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Title: Characters and events of Roman History
Author: Ferrero, Guglielmo, 1871-1942
Language: English
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In the spring of 1906, the Collège de France invited me to deliver,
during November of that year, a course of lectures on Roman history.
I accepted, giving a résumé, in eight lectures, of the history of the
government of Augustus from the end of the civil wars to his death;
that is, a résumé of the matter contained in the fourth and fifth
volumes of the English edition of my work, _The Greatness and Decline
of Rome_.

Following these lectures came a request from M. Emilio Mitre, Editor
of the chief newspaper of the Argentine Republic, the _Nacion_, and
one from the _Academia Brazileira de Lettras_ of Rio de Janeiro, to
deliver a course of lectures in the Argentine and Brazilian capitals.
I gave to the South American course a more general character than
that delivered in Paris, introducing arguments which would interest a
public having a less specialized knowledge of history than the public
I had addressed in Paris.

When President Roosevelt did me the honour to invite me to visit the
United States and Prof. Abbott Lawrence Lowell asked me to deliver a
course at the Lowell Institute in Boston, I selected material from the
two previous courses of lectures, moulding it into the group that was
given in Boston in November-December, 1908. These lectures were later
read at Columbia University in New York, and at the University of
Chicago in Chicago. Certain of them were delivered elsewhere--before
the American Philosophical Society and at the University of
Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, at Harvard University in Cambridge, and
at Cornell University in Ithaca.

Such is the record of the book now presented to the public at large.
It is a work necessarily made up of detached studies, which, however,
are bound together by a central, unifying thought; so that the reading
of them may prove useful and pleasant even to those who have already
read my _Greatness and Decline of Rome_.

The first lecture, "The Theory of Corruption in Roman History," sums
up the fundamental idea of my conception of the history of Rome. The
essential phenomenon upon which all the political, social, and moral
augmentation of wealth, of expenditure, and of needs,--a phenomenon,
therefore, of psychological order, and one common in contemporary
life. This lecture should show that my work does not belong among
those written after the method of economic materialism, for I hold
that the fundamental force in history is psychologic and not economic.

The three following lectures, "The History and Legend of Antony and
Cleopatra," "The Development of Gaul," and "Nero," seem to concern
themselves with very different subjects. On the contrary, they present
three different aspects of the one, identical problem--the struggle
between the Occident and the Orient--a problem that Rome succeeded in
solving as no European civilisation has since been able to do, making
the countries of the Mediterranean Basin share a common life, in
peace. How Rome succeeded in accomplishing this union of Orient and
Occident is one of the points of greatest interest in its history. The
first of these three lectures, "Antony and Cleopatra," shows how
Rome repulsed the last offensive movement of the Orient against
the Occident; the second, "The Development of Gaul," shows the
establishing of equilibrium between the two parts of the Empire; the
third, "Nero," shows how the Orient, beaten upon fields of battle and
in diplomatic action, took its revenge in the domain of Roman ideas,
morals, and social life.

The fifth lecture, "Julia and Tiberius," illustrates, by one of the
most tragic episodes of Roman history, the terrible struggle between
Roman ideals and habits and those of the Græco-Asiatic civilisation.
The sixth lecture, "The Development of the Empire," summarises in a
few pages views to be developed in detail in that part of my work yet
to be written.

I have said that not all history can be explained by economic forces
and factors, but this does not prevent me from regarding economic
phenomena as also of high importance. The seventh lecture, "Wine in
Roman History," is an essay after the plan in accordance with which,
it seems to me, economic phenomena should be treated.

The last lecture deals with a subject that perhaps does not, properly
speaking, belong to Roman history, but upon which an historian of Rome
ought to touch sooner or later; I mean the rôle which Rome can still
play in the education of the upper classes. It is a subject important
not only to the historian of Rome, but to all those who are interested
in the future of culture and civilisation. The more specialisation
in technical labour increases, the greater becomes the necessity of
giving the superior classes a general education, which can prepare
specialists to understand each other and to act together in all
matters of common interest. To imagine a society composed exclusively
of doctors, engineers, chemists, merchants, manufacturers, is
impossible. Every one must also be a citizen and a man in sympathy
with the common conscience. I have, therefore, endeavoured to show
in this eighth lecture what services Rome and its great intellectual
tradition can render to modern civilisation in the field of education.

These lectures naturally cannot do more than make known ideas in
general form; it would be too much to expect in them the precision
of detail, the regard for method, and the use of frequent notes,
citations, and references to authorities or documents, that belong
to my larger work on Rome; but they are published partly because I
consider it useful to popularise Roman history, and partly because
some of the pleasantest of memories attach to them. Their origin, the
course on Augustus given at the Collège de France, which proved one of
the happiest occasions of my life, and their development, leading
to my travels in the two Americas, have given me experiences of the
greatest interest and pleasure.

I am glad of the opportunity here to thank all those who have
contributed to make the sojourn of my wife and myself in the United
States delightful. I must thank all my friends at once; for to name
each one separately, I should need, as a Latin poet says, "a hundred
mouths and a hundred tongues."


TURIN, February 22, 1909.


    CLEOPATRA .............................  37
  THE DEVELOPMENT OF GAUL .................  69
  NERO .................................... 101
  JULIA AND TIBERIUS ...................... 143
  WINE IN ROMAN HISTORY ................... 179
  INDEX ................................... 265

"Corruption" in Ancient Rome And Its Counterpart in Modern History

Two years ago in Paris, while giving a course of lectures on Augustus
at the Collège de France, I happened to say to an illustrious
historian, a member of the French Academy, who was complimenting me:
"But I have not remade Roman history, as many admirers think. On
the contrary, it might be said, in a certain sense, that I have only
returned to the old way. I have retaken the point of view of Livy;
like Livy, gathering the events of the story of Rome around that
phenomenon which the ancients called the 'corruption' of customs--a
novelty twenty centuries old!"

Spoken with a smile and in jest, these words nevertheless were more
serious than the tone in which they were uttered. All those who know
Latin history and literature, even superficially, remember with
what insistence and with how many diverse modulations of tone are
reiterated the laments on the corruption of customs, on the luxury,
the ambition, the avarice, that invaded Rome after the Second Punic
War. Sallust, Cicero, Livy, Horace, Virgil, are full of affliction
because Rome is destined to dissipate itself in an incurable
corruption; whence we see, then in Rome, as to-day in France, wealth,
power, culture, glory, draw in their train--grim but inseparable
comrade!--a pessimism that times poorer, cruder, more troubled, had
not known. In the very moment in which the empire was ordering itself,
civil wars ended; in that solemn _Pax Romana_ which was to have
endured so many ages, in the very moment in which the heart should
have opened itself to hope and to joy, Horace describes, in three
fine, terrible verses, four successive generations, each corrupting
Rome, which grew ever the worse, ever the more perverse and

  Aetas parentum, peior avis, tulit
  Nos nequiores, mox daturos
  Progeniem vitiosiorem.

"Our fathers were worse than our grandsires; we have deteriorated from
our fathers; our sons will cause _us_ to be lamented." This is the
dark philosophy that a sovereign spirit like Horace derived from the
incredible triumph of Rome in the world. At his side, Livy, the great
writer who was to teach all future generations the story of the city,
puts the same hopeless philosophy at the base of his wonderful work:

    Rome was originally, when it was poor and small, a unique
    example of austere virtue; then it corrupted, it spoiled, it
    rotted itself by all the vices; so, little by little, we have
    been brought into the present condition in which we are able
    neither to tolerate the evils from which we suffer, nor the
    remedies we need to cure them.

The same dark thought, expressed in a thousand forms, is found in
almost every one of the Latin writers.

This theory has misled and impeded my predecessors in different ways:
some, considering that the writers bewail the unavoidable dissolution
of Roman society at the very time when Rome was most powerful, most
cultured, richest, have judged conventional, rhetorical, literary,
these invectives against corruption, these praises of ancient
simplicity, and therefore have held them of no value in the history of
Rome. Such critics have not reflected that this conception is
found, not only in the literature, but also in the politics and the
legislation; that Roman history is full, not only of invectives in
prose and verse, but of laws and administrative provisions against
_luxuria, ambitio, avaritia_--a sign that these laments were not
merely a foolishness of writers, or, as we say to-day, stuff for
newspaper articles. Other critics, instead, taking account of these
laws and administrative provisions, have accepted the ancient theory
of Roman corruption without reckoning that they were describing as
undone by an irreparable dissolution, a nation that not only had
conquered, but was to govern for ages, an immense empire. In this
conception of corruption there is a contradiction that conceals a
great universal problem.

Stimulated by this contradiction, and by the desire of solving it, to
study more attentively the facts cited by the ancients as examples of
corruption, I have looked about to see if in the contemporary world
I could not find some things that resembled it, and so make myself
understand it. The prospect seemed difficult, because modern men are
persuaded that they are models of all the virtues. Who could think to
find in them even traces of the famous Roman corruption? In the modern
world to-day are the abominable orgies carried on for which the Rome
of the Cæsars was notorious? Are there to-day Neros and Elagabaluses?
He who studies the ancient sources, however, with but a little of the
critical spirit, is easily convinced that we have made for ourselves
out of the much-famed corruption and Roman luxury a notion highly
romantic and exaggerated. We need not delude ourselves: Rome, even in
the times of its greatest splendour, was poor in comparison with the
modern world; even in the second century after Christ, when it stood
as metropolis at the head of an immense empire, Rome was smaller,
less wealthy, less imposing, than a great metropolis of Europe or
of America. Some sumptuous public edifices, beautiful private
houses--that is all the splendour of the metropolis of the empire.
He who goes to the Palatine may to-day refigure for himself, from the
so-called House of Livia, the house of a rich Roman family of the
time of Augustus, and convince himself that a well-to-do middle-class
family would hardly occupy such a house to-day.

Moreover, the palaces of the Cæsars on the Palatine are a grandiose
ruin that stirs the artist and makes the philosopher think; but if
one sets himself to measure them, to conjecture from the remains the
proportions of the entire edifices, he does not conjure up buildings
that rival large modern constructions. The palace of Tiberius, for
example, rose above a street only two metres wide--less than seven
feet,--an alley like those where to-day in Italian cities live only
the most miserable inhabitants. We have pictured to ourselves
the imperial banquets of ancient Rome as functions of unheard of
splendour; if Nero or Elagabalus could come to life and see the
dining-room of a great hotel in Paris or New York--resplendent with
light, with crystal, with silver,--he would admire it as far more
beautiful than the halls in which he gave his imperial feasts. Think
how poor were the ancients in artificial light! They had few wines;
they knew neither tea nor coffee nor cocoa; neither tobacco, nor the
innumerable _liqueurs_ of which we make use; in face of our habits,
they were always Spartan, even when they wasted, because they lacked
the means to squander.

The ancient writers often lament the universal tendency to physical
self-indulgence, but among the facts they cite to prove this dismal
vice, many would seem to us innocent enough. It was judged by them
a scandalous proof of gluttony and as insensate luxury, that at a
certain period there should be fetched from as far as the Pontus,
certain sausages and certain salted fish that were, it appears, very
good; and that there should be introduced into Italy from Greece the
delicate art of fattening fowls. Even to drink Greek wines seemed for
a long time at Rome the caprice of an almost crazy luxury. As late
as 18 B.C., Augustus made a sumptuary law that forbade spending for
banquets on work-days more than two hundred sesterces (ten dollars);
allowed three hundred sesterces (fifteen dollars) for the days of the
Kalends, the Ides, and the Nones; and one thousand sesterces (fifty
dollars) for nuptial banquets. It is clear, then, that the lords
of the world banqueted in state at an expense that to us would seem
modest indeed. And the women of ancient times, accused so sharply by
the men of ruining them by their foolish extravagances, would cut a
poor figure for elegant ostentation in comparison with modern dames
of fashion. For example, silk, even in the most prosperous times, was
considered a stuff, as we should say, for millionaires; only a few
very rich women wore it; and, moreover, moralists detested it, because
it revealed too clearly the form of the body. Lollia Paulina passed
into history because she possessed jewels worth several million
francs: there are to-day too many Lollia Paulinas for any one of them
to hope to buy immortality at so cheap a rate.

I should reach the same conclusions if I could show you what the Roman
writers really meant by corruption in their accounts of the relations
between the sexes. It is not possible here to make critical analyses
of texts and facts concerning this material, for reasons that you
readily divine; but it would be easy to prove that also in this
respect posterity has seen the evil much larger than it was.

Why, then, did the ancient writers bewail luxury, inclination
to pleasure, prodigality--things all comprised in the notorious
"corruption"--in so much the livelier fashion than do moderns,
although they lived in a world which, being poorer and more simple,
could amuse itself, make display, and indulge in dissipation so much
less than we do? This is one of the chief questions of Roman history,
and I flatter myself not to have entirely wasted work in writing my
book [1] above all, because I hope to have contributed a little,
if not actually to solve this question, at least to illuminate it;
because in so doing I believe I have found a kind of key that opens
at the same time many mysteries in Roman history and in contemporary
life. The ancient writers and moralists wrote so much of Roman
corruption, because--nearer in this, as in so many other things, to
the vivid actuality--they understood that wars, revolutions, the great
spectacular events that are accomplished in sight of the world, do not
form all the life of peoples; that these occurrences, on the contrary,
are but the ultimate, exterior explanation, the external irradiation,
or the final explosion of an internal force that is acting constantly
in the family, in private habit, in the moral and intellectual
disposition of the individual. They understood that all the changes,
internal and external, in a nation, are bound together and in part
depend on one very common fact, which is everlasting and universal,
and which everybody may observe if he will but look about him--on the
increase of wants, the enlargement of ideas, the shifting of habits,
the advance of luxury, the increase of expense that is caused by every

[Footnote 1: _The Greatness and Decline of Rome_. 5 vols. New York and

Look around you to-day: in every family you may easily observe the
same phenomenon. A man has been born in a certain social condition and
has succeeded during his youth and vigour in adding to his original
fortune. Little by little as he was growing rich, his needs and his
luxuries increased. When a certain point was reached, he stopped. The
men are few who can indefinitely augment their particular wants, or
keep changing their habits throughout their lives, even after the
disappearance of vigour and virile elasticity. The increase of wants
and of luxury, the change of habits, continues, instead, in the new
generation, in the children, who began to live in the ease which their
fathers won after long effort and fatigue, and in maturer age; who, in
short, started where the previous generation left off, and therefore
wish to gain yet new enjoyments, different from and greater than
those that they obtained without trouble through the efforts of the
preceding generation. It is this little common drama, which we see
re-enacted in every family and in which every one of us has been and
will be an actor--to-day as a young radical who innovates customs,
to-morrow as an old conservative, out-of-date and malcontent in the
eyes of the young; a drama, petty and common, which no one longer
regards, so frequent is it and so frivolous it seems, but which,
instead, is one of the greatest motive forces in human history--in
greater or less degree, under different forms, active in all times and
operating everywhere. On account of it no generation can live quietly
on the wealth gathered, with the ideas discovered by antecedent
generations, but is constrained to create new ideas, to make new and
greater wealth by all the means at its disposal--by war and conquest,
by agriculture and industry, by religion and science. On account of
it, families, classes, nations, that do not succeed in adding to
their possessions, are destined to be impoverished, because, wants
increasing, it is necessary, in order to satisfy them, to consume the
accumulated capital, to make debts, and, little by little, to go to
ruin. Because of this ambition, ever reborn, classes renew themselves
in every nation. Opulent families after a few generations are
gradually impoverished; they decay and disappear, and from the
multitudinous poor arise new families, creating the new _élite_ which
continues under differing forms the doings and traditions of the old.
Because of this unrest, the earth is always stirred up by a fervour
for deeds or adventure--attempts that take shape according to the
age: now peoples make war on each other, now they rend themselves in
revolutions, now they seek new lands, explore, conquer, exploit; again
they perfect arts and industries, enlarge commerce, cultivate
the earth with greater assiduity; and yet again, in the ages more
laborious, like ours, they do all these things at the same time--an
activity immense and continuous. But its motive force is always the
need of the new generations, that, starting from the point at which
their predecessors had arrived, desire to advance yet farther--to
enjoy, to know, to possess yet more.

The ancient writers understood this thoroughly: what they called
"corruption" was but the change in customs and wants, proceeding from
generation to generation, and in its essence the same as that which
takes place about us to-day. The _avaritia_ of which they complained
so much, was the greed and impatience to make money that we see to-day
setting all classes beside themselves, from noble to day-labourer; the
_ambitio_ that appeared to the ancients to animate so frantically
even the classes that ought to have been most immune, was what we call
_getting there_--the craze to rise at any cost to a condition higher
than that in which one was born, which so many writers, moralists,
statesmen, judge, rightly or wrongly, to be one of the most dangerous
maladies of the modern world. _Luxuria_ was the desire to augment
personal conveniences, luxuries, pleasures--the same passion that
stirs Europe and America to-day from top to bottom, in city and
country. Without doubt, wealth grew in ancient Rome and grows to-day;
men were bent on making money in the last two centuries of the
Republic, and to-day they rush headlong into the delirious struggle
for gold; for reasons and motives, however, and with arms and
accoutrements, far diverse.

As I have already said, ancient civilisation was narrower, poorer,
and more ignorant; it did not hold under its victorious foot the whole
earth; it did not possess the formidable instruments with which we
exploit the forces and the resources of nature: but the treasures of
precious metals transported to Italy from conquered and subjugated
countries; the lands, the mines, the forests, belonging to such
countries, confiscated by Rome and given or rented to Italians; the
tributes imposed on the vanquished, and the collection of them; the
abundance of slaves,--all these then offered to the Romans and to the
Italians so many occasions to grow rich quickly; just as the gigantic
economic progress of the modern world offers similar opportunities
to-day to all the peoples that, by geographical position, historical
tradition, or vigorous culture and innate energy, know how to excel
in industry, in agriculture, and in trade. Especially from the Second
Punic War on, in all classes, there followed--anxious for a life more
affluent and brilliant--generations the more incited to follow the
examples that emanated from the great metropolises of the Orient,
particularly Alexandria, which was for the Romans of the Republic what
Paris is for us to-day. This movement, spontaneous, regular, natural,
was every now and then violently accelerated by the conquest of
a great Oriental state. One observes, after each one of the great
annexations of Oriental lands, a more intense delirium of luxury and
pleasure: the first time, after the acquisition of the kingdom of
Pergamus, through a kind of contagion communicated by the sumptuous
furniture of King Attalus, which was sold at auction and scattered
among the wealthy houses of Italy to excite the still simple desires
and the yet sluggish imaginations of the Italians; the second time,
after the conquest of Pontus and of Syria, made by Lucullus and by
Pompey; finally, the third time, after the conquest of Egypt made by
Augustus, when the influence of that land--the France of the ancient
world--so actively invaded Italy that no social force could longer
resist it.

In this way, partly by natural, gradual, almost imperceptible
diffusion, partly by violent crises, we see the mania for luxury and
the appetite for pleasure beginning, growing, becoming aggravated
from generation to generation in all Roman society, for two centuries,
changing the mentality and morality of the people; we see the
institutions and public policy being altered; all Roman history
a-making under the action of this force, formidable and immanent in
the whole nation. It breaks down all obstacles confronting it--the
forces of traditions, laws, institutions, interests of classes,
opposition of parties, the efforts of thinking men. The historical
aristocracy becomes impoverished and weak; before it rise to power the
millionaires, the _parvenus_, the great capitalists, enriched in the
provinces. A part of the nobility, after having long despised them,
sets itself to fraternise with them, to marry their wealthy daughters,
cause them to share power; seeks to prop with their millions the
pre-eminence of its own rank, menaced by the discontent, the spirit
of revolt, the growing pride, of the middle class. Meanwhile, another
part of the aristocracy, either too haughty and ambitious, or too
poor, scorns this alliance, puts itself at the head of the democratic
party, foments in the middle classes the spirit of antagonism against
the nobles and the rich, leads them to the assault on the citadels of
aristocratic and democratic power. Hence the mad internal struggles
that redden Rome with blood and complicate so tragically, especially
after the Gracchi, the external polity. The increasing wants of
the members of all classes, the debts that are their inevitable
consequence, the universal longing, partly unsatisfied for lack of
means, for the pleasures of the subtle Asiatic civilisations, infused
into this whole history a demoniac frenzy that to-day, after so many
centuries, fascinates and appals us.

To satisfy their wants, to pay their debts, the classes now set
upon each other, each to rob in turn the goods of the other, in
the cruelest civil war that history records; now, tired of doing
themselves evil, they unite and precipitate themselves on the world
outside of Italy, to sack the wealth that its owners do not know
how to defend. In the great revolutions of Marius and Sulla,
the democratic party is the instrument with which a part of the
debt-burdened middle classes seek to rehabilitate themselves by
robbing the plutocracy and the aristocracy yet opulent; but Sulla
reverses the situation, makes a coalition of aristocrats and the
miserable of the populace, and re-establishes the fortunes of the
nobility, despoiling the wealthy knights and a part of the middle
classes--a terrible civil war that leaves in Italy a hate, a
despondency, a distress, that seem at a certain moment as if they must
weigh eternally on the spirit of the unhappy nation. When, lo! there
appears the strongest man in the history of Rome, Lucullus, and drags
Italy out of the despondency in which it crouched, leads it into the
ways of the world, and persuades it that the best means of forgetting
the losses and ruin undergone in the civil wars, is to recuperate
on the riches of the cowardly Orientals. As little by little the
treasures of Mithridates, conquered by Lucullus in the Orient, arrive
in Italy, Italy begins anew to divert itself, to construct palaces
and villas, to squander in luxury. Pompey, envious of the glory of
Lucullus, follows his example, conquers Syria, sends new treasures to
Italy, carries from the East the jewels of Mithridates, and displaying
them in the temple of Jove, rouses a passion for gems in the Roman
women; he also builds the first great stone theatre to rise in
Rome. All the political men in Rome try to make money out of foreign
countries: those who cannot, like the great, conquer an empire,
confine themselves to blackmailing the countries and petty states that
tremble before the shadow of Rome; the courts of the secondary kings
of the Orient, the court of the Ptolemies at Alexandria,--all are
invaded by a horde of insatiable senators and knights, who, menacing
and promising, extort money to spend in Italy and foment the growing
extravagance. The debts pile up, the political corruption overflows,
scandals follow, the parties in Rome rend each other madly, though
hail-fellow-well-met in the provinces to plunder subjects and vassals.
In the midst of this vast disorder Cæsar, the man of destiny, rises,
and with varying fortune makes a way for himself until he beckons
Italy to follow him, to find success and treasures in regions new--not
in the rich and fabulous East, but beyond the Alps, in barbarous Gaul,
bristling with fighters and forests.

But this insane effort to prey on every part of the Empire finally
tires Italy; quarrels over the division of spoils embitter friends;
the immensity of the conquests, made in a few years of reckless
enthusiasm, is alarming. Finally a new civil war breaks out, terrible
and interminable, in which classes and families fall upon each other
anew, to tear away in turn the spoils taken together abroad. Out of
the tremendous discord rises at last the pacifier, Augustus, who is
able gradually, by cleverness and infinite patience, to re-establish
peace and order in the troubled empire. How?--why? Because the
combination of events of the times allows him to use to ends of peace
the same forces with which the preceding generations had fomented so
much disorder--desires for ease, pleasure, culture, wealth growing
with the generations making it. Thereupon begins in the whole Empire
universal progress in agriculture, industry, trade, which, on a small
scale, may be compared to what we to-day witness and share; a progress
for which, then as now, the chief condition was peace. As soon as men
realised that peace gives that greater wealth, those enjoyments more
refined, that higher culture, which for a century they had sought by
war, Italy became quiet; revolutionists became guardians and guards of
order; there gathered about Augustus a coalition of social forces that
tended to impose on the Empire, alike on the parts that wished it and
those that did not, the _Pax Romana_.

Now all this immense story that fills three centuries, that gathers
within itself so many revolutions, so many legislative reforms, so
many great men, so many events, tragic and glorious, this vast history
that for so many centuries holds the interest of all cultured nations,
and that, considered as a whole, seems almost a prodigy, you can, on
the track of the old idea of "corruption," explain in its
profoundest origins by one small fact, universal, common, of the very
simplest--something that every one may observe in the limited circle
of his own personal experience,--by that automatic increase of
ambitions and desires, with every new generation, which prevents the
human world from crystallising in one form, constrains it to continual
changes in material make-up as well as in ideals and moral appearance.
In other words, every new generation must, in order to satisfy that
part of its aspirations which is peculiarly and entirely its own,
alter, whether little or much, in one way or another, the condition
of the world it entered at birth. We can then, in our personal
experiences every day, verify the universal law of history--a law
that can act with greater or less intensity, more or less rapidity,
according to times and places, but that ceases to authenticate itself
at no time and in no place.

The United States is subject to that law to-day, as is old Europe,
as will be future generations, and as past ages were. Moreover, to
understand at bottom this phenomenon, which appears to me to be the
soul of all history, it is well to add this consideration: It is
evident that there is a capital difference between our judgment of
this phenomenon and that of the ancients; to them it was a malevolent
force of dissolution to which should be attributed all in Roman
history that was sinister and dreadful, a sure sign of incurable
decay; that is why they called it "corruption of customs," and so
lamented it. To-day, on the contrary, it appears to us a universal
beneficent process of transformation; so true is this that we call
"progress" many facts which the ancients attributed to "corruption."
It were useless to expand too much in examples; enough to cite a few.
In the third ode of the first book, in which he so tenderly salutes
the departing Virgil, Horace covers with invective, as an evil-doer
and the corrupter of the human race, that impious being who invented
the ship, which causes man, created for the land, to walk across
waters. Who would to-day dare repeat those maledictions against the
bold builders who construct the magnificent trans-Atlantic liners on
which, in a dozen days from Genoa, one lands in Boston or New York?
"Coelum ipsum petimus stultitia," exclaims Horace--that is to say, in
anticipation he considered the Wright brothers crazy.

Who, save some man of erudition, has knowledge to-day of sumptuary
laws? We should laugh them all down with one Homeric guffaw, if to-day
it entered somebody's head to propose a law that forbade fair ladies
to spend more than a certain sum on their clothes, or numbered the
hats they might wear; or that regulated dinners of ceremony, fixing
the number of courses, the variety of wines, and the total expense; or
that prohibited labouring men and women from wearing certain stuffs
or certain objects that were wont to be found only upon the persons
of people of wealth and leisure. And yet laws of this tenor were
compiled, published, observed, up to two centuries ago, without any
one's finding it absurd. The historic force that, as riches increase,
impels the new generations to desire new satisfactions, new pleasures,
operated then as to-day; only then men were inclined to consider it as
a new kind of ominous disease that needed checking. To-day men regard
that constant transformation either as beneficent, or at least as such
a matter of course that almost no one heeds it; just as no one notices
the alternations of day and night, or the change of seasons. On the
contrary, we have little by little become so confident of the goodness
of this force that drives the coming generation on into the unknown
future, that society, European, American, among other liberties has
won in the nineteenth century, full and entire, a liberty that the
ancients did not know--freedom in vice.

To the Romans it appeared most natural that the state should survey
private habits, should spy out what a citizen, particularly a citizen
belonging to the ruling classes, did within domestic walls--should see
whether he became intoxicated, whether he were a gourmand, whether
he contracted debts, spending much or little, whether he betrayed his
wife. The age of Augustus was cultured, civilised, liberal, and in
many things resembled our own; yet on this point the dominating ideas
were so different from ours, that at one time Augustus was forced
by public opinion to propose a law on adultery by which all Roman
citizens of both sexes guilty of this crime were condemned to exile
and the confiscation of half their substance, and there was given
to any citizen the right to accuse the guilty. Could you imagine it
possible to-day, even for a few weeks, to establish this regime of
terror in the kingdom of Amor? But the ancients were always inclined
to consider as exceedingly dangerous for the upper classes that
relaxing of customs which always follows periods of rapid enrichment,
of great gain in comforts; behind his own walls to-day, every one is
free to indulge himself as he will, to the confines of crime.

How can we explain this important difference in judging one of the
essential phenomena of historic life? Has this phenomenon changed
nature, and from bad, by some miracle, become good? Or are we wiser
than our forefathers, judging with experience what they could hardly
comprehend? There is no doubt that the Latin writers, particularly
Horace and Livy, were so severe in condemning this progressive
movement of wants because of unconscious political solicitude, because
intellectual men expressed the opinions, sentiments, and also the
prejudices of historic aristocracy, and this detested the progress of
_ambitio, avaritia, luxuria_, because they undermined the dominance of
its class. On the other hand, it is certain that in the modern
world every increase of consumption, every waste, every vice, seems
permissible, indeed almost meritorious, because men of industry and
trade, the employees in industries--that is, all the people that
gain by the diffusion of luxuries, by the spread of vices or new
wants--have acquired, thanks above all to democratic institutions, and
to the progress of cities, an immense political power that in times
past they lacked. If, for example, in Europe the beer-makers and
distillers of alcohol were not more powerful in the electoral field
than the philosophers and academicians, governments would more easily
recognise that the masses should not be allowed to poison themselves
or future generations by chronic drunkenness.

Between these two extremes of exaggeration, inspired by a
self-interest easy to discover, is there not a true middle way that we
can deduce from the study of Roman history and from the observation of
contemporary life?

In the pessimism with which the ancients regarded progress as
corruption, there was a basis of truth, just as there is a principle
of error in the too serene optimism with which we consider corruption
as progress. This force that pushes the new generations on to the
future, at once creates and destroys; its destructive energy is
specially felt in ages like Cæsar's in ancient Rome and ours in
the modern world, in which facility in the accumulation of wealth
over-excites desires and ambitions in all classes. They are the times
in which personal egoism--what to-day we call individualism--usurps
a place above all that represents in society the interest of the
species: national duty, the self-abnegation of each for the sake
of the common good. Then these vices and defects become always
more common: intellectual agitation, the weakening of the spirit
of tradition, the general relaxation of discipline, the loss of
authority, ethical confusion and disorder. At the same time that
certain moral sentiments refine themselves, certain individualisms
grow fiercer. The government may no longer represent the ideas, the
aspirations, the energetic will of a small oligarchy; it must make
itself more yielding and gracious at the same time that it is becoming
more contradictory and discordant. Family discipline is relaxed;
the new generations shake off early the influence of the past; the
sentiment of honour and the rigour of moral, religious, and political
principles are weakened by a spirit of utility and expediency by
which, more or less openly, confessing it or dissimulating, men always
seek to do, not that which is right and decorous, but that which is
utilitarian. The civic spirit tends to die out; the number of persons
capable of suffering, or even of working, disinterestedly for the
common good, for the future, diminishes; children are not wanted; men
prefer to live in accord with those in power, ignoring their vices,
rather than openly opposing them. Public events do not interest unless
they include a personal advantage.

This is the state of mind that is now diffusing itself throughout
Europe; the same state of mind that, with the documents at hand, I
have found in the age of Cæsar and Augustus, and seen progressively
diffusing itself throughout ancient Italy. The likeness is so great
that we re-find in those far-away times, especially in the upper
classes, exactly that restless condition that we define by the word
"nervousness." Horace speaks of this state of mind, which we consider
peculiar to ourselves, and describes it, by felicitous image, as
_strenua inertia_--strenuous inertia,--agitation vain and ineffective,
always wanting something new, but not really knowing what, desiring
most ardently yet speedily tiring of a desire gratified. Now it
is clear that if these vices spread too much, if they are not
complemented by an increase of material resources, of knowledge, of
sufficient population, they can lead a nation rapidly to ruin. We do
not feel very keenly the fear of this danger--the European-American
civilisation is so rich, has at its disposal so much knowledge, so
many men, so many instrumentalities, has cut off for itself such a
measureless part of the globe, that it can afford to look unafraid
into the future. The abyss is so far away that only a few philosophers
barely descry it in the gray mist of distant years. But the ancient
world--so much poorer, smaller, weaker--felt that it could not
squander as we do, and saw the abyss near at hand.

To-day men and women waste fabulous wealth in luxury; that is, they
spend not to satisfy some reasonable need, but to show to others of
their kind how rich they are, or, further, to make others believe them
richer than they are. If these resources were everywhere saved as they
are in France, the progress of the world would be quicker, and the
new countries would more easily find in Europe and in themselves
the capital necessary for their development. At all events, our age
develops fast, and notwithstanding all this waste, abounds in a plenty
that is enough to keep men from fearing the growth of this wanton
luxury and from planning to restrain it by laws. In the ancient world,
on the other hand, the wealthy classes and the state had only to
abandon themselves a little too much to the prodigality that for us
has become almost a regular thing, when suddenly means were wanting to
meet the most essential needs of social life. Tacitus has summarised
an interesting discourse of Tiberius, in which the famous emperor
censures the ladies of Rome in terms cold, incisive, and succinct,
because they spend too much money on pearls and diamonds. "Our money,"
said Tiberius, "goes away to India and we are in want of the precious
metals to carry on the military administration; we have to give up
the defence of the frontiers." According to the opinion of an
administrator so sagacious and a general so valiant as Tiberius, in
the richest period of the Roman Empire, a lady of Rome could not buy
pearls and diamonds without directly weakening the defence of the
frontiers. Indulgence in the luxury of jewels looked almost like high

Similar observations might be made on another grave question--the
increase of population. One of the most serious effects of
individualism that accompanies the increase of civilisation and
wealth, is the decrease of the birth-rate. France, which knows how to
temper its luxury, which gives to other peoples an example of saving
means for the future, has on the other hand given the example of
egoism in the family, lowering the birth-rate. England, for a long
time so fecund, seems to follow France. The more uniformly settled and
well-to-do parts of the North American Union, the Eastern States and
New England, are even more sterile than France. However, no one of
these nations suffers to-day from the small increase of population;
there are yet so many poor and fecund peoples that they can easily
fill the gaps. In the ancient world this was not the case; population
was always and everywhere so scanty that if for some reason it
diminished but slightly, the states could not get on, finding
themselves at the mercy of what they called a "famine of men," a
malady more serious and troublesome than over-population. In the Roman
Empire the Occidental provinces finally fell into the hands of the
barbarians, chiefly because the Græco-Latin civilisation sterilised
the family, reducing the population incurably. No wonder that the
ancients applied the term "corruption" to a momentum of desires which,
although increasing culture and the refinements of living, easily
menaced the sources of the nation's physical existence.

