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Title: The Common People of Ancient Rome - Studies of Roman Life and Literature
Author: Abbott, Frank Frost, 1860-1924
Language: English
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The Common People of Ancient Rome

Studies of Roman Life and Literature


Frank Frost Abbott

Kennedy Professor of the Latin Language and Literature in Princeton

New York
Charles Scribner's Sons

Copyright, 1911, by
Charles Scribner's Sons

Printed in the United States of America

Dedicated to J. H. A.

Prefatory Note

This book, like the volume on "Society and Politics in Ancient Rome,"
deals with the life of the common people, with their language and
literature, their occupations and amusements, and with their social,
political, and economic conditions. We are interested in the common people
of Rome because they made the Roman Empire what it was. They carried the
Roman standards to the Euphrates and the Atlantic; they lived abroad as
traders, farmers, and soldiers to hold and Romanize the provinces, or they
stayed at home, working as carpenters, masons, or bakers, to supply the
daily needs of the capital.

The other side of the subject which has engaged the attention of the
author in studying these topics has been the many points of similarity
which arise between ancient and modern conditions, and between the
problems which the Roman faced and those which confront us. What policy
shall the government adopt toward corporations? How can the cost of living
be kept down? What effect have private benefactions on the character of a
people? Shall a nation try to introduce its own language into the
territory of a subject people, or shall it allow the native language to be
used, and, if it seeks to introduce its own tongue, how can it best
accomplish its object? The Roman attacked all these questions, solved some
of them admirably, and failed with others egregiously. His successes and
his failures are perhaps equally illuminating, and the fact that his
attempts to improve social and economic conditions run through a period of
a thousand years should make the study of them of the greater interest and
value to us.

Of the chapters which this book contains, the article on "The Origin of
the Realistic Romance among the Romans" appeared originally in _Classical
Philology_, and the author is indebted to the editors of that periodical
for permission to reprint it here. The other papers are now published for
the first time.

It has not seemed advisable to refer to the sources to substantiate every
opinion which has been expressed, but a few references have been given in
the foot-notes mainly for the sake of the reader who may wish to follow
some subject farther than has been possible in these brief chapters. The
proofs had to be corrected while the author was away from his own books,
so that he was unable to make a final verification of two or three of the
citations, but he trusts that they, as well as the others, are accurate.
He takes this opportunity to acknowledge his indebtedness to Dr. Donald
Blythe Durham, of Princeton University, for the preparation of the index.

Frank Frost Abbott.
Einsiedeln, Switzerland
_September 2, 1911_


How Latin Became the Language of the World
The Latin of the Common People
The Poetry of the Common People of Rome:
  I. Their Metrical Epitaphs
 II. Their Dedicatory and Ephemeral Verses
The Origin of the Realistic Romance Among the Romans
Diocletian's Edict and the High Cost of Living
Private Benefactions and Their Effect on the Municipal Life of the Romans
Some Reflections on Corporations and Trade-Guilds
A Roman Politician, Gaius Scribonius Curio
Gaius Matius, a Friend of Cæsar


The Common People of Ancient Rome

How Latin Became the Language of the World

How the armies of Rome mastered the nations of the world is known to every
reader of history, but the story of the conquest by Latin of the languages
of the world is vague in the minds of most of us. If we should ask
ourselves how it came about, we should probably think of the world-wide
supremacy of Latin as a natural result of the world-wide supremacy of the
Roman legions or of Roman law. But in making this assumption we should be
shutting our eyes to the history of our own times. A conquered people does
not necessarily accept, perhaps it has not commonly accepted, the tongue
of its master. In his "Ancient and Modern Imperialism" Lord Cromer states
that in India only one hundred people in every ten thousand can read and
write English, and this condition exists after an occupation of one
hundred and fifty years or more. He adds: "There does not appear the
least prospect of French supplanting Arabic in Algeria." In comparing the
results of ancient and modern methods perhaps he should have taken into
account the fact that India and Algeria have literatures of their own,
which most of the outlying peoples subdued by Rome did not have, and these
literatures may have strengthened the resistance which the tongue of the
conquered people has offered to that of the conqueror, but, even when
allowance is made for this fact, the difference in resultant conditions is
surprising. From its narrow confines, within a little district on the
banks of the Tiber, covering, at the close of the fifth century B.C., less
than a hundred square miles, Latin spread through Italy and the islands of
the Mediterranean, through France, Spain, England, northern Africa, and
the Danubian provinces, triumphing over all the other tongues of those
regions more completely than Roman arms triumphed over the peoples using

In tracing the story we must keep in our mind's eye the linguistic
geography of Italy, just as we must remember the political geography of
the peninsula in following Rome's territorial expansion. Let us think at
the outset, then, of a little strip of flat country on the Tiber, dotted
here and there with hills crowned with villages. Such hill towns were
Rome, Tusculum, and Præneste, for instance. Each of them was the
stronghold and market-place of the country immediately about it, and
therefore had a life of its own, so that although Latin was spoken in all
of them it varied from one to the other. This is shown clearly enough by
the inscriptions which have been found on the sites of these ancient
towns,[1] and as late as the close of the third century before our era,
Plautus pokes fun in his comedies at the provincialism of Præneste.

The towns which we have mentioned were only a few miles from Rome. Beyond
them, and occupying central Italy and a large part of southern Italy, were
people who spoke Oscan and the other Italic dialects, which were related
to Latin, and yet quite distinct from it. In the seaports of the south
Greek was spoken, while the Messapians and Iapygians occupied Calabria. To
the north of Rome were the mysterious Etruscans and the almost equally
puzzling Venetians and Ligurians. When we follow the Roman legions across
the Alps into Switzerland, France, England, Spain, and Africa, we enter a
jungle, as it were, of languages and dialects. A mere reading of the list
of tongues with which Latin was brought into contact, if such a list could
be drawn up, would bring weariness to the flesh. In the part of Gaul
conquered by Cæsar, for instance, he tells us that there were three
independent languages, and sixty distinct states, whose peoples doubtless
differed from one another in their speech. If we look at a map of the
Roman world under Augustus, with the Atlantic to bound it on the west, the
Euphrates on the east, the desert of Sahara on the south, and the Rhine
and Danube on the north, and recall the fact that the linguistic
conditions which Cæsar found in Gaul in 58 B.C. were typical of what
confronted Latin in a great many of the western, southern, and northern
provinces, the fact that Latin subdued all these different tongues, and
became the every-day speech of these different peoples, will be recognized
as one of the marvels of history. In fact, so firmly did it establish
itself, that it withstood the assaults of the invading Gothic, Lombardic,
Frankish, and Burgundian, and has continued to hold to our own day a very
large part of the territory which it acquired some two thousand years

That Latin was the common speech of the western world is attested not only
by the fact that the languages of France, Spain, Roumania, and the other
Romance countries descend from it, but it is also clearly shown by the
thousands of Latin inscriptions composed by freeman and freedman, by
carpenter, baker, and soldier, which we find all over the Roman world.

How did this extraordinary result come about? It was not the conquest of
the world by the common language of Italy, because in Italy in early days
at least nine different languages were spoken, but its subjugation by the
tongue spoken in the city of Rome. The traditional narrative of Rome, as
Livy and others relate it, tells us of a struggle with the neighboring
Latin hill towns in the early days of the Republic, and the ultimate
formation of an alliance between them and Rome. The favorable position of
the city on the Tiber for trade and defence gave it a great advantage over
its rivals, and it soon became the commercial and political centre of the
neighboring territory. The most important of these villages, Tusculum,
Præneste, and Lanuvium, were not more than twenty miles distant, and the
people in them must have come constantly to Rome to attend the markets,
and in later days to vote, to hear political speeches, and to listen to
plays in the theatre. Some of them probably heard the jests at the expense
of their dialectal peculiarities which Plautus introduced into his
comedies. The younger generations became ashamed of their provincialisms;
they imitated the Latin spoken in the metropolis, and by the second
century of our era, when the Latin grammarians have occasion to cite
dialectal peculiarities from Latium outside Rome, they quote at
second-hand from Varro of the first century B.C., either because they will
not take the trouble to use their own ears or because the differences
which were noted in earlier days had ceased to exist. The first stage in
the conquest of the world by the Latin of Rome comes to an end, then, with
the extension of that form of speech throughout Latium.

Beyond the limits of Latium it came into contact with Oscan and the other
Italic dialects, which were related to Latin, but of course were much
farther removed from it than the Latin of Tusculum or Lanuvium had
been,[2] so that the adoption of Latin was not so simple a matter as the
acceptance of Roman Latin by the villages of Latium near Rome had been.

The conflict which went on between Latin and its Italic kinsmen is
revealed to us now and then by a Latin inscription, into which Oscan or
Umbrian forms have crept.[3] The struggle had come to an end by the
beginning of our era. A few Oscan inscriptions are found scratched on the
walls of Pompeii after the first earthquake, in 63 A.D., but they are late
survivals, and no Umbrian inscriptions are known of a date subsequent to
the first century B.C.

The Social War of 90-88 B.C., between Rome and the Italians, was a
turning-point in the struggle between Latin and the Italic dialects,
because it marks a change in the political treatment of Rome's
dependencies in Italy. Up to this time she had followed the policy of
isolating all her Italian conquered communities from one another. She was
anxious to prevent them from conspiring against her. Thus, with this
object in view, she made differences in the rights and privileges granted
to neighboring communities, in order that, not being subject to the same
limitations, and therefore not having the same grievances, they might not
have a common basis for joint action against her. It would naturally be a
part of that policy to allow or to encourage the retention by the several
communities of their own dialects. The common use of Latin would have
enabled them to combine against her with greater ease. With the conclusion
of the Social War this policy gave way before the new conception of
political unity for the people of Italian stock, and with political unity
came the introduction of Latin as the common tongue in all official
transactions of a local as well as of a federal character. The immediate
results of the war, and the policy which Rome carried out at its close of
sending out colonies and building roads in Italy, contributed still more
to the larger use of Latin throughout the central and southern parts of
the peninsula. Samnium, Lucania, and the territory of the Bruttii suffered
severely from depopulation; many colonies were sent into all these
districts, so that, although the old dialects must have persisted for a
time in some of the mountain towns to the north of Rome, the years
following the conclusion of the Social War mark the rapid disappearance of
them and the substitution of Latin in their place. Campania took little
part in the war, and was therefore left untouched. This fact accounts
probably for the occurrence of a few Oscan inscriptions on the walls of
Pompeii as late as 63 A.D.

We need not follow here the story of the subjugation of the Greek seaports
in southern Italy and of the peoples to the north who spoke non-Italic
languages. In all these cases Latin was brought into conflict with
languages not related to itself, and the situation contains slightly
different elements from those which present themselves in the struggle
between Latin and the Italic dialects. The latter were nearly enough
related to Latin to furnish some support for the theory that Latin was
modified by contact with them, and this theory has found advocates,[4] but
there is no sufficient reason for believing that it was materially
influenced. An interesting illustration of the influence of Greek on the
Latin of every-day life is furnished by the realistic novel which
Petronius wrote in the middle of the first century of our era. The
characters in his story are Greeks, and the language which they speak is
Latin, but they introduce into it a great many Greek words, and now and
then a Greek idiom or construction.

The Romans, as is well known, used two agencies with great effect in
Romanizing their newly acquired territory, viz., colonies and roads. The
policy of sending out colonists to hold the new districts was definitely
entered upon in the early part of the fourth century, when citizens were
sent to Antium, Tarracina, and other points in Latium. Within this century
fifteen or twenty colonies were established at various points in central
Italy. Strategic considerations determined their location, and the choice
was made with great wisdom. Sutrium and Nepete, on the borders of the
Ciminian forest, were "the gates of Etruria"; Fregellæ and Interamna
commanded the passage of the river Liris; Tarentum and Rhegium were
important ports of entry, while Alba Fucens and Carsioli guarded the line
of the Valerian road.

This road and the other great highways which were constructed in Italy
brought not only all the colonies, but all parts of the peninsula, into
easy communication with the capital. The earliest of them was built to
Capua, as we know, by the great censor Appius Claudius, in 312 B.C., and
when one looks at a map of Italy at the close of the third century before
our era, and sees the central and southern parts of the peninsula dotted
with colonies, the Appian Way running from Rome south-east to Brundisium,
the Popillian Way to Rhegium, the Flaminian Way north-east to Ariminum,
with an extension to Cremona, with the Cassian and Aurelian ways along the
western coast, the rapidity and the completeness with which the Latin
language overspread Italy ceases to be a mystery. A map of Spain or of
France under the Empire, with its network of roads, is equally

The missionaries who carried Roman law, Roman dress, Roman ideas, and the
Latin language first through central, southern, and northern Italy, and
then to the East and the West, were the colonist, the merchant, the
soldier, and the federal official. The central government exempted the
Roman citizen who settled in a provincial town from the local taxes. As
these were very heavy, his advantage over the native was correspondingly
great, and in almost all the large towns in the Empire we find evidence of
the existence of large guilds of Roman traders, tax-collectors, bankers,
and land-owners.[5] When Trajan in his romantic eastern campaign had
penetrated to Ctesiphon, the capital of Parthia, he found Roman merchants
already settled there. Besides the merchants and capitalists who were
engaged in business on their own account in the provinces, there were
thousands of agents for the great Roman corporations scattered through the
Empire. Rome was the money centre of the world, and the great stock
companies organized to lend money, construct public works, collect taxes,
and engage in the shipping trade had their central offices in the capital
whence they sent out their representatives to all parts of the world.

The soldier played as important a part as the merchant in extending the
use of Latin. Tacitus tells us that in the reign of Augustus there were
twenty-five legions stationed in the provinces. If we allow 6,000 men to a
legion, we should have a total of 150,000 Roman soldiers scattered through
the provinces. To these must be added the auxiliary troops which were made
up of natives who, at the close of their term of service, were probably
able to speak Latin, and when they settled among their own people again,
would carry a knowledge of it into ever-widening circles. We have no exact
knowledge of the number of the auxiliary troops, but they probably came to
be as numerous as the legionaries.[6] Soldiers stationed on the frontiers
frequently married native women at the end of their term of service,
passed the rest of their lives in the provinces, and their children
learned Latin.

The direct influence of the government was no small factor in developing
the use of Latin, which was of course the official language of the Empire.
All court proceedings were carried on in Latin. It was the language of
the governor, the petty official, and the tax-gatherer. It was used in
laws and proclamations, and no native could aspire to a post in the civil
service unless he had mastered it. It was regarded sometimes at least as a
_sine qua non_ of the much-coveted Roman citizenship. The Emperor
Claudius, for instance, cancelled the Roman citizenship of a Greek,
because he had addressed a letter to him in Latin which he could not
understand. The tradition that Latin was the official language of the
world was taken up by the Christian church. Even when Constantine presided
over the Council at Nicæa in the East, he addressed the assembly in Latin.

The two last-mentioned agencies, the Latin of the Roman official and the
Latin of the church, were the influences which made the language spoken
throughout the Empire essentially uniform in its character. Had the Latin
which the colonist, the merchant, and the soldier carried through Italy
and into the provinces been allowed to develop in different localities
without any external unifying influence, probably new dialects would have
grown up all over the world, or, to put it in another way, probably the
Romance languages would have come into existence several centuries before
they actually appeared. That unifying influence was the Latin used by the
officials sent out from Rome, which all classes eagerly strove to imitate.
Naturally the language of the provinces did not conform in all respects to
the Roman standard. Apuleius, for instance, is aware of the fact that his
African style and diction are likely to offend his Roman readers, and in
the introduction to his _Metamorphoses_ he begs for their indulgence. The
elder Seneca in his _Controversiae_ remarks of a Spanish fellow-countryman
"that he could never unlearn that well-known style which is brusque and
rustic and characteristic of Spain," and Spartianus in his Life of Hadrian
tells us that when Hadrian addressed the senate on a certain occasion, his
rustic pronunciation excited the laughter of the senators. But the
peculiarities in the diction of Apuleius and Hadrian seem to have been
those which only a cultivated man of the world would notice. They do not
appear to have been fundamental. In a similar way the careful studies
which have been made of the thousands of inscriptions found in the
West[7], dedicatory inscriptions, guild records, and epitaphs show us
that the language of the common people in the provinces did not differ
materially from that spoken in Italy. It was the language of the Roman
soldier, colonist, and trader, with common characteristics in the way of
diction, form, phraseology, and syntax, dropping into some slight local
peculiarities, but kept essentially a unit by the desire which each
community felt to imitate its officials and its upper classes.

The one part of the Roman world in which Latin did not gain an undisputed
pre-eminence was the Greek East. The Romans freely recognized the peculiar
position which Greek was destined to hold in that part of the Empire, and
styled it the _altera lingua_. Even in Greek lands, however, Latin gained
a strong hold, and exerted considerable influence on Greek[8].

In a very thoughtful paper on "Language-Rivalry and
Speech-Differentiation in the Case of Race-Mixture,"[9] Professor Hempl
has discussed the conditions under which language-rivalry takes place, and
states the results that follow. His conclusions have an interesting
bearing on the question which we are discussing here, how and why it was
that Latin supplanted the other languages with which it was brought into

He observes that when two languages are brought into conflict, there is
rarely a compromise or fusion, but one of the two is driven out of the
field altogether by the other. On analyzing the circumstances in which
such a struggle for supremacy between languages springs up, he finds four
characteristic cases. Sometimes the armies of one nation, though
comparatively small in numbers, conquer another country. They seize the
government of the conquered land; their ruler becomes its king, and they
become the aristocracy. They constitute a minority, however; they identify
their interests with those of the conquered people, and the language of
the subject people becomes the language of all classes. The second case
arises when a country is conquered by a foreign people who pour into it
with their wives and children through a long period and settle permanently
there. The speech of the natives in these circumstances disappears. In the
third case a more powerful people conquers a country, establishes a
dependent government in it, sends out merchants, colonists, and officials,
and establishes new towns. If such a province is held long enough, the
language of the conqueror prevails. In the fourth and last case peaceful
bands of immigrants enter a country to follow the humbler callings. They
are scattered among the natives, and succeed in proportion as they learn
the language of their adopted country. For their children and
grandchildren this language becomes their mother tongue, and the speech of
the invaded nation holds its ground.

The first typical case is illustrated by the history of Norman-French in
England, the second by that of the European colonists in America; the
Latinization of Spain, Gaul, and other Roman provinces furnishes an
instance of the third, and our own experience with European immigrants is
a case of the fourth characteristic situation. The third typical case of
language-conflict is the one with which we are concerned here, and the
analysis which we have made of the practices followed by the Romans in
occupying newly acquired territory, both in Italy and outside the
peninsula, shows us how closely they conform to the typical situation.
With the exception of Dacia, all the provinces were held by the Romans for
several centuries, so that their history under Roman rule satisfies the
condition of long occupation which Professor Hempl lays down as a
necessary one. Dacia which lay north of the Danube, and was thus far
removed from the centres of Roman influence, was erected into a province
in 107 A.D., and abandoned in 270. Notwithstanding its remoteness and the
comparatively short period during which it was occupied, the Latin
language has continued in use in that region to the present day. It
furnishes therefore a striking illustration of the effective methods which
the Romans used in Latinizing conquered territory.[10]

We have already had occasion to notice that a fusion between Latin and
the languages with which it was brought into contact, such a fusion, for
instance, as we find in Pidgin-English, did not occur. These languages
influenced Latin only by way of making additions to its vocabulary. A
great many Greek scientific and technical terms were adopted by the
learned during the period of Roman supremacy. Of this one is clearly
aware, for instance, in reading the philosophical and rhetorical works of
Cicero. A few words, like rufus, crept into the language from the Italic
dialects. Now and then the Keltic or Iberian names of Gallic or Spanish
articles were taken up, but the inflectional system and the syntax of
Latin retained their integrity. In the post-Roman period additions to the
vocabulary are more significant. It is said that about three hundred
Germanic words have found their way into all the Romance languages.[11]
The language of the province of Gaul was most affected since some four
hundred and fifty Gothic, Lombardic, and Burgundian words are found in
French alone, such words as boulevard, homard, and blesser. Each of the
provinces of course, when the Empire broke up, was subjected to
influences peculiar to itself. The residence of the Moors in Spain, for
seven hundred years, for instance, has left a deep impress on the Spanish
vocabulary, while the geographic position of Roumanian has exposed it to
the influence of Slavic, Albanian, Greek, Magyar, and Turkish.[12] A
sketch of the history of Latin after the breaking up of the Empire carries
us beyond the limits of the question which we set ourselves at the
beginning and out of the domain of the Latinist, but it may not be out of
place to gather together here a few of the facts which the Romance
philologist has contributed to its later history, because the life of
Latin has been continuous from the foundation of the city of Rome to the
present day.

In this later period the question of paramount interest is, why did Latin
in one part of the world develop into French, in another part into
Italian, in another into Spanish? One answer to this question has been
based on chronological grounds.[13] The Roman soldiers and traders who
went out to garrison and to settle in a newly acquired territory,
introduced that form of Latin which was in use in Italy at the time of
their departure from the peninsula. The form of speech thus planted there
developed along lines peculiar to itself, became the dialect of that
province, and ultimately the (Romance) language spoken in that part of
Europe. Sardinia was conquered in 241 B.C., and Sardinian therefore is a
development of the Latin spoken in Italy in the middle of the third
century B.C., that is of the Latin of Livius Andronicus. Spain was brought
under Roman rule in 197 B.C., and consequently Spanish is a natural
outgrowth of popular Latin of the time of Plautus. In a similar way, by
noticing the date at which the several provinces were established down to
the acquisition of Dacia in 107 A.D., we shall understand how it was that
the several Romance languages developed out of Latin. So long as the
Empire held together the unifying influence of official Latin, and the
constant intercommunication between the provinces, preserved the essential
unity of Latin throughout the world, but when the bonds were broken, the
naturally divergent tendencies which had existed from the beginning, but
had been held in check, made themselves felt, and the speech of the
several sections of the Old World developed into the languages which we
find in them to-day.

This theory is suggestive, and leads to several important results, but it
is open to serious criticism, and does not furnish a sufficient
explanation. It does not seem to take into account the steady stream of
emigrants from Italy to the provinces, and the constant transfer of troops
from one part of the world to another of which we become aware when we
study the history of any single province or legion. Spain was acquired, it
is true, in 197 B.C., and the Latin which was first introduced into it was
the Latin of Plautus, but the subjugation of the country occupied more
than sixty years, and during this period fresh troops were steadily poured
into the peninsula, and later on there was frequently an interchange of
legions between Spain and the other provinces. Furthermore, new
communities of Roman citizens were established there even down into the
Empire, and traders were steadily moving into the province. In this way it
would seem that the Latin of the early second century which was originally
carried into Spain must have been constantly undergoing modification,
and, so far as this influence goes, made approximately like the Latin
spoken elsewhere in the Empire.

A more satisfactory explanation seems to be that first clearly propounded
by the Italian philologist, Ascoli. His reasoning is that when we acquire
a foreign language we find it very difficult, and often impossible, to
master some of the new sounds. Our ears do not catch them exactly, or we
unconsciously substitute for the foreign sound some sound from our own
language. Our vocal organs, too, do not adapt themselves readily to the
reproduction of the strange sounds in another tongue, as we know from the
difficulty which we have in pronouncing the French nasal or the German
guttural. Similarly English differs somewhat as it is spoken by a
Frenchman, a German, and an Italian. The Frenchman has a tendency to
import the nasal into it, and he is also inclined to pronounce it like his
own language, while the German favors the guttural. In a paper on the
teaching of modern languages in our schools, Professor Grandgent says:[14]
"Usually there is no attempt made to teach any French sounds but _u_ and
the four nasal vowels; all the rest are unquestioningly replaced by the
English vowels and consonants that most nearly resemble them." The
substitution of sounds from one's own language in speaking a foreign
tongue, and the changes in voice-inflection, are more numerous and more
marked if the man who learns the new language is uneducated and acquires
it in casual intercourse from an uneducated man who speaks carelessly.

This was the state of things in the Roman provinces of southern Europe
when the Goths, Lombards, and other peoples from the North gradually
crossed the frontier and settled in the territory of Latin-speaking
peoples. In the sixth century, for instance, the Lombards in Italy, the
Franks in France, and the Visigoths in Spain would each give to the Latin
which they spoke a twist peculiar to themselves, and out of the one Latin
came Italian, out of the second, the language of France, and out of the
third, Spanish. This initial impulse toward the development of Latin along
different lines in Italy, France, and Spain was, of course, reinforced by
differences in climate, in the temperaments of the three peoples, in
their modes of life, and in their political and social experiences. These
centrifugal forces, so to speak, became effective because the political
and social bonds which had held Italy, France, and Spain together were now
loosened, and consequently communication between the provinces was less
frequent, and the standardizing influence of the official Latin of Rome
ceased to keep Latin a uniform thing throughout the Empire.

One naturally asks why Latin survived at all, why the languages of the
victorious Germanic peoples gave way to it. In reply to this question it
is commonly said that the fittest survived, that the superiority of Roman
civilization and of the Latin language gave Latin the victory. So far as
this factor is to be taken into account, I should prefer to say that it
was not so much the superiority of Latin, although that may be freely
recognized, as it was the sentimental respect which the Germans and their
leaders had for the Empire and for all its institutions. This is shown
clearly enough, for instance, in the pride which the Visigothic and
Frankish kings showed in holding their commissions from Rome, long after
Rome had lost the power to enforce its claims upon them; it is shown in
their use of Latin as the language of the court and of the official world.
Under the influence of this sentiment Germanic rulers and their peoples
imitated the Romans, and, among other things, took over their language.
The church probably exerted considerable influence in this direction. Many
of the Germans had been converted to Christianity before they entered the
Empire, and had heard Latin used in the church services and in the hymns.
Among cultivated people of different countries, it was the only medium of
communication, and was accepted as the lingua franca of the political and
ecclesiastical world, and the traditional medium of expression for
literary and legal purposes.

Perhaps, however, one element in the situation should be given more weight
than any of the facts just mentioned. Many of the barbarians had been
allowed to settle in a more or less peaceful fashion in Roman territory,
so that a large part of the western world came into their possession by
way of gradual occupation rather than by conquest.[15] They became peasant
proprietors, manual laborers, and soldiers in the Roman army. Perhaps,
therefore, their occupation of central and southern Europe bears some
resemblance to the peaceful invasion of this country by immigrants from
Europe, and they may have adopted Latin just as the German or Scandinavian
adopts English.

This brings us to the last important point in our inquiry. What is the
date before which we shall call the language of the Western Empire Latin,
and after which it is better to speak of French, Spanish, and Italian?
Such a line of division cannot be sharply drawn, and will in a measure be
artificial, because, as we shall attempt to show in the chapter which
follows on the "Latin of the Common People," Latin survives in the Romance
languages, and has had a continuous life up to the present day. But on
practical grounds it is convenient to have such a line of demarcation in
mind, and two attempts have been made to fix it. One attempt has been
based on linguistic grounds, the other follows political changes more
closely. Up to 700 A.D. certain common sound-changes take place in all
parts of the western world.[16] After that date, roughly speaking, this is
not the case. Consequently at that time we may say that unity ceased. The
other method of approaching the subject leads to essentially the same
conclusion, and shows us why unity ceased to exist.[17] In the sixth
century the Eastern Emperor Justinian conceived the idea of reuniting the
Roman world, and actually recovered and held for a short time Italy,
southern Spain, and Africa. This attempt on his part aroused a national
spirit among the peoples of these lands, and developed in them a sense of
their national independence and individuality. They threw off the foreign
yoke and became separate peoples, and developed, each of them, a language
of its own. Naturally this sentiment became effective at somewhat
different periods in different countries. For France the point may be
fixed in the sixth century, for Spain and Italy, in the seventh, and at
these dates Latin may be said to take the form of French, Spanish, and

The Latin of the Common People

Unless one is a professional philologist he feels little interest in the
language of the common people. Its peculiarities in pronunciation, syntax,
phraseology, and the use of words we are inclined to avoid in our own
speech, because they mark a lack of cultivation. We test them by the
standards of polite society, and ignore them, or condemn them, or laugh at
them as abnormal or illogical or indicative of ignorance. So far as
literature goes, the speech of the common people has little interest for
us because it is not the recognized literary medium. These two reasons
have prevented the average man of cultivated tastes from giving much
attention to the way in which the masses speak, and only the professional
student has occupied himself with their language. This is unfortunate
because the speech of the common people has many points of interest, and,
instead of being illogical, is usually much more rigid in its adherence
to its own accepted principles than formal speech is, which is likely to
be influenced by convention or conventional associations. To take an
illustration of what I have in mind, the ending _-s_ is the common mark in
English of a plural form. For instance, "caps," "maps," "lines," and
"places" are plurals, and the corresponding singular forms are "cap,"
"map," "line," and "place." Consequently, granted the underlying premise,
it is a perfectly logical and eminently scientific process from the forms
"relapse" (pronounced, of course, "relaps") and "species" to postulate a
corresponding singular, and speak of "a relap" and "a specie," as a negro
of my acquaintance regularly does. "Scrope" and "lept," as preterites of
"scrape" and "leap," are correctly formed on the analogy of "broke" and
"crept," but are not used in polite society.

So far as English, German, or French go, a certain degree of general
interest has been stimulated lately in the form which they take in
every-day life by two very different agencies, by the popular articles of
students of language, and by realistic and dialect novels. But for our
knowledge of the Latin of the common people we lack these two
all-important sources of information. It occurred to only two Roman
writers, Petronius and Apuleius, to amuse their countrymen by writing
realistic stories, or stories with realistic features, and the Roman
grammarian felt an even greater contempt for popular Latin or a greater
indifference to it than we feel to-day. This feeling was shared, as we
know, by the great humanists of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries,
when the revival of interest in the Greek and Latin languages and
literatures begins. Petrarch, Poggio Bracciolini, and the other great
leaders in the movement were concerned with the literary aspects of the
classics, and the scholars of succeeding generations, so far as they
studied the language, confined their attention to that of the great Latin
stylists. The first student to conceive of the existence of popular Latin
as a form of speech which differed from formal literary Latin, seems to
have been the French scholar, Henri Étienne. In a little pamphlet on the
language and style of Plautus, written toward the end of the sixteenth
century, he noted the likeness between French and the language of the
Latin dramatist, without, however, clearly perceiving that the reason for
this similarity lay in the fact that the comedies of Plautus reflect the
spoken language of his time, and that French and the other Romance
languages have developed out of this, rather than from literary Latin. Not
until the middle of the eighteenth century was this truth clearly
recognized, and then almost simultaneously on both sides of the Rhine.

It was left for the nineteenth century, however, to furnish scientific
proof of the correctness of this hypothesis, and it was a fitting thing
that the existence of an unbroken line of connection between popular Latin
of the third century before our era, and the Romance languages of the
nineteenth century, should have been established at the same time by a
Latinist engaged in the study of Plautus, and a Romance philologist
working upward toward Latin. The Latin scholar was Ritschl, who showed
that the deviations from the formal standard which one finds in Plautus
are not anomalies or mistakes, but specimens of colloquial Latin which can
be traced down into the later period. The Romance philologist was Diez,
who found that certain forms and words, especially those from the
vocabulary of every-day life, which are common to many of the Romance
languages, are not to be found in serious Latin literature at all, but
occur only in those compositions, like comedy, satire, or the realistic
romance, which reflect the speech of the every-day man. This discovery
made it clear that the Romance languages are related to folk Latin, not to
literary Latin. It is sixty years since the study of vulgar Latin was put
on a scientific basis by the investigations of these two men, and during
that period the Latinist and the Romance philologist have joined hands in
extending our knowledge of it. From the Latin side a great impetus was
given to the work by the foundation in 1884 of Wölfflin's _Archiv für
lateinische Lexikographie und Grammatik_. This periodical, as is well
known, was intended to prepare the way for the publication of the Latin
_Thesaurus_, which the five German Academies are now bringing out.

One of its primary purposes, as its title indicates, was to investigate
the history of Latin words, and in its first number the editor called
attention to the importance of knowing the pieces of literature in which
each Latin word or locution occurred. The results have been very
illuminating. Some words or constructions or phrases are to be found, for
instance, only in comedy, satire, and the romance. They are evidently
peculiar to vulgar Latin. Others are freely used in these types of
literature, but sparingly employed in historical or rhetorical works. Here
again a shade of difference is noticeable between formal and familiar
usage. The method of the Latinist then is essentially one of comparison
and contrast. When, for instance, he finds the word _equus_ regularly used
by serious writers for "horse," but _caballus_ employed in that sense in
the colloquial compositions of Lucilius, Horace, and Petronius, he comes
to the conclusion that _caballus_ belongs to the vocabulary of every-day
life, that it is our "nag."

The line of reasoning which the Romance philologist follows in his study
of vulgar Latin is equally convincing. The existence of a large number of
words and idioms in French, Spanish, Italian, and the other Romance
languages can be explained only in one of three ways. All these different
languages may have hit on the same word or phrase to express an idea, or
these words and idioms may have been borrowed from one language by the
others, or they may come from a common origin. The first hypothesis is
unthinkable. The second is almost as impossible. Undoubtedly French, for
instance, borrowed some words from Spanish, and Spanish from Portuguese.
It would be conceivable that a few words originating in Spain should pass
into France, and thence into Italy, but it is quite beyond belief that the
large element which the languages from Spain to Roumania have in common
should have passed by borrowing over such a wide territory. It is clear
that this common element is inherited from Latin, out of which all the
Romance languages are derived. Out of the words, endings, idioms, and
constructions which French, Spanish, Italian, and the other tongues of
southern Europe have in common, it would be possible, within certain
limits, to reconstruct the parent speech, but fortunately we are not
limited to this material alone. At this point the Latinist and the Romance
philologist join hands. To take up again the illustration already used,
the student of the Romance languages finds the word for "horse" in Italian
is cavallo, in Spanish caballo, in French cheval, in Roumanian cal, and
so on. Evidently all these forms have come from caballus, which the
Latinist finds belongs to the vocabulary of vulgar, not of formal, Latin.
This one illustration out of many not only discloses the fact that the
Romance languages are to be connected with colloquial rather than with
literary Latin, but it also shows how the line of investigation opened by
Diez, and that followed by Wölfflin and his school, supplement each other.
By the use of the methods which these two scholars introduced, a large
amount of material bearing on the subject under discussion has been
collected and classified, and the characteristic features of the Latin of
the common people have been determined. It has been found that five or six
different and independent kinds of evidence may be used in reconstructing
this form of speech.

