Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

abroad, or even a nation still unfettered, with whom alliance, in its usual interpretation, was desirable;’ and as in the days of the Gracchi, when all the excitement of the times was that within the neighbourhood of Rome, the leaves on the edge of the forest were unstirred by the tempestuous whirlwind which swept amongst the central trees. It may have seemed that its fury would break with fatal violence only upon those which stood with roots the least extended and with branches the least supported by the growth of bygone years. But there was another question, not then debated, but easily decided now, - whether there would be roots, branches, or trunks of any sort to form a forest, when the hurricane was over. Licinius Crassus, one of the most gifted, and Mucius Scaevola, one of the best principled, citizens of Rome, being colleagues in the consulship for the fifth year after the death of Saturninus,” together put forward a law against the hopes of the Italians. Some earlier edicts, like those in vain resisted by Caius Gracchus,” had banished strangers, Italians, and even Latins, from Rome; but the new law of the Consuls was of deeper search, requiring from all of other than Roman birth some proofs of citizenship, in default of which the rights of such, though in many cases, doubtless, inherited, were to be taken away." If expulsion from the city were not formally enforced, it was the necessary consequence of the degradation to which the victims of the law were brought in the eyes of their neighbours and connections; and more than one, we may be sure, who had lived sumptuously and, according to the common standard, honestly as a Roman, went forth in shame and passion as an Italian. Ties of years were snapped in twain; long kindliness or familiarity was forgotten; and in some instances the husband departed without his Roman wife, or the father without his son, more fortunate to have been born in Rome. The fugitives went to add their heart-burnings to the uneasiness of their former countrymen; and the law by which they had been outraged, “pernicious,” as Cicero afterwards wrote, “to the Commonwealth,”” increased the numbers, and in a much greater proportion the grievances, of the dissatisfied Italians. Months and even years elapsed; but the Italians were still content to complain of their afflictions, sometimes trusting in the promises of a Roman to befriend them, yet always disappointed and incessantly murmuring of wrongs and of redress. At this juncture, when the ill-will on their side and the defiance on that of their superiors at Rome would have perplexed the serenest wisdom ever given to a heathen, Marcus Livius Drusus, the son of the colleague and opponent of Caius Gracchus, entered upon the tribuneship.” Nine years before, he had taken part against Saturninus; but the charms of his wealth, and, it may be added without uncharitableness, of his self-conceit, kept him aloof from the Forum and the factions of which it was the arena. He was known, however, from his youth, to be ambitious, and though he seemed too vain to be really wise, he had exhibited a firmness and an uprightness” which attracted confidence, though they might not win affection. If Drusus belonged to any party, it must have been to that of the Senate, whose cause his father, as will be remembered, had singularly upheld;" but the son, instead of putting forward the name of that or any other faction, acted in his own, and was elected to office without further security in relation to his designs than was afforded by his character and his position amongst the aristocracy. Something, nevertheless, had been whispered of his partiality towards the demands of the Italians, and to their great delight, apparently, he was declared Tribune, while the Senate, for the reasons already mentioned, seem to have been equally confident that he would prove their champion."

7 A war in Spain of very little dates (92), are all the foreign history consequence (A. C. 97-93), the of the time. acquisition of Cyrene by the testa- 8 A. C. 95. ment of its king (96), and the in- 9 See the first chapter of this trigues in Asia concerning Mithri- Book, pp. 244, 260.

10 The law, described in Cic., 11 “Legem . . . . . video constare De Off, III. 11, is more tersely inter omnes non modo inutilem sed designated as “acerrima de civitate perniciosam reipublicae fuisse.” Pro quaestio,” in the oration Pro Balbo, C. Corn., I. See Pro Sext., 13. 21. See, also, the fragment in Pro C. Corn., I., with Asconius's com

mentary.

12 A. C. 91. 15 “Non tribunatus modo viribus, 19 “Wir sanctissimus,” says Wel- sed ipsius etiam senatus auctoritate, leius Paterculus, II. 13. On the totiusque Italia, consensu.” Flor., other hand, see De Vir. Ill., LXVI. III. 17. 14 See Chapter I. pp. 259,260.

VOL. II. 4()

The Tribune himself appears to have been persuaded of his sufficiency to allay every evil in the Commonwealth. He began by throwing open his doors, and displaying the hospitality and the luxury he had previously restricted to himself and his own household. In public, he was continually appearing before the people with new bills, some framed after former laws, but all adapted to his present purpose of gratifying the different classes and bringing about the happy change of which the first principle was the recognition of his superiority to every other citizen. To the Italians he first promised his intervention in behalf of their long-deferred pretensions;" and for them, as for the populace of Rome, he proposed the distribution of lands and grain, together with the establishment of colonies in Italy and Sicily." Then, turning to the Senators and the Knights, still quarrelling for the judicial tribunals, on which hung the possession of vast authority and wide corruption, the Tribune waved his wand, and bade them mark how he would transform three hundred Knights into so many Senators, and then from the united body call forth the judges of the Commonwealth.” “I have left nothing,” he exclaimed, as if apostrophizing himself, “nothing but the dust of the earth or the sky overhead to be given away!” But it was more than this indiscriminate liberality, much more than this extravagant presumption, of Drusus could achieve, to bring harmony into the midst of his discordant countrymen. He exchanged his smiles for frowns, ordering the Consul, Marcius Philippus, into custody,” and threatening to hurl his own brotherin-law from the Tarpeian rock;” but though his laws were mostly carried, by the aid of the Senate.” who liked the recovery of their judicial authority, he did not seem to succeed so majestically as he desired. Offended by the Senate themselves, at last, or perhaps in the same absurdity of self-importance by which he had shaped his course from its outset, he returned word, on being summoned to consult with them, that the Senate must come to him,” if they desired his opinion. It was this ineffable arrogance that proved his ruin. An act of the Senate repealed his laws at one swoop,” without the regret of a single party, populace, Knights, or Senators, for their untimely end. There was little in them to make the Italians lament their repeal; yet it was from these, or from their lead

16 Liv., Epit. LXXI. Drusus seems to have intended only

17 Ibid. App., Bell. Civ., I. 35. to fill up the Senate for the nonce Another law, perhaps to please the from the Knights, and to leave the people, concerned the adulteration judicial powers entirely with the of the silver currency. Plin., Nat. Senators. See App., Bell. Civ., I Hist., XXXIII. 13. 35; Cic., Pro Rab. Post., 7; Liv.,

18 All this is uncertain. See Epit. LXX. The law, at all events, note 82 in the preceding chapter. passed. Liv., Epit. LXXI.

19 Flor., III. 17. De Vir. Ill., * Liv., Epit. LXX., LXXI. LXVI. Tacit., Ann., III. 27. Cic., De * The story of the Consul's al- Orat., I. 7. And note 20. tercation with the Senate and the 23 Val. Max., IX. 5. 2. Tribune's attack upon the Consul 24 “Uno versiculo.” Cic., De may be read together in Cic., De Legg., II. 6. Ibid., 12, and Pro Orat., III. 1, 2; Flor., III. 17. C. Corn., I. * De Vir. Ill., LXVI.

« НазадПродовжити »