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Their images or masks, in wax, and their official or military robes, worn by men moving with the procession, listening to the eulogy, and witnessing the flames of the pile, imparted dignity to the funeral ceremonies by recalling the mighty of preceding generations, at the same time that these seemed to receive their descendant into the silence of their past rather than to bid him welcome to a future immortality.
The poor and the humble man, whether citizen or slave, was carried forth by night, as if it were a shame that he should die without amassing wealth or gathering renown. No images could grace, no sacrifices consecrate, his burial; for the past, to which the heathen appeared to return by death, was to the lowly or the captive, not only silent, but void and inexistent.
The difference in death between the lower and the higher classes was but the conclusion of the difference that had marked, in ways we have often noticed, their entire lives. As heathenism drew nearer towards its close, filling the world with fresh sufferings and destroying many former consolations, the inferiority and the desolation of the common people seem to have increased. This, indeed, may or may not be true with respect to their physical condition, their strength of body, or their supplies of food and shelter; of these particulars we are not informed. But in regard to their moral situation, or, to speak much more pre
| Festus, s. v. Vespæ. Dion. with great minuteness by Dezobry, Hal., IV. 40. See the whole sub- Rome au Siècle d'Auguste, Lettre ject, here barely touched, treated LXIII.
cisely, their ideas concerning their duties and their rights in human society, the fact is plain, that the last generations of the heathen poor were particularly afflicted. After a certain equality before the laws had been obtained amongst various nations, but especially by the Twelve Tables? at Rome, there ensued the periods, through which we have more or less patiently passed, characterized by the decay of the earlier laws, and, with them, of the religious observances, rather than creeds, that they had been made as long as was possible to uphold. The inferior classes, less informed than their superiors in the purposes and consequently in the violations of the statutes above them, may not have lost their reverence for these so rapidly or so entirely as the upper orders, the Senators, for instance, and the Knights. Yet it was inevitable that the confiding obedience of comparatively primitive times should vanish amongst all ranks, not less the lowest than the highest, as the infirmity of their institutions, whether civil or sacerdotal, was proved before their eyes by the will of Providence.
It is at this point that the wider abyss between the weak and the powerful appears to open. The latter, as the learned, found, or thought they found, a substitute for the loss of the laws, by which, however, they did not so much desire to be governed as to be secured. The new code for them was revealed in philosophy, such as this became amongst its later
2 Book II. ch. 3.
votaries, with whom it was neither metaphysical nor yet ethical alone, but a political, a scientific, and it may be added, in the heathen sense, a religious system. The chapter we have here begun will attempt to weigh the efficacy of this last reliance of heathenism. But it may be decided beforehand, that, whether it bade fair to be successful as a defence, or were rather from the first foredoomed to usher in the holier System which followed, it was equally in the keeping and to the assumed advantage of the magnificent and the learned, to the exclusion of the ignorant and the humble. For philosophy, as the greatest of its followers in Rome confessed, “ shunned of its own accord the multitude, by whom,” he adds, and it sounds like the judgment of Heaven recorded upon earth, “it is suspected and abhorred.” 3
The present period of decay in Roman liberty began, it may be remembered, when the first great conquests abroad were achieved, and when the powers of the conquerors were diverted from their ancient courses on the Italian fields or in their own Forum to the luxuries and the oppressions of which we will endeavour to read no more. It may, perhaps, be of assistance to our memories to observe, that the moment the originality, as it were, of Rome ceased, the trials and the calamities to herself, her children, and her subjects overshadowed the brilliancy of her socalled glories.
3 “ Est enim philosophia paucis universam velit vituperare, secundo contenta judicibus, multitudinem id populo facere possit." Cic., Tusconsulto ipsa fugiens, eique ipsi et cul. Quæst., II. 1. suspecta et invisa : ut vel, si quis
We may find a partial illustration of this general principle in a subject which deserves, however, much greater detail of treatment than is here practicable. The first signs of art in Rome were the coins, the bronzes, the frescoes, and the temples of the Monarchy and the early Commonwealth ; and though there are few means of tracing their sources, it is sufficiently evident that the models and the artists of these remoter centuries must have been derived originally from Etruria, and subsequently from the Greek cities of Southern Italy. But as the Romans became the conquerors of towns and of entire countries where the arts had found more genial spirits, and imparted, as if spontaneously, more abundant inspirations, the cupidity of the ruder victors was stirred by the paintings in the temples or the statues in the squares of the conquered cities; and the work of pillage, begun in Syracuse, Capua, and Tarentum, was continued, as at Corinth, in Greece and throughout the cultivated regions of the East. A great deal was, of course, destroyed; the vision and the labor of the artist vanished for ever at the touch of the sword or the fire in the hands of the warrior; but many of the largest and some, perhaps, of the finest works were spared for the sake of their subjects or their size, to be transported in the train of the returning generals. As the spoils rapidly multiplied* and were spread about the Forum and the public buildings, the taste of the
4"An approximate calculation Sect. 165. See both Sect. 164 and of the plundered statues and images 165 for a sketch of the pillage in soon runs up to a hundred thousand.” Greece. Müller's Ancient Art, Eng. transl.,
plunderers was gradually wakened, and pictures or statues of a higher class than had before pleased were sought and in some degree appreciated.
At the same time, there seemed to be no power in the Romans themselves to improve or even to imitate the achievements which had been accomplished amongst other nations without the clash of weapons or the din of tongues. One of the few names succeeding Fabius Pictor, when opportunity arrived of learning from higher models than he had ever seen, is that of a statuary, Decius, whose principal work, a colossal head, excited the most cutting censure, on being placed near a Grecian head of similar design." The vanquished, however, furnished their artists, as well as their works of art, to the conquerors; but the chief employment of a painter was to make a house luxurious, while that of a sculptor consisted in perpetuating the image of his patron. The large majority of the statues or pictures in the city were those that had been brought from afar; and these were sometimes transplanted from the shrines of their native soils to the cabinets or the gardens of victorious connoisseurs.
It is thus that the fortune of art? becomes an illus
5 “Comparatione in tantum vic- his accuser to his judges, “ religioni tus, ut artificium minime probabilis sociorum, judices ; conservate vesartificis videatur," says Pliny, who tram!” Cic., In Verr. Act. II., tells the story. Nat. Hist., XXXIV. IV. 32 et seq., 51. 18.
7 See Winckelmann, Storia delle 6 So Verres despoiled the un- Arti, etc., Lib. VIII. cap. 4, and happy Sicilians of the images of XI. 1. their divinities. “Medemini,” cries