken, the relations of Rome to the surrounding country had beyond doubt undergone a complete revolution. As the period, during which the husbandman guided his plough on the seven hills of Rome just as on the other hills of Latium, and the usually unoccupied places of refuge on particular summits alone presented the germs of a more permanent settlement, corresponds to the earliest epoch of the Latin stock without trace of traffic or achievement; as thereafter the flourishing settlement on the Palatine and in the "Seven Rings" was coincident with the occupation of the mouths of the Tiber by the Roman community, and with the progress of the Latins to a more stirring and freer intercourse, to an urban civilization in Rome more especially, and perhaps also to a more consolidated political union in the individual states as well as in the confederacy; so the Servian wall, which was the foundation of a single great city, was connected with the epoch at which the city of Rome was able to contend for, and at length to achieve, the sovereignty of the Latin league.



Notes for Book I Chapter IV

1. A similar change of sound is exhibited in the case of the following formations, all of them of a very ancient kind: -pars—portio-, -Mars- -Mors-, -farreum- ancient form for -horreum-, -Fabii- -Fovii-, -Valerius- -Volesus-, -vacuus- -vacivus-.

2. The —synoikismos— did not necessarily involve an actual settlement together at one spot; but while each resided as formerly on his own land, there was thenceforth only one council-hall and court-house for the whole (Thucyd. ii. 15; Herodot. i. 170).

3. We might even, looking to the Attic —trittus— and the Umbrian -trifo-, raise the question whether a triple division of the community was not a fundamental principle of the Graeco-ltalians: in that case the triple division of the Roman community would not be referable to the amalgamation of several once independent tribes. But, in order to the establishment of a hypothesis so much at variance with tradition, such a threefold division would require to present itself more generally throughout the Graeco-Italian field than seems to be the case, and to appear uniformly everywhere as the ground-scheme. The Umbrians may possibly have adopted the word -tribus- only when they came under the influence of Roman rule; it cannot with certainty be traced in Oscan.

4. Although the older opinion, that Latin is to be viewed as a mixed language made up of Greek and non-Greek elements, has been now abandoned on all sides, judicious inquirers even (e. g. Schwegler, R. G. i. 184, 193) still seek to discover in Latin a mixture of two nearly related Italian dialects. But we ask in vain for the linguistic or historical facts which render such an hypothesis necessary. When a language presents the appearance of being an intermediate link between two others, every philologist knows that the phenomenon may quite as probably depend, and more frequently does depend, on organic development than on external intermixture.

5. That the Quinctian Luperci had precedence in rank over the Fabian is evident from the circumstance that the fabulists attribute the Quinctii to Romulus, the Fabii to Remus (Ovid, Fast. ii. 373 seq.; Vict. De Orig. 22). That the Fabii belonged to the Hill-Romans is shown by the sacrifice of their -gens- on the Quirinal (Liv. v. 46, 52), whether that sacrifice may or may not have been connected with the Lupercalia.

Moreover, the Lupercus of the former college is called in inscriptions (Orelli, 2253) -Lupercus Quinctialis vetus-; and the -praenomen-Kaeso, which was most probably connected with the Lupercal worship (see Rom. Forschungen, i. 17), is found exclusively among the Quinctii and Fabii: the form commonly occurring in authors, -Lupercus Quinctilius- and -Quinctilianus-, is therefore a misnomer, and the college belonged not to the comparatively recent Quinctilii, but to the far older Quinctii. When, again, the Quinctii (Liv. i. 30), or Quinctilii (Dion. iii. 29), are named among the Alban clans, the latter reading is here to be preferred, and the Quinctii are to be regarded rather as an old Roman -gens-.

6. Although the name "Hill of Quirinus" was afterwards ordinarily used to designate the height where the Hill-Romans had their abode, we need not at all on that account regard the name "Quirites" as having been originally reserved for the burgesses on the Quirinal. For, as has been shown, all the earliest indications point, as regards these, to the name -Collini-; while it is indisputably certain that the name Quirites denoted from the first, as well as subsequently, simply the full burgess, and had no connection with the distinction between montani and collini (comp. chap. v. infra). The later designation of the Quirinal rests on the circumstance that, while the -Mars quirinus-, the spear-bearing god of Death, was originally worshipped as well on the Palatine as on the Quirinal—as indeed the oldest inscriptions found at what was afterwards called the Temple of Quirinus designate this divinity simply as Mars,—at a later period for the sake of distinction the god of the Mount-Romans more especially was called Mars, the god of the Hill Romans more especially Quirinus.

