During the last half of the second century before Christ Rome was undisputed mistress of the civilised world. A brilliant period of foreign conquest had succeeded the 300 years in which she had overcome her neighbours and made herself supreme in Italy. In 146 B.C. she had given the death-blow to her greatest rival, Carthage, and had annexed Greece. In 140 treachery had rid her of Viriathus, the stubborn guerilla who defied her generals and defeated her armies in Spain. In 133 the terrible fate of Numantia, and in 132 the merciless suppression of the Sicilian slave-revolt, warned all foes of the Republic that the sword, which the incompetence of many generals had made seem duller than of old, was still keen to smite; and except where some slave-bands were in desperate rebellion, and in Pergamus, where a pretender disputed with Rome the legacy of Attalus, every land along the shores of the Mediterranean was subject to or at the mercy of a town not half as large as the London of to-day. Almost exactly a century afterwards the Government under which this gigantic empire had been consolidated was no more.

Foreign wars will have but secondary importance in the following pages. [The history will not be one of military events.] The interest of the narrative centres mainly in home politics; and though the world did not cease to echo to the tramp of conquering legions, and the victorious soldier became a more and more important factor in the State, still military matters no longer, as in the Samnite and Punic wars, absorb the attention, dwarfed as they are by the great social struggle of which the metropolis was the arena. In treating of the first half of those hundred years of revolution, which began with the tribunate of Tiberius Gracchus and ended with the battle of Actium, it is mainly the fall of the Republican and the foreshadowing of the Imperial system of government which have to be described. [In order to understand the times of the Gracchi it is necessary to understand the history of the orders at Rome.] But, in order to understand rightly the events of those fifty years, some survey, however brief, of the previous history of the Roman orders is indispensable.

[The patres.] When the mists of legend clear away we see a community which, if we do not take slaves into account, consisted of two parts - the governing body, or patres, to whom alone the term Populus Romanus strictly applied, and who constituted the Roman State, and the governed class, or clientes, who were outside its pale. The word patrician, more familiar to our ear than the substantive from which it is formed, came to imply much more than its original meaning. [The clients.] In its simplest and earliest sense it was applied to a man who was sprung from a Roman marriage, who stood towards his client on much the same footing which, in the mildest form of slavery, a master occupies towards his slave. As the patronus was to the libertus, when it became customary to liberate slaves, so in some measure were the Fathers to their retainers, the Clients. That the community was originally divided into these two sections is known. What is not known is how, besides this primary division of patres and clientes, there arose a second political class in the State, namely the plebs. The client as client had no political existence. [The plebeians.] But as a plebeian he had. Whether the plebs was formed of clients who had been released from their clientship, just as slaves might be manumitted; or of foreigners, as soldiers, traders, or artisans were admitted into the community; or partly of foreigners and partly of clients, the latter being equalised by the patres with the former in self-defence; and whether as a name it dated from or was antecedent to the so-called Tullian organization is uncertain. But we know that in one way or other a second political division in the State arose and that the constitution, of which Servius Tullius was the reputed author, made every freeman in Rome a citizen by giving him a vote in the Comitia Centuriata. Yet though the plebeian was a citizen, and as such acquired 'commercium,' or the right to hold and devise property, it was only after a prolonged struggle that he achieved political equality with the patres. [Gradual acquisition by the plebs of political equality with the patres.] Step by step he wrung from them the rights of intermarriage and of filling offices of state; and the great engine by which this was brought about was the tribunate, the historical importance of which dates from, even though as a plebeian magistracy it may have existed before, the first secession of the plebs in 494 B.C. [Character of the tribunate.] The tribunate stood towards the freedom of the Roman people in something of the same relation which the press of our time occupies towards modern liberty: for its existence implied free criticism of the executive, and out of free speech grew free action. [The Roman government transformed from oligarchy into a plutocracy.]

