A History of Rome During the Later Republic and Early Principate

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B.C. 133-104


B. G.
T. G.


This work will be comprised in six volumes. According to the plan which
I have provisionally laid down, the second volume will cover the period
from 104 to 70 B.C., ending with the first consulship of Pompeius and
Crassus; the third, the period from 70 to 44 B.C., closing with the
death of Caesar; the fourth volume will probably be occupied by the
Third Civil War and the rule of Augustus, while the fifth and sixth will
cover the reigns of the Emperors to the accession of Vespasian.

The original sources, on which the greater part of the contents of the
present volume is based, have been collected during the last few years
by Miss Clay and myself, and have already been published in an
abbreviated form. Some idea of the debt which I owe to modern authors
may be gathered from the references in the footnotes. As I have often,
for the sake of brevity, cited the works of these authors by shortened
and incomplete titles, I have thought it advisable to add to the volume
a list of the full titles of the works referred to. But the list makes
no pretence to be a full bibliography of the period of history with
which this volume deals. The map of the Wäd Mellag and its surrounding
territory, which I have inserted to illustrate the probable site of the
battle of the Muthul, is taken from the map of the “Medjerda supérieure”
which appears in M. Salomon Reinach’s Atlas de la Province Romaine

I am very much indebted to my friend and former pupil, Mr. E.J. Harding,
of Hertford College, for the ungrudging labour which he has bestowed on
the proofs of the whole of this volume. Many improvements in the form of
the work are due to his perspicacity and judgment.

A problem which confronts an author who plunges into the midst of the
history of a nation (however complete may be the unity of the period
with which he deals) is that of the amount of introductory information
which he feels bound to supply to his readers. In this case, I have felt
neither obligation nor inclination to supply a sketch of the development
of Rome or her constitution up to the period of the Gracchi. The amount
of information on the general and political history of Rome which the
average student must have acquired from any of the excellent text-books
now in use, is quite sufficient to enable him to understand the
technicalities of the politics of the period with which I deal; and I
was very unwilling to burden the volume with a précis of a subject
which I had already treated in another work. On the other hand, it is
not so easy to acquire information on the social and economic history of
Rome, and consequently I have devoted the first hundred pages of this
book to a detailed exposition of the conditions preceding and
determining the great conflict of interests with which our story opens.

