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Title: Beacon Lights of History, Volume 03 - Ancient Achievements
Author: Lord, John, 1810-1894
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Beacon Lights of History, Volume 03 - Ancient Achievements" ***

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Governments and laws
Oriental laws
Priestly jurisprudence
The laws of Lycurgus
The laws of Solon
The Ecclesia at Athens
Struggle between patricians and plebeians at Rome
Tribunes of the people
Roman citizens
The Roman senate
The Roman constitution
Imperial power
The Twelve Tables
Roman lawyers
Jurisprudence under emperors
Code, Pandects, and Institutes
Roman citizenship
Laws pertaining to marriage
Extent of paternal power
Transfer of property
The courts
Penal statutes
Personal rights
Security of property



Early architecture
Egyptian monuments
The Temple of Karnak
The pyramids
Babylonian architecture
Indian architecture
Greek architecture
The Doric order
The Parthenon
The Ionic order
The Corinthian order
Roman architecture
The arch
Greek sculpture
Statue of Zeus
Roman sculpture
Greek painters
The decline of art



Ancient astronomy
Chaldaean astronomers
Egyptian astronomy
The Greek astronomers
The Roman astronomers
Empirical science
Physical science



Mechanical arts
Material life in Egypt
Domestic utensils
Houses and furniture
Glass manufacture
Linen fabrics
Paper manufacture
Leather and tanners
Carpenters and boat-builders
Field sports
Ornaments of dress
Greek arts
Roman luxuries
Material wonders
Great cities
Roman roads
Ancient Rome
Architectural wonders
Roman monuments
Roman spectacles
Gladiatorial shows
Roman triumphs



The tendency to violence and war
Early wars
Progress in the art of war
Egyptian armies
Military weapons
Chariots of war
Persian armies, Cyrus
Greek warfare
Spartan phalanx
Alexander the Great
Roman armies
Hardships of Roman soldiers
Military discipline
The Roman legion
Importance of the infantry
The cavalry
Military engines
Ancient fortifications
Military officers
The praetorian cohort
Roman camps
Consolidation of Roman power



Condition of Roman society when Cicero was born
His education and precocity
He adopts the profession of the law
His popularity as an orator
Elected Quaestor; his Aedileship
Prosecution of Verres
His letters to Atticus; his vanity
His Praetorship; declines a province
His Consulship; conspiracy of Catiline
Banishment of Cicero: his weakness; his recall
His law practice; his eloquence
His provincial government
His return to Rome
His fears in view of the rivalry between Caesar and Pompey
Sides with Pompey
Death of Tullia and divorce of Terentia
Second marriage of Cicero
Literary labors: his philosophical writings
His detestation of Imperialism
His philippics against Antony
His proscription, flight, and death
His great services
Character of his eloquence
His artistic excellence of style
His learning and attainments; his character
His immortal legacy



Why Cleopatra represents the woman of Paganism
Glory of Ancient Rome
Paganism recognizes the body rather than the soul
Ancestors of Cleopatra
The wonders of Alexandria
Cleopatra of Greek origin
The mysteries of Ancient Egypt
Early beauty and accomplishments of Cleopatra
Her attractions to Caesar
Her residence in Rome
Her first acquaintance with Antony
The style of her beauty
Her character
Character of Antony
Antony and Cleopatra in Cilicia
Magnificence of Cleopatra
Infatuation of Antony
Motives of Cleopatra
Antony's gifts to Cleopatra
Indignation of the Romans
Antony gives up his Parthian expedition
Returns to Alexandria
Contest with Octavius
Battle of Actium
Wisdom of Octavius
Death of Antony
Subsequent conduct of Cleopatra
Nature of her love for Antony
Immense sacrifices of Antony
Tragic fate of Cleopatra
Frequency of suicide at Rome
Immorality no bar to social position in Greece and Rome
Dulness of home in Pagan antiquity
Drudgeries of women
Influence of women on men
Paganism never recognized the equality of women with men
It denied to them education
Consequent degradation of women
Paganism without religious consolation
Did not recognize the value of the soul
And thus took no cognizance of the higher aspirations of man
The revenge of woman under degradation
Women, under Paganism, took no interest in what elevates society
Men, therefore, fled to public amusements
No true society under Paganism
Society only created by Christianity



Glories of the ancient civilization
A splendid external deception
Moral evils
Imperial despotism
Prostration of liberties
Some good emperors
Disproportionate fortunes
Luxurious living
General extravagance
Pride and insolence of the aristocracy
Gibbon's description of the nobles
The plebeian class
Hopelessness and disgrace of poverty
Popular superstitions
The slaves
The curse of slavery
Degradation of the female sex
Bitter satires of Juvenal
Games and festivals
Gladiatorial shows
General abandonment to pleasure
The baths
General craze for money-making
Universal corruption
Saint Paul's estimate of Roman vices
Decline and ruin a logical necessity
The Sibylline prophecy



Cleopatra Tests the Poison which She Intends for Her
Own Destruction on Her Slaves.... _Frontispiece_
_After the painting by Alexander Cabanel_.

Justinian Orders the Compilation of the Pandects
_After the painting by Benjamin Constant_.

The Temple of Karnak
_After a photograph_.

The Laocoön
_After the photograph from the statue in the Vatican, Rome_.

The Death of Archimedes
_After the painting by E. Vimont_.

Race of Roman Chariots
_After the painting by V. Checa_.

Sale of Slaves in a Roman Camp
_After the painting by R. Coghe_.

Marcus Tullius Cicero
_From the bust in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence_.

Cleopatra Obtains an Interview with Caesar
_After the painting by J.L. Gerome_.

Death of Cleopatra
_After the painting by John Collier_.

A Roman Bacchanal
_After the painting by W. Kotarbinski_.



624 B.C.-550 A.D.

There is not much in ancient governments and laws to interest us, except
such as were in harmony with natural justice, and were designed for the
welfare of all classes in the State. A jurisprudence founded on the
edicts of absolute kings, or on the regulations of a priestly caste, is
necessarily partial, and may be unenlightened. But those laws which are
gradually enacted for the interests of the whole body of the
people,--for the rich and poor, the powerful and feeble alike,--have
generally been the result of great and diverse experiences, running
through centuries, the work of wise men under constitutional forms of
government. The jurisprudence of nations based on equity is a growth or
development according to public wants and necessities, especially in
countries having popular liberty and rights, as in England and the
United States.

We do not find in the history of ancient nations such a jurisprudence,
except in the free States of Greece and among the Romans, who had a
natural genius or aptitude for government, and where the people had a
powerful influence in legislation, until even the name of liberty was
not invoked.

Among the Egyptians, Assyrians, and Babylonians the only laws were the
edicts of kings or the regulations of priests, mostly made with a view
of cementing their own power, except those that were dictated by
benevolence or the pressing needs of the people, who were ground down
and oppressed, and protected only as slaves were once protected in the
Southern States of America. Wise and good monarchs doubtless issued
decrees for the benefit of all classes, such as conscience or knowledge
dictated, whenever they felt their great responsibilities, as in some of
the absolute monarchies of Europe; but they never issued their decrees
at the suggestions or demands of those classes for whom the laws were
made. The voice of the people was ignored, except so far as it moved the
pity or appealed to the hearts and consciences of their rulers; the
people had, and claimed, no _rights_. The only men to whom rulers
listened, or by whom they were controlled, were those whom they chose as
counsellors and ministers, who were supposed to advise with a view to
the sovereign's benefit, and that of the empire generally.

The same may be said in general of other Oriental monarchies,
especially when embarked in aggressive wars, where the will of the
monarch was supreme and unresisted, as in Persia. In India and China the
government was not so absolute, since it was checked by feudatory
princes, almost independent like the feudal barons and dukes of
mediaeval Europe.

Nor was there probably among Oriental nations any elaborate codification
of the decrees and laws as in Greece and Rome, except by the priests for
their ritual service, like that which marked the jurisprudence of the
Israelites. There were laws against murder, theft, adultery, and other
offences, since society cannot exist anywhere without such laws; but
there was no complicated jurisprudence produced by the friction of
competing classes striving for justice and right, or even for the
interests of contending parties. We do not look to Egypt or to China for
wise punishment of ordinary crimes; but we do look to Greece and Rome,
and to Rome especially, for a legislation which shall balance the
complicated relations of society on principles of enlightened reason.
Moreover, those great popular rights which we now most zealously defend
have generally been extorted in the strife of classes and parties,
sometimes from kings, and sometimes from princes and nobles. Where there
has been no opposition to absolutism these rights have not been secured;
but whenever and wherever the people have been a power they have
imperiously made their wants known, and so far as they have been
reasonable they have been finally secured,--perhaps after angry
expostulations and, disputations.

Now, it is this kind of legislation which is remarkable in the history
of Greece and Rome, secured by a combination of the people against the
ruling classes in the interests of justice and the common welfare, and
finally endorsed and upheld even by monarchs themselves. It is from this
legislation that modern nations have learned wisdom; for a permanent law
in a free country may be the result of a hundred years of discussion or
contention,--a compromise of parties, a lesson in human experience. As
the laws of Greece and Rome alone among the ancients are rich in moral
wisdom and adapted more or less to all nations and ages in the struggle
for equal rights and wise social regulations, I shall confine myself to
them. Besides, I aim not to give useless and curious details, but to
show how far in general the enlightened nations of antiquity made
attainments in those things which we call civilization, and particularly
in that great department which concerns so nearly all human
interests,--that of the regulation of mutual social relations; and this
by modes and with results which have had their direct influence upon our
modern times.

When we consider the native genius of the Greeks, and their marvellous
achievements in philosophy, literature, and art, we are surprised that
they were so inferior to the Romans in jurisprudence,--although in the
early days of the Roman republic a deputation of citizens was sent to
Athens to study the laws of Solon. But neither nations nor individuals
are great in everything. Before Solon lived, Lycurgus had given laws to
the Spartans. This lawgiver, one of the descendants of Hercules, was
born, according to Grote, about eight hundred and eighty years before
Christ, and was the uncle of the reigning king. There is, however, no
certainty as to the time when he lived; it was probably about the period
when Carthage was founded by the Phoenicians. He instituted the Spartan
senate, and gave an aristocratic form to the constitution. But the
senate, composed of about thirty old men who acted in conjunction with
the two kings, did not differ materially from the council of chiefs, or
old men, found in other ancient Grecian States; the Spartan chiefs
simply modified or curtailed the power of the kings. In the course of
time the senate, with the kings included in it, became the governing
body of the State, and this oligarchical form of government lasted
several hundred years. We know but little of the especial laws given by
Lycurgus. We know the distinctions of society,--citizens and helots,
and their mutual relations,--the distribution of lands to check luxury,
the public men, the public training of youth, the severe discipline to
which all were subjected, the cruelty exercised towards slaves, the
attention given to gymnastic exercises and athletic sports,--in short,
the habits and customs of the people rather than any regular system of
jurisprudence. Lycurgus was the trainer of a military brotherhood rather
than a law-giver. Under his régime the citizen belonged to the State
rather than to his family, and all the ends of the State were warlike
rather than peaceful,--not looking to the settlement of quarrels on
principles of equity, or a development of industrial interests, which
are the great aims of modern legislation.

The influence of the Athenian Solon on the laws which affected
individuals is more apparent than that of the Spartan Lycurgus, the
earliest of the Grecian legislators. But Solon had a predecessor in
Athens itself,--Draco, who in 624 was appointed to reduce to writing the
arbitrary decisions of the archons, thus giving a form of permanent law
and a basis for a court of appeal. Draco's laws were extraordinarily
severe, punishing small thefts and even laziness with death. The
formulation of any system of justice would have, as Draco's did, a
beneficial influence on the growth of the State; but the severity of
these bloody laws caused them to be hated and in practice neglected,
until Solon arose. Solon was born in Athens about 638 B.C., and
belonged to the noblest family of the State. He was contemporary with
Pisistratus and Thales. His father having lost his property, Solon
applied himself to merchandise,--always a respectable calling in a
mercantile city. He first became known as a writer of love poems; then
came into prominence as a successful military commander of volunteer
forces in a disastrous war; and at last he gained the confidence of his
countrymen so completely that in a period of anarchy, distress, and
mutiny,--the poor being so grievously oppressed by the rich that a sixth
part of the produce of land went to the landlord,--he was chosen archon,
with authority to revise the laws, and might have made himself king. He
abolished the custom of selling the body of a debtor for debt, and even
annulled debts in a state of general distress,--which did not please the
rich, nor even the poor, since they desired a redivision of lands such
as Lycurgus had made in Sparta. He repealed the severe laws of Draco,
which inflicted capital punishment for so many small offences, retaining
the extreme penalty only for murder and treason. In order further to
promote the interests of the people, he empowered any man whatever to
enter an action for one that was injured. He left the great offices of
state, however, in the hands of the rich, giving the people a share in
those which were not so important. He re-established the council of the
Areopagus, composed of those who had been archons, and nine were
appointed annually for the general guardianship of the laws; but he
instituted another court or senate of four hundred citizens, for the
cognizance of all matters before they were submitted to the higher
court. Although the poorest and most numerous class were not eligible
for office, they had the right of suffrage, and could vote for the
principal officers. It would at first seem that the legislation of Solon
gave especial privileges to the rich, but it is generally understood
that he was the founder of the democracy of Athens. He gave the
Athenians, not the best possible code, but the best they were capable of
receiving. He intended to give to the people as much power as was
strictly needed, and no more; but in a free State the people continually
encroach on the privileges of the rich, and thus gradually the chief
power falls into their hands.

Whatever the power which Solon gave to the people, and however great
their subsequent encroachments, it cannot be doubted that he was the
first to lay the foundations of constitutional government,--that is, one
in which the people took part in legislation and in the election of
rulers. The greatest benefit which he conferred on the State was in the
laws which gave relief to poor debtors, those which enabled people to
protect themselves by constitutional means, and those which prohibited
fathers from selling their daughters and sisters for slaves,--an
abomination which had long disgraced the Athenian republic.

Some of Solon's laws were of questionable utility. He prohibited the
exportation of the fruits of the soil in Attica, with the exception of
olive-oil alone,--a regulation difficult to be enforced in a mercantile
State. Neither would he grant citizenship to immigrants; and he released
sons from supporting their parents in old age if the parents had
neglected to give them a trade. He encouraged all developments of
national industries, knowing that the wealth of the State depended on
them. Solon was the first Athenian legislator who granted the power of
testamentary bequests when a man had no legitimate children. Sons
succeeded to the property of their parents, with the obligation of
giving a marriage dowry to their sisters. If there were no sons, the
daughters inherited the property of their parents; but a person who had
no children could bequeath his property to whom he pleased. Solon
prohibited costly sacrifices at funerals; he forbade evil-speaking of
the dead, and indeed of all persons before judges and archons; he
pronounced a man infamous who took part in a sedition.

When this enlightened and disinterested man had finished his work of
legislation, 494 B.C., he visited Egypt and Cyprus, and devoted his
leisure to the composition of poems. He also, it is said, when a
prisoner in the hands of the Persians, visited Croesus, the rich king of
Lydia, and gave to him an admonitory lesson on the vicissitudes of life.
After a prolonged absence, Solon returned to Athens about the time of
the usurpation of his kinsman Peisistratus (560 B.C.), who, however,
suffered the aged legislator and patriot to go unharmed, and even
allowed most of his laws to remain in force.

The constitution and laws of Athens continued substantially for about a
hundred years after the archonship of Solon, when the democratic party
under Cleisthenes gained complete ascendency. Some modification of the
laws was then made. The political franchise was extended to all free
native Athenians. The command of the military forces was given to ten
generals, one from each tribe, instead of being intrusted to one of the
archons. The Ecclesia, a formal assembly of the citizens, met more
frequently. The people were called into direct action as _dikasts_, or
jurors; all citizens were eligible to the magistracy, even to the
archonship; ostracism,--which virtually was exile without
disgrace,--became a political necessity to check the ascendency of

Such were the main features of the constitution and jurisprudence of
Athens when the struggle between the patricians and plebeians of Rome
began, to which we now give our attention. It was the real beginning of
constitutional liberty in Rome. Before this time the government was in
the hands either of kings or aristocrats. The patricians were
descendants of the original Latin, Sabine, and Etruscan families; the
plebeians were the throng of common folk brought in by conquest or later
immigration,--mostly of Latin origin. The senate was the ruling power
after the expulsion of the kings, and senators were selected from the
great patrician families, who controlled by their wealth and influence
the popular elections, the army and navy, and all foreign relations.
Consuls, the highest magistrates, who commanded the armies, were
annually elected by the people; but for several centuries the consuls
belonged to great families. The constitution was essentially
aristocratic, and the aristocracy was based on wealth. Power was in the
hands of nobles, whether their ancestors were patricians or plebeians,
although in the early ages of the Republic they were mostly patricians
by birth. But with the growth of Rome new families that were not
descended from the ancient tribes became prominent,--like the Claudii,
the Julii, and the Servilii,--and were incorporated with the nobility.
There are very few names in Roman history before the time of Marius
which did not belong to this noble class. The _plebs_, or common people,
had at first no political privileges whatever, not even the right of
suffrage, and were not allowed to marry into patrician rank. Indeed,
they were politically and socially oppressed.

