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Jewish History From The Babylonian Captivity To The Birth Of Christ

The Antediluvian World

The Hebrew Race From Abraham To The Sale Of Joseph

The Civil Wars Between Caesar And Pompey

Grecian Civilization Before The Persian Wars

Rome In Its Infancy Under Kings

The Conquest Of Canaan To The Establishment Of The Kingdom Of David


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Jewish History From The Babylonian Captivity To The Birth Of Christ

The Antediluvian World

The Hebrew Race From Abraham To The Sale Of Joseph

The Civil Wars Between Caesar And Pompey

Grecian Civilization Before The Persian Wars

Rome In Its Infancy Under Kings

The Conquest Of Canaan To The Establishment Of The Kingdom Of David





Rome In Its Infancy Under Kings








In presenting the growth of that great power which gradually absorbed all
other States and monarchies so as to form the largest empire ever known on
earth, I shall omit a notice of all other States, in Italy and Europe,
until they were brought into direct collision with Rome herself.

The early history of Rome is involved in obscurity, and although
many great writers have expended vast learning and ingenuity in tracing
the origin of the city and its inhabitants, still but little has been
established on an incontrovertible basis. We look to poetry and legends
for the foundation of the "Eternal City."

These legends are of peculiar interest. AEneas, in his flight from
Troy, after many adventures, reaches Italy, marries the daughter of
Latinus, king of the people, who then lived in Latium, and builds a city,
which he names Lavinium, and unites his Trojan followers with the
aboriginal inhabitants.

Latium was a small country, bounded on the north by the Tiber, on
the East by the Liris and Vinius, and on the south and west by the Tuscan
Sea. It was immediately surrounded by the Etruscans, Sabines, Equi, and
Marsi. When Latium was originally settled we do not know, but the people
doubtless belonged to the Indo-European race, kindred to the early
settlers of Europe. Latium was a plain, inclosed by mountains and
traversed by the Tiber, of about seven hundred square miles. Between the
Alban Lake and the Alban Mount, was Alba--the original seat of the Latin
race, and the mother city of Rome. Here, according to tradition, reigned
Ascanius, the son of AEneas, and his descendants for three hundred years
were the Latin tribes. After eleven generations of kings, Amulius usurps
the throne, which belonged to Numitor, the elder brother, and dooms his
only daughter, Silvia, to perpetual virginity as a Vestal. Silvia, visited
by a god, gives birth to twins, Romulus and Remus. The twins, exposed by
the order of Amulius, are suckled by a she-wolf, and brought up by one of
the king's herdsmen. They feed their flocks on the Palatine, but a quarrel
ensuing between them and the herdsmen of Numitor on the Aventine, their
royal origin is discovered, and the restoration of Numitor is effected.
But the twins resolve to found a city, and Rome arises on the Palatine, an
asylum for outlaws and slaves, who are provided with wives by the "rape of
the Sabine women."

Thus, according to the legends, was the foundation of Rome, on a
hill about fourteen miles from the mouth of the Tiber, and on a site less
healthy than the old Latin towns, B.C. 751, or 753. According to the
speculations of Mommsen, it would seem that Rome was at a very early
period the resort of a lawless band of men, who fortified themselves on
the Palatine, and perhaps other hills, and robbed the small merchants, who
sailed up and down the Tiber, as well as the neighboring rural population,
even as the feudal barons intrenched themselves on hills overlooking
plains and rivers. But all theories relating to the foundation of Rome are
based either on legend or speculation. Until we arrive at certain facts, I
prefer those based on legend, such as have been accepted for more than two
thousand years. It is but little consequence whether Romulus and Remus are
real characters, or poetic names. This is probable, that the situation of
Rome was favorable in ancient times for rapine, even if it were not a
healthy locality. The first beginnings of Rome were violence and robbery,
and the murder of Remus by Romulus is a type of its early history, and
whole subsequent career.