We naturally think first of the direct statements made by Latin writers.
These are to be found in the writings of Cicero, Quintilian, Seneca the
Rhetorician, Petronius, Aulus Gellius, Vitruvius, and the Latin
grammarians. The professional teacher Quintilian is shocked at the
illiterate speech of the spectators in the theatres and circus. Similarly
a character in Petronius utters a warning against the words such people
use. Cicero openly delights in using every-day Latin in his familiar
letters, while the architect Vitruvius expresses the anxious fear that he
may not be following the accepted rules of grammar. As we have noticed
above, a great deal of material showing the differences between formal and
colloquial Latin which these writers have in mind, may be obtained by
comparing, for instance, the Letters of Cicero with his rhetorical works,
or Seneca's satirical skit on the Emperor Claudius with his philosophical
writings. Now and then, too, a serious writer has occasion to use a bit of
popular Latin, but he conveniently labels it for us with an apologetic
phrase. Thus even St. Jerome, in his commentary on the Epistle to the
Ephesians, says: "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth, as the vulgar
proverb has it." To the ancient grammarians the "mistakes" and vulgarisms
of popular speech were abhorrent, and they have fortunately branded lists
of words and expressions which are not to be used by cultivated people.
The evidence which may be had from the Romance languages, supplemented by
Latin, not only contributes to our knowledge of the vocabulary of vulgar
Latin, but it also shows us many common idioms and constructions which
that form of speech had. Thus, "I will sing" in Italian is canterò
(=cantar[e]-ho), in Spanish, cantaré (=cantar-he), in French, chanterai
(=chanter-ai), and similar forms occur in some of the other Romance
languages. These forms are evidently made up of the Latin infinitive
cantare, depending on habeo ("I have to sing"). But the future in literary
Latin was cantabo, formed by adding an ending, as we know, and with that
the Romance future can have no connection. However, as a writer in the
_Archiv_ has pointed out,[18] just such analytical tense forms as are used
in the Romance languages to-day are to be found in the popular Latin
sermons of St. Jerome. From these idioms, common to Italian, French, and
Spanish, then, we can reconstruct a Latin formation current among the
common people. Finally a knowledge of the tendencies and practices of
spoken English helps us to identify similar usages when we come upon them
in our reading of Latin. When, for instance, the slave in a play of
Plautus says: "Do you catch on" (tenes?), "I'll touch the old man for a
loan" (tangam senem, etc.), or "I put it over him" (ei os sublevi) we
recognize specimens of Latin slang, because all of the metaphors involved
are in current use to-day. When one of the freedmen in Petronius remarks:
"You ought not to do a good turn to nobody" (neminem nihil boni facere
oportet) we see the same use of the double negative to which we are
accustomed in illiterate English. The rapid survey which we have just made
of the evidence bearing on the subject establishes beyond doubt the
existence of a form of speech among the Romans which cannot be identified
with literary Latin, but it has been held by some writers that the
material for the study of it is scanty. However, an impartial examination
of the facts ought not to lead one to this conclusion. On the Latin side
the material includes the comedies of Plautus and Terence, and the comic
fragments, the familiar odes of Catullus, the satires of Lucilius, Horace,
and Seneca, and here and there of Persius and Juvenal, the familiar
letters of Cicero, the romance of Petronius and that of Apuleius in part,
the Vulgate and some of the Christian fathers, the Journey to Jerusalem of
St. Ætheria, the glossaries, some technical books like Vitruvius and the
veterinary treatise of Chiron, and the private inscriptions, notably
epitaphs, the wall inscriptions of Pompeii, and the leaden tablets found
buried in the ground on which illiterate people wrote curses upon their

It is clear that there has been preserved for the study of colloquial
Latin a very large body of material, coming from a great variety of
sources and running in point of time from Plautus in the third century
B.C. to St. Ætheria in the latter part of the fourth century or later. It
includes books by trained writers, like Horace and Petronius, who
consciously adopt the Latin of every-day life, and productions by
uneducated people, like St. Ætheria and the writers of epitaphs, who have
unwittingly used it.

St. Jerome says somewhere of spoken Latin that "it changes constantly as
you pass from one district to another, and from one period to another" (et
ipsa Latinitas et regionibus cotidie mutatur et tempore). If he had added
that it varies with circumstances also, he would have included the three
factors which have most to do in influencing the development of any
spoken language. We are made aware of the changes which time has brought
about in colloquial English when we compare the conversations in Fielding
with those in a present-day novel. When a spoken language is judged by the
standard of the corresponding literary medium, in some of its aspects it
proves to be conservative, in others progressive. It shows its
conservative tendency by retaining many words and phrases which have
passed out of literary use. The English of the Biglow Papers, when
compared with the literary speech of the time, abundantly illustrates this
fact. This conservative tendency is especially noticeable in districts
remote from literary centres, and those of us who are familiar with the
vernacular in Vermont or Maine will recall in it many quaint words and
expressions which literature abandoned long ago. In Virginia locutions may
be heard which have scarcely been current in literature since
Shakespeare's time. Now, literary and colloquial Latin were probably drawn
farther apart than the two corresponding forms of speech in English,
because Latin writers tried to make the literary tongue as much like Greek
in its form as possible, so that literary Latin would naturally have
diverged more rapidly and more widely from conversational Latin than
formal English has drawn away from colloquial English.

But a spoken language in its development is progressive as well as
conservative. To certain modifying influences it is especially sensitive.
It is fond of the concrete, picturesque, and novel, and has a high
appreciation of humor. These tendencies lead it to invent many new words
and expressions which must wait months, years, perhaps a generation,
before they are accepted in literature. Sometimes they are never accepted.
The history of such words as buncombe, dude, Mugwump, gerrymander, and
joy-ride illustrate for English the fact that words of a certain kind meet
a more hospitable reception in the spoken language than they do in
literature. The writer of comedy or farce, the humorist, and the man in
the street do not feel the constraint which the canons of good usage put
on the serious writer. They coin new words or use old words in a new way
or use new constructions without much hesitation. The extraordinary
material progress of the modern world during the last century has
undoubtedly stimulated this tendency in a remarkable way, but it would
seem as if the Latin of the common people from the time of Plautus to that
of Cicero must have been subjected to still more innovating influences
than modern conversational English has. During this period the newly
conquered territories in Spain, northern Africa, Greece, and Asia poured
their slaves and traders into Italy, and added a great many words to the
vocabulary of every-day life. The large admixture of Greek words and
idioms in the language of Petronius in the first century of our era
furnishes proof of this fact. A still greater influence must have been
felt within the language itself by the stimulus to the imagination which
the coming of these foreigners brought, with their new ideas, and their
new ways of looking at things, their strange costumes, manners, and

The second important factor which affects the spoken language is a
difference in culture and training. The speech of the gentleman differs
from that of the rustic. The conversational language of Terence, for
instance, is on a higher plane than that of Plautus, while the characters
in Plautus use better Latin than the freedmen in Petronius. The
illiterate freedmen in Petronius speak very differently from the freemen
in his story. Sometimes a particular occupation materially affects the
speech of those who pursue it. All of us know something of the linguistic
eccentricities of the London cabman, the Parisian thief, or the American
hobo. This particular influence cannot be estimated so well for Latin
because we lack sufficient material, but some progress has been made in
detecting the peculiarities of Latin of the nursery, the camp, and the

Of course a spoken language is never uniform throughout a given area.
Dialectal differences are sure to develop. A man from Indiana and another
from Maine will be sure to notice each other's peculiarities. Even the
railway, the newspaper, and the public school will never entirely
obliterate the old differences or prevent new ones from springing up.
Without these agencies which do so much to promote uniformity to-day,
Italy and the rest of the Empire must have shown greater dialectal
differences than we observe in American English or in British English

For the sake of bringing out clearly some of the points of difference
between vulgar and formal Latin we have used certain illustrations, like
_caballus_, where the two forms of speech were radically opposed to each
other, but of course they did not constitute two different languages, and
that which they had in common was far greater than the element peculiar to
each, or, to put it in another way, they in large measure overlapped each
other. Perhaps we are in a position now to characterize colloquial Latin
and to define it as the language which was used in conversation throughout
the Empire with the innumerable variations which time and place gave it,
which in its most highly refined form, as spoken in literary circles at
Rome in the classical period, approached indefinitely near its ideal,
literary Latin, which in its most unconventional phase was the rude speech
of the rabble, or the "sermo inconditus" of the ancients. The facts which
have just been mentioned may be illustrated by the accompanying diagrams.

[Illustration: Fig. I]

[Illustration: Fig. II]

[Illustration: Fig. III]

[Illustration: Fig. IV]

In Fig. I the heavy-lined ellipse represents the formal diction of Cicero,
the dotted line ellipse his conversational vocabulary. They overlap each
other through a great part of their extent, but there are certain
literary locutions which would rarely be used by him in conversation, and
certain colloquial words and phrases which he would not use in formal
writing. Therefore the two ellipses would not be coterminous. In Fig. II
the heavy ellipse has the same meaning as in Fig. I, while the space
enclosed by the dotted line represents the vocabulary of an uneducated
Roman, which would be much smaller than that of Cicero and would show a
greater degree of difference from the literary vocabulary than Cicero's
conversational stock of words does. The relation of the uncultivated
Roman's conversational vocabulary to that of Cicero is illustrated in Fig.
III, while Fig. IV shows how the Latin of the average man in Rome would
compare, for instance, with that of a resident of Lugudunum, in Gaul.

This naturally brings us to consider the historical relations of literary
and colloquial Latin. In explaining them it has often been assumed that
colloquial Latin is a degenerate form of literary Latin, or that the
latter is a refined type of the former. Both these theories are equally
false. Neither is derived from the other. The true state of the case has
never been better put than by Schuchardt, who says: "Vulgar Latin stands
with reference to formal Latin in no derivative relation, in no paternal
relation, but they stand side by side. It is true that vulgar Latin came
from a Latin with fuller and freer forms, but it did not come from formal
Latin. It is true that formal Latin came from a Latin of a more popular
and a cruder character, but it did not come from vulgar Latin. In the
original speech of the people, preliterary Latin (the prisca Latinitas),
is to be found the origin of both; they were twin brothers."

Of this preliterary Latin we have no record. The best we can do is to
infer what its characteristics were from the earliest fragments of the
language which have come down to us, from the laws of the Twelve Tables,
for instance, from the religious and legal formulæ preserved to us by
Varro, Cicero, Livy, and others, from proverbs and popular sayings. It
would take us too far afield to analyze these documents here, but it may
be observed that we notice in them, among other characteristics, an
indifference to strict grammatical structure, not that subordination of
clauses to a main clause which comes only from an appreciation of the
logical relation of ideas to one another, but a co-ordination of clauses,
the heaping up of synonymous words, a tendency to use the analytical
rather than the synthetical form of expression, and a lack of fixity in
the forms of words and in inflectional endings. To illustrate some of
these traits in a single example, an early law reads "if [he] shall have
committed a theft by night, if [he] shall have killed him, let him be
regarded as put to death legally" (si nox furtum faxsit, si im occisit,
iure caesus esto).[19] We pass without warning from one subject, the
thief, in the first clause to another, the householder, in the second, and
back to the thief again in the third. Cato in his book on Agriculture
writes of the cattle: "let them feed; it will be better" (pascantur;
satius erit), instead of saying: "it will be better for them to feed" (or
"that they feed"). In an early law one reads: "on the tablet, on the white
surface" (in tabula, in albo), instead of "on the white tablet" (in alba
tabula). Perhaps we may sum up the general characteristics of this
preliterary Latin out of which both the spoken and written language
developed by saying that it showed a tendency to analysis rather than
synthesis, a loose and variable grammatical structure, and a lack of logic
in expression.

Livius Andronicus, Nævius, and Plautus in the third century before our era
show the language as first used for literary purposes, and with them the
breach between the spoken and written tongues begins. So far as Livius
Andronicus, the Father of Latin literature, is concerned, allowance should
be made without doubt for his lack of poetic inspiration and skill, and
for the fact that his principal work was a translation, but even making
this allowance the crude character of his Latin is apparent, and it is
very clear that literary Latin underwent a complete transformation
between his time and that of Horace and Virgil. Now, the significant
thing in this connection is the fact that this transformation was largely
brought about under an external influence, which affected the Latin of the
common people only indirectly and in small measure. Perhaps the
circumstances in which literary Latin was placed have never been repeated
in history. At the very outset it was brought under the sway of a highly
developed literary tongue, and all the writers who subsequently used it
earnestly strove to model it after Greek. Livius Andronicus, Ennius,
Accius, and Pacuvius were all of Greek origin and familiar with Greek.
They, as well as Plautus and Terence, translated and adapted Greek epics,
tragedies, and comedies. Several of the early writers, like Accius and
Lucilius, interested themselves in grammatical subjects, and did their
best to introduce system and regularity into their literary medium. Now,
Greek was a highly inflected, synthetical, regular, and logical medium of
literary expression, and it was inevitable that these qualities should be
introduced into Latin. But this influence affected the spoken language
very little, as we have already noticed. Its effect upon the speech of
the common people would be slight, because of the absence of the common
school which does so much to-day to hold together the spoken and written

The development then of preliterary Latin under the influence of this
systematizing, synthetical influence gave rise to literary Latin, while
its independent growth more nearly in accordance with its original genius
produced colloquial Latin. Consequently, we are not surprised to find that
the people's speech retained in a larger measure than literary Latin did
those qualities which we noticed in preliterary Latin. Those
characteristics are, in fact, to be expected in conversation. When a man
sets down his thoughts on paper he expresses himself with care and with a
certain reserve in his statements, and he usually has in mind exactly what
he wants to say. But in speaking he is not under this constraint. He is
likely to express himself in a tautological, careless, or even illogical
fashion. He rarely thinks out to the end what he has in mind, but loosely
adds clauses or sentences, as new ideas occur to him.

We have just been thinking mainly about the relation of words to one
another in a sentence. In the treatment of individual words, written and
spoken Latin developed along different lines. In English we make little
distinction between the quantity of vowels, but in Latin of course a given
vowel was either long or short, and literary tradition became so fixed in
this matter that the professional poets of the Augustan age do not
tolerate any deviation from it. There are indications, however, that the
common people did not observe the rules of quantity in their integrity. We
can readily understand why that may have been the case. The comparative
carelessness, which is characteristic of conversation, affects our
pronunciation of words. When there is a stress accent, as there was in
Latin, this is especially liable to be the case. We know in English how
much the unaccented syllables suffer in a long word like "laboratory." In
Latin the long unaccented vowels and the final syllable, which was never
protected by the accent, were peculiarly likely to lose their full value.
As a result, in conversational Latin certain final consonants tended to
drop away, and probably the long vowel following a short one was regularly
shortened when the accent fell on the short syllable, or on the syllable
which followed the long one. Some scholars go so far as to maintain that
in course of time all distinction in quantity in the unaccented vowels was
lost in popular Latin. Sometimes the influence of the accent led to the
excision of the vowel in the syllable which followed it. Probus, a
grammarian of the fourth century of our era, in what we might call a
"Guide to Good Usage"[20] or "One Hundred Words Mispronounced," warns his
readers against masclus and anglus for masculus and angulus. This is the
same popular tendency which we see illustrated in "lab'ratory."

The quality of vowels as well as their quantity changed. The obscuring of
certain vowel sounds in ordinary or careless conversation in this country
in such words as "Latun" and "Amurican" is a phenomenon which is familiar
enough. In fact a large number of our vowel sounds seem to have
degenerated into a grunt. Latin was affected in a somewhat similar way,
although not to the same extent as present-day English. Both the ancient
grammarians in their warnings and the Romance languages bear evidence to
this effect.

We noticed above that the final consonant was exposed to danger by the
fact that the syllable containing it was never protected by the accent. It
is also true that there was a tendency to do away with any difficult
combination of consonants. We recall in English the current
pronunciations, "February," and "Calwell" for Caldwell. The average Roman
in the same way was inclined to follow the line of least resistance.
Sometimes, as in the two English examples just given, he avoided a
difficult combination of consonants by dropping one of them. This method
he followed in saying santus for sanctus, and scriserunt for scripserunt,
just as in vulgar English one now and then hears "slep" and "kep" for the
more difficult "slept" and "kept." Sometimes he lightened the
pronunciation by metathesis, as he did when he pronounced interpretor as
interpertor. A third device was to insert a vowel, as illiterate
English-speaking people do in the pronunciations "ellum" and "Henery." In
this way, for instance, the Roman avoided the difficult combinations -mn-
and -chn- by saying mina and techina for the historically correct mna and
techna. Another method of surmounting the difficulty was to assimilate one
of the two consonants to the other. This is a favorite practice of the
shop-girl, over which the newspapers make merry in their phonetical
reproductions of supposed conversations heard from behind the counter.
Adopting the same easy way of speaking, the uneducated Roman sometimes
said isse for ipse, and scritus for scriptus. To pass to another point of
difference, the laws determining the incidence of the accent were very
firmly established in literary Latin. The accent must fall on the penult,
if it was long, otherwise on the antepenult of the word. But in popular
Latin there were certain classes of words in whose case these principles
were not observed.

The very nature of the accent probably differed in the two forms of
speech. In preliterary Latin the stress was undoubtedly a marked feature
of the accent, and this continued to be the case in the popular speech
throughout the entire history of the language, but, as I have tried to
prove in another paper,[21] in formal Latin the stress became very slight,
and the pitch grew to be the characteristic feature of the accent.
Consequently, when Virgil read a passage of the _Æneid_ to Augustus and
Livia the effect on the ear of the comparatively unstressed language, with
the rhythmical rise and fall of the pitch, would have been very different
from that made by the conversation of the average man, with the accented
syllables more clearly marked by a stress.

In this brief chapter we cannot attempt to go into details, and in
speaking of the morphology of vulgar Latin we must content ourselves with
sketching its general characteristics and tendencies, as we have done in
the case of its phonology. In English our inflectional forms have been
reduced to a minimum, and consequently there is little scope for
differences in this respect between the written and spoken languages. From
the analogy of other forms the illiterate man occasionally says: "I swum,"
or, "I clumb," or "he don't," but there is little chance of making a
mistake. However, with three genders, five declensions for nouns, a fixed
method of comparison for adjectives and adverbs, an elaborate system of
pronouns, with active and deponent, regular and irregular verbs, four
conjugations, and a complex synthetical method of forming the moods and
tenses, the pitfalls for the unwary Roman were without number, as the
present-day student of Latin can testify to his sorrow. That the man in
the street, who had no newspaper to standardize his Latin, and little
chance to learn it in school, did not make more mistakes is surprising. In
a way many of the errors which he did make were historically not errors at
all. This fact will readily appear from an illustration or two. In our
survey of preliterary Latin we had occasion to notice that one of its
characteristics was a lack of fixity in the use of forms or constructions.
In the third century before our era, a Roman could say audibo or audiam,
contemplor or contemplo, senatus consultum or senati consultum. Thanks to
the efforts of the scientific grammarian, and to the systematizing
influence which Greek exerted upon literary Latin, most verbs were made
deponent or active once for all, a given noun was permanently assigned to
a particular declension, a verb to one conjugation, and the slight
tendency which the language had to the analytical method of forming the
moods and tenses was summarily checked. Of course the common people tried
to imitate their betters in all these matters, but the old variable usages
persisted to some extent, and the average man failed to grasp the
niceties of the new grammar at many points. His failures were especially
noticeable where the accepted literary form did not seem to follow the
principles of analogy. When these principles are involved, the common
people are sticklers for consistency. The educated man conjugates: "I
don't," "you don't," "he doesn't," "we don't," "they don't"; but the
anomalous form "he doesn't" has to give way in the speech of the average
man to "he don't." To take only one illustration in Latin of the effect of
the same influence, the present infinitive active of almost all verbs ends
in -re, e.g., amare, monere, and regere. Consequently the irregular
infinitive of the verb "to be able," posse, could not stand its ground,
and ultimately became potere in vulgar Latin. In one respect in the
inflectional forms of the verb, the purist was unexpectedly successful. In
comedy of the third and second centuries B.C., we find sporadic evidence
of a tendency to use auxiliary verbs in forming certain tenses, as we do
in English when we say: "I will go," "I have gone," or "I had gone." This
movement was thoroughly stamped out for the time, and does not reappear
until comparatively late.

In Latin there are three genders, and the grammatical gender of a noun is
not necessarily identical with its natural gender. For inanimate objects
it is often determined simply by the form of the noun. Sella, seat, of the
first declension, is feminine, because almost all nouns ending in -a are
feminine; hortus, garden, is masculine, because nouns in -us of its
declension are mostly masculine, and so on. From such a system as this two
results are reasonably sure to follow. Where the gender of a noun in
literary Latin did not conform to these rules, in popular Latin it would
be brought into harmony with others of its class. Thus stigma, one of the
few neuter nouns in -a, and consequently assigned to the third declension,
was brought in popular speech into line with sella and the long list of
similar words in -a, was made feminine, and put in the first declension.
In the case of another class of words, analogy was supplemented by a
mechanical influence. We have noticed already that the tendency of the
stressed syllable in a word to absorb effort and attention led to the
obscuration of certain final consonants, because the final syllable was
never protected by the accent. Thus hortus in some parts of the Empire
became hortu in ordinary pronunciation, and the neuter caelum, heaven,
became caelu. The consequent identity in the ending led to a confusion in
the gender, and to the ultimate treatment of the word for "heaven" as a
masculine. These influences and others caused many changes in the gender
of nouns in popular speech, and in course of time brought about the
elimination of the neuter gender from the neo-Latin languages.

Something has been said already of the vocabulary of the common people. It
was naturally much smaller than that of cultivated people. Its poverty
made their style monotonous when they had occasion to express themselves
in writing, as one can see in reading St. Ætheria's account of her journey
to the Holy Land, and of course this impression of monotony is heightened
by such a writer's inability to vary the form of expression. Even within
its small range it differs from the vocabulary of formal Latin in three or
four important respects. It has no occasion, or little occasion, to use
certain words which a formal writer employs, or it uses substitutes for
them. So testa was used in part for caput, and bucca for os. On the other
hand, it employs certain words and phrases, for instance vulgar words and
expletives, which are not admitted into literature.

In its choice of words it shows a marked preference for certain suffixes
and prefixes. It would furnish an interesting excursion into folk
psychology to speculate on the reasons for this preference in one case and
another. Sometimes it is possible to make out the influence at work. In
reading a piece of popular Latin one is very likely to be impressed with
the large number of diminutives which are used, sometimes in the strict
sense of the primitive word. The frequency of this usage reminds one in
turn of the fact that not infrequently in the Romance languages the
corresponding words are diminutive forms in their origin, so that
evidently the diminutive in these cases crowded out the primitive word in
popular use, and has continued to our own day. The reason why the
diminutive ending was favored does not seem far to seek. That suffix
properly indicates that the object in question is smaller than the average
of its kind. Smallness in a child stimulates our affection, in a dwarf,
pity or aversion. Now we give expression to our emotion more readily in
the intercourse of every-day life than we do in writing, and the emotions
of the masses are perhaps nearer the surface and more readily stirred than
are those of the classes, and many things excite them which would leave
unruffled the feelings of those who are more conventional. The stirring of
these emotions finds expression in the use of the diminutive ending, which
indirectly, as we have seen, suggests sympathy, affection, pity, or
contempt. The ending -osus for adjectives was favored because of its
sonorous character. Certain prefixes, like de-, dis-, and ex-, were freely
used with verbs, because they strengthened the meaning of the verb, and
popular speech is inclined to emphasize its ideas unduly.

To speak further of derivation, in the matter of compounds and
crystallized word groups there are usually differences between a spoken
and written language. The written language is apt to establish certain
canons which the people do not observe. For instance, we avoid hybrid
compounds of Greek and Latin elements in the serious writing of English.
In formal Latin we notice the same objection to Greco-Latin words, and yet
in Plautus, and in other colloquial writers, such compounds are freely
used for comic effect. In a somewhat similar category belong the
combinations of two adverbs or prepositions, which one finds in the later
popular Latin, some of which have survived in the Romance languages. A
case in point is ab ante, which has come down to us in the Italian avanti
and the French avant. Such word-groups are of course debarred from formal

In examining the vocabulary of colloquial Latin, we have noticed its
comparative poverty, its need of certain words which are not required in
formal Latin, its preference for certain prefixes and suffixes, and its
willingness to violate certain rules, in forming compounds and
word-groups, which the written language scrupulously observes. It remains
for us to consider a third, and perhaps the most important, element of
difference between the vocabularies of the two forms of speech. I mean the
use of a word in vulgar Latin with another meaning from that which it has
in formal Latin. We are familiar enough with the different senses which a
word often has in conversational and in literary English. "Funny," for
instance, means "amusing" in formal English, but it is often the synonym
of "strange" in conversation. The sense of a word may be extended, or be
restricted, or there may be a transfer of meaning. In the colloquial use
of "funny" we have an extension of its literary sense. The same is true of
"splendid," "jolly," "lovely," and "awfully," and of such Latin words as
"lepidus," "probe," and "pulchre." When we speak of "a splendid sun," we
are using splendid in its proper sense of shining or bright, but when we
say, "a splendid fellow," the adjective is used as a general epithet
expressing admiration. On the other hand, when a man of a certain class
refers to his "woman," he is employing the word in the restricted sense of
"wife." Perhaps we should put in a third category that very large
colloquial use of words in a transferred or figurative sense, which is
illustrated by "to touch" or "to strike" when applied to success in
getting money from a person. Our current slang is characterized by the
free use of words in this figurative way.

Under the head of syntax we must content ourselves with speaking of only
two changes, but these were far-reaching. We have already noticed the
analytical tendency of preliterary Latin. This tendency was held in check,
as we have just observed, so far as verb forms were concerned, but in the
comparison of adjectives and in the use of the cases it steadily made
headway, and ultimately triumphed over the synthetical principle. The
method adopted by literary Latin of indicating the comparative and the
superlative degrees of an adjective, by adding the endings -ior and
-issimus respectively, succumbed in the end to the practice of prefixing
plus or magis and maxime to the positive form. To take another
illustration of the same characteristic of popular Latin, as early as the
time of Plautus, we see a tendency to adopt our modern method of
indicating the relation which a substantive bears to some other word in
the sentence by means of a preposition rather than by simply using a case
form. The careless Roman was inclined to say, for instance, magna pars de
exercitu, rather than to use the genitive case of the word for army, magna
pars exercitus. Perhaps it seemed to him to bring out the relation a
little more clearly or forcibly.

The use of a preposition to show the relation became almost a necessity
when certain final consonants became silent, because with their
disappearance, and the reduction of the vowels to a uniform quantity, it
was often difficult to distinguish between the cases. Since final -m was
lost in pronunciation, _Asia_ might be nominative, accusative, or
ablative. If you wished to say that something happened in Asia, it would
not suffice to use the simple ablative, because that form would have the
same pronunciation as the nominative or the accusative, Asia(m), but the
preposition must be prefixed, _in Asia_. Another factor cooperated with
those which have already been mentioned in bringing about the confusion of
the cases. Certain prepositions were used with the accusative to indicate
one relation, and with the ablative to suggest another. _In Asia_, for
instance, meant "in Asia," _in Asiam_, "into Asia." When the two case
forms became identical in pronunciation, the meaning of the phrase would
be determined by the verb in the sentence, so that with a verb of going
the preposition would mean "into," while with a verb of rest it would mean
"in." In other words the idea of motion or rest is disassociated from the
case forms. From the analogy of _in_ it was very easy to pass to other
prepositions like _per_, which in literary Latin took the accusative only,
and to use these prepositions also with cases which, historically
speaking, were ablatives.

In his heart of hearts the school-boy regards the periodic sentences which
Cicero hurled at Catiline, and which Livy used in telling the story of
Rome as unnatural and perverse. All the specious arguments which his
teacher urges upon him, to prove that the periodic form of expression was
just as natural to the Roman as the direct method is to us, fail to
convince him that he is not right in his feeling--and he _is_ right. Of
course in English, as a rule, the subject must precede the verb, the
object must follow it, and the adverb and attribute adjective must stand
before the words to which they belong. In the sentence: "Octavianus wished
Cicero to be saved," not a single change may be made in the order without
changing the sense, but in a language like Latin, where relations are
largely expressed by inflectional forms, almost any order is possible, so
that a writer may vary his arrangement and grouping of words to suit the
thought which he wishes to convey. But this is a different matter from
the construction of a period with its main subject at the beginning, its
main verb at the end, and all sorts of subordinate and modifying clauses
locked in by these two words. This was not the way in which the Romans
talked with one another. We can see that plainly enough from the
conversations in Plautus and Terence. In fact the Latin period is an
artificial product, brought to perfection by many generations of literary
workers, and the nearer we get to the Latin of the common people the more
natural the order and style seem to the English-speaking person. The
speech of the uneducated freedmen in the romance of Petronius is
interesting in this connection. They not only fail to use the period, but
they rarely subordinate one idea to another. Instead of saying "I saw him
when he was an ædile," they are likely to say "I saw him; he was an ædile

When we were analyzing preliterary Latin, we noticed that the
co-ordination of ideas was one of its characteristics, so that this trait
evidently persisted in popular speech, while literary Latin became more
logical and complex.

In the preceding pages we have tried to find out the main features of
popular Latin. In doing so we have constantly thought of literary Latin
as the foil or standard of comparison. Now, strangely enough, no sooner
had the literary medium of expression slowly and painfully disassociated
itself from the language of the common people than influences which it
could not resist brought it down again to the level of its humbler
brother. Its integrity depended of course upon the acceptance of certain
recognized standards. But when flourishing schools of literature sprang up
in Spain, in Africa, and in Gaul, the paramount authority of Rome and the
common standard for the Latin world which she had set were lost. When some
men tried to imitate Cicero and Quintilian, and others, Seneca, there
ceased to be a common model of excellence. Similarly a careful distinction
between the diction of prose and verse was gradually obliterated. There
was a loss of interest in literature, and professional writers gave less
attention to their diction and style. The appearance of Christianity, too,
exercised a profound influence on literary Latin. Christian writers and
preachers made their appeal to the common people rather than to the
literary world. They, therefore, expressed themselves in language which
would be readily understood by the average man, as St. Jerome frankly
tells us his purpose was. The result of these influences, and of others,
acting on literary Latin, was to destroy its unity and its carefully
developed scientific system, and to bring it nearer and nearer in its
genius to popular Latin, or, to put it in another way, the literary medium
comes to show many of the characteristics of the spoken language. Gregory
of Tours, writing in the sixth century, laments the fact that he is
unfamiliar with grammatical principles, and with this century literary
Latin may be said to disappear.

As for popular Latin, it has never ceased to exist. It is the language of
France, Spain, Italy, Roumania, and all the Romance countries to-day. Its
history has been unbroken from the founding of Rome to the present time.
Various scholars have tried to determine the date before which we shall
call the popular speech vulgar Latin, and after which it may better be
styled French or Spanish or Italian, as the case may be. Some would fix
the dividing line in the early part of the eighth century A.D., when
phonetic changes common to all parts of the Roman world would cease to
occur. Others would fix it at different periods between the middle of the
sixth to the middle of the seventh century, according as each section of
the old Roman world passed definitely under the control of its Germanic
invaders. The historical relations of literary and colloquial Latin would
be roughly indicated by the accompanying diagram, in which preliterary
Latin divides, on the appearance of literature in the third century B.C.,
into popular Latin and literary Latin. These two forms of speech develop
along independent lines until, in the sixth century, literary Latin is
merged in popular Latin and disappears. The unity for the Latin tongue
thus secured was short lived, because within a century the differentiation
begins which gives rise to the present-day Romance languages.

It may interest some of the readers of this chapter to look over a few
specimens of vulgar Latin from the various periods of its history.

(a) The first one is an extract from the Laws of the Twelve Tables. The
original document goes back to the middle of the fifth century B.C., and
shows us some of the characteristics of preliterary Latin. The
non-periodic form, the omission of pronouns, and the change of subject
without warning are especially noticeable.

"Si in ius vocat, ito. Ni it, antestamino, igitur em (=eum) capito. Si
calvitur pedemve struit, manum endo iacito (=inicito). Si morbus aevitasve
(=aetasve) vitium escit, iumentum dato: si nolet, arceram ne sternito."


1 Preliterary Latin.
2 Vulgar Latin
3 Literary Latin
4-8 The Romance languages.


(b) This passage from one of Cicero's letters to his brother (_ad Q.
fr._ 2, 3, 2) may illustrate the familiar conversational style of a
gentleman in the first century B.C. It describes an harangue made by the
politician Clodius to his partisans.

"Ille furens et exsanguis interrogabat suos in clamore ipso quis esset qui
plebem fame necaret. Respondebant operae: 'Pompeius.' Quem ire vellent.
Respondebant: 'Crassum.' Is aderat tum Miloni animo non amico. Hora fere
nona quasi signo dato Clodiani nostros consputare coeperunt. Exarsit
dolor. Vrgere illi ut loco nos moverent."

(c) In the following passage, Petronius, 57, one of the freedmen at
Trimalchio's dinner flames out in anger at a fellow-guest whose bearing
seems to him supercilious. It shows a great many of the characteristics of
vulgar Latin which have been mentioned in this paper. The similarity of
its style to that of the preliterary specimen is worth observing. The
great number of proverbs and bits of popular wisdom are also noticeable.

"Et nunc spero me sic vivere, ut nemini iocus sim. Homo inter homines sum,
capite aperto ambulo; assem aerarium nemini debeo; constitutum habui
nunquam; nemo mihi in foro dixit 'redde, quod debes.' Glebulas emi,
lamelullas paravi; viginti ventres pasco et canem; contubernalem meam
redemi, ne quis in sinu illius manus tergeret; mille denarios pro capite
solvi; sevir gratis factus sum; spero, sic moriar, ut mortuus non

(d) This short inscription from Pompeii shows some of the peculiarities
of popular pronunciation. In ortu we see the same difficulty in knowing
when to sound the aspirate which the cockney Englishman has. The silence
of the final -m, and the reduction of ae to e are also interesting. Presta
mi sinceru (=sincerum): si te amet que (=quae) custodit ortu (=hortum)

(e) Here follow some of the vulgar forms against which a grammarian,
probably of the fourth century, warns his readers. We notice that the
popular "mistakes" to which he calls attention are in (1) syncopation and
assimilation, in (2) the use of the diminutive for the primitive, and
pronouncing au as o, in (3) the same reduction of ct to t (or tt) which we
find in such Romance forms as Ottobre, in (4) the aspirate falsely added,
in (5) syncopation and the confusion of v and b, and in (6) the silence of
final -m.

  (1) frigida non fricda
  (2) auris non oricla
  (3) auctoritas non autoritas
  (4) ostiae non hostiae
  (5) vapulo non baplo
  (6) passim non passi

(f) The following passages are taken from Brunot's "Histoire de la
langue Fraçaise," p. 144. In the third column the opening sentence of the
famous Oath of Strasburg of 842 A.D. is given. In the other columns the
form which it would have taken at different periods is set down. These
passages bring out clearly the unbroken line of descent from Latin to
modern French.

    The Oath of Strasburg of 842

    Classic Latin

    Per Dei amorem et
    per christiani
    populi et nostram
    ab hac die, quantum
    Deus scire
    et posse mini
    dat, servabo
    hunc meum fratrem

    Spoken Latin, Seventh Cent.