The first great event which gave the plebs protection and political
importance was the appointment of representatives called "tribunes of
the people,"--a privilege extorted from the patricians. The tribunes had
the right to be present at the deliberations of the senate; their
persons were inviolable, and they had the power of veto over obnoxious
laws. Their power continually increased, until they were finally elected
from the senatorial body. In 421 B.C. the plebs had gained sufficient
influence to establish the _connubium_, by which they were allowed to
intermarry with patricians. In the same year they were admitted to the
quaestorship, which office entitled the possessor to a seat in the
senate. The quaestors had charge of the public money. In 336 B.C. the
plebeians obtained the praetorship, a judicial office.

In the year 286 B.C. the distinctions vanished between plebeians and
patricians, and the term _populus_ instead of _plebs_, was applied to
all Roman people alike. Originally the _populus_ comprised strictly
Roman citizens, those who belonged to the original tribes, and who had
the right of suffrage. When the plebeians obtained access to the great
offices of the state, the senate represented the whole people as it
formerly represented the _populus_, and the term _populus_ was enlarged
to embrace the entire community.

The senate was an august body, and was very powerful. It was both
judicial and legislative, and for several centuries was composed of
patricians alone. Its members always belonged to the aristocracy,
whether of patrician or plebeian descent, and were supposed to be rich.
Under Augustus it required one million two hundred thousand sesterces
annually to support the senatorial dignity. The senate, the members of
which were chosen for life, had the superintendence of matters of
religion and foreign relations; it commanded the levies of troops; it
regulated duties and taxes; it gave audience to ambassadors; it
determined upon the way that war should be conducted; it decreed to what
provinces governors should be sent; it declared martial law in the
appointment of dictators; and it decreed triumphs to fortunate generals.
The senators, as a badge of distinction, wore upon their tunics a broad
purple stripe, and they had the privilege of the best seats in the
theatres. Their decisions were laws _(leges)._ A large part of them had
held curule offices, which entitled them to a seat in the senate for
life. The curule officers were the consuls, the praetors, the aediles,
the quaestors, the tribunes; so that an able senator was sure of a great
office in the course of his life. A man could scarcely be a senator
unless he had held a great office, nor could he often have held a great
office unless he were a senator. Thus it would seem that the Roman
constitution for three hundred years after the expulsion of the kings
was essentially aristocratic. The _plebs_ had but small consideration
till the time of the Gracchi.

But after the institution of tribunes a change in the constitution
gradually took place, so that it was neither aristocratic nor popular
exclusively, but was composed of both elements, and was a system of
balance of power between the various classes. The more complete the
balance of power, the closer is the resemblance to a constitutional
government. When one class acted as a check against another class, as
gradually came to pass, until the subversion of liberties by successful
generals, the senate, the magistrates, and the people in their
assemblies shared between them the political power, but the senate had a
preponderating influence. The judicial, the legislative, and the
executive authority was as well defined in Roman legislation as it is in
English or American. No person was above the authority of the laws; no
one class could subvert the liberties and prerogatives of another
class,--even the senate could not override the constitution. The
consuls, elected by the centuries, presided over the senate and over the
assemblies of the people. There was no absolute power exercised at Rome
until the subversion of the constitution, except by dictators chosen by
the senate in times of imminent danger. Nor could senators elect members
of their own body; the censors alone had the right of electing from the
ex-magistrates, and of excluding such as were unworthy. The consuls
could remain in office but a year, and could be called to account when
their terms of office had expired. The tribunes of the people ultimately
could prevent a consul from convening the senate, could seize a consul
and imprison him, and could veto an ordinance of the senate itself. The
nobles had no exclusive privilege like the feudal aristocracy of
mediaeval Europe, although it was their aim to secure the high
magistracies to the members of their own body. The term _nobilitas_
implied that some one of a man's ancestors had filled a curule
magistracy. A patrician, long before the reforms of the Gracchi, had
become a man of secondary importance, but the nobles were aristocrats to
the close of the republic, and continued to secure the highest offices;
they prevented their own extinction by admitting into their ranks those
who distinguished themselves,--that is, exercising their influence in
the popular elections to secure the magistracies from among themselves.

The Roman constitution then, as gradually developed by the necessities
and crises that arose, which I have not space to mention, was a
wonderful monument of human wisdom. The nobility were very powerful from
their wealth and influence, but the people were not ground down. There
were no oppressive laws to reduce them to practical slavery; what rights
they gained they retained. They constantly extorted new privileges,
until they were sufficiently powerful to be courted by demagogues. It
was the demagogues, generally aristocratic ones, like Catiline and
Caesar, who subverted the liberties of the people by buying votes. But
for nearly five hundred years not a man arose whom the Roman people
feared, and the proud symbol "SPQR," on the standards of the armies of
the republic, bore the name of the Roman Senate and People to the ends
of the earth.

When, however, the senate came to be made up of men whom the great
generals selected; when the tribunes played into the hands of the very
men they were created to oppose; when the high-priest of a people,
originally religious, was chosen politically and without regard to moral
or religious consideration; when aristocratic nobles left their own
ranks to steal the few offices which the people controlled,--then the
constitution, under which the Romans had advanced to the conquest of the
world, became subverted, and the empire was a consolidated despotism.

Under the emperors there was no constitution, since they combined in
their own persons all the great offices of state, and controlled the
senate, the army, the tribunals of the law, the distant provinces, the
city itself, and regulated taxes and imposed burdens as they pleased.
The senate lost its independence, the courts their justice, the army its
spirit, and the people their hopes. And yet the old forms remained; the
senate met as in the days of the Gracchi, and there were consuls and
praetors as before.

However much we may deplore the subversion of the Roman constitution and
the absolute reign of the emperors, in which most historians see a
political necessity, there was yet under these emperors, whether good or
bad, the reign of law, the bequest of five hundred years' experience.
The emperors reigned despotically, but under the forms of legislation.
Nor did they attempt to subvert laws which did not interfere with their
own political power. What is called jurisprudence they even improved, as
that later imperial despot Napoleon gave a code to the nation he ruled.
It is this science of jurisprudence, for which the Romans had a genius,
that gives them their highest claim to be ranked among the benefactors
of mankind. They created legal science. Its aim was justice,--equity in
the relations between man and man. This was the pride of the Roman
world, even under the rule of tyrants and madmen, and this has survived
all the calamities of fifteen hundred years. The Roman laws--founded by
the Republic, but symmetrically completed by the Empire--have more
powerfully affected the interests of civilization than have the
philosophy and arts of Greece. Roman jurisprudence was not perfectly
developed until five hundred years after the Christian era, when
Justinian consolidated it into the Code, the Pandects, and the
Institutes. The classical jurists, like Gaius, Ulpian, and Paulus, may
have laid the foundation, but the superstructure was raised under the
auspices of the imperial despots.

The earliest code of Roman laws was called the Twelve Tables, framed
from the report of the commissioners sent to Athens and other Greek
States, to collect what was most useful in their legal systems. The laws
of the Twelve Tables were the basis of all the Roman laws, civil and
religious. But the edicts of the praetors, who were the great equity
judges as well as the common-law magistrates, proclaimed certain changes
which custom and the practice of the courts had introduced; and these,
added to the _leges populi_, or laws proposed by the consul and passed
by the centuries, the _plebiscita_, or laws proposed by the tribunes
and passed by the tribes, and the _senatus consulta,_ or decrees of the
senate, gradually swelled the laws to a great number. Three thousand
engraved plates of brass containing these various laws were deposited in
the capitol.

Subtleties and fictions were in the course of litigations introduced by
the lawyers to defeat the written statutes, and jurisprudence became
complicated as early as the time of Cicero. Even the opinions of eminent
lawyers were adopted by the legal profession as authoritative, and were
recognized by the courts. The evils of a complicated jurisprudence were
so evident in the seventh century of the city, that Q. Mucius Scaevola,
a great lawyer, when consul, published a scientific elaboration of the
civil law. Cicero studied law under him, and his contemporaries, Varus
and Aelius Gallus, wrote learned treatises, from which extracts appear
in the Digest made under the Emperor Justinian, 528 A.D. Julius Caesar
contemplated a complete revision of the laws, but did not live long
enough to carry out his intentions. His legislation, so far as he
directed his mind to it, was very just. Among other laws established by
him was one which ordained that creditors should accept lands as payment
for their outstanding debts, according to the value determined by
commissioners. In his time the relative value of money had changed, and
was greatly diminished. The most important law of Augustus, deserving of
all praise, was that which related to the manumission of slaves; but he
did not interfere with the social relations of the people after he had
deprived them of political liberty. He once attempted, by his _Lex
Julia_, to counteract the custom which then prevailed, of abstaining
from legal marriage and substituting concubinage instead, by which the
free population declined; but this attempt to improve the morals of the
people met with such opposition from the tribes and centuries that the
next emperor abolished popular assemblies altogether, which Augustus had
feared to do. The senate in the time of the emperors, composed chiefly
of lawyers and magistrates, and entirely dependent upon them, became the
great fountain of law. By the original constitution the people were the
source of power, and the senate merely gave or refused its approbation
to the laws proposed; but under the emperors the _comitia_, or popular
assemblies, disappeared, and the senate passed decrees which had the
force of laws, subject to the veto of the Emperor. It was not until the
time of Septimus Severus and Caracalla (second century A.D.) that the
legislative action of the senate ceased, and the edicts and rescripts of
emperors took the place of all legislation.

The golden age of Roman jurisprudence was from the birth of Cicero to
the reign of the Emperor Alexander Severus, 222 A.D.; before this period
it was an occult science, confined to praetors, pontiffs, and patrician
lawyers. But in the latter days of the republic law became the
fashionable study of Roman youth, and eminent masters arose. The first
great lawyer who left behind him important works was Q. Mucius Scaevola,
who wrote a treatise in eighteen books on the civil law. "He was," says
Cicero, "the most eloquent of jurists and the most learned of orators."
This work, George Long thinks, had a great influence on contemporaries
and on subsequent jurists, who followed it as a model. It is the oldest
work from which there are any excerpts in the Digest.

Servius Sulpicius, the friend of Cicero and his fellow-student in
oratory, surpassed his teachers Balbus and Gallus, and was the equal in
reputation of the great Mucius Scaevola, the Pontifex Maximus, who said
it was disgraceful for a patrician and a noble to be ignorant of the law
with which he had to do. Cicero ascribes the great superiority of
Servius as a lawyer to the study of philosophy, which disciplined and
developed his mind, and enabled him to deduce his conclusions from his
premises with logical precision. He left behind him one hundred and
eighty treatises, and had numerous pupils, among whom A. Ofilius and
Alfenus Varus, Cato, Julius Caesar, Antony, and Cicero were great
lawyers. Labeo, in the time of Augustus, wrote four hundred books on
jurisprudence, spending six months in the year in giving instruction to
his pupils and in answering legal questions, and the other six months in
the country in writing books. Like all the great Roman jurists, he was
versed in literature and philosophy, and so devoted to his profession
that he refused political office. His rival Capito was equally learned
in all departments of the law, and left behind him as many treatises as
Labeo. These two jurists were the founders of celebrated schools, like
the ancient philosophers, and each had distinguished followers. Gaius,
who flourished in the time of the Antonines, was a great legal
authority; and the recent discovery of his Institutes has revealed the
least mutilated fragment of Roman jurisprudence which exists, and one of
the most valuable, which sheds great light on ancient Roman law; it was
found in the library of Verona. No Roman jurist had a higher reputation
than Papinian, who was praefectus praetorio under Septimius Severus (193
A.D.),--an office which made him second only to the Emperor, a sort of
grand vizier, whose power extended over all departments of the State; he
was beheaded by Caracalla. The great commentator Cujacius declares that
he was the first of all lawyers who have been, or who are to be; that no
one ever surpassed him in legal knowledge, and no one will ever equal
him. Paulus was his contemporary, and held the same office as Papinian.
He was the most fertile of Roman law-writers, and there is more taken
from him in Justinian's Digest than from any other jurist, except
Ulpian. There are two thousand and eighty-three excerpts from this
writer,--one sixth of the whole Digest. No legal writer, ancient or
modern, has handled so many subjects. In perspicuity he is said to be
inferior to Ulpian, one of the most famous of jurists, who was his
contemporary. Ulpian has also exercised a great influence on modern
jurisprudence from the copious extracts of his writings in the Digest.
He was the chief adviser of Alexander Severus, and like Paulus was
praefectus praetorio. The number of excerpts in the Digest from him is
said to be two thousand four hundred and sixty-two, and they form a
third part of it. Some fragments of his writings remain. The last of the
great civilians associated with Gaius, Papinian, Paulus, and Ulpian, as
oracles of jurisprudence, was Modestinus, who was a pupil of Ulpian. He
wrote both in Greek and Latin. There are three hundred and forty-five
excerpts in the Digest from his writings, the titles of which show the
extent and variety of his labors.

These eminent lawyers shed great glory on the Roman civilization. In the
earliest times men sought distinction on the fields of battle, but in
the latter days of the republic honor was conferred for forensic
ability. The first pleaders of Rome were not jurisconsults, but
aristocratic "patrons," who looked after their "clients,"--men of lower
social grade, who in return for protection and assistance rendered
service, sometimes political by voting, sometimes pecuniary, sometimes
military. But when law became complicated, a class of men arose to
interpret it. These men were held in great honor, and reached by their
services the highest offices,--like Cicero and Hortensius. No
remuneration was given originally for forensic pleading beyond the
services which the client gave to a patron, but gradually the practice
of the law became lucrative. Hortensius, as well as Cicero, gained an
immense fortune; he had several villas, a gallery of paintings, a large
stock of wines, parks, fish-ponds, and aviaries. Cicero had villas in
all parts of Italy, a house on the Palatine with columns of Numidian
marble, and a fortune of twenty millions of sesterces, equal to eight
hundred thousand dollars. Most of the great statesmen of Rome in the
time of Cicero were either lawyers or generals. Crassus, Pompey, P.
Sextus, M. Marcellus, P. Clodius, Asinius Pollio, C. Cicero, M.
Antonius, Julius Caesar, Caelius, Brutus, Catullus, were all celebrated
for their forensic efforts. Candidates for the bar studied four years
under a distinguished jurist, and were required to pass a rigorous
examination. The judges were chosen from members of the bar, as well as
in later times the senators. The great lawyers were not only learned in
the law, but possessed great accomplishments. Varro was a lawyer, and
was the most learned man that Rome ever produced. But under the emperors
the lawyers were chiefly distinguished for their legal attainments, like
Paulus and Ulpian.

During this golden age of Roman jurisprudence many commentaries were
written on the Twelve Tables, the Perpetual Edict, the Laws of the
People, and the Decrees of the senate, as well as a vast mass of
treatises on every department of the law, most of which have perished.
The Institutes of Gaius, already mentioned, are the most valuable that
remain, and have thrown great light on some important branches
previously involved in obscurity. Their use in explaining the Institutes
of Justinian is spoken of very highly by Mackenzie, since the latter are
mainly founded on the long-lost work of Gaius. The great lawyers who
flourished from Trajan to Alexander Severus, like Gaius, Ulpian, Paulus,
Papinian, and Modestinus, had no successors who can be compared with
them, and their works became standard authorities in the courts of law.

After the death of Alexander Severus, 235 A.D., no great accession was
made to Roman law until Theodosius II., 438 A.D., caused the
constitutions, from Constantine to his own time, to be collected and
arranged in sixteen books. This was called the Theodosian Code, which
in the West was held in high esteem. It was very influential among the
Germanic nations, serving as the chief basis of their early legislation;
it also paved the way for the more complete codification that followed
in the Justinian Code, which superseded it.

To Justinian belongs the immortal glory of reforming the jurisprudence
of the Romans. "In the space of ten centuries," says Gibbon, "the
infinite variety of laws and legal opinions had filled many thousand
volumes, which no fortune could purchase, and no capacity could digest.
Books could not easily be found, and the judges, poor in the midst of
riches, were reduced to the exercise of their illiterate discretion."
The emperors had very early begun to issue ordinances, under the
authority of the various offices gathered into their hands; and these,
together with the answers to appeals from the lower courts made to the
emperors directly, or to the sort of supreme court which they
established, were called _imperial constitutions_ and _rescripts_.
Justinian determined to unite in one body all the rules of law, whatever
may have been their origin; and in the year 528 appointed ten
jurisconsults, among whom was the celebrated Tribonian, to select and
arrange the imperial constitutions and rescripts, leaving out what was
obsolete or useless or contradictory, and to make such alterations as
the circumstances required. This was called the _Code_, divided into
twelve books, and comprising the constitutions from Hadrian to
Justinian. It was published in fourteen months after it was undertaken.

Justinian thereupon authorized Tribonian, then quaestor, _vir magnificus
magisteria dignitate inter agentes decoratus,_--"for great titles were
now given to the officers of the crown,"--to prepare, with the
assistance of sixteen associates, a collection of extracts from the
writings of the most eminent jurists, so as to form a body of law for
the government of the empire, with power to select and omit and alter;
and this immense work was done in three years, and published under the
title of Digest, or Pandects. Says Lord Mackenzie:

"All the judicial learning of former times was laid under contribution
by Tribonian and his colleagues. Selections from the works of
thirty-nine of the ablest lawyers, scattered over two thousand separate
treatises, were collected in one volume; and care was taken to inform
posterity that three millions of lines were abridged and reduced in
these extracts to the modest number of one hundred and fifty thousand.
Among the selected jurists only three names belonged to the age of the
republic,--the civilians who flourished under the first emperors are
seldom appealed to; so that most of the writers whose works have
contributed to the Pandects lived within a period of one hundred years.
More than a third of the whole Pandects is from Ulpian, and next to him
the principal writers are Paulus, Papinian, Salvius Julianus, Pomponius,
Q. Cervidius Scaevola, and Gaius. Though the variety of subjects is
immense, the Digest has no claims to scientific arrangement. It is a
vast cyclopedia of heterogeneous law badly arranged; everything is
there, but everything is not in its proper place."

