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We have learned the probable origin of the LATINS; how they settled in Latium, and founded numerous towns. We shall now examine more particularly that one of the Latin towns which was destined to outstrip all her sisters in prosperity and power. Fourteen miles from the mouth of the Tiber, the monotonous level of the plain through which the river flows is broken by a cluster of hills (The seven hills of historic Rome were the Aventine, Capitoline, Coelian, Esquiline (the highest, 218 feet), Palatine, Quirínal, and Viminal. The Janiculum was on the other side of the Tiber, and was held by the early Romans as a stronghold against the Etruscans. It was connected with Rome by a wooden bridge (Pons Sublicius).) rising to a considerable height, around one of which, the PALATINE, first settled a tribe of Latins called RAMNES,—a name gradually changed to ROMANS. When this settlement was formed is not known. Tradition says in 753. It may have been much earlier. These first settlers of Rome were possibly a colony from Alba. In the early stages of their history they united themselves with a Sabine colony that had settled north of them on the QUIRÍNAL HILL. The name of TITIES was given to this new tribe. A third tribe, named LUCERES, composed, possibly, of conquered Latins, was afterwards added and settled upon the COELIAN HILL. All early communities, to which the Romans were no exception, were composed of several groups of FAMILIES. The Romans called these groups GENTES, and a single group was called a GENS. All the members of a gens were descended from a common ancestor, after whom the gens received its name...
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THE EARLY INHABITANTS OF ITALY.
THE ROMANS AND THEIR EARLY GOVERNMENT.
THE EARLY GROWTH AND INTERNAL HISTORY OF ROME.
THE DYNASTY OF THE TARQUINS.
THE CONSULS AND TRIBUNES.
THE COMITIA TRIBUTA AND THE AGRARIAN LAWS.
THE CONTEST OF THE PLEBEIANS FOR CIVIL RIGHTS.
WARS WITH PYRRHUS (281-272).
DIVISIONS OF THE ROMAN TERRITORY.—NOTED MEN OF THE PERIOD.
ROME AND CARTHAGE BETWEEN THE FIRST AND SECOND PUNIC WARS
THE SECOND PUNIC WAR.—FROM THE PASSAGE OF THE PYRENEES TO THE BATTLE OF CANNAE. (218-216.)
THE SECOND PUNIC WAR.-FROM CANNAE TO THE BATTLE OF ZAMA
ROME IN THE EAST.
THE SYRIAN WAR.
CONQUEST OF MACEDONIA AND GREECE. (171-146.)
THE THIRD PUNIC WAR, AND FALL OF CARTHAGE.
ROME AND SPAIN.-THE NUMANTINE AND SERVILE WARS. (206-132.)
INTERNAL HISTORY.—THE GRACCHI.
EXTERNAL HISTORY.—PERGAMUM.—JUGURTHINE WAR (118-104).
THE CIMBRI AND TEUTONES.—POLITICAL QUARRELS.
INTERNAL HISTORY.-THE SOCIAL WAR (90-88).
MARIUS AND SULLA.-CINNA.
SERTORIUS.—SPARTACUS.—LUCULLUS.—POMPEY AND CRASSUS.
TROUBLES AT ROME.—CONSPIRACY OF CATILINE.
THE FIRST TRIUMVIRATE.
CAESAR’S CAMPAIGNS IN GAUL.
CLODIUS AND MILO.—DEATH OF CRASSUS.
CAESAR’S STRUGGLE WITH POMPEY.—BATTLE OF PHARSALIA.
CAESAR’S OPERATIONS IN EGYPT, ASIA, AFRICA, AND SPAIN.
MURDER OF CAESAR.
THE SECOND TRIUMVIRATE.—PHILIPPI AND ACTIUM.
AUGUSTUS (30 B.C.-14 A.D.)
THE AUGUSTAN AGE.
THE JULIAN AND CLAUDIAN EMPERORS.
THE FIVE GOOD EMPERORS.
PERIOD OF MILITARY DESPOTISM.—DECLINE OF THE EMPIRE.
INVASIONS AND DISTRIBUTION OF THE BARBARIANS.