    For deo amore et
    por chrestyano
    pob(o)lo et nostro
    comune salvamento
    de esto
    die en avante
    en quanto Deos
    sabere et podere
    me donat, sic
    salvarayo eo
    eccesto meon
    fradre Karlo

    Actual Text

    Pro deo amur et
    pro christian
    poblo et nostro
    commun salvament,
    d'ist di
    en avant, in
    quant Deus
    savir et podir
    me dunat, si
    salvarai eo cist
    meon fradre

    French, Eleventh Cent.

    Por dieu amor et
    por del crestüen
    poeple et nostre
    comun salvement,
    de cest
    jorn en avant,
    quant que Dieus
    saveir et podeir
    me donet, si
    salverai jo cest
    mien fredre

    French, Fifteenth Cent.

    Pour l'amour
    Dieu et pour le
    sauvement du
    chrestien peuple
    et le nostre commun,
    de cest
    jour en avant,
    quant que Dieu
    savoir et pouvoir
    me done,
    si sauverai je
    cest mien frere

    Modern French

    Pour l'amour de
    Dieu et pour le
    salut commun
    du peuple chrétien
    et le nôtre,
    à partir de ce
    jour, autant
    que Dieu m'en
    donne le savoir
    et le pouvoir,
    je soutiendrai
    mon frère Charles

The Poetry of the Common People of Rome

I. Their Metrical Epitaphs

The old village churchyard on a summer afternoon is a favorite spot with
many of us. The absence of movement, contrasted with the life just outside
its walls, the drowsy humming of the bees in the flowers which grow at
will, the restful gray of the stones and the green of the moss give one a
feeling of peace and quiet, while the ancient dates and quaint lettering
in the inscriptions carry us far from the hurry and bustle and trivial
interests of present-day life. No sense of sadness touches us. The stories
which the stones tell are so far removed from us in point of time that
even those who grieved at the loss of the departed have long since
followed their friends, and when we read the bits of life history on the
crumbling monuments, we feel only that pleasurable emotion which, as
Cicero says in one of his letters, comes from our reading in history of
the little tragedies of men of the past. But the epitaph deals with the
common people, whom history is apt to forget, and gives us a glimpse of
their character, their doings, their beliefs, and their views of life and
death. They furnish us a simple and direct record of the life and the
aspirations of the average man, the record of a life not interpreted for
us by the biographer, historian, or novelist, but set down in all its
simplicity by one of the common people themselves.

These facts lend to the ancient Roman epitaphs their peculiar interest and
charm. They give us a glimpse into the every-day life of the people which
a Cicero, or a Virgil, or even a Horace cannot offer us. They must have
exerted an influence, too, on Roman character, which we with our changed
conditions can scarcely appreciate. We shall understand this fact if we
call to mind the differences between the ancient practices in the matter
of burial and our own. The village churchyard is with us a thing of the
past. Whether on sanitary grounds, or for the sake of quiet and seclusion,
in the interest of economy, or not to obtrude the thought of death upon
us, the modern cemetery is put outside of our towns, and the memorials in
it are rarely read by any of us. Our fathers did otherwise. The churchyard
of old England and of New England was in the middle of the village, and
"short cuts" from one part of the village to another led through its
enclosure. Perhaps it was this fact which tempted our ancestors to set
forth their life histories more fully than we do, who know that few, if
any, will come to read them. Or is the world getting more reserved and
sophisticated? Are we coming to put a greater restraint upon the
expression of our emotions? Do we hesitate more than our fathers did to
talk about ourselves? The ancient Romans were like our fathers in their
willingness or desire to tell us of themselves. Perhaps the differences in
their burial practices, which were mentioned above, tempted them to be
communicative, and sometimes even garrulous. They put their tombstones in
a spot still more frequented than the churchyard. They placed them by the
side of the highways, just outside the city walls, where people were
coming or going constantly. Along the Street of Tombs, as one goes out of
Pompeii, or along the great Appian Way, which runs from Rome to Capua,
Southern Italy and Brundisium, the port of departure for Greece and the
Orient, they stand on both sides of the roadway and make their mute
appeals for our attention. We know their like in the enclosure about old
Trinity in New York, in the burial ground in New Haven, or in the
churchyards across the water. They tell us not merely the date of birth
and death of the deceased, but they let us know enough of his life to
invest it with a certain individuality, and to give it a flavor of its

Some 40,000 of them have come down to us, and nearly 2,000 of the
inscriptions upon them are metrical. This particular group is of special
interest to us, because the use of verse seems to tempt the engraver to go
beyond a bare statement of facts and to philosophize a bit about the
present and the future. Those who lie beneath the stones still claim some
recognition from the living, for they often call upon the passer-by to
halt and read their epitaphs, and as the Roman walked along the Appian Way
two thousand years ago, or as we stroll along the same highway to-day, it
is in silent converse with the dead. Sometimes the stone itself addresses
us, as does that of Olus Granius:[22] "This mute stone begs thee to stop,
stranger, until it has disclosed its mission and told thee whose shade it
covers. Here lie the bones of a man, modest, honest, and trusty--the
crier, Olus Granius. That is all. It wanted thee not to be unaware of
this. Fare thee well." This craving for the attention of the passer-by
leads the composer of one epitaph to use somewhat the same device which
our advertisers employ in the street-cars when they say: "Do not look at
this spot," for he writes: "Turn not your eyes this way and wish not to
learn our fate," but two lines later, relenting, he adds: "Now stop,
traveller...within this narrow resting-place,"[23] and then we get the
whole story. Sometimes a dramatic, lifelike touch is given by putting the
inscription into the form of a dialogue between the dead and those who are
left behind. Upon a stone found near Rome runs the inscription:[24]
"Hail, name dear to us, Stephanus,...thy Moschis and thy Diodorus salute
thee." To which the dead man replies: "Hail chaste wife, hail Diodorus,
my friend, my brother." The dead man often begs for a pleasant word from
the passer-by. The Romans, for instance, who left Ostia by the highway,
read upon a stone the sentiment:[25] "May it go well with you who lie
within and, as for you who go your way and read these lines, 'the earth
rest lightly on thee' say." This pious salutation loses some of the flavor
of spontaneity in our eyes when we find that it had become so much of a
convention as to be indicated by the initial letters of the several words:
S(it) t(ibi) t(erra) l(evis). The traveller and the departed exchange good
wishes on a stone found near Velitræ:[26]

    "May it go well with you who read and you who pass this way,
    The like to mine and me who on this spot my tomb have built."

One class of passers-by was dreaded by the dweller beneath the stone--the
man with a paint-brush who was looking for a conspicuous spot on which to
paint the name of his favorite political candidate. To such an one the
hope is expressed "that his ambition may be realized, provided he
instructs his slave not to paint this stone."[27]

These wayside epitaphs must have left an impress on the mind and character
of the Roman which we can scarcely appreciate. The peasant read them as he
trudged homeward on market days, the gentleman, as he drove to his villa
on the countryside, and the traveller who came from the South, the East,
or the North. In them the history of his country was set forth in the
achievements of her great men, her prætors and consuls, her generals who
had conquered and her governors who had ruled Gaul, Spain, Africa, and
Asia. In them the public services, and the deeds of charity of the rich
and powerful were recorded and the homely virtues and self-sacrifices of
the humbler man and woman found expression there. Check by jowl with the
tomb of some great leader upon whom the people or the emperor had showered
all the titles and honors in their power might stand the stone of the poor
physician, Dionysius,[28] of whom it is said "to all the sick who came to
him he gave his services free of charge; he set forth in his deeds what he
taught in his precepts."

But perhaps more of the inscriptions in verse, and with them we are here
concerned, are in praise of women than of men. They make clear to us the
place which women held in Roman life, the state of society, and the
feminine qualities which were held in most esteem. The world which they
portray is quite another from that of Ovid and Juvenal. The common people
still hold to the old standards of morality and duty. The degeneracy of
smart society has made little progress here. The marriage tie is held
sacred; the wife and husband, the parent and child are held close to each
other in bonds of affection. The virtues of women are those which
Martinianus records on the stone of his wife Sofroniola:[29]

"Purity, loyalty, affection, a sense of duty, a yielding nature, and
whatever qualities God has implanted in women."

   (Castitas fides earitas pietas obsequium Et quaecumque deus faemenis
   inesse praecepit.)

Upon a stone near Turin,[30] Valerius wrote in memory of his wife the
simple line:

"Pure in heart, modest, of seemly bearing, discreet, noble-minded, and
held in high esteem."

   (Casta pudica decens sapiens Generosa probata.)

Only one discordant note is struck in this chorus of praise. This fierce
invective stands upon an altar at Rome:[31] "Here for all time has been
set down in writing the shameful record of the freedwoman Acte, of
poisoned mind, and treacherous, cunning, and hard-hearted. Oh! for a nail,
and a hempen rope to choke her, and flaming pitch to burn up her wicked

A double tribute is paid to a certain Statilia in this naïve
inscription:[32] "Thou who wert beautiful beyond measure and true to thy
husbands, didst twice enter the bonds of wedlock...and he who came first,
had he been able to withstand the fates, would have set up this stone to
thee, while I, alas! who have been blessed by thy pure heart and love for
thee for sixteen years, lo! now I have lost thee." Still greater sticklers
for the truth at the expense of convention are two fond husbands who
borrowed a pretty couplet composed in memory of some woman "of tender
age," and then substituted upon the monuments of their wives the more
truthful phrase "of middle age,"[33] and another man warns women, from the
fate of his wife, to shun the excessive use of jewels.[34]

It was only natural that when men came to the end of life they should ask
themselves its meaning, should speculate upon the state after death, and
should turn their thoughts to the powers which controlled their destiny.
We have been accustomed to form our conceptions of the religion of the
Romans from what their philosophers and moralists and poets have written
about it. But a great chasm lies between the teachings of these men and
the beliefs of the common people. Only from a study of the epitaphs do we
know what the average Roman thought and felt on this subject. A few years
ago Professor Harkness, in an admirable article on "The Scepticism and
Fatalism of the Common People of Rome," showed that "the common people
placed no faith in the gods who occupy so prominent a place in Roman
literature, and that their nearest approach to belief in a divinity was
their recognition of fate," which "seldom appears as a fixed law of
nature...but rather as a blind necessity, depending on chance and not on
law." The gods are mentioned by name in the poetic epitaphs only, and for
poetic purposes, and even here only one in fifty of the metrical
inscriptions contains a direct reference to any supernatural power. For
none of these deities, save for Mother Earth, does the writer of an
epitaph show any affection. This feeling one may see in the couplet which
reads:[35] "Mother Earth, to thee have we committed the bones of
Fortunata, to thee who dost come near to thy children as a mother," and
Professor Harkness thoughtfully remarks in this connection that "the love
of nature and appreciation of its beauties, which form a distinguishing
characteristic of Roman literature in contrast to all the other
literatures of antiquity, are the outgrowth of this feeling of kinship
which the Italians entertained for mother earth."

It is a little surprising, to us on first thought, that the Roman did not
interpose some concrete personalities between himself and this vague
conception of fate, some personal agencies, at least, to carry out the
decrees of destiny. But it will not seem so strange after all when we
recall the fact that the deities of the early Italians were without form
or substance. The anthropomorphic teachings of Greek literature, art, and
religion found an echo in the Jupiter and Juno, the Hercules and Pan of
Virgil and Horace, but made no impress on the faith of the common people,
who, with that regard for tradition which characterized the Romans,
followed the fathers in their way of thinking.

A disbelief in personal gods hardly accords with faith in a life after
death, but most of the Romans believed in an existence of some sort in the
world beyond. A Dutch scholar has lately established this fact beyond
reasonable doubt, by a careful study of the epitaphs in verse.[36] One
tombstone reads:[37]

   "Into nothing from nothing how quickly we go,"

and another:[38]

   "Once we were not, now we are as we were,"

and the sentiment, "I was not, I was, I am not, I care not" (non fui, fui,
non sum, non euro) was so freely used that it is indicated now and then
merely by the initial letters N.f.f.n.s.n.c., but compared with the great
number of inscriptions in which belief in a life after death finds
expression such utterances are few. But how and where that life was to be
passed the Romans were in doubt. We have noticed above how little the
common people accepted the belief of the poets in Jupiter and Pluto and
the other gods, or rather how little their theology had been influenced by
Greek art and literature. In their conception of the place of abode after
death, it is otherwise. Many of them believe with Virgil that it lies
below the earth. As one of them says in his epitaph:[39]

    "No sorrow to the world below I bring."

Or with other poets the departed are thought of as dwelling in the Elysian
fields or the Isles of the Blessed. As one stone cries out to the
passer-by:[40] "May you live who shall have said. 'She lives in Elysium,'"
and of a little girl it is said:[41] "May thy shade flower in fields
Elysian." Sometimes the soul goes to the sky or the stars: "Here lies the
body of the bard Laberius, for his spirit has gone to the place from
which it came;"[42] "The tomb holds my limbs, my soul shall pass to the
stars of heaven."[43] But more frequently the departed dwell in the tomb.
As one of them expresses it: "This is my eternal home; here have I been
placed; here shall I be for aye." This belief that the shade hovers about
the tomb accounts for the salutations addressed to it which we have
noticed above, and for the food and flowers which are brought to satisfy
its appetites and tastes. These tributes to the dead do not seem to accord
with the current Roman belief that the body was dissolved to dust, and
that the soul was clothed with some incorporeal form, but the Romans were
no more consistent in their eschatology than many of us are.

Perhaps it was this vague conception of the state after death which
deprived the Roman of that exultant joy in anticipation of the world
beyond which the devout Christian, a hundred years or more ago, expressed
in his epitaphs, with the Golden City so clearly pictured to his eye, and
by way of compensation the Roman was saved from the dread of death, for
no judgment-seat confronted him in the other world. The end of life was
awaited with reasonable composure. Sometimes death was welcomed because it
brought rest. As a citizen of Lambsesis expresses it:[44] "Here is my home
forever; here is a rest from toil;" and upon a woman's stone we read:[45]

    "Whither hast thou gone, dear soul, seeking rest from troubles,
    For what else than trouble hast thou had throughout thy life?"

But this pessimistic view of life rarely appears on the monuments. Not
infrequently the departed expresses a certain satisfaction with his life's
record, as does a citizen of Beneventum, who remarks:[46] "No man have I
wronged, to many have I rendered services," or he tells us of the pleasure
which he has found in the good things of life, and advises us to enjoy
them. A Spanish epitaph reads:[47] "Eat, drink, enjoy thyself, follow me"
(es bibe lude veni). In a lighter or more garrulous vein another says:[48]
"Come, friends, let us enjoy the happy time of life; let us dine merrily,
while short life lasts, mellow with wine, in jocund intercourse. All
these about us did the same while they were living. They gave, received,
and enjoyed good things while they lived. And let us imitate the practices
of the fathers. Live while you live, and begrudge nothing to the dear soul
which Heaven has given you." This philosophy of life is expressed very
succinctly in: "What I have eaten and drunk I have with me; what I have
foregone I have lost,"[49] and still more concretely in:

    "Wine and amours and baths weaken our bodily health,
    Yet life is made up of wine and amours and baths."[50]

Under the statue of a man reclining and holding a cup in his hand, Flavius
Agricola writes:[51] "Tibur was my native place; I was called Agricola,
Flavius too.... I who lie here as you see me. And in the world above in
the years which the fates granted, I cherished my dear soul, nor did the
god of wine e'er fail me.... Ye friends who read this, I bid you mix your
wine, and before death comes, crown your temples with flowers, and
drink.... All the rest the earth and fire consume after death." Probably
we should be wrong in tracing to the teachings of Epicurus, even in their
vulgarized popular form, the theory that the value of life is to be
estimated by the material pleasure it has to offer. A man's theory of life
is largely a matter of temperament or constitution. He may find support
for it in the teachings of philosophy, but he is apt to choose a
philosophy which suits his way of thinking rather than to let his views of
life be determined by abstract philosophic teachings. The men whose
epitaphs we have just read would probably have been hedonists if Epicurus
had never lived. It is interesting to note in passing that holding this
conception of life naturally presupposes the acceptance of one of the
notions of death which we considered above--that it ends all.

In another connection, a year or two ago, I had occasion to speak of the
literary merit of some of these metrical epitaphs,[52] of their interest
for us as specimens of the literary compositions of the common people, and
of their value in indicating the æsthetic taste of the average Roman. It
may not be without interest here to speak of the literary form of some of
them a little more at length than was possible in that connection. Latin
has always been, and continues to be among modern peoples, a favored
language for epitaphs and dedications. The reasons why it holds its
favored position are not far to seek. It is vigorous and concise. Then
again in English and in most modern languages the order which words may
take in a given sentence is in most cases inexorably fixed by grammatical
necessity. It was not so with Latin. Its highly inflected character made
it possible, as we know, to arrange the words which convey an idea in
various orders, and these different groupings of the same words gave
different shades of meaning to the sentence, and different emotional
effects are secured by changing the sequence in which the minor
conceptions are presented. By putting contrasted words side by side, or at
corresponding points in the sentence, the impression is heightened. When a
composition takes the form of verse the possibilities in the way of
contrast are largely increased. The high degree of perfection to which
Horace brought the balancing and interlocking of ideas in some of his
Odes, illustrates the great advantage which the Latin poet had over the
English writer because of the flexibility of the medium of expression
which he used. This advantage was the Roman's birthright, and lends a
certain distinction even to the verses of the people, which we are
discussing here. Certain other stylistic qualities of these metrical
epitaphs, which are intended to produce somewhat the same effects, will
not seem to us so admirable. I mean alliteration, play upon words, the
acrostic arrangement, and epigrammatic effects. These literary tricks find
little place in our serious verse, and the finer Latin poets rarely
indulge in them. They seem to be especially out of place in an epitaph,
which should avoid studied effects and meretricious devices. But writers
in the early stages of a literature and common people of all periods find
a pleasure in them. Alliteration, onomatopœia, the pun, and the play on
words are to be found in all the early Latin poets, and they are
especially frequent with literary men like Plautus and Terence, Pacuvius
and Accius, who wrote for the stage, and therefore for the common people.
One or two illustrations of the use of these literary devices may be
sufficient. A little girl at Rome, who died when five years old, bore the
strange name of Mater, or Mother, and on her tombstone stands the
sentiment:[53] "Mater I was by name, mater I shall not be by law."
"Sepulcrum hau pulcrum pulcrai feminae" of the famous Claudia
inscription,[54] Professor Lane cleverly rendered "Site not sightly of a
sightly dame." Quite beyond my power of translating into English, so as to
reproduce its complicated play on words, is the appropriate epitaph of the
rhetorician, Romanius lovinus:[55]

   "Docta loqui doctus quique loqui docuit."

A great variety of verses is used in the epitaphs, but the dactylic
hexameter and the elegiac are the favorites. The stately character of the
hexameter makes it a suitable medium in which to express a serious
sentiment, while the sudden break in the second verse of the elegiac
couplet suggests the emotion of the writer. The verses are constructed
with considerable regard for technique. Now and then there is a false
quantity, an unpleasant sequence, or a heavy effect, but such blemishes
are comparatively infrequent. There is much that is trivial, commonplace,
and prosaic in these productions of the common people, but now and then
one comes upon a phrase, a verse, or a whole poem which shows strength or
grace or pathos. An orator of the late period, not without vigor, writes
upon his tombstone:[56] "I have lived blessed by the gods, by friends, by

    (Vixi beatus dis, amicis, literis.)

A rather pretty, though not unusual, sentiment occurs in an elegiac
couplet to a young girl,[57] in which the word amoena is the adjective,
meaning "pleasant to see," in the first, while in the second verse it is
the girl's name: "As a rose is amoena when it blooms in the early spring
time, so was I Amoena to those who saw me."

    (Ut rosa amoena homini est quom primo tempore floret.
    Quei me viderunt, seic Amoena fui.)

There is a touch of pathos in the inscription which a mother put on the
stone of her son:[58] "A sorrowing mother has set up this monument to a
son who has never caused her any sorrow, except that he is no more," and
in this tribute of a husband:[59] "Out of my slender means now that the
end has come, my wife, all that I could do, this gift, a small small one
for thy deserts, have I made." The epitaph of a little girl, named
Felicia, or Kitty, has this sentiment in graceful verse:[60] "Rest lightly
upon thee the earth, and over thy grave the fragrant balsam grow, and
roses sweet entwine thy buried bones." Upon the stone of a little girl who
bore the name of Xanthippe, and the nickname Iaia, is an inscription with
one of two pretty conceits and phrases. With it we may properly bring to
an end our brief survey of these verses of the common people of Rome. In a
somewhat free rendering it reads in part:[61] "Whether the thought of
death distress thee or of life, read to the end. Xanthippe by name, yclept
also Iaia by way of jest, escapes from sorrow since her soul from the body
flies. She rests here in the soft cradle of the earth,... comely,
charming, keen of mind, gay in discourse. If there be aught of compassion
in the gods above, bear her to the sun and light."

II. Their Dedicatory and Ephemeral Verses

In the last paper we took up for consideration some of the Roman metrical
epitaphs. These compositions, however, do not include all the productions
in verse of the common people of Rome. On temples, altars, bridges,
statues, and house walls, now and then, we find bits of verse. Most of the
extant dedicatory lines are in honor of Hercules, Silvanus, Priapus, and
the Cæsars. Whether the two famous inscriptions to Hercules by the sons of
Vertuleius and by Mummius belong here or not it is hard to say. At all
events, they were probably composed by amateurs, and have a peculiar
interest for us because they belong to the second century B.C., and
therefore stand near the beginning of Latin letters; they show us the
language before it had been perfected and adapted to literary purposes by
an Ennius, a Virgil, and a Horace, and they are written in the old native
Saturnian verse, into which Livius Andronicus, "the Father of Latin
literature," translated the Odyssey. Consequently they show us the
language before it had gained in polish and lost in vigor under the
influence of the Greeks. The second of these two little poems is a
finger-post, in fact, at the parting of the ways for Roman civilization.
It was upon a tablet let into the wall of the temple of Hercules, and
commemorates the triumphant return to Rome of Mummius, the conqueror of
Corinth. It points back to the good old days of Roman contempt for Greek
art, and ignorance of it, for Mummius, in his stupid indifference to the
beautiful monuments of Corinth, made himself the typical Philistine for
all time. It points forward to the new Greco-Roman civilization of Italy,
because the works of art which Mummius is said to have brought back with
him, and the Greeks who probably followed in his train, augmented that
stream of Greek influence which in the next century or two swept through
the peninsula.

In the same primitive metre as these dedications is the Song of the Arval
Brothers, which was found engraved on a stone in the grove of the goddess
Dea Dia, a few miles outside of Rome. This hymn the priests sang at the
May festival of the goddess, when the farmers brought them the first
fruits of the earth. It has no intrinsic literary merit, but it carries us
back beyond the great wars with Carthage for supremacy in the western
Mediterranean, beyond the contest with Pyrrhus for overlordship in
Southern Italy, beyond the struggle for life with the Samnites in Central
Italy, beyond even the founding of the city on the Tiber, to a people who
lived by tilling the soil and tending their flocks and herds.

But we have turned away from the dedicatory verses. On the bridges which
span our streams we sometimes record the names of the commissioners or the
engineers, or the bridge builders responsible for the structure. Perhaps
we are wise in thinking these prosaic inscriptions suitable for our ugly
iron bridges. Their more picturesque stone structures tempted the Romans
now and then to drop into verse, and to go beyond a bare statement of the
facts of construction. Over the Anio in Italy, on a bridge which Narses,
the great general of Justinian, restored, the Roman, as he passed, read in
graceful verse:[62] "We go on our way with the swift-moving waters of the
torrent beneath our feet, and we delight on hearing the roar of the angry
water. Go then joyfully at your ease, Quirites, and let the echoing
murmur of the stream sing ever of Narses. He who could subdue the
unyielding spirit of the Goths has taught the rivers to bear a stern

It is an interesting thing to find that the prettiest of the dedicatory
poems are in honor of the forest-god Silvanus. One of these poems, Titus
Pomponius Victor, the agent of the Cæsars, left inscribed upon a
tablet[63] high up in the Grecian Alps. It reads: "Silvanus, half-enclosed
in the sacred ash-tree, guardian mighty art thou of this pleasaunce in the
heights. To thee we consecrate in verse these thanks, because across the
fields and Alpine tops, and through thy guests in sweetly smelling groves,
while justice I dispense and the concerns of Cæsar serve, with thy
protecting care thou guidest us. Bring me and mine to Rome once more, and
grant that we may till Italian fields with thee as guardian. In guerdon
therefor will I give a thousand mighty trees." It is a pretty picture.
This deputy of Cæsar has finished his long and perilous journeys through
the wilds of the North in the performance of his duties. His face is now
turned toward Italy, and his thoughts are fixed on Rome. In this "little
garden spot," as he calls it, in the mountains he pours out his gratitude
to the forest-god, who has carried him safely through dangers and brought
him thus far on his homeward way, and he vows a thousand trees to his
protector. It is too bad that we do not know how the vow was to be
paid--not by cutting down the trees, we feel sure. One line of Victor's
little poem is worth quoting in the original. He thanks Silvanus for
conducting him in safety "through the mountain heights, and through Tuique
luci suave olentis hospites." Who are the _hospites_? The wild beasts of
the forests, we suppose. Now _hospites_ may, of course, mean either
"guests" or "hosts," and it is a pretty conceit of Victor's to think of
the wolves and bears as the guests of the forest-god, as we have ventured
to render the phrase in the translation given above. Or, are they Victor's
hosts, whose characters have been so changed by Silvanus that Victor has
had friendly help rather than fierce attacks from them?

A very modern practice is revealed by a stone found near the famous temple
of Æsculapius, the god of healing, at Epidaurus in Argolis, upon which
two ears are shown in relief, and below them the Latin couplet:[64] "Long
ago Cutius Gallus had vowed these ears to thee, scion of Phœbus, and now
he has put them here, for thou hast healed his ears." It is an ancient
ex-voto, and calls to mind on the one hand the cult of Æsculapius, which
Walter Pater has so charmingly portrayed in Marius the Epicurean, and on
the other hand it shows us that the practice of setting up ex-votos, of
which one sees so many at shrines and in churches across the water to-day,
has been borrowed from the pagans. A pretty bit of sentiment is suggested
by an inscription[65] found near the ancient village of Ucetia in Southern
France: "This shrine to the Nymphs have I built, because many times and
oft have I used this spring when an old man as well as a youth."

All of the verses which we have been considering up to this point have
come down to us more or less carefully engraved upon stone, in honor of
some god, to record some achievement of importance, or in memory of a
departed friend. But besides these formal records of the past, we find a
great many hastily scratched or painted sentiments or notices, which have
a peculiar interest for us because they are the careless effusions or
unstudied productions of the moment, and give us the atmosphere of
antiquity as nothing else can do. The stuccoed walls of the houses, and
the sharp-pointed stylus which was used in writing on wax tablets offered
too strong a temptation for the lounger or passer-by to resist. To people
of this class, and to merchants advertising their wares, we owe the three
thousand or more graffiti found at Pompeii. The ephemeral inscriptions
which were intended for practical purposes, such as the election notices,
the announcements of gladiatorial contests, of houses to rent, of articles
lost and for sale, are in prose, but the lovelorn lounger inscribed his
sentiments frequently in verse, and these verses deserve a passing notice
here. One man of this class in his erotic ecstasy writes on the wall of a
Pompeian basilica:[66] "May I perish if I'd wish to be a god without
thee." That hope sprang eternal in the breast of the Pompeian lover is
illustrated by the last two lines of this tragic declaration:[67]

    "If you can and won't,
    Give me hope no more.
    Hope you foster and you ever
    Bid me come again to-morrow.
    Force me then to die
    Whom you force to live
    A life apart from you.
    Death will be a boon,
    Not to be tormented.
    Yet what hope has snatched away
    To the lover hope gives back."

This effusion has led another passer-by to write beneath it the Delphic
sentiment: "May the man who shall read this never read anything else." The
symptoms of the ailment in its most acute form are described by some Roman
lover in the verses which he has left us on the wall of Caligula's palace,
on the Palatine:[68]

    "No courage in my heart,
    No sleep to close my eyes,
    A tide of surging love
    Throughout the day and night."

This seems to come from one who looks upon the lover with a sympathetic
eye, but who is himself fancy free:

    "Whoever loves, good health to him,
    And perish he who knows not how,
    But doubly ruined may he be
    Who will not yield to love's appeal."[69]

The first verse of this little poem,

    "Quisquis amat valeat, pereat qui nescit amare,"

represented by the first couplet of the English rendering, calls to mind
the swinging refrain which we find a century or two later in the
_Pervigilium Veneris_, that last lyrical outburst of the pagan world,
written for the eve of the spring festival of Venus:

    "Cras amet qui nunquam amavit quique amavit eras amet."

    (To-morrow he shall love who ne'er has loved
    And who has loved, to-morrow he shall love.)

An interesting study might be made of the favorite types of feminine
beauty in the Roman poets. Horace sings of the "golden-haired" Pyrrhas,
and Phyllises, and Chloes, and seems to have had an admiration for
blondes, but a poet of the common people, who has recorded his opinion on
this subject in the atrium of a Pompeian house, shows a more catholic
taste, although his freedom of judgment is held in some constraint:

    "My fair girl has taught me to hate
    Brunettes with their tresses of black.
    I will hate if I can, but if not,
    'Gainst my will I must love them also."[70]

On the other hand, one Pompeian had such an inborn dread of brunettes
that, whenever he met one, he found it necessary to take an appropriate
antidote, or prophylactic:

    "Whoever loves a maiden dark
    By charcoal dark is he consumed.
    When maiden dark I light upon
    I eat the saving blackberry."[71]

These amateur poets do not rely entirely upon their own Muse, but borrow
from Ovid, Propertius, or Virgil, when they recall sentiments in those
writers which express their feelings. Sometimes it is a tag, or a line, or
a couplet which is taken, but the borrowings are woven into the context
with some skill. The poet above who is under compulsion from his blonde
sweetheart, has taken the second half of his production verbatim from
Ovid, and for the first half of it has modified a line of Propertius.
Other writers have set down their sentiments in verse on more prosaic
subjects. A traveller on his way to the capital has scribbled these lines
on the wall, perhaps of a wine-shop where he stopped for refreshment:[72]

    "Hither have we come in safety.
    Now I hasten on my way,
    That once more it may be mine
    To behold our Lares, Rome."

At one point in a Pompeian street, the eye of a straggler would catch this
notice in doggerel verse:[73]

    "Here's no place for loafers.
    Lounger, move along!"

On the wall of a wine-shop a barmaid has thus advertised her wares:[74]

    "Here for a cent is a drink,
    Two cents brings something still better.
    Four cents in all, if you pay,
    Wine of Falernum is yours."

It must have been a lineal descendant of one of the parasites of Plautus
who wrote:[75]

    "A barbarian he is to me
    At whose house I'm not asked to dine."

Here is a sentiment which sounds very modern:

    "The common opinion is this:
    That property should be divided."[76]

This touch of modernity reminds one of another group of verses which
brings antiquity into the closest possible touch with some present-day
practices. The Romans, like ourselves, were great travellers and
sightseers, and the marvels of Egypt in particular appealed to them, as
they do to us, with irresistible force. Above all, the great statue of
Memnon, which gave forth a strange sound when it was struck by the first
rays of the rising sun, drew travellers from far and near. Those of us who
know the Mammoth Cave, Niagara Falls, the Garden of the Gods, or some
other of our natural wonders, will recall how fond a certain class of
visitors are of immortalizing themselves by scratching their names or a
sentiment on the walls or the rocks which form these marvels. Such
inscriptions We find on the temple walls in Egypt--three of them appear
on the statue of Memnon, recording in verse the fact that the writers had
visited the statue and heard the voice of the god at sunrise. One of these
Egyptian travellers, a certain Roman lady journeying up the Nile, has
scratched these verses on a wall of the temple at Memphis:[77]

    "The pyramids without thee have I seen,
    My brother sweet, and yet, as tribute sad,
    The bitter tears have poured adown my cheek,
    And sadly mindful of thy absence now
    I chisel here this melancholy note."

Then follow the name and titles of the absent brother, who is better known
to posterity from these scribbled lines of a Cook's tourist than from any
official records which have come down to us. All of these pieces of
popular poetry which we have been discussing thus far were engraved on
stone, bronze, stucco, or on some other durable material. A very few bits
of this kind of verse, from one to a half dozen lines in length, have come
down to us in literature. They have the unique distinction, too, of being
specimens of Roman folk poetry, and some of them are found in the most
unlikely places. Two of them are preserved by a learned commentator on
the Epistles of Horace. They carry us back to our school-boy days. When we

    "The plague take him who's last to reach me,"[78]

we can see the Roman urchin standing in the market-place, chanting the
magic formula, and opposite him the row of youngsters on tiptoe, each one
waiting for the signal to run across the intervening space and be the
first to touch their comrade. What visions of early days come back to
us--days when we clasped hands in a circle and danced about one or two
children placed in the centre of the ring, and chanted in unison some
refrain, upon reading in the same commentator to Horace a ditty which

    "King shall you be
    If you do well.
    If you do ill
    You shall not be."

The other bits of Roman folk poetry which we have are most of them
preserved by Suetonius, the gossipy biographer of the Cæsars. They recall
very different scenes. Cæsar has returned in triumph to Rome, bringing in
his train the trousered Gauls, to mingle on the street with the toga-clad
Romans. He has even had the audacity to enroll some of these strange
peoples in the Roman senate, that ancient body of dignity and convention,
and the people chant in the streets the ditty:[80]

    "Cæsar leads the Gauls in triumph,
    In the senate too he puts them.
    Now they've donned the broad-striped toga
    And have laid aside their breeches."