There is, then, a more general conclusion to draw from this
experience. It is not by chance, nor the unaccountable caprice of
a few ancient writers, that we possess so many small facts on the
development of luxury and the transformation of customs in ancient
Rome; that, for example, among the records of great wars, of
diplomatic missions, of catastrophes political and economic, we find
given the date when the art of fattening fowls was imported into
Italy. The little facts are not so unworthy of the majesty of Roman
history as one at first might think. Everything is bound together in
the life of a nation, and nothing without importance; the humblest
acts, most personal and deepest hidden in the _penetralia_ of the
home, that no one sees, none knows, have an effect, immediate or
remote, on the common life of the nation. There is, between these
small, insignificant facts and the wars, the revolutions, the
tremendous political and social events that bewilder men, a tie, often
invisible to most people, yet nevertheless indestructible.

Nothing in the world is without import: what women spend for
their toilet, the resistance that men make from day to day to the
temptations of the commonest pleasures, the new and petty needs
that insinuate themselves unconsciously into the habits of all; the
reading, the conversations, the impressions, even the most fugacious
that pass in our spirit--all these things, little and innumerable,
that no historian registers, have contributed to produce this
revolution, that war, this catastrophe, that political overturn, which
men wonder at and study as a prodigy.

The causes of how many apparently mysterious historical events would
be more clearly and profoundly known, of how many periods would the
spirit be better understood, did we only possess the private records
of the families that make up the ruling classes! Every deed we do in
the intimacy of the home reacts on the whole of our environment.
With our every act we assume a responsibility toward the nation and
posterity, the sanction for which, near or far away, is in events.
This justifies, at least in part, the ancient conception by which the
state had the right to exercise vigilance over its citizens, their
private acts, customs, pleasures, vices, caprices. This vigilance, the
laws that regulated it, the moral and political teachings that brought
pressure to bear in the exercise of these laws, tended above all to
charge upon the individual man the social responsibility of his single
acts; to remind him that in the things most personal, aside from the
individual pain or pleasure, there was an interest, a good or an evil,
in common.

Modern men--and it is a revolution greater than that finished in
political form in the nineteenth century--have been freed from these
bonds, from these obligations. Indeed, modern civilisation has made
it a duty for each one to spend, to enjoy, to waste as much as he can,
without any disturbing thought as to the ultimate consequences of
what he does. The world is so rich, population grows so rapidly,
civilisation is armed with so much knowledge in its struggle against
the barbarian and against nature, that to-day we are able to laugh at
the timid prudence of our forefathers, who had, as it were, a fear
of wealth, of pleasure, of love; we can boast in the pride of triumph
that we are the first who dare in the midst of a conquered world, to
enjoy--enjoy without scruple, without restriction--all the good things
life offers to the strong.

But who knows? Perhaps this felicitous moment will not last forever;
perhaps one day will see men, grown more numerous, feel the need
of the ancient wisdom and prudence. It is at least permitted the
philosopher and the historian to ask if this magnificent but unbridled
freedom which we enjoy suits all times, and not only those in which
nations coming into being can find a small dower in their cradle as
you have done--three millions of square miles of land!

The History and Legend of Antony and Cleopatra

In the history of Rome figures of women are rare, because only men
dominated there, imposing everywhere the brute force, the roughness,
and the egoism that lie at the base of their nature: they honoured the
_mater familias_ because she bore children and kept the slaves
from stealing the flour from the bin and drinking the wine from the
_amphore_ on the sly. They despised the woman who made of her beauty
and vivacity an adornment of social life, a prize sought after and
disputed by the men. However, in this virile history there does
appear, on a sudden, the figure of a woman, strange and wonderful, a
kind of living Venus. Plutarch thus describes the arrival of Cleopatra
at Tarsus and her first meeting with Antony:

    She was sailing tranquilly along the Cydnus, on a bark with a
    golden stern, with sails of purple and oars of silver, and the
    dip of the oars was rhythmed to the sound of flutes, blending
    with music of lyres. She herself, the Queen, wondrously
    clad as Venus is pictured, was lying under an awning gold
    embroidered. Boys dressed as Cupids stood at her side, gently
    waving fans to refresh her; her maidens, every one beautiful
    and clad as a Naiad or a Grace, directed the boat, some at
    the rudder, others at the ropes. Both banks of the stream were
    sweet with the perfumes burning on the vessel.

Posterity is yet dazzled by this ship, refulgent with purple and
gold and melodious with flutes and lyres. If we are spellbound by
Plutarch's description, it does not seem strange to us that Antony
should be--he who could not only behold in person that wonderful
Venus, but could dine with her _tête-a-tête_, in a splendour of
torches indescribable. Surely this is a setting in no wise improbable
for the beginning of the famous romance of the love of Antony and
Cleopatra, and its development as probable as its beginning; the
follies committed by Antony for the seductive Queen of the Orient,
the divorce of Octavia, the war for love of Cleopatra, kindled in the
whole Empire, and the miserable catastrophe. Are there not to be seen
in recent centuries many men of power putting their greatness to risk
and sometimes to ruin for love of a woman? Are not the love letters
of great statesmen--for instance, those of Mirabeau and
of Gambetta--admitted to the semi-official part of modern
history-writing? And so also Antony could love a queen and, like so
many modern statesmen, commit follies for her. A French critic of my
book, burning his ships behind him, has said that Antony was a Roman

The romance pleases: art takes it as subject and re-takes it; but that
does not keep off the brutal hands of criticism. Before all, it should
be observed that moderns feel and interpret the romance of Antony
and Cleopatra in a way very different from that of the ancients. From
Shakespeare to De Heredia and Henri Houssaye, artists and historians
have described with sympathy, even almost idealised, this passion that
throws away in a lightning flash every human greatness, to pursue
the mantle of a fleeing woman; they find in the follies of Antony
something profoundly human that moves them, fascinates them, and makes
them indulgent. To the ancients, on the contrary, the _amours_ of
Antony and Cleopatra were but a dishonourable degeneration of the
passion. They have no excuse for the man whom love for a woman
impelled to desert in battle, to abandon soldiers, friends, relatives,
to conspire against the greatness of Rome.

This very same difference of interpretation recurs in the history of
the _amours_ of Cæsar. Modern writers regard what the ancients tell
us of the numerous loves--real or imaginary--of Cæsar, as almost a
new laurel with which to decorate his figure. On the contrary, the
ancients recounted and spread abroad, and perhaps in part invented,
these storiettes of gallantry for quite opposite reasons--as source of
dishonour, to discredit him, to demonstrate that Cæsar was effeminate,
that he could not give guarantee of knowing how to lead the armies
and to fulfil the virile and arduous duties that awaited every eminent
Roman. There is in our way of thinking a vein of romanticism wanting
in the ancient mind. We see in love a certain forgetfulness of
ourselves, a certain blindness of egoism and the more material
passions, a kind of power of self-abnegation, which, inasmuch as it is
unconscious, confers a certain nobility and dignity; therefore we are
indulgent to mistakes and follies committed for the sake of passion,
while the ancients were very severe. We pardon with a certain
compassion the man who for love of a woman has not hesitated to bury
himself under the ruin of his own greatness; the ancients, on the
contrary, considered him the most dangerous and despicable of the

Criticism has not contented itself with re-giving to the ancient
romance the significance it had for those that made it and the
public that first read it. Archaeologists have discovered upon
coins portraits of Cleopatra, and now critics have confronted these
portraits with the poetic descriptions given by Roman historians and
have found the descriptions generously fanciful: in the portraits we
do not see the countenance of a Venus, delicate, gracious, smiling,
nor even the fine and sensuous beauty of a Marquise de Pompadour, but
a face fleshy and, as the French would say, _bouffie_; the nose,
a powerful aquiline; the face of a woman on in years, ambitious,
imperious, one which recalls that of Maria Theresa. It will be said
that judgments as to beauty are personal; that Antony, who saw her
alive, could decide better than we who see her portraits half effaced
by the centuries; that the attractive power of a woman emanates not
only from corporal beauty, but also--and yet more--from her spirit.
The taste of Cleopatra, her vivacity, her cleverness, her exquisite
art in conversation, is vaunted by all.

Perhaps, however, Cleopatra, beautiful or ugly, is of little
consequence; when one studies the history of her relations with
Antony, there is small place, and that but toward the end, for the
passion of love. It will be easy to persuade you of this if you follow
the simple chronological exposition of facts I shall give you. Antony
makes the acquaintance of Cleopatra at Tarsus toward the end of 41
B.C., passes the winter of 41-40 with her at Alexandria; leaves her in
the spring of 40 and stays away from her more than three years, till
the autumn of 37. There is no proof that during this time Antony
sighed for the Queen of Egypt as a lover far away; on the contrary, he
attends, with alacrity worthy of praise, to preparing the conquest of
Persia, to putting into execution the great design conceived by Cæsar,
the plan of war that Antony had come upon among the papers of the
Dictator the evening of the fifteenth of March, 44 B.C. All order
social and political, the army, the state, public finance, wealth
private and public, is going to pieces around him. The triumvirate
power, built up on the uncertain foundation of these ruins, is
tottering; Antony realises that only a great external success can
give to him and his party the authority and the money necessary to
establish a solid government, and resolves to enter into possession of
the political legacy of his teacher and patron, taking up its central
idea, the conquest of Persia.

The difficulties are grave. Soldiers are not wanting, but money. The
revolution has ruined the Empire and Italy; all the reserve funds have
been dissipated; the finances of the state are in such straits that
not even the soldiers can be paid punctually and the legions every now
and then claim their dues by revolt. Antony is not discouraged. The
historians, however antagonistic to him, describe him as exceedingly
busy in those four years, extracting from all parts of the Empire that
bit of money still in circulation. Then at one stroke, in the second
half of 37, when, preparations finished, it is time to put hand to the
execution, the ancient historians without in any way explaining to us
this sudden act, most unforeseen, make him depart for Antioch to meet
Cleopatra, who has been invited by him to join him. For what reason
does Antony after three years, all of a sudden, re-join Cleopatra?
The secret of the story of Antony and Cleopatra lies entirely in this

Plutarch says that Antony went to Antioch borne by the fiery and
untamed courser of his own spirit; in other words, because passion
was already beginning to make him lose common sense. Not finding other
explanations in the ancient writers, posterity has accepted this,
which was simple enough; but about a century ago an erudite Frenchman,
Letronne, studying certain coins, and comparing with them certain
passages in ancient historians, until then remaining obscure, was able
to demonstrate that in 36 B.C., at Antioch, Antony married Cleopatra
with all the dynastic ceremonies of Egypt, and that thereupon Antony
became King of Egypt, although he did not dare assume the title.

The explanation of Letronne, which is founded on official documents
and coins, is without doubt more dependable than that of Plutarch,
which is reducible to an imaginative metaphor; and the discovery
of Letronne, concluding that concatenation of facts that I have set
forth, finally persuades me to affirm that not a passion of love,
suddenly re-awakened, led Antony in the second half of 37 B.C. to
Antioch to meet the Queen of Egypt, but a political scheme well
thought out. Antony wanted Egypt and not the beautiful person of
its queen; he meant by this dynastic marriage to establish the Roman
protectorate in the valley of the Nile, and to be able to dispose,
for the Persian campaign, of the treasures of the Kingdom of the
Ptolemies. At that time, after the plunderings of other regions of
the Orient by the politicians of Rome, there was but one state rich
in reserves of precious metals, Egypt. Since, little by little, the
economic crisis of the Roman Empire was aggravating, the Roman polity
had to gravitate perforce toward Egypt, as toward the country capable
of providing Rome with the capital necessary to continue its policy in
every part of the Empire.

Cæsar already understood this; his mysterious and obscure connection
with Cleopatra had certainly for ultimate motive and reason this
political necessity; and Antony, in marrying Cleopatra, probably only
applied more or less shrewdly the ideas that Cæsar had originated in
the refulgent crepuscle of his tempestuous career. You will ask me
why Antony, if he had need of the valley of the Nile, recurred to this
strange expedient of a marriage, instead of conquering the kingdom,
and why Cleopatra bemeaned herself to marry the triumvir. The reply
is not difficult to him who knows the history of Rome. There was
a long-standing tradition in Roman policy to exploit Egypt but
to respect its independence; it may be, because the country was
considered more difficult to govern than in truth it was, or because
there existed for this most ancient land, the seat of all the most
refined arts, the most learned schools, the choicest industries,
exceedingly rich and highly civilised, a regard that somewhat
resembles what France imposes on the world to-day. Finally, it may be
because it was held that if Egypt were annexed, its influence on Italy
would be too much in the ascendent, and the traditions of the old
Roman life would be conclusively overwhelmed by the invasion of the
customs, the ideas, the refinements--in a word, by the corruptions
of Egypt. Antony, who was set in the idea of repeating in Persia
the adventure of Alexander the Great, did not dare bring about an
annexation which would have been severely judged in Italy and which
he, like the others, thought more dangerous than in reality it was.
On the other hand, with a dynastic marriage, he was able to secure for
himself all the advantages of effective possession, without running
the risks of annexation; so he resolved upon this artifice, which,
I repeat, had probably been imagined by Cæsar. As to Cleopatra, her
government was menaced by a strong internal opposition, the causes for
which are ill known; marrying Antony, she gathered about her throne,
to protect it, formidable guards, the Roman legions.

To sum up, the romance of Antony and Cleopatra covers, at least in its
beginnings, a political treaty. With the marriage, Cleopatra seeks
to steady her wavering power; Antony, to place the valley of the Nile
under the Roman protectorate. How then was the famous romance born?
The actual history of Antony and Cleopatra is one of the most tragic
episodes of a struggle that lacerated the Roman Empire for four
centuries, until it finally destroyed it, the struggle between Orient
and Occident. During the age of Cæsar, little by little, without any
one's realising it at first, there arose and fulfilled itself a fact
of the gravest importance; that is, the eastern part of the Empire had
grown out of proportion: first, from the conquest of the Pontus, made
by Lucullus, who had added immense territory in Asia Minor; then by
Pompey's conquest of Syria, and the protectorate extended by him over
all Palestine and a considerable part of Arabia. These new districts
were not only enormous in extension; they were also populous, wealthy,
fertile, celebrated for ancient culture; they held the busiest
industrial cities, the best cultivated regions of the ancient world,
the most famous seats of arts, letters, science, therefore their
annexation, made rapidly in few years, could but trouble the already
unstable equilibrium of the Empire. Italy was then, compared with
these provinces, a poor and barbarous land; because southern Italy was
ruined by the wars of preceding epochs, and northern Italy, naturally
the wealthier part, was still crude and in the beginning of its
development. The other western provinces nearer Italy were poorer and
less civilised than Italy, except Gallia Narbonensis and certain parts
of southern Spain. So that Rome, the capital of the Empire, came to
find itself far from the richest and most populous regions, among
territories poor and despoiled, on the frontiers of barbarism--in such
a situation as the Russian Empire might find itself to-day if it had a
capital at Vladivostok or Kharbin. You know that during the last years
of the life of Cæsar it was rumoured several times that the Dictator
wished to remove the capital of the Empire; it was said, to Alexandria
in Egypt, to Ilium in the district where Troy arose. It is impossible
to judge whether these reports were true or merely invented by enemies
of Cæsar to damage him; at any rate, true or false, they show that
public opinion was beginning to concern itself with the "Eastern
peril"; that is, with the danger that the seat of empire must be
shifted toward the Orient and the too ample Asiatic and African
territory, and that Italy be one day uncrowned of her metropolitan
predominance, conquered by so many wars. Such hear-says must have
seemed, even if not true, the more likely, because, in his last two
years, Cæsar planned the conquest of Persia. Now the natural basis of
operations for the conquest of Persia was to be found, not in Italy,
but in Asia Minor, and if Persia had been conquered, it would not have
been possible to govern in Rome an empire so immeasurably enlarged
in the Orient. Everything therefore induces to the belief that this
question was at least discussed in the coterie of the friends of
Cæsar; and it was a serious question, because in it the traditions,
the aspirations, the interests of Italy were in irreconcilable
conflict with a supreme necessity of state which one day or other
would impose itself, if some unforeseen event did not intervene to
solve it.

In the light of these considerations, the conduct of Antony becomes
very clear. The marriage at Antioch, by which he places Egypt under
the Roman protectorate, is the decisive act of a policy that looks
to transporting the centre of his government toward the Orient, to be
able to accomplish more securely the conquest of Persia. Antony, the
heir of Cæsar, the man who held the papers of the Dictator, who knew
his hidden thoughts, who wished to complete the plans cut off by his
death, proposes to conquer Persia; to conquer Persia, he must rely on
the Oriental provinces that were the natural basis of operations for
the great enterprise; among these, Antony must support himself above
all on Egypt, the richest and most civilised and most able to supply
him with the necessary funds, of which he was quite in want. Therefore
he married the Cleopatra whom, it was said at Rome, Cæsar himself had
wished to marry--with whom, at any rate, Cæsar had much dallied and
intrigued. Does not this juxtaposition of facts seem luminous to you?
In 36 B.C., Antony marries Cleopatra, as a few years before he had
married Octavia, the sister of the future Augustus, for political
reasons--in order to be able to dispose of the political subsidies and
finances of Egypt, for the conquest of Persia. The conquest of Persia
is the ultimate motive of all his policy, the supreme explanation of
his every act.

However, little by little, this move, made on both sides from
considerations of political interest, altered its character under the
action of events, of time, through the personal influence of Antony
and Cleopatra upon each other, and above all, the power that Cleopatra
acquired over Antony: here is truly the most important part of all
this story. Those who have read my history know that I have recounted
hardly any of the anecdotes, more or less odd or entertaining,
with which ancient writers describe the intimate life of Antony and
Cleopatra, because it is impossible to discriminate in them the part
that is fact from that which was invented or exaggerated by political
enmity. In history the difficulty of recognising the truth gradually
increases as one passes from political to private life; because in
politics the acts of men and of parties are always bound together by
either causes or effects of which a certain number is always exactly
known; private life, on the other hand, is, as it were, isolated and
secret, almost invariably impenetrable. What a great man of state does
in his own house, his valet knows better than the historians of later

If for these reasons I have thought it prudent not to accept in my
work the stories and anecdotes that the ancients recount of Antony and
Cleopatra, without indeed risking to declare them false, it is, on the
contrary, not possible to deny that Cleopatra gradually acquired great
ascendency over the mind of Antony. The circumstance is of itself
highly probable. That Cleopatra was perhaps a Venus, as the ancients
say, or that she was provided with but a mediocre beauty, as declare
the portraits, matters little: it is, however, certain that she was
a woman of great cleverness and culture; as woman and queen of
the richest and most civilised realm of the ancient world, she was
mistress of all those arts of pleasure, of luxury, of elegance,
that are the most delicate and intoxicating fruit of all mature
civilisations. Cleopatra might refigure, in the ancient world, the
wealthiest, most elegant, and cultured Parisian lady in the world of

Antony, on the other hand, was the descendant of a family of that
Roman nobility which still preserved much rustic roughness in tastes,
ideas, habits; he grew up in times in which the children were
still given Spartan training; he came to Egypt from a nation which,
notwithstanding its military and diplomatic triumphs, could be
considered, compared with Egypt, only poor, rude, and barbarous. Upon
this intelligent man, eager for enjoyment, who had, like other
noble Romans, already begun to taste the charms of intellectual
civilisation, it was not Cleopatra alone that made the keenest of
impressions, but all Egypt, the wonderful city of Alexandria, the
sumptuous palace of the Ptolemies--all that refined, elegant splendour
of which he found himself at one stroke the master. What was there
at Rome to compare with Alexandria?--Rome, in spite of its imperial
power, abandoned to a fearful disorder by the disregard of factions,
encumbered with ruin, its streets narrow and wretched, provided as
yet with but a single _forum_, narrow and plain, the sole impressive
monument of which was the theatre of Pompey; Rome, where the life was
yet crude, and objects of luxury so rare that they had to be brought
from the distant Orient? At Alexandria, instead, the Paris of the
ancient world, were to be found all the best and most beautiful things
of the earth. There was a sumptuosity of public edifices that the
ancients never tire of extolling--the quay seven _stadia_ long,
the lighthouse famous all over the Mediterranean, the marvellous
zoölogical garden, the Museum, the Gymnasium, innumerable temples, the
unending palace of the Ptolemies. There was an abundance, unheard of
for those times, of objects of luxury--rugs, glass, stuffs, papyruses,
jewels, artistic pottery--because they made all these things at
Alexandria. There was an abundance, greater than elsewhere, of silk,
of perfumes, of gems, of all the things imported from the extreme
East, because through Alexandria passed one of the most frequented
routes of Indo-Chinese commerce. There, too, were innumerable artists,
writers, philosophers, and _savants_; society life and intellectual
life alike fervid; continuous movement to and fro of traffic,
continual passing of rare and curious things; countless amusements;
life, more than elsewhere, safe--at least so it was believed--because
at Alexandria were the great schools of medicine and the great
scientific physicians.

If other Italians who landed in Alexandria were dazzled by so many
splendours, Antony ought to have been blinded; _he_ entered Alexandria
as King. He who was born at Rome in the small and simple house of an
impoverished noble family who had been brought up with Latin parsimony
to eat frugally, to drink wine only on festival occasions, to wear
the same clothes a long time, to be served by a single slave--this man
found himself lord of the immense palace of the Ptolemies, where
the kitchens alone were a hundred times larger than the house of his
fathers at Rome; where there were gathered for his pleasure the most
precious treasures and the most marvellous collections of works of
art; where there were trains of servants at his command, and every
wish could be immediately gratified. It is therefore not necessary to
suppose that Antony was foolishly enamoured of the Queen of Egypt, to
understand the change that took place in him after their marriage, as
he tasted the inimitable life of Alexandria, that elegance, that ease,
that wealth, that pomp without equal.

A man of action, grown in simplicity, toughened by a rude life, he
was all at once carried into the midst of the subtlest and most highly
developed civilisation of the ancient world and given the greatest
facilities to enjoy and abuse it that ever man had: as might have been
expected, he was intoxicated; he contracted an almost insane passion
for such a life; he adored Egypt with such ardour as to forget for it
the nation of his birth and the modest home of his boyhood. And then
began the great tragedy of his life, a tragedy not love-inspired, but
political. As the hold of Egypt strengthened on his mind, Cleopatra
tried to persuade him not to conquer Persia, but to accept openly
the kingdom of Egypt, to found with her and with their children a new
dynasty, and to create a great new Egyptian Empire, adding to Egypt
the better part of the provinces that Rome possessed in Africa and in
Asia, abandoning Italy and the provinces of the West forever to their

Cleopatra had thought to snatch from Rome its Oriental Empire by the
arm of Antony, in that immense disorder of revolution; to reconstruct
the great Empire of Egypt, placing at its head the first general of
the time, creating an army of Roman legionaries with the gold of the
Ptolemies; to make Egypt and its dynasty the prime potentate of Africa
and Asia, transferring to Alexandria the political and diplomatic
control of the finest parts of the Mediterranean world.

As the move failed, men have deemed it folly and stupidity; but he who
knows how easy it is to be wise after events, will judge this confused
policy of Cleopatra less curtly. At any rate, it is certain that her
scheme failed more because of its own inconsistencies than through the
vigour and ability with which Rome tried to thwart it; it is certain
that in the execution of the plan, Antony felt first in himself
the tragic discord between Orient and Occident that was so long to
lacerate the Empire; and of that tragic discord he was the first
victim. An enthusiastic admirer of Egypt, an ardent Hellenist, he is
lured by his great ambition to be king of Egypt, to renew the famous
line of the Ptolemies, to continue in the East the glory and the
traditions of Alexander the Great: but the far-away voice of his
fatherland still sounds in his ear; he recalls the city of his birth,
the Senate in which he rose so many times to speak, the _Forum_ of his
orations, the Comitia that elected him to magistracies; Octavia, the
gentlewoman he had wedded with the sacred rites of Latin monogamy; the
friends and soldiers with whom he had fought through so many countries
in so many wars; the foundation principles at home that ruled the
family, the state, morality, public and private.

Cleopatra's scheme, viewed from Alexandria, was an heroic undertaking,
almost divine, that might have lifted him and his scions to the
delights of Olympus; seen from Rome, by his childhood's friends,
by his comrades in arms, by that people of Italy who still so much
admired him, it was the shocking crime of faithlessness to his
country; we call it high treason. Therefore he hesitates long,
doubting most of all whether he can keep for the new Egyptian Empire
the Roman legions, made up largely of Italians, all commanded by
Italian officers. He does not know how to oppose a resolute _No_ to
the insistences of Cleopatra and loose himself from the fatal bond
that keeps him near her; he can not go back to live in Italy after
having dwelt as king in Alexandria. Moreover, he does not dare declare
his intentions to his Roman friends, fearing they will scatter; to the
soldiers, fearing they will revolt; to Italy, fearing her judgment of
him as a traitor; and so, little by little, he entangles himself
in the crooked policy, full of prevarications, of expedients, of
subterfuges, of one mistake upon another, that leads him to Actium.

I think I have shown that Antony succumbed in the famous war not
because, mad with love, he abandoned the command in the midst of the
battle, but because his armies revolted and abandoned him when they
understood what he had not dared declare to them openly: that he
meant to dismember the Empire of Rome to create the new Empire of
Alexandria. The future Augustus conquered at Actium without effort,
merely because the national sentiment of the soldiery, outraged by the
unforeseen revelation of Antony's treason, turned against the man who
wanted to aggrandise Cleopatra at the expense of his own country.

And then the victorious party, the party of Augustus, created the
story of Antony and Cleopatra that has so entertained posterity; this
story is but a popular explanation--in part imaginatively exaggerated
and fantastic--of the Eastern peril that menaced Rome, of both its
political phase and its moral. According to the story that Horace has
put into such charming verse, Cleopatra wished to conquer Italy, to
enslave Rome, to destroy the Capitol; but Cleopatra alone could not
have accomplished so difficult a task; she must have seduced Antony,
made him forget his duty to his wife, to his legitimate children,
to the Republic, the soldiery, his native land,--all the duties
that Latin morals inculcated into the minds of the great, and that
a shameless Egyptian woman, rendered perverse by all the arts of the
Orient, had blotted out in his soul; therefore Antony's tragic
fate should serve as a solemn warning to distrust the voluptuous
seductions, of which Cleopatra symbolised the elegant and fatal
depravity. The story was magnified, coloured, diffused, not because it
was beautiful and romantic, but because it served the interests of the
political _coterie_ that gained definite control of the government
on the ruin of Antony. At Actium, the future Augustus did not fight a
real war, he only passively watched the power of the adversary go
to pieces, destroyed by its own internal contradictions. He did not
decide to conquer Egypt until the public opinion of Italy, enraged
against Antony and Cleopatra, required this vengeance with such
insistence that he had to satisfy it.

If Augustus was not a man too quick in action, he was, instead, keenly
intelligent in comprehending the situation created by the catastrophe
of Antony in Italy, where already, for a decade of years, public
spirit, frightened by revolution, was anxious to return to the ways
of the past, to the historic sources of the national life. Augustus
understood that he ought to stand before Italy, disgusted as it
was with long-continued dissension and eager to retrace the way
of national tradition, as the embodiment of all the virtues his
contemporaries set in opposition to eastern "corruption,"--simplicity,
severity of private habits, rigid monogamy, the anti-feministic
spirit, the purely virile idea of the state. Naturally, the exaltation
of these virtues required the portrayal in his rival of Actium, as
far as possible, the opposite defects; therefore the efforts of his
friends, like Horace, to colour the story of Antony and Cleopatra,
which should magnify to the Italians the idea of the danger from
which Augustus had saved them at Actium; which was meant to serve as a
barrier against the invading Oriental "corruption," that "corruption"
the essence of which I have already analysed.

In a certain sense, the legend of Antony and Cleopatra is chiefly an
antifeminist legend, intended to reinforce in the state the power of
the masculine principle, to demonstrate how dangerous it may be to
leave to women the government of public affairs, or follow their
counsel in political business.

The people believed the legend; posterity has believed it. Two years
ago when I published in the _Revue de Paris_ an article in which I
demonstrated, by obvious arguments, the incongruities and absurdities
of the legend, and tried to retrace through it the half-effaced lines
of the truth, everybody was amazed. From one end of Europe to the
other, the papers résuméd the conclusions of my study as an astounding
revelation. An illustrious French statesman, a man of the finest
culture in historical study, Joseph Reinach, said to me:

    After your article I have re-read Dion and Plutarch. It is
    indeed singular that for twenty centuries men have read and
    reread those pages without any one's realising how confused
    and absurd their accounts are.

It seems to be a law of human psychology that almost all historic
personages, from Minos to Mazzini, from Judas to Charlotte Corday,
from Xerxes to Napoleon, are imaginary personages; some transfigured
into demigods, by admiration and success; the others debased by hate
and failure. In reality, the former were often uglier, the latter more
attractive than tradition has pictured them, because men in general
are neither too good nor too bad, neither too intelligent nor
too stupid. In conclusion, historic tradition is full of deformed
caricatures and ideal transfigurations; because, when they are dead,
the impression of their political contemporaries still serves the ends
of parties, states, nations, institutions. Can this man exalt in a
people the consciousness of its own power, of its own energy, of
its own value? Lo, then they make a god of him, as of Napoleon or
Bismarck. Can this other serve to feed in the mass, odium and scorn
of another party, of a government, of an order of things that it is
desirable to injure? Then they make a monster of him, as happened in
Rome to Tiberius, in France to Napoleon III, in Italy to all who for
one motive or another opposed the unification of Italy.

It is true that after a time the interests that have coloured
certain figures with certain hues and shades disappear; but then the
reputation, good or bad, of a personage is already made; his name is
stamped on the memory of posterity with an adjective,--the great, the
wise, the wicked, the cruel, the rapacious,--and there is no human
force that can dissever name from adjective. Some far-away historian,
studying all the documents, examining the sequence of events, will
confute the tradition in learned books; but his work not only will not
succeed in persuading the ignorant multitude, but must also contend
against the multiplied objections offered by the instinctive
incredulity of people of culture.

You will say to me, "What is the use of writing history? Why spend so
much effort to correct the errors in which people will persist just
as if the histories were never written?" I reply that I do not believe
that the office of history is to give to men who have guided the great
human events a posthumous justice. It is already work serious enough
for every generation to give a little justice to the living,
rather than occupy itself rendering it to the dead, who indeed, in
contradistinction from the living, have no need of it. The study of
history, the rectification of stories of the past, ought to serve
another and practical end; that is, train the men who govern
nations to discern more clearly than may be possible from their own
environment the truth underlying the legends. As I have already said,
passions, interests, present historic personages in a thousand forms
when they are alive, transfiguring not only the persons themselves,
but events the most diverse, the character of institutions, the
conditions of nations.

It is generally believed that legends are found only at the dawn
of history, in the poetic period; that is a great mistake; the
legend--the legend that deceives, that deforms, that misdirects--is
everywhere, in all ages, in the present as in the past--in the present
even more than in the past, because it is the consequence of certain
universal forms of thought and of sentiment. To-day, just as ten or
twenty centuries ago, interests and passions dominate events, alter
them and distort them, creating about them veritable romances, more
or less probable. The present, which appears to all to be the same
reality, is instead, for most people, only a huge legend, traversed by
contemporaries stirred by the most widely differing sentiments.