A. H. J. G.

August, 1904


CHAPTER I: Characteristics of the period. Recent changes in the
conditions of Roman life. Close of the period of expansion by means of
colonies or land assignments. Reasons for social discontent. The life of
the wealthier classes. The expenses of political life. Attempts to check
luxury. Motives for gain amongst the upper classes. Means of acquiring
wealth open to members of the nobility; those open to members of the
commercial class. The political influence of the Equites. The business
life of Rome; finance and banking. Foreign trade. The condition of the
small traders. Agriculture. Diminution in the numbers of peasant
proprietors. The Latifundium and the new agricultural ideal. Growth of
pasturage. Causes of the changes in the tenure of land. The system of
possession. Future prospects of agriculture. Slave labour; dangers
attending its employment; revolts of slaves in Italy. The servile war in
Sicily (circa 140-131 B.C.). The need for reform.
CHAPTER II: The sources from which reform might have come, too. Attitude
of Scipio Aemilianus. Tiberius Gracchus; his youth and early career. The
affair of the Numantine Treaty. Motives that urged Tiberius Gracchus to
reform. His tribunate (B.C. 133). Terms of the agrarian measure which he
introduced. Creation of a special agrarian commission. Opposition to the
bill. Veto pronounced by Marcus Octavius. Tiberius Gracchus declares a
Justitium. Fruitless reference to the senate. Deposition of Octavius.
Passing of the agrarian law; appointment of the commissioners; judicial
power given to the commissioners. Employment of the bequest of Attalus.
Attacks on Tiberius Gracchus. His defence of the deposition of Octavius.
New programme of Tiberius Gracchus; suggestion of measures dealing with
the army, the law-courts and the Italians. Tiberius Gracchus’s attempt
at re-election to the tribunate. Riot at the election and death of
Tiberius Gracchus, Consequences of his fall.
CHAPTER III: Attitude of the senate after the fall of Tiberius Gracchus.
Special commission appointed for the trial of his adherents (B.C. 132).
Fate of Scipio Nasica. Permanence of the land commission and
thoroughness of its work. Difficulties connected with jurisdiction on
disputed claims. The Italians appeal to Scipio Aemilianus. His
intervention; judicial power taken from the commissioners (B.C. 129).
Death of Scipio Aemilianus. Tribunate of Carbo (B.C. 131); ballot law
and attempt to make the tribune immediately re-eligible. The Italian
claims; negotiations for the extension of the franchise. Alien act of
Pennus (B.C. 126). Proposal made by Flaccus to extend the franchise
(B.C. 125). Revolt of Fregellae. Foundation of Fabrateria (B.C. 124).
Foreign events during this period; the kingdom of Pergamon. Bequest of
Attains the Third (B.C. 133). Revolt of Aristonicus (B.C. 132-130).
Organisation of the province of Asia (B.C. 129-126). Sardinian War (B.C.
126-125). Conquest and annexation of the Balearic Islands
(B.C. 123-132).
CHAPTER IV: The political situation at the time of the appearance of
Caius Gracchus as a candidate for the tribunate (B.C. 124). Early career
of Caius Gracchus. First tribunate of Caius Gracchus (B.C. 123). Laws
passed or proposed during this tribunate; law protecting the Caput of a
Roman citizen. Impeachment of Popillius. Law concerning magistrates who
had been deposed by the people. Social reforms. Law providing for the
cheapened sale of corn. Law mitigating the conditions of military
service, 208. Agrarian law. Judiciary law. Law permitting a criminal
prosecution for corrupt judgments. Law concerning the province of Asia.
The new balance of power created by these laws in favour of the Equites.
Law about the consular provinces. Colonial schemes of Caius Gracchus.
The Rubrian law for the renewal of Carthage. Law for the making of
roads. Election of Fannius to the consulship and of Caius Gracchus and
Flaccus to the tribunate. Activity of Caius Gracchus during his second
tribunate (B.C. 122). The franchise bill. Opposition to the bill.
Exclusion of Italians from Rome; threat of the veto, and suspension of
the measure. Proposal for a change in the order of voting in the Comitia
Centuriata. New policy of the senate; counter-legislation of Drusus.
Colonial proposals of Drusus. His measure for the protection of the
Latins. The close of Caius Gracchus’s second tribunate. His failure to
be elected tribune for the third time. Proposal for the repeal of the
Rubrian law. The meeting on the Capitol and its consequences (B.C. 121).
Declaration of a state of siege. The seizure of the Aventine; defeat of
the Gracchans; death of Caius Gracchus and Flaccus. Judicial prosecution
of the adherents of Caius Gracchus. Future judgments on the Gracchi. The
closing years of Cornelia. Estimate of the character and consequences of
the Gracchan reforms.
CHAPTER V: The political situation after the fall of Caius Gracchus.
Prosecution and acquittal of Opimius (B.C. 120). Publius Lentulus dies
in exile. Prosecution and condemnation of Carbo (B.C. 119). Lucius
Crassus. Policy of the senate towards the late schemes of reform. Two
new land laws (circa 121-119 B.C.). The settlement of the land
question with respect to Ager Publicus in Italy (B.C. III). Limitations
on the power of the nobility; the Equestrian courts; trials of Scaevola
(B.C. 120) and Cato (B.C. 113). Consulship of Scaurus (B.C. 115); law
concerning the voting power of freedmen. Sumptuary law; activity of the
censors Metellus and Domitius (B.C. 115). Triumphs of Domitius, Fabius
(B.C. 120) and Scaurus (B.C. 115), for military successes. Confidence of
the electors in the ancient houses. Recognition of talent by the
nobility; career of Scaurus (B.C. 163-115). The rise of Marius; his
early career (B.C. 157-119). Tribunate of Marius (B.C. 119). His law
about the method of voting in the Comitia carried in spite of the
opposition of the senate. He opposes a measure for the distribution of
corn. Marius elected praetor; accused and acquitted of Ambitus (B.C.
116). His praetorship (B.C. 115), and pro-praetorship in Spain (B.C.
114). Further opposition to the senate; foundation of Narbo Martius
(B.C. 118). Glaucia; his tribunate and his law of extortion (circa 111
B.C.). The spirit of unrest; religious fears at Rome (B.C. 114). First
trial of the vestals (B.C. 114). Second trial of the vestals (B.C. 113).
Human sacrifice. Great fire at Rome (B.C. III).
CHAPTER VI: The kingdom of Numidia. The races of North Africa. The
Numidians. The Numidian monarchy. Reign of Micipsa (B.C. 148-118). Early
years of Jugurtha. Jugurtha at Numantia (B.C. 134-133). Joint rule of
Jugurtha, Adherbal and Hiempsal (B.C. 118). Murder of Hiempsal (circa
116 B.C.); war between Jugurtha and Adherbal. Both kings send envoys to
Rome; the appeal of Adherbal. Decision of the senate. Numidia divided
between the claimants. Renewal of the war between Jugurtha and Adherbal
(circa 114 B.C.). Siege of Cirta (B.C. 112). Embassy from Rome
neglected by Jugurtha. Renewed appeal of Adherbal. Another commission
sent by Rome. Surrender of Cirta and murder of Adherbal. Massacre of
Italian traders. Its influence on the commercial classes at Rome;
protest by Memmius. Declaration of war against Jugurtha. Command of
Bestia in Numidia (B.C. III). Attitude of Bocchus of Mauretania.
Negotiations of Bestia with Jugurtha; conclusion of peace. Excitement in
Rome on the news of the agreement with Jugurtha. Activity of Memmius.
Jugurtha induced to come to Rome (B.C. III). Jugurtha at Rome; the scene
at the Contio. Murder of Massiva. Jugurtha leaves Rome and the war is
renewed, 365. Spurius Albinus in Numidia. He returns to Rome leaving
Aulus Albinus in command. Enterprise of Aulus Albinus; his defeat and
compact with Jugurtha (B.C. 109). Reception of the news at Rome; the
senate invalidates the treaty. Return of Spurius Albinus to Africa. The
Mamilian Commission (B.C. 110). Metellus appointed to Numidia
(B.C. 109).
CHAPTER VII: Metellus restores discipline in the army. Jugurtha attempts
negotiation; Metellus intrigues with the envoys. First campaign of
Metellus (B.C. 109). Seizure of Vaga. Battle of the Muthul. Reception of
the news at Rome. Second campaign of Metellus (B.C. 108). Siege of Zama.
Correspondence of Metellus with Bomilcar. Negotiations with Jugurtha.
Discontent in the province of Africa at the progress of the war;
ambitions of Marius. Plans for securing the command for Marius. Massacre
of the Roman garrison at Vaga. Recovery of Vaga by Metellus. Trial and
execution of Turpilius, Intrigues of Bomilcar. Bomilcar put to death by
Jugurtha. Marius returns to Rome. His election to the consulship (B.C.
108 or 107); Numidia assigned as his province. Enrolment of the Capite
Censi in the legions. Metellus’s expedition to Thala (B.C. 107); capture
of the town, Leptis Major appeals for, and receives, Roman help.
Jugurtha finds help amongst the Gaetulians. Junction of Jugurtha and
Bocchus. Metellus moves to Cirta. Close of Metellus’s command.
CHAPTER VIII: Marius arrives in Africa (B.C. 107). Return of Metellus to
Rome: his triumph. First campaign of Marius. Expedition to Capsa and
destruction of the town. Second campaign of Marius (B.C. 106);
operations on the Muluccha. Arrival of Sulla with cavalry from Italy.
Early career of Sulla. Renewed coalition of Jugurtha and Bocchus.
Retirement of Marius on Cirta; battles on the route. Marius approached
by Bocchus; Sulla and Manlius sent to interview Bocchus. Envoys from
Bocchus reach Sulla in the Roman winter-camp (B.C. 105). Armistice made
with Bocchus; he is then granted conditional terms of alliance by the
Roman senate. The mission of Sulla to Bocchus. The advocates of Numidia
and Rome at the Mauretanian court. Sulla urges Bocchus to surrender
Jugurtha. Betrayal of the Numidian king; conclusion of the war;
settlement of Numidia. Fate of Jugurtha. Triumph of Marius. Lessons of
the Numidian War. Growing rivalry between Marius and Sulla. Internal
politics of Rome; reaction in favour of the nobility; election of
Serranus and Caepio (B.C. 107). The judiciary law of Caepio (B.C. 106).
The measure supported by Crassus. Reaction against the proposal; victory
of the Equites; renewed coalition against the senate due to the conduct
of the campaign in the North. The consular elections for the year 105
B.C. Effect of the defeat at Arausio (6th Oct. 105 B.C.). Election of
Marius to a second consulship.