Such acts as these on Cæsar's part led some political versifier to write
on Cæsar's statue a couplet which contrasted his conduct with that of the
first great republican, Lucius Brutus:

    "Brutus drove the kings from Rome,
    And first consul thus became.
    This man drove the consuls out,
    And at last became the king."[81]

We may fancy that these verses played no small part in spurring on Marcus
Brutus to emulate his ancestor and join the conspiracy against the
tyrant. With one more bit of folk poetry, quoted by Suetonius, we may
bring our sketch to an end. Germanicus Cæsar, the flower of the imperial
family, the brilliant general and idol of the people, is suddenly stricken
with a mortal illness. The crowds throng the streets to hear the latest
news from the sick-chamber of their hero. Suddenly the rumor flies through
the streets that the crisis is past, that Germanicus will live, and the
crowds surge through the public squares chanting:

    "Saved now is Rome,
    Saved too the land,
    Saved our Germanicus."[82]

The Origin of the Realistic Romance among the Romans

One of the most fascinating and tantalizing problems of literary history
concerns the origin of prose fiction among the Romans. We can trace the
growth of the epic from its infancy in the third century before Christ as
it develops in strength in the poems of Nævius, Ennius, and Cicero until
it reaches its full stature in the _Æneid_, and then we can see the
decline of its vigor in the _Pharsalia_, the _Punica_, the _Thebais_, and
_Achilleis_, until it practically dies a natural death in the mythological
and historical poems of Claudian. The way also in which tragedy, comedy,
lyric poetry, history, biography, and the other types of literature in
prose and verse came into existence and developed among the Romans can be
followed with reasonable success. But the origin and early history of the
novel is involved in obscurity. The great realistic romance of Petronius
of the first century of our era is without a legally recognized ancestor
and has no direct descendant. The situation is the more surprising when we
recall its probable size in its original form. Of course only a part of it
has come down to us, some one hundred and ten pages in all. Its great size
probably proved fatal to its preservation in its complete form, or at
least contributed to that end, for it has been estimated that it ran from
six hundred to nine hundred pages, being longer, therefore, than the
average novel of Dickens and Scott. Consequently we are not dealing with a
bit of ephemeral literature, but with an elaborate composition of a high
degree of excellence, behind which we should expect to find a long line of
development. We are puzzled not so much by the utter absence of anything
in the way of prose fiction before the time of Petronius as by the
difficulty of establishing any satisfactory logical connection between
these pieces of literature and the romance of Petronius. We are
bewildered, in fact, by the various possibilities which the situation
presents. The work shows points of similarity with several antecedent
forms of composition, but the gaps which lie in any assumed line of
descent are so great as to make us question its correctness.

If we call to mind the present condition of this romance and those
characteristic features of it which are pertinent to the question at
issue, the nature of the problem and its difficulty also will be apparent
at once. Out of the original work, in a rather fragmentary form, only four
or five main episodes are extant, one of which is the brilliant story of
the Dinner of Trimalchio. The action takes place for the most part in
Southern Italy, and the principal characters are freedmen who have made
their fortunes and degenerate freemen who are picking up a precarious
living by their wits. The freemen, who are the central figures in the
novel, are involved in a great variety of experiences, most of them of a
disgraceful sort, and the story is a story of low life. Women play an
important rôle in the narrative, more important perhaps than they do in
any other kind of ancient literature--at least their individuality is more
marked. The efficient motif is erotic. I say the efficient, because the
conventional motif which seems to account for all the misadventures of the
anti-hero Encolpius is the wrath of an offended deity. A great part of
the book has an atmosphere of satire about it which piques our curiosity
and baffles us at the same time, because it is hard to say how much of
this element is inherent in the subject itself, and how much of it lies in
the intention of the author. It is the characteristic of parvenu society
to imitate smart society to the best of its ability, and its social
functions are a parody of the like events in the upper set. The story of a
dinner party, for instance, given by such a _nouveau riche_ as Trimalchio,
would constantly remind us by its likeness and its unlikeness, by its sins
of omission and commission, of a similar event in correct society. In
other words, it would be a parody on a proper dinner, even if the man who
described the event knew nothing about the usages of good society, and
with no ulterior motive in mind set down accurately the doings of his
upstart characters. For instance, when Trimalchio's chef has three white
pigs driven into the dining-room for the ostensible purpose of allowing
the guests to pick one out for the next course, with the memory of our own
monkey breakfasts and horseback dinners in mind, we may feel that this is
a not improbable attempt on the part of a Roman parvenu to imitate his
betters in giving a dinner somewhat out of the ordinary. Members of the
smart set at Rome try to impress their guests by the value and weight of
their silver plate. Why shouldn't the host of our story adopt the more
direct and effective way of accomplishing the same object by having the
weight of silver engraved on each article? He does so. It is a very
natural thing for him to do. In good society they talk of literature and
art. Why isn't it natural for Trimalchio to turn the conversation into the
same channels, even if he does make Hannibal take Troy and does confuse
the epic heroes and some late champions of the gladiatorial ring?

In other words, much of that which is satirical in Petronius is so only
because we are setting up in our minds a comparison between the doings of
his rich freedmen and the requirements of good taste and moderation. But
it seems possible to detect a satirical or a cynical purpose on the part
of the author carried farther than is involved in the choice of his
subject and the realistic presentation of his characters. Petronius seems
to delight in putting his most admirable sentiments in the mouths of
contemptible characters. Some of the best literary criticism we have of
the period, he presents through the medium of the parasite rhetorician
Agamemnon. That happy phrase characterizing Horace's style, "curiosa
felicitas," which has perhaps never been equalled in its brevity and
appositeness, is coined by the incorrigible poetaster Eumolpus. It is he
too who composes and recites the two rather brilliant epic poems
incorporated into the _Satirae_, one of which is received with a shower of
stones by the bystanders. The impassioned eulogy of the careers of
Democritus, Chrysippus, Lysippus, and Myron, who had endured hunger, pain,
and weariness of body and mind for the sake of science, art, and the good
of their fellow-men, and the diatribe against the pursuit of comfort and
pleasure which characterized the people of his own time, are put in the
mouth of the same _roué_ Eumolpus.

These situations have the true Horatian humor about them. The most serious
and systematic discourse which Horace has given us, in his Satires, on the
art of living, comes from the crack-brained Damasippus, who has made a
failure of his own life. In another of his poems, after having set forth
at great length the weaknesses of his fellow-mortals, Horace himself is
convicted of being inconsistent, a slave to his passions, and a victim of
hot temper by his own slave Davus. We are reminded again of the literary
method of Horace in his Satires when we read the dramatic description of
the shipwreck in Petronius. The blackness of night descends upon the
water; the little bark which contains the hero and his friends is at the
mercy of the sea; Lichas, the master of the vessel, is swept from the deck
by a wave, Encolpius and his comrade Giton prepare to die in each other's
embrace, but the tragic scene ends with a ridiculous picture of Eumolpus
bellowing out above the roar of the storm a new poem which he is setting
down upon a huge piece of parchment. Evidently Petronius has the same
dread of being taken too seriously which Horace shows so often in his
Satires. The cynical, or at least unmoral, attitude of Petronius is
brought out in a still more marked way at the close of this same passage.
Of those upon the ill-fated ship the degenerates Encolpius, Giton, and
Eumolpus, who have wronged Lichas irreparably, escape, while the pious
Lichas meets a horrible death. All this seems to make it clear that not
only does the subject which Petronius has treated inevitably involve a
satire upon contemporary society, but that the author takes a satirical or
cynical attitude toward life.

Another characteristic of the story is its realism. There are no
marvellous adventures, and in fact no improbable incidents in it. The
author never obtrudes his own personality upon us, as his successor
Apuleius sometimes does, or as Thackeray has done. We know what the people
in the story are like, not from the author's description of them, but from
their actions, from the subjects about which they talk, and from the way
in which they talk. Agamemnon converses as a rhetorician might talk,
Habinnas like a millionnaire stone-cutter, and Echion like a rag-dealer,
and their language and style are what we should expect from men of their
standing in society and of their occupations. The conversations of
Trimalchio and his freedmen guests are not witty, and their jests are not
clever. This adherence to the true principles of realism is the more
noteworthy in the case of so brilliant a writer as Petronius, and those of
us who recall some of the preternaturally clever conversations in the
pages of Henry James and other contemporary novelists may feel that in
this respect he is a truer artist than they are.

The novel of Petronius has one other characteristic which is significant,
if we attempt to trace the origin of this type of literature. It is cast
in the prose-poetic form, that is, passages in verse are inserted here and
there in the narrative. In a few cases they are quoted, but for the most
part they are the original compositions of the novelist. They range in
length from couplets to poems of three hundred lines. Sometimes they form
an integral part of the narrative, or again they illustrate a point,
elaborate an idea in poetry, or are exercises in verse.

We have tried to bring out the characteristic features of this romance in
order that we may see what the essential elements are of the problem which
faces one in attempting to explain the origin of the type of literature
represented by the work of Petronius. What was there in antecedent
literature which will help us to understand the appearance on Italian soil
in the first century of our era of a long erotic story of adventure,
dealing in a realistic way with every-day life, marked by a satirical
tone and with a leaning toward the prose-poetic form? This is the question
raised by the analysis, which we have made above, of the characteristics
of the story. We have no ambitious hope of solving it, yet the mere
statement of a puzzling but interesting problem is stimulating to the
imagination and the intellect, and I am tempted to take up the subject
because the discovery of certain papyri in Egypt within recent years has
led to the formulation of a new theory of the origin of the romance of
perilous adventure, and may, therefore, throw some light on the source of
our realistic novel of every-day life. My purpose, then, is to speak
briefly of the different genres of literature of the earlier period with
which the story of Petronius may stand in some direct relation, or from
which the suggestion may have come to Petronius for his work. Several of
these lines of possible descent have been skilfully traced by others. In
their views here and there I have made some modifications, and I have
called attention to one or two types of literature, belonging to the
earlier period and heretofore unnoticed in this connection, which may help
us to understand the appearance of the realistic novel.

It seems a far cry from this story of sordid motives and vulgar action to
the heroic episodes of epic poetry, and yet the _Satirae_ contain not a
few more or less direct suggestions of epic situations and characters. The
conventional motif of the story of Petronius is the wrath of an offended
deity. The narrative in the _Odyssey_ and the _Æneid_ rests on the same
basis. The ship of their enemy Lichas on which Encolpius and his
companions are cooped up reminds them of the cave of the Cyclops; Giton
hiding from the town-crier under a mattress is compared to Ulysses
underneath the sheep and clinging to its wool to escape the eye of the
Cyclops, while the woman whose charms engage the attention of Encolpius at
Croton bears the name of Circe. It seems to be clear from these
reminiscences that Petronius had the epic in mind when he wrote his story,
and his novel may well be a direct or an indirect parody of an epic
narrative. Rohde in his analysis of the serious Greek romance of the
centuries subsequent to Petronius has postulated the following development
for that form of story: Travellers returning from remote parts of the
world told remarkable stories of their experiences. Some of these stories
took a literary form in the _Odyssey_ and the Tales of the Argonauts. They
appeared in prose, too, in narratives like the story of Sinbad the Sailor,
of a much later date. A more definite plot and a greater dramatic
intensity were given to these tales of adventure by the addition of an
erotic element which often took the form of two separated lovers. Some use
is made of this element, for instance, in the relations of Odysseus and
Penelope, perhaps in the episode of Æneas and Dido, and in the story of
Jason and Medea. The intrusion of the love motif into the stories told of
demigods and heroes, so that the whole narrative turns upon it, is
illustrated by such tales in the Metamorphoses of Ovid as those of Pyramus
and Thisbe, Pluto and Proserpina, or Meleager and Atalanta. The love
element, which may have been developed in this way out of its slight use
in the epic, and the element of adventure form the basis of the serious
Greek romances of Antonius Diogenes, Achilles Tatius, and the other
writers of the centuries which follow Petronius.

Before trying to connect the _Satirae_ with a serious romance of the type
just mentioned, let us follow another line of descent which leads us to
the same objective point, viz., the appearance of the serious story in
prose. We have been led to consider the possible connection of this kind
of prose fiction with the epic by the presence in both of them of the love
element and that of adventure. But the Greek novel has another rather
marked feature. It is rhetorical, and this quality has suggested that it
may have come, not from the epic, but from the rhetorical exercise.
Support has been given to this theory within recent years by the discovery
in Egypt of two fragments of the Ninos romance. The first of these
fragments reveals Ninos, the hero, pleading with his aunt Derkeia, the
mother of his sweetheart, for permission to marry his cousin. All the
arguments in support of his plea and against it are put forward and
balanced one against the other in a very systematic way. He wins over
Derkeia. Later in the same fragment the girl pleads in a somewhat similar
fashion with Thambe, the mother of Ninos. The second fragment is mainly
concerned with the campaigns of Ninos. Here we have the two lovers,
probably separated by the departure of Ninos for the wars, while the
hero, at least, is exposed to the danger of the campaign.

The point was made after the text of this find had been published that the
large part taken in the tale by the carefully balanced arguments indicated
that the story grew out of exercises in argumentation in the rhetorical
schools.[83] The elder Seneca has preserved for us in his _Controversiae_
specimens of the themes which were set for students in these schools. The
student was asked to imagine himself in a supposed dilemma and then to
discuss the considerations which would lead him to adopt the one or the
other line of conduct. Some of these situations suggest excellent dramatic
possibilities, conditions of life, for instance, where suicide seemed
justifiable, misadventures with pirates, or a turn of affairs which
threatened a woman's virtue. Before the student reached the point of
arguing the case, the story must be told, and out of these narratives of
adventure, told at the outset to develop the dilemma, may have grown the
romance of adventure, written for its own sake. The story of Ninos has a
peculiar interest in connection with this theory, because it was probably
very short, and consequently may give us the connecting link between the
rhetorical exercise and the long novel of the later period, and because it
is the earliest known serious romance. On the back of the papyrus which
contains it are some farm accounts of the year 101 A.D. Evidently by that
time the roll had become waste paper, and the story itself may have been
composed a century or even two centuries earlier. So far as this second
theory is concerned, we may raise the question in passing whether we have
any other instance of a genre of literature growing out of a school-boy
exercise. Usually the teacher adapts to his purpose some form of creative
literature already in existence.

Leaving this objection out of account for the moment, the romance of love
and perilous adventure may possibly be then a lineal descendant either of
the epic or of the rhetorical exercise. Whichever of these two views is
the correct one, the discovery of the Ninos romance fills in a gap in one
theory of the origin of the realistic romance of Petronius, and with that
we are here concerned. Before the story of Ninos was found, no serious
romance and no title of such a romance anterior to the time of Petronius
was known. This story, as we have seen, may well go back to the first
century before Christ, or at least to the beginning of our era. It is
conceivable that stories like it, but now lost, existed even at an earlier
date. Now in the century, more or less, which elapsed between the assumed
date of the appearance of these Greek narratives and the time of
Petronius, the extraordinary commercial development of Rome had created a
new aristocracy--the aristocracy of wealth. In harmony with this social
change the military chieftain and the political leader who had been the
heroes of the old fiction gave way to the substantial man of affairs of
the new, just as Thaddeus of Warsaw has yielded his place in our
present-day novels to Silas Lapham, and the bourgeois erotic story of
adventure resulted, as we find it in the extant Greek novels of the second
and third centuries of our era. If we can assume that this stage of
development was reached before the time of Petronius we can think of his
novel as a parody of such a romance. If, however, the bourgeois romance
had not appeared before 50 A.D., then, if we regard his story as a parody
of a prose narrative, it must be a parody of such an heroic romance as
that of Ninos, or a parody of the longer heroic romances which developed
out of the rhetorical narrative. If excavations in Egypt or at Herculaneum
should bring to light a serious bourgeois story of adventure, they would
furnish us the missing link. Until, or unless, such a discovery is made
the chain of evidence is incomplete.

The two theories of the realistic romance which we have been discussing
assume that it is a parody of some anterior form of literature, and that
this fact accounts for the appearance of the satirical or cynical element
in it. Other students of literary history, however, think that this
characteristic was brought over directly from the Milesian tale[84] or the
Menippean satire.[85] To how many different kinds of stories the term
"Milesian tale" was applied by the ancients is a matter of dispute, but
the existence of the short story before the time of Petronius is beyond
question. Indeed we find specimens of it. In its commonest form it
presented a single episode of every-day life. It brought out some human
weakness or foible. Very often it was a story of illicit love. Its
philosophy of life was: No man's honesty and no woman's virtue are
unassailable. In all these respects, save in the fact that it presents one
episode only, it resembles the _Satirae_ of Petronius. At least two
stories of this type are to be found in the extant fragments of the novel
of Petronius. One of them is related as a well-known tale by the poet
Eumolpus, and the other is told by him as a personal experience. More than
a dozen of them are imbedded in the novel of Apuleius, the
_Metamorphoses_, and modern specimens of them are to be seen in Boccaccio
and in Chaucer. In fact they are popular from the twelfth century down to
the eighteenth. Long before the time of Petronius they occur sporadically
in literature. A good specimen, for instance, is found in a letter
commonly attributed to Æschines in the fourth century B.C. As early as
the first century before Christ collections of them had been made and
translated into Latin. This development suggests an interesting possible
origin of the realistic romance. In such collections as those just
mentioned of the first century B.C., the central figures were different in
the different stories, as is the case, for instance, in the Canterbury
Tales. Such an original writer as Petronius was may well have thought of
connecting these different episodes by making them the experiences of a
single individual. The Encolpius of Petronius would in that case be in a
way an ancient Don Juan. If we compare the Arabian Nights with one of the
groups of stories found in the Romances of the Round Table, we can see
what this step forward would mean. The tales which bear the title of the
Arabian Nights all have the same general setting and the same general
treatment, and they are put in the mouth of the same story-teller. The
Lancelot group of Round Table stories, however, shows a nearer approach to
unity since the stories in it concern the same person, and have a common
ultimate purpose, even if it is vague. When this point had been reached
the realistic romance would have made its appearance. We have been
thinking of the realistic novel as being made up of a series of Milesian
tales. We may conceive of it, however, as an expanded Milesian tale, just
as scholars are coming to think of the epic as growing out of a single
hero-song, rather than as resulting from the union of several such songs.

To pass to another possibility, it is very tempting to see a connection
between the _Satirae_ of Petronius and the prologue of comedy. Plautus
thought it necessary to prefix to many of his plays an account of the
incidents which preceded the action of the play. In some cases he went so
far as to outline in the prologue the action of the play itself in order
that the spectators might follow it intelligently. This introductory
narrative runs up to seventy-six lines in the _Menaechmi_, to eighty-two
in the _Rudens_, and to one hundred and fifty-two in the _Amphitruo_. In
this way it becomes a short realistic story of every-day people, involving
frequently a love intrigue, and told in the iambic senarius, the simplest
form of verse. Following it is the more extended narrative of the comedy
itself, with its incidents and dialogue. This combination of the
condensed narrative in the story form, presented usually as a monologue in
simple verse, and the expanded narrative in the dramatic form, with its
conversational element, may well have suggested the writing of a realistic
novel in prose. A slight, though not a fatal, objection to this theory
lies in the fact that the prologues to comedy subsequent to Plautus
changed in their character, and contain little narrative. This is not a
serious objection, for the plays of Plautus were still known to the
cultivated in the later period.

The mime gives us still more numerous points of contact with the work of
Petronius than comedy does.[86] It is unfortunate, both for our
understanding of Roman life and for our solution of the question before
us, that only fragments of this form of dramatic composition have come
down to us. Even from them, however, it is clear that the mime dealt with
every-day life in a very frank, realistic way. The new comedy has its
conventions in the matter of situations and language. The matron, for
instance, must not be presented in a questionable light, and the language
is the conversational speech of the better classes. The mime recognizes no
such restrictions in its portrayal of life. The married woman, her stupid
husband, and her lover are common figures in this form of the drama, and
if we may draw an inference from the lately discovered fragments of Greek
mimes, the speech was that of the common people. Again, the new comedy has
its limited list of stock characters--the old man, the tricky slave, the
parasite, and the others which we know so well in Plautus and Terence, but
as for the mime, any figure to be seen on the street may find a place in
it--the rhetorician, the soldier, the legacy-hunter, the inn-keeper, or
the town-crier. The doings of kings and heroes were parodied. We are even
told that a comic Hector and Achilles were put on the stage, and the gods
did not come off unscathed. All of these characteristic features of the
mime remind us in a striking way of the novel of Petronius. His work, like
the mime, is a realistic picture of low life which presents a great
variety of characters and shows no regard for conventional morals. It is
especially interesting to notice the element of parody, which we have
already observed in Petronius, in both kinds of literary productions. The
theory that Petronius may have had the composition of his _Satirae_
suggested to him by plays of this type is greatly strengthened by the fact
that the mime reached its highest point of popularity at the court in the
time of Nero, in whose reign Petronius lived. In point of fact Petronius
refers to the mime frequently. One of these passages is of peculiar
significance in this connection. Encolpius and his comrades are entering
the town of Croton and are considering what device they shall adopt so as
to live without working. At last a happy idea occurs to Eumolpus, and he
says: "Why don't we construct a mime?" and the mime is played, with
Eumolpus as a fabulously rich man at the point of death, and the others as
his attendants. The rôle makes a great hit, and all the vagabonds in the
company play their assumed parts in their daily life at Croton with such
skill that the legacy-hunters of the place load them with attentions and
shower them with presents. This whole episode, in fact, may be thought of
as a mime cast in the narrative form, and the same conception may be
applied with great plausibility to the entire story of Encolpius.

We have thus far been attacking the question with which we are concerned
from the side of the subject-matter and tone of the story of Petronius.
Another method of approach is suggested by the Menippean satire,[87] the
best specimens of which have come down to us in the fragments of Varro,
one of Cicero's contemporaries. These satires are an _olla podrida_,
dealing with all sorts of subjects in a satirical manner, sometimes put in
the dialogue form and cast in a _mélange_ of prose and verse. It is this
last characteristic which is of special interest to us in this connection,
because in the prose of Petronius verses are freely used. Sometimes, as we
have observed above, they form an integral part of the narrative, and
again they merely illustrate or expand a point touched on in the prose. If
it were not aside from our immediate purpose it would be interesting to
follow the history of this prose-poetical form from the time of Petronius
on. After him it does not seem to have been used very much until the third
and fourth centuries of our era. However, Martial in the first century
prefixed a prose prologue to five books of his Epigrams, and one of these
prologues ends with a poem of four lines. The several books of the
_Silvae_ of Statius are also preceded by prose letters of dedication. That
strange imitation of the _Aulularia_ of Plautus, of the fourth century,
the _Querolus_, is in a form half prose and half verse. A sentence begins
in prose and runs off into verse, as some of the epitaphs also do. The
Epistles of Ausonius of the same century are compounded of prose and a
great variety of verse. By the fifth and sixth centuries, a _mélange_ of
verse or a combination of prose and verse is very common, as one can see
in the writings of Martianus Capella, Sidonius Apollinaris, Ennodius, and
Boethius. It recurs again in modern times, for instance in Dante's _La
Vita Nuova_, in Boccaccio, _Aucassin et Nicolette_, the _Heptameron_, the
_Celtic Ballads_, the _Arabian Nights_, and in _Alice in Wonderland_.

A little thought suggests that the prose-poetic form is a natural medium
of expression. A change from prose to verse, or from one form of verse to
another, suggests a change in the emotional condition of a speaker or
writer. We see that clearly enough illustrated in tragedy or comedy. In
the thrilling scene in the _Captives of Plautus_, for example, where
Tyndarus is in mortal terror lest the trick which he has played on his
master, Hegio, may be discovered, and he be consigned to work in chains in
the quarries, the verse is the trochaic septenarius. As soon as the
suspense is over, it drops to the iambic senarius. If we should arrange
the commoner Latin verses in a sequence according to the emotional effects
which they produce, at the bottom of the series would stand the iambic
senarius. Above that would come trochaic verse, and we should rise to
higher planes of exaltation as we read the anapæstic, or cretic, or
bacchiac. The greater part of life is commonplace. Consequently the common
medium for conversation or for the narrative in a composition like comedy
made up entirely of verse is the senarius. Now this form of verse in its
simple, almost natural, quantitative arrangement is very close to prose,
and it would be a short step to substitute prose for it as the basis of
the story, interspersing verse here and there to secure variety, or when
the emotions were called into play, just as lyric verses are interpolated
in the iambic narrative. In this way the combination of different kinds
of verse in the drama, and the prosimetrum of the Menippean satire and of
Petronius, may be explained, and we see a possible line of descent from
comedy and this form of satire to the _Satirae_.

These various theories of the origin of the romance of Petronius--that it
may be related to the epic, to the serious heroic romance, to the
bourgeois story of adventure developed out of the rhetorical exercise, to
the Milesian tale, to the prologue of comedy, to the _verse-mélange_ of
comedy or the mime, or to the prose-poetical Menippean satire--are not, of
necessity, it seems to me, mutually exclusive. His novel may well be
thought of as a parody of the serious romance, with frequent reminiscences
of the epic, a parody suggested to him by comedy and its prologue, by the
mime, or by the short cynical Milesian tale, and cast in the form of the
Menippean satire; or, so far as subject-matter and realistic treatment are
concerned, the suggestion may have come directly from the mime, and if we
can accept the theory of some scholars who have lately studied the mime,
that it sometimes contained both prose and verse, we may be inclined to
regard this type of literature as the immediate progenitor of the novel,
even in the matter of external form, and leave the Menippean satire out of
the line of descent. Whether the one or the other of these explanations of
its origin recommends itself to us as probable, it is interesting to note,
as we leave the subject, that, so far as our present information goes, the
realistic romance seems to have been the invention of Petronius.

Diocletian's Edict and the High Cost of Living

The history of the growth of paternalism in the Roman Empire is still to
be written. It would be a fascinating and instructive record. In it the
changes in the character of the Romans and in their social and economic
conditions would come out clearly. It would disclose a strange mixture of
worthy and unworthy motives in their statesmen and politicians, who were
actuated sometimes by sympathy for the poor, sometimes by a desire for
popular favor, by an honest wish to check extravagance or immorality, or
by the fear that the discontent of the masses might drive them into
revolution. We should find the Roman people, recognizing the menace to
their simple, frugal way of living which lay in the inroads of Greek
civilization, and turning in their helplessness to their officials, the
censors, to protect them from a demoralization which, by their own
efforts, they could not withstand. We should find the same officials
preaching against race suicide, extravagant living, and evasion of public
duties, and imposing penalties and restrictions in the most autocratic
fashion on men of high and low degree alike who failed to adopt the
official standards of conduct. We should read of laws enacted in the same
spirit, laws restricting the number of guests that might be entertained on
a single occasion, and prescribing penalties for guests and host alike, if
the cost of a dinner exceeded the statutory limit. All this belongs to the
early stage of paternal government. The motives were praiseworthy, even if
the results were futile.

With the advent of the Gracchi, toward the close of the second century
before our era, moral considerations become less noticeable, and
paternalism takes on a more philanthropic and political character. We see
this change reflected in the land laws and the corn laws. To take up first
the free distribution of land by the state, in the early days of the
Republic colonies of citizens were founded in the newly conquered
districts of Italy to serve as garrisons on the frontier. It was a fair
bargain between the citizen and the state. He received land, the state,
protection. But with Tiberius Gracchus a change comes in. His colonists
were to be settled in peaceful sections of Italy; they were to receive
land solely because of their poverty. This was socialism or state
philanthropy. Like the agrarian bill of Tiberius, the corn law of Gaius
Gracchus, which provided for the sale of grain below the market price, was
a paternal measure inspired in part by sympathy for the needy. The
political element is clear in both cases also. The people who were thus
favored by assignments of land and of food naturally supported the leaders
who assisted them. Perhaps the extensive building of roads which Gaius
Gracchus carried on should be mentioned in this connection. The ostensible
purpose of these great highways, perhaps their primary purpose, was to
develop Italy and to facilitate communication between different parts of
the peninsula, but a large number of men was required for their
construction, and Gaius Gracchus may well have taken the matter up, partly
for the purpose of furnishing work to the unemployed. Out of these small
beginnings developed the socialistic policy of later times. By the middle
of the first century B.C., it is said that there were three hundred and
twenty thousand persons receiving doles of corn from the state, and, if
the people could look to the government for the necessities of life, why
might they not hope to have it supply their less pressing needs? Or, to
put it in another way, if one politician won their support by giving them
corn, why might not another increase his popularity by providing them with
amusement and with the comforts of life? Presents of oil and clothing
naturally follow, the giving of games and theatrical performances at the
expense of the state, and the building of porticos and public baths. As
the government and wealthy citizens assumed a larger measure of
responsibility for the welfare of the citizens, the people became more and
more dependent upon them and less capable of managing their own affairs.
An indication of this change we see in the decline of local
self-government and the assumption by the central administration of
responsibility for the conduct of public business in the towns of Italy.
This last consideration suggests another phase of Roman history which a
study of paternalism would bring out--I mean the effect of its
introduction on the character of the Roman people.

The history of paternalism in Rome, when it is written, might approach
the subject from several different points. If the writer were inclined to
interpret history on the economic side, he might find the explanation of
the change in the policy of the government toward its citizens in the
introduction of slave labor which, under the Republic, drove the free
laborer to the wall and made him look to the state for help, in the
decline of agriculture, and the growth of capitalism. The sociologist
would notice the drift of the people toward the cities and the sudden
massing there of large numbers of persons who could not provide for
themselves and in their discontent might overturn society. The historian
who concerns himself with political changes mainly, would notice the
socialistic legislation of the Gracchi and their political successors and
would connect the growth of paternalism with the development of democracy.
In all these explanations there would be a certain measure of truth.

But I am not planning here to write a history of paternalism among the
Romans. That is one of the projects which I had been reserving for the day
when the Carnegie Foundation should present me with a wooden sword and
allow me to retire from the arena of academic life. But, alas! the
trustees of that beneficent institution, by the revision which they have
lately made of the conditions under which a university professor may
withdraw from active service, have in their wisdom put off that day of
academic leisure to the Greek Kalends, and my dream vanishes into the
distance with it.

Here I wish to present only an episode in this history which we have been
discussing, an episode which is unique, however, in ancient and, so far as
I know, in modern history. Our knowledge of the incident comes from an
edict of the Emperor Diocletian, and this document has a direct bearing on
a subject of present-day discussion, because it contains a diatribe
against the high cost of living and records the heroic attempt which the
Roman government made to reduce it. In his effort to bring prices down to
what he considered a normal level, Diocletian did not content himself with
such half-measures as we are trying in our attempts to suppress
combinations in restraint of trade, but he boldly fixed the maximum prices
at which beef, grain, eggs, clothing, and other articles could be sold,
and prescribed the penalty of death for any one who disposed of his wares
at a higher figure. His edict is a very comprehensive document, and
specifies prices for seven hundred or eight hundred different articles.
This systematic attempt to regulate trade was very much in keeping with
the character of Diocletian and his theory of government. Perhaps no Roman
emperor, with the possible exception of Hadrian, showed such extraordinary
administrative ability and proposed so many sweeping social reforms as
Diocletian did. His systematic attempt to suppress Christianity is a case
in point, and in the last twenty years of his reign he completely
reorganized the government. He frankly introduced the monarchical
principle, fixed upon a method of succession to the throne, redivided the
provinces, established a carefully graded system of officials, concerned
himself with court etiquette and dress, and reorganized the coinage and
the system of taxation. We are not surprised therefore that he had the
courage to attack this difficult question of high prices, and that his
plan covered almost all the articles which his subjects would have
occasion to buy.

It is almost exactly two centuries since the first fragments of the edict
dealing with the subject were brought to light. They were discovered in
Caria, in 1709, by William Sherard, the English consul at Smyrna. Since
then, from time to time, other fragments of tablets containing parts of
the edict have been found in Egypt, Asia Minor, and Greece. At present
portions of twenty-nine copies of it are known. Fourteen of them are in
Latin and fifteen in Greek. The Greek versions differ from one another,
while the Latin texts are identical, except for the stone-cutters'
mistakes here and there. These facts make it clear that the original
document was in Latin, and was translated into Greek by the local
officials of each town where the tablets were set up. We have already
noticed that specimens of the edict have not been found outside of Egypt,
Greece, and Asia Minor, and this was the part of the Roman world where
Diocletian ruled. Scholars have also observed that almost all the
manufactured articles which are mentioned come from Eastern points. From
these facts it has been inferred that the edict was to apply to the East
only, or perhaps more probably that Diocletian drew it up for his part of
the Roman world, and that before it could be applied to the West it was

From the pieces which were then known, a very satisfactory reconstruction
of the document was made by Mommsen and published in the _Corpus of Latin

The work of restoration was like putting together the parts of a picture
puzzle where some of the pieces are lacking. Fragments are still coming to
light, and possibly we may have the complete text some day. As it is, the
introduction is complete, and perhaps four-fifths of the list of articles
with prices attached are extant. The introduction opens with a stately
list of the titles of the two Augusti and the two Cæsars, which fixes the
date of the proclamation as 301 A.D. Then follows a long recital of the
circumstances which have led the government to adopt this drastic method
of controlling prices. This introduction is one of the most extraordinary
pieces of bombast, mixed metaphors, loose syntax, and incoherent
expressions that Latin literature possesses. One is tempted to infer from
its style that it was the product of Diocletian's own pen. He was a man of
humble origin, and would not live in Rome for fear of being laughed at on
account of his plebeian training. The florid and awkward style of these
introductory pages is exactly what we should expect from a man of such

It is very difficult to translate them into intelligible English, but some
conception of their style and contents may be had from one or two
extracts. In explaining the situation which confronts the world, the
Emperor writes: "For, if the raging avarice ... which, without regard for
mankind, increases and develops by leaps and bounds, we will not say from
year to year, month to month, or day to day, but almost from hour to hour,
and even from minute to minute, could be held in check by some regard for
moderation, or if the welfare of the people could calmly tolerate this mad
license from which, in a situation like this, it suffers in the worst
possible fashion from day to day, some ground would appear, perhaps, for
concealing the truth and saying nothing; ... but inasmuch as there is
only seen a mad desire without control, to pay no heed to the needs of the
many, ... it seems good to us, as we look into the future, to us who are
the fathers of the people, that justice intervene to settle matters
impartially, in order that that which, long hoped for, humanity itself
could not bring about may be secured for the common government of all by
the remedies which our care affords.... Who is of so hardened a heart and
so untouched by a feeling for humanity that he can be unaware, nay that he
has not noticed, that in the sale of wares which are exchanged in the
market, or dealt with in the daily business of the cities, an exorbitant
tendency in prices has spread to such an extent that the unbridled desire
of plundering is held in check neither by abundance nor by seasons of

If we did not know that this was found on tablets sixteen centuries old,
we might think that we were reading a newspaper diatribe against the
cold-storage plant or the beef trust. What the Emperor has decided to do
to remedy the situation he sets forth toward the end of the introduction.
He says: "It is our pleasure, therefore, that those prices which the
subjoined written summary specifies, be held in observance throughout all
our domain, that all may know that license to go above the same has been
cut off.... It is our pleasure (also) that if any man shall have boldly
come into conflict with this formal statute, he shall put his life in
peril.... In the same peril also shall he be placed who, drawn along by
avarice in his desire to buy, shall have conspired against these statutes.
Nor shall he be esteemed innocent of the same crime who, having articles
necessary for daily life and use, shall have decided hereafter that they
can be held back, since the punishment ought to be even heavier for him
who causes need than for him who violates the laws."

The lists which follow are arranged in three columns which give
respectively the article, the unit of measure, and the price.[89]

  Frumenti              K̄M̄
  Hordei                K̄M̄ unum     Ⅹ̶ c(entum)
  Centenum sive sicale  " "  "      Ⅹ̶ sexa(ginta)
  Mili pisti            " "  "      Ⅹ̶ centu(m)
  Mili integri          " "         Ⅹ̶ quinquaginta'

   The first item (frumentum) is wheat, which is sold by the K̄M̄
   (kastrensis modius=18½ quarts), but the price is lacking. Barley is
   sold by the kastrensis modius at Ⅹ̶ centum (centum denarii = 43 cents)
   and so on.