HOUSES, CUSTOMS, INSTITUTIONS, ETC.
PUBLIC BUILDINGS, SQUARES, ETC.
THE ROMAN ARMY IN CAESAR’S TIME.
SO FAR AS WE know, the early inhabitants of Italy were divided into three races, the IAPYGIAN, ETRUSCAN, and ITALIAN. The IAPYGIANS were the first to settle in Italy. They probably came from the north, and were pushed south by later immigrations, until they were crowded into the southeastern corner of the peninsula (Calabria). Here they were mostly absorbed by the Greeks, who settled in the eighth and seventh centuries all along the southern and southwestern coast, and who were more highly civilized. Besides the Iapygians, and distinct from the Etruscans and Italians, were the Venetians and the Ligurians, the former of whom settled in Venetia, the latter in Liguria.
The ETRUSCANS at the time when Roman history begins were a powerful and warlike race, superior to the Italians in civilization and the arts of life. They probably came from the north, and at first settled in the plain of the Po; but being afterwards dislodged by the invading Gauls, they moved farther south, into Etruria. Here they formed a confederation of twelve cities between the Arno and the Tiber. Of these cities the most noted were Volsinii, the head of the confederacy, Veii, Volaterrae, Caere, and Clusium. This people also formed scattering settlements in other parts of Italy, but gained no firm foothold. At one time, in the sixth century, they were in power at Rome. Corsica, too, was at this time under their control. Their commerce was considerable. Many well preserved monuments of their art have been discovered, but no one has yet been able to decipher any of the inscriptions upon them. The power of these people was gradually lessened by the Romans, and after the fall of Veii, in 396, became practically extinct.
The ITALIANS were of the same origin as the Hellénes, and belonged to the Aryan race, a people that lived in earliest times possibly in Scandinavia. While the Hellénes were settling in Greece, the Italians entered Italy.
At this time the Italians had made considerable progress in civilization. They understood, in a measure, the art of agriculture; the building of houses; the use of wagons and of boats; of fire in preparing food, and of salt in seasoning it. They could make various weapons and ornaments out of copper and silver; husband and wife were recognized, and the people were divided into clans (tribes).
That portion of the Italians known as the LATINS settled in a plain which is bounded on the east and south by mountains, on the west by the Tyrrhenian Sea, and on the north by the high lands of Etruria.
This plain, called LATIUM (flat country), contains about 700 square miles (one half the size of Rhode Island), with a coast of only fifty miles, and no good harbors. It is watered by two rivers, the Tiber, and its tributary, the Anio. Hills rise here and there; as Soracte in the northeast, the promontory of Circeium in the southwest, Janiculum near Rome, and the Alban range farther south. The low lands (modern Campagna) were malarious and unhealthy. Hence the first settlements were made on the hills, which also could be easily fortified.
The first town established was ALBA; around this sprung up other towns, as Lanuvium, Aricia, Tusculum, Tibur, Praeneste, Laurentum, Roma, and Lavinium.
These towns, thirty in number, formed a confederacy, called the LATIN CONFEDERACY, and chose Alba to be its head. An annual festival was celebrated with great solemnity by the magistrates on the Alban Mount, called the Latin festival. Here all the people assembled and offered sacrifice to their common god, Jupiter (Latiaris).
WE HAVE LEARNED THE probable origin of the LATINS; how they settled in Latium, and founded numerous towns. We shall now examine more particularly that one of the Latin towns which was destined to outstrip all her sisters in prosperity and power.
Fourteen miles from the mouth of the Tiber, the monotonous level of the plain through which the river flows is broken by a cluster of hills (Footnote: The seven hills of historic Rome were the Aventine, Capitoline, Coelian, Esquiline (the highest, 218 feet), Palatine, Quirínal, and Viminal. The Janiculum was on the other side of the Tiber, and was held by the early Romans as a stronghold against the Etruscans. It was connected with Rome by a wooden bridge (Pons Sublicius).) rising to a considerable height, around one of which, the PALATINE, first settled a tribe of Latins called RAMNES,—a name gradually changed to ROMANS.