The Wäd Mellag and the surrounding territory.

Numidia and the Roman Province of Africa.

Titles of modern works referred to in the notes.

     Does the Eagle know what is in the pit?

        Or wilt thou go ask the Mole?

      Can Wisdom be put in a silver rod?

        Or Love in a golden bowl?




The period of Roman history on which we now enter is, like so many that
had preceded it, a period of revolt, directly aimed against the existing
conditions of society and, through the means taken to satisfy the fresh
wants and to alleviate the suddenly realised, if not suddenly created,
miseries of the time, indirectly affecting the structure of the body
politic. The difference between the social movement of the present and
that of the past may be justly described as one of degree, in so far as
there was not a single element of discontent visible in the revolution
commencing with the Gracchi and ending with Caesar that had not been
present in the earlier epochs of social and political agitation. The
burden of military service, the curse of debt, the poverty of an
agrarian proletariate, the hunger for land, the striving of the artisan
and the merchant after better conditions of labour and of trade—the
separate cries of discontent that find their unison in a protest against
the monopoly of office and the narrow or selfish rule of a dominant
class, and thus gain a significance as much political as social—all
these plaints had filled the air at the time when Caius Licinius near
the middle of the fourth century, and Appius Claudius at its close,
evolved their projects of reform. The cycle of a nation’s history can
indeed never be broken as long as the character of the nation remains
the same. And the average Roman of the middle of the second century
before our era[1] was in all essential particulars the Roman of the
times of Appius and of Licinius, or even of the epoch when the ten
commissioners had published the Tables which were to stamp its perpetual
character on Roman law. He was in his business relations either
oppressor or oppressed, either hammer or anvil. In his private life he
was an individualist whose sympathies were limited to the narrow circle
of his dependants; he was a trader and a financier whose humanitarian
instincts were subordinated to a code of purely commercial morality, and
who valued equity chiefly because it presented the line of least
resistance and facilitated the conduct of his industrial operations.
Like all individualists, he was something of an anarchist, filled with
the idea, which appeared on every page of the record of his ancestors
and the history of his State, that self-help was the divinely given
means of securing right, that true social order was the issue of
conflicting claims pushed to their breaking point until a temporary
compromise was agreed on by the weary combatants; but he was hampered in
his democratic leanings by the knowledge that democracy is the fruit of
individual self-restraint and subordination to the common
will—qualities of which he could not boast and symbols of a prize which
he would not have cared to attain at the expense of his peculiar ideas
of personal freedom—and he was forced, in consequence of this
abnegation, to submit to an executive government as strong, one might
almost say as tyrannous, as any which a Republic has ever displayed—a
government which was a product of the restless spirit of self-assertion
and self-aggrandisement which the Roman felt in himself, and therefore
had sufficient reason to suspect in others.