Usually a price list is not of engrossing interest, but the tables of
Diocletian furnish us a picture of material conditions throughout the
Empire in his time which cannot be had from any other source, and for that
reason deserve some attention. This consideration emboldens me to set down
some extracts in the following pages from the body of the edict:

Extracts from Diocletian's List of Maximum Prices


In the tables given here the Latin and Greek names of the articles listed
have been turned into English. The present-day accepted measure of
quantity--for instance, the bushel or the quart--has been substituted for
the ancient unit, and the corresponding price for the modern unit of
measure is given. Thus barley was to be sold by the kastrensis modius
(=18½ quarts) at 100 denarii (=43.5 cents). At this rate a bushel of
barley would have brought 74.5 cents. For convenience in reference the
numbers of the chapters and of the items adopted in the text of Mommsen
are used here. Only selected articles are given.

    (Unit of Measure, the Bushel)

1       Wheat
2       Barley                                                  74.5 cents
3       Rye                                                     45     "
4       Millet, ground                                          74.5   "
6       Millet, whole                                           37     "
7       Spelt, hulled                                           74.5   "
8       Spelt, not hulled                                       22.5   "
9       Beans, ground                                           74.5   "
10      Beans, not ground                                       45     "
11      Lentils                                                 74.5   "
12-16   Peas, various sorts                                  45-74.5   "
17      Oats                                                    22.5   "
31      Poppy seeds                                          $1.12
34      Mustard                                              $1.12
35      Prepared mustard, quart                                  6     "


    (Unit of Measure, the Quart)

1a      Wine from Picenum                                       22.5 cents
2       Wine from Tibur                                         22.5   "
7       Wine from Falernum                                      22.5   "
10      Wine of the country                                      6     "
11-12   Beer                                                     1.5-3 "


(Unit of Measure, the Quart)

1a      Oil, first quality                                      30.3 cents
2       Oil, second quality                                     18     "
5       Vinegar                                                  4.3   "
8       Salt, bushel                                            74.5   "
10      Honey, best                                             30.3   "
11      Honey, second quality                                   15     "


    (Unit, Unless Otherwise Noted, Pound Avoirdupois)

1a  Pork                                                         7.3 cents
2   Beef                                                         4.9   "
3   Goat's flesh or mutton                                       4.9   "
6   Pig's liver                                                  9.8   "
8   Ham, best                                                   12     "
21  Goose, artificially fed (1)                                 87     "
22  Goose, not artificially fed (1)                             43.5   "
23  Pair of fowls                                               36     "
29  Pair of pigeons                                             10.5   "
47  Lamb                                                         7.3   "
48  Kid                                                          7.3   "
50  Butter                                                       9.8   "


    (Unit, the Pound)

1a  Sea fish with sharp spines                                  14.6 cents
2   Fish, second quality                                         9.7   "
3   River fish, best quality                                     7.3   "
4   Fish, second quality                                         4.8   "
5   Salt fish                                                    8.3   "
6   Oysters (by the hundred)                                    43.5   "
11  Dry cheese                                                   7.3   "
12  Sardines                                                     9.7   "


1   Artichokes, large (5)                                        4.3 cents
7   Lettuce, best (5)                                            1.7   "
9   Cabbages, best (5)                                           1.7   "
10  Cabbages, small (10)                                         1.7   "
18  Turnips, large (10)                                          1.7   "
24  Watercress, per bunch of 20                                  4.3   "
28  Cucumbers, first quality (10)                                1.7   "
29  Cucumbers, small (20)                                        1.7   "
34  Garden asparagus, per bunch (25)                             2.6   "
35  Wild asparagus (50)                                          1.7   "
38  Shelled green beans, quart                                   3     "
43  Eggs (4)                                                     1.7   "
46  Snails, large (20)                                           1.7   "
65  Apples, best (10)                                            1.7   "
67  Apples, small (40)                                           1.7   "
78  Figs, best (25)                                              1.7   "
80  Table grapes (2.8 pound)                                     1.7   "
95  Sheep's milk, quart                                          6     "
96  Cheese, fresh, quart                                         6     "


    (Where (k) Is Set Down the Workman Receives His "Keep" Also)

1a Manual laborer (k)                                           10.8 cents
2  Bricklayer (k)                                               21.6   "
3  Joiner (interior work) (k)                                   21.6   "
3a Carpenter (k)                                                21.6   "
4  Lime-burner (k)                                              21.6   "
5  Marble-worker (k)                                            26     "
6  Mosaic-worker (fine work) (k)                                26     "
7  Stone-mason (k)                                              21.6   "
8  Wall-painter (k)                                             32.4   "
9  Figure-painter (k)                                           64.8   "
10 Wagon-maker (k)                                              21.6   "
11 Smith (k)                                                    21.6   "
12 Baker (k)                                                    21.6   "
13 Ship-builder, for sea-going ships (k)                        26     "
14 Ship-builder, for river boats (k)                            21.6   "
17 Driver, for camel, ass, or mule (k)                          10.8   "
18 Shepherd (k)                                                  8.7   "
20 Veterinary, for cutting, and straightening hoofs, per animal  2.6   "
22 Barber, for each man                                           .9 cent
23 Sheep-shearer, for each sheep (k)                              .9   "
24a Coppersmith, for work in brass, per pound                    3.5 cents
25 Coppersmith, for work in copper, per pound                    2.6   "
26 Coppersmith for finishing vessels, per pound                  2.6   "
27 Coppersmith, for finishing figures and statues, per pound     1.7   "
29 Maker of statues, etc., per day (k)                          32.4   "
31 Water-carrier, per day (k)                                   10.9   "
32 Sewer-cleaner, per day (k)                                   10.9   "
33 Knife-grinder, for old sabre                                 10.9   "
36 Knife-grinder, for double axe                                 3.5   "
39 Writer, 100 lines best writing                               10.9   "
40 Writer, 100 lines ordinary writing                            8.7   "
41 Document writer for record of 100 lines                       4.3   "
42 Tailor, for cutting out and finishing overgarment of first
     quality                                                    26.1   "
43 Tailor, for cutting out and finishing overgarment of second
     quality                                                    17.4   "
44 For a large cowl                                             10.9   "
45 For a small cowl                                              8.7   "
46 For trousers                                                  8.7   "
52 Felt horse-blanket, black or white, 3 pounds weight          43.5   "
53 Cover, first quality, with embroidery, 3 pounds weight    $1.09
64 Gymnastic teacher, per pupil, per month                      21.6 cents
65 Employee to watch children, per child, per month             21.6   "
66 Elementary teacher, per pupil, per month                     21.6   "
67 Teacher of arithmetic, per pupil, per month                  32.6   "
68 Teacher of stenography, per pupil, per month                 32.6   "
69 Writing-teacher, per pupil, per month                        21.6   "
70 Teacher of Greek, Latin, geometry, per pupil, per month      87     "
71 Teacher of rhetoric, per pupil, per month                 $1.09
72 Advocate or counsel for presenting a case                 $1.09
73 For finishing a case                                      $4.35
74 Teacher of architecture, per pupil, per month                43.5 cents
75 Watcher of clothes in public bath, for each patron             .9 cent


1a Hide, Babylonian, first quality                         $2.17
 2 Hide, Babylonian, second quality                           $1.74
 4 Hide, Phœnician (?)                                           43   cents
6a Cowhide, unworked, first quality                       $2.17
 7 Cowhide, prepared for shoe soles                           $3.26
 9 Hide, second quality, unworked                             $1.31
10 Hide, second quality, worked                              $2.17
11 Goatskin, large, unworked                                    17   cents
12 Goatskin, large, worked                                      22     "
13 Sheepskin, large, unworked                                    8.7   "
14 Sheepskin, large, worked                                     18     "
17 Kidskin, unworked                                             4.3   "
18 Kidskin, worked                                               7     "
27 Wolfskin, unworked                                           10.8   "
28 Wolfskin, worked                                             17.4   "
33 Bearskin, large, unworked                                    43     "
39 Leopardskin, unworked                                     $4.35
41 Lionskin, worked                                          $4.35


5a Boots, first quality, for mule-drivers and peasants, per
     pair, without nails                                         52  cents
 6 Soldiers' boots, without nails                                43    "
 7 Patricians' shoes                                             65    "
 8 Senatorial shoes                                              43    "
 9 Knights' shoes                                                30.5  "
10 Women's boots                                                 26    "
11 Soldiers' shoes                                               32.6  "
15 Cowhide shoes for women, double soles                         21.7  "
16 Cowhide shoes for women, single soles                         13    "
20 Men's slippers                                                26    "
21 Women's slippers                                              21.7  "


8a Sewing-needle, finest quality                                 1.7 cents
 9 Sewing-needle, second quality                                  .9 cent


 1 Transportation, 1 person, 1 mile                               .9 cent
 2 Rent for wagon, 1 mile                                        5   cents
 3 Freight charges for wagon containing up to 1,200 pounds, per
     mile                                                        8.7   "
 4 Freight charges for camel load of 600 pounds,
     per mile                                                    3.5   "
 5 Rent for laden ass, per mile                                  1.8   "
 7 Hay and straw, 3 pounds                                        .9 cent


 1a Goose-quills, per pound                                     43.5 cents
11a Ink, per pound                                               5     "
12  Reed pens from Paphos (10)                                   1.7   "
13  Reed pens, second quality (20)                               1.7   "


 1  Military mantle, finest quality                         $17.40
 2  Undergarment, fine                                       $8.70
 3  Undergarment, ordinary                                   $5.44
 5 White bed blanket, finest sort, 12 pounds weight          $6.96
 7 Ordinary cover, 10 pounds weight                          $2.18
28 Laodicean Dalmatica [_i.e., a tunic with sleeves_]        $8.70
36 British mantle, with cowl                                $26.08
39 Numidian mantle, with cowl                               $13.04
42 African mantle, with cowl                                 $6.52
51 Laodicean storm coat, finest quality                     $21.76
60 Gallic soldier's cloak                                   $43.78
61 African soldier's cloak                                   $2.17


 1a For an embroiderer, for embroidering a half-silk
      undergarment, per ounce                                   87   cents
 5 For a gold embroiderer, if he work in gold, for finest
      work, per ounce                                        $4.35
 9 For a silk weaver, who works on stuff half-silk, besides
      "keep," per day                                           11   cents


 2 For working Tarentine or Laodicean or other foreign wool,
     with keep, per pound                                       13   cents
 5 A linen weaver for fine work, with keep, per day             18     "


 4 Fuller's charges for a cloak or mantle, new                  13   cents
 6 Fuller's charges for a woman's coarse Dalmatica, new         21.7   "
 9 Fuller's charges for a new half-silk undergarment            76     "
22 Fuller's charges for a new Laodicean mantle.                 76     "


 1 White silk, per pound                                    $52.22


 1 Genuine purple silk, per pound                          $652.20
 2 Genuine purple wool, per pound                          $217.40
 3 Genuine light purple wool, per pound                    $139.26
 8 Nicæan scarlet wool, per pound                            $6.53


 1 Washed Tarentine wool, per pound                             76   cents
 2 Washed Laodicean wool, per pound                             65     "
 3 Washed wool from Asturia, per pound                          43.5   "
 4 Washed wool, best medium quality, per pound                  21.7   "
 5 All other washed wools, per pound                            10.8   "


 7a Coarse linen thread, first quality, per pound            $3.13
 8 Coarse linen thread, second quality, per pound           $2.61
 9 Coarse linen thread, third quality, per pound            $1.96


 1 Pure gold in bars or in coined pieces, per pound         50,000  denarii
 3 Artificers, working in metal, per pound                 $21.76
 4 Gold-beaters, per pound                                 $13.06

Throughout the lists, as one may see, articles are grouped in a systematic
way. First we find grain and vegetables; then wine, oil, vinegar, salt,
honey, meat, fish, cheese, salads, and nuts. After these articles, in
chapter VII, we pass rather unexpectedly to the wages of the field
laborer, the carpenter, the painter, and of other skilled and unskilled
workmen. Then follow leather, shoes, saddles, and other kinds of raw
material and manufactured wares until we reach a total of more than eight
hundred articles. As we have said, the classification is in the main
systematic, but there are some strange deviations from a systematic
arrangement. Eggs, for instance, are in table VI with salads, vegetables,
and fruits. Bücher, who has discussed some phases of this price list, has
acutely surmised that perhaps the tables in whole, or in part, were drawn
up by the directors of imperial factories and magazines. The government
levied tribute "in kind," and it must have provided depots throughout the
provinces for the reception of contributions from its subjects.
Consequently in making out these tables it would very likely call upon the
directors of these magazines for assistance, and each of them in making
his report would naturally follow to some extent the list of articles
which the imperial depot controlled by him, carried in stock. At all
events, we see evidence of an expert hand in the list of linens, which
includes one hundred and thirty-nine articles of different qualities.

As we have noticed in the passage quoted from the introduction, it is
unlawful for a person to charge more for any of his wares than the amount
specified in the law. Consequently, the prices are not normal, but maximum
prices. However, since the imperial lawgivers evidently believed that the
necessities of life were being sold at exorbitant rates, the maximum which
they fixed was very likely no greater than the prevailing market price.
Here and there, as in the nineteenth chapter of the document, the text is
given in tablets from two or more places. In such cases the prices are the
same, so that apparently no allowance was made for the cost of carriage,
although with some articles, like oysters and sea-fish, this item must
have had an appreciable value, and it certainly should have been taken
into account in fixing the prices of "British mantles" or "Gallic
soldiers' cloaks" of chapter XIX. The quantities for which prices are
given are so small--a pint of wine, a pair of fowls, twenty snails, ten
apples, a bunch of asparagus--that evidently Diocletian had the "ultimate
consumer" in mind, and fixed the retail price in his edict. This is
fortunate for us, because it helps us to get at the cost of living in the
early part of the fourth century. There is good reason for believing that
the system of barter prevailed much more generally at that time than it
does to-day. Probably the farmer often exchanged his grain, vegetables,
and eggs for shoes and cloth, without receiving or paying out money, so
that the money prices fixed for his products would not affect him in every
transaction as they would affect the present-day farmer. The unit of money
which is used throughout the edict is the copper denarius, and fortunately
the value of a pound of fine gold is given as 50,000 denarii. This fixes
the value of the denarius as .4352 cent, or approximately four-tenths of a
cent. It is implied in the introduction that the purpose of the law is to
protect the people, and especially the soldiers, from extortion, but
possibly, as Bücher has surmised, the emperor may have wished to maintain
or to raise the value of the denarius, which had been steadily declining
because of the addition of alloy to the coin. If this was the emperor's
object, possibly the value of the denarius is set somewhat too high, but
it probably does not materially exceed its exchange value, and in any
case, the relative values of articles given in the tables are not

The tables bring out a number of points of passing interest. From chapter
II it seems to follow that Italian wines retained their ancient
pre-eminence, even in the fourth century. They alone are quoted among the
foreign wines. Table VI gives us a picture of the village market. On
market days the farmer brings his artichokes, lettuce, cabbages, turnips,
and other fresh vegetables into the market town and exposes them for sale
in the public square, as the country people in Italy do to-day. The
seventh chapter, in which wages are given, is perhaps of liveliest
interest. In this connection we should bear in mind the fact that slavery
existed in the Roman Empire, that owners of slaves trained them to various
occupations and hired them out by the day or job, and that, consequently
the prices paid for slave labor fixed the scale of wages. However, there
was a steady decline under the Empire in the number of slaves, and
competition with them in the fourth century did not materially affect the
wages of the free laborer. It is interesting, in this chapter, to notice
that the teacher and the advocate (Nos. 66-73) are classed with the
carpenter and tailor. It is a pleasant passing reflection for the teacher
of Greek and Latin to find that his predecessors were near the top of
their profession, if we may draw this inference from their remuneration
when compared with that of other teachers. It is worth observing also that
the close association between the classics and mathematics, and their
acceptance as the corner-stone of the higher training, to which we have
been accustomed for centuries, seems to be recognized (VII, 70) even at
this early date. We expect to find the physician mentioned with the
teacher and advocate, but probably it was too much even for Diocletian's
skill, in reducing things to a system, to estimate the comparative value
of a physician's services in a case of measles and typhoid fever.

The bricklayer, the joiner, and the carpenter (VII, 2-3a), inasmuch as
they work on the premises of their employer, receive their "keep" as well
as a fixed wage, while the knife-grinder and the tailor (VII, 33, 42)
work in their own shops, and naturally have their meals at home. The
silk-weaver (XX, 9) and the linen-weaver (XXI, 5) have their "keep" also,
which seems to indicate that private houses had their own looms, which is
quite in harmony with the practices of our fathers. The carpenter and
joiner are paid by the day, the teacher by the month, the knife-grinder,
the tailor, the barber (VII, 22) by the piece, and the coppersmith (VII,
24a-27) according to the amount of metal which he uses. Whether the
difference between the prices of shoes for the patrician, the senator, and
the knight (IX, 7-9) represents a difference in the cost of making the
three kinds, or is a tax put on the different orders of nobility, cannot
be determined. The high prices set on silk and wool dyed with purple
(XXIV) correspond to the pre-eminent position of that imperial color in
ancient times. The tables which the edict contains call our attention to
certain striking differences between ancient and modern industrial and
economic conditions. Of course the list of wage-earners is incomplete. The
inscriptions which the trades guilds have left us record many occupations
which are not mentioned here, but in them and in these lists we miss any
reference to large groups of men who hold a prominent place in our modern
industrial reports--I mean men working in printing-offices, factories,
foundries, and machine-shops, and employed by transportation companies.
Nothing in the document suggests the application of power to the
manufacture of articles, the assembling of men in a common workshop, or
the use of any other machine than the hand loom and the mill for the
grinding of corn. In the way of articles offered for sale, we miss certain
items which find a place in every price-list of household necessities,
such articles as sugar, molasses, potatoes, cotton cloth, tobacco, coffee,
and tea. The list of stimulants (II) is, in fact, very brief, including as
it does only a few kinds of wine and beer.

At the present moment, when the high cost of living is a subject which
engages the attention of the economist, politician, and householder, as it
did that of Diocletian and his contemporaries, the curious reader will
wish to know how wages and the prices of food in 301 A.D. compare with
those of to-day. In the two tables which follow, such a comparison is
attempted for some of the more important articles and occupations.

  Articles of Food[90]

                                   Price in 301 A.D.     Price in 1906 A.D.

  Wheat, per bushel                  33.6 cents           $1.19[91]
  Rye, per bushel                    45     "                79   cents[91]
  Beans, per bushel                  45     "             $3.20
  Barley, per bushel                 74.5   "                55   cents[91]
  Vinegar, per quart                  4.3   "                 5-7    "
  Fresh pork, per pound               7.3   "                14-16   "
  Beef, per pound                     4.9   "               { 9-12   "
                                                            {15-18   "
  Mutton, per pound                   4.9   "                13-16   "
  Ham, per pound                     12     "                18-25   "
  Fowls, per pair                    26     "
  Fowls, per pound                                           14-18   "
  Butter, per pound                   9.8   "                26-32   "
  Fish, river, fresh, per pound       7.3   "                12-15   "
  Fish, sea, fresh, per pound         9-14  "                 8-14 cents
  Fish, salt, per pound               8.3   "                 8-15   "
  Cheese, per pound                   7.3   "                17-20   "
  Eggs, per dozen                     5.1   "                25-30   "
  Milk, cow's, per quart                                      6-8    "
  Milk, sheep's, per quart            6     "

  Wages Per Day

  Unskilled workman                  10.8 cents (k)[92] $1.20-2.24[93]
  Bricklayer                         21.6   "   (k)      4.50-6.50
  Carpenter                          21.6   "   (k)      2.50-4.00
  Stone-mason                        21.6   "   (k)      3.70-4.90
  Painter                            32.4   "   (k)      2.75-4.00
  Blacksmith                         21.6   "   (k)      2.15-3.20
  Ship-builder                       21-26  "   (k)      2.15-3.50

We are not so much concerned in knowing the prices of meat, fish, eggs,
and flour in 301 and 1911 A.D. as we are in finding out whether the Roman
or the American workman could buy more of these commodities with the
returns for his labor. A starting point for such an estimate is furnished
by the Eighteenth Annual Report of the Commissioner of Labor, on the "Cost
of Living and Retail Prices of Food" (1903), and by Bulletin No. 77 of the
Bureau of Labor (1908). In the first of these documents (pp. 582, 583) the
expenditure for rent, fuel, food, and other necessities of life in 11,156
normal American families whose incomes range from $200 to $1,200 per year
is given. In the other report (p. 344 _f._) similar statistics are given
for 1,944 English urban families. In the first case the average amount
spent per year was $617, of which $266, or a little less than a half of
the entire income, was used in the purchase of food. The statistics for
England show a somewhat larger relative amount spent for food. Almost
exactly one-third of this expenditure for the normal American family was
for meat and fish.[94] Now, if we take the wages of the Roman carpenter,
for instance, as 21 cents per day, and add one-fourth or one-third for his
"keep," those of the same American workman as $2.50 to $4.00, it is clear
that the former received only a ninth or a fifteenth as much as the
latter, while the average price of pork, beef, mutton, and ham (7.3 cents)
in 301 A.D. was about a third of the average (19.6 cents) of the same
articles to-day. The relative averages of wheat, rye, and barley make a
still worse showing for ancient times while fresh fish was nearly as high
in Diocletian's time as it is in our own day. The ancient and modern
prices of butter and eggs stand at the ratio of one to three and one to
six respectively. For the urban workman, then, in the fourth century,
conditions of life must have been almost intolerable, and it is hard to
understand how he managed to keep soul and body together, when almost all
the nutritious articles of food were beyond his means. The taste of meat,
fish, butter, and eggs must have been almost unknown to him, and probably
even the coarse bread and vegetables on which he lived were limited in
amount. The peasant proprietor who could raise his own cattle and grain
would not find the burden so hard to bear.

Only one question remains for us to answer. Did Diocletian succeed in his
bold attempt to reduce the cost of living? Fortunately the answer is given
us by Lactantius in the book which he wrote in 313-314 A.D., "On the
Deaths of Those Who Persecuted (the Christians)." The title of
Lactantius's work would not lead us to expect a very sympathetic treatment
of Diocletian, the arch-persecutor, but his account of the actual outcome
of the incident is hardly open to question. In Chapter VII of his
treatise, after setting forth the iniquities of the Emperor in constantly
imposing new burdens on the people, he writes: "And when he had brought on
a state of exceeding high prices by his different acts of injustice, he
tried to fix by law the prices of articles offered for sale. Thereupon,
for the veriest trifles much blood was shed, and out of fear nothing was
offered for sale, and the scarcity grew much worse, until, after the death
of many persons, the law was repealed from mere necessity." Thus came to
an end this early effort to reduce the high cost of living. Sixty years
later the Emperor Julian made a similar attempt on a small scale. He fixed
the price of corn for the people of Antioch by an edict. The holders of
grain hoarded their stock. The Emperor brought supplies of it into the
city from Egypt and elsewhere and sold it at the legal price. It was
bought up by speculators, and in the end Julian, like Diocletian, had to
acknowledge his inability to cope with an economic law.

Private Benefactions and Their Effect on the Municipal Life of the Romans

In the early days the authority of the Roman father over his wife, his
sons, and his daughters was absolute. He did what seemed to him good for
his children. His oversight and care extended to all the affairs of their
lives. The state was modelled on the family and took over the autocratic
power of the paterfamilias. It is natural to think of it, therefore, as a
paternal government, and the readiness with which the Roman subordinated
his own will and sacrificed his personal interests to those of the
community seems to show his acceptance of this theory of his relation to
the government. But this conception is correct in part only. A paternal
government seeks to foster all the common interests of its people and to
provide for their common needs. This the Roman state did not try to do,
and if we think of it as a paternal government, in the ordinary meaning
of that term, we lose sight of the partnership between state supervision
and individual enterprise in ministering to the common needs and desires,
which was one of the marked features of Roman life. In fact, the
gratification of the individual citizen's desire for those things which he
could not secure for himself depended in the Roman Empire, as it depends
in this country, not solely on state support, but in part on state aid,
and in part on private generosity. We see the truth of this very clearly
in studying the history of the Roman city. The phase of Roman life which
we have just noted may not fit into the ideas of Roman society which we
have hitherto held, but we can understand it as no other people can,
because in the United States and in England we are accustomed to the
co-operation of private initiative and state action in the establishment
and maintenance of universities, libraries, museums, and all sorts of
charitable institutions.

If we look at the growth of private munificence under the Republic, we
shall see that citizens showed their generosity particularly in the
construction of public buildings, partly or entirely at their own
expense. In this way some of the basilicas in Rome and elsewhere which
served as courts of justice and halls of exchange were constructed. The
great Basilica Æmilia, for instance, whose remains may be seen in the
Forum to-day, was constructed by an Æmilius in the second century before
our era, and was accepted as a charge by his descendants to be kept in
condition and improved at the expense of the Æmilian family. Under
somewhat similar conditions Pompey built the great theatre which bore his
name, the first permanent theatre to be built in Rome, and always
considered one of the wonders of the city. The cost of this structure was
probably covered by the treasure which he brought back from his campaigns
in the East. In using the spoils of a successful war to construct
buildings or memorials in Rome, he was following the example of Mummius,
the conqueror of Corinth, and other great generals who had preceded him.
The purely philanthropic motive does not bulk largely in these gifts to
the citizens, because the people whose armies had won the victories were
part owners at least of the spoils, and because the victorious leader who
built the structure was actuated more by the hope of transmitting the
memory of his achievements to posterity in some conspicuous and
imperishable monument than by a desire to benefit his fellow citizens.

These two motives, the one egoistic and the other altruistic, actuated all
the Roman emperors in varying degrees. The activity of Augustus in such
matters comes out clearly in the record of his reign, which he has left us
in his own words. This remarkable bit of autobiography, known as the
"Deeds of the Deified Augustus," the Emperor had engraved on bronze
tablets, placed in front of his mausoleum. The original has disappeared,
but fortunately a copy of it has been found on the walls of a ruined
temple at Ancyra, in Asia Minor, and furnishes us abundant proof of the
great improvements which he made in the city of Rome. We are told in it
that from booty he paid for the construction of the Forum of Augustus,
which was some four hundred feet long, three hundred wide, and was
surrounded by a wall one hundred and twenty feet high, covered on the
inside with marble and stucco. Enclosed within it and built with funds
coming from the same source was the magnificent temple of Mars the
Avenger, which had as its principal trophies the Roman standards recovered
from the Parthians. This forum and temple are only two items in the long
list of public improvements which Augustus records in his imperial
epitaph, for, as he proudly writes: "In my sixth consulship, acting under
a decree of the senate, I restored eighty-two temples in the city,
neglecting no temple which needed repair at the time." Besides the
temples, he mentions a large number of theatres, porticos, basilicas,
aqueducts, roads, and bridges which he built in Rome or in Italy outside
the city.

But the Roman people had come to look for acts of generosity from their
political as well as from their military leaders, and this factor, too,
must be taken into account in the case of Augustus. In the closing years
of the Republic, candidates for office and men elected to office saw that
one of the most effective ways of winning and holding their popularity was
to give public entertainments, and they vied with one another in the
costliness of the games and pageants which they gave the people. The
well-known case of Cæsar will be recalled, who, during his term as ædile,
or commissioner of public works, bankrupted himself by his lavish
expenditures on public improvements, and on the games, in which he
introduced three hundred and twenty pairs of gladiators for the amusement
of the people. In his book, "On the Offices," Cicero tells us of a thrifty
rich man, named Mamercus, who aspired to public office, but avoided taking
the ædileship, which stood in the regular sequence of minor offices, in
order that he might escape the heavy outlay for public entertainment
expected of the ædile. As a consequence, when later he came up for the
consulship, the people punished him by defeating him at the polls. To
check the growth of these methods of securing votes, Cicero, in his
consulship, brought in a corrupt practices act, which forbade citizens to
give gladiatorial exhibitions within two years of any election in which
they were candidates. We may doubt if this measure was effective. The
Roman was as clever as the American politician in accomplishing his
purpose without going outside the law. Perhaps an incident in the life of
Cicero's young friend, Curio, is a case in point. It was an old Roman
custom to celebrate the ninth day after a burial as a solemn family
festival, and some time in the second century before our era the practice
grew up of giving gladiatorial contests on these occasions. The versatile
Curio, following this practice, testified his respect for his father's
memory by giving the people such elaborate games that he never escaped
from the financial difficulties in which they involved him. However, this
tribute of pious affection greatly enhanced his popularity, and perhaps
did not expose him to the rigors of Cicero's law.

These gifts from generals, from distinguished citizens, and from
candidates for office do not go far to prove a generous or philanthropic
spirit on the part of the donors, but they show clearly enough that the
practice of giving large sums of money to embellish the city, and to
please the public, had grown up under the Republic, and that the people of
Rome had come to regard it as the duty of their distinguished fellow
citizens to beautify the city and minister to their needs and pleasures by
generous private contributions.

All these gifts were for the city of Rome, and for the people of the city,
not for the Empire, nor for Italy. This is characteristic of ancient
generosity or philanthropy, that its recipients are commonly the people
of a single town, usually the donor's native town. It is one of many
indications of the fact that the Roman thought of his city as the state,
and even under the Empire he rarely extended the scope of his benefactions
beyond the walls of a particular town. The small cities and villages
throughout the West reproduced the capital in miniature. Each was a little
world in itself. Each of them not only had its forum, its temples,
colonnades, baths, theatres, and arenas, but also developed a political
and social organization like that of the city of Rome. It had its own
local chief magistrates, distinguished by their official robes and
insignia of office, and its senators, who enjoyed the privilege of
occupying special seats in the theatre, and it was natural that the common
people at Ostia, Ariminum, or Lugudunum, like those at Rome, should expect
from those whom fortune had favored some return for the distinctions which
they enjoyed. In this way the prosperous in each little town came to feel
a sense of obligation to their native place, and this feeling of civic
pride and responsibility was strengthened by the same spirit of rivalry
between different villages that the Italian towns of the Middle Ages seem
to have inherited from their ancestors, a spirit of rivalry which made
each one eager to surpass the others in its beauty and attractiveness.
Perhaps there have never been so many beautiful towns in any other period
in history as there were in the Roman Empire, during the second century of
our era, and their attractive features--their colonnades, temples,
fountains, and works of art--were due in large measure to the generosity
of private citizens. We can make this statement with considerable
confidence, because these benefactions are recorded for us on innumerable
tablets of stone and bronze, scattered throughout the Empire.

These contributions not only helped to meet the cost of building temples,
colonnades, and other structures, but they were often intended to cover a
part of the running expenses of the city. This is one of the novel
features of Roman municipal life. We can understand the motives which
would lead a citizen of New York or Boston to build a museum or an arch in
his native city. Such a structure would serve as a monument to him; it
would give distinction to the city, and it would give him and his fellow
citizens æsthetic satisfaction tion But if a rich New Yorker should give
a large sum to mend the pavement in Union Square or extend the sewer
system on Canal Street, a judicial inquiry into his sanity would not be
thought out of place. But the inscriptions show us that rich citizens
throughout the Roman Empire frequently made large contributions for just
such unromantic purposes. It is unfortunate that a record of the annual
income and expenses of some Italian or Gallic town has not come down to
us. It would be interesting, for instance, to compare the budget of Mantua
or Ancona, in the first century of our era, with that of Princeton or
Cambridge in the twentieth. But, although we rarely know the sums which
were expended for particular purposes, a mere comparison of the objects
for which they were spent is illuminating. The items in the ancient budget
which find no place in our own, and vice versa, are significant of certain
striking differences between ancient and modern municipal life.

Common to the ancient and the modern city are expenditures for the
construction and maintenance of public buildings, sewers, aqueducts, and
streets, but with these items the parallelism ends. The ancient objects
of expenditure which find no place in the budget of an American town are
the repair of the town walls, the maintenance of public worship, the
support of the baths, the sale of grain at a low price, and the giving of
games and theatrical performances. It is very clear that the ancient
legislator made certain provisions for the physical and spiritual welfare
of his fellow citizens which find little or no place in our municipal
arrangements to-day. If, among the sums spent for the various objects
mentioned above, we compare the amounts set apart for religion and for the
baths, we may come to the conclusion that the Roman read the old saying,
"Cleanliness is next to godliness" in the amended form "Cleanliness is
next above godliness." No city in the Empire seems to have been too small
or too poor to possess public baths, and how large an item of annual
expense their care was is clear from the fact that an article of the
Theodosian code provided that cities should spend at least one-third of
their incomes on the heating of the baths and the repair of the walls. The
great idle population of the city of Rome had to be provided with food at
public expense. Otherwise riot and disorder would have followed, but in
the towns the situation was not so threatening, and probably furnishing
grain to the people did not constitute a regular item of expense. So far
as public entertainments were concerned, the remains of theatres and
amphitheatres in Pompeii, Fiesole, Aries, Orange, and at many other places
to-day furnish us visible evidence of the large sums which ancient towns
must have spent on plays and gladiatorial games. In the city of Rome in
the fourth century, there were one hundred and seventy-five days on which
performances were given in the theatres, arenas, and amphitheatres.

We have been looking at the items which were peculiar to the ancient
budget. Those which are missing from it are still more indicative, if
possible, of differences between Roman character and modes of life and
those of to-day. Provision was rarely made for schools, museums,
libraries, hospitals, almshouses, or for the lighting of streets. No
salaries were paid to city officials; no expenditure was made for police
or for protection against fire, and the slaves whom every town owned
probably took care of the public buildings and kept the streets clean.
The failure of the ancient city government to provide for educational and
charitable institutions, means, as we shall see later, that in some cases
these matters were neglected, that in others they were left to private
enterprise. It appears strange that the admirable police and fire system
which Augustus introduced into Rome was not adopted throughout the Empire,
but that does not seem to have been the case, and life and property must
have been exposed to great risks, especially on festival days and in the
unlighted streets at night. The rich man could be protected by his
bodyguard of clients, and have his way lighted at night by the torches
which his slaves carried, but the little shopkeeper must have avoided the
dark alleys or attached himself to the retinue of some powerful man. Some
of us will recall in this connection the famous wall painting at Pompeii
which depicts the riotous contest between the Pompeians and the people of
the neighboring town of Nuceria, at the Pompeian gladiatorial games in 50
B.C., when stones were thrown and weapons freely used. What scenes of
violence and disorder there must have been on such occasions as these,
without systematic police surveillance, can be readily imagined.