Side by side with those external events which made Rome mistress first of her neighbours, then, of Italy, and lastly of the world, there went on a succession of internal changes, which first transformed a pure oligarchy into a plutocracy, and secondly overthrew this modified form of oligarchy, and substituted Caesarism. With the earlier of these changes we are concerned here but little. The political revolution was over when the social revolution which we have to record began. But the roots of the social revolution were of deep growth, and were in fact sometimes identical with those of the political revolution. [Sidenote: Parallel between Roman and English history.] Englishmen can understand such an intermixture the more readily from the analogies, more or less close, which their own history supplies. They have had a monarchy. They have been ruled by an oligarchy, which has first confronted and then coalesced with the moneyed class, and the united orders have been forced to yield theoretical equality to almost the entire nation, while still retaining real authority in their own hands. They have seen a middle class coquetting with a lower class in order to force an upper class to share with it its privileges, and an upper class resorting in its turn to the same alliance; and they may have noted something more than a superficial resemblance between the tactics of the patres and nobiles of Rome and our own magnates of birth and commerce. Even now they are witnessing the displacement of political by social questions, and, it is to be hoped, the successful solution of problems which in the earlier stages of society have defied the efforts of every statesman. Yet they know that, underlying all the political struggles of their history, questions connected with the rights and interests of rich and poor, capitalist and toiler, land-owner and land-cultivator, have always been silently and sometimes violently agitated. Political emancipation has enabled social discontent to organize itself and find permanent utterance, and we are to-day facing some of the demands to satisfy which the Gracchi sacrificed their lives more than 2,000 years ago. [The struggle between the orders chiefly agrarian.] With us indeed the wages question is of more prominence than the land question, because we are a manufacturing nation; but the principles at stake are much the same. At Rome social agitation was generally agrarian, and the first thing necessary towards understanding the Gracchan revolution is to gain a clear conception of the history of the public land.

[Origin of the Ager Publicus.] The ground round a town like Rome was originally cultivated by the inhabitants, some of whom, as more food and clothing were required, would settle on the soil. From them the ranks of the army were recruited; and, thus doubly oppressed by military service and by the land tax, which had to be paid in coin, the small husbandman was forced to borrow from some richer man in the town. Hence arose usury, and a class of debtors; and the sum of debt must have been increased as well as the number of the debtors by the very means adopted to relieve it. [Fourfold way of dealing with conquered territory.] When Rome conquered a town she confiscated a portion of its territory, and disposed of it in one of four ways. [Colonies.] 1. After expelling the owners, she sent some of her own citizens to settle upon it. They did not cease to be Romans, and, being in historical times taken almost exclusively from the plebs, must often have been but poorly furnished with the capital necessary for cultivating the ground. [Sale.] 2. She sold it; and, as with us, when a field is sold, a plan is made of its dimensions and boundaries, so plans of the land thus sold were made on tablets of bronze, and kept by the State. [Occupation.] 3. She allowed private persons to 'occupy' it on payment of 'vectigal,' or a portion of the produce; and, though not surrendering the title to the land, permitted the possessors to use it as their private property for purchase, sale, and succession. [Commons.] 4. A portion was kept as common pasture land for those to whom the land had been given or sold, or by whom it was occupied and those who used it paid 'scriptura,' or a tax of so much per head on the beasts, for whose grazing they sent in a return. This irregular system was fruitful in evil. It suited the patres with whom it originated, for they were for a time the sole gainers by it. Without money it must have been hopeless to occupy tracts distant from Rome. The poor man who did so would either involve himself in debt, or be at the mercy of his richer neighbours, whose flocks would overrun his fields, or who might oust him altogether from them by force, and even seize him himself and enroll him as a slave. The rich man, on the other hand, could use such land for pasture, and leave the care of his flocks and herds to clients and slaves. [This irregular system the germ of latifundia.] So originated those 'latifundia,' or large farms, which greatly contributed to the ruin of Rome and Italy. The tilled land grew less and with it dwindled the free population and the recruiting field for the army. Gangs of slaves became more numerous, and were treated with increased brutality; and as men who do not work for their own money are more profuse in spending it than those who do, the extravagance of the Roman possessors helped to swell the tide of luxury, which rose steadily with foreign conquest, and to create in the capital a class free in name indeed, but more degraded, if less miserable, than the very slaves, who were treated like beasts through Italy. It is not certain whether anyone except a patrician could claim 'occupation' as a right; but, as the possessors could in any case sell the land to plebeians, it fell into the hands of rich men, to whichever class they belonged, both at Rome, and in the Roman colonies, and the Municipia; and as it was never really their property - 'dominium' - but the property of the State, it was a constant source of envy and discontent among the poor.