However the mass may content itself with this legend, throbbing
with hate and love, with hope and the fear of its own self-created
phantoms, those who guide and govern the masses ought to try to divine
the truth, as far as they can. A great man of state is distinguished
from a mediocre by his greater ability to divine the real in his world
of action beneath its superfice of confused legends; by his greater
ability to discriminate in everything what is true from what is merely
apparently true, in the prestige of states and institutions, in the
forces of parties, in the energy attributed to certain men, in the
purposes claimed by parties and men, often different from their
real designs. To do that, some natural disposition is necessary, a
liveliness of intuition that must come with birth; but this faculty
can be refined and trained by a practical knowledge of men, by
experience in things, and by the study of history. In the ages dead,
when the interests that created their legends have disappeared, we
can discover how those great popular delusions, which are one of the
greatest forces of history, are made and how they work. We may thus
fortify the spirit to withstand the cheating illusions that surround
us, coming from every part of the vast modern world, in which so
many interests dispute dominion over thoughts and will. In this sense
alone, I believe that history may teach, not the multitude, which will
never learn anything from it, but, impelled by the same passions,
will always repeat the same errors and the same foolishnesses; but
the chosen few, who, charged with directing the game of history, have
concern in knowing as well as they can its inner law. Taken in this
way, history may be a great teacher, in its every page, every line,
and the study of the legend of Antony and Cleopatra may itself even
serve to prepare the spirit of a diplomat, who must treat between
state and state the complicated economic and political affairs of
the modern world. And so, in conclusion, history and life interchange
mutual services; life teaches history, and history, life; observing
the present, we help ourselves to know the past, and from the study of
the past we can return to our present the better tempered and prepared
to observe and comprehend it. In present and in past, history can form
a kind of wisdom set apart, in a certain sense aristocratic, above
what the masses know, at least as to the universal laws that govern
the life of nations.

The Development of Gaul

In estimating distant historical events, one is often the victim of
an error of perspective; that is, one is disposed to consider as the
outcome of a pre-established plan of human wisdom what is the final
result, quite unforeseen, of causes that acted beyond the foresight of
contemporaries. At the distance of centuries, turning back to consider
the past, we can easily find out that the efforts of one or two
generations have produced certain effects on the actual condition of
the world; and then we conclude that those generations meant to
reach that result. On the contrary, men almost always face the future
proposing to themselves impossible ends; notwithstanding which, their
efforts, accumulating, destroying, interweaving, bring into being
consequences that no one had foreseen or planned, the novelty or
importance of which often only future generations realise. Columbus,
who, fixed in the idea of reaching India by sailing west, finds
America on his way and does not recognise it at once but is persuaded
that he has landed in India, symbolises the lot of man in history.

Of this phenomenon, which is to me a fundamental law of history,
there is a classic example in the story of Rome: the conquest of Gaul.
Without doubt, one of the greatest works of Rome was the conquest and
Romanisation of Gaul: indeed that conquest and Romanisation of Gaul
is the beginning of European civilisation; for before the Græco-Latin
civilisation reached the Rhine over the ways opened by the Roman
sword, the continent of Europe had centres of civilisation on
the coast or in its projecting extremities, like Italy, Bætica,
Narbonensis; but the interior was still entirely in the power of a
turbulent and restless barbarism, like the African continent to-day.
Moreover, what Rome created in Asia and Africa was almost entirely
destroyed by ages following; on the contrary, Rome yet lives in
France, to which it gave its language, its spirit, and the traditions
of its thought. Exactly for this reason it is particularly important
to explain how such an outcome was brought about, and by what historic
forces. From the propensity to consider every great historical
event as wholly a masterpiece of human genius, many historians have
attributed also this accomplishment to a prodigious, well-nigh divine
wisdom on the part of the Romans, and Julius Cæsar is regarded as
a demigod who had fixed his gaze upon the far, far distant future.
However, it is not difficult, studying the ancient documents with
critical spirit, to persuade oneself that even if Cæsar was a man of
genius, he was not a god; that from beginning to end, the real story
of the conquest of Gaul is very different from the commonly accepted

I hope to demonstrate that Cæsar threw himself into the midst of
Gallic affairs, impelled by slight incidents of internal politics,
not only without giving any thought whatever to the future destiny
of Gaul, but without even knowing well the conditions existing there.
Gaul was then for all Romans a barbarous region, poor, gloomy, full
of swamps and forests in which there would be much fighting and little
booty: no one was thinking then of having Roman territory cross the
Alps; everyone was infatuated by the story of Alexander the Great,
dreaming only of conquering like him all the rich and civilised
Orient; everyone, even Cæsar. Only a sequence of political accidents
pushed him in spite of himself into Gaul.

In 62 B.C., Pompey had returned from the Orient, where he had finished
the conquest of Pontus, begun by Lucullus, and annexed Syria. On his
return, the conservative party, irritated against him because he had
gone over to the opposite side, and having been given something to
think of by the prestige that the policy of expansion was winning
for the popular party, had succeeded by many intrigues in keeping
the Senate from ratifying what he had done in the East. This internal
struggle closed the Orient for several years to the adventurous
initiatives of the political imperialists; for as long as the
administration of Pompey remained unapproved, it was impossible to
think of undertaking new enterprises or conquests in Asia and Africa;
and therefore, of necessity, Roman politics, burning for conquest and
adventure, had to turn to another part of Europe.

The letters of Cicero prove to us that Cæsar was not the first to
think that Rome, having its hands tied for the moment in the East,
ought to interfere in the affairs of Gaul. The man who first had the
idea of a Gallic policy was Quintus Metellus Celerus, husband of the
famous Clodia, and consul the year before Cæsar. Taking advantage of
certain disturbances arisen in Gaul from the constant wars between the
differing parts, Metellus had persuaded the Senate to authorise him to
make war on the Helvetians. At the beginning of the year 59, that is,
the year in which Cæsar was consul, Metellus was already preparing
to depart for the war in Gaul, when suddenly he died; and then Cæsar,
profiting by the interest in Rome for Gallic affairs, had the mission
previously entrusted to Metellus given to himself and took up both
Metellus's office and his plan. Here you see at the beginning of this
story the first accident,--the death of Metellus. An historian curious
of nice and unanswerable questions might ask himself what would have
been the history of the world if Metellus had not died. Certainly Rome
would have been occupied with Gallic concerns a year sooner and by
a different man; Cæsar would probably have had to seek elsewhere a
brilliant proconsulship and things Gallic would have for ever escaped
his energy.

However it be, charged with the affairs of Gaul accidentally and
unexpectedly, Cæsar went there without well knowing the condition of
it, and, in fact, as I think I proved in a long appendix published in
the French and English editions of my work, he began his Gallic policy
with a serious mistake; that is, attacking the Helvetians. A superior
mind, Cæsar was not long in finding his bearings in the midst of the
tremendous confusion he found in Gaul; but for this, there is no need
to think that he carried out in the Gallic policy vast schemes, long
meditated: he worked, instead, as the uncertain changes of Roman
politics imposed. I believe that there is but one way to understand
and reasonably explain the policy pursued by Cæsar in Gaul, his sudden
moves, his zigzags, his audacities, his mistakes; that is, to study
it from Rome, to keep always in mind the internal changes, the party
struggle, in which he was involved at Rome. In short, Gaul was for
Cæsar only a means to operate on the internal politics of Rome, of
which he made use from day to day, as the immediate interest of the
passing hour seemed to require.

I cite a single example, but the most significant. Cæsar declared Gaul
a Roman province and annexed it to the Empire toward the end of
57 B.C.; that is, at the end of his second year as proconsul,
unexpectedly, with no warning act to intimate such vigorous intent,--a
surprise; and why? Look to Rome and you will understand. In 57 B.C.,
the democratic party, demoralised by discords, upset by the popular
agitation to recall Cicero from unjust exile, discredited by scandals,
especially the Egyptian scandals, seemed on the point of going to
pieces. Cæsar understood that there was but one way to stop this
ruin: to stun public opinion and all Italy with some highly audacious
surprise. The surprise was the annexation of Gaul. Declaring Gaul a
Roman province after the victory over the Belgæ, he convinced Rome
that he had in two years overcome all Gallic adversaries. And so, the
conquest of Gaul--this event that was to open a new era, this event,
the effects of which still endure--was, at the beginning in the mind
that conceived and executed it, nothing but a bold political expedient
in behalf of a party, to solve a situation compromised by manifold

But you will ask me: how from so tiny a seed could ever grow so mighty
a tree, covering with its branches so much of the earth? You know that
at the close of the proconsulship in Gaul, there breaks out a great
civil war; this lasts, with brief interruptions and pauses, until
the battle of Actium. Only toward 30 B.C., is the tempest lulled, and
during this time Gaul seems almost to disappear; the ancient writers
hardly mention it, except from time to time for a moment to let us
know that some unimportant revolt broke out, now here, now there, in
the vast territory; that this or that general was sent to repress it.

The civil wars ended, the government of Rome turns its attention to
the provinces anew, but for another reason. Saint Jerome tells us that
in 25 B.C., Augustus increased the tribute from the Gauls: we find
no difficulty in getting at the reason of this fact. The thing most
urgent after the re-establishment of peace was the re-arrangement of
finance; that signified then, as always, an increase of imposts:
but more could not be extorted from the Oriental provinces, already
exhausted by so many wars and plunderings; therefore the idea to
draw greater revenues from the European provinces of recent conquest,
particularly from Gaul, which until then had paid so little. So
you see a-forging one link after another in the chain: Cæsar for a
political interest conquers Gaul; thirty years afterward Augustus goes
there to seek new revenues for his balance-sheet; thence-forward
there are always immediate needs that urge Roman politics into Gallic
affairs: and so it is that little by little Roman politics become
permanently involved, by a kind of concatenation, not by deliberate

We can easily follow the process. Augustus had left in Gaul to exact
the new tribute, a former slave of Cæsar's, afterward liberated,--a
Gaul or German whom Cæsar had captured as a child in one of his
expeditions and later freed, because of his consummate administrative
ability. It appears, however, that, for the Gauls at least, this
ability was even too great. In a curious chapter Dion tells us that
Licinius, this freedman, uniting the avarice of a barbarian to the
pretences of a Roman, beat down everyone that seemed greater than he;
oppressed all those who seemed to have more power; extorted enormous
sums from all, were they to fill out the dues of his office, or to
enrich himself and his family. His rascality was so stupendous that
since the Gauls paid certain taxes every month, he increased to
fourteen the number of the months, declaring that December, the last,
was only the tenth; consequently it was necessary to count two more,
one called Undecember and another, Duodecember.

I would not guarantee this story true, since, when there is introduced
into a nation a new and more burdensome system of taxes, there are
always set in circulation tales of this kind about the rapacity of
the persons charged with collecting them: but true or false, the tale
shows that the Gauls were much irritated by the new tribute; indeed
this irritation increased so much that in the winter from the year 15
till the year 14 B.C., Augustus, having to remain in Gaul on account
of certain serious complications, arisen in Germany, was obliged to
give his attention to it during his stay. The prominent men of
Gaul presented vigorous complaints to him against Licinius and his
administration. Then there occurred an episode that, recounted three
centuries later with a certain naïveté by Dion Cassius, has been
overlooked by the historians, but which seems to me to be of prime
interest in the history of the Latin world. Dion writes:

    Augustus, not able to avoid blaming Licinius for the many
    denunciations and revelations of the Gallic chiefs, sought in
    other things to excuse him; he pretended not to know certain
    facts, made believe not to accept others, being ashamed to
    have placed such a procurator in Gaul. Licinius, however,
    extricated himself from the danger by a decidedly original
    expedient. When he realised that Augustus was displeased and
    that he was running great risk of being punished, he conducted
    that Prince to his house, and showing him his numerous
    treasuries full of gold and silver, enormous piles of objects
    made of precious metals, said:--"My lord, only for your good
    and that of the Romans have I amassed all these riches. I
    feared that the natives, fortified by such wealth, might
    revolt, if I left them to them: therefore I have placed them
    in safe-keeping for you and I give them to you." So, by his
    pretext that he had thus broken the power of the barbarians
    for the sake of Augustus, Licinius saved himself from danger.

This incident has without doubt the smack of legend. Ought we
therefore to conclude that it is wholly invented? No, because in
history the distortions of the truth are much more numerous than
are inventions. This page of Dion is important. It preserves for
us, presented in a dramatic scene between Augustus and Licinius, the
record of a very serious dispute carried on between the notable men of
Gaul and Licinius, in the presence of Augustus. The Gauls complain of
paying too many imposts: Licinius replies that Gaul is very rich;
that it grows rich quickly and therefore it ought to pay as much as is
demanded of it, and more. Not only did the freedman show rooms full of
gold and silver to his lord; he showed him the great economic progress
of Gaul, its marvellous future, the immense wealth concealed in
its soil and in the genius of its inhabitants. In other words, this
chapter of Dion makes us conclude that Rome--that is, the small
oligarchy that was directing its politics--realised that the Gaul
conquered by Cæsar, the Gaul that had always been considered as
a country cold and sterile, was instead a magnificent province,
naturally rich, from which they might get enormous treasure. This
discovery was made in the winter of 15-14 B.C.; that is, forty-three
years after Cæsar had added the province to the Empire; forty-three
years after they had possessed without knowing what they possessed,
like some _grand seigneur_ who unwittingly holds among the common
things of his patrimony some priceless object, the value of which only
an accident on a sudden reveals.

This chapter of Dion allows us also to affirm that he who first
realised the value of Gaul and opened the eyes of Augustus, was no
great personage of the Roman aristocracy whose names are written in
such lofty characters on the pages of history, whose images are yet
found in marble and bronze among the museums of Europe; no one of
those who ruled the Empire and therefore according to reason and
justice had the responsibility of governing it well: it was, instead,
an obscure freedman, whose ability the masters of the Empire scorned
to exploit except as to-day a peasant uses the forces of his ox,
hardly deigning to look at him and yet deeming all his labour but the
owner's natural right.

So stands the story. The Gallic freedman observed, and understood, and
was forgotten; posterity, instead, has had to wonder over the profound
wisdom of the Roman aristocrat, who understood nothing. Moreover, if
in 14 B.C. Licinius had to make an effort to persuade the surprised
and diffident Augustus that Gaul was a province of great future, it is
clear that Gaul must already have begun to grow rich by itself without
the Roman government's having done anything to promote its progress.

From what hidden sources sprang forth this new wealth of Gaul? All the
documents that we possess authorise us to respond that Gaul--to begin
from the time of Augustus--was able to grow rich quickly, because the
events following the Roman conquest turned and disposed the general
conditions of the Empire in its favour. Gaul then, as France now, was
endowed with several requisites essential to its becoming a nation of
great economic development: a land very fertile; a population dense
for the times, intelligent, wide-awake, active; a climate that, even
though it seemed to Greeks and Romans cold and foggy, was better
suited to intense activity than the warm and sunny climate of the
South; and finally,--a supreme advantage in ancient civilisation,--it
was everywhere intersected, as by a network of canals, by navigable
rivers. In ancient times transport by land was very expensive;
water was the natural and economic vehicle of commerce: therefore
civilisation was able to enter with commerce into the interior of
continents only by way of the rivers, which, as one might say, were to
a certain extent the railroads of the ancient world.

To these advantageous conditions, which, being physical, existed
before the Roman conquest, the conquest added some others: it broke
down the political barrier that previously cut off these convenient
means of penetration, the rivers; it suppressed the wars between
the Gallic tribes, the privileges, the tyrannies, the tolls, the
monopolies; it saved the enormous resources that were previously
wasted in these constant drains; it put again the hoe, the spade, the
tools of the artisan, into hands that had before been wielding the
sword; and finally, it consolidated (and this was perhaps the most
important effect) the jurisdiction of property. When Cæsar invaded
Gaul, the great landowners still cultivated cereals and textile plants
but little; they put the greater part of their fortune into cattle,
exactly because in that regime of continual war and revolution lands
easily kept changing proprietors. Furthermore, the more frequent
contact with Rome acquainted the Gauls with Roman agriculture and its
abler methods, with Latin life and its studied order.

By the combination of all these causes, population and production
increased rapidly. The gain in population was so considerable that
the ancients themselves noticed it. Strabo (Bk. 4, ch. i, §2) observes
that the Gallic women are fecund mothers and excellent nurses. With
the population, wealth increased on all sides, in agriculture as in
industry and in trade.

The new and more stable jurisdiction of the landed proprietary
generated another most important effect; it promoted rapidly the
cultivation of cereals and textile plants, of wheat and flax. "All
Gaul produces much wheat," says Strabo, and we read his notice without
surprise, because we know that France is, even to-day, the region of
Europe most fertile in cereals. There is no reason to suppose that it
must have been barren of them twenty centuries ago. Other documentary
evidence, particularly inscriptions, confirms Strabo, informing us
that, especially in the second century, Rome bought the customary
grain to feed the metropolis not only in Egypt, but also in Gaul.
In short, Gaul seems to have been the sole region of Europe fertile
enough to be able to export grain, to have been for Rome a kind of
Canada or Middle West of the time, set not beyond oceans but beyond
the Alps.

The cultivation of flax, to the ancient world what cotton is to-day,
progressed rapidly in Gaul along with that of wheat, so that Gaul was
early able to rival Egypt also in this respect. That Gaul and Egypt
should have so much in common at the same time, was something so
interesting and seemed so strange that Pliny himself wrote:

    Flax is sowed only in sandy places and after a single
    ploughing. Perhaps Egypt may be pardoned for sowing it,
    because with it she buys the merchandise of India and Arabia.
    But, look you!--even Gaul is famous for this plant. What
    matters it, if huge mountains shut away the sea; if on the
    ocean side it has for confines what is called emptiness?
    Notwithstanding that, Gaul cultivates flax like Egypt: the
    Cadurci, the Caleti, the Ruteni, the Biturigi, the Morini, who
    are considered tribes of the ends of the earth ... but what am
    I saying? All Gaul makes sails,--till the enemies beyond the
    Rhine imitate them, and the linen is more beautiful to the
    eyes than are their women.

These descriptions show Gaul to be one of the new countries, like the
Argentine Republic or the United States, in which the land has still
almost its natural pristine fecundity and brings forth a marvellous
abundance of plants that clothe and nourish man. We know that in Gaul
under the Empire there were immense fortunes in land in face of which
the fortunes of wealthy Italian proprietors shrink like the fortunes
of Europe when compared with the great ranch fortunes of the Argentine
Republic or the United States. Twenty years ago they began to excavate
in France the ruins of the great Gallo-Roman villas: these are
constructed on the plan of the Italian villa, decorated in the same
way, but are much larger, more sumptuous, more sightly; one feels
in them the pride of a new people which has adopted the Latin
civilisation, but has infused into that, derived from the wealth of
their land, a spirit of grandeur and of luxury that poorer and older
Latins did not know, exactly as to-day the Americans infuse a spirit
of greater magnitude and boldness into so many things that they take
from timid, old Europe. Perhaps there was also in this Gallic luxury,
as in the American, a bit of ostentation, intended to humiliate the
masters remaining poorer and more modest.

But Gaul was a nation not only rich in fertilest agriculture; side by
side with that, progressed its industry. This, according to my
notion, is one of the vital points in ancient history. Under the Roman
domination, Gaul was not restricted to the better cultivation of its
productive soil; but alone among the peoples of the Occident, became,
as we might now say, an industrial nation, that manufactured not only
by and for itself, but like Asia Minor, Egypt, Syria, sold also to
other peoples of the Empire and outside of its own boundaries; in
a word, exported. The more frequent contact with the Orient better
acquainted the Gauls with the beautiful objects made by the artisans
of Laodicea, of Tyre, of Sidon; and the clever genius of the Celt,
always apt in industry, drew from them incentive to create a Gallic
industry, partly imitative, partly original, and to seek a large
_clientèle_ for these industries in Italy, in Spain, beyond the Rhine,
among the Germans, in the Danube provinces. This is proved by a
number of important passages in Pliny, confirmed by inscriptions and
archæological discoveries.

Pliny has already told us that the Gauls manufactured many linen
sails; we know also that they made not only rough sails, but also fine
linen for clothing, which had a wide market. There have been found in
the Orient numerous fragments of an inscription containing the famous
edict of Diocletian on maximum sale prices allowed, an inscription
of value to us for its nomenclature of ancient fabrics. In this
nomenclature is mentioned the _birrus_ of Laodicea, an imitation of
the _birrus_ of the Nervii, which was a very fine linen cloth, worn
by ladies of fashion. Laodicea was one of the most ancient centres of
Oriental textile fabrics; the Nervii were one of the most remote of
the Gallic peoples, living--the coincidence is noteworthy--about where
Flanders is now. If at Laodicea they made at the end of the third
century an imitation of Nervian linen, that means that the Nervii had
succeeded in manufacturing and finding market for cloth so desirable
as to rouse the Laodiceans, competing for trade, to imitate it. What
proof more persuasive that during the early centuries of the Empire
the Gauls greatly improved their industries and widened their markets?

They had mastered weaving, but they did not stop there; they invented
new methods of dyeing, using vegetable dyes instead of the customary
animal colours of the Orient. Pliny says:

    The Gaul imitates with herbs all colours, including Tyrian
    purple; they do not seek the mollusk on the sea bottom; they
    run no risk of being devoured by sea monsters; they do not
    exploit the anchorless deep to multiply the attractions of
    the courtesan, or to increase the powers of the seducer of
    another's wife. They gather the herbs like cereals, standing
    on the dry ground; although the colour that they derive does
    not bear washing. Luxury could thus be gratified with greater
    show at the cost of fewer dangers.

It is clear, then, according to Pliny, at one time, it was believed
that the competition of Gallic dyers might have ruined the Oriental,
and would have done so, had the tenacity of their vegetable colouring
equalled its beauty. In another passage Pliny tells us that these
Gallic stuffs were used especially by the slaves and the populace.

The wool industry made no less progress in Gaul than weaving and
dyeing. From numerous passages in Juvenal and Martial it appears
that the woollen clothing worn by the populace of Rome in the second
century was woven in Gaul, particularly in the districts to-day
known as Arras, Langres, Saintonge. Pliny attributes to the Gauls the
invention of a wool, that, soaked in acid, became incombustible, and
was used to make mattresses.

Glass-making was another art carried from the East across the
Mediterranean into Gaul. Still another industry, metallurgy, after
weaving, contributed greatly to enrich Gaul. Undoubtedly even before
the Roman conquest, Gaul worked gold mines; it seems, however, that
silver mines remained untouched until about the time of Augustus. At
any rate, the discovery of some deposits of gold and silver then gave
a spur to several flourishing industries; jewelry-making, and--an
original Gallic industry of much importance--silver-plating and
tinning. Here is another extract from Pliny, from which you will
see that in those times they already made in France "Christofle"

    They cover [writes Pliny] the copper with tin in such a way
    that it is difficult to distinguish it from silver. It is a
    Gallic invention. Later they began to do the same thing with
    silver, silver-plating especially the ornaments of horses and
    carriages. The merit of the invention belongs to the Biturigi,
    and the industry was developed in the city of Alesia. After
    the same fashion there has been spread everywhere a foolish
    profusion of objects not only silver-, but gold-plated. All
    that is called _cultus_, elegance!

We might almost say that Gallic industry did to the old industries of
the ancient world what German wares have done compared with older and
more aristocratic products of France, of England, popularising objects
of luxury for the many and the merely well-to-do.

Finally, if any one hesitated to trust fully these very important
passages in Pliny, he would be quite convinced by reading the great
work of Dechelette. This author, studying with Carthusian patience and
the ablest critical acumen the Gallic ceramics to be found scattered
among the museums, has demonstrated most commendably that in the first
century of the Empire many manufactories of ceramics were opened and
flourished in Gaul, especially in the valley of the Allier, and that
they sold their vases in Spain, in the Danube regions, to the Germans,
and in Italy.

Dechelette has proved that many ceramics found among the ruins of
Pompeii, now admired in the museums of Pompeii and Naples, were made
in Gaul,--discoveries most noteworthy, which, in connection with the
extracts from Pliny, disclose in essence that real Roman Gaul whose
sumptuous relics but half tell the tale of its wealth.

This tremendous development of Gaul was without doubt an effect of the
Roman conquest; but an effect that neither Cæsar, nor any other man
of his times had foreseen or willed, but which Augustus was first to
recognise in the winter of 15-14 B.C., and to which, astute man that
he was, he gave heed as he ought; that is, not as due his own merit,
but as an unexpected piece of good fortune. I have already said that
one of the greatest cares of Augustus, as soon as the civil wars were
finished, was to reorganise the finances of the Empire; that to find
new entries for the treasury, he had turned his attention in 27 B.C.
to the province conquered by his father, regarding it merely from
the common point of view, as poor and of little worth like the
other European territories. Then, at a stroke, he realised that that
territory so lightly valued, was producing grain like Egypt, linen
like Egypt; that the arts of civilisation for which Egypt was so rich
and famous were beginning to prosper there! Augustus was not the man
to let slip so tremendous a piece of good luck. Until then he had
hesitated, like one who seeks his way; in that winter from 15-14 B.C.,
he found finally the grand climax of his career, to make Gaul the
Egypt of the West, the province of the greatest revenues in Europe.
From that time on to the end of his life, he did not move from Europe;
he lived between Italy and Gaul. Like him, Tiberius, Drusus, all the
men of his family, devoted all their efforts to Gaul, to consolidating
Roman dominion there, to advancing its progress, to increasing the
revenues, to making it actually the Occidental Egypt. From Velleius we
learn that under Tiberius Gaul rendered to the Empire as much as did
Egypt, and that Gaul and Egypt were considered alike the two richest
imperial provinces.

As a political interest had at first impelled Cæsar to annex Gaul, an
immediate financial interest urged Augustus to continue the work,
to take care of the new province. Then the historic law that I have
already enunciated to you, the law by which the efforts of men result
far differently from that which they had intended, was verified anew
by Augustus also, and in a new form. He had created his Gallic policy
to augment the revenues of the Empire; the consequences of this fiscal
policy, necessity-inspired, were greater than he and his friends ever
dreamed. The winter of 15-14 B.C. is a notable date in the story of
Latin civilisation, for then the destiny of the Empire was irrevocably
settled; the Roman Empire will be made up of two parts, the Oriental
and the Occidental, each part sufficiently strong to withstand
being overcome by the other; it will be neither an Asiatic, nor a
Celtic-Latin, but a mixed Empire: between both parts, Italy will rule
for two centuries more, and Rome, an immense city, at once Oriental
and Latin, will keep the metropolitan crown won from the enfeebled
East, and dominate the immature barbarian West.

Speaking of Cleopatra, I have shown you how great was the Oriental
peril that threatened in the last century of the Republic to wipe out
Rome. What miraculous force saved it? Gaul. Suppose that the army of
Cæsar had been exterminated at Alesia; suppose that Rome, discouraged,
had abandoned its Gallic enterprise as it had done with Persia, after
the disaster of Crassus and the failure of Antony; or suppose that
Gaul had been a poor province, sterile and unpopulous, like many a
Danube district; Rome could not have held out long as the seat of
imperial government, just as to-day the capital of the Russian Empire
could not maintain itself at Vladivostok or Harbin. It would have been
necessary to move the metropolis to a richer and more populous region.
That Gaul grew rich and was Romanised, changed the state of things.
When Rome possessed beyond the Alps in Europe a province as large and
as full of resources as Egypt; when there was the same interest in
defending it as in defending Egypt, Italy was well placed to govern
both. The Egypt of the Occident counterbalanced the Egypt of the
Orient, and Rome, half way between, was the natural and necessary
metropolis of the wide-spread Empire. Gaul alone, revived, so
to speak, the Empire in the West and prevented the European
provinces--even Italy itself--from becoming dead limbs safely
amputable from the Oriental body. Gaul upheld Italy and Rome in Europe
for three centuries longer; Gaul stopped it on the way to the Asiatic
conquests run through by Alexander. Had it not been for Gaul, Asia
Minor, Syria, and Egypt would have formed the real Empire of Rome,
and Italy would have been lost in it: without Gaul, the Orientalised
Empire would have tried to conquer Persia and probably succeeded in
doing so, abandoning the poor and unproductive lands of the untamed
Occident. In short, Gaul created in the Roman Empire that duality
between East and West which gives shape to all the history of our
civilisation; it kept the artificial form of the Empire, circular
about an island sea; it inspired the Empire with that double
self-contradictory spirit, Latin and Oriental, at once its strength
and its weakness.

Next time I will show you the continuation of this struggle of two
minds, in a characteristic episode, the story of the Emperor Nero.
Now, before closing, let me set before you briefly some general
considerations drawn from the history of Roman Gaul which are
applicable to universal history.

From what I have told you, it follows that the fortunes of peoples and
states depend in part on what might be called the historic situation
of every age, the situation that is created by the general state of
the world in every successive epoch and which no people or state can
mould at its own pleasure. Without doubt, a nation will never conquer
a noteworthy greatness if the men that compose it fail of a certain
culture, a certain energy, a social _morale_ sufficiently vigorous;
but though these qualities are necessary, they are not equally
productive in all periods, but serve more or less, in different
periods, according as general circumstances are disposed about a
people. Gaul was fertile, and its people possessed before the conquest
the qualities that they displayed later: and yet, as long as Gaul
remained apart from the Empire, without continuous and numerous
communications with the vast Mediterranean world; as long as it
was split into so many petty rival states, occupied in serious wars
against the Germanic tribes, its fertility remained hidden in the
earth, and the ability of its inhabitants dissipated itself in
devastating wars, instead of spending itself in fruitful effort. All
that changed, and without any one's foresight or intent, when the
Roman policy, urged by the internal forces that stirred the Republic,
had destroyed that old order of things.

The ancients understood that peoples, like individual men, can
regulate their destiny only in part; that about us, above us, are
forces complex and obscure, which we can hardly comprehend, which
invest us, seize us, impel us whither we had not thought to go, now
to shipwreck on the rocks of misadventure, now to the discovery of
islands of happiness, or to find, like Columbus, an America on the
way to India. The Greeks called this power; the Latins, Fortuna, and
deified it; erected temples and made sacrifices to it; dedicated to
it a cult, of which Augustus was a devotee, and which contained more
secret wisdom of life than all the superb theories on human destiny
conceived by European genius in the delirium of this quarter-hour of
measureless might in which we are living. No, man is not the voluntary
artificer of his whole destiny; fortune and misfortune, triumph and
catastrophe, are never entirely proportioned to personal merit or
blame; every generation finds the world organised in a certain order
of interests, forces, traditions, relations, and as it enjoys the good
that preceding generations have accomplished, so in part it expiates
the errors they have committed; as it draws advantage from beneficent
forces acting outside of it and independent of its merit, so it
suffers from the sinister forces that it finds--even though blameless
itself--acting through the great mass of the world, among men and
their works. From this relation to the unseen follows a rule of wisdom
that modern men, full of unbounded pride, and persuaded that they
are the beginning and end of the universe, too often forget: we must
indeed press on with all our powers to the accomplishment of a great
task, for although our destiny is never entirely made by our own
hands, there is no destiny on the earth for the lazy; but, since
a part of what we are depends not on ourselves, but upon what the
ancients called Fortune, we dare never be too much elated over
success, nor abased by failure. The wheel of destiny turns by a
mysterious law, alike for families and for peoples: those in high
position may fall; those in low, may rise.

Certainly Cæsar never suspected when he was fighting the Gauls, that
the great-grandsons of the vanquished would live in villas modelled on
the Roman, but more sumptuous; that the great Gallic nobles would have
the satisfaction of parading before the people that conquered them a
latinity more impressive and magnificent; and that some day the Gaul
put by him to fire and sword would get the better, in empire, in
wealth, in culture, of even Italy.


On the 13th of October of 54 A.D., when Emperor Claudius died, the
Senate chose as his successor his adopted son, Nero, a young man of
seventeen, fat and short-sighted, who had until then studied only
music, singing, and drawing. This choice of a child-emperor, who
lacked imperial qualities and suggested the child kings of Oriental
monarchies, was a scandalous novelty in the constitutional history of
Rome. The ancient historians, especially Tacitus, considered the event
as the result of an intrigue, cleverly arranged by Nero's mother,
Agrippina, a daughter of Germanicus and granddaughter of Agrippa, the
builder of the Pantheon. According to these historians, Agrippina,
a highly ambitious woman, induced Claudius to marry her after
Messalina's death, although she was a widow and had a child, and as
soon as she entered the emperor's mansion she began to open the way
for the election of her son. In order to exclude Britannicus, the son
of Messalina, from succession, she persuaded Claudius to adopt Nero;
then, with the help of the two tutors of the young man, Seneca and
Burrhus, created in the Senate and among the Prætorians, a party
favourable to her son; no sooner did she feel that she could rely on
the Senate and the Prætorians, than she poisoned Claudius.

Too many difficulties prevent our accepting this version. To cite one
of them will suffice: if Agrippina wished--as she surely did--that her
son should succeed Claudius, she must also have wished that Claudius
would live at least eight or ten years longer. As a great-grandson of
Drusus, a grandson of Germanicus and the last descendant of his line,
the only line in the whole family enjoying a real popularity, Nero was
sure of election if he were of age at the death of Claudius. After the
terrible scandal in which his mother had disappeared, Britannicus was
no longer a competitor to be feared. There was only one danger for
Nero, if Claudius should die too soon, the Senate might refuse to
trust the Empire to a child.

I believe that Claudius died of disease, probably, if we can judge
from Tacitus's account, of gastroenteritis, and that Agrippina's
coterie, surprised by this sudden death, which upset all their plans,
decided to put through Nero's election in spite of his youth, in order
to insure the power to the line of Drusus, which had so much sympathy
among the masses. As a matter of fact, the admiration for Drusus
and his family triumphed over all other considerations: Nero became
emperor at seventeen; but when the election was over, Rome--again
according to the tales of the ancient historians--saw a still
greater scandal than his election. The young man--and this is
credible--hastened to engage as his master the first zither-player
of Rome, Terpnos; continued his study of singing; and bought statues,
pictures, bronzes, beautiful slaves, while his mother seized the
actual control of the State.