The sums of money which an ancient or a modern city spends fall in two
categories--the amounts which are paid out for permanent improvements, and
the running expenses of the municipality. We have just been looking at the
second class of expenditures, and our brief examination of it shows
clearly enough that the ancient city took upon its shoulders only a small
part of the burden which a modern municipality assumes. It will be
interesting now to see how far the municipal outlay for running expenses
was supplemented by private generosity, and to find out the extent to
which the cities were indebted to the same source for their permanent
improvements. A great deal of light is thrown on these two questions by
the hundreds of stone and bronze tablets which were set up by donors
themselves or by grateful cities to commemorate the gifts made to them.
The responsibility which the rich Roman felt to spend his money for the
public good was unequivocally stated by the poet Martial in one of his
epigrams toward the close of the first century of our era. The speaker in
the poem tells his friend Pastor why he is striving to be rich--not that
he may have broad estates, rich appointments, fine wines, or troops of
slaves, but "that he may give and build for the public good" ("ut donem,
Pastor, et ædificem"), and this feeling of stewardship found expression in
a steady outpouring of gifts in the interests of the people.

The practice of giving may well have started with the town officials. We
have already noticed that in Rome, under the Republic, candidates for
office, in seeking votes, and magistrates, in return for the honors paid
them, not infrequently spent large sums on the people. In course of time,
in the towns throughout the Empire this voluntary practice became a legal
obligation resting on local officials. This fact is brought out in the
municipal charter of Urso,[95] the modern Osuna, in Spain. Half of this
document, engraved on tablets, was discovered in Spain about forty years
ago, and makes a very interesting contribution to our knowledge of
municipal life. A colony was sent out to Urso, in 44 B.C., by Julius
Cæsar, under the care of Mark Antony, and the municipal constitution of
the colony was drawn up by one of these two men. In the seventieth
article, we read of the duumvirs, who were the chief magistrates: "Whoever
shall be duumvirs, with the exception of those who shall have first been
elected after the passage of this law, let the aforesaid during their
magistracy give a public entertainment or plays in honor of the gods and
goddesses Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva, for four days, during the greater
part of the day, so far as it may be done, at the discretion of the common
councillors, and on these games and this entertainment let each one of
them spend from his own money not less than two thousand sesterces." The
article which follows in the document provides that the ædiles, or the
officials next in rank, shall give gladiatorial games and plays for three
days, and one day of races in the circus, and for these entertainments
they also must spend not less than two thousand sesterces.

Here we see the modern practice reversed. City officials, instead of
receiving a salary for their services, not only serve without pay, but are
actually required by law to make a public contribution. It will be noticed
that the law specified the minimum sum which a magistrate _must_ spend.
The people put no limit on what he _might_ spend, and probably most of the
duumvirs of Urso gave more than $80, or, making allowance for the
difference in the purchasing value of money, $250, for the entertainment
of the people. In fact a great many honorary inscriptions from other towns
tell us of officials who made generous additions to the sum required by
law. So far as their purpose and results go, these expenditures may be
compared with the "campaign contributions" made by candidates for office
in this country. There is a strange likeness and unlikeness between the
two. The modern politician makes his contribution before the election, the
ancient politician after it. In our day the money is expended largely to
provide for public meetings where the questions of the day shall be
discussed. In Roman times it was spent upon public improvements, and upon
plays, dinners, and gladiatorial games. Among us public sentiment is
averse to the expenditure of large sums to secure an election. The Romans
desired and expected it, and those who were open-handed in this matter
took care to have a record of their gifts set down where it could be read
by all men.

On general grounds we should expect our system to have a better effect on
the intelligence and character of the people, and to secure better
officials. The discussion of public questions, even in a partisan way,
brings them to the attention of the people, sets the people thinking, and
helps to educate voters on political and economic matters. If we may draw
an inference from the election posters in Pompeii, such subjects played a
small part in a city election under the Empire. It must have been
demoralizing, too, to a Pompeian or a citizen of Salona to vote for a
candidate, not because he would make the most honest and able duumvir or
ædile among the men canvassing for the office, but because he had the
longest purse. How our sense of propriety would be shocked if the newly
elected mayor of Hartford or Montclair should give a gala performance in
the local theatre to his fellow-citizens or pay for a free exhibition by a
circus troupe! But perhaps we should overcome our scruples and go, as the
people of Pompeii did, and perhaps our consciences would be completely
salved if the aforesaid mayor proceeded to lay a new pavement in Main
Street, to erect a fountain on the Green, or stucco the city hall.
Naturally only rich men could be elected to office in Roman towns, and in
this respect the same advantages and disadvantages attach to the Roman
system as we find in the practice which the English have followed up to
the present time of paying no salary to members of the House of Commons,
and in our own practice of letting our ambassadors meet a large part of
their legitimate expenses.

The large gifts made to their native towns by rich men elected to public
office set an example which private citizens of means followed in an
extraordinary way. Sometimes they gave statues, or baths, or fountains, or
porticos, and sometimes they provided for games, or plays, or dinners, or
lottery tickets. Perhaps nothing can convey to our minds so clear an
impression of the motives of the donors, the variety and number of the
gifts, and their probable effect on the character of the people as to read
two or three specimens of these dedicatory inscriptions. The citizens of
Lanuvium, near Rome, set up a monument in honor of a certain Valerius,
"because he cleaned out and restored the water courses for a distance of
three miles, put the pipes in position again, and restored the two baths
for men and the bath for women, all at his own expense."[96] A citizen of
Sinuessa leaves this record: "Lucius Papius Pollio, the duumvir, to his
father, Lucius Papius. Cakes and mead to all the citizens of Sinuessa and
Cædici; gladiatorial games and a dinner for the people of Sinuessa and the
Papian clan; a monument at a cost of 12,000 sesterces."[97] Such a
catholic provision to suit all tastes should certainly have served to keep
his father from being forgotten. A citizen of Beneventum lays claim to
distinction because "he first scattered tickets among the people by means
of which he distributed gold, silver, bronze, linen garments, and other
things."[98] The people of Telesia, a little town in Campania, pay this
tribute to their distinguished patron: "To Titus Fabius Severus, patron of
the town, for his services at home and abroad, and because he, first of
all those who have instituted games, gave at his own expense five wild
beasts from Africa, a company of gladiators, and a splendid equipment,
the senate and citizens have most gladly granted a statue."[99] The office
of patron was a characteristic Roman institution. Cities and villages
elected to this position some distinguished Roman senator or knight, and
he looked out for the interests of the community in legal matters and

This distinction was held in high esteem, and recipients of it often
testified their appreciation by generous gifts to the town which they
represented, or were chosen patrons because of their benefactions. This
fact is illustrated in the following inscription from Spoletium: "Gaius
Torasius Severus, the son of Gaius, of the Horatian tribe, quattuorvir
with judicial power, augur, in his own name, and in the name of his son
Publius Meclonius Proculus Torasianus, the pontiff, erected (this) on his
land (?) and at his own expense. He also gave the people 250,000 sesterces
to celebrate his son's birthday, from the income of which each year, on
the third day before the Kalends of September, the members of the Common
Council are to dine in public, and each citizen who is present is to
receive eight _asses_. He also gave to the seviri Augustales, and to the
priests of the Lares, and to the overseers of the city wards, 120,000
sesterces, in order that from the income of this sum they might have a
public dinner on the same day. Him, for his services to the community, the
senate has chosen patron of the town."[100] A town commonly showed its
appreciation of what had been done for it by setting up a statue in honor
of its benefactor, as was done in the case of Fabius Severus, and the
public squares of Italian and provincial towns must have been adorned with
many works of art of this sort. It amuses one to find at the bottom of
some of the commemorative tablets attached to these statues, the statement
that the man distinguished in this way, "contented with the honor, has
himself defrayed the cost of the monument." To pay for a popular
testimonial to one's generosity is indeed generosity in its perfect form.
The statues themselves have disappeared along with the towns which erected
them, but the tablets remain, and by a strange dispensation of fate the
monument which a town has set up to perpetuate the memory of one of its
citizens is sometimes the only record we have of the town's own existence.

The motives which actuated the giver were of a mixed character, as these
memorials indicate. Sometimes it was desire for the applause of his fellow
citizens, or for posthumous fame, which influenced a donor; sometimes
civic pride and affection. In many cases it was the compelling force of
custom, backed up now and then, as we can see from the inscriptions, by
the urgent demands of the populace. Out of this last sentiment there would
naturally grow a sense of the obligation imposed by the possession of
wealth, and this feeling is closely allied to pure generosity. In fact, it
would probably be wrong not to count this among the original motives which
actuated men in making their gifts, because the spirit of devotion to the
state and to the community was a marked characteristic of Romans in the
republican period.

The effects which this practice of giving had on municipal life and on the
character of the people are not without importance and interest. The
lavish expenditure expected of a magistrate and the ever-increasing
financial obligations laid upon him by the central government made
municipal offices such an intolerable burden that the charter of Urso of
the first century A.D., which has been mentioned above, has to resort to
various ingenious devices to compel men to hold them. The position of a
member of a town council was still worse. He was not only expected to
contribute generously to the embellishment and support of his native city,
but he was also held responsible for the collection of the imperial taxes.
As prosperity declined he found this an increasingly difficult thing to
do, and seats in the local senate were undesirable. The central government
could not allow the men responsible for its revenues to escape their
responsibility. Consequently, it interposed and forced them to accept the
honor. Some of them enlisted in the army, or even fled into the desert,
but whenever they were found they were brought back to take up their
positions again. In the fourth century, service in the common council was
even made a penalty imposed upon criminals. Finally, it became hereditary,
and it is an amusing but pathetic thing to find that this honor, so highly
prized in the early period, became in the end a form of serfdom.

We have been looking at the effects of private generosity on official
life. Its results for the private citizen are not so clear, but it must
have contributed to that decline of independence and of personal
responsibility which is so marked a feature of the later Empire. The
masses contributed little, if anything, to the running expenses of
government and the improvement of the city. The burdens fell largely upon
the rich. It was a system of quasi-socialism. Those who had, provided for
those who had not--not merely markets and temples, and colonnades, and
baths, but oil for the baths, games, plays, and gratuities of money. Since
their needs were largely met by others, the people lost more and more the
habit of providing for themselves and the ability to do so. When
prosperity declined, and the wealthy could no more assist them, the end

The objects for which donors gave their money seem to prove the
essentially materialistic character of Roman civilization, because we must
assume that those who gave knew the tastes of the people. Sometimes men
like Pliny the Younger gave money for libraries or schools, but such gifts
seem to have been relatively infrequent. Benefactions are commonly
intended to satisfy the material needs or gratify the desire of the
people for pleasure.

Under the old régime charity was unknown. There were neither almshouses
nor hospitals, and scholars have called attention to the fact that even
the doles of corn which the state gave were granted to citizens only. Mere
residents or strangers were left altogether out of consideration, and they
were rarely included within the scope of private benevolence. In the
following chapter, in discussing the trades-guilds, we shall see that even
they made no provision for the widow or orphan, or for their sick or
disabled members. It was not until Christianity came that the poor and the
needy were helped because of their poverty and need.

Some Reflections on Corporations and Trades-Guilds

In a recent paper on "Ancient and Modern Imperialism," read before the
British Classical Association, Lord Cromer, England's late consul-general
in Egypt, notes certain points of resemblance between the English and the
Roman methods of dealing with alien peoples. With the Greeks no such
points of contact exist, because, as he remarks, "not only was the
imperial idea foreign to the Greek mind; the federal conception was
equally strange." This similarity between the political character and
methods of the Romans and Anglo-Saxons strikes any one who reads the
history of the two peoples side by side. They show the same genius for
government at home, and a like success in conquering and holding foreign
lands, and in assimilating alien peoples. Certain qualities which they
have in common contribute to these like results. Both the Roman and the
Anglo-Saxon have been men of affairs; both have shown great skill in
adapting means to an end, and each has driven straight at the immediate
object to be accomplished without paying much heed to logic or political
theory. A Roman statesman would have said "Amen!" to the Englishman's
pious hope that "his countrymen might never become consistent or logical
in politics." Perhaps the willingness of the average Roman to co-operate
with his fellows, and his skill in forming an organization suitable for
the purpose in hand, go farther than any of the other qualities mentioned
above to account for his success in governing other peoples as well as his
own nation.

Our recognition of these striking points of resemblance between the Romans
and ourselves has come from a comparative study of the political life of
the two peoples. But the likeness to each other of the Romans and
Anglo-Saxons, especially in the matter of associating themselves together
for a common object, is still more apparent in their methods of dealing
with private affairs. A characteristic and amusing illustration of the
working of this tendency among the Romans is furnished by the early
history of monasticism in the Roman world. When the Oriental Christian
had convinced himself of the vanity of the world, he said: "It is the
weakness of the flesh and the enticements of the wicked which tempt me to
sin. Therefore I will withdraw from the world and mortify the flesh." This
is the spirit which drove him into the desert or the mountains, to live in
a cave with a lion or a wolf for his sole companion. This is the spirit
which took St. Anthony into a solitary place in Egypt. It led St. Simeon
Stylites to secure a more perfect sense of aloofness from the world, and a
greater security from contact with it by spending the last thirty years of
his life on the top of a pillar near Antioch. In the Western world, which
was thoroughly imbued with the Roman spirit, the Christian who held the
same view as his Eastern brother of the evil results flowing from
intercourse with his fellow men, also withdrew from the world, but he
withdrew in the company of a group of men who shared his opinions on the
efficacy of a life of solitude. A delightful instance of the triumph of
the principle of association over logic or theory! We Americans can
understand perfectly the compelling force of the principle, even in such a
case as this, and we should justify the Roman's action on the score of
practical common sense. We have organizations for almost every conceivable
political, social, literary, and economic purpose. In fact, it would be
hard to mention an object for which it would not be possible to organize a
club, a society, a league, a guild, or a union. In a similar way the
Romans had organizations of capitalists and laborers, religious
associations, political and social clubs, and leagues of veterans.

So far as organizations of capitalists are concerned, their history is
closely bound up with that of imperialism. They come to our notice for the
first time during the wars with Carthage, when Rome made her earliest
acquisitions outside of Italy. In his account of the campaigns in Spain
against Hannibal's lieutenants, Livy tells us[101] of the great straits to
which the Roman army was reduced for its pay, food, and clothing. The need
was urgent, but the treasury was empty, and the people poverty-stricken.
In this emergency the prætor called a public meeting, laid before it the
situation in Spain, and, appealing to the joint-stock companies to come to
the relief of the state, appointed a day when proposals could be made to
furnish what was required by the army. On the appointed day three
_societates_, or corporations, offered to make the necessary loans to the
government; their offers were accepted, and the needs of the army were
met. The transaction reminds us of similar emergencies in our civil war,
when syndicates of bankers came to the support of the government. The
present-day tendency to question the motives of all corporations dealing
with the government does not seem to color Livy's interpretation of the
incident, for he cites it in proof of the patriotic spirit which ran
through all classes in the face of the struggle with Carthage. The
appearance of the joint-stock company at the moment when the policy of
territorial expansion is coming to the front is significant of the close
connection which existed later between imperialism and corporate finance,
but the later relations of corporations to the public interests cannot
always be interpreted in so charitable a fashion.

Our public-service companies find no counter-part in antiquity, but the
Roman societies for the collection of taxes bear a resemblance to these
modern organizations of capital in the nature of the franchises, as we
may call them, and the special privileges which they had. The practice
which the Roman government followed of letting out to the highest bidder
the privilege of collecting the taxes in each of the provinces, naturally
gave a great impetus to the development of companies organized for this
purpose. Every new province added to the Empire opened a fresh field for
capitalistic enterprise, in the way not only of farming the taxes, but
also of loaning money, constructing public works, and leasing the mines
belonging to the state, and Roman politicians must have felt these
financial considerations steadily pushing them on to further conquests.

But the interest of the companies did not end when Roman eagles had been
planted in a new region. It was necessary to have the provincial
government so managed as to help the agents of the companies in making as
much money as possible out of the provincials, and Cicero's year as
governor of Cilicia was made almost intolerable by the exactions which
these agents practised on the Cilicians, and the pressure which they
brought to bear upon him and his subordinates. His letters to his intimate
friend, Atticus, during this period contain pathetic accounts of the
embarrassing situations in which loaning companies and individual
capitalists at Rome placed him. On one occasion a certain Scaptius came to
him[102], armed with a strong letter of recommendation from the impeccable
Brutus, and asked to be appointed prefect of Cyprus. His purpose was, by
official pressure, to squeeze out of the people of Salamis, in Cyprus, a
debt which they owed, running at forty-eight per cent interest. Upon
making some inquiry into the previous history of Scaptius, Cicero learned
that under his predecessor in Cilicia, this same Scaptius had secured an
appointment as prefect of Cyprus, and backed by his official power, to
collect money due his company, had shut up the members of the Salaminian
common council in their town hall until five of them died of starvation.
In domestic politics the companies played an equally important rôle. The
relations which existed between the "interests" and political leaders were
as close in ancient times as they are to-day, and corporations were as
unpartisan in Rome in their political alliances as they are in the United
States. They impartially supported the democratic platforms of Gaius
Gracchus and Julius Cæsar in return for valuable concessions, and backed
the candidacy of the constitutionalist Pompey for the position of
commander-in-chief of the fleets and armies acting against the Eastern
pirates, and against Mithridates, in like expectation of substantial
returns for their help. What gave the companies their influence at the
polls was the fact that their shares were very widely held by voters.
Polybius, the Greek historian, writing of conditions at Rome in the second
century B.C., gives us to understand that almost every citizen owned
shares in some joint-stock company[103]. Poor crops in Sicily, heavy rains
in Sardinia, an uprising in Gaul, or "a strike" in the Spanish mines would
touch the pocket of every middle-class Roman.

In these circumstances it is hard to see how the Roman got on without
stock quotations in the newspapers. But Cæsar's publication of the _Acta
Diurna_, or proceedings of the senate and assembly, would take the place
of our newspapers in some respects, and the crowds which gathered at the
points where these documents were posted, would remind us of the throngs
collected in front of the bulletin in the window of a newspaper office
when some exciting event has occurred. Couriers were constantly arriving
from the agents of corporations in Gaul, Spain, Africa, and Asia with the
latest news of industrial and financial enterprises in all these sections.
What a scurrying of feet there must have been through the streets when the
first news reached Rome of the insurrection of the proletariat in Asia in
88 B.C., and of the proclamation of Mithridates guaranteeing release from
half of their obligations to all debtors who should kill money-lenders!
Asiatic stocks must have dropped almost to the zero point. We find no
evidence of the existence of an organized stock exchange. Perhaps none was
necessary, because the shares of stock do not seem to have been
transferable, but other financial business arising out of the organization
of these companies, like the loaning of money on stock, could be
transacted reasonably well in the row of banking offices which ran along
one side of the Forum, and made it an ancient Wall Street or Lombard

"Trusts" founded to control prices troubled the Romans, as they trouble
us to-day. There is an amusing reference to one of these trade
combinations as early as the third century before our era in the Captives
of Plautus.[104] The parasite in the play has been using his best quips
and his most effective leads to get an invitation to dinner, but he can't
provoke a smile, to say nothing of extracting an invitation. In a high
state of indignation he threatens to prosecute the men who avoid being his
hosts for entering into an unlawful combination like that of "the oil
dealers in the Velabrum." Incidentally it is a rather interesting
historical coincidence that the pioneer monopoly in Rome, as in our day,
was an oil trust--in the time of Plautus, of course, an olive-oil trust.
In the "Trickster," which was presented in 191 B.C., a character refers to
the mountains of grain which the dealers had in their warehouses.[105] Two
years later the "corner" had become so effective that the government
intervened, and the curule ædiles who had charge of the markets imposed a
heavy fine on the grain speculators.[106] The case was apparently
prosecuted under the Laws of the Twelve Tables of 450 B.C., the Magna
Charta of Roman liberty. It would seem, therefore, that combinations in
restraint of trade were formed at a very early date in Rome, and perhaps
Diocletian's attempt in the third century of our era to lower the cost of
living by fixing the prices of all sorts of commodities was aimed in part
at the same evil. As for government ownership, the Roman state made one or
two essays in this field, notably in the case of mines, but with
indifferent success.

Labor was as completely organized as capital.[107] In fact the passion of
the Romans for association shows itself even more clearly here, and it
would be possible to write their industrial history from a study of their
trades-unions. The story of Rome carries the founding of these guilds back
to the early days of the regal period. From the investigations of
Waltzing, Liebenam, and others their history can be made out in
considerable detail. Roman tradition was delightfully systematic in
assigning the founding of one set of institutions to one king and of
another group to another king. Romulus, for instance, is the war king, and
concerns himself with military and political institutions. The second
king, Numa, is a man of peace, and is occupied throughout his reign with
the social and religious organization of his people. It was Numa who
established guilds of carpenters, dyers, shoemakers, tanners, workers in
copper and gold, fluteplayers, and potters. The critical historian looks
with a sceptical eye on the story of the kings, and yet this list of
trades is just what we should expect to find in primitive Rome. There are
no bakers or weavers, for instance, in the list. We know that in our own
colonial days the baking, spinning, and weaving were done at home, as they
would naturally have been when Rome was a community of shepherds and
farmers. As Roman civilization became more complex, industrial
specialization developed, and the number of guilds grew, but during the
Republic we cannot trace their growth very successfully for lack of
information about them. Corporations, as we have seen, played an
important part in politics, and their doings are chronicled in the
literature, like oratory and history, which deals with public questions,
but the trades-guilds had little share in politics; they were made up of
the obscure and weak, and consequently are rarely mentioned in the
writings of a Cicero or a Livy.

It is only when the general passion for setting down records of all sorts
of enterprises and incidents on imperishable materials came in with the
Empire that the story of the Roman trades-union can be clearly followed.
It is a fortunate thing for us that this mania swept through the Roman
Empire, because it has given us some twenty-five hundred inscriptions
dealing with these organizations of workmen. These inscriptions disclose
the fact that there were more than eighty different trades organized into
guilds in the city of Rome alone. They included skilled and unskilled
laborers, from the porters, or _saccarii_, to the goldsmiths, or
_aurifices_. The names of some of them, like the _pastillarii_, or guild
of pastile-makers, and the _scabillarii_, or castanet-players, indicate a
high degree of industrial specialization. From one man's tombstone even
the conclusion seems to follow that he belonged to a union of what we may
perhaps call checker-board makers. The merchants formed trade associations
freely. Dealers in oil, in wine, in fish, and in grain are found organized
all over the Empire. Even the perfumers, hay-dealers, and ragmen had their
societies. No line of distinction seems to be drawn between the artist and
the artisan. The mason and the sculptor were classed in the same category
by Roman writers, so that we are not surprised to find unions of men in
both occupations. A curious distinction between the professions is also
brought out by these guild inscriptions. There are unions made up of
physicians, but none of lawyers, for the lawyer in early times was
supposed to receive no remuneration for his services. In point of fact the
physician was on a lower social plane in Rome than he was even among our
ancestors. The profession was followed almost exclusively by Greek
freedmen, as we can see from the records on their tombstones, and was
highly specialized, if we may judge from the epitaphs of eye and ear
doctors, surgeons, dentists, and veterinarians. To the same category with
the physician and sculptor belong the architect, the teacher, and the
chemist. Men of these professions pursued the _artes liberales_, as the
Romans put it, and constituted an aristocracy among those engaged in the
trades or lower professions. Below them in the hierarchy came those who
gained a livelihood by the _artes ludicræ_, like the actor, professional
dancer, juggler, or gladiator, and in the lowest caste were the
carpenters, weavers, and other artisans whose occupations were _artes
vulgares et sordidæ_.

In the early part of this chapter the tendency of the Romans to form
voluntary associations was noted as a national characteristic. This fact
comes out very clearly if we compare the number of trades-unions in the
Western world with those in Greece and the Orient. Our conclusions must be
drawn of course from the extant inscriptions which refer to guilds, and
time may have dealt more harshly with the stones in one place than in
another, or the Roman government may have given its consent to the
establishment of such organizations with more reluctance in one province
than another; but, taking into account the fact that we have guild
inscriptions from four hundred and seventy-five towns and villages in the
Empire, these elements of uncertainty in our conclusions are practically
eliminated, and a fair comparison may be drawn between conditions in the
East and the West. If we pick out some of the more important towns in the
Greek part of the Roman world, we find five guilds reported from Tralles
in Caria, six from Smyrna, one from Alexandria, and eleven from Hierapolis
in Phrygia. On the other hand, in the city of Rome there were more than
one hundred, in Brixia (modern Brescia) seventeen or more, in Lugudunum
(Lyons) twenty at least, and in Canabæ, in the province of Dacia, five.
These figures, taken at random for some of the larger towns in different
parts of the Empire, bring out the fact very clearly that the western and
northern provinces readily accepted Roman ideas and showed the Roman
spirit, as illustrated in their ability and willingness to co-operate for
a common purpose, but that the Greek East was never Romanized. Even in the
settlements in Dacia, which continued under Roman rule only from 107 to
270 A.D., we find as many trades-unions as existed in Greek towns which
were held by the Romans for three or four centuries. The comparative
number of guilds and of guild inscriptions would, in fact, furnish us
with a rough test of the extent to which Rome impressed her civilization
on different parts of the Empire, even if we had no other criteria. We
should know, for instance, that less progress had been made in Britain
than in Southern Gaul, that Salona in Dalmatia, Lugudunum in Gaul, and
Mogontiacum (Mainz) in Germany were important centres of Roman
civilization. It is, of course, possible from a study of these
inscriptions to make out the most flourishing industries in the several
towns, but with that we are not concerned here.

These guilds which we have been considering were trades-unions in the
sense that they were organizations made up of men working in the same
trade, but they differed from modern unions, and also from mediaeval
guilds, in the objects for which they were formed. They made no attempt to
raise wages, to improve working conditions, to limit the number of
apprentices, to develop skill and artistic taste in the craft, or to
better the social or political position of the laborer. It was the need
which their members felt for companionship, sympathy, and help in the
emergencies of life, and the desire to give more meaning to their lives,
that drew them together. These motives explain the provisions made for
social gatherings, and for the burial of members, which were the
characteristic features of most of the organizations. It is the social
side, for instance, which is indicated on a tombstone, found in a little
town of central Italy. After giving the name of the deceased, it reads:
"He bequeathed to his guild, the rag-dealers, a thousand sesterces, from
the income of which each year, on the festival of the Parentalia, not less
than twelve men shall dine at his tomb."[108] Another in northern Italy
reads: "To Publius Etereius Quadratus, the son of Publius, of the _Tribus
Quirina_, Etereia Aristolais, his mother, has set up a statue, at whose
dedication she gave the customary banquet to the union of rag-dealers, and
also a sum of money, from the income of which annually, from this time
forth, on the birthday of Quadratus, April 9, where his remains have been
laid, they should make a sacrifice, and should hold the customary banquet
in the temple, and should bring roses in their season and cover and crown
the statue; which thing they have undertaken to do."[109] The menu of one
of these dinners given in Dacia[110] has come down to us. It includes lamb
and pork, bread, salad, onions, and two kinds of wine. The cost of the
entertainment amounted to one hundred and sixty-nine _denarii_, or about
twenty-seven dollars, a sum which would probably have a purchasing value
to-day of from three to four times that amount.

The "temple" or chapel referred to in these inscriptions was usually
semicircular, and may have served as a model for the Christian oratories.
The building usually stood in a little grove, and, with its accommodations
for official meetings and dinners, served the same purpose as a modern
club-house. Besides the special gatherings for which some deceased member
or some rich patron provided, the guild met at fixed times during the year
to dine or for other social purposes. The income of the society, which was
made up of the initiation fees and monthly dues of the members, and of
donations, was supplemented now and then by a system of fines. At least,
in an African inscription we read: "In the Curia of Jove. Done November
27, in the consulship of Maternus and Atticus.... If any one shall wish to
be a flamen, he shall give three amphorae of wine, besides bread and salt
and provisions. If any one shall wish to be a magister, he shall give two
amphorae of wine.... If any one shall have spoken disrespectfully to a
flamen, or laid hands upon him, he shall pay two denarii.... If any one
shall have gone to fetch wine, and shall have made away with it, he shall
give double the amount."[111]

The provision which burial societies made for their members is illustrated
by the following epitaph:

"To the shade of Gaius Julius Filetio, born in Africa, a physician, who
lived thirty-five years. Gaius Julius Filetus and Julia Euthenia, his
parents, have erected it to their very dear son. Also to Julius
Athenodorus, his brother, who lived thirty-five years. Euthenia set it up.
He has been placed here, to whose burial the guild of rag-dealers has
contributed three hundred denarii."[112] People of all ages have craved a
respectable burial, and the pathetic picture which Horace gives us in one
of his Satires of the fate which befell the poor and friendless at the
end of life, may well have led men of that class to make provisions which
would protect them from such an experience, and it was not an unnatural
thing for these organizations to be made up of men working in the same
trade. The statutes of several guilds have come down to us. One found at
Lanuvium has articles dealing particularly with burial regulations. They
read in part:[113]

"It has pleased the members, that whoever shall wish to join this guild
shall pay an initiation fee of one hundred sesterces, and an amphora of
good wine, as well as five _asses_ a month. Voted likewise, that if any
man shall not have paid his dues for six consecutive months, and if the
lot common to all men has befallen him, his claim to a burial shall not be
considered, even if he shall have so stipulated in his will. Voted
likewise, that if any man from this body of ours, having paid his dues,
shall depart, there shall come to him from the treasury three hundred
sesterces, from which sum fifty sesterces, which shall be divided at the
funeral pyre, shall go for the funeral rites. Furthermore, the obsequies
shall be performed on foot."

Besides the need of comradeship, and the desire to provide for a
respectable burial, we can see another motive which brought the weak and
lowly together in these associations. They were oppressed by the sense of
their own insignificance in society, and by the pitifully small part which
they played in the affairs of the world. But if they could establish a
society of their own, with concerns peculiar to itself which they would
administer, and if they could create positions of honor and importance in
this organization, even the lowliest man in Rome would have a chance to
satisfy that craving to exercise power over others which all of us feel,
to hold titles and distinctions, and to wear the insignia of office and
rank. This motive worked itself out in the establishment of a complete
hierarchy of offices, as we saw in part in an African inscription given
above. The Roman state was reproduced in miniature in these societies,
with their popular assemblies, and their officials, who bore the honorable
titles of quæstor, curator, prætor, ædile, and so forth.

To read these twenty-five hundred or more inscriptions from all parts of
the Empire brings us close to the heart of the common people. We see
their little ambitions, their jealousies, their fears, their gratitude for
kindness, their own kindliness, and their loyalty to their fellows. All of
them are anxious to be remembered after death, and provide, when they can
do so, for the celebration of their birthdays by members of the
association. A guild inscription in Latium, for instance, reads:[114]
"Jan. 6, birthday of Publius Claudius Veratius Abascantianus, [who has
contributed] 6,000 sesterces, [paying an annual interest of] 180 denarii."
"Jan. 25, birthday of Gargilius Felix, [who has contributed] 2,000
sesterces, [paying an annual interest of] 60 denarii," and so on through
the twelve months of the year.

It is not entirely clear why the guilds never tried to bring pressure to
bear on their employers to raise wages, or to improve their position by
means of the strike, or by other methods with which we are familiar
to-day. Perhaps the difference between the ancient and modern methods of
manufacture helps us to understand this fact. In modern times most
articles can be made much more cheaply by machinery than by hand, and the
use of water-power, of steam, and of electricity, and the invention of
elaborate machines, has led us to bring together a great many workmen
under one roof or in one factory. The men who are thus employed in a
single establishment work under common conditions, suffer the same
disadvantages, and are brought into such close relations with one another
that common action to improve their lot is natural. In ancient times, as
may be seen in the chapter on Diocletian's edict, machinery was almost
unknown, and artisans worked singly in their own homes or in the houses of
their employers, so that joint action to improve their condition would
hardly be expected.

Another factor which should probably be taken into account is the
influence of slavery. This institution did not play the important rôle
under the Empire in depressing the free laborer which it is often supposed
to have played, because it was steadily dying out; but an employer could
always have recourse to slave labor to a limited extent, and the
struggling freedmen who had just come up from slavery were not likely to
urge very strongly their claims for consideration.

In this connection it is interesting to recall the fact that before
slavery got a foothold in Rome, the masses in their struggle with the
classes used what we think of to-day as the most modern weapon employed in
industrial warfare. We can all remember the intense interest with which we
watched the novel experience which St. Petersburg underwent some six years
ago, when the general strike was instituted. And yet, if we accept
tradition, that method of bringing the government and society to terms was
used twice by the Roman proletariat over two thousand years ago. The
plebeians, so the story goes, unable to get their economic and political
rights, stopped work and withdrew from the city to the Sacred Mount. Their
abstention from labor did not mean the going out of street lamps, the
suspension of street-car traffic, and the closing of factories and shops,
but, besides the loss of fighting men, it meant that no more shoes could
be had, no more carpentry work done, and no more wine-jars made until
concessions should be granted. But, having slaves to compete with it, and
with conditions which made organization difficult, free labor could not
hope to rise, and the unions could take no serious step toward the
improvement of the condition of their members. The feeling of security on
this score which society had, warranted the government in allowing even
its own employees to organize, and we find unions of government clerks,
messengers, and others. The Roman government was, therefore, never called
upon to solve the grave political and economic questions which France and
Italy have had to face in late years in the threatened strikes of the
state railway and postal employees.

We have just been noticing how the ancient differed from the modern
trades-union in the objects which it sought to obtain. The religious
character which it took seems equally strange to us at first sight. Every
guild put itself under the protection of some deity and was closely
associated with a cult. Silvanus, the god of the woods, was a natural
favorite with the carpenters, Father Bacchus with the innkeepers, Vesta
with the bakers, and Diana with those who hunted wild animals for the
circus. The reason for the choice of certain other divine patrons is not
so clear. Why the cabmen of Tibur, for instance, picked out Hercules as
their tutelary deity, unless, like Horace in his Satires, the ancient
cabman thought of him as the god of treasure-trove, and, therefore,
likely to inspire the giving of generous tips, we cannot guess. The
religious side of Roman trade associations will not surprise us when we
recall the strong religious bent of the Roman character, and when we
remember that no body of Romans would have thought of forming any kind of
an organization without securing the sanction and protection of the gods.
The family, the clan, the state all had their protecting deities, to whom
appropriate rites were paid on stated occasions. Speaking of the religious
side of these trade organizations naturally reminds one of the religious
associations which sprang up in such large numbers toward the end of the
republican period and under the Empire. They lie outside the scope of this
chapter, but, in the light of the issue which has arisen in recent years
between religious associations and the governments of Italy, France,
Spain, and Portugal, it is interesting to notice in passing that the Roman
state strove to hold in check many of the ancient religious associations,
but not always with much success. As we have noticed, its attitude toward
the trade-guilds was not unfriendly. In the last days of the Republic,
however, they began to enter politics, and were used very effectively in
the elections by political leaders in both parties.[115] In fact the
fortunes of the city seemed likely to be controlled by political clubs,
until severe legislation and the transfer of the elections in the early
Empire from the popular assemblies to the senate put an end to the use of
trade associations for political purposes. It was in the light of this
development that the government henceforth required all newly formed
trades-unions to secure official authorization.

