Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

four Tribes by themselves.” There are also the memorials of some action, perhaps amounting, however, to no more than the institution of a festival" in favor of the Knights, who, as a class, were greatly increasing in wealth and in importance, at the same time that they were ranked, politically, upon the popular side. In the midst of these changes, Flavius, the AEdile, built a temple to Concord.

But the glimpses we catch of concord amongst the Romans are few indeed, and far between ; nor are the traditions of any inclinations or any liberty, besides those of warrior-citizens, less unfrequent. The statues of Pythagoras as the wisest, and of Alcibiades as the bravest Greek, which were set up in the Forum in obedience to a command from the oracle at Delphi," are images to us of the uncertain knowledge and the wanton energy which were spread amongst the Romans. A picture, painted by Fabius, hence called Pictor,” and a poem of Appius Claudius,” can scarcely be said to bear any other testimony than that of their names to cultivation of taste or mind. Yet when we look away to Babylon, where Alexander lay dying,” it seems as if the only heirs who could succeed him were the people he had not conquered in Rome.

99 These four were called hence-
forth the City Tribes. Liv., IX. 46.
100 De Vir. Illust., Cap. XXXII.
Liv., IX. 46.
101 Plin., Nat. Hist., XXXIV. 12.
102 Plin., Nat. Hist., XXXV. 7.
Painting, however, and sculpture
likewise, were known long before
Fabius's time. As for music, see

the story of the pipers, Liv., IX.
30.
103 Cicero calls it a “carmen

Pythagoreum.” Tuscul. Quaest.,
IV. 2.
101 A. C. 323. The embassy

from Rome to Alexander may not
have been a mere tradition. See
Plin., Nat. Hist., III. 9.

[ocr errors][merged small]

“Arrancar la soberania del cielo y localizarla en la tierra.” – Donoso Contés, Derecho Politico, Lecc. II. Two or three years after the last events recorded in the preceding chapter, Quintus and Cneius Ogulnius appear in the tribuneship, as zealous champions of the popular party against the combination of the highest and the lowest classes. Instead, however, of making any wild attack upon their adversaries, the Tribunes seem to have exerted themselves in the wiser view of detaching the populace from its Patrician leaders, in order to unite the severed forces of the Plebeians upon a common ground. Obtaining little support from the rest of their party, which was at no time minded to join in any hearty action with the common people, the Ogulnii made a new venture, as if to gain the means before they attempted the execution of their end." A bill to increase the number of the Pontiffs by four, and that of the Augurs

1 The passage in Livy (X.6) is as follows:– “Certamen injectum inter primores civitatis, patricios plebeiosque, ab tribunis plebis Q. et Cn. Ogulniis. Qui, undique criminandorum Patrum apud plebem occasionibus quaesitis, postguam alia

frustra tentata erant, eam actionem susceperunt, qua non infimam plebem accenderent, sed ipsa capita plebis, consulares triumphalesque plebeios; quorum honoribus nihil, praeter sacerdotia, quae nondum promiscua erant, deesset.”

by five new incumbents, who should then, and, as was probably added, thenceforward, be chosen from the Plebeians, was proposed by the Tribunes. As they had undoubtedly expected, the bill aroused the interest and efforts of all the eminent men amongst their party; and, though some strenuous opposition was made to its passage, it became a law.” The highest places of the priesthood, as well as of the civil magistracies, were opened to the Plebeians, whose name will no longer serve us as it has done, so entirely have the old distinctions of their estate from that of the Patricians been obliterated.

The Ogulnii did not follow up the success they had gained, and the alliance between the lower Plebeians and the higher Patricians was rather cemented than loosened by a law professedly devised to the advantage of the upper classes of the Plebeians. We may break off with all the better reason from the course of our history, to trace the connection between the liberty we have hitherto seen established and the religion of whose existence we are reminded by the Ogulnian law. To do this, it will be necessary neither to inquire into the sources of creeds and ceremonies, nor, still less, to repeat the names of deities or festivals, but simply, and much more briefly, to catch, if we may, the general outlines of a system, of which the particular features and the separate members are to be scanned only by eyes that have no tears.

2 Liv., X. 7–9. WOL. II. 6

The religion of the early and the middle ages of the Commonwealth was invested with no doubtful or trifling power over the lives of its votaries. Without it, the ardent nature of the Roman would again and again have broken through the moulds in which the character of his nation seemed to be unalterably formed and reformed. It was at once a severe, a searching, and an encroaching faith, that, not content with the seasons or the observances of its own ceremonies, obtruded itself into the midst of the occupations and the thoughts, the households and the public institutions, in which it claimed the first place and the highest authority. The strength it thus exerted, which would have been a holy influence, had the faith itself been true or even mild, was in fact the strength of a universal superstition.”

Of this the origin lay, of course, beyond the discovery even of those by whom it was most profoundly or most anxiously obeyed. None distinctly believed that the truth had been fully revealed; for there were none, not even those of greater sensitiveness and deeper earnestness, to whom the truth, as we conceive it, could be an inspiration or a perplexity. But, on the other hand, the traditions of the elder times, upon which thick grafts had been set by sober minds, and budding fancies forced by more ardent imaginations, were accepted, tended, and carefully conveyed as an inheritance from generation to generation. Yet the character of the theology, using the word in its widest sense, which was thus maintained amongst the Romans, is now, at least, seen to have been too complicated, too bulky, and too coarse to have kept its ground. Its complexity proceeded from the variety of authors“ and sources from which it, like the kindred system of the Greeks, had been, from century to century, compiled. The volume and the grossness of the Grecian were both surpassed in the Roman religion, which, as is well known, united the wildness, and, in many respects, the ferocity, of the Italian faiths with the sensuality and the ostentation which prevailed in Greece. Such being the characteristics of a religion, with so much unwieldiness on the one side, and on the other so vast pretension to authority, there could be but one course down which it would be hurried. In truth, the religion of Rome was heathenism in its decline. It never rose, like the systems of Greece and the other nations of antiquity, to a culminating point from which it had to fall, but crept, as it were,

° Of which Cicero's description is the best : – “Instat enim et urget et quo te cumque verteris persequitur; sive tu watem, sive tu omen audieris; sive immolaris, sive avem adspexeris; si Chaldaeum, si aruspicem videris; si fulserit, si tonue

rit, si tactum aliquid erit de coelo ; si ostenti simile natum factumve quippiam ; quorum necesse est plerumque aliquid eveniat: ut numquam liceat quieta mente consistere.” And so on. De Divin., II. 72.

* “Tria genera tradita deorum : unum a poetis, alterum a philosophis, tertium a principibus civitatis.” S. August., Civit. Dei, IV. 27. “Tria genera theologiae dicit [Varro] esse, id est rationis quae de diis explicatur, eorumque unum mythicon appellari, alterum physicon,

tertium civile. . . . . . Deinde ait: Mythicon appellant, quo maxime utuntur poetae; physicon, quo philosophi; civile, quo populi.” Ibid., VI. 5. See also VI. 7. Compare Plut., De Plac. Phil., Tom. IX. p. 487, ed. Reiske.

« НазадПродовжити »