Neither the Digest nor the Code was adapted to elementary instruction;
it was therefore necessary to prepare a treatise on the principles of
Roman law. This was intrusted to Tribonian and two professors,
Theophilus and Dorotheus. It is probable that Tribonian merely
superintended the work, which was founded chiefly on the Institutes of
Gaius, divided into four books. It has been universally admired for its
method and elegant precision. It was intended merely as an introduction
to the Pandects and the Code, and was entitled the Institutes.

The _Novels_, or _New Constitutions, of Justinian_ were subsequently
published, being the new ordinances of the Emperor and the changes he
thought proper to make, and were therefore of high authority. The Code,
Pandects, Institutes, and Novels of Justinian comprise the Roman law as
received in Europe, in the form given by the school of Bologna, and is
called the "Corpus Juris Civilis." Savigny says:--

"It was in that form that the Roman law became the common law of Europe;
and when, four centuries later, other sources came to be added to it,
the _Corpus Juris_ of the school of Bologna had been so universally
received, and so long established as a basis of practice, that the new
discoveries remained in the domain of science, and served only for the
theory of the law. For the same reason, the Ante-Justinian law is
excluded from practice."

After Justinian the old texts were left to moulder as useless though
venerable, and they have nearly all disappeared. The Code, the Pandects,
and the Institutes were declared to be the only legitimate authority,
and alone were admitted to the tribunals or taught in the schools. The
rescripts of the early emperors recognized too many popular rights to
suit the despotic character of Justinian; and the older jurists, like
the Scaevolas, Sulpicius, and Labeo, were distasteful from their
sympathy with free institutions. Different opinions have been expressed
by the jurisconsults as to the merits of the Justinian collection. By
some it is regarded as a vast mass of legal lumber; by others, as a
beautiful monument of human labor. After the lapse of so many centuries
it is certain that a large portion of it is of no practical utility,
since it is not applicable to modern wants. But again, no one doubts
that it has exercised a great and good influence on moral and political
science, and introduced many enlightened views concerning the
administration of justice as well as the nature of civil government, and
thus has modified the codes of the Teutonic nations that sprang up on
the ruins of the old Roman world. It was used in the Greek empire until
the fall of Constantinople. It never entirely lost authority in Italy,
although it remained buried for centuries, till the discovery of the
Florentine copy of the Pandects at the siege of Amalfi in 1135. Peter
Valence, in the eleventh century, made use of it in a law-book which he

With the rise of the Italian cities, the study of Roman law revived, and
Bologna became the seat from which it spread over Europe. In the
sixteenth century the science of theoretical law passed from Italy to
France, under the auspices of Francis I., when Cujas, or Cujacius,
became the great ornament of the school of Bourges and the greatest
commentator on Roman law until Dumoulin appeared. Grotius, in Holland,
excited the same interest in civil law that Dumoulin did in France,
followed by eminent professors in Leyden and the German universities. It
was reserved for Pothier, in the middle of the eighteenth century, to
reduce the Roman law to systematic order,--one of the most gigantic
tasks that ever taxed the industry of man. The recent discoveries,
especially that made by Niebuhr of the long-lost work of Gaius, have
given a great impulse to the study of Roman law in Germany; and to this
impulse no one has contributed so greatly as Savigny of Berlin.

The great importance of the subject demands a more minute notice of the
principles of the Roman law than the limits of this work properly allow.
I shall therefore endeavor to abridge what has been written by eminent
authorities, taking as a basis the late work of Lord Mackenzie and the
learned and interesting essay of Professor Maine.

The Institutes of Justinian began with the law of persons, recognizing
the distinction of ranks. All persons are capable of enjoying civil
rights, but not all in the same degree. Greater privileges are allowed
to men than to women, to freemen than to slaves, to fathers than
to children.

In the eye of the law all Roman citizens were equal wherever they lived,
whether in the capital or the provinces. Citizenship embraced both
political and civil rights. Political rights had reference to the right
of voting in the comitia; but this was not considered the essence of
citizenship, which was the enjoyment of the _connubium_, and
_commercium_. By the former the citizen could contract a valid marriage
and acquire the rights resulting from it, particularly the paternal
power; by the latter he could acquire and dispose of property.
Citizenship was acquired by birth and by manumission; it was lost when a
Roman became a prisoner of war, or had been exiled for crime, or became
a citizen of another State. An unsullied reputation was required by law
for a citizen to exercise his rights to their full extent.

The Roman jurists acknowledged all persons originally free by natural
law; and while they recognized slavery, they ascribed the power of
masters entirely to the law and custom of nations. Persons taken in war
were considered at the absolute control of their captors, and were
therefore, _de facto_, slaves; the children of a female slave followed
the condition of their mother, and belonged to her master. But masters
could manumit their slaves, who thus became Roman citizens with some
restrictions. After the emancipation of a slave, he was bound to render
certain services to his former master as patron, and if the freedman
died intestate his property reverted to his patron.

Marriage was contracted by the simple consent of the parties, though in
early times equality of condition was required. The _lex Canuleia_,
A.U.C. 309, authorized connubium between patricians and plebeians, and
the _lex Julia_, A.U.C. 757, allowed it between freedmen and freeborn.
By the _conventio in manum_, a wife passed out of her family into that
of her husband, who acquired all her property; without it, the woman
remained in the power of her father, and retained the free disposition
of her property. Polygamy was not permitted; and relationship within
certain degrees rendered the parties incapable of contracting marriage.
(These rules as to forbidden degrees have been substantially adopted in
England.) Celibacy was discouraged. Concubinage was allowed, if a man
had not a wife, and provided the concubine was not the wife of another
man; this heathenish custom was abrogated by Justinian. The wife was
entitled to protection and support from her husband, and she retained
her property independent of him. On her marriage the father gave his
daughter a dowry in proportion to his means, the management of which,
with its usufruct during marriage, belonged to the husband; but he could
not alienate real estate without the wife's consent, and on the
dissolution of marriage the _dos_ reverted to the wife. Divorce existed
in all ages at Rome, and was very common at the beginning of the empire;
to check its prevalence, laws were passed inflicting severe penalties on
those whose bad conduct led to it. Every man, whether married or not,
could adopt children under certain restrictions, and they passed
entirely under paternal power. But the marriage relation among the
Romans did not accord after all with those principles of justice which
we see in other parts of their legislative code. The Roman husband, like
the father, was a tyrant. The facility of divorce destroyed mutual
confidence, and inflamed every trifling dispute; for a word or a
message or a letter or the mandate of a freedman was quite sufficient to
secure a separation. It was not until Christianity became the religion
of the empire that divorce could not be easily effected without a just
cause. This facility of divorce was a great stigma on the Roman laws,
and the degradation of woman was the principal consequence. But woman
never was honored in any Pagan land, although her condition at Rome was
better than it was at Athens. She always was regarded as a possession
rather than as a person; her virtue was mistrusted, and her aspirations
were scorned; she was hampered and guarded more like a slave than the
equal companion of man. But the progress of legislation, as a whole, was
in her favor, and she continued to gain new privileges until the fall of
the empire. The Roman Catholic Church regards marriage as one of the
sacraments, and through all the Middle Ages and down to our own day the
great authority of the Church has been one of the strongest supports of
that institution, as necessary to Christianity as to civilization. We
Americans have improved on the morality of Jesus, of the early and later
Church, and of the great nations of modern Europe; and in many of our
States persons are allowed to slip out of the marriage tie about as
easily as they get into it.

Nothing is more remarkable in the Roman laws than the extent of
paternal power. It was unjust, and bears the image of a barbarous age.
Moreover, it seems to have been coeval with the foundation of the city.
A father could chastise his children by stripes, by imprisonment, by
exile, by sending them to the country with chains on their feet. He was
even armed with the power of life and death. "Neither age nor rank,"
says Gibbon, "nor the consular office, could exempt the most illustrious
citizen from the bonds of filial subjection. Without fear, though not
without danger of abuse, the Roman legislators had reposed unbounded
confidence in the sentiments of paternal love, and the oppression was
tempered by the assurance that each generation must succeed in its turn
to the awful dignity of parent and master." By an express law of the
Twelve Tables a father could sell his children as slaves. But the abuse
of paternal power was checked in the republic by the censors, and
afterward by emperors. Alexander Severus limited the right of the father
to simple correction, and Constantine declared the father who should
kill his son to be guilty of murder. The rigor of parents in reference
to the disposition of the property of children was also gradually
relaxed. Under Augustus, the son could keep absolute possession of what
he had acquired in war; under Constantine, he could retain any property
acquired in the civil service, and all property inherited from the
mother could also be retained. In later times, a father could not give
his son or daughter to another by adoption without their consent. Thus
this _patria potestas_ was gradually relaxed as civilization advanced,
though it remained a peculiarity of Roman law to the latest times, and
was severer than is ever seen in the modern world. Fathers were bound to
maintain their children when they had no separate means to supply their
wants, and children were also bound to maintain their parents if in
want. These reciprocal duties, creditable to the Roman lawgivers, are
recognized in the French Code, but not in the English, which also
recognizes the right of a father to bequeath his whole estate to
strangers,--a thing which Roman fathers had not power to do. The age
when children attained majority among the Romans was twenty-five years.
Women were condemned to the perpetual tutelage of parents, husbands, or
guardians, as it was supposed they never could attain to the age of
reason and experience. The relation of guardian and ward was strictly
observed by the Romans. They made a distinction between the right to
govern a person and the right to manage his estate, although the tutor
or guardian could do both. If the pupil was an infant, the tutor could
act without the intervention of the pupil; if the pupil was above seven
years of age, he was considered to have an imperfect will. The youth
ceased to be a pupil, if a boy, at fourteen; if a girl, at twelve. The
tutor managed the estate of the pupil, but was liable for loss
occasioned by bad management. He could sell movable property when
expedient, but not real estate, without judicial authority. The tutor
named by the father was preferred to all others.

The Institutes of Justinian pass from persons to things, or the law
relating to real rights; in other words, that which pertains to
property. Some things common to all, like air, light, the ocean, and
things sacred, like temples and churches, are not classed as property.

Two things were required for the transfer of property, for it is the
essence of property that the owner of a thing should have the right to
transfer it,--first, the consent of the owner to transfer the thing upon
some just ground; and secondly, the actual delivery of the thing to the
person who is to acquire it. Movables were presumed to be the property
of the possessors, until positive evidence was produced to the contrary.
A prescriptive title to movables was acquired by possession for one
year, and to immovables by possession for two years. Undisturbed
possession for thirty years constituted in general a valid title.

When a Roman died, his heirs succeeded to all his property by hereditary
right. If he left no will, his estate devolved upon his relatives in a
certain order prescribed by law. The power of making a testament only
belonged to citizens above puberty. Children under the paternal power
could not make a will. Males above fourteen and females above twelve,
when not under power, could make wills without the authority of their
guardian; but pupils, lunatics, prisoners of war, criminals, and various
other persons were incapable of making a testament. The testator could
divide his property among his heirs in such proportions as he saw fit;
but if there was no distribution, all the heirs participated equally. A
man could disinherit either of his children by declaring his intentions
in his will, but only for grave reasons,--such as grievously injuring
his person or character or feelings, or attempting his life. No will was
effectual unless one or more persons were appointed heirs to represent
the deceased. Wills were required to be signed by the testator, or some
person for him, in the presence of seven witnesses who were Roman
citizens. If a will was made by a parent for distributing his property
solely among his children, no witnesses were required; and the ordinary
formalities were dispensed with among soldiers in actual service, and
during the prevalence of pestilence. The testament was opened in the
presence of the witnesses, or a majority of them; and after they had
acknowledged their seals a copy was made, and the original was deposited
in the public archives.

According to the Twelve Tables, the powers of a testator in disposing
of his property were unlimited; but in process of time, laws were
enacted to restrain immoderate or unnatural bequests. By the Falcidian
law, in the time of Augustus, no one could leave in legacies more than
three fourths of his estate, so that the heirs could inherit at least
one fourth. Again, a law was passed by which the descendants were
entitled to one third of the succession, and to one half if there were
more than four. In France, if a man die leaving one lawful child, he can
dispose of only half his estate by will; if he leaves two children, he
can dispose only of one third; if he leaves three or more children, then
he can dispose by will of only one fourth of his estate. In England, a
man can disinherit both his wife and children. These, and many other
matters,--bequests in trust, succession of men dying intestate, heirs at
law, etc.,--were regulated by the Romans in ways on which our modern
legislators have improved little or none.

In the matter of contracts the Roman law was especially comprehensive,
and the laws of France and Scotland are substantially based upon the
Roman system. The Institutes of Gaius and Justinian distinguish four
sorts of obligations,--_aut re, aut verbis, aut literis, aut consensu_.
Gibbon, in his learned chapter, prefers to consider the specific
obligations of men to each other under promises, benefits, and
injuries. Lord Mackenzie treats the subject in the order of the

"Obligations contracted _re_--by the intervention of _things_--are
called by the moderns real contracts, because they are not perfected
till something has passed from one party to another. Of this description
are the contracts of loan, deposit, and pledge,--security for
indebtedness. Till the subject is actually lent, deposited, or pledged,
it does not form the special contract of loan, deposit, or pledge."

Next to the perfection of contracts by _re_,--the intervention of
things,--were obligations contracted by _verbis_, spoken _words_, and by
_literis_, or writings. The _verborum obligatio_ was contracted by
uttering certain words of formal style,--an interrogation being put by
one party, and an answer given by the other. These stipulations were
binding. In England all guarantees must be in writing.

The _obligatio literis_ was a written acknowledgment of debt, chiefly
employed when money was borrowed; but the creditor could not sue upon a
note within two years from its date, without being called upon also to
prove that the money was in fact paid to the debtor.

Contracts perfected by consent, _consensu_, had reference to sale,
hiring; partnership, and mandate, or orders to be carried out by agents.
All contracts of sale were good without writing.

Acts which caused damage to another opened a new class of cases. The
law obliged the wrong-doer to make reparation, and this responsibility
extended to damages arising not only from positive acts, but from
negligence or imprudence. In cases of libel or slander, the truth of the
allegation might be pleaded in justification. In all cases it was
necessary to show that an injury had been committed maliciously; but if
damage arose in the exercise of a right, as killing a slave in
self-defence, no claim for reparation could be maintained. If any one
exercised a profession or trade for which he was not qualified, he was
liable to all the damage his want of skill or knowledge might
occasion,--a provision that some of our modern laws might advantageously
revive. When any damage was done by a slave or an animal, the owner of
the same was liable for the loss, though the mischief was done without
his knowledge and against his will. If anything was thrown from a window
giving on the public thoroughfare so as to injure any one by the fall,
the occupier was bound to repair the damage, though done by a stranger.
Legal claims might be transferred to a third person by sale, exchange,
or donation; but to prevent speculators from purchasing debts at low
prices, it was ordered that the assignee should not be entitled to exact
from the debtor more than he himself had paid to acquire the debt, with
interest,--a wise and just regulation.

By the ancient constitution, the king had the prerogative of
determining civil causes. The right then devolved on the consuls,
afterward on the praetor, and in certain cases on the curule and
plebeian ediles, who were charged with the internal police of the city.

The praetor, a magistrate next in dignity to the consuls, acted as
supreme judge of the civil courts, assisted by a council of
jurisconsults to determine questions in law. At first one praetor was
sufficient, but as the limits of the city and empire extended, he was
joined by a colleague. After the conquest of Sicily, Sardinia, and the
two Spains, new praetors were appointed to administer justice in the
provinces. The praetor held his court in the comitium, wore a robe
bordered with purple, sat in a curule chair, and was attended
by lictors.

The praetor delegated his power to three classes of judges, called
respectively _judex_, _arbiter_, and _recuperator_. When parties were at
issue about facts, it was the custom for the praetor to fix the question
of law upon which the action turned, and then to remit to a delegate, or
judge, to inquire into the facts and pronounce judgment according to
them. In the time of Augustus there were four thousand judices, who were
merely private citizens, generally senators or men of consideration. The
judex was invested by the magistrate with a judicial commission for a
single case only. After being sworn to duty, he received from the
praetor a formula containing a summary of all the points under
litigation, from which he was not allowed to depart. He was required not
merely to investigate facts, but to give sentence; and as law questions
were more or less mixed up with the case, he was allowed to consult one
or more jurisconsults. If the case was beyond his power to decide, he
could decline to give judgment. The arbiter, like the judex, received a
formula from the praetor, and seemed to have more extensive power. The
recuperators heard and determined cases, but the number appointed for
each case was usually three or five.

The _centumvirs_ constituted a permanent tribunal composed of members
annually elected, in equal numbers, from each tribe; and this tribunal
was presided over by the praetor, and divided into four chambers, which
under the republic was placed under the ancient quaestors. The
centumvirs decided questions of property, embracing a wide range of
subjects. The Romans had no class of men like the judges of modern
times; the superior magistrates were changed annually, and political
duties were mixed with judicial. The evil was partially remedied by the
institution of legal assessors, selected from the most learned
jurisconsults. Under the empire the praetors were greatly increased;
under Tiberius there were sixteen who administered justice, besides the
consuls, six ediles, and ten tribunes of the people. The Emperor himself
became the supreme judge, and he was assisted in the discharge of his
judicial duties by a council composed of the consuls, a magistrate of
each grade, and fifteen senators. At first, the duties of the praetorian
prefects were purely military, but finally they discharged important
judicial functions. The prefect of the city, in the time of the
emperors, was a great judicial personage, who heard appeals from the
praetors themselves.