Romulus and his associate outlaws, now intrenched on the Palatine,
organize a city and government, and extend the limits. The rape of the
Sabines leads to war, and Titus Tatius, king of the Sabines, obtains
possession of the Capitoline Hill--the smallest but most famous of the
seven hills on which Rome was subsequently built. In the valley between,
on which the forum was afterward built, the combatants are separated by
the Sabine wives of the outlaws, and the tribes or nations are united
under the name of Ramnes and Tities, the Sabines retaining the capitol and
the Quirinal, and the Romans the Palatine. Some Etruscans, in possession
of the Caelian Hill, are incorporated as a third tribe, called Luceres. But
it is probable that the Sabine element prevailed. Each tribe contains ten
curiae of a hundred citizens, which, with the three hundred horsemen, form
a body of three thousand three hundred citizens, who alone enjoyed
political rights.

The government, though monarchical, was limited. The king was bound
to lay all questions of moment before the assembly of the thirty curiae,
called the Comitia Curiata. But the king had a council called the
Senate, composed of one hundred members, who were called Patres, or
Fathers, and doubtless were the heads of clans called Gentes. The Gentes
were divided into Familiae, or families. These Patres were the heads of
the patrician houses--that class who alone had political rights, and who
were Roman citizens.

Romulus is said to have reigned justly and ably for thirty-seven
years, and no one could be found worthy to succeed him. At length the
Roman tribe, the Ramnes, elected Numa Pompilius, from the Sabines, a man
of wisdom and piety, and said to have acquired his learning from
Pythagoras. This king instituted the religious and civil legislation of
Rome, and built the temple of Janus in the midst of the Forum, whose doors
were shut in peace and opened in war, but were never closed from his death
to the reign of Augustus, but a brief period after the first Punic war.

He established the College of Pontiffs, who directed all the
ceremonies of religion and regulated festivals and the system of weights
and measures; also the College of Augurs, who interpreted by various omens
the will of the gods; and also the College of Heralds, who guarded the
public faith. He fixed the boundaries of fields, divided the territory of
Rome into districts, called pagi, and regulated the calendar.

According to the legends, Tullus Hostilius was the third king of
Rome, elected by the curiae. He assigned the Caelian Mount for the poor, and
the strangers who flocked to Rome, and was a warlike sovereign. The great
event of his reign was the destruction of Alba. The growing power of Rome
provoked the jealousy of this ancient seat of Latin power, and war ensued.
The armies of the two States were drawn up in battle array, when it was
determined that the quarrel should be settled by three champions, chosen
from each side. Hence the beautiful story of the Curiatii and the Horatii,
three brothers on each side. Two of the Horatii were slain, and the three
Curiatii were wounded. The third of the Horatii affected to fly, and was
pursued by the Curiatii, but as they were wounded, the third Roman subdued
them in detail, and so the Albans became subjects of the Romans. The
conqueror met his sister at one of the gates, who, being betrothed to one
of the Curiatii, reproached him for the death of her lover, which so
incensed him that he slew her. Thus early does patriotism surmount natural
affections among the Romans. But Horatius was nevertheless tried for his
life by two judges and condemned. He appealed to the people, who reversed
the judgment--the first instance on record of an appeal in a capital case
to the people, which subsequently was the right of Roman citizens.

Hostilities again breaking out between Alba and Rome, the former
city was demolished and the inhabitants removed to the Caeilian Mount and
enrolled among the citizens. By the destruction of Alba, Rome obtained the
presidency over the thirty cities of the Latin confederacy. Tullus, it
would seem, was an unscrupulous king, but able, and to him is ascribed the
erection of the Curia Hostilia, where the Senate had its meetings.

The Sabine Ancus Martius was the fourth king, B.C. 640, who pursued
the warlike policy of his predecessor, conquering many Latin towns, and
incorporating their inhabitants with the Romans, whom he settled on Mount
Aventine. They were freemen, but not citizens. They were called plebeians,
with modified civil, but not political rights, and were the origin of that
great middle class which afterward became so formidable. The plebeians,
though of the same race as the Romans, were a conquered people, and yet
were not reduced to slavery like most conquered people among the ancients.
They had their Gentes and Familiae, but they could not intermarry with the
patricians. Though they were not citizens, they were bound to fight for
the State, for which, as a compensation, they retained their lands, that
is, their old possessions.