When this settlement was formed is not known. Tradition says in 753. It may have been much earlier. These first settlers of Rome were possibly a colony from Alba. In the early stages of their history they united themselves with a Sabine colony that had settled north of them on the QUIRÍNAL HILL. The name of TITIES was given to this new tribe. A third tribe, named LUCERES, composed, possibly, of conquered Latins, was afterwards added and settled upon the COELIAN HILL. All early communities, to which the Romans were no exception, were composed of several groups of FAMILIES. The Romans called these groups GENTES, and a single group was called a GENS. All the members of a gens were descended from a common ancestor, after whom the gens received its name.
The head of each family was called PATER-FAMILIAS, and he had absolute authority (Footnote: Called patria potestas.) over his household, even in the matter of life and death.
The Roman government at first was conducted by these Fathers of the families, with a KING, elected from their own number, and holding office for life. His duties were to command the army, to perform certain sacrifices (as high priest), and to preside over the assembly of the Fathers of the families, which was called the SENATE, i. e. an assembly of old men (Senex).
This body was probably originally composed of all the Fathers of the families, but in historical times it was limited to THREE HUNDRED members, holding life office, and appointed during the regal period by the king. Later the appointment was made by the Consuls, still later by the Censors, and for nearly one hundred years before Christ all persons who had held certain offices were thereby vested with the right of seats in the Senate. Hence, during this later period, the number of Senators was greatly in excess of three hundred. The Senators, when addressed, were called PATRES, or “Fathers,” for they were Fathers of the families.
The Romans, as we saw above, were divided at first into three tribes, Ramnes, Tities, and Luceres Each tribe was subdivided into ten districts called CURIAE, and each curia into ten clans called GENTES (3 tribes, 30 curiae, and 300 gentes). Every Roman citizen, therefore, belonged to a particular family, at the head of which was a pater-familias; every family belonged to a particular gens, named after a common ancestor; every gens belonged to a particular curia; and every curia to a particular tribe.
We have learned that in the early government of Rome there was a king, and a senate that advised the king. Besides this, there was an assembly composed of all Roman citizens who could bear arms. (Footnote: We must remember that at this time no one was a Roman citizen who did not belong to some family. All other residents were either slaves or had no political rights, i.e. had no voice in the government.) This assembly of Roman citizens met, from time to time, in an enclosed space called the COMITIUM, which means a place of gathering or coming together. This was between the Palatine and Quirínal hills near the FORUM, or market-place. This assembly itself was called the COMITIA CURIÁTA, i.e. an assembly composed of the 30 curiae. This body alone had the power of changing the existing laws; of declaring war or peace; and of confirming the election of kings made by the senate. The voting in this assembly was taken by each curia, and the majority of the curiae decided any question.
THE POSITION OF ROME was superior to that of the other towns in the Latin Confederacy. Situated on the Tiber, at the head of navigation, she naturally became a commercial centre. Her citizens prospered and grew wealthy, and wealth is power. Her hills were natural strongholds, easily held against a foe. Thus we see that she soon became the most powerful of the Latin cities, and when her interests conflicted with theirs, she had no scruples about conquering any of them and annexing their territory. Thus Alba was taken during the reign of Tullus Hostilius, and his successor, Ancus Marcius, subdued several cities along the river, and at its mouth founded a colony which was named OSTIA, the seaport of Rome.
At this time (about 625) the Roman territory (ager Románus) comprised nearly 250 square miles, being irregular in shape, but lying mostly along the southern bank of the Tiber and extending about ten or twelve miles from the river. It was not materially increased during the next two centuries.
The original founders of Rome and their direct descendants were called PATRICIANS, i. e. belonging to the Patres, or Fathers of the families. They formed a class distinct from all others, jealously protecting their rights against outsiders. Attached to the Patricians was a class called CLIENTS, who, though free, enjoyed no civil rights, i. e. they had no voice in the government, but were bound to assist in every way the Patrician, called PATRON, to whom they were attached. In return, the latter gave them his support, and looked after their interests. These clients corresponded somewhat to serfs, worked on the fields of their patrons, and bore the name of the gens to which their patron belonged. Their origin is uncertain; but they may have come from foreign towns conquered by the Latins, and whose inhabitants had not been made slaves.