Agrippina insisted on being kept informed of all affairs; directed
the home and foreign policy; and if she did not reach the point of
partaking in the sessions of the Senate, which would have been the
supreme scandal, she called it to meet in her palace and, concealed
behind a black curtain, listened to its discussions. In short, the
Empire fell into the hands of a woman; Rome saw the evolution of
customs, through which woman had for four centuries been freeing
herself from her ancient slavery, suddenly a fact accomplished by
her visible intervention in politics--the intervention that the great
keepers of tradition, first among them Cato, had always decried as the
most frightful cataclysm that could menace the city.

This story is also the exaggeration of a simpler truth. Even if Nero
had been a very serious young man, at his age he could not by himself
have governed the Empire; it would have been necessary for him to
serve a long apprenticeship and to listen to experienced counsellors.
Burrhus and Seneca, his two teachers, were naturally destined to be
his counsellors; but why should not his mother also have helped him?
Like all the women of her family, Agrippina was of superior mind, of
high culture, and, as Tacitus himself admits, led a most respectable
life, at least to the time of her marriage with Claudius. Brought up,
as she was, in that family which for eighty years had been governing
the Empire, she was well informed about affairs of State. Is it
possible to suppose that such a woman would shut herself up in her
home to weave wool, when, with her talent, her energy, her experience,
she could be of so much service to her son and to the State? We do not
need to attribute to Agrippina a monstrous ambition, as does Tacitus,
in order to explain how the Empire was ruled during the first two
years, by Seneca, Burrhus, and Agrippina; it was a natural consequence
of the situation created by the premature death of Claudius. Tacitus
himself is forced to recognise that the government was excellent.

Helping her son in the apprenticeship of the Empire, Agrippina did her
duty; but during restless times when misunderstanding is almost a
law of social life, it is often very dangerous to do one's duty. The
period of Agrippina and Nero was full of confusion; though apparently
quiet, Italy was deeply torn by the great struggle that gives the
history of the Empire its marvellous character of actuality, the
struggle between the old Roman military society and the intellectual
civilisation of the Orient.

The ancient aristocratic and military Roman society had had so great
and world-wide a success, that the ideas, the institutions and the
customs, that had made it a perfect model of State, considered as an
organ of political and military domination, exercised a great prestige
on the following generations. Even during the time of which we speak,
every one was forced after eight years of peace, to admit that the
Empire had been created by those ideas, those institutions and those
customs; that for the sake of the Empire they must be maintained,
and alike in family as in State, must be opposed all that forms
the essence of intellectual civilisation; that is to say, all
that develops personal selfishness at the expense of collective
interest--luxury, idleness, pleasure, celibacy, feminism, and at
the same time, all that develops personality and intelligence at the
expense of tradition--liberty of women, independence of children,
variety of personal tendencies, and the critical spirit in all forms.

In spite of the resistance offered by traditions, peace and wealth
favoured everywhere the diffusion of the intellectual civilisation of
the Hellenised Orient. The woman now become free, and the intellectual
man now become powerful, were the springs to set in motion this
revolution. Under Claudius, in vain had they exiled Seneca, the
brilliant philosopher and the peace-advocating humanitarian, who had
diffused in high Roman society so many ideas and sentiments considered
by the traditionalists pernicious to the force of the State; he had
come back far more powerful, and ruled the Empire. Husbands, burdened
by the excessive expenses, by the too frequent infidelities, by the
tyrannical caprices of their wives, in vain regretted the good old
time when husbands were absolute masters; the invading feminism
weakened everywhere the strength of the aristocratic and military

So contradiction was everywhere. The Republic had still its old
aristocratic constitution, but the nobility was no longer spurred by
that absorbing and exclusive passion for politics and war, which
had been its power. Society life, pleasure, amateur philosophy
and literature, mysticism, and, above all, sports, dissipated in a
thousand directions its energy and activity. Too many young men
were to be found in the nobility who, like Nero, preferred singing,
dancing, and driving, to caring for their clients or enduring the
troubles of public office.

Augustus and Tiberius had done their utmost to strengthen the great
Latin principle of parsimony in public and private life: in order to
set a good example they had lived very simply; they had caused new
sumptuary laws to be passed and tried to enforce the old ones;
they had spent the State moneys, not for the keeping of artists and
writers, nor for the building of monuments of useless size, but to
build the great roads of the Empire, to strengthen the frontiers;
they had made the public treasure into an aid fund for all suffering
cities, stricken by earthquake, fire, or flood. And yet the Oriental
influence, so favourable to unproductive and luxurious expenditure,
gained ground steadily. The merchant of Syrian and Egyptian objects
_de luxe_, in spite of the sumptuary laws, found a yearly increasing
patronage in all the cities of Italy. The exactingness of the desire
for public spectacles increased, even in secondary cities. The Italian
people were losing their peasant's petty avarice and growing fond
of things monumental and colossal, which was the great folly of the
Orient. They found the monuments of Rome poor; everywhere, even in
modest _municipia_, they demanded immense theatres, great temples,
monumental basilicas, spacious forums, adorned with statues. In spite
of the principles insisted upon with so much vigour by Augustus and
Tiberius, public finances had, thanks to the weak Claudius and the
extravagant Messalina, already gone through a period of great waste
and disorder.

These contradictions, and the psychological disorder that followed,
explain the discords and struggles very soon raging around the young
Emperor. The public began to feel shocked by the attention that
Agrippina gave to State affairs, as by a new and this time intolerable
scandal of feminism. Agrippina was not a feminist, as a matter of
fact, but a traditionalist, proud of the glory of her family, attached
to the ancient Roman ideas, desirous only of seeing her son develop
into a new Germanicus, a second Drusus. Solely the necessity of
helping Nero had led her to meddle with politics. But not in vain had
Cato declaimed so loudly in Rome against women who pretend to govern
states; not in vain had Augustus's domination been at least partly
founded on the great antifeminist legend of Antony and Cleopatra,
which represented the fall of the great Triumvir as the consequence of
a woman's influence. The public, although willing to give all possible
freedom to women in other things, still remained quite firm on this
point: politics must remain the monopoly of man. So to the popular
imagination, Agrippina soon became a sort of Roman Cleopatra. Many
interests gathered quickly to reinforce this antifeminist reaction,
which, although exaggerated, had its origin in sincere feeling.

Agrippina, as a true descendant of Drusus, meant to prepare her son
to rule the Empire according to the principles held by his great
ancestors. Among these principles was to be counted not only
the defence of Romanism and the maintenance of the aristocratic
constitution, but also a wise economy in the management of finances.
Agrippina is a good instance of that well-known fact--the British
have noticed it more than once in India--that in public administration
discreet and capable women keep, as a rule, the spirit of economy
with which they manage the home. This is why, especially in despotic
states, they rule better than men. Even before Claudius's death,
Agrippina had vigorously opposed waste and plunder; it also appears
that the reorganisation of finances after Messalina's death was due
chiefly to her.

The continuation under Nero of this severe régime displeased a great
number of persons, who dreamed of seeing again the easy sway of
Messalina. From the moment they were satisfied that Agrippina, like
Augustus and Tiberius, would not allow the public money to be stolen,
many people found her insistent interference in public affairs
unbearable. In short, Agrippina became unpopular, and, as always
happens, because of faults she did not have. A noble deed, which
she was trying to accomplish in defence of tradition, definitively
compromised her situation.

Her son resembled neither Agrippina nor the great men of her family.
He had a most indocile temperament, rebellious to tradition, in no
sense Roman. Little by little, Agrippina saw the young Emperor develop
into a precocious _debauché_, frightfully selfish, erratically vain,
full of extravagant ideas, who, instead of setting the example of
respect toward sumptuary laws, openly violated them all; and across
whose mind from time to time flashed sinister lightnings of cruelty.
Nero's youth--the fact is not surprising--did not resist the mortal
seductions of immense power and immense riches; but Agrippina, the
proud granddaughter of the conqueror of Germany, must have chafed
at the idea of her son's preferring musical entertainments to the
sessions of the Senate, singing lessons to the study of tactics and

She applied herself, therefore, with all her energy to the work of
tearing her son from his pleasures, and bringing about his return
to the great traditions of his family. Nero resisted: the struggle
between mother and son grew complicated; it excited the passion of the
public, which felt that this conflict had a greater importance than
any other family quarrel, that it was actually a struggle between
traditional Romanism and Oriental customs. Unfortunately, every one
sided with Nero: the sincere friends of tradition, because they did
not want the rule of a woman, whoever she might be; those that longed
for Messalina's times, because they saw personified in Agrippina the
austere and inflexible spirit of the _gens Claudia_. The situation was
soon without an issue. The accord of Agrippina with Seneca and Burrhus
was troubled, because the two teachers of the young Emperor, under
the impression of public malcontent, had somewhat withdrawn from her.
Nero, who was sullen, cynical, and lazy, feared his mother too much to
have the courage to oppose her openly, but he did not fear her enough
to mend his ways. The mother, on her side, was set to do her duty to
the end. Like all situations without an issue, this one was suddenly
solved by an unexpected event.

Insisting on wanting to make a Roman of this young _debauché_,
Agrippina made him into a murderer. Nero, progressing from one caprice
to another, finally imagined a great folly: to divorce Octavia and to
raise to her place a beautiful freed-woman called Acte. According to
one of the fundamental laws of the State, the great law of Augustus on
marriage, which forbade marriages between senators and freedwomen, the
union of Nero and Acte could be only a concubinage. Agrippina wanted
to avoid this scandal; and, as Nero persisted in his idea, it seems
that she actually thought of having him deposed and of securing the
choice of Britannicus, a very serious young man, as his successor. A
true Roman, Agrippina was ready to sacrifice her son for the sake of
the Republic.

The threat was, or appeared to be, so serious to Nero, that it made
him step over the threshold of crime. One day during a great dinner
to which he had been invited by Nero, Britannicus was suddenly seized
with violent convulsions. "It is an attack of epilepsy," said Nero
calmly, giving orders to his slaves to remove Britannicus and care
for him. The young man died in a few hours and every one believed that
Nero had poisoned him.

This dastardly crime aroused at first a sense of horror and fright
among the people, but the impression did not last long. In spite of
all his faults, Nero was liked. In Rome they had respected Augustus
and hated Tiberius; they had killed Caligula and jeered at Claudius;
Nero seemed to be the first of the Roman Emperors who stood a chance
of becoming popular. Contrary to Agrippina's ideas, it was his
frivolity that pleased the great masses, because this frivolity
corresponded to the slow but progressive decay of the old Roman
virtues in them. They expected from Nero a less hard, less severe,
less parsimonious government--in a word, a government less Roman than
the rule of his predecessors, a government which, instead of force,
glory, and wisdom, meant pleasure and ease.

So it happened that many soon forgot the unfortunate Britannicus, and
some even tried to justify Nero by invoking State necessity. Agrippina
alone remained the object of the universal hatred, as the sole cause
of so many misfortunes. Implacable enemies, concealed in the shadow,
were subtly at work against her; they organised a campaign of absurd
calumnies in the Court itself, and it is this campaign from which
Tacitus drew his material.

Some wretches finally dared even accuse her of conspiracy against
the life of her son. Agrippina, refusing to plead for herself, still
weathered the storm, because Nero was afraid of her, and though he
tried to escape from her authority, did not dare to initiate any
energetic move against her. To engage in a final struggle with so
indomitable a woman, another woman was necessary. This woman was
Poppæa Sabina, a very handsome and able dame of the great Roman
nobility. Poppæa represented Oriental feminism in its most dangerous
form: a woman completely demoralised by luxury, elegance, society
life, and voluptuousness, who eluded all her duties toward the species
in order to enjoy and make others enjoy her beauty.

Corrupted as that age was, Poppæa was more corrupt. As soon as she
observed the strong impression she had made on Nero, she conceived
the plan of becoming his wife; her beauty would then be admired by the
whole Empire, would be surrounded by a luxury for which the means of
her husband were not sufficient, and with which no other Roman dame
could compete. There was one obstacle--Agrippina.

Agrippina protected Octavia, a true Roman woman, simple and honest:
Agrippina would never consent to this absolutely unjustifiable
divorce. To force Nero to a decisive move against his mother, Poppæa
had her husband sent on some mission to Lusitania and became the
mistress of the Emperor. From that point the situation changed.
Dominated by Poppæa's influence, Nero found the courage to force
Agrippina to abandon his palace and seek refuge in Antony's house; he
took from her the privilege of Prætorian guards, which he himself
had granted her; he reduced to a minimum the number and time of his
visits, and carefully avoided being left alone with her. Agrippina's
influence, to the general satisfaction, rapidly declined, while Nero
gained every day in popularity. Agrippina, however, was too energetic
a woman peaceably to resign herself: she began a violent campaign
against the two adulterers, which deeply troubled the public. In Rome,
where Augustus had promulgated his stern law against adultery; in
Rome, where Augustus himself had been obliged to submit to his own
law, when he exiled his daughter and his grand-daughter and almost
exterminated the whole family; in Rome, a young man of twenty-two
dared all but officially introduce adultery and polygamy into the
Palatine! In her struggle against Nero, Agrippina once more stood on
tradition: and Nero was afraid.

Poppæa was probably the one who suggested to Nero the idea of killing
Agrippina. The idea had been, as it were, floating in the air for
a long time, because Agrippina was embarrassing to many persons and
interests. It was chiefly the party that wanted to sack the imperial
budget, to introduce the finance of great expenditure, which could not
tolerate this clever and energetic woman, who was so faithful to
the great traditions of Augustus and Tiberius, who could neither be
frightened nor corrupted. One should not consider the assassination of
Agrippina as a simple personal crime of Nero, as the result of his
and Poppæa's quarrels with his mother. This crime, besides personal
causes, had a political origin. Nero would never have dared commit
such a misdeed, in the eyes of the Roman almost a sacrilege, if he had
not been encouraged by Agrippina's unpopularity, by the violent hatred
of so many against his mother.

Nero hesitated long; he decided only when his freedman, Anicetus,
the commander of the fleet, proposed a plan that seemed to guarantee
secrecy for the crime: to have a ship built with a concealed trap. It
was the spring of the year 59 A.D.; the Court had moved to Baiæ, on
the Gulf of Naples. If Nero succeeded in getting his mother on board
the vessel, Anicetus would take upon himself the task of burying
quickly below the waves the secret of her death; the people who hated
Agrippina would easily be satisfied with the explanations to be given

Nero executed his part of the plan in perfect cold-blood. He made
believe he had repented and was anxious for a reconciliation with his
mother; he invited her to Baiæ and so profusely lavished kindnesses
and amiabilities upon her, that Agrippina finally believed in his

After spending a few days at Baiæ, Agrippina decided to return to
Antium; in a very happy frame of mind and full of hopes that her son
would soon show himself to the world the man she had dreamed, the
descendant of Drusus, she boarded one evening the fatal ship; Nero
had escorted her thither and pressed her to his heart with the most
demonstrative tenderness.

A calm night diffused its starry shadows over the quiet sea, which
with subdued murmur lulled in their sleep the great summer homes
along the shore. The ship departed, carrying toward her sombre destiny
Agrippina, absorbed in her smiling dreams. When the moment came and
the wrecking machine was set to work, the vessel did not sink as fast
as they had hoped: it listed, overturning people and things. Agrippina
had time to understand the danger; with admirable presence of mind she
jumped overboard and escaped by swimming, while, during the confusion
on the boat, the hired murderers killed one of Agrippina's freedwomen,
mistaking her for Agrippina herself. The ship finally sank; the
murderers also took to the water; everything returned to its wonted
calm; the starry night still diffused its silent shadows; the sea
still cradled with subdued murmur the homes along the coast--all men
slept except one.

Within this one, Anxiety watched: a son was awaiting the news that
his mother was dead, and that he was free to celebrate a criminal
marriage. The escaped murderers soon brought the news so impatiently
expected--but Nero's joy was short. At dawn, a freedman of Agrippina
arrived at the Emperor's villa. Agrippina, picked up by a boat, had
succeeded in reaching one of her villas near by; she sent the freedman
to tell the Emperor about the accident and to assure him of her
safety. Agrippina alive! It was like a thunderbolt to Nero, and he
lost his head: he saw his mother hurrying on to Rome, denouncing
the abominable attempt to Senate and people, rousing against him the
Prætorian guard and the legions. Thoroughly frightened, he summoned
Seneca and Burrhus and laid before them the terrible situation. It
is easy to imagine the shock of the old preceptors. How could he
risk such a grave imprudence? And yet there was no time to lose in
reproaches. Nero begged for advice: Seneca and Burrhus were silent,
but they, also frightened, asked of themselves what Agrippina would
do. Would she not provoke a colossal scandal, which would ruin
everything? An expedient, the same one, occurred to both of them:
but so sinister was the idea that they dared not speak it. This time,
however, both the philosopher and the general were deceived as well as
Nero: Agrippina had guessed the truth and given up the struggle. What
could she, a lone woman do against an Emperor who did not stop even
at the plan of murdering his mother? She realised, during that awful
night, that only one chance of safety was left to her--to ignore what
had taken place; and she sent her freedman with the message that
meant forgiveness. But fear kept Nero and his counsellors from
understanding; and when they could easily have remedied the preceding
mistake, they compromised all by a supreme error. Finally Seneca, the
pacificator and humanitarian philosopher, thought he had found the way
of making half-openly the only suggestion which seemed wise to him: he
turned to Burrhus and asked what might happen, if an order were given
the Prætorians to kill Nero's mother. Burrhus understood that his
colleague, although the first to give the fatal advice, was trying
to shift upon him the much more serious responsibility of carrying it
out; since, if they reached the decision of having Agrippina disposed
of by the Prætorians, no one but he, the commander of the guard, could
utter the order. He therefore protested with the greatest energy that
the Prætorians would never lay murderous hands on the daughter of
Germanicus. Then he added cogitatively that, if it were thought
necessary, Anicetus and his sailors could finish the work already
begun. Thus Burrhus gave the same advice as Seneca, but he, like his
colleague, meant to pass on to some one else the task of execution. He
chose better than Seneca: Anicetus, if Agrippina lived, ran a serious
risk of becoming the scapegoat of all this affair. In fact, as soon as
Nero gave his assent, Anicetus and a few sailors hastened to the villa
of Agrippina and stabbed her.

The crime was abominable. Nero and his circle were so awed by it that
they attempted to make the people believe that Agrippina had
committed suicide, when her conspiracy against her son's life had been
discovered. This was the official version of Agrippina's death,
sent by Nero to the Senate. But this audacious mystification had no
success. The public divined the truth, and roused by the voice of
their age-long instincts, they cried out that the Emperor no less than
any peasant of Italy must revere his father and his mother. Through a
sudden turn of public feeling, Agrippina, who had been so much hated
during her life, became the object of a kind of popular veneration;
Nero, on the other hand, and Poppæa inspired a sentiment of profound

If Nero had found the living Agrippina unbearable, he soon realised
that his dead mother was much more to be feared. In fact, scared as he
was by the popular agitation, not only had he temporarily to give up
the plan of divorcing Octavia and marrying Poppæa, but felt obliged
to stay several months at Baiæ, not daring to return to Rome. He was,
however, no longer a child: he was twenty-three years old and had some
talent. Men of intelligence and energy were also not wanting in his
_entourage_. The first shock once over, the Emperor and his coterie
rallied. The first impression had indeed been disastrous, but had
brought about no irreparable consequences--the only consequences that
count in politics. One could therefore hope that the public
would gradually forget this murder as they had forgotten that of
Britannicus. One only needed to help them forget. Nero resolved to
give Italy and Rome the administrative revolution that had found in
Agrippina so determined an opponent, the easy, splendid, generous
government that seemed to suit the popular taste.

He began by organising among the _jeunesse dorée_ of Rome the
"festivals of youth." In these true demonstrations against the old
aristocratic education, now in the house of one and then in the garden
of another, the young patricians met under the Emperor's directions.
They sang, recited, and danced, displaying all the tendencies that
tradition held unworthy of a Roman nobleman. Later, Nero built in
the Vatican fields a private stadium, where he amused himself with
driving, and invited his friends to join him. He surrounded himself
with poets, musicians, singers; enormously increased the budget
of popular festivals; planned and started immense constructions;
introduced into all parts of the administration a new spirit of
carelessness and ease. Not only the sumptuary laws, but all laws
commanding the fulfilment of human duties toward the species, such as
the great laws of Augustus on marriage and adultery, were no longer
applied; the surveillance of the Senate over the governors, that of
the governors over the cities, slackened. In Rome, in all Italy, in
the provinces, the treasuries of the Republic, the possessions and
the funds of the cities, were robbed. In the midst of this unbridled
plundering, which appeared to make every man rich quickly, and without
work, a delirium of luxury and pleasure reigned: in Rome especially,
people lived in a continuous orgy; the nobility answered in crowds
the invitations of Nero; the Senate, the great houses, where the
conquerors of the world had been born, swarmed with young athletes and
drivers, who had no other ambition but that of adding the prize of a
race to the war trophies of their ancestors; the imperial palace was
invaded by a noisy horde of zitherists, actors, jockeys, athletes,
among whom Burrhus and, still more, Seneca, were beginning to feel
most ill at ease.

Agrippina's death, even though it had yet deferred Nero's marrying
Poppæa, had made possible the change in the government that a part of
the people wished. We owe to this new principle the immense ruins of
ancient Rome; but this fact does not authorise us to consider it a
Roman principle: it was, instead, a principle of Oriental civilisation
which had forced itself upon the Roman traditions after a long and
painful effort. The revolution, however, had been long preparing and
corresponded to the popular aspirations. It would, therefore, have
redounded to the advantage of the Emperor, who had dared to break
loose from a superannuated tradition, had not Agrippina's spectre
still haunted Rome. To their honour be it said, the people of Rome and
Italy had not yet become so corrupted by Oriental civilisation as to
forget parricide in a few festivals.

The party of tradition, though weakened, existed. They began a brave
fight against Nero, using the assassination of Agrippina as the
adverse party had exploited the antifeminist prejudices of the masses
against Agrippina herself. They denounced the parricide to the people,
in order to attack the champion of Orientalism and irritate against
him the indifferent mass, which, not understanding the great struggle
between the Orient and Rome, remained unstirred. Hoping the excitement
of spirit had somewhat subsided, Nero had finally carried out his old
plan of divorcing Octavia and marrying Poppæa; but the divorce caused
great popular demonstrations in Rome in favour of the abused wife and
against the intruder.

Moreover, thanks to his extravagance, Nero made things very easy for
his enemies, the defenders of tradition. His habits of dissipation
exaggerated all the faults of his character, chiefly his morbid need
of showing himself off, of defying the public, their prejudices, their
opinions. It is difficult to discern how much is true and how much is
false in the hideous stories of debauchery handed down to us by the
ancient writers, particularly Suetonius.

Although one might believe--and I believe it for my part--that there
is a great deal of exaggeration in such tales, it is certain that
Nero's personality played too conspicuous a part in his administrative
revolution. Ready as the people were to admire a more generous and
luxurious government than that of Augustus, Tiberius, and Claudius,
they still liked to look to the chief of State as to a man of gravity
and austerity, who let others amuse themselves, though he himself be
bored. The vain and bizarre young man, who was always the guest of
honour at his own _fêtes_, who never hesitated to satisfy his most
extravagant caprices, who spent so much money to divert himself,
shocked the last republican susceptibilities of Italy. The wise felt
alarmed: with such expenses, would it not all end in bankruptcy?
For all these causes, they soon began to reproach Nero for his
prodigality, although the people enjoyed it, just as they had been
malcontent with Tiberius for his parsimony. His caprices, ever
stranger, little by little roused even that part of the public which
was not fanatically attached to tradition. At that time Nero developed
his foolish vanity of actor, his caprice for the theatre, which soon
was to become an all-absorbing mania. The chief of the Empire, the
heir of Julius Cæsar, dreamed of nothing else than descending from
the height of human grandeur to the scene of a theatre, to experience
before the public the sensations of those players whom the Roman
nobility had always regarded as instruments of infamous pleasure!

Disgusted with Nero's mismanagement and follies, Seneca took the death
of Burrhus as an opportunity to retire. Then Nero, freed from the
last person who still retained any influence over him, gave himself
up entirely to the insane swirl of his caprices. He ended one day by
presenting himself in the theatre of Naples. Naples was yet then a
Greek city. Nero had chosen it for this reason; he was applauded with
frenzy. But the Italians of the other cities protested: the chief of
the Empire appearing in a theatre, his hand on the zither and not
on the sword! Imagine what would be the impression if some day a
sovereign went on the stage of the _folies Bergères_ as a "number" for
a sleight-of-hand performance!

Public attention, however, was turned from this immense scandal by a
frightful calamity--the famous conflagration of Rome, which began the
nineteenth of July of the year 64 and devastated almost all quarters
of the city for ten days. What was the cause of the great disaster?
This very obscure point has much interested historians, who have tried
in vain to throw light on the subject. As far as I am concerned, I
by no means exclude the hypothesis that the fire might have been
accidental. But when they are crushed under the weight of a great
misfortune, men always feel sure that they are the victims of human
wickedness: a sad proof of their distrust in their fellow men. The
plebs, reduced to utter misery by the disaster, began to murmur
that mysterious people had been seen hurrying through the different
quarters, kindling the fire and cumbering the work of help; these
incendiaries must have been sent by some one in power--by whom?

A strange rumour circulated: Nero himself had ordered the city to be
burned, in order to enjoy a unique sight, to get an idea of the fire
of Troy, to have the glory of rebuilding Rome on a more magnificent
scale. The accusation seems to me absurd. Nero was a criminal, but he
was not a fool to the point of provoking the wrath of the whole people
for so light a motive, especially after Agrippina's death. Tacitus
himself, in spite of his hatred of all Cæsar's family and his
readiness to make them responsible for the most serious crimes, does
not venture to express belief in this story--sufficient proof that
he considers it absurd and unlikely. Nevertheless, the hatred that
surrounded Nero and Poppæa made every one, not only among the ignorant
populace, but also among the higher classes, accept it readily. It was
soon the general opinion that Nero had accomplished what Brennus and
Catiline's conspirators could not do. Was a more horrible monster ever
seen? Parricide, actor, incendiary!

The traditionalist party, the opposition, the unsatisfied, exploited
without scruple this popular attitude, and Nero, responsible for a
sufficient number of actual crimes, found himself accused also of
an imaginary one. He was so frightened that he decided to give the
clamouring people a victim, some one on whom Rome could avenge its
sorrow. An inquiry into the causes of the conflagration was ordered.
The inquest came to a strange conclusion. The fire had been started
by a small religious sect, recently imported from the Orient, a
sect whose name most people then learned for the first time: the

How did the Roman authorities come to such a conclusion? That is one
of the greatest mysteries of universal history, and no one will ever
be able to clear it. If the explanation of the disaster as accepted by
the people was absurd, the official explanation was still more so. The
Christian community of Rome, the pretended volcano of civil hatred,
which had poured forth the destructive fire over the great metropolis,
was a small and peaceful congregation of pious idealists.

A great and simple man, Paul of Tarsus, had taken up again among them
the great work in which Augustus and Tiberius had failed: he aimed at
the remaking of popular conscience, but used means until then unknown
in the Græco-Latin civilisation. Not in the name of the ancestors, of
the traditions, of ideals of political power, did he seek to persuade
men to work, to refrain from vice, to live honestly and simply; but
in the name of a single God, whom man had in the beginning offended
through his pride, in the name of the Son of God, who had taken human
form and volunteered to die as a criminal on the cross, to appease
the Father's wrath against the rebellious creature. On the Græco-Roman
idea of duty, Paul grafted the Christian idea of sin. Doubtless the
new theology must have seemed at first obscure to Greeks and Romans;
but Paul put into it that new spirit, mutual love, which the dry Latin
soul had hardly ever known, and he vivified it with the example of an
obscure life of sacrifice.

Paul was born of a noble Hebrew family of Tarsus, and was a man of
high culture. He had, to use a modern expression, simplified himself,
renounced his position in a time when few could resist the passion for
luxury, and taken up a trade for his living; with the scanty profit
from his work as a tent-maker, alone and on foot he made measureless
journeys through the Empire, everywhere preaching the redemption of
man. Finally, after numberless adventures and perils, he had come to
Rome and had, in the great city frenzied by the delirium of luxury and
pleasure, repeated to the poor, who alone were willing to hear him:
"Be chaste and pure, do not deceive each other, love one another, help
one another, love God."

If Nero had known the little society of pious idealists, he surely
would have hated it, but for other motives than the imaginary
accusations of his police. In this story St. Paul is exactly the
antithesis of Nero. The latter represents the atrocious selfishness of
rich, peaceful, highly civilised epochs; the former, the ardent moral
idealism which tries to react against the cardinal vices of power and
wealth through universal self-sacrifice and asceticism. Neither of
these men is to be comprehended without the other, because the moral
doctrine of Paul is partly a reaction against, the violent folly for
which Nero stood the symbol; but it certainly was not philosophical
considerations of this kind that led the Roman authorities to rage
against the Christians. The problem, I repeat, is insoluble. However
this may be, the Christians were declared responsible for the fire; a
great number were taken into custody, sentenced to death, executed in
different ways, during the festivals that Nero offered to the people
to appease them. Possibly Paul himself was one of the victims of this

This diversion, however, was of no use. The conflagration definitely
ruined Nero. With the conflagration begins the third period of
his life, which lasts four years. It is characterised by absurd
exaggerations of all kinds, which hastened the inevitable catastrophe.
One grandiose idea dominates it: the idea of building on the ruins a
new Rome, immense and magnificent, a true metropolis for the Empire.
In order to carry out this plan, Nero did not economise; he began to
spend in it the moneys laid aside to pay the legions. The people of
Italy, however, and even of Rome, which grew rich on these public
expenditures, did not show themselves thankful for this immense
architectural effort. Every one was sure that the new city would be
worse than the old one!

Nero himself, exasperated by this invincible hate, exhausted by his
own excesses, lost what reason he had still left, and his government
degenerated into a complete tyranny, suspicious, violent, and cruel.

Piso's conspiracy caused him to order a massacre of patricians, which
left terrible rancour in its wake; in an access of fury, he killed
Poppæa; he began to imagine accusations against the richest men of the
Empire, in order to confiscate their estates. His prodigality and the
general carelessness had completely disorganised the finances of the
Empire; he had to recur to all kinds of expedients to find money.
Finally he undertook a great artistic tour in Greece--that province
which had been the mother of arts--to play in its most celebrated
theatres. This time indignation burst all bounds. The armies of Gaul
and Spain, for a long time irregularly paid, led by their officers,
revolted. This act of energy sufficed. On the 9th of June, 68 A.D.,
abandoned by all the world, Nero was compelled to commit suicide.

So the family of Julius Cæsar disappears from history. After so much
greatness, genius, and wisdom, the fall may seem petty and almost
laughable. It is absurd to lose the Empire for the pleasure of singing
in a theatre. And yet, bizarre as the end may seem, it was not the
result of the vices, the follies, and the crimes of Nero alone. In his
way, Nero himself was, like all members of his family, the victim of
the contradictory situation of his times.

It has been repeated for centuries, that the foundation of monarchy
was the great mission of Cæsar's family. I believe this to be a great
mistake. The lot of the family would have been simple and easy, if it
had been able to found a monarchy. The family of Cæsar had to solve
another problem, much more difficult,--in fact insoluble; a problem
that may be compared, from a certain point of view, to that which
confronted the Bonapartes in the nineteenth century. The Bonapartes
found old monarchical, legitimistic, theocratic Europe agitated by
forces which, although making it impossible for the ancient regime
to continue, were not yet able to establish a new society, entirely
democratic, republican, and lay. The family of Cæsar found the
opposite situation: an old military and aristocratic republic, which
was changing into an intellectual and monarchical civilisation, based
on equality, but opposing formidable resistance to the forces of
transformation. In these situations the two families tried in all ways
to reconcile things not to be conciliated, to realise the impossible:
one, the popular monarchy and imperial democracy; the other, the
monarchical republic and Orientalised Latinity. The contradiction
was for both families the law of life, the cause of greatness; this
explains why neither was ever willing to extricate itself from it, in
spite of the advice of philosophers, the malcontent of the masses, the
pressure of parties, and the evident dangers. This contradiction
was also the fatality of both families, the cause of their ruin; it
explains the shortness of their power, their restless existence, and
the continuous catastrophes that opened the way to the final crash.

Waterloo and Sedan, the exile of Julia and the tragic failure of
Tiberius's government, all the misfortunes great and small which
struck the two families, were always consequences of the insoluble
contradiction they tried to solve. You have had a perfectly
characteristic example of it in the brief story I have been telling
you. Agrippina becomes an object of universal hatred and dies by
assassination because she defends tradition; her son disregards
tradition and, chiefly for this very reason, is finally forced to kill
himself. Doubtless the fate of the Bonapartes is less tragic, because
they, at least, escaped the infamous legend created by contemporary
hatred against Cæsar's family, and artfully developed by the
historians of successive generations. I hope to be able to prove
in the continuation of my _Greatness and Decline of Rome_, that
the history of Cæsar's family, as it has been told by Tacitus and
Suetonius, is a sensational novel, a legend containing not much more
truth than the legend of Atrides. The family of Cæsar, placed in the
centre of the great struggle going on in Rome between the old Roman
militarism, and the intellectual civilisation of the Orient,
between nationalism and cosmopolitism, between Asiatic mysticism
and traditional religion, between egoism over-excited by culture and
wealth, and the supreme interests of the species, had to injure too
many interests, to offend too many susceptibilities. The injured
interests, the offended susceptibilities, revenged themselves through
defaming legends.

