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the East, whence their ancestors at some time wandered. They grow up fierce and rude, upon the seven hills, increasing their confidence in one another by enlarging their liberties, until their legions, armed at all points, march triumphant over Italy and pass the seas. The laws of Rome might have been far more widely and more equally disseminated than they were, yet it would not seem that the object of its existence and its dominion had been fulfilled in legislation. So, too, the eagles that perched upon the Roman standards might have swept to Persia and the farther India in their flight, or even sped unflagging over the world, and yet it would not seem that conquest in itself had been the work for which the liberty of Rome was given and taken away. No one, however, but knows that Rome became the mistress of half the world; no one but remembers that the victorious people were, at last, themselves as much consumed by strife and shame as their subjects had been, from the first, degraded and sundered. The fall of Rome beneath the stroke of the destroying angel was the fall of heathenism; and it is to comprehend the manner in which strength so wide was obtained and dissolution so universal was accomplished, that we proceed in our history.
“The separation of all the chiefs or nobles from the inferior people was far more strongly marked than the elevation of the king above his nobles.”— ARNoLD, Appendiz I. to Thucydides.