[Why complaints about the Public Land became louder at the close of the second century B.C.] As long as fresh assignations of land and the plantations of colonies went on, this discontent could be kept within bounds. But for a quarter of a century preceding our period scarcely any fresh acquisitions of land had been made in Italy, and, with no hope of new allotments from the territory of their neighbours, the people began to clamour for the restitution of their own. [Previous agrarian legislation. Spurius Cassius.] The first attempt to wrest public land from possessors had been made long before this by Spurius Cassius; and he had paid for his daring with his life. [The Licinian Law.] More than a century later the Licinian law forbade anyone to hold above 500 'jugera' of public land, for which, moreover, a tenth of the arable and a fifth of the grazing produce was to be paid to the State. The framers of the law are said to have hoped that possessors of more than this amount would shrink from making on oath a false return of the land which they occupied, and that, as they would be liable to penalties for exceeding the prescribed maximum, all land beyond the maximum would be sold at a nominal price (if this interpretation of the [Greek: kat' oligon] of Appian may be hazarded) to the poor. It is probable that they did not quite know what they were aiming at, and certain that they did not foresee the effects of their measure. In a confused way the law may have been meant to comprise sumptuary, political, and agrarian objects. It forbade anyone to keep more than a hundred large or five hundred small beasts on the common pasture-land, and stipulated for the employment of a certain proportion of free labour. The free labourers were to give information of the crops produced, so that the fifths and tenths might be duly paid; and it may have been the breakdown of such an impossible institution which led to the establishment of the 'publicani.' [Composite nature of the Licinian law.] Nothing, indeed, is more likely than that Licinius and Sextius should have attempted to remedy by one measure the specific grievance of the poor plebeians, the political disabilities of the rich plebeians and the general deterioration of public morals; but, though their motives may have been patriotic, such a measure could no more cure the body politic than a man who has a broken limb, is blind, and in a consumption can be made sound at every point by the heal-all of a quack. Accordingly the Licinian law was soon, except in its political provisions, a dead letter. Licinius was the first man prosecuted for its violation, and the economical desire of the nation became intensified. [The Flaminian law.] In 232 B.C. Flaminius carried a law for the distribution of land taken from the Senones among the plebs. Though the law turned out no possessors, it was opposed by the Senate and nobles. Nor is this surprising, for any law distributing land was both actually and as a precedent a blow to the interests of the class which practised occupation. What is at first sight surprising is that small parcels of land, such as must have been assigned in these distributions, should have been so coveted. [Why small portions of land were so coveted.] The explanation is probably fourfold. Those who clamoured for them were wretched enough to clutch at any change; or did not realise to themselves the dangers and drawbacks of what they desired; or intended at once to sell their land to some richer neighbour; or, lastly, longed to keep a slave or two, just as the primary object of the 'mean white' in America used to be to keep his negro. [Sidenote: Failure of previous legislation.] On the whole, it is clear that legislation previous to this period had not diminished agrarian grievances, and it is clear also why these grievances were so sorely felt. The general tendency at Rome and throughout Italy was towards a division of society into two classes - the very rich and the very poor, a tendency which increased so fast that not many years later it was said that out of some 400,000 men at Rome only 2,000 could, in spite of the city being notoriously the centre to which the world's wealth gravitated, be called really rich men. To any patriot the progressive extinction of small land-owners must have seemed piteous in itself and menacing to the life of the State. On the other hand, the poor had always one glaring act of robbery to cast in the teeth of the rich. A sanguine tribune might hope permanently to check a growing evil by fresh supplies of free labour. His poor partisan again had a direct pecuniary interest in getting the land. Selfish and philanthropic motives therefore went hand in hand, and in advocating the distribution of land a statesman would be sure of enlisting the sympathies of needy Italians, even more than those of the better-provided-for poor of Rome.