The change in the attitude of the state toward these organizations, as
time went on, has been traced by Liebenam in his study of Roman
associations. The story of this change furnishes an interesting episode in
the history of special privilege, and may not be without profit to us. The
Roman government started with the assumption that the operation of these
voluntary associations was a matter of public as well as of private
concern, and could serve public interests. Therefore their members were to
be exempted from some of the burdens which the ordinary citizen bore. It
was this reasoning, for instance, which led Trajan to set the bakers free
from certain charges, and which influenced Hadrian to grant the same
favors to those associations of skippers which supplied Rome with food. In
the light of our present-day discussion it is interesting also to find
that Marcus Aurelius granted them the right to manumit slaves and receive
legacies--that is, he made them juridical persons. But if these
associations were to be fostered by law, in proportion as they promoted
the public welfare, it also followed logically that the state could put a
restraining hand upon them when their development failed to serve public
interests in the highest degree. Following this logical sequence, the
Emperor Claudius, in his efforts to promote a more wholesome home life, or
for some other reason not known to us, forbade the eating-houses or the
delicatessen shops to sell cooked meats or warm water. Antoninus Pius, in
his paternal care for the unions, prescribed an age test and a physical
test for those who wished to become members. Later, under the law a man
was allowed to join one guild only. Such a legal provision as this was a
natural concomitant of the concession of privileges to the unions. If the
members of these organizations were to receive special favors from the
state, the state must see to it that the rolls were not padded. It must,
in fact, have the right of final supervision of the list of members. So
long as industry flourished, and so long as the population increased, or
at least remained stationary, this oversight by the government brought no
appreciable ill results. But when financial conditions grew steadily
worse, when large tracts of land passed out of cultivation and the
population rapidly dwindled, the numbers in the trades-unions began to
decline. The public services, constantly growing heavier, which the state
required of the guilds in return for their privileges made the loss of
members still greater. This movement threatened the industrial interests
of the Empire and must be checked at all hazards. Consequently, taking
another logical step in the way of government regulation in the interests
of the public, the state forbade men to withdraw from the unions, and made
membership in a union hereditary. Henceforth the carpenter must always
remain a carpenter, the weaver a weaver, and the sons and grandsons of the
carpenter and the weaver must take up the occupation of their fathers, and
a man is bound forever to his trade as the serf is to the soil.

A Roman Politician

(Gaius Scribonius Curio)

The life of Gaius Scribonius Curio has so many points of interest for the
student of Roman politics and society, that one is bewildered by the
variety of situations and experiences which it covers. His private
character is made up of a _mélange_ of contradictory qualities, of
generosity, and profligacy, of sincerity and unscrupulousness. In his
public life there is the same facile change of guiding principles. He is
alternately a follower of Cicero and a supporter of his bitterest enemy, a
Tory and a Democrat, a recognized opponent of Cæsar and his trusted agent
and adviser. His dramatic career stirs Lucan to one of his finest
passages, gives a touch of vigor to the prosaic narrative of Velleius, and
even leads the sedate Pliny to drop into satire.[116] Friend and foe have
helped to paint the picture. Cicero, the counsellor of his youth, writes
of him and to him; Cælius, his bosom friend, analyzes his character;
Cæsar leaves us a record of his military campaigns and death, while
Velleius and Appian recount his public and private sins. His story has
this peculiar charm, that many of the incidents which make it up are
related from day to day, as they occurred, by his contemporaries, Cicero
and Cælius, in the confidential letters which they wrote to their intimate
friends. With all the strange elements which entered into it, however, his
career is not an unusual one for the time in which he lived. Indeed it is
almost typical for the class to which he belonged, and in studying it we
shall come to know something more of that group of brilliant young men,
made up of Cælius, Antony, Dolabella, and others, who were drawn to
Cæsar's cause and played so large a part in bringing him success. The life
of Curio not only illuminates social conditions in the first century
before our era, but it epitomizes and personifies the political history of
his time and the last struggles of the Republic. It brings within its
compass the Catilinarian conspiracy, the agitation of Clodius, the
formation of the first triumvirate, the rivalry of Cæsar and Pompey, and
the civil war, for in all these episodes Curio took an active part.

Students of history have called attention to the striking way in which the
members of certain distinguished Roman families from generation to
generation kept up the political traditions of the family. The Claudian
family is a striking case in point. Recognition of this fact helps us to
understand Curio. His grandfather and his father were both prominent
orators and politicians, as Cicero tells us in his Brutus.[117] The
grandfather reached the praetorship in the year in which Gaius Gracchus
was done to death by his political opponents, while Curio pater was
consul, in 76 B.C., when the confusion which followed the breaking up of
the constitution and of the party of Sulla was at its height. Cicero tells
us that the second Curio had "absolutely no knowledge of letters," but
that he was one of the successful public speakers of his day, thanks to
the training which he had received at home. The third Curio, with whom we
are concerned here, was prepared for public life as his father had been,
for Cicero remarks of him that "although he had not been sufficiently
trained by teachers, he had a rare gift for oratory."[118]

On this point Cicero could speak with authority, because Curio had very
possibly been one of his pupils in oratory and law. At least the very
intimate acquaintance which he has with Curio's character and the
incidents of his life, the fatherly tone of Cicero's letters to him, and
the fact that Curio's nearest friends were among his disciples make this a
natural inference. How intimate this relation was, one can see from the
charming picture which Cicero draws, in the introductory chapters of his
Essay on Friendship, of his own intercourse as a young man with the
learned Augur Scævola. Roman youth attended their counsellor and friend
when he went to the forum to take part in public business, or sat with him
at home discussing matters of public and private interest, as Cicero and
his companions sat on the bench in the garden with the pontiff Scævola,
when he set forth the discourse of Lælius on friendship, and thus, out of
his experience, the old man talked to the young men about him upon the
conduct of life as well as upon the technical points of law and oratory.
So many of the brilliant young politicians of this period had been brought
into close relations with Cicero in this way, that when he found himself
forced out of politics by the Cæsarians, he whimsically writes to his
friend Pætus that he is inclined to give up public life and open a school,
and not more than a year before his death he pathetically complains that
he has not leisure even to take the waters at the spa, because of the
demands which are made upon him for lessons in oratory.

If it did not take us too far from our chosen subject, it would be
interesting to stop and consider at length what effect Cicero's intimate
relations with these young men had upon his character, his political
views, his personal fortunes, and the course of politics. That they kept
him young in his interests and sympathies, that they kept his mind alert
and receptive, comes out clearly in his letters to them, which are full of
jest and raillery and enthusiasm. That he never developed into a Tory, as
Catulus did, or became indifferent to political conditions, as Lucullus
did, may have been due in part to his intimate association with this group
of enthusiastic young politicians. So far as his personal fortunes were
concerned, when the struggle between Cæsar and Pompey came, these former
pupils of Cicero had an opportunity to show their attachment and their
gratitude to him. _They_ were followers of Cæsar, and _he_ cast in his lot
with Pompey. But this made no difference in their relations. To the
contrary, they gave him advice and help; in their most hurried journeys
they found time to visit him, and they interceded with Cæsar in his
behalf. To determine whether he influenced the fortunes of the state
through the effect which his teachings had upon these young men would
require a paper by itself. Perhaps no man has ever had a better
opportunity than Cicero had in their cases to leave a lasting impression
on the political leaders of the coming generation. Curio, Cælius,
Trebatius, Dolabella, Hirtius, and Pansa, who were Cæsar's lieutenants, in
the years when their characters were forming and their political
tendencies were being determined, were moulded by Cicero. They were warmly
attached to him as their guide, philosopher, and friend, and they admired
him as a writer, an orator, and an accomplished man of the world. Later
they attached themselves to Cæsar, and while they were still under his
spell, Cicero's influence over their political course does not seem to
count for so much, but after Cæsar's death, the latent effect of Cicero's
friendship and teaching makes itself clearly felt in the heroic service
which such men as Hirtius and Pansa rendered to the cause of the dying
Republic. Possibly even Curio, had he been living, might have been found,
after the Ides of March, fighting by the side of Cicero.

Perhaps there is no better way of bringing out the intimate relations
which Curio and the other young men of this group bore to the orator than
by translating one of Cicero's early letters to him. It was written in 53
B.C., when the young man was in Asia, just beginning his political career
as quæstor, or treasurer, on the staff of the governor of that province,
and reads:[119]

"Although I grieve to have been suspected of neglect by you, still it has
not been so annoying to me that my failure in duty is complained of by you
as pleasant that it has been noticed, especially since, in so far as I am
accused, I am free from fault. But in so far as you intimate that you
long for a letter from me, you disclose that which I know well, it is
true, but that which is sweet and cherished--your love, I mean. In point
of fact, I never let any one pass, who I think will go to you, without
giving him a letter. For who is so indefatigable in writing as I am? From
you, on the other hand, twice or thrice at most have I received a letter,
and then a very short one. Therefore, if you are an unjust judge toward
me, I shall condemn you on the same charge, but if you shall be unwilling
to have me do that, you must show yourself just to me.

"But enough about letters; I have no fear of not satisfying you by
writing, especially if in that kind of activity you will not scorn my
efforts. I _did_ grieve that you were away from us so long, inasmuch as I
was deprived of the enjoyment of most delightful companionship, but now I
rejoice because, in your absence, you have attained all your ends without
sacrificing your dignity in the slightest degree, and because in all your
undertakings the outcome has corresponded to my desires. What my boundless
affection for you forces me to urge upon you is briefly put. So great a
hope is based, shall I say, on your spirit or on your abilities, that I do
not hesitate to beseech and implore you to come back to us with a
character so moulded that you may be able to preserve and maintain this
confidence in you which you have aroused. And since forgetfulness shall
never blot out my remembrance of your services to me, I beg you to
remember that whatever improvements may come in your fortune, or in your
station in life, you would not have been able to secure them, if you had
not as a boy in the old days followed my most loyal and loving counsels.
Wherefore you ought to have such a feeling toward us, that we, who are now
growing heavy with years, may find rest in your love and your youth."

In a most unexpected place, in one of Cicero's fiery invectives against
Antony,[120] we come upon an episode illustrating his affectionate care of
Curio during Curio's youth. The elder Curio lies upon a couch, prostrate
with grief at the wreck which his son has brought on the house by his
dissolute life and his extravagance. The younger Curio throws himself at
Cicero's feet in tears. Like a foster-father, Cicero induces the young
man to break off his evil habits, and persuades the father to forgive him
and pay his debts. This scene which he describes here, reminds us of
Curio's first appearance in Cicero's correspondence, where, with Curio's
wild life in mind, he is spoken of as _filiola Curionis_.[121]

It is an appropriate thing that a man destined to lead so stormy a life as
Curio did, should come on the stage as a leader in the wild turmoil of the
Clodian affair. What brought the two Curios to the front in this matter as
champions of Cicero's future enemy Clodius, it is not easy to say. It is
interesting to notice in passing, however, that our Curio enters politics
as a Democrat. He was the leader, in fact, of the younger element in that
party, of the "Catilinarian crowd," as Cicero styles them, and arrayed
himself against Lucullus, Hortensius, Messala, and other prominent
Conservatives. What the methods were which Curio and his followers
adopted, Cicero graphically describes.[122] They blocked up the entrances
to the polling places with professional rowdies, and allowed only one kind
of ballots to be distributed to the voters. This was in 61 B.C., when
Curio can scarcely have been more than twenty-three years old.

In the following year Cæsar was back in Rome from his successful
proprætorship in Spain, and found little difficulty in persuading Pompey
and Crassus to join him in forming that political compact which controlled
the fortunes of Rome for the next ten years. As a part of the agreement,
Cæsar was made consul in 59 B.C., and forced his radical legislation
through the popular assembly in spite of the violent opposition of the
Conservatives. This is the year, too, of the candidacy of Clodius for the
tribunate. Toward both these movements the attitude of Curio is puzzling.
He reports to Cicero[123] that Clodius's main object in running for the
tribunate is to repeal the legislation of Cæsar. It is strange that a man
who had been in the counsels of Clodius, and was so shrewd on other
occasions in interpreting political motives, can have been so deceived. We
can hardly believe that he was double-faced toward Cicero. We must
conclude, I think, that his strong dislike for Cæsar's policy and
political methods colored his view of the situation. His fierce opposition
to Cæsar is the other strange incident in this period of his life. Most
of the young men of the time, even those of good family, were enthusiastic
supporters of Cæsar. Curio, however, is bitterly opposed to him.[124]
Perhaps he resented Cæsar's repression of freedom of speech, for he tells
Cicero that the young men of Rome will not submit to the high-handed
methods of the triumvirs, or perhaps he imbibed his early dislike for
Cæsar from his father, whose sentiments are made clear enough by a savage
epigram at Cæsar's expense, which Suetonius quotes from a speech of the
elder Curio.[125] At all events he is the only man who dares speak out. He
is the idol of the Conservatives, and is surrounded by enthusiastic crowds
whenever he appears in the forum. He is now the recognized leader of the
opposition to Cæsar, and a significant proof of this fact is furnished at
the great games given in honor of Apollo in the summer of 59. When Cæsar
entered the theatre there was faint applause; when Curio entered the crowd
rose and cheered him, "as they used to cheer Pompey when the commonwealth
was safe."[126] Perhaps the mysterious Vettius episode, an ancient Titus
Oates affair, which belongs to this year, reflects the desire of the
triumvirs to get rid of Curio, and shows also their fear of his
opposition. This unscrupulous informer is said to have privately told
Curio of a plot against the life of Pompey, in the hope of involving him
in the meshes of the plot. Curio denounced him to Pompey, and Vettius was
thrown into prison, where he was afterward found dead, before the truth of
the matter could be brought out. Of course Curio's opposition to Cæsar
effected little, except, perhaps, in drawing Cæsar's attention to him as a
clever politician.

To Curio's quæstorship in Asia reference has already been made. It fell in
53 B.C., and from his incumbency of this office we can make an approximate
estimate of his date of birth. Thirty or thirty-one was probably the
minimum age for holding the quæstorship at this time, so that Curio must
have been born about 84 B.C. From Cicero's letter to him, which has been
given above, it would seem to follow that he had performed his duties in
his province with eminent success. During his absence from Rome his
father died, and with his father's death one stimulating cause of his
dislike for Cæsar may have disappeared. To Curio's absence in his province
we owe six of the charming letters which Cicero wrote to him. In one of
his letters of this year he writes:[127] "There are many kinds of letters,
as you well know, but one sort, for the sake of which letter-writing was
invented, is best recognized: I mean letters written for the purpose of
informing those who are not with us of whatever it may be to our advantage
or to theirs that they should know. Surely you are not looking for a
letter of this kind from me, for you have correspondents and messengers
from home who report to you about your household. Moreover, so far as my
concerns go, there is absolutely nothing new. There are two kinds of
letters left which please me very much: one, of the informal and jesting
sort; the other, serious and weighty. I do not feel that it is unbecoming
to adopt either of these styles. Am I to jest with you by letter? On my
word I do not think that there is a citizen who can laugh in these days.
Or shall I write something of a more serious character? What subject is
there on which Cicero can write seriously to Curio, unless it be
concerning the commonwealth? And on this matter this is my situation: that
I neither dare to set down in writing that which I think, nor wish to
write what I do not think."

The Romans felt the same indifference toward affairs in the provinces that
we show in this country, unless their investments were in danger. They
were wrapped up in their own concerns, and politics in Rome were so
absorbing in 53 B.C. that people in the city probably paid little
attention to the doings of a quæstor in the far-away province of Asia.
But, as the time for Curio's return approached, men recalled the striking
rôle which he played in politics in earlier days, and wondered what course
he would take when he came back. Events were moving rapidly toward a
crisis. Julia, Cæsar's daughter, whom Pompey had married, died in the
summer of 54 B.C., and Crassus was defeated and murdered by the Parthians
in 53 B.C. The death of Crassus brought Cæsar and Pompey face to face, and
Julia's death broke one of the strongest bonds which had held these two
rivals together. Cæsar's position, too, was rendered precarious by the
desperate struggle against the Belgæ, in which he was involved in 53 B.C.
In Rome the political pot was boiling furiously. The city was in the grip
of the bands of desperadoes hired by Milo and Clodius, who broke up the
elections during 53 B.C., so that the first of January, 52, arrived with
no chief magistrates in the city. To a man of Curio's daring and
versatility this situation offered almost unlimited possibilities, and
recognizing this fact, Cicero writes earnestly to him,[128] on the eve of
his return, to enlist him in support of Milo's candidacy for the
consulship. Curio may have just arrived in the city when matters reached a
climax, for on January 18, 52 B.C., Clodius was killed in a street brawl
by the followers of Milo, and Pompey was soon after elected sole consul,
to bring order out of the chaos, if possible.

Curio was not called upon to support Milo for the consulship, because
Milo's share in the murder of Clodius and the elevation of Pompey to his
extra-constitutional magistracy put an end to Milo's candidacy. What part
he took in supporting or in opposing Pompey's reform legislation of 52
B.C., and what share he had in the preliminary skirmishes between Cæsar
and the senate during the early part of 51, we have no means of knowing.
As the situation became more acute, however, toward the end of the year,
we hear of him again as an active political leader. Cicero's absence from
Rome from May, 51 to January, 49 B.C., is a fortunate thing for us, for to
it we owe the clever and gossipy political letters which his friend Cælius
sent him from the capital. In one of these letters, written August 1, 51
B.C., we learn that Curio is a candidate for the tribunate for the
following year, and in it we find a keen analysis of the situation, and an
interesting, though tantaizingly brief, estimate of his character. Coming
from an intimate friend of Curio, it is especially valuable to us. Cælius
writes:[129] "He inspires with great alarm many people who do not know him
and do not know how easily he can be influenced, but judging from my hopes
and wishes, and from his present behavior, he will prefer to support the
Conservatives and the senate. In his present frame of mind he is simply
bubbling over with this feeling. The source and reason of this attitude
of his lies in the fact that Cæsar, who is in the habit of winning the
friendship of men of the worst sort at any cost whatsoever, has shown a
great contempt for him. And of the whole affair it seems to me a most
delightful outcome, and the view has been taken by the rest, too, to such
a degree that Curio, who does nothing after deliberation, seems to have
followed a definite policy and definite plans in avoiding the traps of
those who had made ready to oppose his election to the tribunate--I mean
the Lælii, Antonii, and powerful people of that sort." Without strong
convictions or a settled policy, unscrupulous, impetuous, radical, and
changeable, these are the qualities which Cælius finds in Curio, and what
we have seen of his career leads us to accept the correctness of this
estimate. In 61 he had been the champion of Clodius, and the leader of the
young Democrats, while two years later we found him the opponent of Cæsar,
and an ultra-Conservative. It is in the light of his knowledge of Curio's
character, and after receiving this letter from Cælius, that Cicero writes
in December, 51 B.C., to congratulate him upon his election to the
tribunate. He begs him "to govern and direct his course in all matters in
accordance with his own judgment, and not to be carried away by the advice
of other people." "I do not fear," he says, "that you may do anything in a
fainthearted or stupid way, if you defend those policies which you
yourself shall believe to be right.... Commune with yourself, take
yourself into counsel, hearken to yourself, determine your own policy."

The other point in the letter of Cælius, his analysis of the political
situation, so far as Curio is concerned, is not so easy to follow. Cælius
evidently believes that Curio had coquetted with Cæsar and had been
snubbed by him, that his intrigues with Cæsar had at first led the
aristocracy to oppose his candidacy, but that Cæsar's contemptuous
treatment of his advances had driven him into the arms of the senatorial
party. It is quite possible, however, that an understanding may have been
reached between Cæsar and Curio even at this early date, and that Cæsar's
coldness and Curio's conservatism may both have been assumed. This would
enable Curio to pose as an independent leader, free from all obligations
to Cæsar, Pompey, or the Conservatives, and anxious to see fair play and
safeguard the interests of the whole people, an independent leader who
was driven over in the end to Cæsar's side by the selfish and factious
opposition of the senatorial party to his measures of reform and his
advocacy of even-handed justice for both Cæsar and Pompey.[130]

Whether Curio came to an understanding with Cæsar before he entered on his
tribunate or not, his policy from the outset was well calculated to make
the transfer of his allegiance seem forced upon him, and to help him carry
over to Cæsar the support of those who were not blinded by partisan
feelings. Before he had been in office a fortnight he brought in a bill
which would have annulled the law, passed by Cæsar in his consulship,
assigning land in Campania to Pompey's veterans.[131] The repeal of this
law had always been a favorite project with the Conservatives, and Curio's
proposal seemed to be directed equally against Cæsar and Pompey. In
February of 50 B.C. he brought in two bills whose reception facilitated
his passage to the Cæsarian party. One of them provided for the repair of
the roads, and, as Appian tells us,[132] although "he knew that he could
not carry any such measure, he hoped that Pompey's friends would oppose
him so that he might have that as an excuse for opposing Pompey." The
second measure was to insert an intercalary month. It will be remembered
that before Cæsar reformed the calendar, it was necessary to insert an
extra month in alternate years, and 50 B.C. was a year in which
intercalation was required. Curio's proposal was, therefore, a very proper
one. It would recommend itself also on the score of fairness. March 1 had
been set as the day on which the senate should take up the question of
Cæsar's provinces, and after that date there would be little opportunity
to consider other business. Now the intercalated month would have been
inserted, in accordance with the regular practice, after February 23, and
by its insertion time would have been given for the proper discussion of
the measures which Curio had proposed. Incidentally, and probably this was
in Curio's mind, the date when Cæsar might be called upon to surrender his
provinces would be postponed. The proposal to insert the extra month was
defeated, and Curio, blocked in every move by the partisan and
unreasonable opposition of Pompey and the Conservatives, found the
pretext for which lie had been working, and came out openly for
Cæsar.[133] Those who knew him well were not surprised at the transfer of
his allegiance. It was probably in fear of such a move that Cicero had
urged him not to yield to the influence of others, and when Cicero in
Cilicia hears the news, he writes to his friend Cælius: "Is it possible?
Curio is now defending Cæsar! Who would have expected it?--except myself,
for, as surely as I hope to live, _I_ expected it. Heavens! how I miss the
laugh we might have had over it." Looking back, as we can now, on the
political rôle which Curio played during the next twelve months, it seems
strange that two of his intimate friends, who were such far-sighted
politicians as Cicero and Cælius were, should have underestimated his
political ability so completely. It shows Cæsar's superior political
sagacity that he clearly saw his qualities as a leader and tactician. What
terms Cæsar was forced to make to secure his support we do not know.
Gossip said that the price was sixty million sesterces,[134] or more than
two and a half million dollars. He was undoubtedly in great straits. The
immense sums which he had spent in celebrating funeral games in honor of
his father had probably left him a bankrupt, and large amounts of money
were paid for political services during the last years of the republic.
Naturally proof of the transaction cannot be had, and even Velleius
Paterculus, in his savage arraignment of Curio,[135] does not feel
convinced of the truth of the story, but the tale is probable.

It was high time for Cæsar to provide himself with an agent in Rome. The
month of March was near at hand, when the long-awaited discussion of his
provinces would come up in the senate. His political future, and his
rights as a citizen, depended upon his success in blocking the efforts of
the senate to take his provinces from him before the end of the year, when
he could step from the proconsulship to the consulship. An interval of
even a month in private life between the two offices would be all that his
enemies would need for bringing political charges against him that would
effect his ruin. His displacement before the end of the year must be
prevented, therefore, at all hazards. To this task Curio addressed
himself, and with surpassing adroitness. He did not come out at once as
Cæsar's champion. His function was to hold the scales true between Cæsar
and Pompey, to protect the Commonwealth against the overweening ambition
and threatening policy of both men. He supported the proposal that Cæsar
should be called upon to surrender his army, but coupled with it the
demand that Pompey also should be required to give up his troops and his
proconsulship. The fairness of his plan appealed to the masses, who would
not tolerate a favor to Pompey at Cæsar's expense. It won over even a
majority of the senate. The cleverness of his policy was clearly shown at
a critical meeting of the senate in December of the year 50 B.C. Appian
tells us the story:[136] "In the senate the opinion of each member was
asked, and Claudius craftily divided the question and took the votes
separately, thus: 'Shall Pompey be deprived of his command?' The majority
voted against the latter proposition, and it was decreed that successors
to Cæsar should be sent. Then Curio put the question whether both should
lay down their commands, and twenty-two voted in the negative, while
three hundred and seventy went back to the opinion of Curio in order to
avoid civil discord. Then Claudius dismissed the senate, exclaiming:
'Enjoy your victory and have Cæsar for a master!'" The senate's action was
vetoed, and therefore had no legal value, but it put Cæsar and Curio in
the right and Pompey' s partisans in the wrong.

As a part of his policy of defending Cæsar by calling attention to the
exceptional position and the extra-constitutional course of Pompey, Curio
offset the Conservative attacks on Cæsar by public speeches fiercely
arraigning Pompey for what he had done during his consulship, five years
before. When we recall Curio's biting wit and sarcasm, and the
unpopularity of Pompey's high-handed methods of that year, we shall
appreciate the effectiveness of this flank attack.

Another weapon which he used freely was his unlimited right of veto as
tribune. As early as April Cælius appreciated how successful these tactics
would be, and he saw the dilemma in which they would put the
Conservatives, for he writes to Cicero: "This is what I have to tell you:
if they put pressure at every point on Curio, Cæsar will defend his right
to exercise the veto; if, as seems likely, they shrink [from overruling
him], Cæsar will stay [in his province] as long as he likes." The veto
power was the weapon which he used against the senate at the meeting of
that body on the first of December, to which reference has already been
made. The elections in July had gone against Cæsar. Two Conservatives had
been returned as consuls. In the autumn the senate had found legal means
of depriving Cæsar of two of his legions. Talk of a compromise was dying
down. Pompey, who had been desperately ill in the spring, had regained his
strength. He had been exasperated by the savage attacks of Curio.
Sensational stories of the movements of Cæsar's troops in the North were
whispered in the forum, and increased the tension. In the autumn, for
instance, Cæsar had occasion to pay a visit to the towns in northern Italy
to thank them for their support of Mark Antony, his candidate for the
tribunate, and the wild rumor flew to Rome that he had advanced four
legions to Placentia,[137] that his march on the city had begun, and
tumult and confusion followed. It was in these circumstances that the
consul Marcellus moved in the senate that successors be sent to take over
Cæsar's provinces, but the motion was blocked by the veto of Curio,
whereupon the consul cried out: "If I am prevented by the vote of the
senate from taking steps for the public safety, I will take such steps on
my own responsibility as consul." After saying this he darted out of the
senate and proceeded to the suburbs with his colleague, where he presented
a sword to Pompey, and said: "My colleague and I command you to march
against Cæsar in behalf of your country, and we give you for this purpose
the army now at Capua, or in any other part of Italy, and whatever
additional forces you choose to levy."[138] Curio had accomplished his
purpose. He had shown that Pompey as well as Cæsar was a menace to the
state; he had prevented Cæsar's recall; he had shown Antony, who was to
succeed him in the tribunate, how to exasperate the senate into using
coercive measures against his sacrosanct person as tribune and thus
justify Cæsar's course in the war, and he had goaded the Conservatives
into taking the first overt step in the war by commissioning Pompey to
begin a campaign against Cæsar without any authorization from the senate
or the people.

The news of the unconstitutional step taken by Marcellus and Pompey
reached Rome December 19 or 20. Curio's work as tribune was done, and on
the twenty-first of the month he set out for the North to join his leader.
The senate would be called together by the new consuls on January 1, and
since, before the reform in the calendar, December had only twenty-nine
days, there were left only eight days for Curio to reach Cæsar's
head-quarters, lay the situation before him, and return to the city with
his reply. Ravenna, where Cæsar had his head-quarters, was two hundred and
forty miles from Rome. He covered the distance, apparently, in three days,
spent perhaps two days with Cæsar, and was back in Rome again for the
meeting of the senate on the morning of January 1. Consequently, he
travelled at the rate of seventy-five or eighty miles a day, twice the
rate of the ordinary Roman courier.

We cannot regret too keenly the fact that we have no account of Curio's
meeting with Cæsar, and his recital to Cæsar of the course of events in
Rome. In drawing up the document which was prepared at this conference,
Cæsar must have been largely influenced by the intimate knowledge which
Curio had of conditions in the capital, and of the temper of the senate.
It was an ultimatum, and, when Curio presented it to the senate, that body
accepted the challenge, and called upon Cæsar to lay down his command on a
specified date or be declared a public enemy. Cæsar replied by crossing
the border of his province and occupying one town after another in
northern Italy in rapid succession. All this had been agreed upon in the
meeting between Curio and Cæsar, and Velleius Paterculus[139] is probably
right in putting the responsibility for the war largely on the shoulders
of Curio, who, as he says, brought to naught the fair terms of peace which
Cæsar was ready to propose and Pompey to accept. The whole situation
points to the conclusion that Cæsar did not desire war, and was not
prepared for it. Had he anticipated its immediate outbreak, he would
scarcely have let it arise when he had only one legion with him on the
border, while his other ten legions were a long distance away.

From the outset Curio took an active part in the war which he had done so
much to bring about, and it was an appropriate thing that the closing
events in his life should have been recorded for us by his great patron,
Cæsar, in his narrative of the Civil War. On the 18th or 19th of January,
within ten days of the crossing of the Rubicon, we hear of his being sent
with a body of troops to occupy Iguvium,[140] and a month later he is in
charge of one of the investing camps before the stronghold of
Corfinium.[141] With the fall of Corfinium, on the 21st of February,
Cæsar's rapid march southward began, which swept the Pompeians out of
Italy within a month and gave Cæsar complete control of the peninsula. In
that brilliant campaign Curio undoubtedly took an active part, for at the
close of it Cæsar gave him an independent commission for the occupation of
Sicily and northern Africa. No more important command could have been
given him, for Sicily and Africa were the granaries of Rome, and if the
Pompeians continued to hold them, the Cæsarians in Italy might be starved
into submission. To this ill-fated campaign Cæsar devotes the latter half
of the second book of his Civil War. In the beginning of his account of it
he remarks: "Showing at the outset a total contempt for the military
strength of his opponent, Publius Attius Varus, Curio crossed over from
Sicily, accompanied by only two of the four legions originally given him
by Cæsar, and by only five hundred cavalry."[142] The estimate which
Cælius had made of him was true, after all, at least in military affairs.
He was bold and impetuous, and lacked a settled policy. Where daring and
rapidity of movement could accomplish his purpose, he succeeded, but he
lacked patience in finding out the size and disposition of the enemy's
forces and calmness of judgment in comparing his own strength with that of
his foe. It was this weakness in his character as a military leader which
led him to join battle with Varus and Juba's lieutenant, Saburra, without
learning beforehand, as he might have done, that Juba, with a large army,
was encamped not six miles in the rear of Saburra. Curio's men were
surrounded by the enemy and cut down as they stood. His staff begged him
to seek safety in flight, but, as Cæsar writes,[143] "He answered without
hesitation that, having lost the army which Cæsar had entrusted to his
charge, he would never return to look him in the face, and with that
answer he died fighting."

Three years later the fortunes of war brought Cæsar to northern Africa,
and he traversed a part of the region where Curio's luckless campaign had
been carried on. With the stern eye of the trained soldier, he marked the
fatal blunders which Curio had made, but he recalled also the charm of his
personal qualities, and the defeat before Utica was forgotten in his
remembrance of the great victory which Curio had won for him,
single-handed, in Rome. Even Lucan, a partisan of the senate which Curio
had flouted, cannot withhold his admiration for Curio's brilliant career,
and his pity for Curio's tragic end. As he stands in imagination before
the fallen Roman leader, he exclaims:[144] "Happy wouldst thou be, O Rome,
and destined to bless thy people, had it pleased the gods above to guard
thy liberty as it pleased them to avenge its loss. Lo! the noble body of
Curio, covered by no tomb, feeds the birds of Libya. But to thee, since it
profiteth not to pass in silence those deeds of thine which their own
glory defends forever 'gainst the decay of time, such tribute now we pay,
O youth, as thy life has well deserved. No other citizen of such talent
has Rome brought forth, nor one to whom the law would be indebted more, if
he the path of right had followed out. As it was, the corruption of the
age ruined the city when desire for office, pomp, and the power which
wealth gives, ever to be dreaded, had swept away his wavering mind with
sidelong flood, and the change of Curio, snared by the spoils of Gaul and
the gold of Cæsar, was that which turned the tide of history. Although
mighty Sulla, fierce Marius, the blood-bespattered Cinna, and all the line
of Cæsar's house have held our throats at their mercy with the sword, to
whom was e'er such power vouchsafed? All others bought, _he_ sold the

Gaius Matius, a Friend of Cæsar

"_Non enim Cæsarem ... sum secutus, sed amicum_."

Gaius Matius, the subject of this sketch, was neither a great warrior, nor
statesman, nor writer. If his claim to remembrance rested on what he did
in the one or the other of these rôles, he would long ago have been
forgotten. It is his genius for friendship which has kept his memory
green, and that is what he himself would have wished. Of his early life we
know little, but it does not matter much, because the interest which he
has for us centres about his relations to Cæsar in early manhood. Being of
good birth, and a man of studious tastes, he probably attended the
University at Athens, and heard lectures there as young Cicero and Messala
did at a later period. He must have been a man of fine tastes and
cultivation, for Cicero, in writing to a friend, bestows on Matius the
title "doctissimus," the highest literary compliment which one Roman could
pay another, and Apollodorus of Pergamum dedicated to him his treatise on
rhetoric. Since he was born about 84 B.C., he returned from his years of
study at Athens about the time when Cæsar was setting out on his brilliant
campaign in Gaul. Matius joined him, attracted perhaps by the personal
charms of the young proconsul, perhaps by the love of adventure, perhaps,
like his friend Trebatius, by the hope of making a reputation.

At all events he was already with Cæsar somewhere in Gaul in 53 B.C., and
it is hard to think of an experience better suited to lay bare the good
and the bad qualities in Cæsar's character than the years of camp life
which Matius spent with him in the wilds of Gaul and Britain. As
aide-de-camp, or orderly, for such a position he probably held, his place
was by Cæsar's side. They forded the rivers together, walked or rode
through woodland or open side by side, shared the same meagre rations, and
lay in the same tent at the end of the day's march, ready to spring from
the ground at a moment's warning to defend each other against attack from
the savage foe. Cæsar's narrative of his campaigns in Gaul is a soldier's
story of military movements, and perhaps from our school-boy remembrance
of it we may have as little a liking for it as Horace had for the poem of
Livius Andronicus, which he studied under "Orbilius of the rods," but even
the obscurities of the Latin subjunctive and ablative cannot have blinded
us entirely to the romance of the desperate siege of Alesia and the final
struggle which the Gauls made to drive back the invader. Matius shared
with Cæsar all the hardships and perils of that campaign, and with Cæsar
he witnessed the final scene of the tragedy when Vercingetorix, the heroic
Gallic chieftain, gave up his sword, and the conquest of Gaul was
finished. It is little wonder that Matius and the other young men who
followed Cæsar were filled with admiration of the man who had brought all
this to pass.