In addition to the clients there were actual slaves, who were the property of their masters, and could be bought or sold at pleasure. Sometimes a slave was freed, and then he was called a LIBERTUS (freedman) and became the client of his former master.
As Rome grew into commercial prominence, still another class of people flocked into the city from foreign places, who might be called resident foreigners, corresponding in general to the Metics at Athens. Such were many merchants and workmen of all trades. These all were supposed to be under the protection of some patrician who acted as their patron.
These three classes, clients, slaves, and resident foreigners, were all of a different race from the Romans. This should be constantly borne in mind.
We have learned that Rome, as she grew in power, conquered many of the Latin towns, and added their territory to hers. The inhabitants of these towns were of the same race as the Romans, but were not allowed any of their civil rights. Most of them were farmers and peasants. Many of them were wealthy. This class of inhabitants on the ager Romanus, or in Rome itself, were called Plebeians (Plebs, multitude). Their very name shows that they must have been numerous. They belonged to no gens or curia, but were free, and allowed to engage in trade and to own property. In later times (from about 350) all who were not Patricians or slaves were called Plebeians.
Until the time of Servius Tullius (about 550) the army was composed entirely of patricians. It was called a Legio (a word meaning levy), and numbered three thousand infantry called milites, from mille, a thousand, one thousand being levied from each tribe. The cavalry numbered three hundred at first, one hundred from each tribe, and was divided into three companies called Centuries.
During the reign of Servius the demands of the plebeians, who had now become numerous, for more rights, was met by the so called SERVIAN reform of the constitution. Heretofore only the patricians had been required to serve in the army. Now all males were liable to service. To accomplish this, every one who was a land-owner, provided he owned two acres, was enrolled and ranked according to his property. There were five “Classes” of them. The several classes were divided into 193 subdivisions called “Centuries,” each century representing the same amount of property. In the first class there were forty centuries in active service, composed of men under forty-six, forty centuries of reserve, and eighteen centuries of cavalry.
In the second, third, and fourth classes there were twenty centuries each, ten in active service, and ten in reserve. The fifth class had thirty centuries of soldiers, and five of mechanics, musicians, etc.
The first four ranks of the troops were made up of the infantry from the first class. All were armed with a leather helmet, round shield, breastplate, greaves (leg-pieces), spear, and sword. The fifth rank was composed of the second class, who were armed like the first, without breastplate. The sixth rank was composed of the third class, who had neither breastplate nor greaves. Behind these came the fourth class, armed with spears and darts, and the fifth class, having only slings.
Each soldier of the infantry paid for his own equipments; the cavalry, however, received from the state a horse, and food to keep it.
This new organization of both patricians and plebeians was originally only for military purposes,—that the army might be increased, and the expenses of keeping it more equitably divided among all the people. But gradually, as the influence of the wealthy plebeians began to be felt, the organization was found well adapted for political purposes, and all the people were called together to vote under it. It was called the COMITIA CENTURIÁTA, i.e. an assembly of centuries. The place of meeting was on the CAMPUS MARTIUS, a plain outside of the city.
In this assembly each century had one vote, and its vote was decided by the majority of its individual voters. The tendency of this system was to give the wealthy the whole power; for since each century represented the same amount of property, the centuries in the upper or richer classes were much smaller than those in the lower or poorer classes, so that a majority of the centuries might represent a small minority of the people. The majority of the wealthy people at Rome were still patricians, so the assembly was virtually controlled by them. In this assembly magistrates were elected, laws made, war declared, and judgment passed in all criminal cases.
OF THE SEVEN TRADITIONAL kings of Rome, the last three were undoubtedly of Etruscan origin, and their reigns left in the city many traces of Etruscan influence. The Etruscans were great builders, and the only buildings of importance that Rome possessed, until a much later period, were erected under this dynasty. The names of these kings are said to have been LUCIUS TARQUINIUS PRISCUS, SERVIUS TULLIUS, his son-in-law, and LUCIUS TARQUINIUS SUPERBUS.