The Roman was the same; but his environment had changed more startlingly
during the last fifty or sixty years than in all the centuries that had
preceded them in the history of the Republic. The conquest of Italy had,
it Is true, given to his city much that was new and fruitful in the
domains of religion, of art, of commerce and of law. Bat these
accretions merely entailed the fuller realisation of a tendency which
had been marked from the earliest stage of Republican history—the
tendency to fit isolated elements in the marvellous discoveries made by
the heaven-gifted race of the Greeks into a framework that was
thoroughly national and Roman. Ideas had been borrowed, and these ideas
certainly resulted in increased efficiency and therefore in increased
wealth. But the gross material of Hellenism, whether as realised in
intellectual ideas or (the prize that appealed more immediately to the
practical Roman with his concrete mind) in tangible things, had not been
seized as a whole as the reward of victory: and no great attempt had
been made in former ages to assimilate the one or to enjoy the other.
The nature of the material rewards which had been secured by the epochs
of Italian conquest had indeed made such assimilation or enjoyment
impossible. They would have been practicable only in a state which
possessed a fairly complete urban life; and the effect of the wars which
Rome waged with her neighbours in the peninsula had been to make the
life of the average citizen more purely agricultural than it had been in
the early Republic, perhaps even in the epoch of the Kings. The course
of a nation’s political, social and intellectual history is determined
very largely by the methods which it adopts for its own expansion at the
inevitable moment when its original limits are found to be too narrow to
satisfy even the most modest needs of a growing population. The method
chosen will depend chiefly on geographical circumstances and on the
military characteristics of the people which are indissolubly connected
with these. When the city of Old Greece began to feel the strength of
its growing manhood, and the developing hunger which was both the sign
and the source of that strength, it looked askance at the mountain line
which cut it off from the inland regions, it turned hopeful eyes on the
sea that sparkled along its coasts; it manned its ships and sent its
restless youth to a new and distant home which was but a replica of the
old. The results of this maritime adventure were the glories of urban
life and the all-embracing sweep of Hellenism. The progress of Roman
enterprise had been very different. Following the example of all
conquering Italian peoples,[2] and especially of the Sabellian invaders
whose movements immediately preceded their own, the Romans adopted the
course of inland expansion, and such urban unity as they had possessed
was dissipated over the vast tract of territory on which the legions
were settled, or to which the noble sent his armed retainers, nominally
to keep the land as the public domain of Rome, in reality to hold it for
himself and his descendants. At a given moment (which is as clearly
marked in Roman as in Hellenic history) the possibility of such
expansion ceased, and the necessity for its cessation was as fully
exhibited in the policy of the government as in the tastes of the
people. No Latin colony had been planted later than the year 181, no
Roman colony later than 157,[3] and the senate showed no inclination to
renew schemes for the further assignment of territory amongst the
people. There were many reasons for this indifference to colonial
enterprise. In the first place, although colonisation had always been a
relief to the proletariate and one of the means regularly adopted by
those in power for assuaging its dangerous discontent, yet the
government had always regarded the social aspect of this method of
expansion as subservient to the strategic.[4] This strategic motive no
longer existed, and a short-sighted policy, which looked to the present,
not to the future, to men of the existing generation and not to their
sons, may easily have held that a colony, which was not needed for the
protection of the district in which it was settled, injuriously affected
the fighting-strength of Rome. The maritime colonies which had been
established from the end of the great Latin war down to the close of the
second struggle with Carthage claimed, at least in many cases, exemption
from military service,[5] and a tradition of this kind tends to linger
when its justification is a thing of the past. But, even if such a view
could be repudiated by the government, it was certain that the levy
became a more serious business the greater the number of communities on
which the recruiting commander had to call, and it was equally manifest
that the veteran who had just been given an allotment on which to
establish his household gods might be inclined to give a tardy response
to the call to arms. The Latin colony seemed a still greater anachronism
than the military colony of citizens. The member of such a community,
although the state which he entered enjoyed large privileges of
autonomy, ceased to be a Roman citizen in respect to political rights,
and even at a time when self-government had been valued almost more than
citizenship, the government had only been able to carry out its project
of pushing these half-independent settlements into the heart of Italy by
threatening with a pecuniary penalty the soldier who preferred his
rights as a citizen to the benefits which he might receive as an
emigrant.[6] Now that the great wars had brought their dubious but at
least potential profits to every member of the Roman community, and the
gulf between the full citizens and the members of the allied communities
was ever widening, it was more than doubtful whether a member of the
former class, however desperate his plight, would readily condescend to
enroll himself amongst the latter. But, even apart from these
considerations, it must have seemed very questionable to any one, who
held the traditional view that colonisation should subserve the purposes
of the State, whether the landless citizen of the time could be trusted
to fulfil his duties as an emigrant. As early as the year 186 the consul
Spurius Postumius, while making a judicial tour in Italy, had found to
his surprise that colonies on both the Italian coasts, Sipontum on the
Upper, and Buxentum on the Lower Sea, had been abandoned by their
inhabitants: and a new levy had to be set on foot to replace the
faithless emigrants who had vanished into space.[7] As time went on the
risk of such desertion became greater, partly from the growing
difficulty of maintaining an adequate living on the land, partly from
the fact that the more energetic spirits, on whom alone the hopes of
permanent settlement could depend, found a readier avenue to wealth and
a more tempting sphere for the exercise of manly qualities in the
attractions of a campaign that seemed to promise plunder and glory,
especially when these prizes were accompanied by no exorbitant amount of
suffering or toil. Thus when it had become known that Scipio Africanus
would accompany his brother in the expedition against Antiochus, five
thousand veterans, both citizens and allies, who had served their full
time under the command of the former, offered their voluntary services
to the departing consul,[8] and nineteen’ years later the experience
which had been gained of the wealth that might be reaped from a campaign
in Macedonia and Asia drew many willing recruits to the legions which
were to be engaged in the struggle with Perseus.[9] The
semi-professional soldier was in fact springing up, the man of a spirit
adventurous and restless such as did not promise contentment with the
small interests and small rewards of life in an Italian outpost. But, if
the days of formal colonisation were over, why might not the concurrent
system be adopted of dividing conquered lands amongst poorer citizens
without the establishment of a new political settlement or any strict
limitation of the number of the recipients? This ‘viritane’ assignation
had always run parallel to that which assumed the form of colonisation;
it merely required the existence of land capable of distribution, and
the allotments granted might be considered merely a means of affording
relief to the poorer members of existing municipalities. The system was
supposed to have existed from the times of the Kings; it was believed to
have formed the basis of the first agrarian law, that of Spurius Cassius
in 486;[10] it had been employed after the conquest of the Volscians in
the fourth century and that of the Sabines in the third;[11] it had
animated the agrarian legislation of Flaminius when in 232 he romanised
the ager Gallicus south of Ariminum without planting a single colony
in this region;[12] and a date preceding the Gracchan legislation by
only forty years had seen the resumption of the method, when some Gallic
and Ligurian land, held to be the spoil of war and declared to be
unoccupied, had been parcelled out into allotments, of ten jugera to
Roman citizens and of three to members of the Latin name.[13] But to the
government of the period with which we are concerned the continued
pursuance of such a course, if it suggested itself at all, appealed in
the light of a policy that was unfamiliar, difficult and objectionable.
It is probable that this method of assignment, even in its later phases,
had been tinctured with the belief that, like the colony, it secured a
system of military control over the occupied district: and that the
purely social object of land-distribution, if it had been advanced at
all, was considered to be characteristic rather of the demagogue than
the statesman. From a strategic point of view such a measure was
unnecessary; from an economic, it assumed, not only a craving for
allotments amongst the poorer class, of which there was perhaps little
evidence, but a belief, which must have been held to be sanguine in the
extreme, that these paupers, when provided for, would prove to be
efficient farmers capable of maintaining a position which many of them
had already lost. Again, if such an assignment was to be made, it should
be made on land immediately after it had passed from the possession of
the enemy to that of Rome; if time had elapsed since the date of
annexation, it was almost certain that claims of some kind had been
asserted over the territory, and shadowy as these claims might be, the
Roman law had, in the interest of the State itself, always tended to
recognise a de facto as a de jure right. The claims of the allies
and the municipalities had also to be considered; for assignments to
Roman citizens on an extensive scale would inevitably lead to difficult
questions about the rights which many of these townships actually
possessed to much of the territory whose revenue they enjoyed. If the
allies and the municipal towns did not suffer, the loss must fall on the
Roman State itself, which derived one of its chief sources of stable and
permanent revenue—the source which was supposed to meet the claims for
Italian administration[14]—from its domains in Italy, on the
contractors who collected this revenue, and on the Enterprising
capitalists who had put their wealth and energy into the waste places to
which they had been invited by the government, and who had given these
devastated territories much of the value which they now possessed.
Lastly, these enterprising possessors were strongly represented in the
senate; the leading members of the nobility had embarked on a new system
of agriculture, the results of which were inimical to the interest of
the small farmer, and the conditions of which would be undermined by a
vast system of distribution such as could alone suffice to satisfy the
pauper proletariate. The feeling that a future agrarian law was useless
from an economic and dangerous from a political point of view, was
strengthened by the conviction that its proposal would initiate a war
amongst classes, that its failure would exasperate the commons and that
its success would inflict heavy pecuniary damage on the guardians of
the State.