When the Quirinal is called -collis agonalis-, "hill of sacrifice," it is so designated merely as the centre of the religious rites of the Hill-Romans.

7. The evidence alleged for this (comp. e. g. Schwegler, S. G. i. 480) mainly rests on an etymologico-historical hypothesis started by Varro and as usual unanimously echoed by later writers, that the Latin -quiris- and -quirinus- are akin to the name of the Sabine town -Cures-, and that the Quirinal hill accordingly had been peopled from -Cures-. Even if the linguistic affinity of these words were more assured, there would be little warrant for deducing from it such a historical inference. That the old sanctuaries on this eminence (where, besides, there was also a "Collis Latiaris") were Sabine, has been asserted, but has not been proved. Mars quirinus, Sol, Salus, Flora, Semo Sancus or Deus fidius were doubtless Sabine, but they were also Latin, divinities, formed evidently during the epoch when Latins and Sabines still lived undivided. If a name like that of Semo Sancus (which moreover occurs in connection with the Tiber-island) is especially associated with the sacred places of the Quirinal which afterwards diminished in its importance (comp. the Porta Sanqualis deriving its name therefrom), every unbiassed inquirer will recognize in such a circumstance only a proof of the high antiquity of that worship, not a proof of its derivation from a neighbouring land. In so speaking we do not mean to deny that it is possible that old distinctions of race may have co-operated in producing this state of things; but if such was the case, they have, so far as we are concerned, totally disappeared, and the views current among our contemporaries as to the Sabine element in the constitution of Rome are only fitted seriously to warn us against such baseless speculations leading to no result.



CHAPTER V

The Original Constitution of Rome



The Roman House

Father and mother, sons and daughters, home and homestead, servants and chattels—such are the natural elements constituting the household in all cases, where polygamy has not obliterated the distinctive position of the mother. But the nations that have been most susceptible of culture have diverged widely from each other in their conception and treatment of the natural distinctions which the household thus presents. By some they have been apprehended and wrought out more profoundly, by others more superficially; by some more under their moral, by others more under their legal aspects. None has equalled the Roman in the simple but inexorable embodiment in law of the principles pointed out by nature herself.

The House-father and His Household

The family formed an unity. It consisted of the free man who upon his father's death had become his own master, and the spouse whom the priests by the ceremony of the sacred salted cake (-confarreatio-) had solemnly wedded to share with him water and fire, with their son and sons' sons and the lawful wives of these, and their unmarried daughters and sons' daughters, along with all goods and substance pertaining to any of its members. The children of daughters on the other hand were excluded, because, if born in wedlock, they belonged to the family of the husband; and if begotten out of wedlock, they had no place in a family at all. To the Roman citizen a house of his own and the blessing of children appeared the end and essence of life. The death of the individual was not an evil, for it was a matter of necessity; but the extinction of a household or of a clan was injurious to the community itself, which in the earliest times therefore opened up to the childless the means of avoiding such a fatality by their adopting the children of others as their own.

The Roman family from the first contained within it the conditions of a higher culture in the moral adjustment of the mutual relations of its members. Man alone could be head of a family. Woman did not indeed occupy a position inferior to man in the acquiring of property and money; on the contrary the daughter inherited an equal share with her brother, and the mother an equal share with her children. But woman always and necessarily belonged to the household, not to the community; and in the household itself she necessarily held a position of domestic subjection—the daughter to her father, the wife to her husband,(1) the fatherless unmarried woman to her nearest male relatives; it was by these, and not by the king, that in case of need woman was called to account. Within the house, however, woman was not servant but mistress. Exempted from the tasks of corn-grinding and cooking which according to Roman ideas belonged to the menials, the Roman housewife devoted herself in the main to the superintendence of her maid-servants, and to the accompanying labours of the distaff, which was to woman what the plough was to man.(2) In like manner, the moral obligations of parents towards their children were fully and deeply felt by the Roman nation; and it was reckoned a heinous offence if a father neglected or corrupted his child, or if he even squandered his property to his child's disadvantage.