Under the first of these kings were built the fine temple of JUPITER CAPITOLÍNUS, on the Capitoline Hill, and near by shrines to JUNO and MINERVA. This temple to Jupiter was called the CAPITOLIUM, and from it we get our word CAPITOL. It was looked upon as the centre of Roman religion and authority, and at times the Senate was convened in it.
During this reign the famous CLOÁCA MAXIMA, or great sewer intended to drain the Campagna, is also said to have been constructed. This sewer was so well built that it is still used.
Under the second king of this dynasty, Servius Tullius, the city was surrounded with a wall, which included the Palatine, Quirínal, Coelian, and Aventine hills, and also the Janiculum, which was on the opposite side of the river, and connected with the city by a bridge (pons sublicius).
The establishment of the new military organization, mentioned in the previous chapter, was attributed also to this king.
The pupil will notice the similarity between these reforms of Tullius and those of Solon of Athens, who lived about the same time. Thus early was the Greek influence felt at Rome.
During the reign of Tullius a temple in honor of DIÁNA was erected on the Aventine, to be used by all the Latin towns.
Tarquinius Superbus added to the AGER ROMÁNUS the territory of the city of GABII, and planted two military colonies, which were afterwards lost. The dynasty of the Tarquins ended with the overthrow of this king, and a Republic was established, which lasted until the death of Julius Caesar.
AT THE CLOSE OF the dynasty of the Tarquins, the regal form of government was abolished, and instead of one king who held office for life, two officers, called CONSULS, were elected annually from the PATRICIANS, each of whom possessed supreme power, and acted as a salutary check upon the other; so that neither was likely to abuse his power. This change took place towards the close of the sixth century before Christ.
In times of great emergency a person called DICTATOR might be appointed by one of the Consuls, who should have supreme authority; but his tenure of office never exceeded six months, and he must be a patrician. He exercised his authority only outside of the city walls. It was at this time, about 500, that the COMITIA CENTURIÁTA came to be the more important assembly, superseding in a great measure the COMITIA CURIÁTA.
We must remember that in this assembly all criminal cases were tried, magistrates nominated, and laws adopted or rejected. We must not forget that, since it was on a property basis, it was under the control of the patricians, for the great mass of plebeians were poor. Still there were many wealthy plebeians, and so far the assembly was a gain for this party.
About this time the Senate, which heretofore had consisted solely of Fathers of the families (Patres), admitted into its ranks some of the richest of the landed plebeians, and called them CONSCRIPTI. (Footnote: This is the origin of the phrase used by speakers addressing the Senate, viz.: “Patres (et) Consripti“) These, however, could take no part in debates, nor could they hold magistracies.
In the Senate, thus constituted, the nomination of all magistrates made in the Comitia Centuriáta was confirmed or rejected. In this way it controlled the election of the Consuls, whose duties, we must remember, were those of generals and supreme judges, though every Roman citizen had the privilege of appealing from their decision in cases which involved life.
Two subordinate officers, chosen from the patricians, were appointed by the Consuls. These officers, called QUAESTÓRES, managed the finances of the state, under the direction of the Senate.
The wars in which the Romans had been engaged, during the century preceding the establishment of the Republic, had impoverished the state and crippled its commerce. This was felt by all classes, but especially by the small landed plebeians whose fields had been devastated. They were obliged to mortgage their property to pay the taxes, and, when unable to meet the demands of their creditors, according to the laws they could be imprisoned, or even put to death.
The rich land-owners, on the other hand, increased their wealth by “farming” the public revenues; i.e. the state would let out to them, for a stipulated sum, the privilege of collecting all import and other duties. These, in turn (called in later times Publicans), would extort all they could from the tax-payers, thus enriching themselves unlawfully. So the hard times, the oppression of the tax-gatherer, and the unjust law about debt, made the condition of the poor unendurable.
The military service, too, bore hard upon them. Many were obliged to serve more than their due time, and in a rank lower than was just; for the Consuls, who had charge of the levy of troops, were patricians, and naturally favored their own party. Hence we see that the cavalry service was at this time made up entirely of young patricians, while the older ones were in the reserve corps, so that the brunt of military duty fell on the plebeians.