[Roman slavery.] Incidental mention has been made of the condition of the slaves in Italy. It was the sight of the slave-gangs which partly at least roused Tiberius Gracchus to action, and some remarks on Roman slavery follow naturally an enquiry into the nature of the public land. The most terrible characteristic of slavery is that it blights not only the unhappy slaves themselves, but their owners and the land where they live. It is an absolutely unmitigated evil. As Roman conquests multiplied and luxury increased, enormous fortunes became more common, and the demand for slaves increased also. Ten thousand are said to have been landed and sold at Delos in one day. What proportion the slave population of Italy bore to the free at the time of the Gracchi we cannot say. It has been placed as low as 4 per cent., but the probability is that it was far greater. [Slave labour universally employed.] In trades, mining, grazing, levying of revenue, and every field of speculation, slave-labour was universally employed. If it is certain that even unenfranchised Italians, however poor, could be made to serve in the Roman army, it was a proprietor's direct interest from that point of view to employ slaves, of whose services he could not be deprived.

[Whence the slaves came. Their treatment.] A vast impetus had been given to the slave-trade at the time of the conquest of Macedonia, about thirty-five years before our period. The great slave-producing countries were those bordering on the Mediterranean - Africa, Asia, Spain, &c. An organized system of man-hunting supplied the Roman markets, and slave-dealers were part of the ordinary retinue of a Roman army. When a batch of slaves reached its destination they were kept in a pen till bought. Those bought for domestic service would no doubt be best off, and the cunning, mischievous rogue, the ally of the young against the old master of whom we read in Roman comedy, if he does not come up to our ideal of what a man should be, does not seem to have been physically very wretched. Even here, however, we see how degraded a thing a slave was, and the frequent threats of torture prove how utterly he was at the mercy of a cruel master's caprice. We know, too, that when a master was arraigned on a criminal charge, the first thing done to prove his guilt was to torture his slaves. But just as in America the popular figure of the oily, lazy, jocular negro, brimming over with grotesque good-humour and screening himself in the weakness of an indulgent master, merely served to brighten a picture of which the horrible plantation system was the dark background; so at Rome no instances of individual indulgence were a set-off against the monstrous barbarities which in the end brought about their own punishment, and the ruin of the Republic. [Sidenote: Dread inspired by the prospect of Roman slavery.] Frequent stories attest the horrors of Roman slavery felt by conquered nations. We read often of individuals, and sometimes of whole towns, committing suicide sooner than fall into the conquerors' hands. Sometimes slaves slew their dealers, sometimes one another. A boy in Spain killed his three sisters and starved himself to avoid slavery. Women killed their children with the same object. If, as it is asserted, the plantation-system was not yet introduced into Italy, such stories, and the desperate out-breaks, and almost incredibly merciless suppression of slave revolts, prove that the condition of the Roman slave was sufficiently miserable. [The horrors of slavery culminated in Sicily.] But doubtless misery reached its climax in Sicily, where that system was in full swing. Slaves not sold for domestic service were there branded and often made to work in chains, the strongest serving as shepherds. Badly fed and clothed, these shepherds plundered whenever they found the chance. Such brigandage was winked at, and sometimes positively encouraged, by the owners, while the governors shrank