In all cases brought before the courts, the burden of proof was with the
party asserting an affirmative fact. Proof by writing was generally
considered most certain, but proof by witnesses was also admitted.
Pupils, lunatics, infamous persons, interested parties, near relatives,
and slaves could not bear evidence, nor any person who had a strong
enmity against either party. The witnesses were required to give their
testimony on oath. In most cases two witnesses were enough to prove a
fact. When witnesses gave conflicting testimony, the judge regarded
those who were most worthy of credit rather than those who were most
numerous. In the English courts the custom used to be as with the
Romans, of refusing testimony from those who were interested; but this
has been removed. On the failure of regular proof, the Roman law allowed
a party to refer the facts in a civil action to the oath of his

Under the Roman republic there was no appeal in civil suits, but under
the emperors a regular system was established. Under Augustus there was
an appeal from all the magistrates to the prefect of the city, and from
him to the praetorian prefect or even to the Emperor. In the provinces
there was an appeal from the municipal magistrates to the governors, and
from them to the Emperor, as Paul appealed from Festus to Caesar. Under
Justinian no appeal was allowed from a suit which did not involve at
least twenty pounds in gold.

In regard to criminal courts among the Romans during the republic, the
only body which had absolute power of life and death was the _comitia
centuriata_. The senate had no jurisdiction in criminal cases, so far as
Roman citizens were concerned. It was only in extraordinary emergencies
that the senate, with the consuls, assumed the responsibility of
inflicting summary punishment. Under the emperors, the senate was armed
with the power of criminal jurisdiction; and as the senate was the tool
of the imperator, he could crush whomsoever he pleased.

As it was inconvenient, when Rome had become a very great city, to
convene the comitia for the trial of offenders, the expedient was
adopted of delegating the jurisdiction of the people to persons invested
with temporary authority, called _quaestors_. These were finally
established into regular and permanent courts, called _quaestores
perpetui_. Every case submitted to these courts was tried by a judge and
jury. It was the duty of the judge to preside and regulate proceedings
according to law; and it was the duty of the jury, after hearing the
evidence and pleadings, to decide on the guilt or innocence of the
accused. As many as fifty persons frequently composed the jury, whose
names were drawn out of an urn. Each party had a right to challenge a
certain number, and the verdict was decided by a majority of votes. At
first the judices were chosen from the senate, and afterward from the
equestrians, and then again from both orders. But in process of time the
quaestores perpetui gave place to imperial magistrates. The accused
defended himself in person or by counsel.

The Romans divided _crimes_ into public and private. Private crimes
could be prosecuted only by the party injured, and were generally
punished by pecuniary fines, as among the old Germanic nations.

Of public crimes the _crimen laesae majestatis_, or treason, was
regarded as the greatest; and this was punished with death and with
confiscation of goods, while the memory of the offender was declared
infamous. Greater severity could scarcely be visited on a culprit.
Treason comprehended conspiracy against the government, assisting the
enemies of Rome, and misconduct in the command of armies. Thus Manlius,
in spite of his magnificent services, was hurled from the Tarpeian
Rock, because he was convicted of an intention to seize upon the
government. Under the empire not only any attempt on the life of the
Emperor was treason, but disrespectful words or acts. The criminal was
even tried after death, that his memory might become infamous; and this
barbarous practice was perpetuated in France and Scotland as late as the
beginning of the seventeenth century. In England men have been executed
for treasonable words. Besides treason there were other crimes against
the State, such as a breach of the peace, extortion on the part of
provincial governors, embezzlement of public property, stealing sacred
things, bribery,--most of which offences were punished by pecuniary

But there were also crimes against individuals, which were punished with
the death penalty. Wilful murder, poisoning, and parricide were
capitally punished. Adultery was punished by banishment, besides a
forfeiture of considerable property; Constantine made it a capital
offence. Rape was punished with death and confiscation of goods, as in
England till a late period, when transportation for life became the
penalty. The punishments inflicted for forgery, coining base money, and
perjury were arbitrary. Robbery, theft, patrimonial damage, and injury
to person and property were private trespasses, and not punished by the
State. After a lapse of twenty years without accusation, crimes were
supposed to be extinguished. The Cornelian, Pompeian, and Julian laws
formed the foundation of criminal jurisprudence. This however never
attained the perfection that was seen in the Civil Code, in which the
full maturity of Roman wisdom was reached. The emperors greatly
increased the severity of punishments, as was probably necessary in a
corrupt state of society. After the decemviral laws fell into disuse,
the Romans in the days of the republic passed from extreme rigor to
great lenity, as is observable in the transition from the Puritan régime
to our own times in the United States. Capital punishment for several
centuries was exceedingly rare, and was frequently prevented by
voluntary exile. Under the empire, again, public executions were
frequent and revolting.

Fines were a common mode of punishment with the Romans, as with the
early Germans. Imprisonment in a public jail was rare, the custom of
bail being in general use. Although retaliation was authorized by the
Twelve Tables for bodily injuries, it was seldom exacted, since
pecuniary compensation was taken in lieu. Corporal punishments were
inflicted upon slaves, but rarely upon citizens, except for military
crimes; but Roman citizens could be sold into slavery for various
offences, chiefly military, and criminals were often condemned to labor
in the mines or upon public works. Banishment was common,--_aquae et
ignis interdictio_; and this was equivalent to the deprivation of the
necessities of life and incapacitating a person from exercising the
rights of citizenship. Under the emperors persons were confined often on
the rocky islands off the coast, or in a compulsory residence in a
particular place assigned. Thus Chrysostom was sent to a dreary place on
the banks of the Euxine, and Ovid was banished to Tomi. Death, when
inflicted, was by hanging, scourging, and beheading; also by strangling
in prison. Slaves were often crucified, and were compelled to carry
their cross to the place of execution. This was the most ignominious and
lingering of all deaths; it was abolished by Constantine, from reverence
to the sacred symbol. Under the emperors, execution took place also by
burning alive and exposure to wild beasts; it was thus the early
Christians were tormented, since their offence was associated with
treason. Persons of distinction were treated with more favor than the
lower classes, and their punishments were less cruel and ignominious;
thus Seneca, condemned for privity to treason, was allowed to choose his
mode of death. The criminal laws of modern European States followed too
often the barbarous custom of the Roman emperors until a recent date.
Since the French Revolution the severity of the penal codes has been
much modified.

The penal statutes of Rome however, as Gibbon emphatically remarks,
"formed a very small portion of the Code and the Pandects; and in all
judicial proceedings the life or death of the citizen was determined
with less caution and delay than the most ordinary question of covenant
or inheritance." This was owing to the complicated relations of society,
by which obligations are created or annulled, while duties to the State
are explicit and well known, being inscribed not only on tables of
brass, but on the conscience itself. It was natural, with the growth and
development of commerce and dominion, that questions should arise which
could not be ordinarily settled by ancient customs, and the practice of
lawyers and the decisions of judges continually raised new difficulties,
to be met only by new edicts. It is a pleasing fact to record, that
jurisprudence became more just and enlightened as it became more
intricate. The principles of equity were more regarded under the
emperors than in the time of Cato. It is in the application of these
principles that the laws of the Romans have obtained so high
consideration; their abuse consisted in the expense of litigation, and
the advantages which the rich thus obtained over the poor.

But if delays and forms led to an expensive and vexatious administration
of justice, these were more than compensated by the checks which a
complicated jurisprudence gave to hasty or partial decisions. It was in
the minuteness and precision of the forms of law, and in the foresight
with which questions were anticipated in the various transactions of
business, that the Romans in their civil and social relations were very
much on a level with modern times. It would be difficult to find in the
most enlightened of modern codes greater wisdom and foresight than
appear in the legacy of Justinian as to all questions pertaining to the
nature, the acquisition, the possession, the use, and the transfer of
property. Civil obligations are most admirably defined, and all
contracts are determined by the wisest application of the natural
principles of justice. Nothing can be more enlightened than the laws
which relate to leases, to sales, to partnerships, to damages, to
pledges, to hiring of work, and to quasi-contracts. The laws pertaining
to the succession to property, to the duties of guardians, to the rights
of wards, to legacies, to bequests in trust, and to the general
limitation of testamentary powers were singularly clear. The regulations
in reference to intestate succession, and to the division of property
among males and females, were wise and just; we find no laws of entail,
no unequal rights, no absurd distinction between brothers, no peculiar
privileges given to males over females, or to older sons. Particularly
was everything pertaining to property and contracts and wills guarded
with the most jealous care. A man was sure of possessing his own, and of
transmitting it to his children. In the Institutes of Justinian we see
on every page a regard to the principles of natural justice: but
moreover we find that malicious witnesses should be punished; that
corrupt judges should be visited with severe penalties; that libels and
satires should subject their authors to severe chastisement; that every
culprit should be considered innocent until his guilt was proved.

No infringement on personal rights could be tolerated. A citizen was
free to go where he pleased, to do whatsoever he would, if he did not
trespass on the rights of another; to seek his pleasure unobstructed,
and pursue his business without vexatious incumbrances. If he was
injured or cheated, he was sure of redress; nor could he be easily
defrauded with the sanction of the laws. A rigorous police guarded his
person, his house, and his property; he was supreme and uncontrolled
within his family. This security to property and life and personal
rights was guaranteed by the greatest tyrants. Although political
liberty was dead, the fullest personal liberty was enjoyed under the
emperors, and it was under their sanction that jurisprudence in some of
the most important departments of life reached perfection. If injustice
was suffered it was not on account of the laws, but owing to the
depravity of men, the venality of the rich, and the tricks of lawyers;
the laws were wise and equal. The civil jurisprudence of the Romans
could be copied with safety by the most enlightened of European States;
indeed, it is already the foundation of their civil codes, especially in
France and Germany.

That there were some features in the Roman laws which we in these
Christian times cannot indorse, and which we reprehend, cannot be
denied. Under the republic there was not sufficient limit to paternal
power, and the _pater familias_ was necessarily a tyrant. It was unjust
that the father should control the property of his son, and cruel that
he was allowed an absolute control not only over his children, but also
his wife. Yet the limits of paternal power were more and more curtailed,
so that under the later emperors fathers were not allowed to have more
authority than was perhaps expedient.

The recognition of slavery as a domestic institution was another blot,
and slaves could be treated with the grossest cruelty and injustice
without possibility of redress. But here the Romans were not sinners
beyond all other nations, and our modern times have witnessed a
parallel. It was not the existence of slavery, however, which was the
greatest evil, but the facility by which slaves could be made. The laws
pertaining to debt were severe, and were most disgraceful in dooming a
debtor to the absolute power of a creditor. To subject men of the same
race to slavery for trifling debts which they could not discharge, was
the great defect of the Roman laws. But even these cruel regulations
were modified, so that in the corrupt times of the empire there was no
greater practical severity than was common in England as late as one
hundred years ago. The temptations to fraud were enormous in a wicked
state of society, and demanded a severe remedy. It is possible that our
modern laws may show too great leniency to debtors who are not merely
unfortunate, but dishonest. The problem is not yet solved, whether men
should be severely handled who are guilty of reckless and unprincipled
speculations and unscrupulous dealings, or whether they should be
allowed immunity to prosecute their dangerous and disgraceful courses.

Moreover, the penal code of the Romans in reference to breaches of trust
or carelessness or ignorance, by which property was lost or squandered,
may have been too severe, as is still the case in England in reference
to hunting game on another's grounds. It was hard to doom a man to death
who drove away his neighbor's cattle, or even entered in the night his
neighbor's house; but severe penalties alone will keep men from crimes
where there is a low state of virtue and religion, and general
prosperity and contentment become impossible where there is no efficient
protection to property. Society was never more secure and happy in
England than when vagabonds could be arrested, and when petty larcenies
were visited with certain retribution. Every traveller in France and
England feels that in regard to the punishment of crime, those older
countries, restricted as are their political privileges, are in most
questions of secure and comfortable living vastly superior to our own.
The Romans lost under the emperors their political rights, but gained
protection and safety in their relations with society. Where quiet and
industrious citizens feel safe in their homes, are protected from
scoundrels in their dealings, have ample scope for industrial
enterprise, and are free to choose their private pleasures, they resign
themselves to the loss of electing their rulers without great
unhappiness. There are greater evils in the world than the deprivation
of the elective franchise, lofty and glorious as is this privilege. The
arbitrary rule of the emperors was fatal to political aspirations and
rights and the growth of a genuine manhood; yet it is but fair to note
that the evils of political slavery were qualified and set off by the
excellence of the civil code and the privileges of social freedom.

The great practical evil connected with Roman jurisprudence was the
intricacy and perplexity and uncertainty of the laws, together with the
expense involved in litigation. The class of lawyers was large, and
their gains were extortionate. Justice was not always to be found on the
side of right. The law was uncertain as well as costly. The most learned
counsel could be employed only by the rich, and even judges were venal,
so that the poor did not easily find adequate redress. But all this is
the necessary attendant on a factitious state of society, and by many is
regarded as being quite as characteristic of modern, civilized Christian
England and America as it was of Pagan Rome. Material civilization leads
to an undue estimate of money; and when money purchases all that
artificial people desire, then all classes will prostitute themselves
for its possession, and justice, dignity, and elevation of sentiment
will be forced to retreat,--as hermits sought a solitude when society
had reached its lowest degradation, out of pure despair of its

       *       *       *       *       *


The authorities for this chapter are very numerous. Since the Institutes
of Gaius have been recovered, many eminent writers on Roman law have
appeared, especially in Germany and France. Many might be cited, but for
all ordinary purposes of historical study the work of Lord Mackenzie on
Roman Law, together with the articles of George Long in Smith's
Dictionary, will be found most useful. Maine's Treatise on Ancient Law
is exceedingly interesting and valuable. Gibbon's famous chapter should
also be read by every student. There is a fine translation of the
Institutes of Justinian, which is quite accessible, by Dr. Harris of
Oxford. The Code, Pandects, Institutes, and Novels are of course the
original authority, with the long-lost Institutes of Gaius.

In connection with the study of the Roman law, it would be well to read
Sir George Bowyer's Commentaries on the Modern Civil Law. Also Irving,
Introduction to the Study of the Civil Law; Lindley, Introduction to the
Study of Jurisprudence; Wheaton's Elements of International Law; and
Vattel, Le Droit des Gens.



500-430 B.C.

My object in the present lecture is not a criticism of the principles
of art so much as an enumeration of its various forms among the
ancients, to show that in this department of civilization they reached
remarkable perfection, and were not inferior to modern Christian nations.

The first development of art among all the nations of antiquity was in
architecture. The earliest buildings erected were houses to protect
people from heat, cold, and the fury of the elements of Nature. At that
remote period much more attention was given to convenience and practical
utility than to beauty or architectural effect. The earliest houses were
built of wood, and stone was not employed until temples and palaces
arose. Ordinary houses were probably not much better than log-huts and
hovels, until wealth was accumulated by private persons.

The earliest monuments of enduring magnificence were the temples of
powerful priests and the palaces of kings; and in Egypt and Assyria
these appear earliest, as well as most other works showing civilization.
Perhaps the first great monument which arose after the deluge of Noah
was the Tower of Babel, built probably of brick. It was intended to be
very lofty, but of its actual height we know nothing, nor of its style
of architecture. Indeed, we do not know that it was ever advanced beyond
its foundations; yet there are some grounds for supposing that it was
ultimately finished, and became the principal temple of the Chaldaean

From the ruins of ancient monuments we conclude that architecture
received its earliest development in Egypt, and that its effects were
imposing, massive, and grand. It was chiefly directed to the erection of
palaces and temples, the ruins of which attest grandeur and vastness.
They were built of stone, in blocks so huge and heavy that even modern
engineers are at loss to comprehend how they could have been transported
and erected. All the monuments of the Pharaohs are wonders, especially
such as appear in the ruins of Karnak,--a temple formerly designated as
that of Jupiter Ammon. It was in the time of Sesostris, or Rameses the
Great, the first of the Pharaohs of the nineteenth dynasty, that
architecture in Egypt reached its greatest development. Then we find the
rectangular-cut blocks of stone in parallel courses, the heavy pier, the
cylindrical column with its bell-shaped capital, and the bold and
massive rectangular architraves extending from pier to pier and column
to column, surmounted by a deep covered coping or cornice.