In a legal point of view, however, the family was absolutely guided and governed by the single all-powerful will of the "father of the household" (-pater familias-). In relation to him all in the household were destitute of legal rights—the wife and the child no less than the bullock or the slave. As the virgin became by the free choice of her husband his wedded wife, so it rested with his own free will to rear or not to rear the child which she bore to him. This maxim was not suggested by indifference to the possession of a family; on the contrary, the conviction that the founding of a house and the begetting of children were a moral necessity and a public duty had a deep and earnest hold of the Roman mind. Perhaps the only instance of support accorded on the part of the community in Rome is the enactment that aid should be given to the father who had three children presented to him at a birth; while their ideas regarding exposure are indicated by the prohibition of it so far as concerned all the sons—deformed births excepted—and at least the first daughter. Injurious, however, to the public weal as exposure might appear, the prohibition of it soon changed its form from that of legal punishment into that of religious curse; for the father was, above all, thoroughly and absolutely master in his household. The father of the household not only maintained the strictest discipline over its members, but he had the right and duty of exercising judicial authority over them and of punishing them as he deemed fit in life and limb. The grown-up son might establish a separate household or, as the Romans expressed it, maintain his "own cattle" (-peculium-) assigned to him by his father; but in law all that the son acquired, whether by his own labour or by gift from a stranger, whether in his father's household or in his own, remained the father's property. So long as the father lived, the persons legally subject to him could never hold property of their own, and therefore could not alienate unless by him so empowered, or yet bequeath. In this respect wife and child stood quite on the same level with the slave, who was not unfrequently allowed to manage a household of his own, and who was likewise entitled to alienate when commissioned by his master. Indeed a father might convey his son as well as his slave in property to a third person: if the purchaser was a foreigner, the son became his slave; if he was a Roman, the son, while as a Roman he could not become a Roman's slave, stood at least to his purchaser in a slave's stead (-in mancipii causa-). The paternal and marital power was subject to a legal restriction, besides the one already mentioned on the right Of exposure, only in so far as some of the worst abuses were visited by legal punishment as well as by religious curse. Thus these penalties fell upon the man who sold his wife or married son; and it was a matter of family usage that in the exercise of domestic jurisdiction the father, and still more the husband, should not pronounce sentence on child or wife without having previously consulted the nearest blood-relatives, his wife's as well as his own. But the latter arrangement involved no legal diminution of power, for the blood-relatives called in to the domestic judgment had not to judge, but simply to advise the father of the household in judging.

But not only was the power of the master of the house substantially unlimited and responsible to no one on earth; it was also, as long as he lived, unchangeable and indestructible. According to the Greek as well as Germanic laws the grown-up son, who was practically independent of his father, was also independent legally; but the power of the Roman father could not be dissolved during his life either by age or by insanity, or even by his own free will, excepting only that the person of the holder of the power might change, for the child might certainly pass by way of adoption into the power of another father, and the daughter might pass by a lawful marriage out of the hand of her father into the hand of her husband and, leaving her own -gens- and the protection of her own god to enter into the -gens- of her husband and the protection of his god, became thenceforth subject to him as she had hitherto been to her father. According to Roman law it was made easier for the slave to obtain release from his master than for the son to obtain release from his father; the manumission of the former was permitted at an early period, and by simple forms; the release of the latter was only rendered possible at a much later date, and by very circuitous means. Indeed, if a master sold his slave and a father his son and the purchaser released both, the slave obtained his freedom, but the son by the release simply reverted into his father's power as before. Thus the inexorable consistency with which the Romans carried out their conception of the paternal and marital power converted it into a real right of property.

Closely, however, as the power of the master of the household over wife and child approximated to his proprietary power over slaves and cattle, the members of the family were nevertheless separated by a broad line of distinction, not merely in fact but in law, from the family property. The power of the house-master—even apart from the fact that it appeared in operation only within the house—was of a transient, and in some degree of a representative, character. Wife and child did not exist merely for the house-father's sake in the sense in which property exists only for the proprietor, or in which the subjects of an absolute state exist only for the king; they were the objects indeed of a legal right on his part, but they had at the same time capacities of right of their own; they were not things, but persons. Their rights were dormant in respect of exercise, simply because the unity of the household demanded that it should be governed by a single representative; but when the master of the household died, his sons at once came forward as its masters and now obtained on their own account over the women and children and property the rights hitherto exercised over these by the father. On the other hand the death of the master occasioned no change in the legal position of the slave.

