Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

matter of choice, but one of compulsion, that the proposals of the stranger should be fulfilled. The mention, in the tradition, of the places whence the knowledge of Tarquin was derived, scarcely needs a commentary. Etruria, the great nation of Italy, was as superior in civilization as in her dominion, which, north and south, on land and sea, surrounded Rome; and it was, as it is, generally supposed that her torch was lit with Grecian fire, and her sword welded from Grecian steel. It was therefore but a line from history twisted in the legend, that told how Tarquin's father was an artist of Greece, and Tarquin's wife a prophetess of Etruria. Our narrative must be propped yet a little longer by conjecture; for the policy which Tarquin pursued as king is even more susceptible of various interpretation than his career as a conqueror or an adventurer. Yet no part of the monarchy, could it be cleared of its obscurities, would have more to contribute to our history of liberty. The reader will have observed that the Luceres, the third Tribe of the three supposed to have been gathered in Rome, had not yet obtained an equal footing with the other two. The number of Vestal virgins devoted to the service of the goddess whom we have supposed to be the chosen patroness of Rome was only four; two, that is, for each of the first two Tribes. So the Senate was composed of but two hundred members, – half from the Ramnes, and the other half from the Tities; none, therefore, were taken from the Luceres. If the Luceres were, as is most probable, of Etruscan origin, VOL. I. 39

and Tarquin, as is equally probable, of the same race, it follows, as a matter of course, that he would have desired and secured their elevation. Two more Vestal virgins were accordingly elected in their name, and a hundred new Senators appointed to be their representatives in the highest assembly of the state.” But the inroads of Tarquin upon the old Patrician exclusiveness did not stop here. He doubled the number of the Celeres, already increased from three hundred under Romulus to six hundred under Tullus; and, what is far more extraordinary, he appears to have made up the fresh six hundred of some Plebeians, as well as of Patricians, whom he enrolled together in three new Centuries. The story of the king's consultation with Attus Navius, a famous Augur, is in all the ancient histories; but the manner of repeating it may be varied.” “Come, tell me,” said Tarquin, “if what I think of can be done.” The Augur took his auspices, and answered that it could be. “I was thinking,” returned the king, “that a whetstone could be cut with a razor.” And in the presence of the king, and of all the people, the whetstone yielded to the cut of the razor in the Augur's hands. It was in consequence that Tarquin succeeded in his purpose of completing the number of the Celeres from the Plebeians; and, as was said, long after, there was no cause for the Romans to repent the choice of a stranger to be their king.” The arms of Tarquin were as fortunate abroad as his policy at 'home. His new Centuries were filled with valor; and he had no more reason to regret their elevation than they to regret his rule. Common report ascribed the death of Tarquin to the vengeance of the sons of Ancus, for his having occupied the throne; a tradition which, arising, perhaps, from some attempt of the Romans to throw off the yoke of the stranger, is every way congenial to the still disturbed condition in which they lived. But the murderers seem to have failed in any other object they may have had beyond the assassination. One of Tarquin's household, concerning whose birth and estate there was, or, at any rate, is, an inextricable confusion in the legends, but who distinctly appears” to have been early renowned in war, obtained, though not without considerable intrigue,” possession of the royal power. His election, instead of being conducted according to the usual forms, was held without the appointment or the approbation of the Curies;” and the reign of Servius Tullius begins as if with the premonitions of a revolution.

84 Fest., s. v. Sex Vestae Sac. appellati.” Liv., I. 35. Dionysius

The name of the new Senators,
however, though it may not have
been immediately given them, pre-
served the memory of their later
election. “Centum in Patres legit;
qui deinde minorum gentium sunt

(III. 67) represents Tarquin as hav-
ing chosen the new Senators from
the Plebeians.
85 On the authority of Cicero, De
Divin., I. 17. Cf. Liv., I. 36.

86 Val. Max., III. 4. 2. navit.” Liv., I. 41. “Se injussu

87 Distinctly, because both by the Etruscan and by the Roman version of his story.

88 “Quasi precario.” Ill., Cap. VII.

* “Primus injussu populi (Curies) voluntate Patrum (Senate) reg

De Wir.

populi regnare, conciliata prius voluntate Plebis.” Ibid., I. 46. Cf. Dion. Hal., IV. 12; and Cic., De Rep., II. 21 ; where the Curies are described as having invested him afterwards with the Imperium.

It continues, as every one familiar with Roman or even ancient history is aware, with the enlargement of the citizenship, which the Patricians had hitherto engrossed, so as to receive the Plebeians likewise within its pale. The first measures, however, of Servius, like those of all other lawgivers in ancient times, were for relief. He distributed lands amongst the poor,” whom he also discharged from their debts; and while he left to the creditor the security of his debtor's goods or estates, he took away the right of imprisonment, which must, in those days, have been cruelly and continually exercised.” Servius also appointed new judges, taken partly, in all probability, from the Plebeians, to try the private causes he had himself no leisure to decide; such as concerned the whole people, or, as we may add, the different orders of the people, being still cognizable by the royal tribunal.” Another achievement, which he must rather have attempted than actually wrought, was the removal of the Patricians from the high ground they occupied to a lower part of the city;” an endeavour which, whether on the king's part or not, tells a great deal about conflicts that can never be more precisely told, as they arose, or threatened to arise, between the two great estates of Rome.

The independence of the Plebeians was, to say the least, prepared by the formation of thirty Tribes, four of which included the city, and the other twenty-six the country. It did not need that the three older Tribes, with their Curies and Names, should be abolished, nor would it have been either just or possible to take them from the Patricians; but it was enough for all present and future purposes, that the Pagus, or Parish,” should be the Plebeian Curia, and that the Tribe, composed of the Parishes, should, in some degree, correspond for the Plebeians to the Patrician institution. Every one of the thirty Tribes had its Tribune, each of the Parishes its magistrate; and each was intrusted with the management of sacrifices and ceremonies, which were undoubtedly of much more interest, originally, than any functions that may have been assigned to the Comitia Tributa, the assembly of the Tribes. Probably it was at first optional with the Patricians to have or to refuse their places, likewise, in the Tribes; but there is positive evidence, at a later period, that they were excluded, however desirous they were of admission. Their clients were shut out with them; but, on the other hand, the freedmen, or liberated slaves, were admitted to have their share in the new assembly and its component parts.” It will not seem that the institution of the Tribes, however moderate their powers, was an insignificant gain to the Plebeians, if it be considered how much it assisted them to meet together, to count their resources and to prepare their demands. Two really important duties were furthermore in94 Which is not a very good word Dion. Hal., II. 76. The name of for it, inasmuch as the idea of the the four city Tribes, Vicus, is better Pagus ought to include that of a so translated.

90 Dion. Hal., IV. 13. 92 Ibid., IV. 25. 91 Ibid., IV. 9, 10. 93 Festus, s. v. Patricius Vicus.

fortification. It was of much older * They were enrolled in the city institution than Servius's reign. Tribes. Dion. Hal., IV. 22.

« НазадПродовжити »