The case of Nero is particularly instructive. He was half insane and
a veritable criminal: it would be absurd to attempt in his favour
the historical rehabilitation to which other members of the family,
Tiberius for instance, have a right. And yet it has not been enough
for succeeding generations that he atoned for his follies and crimes
by death and infamy. They have fallen upon his memory: they have
overlooked that extenuating circumstance of considerable importance,
his age when elected; they have gone so far as to make him into a
unique monster, no longer human and even the Antichrist!

Surely he first shed Christian blood; but if we consider the tendency
he represented in Roman history, we can hardly classify him among the
great enemies of Christianity. Unwittingly, Augustus and Tiberius were
two great enemies of the Christian teachings, because they sought
by all means to reinforce Roman tradition, and struggled
against everything that would one day form the essence of
Christianity--cosmopolitism, mysticism, the domination of intellectual
people, the influence of the philosophical and metaphysical spirit
on life. Nero, on the contrary, with his repeated efforts to
spread Orientalism in Rome, and chiefly with his taste for art, was
unconsciously a powerful collaborator of future Christian propaganda.
We must not forget this: the masses in the Empire became Christian
only because they had first been imbued with the Oriental spirit.

Nero and St. Paul, the man that wished to enjoy all, and the man
that suffered all, are in their time two extreme antitheses: with
the passing of centuries, they become two collaborators. While one
suffered hunger and persecution to preach the doctrine of redemption,
the other called to Italy and to Rome, to amuse himself, the
goldsmiths, weavers, sculptors, painters, architects, musicians, whom
Rome had always rebuffed.

Both disappeared, cut off by the violent current of their epoch;
centuries went by: the name of the Emperor grew infamous, while that
of the tent-maker radiated glory. In the midst of the immense disorder
that accompanied the dissolution of the Roman Empire, as the bonds
among men relaxed, and the human mind seemed to be incapable of
reasoning and understanding, the disciples of the saint realised
that the goldsmiths, weavers, sculptors, painters, architects, and
musicians of the Emperor could collect the masses around the churches
and make them patiently listen to what they could still comprehend of
Paul's sublime morality. When you regard St. Mark or Notre Dame or any
other stupendous cathedral of the Middle Ages, like museums for the
work of art they hold, you see the luminous symbol of this paradoxical
alliance between victim and executioner.

Only through the alliance of Paul and Nero could the Church dominate
the disorder of the Middle Ages, and, from antiquity to the modern
world, carry through that formidable storm the essential principles
from which our civilisation developed: a decisive proof that, if
history in its details is a continuous strife, as a whole it is the
inevitable final reconciliation of antagonistic forces, obtained in
spite of the resistance of individuals and by sacrificing them.

Julia and Tiberius

"He walked with head bent and fixed, the face stern, a taciturn man
exchanging no word with those about him.... Augustus realised these
severe and haughty manners, and more than once tried to excuse them
in the Senate and to the people, saying that they were defects of
temperament, not signs of a sinister spirit."

This is the picture that Suetonius gives us of Tiberius, the man
who, in 9 B.C., after the death of Agrippa and Drusus, stood next to
Augustus, his right hand and pre-established successor. At that time
Augustus was fifty-four years old; not an old man, but he was ill and
had presided over the Republic for twenty-one years. Many people must
have asked themselves what would happen if Augustus should die,
or should definitely retire to private life. The answer was not
uncertain: since Rome was engaged in the conquest of Germany, the
chief of the Empire and of the army ought to be a valiant general and
a man of expert acquaintance with Germanic affairs. Tiberius was the
first general of his time and knew Germany and the Germans better than
any other Roman.

The passage from Suetonius, just quoted, indicates that Tiberius was
not altogether popular, yet it was the accepted opinion that Rome
and Italy might well be content to rely upon so capable a general and
diplomat, if Augustus failed. This attitude, however, changed when
the death of Drusus entirely removed the alternative of choice between
himself and Tiberius, and the latter, up to that time universally
admired, began to be met, even among the nobility, by a strong
opposition. How can this apparently inexplicable fact be made clear?
The theory of corruption so dear to the ancients, which I have already
explained, gives us the key to the mystery. Those who have been
disposed to see in that theory merely a plaything of poets, orators,
philosophers, will now realise that it had power enough to kill the
person and destroy the family of the first citizen of the Empire. That
kind of continuous fear of luxury, of amusements, of prodigality, on
account of which the ancients called corruption so many things that
we define as progress, was not a sentiment always equally alive in the
mind of the multitude. The Romans, like ourselves, loved to live and
to enjoy; this is so true that philosophers and legislators constantly
took pains to remind them of the danger of allowing too much liberty
to the appetites; but more effective than the counsels of philosophers
and the threats of the law, great public calamities inspired in the
masses, at least temporarily, a spirit of puritanism and austerity.
Of this the consequences of the battle of Actium afforded noteworthy

Those who have read the fourth volume of _The Greatness and Decline of
Rome_ may perhaps remember how I have described the conservative
and traditionalist movement of the first decade of the government
of Augustus. Frightened by the revolution, men's minds had reverted
precipitously to the past. A new party, which one might call the
traditionalist, had sought to re-establish the old-time order, in the
state, in customs, in ideas; to combat the corruption of customs; and
of this party Augustus had been the right arm. Indeed, to so great
an extent had this party stirred up public spirit and prevailed upon
those in power that in 18 B.C. it succeeded in passing some great
social laws on luxury, on matrimony, on dress. With these laws, Rome
proposed to remake, by terrible measures, the old, prolific, austere
nobility of the aristocratic era. The _lex de maritandis_ _ordinibus_
aimed with a thousand vexatious restrictions to constrain the nobility
to marry and have children; the _lex sumptuaria_ studied to restrain
extravagance; the _lex de adulteriis_ proclaimed martial law in the
family, menacing an unfaithful wife and her accomplice with exile for
life and the confiscation of half their substance; legislation of the
harshest, this, which should scourge Rome to blood, to keep her from
falling anew into the inveterate vices from which the civil wars were

The impression of the civil wars could not last forever. In fact,
in the decade that followed the promulgation of the social laws, the
puritan fervour, which had up to that time heated all Italy, began
to cool. Wealth increased; the confidence that order and peace were
actually re-established, spread everywhere; the generation that had
seen the civil wars, disappeared; peace and growing prosperity stirred
in the next generation a desire for freedom and pleasure that would
not endure the narrow traditionalism and the puritanism of the
preceding generation; consequently also the laws of 18 B.C. became

To understand this change in public spirit which had such serious
consequences, there is no better way than by studying the most
celebrated writer of this new generation, Ovid, who represents it most
admirably both in life and works. Ovid was born at Sulmona in 43 B.C.
He was about the same age as Tiberius,--of a knight's family--that
is, of the wealthy middle class. He was destined by his father to the
study of oratory and jurisprudence, evidently to make a political man
of him, a senator, a future consul or proconsul, and to contribute to
the great national restoration that his generation proposed to itself
and of which Augustus was architect, preparing a new family for the
political aristocracy that was governing the Empire. Ovid's father
had all the requirements demanded by law and custom: a considerable
fortune, the half-nobility of the equestrian order, an intelligent
son, the means to give him the necessary culture--a favourable
combination of circumstances which was wholly undone by a bit of
unforeseen contrariety, the son's invincible inclination for what his
father called, with little respect, a "useless study," literature.
The young man had indifferently studied oratory and law, gone to Rome,
married, made friendships in the high society of the capital, been
elected to the offices preceding the quæstorship; but when the time
arrived for presenting himself as candidate for the quæstorship
itself--that is, the time for beginning the true _curriculum_ of the
magistracies, he had declared that he would rather be a great poet
than a consul, and there was no persuading him farther on the long
road opened to political ambitions.

With the episode of Julia and Tiberius in mind, I have stated that
Ovid's life epitomises the new generation, because it shows us
in action the first of the forces that dissolved the aristocratic
government and the nobility artificially reconstituted by Augustus
at the close of the civil wars--intellectualism. The case of Ovid
demonstrates that intellectual culture, literature, poetry, instead
of being, for the Roman aristocracy, as in older times, a simple
ornament, secondary to politics, had already a prime attraction for
the man of genius; that even among the higher classes, devoted by
tradition only to military and political life, there appeared, by the
side of the leaders in war and politics, the professional literary
man. The study of Ovid's work shows something even more noteworthy:
that, profiting by the discords in the ruling class, these literary
men feared no longer to express and to re-enforce the discontent,
the bad feeling, the aversion, that the efforts of the State to
re-establish a more vigorous social order was rousing in one part of
the public.

Ovid's first important work was the _Amores_, which was certainly out
by the year 8 B.C. although in a different form from that in which
we now have it. To understand what this book really was when it was
published, one must remember that it was written, read, and what
is more, _admired_, ten years after the promulgation of the _lex de
maritandis ordinibus_ and of the _lex de adulteriis_; it should be
read with what remains of the text of those laws in hand.

We are astonished at the book, full of excitements to frivolity, to
dissipation, to pleasure, to those very activities that appeared to
the ancients to form the most dangerous part of the "corruption."
Extravagances of a libertine poet? The single-handed revolt of a
corrupt youth, which cannot be considered a sign of the times? No. If
there had not been in the public at large, in the higher classes, in
the new generation, a general sympathy with this poetry, subversive of
the solemn Julian laws, Ovid would never have been recognised in the
houses of the great, petted and admired by high society. The great
social laws of Augustus, the publication of which had been celebrated
by Horace in the _Carmen Seculare_, wounded too many interests,
tormented too many selfishnesses, intercepted too many liberties.

His revolutionary elegies had made Ovid famous, because these
interests and these selfishnesses finally rebelled with the new
generation, which had not seen the civil wars. Other incidents before
and after the publication of the _Amores_ also show this reaction
against the social laws. Therefore Augustus proposed about this time
to abolish the provision of the _lex de maritandis ordinibus_ that
excluded celibates from public spectacles; and by his personal
intervention sought to put a check upon the scandalous trials for
adultery that his law had originated--two acts that were so much
admired by a part of the public that statues were erected to him by
popular subscription.

In short, this new movement of public opinion explains the opposition
exerted from this time on against Tiberius and makes us understand how
there arose the conflict in which this mysterious personage was to be
entangled for the rest of his life, and to lose, by no fault of his
own, so great a part of his reputation. I hope to prove that the
Tiberius of Tacitus and Suetonius is a fantastic personality, the hero
of a wretched and improbable romance, invented by party hatred;
that Tiberius remained, as a German historian has defined it, an
undecipherable enigma, simply because there has never been the will to
recognise how much alive the aristocratic republican traditions
still were, and what force they still exerted in the State and in the

Tiberius was but an authentic Claudius--that is, a true descendant of
one of the oldest, the proudest, the most aristocratic families of the
Roman nobility, a man with all the good qualities and all the defects
of the old Roman aristocracy, a man who regarded things and men with
the eyes of a senator of the times of Scipio Africanus--a living
anachronism, a fossil, if you will, from a by-gone age, in a world
that wished to tolerate no more either the vices or the virtues of the
old aristocracy. He thought that the Empire ought to be governed by a
limited aristocracy of diplomats and warriors, rigidly authoritative,
exclusively Roman, which should know how to check the general
corrupting of customs, the current extravagance and dissipation,
beginning its task by imposing upon itself an inexorable
self-discipline. Even though he belonged to the generation of Ovid--to
the generation that had not seen the civil wars--Tiberius, by
singular exception, kept aloof from the undisciplined frivolity of his
contemporaries. He desired the severe application of the social
laws of the year 18, as of all the traditional norms of aristocratic
discipline. His generation therefore soon found him an enemy,
especially after Drusus's death seemed to leave neither doubt nor
choice as to the successor of Augustus. From this contemporary
attitude arises the tacit aversion in the midst of which, after the
lapse of so many centuries, we still feel Tiberius living and working,
an aversion which steadily grows even while he renders the most signal
services to the Empire.

There was between him and his generation irreconcilable discord.
However, it is not likely that this blind and secret hatred alone
could have seriously injured Tiberius, whose power and merits were so
great, if it had not been considerably helped by incidents of various
nature. The first and most important of these was the discord that had
arisen, shortly after the death of Drusus, between Tiberius and his
wife Julia, the daughter of Augustus and the widow of Agrippa.

Tiberius had married her against his will in the year 11, after the
death of Agrippa, by order of Augustus, and had at first tried to
live in accord with her; the attempt was vain, and the spirits of the
husband and wife were soon parted in fatal disagreement. "He lived at
first," writes Suetonius, "in harmony with Julia; but soon grew cool
toward her, and finally the estrangement reached such a point after
the death of their boy born at Aquileia, that Tiberius lived in a
separate apartment"--a separation, as we would call it, in "bed and
board." What was the reason of this discord? No ancient historian has
revealed it; however, we can guess with sufficient probability from
what we know of the characters of the pair and the discord that
divided Roman society. If Tiberius was not the monster of Capri, Julia
was certainly not the miserable Bacchante of the scandalous Roman
chronicle. Macrobius has pictured her in human lights and shadows, a
probable image, describing her as a highly cultured woman, lavish
in tastes and expenditure, fond of beautiful literature, of the
fine arts, and of the company of handsome and elegant young men. She
belonged to the new generation of which Ovid was spokesman and poet;
while Tiberius represented archaic traditionalism, the spirit of a
past generation.

It is easy to understand how these two persons, incarnating the
irreconcilable opposition of two epochs, two _morales_, two societies,
of Roman militarism and of Oriental culture, could not live together.
A man like Tiberius, severe, simple, who detested frivolous pleasures,
caring more for war than for society life, could not live in peace
with this beautiful and vivacious creature, who loved luxury,
prodigality, brilliant company. It is not rash to suppose that
the _lex sumptuaria_ of the year 18 was the first grave cause of
disagreement. Julia, given, as Macrobius describes her, to profuse
expenditure and pretentious elegance, could not take this law
seriously; while it was the duty of Tiberius, who always protested by
deed as by word against the barren pomp of the rich, to see that his
wife serve as an example of simplicity to the other matrons of Rome.

Very soon there occurred an accident, not uncommon in unfortunate
marriages, but which for special reasons was, in the family of
Tiberius, far more than wontedly dangerous. Tacitus tells us that
after Julia was out of favour with Tiberius, she contracted a relation
with an elegant young aristocrat, one Sempronius Gracchus, of the
family of the famous tribunes. Accepting as true the affirmation of
Tacitus, in itself likely, we can very well explain the behaviour and
acts of Tiberius in these years. The misdoing of Julia offended
not only the man and husband, but placed also the statesman, the
representative of the traditionalist party, in the gravest perplexity.

According to the _lex de adulteriis_, made by Augustus in the year
18, the husband ought either to punish the unfaithful wife himself or
denounce her to the prætor. Could he, Tiberius, provoke so frightful
a scandal in the house of the "First Citizen of the Republic"; drive
from Rome, defamed, the daughter of Augustus, the most noted lady of
Rome, who had so many friends in all circles of its society? Suetonius
speaks of the disgust of Tiberius for Julia, "_quam neque criminari
aut demittere auderet_"--whom he dared neither incriminate nor
repudiate. On the other hand, did not he, the intransigeant
traditionalist, who kept continually reproving the nobility for their
laxity in self-discipline, merit rebuke, for allowing this thing to
go on, not applying the law? The difficulty was serious; the _lex de
adulteriis_ began to be a torment to its creators. Unable to separate
from, unwilling to live with, this woman who had traduced him and whom
he despised, Tiberius was reduced to maintaining a merely apparent
union to avoid the scandal of a trial and divorce.

This proceeding, however, was an expedient in that condition of things
both insufficient and dangerous. The discord between Tiberius and
Julia put into the hands of the young nobility, up to that time
unarmed, a terrible weapon against the illustrious general, who was,
meanwhile, fighting the Germans. The young nobility, inimical to the
social laws and to Tiberius, rallied about Julia, and the effects of
this alliance were not slow in appearing. Julia had had five sons by
Agrippa, of whom the eldest two, Caius and Lucius, had been adopted
by Augustus. In the year 6 B.C., the eldest, Caius, reached the age of
fourteen. He was therefore but a lad; notwithstanding his youth, there
was suddenly brought forward the strange, almost incredible, proposal
to make a law by which he might at once be elected consul for the year
754 A.U.C, when he would be twenty years old.

Who made this proposal? Augustus, if we believe Suetonius, out of
excessive fondness for his adopted sons. Dion, on the contrary, tells
these things differently. He says that from the beginning Augustus
opposed the law, and so leads us to doubt that it was either proposed
or desired by that Prince. The facts are that a party in Rome kept
insisting till Augustus supported this law with his authority, and
that from the first he was unwilling to be accessory to an election
that overturned without reason every Roman constitutional right.

Who then were these strange admirers of a child of fourteen, who to
make him consul did not hesitate to do violence to tradition, to the
laws, to good sense, and, finally, to the adoptive father? It was the
opposition to Tiberius, the party of the young nobility and Julia, who
were seeking a rule less severe, and, if not the abolition, at least
the mitigated application of the great social laws. They aimed to put
forward the young Caius, to set him early before public attention, to
hasten his political career, in order to oppose a rival to Tiberius;
to prepare another collaborator and successor of Augustus, to make
Tiberius less indispensable and therefore less powerful.

In brief, here was the hope of using against Tiberius at once the
maternal pride and affection of Julia, the tenderness of Augustus, and
the popularity of the name of Cæsar, which Caius carried. The people
had never greatly loved the name of the Claudii, a haughty line of
invincible aristocrats, always hard and overbearing with the poor,
always opposed to the democratic party. The party against Tiberius
hoped that when to a Claudius there should be opposed a Cæsar, the
public spirit would revert to the dazzling splendour of the name.

Now we understand why Augustus had at first objected. The privileges
that he had caused to be conceded to Marcellus, to Drusus, to
Tiberius, were all of less consequence than those demanded for
Caius and had all been justified either by urgent needs of State, or
services already rendered; but how could it be tolerated that without
any reason, without the slightest necessity, there should be made
consul a lad of fourteen, of whom it would be difficult to predict
even whether he would become a man of common sense? Moreover Augustus
could not so easily bring himself to offend Tiberius, who would not
admit that the chief of the Republic should help his enemies offer him
so great an affront. How could it be, that while he, amid fatigues
and perils in cold and savage regions, was fighting the Germans and
holding in subjection the European provinces, that _jeunesse dorée_
of good-for-nothings, cynics, idlers, poets, which infested the new
generation, was conniving with his wife to set against him a child
of fourteen?--to gain, as it were, sanction from a law that the State
would not be safe till by the side of this Claudius should be placed a
Cæsar, beardless and inexpert, as if the name of the latter outweighed
the genius and experience of the former? And Augustus, the head of the
Republic, would he have tolerated such an outrage? Tiberius not only
resisted the law but exacted the open disapproval of Augustus; in
fact, at the beginning, Augustus stood out against it as Tiberius
wished; but difficulties grew by the way and became grave.

Julia and her friends knew how to dispose public opinion ably in
their own favour, to intrigue in the Senate, to exploit the increasing
unpopularity of the social laws, of the spreading aversion to Tiberius
and the admiration for other members of Augustus's family. The
proposal to make Caius consul became in a short time so popular
for one or another of these reasons, and as the symbol of a future
government less severe and traditionalistic, that Augustus felt less
and less able to withstand the current. On the other hand, to yield
meant mortally to offend Tiberius. Finally, as was his wont, this
astute politician thought to extricate himself from the difficulty by
a transaction and an expedient. Dion, shortly after having said that
Augustus finally yielded to the popular will, adds that, to make Caius
more modest, he gave Tiberius the tribunician power for five years and
charged him with subduing the revolt in Armenia. Augustus's idea is
clear: he was trying to please everybody--the partisans of Caius Cæsar
by not opposing the law, and Tiberius, by giving the most splendid
compensation, making him his colleague in place of Agrippa.

Unfortunately, Tiberius was not the man to accept this compensation.
No honour could make up for the insult Augustus had done him, though
yielding but in part to his enemies, because by so doing even Augustus
had seemed to think it necessary to set him beside a lad of fourteen;
he would go away; they might do as they pleased and charge Caius with
directing the war in Germany. Indignant at the timid opportunism of
Augustus, disgusted with the wife whom he could neither accuse nor
repudiate, Tiberius demanded permission of Augustus to retire to
Rodi to private life, saying that he was tired and in need of repose.
Naturally Augustus was frightened, begged and pleaded with him to
remain, sent his mother Livia to beseech him, but every effort was
futile; Tiberius was obstinate, and finally, since Augustus did not
permit his departure, he threatened to let himself die of hunger.
Augustus still tried to stand firm; one day, two days, three days, he
let him fast without giving the required consent. At the end of the
fourth day, Augustus had to recognise that Tiberius had serious intent
to kill himself, and yielded. The Senate granted him permission to
depart; and Tiberius at once started for Ostia, "without saying a
word," writes Suetonius, "to those who accompanied him, and kissing
but a few."

It would be impossible to decide whether this retaliation of
Tiberius's self-love was equal to the offence; and perhaps it is
useless to discuss the point. It is certain, however, that the
consequences of the departure of Tiberius were weighty. The first
result was that the party of the young nobility, the party averse to
the laws of the year 18, found itself master of the field; perhaps
because the opposing party lost with Tiberius its most authoritative
leader; perhaps because Augustus, irritated against Tiberius, inclined
still more toward the contrary party; perhaps because public opinion
judged severely the departure of Tiberius, who, already little
admired, became decidedly unpopular. Julia and her friends triumphed,
and not content with having conquered, wished to domineer; shortly
afterward they obtained the concession of the same privileges as those
granted to Caius for his younger brother Lucius. At the same
time, Augustus prepared to make Caius and Lucius his two future
collaborators in place of Tiberius; Ovid set his hand to a book still
more scandalous and subversive than the _Amores_, the _Ars Amandi_;
public indulgence covered with its protection all those accused on
grounds of the laws of the year 18; and finally, the two boys, Caius
and Lucius, became popular, like great personages, all over
Italy. There have been found in different cities of the peninsula
inscriptions in their honour, one of which, very long and curious, is
at Pisa; it is full of absurd eulogies of the two lads, who had as yet
done nothing, good or bad. Italy must have been tired enough of a too
conservative government, which had lasted twenty-five years, of an
Empire reconquered by traditional ideas, if, in order to protest, it
lionised the two young sons of Agrippa in ways that contradicted every
idea and sentiment of Roman tradition.

In conclusion, the departure of Tiberius, and the severe judgment the
public gave it, still further weakened the conservative party, already
for some years in decline, by a natural transformation of the public
spirit. Perhaps the party of tradition would have been entirely spent,
had not events soon reminded Rome that its spirit was the life of the
military order. The departure of Tiberius, the man who represented
this spirit, rapidly disorganised the army and the external policy
of Rome. Up to that time Augustus had had beside him a powerful
helper--first Agrippa, afterwards Tiberius; but then he found himself
alone at the head of the Empire, a man already well on in years; and
for the first time it appeared that this zealous bureaucrat, this
fastidious administrator, this intellectual idler, who could do an
enormous amount of work on condition that he be not forced to issue
from his study and encounter currents of air too strong for him, was
insufficient to direct alone the politics of an immense empire, which
required, in addition to the sagacity of the administrator and the
ingenuity of the legislator, the resoluteness of the warrior and the
man of action.

The State rapidly fell into a stupor. In Germany, where it was
necessary to proceed to the ordering of the province, everything was
suspended; the people, apparently subdued, were not bound to pay any
tribute, and were left to govern themselves solely and entirely
by their own laws--a strange anomaly in the history of the Roman
conquests, which only the departure of Tiberius can explain. At such
a distance, when he was no longer counselled by Tiberius who so well
understood German affairs, Augustus trusted no other assistants,
fearing lack of zeal and intelligence; distrusting himself also, he
dared initiate nothing in the conquered province. The Senate, inert
as usual, gave it not a thought. So Germany remained an uncertainty,
neither a province nor independent, for fifteen years, a fact wherein
is perhaps to be found the real cause of the catastrophe of Varus,
which ruined the whole German policy of Rome.

Furthermore, in Pannonia and Dalmatia, when it was known that the most
valiant general of Rome was in disgrace at Rodi, the malcontents took
fresh courage, reopened an agitation that could but terminate in
a revolt, much more dangerous than any preceding. In the Orient,
Palestine arose in 4 B.C., on the death of Herod the Great, against
his son, Archelaus, and against the Hellenised monarchy, demanding
to be made a Roman province like Syria, and a frightful civil war
illumined with its sinister glare the cradle of Jesus. The governor
of Syria, Quintilius Varus, threw himself into Judea and succeeded in
crushing the revolt; but Augustus, unable to bring himself either to
give full satisfaction to the Hebrew people or to execute entirely the
testament of Herod, decided as usual on a compromise: he divided
the ancient kingdom of Herod the Great among three of his sons, and
changed Archelaus's title of king to the more modest one of ethnarch.
Then new difficulties arose with the Empire of the Parthians. In
short, vaguely, in every part of the Empire and beyond its borders,
there began to grow the sense that Rome was again weakening; a sense
of doubt due to the decadence of the spirit of tradition and of the
party representing it; to the new spirit of the new generation; and
finally, to the absence of Tiberius, the one capable general of the
time, which gradually disorganised even the western armies, the best
in the Empire.

This dissolution of the State naturally fed in the traditionalist
party the hope of reconquering. Tiberius had sincere friends and
admirers, especially among the nobility, less numerous than those of
Julia, but more serious, because his merits were real. Many people
among the higher classes--even though, like Augustus, they considered
the obduracy of Tiberius excessive--thought that Rome no more
possessed so many examples of illustrious men as to be able to retire
its best general at thirty-seven. Very soon there arose in the circles
about Augustus, in the Senate, in the comitia, a bitter contention
between Tiberius's friends and his enemies; this was really a struggle
between the traditionalist party, which busied itself conserving,
together with the traditions of the old Romanism, the military and
political power of Rome, and the party of the young nobility, which,
without heeding the external dangers, wished to impel habits, ideas,
the public spirit, toward the freer, broader forms of the Oriental
civilisation, even at the risk of dissolving the State and the army.
Julia and Tiberius personify the two parties; between them stands
Augustus, who ought to decide, and is more uncertain than ever.
Theoretically Augustus always inclined more toward Tiberius, but from
disgust at his departure, from solicitude for domestic peace, from
his little sympathy with his step-son, he was driven to the opposite

In this duel, what was the behaviour and the part of Livia, the mother
of Tiberius? The ancient historians tell us nothing; it is, at all
events, hardly probable that Livia remained an inactive witness of
the long struggle waged to secure the return of Tiberius and his
reinstatement in the brilliant position once his. Moreover, Suetonius
says that during his entire stay at Rodi, Tiberius communicated with
Augustus by means of Livia. At any rate, the party of Tiberius was
not long in understanding that he could not re-enter Rome, as long as
Julia was popular and most powerful there; that to reopen the gates of
Rome to the husband, it was necessary to drive out the wife. This was
a difficult enterprise, because Julia was upheld by the party already
dominant; she had the affection of Augustus; she was the mother
of Caius and Lucius Cæsar, the two hopes of the Republic, whose
popularity covered her with a respect and a sympathy that made her
almost invulnerable. Tiberius, instead, was unpopular. However, there
is no undertaking impossible to party hate. Exasperated by the growing
disfavour of public opinion, the party of Tiberius decided on a
desperate expedient to which Tiberius himself would not have dared set
hand; that is, since Julia had a paramour, to adopt against her the
weapon supplied by the _lex Julia de adulteriis_, made by her father,
and so provoke the terrible scandal that until then every one had
avoided in fear.

Unfortunately, we possess too few documents to write in detail the
history of this dreadful episode; but everything becomes clear enough
if one sees in the ruin of Julia a kind of terrible political and
judicial blackmailing, tried by the friends of Tiberius to remove the
chief obstacle to his return, and if one takes it that the friends
of Tiberius succeeded in procuring proofs of the guilt of Julia and
carried them to Augustus, not as to the head of the State, but to the

Dion Cassius says that "Augustus finally, although tardily, came to
recognise the misdeeds of his daughter," which signifies that at a
given moment, Augustus could no longer feign ignorance of her sins,
because the proofs were in the power of irreconcilable enemies, who
would have refused to smother the scandal. These mortal enemies of
Julia could have been no other than the friends of Tiberius. Julia had
violated the law on adultery made by himself; Augustus could doubt it
no more.

To understand well the tragic situation in which Augustus was placed
by these revelations, one must remember various things: first that
the _lex de adulteriis_, proposed by Augustus himself, obliged the
father--when the husband could not, or would not--to punish the guilty
daughter, or to denounce her to the prætor, if he had not the courage
to punish her himself; second, that this law arranged that if the
father and the husband failed to fulfil their proper duty, any one
whoever, the first comer, might in the name of public morals make
the denunciation to the prætor and stand to accuse the woman and her
accomplice. Tiberius, the husband, being absent at Rodi, he, Augustus,
the father, must become the Nemesis of his daughter--must punish her
or denounce her; if not, the friends of Tiberius could accuse her
to the prætor, hale her before the quæstor, unveil to the public the
shame of her private life.

What should he do? Many a father had disdainfully refused to be the
executioner of his own daughter, leaving to others the grim office of
applying the _lex Julia_. Could he imitate such an example? He was the
head of the Republic, the most powerful man of the Empire, the founder
of a new political order; he could decide peace and war, govern the
Senate at his pleasure, exalt or abase the powerful of the earth with
a nod; and exactly for this reason he dared not evade the bitter task.
He feared the envy, the moral and levelling prejudices of the middle
classes, which needed every now and then to slaughter in the courts
some one belonging to the upper classes, in order to delude themselves
that justice is equal for all. To him had been granted the greatest
privileges; but precisely on this account was it dangerous to try to
cover his daughter with a privileged protection as prey too delicate
for public attack. And then, if he himself gave the example of
disobeying his law, who would observe it? The tremendous scandal would
unnerve all the moral force of his legislation, which was the base
of his prestige. The moment was terrible. Imagine this old man of
sixty-two wearied by forty-four years of public life, embittered
by the difficulties that sprang up about him, disquieted by the
dissolution of State of which he was the impotent witness, finding
himself all at once facing these alternatives--either destroy his
daughter, or undo all the political work over which he had laboured
for thirty years; and no temporising possible!

Augustus was not a naturally cruel man, but before these alternatives
his mind seems to have been for a moment convulsed by an access of
grief and rage, the distant echo of which has come down to us. One
moment, as Suetonius says, he had the idea of killing Julia. Then
reason, pity, affection, gentler habits, prevailed. He did not give
the sentence of death, but he was too practised a politician not
to understand that she could not be saved; and as he had immolated
Cicero, Lepidus, Antony, so he immolated her also to the necessity
of preserving before Italy his prestige of severe legislator and
impartial magistrate. To avoid the trial, he resolved to punish her
himself with his power of _pater familias_ according to the _lex
Julia_, exiling her to Pandataria and announcing the divorce to her
in the name of Tiberius. He then despatched to the Senate a record of
what he had done, and went away to the country, where he remained a
long time, says Suetonius, seeing no one, the prey to profound grief.

It seems that Julia's fall was a surprise to the public. In a day
it learned that the highly popular daughter of Augustus had been
condemned to exile by her father. This unexpected revelation let
a storm loose in the metropolis. Even though there were not then
published in Rome those vile newspapers, the pests of modern
civilisation, that hunt their _soldi_ in the mud and slime of the
basest human passions, the taste for scandalous revelations, the
envy of genius and fortune, the pleasure of wreaking cruelty upon
the unarmed, the low delight in pouring the basest feelings upon the
honour of a woman abandoned by all--these passions animated minds
then, as they do to-day; nor were there then wanting, more than
now, wretches that profited by them, to gather money or satisfy bad
instincts, without being able to dispose of a single, miserable
sheet of paper. On every side delators sprang up, and an epidemic of
slanders embittered Rome; every man who had name or wealth or some
relation with the family of Augustus, ran the risk of being accused as
a lover of Julia. Several youths of high society, frightened by these
charges, committed suicide; others were condemned. About Julia
were invented and spread the most atrocious calumnies, which formed
thereafter the basis for the infamous legends that have remained
in history attached to her name. The traditionalist party naturally
abetted this furor of accusations and inventions, made to persuade the
public that a fearful corruption was hidden among the upper classes
and that to cure it fire and sword must be used without pity.