Family and Clan (-Gens-)

So strongly was the unity of the family realized, that even the death of the master of the house did not entirely dissolve it. The descendants, who were rendered by that occurrence independent, regarded themselves as still in many respects an unity; a principle which was made use of in arranging the succession of heirs and in many other relations, but especially in regulating the position of the widow and unmarried daughters. As according to the older Roman view a woman was not capable of having power either over others or over herself, the power over her, or, as it was in this case more mildly expressed, the "guardianship" (-tutela-) remained with the house to which she belonged, and was now exercised in the room of the deceased house-master by the whole of the nearest male members of the family; ordinarily, therefore, by sons over their mother and by brothers over their sisters. In this sense the family, once founded, endured unchanged till the male stock of its founder died out; only the bond of connection must of course have become practically more lax from generation to generation, until at length it became impossible to prove the original unity. On this, and on this alone, rested the distinction between family and clan, or, according to the Roman expression, between -agnati- and -gentiles-. Both denoted the male stock; but the family embraced only those individuals who, mounting up from generation to generation, were able to set forth the successive steps of their descent from a common progenitor; the clan (-gens-) on the other hand comprehended also those who were merely able to lay claim to such descent from a common ancestor, but could no longer point out fully the intermediate links so as to establish the degree of their relationship. This is very clearly expressed in the Roman names: when they speak of "Quintus, son of Quintus, grandson of Quintus and so on, the Quintian," the family reaches as far as the ascendants are designated individually, and where the family terminates the clan is introduced supplementary, indicating derivation from the common ancestor who has bequeathed to all his descendants the name of the "children of Quintus."

Dependents of the Household

To these strictly closed unities—the family or household united under the control of a living master, and the clan which originated out of the breaking-up of such households—there further belonged the dependents or "listeners" (-clientes-, from -cluere-). This term denoted not the guests, that is, the members of other similar circles who were temporarily sojourning in another household than their own, and as little the slaves, who were looked upon in law as the property of the household and not as members of it, but those individuals who, while they were not free burgesses of any commonwealth, yet lived within one in a condition of protected freedom. These included refugees who had found a reception with a foreign protector, and those slaves in respect of whom their master had for the time being waived the exercise of his rights, and so conferred on them practical freedom. This relation had not the distinctive character of a strict relation -de jure-, like that of a man to his guest: the client remained a man non-free, in whose case good faith and use and wont alleviated the condition of non-freedom. Hence the "listeners" of the household (-clientes-) together with the slaves strictly so called formed the "body of servants" (-familia-) dependent on the will of the "burgess" (-patronus-, like -patricius-). Hence according to original right the burgess was entitled partially or wholly to resume the property of the client, to reduce him on emergency once more to the state of slavery, to inflict even capital punishment on him; and it was simply in virtue of a distinction -de facto-, that these patrimonial rights were not asserted with the same rigour against the client as against the actual slave, and that on the other hand the moral obligation of the master to provide for his own people and to protect them acquired a greater importance in the case of the client, who was practically in a more free position, than in the case of the slave. Especially must the -de facto- freedom of the client have approximated to freedom -de jure- in those cases where the relation had subsisted for several generations: when the releaser and the released had themselves died, the -dominium- over the descendants of the released person could not be without flagrant impiety claimed by the heirs at law of the releaser; and thus there was gradually formed within the household itself a class of persons in dependent freedom, who were different alike from the slaves and from the members of the -gens- entitled in the eye of the law to full and equal rights.

The Roman Community

On this Roman household was based the Roman state, as respected both its constituent elements and its form. The community of the Roman people arose out of the junction (in whatever way brought about) of such ancient clanships as the Romilii, Voltinii, Fabii, etc.; the Roman domain comprehended the united lands of those clans.(3) Whoever belonged to one of these clans was a burgess of Rome. Every marriage concluded in the usual forms within this circle was valid as a true Roman marriage, and conferred burgess-rights on the children begotten of it. Whoever was begotten in an illegal marriage, or out of marriage, was excluded from the membership of the community. On this account the Roman burgesses assumed the name of the "father's children" (-patricii-), inasmuch as they alone in the eye of the law had a father. The clans with all the families that they contained were incorporated with the state just as they stood. The spheres of the household and the clan continued to subsist within the state; but the position which a man held in these did not affect his relations towards the state. The son was subject to the father within the household, but in political duties and rights he stood on a footing of equality. The position of the protected dependents was naturally so far changed that the freedmen and clients of every patron received on his account toleration in the community at large; they continued indeed to be immediately dependent on the protection of the family to which they belonged, but the very nature of the case implied that the clients of members of the community could not be wholly excluded from its worship and its festivals, although, of course, they were not capable of the proper rights or liable to the proper duties of burgesses. This remark applies still more to the case of the protected dependents of the community at large. The state thus consisted, like the household, of persons properly belonging to it and of dependents—of "burgesses" and of "inmates" or —metoeci—.