On the death, B.C. 616, of Ancus Marlius, Lucius Tarquinius, of an
Etruscan family, became king, best known as Tarquinius Priscus. He had
been guardian of the two sons of Ancus, but offered himself as candidate
for the throne, from which it would appear that the monarchs were elected
by the people.

He carried on successful war against the Latins and Sabines, and
introduced from Etruria, by permission of the Senate, a golden crown, an
ivory chain, a sceptre topped with an eagle, and a crimson robe studded
with gold--emblems of royalty. But he is best known for various public
works of great magnificence at the time, as well as of public utility.
Among these was the Cloaca Maxima, to drain the marshy land between the
Palatine and the Tiber--a work so great, that Niebuhr ranks it with the
pyramids. It has lasted, without the displacement of a stone, for more
than two thousand years. It shows that the use of the arch was known at
that period. The masonry of the stones is perfect, joined together without
cement. Tarquin also instituted public games, and reigned with more
splendor than we usually associate with an infant State.

This king, who excited the jealousy of the patricians, was
assassinated B.C. 578, and Servius Tullius reigned in his stead. He was
the greatest of the Roman kings, and arose to his position by eminent
merit, being originally obscure. He married the daughter of Tarquin, and
shared all his political plans.

He is most celebrated for remodeling the constitution. He left the
old institutions untouched, but added new ones. He made a new territorial
division of the State, and created a popular assembly. He divided the
whole population into thirty tribes, at the head of each of which was a
tribune. Each tribe managed its own local affairs, and held public
meetings. These tribes included both patricians and plebeians. This was
the commencement of the power of the plebs, which was seen with great
jealousy by the patricians.

The basis or principle of the new organization of Servius was the
possession of property. All free citizens, whether patricians or
plebeians, were called to defend the State, and were enrolled in the army.
The equites, or cavalry, took the precedence in the army, and was composed
of the wealthy citizens. There were eighteen centuries of these knights,
six patrician and twelve plebeian, all having more than one hundred
thousand ases. They were armed with sword, spear, helmet, shield, greaves,
and cuirass. The infantry was composed of the classes, variously armed, of
which, including equites, there were one hundred and ninety-four
centuries, one hundred of whom were of the first rank, heavily armed--all
men possessing one hundred thousand ases. Each class was divided into
seniores--men between forty-five and sixty, and juniores--from seventeen to
forty-five. The former were liable to be called out only in emergencies.
This division of the citizens was a purely military one, and each century
had one vote. But as the first class numbered one hundred centuries, each
man of which was worth land valued at one hundred thousand ases, it could
cast a larger vote than all the other classes, which numbered only
ninety-four together. Thus the rich controlled all public affairs.

To this military body of men, in which the rich preponderated,
Servius committed all the highest functions of the State, for the Comitia
Centuriata possessed elective, judicial, and legislative functions.
Servius also rendered many other benefits to the plebeians, He divided
among them the lands gained from the Etruscans. He inclosed the city with
a wall, which remained for centuries, embracing the seven hills on which
Rome was built. But it is as the hero of the plebeian order that he is
famous, and paid the penalty for being such. He was assassinated, probably
by the instigation of the patricians, by his son-in-law, Lucius
Tarquinius, who mounted his throne as Tarquinius Superbus, the last king
of Rome, B.C. 534. The daughter of the murdered king, Tullia, who rode in
her chariot over his bleeding body, is enrolled among the infamous women
of antiquity.

Tarquinius Superbus, a usurper and murderer, abrogated the popular
laws of Servius Tullius, and set aside even the assembly of the Curiae, and
degraded and decimated the Senate, and appropriated the confiscated
estates of those whom he destroyed. He reigned as a despot, making
treaties without consulting the Senate, and living for his pleasure alone.
But he ornamented the city with magnificent edifices, and completed the
Circus Maximus as well as the Capitoline Temple, which stood five hundred
years. He was also successful in war, and exalted the glory of the Roman
name.