Thus the simple system of territorial expansion, which had continued in
an uninterrupted course from the earliest days of conquest, might be now
held to be closed for ever. From the point of view of the Italian
neighbours of Rome it was indeed ample time that such a closing period
should be reached. If we possessed a map of Italy which showed the
relative proportions of land in Italy and Cisalpine Gaul which had been
seized by Rome or left to the native cities or tribes, we should
probably find that the possessions of the conquering State, whether
occupied by colonies, absorbed by the gift of citizenship, or held as
public domain, amounted to nearly one half of the territory of the whole
peninsula.[15] The extension of such progress was clearly impossible
unless war were to be provoked with the Confederacy which furnished so
large a proportion of the fighting strength of Rome; but, if it was
confessed that extension on the old lines was now beyond reach of
attainment and yet it was agreed that the existing resources of Italy
did not furnish an adequate livelihood to the majority of the citizens
of Rome, but two methods of expansion could be thought of as practicable
in the future. One was agrarian assignation at the expense either of the
State or of the richer classes or of both; the other was enterprise
beyond the sea. But neither of these seemed to deserve government
intervention, or regulation by a scheme which would satisfy either
immediate or future wants. The one was repudiated, as we have already
shown, on account of its novelty, its danger and its inconvenience; the
other seemed emphatically a matter for private enterprise and above all
for private capital. It could never be available for the very poor
unless it assumed the form of colonisation, and the senate looked on
transmarine colonisation with the eye of prejudice.[16] It took a
different view of the enterprise of the foreign speculator and merchant;
this it regarded with an air of easy indifference. Their wealth was a
pillar on which the State might lean in times of emergency, but, until
the disastrous effects of commercial enterprise on foreign policy were
more clearly seen, it was considered to be no business of the government
either to help or to hinder the wealthy and enterprising Roman in his
dealings with the peoples of the subject or protected lands.

Rome, if by this name we mean the great majority of Roman citizens, was
for the first time for centuries in a situation in which all movement
and all progress seemed to be denied. The force of the community seemed
to have spent itself for the time; as a force proceeding from the whole
community it had perhaps spent itself for ever. A section of the
nominally sovereign people might yet be welded into a mighty instrument
that would carry victory to the ends of the earth, and open new channels
of enterprise both for the men who guided their movements and for
themselves. But for the moment the State was thrown back upon itself; it
held that an end had been attained, and the attainment naturally
suggested a pause, a long survey of the results which had been reached
by these long years of struggle with the hydra-headed enemy abroad. The
close of the third Macedonian war is said by a contemporary to have
brought with it a restful sense of security such as Rome could not have
felt for centuries.[17] Such a security gave scope to the rich to enjoy
the material advantages which their power had acquired; but it also gave
scope to the poor to reflect on the strange harvest which the conquest
of the great powers of the world had brought to the men whose stubborn
patience had secured the peace which they were given neither the means
nor the leisure to enjoy. The men who evaded or had completed their
service in the legions lacked the means, although they had the leisure;
the men who still obeyed the summons to arms lacked both, unless the
respite between prolonged campaigns could be called leisure, or the
booty, hardly won and quickly squandered, could be described as means.
Even after Carthage had been destroyed Rome, though doubly safe, was
still busy enough with her legions; the government of Spain was one
protracted war, and proconsuls were still striving to win triumphs for
themselves by improving on their predecessors’ work.[18] But such war
could not absorb the energy or stimulate the interest of the people as a
whole. The reaction which had so often followed a successful campaign,
when the discipline of the camp had been shaken off and the duties of
the soldier were replaced by the wants of the citizen, was renewed on a
scale infinitely larger than before—a scale proportioned to the
magnitude of the strain which had been removed and the greatness of the
wants which had been revived. The cries for reform may have been of the
old familiar type but their increased intensity and variety may almost
be held to have given them a difference of quality. There is a stage at
which a difference of degree seems to amount to one of kind: and this
stage seems certainly to have been reached in the social problems
presented by the times. In the old days of the struggle between the
orders the question of privilege had sometimes overshadowed the purely
economic issue, and although a close scrutiny of those days of turmoil
shows that the dominant note in the conflict was often a mere pretext
meant to serve the personal ambition of the champions of the Plebs, yet
the appearance rather than the reality of an issue imposes on the
imagination of the mob, and political emancipation had been thought a
boon even when hard facts had shown that its greater prizes had fallen
to a small and selfish minority. Now, however, there could be no
illusion. There was nothing but material wants on one side, there was
nothing but material power on the other. The intellectual claims which
might be advanced to justify a monopoly of office and of wealth, could
be met by an intellectual superiority on the part of a demagogue
clamouring for confiscation. The ultimate basis of the life of the State
was for the first time to be laid bare and subjected to a merciless
scrutiny; it remained to be seen which of the two great forces of
society would prevail; the force of habit which had so often blinded the
Roman to his real needs; or the force of want which, because it so
seldom won a victory over his innate conservatism, was wont, when that
victory had been won, to sweep him farther on the path of reckless and
inconsistent reform than it would have carried a race better endowed
with the gift of testing at every stage of progress the ends and needs
of the social organism considered as a whole.

An analysis of social discontent at any period of history must take the
form of an examination of the wants engendered by the age, and of the
adequacy or inadequacy of their means of satisfaction. If we turn our
attention first to the forces of society which were in possession of the
fortress and were to be the object of attack, we shall find that the
ruling desires which animated these men of wealth and influence were
chiefly the product of the new cosmopolitan culture which the victorious
city had begun to absorb in the days when conquest and diplomacy had
first been carried across the seas. To this she fell a willing victim
when the conquered peoples, bending before the rude force which had but
substituted a new suzerainty for an old and had scarcely touched their
inner life, began to display before the eyes of their astonished
conquerors the material comfort and the spiritual charm which, in the
case of the contact of a potent but narrow civilisation with one that is
superbly elastic and strong in the very elegance of its physical
debility, can always turn defeat into victory. But the student who
begins his investigation of the new Roman life with the study of Roman
society as it existed in the latter half of the second century before
our era, cannot venture to gather up the threads of the purely
intellectual and moral influences which were created by the new
Hellenistic civilisation. He feels that he is only at the beginning of a
process, that he lacks material for his picture, that the illustrative
matter which he might employ is to be found mainly in the literary
records of a later age, and that his use of this matter would but
involve him in the historical sins of anticipation and anachronism. Of
some phases of the war between the old spirit and the new we shall find
occasion to speak; but the culminating point attained by the blend of
Greek with Roman elements is the only one which is clearly visible to
modern eyes. This point, however, was reached at the earliest only in
the second half of the next century. It was only then that the fusion of
the seemingly discordant elements gave birth to the new “Romanism,”
which was to be the ruling civilisation of Italy and the Western
provinces and, in virtue of the completeness of the amalgamation and the
novelty of the product, was itself to be contrasted and to live for
centuries in friendly rivalry with the more uncompromising Hellenism of
Eastern lands. But some of the economic effects of the new influences
claim our immediate attention, for we are engaged in the study of the
beginnings of an economic revolution, and an analysis must therefore be
attempted of some of the most pressing needs and some of the keenest
desires which were awakened by Hellenism, either in the purer dress
which old Greece had given it or in the more gorgeous raiment which it
had assumed during its sojourn in the East.

