Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

vorite was Tullius Cicero. His courage may be ascribed to what they will who write with perpetual distrust of their fellow-creatures; but the defence of his client was not his only theme. Alone of all his countrymen, he mourned aloud for the calamities of their common country, and the sentence he sought in behalf of Roscius was urged by branding the accuser, and even by reproaching the all-powerful master 100 by whom Chrysogonus was known to be upheld. “ There is no one of you," he exclaimed to the judges, “ no one of you but knows that the Roman people is suffering under domestic cruelty. Drive it out from the city! Bear with it no longer in the Commonwealth, lest we, too, in the continuity of crime, lose every feeling of humanity from our minds !” 101 Roscius was acquitted.

Neither Cicero's eloquence, nor Pompey's presumption, nor the sympathy of the entire people for Volaterræ could have much effect upon the grandeur in which the Dictator lived, self-composed, and confident in the faithfulness of his allies, 102 rather than his deities, in heaven. After two or nearly three years of an uninterrupted and an undisputed dictatorship, during one of which he had also possessed the consulate,

100 Pro S. Rosc., 45. Cf. 47, that the laws of the Dictator had 49. “ Die Römer,” says Drumann, restored order to the Commonwealth “ bewunderten Cicero's Muth.” and preëminence to the Senate. Gesch. Roms, Vol. V. p. 244. He called them - præclaræ leges

101 Ibid., 53. If there be words Corneliæ " eight years after Sulla's in praise of Sulla to match with death. In Verr. Act. II., II. 31. these to which I more gladly refer, See Pro Dom., 30. it must be remembered how Cicero, 102 See Plut., Sull., 9, 27, 37. like many other men, was persuaded VOL. II.

46

and through all of which he had commanded the entire resources of the Commonwealth, except in Spain, he came one day, attended, as usual, by his four-andtwenty lictors, into the Forum. It was too common a sight, perhaps, to attract a crowd; but they who happened to be near by heard him with amazement declare that he had come to lay down his power and retire into private life.103 The lictors were dismissed, and Sulla walked up and down, like any other citizen, amongst the multitude that hurried in to see the strangest spectacle, as it seemed, in all their history. One boy followed the great man home with hootings offensive enough to the majesty of the new citizen to provoke his indignation ; 104 but he had abdicated, in the full knowledge that such an affront would be all, nay more than all, the retribution to which he, in the midst of dependants, freedmen, veterans, and magistrates, could be exposed. His retirement, however, showed not only the want of fear on his own part, but the want of hope on the part of his countrymen, or his subjects, as most of them were, in the liberty he had for the time almost annihilated.105

We need not follow him into the debaucheries and the so-called literary pursuits in which he wasted the few remaining months of his life, or repeat the loathsome details of his death.106 He was buried in extraordinary pomp, without a regret from those he had most benefited, or a murmur from those yet living whom he had most injured.

103 This was near the beginning of A. C. 79. App., Bell. Civ., I. 103. Plut., Sull., 34.

104 App., Bell. Civ., I. 104.
105 "The Roman, when his burning heart

Was slaked with blood of Rome,

Threw down the dagger, - dared depart

In savage grandeur home.
He dared depart in utter scorn
Or men that such a yoke had borne,
Yet left him such a doom!"

BYRON.

Yet the memory of Sulla continued for many years to rule the Commonwealth. It was not simply that his adherents, in sustaining his establishments, were sustaining themselves, nor yet alone that the depression he had produced could be followed by no instant recovery; but chiefly because the condition of the Roman world had long been prepared for such a dominion as his, and was now more suited to its existence than to any attempts at restoration.

The misery and the confusion wrought during the ten or twenty preceding years have not been half told, nor can they now be wholly described. In the revolving and overturning courses pursued by one party after another at Rome, scarcely an institution in public remained unaltered, scarcely a family in private was left unchanged. A merely political survey of the city might discover that the divisions we long since noticed still endured, and that, though the Knights were deeply humbled by Sulla's triumph, and the Italians partially contented by the issue of the Social War and the succeeding civil contests, there was hardly less separation between these various classes than of yore. At the same time, or rather in continued process of extension, there were other lines of demarcation amongst the higher ranks, drawn long before, but recently or soon made more distinct, between the noble and the ignoble 107 by birth, and the aristocratic and the popular 103 by party; the noble and the aristocratic, generally speaking, being the Senators with their adherents, while the popular and the ignoble were the Knights, whose numbers and authority were shortly revived. As for the crowds in the Forum, to which the name of People is assigned by the historians, it can only be said of them, whether Italians or Romans, free or freedmen, that the throngs once gathered with serious purposes where they now stood, to applaud their heroes or jeer at their offenders,109 would have driven them with scorn from the spot where the Gracchi had been heard and where Virginia had been avenged.

106 He died A. C. 78, at the age Max., IX. 3. 8. App., Bell. Civ., of 59. Plut., Sull., 36, 37. Val. I. 104.

But if from these political features, in sketching which we are in advance of the period immediately preceding and following upon Sulla's death, we turn to seek a view of the social or the personal appearance of the Romans, the desperate state of their Commonwealth will be far more evident. Passing by the lower classes, as well the citizens, so styled, whose uproars in the Forum betoken little industry or peace, as the mass of inferior freedmen, slaves, and aliens,

107 Cicero (In Verr. Act. II., V. alteri optimates, et haberi et esse vo70, 71) defines them both. Sallust, luerunt." Cic., Pro Sext., 45. in words attributed to Marius (Jug., 109 “ Illæ undæ comitiorum, ut 85), completes the portraiture. mare profundum et immensum, ef

108 ^ Duo genera semper in hac fervescunt quodam quasi estu." civitate fuerunt eorum, qui versari Cic., Pro Planc., 6. See ibid., 4, in republica ..... studuerunt; qui- and Sall., Cat., 38. hus ex generibus alteri se populares,

whose names sufficiently indicate their circumstances, the higher classes alone need be examined. Throughout them all prevailed a frightful corruption, recognized in public as avarice or ambition, luxury or oppression, and in private assuming the shapes which haunt the heart more dreadfully than they can control the frame. The closest bonds between man, woman, and child were weak, even with the comparatively virtuous, beneath the pressure of a world enveloped in such an atmosphere of wickedness. Some of the wrongs existing, open or concealed, might be judged natural to the age in which they grew and spread at Rome; but there were others that sprang from the midst of the conquests, or from the results wrought by the conquests, of the nation by which the earth had been subdued and plundered.

Great wealth, for instance, was the beginning of most authority or the object of most exertion with the conquerors, as it had been and might still be amongst the conquered; yet nowhere else beneath the sun could the manner of amassing riches 'll have been so dismal to the weak, or the method of using and wasting treasures have been so fatal to the powerful. The illustration might be expanded; it might

110 Open Sallust's history of Cati- 111 “ Ce ne furent pas leurs riline at almost any chapter, -5, 11, chesses," says a late French writer 13, 24, – to read these things in in reference to the Romans, “ qui the words of one who beheld and les corrompirent : ce fut la manière shared them; or, to use Gold- dont ils se les étaient procurées." smith's lines, –

Dunoyer, Liberté du Travail, Livre “ To see ten thousand baneful arts combined IV. ch. 4.

To pamper luxury and thin mankind;
To see each joy the sons of pleasure know
Extorted from his fellow-creature's woe.''

« НазадПродовжити »