The friends of Julia, the party of the young nobility, disconcerted at
first by the explosion, did not delay to collect themselves and react;
the populace of Rome made some great demonstrations in favour of Julia
and demanded her pardon of Augustus. Many indeed, recognising that her
punishment was legal, protested against the ferocity of her enemies,
who had not hesitated to embitter with so terrible a scandal the old
age of Augustus; protested against the mad folly of incrimination with
which every part of Rome was possessed. Most people turned, the more
envenomed, against Tiberius, attacking him with renewed fury as the
cause of all the evil. He it was, they insisted, who had conceived the
abominable scandal, willed it, imposed it upon Rome and the Empire!

If Livia and the friends of Tiberius had thought to bring him in
by the gate where Julia went out, they were not slow in recognising
themselves deceived. The fall of Julia struck Tiberius on the rebound
in his distant island. His unpopularity, already great, grew by all
the disgust that the scandal about Julia had provoked, and became
so formidable that one day about this time the inhabitants of Nimes
overturned his statues. It was the beginning of the Christian era, but
a dark silence brooded over the Palatine; the defamed Julia was making
her hard way to Pandataria; Tiberius, discredited and detested, was
wasting himself in inaction at Rodi; Augustus in his empty house,
disgusted, distrustful, half paralysed by deep grief, would hear to
no counsels of peace, of indulgence, of reconciliation. Tiberius and
Julia were equally hateful to him, and as he did not allow himself
to be moved by the friends of Julia, who did not cease to implore her
pardon, so he resisted the friends of Tiberius, who tried to persuade
him to reconciliation. What mattered it to him if the administration
of the State fell to pieces on all sides; if Germans threatened
revolt; if Rome had need of the courage, of the valour, of the
experience of Tiberius?

Tiberius from his retreat in Rodi kept every one in Rome afraid,
beginning with Augustus. Too rich, too eager now for pleasures and
comforts, Rome was almost disgusted with the virtues and the
defects that had in fact created it, and which survived in
Tiberius--aristocratic pride, the spirit of rigour in authority,
military valour, simplicity. Peace had come, extending everywhere,
with wealth, the desire for enjoyment, happiness, pleasure, freedom,
loosening everywhere the firmest bonds of social discipline,
persuading Rome to lay down the heavy armour it had worn for so many

In this family quarrel, which comprises a struggle of everlasting
tendencies, Julia represented the new spirit that will prevail,
Tiberius, the old, destined to perish; but for the time being, both
spirits, however opposed, were necessary; for peace did not expand its
gifts in the Empire without the protection of the great armies
that fought on the Rhine and on the Danube. If the spirit of peace
refreshed Rome, Italy, the Provinces, only the old aristocratic and
military spirit could keep the Germans on the Rhine. As in all great
social conflicts, the two opposing parties were both, in a certain
measure and each from its own point of view, right. Just for that
reason, the equilibrium could be found only by a continual struggle
in which men on one side and on the other were destined in turn to
triumph or fall according to the moment; a struggle in which Augustus,
fated to act the part of judge--that is, to recognise, with a final
formal sanction, a sentence already pronounced by facts--had against
his will in turn to condemn some and reward others.

Julia will remain at Pandataria, and Tiberius will return to Rome
when the danger on the Rhine becomes too threatening, yet without much
lessening the conclusive vengeance of Julia. That will come in the
long torment of the reign of Tiberius; in the infamy that will pursue
him to posterity. After having been pitilessly hated and persecuted in
life, this man and this woman, who had personified two social forces
eternally at war with each other, will both fall in death into the
same abyss of unmerited infamy: tragic spectacle and warning lesson on
the vanity of human judgments!

Wine in Roman History

In history as it is generally written, there are to be seen only great
personages and events, kings, emperors, generals, ministers, wars,
revolutions, treaties. When one closes a huge volume of history,
one knows why this state made a great war upon that; understands the
political thinking, the strategic plans, the diplomatic agreements
of the powerful, but would hardly be able to answer much more simple
questions: how people ate and drank, how the warriors, politicians,
diplomats, were clad, and in general how men lived at any particular

History does not usually busy itself with little men and small facts,
and is therefore often obscure, unprecise, vague, tiresome. I believe
that if some day I deserve praise, it will be because I have tried
to show that everything has value and importance; that all phenomena
interweave, act, and react upon each other--economic changes and
political revolutions, costumes, ideas, the family and the state,
land-holding and cultivation. There are no insignificant events
in history; for the great events, like revolutions and wars, are
inevitably and indissolubly accompanied by an infinite number of
slight changes, appearing in every part of a nation: if in life there
are men without note, and if these make up the great majority of
nations--that which is called the "mass"--there is no greater mistake
than to believe they are extraneous to history, mere inert instruments
in the hands of the oligarchies that govern. States and institutions
rest on this nameless mass, as a building rests upon its foundations.

I mean to show you now by a typical case the possible importance of
these little facts, so neglected in history. I shall speak to you
neither of proconsuls nor of emperors, neither of great conquests nor
of famous laws, but of wine-dealers and vine-tenders, of the fortuned
and famous plant that from wooded mountain-slopes, mirrored in the
Black Sea, began its slow, triumphal spread around the globe to
its twentieth century bivouac, California. I shall show you how the
branches and tendrils of the plant of Bacchus are entwined about the
history and the destiny of Rome.

For many centuries the Romans were water-drinkers. Little wine was
made in Italy, and that of inferior quality: commonly not even the
rich were wont to drink it daily; many used it only as medicine during
illness; women were never to take it. For a long time, any woman in
Rome who used wine inspired a sense of repulsion, like that excited in
Europe up to a short time ago by any woman who smoked. At the time
of Polybius, that is, toward the middle of the second century B.C.,
ladies were allowed to drink only a little _passum_,--a kind of sweet
wine, or syrup, made of raisins. About the women too much given to the
beverage of Dionysos, there were terrifying stories told. It was said,
for instance, that Egnatius Mecenius beat his wife to death, because
she secretly drank wine; and that Romulus absolved him (Pliny, _Nat.
Hist._, bk. 14, ch. 13). It was told, on the word of Fabius Pictor,
who mentioned it in his annals, that a Roman lady was condemned by
the family tribunal to die of hunger, because she had stolen from
her husband the keys of the wine-cellar. It was said the Greek judge
Dionysius condemned to the loss of her dower a wife who, unknown to
her husband, had drunk more than was good for her health: this story
is one which shows that women began to be allowed the use of wine as a
medicine. It was for a long time the vaunt of a true Roman to despise
fine wines. For example, ancient historians tell of Cato that, when
he returned in triumph from his proconsulship in Spain, he boasted
of having drunk on the voyage the same wine as his rowers; which
certainly was not, as we should say now, either Bordeaux or Champagne!

Cato, it is true, was a queer fellow, who pleased himself by throwing
in the face of the young nobility's incipient luxury a piece of almost
brutal rudeness; but he exaggerated, not falsified, the ideas and the
sentiments of Romanism. At that time, it was a thing unworthy of a
Roman to be a practised admirer of fine wines and to show too great
a propensity for them. Then not only was the vine little and ill
cultivated in Italy, but that country almost refused to admit its
ability to make fine wines with its grapes. As wines of luxury, only
the Greek were then accredited and esteemed--and paid for, like French
wines to-day; but, though admiring and paying well for them, the
Romans, still diffident and saving, made very spare use of them.
Lucullus, the famous conqueror of the Pontus, told how in his father's
house--in the house, therefore, of a noble family--Greek wine was
never served more than once, even at the most elegant dinners.
Moreover, this must have been a common custom, because Pliny says,
speaking of the beginning of the last century of the Republic, "Tanta
vero vino græco gratia erat ut singulæ potiones in convitu darentur";
that is, translating literally, "Greek wine was so prized that only
single potions of it were given at a meal." You understand at once the
significance of this phrase; Greek wine was served as to-day--at least
on European tables--Champagne is served; it was too expensive to give
in quantity.

This condition of things began to change after Rome became a world
power, went outside of Italy, interfered in the great affairs of the
Mediterranean, and came into more immediate contact with Greece and
the Orient. By a strange law of correlation, as the Roman Empire
spread about the Mediterranean, the vineyard spread in Italy;
gradually, as the world politics of Rome triumphed in Asia and Africa,
the grape harvest grew more abundant in Italy, the consumption of
wine increased, the quality was refined. The bond between the
two phenomena--the progress of conquest and the progress of
vine-growing--is not accidental, but organic, essential, intimate.
As, little by little, the policy of expansion grew, wealth and culture
increased in Rome; the spirit of tradition and of simplicity weakened;
luxury spread, and with it the appetite for sensations, including that
of the taste for intoxicating beverages.

We have but to notice what happens about us in the modern world--when
industry gains and wealth increases and cities grow, men drink more
eagerly and riotously inebriating beverages--to understand
what happened in Italy and in Rome, as gradually wars, tribute,
blackmailing politics, pitiless usury, carried into the peninsula the
spoils of the Mediterranean world, riches of the most numerous and
varied forms. The old-time aversion to wine diminished; men and
women, city-dwellers and countrymen, learned to drink it. The cities,
particularly Rome, no longer confined themselves to slaking their
thirst at the fountains; as the demand and the price for wine
increased, the land-owners in Italy grew interested in offering the
cup of Bacchus, and as they had invested capital in vineyards,
they were drawn on by the same interest to excite ever the more the
eagerness for wine among the multitude, and to perfect grape-culture
and increase the crop, in imitation of the Greeks. The wars and
military expeditions to the Orient not only carried many Italians,
peasants and proprietors, into the midst of the most celebrated
vineyards of the world, but also transported into Italy slaves and
numerous Greek and Asiatic peasants who knew the best methods of
cultivating the vine, and of making wines like the Greek, just as the
peasants of Piedmont, of the _Veneto_, and of Sicily, have in the last
twenty years developed grape-culture in Tunis and California.

Pliny, who is so rich in valuable information on the agricultural and
social advances of Italy, tells us that it opened its hills and plains
to the triumphal entrance of Dionysus between 130 and 120 B.C., about
the time that Rome entered into possession of the kingdom of Pergamus,
the largest and richest part of Asia Minor, left to it by bequest
of Attalus. Thenceforward, for a century and a half, the progress of
grape-growing continued without interruption; every generation poured
forth new capital to enlarge the inheritance of vineyards already
grown and to plant new ones. As the crop increased, the effort was
redoubled to widen the sale, to entice a greater number of people to
drink, to put the Italian wines by the side of the Greek.

At the distance of centuries, these vine-growing interests do not
appear even in history; but they actually were a most important factor
in the Roman policy, a force that helps us explain several main
facts in the history of Rome. For example, vineyards were one of the
foundations of the imperial authority in Italy. That political form
which was called with Augustus the principality, and from which was
evolved the monarchy, would not have been founded if in the last
century of the Republic all Italy had not been covered with vineyards
and olive orchards. The affirmation, put just so, may seem strange and
paradoxical, but the truth of it will be easy to prove.

The imperial authority was gradually consolidated, because, beginning
with Augustus, it succeeded in pacifying Italy after a century of
commotion and civil wars and of foreign invasions, to which the
secular institutions of the Republic had not known how to oppose
sufficient defence; so that, little by little, right or wrong, the
authority of the _Princeps_, as supreme magistrate, and the power of
the Julian-Claudian house, which the supreme magistrate had organised,
seemed to the Italian multitude the stable foundation of peace
and order. But why was Italy, beginning with the time of Cæsar, so
desperately anxious for peace and order? It would be a mistake to see
in this anxiety only the natural desire of a nation, worn by anarchy,
for the conditions necessary to a common social existence. The
contrast of two episodes will show you that during the age of Cæsar
annoyance at disorder and intolerance of it had for a special reason
increased in Italy. Toward the end of the third century B.C., Italy
had borne on its soil for about seventeen years the presence of
an army that went sacking and burning everywhere--the army of
Hannibal--without losing composure, awaiting with patience the hour
for torment to cease. A century and a half later, a Thracian slave,
escaping from the chain-gang with some companions, overran the
country,--and Italy was frightened, implored help, stretched out its
arms to Rome more despairingly than it had ever done in all the years
of Hannibal.

What made Italy so fearful? Because in the time of Hannibal it had
chiefly cultivated cereals and pastured cattle, while in the days of
Spartacus a considerable part of its fortune was invested in vineyards
and olive groves. In pastoral and grain regions the invasion of an
army does relatively little damage; for the cattle can be driven in
advance of the invader, and if grain fields are burned, the harvest of
a year is lost but the capital is not destroyed. If, instead, an army
cuts and burns olive orchards and vineyards, which are many years in
growing, it destroys an immense accumulated capital. Spartacus was
not a new Hannibal, he was something much more dangerous; he was a new
species of _Phylloxera_ or of _Mosca olearia_ in the form of brigand
bands that destroyed vines and olives, the accumulated capital of
centuries. Whence, the emperor became gradually a tutelary deity of
the vine and the olive, the fortune of Italy. It was he who stopped
the barbarians still restless and turbulent on the frontiers of Italy,
hardly over the borders; it was he who kept peace within the country
between social orders and political parties; it was he who looked
after the maintenance and guarding of the great highways of the
peninsula, periodically clearing them of robbers and the evil-disposed
that infested them; and the land-owners, who held their vineyards
and olive groves more at heart than they did the great republican
traditions, placed the image of the Emperor among those of their
Lares, and venerated him as they had earlier revered the Senate.

Still more curious is the influence that this development of Italian
viticulture exercised on the political life of Rome; for example,
in the barbarous provinces of Europe, wine was an instrument
of Romanisation, the effectiveness of which has been too much
disregarded. In Gaul, in Spain, in Helvetia, in the Danube provinces,
Rome taught many things: law, war, construction of roads and cities,
the Latin language and literature, the literature and art of
Greece; more, it also taught to drink wine. Whoever has read the
_Commentaries_ of Cæsar will recall that, on several occasions, he
describes certain more barbarous peoples of Gaul as prohibiting the
importation of wine because they feared they would unnerve and
corrupt themselves by habitual drunkenness. Strabo tells us of a great
Gæto-Thracian empire that a Gætic warrior, Borebiste by name, founded
in the time of Augustus beyond the Danube, opposite Roman possessions;
while this chieftain sought to take from Greek and Latin civilisation
many useful things, he severely prohibited the importation of wine.
This fact and others similar, which might be cited, show that these
primitive folk, exactly like the Romans of more ancient times, feared
the beverage which so easily intoxicates, exactly as in China all wise
people have always feared opium as a national scourge, and so many in
France would to-day prohibit the manufacture of absinthe.

This hesitation and fear disappeared among the Gauls, after their
country was annexed to the Empire; disappeared or was weakened among
all the other peoples of the Danube and Rhine regions, and even in
Germany, when they fell under Roman dominion; even also while they
preserved independence, as little by little the Roman influence
intensified in strength. By example, with the merchants, in
literature, Rome poured out everywhere the ruddy and perfumed drink
of Dionysos, and drove to the wilds and the villages, remote and poor,
the national mead--the beverage of fermented barley akin to modern

The Italian proprietors who were enlarging their vineyards--especially
those of the valley of the Po, where already at the time of Strabo the
grape-crop was very abundant--soon learned that beyond the Alps lived
numerous customers. Under Augustus, Arles was already a large market
for wines, both Greek and Italian; during the same period, there
passed through Aquileia and Leibach considerable trade in Italian wine
with the Danube regions. In the Roman castles along the Rhine, among
the multitudes of Italians who followed the armies, there was not
wanting the wine-dealer who sought with his liquor to infuse into the
torpid blood of the barbarian a ray of southern warmth. Everywhere
the Roman influence conquered national traditions; wine reigned on the
tables of the rich as the lordly beverage, and the more the Gauls, the
Pannonians, the Dalmatians, drank, the more money Italian proprietors
made from their vineyards.

I have said that Rome diffused at once its wine and its literature:
it also diffused its wine through its literature, a fact upon which
I should like to dwell a moment, since it is odd and interesting
for diverse reasons. We always make a mistake in judging the great
literary works of the past. Two or three centuries after they were
written, they serve only to bring a certain delight to the mind;
consequently, we take for granted they were written only to bring us
this delight. On the contrary, almost all literary works, even the
greatest, had at first quite another office; they served to spread
or to counteract among the author's contemporaries certain ideas and
sentiments that the interests of certain directing forces favoured or
opposed; indeed very often the authors were admired and remunerated
far more for these services rendered to their contemporaries than for
the lofty beauty of the literary works themselves.

This is the case with the odes of Horace. To understand all that they
meant to say to contemporaries, one must imagine Roman society as it
was then, hardly out of a century of conquests and revolutions, in
disorder, unbalanced, and still crude, notwithstanding the luxuries
and refinements superficially imitated from the Orient; a society
eager to enjoy, yet still ill educated to exercise upon itself that
discipline of good taste, without which civilisation and its pleasures
aggravate more than restrain the innate brutality of men. During the
first period of peace, arrived after so great disturbance, that
poetry so perfect in form, which analysed and described all the
most exquisite delights of sense and soul, infused a new spirit of
refinement into habits, and co-operated with laborious education
in teaching even the stern conquerors of the world to enjoy all the
pleasures of civilisation, alike literature and love, the luxury of
the city and the restfulness of the villa, fraternal friendship and
good cookery. It taught, too--this master poetry of the senses--to
enjoy wine, to use the drink of Dionysos not to slake the thirst, but
to colour, with an intoxication now soft, now strong, the most diverse
emotions: the sadness of memories, the tendernesses of friendship, the
transports of love, the warmth of the quiet house, when without the
furious storm and the bitter cold stiffen the universe of nature.

In the poetry of Horace, therefore, wine appears as a proteiform god,
which penetrates not only the tissues of the body but also the inmost
recesses of the mind and aids it in its every contingency, sad or
gay. Wine consoles in ill fortune (i., 7), suffuses the senses with
universal oblivion, frees from anxiety and the weariness of care,
fills the empty hours, and warms away the chill of winter (i., 9). But
the wine that has the power to infuse gentle forgetfulness into the
veins, has also the contrasting power of rousing lyric fervour in the
spirit, the fervour heroic, divining, mystic (iii., 2). Finally, wine
is also a source of power and heroism, as well as of joy and sensuous
delight; a principle of civilisation and of progress (ii., 14).

I wish I could repeat to you all the Dionysic verse of this old poet
from Venosa, whose subjects and motives, even though expressed in the
choicest forms, may seem common and conventional in our time and to
us, among whom for centuries the custom of drinking wine daily with
meals has been a general habit. But these poems had a very different
significance when they were written, in that society in which many did
not dare drink wine commonly, considering it as a medicine, or as a
beverage injurious to the health, or as a luxury dangerous to morals
and the purse; in that time when entire nations, like Gaul, hesitated
between the invitations of the ruddy vine-crowned Bacchus, come with
his legions victorious, and the desperate supplications of Cervisia,
the national mead, pale and fleeing to the forests. In those times and
among those men, Horace with his dithyrambics affected not only the
spirit but the will, uniting the subtle suggestion of his verses to
all the other incentives and solicitations that on every side were
persuading men to drink. He corroded the ancient Italian traditions,
which opposed with such repugnance and so many fears the efforts of
the vintners and the vineyard labourers to sell wine at a high price;
in this way he rendered service to Italian viticulture.

The books of Horace, while he was still living, became what we might
call school text-books; that is, they were read by young students,
which must have increased their influence on the mind. Imagine that
to-day a great European poet should describe and extol in magnificent
verses the sensuous delight of smoking opium; should deify, in a
mythology rich in imagery, the inebriating virtues of this product.
Imagine that the verses of this poet were read in the schools: you
may then by comparison picture to yourself the action of the poems of

The political and military triumph of Rome in the Mediterranean world
signified therefore the world triumph of wine. So true is this, that
in Europe and America to-day the sons of Rome drink wine as their
national daily beverage. The Anglo-Saxons and Germans drink it in
the same way as the Romans of the second century B.C., on formal
occasions, or as a medicine. When you see at an European or American
table the gold or the ruby of the fair liquor gleaming in the glasses,
remember that this is another inheritance from the Roman Empire and
an ultimate effect of the victories of Rome; that probably we should
drink different beverages if Cæsar had been overcome at Alesia or
if Mithridates had been able decisively to reconquer Asia Minor from
Rome. It astonishes you to see between politics and enology, between
the great historical events and the lot of a humble plant, so close a

I can show you another aspect of this phenomenon, even stranger and
more philosophical. I have already said that at the beginning of the
first century before Christ, although Italy had already planted many
vineyards and gathered generous crops, Italian wines were still little
sought after, while the contrary was true of the Greek. Pliny writes:

    The wines of Italy were for long despised.... Foreign wines
    had great vogue for some time even after the consulate of
    Opimius [121 B.C.], and up to the times of our grandfathers,
    although then Falernian was already discovered.

In the second half of the last century of the Republic and the first
half of the first century B.C., this condition of things changed;
Italian wines rose to great fame and demand, and took from the Greek
the pre-eminence they so long had held. Finally, this pre-eminence
formed one of the spoils of world conquest, and that not one of the
meagrest. Pliny, writing in the second half of the first century, says
(bk. 14, ch. 11):

    Among the eighty most celebrated qualities of wine made in all
    the world, Italy makes about two thirds; therefore in this it
    outdoes other peoples.

The first wines that came into note seem to have been those of
southern Italy, especially Falernian, and Julius Cæsar seems to have
done much to make it known. Pliny tells us (bk. 14, ch. 15) that, in
the great popular banquet offered to celebrate his triumph after his
return from Egypt, he gave to every group of banqueters a cask of
Chian and an _amphora_ of Falernian, and that in his third consulate
he distributed four kinds of wine to the populace, Lesbian, Chian,
Falernian, and Mamertine; two Greek qualities and two Italian. It is
evident that he wished officially to recognise national wines as equal
to the foreign, in favour of Italian vintners; so that Julius Cæsar,
that universal man, has a place not only in the history of the great
Italian conquests, but also in that of Italian viticulture.

The wines of the valley of the Po were not long in making place for
themselves after those of southern Italy. We know that Augustus drank
only Rhetian wine; that is, of the Valtellina, one of the valleys
famous also to-day for several delicious wines; we know that Livia
drank Istrian wine.

I have said that Italy exported much wine to Gaul, to the Danube
regions, and to Germany; to this may be added another remark,
both curious and interesting. _The Periplus of the Erytrian Sea_,
attributed to Arrianus, a kind of practical manual of geography,
compiled in the second century A.D., tells us that in that century
Italian wine was exported as far as India; so far had its fame spread!
There is no doubt that the wealth in the first and second century
A.D., which flowed for every section of Italy, came in part from the
nourishing vineyards planted upon its hills and plains; and that
the Italians, who had gone to the Orient for reasons political and
financial, had fallen upon yet greater fortune in contrabanding
Bacchus from the superb vineyards of the Ægean islands, and
transporting him to the hills of Italy; a new seat whereon the
capricious god of the vine rested for two centuries, until he took
again to wandering, and crossed the Alps.

We may at this juncture ask ourselves if this enologic pre-eminence of
Italy was the result only of a greater skill in cultivating the vine
and pressing the grapes. I think not. It does not seem that Italy
invented new methods of wine-making; it appears, instead, that it
restricted itself to imitating what the Greeks had originated. On the
other hand, it is certain, at least in northern and central Italy,
that, although the vine grows, it does so less spontaneously and
prosperously than in the Ægean islands, Greece, and Asia Minor,
because the former regions are relatively too cold.

The great fame of the Italian wines had another cause, a political:
the world power and prestige of Rome. This psychological phenomenon
is found in every age, among all peoples, and is one of the most
important and essential in all history. What is beautiful and what is
ugly? What is good and what is bad? What is true and what is false?
In every period men must so distinguish between things, must adopt
or repudiate certain ideas, practise or abandon certain habits, buy
certain objects and refuse others; but one should not believe that
all peoples make these discernments spontaneously, according to their
natural inclination. It always happens that some nations succeed, by
war, or money, or culture, in persuading the lesser peoples about them
that they are superior; and strong in this admiration, they impose
upon their susceptible neighbours, by a kind of continuous suggestion,
their own ideas as the truest, their own customs as the noblest, their
own arts as the most perfect.

For this reason chiefly, wars have often distant and complicated
repercussions on the habits, the ideas, the commerce of nations. War,
to which so many philosophers would attribute a divine spirit, so
many others a diabolic, appears to the historian as above all a
means--allow me the phrase, a bit frivolous, but graphic--of noisy
_réclame_, advertisement for a people; because, although a more
civilised people may be conquered by one more barbarous, less
cultured, less moral; although, also, the superiority in war may
be relative, and men are not on the earth merely to give each other
blows, but to work, to study, to know, to enjoy; yet the majority
of men are easily convinced that he who has won in a war is in
everything, or at least in many things, superior to him who has lost.
So it happened, for example, after the late Franco-Prussian War, that
not only the armies organised or reorganised after 1870 imitated even
the German uniform, as they had earlier copied the French, but in
politics, science, industry, even in art, everything German was more
generously admired. Even the consumption of beer heavily increased
in the wine countries, and under the protection of the Treaty of
Frankfurt, the god Gambrinus has made some audacious sallies into the
territories sacred to Dionysos.

The same thing occurred in regard to wine in the ancient world. Athens
and Alexander the Great had given to Greek wine the widest reputation,
all the peoples of the Mediterranean world being persuaded that that
was the best of all. Then the centre of power shifted to the west,
toward the city built on the banks of the Tiber, and little by little
as the power of Rome grew, the reputation of its wine increased, while
that of Greece declined; until, finally, with world empire, Italy
conquered pre-eminence in the wine market, and held it with the
Empire; for while Italy was lord, Italian wine seemed most excellent
and was paid for accordingly.

This propensity of minor or subject peoples to imitate those dominant
or more famous, is the greatest prize that rewards the pre-eminent
for the fatigue necessary to conquer that place of honour; it is the
reason why cultured and civilised nations ought naturally to seek
to preserve a certain political, economic, and military supremacy,
without which their intellectual superiority would weaken or at least
lose a part of its value. The human multitude in the vast world are
not yet so intelligent and refined as to prize that which is beautiful
and grand for its own sake; and they are readily induced to admire as
excellent what is but mediocre, if behind it there is a force to be
feared or to impose it. Indeed, we may observe in the modern world a
phenomenon analogous to that in historic Italy. What, in succeeding
centuries, have been the changes in the enologic superiority conquered
by Rome?

Naturally I cannot recount the whole story, although it would be
interesting; but will only observe that contemporary civilisation
confirms the law by which predominance in the Latin world and the
pre-eminence of wine are indissolubly bound together in history.

Paris is the modern Rome, the metropolis of the Latin world. France
continues, as far as can be done in modern times, the ancient sway of
Rome, irradiating round so much of the globe, by commerce, literature,
art, science, industry, dominance of political ideas, the influence
of the Latin world, making tributaries to Latin culture of barbarous
peoples, and nations too young for leadership or grown too old; and
France has inherited the pre-eminence in wines, although it lies at
the farthest confines of the vine-bearing zone, beyond which the tree
of Bacchus refuses to live. Do you realise that in all the wide belt
of earth where vineyards flourish, only the dry hills of Champagne
ripen the delicious effervescent wine that refigures in modern
civilisation--at least for those who are fond of wine--the nectar of
the gods? And this, while effervescent wines are made in innumerable
parts of the world and many are so good that one wonders if it were
not possible for them, manufactured with care, placed in sightly
bottles, and sold at as high a price as the most famous French
Champagne, to dispute a part of the admiration that the devotees of
Bacchus render to the French wine. Ah, they do not scintillate before
the eyes of the world as symbols of gay intoxication like the others,
for through those bottles passes no ray of the glory and prestige of
France! An historian fond of paradoxes might affirm, and with great
likelihood, what does not appear at first glance: that the great
brands of French Champagne would not be sold so dear if the French
Revolution had been suppressed by the European coalition, and if
France, overcome in the terrible trial, had been enchained by the
absolute monarchies of Europe like a dangerous beast. It would even
be possible to declare that the reputation of Champagne is rooted, not
only in the ground where the grapes are cultivated, and preserved in
the vast cellars where the precious crops are stored, but in all
the historic tradition of France, in all that which has given France
worldly glory and power: the victorious wars, the distant conquests,
the colonies, the literature, the art, the science, the money capital,
and the spirit--cosmopolitan, expansive, dynamic--of its history.
It would be possible to declare that it makes and pours into all the
world its precious wine by that same virtue, intimate, national,
and historic, by which it created the encyclopædia and made the
Revolution, let Napoleon loose on Europe and founded the Empire,
wrote so many famous books and built on the banks of the Seine the
marvellous universal city, where all the forces of modern civilisation
are gathered together and hold each other in equilibrium: aristocracy
and democracy, the cosmopolite spirit and the spirit of nationality,
money and science, war and fashion, art and religion. If France
had not had its great history, Champagne would have remained an
effervescing wine of modest household use that the peasants place
every year in barrels for their own family consumption or to sell in
the vicinity of the city of Rheims.

Social Development of the Roman Empire.

Augustus died the twenty-third of August of the year 14 A.D., saying
to Livia, as she embraced him: "Adieu, Livia, remember our long life."
Suetonius adds that, before dying, he had asked the friends who
had come to salute him, if he seemed to them "_mimum vitæ commode
transegisse"_--to have acted well his life's comedy. In this famous
phrase many historians have seen a confession, an acknowledgment of
the long rôle of deceit that the unsurpassable actor had played to
his public. What a mistake! If Augustus did pronounce that famous
sentence, he meant to say quite another thing. An erudite German has
demonstrated with the help of many texts that the ancient writers,
and especially the stoic philosophers, commonly compared life to a
theatrical representation, divided into different acts and with an
inevitable epilogue, death, without intending to say that it was a
thing little serious or not true. They only meant that life is an
action, which has a natural sequence from beginning to end, like a
theatrical representation. There is then no need to translate the
expression of Augustus "the play"--that is, the deceit--"is ended,"
but rather "the drama"--the work committed by destiny--"is finished."

The drama was ended, and what a drama! It is difficult to find in
history a longer and more troubled career than that known by Augustus
for nearly sixty years, from the far-away days when, young, handsome,
full of ambition and daring, he had come to Rome, throwing himself
head first into the frightful turmoil let loose by the murder of
Cæsar, to that tranquil death, the death of a great wise man, in the
midst of the _pax Romana_, now spread from end to end of the Empire!
After so many tragic catastrophies had struck his class and his
family, _Euthanasia_--the death of the happy--descended for the first
time since the passing of Lucullus, to close the eyes of a great

There is no better means of giving an idea of the mission of the Roman
Empire in the world than to summarise the life and work of this famous
personage. Augustus has been in our century somewhat the victim of
Napoleon I. The extraordinary course of events at the beginning of
the nineteenth century made so vivid an impression on succeeding
generations, that for the whole of the century people have been able
to admire only the great agitators, men whose lives are filled with
storm and clamorous action. Compared with that of Napoleon or of
Cæsar, the figure of Augustus is simple and colourless. The Roman
peace, in the midst of which he died, was his work only very
indirectly. Augustus had wearied his whole life in reorganising
the finances and the army, in crushing the revolts of the European
provinces, in defending the boundaries of the Rhine and the Danube,
in making effective in Rome, as far as he could, the old aristocratic
constitution. All intent on this service, a serious and difficult
one, he never dreamed of regenerating the Empire by a powerful
administration. Even if he had wished it, he would not have had the
means--men and money.

For the past century, the vastness and power of the administration
that governed the Empire has been greatly admired. Without discussing
many things possible on this point, it must be observed that this
judgment does not apply to the times of Augustus and Tiberius, because
then this administration did not exist. During the first fifty years
of the Empire, the provinces were all governed, as under the Republic,
by proconsuls or proprætors, each accompanied by a quæstor, a few
subordinate officials, freedmen, friends, and slaves. A few dozen of
men governed the provinces, as vast as states. Augustus added to this
rudimentary administration but one organ, the procurator, chosen from
freedmen or knights, charged with overseeing the collection of tribute
and expenses; that is, caring for the interests, not of the provinces,
but of Rome. Consequently, the government was weak and inactive in all
the provinces.

Whoever fancies the government of Rome modelled after the type of
modern governments, invading, omnipotent, omnipresent, deceives
himself. There were sent into the provinces nobles belonging to rich
and noted families, who had therefore no need to rob the subjects
too much; and these men ruled, making use of the laws, customs,
institutions, families of nobles, of each place, exactly as England
now does in many parts of its Empire. As in general these governors
were not possessed of any great activity, they did not meddle much in
the internal affairs of the subject peoples. To preserve the unity of
the Empire and the supremacy of Italy against all enemies, within and
without; to exploit reasonably this supremacy; for the rest, to let
every people live as best pleased it: such was the policy of Augustus
and of Tiberius, the policy of the first century A.D. In short, this
was but the idea of the old aristocratic party, adapted to the new

So the Roman Government gave itself little concern at this time for
the provinces, nor did it build in them any considerable public work.
It did not construct roads, nor canals, nor harbours, except when
they were necessary to the metropolis; for example, Agrippa made
the network of Gallic roads; Augustus opened the first three great
highways that crossed the Alps. It would be a mistake to suppose that
these important constructions were designed to favour the progress
of Gallic commerce; they were strategic highways made to defend the
Rhine. As gradually Gaul grew rich, Rome had to recognise that the
weak garrisons, set apart in the year 27 for the defence of the Rhine
and the Danube, were insufficient. It would have been necessary to
increase the army, but the finances were in bad condition. Augustus
then thought to base defence on the principle that the immense
frontiers could not all be assailed at the same time, and therefore he
constructed some great military roads across the Alps and Gaul, to be
able to collect the soldiery rapidly from all parts of the Empire at
any point menaced, on the Rhine or on the Danube.

