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T. G. Tucker

The best means of realising the extent of the Roman Empire in or about the year 64 is to glance at the map. It will be found to reach from the Atlantic Ocean to the Euphrates, from the middle of England - approximately the river Trent - to the south of Egypt, from the Rhine and the Danube to the Desert of Sahara. The Mediterranean Sea is a Roman lake, and there is not a spot upon its shores which is not under Roman rule. In round numbers the empire is three thousand miles in length and two thousand in breadth.

Unlike too many couples of the same class, Silius and Marcia are blessed with children. We will assume that there are two, a boy, whose full name shall be Publius Silius Bassus, and a girl, who is to be called Silia Bassa. It is perhaps to be regretted that there is not a third, for in that case the father would enjoy to the full certain privileges granted by law to parents who so far do their duty by the state. As it is, he will in the regular course of things receive preference over childless men, when it comes to candidature for a public office or to the allotting of a governorship.

Of the administration in Rome and throughout the provinces enough will be said in the proper place. Meanwhile we may look briefly at one or two questions of interest which will presumably suggest themselves at this stage. Since all this vast region now formed one empire, since Roman magistrates and officers were sent to all parts of it, since trade and intercourse were vigorous between all its provinces, it will be natural to ask, for example, by what means the traveller got from place to place, at what rate of progress, and with what degree of safety and comfort.

In the older days of Roman history the fighting forces had been a "citizen army," called out for so long as it was needed, and levied from full and true Roman citizens. In the imperial times with which we are here dealing it had become a standing army. Soldiering was a profession, for which the men volunteered, and, so far as Roman citizens were concerned, it was now seldom, if ever, the case that military service required to be made compulsory on their part.

After thus considering, however incompletely, the manner in which the people of the Roman world contrived to move about within the empire itself, we may proceed to glance at the constituent parts of the world in which they thus travelled to and fro.

To undertake to set forth with any definiteness the "religious ideas of a Roman" of A.D. 64 would be an extremely difficult task. Those ideas would differ with the individual, being determined or varied by a number of considerations and influences - by locality, education, and temperament. Silius would not hold the views of Scius and probably not those of Marcia.

We have seen, and succinctly traversed, the extent of the Roman world. The next step is to consider, as tersely as possible, its system of government and administration about the year 64. This task is not only entirely necessary to our immediate purpose; it is also one of great interest and profit in itself. If we are either to see in their proper light the experiences of such a man as St. Paul, or to understand the long continuance of so wide an empire, we must observe carefully the principles and methods adopted by the Romans as rulers.

In describing the education of a Roman youth, and also in setting forth the various religious attitudes of the time, mention has been made of the pursuit of philosophy. Religion supplied no real guide to moral conduct, and education provided little exercise for the cultivation of the higher intellectual faculties. It was left for philosophy to fill these blanks as best it could. Unlike the Greeks, the Romans, great as they were in law-making and administration, had little natural gift or taste for abstract thought.

Roughly then this is the situation at the centre of government. Sumptuously housed on the Palatine Hill - the origin of our word "palace" - is His Highness Claudius Nero, Head of the State, Commander-in-Chief of the Forces, Empowered to act as Tribune of the People, and Head of the State Religion: in modern times commonly called "the Emperor." Every day and night his palace is surrounded by a regiment of the Imperial Guards, and attached to his person is a special corps for bodyguard, and orderlies.

With such an unsatisfactory equipment of science, and with such a vague and morally inoperative religion, it was no wonder that the higher minds of the contemporary world turned to the study of philosophy. Of such studies there had been many schools or sects, but at this date we have chiefly to reckon with two - the Stoics and Epicureans. There were, it is true, the Academics, who disputed everything, and held no doctrine to be more true than its contrary. There were Eclectics, who picked and chose.

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