The imposing architecture of Egypt was chiefly owing to the impressive
vastness of the public buildings. It was not produced by beauty of
proportion or graceful embellishments; it was designed to awe the
people, and kindle sentiments of wonder and astonishment. So far as this
end was contemplated it was nobly reached; even to this day the
traveller stands in admiring amazement before those monuments that were
old three thousand years ago. No structures have been so enduring as the
Pyramids; no ruins are more extensive and majestic than those of Thebes.
The temple of Karnak and the palace of Rameses the Great were probably
the most imposing ever built by man. This temple was built of blocks of
stone seventy feet in length, on a platform one thousand feet long and
three hundred wide, with pillars sixty feet in height. But this and
other structures did not possess that unity of design which marked the
Grecian temples. Alleys of colossal sphinxes formed the approach. At
Karnak the alley was six thousand feet long, and before the main body
of the edifice stood two obelisks commemorative of the dedication. The
principal structures of Egyptian temples do not follow the straight
line, but begin with pyramidal towers which flank the gateways; then
follow, usually, a court surrounded with colonnades, subordinate
temples, and houses for the priests. A second pylon, or pyramidal tower,
leads to the interior and most considerable part of the temple,--a
portico inclosed with walls, which receives light only through the
entablature or openings in the roof. Adjoining this is the cella of the
temple, without columns, enclosed by several walls, often divided into
various small chambers with monolithic receptacles for idols or mummies
or animals. The columns stand within the walls. The colonnade is not, as
among the Greeks, an expansion of the temple; it is merely the wall with
apertures. The walls, composed of square blocks, are perpendicular only
on the inside, and bevelled externally, so that the thickness at the
bottom sometimes amounts to twenty-four feet; thus the whole building
assumes a pyramidal form, the fundamental principle of Egyptian
architecture. The columns are more slender than the early Doric, are
placed close together, and have bases of circular plinths; the shaft
diminishes upward, and is ornamented with perpendicular or oblique
furrows, but not fluted like Grecian columns. The capitals are of the
bell form, ornamented with all kinds of foliage, and have a narrow but
high abacus. They abound with sculptured decorations, the designs of
which were borrowed from the vegetation of the country. The highest of
the columns of the temple of Luxor is five and a quarter times the
greatest diameter.

But no monuments have ever excited so much curiosity and wonder as the
Pyramids, not in consequence of any particular beauty or ingenuity in
their construction, but because of their immense size and unknown age.
None but sacerdotal monarchs would ever have erected them; none but a
fanatical people would ever have toiled upon them. We do not know for
what purpose they were raised, unless as sepulchres for kings. They are
supposed to have been built at a remote antiquity, between two thousand
and three thousand years before Christ. Lepsius thought that the oldest
of these Pyramids were built more than three thousand years before
Christ. The Pyramid of Cheops, at Memphis, covers a square whose side is
seven hundred and sixty-eight feet, and rises into the air nearly five
hundred feet. It is a solid mass of stone, which has suffered less from
time than the mountains near it. Possibly it stands over an immense
substructure, in which may yet be found the lore of ancient Egypt; it
may even prove to be the famous labyrinth of which Herodotus speaks,
built by the twelve kings of Egypt. According to this author, one
hundred thousand men worked on this monument for forty years.

The palaces of the kings are mere imitations of the temples, their only
difference of architecture being that their rooms are larger and in
greater numbers. Some think that the famous labyrinth was a collective
palace of many rulers.

Of Babylonian architecture we know little beyond what the Hebrew
Scriptures and ancient authors tell us. But though nothing survives of
ancient magnificence, we know that a city whose walls, according to
Herodotus, were eighty-seven feet in thickness, three hundred and
thirty-seven in height, and sixty miles in circumference, and in which
were one hundred gates of brass, must have had considerable
architectural splendor. This account of Babylon, however, is probably
exaggerated, especially as to the height of the walls. The tower of
Belus, the Palace of Nebuchadnezzar, and the Obelisk of Semiramis were
probably wonderful structures, certainly in size, which is one of the
conditions of architectural effect.

The Tyrians must have carried architecture to considerable perfection,
since the Temple of Solomon, one of the most magnificent in the ancient
world, was probably built by artists from Tyre. It was not remarkable
for size,--it was, indeed, very small,--but it had great splendor of
decoration. It was of quadrangular outline, erected upon a solid
platform of stone, and bearing a striking resemblance to the oldest
Greek temples, like those of Aegina and Paestum. The portico of the
Temple as rebuilt by Herod was one hundred and eighty feet high, and the
Temple itself was entered by nine gates, thickly coated with silver and
gold. The inner sanctuary was covered on all sides with plates of gold,
and was dazzling to the eye. The various courts and porticos and palaces
with which it was surrounded gave to it a very imposing effect.

Architectural art in India was not so impressive and grand as in Egypt,
and was directed chiefly to the erection of temples. Nor is it of very
ancient date. There is no stone architecture now remaining in India,
according to Sir James Fergusson, older than two and a half centuries
before Christ; and this is in the form of Buddhist temples, generally
traced to the great Asoka, who reigned from 272 B.C. to 236 B.C., and
who established Buddhism as a state religion. There were doubtless
magnificent buildings before his time, but they were of wood, and have
all perished. We know, however, nothing about them.

The Buddhist temples were generally excavated out of the solid rock, and
only the façades were ornamented. These were not larger than ordinary
modern parochial churches, and do not give the impression of
extraordinary magnificence. Besides these rock-hewn temples in India
there remain many examples of a kind of memorial monument called
_stupas_, or _topes_. The earliest of these are single columns; but the
later and more numerous are in the shape of cones or circular mounds,
resembling domes, rarely exceeding one hundred feet in diameter. Around
the apex of each was a balustrade, or some ornamental work, about six
feet in diameter. These topes remind one of the Pantheon at Rome in
general form, but were of much smaller size. They were built on a stone
basement less than fifty feet in height, above which was the brickwork.
In process of time they came to resemble pyramidal towers rather than
rounded domes, and were profusely ornamented with carvings. The great
peculiarity of all Indian architectural monuments is excessive
ornamentation rather than beauty of proportion or grand effect.

In course of time, however, Indian temples became more and more
magnificent; and a Chinese traveller in the year 400 A.D. describes one
in Gaudhava as four hundred and seventy feet high, decorated with every
sort of precious substance. Its dome, as it appears in a bas-relief,
must have rivalled that of St. Peter's at Rome; but no trace of it now
remains. The topes of India, which were numerous, indicate that the
Hindus were acquainted with the arch, both pointed and circular, which
was not known to the Egyptians or the Greeks. The most important of
these buildings, in which are preserved valuable relics, are found in
the Punjab. They were erected about twenty years before Christ. In size,
they are about one hundred and twenty-seven feet in diameter. Connected
with the circular topes are found what are called _rails_, surrounding
the topes, built in the form of rectangles, with heavy pillars. One of
the most interesting of these was found to be two hundred and
seventy-five feet long, having square pillars twenty-two feet in height,
profusely carved with scenes from the life of Buddha, topped by capitals
in the shape of elephants supporting a succession of horizontal stone
beams, all decorated with a richness of carving unknown in any other
country. The Amravati rail, one of the finest of the ancient monuments
of India, is found to be one hundred and ninety-five by one hundred and
sixty-five feet, having octagonal pillars ornamented with the most
elaborate carvings.

From an architectural point of view, the rails were surpassed by the
_chaityas_, or temple-caves, in western India. These were cut in the
solid rock. Some one thousand different specimens are to be found. The
facades of these caves are perfect, generally in the form of an arch,
executed in the rock with every variety of detail, and therefore
imperishable without violence. The process of excavation extended
through ten centuries from the time of Asoka; and the interiors as well
as the façades were highly ornamented with sculptures. The temple-caves
are seldom more than one hundred and fifty feet deep and fifty feet in
width, and the roofs are supported by pillars like the interior of
Gothic cathedrals, some of which are of beautiful proportions with
elaborated capitals. Though these rock-hewn temples are no larger than
ordinary Christian churches, they are very impressive from the richly
decorated carvings; they were lighted from a single opening in the
façade, sometimes in the shape of a horseshoe.

Besides these chaityas, or temples, there are still more numerous
_viharas_, or monasteries, found in India, of different dates, but none
older than the third century before Christ. They show a central hall,
surrounded on three sides by cells for the monks. On the fourth side is
an open verandah; facing this is generally a shrine with an image of
Buddha. These edifices are not imposing unless surrounded by galleries,
as some were, supported by highly decorated pillars. The halls are
constructed in several stories with heavy masonry, in the shape of
pyramids adorned with the figures of men and animals. One of these halls
in southern India had fifteen hundred cells. The most celebrated was
the Nalanda monastery, founded in the first century by Nagarjuna, which
accommodated ten thousand priests, and was enclosed by a wall measuring
sixteen hundred feet by four hundred. It was to Central India what Mount
Casino was to Italy, and Cluny was to France, in the Middle Ages,--the
seat of learning and art.

It was not until the Mohammedan conquest in India that architecture
received a new impulse from the Saracenic influence. Then arose the
mosques, minarets, and palaces which are a wonder for their
magnificence, and in which are seen the influence of Greek art as well
as that of India. There is an Oriental splendor in these palaces and
mosques which has called out the admiration of critics, although it is
different from those types of beauty which we are accustomed to praise.
But these later edifices were erected in the Middle Ages, coeval with
the cathedrals of Europe, and therefore do not properly come under the
head of ancient art, in which the ancient Hindus, whether of Aryan or
Turanian descent, did not particularly excel. It was in matters of
religion and philosophy that the Hindus felt most interest, even as the
ancient Jews thought more of theology than of art and science.

Architecture, however, as the expression of genius and high
civilization, was carried to perfection only by the Greeks, who excelled
in so many things. It was among the ancient Dorians, who descended from
the mountains of northern Greece eighty years after the fall of Troy,
that architectural art worthy of the name first appeared. The Pelasgi
erected Cyclopean structures fifteen hundred years before Christ, as
seen in the massive walls of the Acropolis at Athens, constructed of
huge blocks of hewn stone, and in the palaces of the princes of the
heroic times. The lintel of the doorway of the Mycenaean treasury is
composed of a single stone twenty-seven feet long and sixteen broad. But
these edifices, which aimed at splendor and richness merely, were
deficient in that simplicity and harmony which have given immortality to
the temples of the Dorians. In this style of architecture everything was
suitable to its object, and was grand and noble. The great thickness of
the columns, the beautiful entablature, the ample proportion of the
capital, the great horizontal lines of the architrave and cornice
predominating over the vertical lines of the columns, the severity of
geometrical forms produced for the most part by straight lines, gave an
imposing simplicity to the Doric temple.

How far the Greek architects were indebted to the Egyptian we cannot
tell, for though columns are found amid the ruins of the Egyptian
temples, they are of different shape from any made by the Greeks. In the
structures of Thebes we find both the tumescent and the cylindrical
columns, from which amalgamation might have been produced the Doric
column. The Greeks seized on beauty wherever they found it, and improved
upon it. The Doric column was not probably an entirely new creation, but
shaped after models furnished by the most original of all the ancient
nations, even the Egyptians. The Doric temples were uniform in plan. The
columns were fluted, and were generally about six diameters in height;
they diminished gradually upward from the base, with a slightly con
vexed swelling; they were surmounted by capitals regularly proportioned
according to their height. The entablature which the column supported
was also of a certain number of diameters in height. So regular and
perfect was the plan of the temple, that "if the dimensions of a single
column and the proportion the entablature should bear to it were given
to two individuals acquainted with the style, with directions to compose
a temple, they would produce designs exactly similar in size,
arrangement, and general proportions." The Doric order possessed a
peculiar harmony, but taste and skill were nevertheless necessary in
order to determine the number of diameters a column should have, and
also the height of the entablature.

The Doric was the favorite order of European Greece for one thousand
years, and also of her colonies in Sicily and Magna Graecia. It was
used exclusively until after the Macedonian conquest, and was chiefly
applied to temples. The massive temples of Paestum, the colossal
magnificence of the Sicilian ruins, and the more elegant proportions of
the Athenian structures, like the Parthenon and Temple of Theseus, show
the perfection of the Doric architecture. Although the general style of
all the Doric temples is so uniform, hardly two temples were alike. The
earlier Doric was more massive; the later was more elegant, and its
edifices were rich in sculptured decorations. Nothing could surpass the
beauty of a Doric temple in the time of Pericles. The stylobate, or
general base upon which the columnar story stood, from two thirds to a
whole diameter of a column in height, was built in three equal courses,
which gradually receded upward and formed steps, as it were, of a grand
platform. The column, simply set upon the stylobate, without base or
pedestal, was from four to six diameters in height, with twenty flutes,
having a capital of half a diameter. On this rested the entablature, two
column-diameters in height, which was divided into architrave (lower
mouldings), frieze (broad middle space), and cornice (upper mouldings).
The great beauty of the temple was the portico in front,--a forest of
columns supporting the triangular pediment, about a diameter and a half
to the apex, making an angle at the base of about fourteen degrees.
From the pediment projects the cornice, while in the apex and at the
base of the flat three-cornered gable are sculptured ornaments,
generally the figures of men or animals. The whole outline of columns
supporting the entablature is graceful, while the variety of light and
shade arising from the arrangement of mouldings and capitals produces a
grand effect.

The Parthenon, the most beautiful specimen of the Doric, has never been
equalled, and it still stands august in its ruins, the glory of the old
Acropolis and the pride of Athens. It was built of white Pentelic
marble, and rested on a basement of limestone. It was two hundred and
twenty-seven feet in length, one hundred and one in breadth, and
sixty-five in height, surrounded with forty-eight fluted columns, six
feet and two inches at the base and thirty-four feet in height, while
within the peristyle, at either end, was an interior range of columns
standing before the end of the cella. The frieze and the pediment were
elaborately ornamented with reliefs and statues, and the cella, within
and without, was adorned with the choicest sculptures of Phidias, The
remains of the exquisite sculptures of the pediment and the frieze were
in the early part of this century brought from Greece by Lord Elgin,
purchased by the English government, and placed in the British Museum,
where, preserved from further dilapidation, they stand as indisputable
evidence of the perfection of Greek art. The grandest adornment of the
temple was the colossal statue of Minerva in the eastern apartment of
the cella, forty feet in height, composed of gold and ivory; the inner
walls of the chamber were decorated with paintings, and the whole temple
was a repository of countless treasure. But the Parthenon, so regular to
the eye with its vertical, oblique, and horizontal lines, was curved in
every line, with the exception of the gable,--with its entablature,
architrave, frieze, and cornice, together with the basement, all arched
upwards; and even the columns had a slight convexity of vertical line,
amounting to 1/550 of the entire height of shaft, though so slightly as
not to be perceptible. These curved lines gave to the structure a
peculiar grace which cannot be imitated, as well as an effect
of solidity.

Nearly coeval with the Doric was the Ionic order, invented by the
Asiatic Greeks, still more graceful, though not so imposing. The
Acropolis is a perfect example of this order. The column is nine
diameters in height, with a base, while the capital is more ornamented
than the Doric. The shaft is fluted with twenty-four flutes and
alternate fillets (flat longitudinal ridges), and the fillet is about a
quarter the width of the flute. The pediment is flatter than that of
the Doric order, and more elaborate. The great distinction of the Ionic
column is a base, and a capital formed with volutes (spiral scrolls),
the shaft also being more slender. Vitruvius, the greatest authority
among the ancients in architecture, says that "the Greeks, in inventing
these two kinds of columns, imitated in the one the naked simplicity and
dignity of man, and in the other the delicacy and ornaments of woman;
the base of the Ionic was the imitation of sandals, and the volutes of
ringlets." The discoveries of many of the Ionic ornamentations among the
remains of Assyrian architecture indicate the Oriental source of the
Ionic ideas, just as the Doric style seems to have originated in Egypt.
The artistic Greeks, however, always simplified and refined upon
their masters.

The Corinthian order exhibits a still greater refinement and elegance
than the other two, and was introduced toward the end of the
Peloponnesian War. Its peculiarity consists in columns with foliated
capitals modelled after the acanthus leaf, and still greater height,
about ten diameters, surmounted with a more ornamented entablature. Of
this order the most famous temple in Greece was that of Minerva at
Tegea, built by Scopas of Paros, but destroyed by fire four hundred
years before Christ.

Nothing more distinguished Greek architecture than the variety, the
grace, and the beauty of the mouldings, generally in eccentric curves.
The general outline of the moulding is a gracefully flowing cyma, or
wave, concave at one end and convex at the other, like an Italic _f_,
the concavity and convexity being exactly in the same curve, according
to the line of beauty which Hogarth describes.

The most beautiful application of Greek architecture was in the temples,
which were very numerous and of extraordinary grandeur, long before the
Persian War. Their entrance was always from the west or the east. They
were built either in an oblong or round form, and were mostly adorned
with columns. Those of an oblong form had columns either in the front
alone, or in the eastern and western fronts, or on all the four sides.
They generally had porticos attached to them, and were without windows,
receiving their light from the door or from above. The friezes were
adorned with various sculptures, as were sometimes the pediments, and no
expense was spared upon them. The most important part of the temple was
the cell (_cella,_ or temple proper, a square chamber), in which the
statue of the deity was kept, generally surrounded with a balustrade. In
front of the cella was the vestibule, and in the rear or back a chamber
in which the treasures of the temple were kept. Names were applied to
the temples as well as to the porticos, according to the number of
columns in the portico at either end of the temple,--such as the
tetrastyle (four columns in front), or hexastyle (when there were six).
There were never more than ten columns across the front. The Parthenon
had eight, but six was the usual number. It was the rule to have twice
as many columns along the sides as in front. Some of the temples had
double rows of columns on all sides, like that of Diana at Ephesus and
of Quirinus at Rome. The distance between the columns varied from one
diameter and a half to four diameters. About five eighths of a Doric
temple were occupied by the cella, and three eighths by the portico.

That which gives to the Greek temples so much simplicity and
harmony,--the great elements of beauty in architecture,--is the simple
outline in parallelogrammic and pyramidal forms, in which the lines are
uninterrupted through their entire length. This simplicity and harmony
are more apparent in the Doric than in any of the other orders, but
pertain to all the Grecian temples of which we have knowledge. The Ionic
and Corinthian, or the voluted and foliated orders, do not possess that
severe harmony which pervades the Doric; but the more beautiful
compositions are so consummate that they will ever be taken as models
of study.