A tendency to treat the city as the home, the country only as a means of
refreshment and a sphere of elegant retirement during that portion of
the year when the excitement of the urban season, its business and its
pleasure, were suspended, began to be a marked feature of the life of
the upper classes. The man of affairs and the man of high finance were
both compelled to have their domicile in the town, and, if agriculture
was still the staple or the supplement of their wealth, the needs of the
estate had to be left to the supervision of the resident bailiff.[19]
This concentration of the upper classes in the city necessarily entailed
a great advance in the price and rental of house property within the
walls. It is true that the reckless prices paid for houses, especially
for country villas, by the grandees and millionaires of the next
generation,[20] had not yet been reached; but the indications with which
we are furnished of the general rise of prices for everything in Rome
that could be deemed desirable by a cultivated taste,[21] show that the
better class of house property must already have yielded large returns,
whether it were sold or let, and we know that poor scions of the
nobility, if business or pleasure induced them to spend a portion of the
year in Rome, had soon to climb the stairs of flats or lodgings.[22] The
pressure for room led to the piling of storey on storey. On The roof of
old houses new chambers were raised, which could be reached by an
outside stair, and either served to accommodate the increased retinue of
the town establishment or were let to strangers who possessed no
dwelling of their own;[23] the still larger lodging-houses or “islands,”
which derived their name from their lofty isolation from neighbouring
buildings,[24] continued to spring up, and even private houses soon came
to attain a height which had to be restrained by the intervention of the
law. An ex-consul and augur was called on by the censors of 125 to
explain the magnitude of a villa which he had raised, and the altitude
of the structure exposed him not only to the strictures of the guardians
of morals but to a fine imposed by a public court.[25] Great changes
were effected in the interior structure of the houses of the
wealthy—changes excused by a pardonable desire for greater comfort and
rendered necessary both by the growing formality of life and the large
increase in the numbers of the resident household, but tending, when
once adopted, to draw the father of the family into that most useless
type of extravagance which takes the form of a craze for building. The
Hall or Atrium had once been practically the house. It opened on the
street. It contained the family bed and the kitchen fire. The smoke
passed through a hole in the roof and begrimed the family portraits that
looked down on the members of the household gathered round the hearth
for their common meal. The Hall was the chief bedroom, the kitchen, the
dining-room and the reception room, and it was also the only avenue from
the street to the small courtyard at the back. The houses of the great
had hitherto differed from those of the poor chiefly in dimensions and
but very slightly in structure. The home of the wealthy patrician had
simply been on a larger scale of primitive discomfort; and if his large
parlour built of timber could accommodate a vast host of clients, the
bed and the cooking pots were still visible to every visitor. The chief
of the early innovations had been merely a low portico, borrowed from
the Greeks by the Etruscans and transmitted by them to Rome, which ran
round the courtyard, was divided into little cells and chambers, and
served to accommodate the servants of the house.[26] But now fashion
dictated that the doorway should not front the street but should be
parted from it by a vestibule, in which the early callers gathered
before they were admitted to the hall of audience. The floor of the
Atrium was no longer the common passage to the regions at the back, but
a special corridor lying either on one or on both sides of the Hall[27]
led past the Study or Tablinum, immediately behind it, to the inner
court beyond. Even the sanctity of the nuptial couch could not continue
to give it the publicity which was irksome to the taste of an age which
had acquired notions of the dignity of seclusion, of the comfort that
was to be found in retirement, and of the convenience of separating the
chambers that were used for public from those which were employed for
merely private purposes. The chief bedrooms were shifted to the back,
and the sides of the courtyard were no longer the exclusive abode of the
dependants of the household. The common hearth could no longer serve as
the sphere of the culinary operations of an expensive cook with his
retinue of menials; the cooking fire was removed to one of the rooms
near the back-gate of the house, which finally became an ample kitchen
replete with all the imported means of satisfying the growing luxury of
the table; and the member of the family loitering in the hall, or the
visitor admitted through its portals, was spared the annoyances of
strong smells and pungent smoke. The Roman family also discovered the
discomfort of dining in a large and scantily furnished room, not too
well lit and accessible to the intrusions of the chance domestic and the
caller. It was deemed preferable to take the common meal in a light and
airy upper chamber, and the new type of Coenaculum satisfied at once the
desire for personal comfort and for that specialisation in the use of
apartments which is one of the chief signs of an advancing material
civilisation. The great hall had become the show-room of the house, but
even for this purpose its dimensions proved too small. Such was the
quantity of curios and works of art collected by the conquering or
travelled Roman that greater space was needed for the exhibition of
their rarity or splendour. This space was gained by the removal from the
Atrium of all the domestic obstacles with which it had once been
cumbered. It might now be made slightly smaller in its proportion to the
rest of the house and yet appear far more ample than before. The space
by which its sides were diminished could now be utilised for the
building of two wings or Alae, which served the threefold purpose of
lighting the hall from the sides, of displaying to better advantage, as
an oblong chamber always does, the works of art which the lord of the
mansion or his butler[28] displayed to visitor or client, and lastly of
serving as a gallery for the family portraits, which were finally
removed from the Atrium, to be seen to greater advantage and in a better
light on the walls of the wings. These now displayed the family tree
through painted lines which connected the little shrines holding the
inscribed imagines of the great ancestors of the house.[29] It is also
possible that the Alae served as rooms for more private audiences than
were possible in the Atrium.[30] From the early morning crowd which
thronged the hall individuals or groups might have been detached by the
butler, and led to the presence of the great statesman or pleader who
paced the floor in the retirement of one of these long side-galleries.
[31] Business of a yet more private kind was transacted in the still
greater security of the Tablinum, the archive room and study of the
house. Here were kept, not only the family records and the family
accounts, but such of the official registers and papers as a magistrate
needed to have at hand during his year of office.[32] The domestic
transaction of official business was very large at Rome, for the State
had given its administrators not even the skeleton of a civil service,
and it was in this room that the consul locked himself up with his
quaestor and his scribes, as it was here that, as a good head of the
family and a careful business man, he carefully perused the record of
income and expenditure, of gains and losses, with his skilled Greek