The imperial policy of Augustus and that of Tiberius, who applied the
same principles with still greater vigour, was above all a negative
policy. Accordingly, it could please only those denying as useful to
progress another kind of men, the great agitators of the masses. Shall
we therefore conclude that Augustus and Tiberius were useless? So
doing, we should run the risk of misunderstanding all the history of
the Roman conquest. By merely comprehending the value of the apparent
inactivity of Augustus and Tiberius, one can understand the essence of
the policy of world expansion initiated by the Roman aristocracy after
the Second Punic War. At the beginning, this policy was pre-eminently
destructive. Everywhere Rome either destroyed or weakened, not
nations or peoples, but republics, monarchies, theocracies,
principalities--that is, the political superstructures that framed the
different states, great or small; everywhere it put in place of these
superstructures the weak authority of its governors, of the Senate, of
its own prestige; everywhere it left intact or gave greater freedom to
the elementary forms of human association, the family, the tribe, the

So for two centuries Rome continued in Orient and Occident to suppress
bureaucracies, to dismiss or reduce armies, to close royal palaces,
to limit the power of priestly castes or republican oligarchies,
substituting for all these complicated organisations a proconsul
with some dozens of vicegerent secretaries and attendants. The
last enterprise of this policy, which I should be tempted to
call "state-devouring," was the destruction of the dynasty of the
Ptolemies, in Egypt. Without doubt, the suppression of so many
states, continued for two centuries, could not be accomplished without
terrible upheavals. It would be useless to repaint here the grim
picture of the last century of the Republic; sufficient to say, the
grandiosity of this convulsion has hindered most people from seeing
that the state-devouring policy of Rome included in itself, by the
side of the forces of dissolution, beneficent, creative forces, able
to bring about a new birth. If this policy had not degenerated into
an unbridled sacking, it could have effectuated everywhere notable
economies in the expenses of government that were borne by the poorer
classes, suppressing as it did so many armies, courts, bureaucracies,
wars. It is clear that Rome would have been able to gather in on
all sides, especially in the Orient, considerable tribute, merely
by taking from the various peoples much less than the cost of their
preceding monarchies and continuous wars. Moreover, Rome established
with the conquests throughout the immense Empire what we would call
a régime of free exchange; made neighbours of territories formerly
separated by constant wars, unsafe communication, and international
anarchy; and rendered possible the opening up of mines and forests
hitherto inaccessible.

The apparent inactivity of Augustus and Tiberius was simply the
ultimate and most beneficent phase of the state-devouring policy of
Rome, that in which, the destructive forces exhausted, the creative
forces began to act. Augustus and Tiberius only prolonged indefinitely
by means of expedients that mediocre order and that partial
tranquillity re-established after Actium by the general weariness;
but exactly for this reason were they so useful to the world. In
this peace, in this mediocre order, the policy of expansion of Rome,
finally rid of all the destructive forces, matured all the benefits
inherent within it. Finally, after a frightful crisis, the world
was able to enjoy a liberty and an autonomy such as it had never
previously enjoyed and which perhaps it will never again in an equal
degree of civilisation and in so great an extension.

The Empire then covered Spain, France, Belgium, a part of Germany and
Austria, Switzerland and Italy, the Balkanic countries, Greece, Asia
Minor, Syria, Palestine, a part of Arabia, Egypt, and all northern
Africa. I do not believe that the political _personnel_ that made up
the central government of this enormous Empire ever comprised more
than 2000 men. The army charged with defending so many territories
numbered about 200,000 men--fewer than the present army of Italy
alone. The effects of this order of things were soon to be seen; in
all the Mediterranean basin there began a rapid and universal economic
expansion, which, on a smaller scale, might remind one of what Europe
and America have seen in the nineteenth century. New lands were
cultivated, new mines opened, new wares manufactured, exports sent
into regions formerly closed or unknown; and every new source of
wealth, creating new riches, made labour and commerce progress.

Foremost among all nations of the Empire, at the centre, Italy rapidly
consolidated its fortune and its domination. After the mad plundering
of the times of Cæsar, followed methodical exploiting. Italy attracted
to itself by the power of political leadership the precious metals and
wares of luxury from every part of the Empire; the largest quantity
of these things passed through Rome, before being scattered throughout
the peninsula in exchange for the agricultural and industrial products
of Italy, consumed in the capital. Consequently the middle classes and
many cities grew rich, especially the cities of the Campania, Pompeii,
Herculaneum, Naples, Pozzuoli, through which passed all the trade
between Italy and Egypt. In addition, Italy found an abundant source
of income in the exportation of wine and oil.

In short, having at last emerged from revolution, the peoples of Italy
rallied around Rome and the imperial power, united and relatively
content. At the same time, the provinces began among themselves, about
Italy, a great interchange of merchandise, men, ideas, customs,
across the Mediterranean. Rome and Italy were invaded by a crowd
of Orientals, slaves, freedmen, merchants, artisans, _litterati_,
artists, acrobats, poets, adventurers; and contemporaneously with Rome
and Italy, the agricultural provinces of the West, especially those
along the Danube. Rome did not conquer the barbarous provinces of
Europe for itself alone; it conquered them also for the East, which,
in Mesia, Dalmatia, Pannonia, among those barbarians growing civilised
and eager to live in cities, found customers for their industries in
articles of luxury, for their artists, teachers of literature, and
propagandists of religion.

We are therefore able to explain to ourselves why, beginning from the
time of Augustus, all the industrial cities of the Orient--Pergamon,
Laodicea, Ephesus, Ierapolis, Tyre, Sidon, Alexandria--entered upon
an era of new and refulgent prosperity. Finally, we add the singular
enriching of two nations, whose names return anew united for the last
time, Egypt and Gaul. To all the numerous sources of Gallic wealth
there is to be added yet another, the importance of which is easier
to understand after what I have said on the development of the
Empire. Pliny tells us that all Gaul wove linen sails. The progress of
navigation, a consequence of the progress of commerce, much increased
the demand for linen sail-cloth, something that explains the spread of
flax cultivation in Gaul and the profit derived from it.

As to Egypt, it not only found in the pacified empire new outlets for
its old industries, but also succeeded in engaging a large part of the
new commerce with the extreme Orient, which was at this time greatly
on the increase. From India and China were imported pearls, diamonds,
silk fabrics; for the use of these wares gained largely during
this century, as it has done in recent times in Europe and America;
perfumes were also imported, and rice, which served as a medicament
and to prepare dishes of luxury.

The unity of the Empire was due far more to this great economic
development that began under Augustus than to the political action
of the early emperors. Little by little, imperial interests became
so numerous and so considerable that Rome saw the effort necessary
to keep up the unity diminish. Everywhere, even in the most distant
regions, powerful minorities formed that worked for Rome and against
old separating, anti-uniting forces, against old traditions and local
patriotism alike. The wealthy classes everywhere became in a special
way wholly favourable to Rome. Therefore there is no more serious
mistake than regarding the Roman Empire as the exclusive work of a
government: it was in truth created by two diverse forces, operating
one after the other--each in its own time, for both were necessary: a
force of destruction--the state-devouring policy of Rome; a force of
reconstruction--the economic unification. The annihilation of states,
without which there would have been no economic unification, was the
work of the government and the armies. It was the politicians of the
Senate that destroyed so many states by wars and diplomatic intrigues;
but the economic unification was made chiefly by the infinitely
little--the peasant, the artisan, the educated man--the nameless many,
that lived and worked and passed away, leaving hardly trace or record.
These unknown that laboured, each seeking his own personal happiness,
contributed to create the Empire as much as did the great statesmen
and generals. For this reason I can never regard without a certain
emotion the mutilated inscriptions in the museums, chance salvage from
the great shipwreck of the ancient world, that have preserved the name
of some land-owner, or merchant, or physician, or freedman. Lo!
what remains of these generations of obscure workers, who were the
indispensable collaborators of the great statesmen and diplomatists of
Rome, and without whom the political world of Rome would have been but
a gigantic enterprise of military brigandage!

The great historic merit of Augustus and of Tiberius is that they
presided over the passage from the destructive to the reorganising
phase with their wise, prudent, apparently inactive policy. The
transition, like all transitions, was difficult; the disintegrating
forces were not yet exhausted; the upbuilding forces were still very
weak; the world of the time was in unstable equilibrium, violent
perturbations certainly yet possible. Without doubt, it is hard to say
what would have happened if, instead of being governed by the policy
of Augustus, the world had fallen into the hands of an adventurous
oligarchy like that which gathered around Alexander the Great; but we
can at least affirm that the sagacity and prudence of Augustus, which
twenty centuries afterward appear as inactivity, did much to avoid
such disturbances, the consequences of which, in a world so exhausted,
would have been grave.

Nor is it correct to believe that this policy was easy. Moderation
and passivity, even when good for the governed, rust and waste away
governments, which must always be doing something, even if it be only
making mistakes. In fact, while supreme power usually brings return
and much return to him who exercises it, especially in monarchies, it
cost instead, and unjustly, to Augustus and Tiberius. Augustus had to
offer to the monster, as Tiberius called the Empire, almost all his
family, beginning with the beloved Julia, and had to spend for the
state almost all his fortune. We know that although in the last twenty
years of his life he received by many bequests a sum amounting to a
billion and four hundred million sesterces, he left his heirs only one
hundred and fifty million sesterces, all the rest having been spent by
him for the Republic: this was the singular civil list of this curious
monarch, who, instead of fleecing his subjects, spent for them almost
all he had. It is vain to speak of Tiberius: the Empire cost him the
only thing that perhaps he held dear, his fame. A philosophic history
would be wrong in not recognising the grandeur of these sacrifices,
which are the last glory of the Roman nobility. The old political
spirit of the Roman nobility gave to Augustus and Tiberius the
strength to make these sacrifices, and they probably saved ancient
civilisation from a most difficult crisis.

It may be observed that Augustus and Tiberius worked for the Empire
and the future without realising it. Far from understanding that the
economic progress of their time would unify the Empire better than
could their laws and their legions, they feared it; they believed
that it would everywhere diffuse "corruption," even in the armies,
and therefore weaken the imperial power of resistance against the
barbarians on the Rhine and the Danube. The German peril--the future
had luminously to demonstrate it--was much less than Augustus and
Tiberius believed. In other words, the first two emperors thought that
the unity of the Empire would be maintained by a vigorous, solid army,
while the economic progress, which spread "corruption," appeared to
them to put it to risk.

Exactly the opposite happened; the army continued to decay,
notwithstanding the desperate efforts of Tiberius, while the inner
force of economic interests held the countries well bound together.
It is impossible to oppose this course of reasoning, in itself most
accurate; but what conclusion is to be drawn from it? In the chaotic
conflict of passions and interests that make up the world, the deeds
of a man or a party are not useful in proportion to the objective
truth of the ideas acted out, or to the success attained. Their
usefulness depends upon the direction of the effort, on the ends it
proposes, on the results it obtains. There are men and parties of whom
one might say, they were right to be wrong, when chimerical ideas
and mistakes have sustained their courage to carry out an effective
effort; there are others, instead, of whom it might be said that they
were wrong to be right, when their clear vision of present and past
kept them from accomplishing some painful but necessary duty.

Certainly the old Roman traditions were destined to be overwhelmed
by the invasion of Oriental ideas and habits; but what might not
have happened if every one had understood this from the very times of
Augustus; if then no one had opposed the invasion of Orientalism; if
mysticism and the monarchy of divine right had transformed Italy or
the Empire within fifty years instead of three centuries? I should
not at all hesitate to affirm that certain errors are in certain
conjunctions much wiser than the corresponding verities. There is
nothing more useful in life than resistance, though apparently futile,
against social forces fated to perish, because these, struggling on to
the very end, always succeed in imposing a part of themselves on the
victorious power, and the result is always better than a complete
and unantagonised victory of the opposing force. To the obstinate
resistance with which republican principles combated Asiatic monarchy
in Rome, we must even to-day render thanks for the fact that Europe
was not condemned, like Asia, to carry the eternal yoke of semidivine
absolutism, even in dynastic regimes. What social force destined to
perish would still have power to struggle if it clearly foresaw its
inevitable future dissolution; if it did not fortify itself a little
with some deluding vision of its own future?

Augustus and Tiberius were deceived. They wished to reanimate what was
doomed; they feared what for the moment was not dangerous. They are
the last representatives of the policy initiated by the Scipios and
not the initiators of the policy that created the bureaucratic Empire
of Diocletian: yet this is exactly their glory. They were right to
be wrong; and they rendered to the Empire an immense service, for
the very reason that the definite outcome of their efforts was
diametrically opposed to the idea that animated them. But we need not
dwell on this point. Such were the ideas of the two emperors and the
results of their work; the true Empire, known to all, the monarchic,
Asiaticised, bureaucratic Empire, grew out of this little-governed
beginning that Augustus and Tiberius allowed to live in the freedom
of the largest autonomy. How was it formed? This is the great problem
that I shall try to solve in the sequence of my work. Naturally, I
cannot now résumé all the ideas I mean to develop: I confine myself
here to some of the simplest considerations, which seem to me surest.

The picture of the Empire, so brilliant from the economic stand-point,
is much less so from the intellectual: here we touch its great
weakness. Destroying so many governments, especially in the Orient,
Rome had at the same time decapitated the intellectual _élites_ of
the ancient world; for the courts of the monarchies were the great
firesides of mental activity. Rome had therefore, together with states
and governments, destroyed scientific and literary institutions,
centres of art, traditions of refinement, of taste, of æsthetic
elegance. So everywhere, with the Roman domination, the practical
spirit won above the philosophical and scientific, commerce over arts
and letters, the middle classes over historic aristocracies. Already
weakened by the overthrow of the most powerful Asiatic monarchies,
these _élites_ received the final blow on the disappearance of their
last protection, the dynasty of the Ptolemies in Egypt.

When Augustus began to govern the Empire, the classes that represent
tradition, culture the elevated and disinterested activities of the
spirit, were everywhere extensive in number in wealth, in energy.
It was not long before these ultimate remainders vanished under the
alluvial overflow of the middle classes, swollen by the big economic
gains of the first century. In this respect, the first and second
centuries of the Christian era resemble our own time. In the whole
Empire, alike in Rome, in Gaul, in Asia, there were old aristocratic
families, rich and illustrious, but they were not the class of
greatest power. Under them stood a middle class of merchants,
land-owners, orators, jurists, professors, and other intellectual men,
and this was so numerous, comfortable, and so potent as to cause all
the great social forces, from government to industry, to abandon
the old aristocracy and court it like a new mistress. Art, industry,
literature, were vulgarised in those two centuries, as to-day in
Europe and America, because they had to work mainly for this middle
class which was much more numerous, and yet cruder than the ancient
_élites_. It was the first era of the _cheap_, of vulgarisations, I
was about to say of the _made in Germany_, that enters into
history. There was invented the art of silver-plating, to give the
_bourgeoisie_ at moderate prices the sweet illusion of possessing
objects of silver; great thinkers disappeared; instead were multiplied
manuals, treatises, encyclopaedias, professors that summarised and
vulgarised. Philosophy gradually gave out, like all the higher forms
of literature, and there began the reign of the declaimers and the
sophists; that is, the lecture-givers, the lawyers, the journalists.
In painting and sculpture, original schools were no more to be found,
nor great names, but the number of statues and bas-reliefs increased
infinitely. The paintings of Pompeii and many statues and marbles
that are now admired in European museums are examples of this
industrialised art, inexpensive, creating nothing original, but
furnishing to families in comfortable circumstances passable copies of
works of art--once a privilege only of kings.

The imperial bureaucracy that was formed mainly in the second century
was another effect of this enlargement of the middle classes. In the
second century there came into vogue many humanitarian ideas, which
have a certain resemblance to modern ones. There increased solicitude
for the general well-being, for order, for justice, and this augmented
the number of functionaries charged with insuring universal felicity
by administrative means. The movement was supported by intellectual
men of the middle classes, especially by jurists, who sought to put
their studies to profit, getting from the government employments in
which they might make use, well or ill, of their somewhat artificial
aptitudes. If the aristocratic idea, personified by Augustus
and Tiberius, delayed, it could not stop, the invasion of these
bureaucratic locusts; the government showed itself constantly weaker
with the intellectual classes. Little by little the whole Empire
was bureaucratised; founded by an aristocracy exclusively Roman in
statesmen and soldiers, it was finally governed by a cosmopolitan
bureaucracy of men of brains: orators, _litterati_, lawyers.
Therefore, to my thinking, they are wrong who believe that the
imperial bureaucracy created the unity of the Empire; whereas, the
formation of the imperial bureaucracy was one of the consequences of
that natural unification, the chief reason for which should be sought
in the great economic movement. The economic unification was first
and was entire; then came the political unity, made by the imperial
bureaucracy, which was less complete than the unifying of material

After the material unity, after the political, there should have been
formed the moral and intellectual; but at this point, the forces of
Rome gave way. Rome had gathered under its sceptre too many races,
too many kinds of culture, religions too diverse; its spirit was too
exclusively political, administrative, and judicial; it could not
therefore conciliate the ideas, assimilate the customs, weld the
sentiments, unify the religions, by its laws and decrees. To this
end was necessary the power of ideas, of doctrines, of beliefs that
officials of administration could neither create nor propagate. The
work was to be accomplished outside of, and in part against, the
government. It is the work of Christianity.

Many have asked me how I shall consider Christianity in the sequence
of my work. In brief, I may say that I shall follow a different method
from that which its historians have taken up to this time: they have
studied especially how there was formed that part of Christianity
which yet lives and is the soul of it, namely, the religious doctrine.
On this account, they generally separate its history from the history
of the Empire, making of it the principal argument, considering the
history of Roman society as subordinate to it and therefore only an
appendix. I propose to reverse the study, taking Christianity as a
chapter, important but separate, in the history of the Empire. If
for three centuries Christianity has been gradually returning to its
origin, that is, becoming purely a religion and a moral teaching,
for some centuries in the ancient world it was a thing much more
complicated; a government and an administration that willed not only
to regulate the relations between man and God, but to govern the
intellectual, social, moral, political, and economic life of the
people! The historian ought to explain how this new Empire--for it was
indeed a new Empire--was formed in Rome and upon its ruins: this is a
problem much more intricate than at first appears.

It has been said and often repeated that the Church was in the Middle
Ages in Europe the continuation of the Roman Empire, that the Pope is
yet the real successor of the Emperor in Rome. In fact he carries one
of the Emperor's titles, _Pontifex maximus_. The observation is just,
but it should not make us forget that the Christian Empire, so to call
it, and the Roman Empire, were between themselves as radically
opposed as two forces that created the one and the other; politics and
intellectuality. The diplomatists, the generals, the legislators of
Rome created by political means, by wars, treaties, laws, a grand
economic and political unity, which they consolidated, quite giving
up the formation of a large intellectual and moral unity. The
intellectual men, who formed the most powerful nucleus of the Church
after the fourth century, took up again the Roman idea of unity and of
empire; but they transferred it from matter to mind, from the concrete
world of economic and political interests, to the world of ideas
and beliefs. They tried to re-do, by pen and word, the work of the
Scipios, of Lucullus, and of Cæsar, to conquer the world, not indeed
invading it with armies, but spreading a new faith, creating a new
morality, a new metaphysics which must gather up within themselves
the intellectual activities of Græco-Latin culture, from history to
science, from law to philosophy.

The Church of the Middle Ages was therefore the most splendid edifice
that the intellectual classes have so far created. The power of this
empire of men of letters increased, as little by little the other
empire, that of the generals and diplomats, declined. Christianity saw
with indifference the Roman Empire decay; indeed, when it could,
it helped on the disintegration and was one of the causes of that
political and economic pulverising which everywhere succeeded the
great Roman unity. Political and economic unity on the one hand,
moral and intellectual on the other, seem in the history of European
civilisation things opposite and irreconcilable; when one is formed,
the other is undone. As the Roman Empire had found in intellectual
and moral disunion a means of preserving more easily the economic and
political unity, the Church broke to pieces the political and economic
unity of the ancient world to make, and for a long time preserve, its
own moral and intellectual oneness.

I shall make an effort, above all, to explain the origin, the
development, and the consequences of this contradiction, because I
believe that explaining this clears one of the weightiest and most
important points in all the history of our civilisation; in truth,
this contradiction seems to be the immortal soul of it. For instance:
in time, Augustus is twenty centuries away from us, but mentally
and morally he is, instead, much nearer, because for the last four
centuries Europe has been returning to Rome--that is, striving to
remake a great political and economic unity at the expense of the
intellectual and moral. In this fact particularly, lies the immense
historic importance of what is called the classic renaissance. It
indicates the beginning of an historic reversion that corresponds
in the opposite direction to what occurred in the third and fourth
centuries of the Christian era. The classic renaissance freed anew
the scientific spirit of the ancients from mediæval metaphysics and
therefore created the sciences; rediscovered some basic political
and juridical ideas of the ancient world, among them that of the
indivisibility of the State, which destroyed the foundations of
feudalism and of all the political orders of the Middle Ages; and gave
a great impetus to the struggle against the political domination of
the Church and toward the formation of the great states. France and
England have been in the lead, and for two centuries Europe has
been wearying itself imitating them. After the movement of political
unification followed the economic. Look about you: what do you see?
A world that looks more like the Roman Empire than it does the Middle
Ages; it is a world of great states whose dominating classes have
almost all the essential ideas of Græco-Latin civilisation; each,
seeking to better its own conditions, is forced to establish between
itself and the others the strictest economic relations and to bind
into the system of common interests also barbarous countries and those
of differing civilisation. But how? By scrupulously respecting all the
intellectual and moral diversities of men. What matters it if a people
be Roman Catholic or Protestant, Mohammedan or Buddhist, monarchic or
republican, provided it buys, sells, takes part in the economic unity
of the modern world? This is the policy of contemporary states and was
the policy of the Roman Empire. It has often been observed that in the
modern world, so well administered, there is an intellectual and moral
diversity greater than that during the fearful anarchy of the Middle
Ages, when all the lettered classes had a single language, the Latin,
and the lower classes held, on certain fundamental questions, the same
ideas--those taught by the Church. A correct observation, this, but
one from which there is no need to draw too many conclusions; since in
our history the material unity and the ideal are naturally exclusive.

We are returning, in a vaster world, to the condition of the Roman
Empire at its beginning; to an immense economic unity, which,
notwithstanding the aberrations of protectionism, is grander and
firmer than all its predecessors; to a political unity not so great,
yet considerable, because even if peace be not eternal, it is at least
the normal condition of the European states; to an indifference for
every effort put forth to establish moral and ideal uniformity
among the nations, great and small, that share in this political and
economic unity. This is why we understand Augustus and his times much
more readily than we do the times of Charlemagne, even though from the
latter we possess a greater number of documents; this is why we can
write a history of Augustus and rectify so many mistakes made about
him by preceding generations. It has often happened to me to find, _à
propos_ of the volumes written on Augustus, that my contradiction of
tradition creates a kind of instinctive diffidence. Many say: "Yes,
this book is interesting; but is it possible that for twenty centuries
everybody has been mistaken?--that it was necessary to wait till 1908
to understand what occurred in the year 8?" But those twenty centuries
reduce themselves, as far as regards the possibility of understanding
Augustus, to little more than a hundred years. Since Augustus was the
last representative of a world that was disappearing, his figure soon
became obscure and enigmatic. Tacitus and Suetonius saw him already
enveloped in the mist of that new spirit which for so many centuries
was to conceal from human eyes the wonderful spectacle of the pagan
world. Then the mist became a fog and grew denser, until Augustus
disappeared, or was but a formless shadow. Centuries passed by; the
fog began to withdraw before the returning sun of the ancient culture;
his figure reappeared. Fifty years ago, the obscurity cleared quite
away; the figure stands in plain view with outlines well defined. I
believe that the history I have written is more like the truth than
those preceding it, but I do not consider myself on that account
a wonder-worker. I know I have been able to correct many preceding
errors, because I was the first to look attentively when the moment to
see and understand arrived.

Roman History in Modern Education.

When I announced my intention to write a new history of Rome, many
people manifested a sense of astonishment similar to what they would
have felt had I said that I meant to retire to a monastery. Was it to
be believed that the hurrying modern age, which bends all its energies
toward the future, would find time to look back, even for a moment, at
that past so far away? That my attempt was rash was the common
opinion not only of friends and critics, but also of publishers, who
everywhere at first showed themselves skeptical and hesitating. They
all said that the public was quite out of touch with Roman affairs. On
the contrary, facts have demonstrated that also in this age, in aspect
so eager for things modern, people of culture are willing to give
attention to the events and personages of ancient Rome.

The thing appears strange and bizarre, as is natural, to those who had
not considered it possible; consequently, few have seen how simple
and clear is its explanation. To those who showed surprise that the
history of Rome could become fashionable in Paris salons, I have
always replied: My history has had its fortune because it was the
history of Rome. Written with the same method and in the same style,
a history of Venice, or Florence, or England, would not have had the
same lot. One must not forget that the story of Rome occupies in the
intellectual world a privileged place. Not only is it studied in all
the schools of the civilised world; not only do nearly all states
spend money to bring to light all the documentary evidence that
the earth still conceals; but while all other histories are studied
fitfully, that of Rome is, so to speak, remade every fifty years,
and whoever arrives at the right time to do the making can gain a
reputation broader than that given to most historians.

There is, so to speak, in the history of Rome an eternal youth,
and for the mind in what is commonly called European-American
civilisation, it holds a peculiar attraction. From what deep sources
springs this perennial youth? In what consists this particular force
of attraction and renewal? It seems to me that the chief reason
for the eternal fascination of the history of Rome is this, that it
includes, as in a miniature drawn with simple lines, well defined,
all the essential phenomena of social life; so that every age is
able there to find its own image, its gravest problems, its intensest
passions, its most pressing interests, its keenest struggles;
therefore Roman history is forever modern, because every new age has
only to choose that part which most resembles it, to find its own

In the intellectual history of the nineteenth century this leading
phenomenon of our culture is clearly evident. If any one asked me why,
during the past century, Roman history has proved so interesting, I
should not hesitate to reply, "Because Europeans and Americans
find, there more than elsewhere what has been the greatest political
upheaval of the hundred years that followed the French Revolution--the
struggle between monarchy and republic." From the fervid admiration
for the Roman Republic which animated the men of the French Revolution
to the unmeasured Cæsarian apologies of Duruy and of Mommsen, from
the ardent cult of Brutus to the detailed studies on the Roman
administration of the first two centuries, all historians have studied
and regarded Roman history mainly from the point of view of the
struggle between the two principles that yet to-day rend in incurable
discord the mind of old Europe and from which you have emerged
fortunate! You are free, in a new world; you have ended the combat
between the Latin principle of the impersonal state and the Oriental
principle of the dynastic state; between the state conceived as the
thing of all, belonging to every one and therefore of no one, and the
state personified in a family of an origin higher and nobler than
the common in which all authority derives from some hero-founder by
a mysterious virtue unaccountable to reason and human philosophy; you
have done with the conflict between the human state, simple, without
pomp, without dramatic symbols--the republic as we men of the
twentieth century understand it, and as you Americans conceive and
practise it--and the monarchy of divine right, vainglorious, full of
ceremonies and etiquette, despotic in internal constitution, which
still exists in Europe under more or less spurious forms. Now it is
easy to explain how, in an age in which the contest between these two
conceptions and these two forms of the State was so warm, the history
of Rome should so stir the mind.

In no other history do these two political forms meet each other in a
more irreconcilable opposition of characters in extreme. The Republic,
as Rome had founded it, was so impersonal that, in contrast with
modern more democratic republics, it had not even a fixed
bureaucracy, and all the public functions were exercised by
elective magistrates--even the executive--from public works to the
police-system. In the ancient monarchy which the Orient had created,
the dynastic principle was so strong that the State was considered
by inherent right the personal property of the sovereign, who might
expand it, contract it, divide it among his sons and relatives,
bequeathing his kingdom and his subjects as a land-owner disposes of
his estate and his cattle. Furthermore, although to-day the sovereigns
of Europe are pleased to treat quite familiarly with the good Lord,
the rulers in the Orient were held to be gods in their own right.

Whence it is easy to understand how terrible must have been the
struggle between the two principles so antagonistic, from the time
when in the Empire, immeasurable and complicated, the institutions of
the Republic proved inadequate to govern so many diverse peoples and
territories so vast. The Romans kept on, as at first, rebelling at
the idea of placing a man-god at the head of the State, themselves to
become, when finally masters of the world, the slaves of a dynasty.
The conflict between the two principles lasted a century, from Cæsar
to Nero, filled the story of Rome with hideous tragedies, but ended
with the truce of a glorious compromise; for Rome succeeded in putting
into the monarchic constitution of empire some essentially republican
ideas, among others, the idea of the indivisibility of the State. Not
only Augustus and his family, but also the Flavians and the Antonines,
never thought that the Empire belonged to them, that they might
dispose of it like private property; on the contrary, they regarded it
as an eternal and indivisible holding of the Roman people which they,
as representatives of the _populus_, were charged to administer.

It is therefore easy, as I have said, to explain how, as never
before, the history of Rome was looked upon as a great war between the
monarchy and the republic. Indeed, the problem of the republic and
the monarchy, always present to the minds of writers of the nineteenth
century, has been perhaps the chief reason for the gravest mistakes
committed by Roman historiography during this period--mistakes I have
sought to correct. For example, the republicans have pinned their
faith to all the absurd tales told by Suetonius and Tacitus about the
family of the Cæsars, through preconceived hate for the monarchy; and
the monarchists have exaggerated out of measure the felicity of the
first two centuries of the Empire, to prove that the provinces lived
happy under the monarchic administration as never before or after.
Mommsen has fashioned an impossible Cæsar, almost making of that great
demagogue a literary anticipation of Bismarck.

Little by little, however, as the contest between republic and
monarchy gradually spent itself in Europe, in the last twenty-five
years of the nineteenth century, the interest for histories of Rome
conceived and written in this spirit, declined. The real reason why
Mommsen and Duruy are to-day so little read, why at the beginning of
the twentieth century Roman history no longer stirs enthusiasm through
their books is, above all, this: that readers no longer find in those
pages what corresponds directly to living reality. Therefore it was to
be believed that Roman history had grown old and out of date; whereas,
merely one of its perishing and deciduous forms had grown old, not the
soul of it, which is eternally living and young. So true is this, that
a writer had only to consider the old story from new points of view,
for Cæsar and Antony, Lucullus and Pompey, Augustus and the laws of
the year 18 B.C., to become subjects of fashionable conversation in
Parisian drawing-rooms, in the most refined intellectual centre of the

It has never been difficult for me to realise that contemporary
Europe and America, the Europe and America of railroads, industries,
monstrous swift-growing cities, might find present in ancient Rome a
part of their own very souls, restless, turbulent, greedy. In the Rome
of the days of Cæsar, huge, agitated, seething with freedmen, slaves,
artisans come from everywhere, crowded with enormous tenement-houses,
run through from morning till night by a mad throng, eager for
amusements and distractions; in that Rome where there jostled together
an unnumbered population, uprooted from land, from family, from native
country, and where from the press of so many men there fermented all
the propelling energies of history and all the forces that destroy
morality and life--vice and intellectuality, the imperialistic policy,
deadly epidemics; in that changeable Rome, here splendid, there
squalid; now magnanimous, and now brutal; full of grandeurs, replete
with horrors; in that great city all the huge modern metropolises are
easily refound, Paris and New York, Buenos Ayres and London, Melbourne
and Berlin. Rome created the word that denotes this marvellous and
monstrous phenomenon, of history, the enormous city, the deceitful
source of life and death--_urbs_--_the city_. Whence it is not strange
that the countless _urbes_ which the grand economic progress of the
nineteenth century has caused to rise in every part of Europe and
America look to Rome as their eldest sister and their dean.

Furthermore, into the history of Rome, the historic aristocracy of
Europe may look as into the mirror of their own destiny, as everywhere
they try to retain wealth and power, playing in the stock-exchange,
marrying the daughters of millionaire brewers, giving themselves
to commerce; a nobility that resorts, in the effort to preserve
its prestige over the middle classes, to the expedients of the most
reckless demagogy. Sulla, Lucullus, Pompey, Crassus, Antony, Cæsar,
exemplify in stupendous types the aristocracy that seeks to conserve
riches and power by audaciously employing the forces that menace its
own destruction.