There is now no doubt that the exteriors of the Grecian temples were
ornamented in color,--perhaps with historical pictures, etc.,--although
as the traces have mostly disappeared it is impossible to know the
extent or mode of decoration. It has been thought that the mouldings
also may have been gilded or colored, and that the background of the
sculptures had some flat color laid on as a relief to the raised
figures. We may be sure, however it was done, that the effect was not
gaudy or crude, but restrained within the limits of refinement and good
taste by the infallible artistic instinct of those masters of the

It is not the magnitude of the Greek temples and other works of art
which most impresses us. It is not for this that they are important
models; it is not for this that they are copied and reproduced in all
the modern nations of Europe. They were generally small compared with
the temples of Egypt, and with the vast dimensions of Roman
amphitheatres; only three or four would compare in size with a Gothic
cathedral,--the Parthenon, the Temple of Olympian Zeus at Athens, and
the Temple of Diana at Ephesus; even the Pantheon at Rome is small,
compared with the later monuments of the Caesars. The traveller is
always disappointed in contemplating the ruins of Greek buildings so far
as size is concerned. But it is their matchless proportions, their
severe symmetry, the grandeur of effect, the undying beauty, the
graceful form which impress us, and make us feel that they are perfect.
By the side of the Colosseum they are insignificant in magnitude; they
do not cover acres, like the baths of Caracalla. Yet who has copied the
Flavian amphitheatre; who erects an edifice after the style of the
Thermae? All artists, however, copy the Parthenon. That, and not the
colossal monuments of the Caesars, reappears in the capitals of Europe,
and stimulates the genius of a Michael Angelo or a Christopher Wren.

The flourishing period of Greek architecture was during the period from
Pericles to Alexander,--one hundred and thirteen years. The Macedonian
conquest introduced more magnificence and less simplicity. The Roman
conquest accelerated the decline in severe taste, when different orders
began to be used indiscriminately.

In this state the art passed into the hands of the masters of the world,
and they inaugurated a new era in architecture. The art was still
essentially Greek, although the Romans derived their first knowledge
from the Etruscans. The Cloaca Maxima, or Great Sewer, was built during
the reign of the second Tarquin,--the grandest monument of the reign of
the kings. It is not probable that temples and other public buildings in
Rome were either beautiful or magnificent until the conquest of Greece,
after which Grecian architects were employed. The Romans adopted the
Corinthian style, which they made even more ornamental; and by the
successful combination of the Etruscan arch with the Grecian column they
laid the foundation of a new and original style, susceptible of great
variety and magnificence. They entered into architecture with the
enthusiasm of their teachers, but in their passion for novelty lost
sight of the simplicity which is the great fascination of a Doric
temple. Says Memes:--

"They [the Romans] deemed that lightness and grace were to be attained
not so much by proportion between the vertical and the horizontal as by
the comparative slenderness of the former. Hence we see a poverty in
Roman architecture in the midst of profuse ornament. The great error was
a constant aim to lessen the diameter while they increased the elevation
of the columns. Hence the massive simplicity and severe grandeur of the
ancient Doric disappear in the Roman, the characteristics of the order
being frittered down into a multiplicity of minute details."

When the Romans used the Doric at all, they used a base for the column,
which was never done at Athens. They also altered the Doric capital,
which cannot be improved. Again, most of the Grecian Doric temples were
peripteral,--surrounded with pillars on all the sides. But the Romans
built with porticos on one front only, which had a greater projection
than the Grecian. They generally were projected three columns, while the
Greek portico had usually but a single row. Many of the Roman temples
are circular, like the Pantheon, which has a portico of eight columns
projected to the depth of three. Nor did the Romans construct hypaethral
or uncovered temples with internal columns, like the Greeks. The
Pantheon is an exception, since the dome has an open eye; and one great
ornament of this beautiful structure is in the arrangement of internal
columns placed in the front of niches, composed of antae, or pier-formed
ends of walls, to carry an entablature round under an attic on which the
cupola rests. The Romans also adopted coupled columns, broken and
recessed entablatures, and pedestals, which are considered blemishes.
They again paid more attention to the interior than to the exterior
decoration of their palaces and baths,--as we may infer from the ruins
of Hadrian's villa at Tivoli and the excavations of Pompeii.

The pediments (roof-angles) used in Roman architectural works are
steeper than those made by the Greeks, varying in inclination from
eighteen to twenty-five degrees, instead of fourteen. The mouldings are
the same as the Grecian in general form, although they differ from them
in contour; they are less delicate and graceful, but were used in great
profusion. Roman architecture is overdone with ornament, every moulding
carved, and every straight surface sculptured with foliage or historical
subjects in relief. The ornaments of the frieze consist of foliage and
animals, with a variety of other things. The great exuberance of
ornament is considered a defect, although when applied to some
structures it is exceedingly beautiful. In the time of the first Caesars
Roman architecture had, from the huge size of the buildings, a character
of grandeur and magnificence. Columns and arches appeared in all the
leading public buildings,--columns generally forming the external and
arches the internal construction. Fabric after fabric arose on the ruins
of others. The Flavii supplanted the edifices of Nero, which ministered
to debauchery, by structures of public utility.

The Romans invented no new principle in architecture, unless it be the
arch, which was known, though not practically applied, by the Assyrians,
Egyptians, and Greeks. The Romans were a practical and utilitarian
people, and needed for their various structures greater economy of
material than was compatible with large blocks of stone, especially for
such as were carried to great altitudes. The arch supplied this want,
and is perhaps the greatest invention ever made in architecture. No
instance of its adoption occurs in the construction of Greek edifices
before Greece became a part of the Roman empire. Its application dates
back to the Cloaca Maxima, and may have been of Etrurian invention. Some
maintain that Archimedes of Sicily was the inventor of the arch; but to
whomsoever the glory of the invention is due, it is certain that the
Romans were the first of European nations to make a practical
application of its wonderful qualities. It enabled them to rear vast
edifices with the humblest materials, to build bridges, aqueducts,
sewers, amphitheatres, and triumphal arches, as well as temples and
palaces. The merits of the arch have never been lost sight of by
succeeding generations, and it is an essential element in the
magnificent Gothic cathedrals of the Middle Ages. Its application
extends to domes and cupolas, to floors and corridors and roofs, and to
various other parts of buildings where economy of material and labor is
desired. It was applied extensively to doorways and windows, and is an
ornament as well as a utility. The most imposing forms of Roman
architecture may be traced to a knowledge of the properties of the arch,
and as brick was more extensively used than any other material, the arch
was invaluable. The imperial palace on Mount Palatine, the Pantheon
(except its portico and internal columns), the temples of Peace, of
Venus and Rome, and of Minerva Medica, were of brick. So were the great
baths of Titus, Caracalla, and Diocletian, the villa of Hadrian, the
city walls, the villa of Mecaenas at Tivoli, and most of the palaces of
the nobility,--although, like many of the temples, they were faced with
stone. The Colosseum was of travertine, a cheap white limestone, and
faced with marble. It was another custom to stucco the surface of brick
walls, as favorable to decorations. In consequence of the invention of
the arch, the Romans erected a greater variety of fine structures than
either the Greeks or Egyptians, whose public edifices were chiefly
confined to temples. The arch entered into almost every structure,
public or private, and superseded the use of long stone-beams, which
were necessary in the Grecian temples, as also of wooden timbers, in the
use of which the Romans were not skilled, and which do not really
pertain to architecture: an imposing edifice must always be constructed
of stone or brick. The arch also enabled the Romans to economize in the
use of costly marbles, of which they were very fond, as well as of other
stones. Some of the finest columns were made of Egyptian granite, very
highly polished.

The extensive application of the arch doubtless led to the deterioration
of the Grecian architecture, since it blended columns with arcades, and
thus impaired the harmony which so peculiarly marked the temples of
Athens and Corinth; and as taste became vitiated with the decline of
the empire, monstrous combinations took place, which were a great fall
from the simplicity of the Parthenon and the interior of the Pantheon.

But whatever defects marked the age of Diocletian and Constantine, it
can never be questioned that the Romans carried architecture to a
perfection rarely attained in our times. They may not have equalled the
severe simplicity of their teachers the Greeks, but they surpassed them
in the richness of their decorations, and in all buildings designed for
utility, especially in private houses and baths and theatres.

The Romans do not seem to have used other than semicircular arches. The
Gothic, or Pointed, or Christian architecture, as it has been variously
called, was the creation of the Middle Ages, and arose almost
simultaneously in Europe after the first Crusade, so that it would seem
to be of Eastern origin. But it was a graft on the old Roman arch, in
the curve of the ellipse rather than the circle.

Aside from this invention of the arch, to which we are indebted for the
most beautiful ecclesiastical structures ever erected, we owe everything
in architecture to the Greeks and Romans. We have found out no new
principles which were not known to Vitruvius. No one man was the
inventor or creator of the wonderful structures which ornamented the
cities of the ancient world. We have the names of great architects, who
reared various and faultless models, but they all worked upon the same
principles, and these can never be subverted; so that in architecture
the ancients are our schoolmasters, whose genius we revere the more we
are acquainted with their works. What more beautiful than one of those
grand temples which the cultivated heathen Greeks erected to the worship
of their unknown gods!--the graduated and receding stylobate as a base
for the fluted columns, rising at regular distances in all their severe
proportion and matchless harmony, with their richly carved capitals
supporting an entablature of heavy stones, most elaborately moulded and
ornamented with the figures of plants and animals; and rising above
this, on the ends of the temple, or over a portico several columns deep,
the pediment, covered with chiselled cornices, with still richer
ornaments rising from the apices and at the feet, all carved in white
marble, and then spread over an area larger than any modern churches,
making a forest of columns to bear aloft those ponderous beams of stone,
without anything tending to break the continuity of horizontal lines, by
which the harmony and simplicity of the whole are regulated! So
accurately squared and nicely adjusted were the stones and pillars of
which these temples were composed, that there was scarcely need even of
cement. Without noise or confusion or sound of hammers did those
temples rise, since all their parts were cut and carved in the distant
quarries, and with mathematical precision. And within the cella, nearly
concealed by surrounding columns, were the statues of the gods, and the
altars on which incense was offered, or sacrifices made. In every part,
interior and exterior, do we see a matchless proportion and beauty,
whether in the shaft or the capital or the frieze or the pilaster or the
pediment or the cornices, or even the mouldings,--everywhere grace and
harmony, which grow upon the mind the more they are contemplated. The
greatest evidence of the matchless creative genius displayed in those
architectural wonders is that after two thousand years, and with all the
inventions of Roman and modern artists, no improvement has been made;
and those edifices which are the admiration of our own times are deemed
beautiful as they approximate the ancient models, which will forever
remain objects of imitation. No science can make two and two other than
four; no art can make a Doric temple different from the Parthenon
without departing from the settled principles of beauty and proportion
which all ages have indorsed. Such were the Greeks and Romans in an art
which is one of the greatest indices of material civilization, and which
by them was derived from geometrical forms, or the imitation of Nature.

The genius displayed by the ancients in sculpture is even more
remarkable than their skill in architecture. Sculpture was carried to
perfection only by the Greeks; but they did not originate the art, since
we read of sculptured images from the remotest antiquity. The earliest
names of sculptors are furnished by the Old Testament. Assyria and Egypt
are full of relics to show how early this art was cultivated. It was not
carried to perfection as early, probably, as architecture; but rude
images of gods, carved in wood, are as old as the history of idolatry.
The history of sculpture is in fact identified with that of idols. The
Egyptians were probably the first who made any considerable advances in
the execution of statues. Those which remain are rude, simple, uniform,
without beauty or grace (except a certain serenity of facial expression
which seems to pervade all their portraiture), but colossal and grand.
Nearly two thousand years before Christ the walls of Thebes were
ornamented with sculptured figures, even as the gates of Babylon were
made of sculptured bronze. The dimensions of Egyptian colossal figures
surpass those of any other nation. The sitting statues of Memnon at
Thebes are fifty feet in height, and the Sphinx is twenty-five,--all of
granite. The number of colossal statues was almost incredible. The
sculptures found among the ruins of Karnak must have been made nearly
four thousand years ago. They exhibit great simplicity of design, but
have not much variety of expression. They are generally carved from the
hardest stones, and finished so nicely that we infer that the Egyptians
were acquainted with the art of hardening metals for their tools to a
degree not known in our times. But we see no ideal grandeur among any of
the remains of Egyptian sculpture; however symmetrical or colossal,
there is no diversity of expression, no trace of emotion, no
intellectual force,--everything is calm, impassive, imperturbable. It
was not until sculpture came into the hands of the Greeks that any
remarkable excellence in grace of form or expression of face was
reached. But the progress of development was slow. The earliest carvings
were rude wooden images of the gods, and more than a thousand years
elapsed before the great masters were produced whose works marked the
age of Pericles.

It is not my object to give a history of the development of the plastic
art, but to show the great excellence it attained in the hands of
immortal sculptors.

The Greeks had an intuitive perception of the beautiful, and to this
great national trait we ascribe the wonderful progress which sculpture
made. Nature was most carefully studied by the Greek artists, and that
which was most beautiful in Nature became the object of their imitation.
They even attained to an ideal excellence, since they combined in a
single statue what could not be found in a single individual,--as Zeuxis
is said to have studied the beautiful forms of seven virgins of Crotona
in order to paint his famous picture of Venus. Great as was the beauty
of Phryne or Aspasia or Lais, yet no one of them could have served for a
perfect model; and it required a great sensibility to beauty in order to
select and idealize what was most perfect in the human figure. Beauty
was adored in Greece, and every means were used to perfect it,
especially beauty of form, which is the characteristic excellence of
Grecian statuary. The gymnasia were universally frequented; and the
great prizes of the games, bestowed for feats of strength and agility,
were regarded as the highest honors which men could receive,--the
subject of the poet's ode and the people's admiration. Statues of the
victors perpetuated their fame and improved the sculptor's art. From the
study of these statues were produced those great creations which all
subsequent ages have admired; and from the application of the principles
seen in these forms we owe the perpetuation of the ideas of grace and
beauty such as no other people besides the Greeks had ever discovered,
or indeed scarcely appreciated. The sculpture of the human figure became
a noble object of ambition in Greece, and was most munificently
rewarded. Great artists arose, whose works adorned the temples of Greece
so long as she preserved her independence, and when that was lost, her
priceless productions were scattered over Asia and Europe. The Romans
especially seized what was most prized, whether or not they could tell
what was most perfect. Greece lived in her marble statues more than in
her government or laws; and when we remember the estimation in which
sculpture was held among the Greeks, the great prices paid for
masterpieces, the care and attention with which they were guarded and
preserved, and the innumerable works which were produced, filling all
the public buildings, especially consecrated places, and even open
spaces and the houses of the rich and great, calling from all classes
admiration and praise,--we cannot think it likely that so great
perfection will ever be reached again in those figures which are
designed to represent beauty of form. Even the comparatively few statues
which have survived the wars and violence of two thousand years,
convince us that the moderns can only imitate; they can produce no
creations equal to those by Athenian artists. "No mechanical copying of
Greek statues, however skilful the copyist, can ever secure for modern
sculpture the same noble and effective character it possessed among the
Greeks, for the simple reason that the imitation, close as may be the
resemblance, is but the result of the eye and hand, while the original
is the expression of a true and deeply felt sentiment. Art was not
sustained by the patronage of a few who affect to have what is called
_taste_; in Greece the artist, having a common feeling for the beautiful
with his countrymen, produced his works for the public, which were
erected in places of honor and dedicated in temples of the gods."

It was not until the Persian wars awakened among the Greeks the
slumbering consciousness of national power, and Athens became the
central point of Grecian civilization, that sculpture, like architecture
and painting, reached its culminating point of excellence under Phidias
and his contemporaries. Great artists had previously made themselves
famous, like Miron, Polycletus, and Ageladas; but the great riches which
flowed into Athens at this time gave a peculiar stimulus to art,
especially under the encouragement of such a ruler as Pericles, whose
age was the golden era of Grecian history.

Pheidias, or Phidias, was to sculpture what Aeschylus was to tragic
poetry,--the representative of the sublime and grand. He was born four
hundred and eighty-four years before Christ, and was the pupil of
Ageladas. He stands at the head of the ancient sculptors, not from what
_we_ know of him, for his masterpieces have perished, but from the
estimation in which he was held by the greatest critics of antiquity. It
was to him that Pericles intrusted the adornment of the Parthenon, and
the numerous and beautiful sculptures of the frieze and the pediment
were the work of artists whom he directed. His great work in that
wonderful edifice was the statue of the goddess Minerva herself, made of
gold and ivory, forty feet in height, standing victorious, with a spear
in her left hand and an image of victory in her right, with helmet on
her head, and her shield resting by her side. The cost of this statue
may be estimated when we consider that the gold alone used upon it was
valued at forty-four talents, equal to five hundred thousand dollars of
our money,--an immense sum in that age. Some critics suppose that this
statue was overloaded with ornament, but all antiquity was unanimous in
its admiration. The exactness and finish of detail were as remarkable as
the grandeur of the proportions. Another of the famous works of Phidias
was a colossal bronze statue of Athene Promachos, sixty feet in height,
on the Acropolis between the Propylaea and the Parthenon. But both of
these yielded to the colossal statue of Zeus in his great temple at
Olympia, represented in a sitting posture, forty feet high, on a
pedestal of twenty feet. The god was seated on a throne. Ebony, gold,
ivory, and precious stones formed, with a multitude of sculptured and
painted figures, the wonderful composition of this throne. In this his
greatest work the artist sought to embody the idea of majesty and
repose,--of a supreme deity no longer engaged in war with Titans and
Giants, but enthroned as a conqueror, ruling with a nod the subject
world, and giving his blessing to those victories which gave glory to
the Greeks. So famous was this statue, which was regarded as the
masterpiece of Grecian art, that it was considered a calamity to die
without having seen it; and this served for a model for all subsequent
representations of majesty and power in repose among the ancients. It
was removed to Constantinople by Theodosius I., and was destroyed by
fire in the year 475 A.D. Phidias executed various other famous works,
which have perished; but even those that were executed under his
superintendence which have come down to our times,--like the statues
which ornamented the pediment of the Parthenon,--are among the finest
specimens of art that exist, and exhibit the most graceful and
appropriate forms which could have been selected, uniting grandeur with
simplicity, and beauty with accuracy of anatomical structure. His
distinguishing excellence was ideal beauty, and that of the
sublimest order.