An end came to his tyranny by one of those events on which poetry
and history have alike exhausted all their fascinations. It was while
Tarquin was conducting a war against Ardea, and the army was idly encamped
before the town, that the sons of Tarquin, with their kinsmen, were
supping in the tent of Sextus, that conversation turned upon the
comparative virtue of their wives. By a simultaneous impulse, they took
horse to see the manner in which these ladies were at the time employed.
The wives of Tarquin's sons at Rome were found in luxurious banquets with
other women. Lucretia, the wife of Collatinus, was discovered carding wool
in the midst of her maidens. The boast of Collatinus that his wife was the
most virtuous was confirmed. But her charms or virtues made a deep
impression on the heart or passions of Sextus, and he returned to her
dwelling in Collatia to propose infamous overtures. They were proudly
rejected, but the disappointed lover, by threats and force, accomplished
his purpose. Lucretia, stung with shame, made known the crime of Sextus to
her husband and father, who hastened to her house, accompanied with
Brutus. They found the ravished beauty in agonies of shame and revenge,
and after she had revealed the scandalous facts, she plunged a dagger in
her own bosom and died, invoking revenge. Her relatives and friends
carried her corpse to the market-place, revealed the atrocity of the crime
of Sextus, and demanded vengeance. The people rallied in the Forum at
Rome, and the assembled Curiae deprived Tarquin of his throne, and decreed
the banishment of his accursed family. On the news of the insurrection,
the tyrant started for the city with a band of chosen followers, but
Brutus reached the army after the king had left, recounted the wrongs, and
marched to Rome, whose gates were already shut against Tarquin. He fled to
Etruria, with two of his sons, but Sextus was murdered by the people of
Gabii.

Thus were the kings driven out of Rome, never to return. In the
revolution which followed, the patricians recovered their power, and a new
form of government was instituted, republican in name, but oligarchal and
aristocratic in reality, two hundred and forty-five years after the
foundation of the city, B.C. 510. Historical criticism throws doubt on the
chronology which assigns two hundred and forty-five years to seven
elective kings, and some critics think that a longer period elapsed from
the reign of Romulus to that of Tarquin than legend narrates, and that
there must have been a great number of kings whose names are unknown. As
the city advanced in wealth and numbers, the popular influence increased.
The admission of commons favored the establishment of despotism, and its
excesses led to its overthrow. It would have been better for the commons
had Brutus established a monarchy with more limited powers, for the
plebeians were now subjected to the tyranny of a proud and grasping
oligarchy, and lost a powerful protector in the king, and the whole
internal history of Rome, for nearly two centuries, were the conflicts
between the plebeians and their aristocratic masters for the privileges
they were said to possess under the reign of Tullius. Under the patricians
the growth of the city was slow, and it was not till the voices of the
tribunes were heard that Rome advanced in civilization and liberty. Under
the kings, the progress in arts and culture had been rapid.

Mommsen, in his learned and profound history of Rome, enumerates
the various forms of civilization that existed on the expulsion of the
Tarquins, a summary of which I present. Law and justice were already
enforced on some of the elemental principles which marked the Roman
jurisprudence. The punishment of offenses against order was severe, and
compensation for crime, where injuries to person and property were slight,
was somewhat similar to the penalties of the Mosaic code. The idea of
property was associated with estate in slaves and cattle, and all property
passed freely from hand to hand; but it was not in the power of the father
arbitrarily to deprive his children of their hereditary rights. Contracts
between the State and a citizen were valid without formalities, but those
between private persons were difficult to be enforced. A purchase only
founded an action in the event of its being a transaction for ready money,
and this was attested by witnesses. Protection was afforded to minors and
for the estate of persons not capable of bearing arms. After a man's
death, his property descended to his nearest heirs. The emancipation of
slaves was difficult, and that of a son was attended with even greater
difficulties. Burgesses and clients were equally free in their private
rights, but foreigners were beyond the pale of the law. The laws indicated
a great progress in agriculture and commerce, but the foundation of law
was the State. The greatest liberality in the permission of commerce, and
the most rigorous procedure in execution, went hand in hand. Women were
placed on a legal capacity with men, though restricted in the
administration of their property. Personal credit was extravagant and
easy, but the creditor could treat the debtor like a thief. A freeman
could not, indeed, be tortured, but he could be imprisoned for debt with
merciless severity. From the first, the laws of property were stringent
and inexorable.