from punishing the brigands for fear of offending their masters. As the demand for slaves grew, slave-breeding as well as slave-importation was practised. No doubt there were as various theories as to the most profitable management of slaves then as in America lately. Damophilus had the instincts of a Legree: a Haley and a Cato would have held much the same sentiments as to the rearing of infants. Some masters would breed and rear, and try to get more work from the slave by kindness than harshness. Others would work them off and buy afresh; and as this would be probably the cheapest policy, no doubt it was the prevalent one. And what an appalling vista of dumb suffering do such considerations open to us! Cold, hunger, nakedness, torture, infamy, a foreign country, a strange climate, a life so hard that it made the early death which was almost inevitable a comparative blessing - such was the terrible lot of the Roman slave. At last, almost simultaneously at various places in the Roman dominions, he turned like a beast upon a brutal drover. [Outbreaks in various quarters.] At Rome, at Minturnae, at Sinuessa, at Delos, in Macedonia, and in Sicily insurrections or attempts at insurrections broke out. They were everywhere mercilessly suppressed, and by wholesale torture and crucifixion the conquerors tried to clothe death, their last ally, with terror which even a slave dared not encounter. In the year when Tiberius Gracchus was tribune (and the coincidence is significant), it was found necessary to send a consul to put down the first slave revolt in Sicily. It is not known when it broke out. [Story of Damophilus.] Its proximate cause was the brutality of Damophilus, of Enna, and his wife Megallis. His slaves consulted a man named Eunous, a Syrian-Greek, who had long foretold that he would be a king, and whom his master's guests had been in the habit of jestingly asking to remember them when he came to the throne. [The first Sicilian slave war.] Eunous led a band of 400 against Enna. He could spout fire from his mouth, and his juggling and prophesying inspired confidence in his followers. All the men of Enna were slain except the armourers, who were fettered and compelled to forge arms. Damophilus and Megallis were brought with every insult into the theatre. He began to beg for his life with some effect, but Hermeias and another cut him down; and his wife, after being tortured by the women, was cast over a precipice. But their daughter had been gentle to the slaves, and they not only did not harm her, but sent her under an escort, of which this Hermeias was one, to Catana. Eunous was now made king, and called himself Antiochus. He made Achaeus his general, was joined by Cleon with 5,000 slaves, and soon mustered 10,000 men. Four praetors (according to Florus) were defeated; the number of the rebels rapidly increased to 200,000; and the whole island except a few towns was at their mercy. In 134 the consul Flaccus went to Sicily; but with what result is not known. In 133 the consul L. Calpurnius Piso captured Messana, killed 8,000 slaves, and crucified all his prisoners. In 132 P. Rupilius captured the two strongholds of the slaves, Tauromenium and Enna (Taormina and Castragiovanni). Both towns stood on the top ledges of precipices, and were hardly accessible. Each was blockaded and each was eventually surrendered by a traitor. But at Tauromenium the defenders held out, it is said, till all food was gone, and they had eaten the children, and the women, and some of the men. Cleon's brother Comanus was taken here; all the prisoners were first tortured, and then thrown down the rocks. At Enna Cleon made a gallant sally, and died of his wounds. Eunous fled and was pulled out of a pit with his cook, his baker, his bathman, and his fool. He is said to have died in prison of the same disease as Sulla and Herod. Rupilius crucified over 20,000 slaves, and so quenched with blood the last fires of rebellion.