This state of things could not last, and, as the opportunity for rebelling against this unjust and cruel oppression was offered, the plebeians were not slow in accepting it.
The city was at war with the neighboring Sabines, Aequians, and Volscians, and needed extra men for defence. One of the Consuls liberated all who were confined in prison for debt, and the danger was averted. Upon the return of the army, however, those who had been set free were again thrown into prison. The next year the prisoners were again needed. At first they refused to obey, but were finally persuaded by the Dictator. But after a well-earned victory, upon their return to the city walls, the plebeians of the army deserted, and, marching to a hill near by, occupied it, threatening to found a new city unless their wrongs were redressed. This is called the First Secession of the Plebs, and is said to have been in 494.
The patricians and richer plebeians saw that concessions must be made, for the loss of these people would be ruin to Rome. Those in debt were released from their obligations, and the plebeians received the right to choose annually, from their own numbers, two officers called TRIBÚNI PLEBIS, who should look after their interests, and have the power of VETOING any action taken by any magistrate in the city. This power, however, was confined within the city walls, and could never be exercised outside of them.
The person of the Tribunes was also made sacred, to prevent interference with them while in discharge of their duties, and if any one attempted to stop them he was committing a capital crime. Thus, if the Consuls or Quaestors were inclined to press the law of debt to extremes, or to be unjust in the levying of troops, the Tribunes could step in, and by their VETO stop the matter at once.
This was an immense gain for the plebeians, and they were justified in giving the name of SACRED MOUNT to the hill to which they had seceded.
The number of Tribunes was afterwards increased to five, and still later to ten.
THE NEXT GAIN MADE by the plebeians was the annual appointment from their own ranks of two officers, called AEDILES. (Footnote: The word “Aedile” is derived from Aedes, meaning temple.) These officers held nearly the same position in reference to the Tribunes that the Quaestors did to the Consuls. They assisted the Tribunes in the performance of their various duties, and also had special charge of the temple of Ceres. In this temple were deposited, for safe keeping, all the decrees of the Senate.
These two offices, those of Tribune and Aedile, the result of the first secession, were filled by elections held at first in the Comitia Centuriáta, but later in an assembly called the COMITIA TRIBÚTA, which met sometimes within and sometimes without the city walls.
This assembly was composed of plebeians, who voted by “tribes” (tributa, meaning composed of tribes), each tribe being entitled to one vote, and its vote being decided by the majority of its individual voters. (Footnote: These “tribes” were a territorial division, corresponding roughly to “wards” in our cities. At this time there were probably sixteen, but later there were thirty-five. The plebeians in the city lived mostly in one quarter, on the Aventine Hill.)
The Comitia Tribúta was convened and presided over by the Tribunes and Aediles. In it were discussed matters of interest to the plebeians. By it any member could be punished for misconduct, and though at first measures passed in it were not binding on the people at large, it presently became a determined body, with competent and bold leaders, who were felt to be a power in the state.
The aim of the patricians was now to lessen the power of the Tribunes; that of the plebeians, to restrain the Consuls and extend the influence of the Tribunes. Party spirit ran high; even hand to hand contests occurred in the city. Many families left Rome and settled in neighboring places to escape the turmoil. It is a wonder that the government withstood the strain, so fierce was the struggle.
The AGRARIAN LAWS at this time first become prominent. These laws had reference to the distribution of the PUBLIC LANDS. Rome had acquired a large amount of land taken from the territory of conquered cities. This land was called AGER PUBLICUS, or public land.
