CHAPTER I. THE CONQUESTS OF THE ROMANS.
But these conquests introduce luxury, wealth, pride, and avarice, with arts, refinements, and literature. These degrade while they elevate. Civilization becomes the alternate triumph of good and evil influences, and a doubtful boon. Successful war creates great generals, and founds great families, increases slavery, and promotes inequalities. Demagogues arise who seduce and deceive the people, and they enroll themselves under the standards of their idols. Rome is governed by an oligarchy of military chieftains, and has become more aristocratic and more democratic at the same time. The people gain rights, only to yield to the supremacy of demagogues. The Senate is humbled, but remains the ascendant power, for generals compose it, and those who have held great offices. Meanwhile the great generals struggle for supremacy. Civil wars follow in the train of foreign conquests. Marius, Sulla, Pompey, Julius, Antony, Augustus, sacrifice the state to their ambition. Good men lament, and protest, and hide themselves. Cato, Cicero, Brutus, speak in vain. Degenerate morals keep pace with civil contests. Rome revels in the spoils of all kingdoms and countries, is intoxicated with power, becomes cruel and tyrannical, and, after yielding up the lives of citizens to fortunate generals, yields at last her liberties, and imperial despotism begins its reign, - hard, immovable, resolute, - under which genius is crushed, and life becomes epicurean, but under which property and order are preserved. The regime is bad; but it is a change for the better. War has produced its fruits. It has added empire, but undermined prosperity; it has created a great military monarchy, but destroyed liberty; it has brought wealth, but introduced inequalities; it has filled the city with spoils, but sown the vices of self-interest. The machinery is perfect, but life has fled. It is henceforth the labor of emperors to keep together their vast possessions with this machinery, which at last wears out, since there is neither genius to repair it nor patriotism to work it. It lasts three hundred years, but is broken to pieces by the Goths and Vandals.
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The highest authority in relation to the construction of an army is Polybius, who was contemporary with Scipio, at a period when Roman discipline was most perfect. A fragment from his sixth book gives considerable information. A chapter of Livy - the eighth - is also very much prized. Salmasius and Lepsius have also written learned treatises. Smith's Dictionary, which is full of details in every thing pertaining to the weapons, the armor, the military engines, the rewards and punishments of the soldiers, refers to Folard's Commentaire, to Memoires Militaires sur les Grecs et les Remains, by Guischard, and to theHistoire des Campagnes d'Hannibal en Italie, by Vaudencourt. Tacitus, Sallust, Livy, Dion Cassius, Pliny, and Caesar reveal incidentally much that we wish to know. Gibbon gives some important facts in his first chapter. The subject of ancient machines is treated by Folard's Commentary attached to his translation of Polybius. Caesar's Commentaries give us, after all, the liveliest idea of the military habits and tactics of the Romans. Josephus describes with great vividness the siege of Jerusalem. The article on Exercitus, by Prof. Ramsay, in Smith's Dictionary, is the fullest I have read pertaining to the structure of a Roman army.
For the narrative of wars, the reader is referred to ordinary Roman histories - to Livy and Caesar especially; to Niebuhr, Mommsen, Arnold, and Liddell. See also Durny, Hist. des Romains; Michelet, Hist. de Rom. Napoleon's History of Caesar should be read, admirable in style, and interesting in matter, although a sophistical defense of usurpation.