Of all the wonders and mysteries of ancient art the colossal statues of
ivory and gold were perhaps the most remarkable, and the difficulty of
executing them has been set forth by the ablest of modern critics, like
Winckelmann, Heyne, and De Quincey. "The grandeur of their dimensions,
the perfection of their workmanship, the richness of their materials,
their majesty, beauty, and ideal truth, the splendor of the architecture
and pictorial decoration with which they were associated,--all conspired
to impress the beholder with wonder and awe, and induce a belief of the
actual presence of the god."

After the Peloponnesian War a new school of art arose in Athens, which
appealed more to the passions. Of this school was Praxiteles, who aimed
to please without seeking to elevate or instruct. No one has probably
ever surpassed him in execution. He wrought in bronze and marble, and
was one of the artists who adorned the Mausoleum of Artemisia. Without
attempting the sublime impersonation of the deity, in which Phidias
excelled, he was unsurpassed in the softer graces and beauties of the
human form, especially in female figures. His most famous work was an
undraped statue of Venus, for his native town of Cnidus, which was so
remarkable that people flocked from all parts of Greece to see it. He
did not aim at ideal majesty so much as at ideal gracefulness; his works
were formed from the most beautiful living models, and hence expressed
only the ideal of sensuous charms. It is probable that the Venus de
Medici of Cleomenes was a mere copy of the Aphrodite of Praxiteles,
which was so highly extolled by, the ancient authors; it was of Parian
marble, and modelled from the celebrated Phryne. His statues of Dionysus
also expressed the most consummate physical beauty, representing the god
as a beautiful youth crowned with ivy, and expressing tender and dreamy
emotions. Praxiteles sculptured several figures of Eros, or the god of
love, of which that at Thespiae attracted visitors to the city in the
time of Cicero. It was subsequently carried to Rome, and perished by a
conflagration in the time of Titus. One of the most celebrated statues
of this artist was an Apollo, many copies of which still exist. His
works were very numerous, but chiefly from the circle of Dionysus,
Aphrodite, and Eros, in which adoration for corporeal attractions is the
most marked peculiarity, and for which the artist was fitted by his
dissolute life.

Scopas was the contemporary of Praxiteles, and was the author of the
celebrated group of Niobe, which is one of the chief ornaments of the
gallery of sculpture at Florence. He flourished about three hundred and
fifty years before Christ, and wrought chiefly in marble. He was
employed in decorating the Mausoleum which Artemisia erected to her
husband,--one of the wonders of the world. His masterpiece is said to
have been a group representing Achilles conducted to the island of Leuce
by the divinities of the sea, which ornamented the shrine of Domitius in
the Flaminian Circus. In this, tender grace, heroic grandeur, daring
power, and luxurious fulness of life were combined with wonderful
harmony. Like the other great artists of this school, Scopas exhibited
the grandeur and sublimity for which Phidias was celebrated, but a
greater refinement and luxury, as well as skill in the use of drapery.

Sculpture in Greece culminated, as an art, in Lysippus, who worked
chiefly in bronze. He is said to have executed fifteen hundred statues,
and was much esteemed by Alexander the Great, by whom he was extensively
patronized. He represented men not as they were, but as they appeared to
be; and if he exaggerated, he displayed great energy of action. He aimed
to idealize merely human beauty, and his imitation of Nature was carried
out in the minutest details. None of his works are extant; but as he
alone was permitted to make the statue of Alexander, we infer that he
had no equals. The Emperor Tiberius transferred one of his statues (that
of an athlete) from the baths of Agrippa to his own chamber, which so
incensed the people that he was obliged to restore it. His favorite
subject was Hercules, and a colossal statue of this god was carried to
Rome by Fabius Maximus, when he took Tarentum, and afterward was
transferred to Constantinople; the Farnese Hercules and the Belvidere
Torso are probably copies of this work. He left many eminent scholars,
among whom were Chares (who executed the famous Colossus of Rhodes),
Agesander, Polydorus, and Athenodorus who sculptured the group of the
"Laocoön." The Rhodian school was the immediate offshoot from the school
of Lysippus at Sicyon; and from this small island of Rhodes the Romans,
when they conquered it, carried away three thousand statues. The
Colossus was one of the wonders of the world (seventy cubits in height);
and the Laocoön (the group of the Trojan hero and his two sons encoiled
by serpents) is a perfect miracle of art, in which pathos is exhibited
in the highest degree ever attained in sculpture. It was discovered in
1506, near the baths of Titus, and is one of the choicest remains of
ancient plastic art.

The great artists of antiquity did not confine themselves to the
representation of man, but also carved animals with exceeding accuracy
and beauty. Nicias was famous for his dogs, Myron for his cows, and
Lysippus for his horses. Praxiteles composed his celebrated lion after a
living animal. "The horses of the frieze of the Elgin Marbles," says
Flaxman, "appear to live and move; to roll their eyes, to gallop,
prance, and curvet; the veins of their faces and legs seem distended
with circulation. The beholder is charmed with the deer-like lightness
and elegance of their make; and although the relief is not above an inch
from the background, and they are so much smaller than nature, we can
scarcely suffer reason to persuade us they are not alive." The Greeks
also carved gems, cameos, medals, and vases, with unapproachable
excellence. Very few specimens have come down to our times, but those
which we possess show great beauty both in design and execution.

Grecian statuary began with ideal representations of the deities, and
was carried to the greatest perfection by Phidias in his statues of
Jupiter and Minerva. Then succeeded the school of Praxiteles, in which
the figures of gods and goddesses were still represented, but in mortal
forms. The school of Lysippus was famous for the statues of celebrated
men, especially in cities where Macedonian rulers resided. Artists were
expected henceforth to glorify kings and powerful nobles and rulers by
portrait statues. From this period, however, plastic art degenerated;
nor were works of original genius produced, but rather copies or
varieties from the three great schools to which allusion has been made.
Sculpture may have multiplied, but not new creations; although some
imitations of great merit were produced, like the Hermaphrodite, the
Torso, the Farnese Hercules, and the Fighting Gladiator. When Corinth
was sacked by Mummius, some of the finest statues of Greece were carried
to Rome; and after the civil war between Caesar and Pompey, the Greek
artists emigrated to Italy. The fall of Syracuse introduced many works
of priceless value into Rome; but it was from Athens, Delphi, Corinth,
Elis, and other great centres of art that the richest treasures were
brought. Greece was despoiled to ornament Italy.

The Romans did not create a school of sculpture. They borrowed wholly
from the Greeks, yet made, especially in the time of Hadrian, many
beautiful statues. They were fond of this art, and all eminent men had
statues erected to their memory. The busts of emperors were found in
every great city, and Rome was filled with statues. The monuments of the
Romans were even more numerous than those of the Greeks, and among them
some admirable portraits are found. These sculptures did not express
that consummation of beauty and grace, of refinement and sentiment,
which marked the Greeks; but the imitations were good. Art had reached
its perfection under Lysippus; there was nothing more to learn. Genius
in that department could soar no higher. It will never rise to
loftier heights.

It is noteworthy that the purest forms of Grecian art arose in its
earlier stages. From a moral point of view, sculpture declined from the
time of Phidias. It was prostituted at Rome under the emperors. The
specimens which have often been found among the ruins of ancient baths
make us blush for human nature. The skill of execution did not decline
for several centuries; but the lofty ideal was lost sight of, and gross
appeals to human passions were made by those who sought to please
corrupt leaders of society in an effeminate age. The turgidity and
luxuriance of art gradually passed into tameness and poverty. The
reliefs on the Arch of Constantine are rude and clumsy compared with
those on the column of Marcus Aurelius.

It is not my purpose to describe the decline of art, or enumerate the
names of the celebrated masters who exalted sculpture in the palmy days
of Pericles or even Alexander. I simply speak of sculpture as an art
which reached a great perfection among the Greeks and Romans, as we have
a right to infer from the specimens that have been preserved. How many
more must have perished, we may infer from the criticisms of the ancient
authors. The finest productions of our own age are in a measure
reproductions; they cannot be called creations, like the statue of the
Olympian Jove. Even the Moses of Michael Angelo is a Grecian god, and
Powers's Greek Slave is a copy of an ancient Venus. The very tints which
have been admired in some of the works of modern sculptors are borrowed
from Praxiteles, who succeeded in giving to his statues an appearance of
living flesh. The Museum of the Vatican alone contains several thousand
specimens of ancient sculpture which have been found among the débris of
former magnificence, many of which are the productions of Greek artists
transported to Rome. Among them are antique copies of the Cupid and the
Faun of Praxiteles, the statue of Demosthenes, the Minerva Medica, the
Athlete of Lysippus, the Torso Belvedere sculptured by Apollonius, the
Belvidere Antinous, of faultless anatomy and a study for Domenichino,
the Laocoön, so panegyrized by Pliny, the Apollo Belvedere, the work of
Agasias of Ephesus, the Sleeping Ariadne, with numerous other statues of
gods and goddesses, emperors, philosophers, poets, and statesmen of
antiquity. The Dying Gladiator, which ornaments the capitol, is alone a
magnificent proof of the perfection to which sculpture was carried
centuries after the art had culminated at Athens. And these are only a
few which stand out among the twenty thousand recovered statues that now
embellish Italy, to say nothing of those that are scattered over Europe.
We have the names of hundreds of artists who were famous in their day.
Not merely the figures of men are chiselled, but of animals and plants.
Nature in all her forms was imitated; and not merely Nature, but the
dresses of the ancients are perpetuated in marble. No modern sculptor
has equalled, in delicacy of finish, the draperies of those ancient
statues as they appear to us even after the exposure and accidents of
two thousand years. No one, after a careful study of the museums of
Europe, can question that of all the nations who have claimed to be
civilized, the ancient Greeks and Romans deserve a proud pre-eminence in
an art which is still regarded as among the highest triumphs of human
genius. All these matchless productions of antiquity are the result of
native genius alone, without the aid of Christian ideas. Nor with the
aid of Christianity are we sure that any nation will ever soar to
loftier heights than did the Greeks in that proud realm which was
consecrated to Paganism.

We are not so certain in regard to the excellence of the ancients in the
art of painting as we are in regard to sculpture and architecture, since
so few specimens of painting have been preserved. We have only the
testimony of the ancients themselves; and as they had so severe a taste
and so great a susceptibility to beauty in all its forms, we cannot
suppose that their notions were crude in this great art which the
moderns have carried to such great perfection. In this art the moderns
doubtless excel, especially in perspective and drawing, and light and
shade. No age, we fancy, can surpass Italy in the fifteenth and
sixteenth centuries, when the genius of Raphael, Correggio, and
Domenichino blazed with such wonderful brilliancy.

Painting in some form, however, is very ancient, though not so ancient
as are the temples of the gods and the statues that were erected to
their worship. It arose with the susceptibility to beauty of form and
color, and with the view of conveying thoughts and emotions of the soul
by imitation of their outward expression. The walls of Babylon were
painted after Nature with representations of different species of
animals and of combats between them and man. Semiramis was represented
as on horseback, striking a leopard with a dart, and her husband Ninus
as wounding a lion. Ezekiel describes various idols and beasts portrayed
upon the walls, and even princes painted in vermilion, with girdles
around their loins. In ages almost fabulous there were some rude
attempts in this art, which probably arose from the coloring of statues
and reliefs. The wooden chests of Egyptian mummies are covered with
painted and hieroglyphic presentations of religious subjects; but the
colors were laid without regard to light and shade. The Egyptians did
not seek to represent the passions and emotions which agitate the soul,
but rather to authenticate events and actions; and hence their
paintings, like hieroglyphics, are but inscriptions. It was their great
festivals and religious rites which they sought to perpetuate, not ideas
of beauty or of grace. Thus their paintings abound with dismembered
animals, plants, and flowers, with censers, entrails,--whatever was used
in their religious worship. In Greece also the original painting
consisted in coloring statues and reliefs of wood and clay. At Corinth,
painting was early united with the fabrication of vases, on which were
rudely painted figures of men and animals. Among the Etruscans, before
Rome was founded, it is said there were beautiful paintings, and it is
probable that these people were advanced in art before the Greeks. There
were paintings in some of the old Etruscan cities which the Roman
emperors wished to remove, so much admired were they even in the days of
the greatest splendor. The ancient Etruscan vases are famous for designs
which have never been exceeded in purity of form, but it is probable
that these were copied from the Greeks.

Whether the Greeks or the Etruscans were the first to paint, however,
the art was certainly carried to the greatest perfection among the
former. The development of it was, like all arts, very gradual. It
probably began by drawing the outline of a shadow, without intermediate
markings; the next step was the complete outline with the inner
markings,--such as are represented on the ancient vases, or like the
designs of Flaxman. They were originally practised on a white ground;
then light and shade were introduced, and then the application of colors
in accordance with Nature. We read of a great painting by Bularchus, of
the battle of Magnete, purchased by a king of Lydia seven hundred and
eighteen years before Christ. As the subject was a battle, it must have
represented the movement of figures, although we know nothing of the
coloring or of the real excellence of the work, except that the artist
was paid munificently. Cimon of Cleona is the first great name connected
with the art in Greece. He is praised by Pliny, to whom we owe the
history of ancient painting more than to any other author. Cimon was not
satisfied with drawing simply the outlines of his figures, such as we
see in the oldest painted vases, but he also represented limbs, and
folds of garments. He invented the art of foreshortening, or the various
representations of the diminution of the length of figures as they
appear when looked at obliquely; and hence was the first painter of
perspective. He first made muscular articulations, indicated the veins,
and gave natural folds to drapery.

A much greater painter than he was Polygnotus of Thasos, the
contemporary of Phidias, who came to Athens about the year 463
B.C.,--one of the greatest geniuses of any age, and one of the most
magnanimous, who had the good fortune to live in an age of exceeding
intellectual activity. He painted on panels, which were afterward let
into the walls, being employed on the public buildings of Athens, and on
the great temple of Delphi, the hall of which he painted gratuitously.
He also decorated the Propylaea, which was erected under the
superintendence of Phidias. The pictures of Polygnotus had nothing of
that elaborate grouping, aided by the powers of perspective, so much
admired in modern art. His greatness lay in statuesque painting, which
he brought nearly to perfection by ideal expression, accurate drawing,
and improved coloring. He used but few colors, and softened the rigidity
of his predecessors by making the mouth of beauty smile. He gave great
expression to the face and figure, and his pictures were models of
excellence for the beauty of the eyebrows, the blush upon the cheeks,
and the gracefulness of the draperies. He strove, like Phidias, to
express character in repose. He imitated the personages and the subjects
of the old mythology, and treated them in an epic spirit, his subjects
being almost invariably taken from Homer and the Epic cycle.

Among the works of Polygnotus, as mentioned by Pliny, are his paintings
in the Temple at Delphi, in the Propylaea of the Acropolis, in the
Temple of Theseus, and in the Temple of the Dioscuri at Athens. He
painted in a truly religious spirit, and upon symmetrical principles,
with great grandeur and freedom, resembling Michael Angelo more than any
other modern artist.

The use of oil was unknown to the ancients. The artists painted upon
wood, clay, plaster, stone, parchment, but not upon canvas, which was
not used till the time of Nero. They painted upon tablets or panels, and
not upon the walls,--the panels being afterward framed and encased in
the walls. The stylus, or cestrum, used in drawing and for spreading the
wax colors was pointed on one end and flat on the other, and generally
made of metal. Wax was prepared by purifying and bleaching, and then
mixed with colors. When painting was practised in watercolors, glue was
used with the white of an egg or with gums; but wax and resins were also
worked with water, with certain preparations. This latter mode was
called encaustic, and was, according to Plutarch, the most durable of
all methods. It was not generally adopted till the time of Alexander the
Great. Wax was a most essential ingredient, since it prevented the
colors from cracking. Encaustic painting was practised both with the
cestrum and the pencil, and the colors were also burned in.

Fresco, or water-color, on fresh plaster, was used for coloring walls,
which were divided into compartments or panels. The composition of the
stucco, and the method of preparing the walls for painting, is described
by the ancient writers: "They first covered the walls with a layer of
ordinary plaster, over which, when dry, were successively added three
other layers of a finer quality, mixed with sand. Above these were
placed three layers of a composition of chalk and marble-dust, the upper
one being laid on before the under one was dry; by which process the
different layers were so bound together that the whole mass formed one
beautiful and solid slab, resembling marble, and was capable of being
detached from the wall and transported in a wooden frame to any
distance. The colors were applied when the composition was still wet.
The fresco wall, when painted, was covered with an encaustic varnish,
both to heighten the color and to preserve it from the effects of the
sun or the weather; but this process required so much care, and was
attended with so much expense, that it was used only in the better
houses and palaces." The later discoveries at Pompeii show the same
correctness of design in painting as in sculpture, and also considerable
perfection in coloring. The great artists of Greece--Phidias and
Euphranor, Zeuxis and Protogenes, Polygnotus and Lysippus--were both
sculptors and painters, like Michael Angelo; and the ancient writers
praise the paintings of these great artists as much as their sculpture.
The Aldobrandini Marriage, found on the Esquiline Mount during the
pontificate of Clement VIII., and placed in the Vatican by Pius VII., is
admired both for drawing and color. Polygnotus was praised by Aristotle
for his designs, and by Lucian for his color.