The whole tendency of the reforms in domestic architecture was to
differentiate between the public and private life of the man of business
or affairs. His public activity was confined to the forepart of the
house; his repose, his domestic joys, and his private pleasures were
indulged in the buildings which lay behind the Atrium and its wings. As
each of the departments of life became more ambitious, the sphere for
the exercise of the one became more magnificent, and that which fostered
the other the scene of a more perfect, because more quiet, luxury. The
Atrium was soon to become a palatial hall adorned with marble
colonnades;[33] the small yard with its humble portico at the back was
to be transformed into the Greek Peristyle, a court open to the sky and
surrounded by columns, which enclosed a greenery of shrubs and trees and
an atmosphere cooled and freshened by the constant play of fountains.
The final form of the Roman house was an admirable type of the new
civilisation. It was Roman and yet Greek[34]—Roman in the grand front
that it, presented to the world, Greek in the quiet background of
thought and sentiment.

The growing splendour of the house demanded a number and variety in its
human servitors that had not been dreamed of in a simpler age. The slave
of the farm, with his hard hands and weather-beaten visage, could no
longer be brought by his elegant master to the town and exhibited to a
fastidious society as the type of servant that ministered to his daily
needs. The urban and rustic family were now kept wholly distinct; it was
only when some child of marked grace and beauty was born on the farm,
that it was transferred to the mansion as containing a promise that
would be wasted on rustic toil.[35] In every part of the establishment
the taste and wealth of the owner might be tested by the courtliness and
beauty of its living instruments. The chained dog at the gate had been
replaced by a human janitor, often himself in chains.[36] The visitor,
when he had passed the porter, was received by the butler in the hall,
and admitted to the master’s presence by a series of footmen and ushers,
the show servants of the fore-part of the house, men of the impassive
dignity and obsequious repose that servitude but strengthens in the
Oriental mind.[37] In the penetralia of the household each need created
by the growing ideal of comfort and refinement required its separate
band of ministers. The body of the bather was rubbed and perfumed by
experts in the art; the service of the table was in the hands of men who
had made catering and the preparation of delicate viands the sole
business of their lives. The possession of a cook, who could answer to
the highest expectations of the age, was a prize beyond the reach of all
but the most wealthy; for such an expert the sum of four talents had to
be paid;[38] he was the prize of the millionaire, and families of more
moderate means, if they wished a banquet to be elegantly served, were
forced to hire the temporary services of an accomplished artist.[39] The
housekeeper,[40] who supervised the resources of the pantry, guided the
destinies of the dinner in concert with the chef; and each had under
him a crowd of assistants of varied names and carefully differentiated
functions.[41] The business of the outer world demanded another class of
servitors. There were special valets charged with the functions of
taking notes and invitations to their masters’ friends; there was the
valued attendant of quick eye and ready memory, an incredibly rich
store-house of names and gossip, an impartial observer of the ways and
weaknesses of every class, who could inform his master of the name and
attributes of the approaching stranger. There were the lackeys who
formed the nucleus of the attendant retinue of clients for the man when
he walked abroad, the boys of exquisite form with slender limbs and
innocent faces, who were the attendant spirits of the lady as she passed
in her litter down the street. The muscles of the stouter slaves now
offered facilities for easy journeying that had been before unknown. The
Roman official need not sit his horse during the hot hours of the day as
he passed through the hamlets of Italy, and the grinning rustic could
ask, as he watched the solemn and noiseless transit of the bearers,
whether the carefully drawn curtains did not conceal a corpse.[42]

The internal luxury of the household was as fully exhibited in lifeless
objects as in living things. Rooms were scented with fragrant perfumes
and hung with tapestries of great price and varied bloom. Tables were
set with works of silver, ivory and other precious material, wrought
with the most delicate skill. Wine of moderate flavour was despised;
Falernian and Chian were the only brands that the true connoisseur would
deem worthy of his taste. A nice discrimination was made in the
qualities of the rarer kinds of fish, and other delicacies of the table
were sought in proportion to the difficulty of their attainment. The
fashions of dress followed the tendency of the age; the rarity of the
material, its fineness of texture, the ease which it gave to the body,
were the objects chiefly sought. Young men were seen in the Forum in
robes of a material as soft as that worn by women and almost transparent
in its thinness. Since all these instruments of pleasure, and the luxury
that appealed to ambition even more keenly than to taste, were pursued
with a ruinous competition, prices were forced up to an incredible
degree. An amphora of Falernian wine cost one hundred denarii, a jar of
Pontic salt-fish four hundred; a young Roman would often give a talent
for a favourite, and boys who ranked in the highest class for beauty of
face and elegance of form fetched even a higher price than this.[43] Few
could have been inclined to contradict Cato when he said in the
senate-house that Rome was the only city in the world where a jar of
preserved fish from the Black Sea cost more than a yoke of oxen, and a
boy-favourite fetched a higher price than a yeoman’s farm.[44] One of
the great objects of social ambition was to have a heavier service of
silver-plate than was possessed by any of one’s neighbours. In the good
old days,—days not so long past, but severed from the present by a gulf
that circumstances had made deeper than the years—the Roman had had an
official rather than a personal pride in the silver which he could
display before the respectful eyes of the distinguished foreigner who
was the guest of the State; and the Carthaginian envoys had been struck
by the similarity between the silver services which appeared at the
tables of their various hosts. The experience led them to a higher
estimate of Roman brotherhood than of Roman wealth, and the silver-plate
that had done such varied duty was at least responsible for a moral
triumph.[45] Only a few years before the commencement of the first war
with Carthage Rufinus a consular had been expelled from the senate for
having ten pounds of the wrought metal in his keeping,[46] and Scipio
Aemilianus, a man of the present age, but an adherent of the older
school, left but thirty-two pounds’ weight to his heir. Less than forty
years later the younger Livius Drusus was known to be in possession of
plate that weighed ten thousand pounds,[47] and the accretions to the
primitive hoard which must have been made by but two or three members of
this family may serve as an index of the extent to which this particular
form of the passion for display had influenced the minds and practice of
the better-class Romans of the day.