Besides the dangers threatening society from the discontent of the poor, the aggressions of the rich, the multiplication and ferocious treatment of slaves, and the social rivalries of the capital, the condition of Italy and the general deterioration of public morality imperatively demanded reform. It has been already said that we do not know for certain how the plebs arose. But we know how it wrested political equality from the patres, and, speaking roughly, we may date the fusion of the two orders under he common title 'nobiles,' from the Licinian laws. [The 'nobiles' at Rome.] It had been a gradual change, peaceably brought about, and the larger number having absorbed the smaller, the term 'nobiles,' which specifically meant those who had themselves filled a curule office, or whose fathers had done so, comprehended in common usage the old nobility and the new. The new nobles rapidly drew aloof from the residuum of the plebs, and, in the true parvenu spirit, aped and outdid the arrogance of the old patricians. Down to the time of the Gracchi, or thereabouts, the two great State parties consisted of the plebs on the one hand, and these nobiles on the other. [The 'optimates' and 'populares.'] After that date new names come into use, though we can no more fix the exact time when the terms optimates and populares superseded previous party watchwords than we can when Tory gave place to Conservative, and Whig to Liberal. Thus patricians and plebeians were obsolete terms, and nobles and plebeians no longer had any political meaning, for each was equal in the sight of the law; each had a vote; each was eligible to every office. But when the fall of Carthage freed Rome from all rivals, and conquest after conquest filled the treasury, increased luxury made the means of ostentation more greedily sought. Office meant plunder; and to gain office men bribed, and bribed every day on a vaster scale. If we said that 'optimates' signified the men who bribed and abused office under the banner of the Senate and its connections, and that 'populares' meant men who bribed and abused office with the interests of the people outside the senatorial pale upon their lips, we might do injustice to many good men on both sides, but should hardly be slandering the parties. Parties in fact they were not. They were factions, and the fact that it is by no means easy always to decide how far individuals were swayed by good or bad motives, where good motives were so often paraded to mask base actions, does not disguise their despicable character. Honest optimates would wish to maintain the Senate's preponderance from affection to it, and from belief in its being the mainstay of the State. Honest populares, like the Gracchi, who saw the evils of senatorial rule, tried to win the popular vote to compass its overthrow. Dishonest politicians of either side advocated conservatism or change simply from the most selfish personal ambition; and in time of general moral laxity it is the dishonest politicians who give the tone to a party. The most unscrupulous members of the ruling ring, the most shameless panderers to mob prejudice, carry all before them. Both seek one thing only - personal ascendency, and the State becomes the bone over which the vilest curs wrangle.

[Who the equites were.] In writing of the Gracchi reference will be made to the Equites. The name had broadened from its original meaning, and now merely denoted all non-senatorial rich men. An individual eques would lean to the senatorial faction or the faction of men too poor to keep a horse for cavalry service, just as his connexions were chiefly with the one or the other. How, as a body, the equites veered round alternately to each side, we shall see hereafter. Instead of forming a sound middle class to check the excesses of both parties, they were swayed chiefly by sordid motives, and backed up the men who for the time seemed most willing or able to gratify their greed. What went on at Rome must have been repeated over again with more or less exactitude throughout Italy, and there, in addition to this process of national disintegration, the clouds of a political storm were gathering. The following table will show at a glance the classification of the Roman State as constituted at the outbreak of the Social War.

  Cives Romani: 
  1. Rome 
  2. Roman Colonies 
  3. Municipia

  Roman Colonies and Municipia are Praefectura.

  1. Latini or Nomen Latinum 
     a. Old Latin towns except such as had been made Municipia 
     b. Colonies of old Latin towns 
     c. Joint colonies (if any) of Rome and old Latin towns 
     d. Colonies of Italians from all parts of Italy founded by Rome 
        under the name of Latin Colonies 
  2. Socii, i.e. Free inhabitants of Italy 
  3. Provincials, i.e. Free subjects of Rome out of Italy

[Rights of Cives Romani.] The Cives Romani in and out of Rome had the Jus Suffragii and the Jus Honorum, i.e. the right to vote and the right to hold office. [The Roman Colony.] A Roman Colony was in its organization Rome in miniature, and the people among whom it had been planted as a garrison may either have retained their own political constitution, or have been governed by a magistrate sent from Rome. They were not Roman citizens except as being residents of a Roman city, but by irregular marriages with Romans the line of demarcation between the two peoples may have grown less clearly defined. [The Praefectura.] Praefectura was the generic name for Roman colonies and for all Municipia to which prefects were sent annually to administer justice. [Municipia] Municipia are supposed to have been originally those conquered Italian towns to which Connubium and Commercium, i.e. rights of intermarriage and of trade, were given, but from whom Jus Suffragii and Jus Honorum were withheld. These privileges, however, were conferred on them before the Social War. Some were governed by Roman magistrates and some were self-governed. They voted in the Roman tribes, though probably only at important crises, such as the agitation for an agrarian law. They were under the jurisdiction of the Praetor Urbanus, but vicarious justice was administered among them by an official called Praefectus juri dicundo, sent yearly from Rome.