Several critics of my work, particularly the French, have observed
that the policy of expansion made by Rome in the times of Cæsar, as
I have described it, resembles closely the craze for imperialism that
about ten years ago agitated England. It is true, for imperialism in
the time of Cæsar was what has existed for the last half century in
England--a means of which one part of the historic aristocracy availed
itself to keep power and renew decaying prestige, satisfying material
interests and flattering with intoxications of vanity the pride of
the masses. So, too, the contesting parties in France--the socialist,
which represents the labouring classes; the radical, which represents
the middle classes; the progressive and the monarchic, which represent
the wealthy burghers and the aristocracy--may discover some of their
passions, their doings, their invectives, in the political warfare
that troubled the age of Cæsar; in those scandals, those judicial
trials, in that furor of pamphlets and discourses. This is so true,
that in consequence my book met a singular fate in France; that of
being adopted by each party as an argument in its own favour. Drumont
made use of it to demonstrate to France what befalls a country when it
allows its national spirit to be corrupted by foreign influx, seeking
to persuade his fellow-citizens that the Jews in France do the same
work of intellectual and moral dissolution that the Orientals brought
about in Rome. Radical writers, like André Maurel, have sought
arguments in my work to combat the colonial and imperialistic policy.
The imperialists also, like Pinon, have looked for arguments to
support their stand-point. Was I not merely demonstrating that the
policy of expansion is a kind of universal and constant law, which
periodically actualises itself through the working of the same forces,
in the same ways?

It is not to be thought that the age of Cæsar, so disturbed, so
stormy, is our only mirror in the story of Rome. When I write the
account of the imperial society of the first and second centuries, our
own time will be able to recognise even more of itself, to see what
must be the future of Europe and America, if for a century or two they
have no profound political and social upheavals. In that great _pax
Romana_ lasting two centuries, we may study with special facility
a phenomenon to be found in all rich civilisations cultured and
relatively at peace--the phenomenon to me the most important in
contemporary European life, the feminising of all social life; that
is, the victory of the feminine over the masculine spirit. Do not
fancy that the feminists, the problems and the disputes they excite in
modern society, are something quite new and peculiar to us; these are
only special forms of a phenomenon more general, the growing influence
that woman exercises on society, as civilisation, culture, and wealth
steadily increase. Here, too, the history of Rome is luminously clear.
In it we see evolving that vast contest between the feminine spirit
and the masculine, which is one of the essential phenomena in all
human history. We see the masculine spirit--the spirit of domination,
of force, of mastery, of daring--ruling complete, when the small
community had to fight its first hard battles against nature and men.
The father commanded then as monarch in his family; the woman was
without right, liberty, personality; had but to obey, to bear
children and rear them. But success, power, wealth, greater security,
imperceptibly loosened the narrow bondage of the first struggles; then
the feminine spirit--the spirit of freedom, of pleasure, of art, of
revolt against tradition--gradually acquired strength, and began bit
by bit to undermine at its bases the stern masculine rule.

The hard conflict of two centuries is sown with tragedies and
catastrophes. Supported by tradition, exasperated by the ever bolder
revolts of woman, the masculine spirit every now and then went mad;
and brutally tore away her costly jewels and tried to deny her soft
raiment and rare perfumes; and when she had already grown accustomed
to appearing in the world and shining there, he willed to drive her
back into the house, and put beside her there on guard the fieriest
threats of law. Sometimes, despairing, he filled Rome with his
laments; protested that the liberty of the woman cost the man too
dear; cried out that the bills of the dressmaker and the jeweller
would send Rome, the Empire, the world, to ruin. In vain, with wealth,
in a civilisation full of Oriental influences, woman grew strong,
rose, and invaded all society, until in the vast Empire of the first
and second centuries, at the climax of her power, with beauty,
love, luxury, culture, prodigality, and mysticism she dominated
and dissolved a society which in the refinements of wealth and
intellectuality had lost the sharp virtues of the pioneer.

It is unnecessary to dilate further on this point; it will be better
rather to dwell a moment on the causes and the effects of this
singular phenomenon. The history of Rome has been and can be so rich,
so manifold, so universal, because in its long record ancient Rome
gathered up into itself, welded, fused, the most diverse elements of
social life, from all peoples and all regions with which it came into
contact. It knew continued war and interrupted peace for centuries.
It held united under its vast sway, states decrepit with the oldest
of civilisations, and peoples hardly out of primitive barbarism.
It exploited with avidity the intelligence, the laboriousness, the
science of the former; the physical force, the war-valour and the
daring of the latter; it absorbed the vices, the habits, the ideas of
the Hellenised Orient, and transfused them in the untamed Occident.
Taking men, ideas, money, everywhere and from every people, it
created first an empire, then a literature, an architecture, an
administration, and a new religion, that were the most tremendous
synthesis of the ancient world. So the Roman world turned out vaster
and more complex than the Greek, although never assuming proportions
exceeding the power of the human mind; and as it grew, it kept that
precious quality, wanting in the Greek, unity; hence, the lucid
clearness of Roman history. There is everything in it, and everything
radiates from one centre, so that comprehension is easy. Without doubt
it would be rash to declare that the history of Rome alone may serve
as the outline of universal history. It is quite likely that there
may be found another history that possesses the same two qualities
for which that of Rome is so notable--universality and unity--but one
thing we may affirm: up to this time the history of Rome alone has
fulfilled this office of universal compendium, which explains how it
has always been studied by the learned and lettered of every part of
the civilised European-American world, and how in modern intellectual
life it is the history universal and cosmopolitan _par excellence_.
This condition of things has a much greater practical importance than
is supposed. Indeed it would be a serious mistake to believe that
cosmopolitan catholicity is an ideal dower purely of Roman history,
for which all the sons of Rome may congratulate themselves as of a
thing doing honour only to their stirp. This universality forms part,
I should say, of the material patrimony of all the Latin stock; we may
number it in the historic inventory of all the good things the sons of
Rome possess and of all their reasonable hopes for the future.

This affirmation may at first appear to you paradoxical, strange, and
obscure, but I think a short exposition will suffice to clear it. The
universality of the history of Rome, the ease of finding in it models
in miniature of all our life will have this effect, that classical
studies remain the educational foundation of the intelligent classes
in all European-American civilisation. These studies may be reformed;
they may be as they ought, restricted to a smaller number of persons;
but if it is not desired--as of course it cannot be--that in the
future all men be purely technical capacities and merely living
machines to create material riches; if, on the contrary, it is desired
that in every nation the chosen few that govern have a philosophical
consciousness of universal life, no means is better suited to instil
this philosophic consciousness than the study of ancient Rome, its
history, its civilisation, its laws, its politics, its art, and its
religions, exactly because Rome is the completest and most lucid
synthesis of universal life.

Classical studies are one of the most powerful means of intellectual
and moral influence on the Anglo-Saxon and German civilisations that
the Latins possess, representing under modern conditions, for the
Latin nations, a kind of intellectual entail inherited from their
ancestors. The young Germans and Englishmen who study Greek and Latin,
who translate Cicero or construe Horace, assimilate the Latin spirit,
are brought ideally and morally nearer to us, are prepared without
knowing it to receive our intellectual and social influence in other
fields, are made in greater or less degree to resemble us. Indeed,
it can be said, that, material interests apart, Rome is still in the
mental field the strongest bond that holds together the most diverse
peoples of Europe; that it unites the French, the English, the
Germans, in an ideal identity which overcomes in part the diversity in
speech, in traditions, in geographical situation, and in history. If
common classical studies did not make kindred spirits of the upper
classes in England, France, and Germany, the Rhine and the Channel
would divide three nations mentally so different as to be impenetrable
each to another.

Therefore the cosmopolitan universality of Roman history is a kind
of common good which the Latin races ought to defend with all
their might, having care that no other history usurp its place in
contemporary culture; that it remain the typical outline, the ideal
model of universal history in the education of coming generations. The
Latin civilised world has need that every now and then an historian
arise to reanimate the history of Rome, in order to maintain its
continued supremacy in the education of the intelligent; to prevent
other histories from usurping this pre-eminence.

It is useless to cherish illusions as to the task: its accomplishment
has become much more arduous than it was fifty years ago; perhaps
because the masses have acquired greater power in every part of the
European-American world, and democracy advances more or less rapidly,
invading everything--the democracy of the technical man, the
merchant, the workman, the well-to-do burgher, all of whom easily
hold themselves aloof from a culture in itself aristocratic. The
accomplishment will become always more and more arduous; for Roman
studies, feeling the new generations becoming estranged from them,
have for the last twenty-five years tended to take refuge in the
tranquil cloisters of learning, of archaeology, in the discreet
concourse of a few wise men, who voluntarily flee the noises of the
world, Fatal thought! Ancient Rome ought to live daily in the mind
of the new social classes that lead onward; ought to irradiate its
immortal light on the new worlds that arise from the deeps of the
modern age, on pain of undergoing a new destruction more calamitous
than that caused by the hordes of Alaric. The day when the history of
Rome and its monuments may be but material for erudition to put into
the museums by the side of the bricks of the palace of Khorsabad, the
cuneiform inscriptions, and the statues of the kings of Assyria, Latin
civilisation will be overwhelmed by a fatal catastrophe.

To hinder the extinction of the great light of Rome in the world, to
prolong indefinitely this ideal survival, which is the continuation of
its material Empire, destroyed centuries ago, there is but one way--to
renew historic studies of Rome, and to maintain intact their universal
value which forms part of common culture. This is what I have tried
to do, seeking to lead back to Roman history the many minds estranged
from it, distracted by so many cares and anxieties and present
questionings, and to fulfil a solemn duty to my fatherland and the
grand traditions of Latin culture. If other histories can grow old, it
is indeed the more needful, exactly because it serves to educate new
generations, to reanimate Roman history, incorporating in it the new
facts constantly discovered by archæological effort, infusing it
with a larger and stronger philosophical spirit, carrying into it the
matured experience of the world, which learns not only by studying but
also by living.

I do not hesitate to say that every half-century there opens among
civilised peoples a contest to find the new conception of Roman
history, which, suited to the changed needs, may revivify classical
studies; a competition followed by no despicable prize, the
intellectual influence that a people may exercise on other peoples by
means of these studies. To win in this contest we must never forget,
as too many of us have done in the past thirty years, that a man can
rule and refashion the world from the depths of a library, but only
on condition that he does not immure himself there; that, while the
physical sciences propose to understand matter in order to transform
it, historico-philosophical discipline has for its end action upon the
mind and the will; that philosophical ideas and historic teachings
are but seeds shut up to themselves unless they enter the soil of the
universal intellectual life.

No: the time-stained marbles of Rome must not end beside
cuneiform-inscribed bricks or Egyptian mummies, in the vast dead
sections of archæological halls; they must serve to pave for our feet
the way that leads to the future. Therefore nothing could have been
pleasanter or more grateful to me, after receiving the invitation
tendered me by the _Collège de France_, and that from South America,
than to accept the invitation of the First Citizen of the United
States to visit this world which is being formed. In Paris, that
wonderful metropolis of the Latin world, I had the joy, the highest
reward for my long, hard labour, to show to the incredulous how much
alive the supposedly dead history of Rome still is, when on those
unforgettable days so cosmopolite a public gathered from every part of
the city in the small plain hall of the old and august edifice. Coming
into your midst, I feel that the history of Rome lives not only in the
interest with which you have followed these lectures, but also, even
if in part without clear cognisance, in things here, in the life you
lead, in what you accomplish. The heritage of Rome is, for the peoples
of America still more than for those of Europe, an heredity not purely
artistic and literary, but political and social, which exercises the
most beneficent influence on your history. In a certain sense it might
be said that America is to-day politically, more than Europe, the true
heir of Rome; that the new world is nearer--by apparent paradox--to
ancient Rome than is Europe. Among the most important facts, however
little noticed, in the history of the nineteenth century, I should
number this: that the Republic, the human state considered as the
common property of all--the great political creation of ancient
Rome--is reborn here in America, after having died out in Europe. The
Latin seed, lying buried for so many centuries beneath the ruins of
the ancient world, like the grains of wheat buried in Egyptian tombs,
transported from the other side of the ocean, has sprung up in the
land that Columbus discovered. If there had been no Rome; if Rome
had wholly perished in the great barbarian catastrophe; if in the
Renaissance there had not been found among the ruins of the ancient
world, together with beautiful Greek statues and manuscripts, this
great political idea, there would to-day be no Republic in North
America. With the word would probably have perished also the idea and
the thing; and there is no assurance that men would have been able so
easily and so well to rediscover it by their own effort.

I am a student and not a flatterer. I therefore confess to you
frankly, ending these lectures, that I do not belong to that number
of Europeans who most enthusiastically admire things American. I think
that Americans in general, in North America as in South, so readily
recognise in themselves a sufficient number of virtues, that we
Europeans hardly need help them in the belief, easy and agreeable
to all, that they stand first in the world. Having come from an
old society, which has a long historical experience, the most vivid
impression made upon me in the two Americas has been just that
of entering into a society provided with but meagre historical
experience, which therefore easily deludes itself, mistaking for signs
of heroic energy and proofs of a finished superiority, the passing
advantages of an order chiefly economic, which come from the singular
economic condition of the world. In a word, I do not believe that
you are superior to Europe in as many things as you think; but a
superiority I do recognise, great and, for me at least, indisputable,
in the political institutions with which you govern yourselves. The
Republic, which you have made to live again, here in this new land, is
the true political form worthy of a civilised people, because the
only one that is rational and plastic; while the monarchy, the form
of government yet ruling so many parts of Europe, is a mixture of
mysticism and barbarity, which European interests seek in vain to
justify with sophistries unworthy the high grade of culture to which
the Continent has attained. To search out the reasons why the old
Oriental monarchy holds on so tenaciously in Europe, still threatening
the future, would be useless here; certain it is that, when you
meet any European other than a Frenchman or a Swiss, you can feel
yourselves as superior to him in political institutions as the Roman
_civis_ in the times of the Republic felt himself above the Asiatic
slave of absolute monarchy. This superiority--never forget it!--you
owe to Rome; for its possession, be grateful to the city that has
encircled you with such glory, by infusing so tenacious a life into
the "_Respublica_."


  Acrobats, the great number of, 218
  Acte, the beautiful, 114
    the mistakes of Antony at, 60;
    the peace after, 216
  _Ægean_ Islands, the vineyards of the, 200
  Agriculture in Gaul, the extent of, 84
    the builder of the Pantheon, 103;
    the successor of, 165
    the power of, 103;
    the love of the Republic of, 114;
    miraculous escape of, 120;
    death of, 122
  Alaric, the destruction caused by, 258
  Alcohol, the distillers of, 26
    the city of, 91, 94;
    the battle at, 197
  Alexander the Great, mentioned, 48
  Alexandria, the position of, 15
  Allier, the valley of the, 92
    the peoples beyond the, 20;
    the fear of crossing the, 73
  _Ambitio_ of the ancients, the, 14
  America, the discovery of,
  _Amor_, the kingdom of, 25
  _Amores_, the, by Ovid, 151
  _Amours_, the, of Antony, 41
  _Amphore_, the wine of the, 39
  Ancient Rome, corruption in, 3 _ff_
  Anglo-Saxons, traits of the, 197
  Anicetus, the diabolical plan of, 119
    the history of, 37 _ff_;
    the love of, 40;
    meets Cleopatra, 44;
    the bewilderment of, 57
  Antifeminist reaction, the, 111
    the departure for, 45;
    the marriage at, 51
  Antium, the return to, 119
  Antonines, the power of the, 246
  Aquileia, son of Julia born at, 155;
    the trade in, 192
  Arabia, part of, annexed, 49
  Archæological discoveries, the effect of, 259
  Archæologists, the discoveries of, 43
  Archelaus, the revolt against, 166
  Architectural effort at Rome, 134
  Argentine Republic, the mention of, 86
  Arles, a large market for wines, 192
  Armenia, the revolt in, 161
  Arras, the district of, 90
  Arrianus, the work of, 199
  _Ars Armandi_, the, by Ovid, 163
  Artists, the numerous, of the East, 55
  Asia Minor, the addition to the Empire of, 49
  Asiatic civilisation, 17
  Athens, the influence of, 202
  Atrides, the legend of, 138
  Attalus, King, 16; the bequest of, 187
  Augustus, the age of, 25
  Augustus Cæsar, lectures on, 3;
    the wise laws of, 158;
    troubles of, 176;
    the death of, 209
  _Avaritia_, the complaint of the, 14


  Bacchante, a miserable, 155
  Bacchus, the plant of, 182
  Bætica, civilisation in, 72
  Baiæ, the Court at, 119
  Banquets, the, of ancient Rome, 7
  Barbarian, the struggle against the, 34
  Barbarism, the primitive, 254
  Belgæ, the victory over the, 77
  Beverages, in Roman history, 181 _ff_;
    the growing use of, 186
  _Birrus_ of Laodicea, the, 88
  Bismarck, mentioned, 64; compared to Cæsar, 247
  Biturigi, the, a tribe of Gaul, 86
  Black Sea, the country around, 182
  Borebiste, a Gætic warrior, 191
  _Boulanger_, a Roman, 41
  Brennus, the conspirator, 130
  Britannicus, the exclusion of, 103; the death of, 115
  Brutus, the cult of, 243
  Buddhist, the position of the, 236
  Burrhus, the political work of, 104


  Cadurci, a tribe of Gaul, 86
  Cæsar, Caius, adopted by Augustus, 158;
    the political position of, 160
  Cæsar, Julius, the wisdom of, 72; mistakes of, 75
  Cæsar, Lucius, adopted by Augustus, 158,
    the popularity of, 164
  Cæsars, the palaces of the, 7
  Caleti, the, a tribe of Gaul, 86
  California, grape-culture in, 187
  Caligula, the death of, 115
  Calumnies, the, about Julia, 174
  Campania, the cities of, 218
  Canals, the construction of, 213
  Capri, the monster of, 155
  _Carmen Seculare_, the, by Horace, 151
  Carthusian, the patience of the, 91
  Castles, the Roman, on the Rhine, 192
  Catiline, the conspiracies of, 130
  Cato, the love of tradition of, 105;
    as a wine drinker, 184
  Celt, the genius of the, 88
  Cereals, the growth of, in Gaul, 85
  Cervisia, the supplications of, 196
  Champagne, the reputation of, 206
  Chian, a cask of, for a banquet, 199
  Christianity, the work and spreading of, 231 _ff_
  Christians, the, in the time of Nero, 131
  "Christofle," the making of, in Gaul, 91
  Church, the position of the, 232
  Cicero, the letters of, 74;
    the  influence of, 172
  Civil wars, the impression of the, 148
  _Civis_, the Roman, 264
  Classic renaissance, the, 235
  Claudii, the haughty line of the, 159
  Claudius, Emperor, the death of, 103
  Cleopatra, the legend of, 37 _ff_;
    described, 40;
    policy, of, 58
  Clodia, the famous, 74
  Collège de France, the, 3, 260
  Columbus, mentioned, 71
  _Comitia_, the election of the, 58
  _Commentaries_, the, of Cæsar, 191
  Conflagration, the, of Rome, 129
  Corday, Charlotte, 63
  Corruption of customs, the, 3
  Costumes of Rome, the, 181
  Cradle of Jesus, the, 166
  Crassus, the demagogy of, 249
  Cultivation, in Rome, 181
  _Cultus_, a Gallic term, 91
  Cydnus, the river, 39


  Dalmatia, the malcontents at, 166
  Danube provinces, the, 88, 91
  Dechelette, the great work of, 91
  Diamonds, the importation of, 220
  Diocletian, the edict of, 88
  Dion Cassius, the historian, 63, 80
  Dionysius, the Greek judge, 183
  Dionysos, the beverage of, 183
  Dithyrambics, the, of Horace, 196
  Drusus, mentioned, 93;
    the exalted position of, 104
  Duodecember, a fourteenth month, 79
  Duruy, the apologies of, 243
  Dynasty of Egypt, the, 215


  "Eastern peril," the, 50
  Economic strength, the, of Rome, 224
  Economic unity, the, of the world, 236
  Education, the laborious, 194
  Egnatius Mecenius, the story of, 183
  Egypt, the conquest of, 16, 46
  Elagabalus, the splendour of, 6, 8
  Elegies, the revolutionary, of Ovid, 152
  Empire, the extent of the, 217
  Ephesus, the city of, 219
  _Euthanasia_, the death of the happy, 210
  External policy, the, of Rome, 164


  Fabius Pictor, the word of, 183
  Falernian, the discovery of, 198
  "First Citizen of the Republic," the, 157
  Feminism, the increase of, in Rome, 108
  "Festivals of Youth," the, at Rome, 124
  Flavians, the power of the, 246
  Flax, the cultivation of, 85
  _Folies Bergères_, the, mentioned, 129
  _Fortuna_, the, of the Romans 98
  Forum, the impressive monument of the, 55
  Franco-Prussian War, the, 202
  Frankfurt, the treaty of, 202
  Freedmen, the position of, 212
  French Revolution, the, 205
  Frontiers, the strengthening of the, 109


  Gætic warrior, the rule of a, 191
  Gæto-Thracian, the great empire of, 191
  Gallia Narbonensis, the position of, 50
    affairs, the midst of, 73;
    roads, the network of, 213
  Gallo-Roman villas, the, 87
  Gambetta, the love letters of, 40
  Gambrinus, the god, 202
    the development of, 20, 69 _ff_.;
    conquest of, 72;
    the annexation of, 77;
    the wealth of, 83
    the irritation of the, 79;
    the genius of the, 81
  Genoa, the situation of, 23
  German historians, the work of, 152
  Germanicus, the historical importance of, 103
  Germany, conditions in, 79, 165;
    policy toward Rome, 166
  Glass-making in Gaul, 90
  Government, the, at Rome, 213
  Governors, the position of the, 312
  Gracchi, the struggle of the, 17
  Græco-Latin civilisation, the, 72,235
  Grape-culture, the spread of, 186
  Grape harvest, the abundance of the, 185
  _Greatness and Decline of Rome_, the, 10
  Greece, the contact of Rome with, 185
  Greek wines in Rome, 8
  Gymnasium, the, at Alexandria, 55


  Hannibal, the army of, 189
  Harbours, the building of, 213
  Hebrew people, the position of the, 166
  Hellenist, an ardent, 58
  Helvetia, customs in, 191
  Helvetians, the, 74;
    the attack on the, 75
  Herculaneum, the city of, 218
  Heritage of Rome, the, 261
  Herod the Great, the death of, 166
  History, as considered by Ferrero, 65
  Horace, the invectives of, 23
  Houssaye, Henri, mentioned, 41


  Ides, the days of the, 9
  Ierapolis, the prosperity of, 219
  Ilium, the district of Troy, 50
  India, the precious metals of, 30;
    wine exported to, 200
  Indo-Chinese, the commerce of the, 55
  Inscriptions, the story left by the, 221
  Istrian wine, the favourite of Livia, 199


  Jerome, Saint, the story of, 78
  _Jeunesse dorée_, the, of Rome, 124
  Jewelry making in Gaul, 90
  Jewels as a luxury, 31
  Jews in France, the, 250
  Jove, the temple of, 19
  Judas, the mention of, 63
  Judea, the revolt at, 166
  Julia, the exile of, 137;
    the episode of, 150;
    discord with, 154;
    unfaithfulness of, 157;
    the accusation of, 170;
    the fate of, 177
  Julian, the laws of, 151
  Julian-Claudian house, the power of the, 188
  Jurisdiction of property, the, in Gaul, 84
  Jurists, the influence of, 230
  Juvenal, passages from, 90


  Kalends, the days of the, 9
  Karbin, mentioned, 50
  Khorsabad, the palace of, 259
  Knights, the social position of the, 212
  Ladies, the, of Rome, 30
  Langres, the district of, 90
    the _birrus_ of, 88;
    the city of, 219
  Lares, the veneration of the, 190
  Latin morals, the severity of, 61
  Latin spirit, the similarity of the, 256
  Laws of Julian, the, 151
  Legislative reforms, the, 21
  Leibach, the trade through, 192
  Lepidus mentioned, 172
  Letronne, the researches of, 45
  _Lex de adulteriis_, the, 148
  _Lex de maritandis ordinibus_, the, 147
  _Lex Julia de adulteriis_, the, 169
  _Lex sumptuaria_, the, 148
  Libertine poet, a, in the year 8 B.C., 151
  Licinius, the characteristics of, 79
  Linen, the manufacture of, 219
  _Litterati_, the many, 218
    the mother of Tiberius, 162;
    the position of, 168
  Livia, the House of, 7
  Livy, the point of view of, 3
  Lollia Paulina, the fame of, 9
    the rising power of, 18;
    wine used by, 184
  Lusitania, a mission to, 117
  _Luxuria_, the desire of, 14
    of Rome, 125;
    spread of, 186


  Macrobius, the writings of, 155
  Mamertine, a kind of wine, 199
  Mania, the all absorbing, of Nero, 128
  Marcellus, the privileges accorded, 160
  Marius, the revolution of, 18
  Martial, passages from, 90
  "Mass," the so-called, 182
  _Mater familias_, the honour of, 39
  Maurel, André, the writings of, 251
  Mazzini, the great, 63
  Mediterranean world, the vast, 97
  Merchandise, the great interchange of, 218
  Mesia, the metropolis of, 219
  Messalina, the death of, 103
  Middle Ages, the cathedrals of the, 140
  Military power, the weakening of the, at Rome, 167
  Military Republic, the, 136
  Military triumph, the, of Rome, 197
  Minos, the historic, 63
  Mirabeau, the love letters of, 40
  Mithridates, defeat of, 19;
    the conquests of, 197
  Mohammedan, the position of the, 236
  Mommsen, the apologies of, 243
  _Morales_, the two, at Rome, 155
  Morini, the, a tribe in Gaul, 86
  _Mosca olearia_, a new species of, 190
  _Municipia_, the splendour of the, 110
  Museum, the, at Alexandria, 55
  Mythology, the imagination of, 197


  Naiads, the maidens of Cleopatra dressed as, 40
  Naples, the ruins of, 92;
    the city of, 218
  Naples, the Gulf of, 119
  Napoleon I., mentioned, 63, 210
  _Natural History_, the, by Pliny, 183
  Nero, Emperor, 96,
    elected, 103;
    frivolity of, 105;
    debauches of, 114;
    the cowardice of, 121;
    careless government of, 125;
    St. Paul contrasted with, 133;
    the suicide of, 135
  Newspapers, the fortunate lack of, in Rome, 173
  Nile, the Roman protectorate in the valley of the, 46
  Nimes, the inhabitants of, 175
  Nones, the days of the, 9
  Notre Dame, the cathedral of, 140
  Nuptial banquets, the cost of, 9


  Octavia, divorce of, 40;
    the wife of Nero, 124, 127
  Oil, the exportation of, 218
  Oligarchy, the, at Rome, 81
  Olive groves, the wealth of the, 189
  Olympus, the delights of, 59
  Opimius, the consulate of, 198
  Orient, the metropolises of the, 15
  Oriental Empire, the, of Rome, 57
  Oriental state, the conquest of an, 15
  Orientalism, the invasion of, 225
  Ostia, Tiberius starts for, 163
  Ovid, the representatives of, 149;
    the work of, 150


  Paintings, of Pompeii, the, 229
  Palatine, a journey to the, 7;
    polygamy in, 118
  Palestine, the annexation of, 49;
    uprising in, 166
  Pandataria, Julia, exiled to, 172, 177
  Pannonia, the malcontents at, 166
  Pannonians, the customs of the, 193
  Pantheon, the, mentioned, 103
  Parthians, the Empire of the, 167
  _Passum_, as a drink, 183
  _Pater familias_, the power of the, 172
  Paul of Tarsus, a great and simple man, 131;
    the persecution of, 134
  _Pax Romana_, the, 4;
    the extent of the, 210
  Pearls, the importation of, 30, 220
  _Penetralia_, the, of the home, 32
  Pergamon, the city, 219
  Pergamus, the kingdom of, 16, 187
  _Periplus of the Erytrian Sea_, the, a manual, 199
  Persia, the conquest of, 44
  Philosophers, the many, 209
  Philosophy, the ancient, of Rome, 233
  _Phylloxera_, a new species of, 190
  Piedmont, the peasants of, 187
  Pinon, the imperialist, 251
  Pisa, inscriptions at, 164
  Piso, the conspiracy of, 135
  Plutarch, description of, 39
  Po, the valley of the, 192
  Poetry, the, of Horace, 195
  Poets, the position of, 9 B.C., 146
  Political barrier, the, between Gaul and Rome, 84
  Political events, the, of Rome, 33
  Political _personnel_, the, of Rome, 217
  Polybius, the period of, 183
  Pompadour, the Marquise de, mentioned, 43
  Pompeii, the ruins of, 92;
    the city of, 218
  Pompey, the conquests of, 19;
    the theatre of, 55
  _Pontifex maximus_, the title of, 232
  Pontus, salted fish from the, 8
  Poppæa Sabina, the skill of, 116;
    death of, 137
  _Populus_, the representatives of the, 246
  Pozzuoli, the city of, 218
  Prætor, the office of the, 157
  Precious metals, the distribution of, 218
  Prætorian guards, the, 117
  Prætorians, the influence of the, 104
  Princeps, the authority of the, 188
  Proconsuls, the, of Rome, 182
  Procurator, the origin of the office of, 212
  Proprietors, the government of the, 211
  Prosperity, the growing, 148
  Protestant, the present position of the, 236
  Provinces, the peace in the, 176
  Ptolemies, the, at Alexandria, 19
  Ptolemies, the kingdom of the, 46
  Public finance, the lack of, 144
  Punic War, the Second, 3, 214


  Quæstor, the office of the, 211
  Quintilius Varus, the governor of Syria, 166
  Quintus Metullus Celerus, the consul, 74


  Reinach, Joseph, the historian, 63
  Republic, the last century of the, 14, 198
  _Respublica_, the glory of the, 264
  _Revue de Paris_, the, 63
  Rheims, the vicinity of the city of, 206
  Rhetian wine, the preference for, 199
  Rhine, the river, 72
  Roads, the construction of, 213
  Rodi, Tiberius to go to, 162
  Roman Catholic, the position of the, 236
  Roman Empire, the dissolution of the, 140, 210
  Roman history in modern education, 239
  Roman nobility, the, 54
  Roman protectorate, the, 46
  Roman society, the dissolution of, 5
  Romanism, the defence of, 111
  Rome, in the beginning, 5
  Romulus as a lawmaker, 183
  Royal palaces, the closing of, 215
  Ruteni, the, a tribe of Gaul, 86


  Saint Mark, the wonder of, 140
  Saintonge, the district of, 90
  Savants, the, of the East, 55
  Scipio Africanus, the work of, 153
  Scipios, the policy of the, 226
  Second Punic War, the, 3,214
  Seine, the banks of the, 206
  Sempronius Gracchus, a famous tribune, 56
    the Roman, 103;
    sessions of the, 105
  Seneca, the political work of, 104
  Sesterces, the value of the Roman, 223
  Sicily, the peasants of, 187
    the artisans of, 88;
    the city of, 219
  Silk, the importation of, 220
  Silver-plating, the art of, 228
  Slaves, the abundance of, in Rome, 15
  Slaves, the position of, 212
  Social development, the, of the Roman Empire, 207 _ff_
  Social laws, the, 148, 153
  Socialists, the invectives of the, 250
  _Soldi_, the hunt for, 173
  Spain, the pro-consulship of, 184
  Spartacus, the days of, 189
  Stadium, the erection of the, at Rome, 125
  State, the supervision of the, 24
  Statues, the erection of, 152
  Strabo, observations of, 85
  _Strenua inertia_, the, 29
  Suetonius, the ancient writer, 127
  Sulla, the revolution of, 18
  Sulmona, the birth of Ovid at, 149
  Summer homes, the, at Naples, 120
    the annexation of, 73;
    the conquest of, 16


  Tacitus, the opinion of, 30, 152
  Tarsus, Cleopatra at, 39
  Terpnos, a zither-player, 105
  Textile plants, in Gaul, 85
  Theatres, the great demand for, 110
  Theresa, Maria, mentioned, 43
  Thracian slave, the escape of a, 189
  Tiber, the banks of the, 203
    a great general, 7, 30, 93, 109, 145;
    the life of, 153;
    difficulties of, 157;
    suggested retirement of, 162
  Traditions, aristocratic, 153
  Tributes, the,
    imposed on the vanquished, 15;
    collection of, 212
  Triumvir, the fall of the great, 111
  Troy, the ancient city of, 50
  Tunis, grape-culture at, 187
  Tyranny, the, at Rome, 135
  Tyre, the prosperity of, 88, 219
  Tyrian purple, the, 89


  Undecember, a thirteenth month, 79
  _Urbs_, the meaning of, 249
  Usury, the pitiless, 186


  Vladivostok, mentioned, 50
  Villa, the luxury of a Roman, 194
  Valtellina, the valley of the, 199
  Varus, the catastrophe of, 166
  Vatican field, the stadium in the, 124
  Velleius, the report of, 93
  Veneto, the peasants of the, 187
  Venosa, an old poet from, 195
  Venus, Cleopatra compared to, 39
  Vices, the extent of, 27
  Villas, the, of Gaul, 99
  Vine-tenders, the, of Rome, 182
  Vineyards, the destruction of the, 390
  Virgil, the fame of, 23
  Viticulture, the, of Italy, 196


  Wine, in Roman history, 179 _ff_;
    an inferior variety made in Italy, 182;
    as a medicine, 183
  Wine-dealers, the, of Rome, 182
  Women of to-day and yesterday, 29
  Wool industry, the, of Gaul, 90


  Xerxes, the fame of, 63

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