Some of this land was sold or given away as “homesteads,” and then it became AGER PRIVÁTUS, or private land. But the most of it was occupied by permission of the magistrates. The occupants were usually rich patricians, who were favored by the patrician magistrates. This land, so occupied, was called AGER OCCUPÁTUS, or possessio; but it really was still the property of the state. The rent paid was a certain per cent (from 10 to 20) of the crops, or so much a head for cattle on pasture land. Although the state had the undoubted right to claim this land at any time, the magistrates allowed the occupants to retain it, and were often lenient about collecting dues. In course of time, this land, which was handed down from father to son, and frequently sold, began to be regarded by the occupants as their own property. Also the land tax (TRIBÚTUM), which was levied on all ager privátus, and which was especially hard upon the small plebeian land-owners, could not legally be levied upon the ager occupátus. Thus the patricians who possessed, not owned, this land were naturally regarded as usurpers by the plebeians.
The first object of the AGRARIAN LAWS was to remedy this evil.
SPURIUS CASSIUS, an able man, now came forward (486?), proposing a law that the state take up these lands, divide them into small lots, and distribute them among the poor plebeians as homes (homesteads). The law was carried, but in the troublesome times it cost Cassius his life, and was never enforced.
THE PLEBEIANS WERE NOW (about 475) as numerous as the patricians, if not more so. Their organization had become perfected, and many of their leaders were persistent in their efforts to better the condition of their followers. Their especial aim was to raise their civil and political rights to an equality with those of the patricians. The struggle finally culminated in the murder of one of the Tribunes, Gnarus Genucius, for attempting to veto some of the acts of the Consuls.
VALERO PUBLILIUS, a Tribune, now (471) proposed and carried, notwithstanding violent opposition by the patricians, a measure to the effect that the Tribunes should hereafter be chosen in the Comitia Tribúta, instead of the Comitia Centuriáta. Thus the plebeians gained a very important step. This bill is called the PUBLILIAN LAW (Plebiscítum Publilium). (Footnote: All bills passed in the Comitia Tribúta were called Plebiscíta, and until 286 were not necessarily binding upon the people at large; but this bill seems to have been recognized as a law.)
For the next twenty years the struggle continued unabated. The plebeians demanded a WRITTEN CODE OF LAWS.
We find among all early peoples that the laws are at first the unwritten ones of custom and precedent. The laws at Rome, thus far, had been interpreted according to the wishes and traditions of the patricians only. A change was demanded. This was obtained by the TERENTILIAN ROGATION, a proposal made in 461 by Gaius Terentilius Harsa, a Tribune, to the effect that the laws thereafter be written. The patrician families, led by one Kaeso Quinctius, made bitter opposition. Kaeso himself, son of the famous Cincinnátus, was impeached by the Tribune and fled from the city.
Finally it was arranged that the Comitia Centuriáta should select from the people at large ten men, called the DECEMVIRATE, to hold office for one year, to direct the government and supersede all other magistrates, and especially to draw up a code of laws to be submitted to the people for approval. A commission of three patricians was sent to Athens to examine the laws of that city, which was now (454) at the height of its prosperity. Two years were spent by this commission, and upon their return in 452 the above mentioned Decemvirate was appointed.
The laws drawn up by this board were approved, engraved on ten tables of copper, and placed in the Forum in front of the Senate-House. Two more tables were added the next year. These TWELVE TABLES were the only Roman code.
The DECEMVIRI should have resigned as soon as these laws were approved, but they neglected to do so, and began to act in a cruel and tyrannical manner. The people, growing uneasy under their injustice, finally rebelled when one of the Decemviri, Appius Claudius, passed a sentence that brought an innocent maiden, Virginia, into his power. Her father, Virginius, saved his daughter’s honor by stabbing her to the heart, and fleeing to the camp called upon the soldiers to put down such wicked government.
A second time the army deserted its leaders, and seceded to the SACRED MOUNT, where they nominated their own Tribunes. Then, marching into the city, they compelled the Decemviri to resign.
The TWELVE TABLES have not been preserved, except in fragments, and we know but little of their exact contents. The position of the debtor was apparently made more endurable. The absolute control of the pater familias over his family was abolished. The close connection heretofore existing between the clients and patrons was gradually relaxed, the former became less dependent upon the latter, and finally were absorbed into the body of the plebeians. Gentes among the plebeians now began to be recognized; previously only the patricians had been divided into gentes.
Thus we see, socially, the two orders were approaching nearer and nearer.