[The Latini.] The Latini had no vote at Rome, no right of holding offices, and were practically Roman subjects. A Roman who joined a Latin colony ceased to be a Roman citizen. Whether there was any difference between the internal administration of a Latin colony and an old Latin town is uncertain. The Latini may have had Commercium and Connubium, or only the former. They certainly had not Jus Suffragii or Jus Honorum, and they were in subjection to Rome. A Latin could obtain the Roman franchise, but the mode of doing so at this time is a disputed point. Livy mentions a law which enabled a Latin to obtain the franchise by migrating to Rome and being enrolled in the census, provided he left children behind him to fill his place. There is no doubt that either legally or irregularly Latini did migrate to Rome and did so obtain the citizenship, but we know no more. Others say that the later right by which a Latin obtained the citizenship in virtue of filling a magistracy in his native town existed already.

[The Socii.] Of the Socii, all or many of them had treaties defining their relations to Rome, and were therefore known as Foederatae Civitates. They had internal self-government, but were bound to supply Rome with soldiers, ships, and sailors.

[Grievances of the Latins and allies.] At the time of the Gracchi discontent was seething among the Latins and allies. There were two classes among them - the rich landlords and capitalists, who prospered as the rich at Rome prospered, and the poor who were weighed down by debt or were pushed out of their farms by slave-labour, or were hangers-on of the rich in the towns and eager for distributions of land. The poor were oppressed no doubt by the rich men both of their own cities and of Rome. The rich chafed at the intolerable insolence of Roman officials. It was not that Rome interfered with the local self-government she had granted by treaty, but the Italians laboured under grievous disabilities and oppression. So late as the Jugurthine war, Latin officers were executed by martial law, whereas any Roman soldier could appeal to a civil tribunal. Again, while the armies had formerly been recruited from the Romans and the allies equally, now the severest service and the main weight of wars fell on the latter, who furnished, moreover, two soldiers to every Roman. Again, without a certain amount of property, a man at Rome could not be enrolled in the army; but the rule seems not to have applied to Italians. Nor was the civil less harsh than the military administration. A consul's wife wished to use the men's bath at Teanum; and because the bathers were not cleared out quickly enough, and the baths were not clean enough, M. Marius, the chief magistrate of the town, was stripped and scourged in the market-place. A free herdsman asked in joke if it was a corpse that was in a litter passing through Venusia, and which contained a young Roman. Though not even an official, its occupant showed that, if lazy, he was at least alive, by having the peasant whipped to death with the litter straps. In short, the rich Italians would feel the need of the franchise as strongly as the old plebeians had felt it, and all the more strongly because the Romans had not only ceased to enfranchise whole communities, but were chary of giving the citizenship even to individuals. The poor also had the ordinary grievances against their own rich, and were so far likely to favour the schemes of any man who assailed the capitalist class, Roman or Italian, as a whole; but they none the less disliked Roman supremacy, and would be easily persuaded to attribute to that supremacy some of the hardships which it did not cause.