There were other objects, valued for their intrinsic worth as much as
for the distinction conveyed by their possession, which attracted the
ambition and strained the revenues of the fashionable man. Works of art
must once have been cheap on the Roman market; for, even if we refuse to
credit the story of Mummius’ estimate of the prize which fallen Corinth
had delivered into his hands,[48] yet the transhipment of cargoes of the
priceless treasures to Rome is at least an historic fact, and the
Gracchi must themselves have seen the trains of wagons bearing their
precious freight along the Via Sacra to the Capitol. The spoils of the
generous conqueror were lent to adorn the triumphs, the public buildings
and even the private houses, of others; but much that had been yielded
by Corinth had become the property neither of the general nor of the
State. Polybius had seen the Roman legionaries playing at draughts on
the Dionysus of Aristeides and many another famous canvas which had been
torn from its place and thrown as a carpet upon the ground;[49] but many
a camp follower must have had a better estimate of the material value of
the paintings of the Hellenic masters, and the cupidity of the Roman
collector must often have been satisfied at no great cost to his
resources. The extent to which a returning army could disseminate its
acquired tastes and distribute its captured goods had been shown some
forty years before the fall of Corinth when Manlius brought his legions
back from the first exploration of the rich cities of Asia. Things and
names, of which the Roman had never dreamed, soon gratified the eye and
struck the ear with a familiar sound. He learnt to love the bronze
couches meant for the dining hall, the slender side tables with the
strange foreign name, the delicate tissues woven to form the hangings of
the bed or litter, the notes struck from the psalter and the harp by the
fingers of the dancing-women of the East.[50] This was the first
irruption of the efflorescent luxury of Eastern Hellenism; but some
five-and-twenty years before this date Rome had received her first
experience of the purer taste of the Greek genius in the West. The whole
series of the acts of artistic vandalism which marked the footsteps of
the conquering state could be traced back to the measures taken by
Claudius Marcellus after the fall of Syracuse. The systematic plunder of
works of art was for the first time given an official sanction, and the
public edifices of Rome were by no means the sole beneficiaries of this
new interpretation of the rights of war. Much of the valuable plunder
had found its way into private houses,[51] to stimulate the envious
cupidity of many a future governor who, cursed with the taste of a
collector and unblessed by the opportunity of a war, would make subtle
raids on the artistic treasures of his province a secret article of his
administration. When the ruling classes of a nation have been
familiarised for the larger part of a century with the easy acquisition
of the best material treasures of the world, things that have once
seemed luxuries come to fill an easy place in the category of accepted
wants. But the sudden supply has stopped; the market value, which
plunder has destroyed or lessened, has risen to its normal level;
another burden has been added to life, there is one further stimulus to
wealth and, so pressing is the social need, that the means to its
satisfaction are not likely to be too diligently scrutinised before they
are adopted.

More pardonable were the tastes that were associated with the more
purely intellectual elements in Hellenic culture—with the influence
which the Greek rhetor or philosopher exercised in his converse with the
stern but receptive minds of Rome, the love of books, the new lessons
which were to be taught as to the rhythmic flow of language and the
rhythmic movement of the limbs. The Greek adventurer was one of the most
striking features of the epoch which immediately followed the close of
the great wars. Later thinkers, generally of the resentfully national,
academic and pseudo-historical type, who repudiated the amenities of
life which they continued to enjoy, and cherished the pleasing fiction
of the exemplary mores of the ancient times, could see little in him
but a source of unmixed evil;[52] and indeed the Oriental Greek of the
commoner type, let loose upon the society of the poorer quarters, or
worming his way into the confidence of some rich but uneducated master,
must often have been the vehicle of lessons that would better have been
unlearnt. But Italy also saw the advent of the best professors of the
age, golden-mouthed men who spoke in the language of poetry, rhetoric
and philosophy, and who turned from the wearisome competition of their
own circles and the barren fields of their former labours to find a
flattering attention, a pleasing dignity, and the means of enjoying a
full, peaceful and leisured life in the homes of Roman aristocrats,
thirsting for knowledge and thirsting still more for the mastery of the
unrivalled forms in which their own deeds might be preserved and through
which their own political and forensic triumphs might be won. Soon towns
of Italy—especially those of the Hellenic South—would be vying with
each other to grant the freedom of their cities and other honours in
their gift to a young emigrant poet who hailed from Antioch, and members
of the noblest houses would be competing for the honour of his
friendship and for the privilege of receiving him under their roof.[53]
The stream of Greek learning was broad and strong;[54] it bore on its
bosom every man and woman who aimed at a reputation for elegance, for
wit or for the deadly thrust in verbal fence which played so large a
part in the game of politics; every one that refused to float was either
an outcast from the best society, or was striving to win an eccentric
reputation for national obscurantism and its imaginary accompaniment of
honest rustic strength.

Acquaintance with professors and poets led to a knowledge of books; and
it was as necessary to store the latter as the former under the
fashionable roof. The first private library in Rome was established by
Aemilius Paulus, when he brought home the books that had belonged to the
vanquished Perseus;[55] and it became as much a feature of conquest
amongst the highly cultured to bring home a goodly store of literature
as to gather objects of art which might merely please the sensuous taste
and touch only the outer surface of the mind.[56]

But it was deemed by no means desirable to limit the influences of the
new culture to the minds of the mature. There was, indeed, a school of
cautious Hellenists that might have preferred this view, and would at
any rate have exercised a careful discrimination between those elements
of the Greek training which would strengthen the young mind by giving it
a wider range of vision and a new gallery of noble lives and those which
would lead to mere display, to effeminacy, nay (who could tell?) to
positive depravity. But this could not be the point of view of society
as a whole. If the elegant Roman was to be half a Greek, he must learn
during the tender and impressionable age to move his limbs and modulate
his voice in true Hellenic wise. Hence the picture which Scipio
Aemilianus, sane Hellenist and stout Roman, gazed at with astonished
eyes and described in the vigorous and uncompromising language suited to
a former censor. “I was told,” he said, “that free-born boys and girls
went to a dancing school and moved amidst disreputable professors of the
art. I could not bring my mind to believe it; but I was taken to such a
school myself, and Good Heavens! What did I see there! More than fifty
boys and girls, one of them, I am ashamed to say, the son of a candidate
for office, a boy wearing the golden boss, a lad not less than twelve
years of age. He was jingling a pair of castanets and dancing a step
which an immodest s