In 449 Valerius and Horatius were elected Consuls, and were instrumental in passing the so called VALERIO-HORATIAN laws, the substance of which was as follows:—
I. Every Roman citizen could appeal to the Comitia Centuriáta against the sentence of any magistrate.
II. All the decisions of the Comitia Tribúta (plebiscita), if sanctioned by the Senate and Comitia Centuriáta, were made binding upon patricians and plebeians alike. This assembly now became of equal importance with the other two.
III. The persons of the Tribunes, Aediles, and other plebeian officers, were to be considered sacred.
IV. The Tribunes could take part in the debates of the Senate, and veto any of its decisions.
Two years later (447), the election of the Quaestors, who must still be patricians, was intrusted to the Comitia Tribúta. Heretofore they had been appointed by the Consuls.
In 445 the Tribune Canuleius proposed a bill which was passed, and called the CANULEIAN LAW, giving to the plebeians the right of intermarriage (connubium) with the patricians, and enacting that all issue of such marriages should have the rank of the father.
Canuleius also proposed another bill which he did not carry; viz. that the consulship be open to the plebeians. A compromise, however, was made, and it was agreed to suspend for a time the office of Consul, and to elect annually six MILITARY TRIBUNES in the Comitia Centuriáta, the office being open to all citizens. The people voted every year whether they should have consuls or military tribunes, and this custom continued for nearly a half-century. The patricians, however, were so influential, that for a long time no plebeian was elected.
As an offset to these gains of the plebeians, the patricians in 435 obtained two new officers, called CENSORS, elected from their own ranks every five years (lustrum) to hold office for eighteen months.
The duties of the Censors were:—
I. To see that the citizens of every class were properly registered.
II. To punish immorality in the Senate by the removal of any members who were guilty of offences against public morals.
III. To have the general supervision of the finances and public works of the state. This office became in after years the most coveted at Rome.
A few years later, in 421, the plebeians made another step forward by obtaining the right of electing one of their number as Quaestor. There were now four Quaestors.
Thus the patricians, in spite of the most obstinate resistance, sustained loss after loss. Even the rich plebeians, who had hitherto often found it for their interest to side with the patricians, joined the farmers or lower classes.
Finally, in 367, the Tribunes Licinius and Sextius proposed and passed the following bills, called the LICINIAN ROGATIONS.
I. To abolish the six military tribunes, and elect annually, as formerly, two Consuls, choosing one or both of them from the plebeians.
II. To forbid any citizen’s holding more than 500 jugera (300 acres) of the public lands, or feeding thereon more than 100 oxen or 500 sheep.
III. To compel all landlords to employ on their fields a certain number of free laborers, proportionate to the number of their slaves.
IV. To allow all interest hitherto paid on borrowed money to be deducted from the principal, and the rest to be paid in three yearly instalments.
These rogations were a great gain for the poorer classes. It gave them an opportunity for labor which had previously been performed mostly by slaves. They were less burdened by debts, and had some prospect of becoming solvent. But most of all, since the office of Consul was open to them, they felt that their interests were now more likely to be protected. The temple of CONCORDIA in the Forum was dedicated by Camillus as a mark of gratitude for the better times that these rogations promised.
The plebeians, however, did not stop until all the offices, except that of Interrex, were thrown open to them. First they gained that of Dictator, then those of Censor and of Praetor, and finally, in 286, by the law of HORTENSIUS, the plebiscita became binding upon all the people without the sanction of the Senate and Comitia Centuriáta. After 200 the sacred offices of PONTIFEX and AUGUR also could be filled by plebeians.
Thus the strife that had lasted for two centuries was virtually ended; and although the Roman patricians still held aloof from the commons, yet their rights as citizens were no greater than those of the plebeians.
Full citizenship comprised four rights, viz.: that of trading and holding property (COMMERCIUM); that of voting (SUFFRAGIUM); that of intermarriage (CONNUBIUM); and that of holding office (HONORES).
The first of these rights the plebeians always enjoyed; the second they obtained in the establishment of the COMITIA TRIBÚTA; the third by the CANULEIAN BILL; the fourth by the LICINIAN and subsequent bills.
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