In religion, the ancient Romans, like the Greeks, personified the
powers of nature, and also abstractions, like sowing, field labor, war,
boundary, youth, health, harmony, fidelity. The profoundest worship was
that of the tutelary deities, who presided over the household. Next to the
deities of the house and forest, held in the greatest veneration, was
Hercules, the god of the inclosed homestead, and, therefore, of property
and gain. The souls of departed mortals were supposed to haunt the spot
where the bodies reposed, but dwelt in the depths below. The hero worship
of the Greeks was uncommon, and even Numa was never worshiped as a god.
The central object of worship was Mars, the god of war, and this was
conducted by imposing ceremonies and rites. The worship of Vesta was held
with peculiar sacredness, and the vestal virgins were the last to yield to
Christianity. The worshipers of the gods often consulted priests and
augurs, who had great colleges, but little power in the State. The Latin
worship was grounded on man's enjoyment of earthly pleasures, and not on
his fear of the wild forces of nature, and it gradually sunk into a dreary
round of ceremonies. The Italian god was simply an instrument for the
attainment of worldly ends, and not an object of profound awe or love, and
hence the Latin worship was unfavorable to poetry, as well as
philosophical speculation.

Agriculture is ever a distinguishing mark of civilization, and
forms the main support of a people. It early occupied the time of the
Latins, and was their chief pursuit. In the earliest ages arable land was
cultivated in common, and was not distributed among the people as their
special property, but in the time of Servius there was a distribution.
Attention was chiefly given to cereals, but roots and vegetables were also
diligently cultivated. Vineyards were introduced before the Greeks made
settlements in Italy, but the olive was brought to Italy by the Greeks.
The fig-tree is a native of Italy. The plow was drawn by oxen, while
horses, asses, and mules were used as beasts of burden. The farm was
stocked with swine and poultry, especially geese. The plow was a rude
instrument, but no field was reckoned perfectly tilled unless the furrows
were so close that harrowing was deemed unnecessary. Farming on a large
scale was not usual, and the proprietor of land worked on the soil with
his sons. The use of slaves was a later custom, when large estates arose.

Trades scarcely kept pace with agriculture, although in the time of
Numa eight guilds of craftsmen were numbered among the institutions of
Rome--flute-blowers, goldsmiths, coppersmiths, carpenters, fullers, dyers,
potters, and shoemakers. There was no yield for workers in iron, which
shows that iron was a later introduction than copper.

Commerce was limited to the mutual dealings of the Italians
themselves. Fairs are of great antiquity, distinguished from ordinary
markets, and barter and traffic were carried on in them, especially that
of Soracte, being before Greek or Phoenicians entered from the sea. Oxen
and sheep, grain and slaves, were the common mediums of exchange. Latium
was, however, deficient of articles of export, and was pre-eminently an
agricultural country.

The use of measures and weights was earlier than the art of
writing, although the latter is of high antiquity. Latin poetry began in
the lyrical form. Dancing was a common trade, and this was accompanied
with pipers, and religious litanies were sung from the remotest antiquity.
Comic songs were sung in Saturnian metre, accompanied by the pipe. The art
of dancing was a public care, and a powerful impulse was early given by
Hellenic games. But in all the arts of music and poetry there was not the
easy development as in Greece. Architecture owed its first impulse to the
Etruscans, who borrowed from the Greeks, and was not of much account till
the reigns of the Tuscan kings.





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