[State of the transmarine provinces.] While such fires were slowly coming to the surface in Italy, and were soon to flame out in the Social War, the state of the provinces out of the peninsula was not more reassuring. The struggle with Viriathus and the Numantine war had revealed the fact that the last place to look for high martial honour or heroic virtue was the Roman army. If a Scipio sustained the traditions of Roman generalship, and a Gracchus those of republican rectitude, other commanders would have stained the military annals of any nation. [Deterioration of Roman generalship.] Roman generals had come to wage war for themselves and not for the State. They even waged it in defiance of the State's express orders. If they found peace in the provinces, they found means to break it, hoping to glut their avarice by pillage or by the receipt of bribes, which it was now quite the exception not to accept, or to win sham laurels and cheap triumphs from some miserable raid on half-armed barbarians. Often these carpet-knights were disgracefully beaten, though infamy in the provinces sometimes became fame at Rome, and then they resorted to shameful trickery repeated again and again. [and of the Army.] The State and the army were worthy of the commanders. The former engaged in perhaps the worst wars that can be waged. Hounded on by its mercantile class, it fought not for a dream of dominion, or to beat back encroaching barbarism, but to exterminate a commercial rival. The latter, which it was hard to recruit on account of the growing effeminacy of the city, it was harder still to keep under discipline. It was followed by trains of cooks, and actors, and the viler appendages of oriental luxury, and was learning to be satisfied with such victories as were won by the assassination of hostile generals, or ratified by the massacre of men who had been guaranteed their lives. The Roman fleet was even more inefficient than the army; and pirates roved at will over the Mediterranean, pillaging this island, waging open war with that, and carrying off the population as slaves. A new empire was rising in the East, as Rome permitted the Parthians to wrest Persia, Babylonia, and Media from the Syrian kings. The selfish maxim, Divide et impera, assumed its meanest form as it was now pursued. It is a poor and cowardly policy for a great nation to pit against each other its semi-civilised dependencies, and to fan their jealousies in order to prevent any common action on their part, or to avoid drawing the sword for their suppression. Slave revolts, constant petty wars, and piracy were preying on the unhappy provincials, and in the Roman protectorate they found no aid. All their harsh mistress did was to turn loose upon them hordes of money-lenders and tax-farmers ('negotiatores,' and 'publicani'), who cleared off what was left by those stronger creatures of prey, the proconsuls. Thus the misery caused by a meddlesome and nerveless national policy was enhanced by a domestic administration based on turpitude and extortion.

[Universal degeneracy of the Government, and decay of the nation.] Everywhere Rome was failing in her duties as mistress of the civilised world. Her own internal degeneracy was faithfully reflected in the abnegation of her imperial duties. When in any country the small-farmer class is being squeezed off the land; when its labourers are slaves or serfs; when huge tracts are kept waste to minister to pleasure; when the shibboleth of art is on every man's lips, but ideas of true beauty in very few men's souls; when the business-sharper is the greatest man in the city, and lords it even in the law courts; when class-magistrates, bidding for high office, deal out justice according to the rank of the criminal; when exchanges are turned into great gambling-houses, and senators and men of title are the chief gamblers; when, in short, 'corruption is universal, when there is increasing audacity, increasing greed, increasing fraud, increasing impurity, and these are fed by increasing indulgence and ostentation; when a considerable number of trials in the courts of law bring out the fact that the country in general is now regarded as a prey, upon which any number of vultures, scenting it from afar, may safely light and securely gorge themselves; when the foul tribe is amply replenished by its congeners at home, and foreign invaders find any number of men, bearing good names, ready to assist them in robberies far more cruel and sweeping than those of the footpad or burglar' - when such is the tone of society, and such the idols before which it bends, a nation must be fast going down hill.

A more repulsive picture can hardly be imagined. A mob, a moneyed class, and an aristocracy almost equally worthless, hating each other, and hated by the rest of the world; Italians bitterly jealous of Romans, and only in better plight than the provinces beyond the sea; more miserable than either, swarms of slaves beginning to brood over revenge as a solace to their sufferings; the land going out of cultivation; native industry swamped by slave-grown imports; the population decreasing; the army degenerating; wars waged as a speculation, but only against the weak; provinces subjected to organized pillage; in the metropolis childish superstition, whole sale luxury, and monstrous vice. The hour for reform was surely come. Who was to be the man?

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