The King

As the clans resting upon a family basis were the constituent elements of the state, so the form of the body-politic was modelled after the family both generally and in detail. The household was provided by nature herself with a head in the person of the father with whom it originated, and with whom it perished. But in the community of the people, which was designed to be imperishable, there was no natural master; not at least in that of Rome, which was composed of free and equal husbandmen and could not boast of a nobility by the grace of God. Accordingly one from its own ranks became its "leader" (-rex-) and lord in the household of the Roman community; as indeed at a later period there were to be found in or near to his dwelling the always blazing hearth and the well-barred store-chamber of the community, the Roman Vestas and the Roman Penates—indications of the visible unity of that supreme household which included all Rome. The regal office began at once and by right, when the position had become vacant and the successor had been designated; but the community did not owe full obedience to the king until he had convoked the assembly of freemen capable of bearing arms and had formally challenged its allegiance. Then he possessed in its entireness that power over the community which belonged to the house-father in his household; and, like him, he ruled for life. He held intercourse with the gods of the community, whom he consulted and appeased (-auspicia publica-), and he nominated all the priests and priestesses. The agreements which he concluded in name of the community with foreigners were binding upon the whole people; although in other instances no member of the community was bound by an agreement with a non-member. His "command" (-imperium-) was all-powerful in peace and in war, on which account "messengers" (-lictores-, from -licere-, to summon) preceded him with axes and rods on all occasions when he appeared officially. He alone had the right of publicly addressing the burgesses, and it was he who kept the keys of the public treasury. He had the same right as a father had to exercise discipline and jurisdiction. He inflicted penalties for breaches of order, and, in particular, flogging for military offences. He sat in judgment in all private and in all criminal processes, and decided absolutely regarding life and death as well as regarding freedom; he might hand over one burgess to fill the place of a slave to another; he might even order a burgess to be sold into actual slavery or, in other words, into banishment. When he had pronounced sentence of death, he was entitled, but not obliged, to allow an appeal to the people for pardon. He called out the people for service in war and commanded the army; but with these high functions he was no less bound, when an alarm of fire was raised, to appear in person at the scene of the burning.

As the house-master was not simply the greatest but the only power in the house, so the king was not merely the first but the only holder of power in the state. He might indeed form colleges of men of skill composed of those specially conversant with the rules of sacred or of public law, and call upon them for their advice; he might, to facilitate his exercise of power, entrust to others particular functions, such as the making communications to the burgesses, the command in war, the decision of processes of minor importance, the inquisition of crimes; he might in particular, if he was compelled to quit the bounds of the city, leave behind him a "city-warden" (-praefectus urbi-) with the full powers of an -alter ego-; but all official power existing by the side of the king's was derived from the latter, and every official held his office by the king's appointment and during the king's pleasure. All the officials of the earliest period, the extraordinary city-warden as well as the "leaders of division" (-tribuni-, from -tribus-, part) of the infantry (-milites-) and of the cavalry (-celeres-) were merely commissioned by the king, and not magistrates in the subsequent sense of the term. The regal power had not and could not have any external check imposed upon it by law: the master of the community had no judge of his acts within the community, any more than the housefather had a judge within his household. Death alone terminated his power. The choice of the new king lay with the council of elders, to which in case of a vacancy the interim-kingship (-interregnum-) passed. A formal cooperation in the election of king pertained to the burgesses only after his nomination; -de jure- the kingly office was based on the permanent college of the Fathers (-patres-), which by means of the interim holder of the power installed the new king for life. Thus "the august blessing of the gods, under which renowned Rome was founded," was transmitted from its first regal recipient in constant succession to those that followed him, and the unity of the state was preserved unchanged notwithstanding the personal change of the holders of power.

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