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supremacy were past, that the influence of religion was employed, not to make men better, but to render them more powerful. And as the days of heathenism draw nearer to their close, it will appear how greatly they were hastened by the prevalence of such a system as that of Rome, content to rest upon the authority of human laws and the efficacy of human powers. It is the river from which men drink and live, not such as they bend over to see themselves reflected before they die, that flows untainted and perennial.
THE POPULAR PARTY.
"They disdained a coöperation with the lower orders, ..... and relied too unhesitatingly on their power as a body.” – PRESCOTT, Ferdinand and Isabella, Introd., Sect. I.
GREATLY as the city in which the scene of our history is laid had increased in the three quarters of a century now passed since its destruction by the Gauls, it was but rudely fashioned, and but partially spread upon its seven hills. The gardens or the fields of the richer citizens still occupied much of the space within the walls, and the great edifices as well as the common dwellings that covered other portions of the upper and the lower ground had not yet assumed the stateliness we are apt to associate with the image of ancient Rome. But though there were few, if any, signs of magnificence, much less of taste, in the aspect of the city, at the time of our narrative, the difference between the private and the public buildings was very remarkable. The temple, with its company of columns, kept the foremost place upon the hill; and the broad square beneath, adorned with monuments and trophies, lay open for the assemblies of the people. Here and there, a glimpse might be caught of some larger dwelling, where the rich man lived, surrounded by retainers and slaves; but the houses more frequently seen would be the narrow
and squalid tenements which blocked up the crooked streets, where the dampness of day and the darkness of night maintained continual gloom. It may be a view, not only of the city, but of the contrast between public and domestic interests, that we can conceive ourselves to have thus obtained.
Turn where we will, indeed, there are testimonies of every kind to the predominance of the Commonwealth above its citizens. The poor man did not cultivate his field for himself, it sometimes seems, so much as for the taxes he was bound to pay into the public treasury. The rich man, at his banquet, entertained his guests with the praises of heroes and distinguished citizens,' as if his revelry were incomplete without the display of patriotism or ambition. So the games, the sacrifices, and the triumphs, of public celebration, were never regarded as redounding to the glory, the advantage, or the amusement of their spectators or their performers so much as to the majesty of universal Rome. It was more natural that the services of the magistrate and the general, the soldier and the citizen, should be claimed as due to the Commonwealth from every individual, to whom it was sufficient honor that they should be rendered at his hands. But it was not alone to the
1 « Utinam extarent illa carmina," exclaimed Cicero, “quæ multis seculis ante suam ætatem in epulis cantitata a singulis convivis de clarorum virorum laudibus, in Originibus scriptum reliquit Cato.” Brutus, 19.
2 As is more livelily expressed by one of Metastasio's Romans : –
"La patria è un tutto
Rogolo, Att. II. sc. I.
public dominion that the Roman devoted his energies of body and mind, to the neglect of private excellence and domestic peace. He served his party more zealously than he served his country, and sacrificed to its triumph more noble thoughts and more generous deeds than any state could have ever been imagined, even under heathenism, to prohibit as perilous to its general prosperity. It is easy to discern that the condition of a people, thus doubly harassed by public duties, must have been embittered by much suffering and many imperfections amongst its individual members; 3 and it will hence be comparatively simple to comprehend the principles and the circumstances which are now to be described.
The personal relations existing amongst the freeborn Romans and between the Patricians and their clients have long since been defined ; 4 but in the two centuries between the Patrician revolution and the completion of Plebeian liberty by the Ogulnian laws, other classes have appeared, and so increased, that we can go no farther without some knowledge of their distinctions and their numbers.
The freedmen and their families constituted an intermediate class between the free and the slaves by birth. Set at liberty, sometimes by the generosity or the justice of his master, and sometimes by the public authorities, the freedman was then invested with rights which varied according to the time and the
3 “For Romans in Rome's quarrel
Spared neither land nor gold,
Nor son nor wife, nor limb nor life”;nor in their own quarrels, either.
might have been added by Mr. Macaulay.
See Book 1. ch. 4.
method of his emancipation. He still, however, remained in an inferior condition, bound in private to his recent owner and then to his owner's heirs in the relation of client to patron, while, in public, he was excluded from military service, and, indeed, from any service which was accounted honorable, until the later times, when the fleets were manned" and the legions occasionally filled by his class. The inferiority of the father was visited upon his children; however virtuous or fortunate he might have been, he had no name to leave behind him, and one generation, at least, was to be passed before his descendants could lift their heads and take the places of freemen. The acts of Appius Claudius, in his censorship, esteemed the most unwarrantable, were, as may be remembered, his appointment of freedmen's sons to the Senate, and his distribution of freedmen themselves throughout the Tribes. Yet, in the early times, when the slaves in Rome had often been born free, or sprung from parents of free birth in other places, the freedmen would be generally of such a spirit as to make a formidable addition to any party they might resolve to join. They and the poorer Plebeians were now united, as has been mentioned, with the extreme Patricians.
The more general class to which the freedmen were but exceptions was that of the slaves. Less numerous while captured from the thinly peopled towns in the neighbourhood of Rome than when ob
5 Liv., XL. 18, XLII. 27, etc.
6 Ibid., X. 21, XXII. 11, etc.