It was a notable group, including Trebatius, Hirtius, Pansa, Oppius, and
Matius in its number. All of them were of the new Rome. Perhaps they were
dimly conscious that the mantle of Tiberius Gracchus had fallen upon their
leader, that the great political struggle which had been going on for
nearly a century was nearing its end, and that they were on the eve of a
greater victory than that at Alesia. It would seem that only two of them,
Matius and Trebatius, lived to see the dawning of the new day. But it was
not simply nor mainly the brilliancy of Cæsar as a leader in war or in
politics which attracted Matius to him. As he himself puts it in his
letter to Cicero: "I did not follow a Cæsar, but a friend." Lucullus and
Pompey had made as distinguished a record in the East as Cæsar had in the
West, but we hear of no such group of able young men following their
fortunes as attached themselves to Cæsar. We must find a reason for the
difference in the personal qualities of Cæsar, and there is nothing that
more clearly proves the charm of his character than the devotion to him of
this group of men. In the group Matius is the best representative of the
man and the friend. When Cæsar came into his own, Matius neither asked for
nor accepted the political offices which Cæsar would gladly have given
him. One needs only to recall the names of Antony, Labienus, or Decimus
Brutus to realize the fact that Cæsar remembered and rewarded the faithful
services of his followers. But Matius was Cæsar's friend and nothing more,
not his master of the horse, as Antony was, nor his political and
financial heir, as Octavius was. In his loyalty to Cæsar he sought for no
other reward than Cæsar's friendship, and his services to him brought with
them their own return. Indeed, through his friend he suffered loss, for
one of Cæsar's laws robbed him of a part of his estate, as he tells us,
but this experience did not lessen his affection. How different his
attitude was from that of others who professed a friendship for Cæsar!
Some of them turned upon their leader and plotted against his life, when
disappointed in the favors which they had received at his hands, and
others, when he was murdered, used his name and his friendship for them to
advance their own ambitious designs. Antony and Octavius struggle with
each other to catch the reins of power which have fallen from his hands;
Dolabella, who seems to regard himself as an understudy of Cæsar, plays a
serio-comic part in Rome in his efforts to fill the place of the dead
dictator; while Decimus Brutus hurries to the North to make sure of the
province which Cæsar had given him.

From these men, animated by selfishness, by jealousy, by greed for gain,
by sentimentalism, or by hypocritical patriotism, Matius stands aloof,
and stands perhaps alone. For him the death of Cæsar means the loss of a
friend, of a man in whom he believed. He can find no common point of
sympathy either with those who rejoice in the death of the tyrant, as
Cicero does, for he had not thought Cæsar a tyrant, nor with those who use
the name of Cæsar to conjure with. We have said that he accepted no
political office. He did accept an office, that of procurator, or
superintendent, of the public games which Cæsar had vowed on the field of
Pharsalus, but which death had stepped in to prevent him from giving, and
it was in the pious fulfilment of this duty which he took upon himself
that he brought upon his head the anger of the "auctores libertatis," as
he ironically calls them. He had grieved, too, at the death of Cæsar,
although "a man ought to rate the fatherland above a friend," as the
liberators said. Matius took little heed of this talk. He had known of it
from the outset, but it had not troubled him. Yet when it came to his ears
that his friend Cicero, to whom he had been attached from boyhood, to whom
he had proved his fidelity at critical moments, was among his accusers, he
could not but complain bitterly of the injustice. Through a common
friend, Trebatius, whose acquaintance he had made in Gaul, he expresses to
Cicero the sorrow which he feels at his unkindness. What Cicero has to say
in explanation of his position and in defence of himself, we can do no
better than to give in his own words:

   "_Cicero to Matins, greeting:_[145]

   "I am not yet quite clear in my own mind whether our friend Trebatius,
   who is as loyal as he is devoted to both of us, has brought me more
   sorrow or pleasure: for I reached my Tusculan villa in the evening, and
   the next day, early in the morning, he came to see me, though he had
   not yet recovered his strength. When I reproved him for giving too
   little heed to his health, he said that nothing was nearer his heart
   than seeing me. 'There's nothing new,' say I? He told me of your
   grievance against me, yet before I make any reply in regard to it, let
   me state a few facts.

   "As far back as I can recall the past I have no friend of longer
   standing than you are; but long duration is a thing characteristic of
   many friendships, while love is not. I loved you on the day I met you,
   and I believed myself loved by you. Your subsequent departure, and that
   too for a long time, my electoral canvass, and our different modes of
   life did not allow our inclination toward one another to be
   strengthened by intimacy; still I saw your feeling toward me many years
   before the Civil War, while Cæsar was in Gaul; for the result which you
   thought would be of great advantage to me and not of disadvantage to
   Cæsar himself you accomplished: I mean in bringing him to love me, to
   honor me, to regard me as one of his friends. Of the many confidential
   communications which passed between us in those days, by word of mouth,
   by letter, by message, I say nothing, for sterner times followed. At
   the breaking out of the Civil War, when you were on your way toward
   Brundisium to join Cæsar, you came to me to my Formian villa. In the
   first place, how much did that very fact mean, especially at those
   times! Furthermore, do you think I have forgotten your counsel, your
   words, the kindness you showed? I remember that Trebatius was there.
   Nor indeed have I forgotten the letter which you sent to me after
   meeting Cæsar, in the district near Trebula, as I remember it. Next
   came that ill-fated moment when either my regard for public opinion, or
   my sense of duty, or chance, call it what you will, compelled me to go
   to Pompey. What act of kindness or thoughtfulness either toward me in
   my absence or toward my dear ones in Rome did you neglect? In fact,
   whom have all my friends thought more devoted to me and to themselves
   than you are? I came to Brundisium. Do you think I have forgotten in
   what haste, as soon as you heard of it, you came hurrying to me from
   Tarentum? How much your presence meant to me, your words of cheer to a
   courage broken by the fear of universal disaster! Finally, our life at
   Rome began. What element did our friendship lack? In most important
   matters I followed your advice with reference to my relations toward
   Cæsar; in other matters I followed my own sense of duty. With whom but
   myself, if Cæsar be excepted, have you gone so far as to visit his
   house again and again, and to spend there many hours, oftentimes in the
   most delightful discourse? It was then too, if you remember, that you
   persuaded me to write those philosophical essays of mine. After his
   return, what purpose was more in your thoughts than to have me as good
   a friend of Cæsar as possible? This you accomplished at once.

   "What is the point, then, of this discourse, which is longer than I had
   intended it should be? This is the point, that I have been surprised
   that you, who ought to see these things, have believed that I have
   taken any step which is out of harmony with our friendly relations, for
   beside these facts which I have mentioned, which are undisputed and
   self-evident facts, there are many more intimate ties of friendship
   which I can scarcely put in words. Everything about you charms me, but
   most of all, on the one hand, your perfect loyalty in matters of
   friendship, your wisdom, dignity, steadfastness; on the other hand,
   your wit, refinement, and literary tastes.

   "Wherefore--now I come back to the grievance--in the first place, I did
   not think that you had voted for that law; in the second place, if I
   had thought so, I should never have thought that you had done it
   without some sufficient reason. Your position makes whatever you do
   noticeable; furthermore, envy puts some of your acts in a worse light
   than the facts warrant. If you do not hear these rumors I do not know
   what to say. So far as I am concerned, if I ever hear them I defend you
   as I know that _I_ am always defended by _you_ against _my_ detractors.
   And my defence follows two lines: there are some things which I always
   deny _in toto_, as, for instance, the statement in regard to that very
   vote; there are other acts of yours which I maintain were dictated by
   considerations of affection and kindness, as, for instance, your action
   with reference to the management of the games. But it does not escape
   you, with all your wisdom, that, if Cæsar was a king--which seems to me
   at any rate to have been the case--with respect of your duty two
   positions may be maintained, either the one which I am in the habit of
   taking, that your loyalty and friendship to Cæsar are to be praised, or
   the one which some people take, that the freedom of one's fatherland is
   to be esteemed more than the life of one's friend. I wish that my
   discussions springing out of these conversations had been repeated to

   "Indeed, who mentions either more gladly or more frequently than I the
   two following facts, which are especially to your honor? The fact that
   you were the most influential opponent of the Civil War, and that you
   were the most earnest advocate of temperance in the moment of victory,
   and in this matter I have found no one to disagree with me. Wherefore I
   am grateful to our friend Trebatius for giving me an opportunity to
   write this letter, and if you are not convinced by it, you will think
   me destitute of all sense of duty and kindness; and nothing more
   serious to me than that or more foreign to your own nature can happen."

In all the correspondence of Cicero there is not a letter written with
more force and delicacy of feeling, none better suited to accomplish its
purpose than this letter to Matius. It is a work of art; but in that fact
lies its defect, and in that respect it is in contrast to the answer which
it called forth from Matius, The reply of Matius stands on a level with
another better-known non-Ciceronian epistle, the famous letter of
condolence which Servius wrote to Cicero after the death of Cicero's
daughter, Tullia; but it is finer, for, while Servius is stilted and full
of philosophical platitudes, Matius, like Shakespeare's Antony, "only
speaks right on," in telling Cicero of his grief at Cæsar's death, of his
indignation at the intolerant attitude of the assassins, and his
determination to treasure the memory of Cæsar at any cost. This is his

   "_Matius to Cicero, greeting_[146]

   "I derived great pleasure from your letter, because I saw that you held
   such an opinion about me as I had hoped you would hold, and wished you
   to hold; and although, in regard to that opinion, I had no misgivings,
   still, inasmuch as I considered it a matter of the greatest importance,
   I was anxious that it should continue unchanged. And then I was
   conscious of having done nothing to offend any good citizen; therefore
   I was the less inclined to believe that you, endowed as you are with so
   many excellent qualities, could be influenced by any idle rumors,
   especially as my friendship toward you had been and was sincere and
   unbroken. Since I know that matters stand in this respect as I have
   wished them to stand, I will reply to the charges, which you have often
   refuted in my behalf in such a way as one would expect from that
   kindness of heart characteristic of you and from our friendship. It is
   true that what men said against me after the death of Cæsar was known
   to me. They call it a sin of mine that I sorrow over the death of a man
   dear to me, and because I grieve that he whom I loved is no more, for
   they say that 'fatherland should be above friendship,' just as if they
   had proved already that his death has been of service to the state. But
   I will make no subtle plea. I confess that I have not attained to your
   high philosophic planes; for, on the one hand, in the Civil War I did
   not follow a Cæsar, but a friend, and although I was grieved at the
   state of things, still I did not desert him; nor, on the other hand,
   did I at any time approve of the Civil War, nor even of the reason for
   strife, which I most earnestly sought to extinguish when it was
   kindling. Therefore, in the moment of victory for one bound to me by
   the closest ties, I was not captivated by the charm either of public
   office or of gold, while his other friends, although they had less
   influence with him than I, misused these rewards in no small degree.
   Nay, even my own property was impaired by a law of Cæsar's, thanks to
   which very law many who rejoice at the death of Cæsar have remained at
   Rome. I have worked as for my own welfare that conquered citizens might
   be spared.

   "Then may not I, who have desired the welfare of all, be indignant
   that he, from whom this favor came, is dead? especially since the very
   men who were forgiven have brought him both unpopularity and death. You
   shall be punished, then, they say, 'since you dare to disapprove of our
   deed.' Unheard of arrogance, that some men glory in their crime, that
   others may not even sorrow over it without punishment! But it has
   always been the unquestioned right, even of slaves, to fear, to
   rejoice, to grieve according to the dictates of their own feelings
   rather than at the bidding of another man; of these rights, as things
   stand now, to judge from what these champions of freedom keep saying,
   they are trying to deprive us by intimidation; but their efforts are
   useless. I shall never be driven by the terrors of any danger from the
   path of duty or from the claims of friendship, for I have never thought
   that a man should shrink from an honorable death; nay, I have often
   thought that he should seek it. But why are they angry at me, if I wish
   them to repent of their deed? for I desire to have Cæsar's death a
   bitter thing to all men.

   "'But I ought as a citizen to desire the welfare of the state.' Unless
   my life in the past and my hope for the future, without words from me,
   prove that I desire that very end, I do not seek to establish the fact
   by words. Wherefore I beg you the more earnestly to consider deeds more
   than words, and to believe, if you feel that it is well for the right
   to prevail, that I can have no intercourse with dishonorable men. For
   am I now, in my declining years, to change that course of action which
   I maintained in my youth, when I might even have gone astray with hope
   of indulgence, and am I to undo my life's work? I will not do so. Yet I
   shall take no step which may be displeasing to any man, except to
   grieve at the cruel fate of one most closely bound to me, of one who
   was a most illustrious man. But if I were otherwise minded, I would
   never deny what I was doing lest I should be regarded as shameless in
   doing wrong, a coward and a hypocrite in concealing it.

   "'Yet the games which the young Cæsar gave in memory of Cæsar's victory
   I superintended.' But that has to do with my private obligation and not
   with the condition of the state; a duty, however, which I owed to the
   memory and the distinguished position of a dear friend even though he
   was dead, a duty which I could not decline when asked by a young man of
   most excellent promise and most worthy of Cæsar. 'I even went
   frequently to the house of the consul Antony to pay my respects!' to
   whom you will find that those who think that I am lacking in devotion
   to my country kept coming in throngs to ask some favor forsooth or
   secure some reward. But what arrogance this is that, while Cæsar never
   interfered with my cultivating the friendship of men whom I pleased,
   even when he himself did not like them, these men who have taken my
   friend from me should try to prevent me by their slander from loving
   those whom I will.

   "But I am not afraid lest the moderation of my life may prove too weak
   to withstand false reports, or that even those who do not love me
   because of my loyalty to Cæsar may not prefer to have friends like me
   rather than like themselves. So far as I myself am concerned, if what I
   prefer shall be my lot, the life which is left me I shall spend in
   retirement at Rhodes; but if some untoward circumstance shall prevent
   it, I shall live at Rome in such a wise as to desire always that right
   be done. Our friend Trebatius I thank heartily in that he has disclosed
   your sincere and friendly feeling toward me, and has shown me that him
   whom I have always loved of my own free will I ought with the more
   reason to esteem and honor. Bene vale et me dilige."

With these words our knowledge of Matius comes almost to an end. His life
was prolonged into the imperial period, and, strangely enough, in one of
the few references to him which we find at a later date, he is
characterized as "the friend of Augustus" (divi Augusti amicus). It would
seem that the affection which he felt for Cæsar he transferred to Cæsar's
heir and successor. He still holds no office or title. In this connection
it is interesting to recall the fact that we owe the best of Cicero's
philosophical work to him, the "Academics," the "De Finibus," and the
"Tusculan Questions," for Cicero tells us in his letter that he was
induced to write his treatises on philosophy by Matius. It is a pleasant
thing to think that to him we may also be indebted for Cicero's charming
essay "On Friendship." The later life of Matius, then, we may think was
spent in retirement, in the study of philosophy, and in the pursuit of
literature. His literary pursuits give a homely and not unpleasant touch
to his character. They were concerned with gastronomy, for Columella, in
the first century of our era, tells us[147] that Matius composed three
books, bearing the titles of "The Cook," "The Butler," and "The
Picklemaker," and his name was transmitted to a later generation in a dish
known as "mincemeat à la Matius" (_minutal Matianum_).[148] He passes out
of the pages of history in the writings of Pliny the Elder as the man who
"invented the practice of clipping shrubbery."[149] To him, then, we
perhaps owe the geometrical figures, and the forms of birds and beasts
which shrubs take in the modern English garden. His memory is thus ever
kept green, whether in a way that redounds to his credit or not is left
for the reader to decide.


Acta Diurna.
Anoyran monument.
Anglo-Saxons, compared with Romans,
  in government;
  in private affairs.
Arval Hymn, the.
Ascoli's theory of the differentiation of the Romance languages.
  "Res Gestæ";
  his benefactions.

Batha, a municipal expense.
Benefactions, private,
  co-operation with the government;
  comparison of ancient and modern objects;
  of Æmilius;
  of Pompey;
  of Augustus;
  expected of prominent men;
  attempts at regulation;
  a recognized responsibility;
  a legal obligation on municipal officials;
  offices thereby limited to the rich;
  of rich private citizens;
  effect on municipal life and character;
  on private citizens;
Burial societies.

Cælius, estimate of Curio.
  expenditures as sedile;
  and Curio;
  secures Curio as agent in Rome;
  unprepared for civil war;
  _et passim_ in chapters on Curio and Matius.
Cato the elder, his diction.
Church, the Christian, influence on the spread of Latin.
  quotation from a letter in colloquial style;
  his "corrupt practices act,";
  and Scaptius;
  and Curio;
  _correspondence_ with Matius.
Civic pride of Romans.
Civil war, outbreak of.
Combinations in restraint of trade;
  government intervention.
Common people,
  their language logical;
  progressive and conservative elements.
Common people of Rome,
  their language (see _Latin, colloquial_);
  their religious beliefs;
  philosophy of life;
  belief in future life.
Controversiae of the schools of rhetoric.
  aid the government;
  collect taxes;
  in politics;
  many small stockholders.
Cromer, Lord, "Ancient and Modern Imperialism,".
  funeral games in his father's honor;
  relations with Cicero;
  beginning of public life;
  relations with Cæsar;
  openly espouses Cæsar's cause;
  as quæstor;
  in the Clodian affair;
  Cælius's opinion of him;
  as tribune;
  relations with Pompey;
  forces conservatives to open hostilities;
  his part in the civil war;

Dacia, Latin in.
Dialects in Italy, their disappearance.
Diez, the Romance philologist.
Diocletian's policy;
  his edict to regulate prices;
  discovery of document;
  amount extant;
  provisions of the edict;
  made prices uniform;
  its prices are retail;
  interesting deductions;

English language in India.
  deal with the common people;
  length of Roman epitaphs;
  along Appian Way;
  sentiments expressed;
  show religious beliefs;
  gods rarely named;
  Mother Earth.
Epitaphs, metrical,
  praises of women predominate;
  literary merit;
Étienne, Henri, first scholar to notice colloquial Latin.

  cost of, comparison with to-day;
  free distribution of.

Gracchi, the.
Greek language,
  in Italy;
  not conquered by Latin;
  influence on Latin.
Gröber's theory of the differentiation of the Romance languages;
  criticism of.
  were non-political;
  inscriptional evidence;
  comparison of conditions in East and West;
  no attempts to raise wages;
  religious character;
  began to enter politics;
  attitude of government toward;

Hempl's theory of language rivalry.
Horace, his "curiosa felicitas,".

Inscription from Pompeii, in colloquial Latin.

Julia, death of.
Julian's edict to regulate the price of grain.

Labor-unions. (See _Guilds_.)
Lactantius, "On the Deaths of Those Who Persecuted (the Christians),".
Languages spoken in Italy in the early period;
  influence of other languages on Latin, 22. (See also _Greek_.)
Latin language,
  unifying influences;
  evidence of inscriptions;
  causes of its spread;
    government officials;
    the church;
    its superiority not a factor;
    sentiment a cause;
    "peaceful invasion,".
Latin, colloquial, its study neglected till recently;
  first noticed in modern times by Henri Étienne;
  its forms, how determined;
  ancient authority for its existence;
  evidence of the Romance languages;
  aid derived from a knowledge of spoken English;
  analytical formation of tenses;
  extant specimens;
  causes of variation;
  external influences on;
  influence of culture;
  definition of colloquial Latin;
  relation to literary Latin;
  careless pronunciation;
  accent different from literary Latin;
  confusion of genders;
  monotonous style;
  tendencies in vocabulary, 64-7:
    in syntax;
  effect of loss of final letters;
  reunion with literary Latin;
  still exists in the Romance languages;
  date when it became the separate Romance language;
  specimens quoted.
Latin, literary,
  modelled on Greek;
  relation to colloquial Latin;
  standardized by grammarians;
  style unnatural;
  reunion with colloquial Latin;
Latin, preliterary.
Laws of the Twelve Tables;
  excerpt from.
Living, cost of, comparison with to-day.
Livius Andronicus.
Lucan's account of the death of Curio.

Matius, Gaius,
  early life and character;
  with Cæsar in Gaul;
  friendship with Cæsar, _passim_;
  accepted no office;
  devotion to Cæsar;
  unpopularity due to it;
  correspondence with Cicero;
  defence of his devotion to Cæsar;
  prompted Cicero's best philosophical works;
  later life;
  literary works.
Menippean satire.
Milesian tales.
Money, unit of.

Ninus romance;
  and Petronius.

Organization, of capitalists (see _Corporations_);
  of labor (see _Guilds_).

  beginnings of, in Rome;
  effect on people.
Patron, office of;
  benefactions of.
Pervigilium Veneris.
Petronius, Satiræ;
  excerpt from;
  original size;
  Trimalchio's Dinner;
  satirical spirit;
  literary criticism;
  Horatian humor;
  cynical attitude;
  prose-poetic form;
  origin of this genre of literature;
  the Satiræ and the epic;
  and the heroic romance;
  and the Menippean satire;
  and the Milesian tale;
  and the prologue of comedy;
  and the mime;
  the Satiræ perhaps a mixture of many types;
  originated with Petronius.
Poetry of the common people,
  borrowed from the Augustan poets;
  folk poetry;
  children's jingles.
  his benefactions;
  ordered to march against Cæsar;
  _et passim_ in chapter on Curio.
  controlled by corporations;
  attempts at government regulation.
Probus, the "Appendix" of.
Prose-poetic form.

Ritschl, the Plautine scholar.
Romance, the realistic, origin obscure.
  (See _Petronius, Satiræ_.)
Romance languages,
  causes of their differentiation, Gröber's theory;
  Ascoli's theory;
  date of their beginning;
  descended from colloquial Latin;
  reasons of their agreement;
  common source.
Romances, the Greek, theory of origin.

Salaries of municipal officers.
  (See also _Wages_.)
Scaptius and Cicero.
Seneca the elder, "Controversiæ,".
Strasburg oath.

Theatres a municipal expense.
Trimalchio's Dinner.

Urso, constitution of.

Wages in Roman times;
  compared with to-day;
  and guilds;
  and slavery.
  (See also _Salaries_.)


[1] _Cf._ A. Ernout, _Le Parler de Préneste_, Paris, 1905.

[2] The relation between Latin and the Italic dialects may be illustrated
by an extract or two from them with a Latin translation. An Umbrian
specimen may be taken from one of the bronze tablets found at Iguvium,
which reads in Umbrian: Di Grabouie, saluo seritu ocrem Fisim, saluam
seritu totam Iiouinam (_Iguvinian Tables_ VI, a. 51), and in Latin: Deus
Grabovi, salvam servato arcem Fisiam, salvam servato civitatem Iguvinam. A
bit of Oscan from the Tabula Bantina (Tab. Bant. 2, 11) reads: suaepis
contrud exeic fefacust auti comono hipust, molto etanto estud, and in
Latin: siquis contra hoc fecerit aut comitia habuerit, multa tanta esto.

[3] _Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum_, IX, 782, furnishes a case in point.

[4] _Cf._ G. Mohl, _Introduction à la chronologie du Latin vulgaire_,
Paris, 1899.

[5] Pauly-Wissowa, _Real-Encyclopadie_, IV, 1179 _ff._

[6] Marquardt, _Römische Staatsverwaltung_, II, p. 463.

[7] _Cf._, _e.g._, Pirson, _La langue des inscriptions Latines de la
Gaule_, Bruxelles, 1901; Carnoy, _Le Latin d'Espagne d'après les
inscriptions_, Bruxelles, 1906; Hoffmann, _De titulis Africæ Latinis
quæstiones phoneticæ_, 1907; Kuebler, _Die lateinische Sprache auf
afrikanischen Inschriften_ (_Arch, für lat. Lex._, vol. VIII), and Martin,
_Notes on the Syntax of the Latin Inscriptions Found in Spain_, Baltimore,

[8] _Cf._ L. Hahn, _Rom und Romanismus im griechisch-römischen Osten_
(esp. pp. 222-268), Leipzig, 1906.

[9] _Proceedings of the American Philological Association_, XXIX (1898),
pp. 31-47. For a different theory of the results of language-conflict,
_cf._ Gröber, _Grundriss der romanischen Philologie_, I, pp. 516, 517.

[10] A very interesting sketch of the history of the Latin language in
this region may be seen in Ovide Densusianu's _Histoire de la langue
Roumaine_, Paris, 1902.

[11] Gorra, _Lingue Neolatine_, pp. 66-68.

[12] Gröber, _Grundriss der romanischen Philologie_, pp. 517 and 524.

[13] _Cf._ Gröber in _Archiv für lateinische Lexikographie und Grammatik_,
I, p. 210 _ff._

[14] _Is Modern-Language Teaching a Failure?_ Chicago, 1907.

[15] _Cf._ Abbott, _History of Rome_, pp. 246-249.

[16] Schuchardt, _Vokalismus des Vulgärlateins, I_, 103 _ff._

[17] _Cf._ Gröber, _Archiv für lateinische Lexikographie und Grammatik_,
I, 45.

[18] Thielmann, _Archiv_, II, 48 _ff._; 157 _ff._

[19] From the "Laws of the Twelve Tables" of the fifth century B.C. See
Bruns, _Fontes iuris Romani antiqui_, sixth edition, p. 31.

[20] _Appendix Probi_, in Keil's _Grammatici Latini_, IV, 197 _ff._

[21] "The Accent in Vulgar and Formal Latin," in _Classical Philology_, II
(1907), 445 _ff._

[22] Bücheler, _Carmina Latina epigraphica_, No. 53. The originals of all
the bits of verse which are translated in this paper may be found in the
collection whose title is given here. Hereafter reference to this work
will be by number only.

[23] No. 443.

[24] No. 92.

[25] No. 128.

[26] No. 127.

[27] No. 876.

[28] No. 1414.

[29] No. 765.

[30] No. 843.

[31] No. 95.

[32] No. 1578.

[33] Nos. 1192 and 1472.

[34] No. 1037.

[35] No. 1039.

[36] G. W. Van Bleek, Quae de hominum post mortem eondicione doceant
carmina sepulcralia Latina.

[37] No. 1495.

[38] No. 1496.

[39] No. 86.

[40] No. 1465.

[41] No. 1143.

[42] No. 1559.

[43] No. 1433.

[44] No. 225.

[45] No. 143.

[46] No. 83.

[47] No. 1500.

[48] No. 190.

[49] No. 244.

[50] No. 1499.

[51] No. 856.

[52] Society and Politics in Ancient Rome, p. 183.

[53] No. 562.

[54] No. 52.

[55] No. 1251.

[56] No. 106.

[57] No. 967.

[58] No. 152.

[59] No. 1042.

[60] No. 1064.

[61] No. 98.

[62] Bücheler, _Carmina Latino epigraphica_, No. 899.

[63] No. 19.

[64] No. 866.

[65] No. 863.

[66] No. 937.

[67] No. 949.

[68] No. 943.

[69] No. 945.

[70] No. 354.

[71] _Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum_, IV, 6892.

[72] Bücheler, No. 928.

[73] No. 333.

[74] No. 931.

[75] No. 933.

[76] No. 38.

[77] No. 270.

[78] Habeat scabiem quisquis ad me venerit novissimus.

[79] Rex erit qui recte faciet, qui non faciet non erit.


    Gallos Cæsar in triumphum ducit, idem in curiam;
    Galli bracas deposuerunt, latum clavom sumpserunt.


    Brutus quia reges eiecit, consul primus factus est;
    Hic quia consoles eiecit, rex postremo factus est.

[82] Salva Roma, salva patria, salvus est Germanicus.

[83] _Cf._ Schmid, "Der griechische Roman," _Neue Jahrb._, Bd XIII (1904),
465-85; Wilcken, in _Hermes_, XXVIII, 161 _ff._, and in _Archiv f.
Papyrusforschung_, I, 255 _ff._; Grenfell-Hunt, _Fayûm Towns and Their
Papyri_ (1900), 75 _ff._, and _Rivista di Filologia_, XXIII, I _ff._

[84] Some of the important late discussions of the Milesian tale are by
Bürger, _Hermes_ (1892), 351 _ff._; Norden, _Die antike Kunstprosa_, II,
602, 604, n.; Rohde, _Kleine Schriften_, II, 25 _ff._; Bürger, _Studien
zur Geschichte d. griech. Romans_, I (_Programm von Blankenburg a. H._,
1902); W. Schmid, _Neue Jahrb. f. d. klass. Alt._ (1904), 474 _ff._;
Lucas, "Zu den Milesiaca des Aristides," _Philologus_, 61 (1907), 16 _ff._

[85] On the origin of the _prosimetrum cf._ Hirzel, _Der Dialog_, 381
_ff._; Norden, _Die antike Kunstprosa_, 755.

[86] _Cf._ Rosenbluth, _Beiträge zur Quellenkunde von Petrons Satiren_.
Berlin, 1909.

[87] This theory in the main is suggested by Rohde, _Der griechische
Roman_, 2d ed., 267 (Leipzig, 1900), and by Ribbeck, _Geschichte d. röm.
Dichtung_, 2d ed., III, 150.

[88] _Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum_, vol. III, pp. 1926-1953. Mommsen's
text with a commentary has been published by H. Blümner, in _Der
Maximaltarif des Diocletian_, Berlin, 1893. A brief description of the
edict may be found in the Pauly-Wissowa _Real-Encyclopadie der classischen
Altertumswissenschaft_, under "Edictum Diocletiani," and K. Bücher has
discussed some points in it in the _Zeitschrift für die gesamte
Staatswissenschaft_, vol. L (1894), pp. 189-219 and 672-717.

[89] The method of arrangement may be illustrated by an extract from the
first table, which deals with grain and vegetables.

[90] The present-day prices which are given in the third column of these
two tables are taken from Bulletin No. 77 of the Bureau of Labor, and from
the majority and minority reports of the Select Committee of the U.S.
Senate on "Wages and Prices of Commodities" (Report, No. 912, Documents,
Nos. 421 and 477). In setting down a number to represent the current price
of an article naturally a rough average had to be struck of the rates
charged in different parts of the country. Bulletin No. 77, for instance,
gives the retail price charged for butter at 226 places in 68 different
cities, situated in 39 different States. At one point in Illinois the
price quoted in 1906 was 22 cents, while at a point in Pennsylvania 36
cents was reported, but the prevailing price throughout the country ranged
from 26 to 32, so that these figures were set down in the table. A similar
method has been adopted for the other items. A special difficulty arises
in the case of beef, where the price varies according to the cut. The
price of wheat is not given in the extant fragment of the edict, but has
been calculated by Blümner from statements in ancient writers. So far as
the wages of the ancient and modern workman are concerned we must remember
that the Roman laborer in many cases received "keep" from his employer.
Probably from one-third to three-sevenths should be added to his daily
wage to cover this item. Statistics published by the Department of
Agriculture show that the average wage of American farm laborers per month
during 1910 was $27.50 without board and $19.21 with board. The item of
board, therefore, is three-sevenths of the money paid to the laborer when
he keeps himself. One other point of difference between ancient and modern
working conditions must be borne in mind in attempting a comparison. We
have no means of knowing the length of the Roman working day. However, it
was probably much longer than our modern working day, which, for
convenience' sake, is estimated at eight hours.

[91] Wholesale price in 1909.

[92] Receives "keep" also.

[93] Eight-hour day assumed.

[94] _Cf._ Report of the Commissioner of Labor, pp. 622-625. In England
between one-third and one-fourth; _cf._ Bulletin, No. 77, p. 345.

[95] _Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum_, II, 5489.

[96] Wilmanns, _Exempla Inscriptionum Latinarum_, 1772.

[97] _Ibid._, 2037.

[98] _Ibid._, 1859.

[99] _Ibid._, 2054.

[100] _Ibid._, 2099.

[101] 23:48_f._

[102] _Cic., ad Att._, 5.21. 10-13; 6.1. 5-7; 6.2.7; 6.3.5.

[103] 6.17.

[104] _Captivi_, 489 _ff._

[105] _Livy_, 38. 35.

[106] Plautus, _Pseudolus_, 189.

[107] Some of the most important discussions of workmen's guilds among the
Romans are to be found in Waltzing's _Etude historique sur les
corporations professionnelles chez les Romains_, 3 vols., Louvain, 1895-9;
Liebenam's _Zur Geschichte und Organisation des römischen Vereinswesen_,
Leipzig, 1890; Ziebarth's _Das Griechische Vereinswesen_, Leipzig, 1896,
pp. 96-110; Kornemann's article, "Collegium," in the Pauly-Wissowa _Real
Encyclopadie_. Other literature is cited by Waltzing, I, pp. 17-30, and by
Kornemann, IV, columns 479-480.

[108] _Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum_, XI, 5047.

[109] _Ibid._, V, 7906.

[110] _Ibid._, III, p. 953.

[111] _Ibid._, VIII, 14683.

[112] _Ibid._, III, 3583.

[113] _Ibid._, XIV, 2112.

[114] _Ibid._, XIV, 326.

[115] _E.g._, Clodius and Milo.

[116] Lucan, 4. 814 _ff._; Velleius, 2. 48; Pliny, Nat. Hist., 7. 116

[117] Cicero, Brutus, 122, 210, 214.

[118] _Ibid._, 280.

[119] Cicero, _Epist. ad Fam._, 2. 1.

[120] Cicero, _Phil._, 2. 45 _f._

[121] Cicero, _ad Att._, 1. 14. 5.

[122] _Ibid._, 1. 14. 5.

[123] _Ibid._, 2. 12. 2.

[124] _Ibid._, 2.7.3; 2.8.1; 2.12.2.

[125] Suet., _Julius_, 52.

[126]_Ad Att._, 2. 19. 3.

[127] _Ad fam._, 2.4.

[128] _Ibid._, 2.6.

[129]_Ibid._, 8. 4. 2.

[130] Dio's account (40. 61) of Curio's course seems to harmonize with
this interpretation.

[131] "Cicero, _ad fam._, 8.10.4.

[132] White's Civil Wars of Appian, 2.27.

[133] Cicero, _ad fam._, 8.6.5.

[134] Valerius Maximus, 9.1.6.

[135] Vell. Pat., 2.48.

[136] Civil Wars, 2.30.

[137] _Ad Att._, 6.9.4.

[138] Civil Wars of Appian, 2.31.

[139] Velleius Paterculus, 2.48.

[140] Cæsar, Civil War, 1. 12.

[141] _Ibid._, 1.182

[142] _Ibid._, 2.23.

[143] _Ibid._, 2.42.

[144] _Pharsalia_, 4. 807-824.

[145] Cicero, _Epistulæ ad famiares_, 11.27.

[146] Cicero, _Epist. ad fam._, 11.28.

[147] 12.46.1.

[148] Apicius, 4.174.

[149] _Naturalis Historia_, 12.13.

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