Dionysius and Mikon were the great contemporaries of Polygnotus, the
former being celebrated for his portraits. His pictures were deficient
in the ideal, but were remarkable for expression and elegant drawing.
Mikon was particularly skilled in painting horses, and was the first who
used for a color the light Attic ochre, and the black made from burnt
vine-twigs. He painted three of the walls of the Temple of Theseus, and
also the walls of the Temple of the Dioscuri.

A greater painter still was Apollodorus of Athens. Through his labors,
about 408 B.C., dramatic effect was added to the style of Polygnotus,
without departing from his pictures as models. "The acuteness of his
taste," says Fuseli, "led him to discover that as all men were connected
by one general form, so they were separated each by some predominant
power, which fixed character and bound them to a class. Thence he drew
his line of imitation, and personified the central form of the class to
which his object belonged, and to which the rest of its qualities
administered without being absorbed. Agility was not suffered to destroy
firmness, solidity, or weight; nor strength and weight, agility.
Elegance did not degenerate into effeminacy, nor grandeur swell to
hugeness." His aim was to deceive the eye of the spectator by the
semblance of reality: he painted men and things as they really appeared.
He also made a great advance in coloring: he invented chiaro-oscuro.
Other painters had given attention to the proper gradation of light and
shade; he heightened this effect by the gradation of tints, and thus
obtained what the moderns call _tone_. He was the first who conferred
due honor on the pencil,--_primusque gloriam penicillo jure contulit_.

This great painter was succeeded by Zeuxis, who belonged to his school,
but who surpassed him in the power to give ideal form to rich effects.
He began his great career four hundred and twenty-four years before
Christ, and was most remarkable for his female figures. His Helen,
painted from five of the most beautiful women of Croton, was one of the
most renowned productions of antiquity, to see which the painter
demanded money. He gave away his pictures, because, with an artist's
pride, he maintained that their price could not be estimated. There is
a tradition that Zeuxis laughed himself to death over an old woman
painted by him. He arrived at illusion of the senses, regarded as a high
attainment in art,--as in the instance recorded of his grapes, at which
the birds pecked. He belonged to the Asiatic school, whose headquarters
were at Ephesus,--the peculiarities of which were accuracy of imitation,
the exhibition of sensuous charms, and the gratification of sensual
tastes. He went to Athens about the time that the sculpture of Phidias
was completed, which modified his style. His marvellous powers were
displayed in the contrast of light and shade, which he learned from
Apollodorus. He gave ideal beauty to his figures, but it was in form
rather than in expression. He taught the true method of grouping, by
making each figure the perfect representation of the class to which it
belonged. His works were deficient in those qualities which elevate the
feelings and the character. He was the Euripides rather than the Homer
of his art. He exactly imitated natural objects, which are incapable of
ideal representation. His works were not so numerous as they were
perfect in their way, in some of which, as in the Infant Hercules
strangling the Serpent, he displayed great dramatic power. Lucian highly
praises his Female Centaur as one of the most remarkable paintings of
the world, in which he showed great ingenuity of contrasts. His Jupiter
Enthroned is also extolled by Pliny, as one of his finest works. Zeuxis
acquired a great fortune, and lived ostentatiously.

Contemporaneous with Zeuxis, and equal in fame, was Parrhasius, a native
of Ephesus, whose skill lay in accuracy of drawing and power of
expression. He gave to painting true proportion, and attended to minute
details of the countenance and the hair. In his gods and heroes, he did
for painting what Phidias did in sculpture. His outlines were so perfect
as to indicate those parts of the figure which they did not express. He
established a rule of proportion which was followed by all succeeding
artists. While many of his pieces were of a lofty character, some were
demoralizing. Zeuxis yielded the palm to him, since Parrhasius painted a
curtain which deceived his rival, whereas the grapes of Zeuxis had
deceived only birds. Parrhasius was exceedingly arrogant and luxurious,
and boasted of having reached the utmost limits of his art. He combined
the magic tone of Apollodorus with the exquisite design of Zeuxis and
the classic expression of Polygnotus.

Many were the eminent painters that adorned the fifth century before
Christ, not only in Athens, but in the Ionian cities of Asia. Timanthes
of Sicyon was distinguished for invention, and Eupompus of the same
city founded a school. His advice to Lysippus is memorable: "Let Nature,
not an artist, be your model." Protogenes was celebrated for his high
finish. His Talissus took him seven years to complete. Pamphilus was
celebrated for composition, Antiphilus for facility, Theon of Samos for
prolific fancy, Apelles for grace, Pausias for his chiaro-oscuro,
Nicomachus for his bold and rapid pencil, Aristides for depth of

The art probably culminated in Apelles, who was at once a rich colorist
and portrayer of sensuous charm and a scientific artist, while he added
a peculiar grace of his own, which distinguished him above both his
predecessors and contemporaries. He was contemporaneous with Alexander,
and was alone allowed to paint the picture of the great conqueror.
Apelles was a native of Ephesus, studied under Pamphilus of Amphipolis,
and when he had gained reputation he went to Sicyon and took lessons
from Melanthius. He spent the best part of his life at the court of
Philip and Alexander, and painted many portraits of these great men and
of their generals. He excelled in portraits, and labored so assiduously
to perfect himself in drawing that he never spent a day without
practising. He made great improvement in the mechanical part of his art,
inventing some colors, and being the first to varnish pictures. By the
general consent of ancient authors, Apelles stands at the head of all
the painters of their world. His greatest work was his Venus Anadyomene,
or Venus rising out of the sea, in which female grace was personified;
the falling drops of water from her hair gave the appearance of a
transparent silver veil over her form. This picture cost one hundred
talents, was painted for the Temple of Aesculapius at Cos, and afterward
placed by Augustus in the temple which he dedicated to Julius Caesar.
The lower part of it becoming injured, no one could be found to repair
it; nor was there an artist who could complete an unfinished picture
which Apelles left. He feared no criticism, and was unenvious of the
fame of rivals.

After Apelles, the art of painting declined, although great painters
occasionally appeared, especially from the school of Sicyon, which was
renowned for nearly two hundred years. The destruction of Corinth by
Mummius, 146 B.C., gave a severe blow to Grecian art. This general
destroyed, or carried to Rome, more works than all his predecessors
combined. Sulla, when he spoiled Athens, inflicted a still greater
injury; and from that time artists resorted to Rome and Alexandria and
other flourishing cities for patronage and remuneration. The
masterpieces of famous artists brought enormous prices, and Greece and
Asia were ransacked for old pictures. The paintings which Aemilius
Paulus brought from Greece required two hundred and fifty wagons to
carry them in the triumphal procession. With the spoliation of Greece,
the migration of artists began; and this spoliation of Greece, Asia, and
Sicily continued for two centuries. We have already said that such was
the wealth of Rhodes in works of art that three thousand statues were
found there by the conquerors; nor could there have been less at Athens,
Olympia, and Delphi. Scaurus had all the public pictures of Sicyon
transported to Rome. Verres plundered every temple and public building
in Sicily.

Thus Rome was possessed of the finest paintings in the world, without
the slightest claim to the advancement of the art. And if the opinion of
Sir Joshua Reynolds is correct, art could advance no higher in the realm
of painting, as well as of statuary, than the Greeks had already borne
it. Yet the Romans learned to place as high value on the works of
Grecian genius as the English do on the paintings of the old masters of
Italy and Flanders. And if they did not add to the art, they gave such
encouragement that under the emperors it may be said to have been
flourishing. Varro had a gallery of seven hundred portraits of eminent
men. The portraits as well as the statues of the great were placed in
the temples, libraries, and public buildings. The baths especially were
filled with paintings.

The great masterpieces of the Greeks were either historical or
mythological. Paintings of gods and heroes, groups of men and women, in
which character and passion could be delineated, were the most highly
prized. It was in the expression given to the human figure--in beauty of
form and countenance, in which all the emotions of the soul, as well as
the graces of the body were portrayed--that the Greek artists sought to
reach the ideal, and to gain immortality. And they painted for a people
who had both a natural and a cultivated taste and sensibility.

Among the Romans portrait, decorative, and scene painting engrossed the
art, much to the regret of such critics as Pliny and Vitruvius. Nothing
could be in more execrable taste than a colossal painting of Nero, one
hundred and twenty feet high. From the time of Augustus landscape
decorations were common, and were carried out with every species of
license. Among the Greeks we do not read of landscape painting. This has
been reserved for our age, and is much admired, as it was at Rome in the
latter days of the empire. Mosaic work, of inlaid stones or composition
of varying shades and colors, gradually superseded painting in Rome; it
was first used for floors, and finally walls and ceilings were
ornamented with it. It is true, the ancients could show no such
exquisite perfection of colors, tints, and shades as may be seen to-day
in the wonderful reproductions of world-renowned paintings on the walls
of St. Peter's at Rome; but many ancient mosaics have been preserved
which attest beauty of design of the highest character,--like the Battle
of Issus, lately discovered at Pompeii; and this brilliant art had its
origin and a splendid development at the hands of the old Romans.

Thus in all those arts of which modern civilization is proudest, and in
which the genius of man has soared to the loftiest heights, the ancients
were not merely our equals,--they were our superiors. It is greater to
originate than to copy. In architecture, in sculpture, and perhaps in
painting, the Greeks attained absolute perfection. Any architect of our
time, who should build an edifice in different proportions from those
that were recognized in the great cities of antiquity, would make a
mistake. Who can improve upon the Doric columns of the Parthenon, or
upon the Corinthian capitals of the Temple of Jupiter? Indeed, it is in
proportion as we accurately copy the faultless models of the age of
Pericles that excellence with us is attained and recognized; when we
differ from them we furnish grounds of just criticism. So in
sculpture,--the finest modern works are inspired by antique models. It
is only when the artist seeks to bring out the purest and loftiest
sentiments of the soul, such as only Christianity can inspire, that he
may hope to surpass the sculpture of antiquity in one department of that
art alone,--in expression, rather than in beauty of form, on which no
improvement can be made. And if we possessed the painted Venus of
Apelles, as we can boast of having the sculptured Venus of Cleomenes, we
should probably discover greater richness of coloring as well as grace
of figure than appear in that famous picture of Titian which is one of
the proudest ornaments of the galleries of Florence, and one of the
greatest marvels of Italian art.

       *       *       *       *       *


Winckelmann's History of Ancient Art; Müller's Ancient Art and its
Remains; A.J. Guattani, Antiquités de la Grande Grèce; Mazois,
Antiquités de Pompeii; Sir W. Gill, Pompeiana; Donaldson's Antiquities
of Athens; Vitruvius, Stuart, Chandler, Clarke, Dodwell, Cleghorn, De
Quincey, Fergusson, Schliemann,--these are some of the innumerable
authorities on Architecture among the ancients.

In Sculpture, Pliny and Cicero are the most noted critics. There is a
fine article in the Encyclopaedia Britannica on this subject. In Smith's
Dictionary are the Lives and works of the most noted masters. Müller's
Ancient Art alludes to the leading masterpieces. Montfauçon's Antiquité
Expliquée en Figures; Specimens of Ancient Sculpture, by the Society of
Dilettanti, London, 1809; Ancient Marbles of the British Museum, by
Taylor Combe; Millin, Introduction à l'Étude des Monuments Antiques;
Monuments Inédits d'Antiquité figurée, recuellis et publiés par
Raoul-Rochette; Gerhard's Archäologische Zeitung; David's Essai sur le
Classement Chronologique des Sculpteurs Grecs les plus célèbres.

In Painting, see Müller's Ancient Art; Fuseli's Lectures; Sir Joshua
Reynolds's Lectures; Lanzi's History of Painting in Italy (translated by
Roscoe); and the Article on "Painting," Encyclopaedia Britannica, and
Article "Pictura," Smith's Dictionary, both of which last mentioned
refer to numerous German, French, and other authorities, should the
reader care to pursue the subject. Vitruvius (on Architecture,
translated by Gwilt) writes at some length on ancient wall-paintings.
The finest specimens of ancient paintings are found in catacombs, the
baths, and the ruins of Pompeii. On this subject Winckelmann is the
great authority.



2000-100 B.C.

It would be absurd to claim for the ancients any great attainments in
science, such as they made in the field of letters or the realm of art.
It is in science, especially when applied to practical life, that the
moderns show their great superiority to the most enlightened nations of
antiquity. In this great department of human inquiry modern genius
shines with the lustre of the sun. It is this which most strikingly
attests the advance of civilization. It is this which has distinguished
and elevated the races of Europe, and carried them in the line of
progress beyond the attainments of the Greeks and Romans. With the
magnificent discoveries and inventions of the last three hundred years
in almost every department of science, especially in the explorations of
distant seas and continents, in the analysis of chemical compounds, in
the wonders of steam and electricity, in mechanical appliances to
abridge human labor, in astronomical researches, in the explanation of
the phenomena of the heavens, in the miracles which inventive genius has
wrought,--seen in our ships, our manufactories, our printing-presses,
our observatories, our fortifications, our laboratories, our mills, our
machines to cultivate the earth, to make our clothes, to build our
houses, to multiply our means of offence and defence, to make weak
children do the work of Titans, to measure our time with the accuracy of
the planetary orbits, to use the sun itself in perpetuating our
likenesses to distant generations, to cause a needle to guide the
mariner with assurance on the darkest night, to propel a heavy ship
against wind and tide without oars or sails, to make carriages ascend
mountains without horses at the rate of thirty miles an hour, to convey
intelligence with the speed of lightning from continent to continent and
under oceans that ancient navigators never dared to cross,--these and
other wonders attest an ingenuity and audacity of intellect which would
have overwhelmed with amazement the most adventurous of Greeks and the
most potent of Romans.

But the great discoveries and inventions to which we owe this marked
superiority are either accidental or the result of generations of
experiment, assisted by an immense array of ascertained facts from which
safe inductions can be made. It is not, probably, the superiority of
the European races over the Greeks and Romans to which we may ascribe
the wonderful advance of modern society, but the particular direction
which genius was made to take. Had the Greeks given the energy of their
minds to mechanical forces as they did to artistic creations, they might
have made wonderful inventions. But it was not so ordered by Providence.
At that time the world was not in the stage of development when this
particular direction of intellect could have been favored. The
development of the physical sciences, with their infinite multiplicity
and complexity, required more centuries of observation, collection and
collation of facts, deductions from known phenomena, than the ancients
had had to work with; while the more ethereal realms of philosophy,
ethics, aesthetics, and religion, though needing keen study of Nature
and of man, depended more upon inner spiritual forces, and less upon
accumulated detail of external knowledge. Yet as there were some
subjects which the Greeks and Romans seemed to exhaust, some fields of
labor and thought in which they never have been and perhaps never will
be surpassed, so some future age may direct its energies into channels
that are as unknown to us as clocks and steam-engines were to the
Greeks. This is the age of mechanism and of science; and mechanism and
science sweep everything before them, and will probably be carried to
their utmost capacity and development. After that the human mind may
seek some new department, some new scope for its energies, and an age of
new wonders may arise,--perhaps after the present dominant races shall
have become intoxicated with the greatness of their triumphs and have
shared the fate of the old monarchies of the East. But I would not
speculate on the destinies of the European nations, whether they are to
make indefinite advances until they occupy and rule the whole world, or
are destined to be succeeded by nations as yet undeveloped,--savages, as
their fathers were when Rome was in the fulness of material wealth
and grandeur.

I have shown that in the field of artistic excellence, in literary
composition, in the arts of government and legislation, and even in the
realm of philosophical speculation, the ancients were our
school-masters, and that among them were some men of most marvellous
genius, who have had no superiors among us. But we do not see among them
the exhibition of genius in what we call science, at least in its
application to practical life. It would be difficult to show any
department of science which the ancients carried to any considerable
degree of perfection. Nevertheless, there were departments in which they
made noble attempts, and in which they showed large capacity, even if
they were unsuccessful in great practical results.

Astronomy was one of these. In this science such men as Eratosthenes,
Aristarchus, Hipparchus, and Ptolemy were great lights of whom humanity
may be proud; and had they been assisted by our modern inventions, they
might have earned a fame scarcely eclipsed by that of Kepler and Newton.
The old astronomers did little to place this science on a true
foundation, but they showed great ingenuity, and discovered some truths
which no succeeding age has repudiated. They determined the
circumference of the earth by a method identical with that which would
be employed by modern astronomers; they ascertained the position of the
stars by right ascension and declination; they knew the obliquity of the
ecliptic, and determined the place of the sun's apogee as well as its
mean motion. Their calculations on the eccentricity of the moon prove
that they had a rectilinear trigonometry and tables of chords. They had
an approximate knowledge of parallax; they could calculate eclipses of
the moon, and use them for the correction of their lunar tables. They
understood spherical trigonometry, and determined the motions of the sun
and moon, involving an accurate definition of the year and a method of
predicting eclipses; they ascertained that the earth was a sphere, and
reduced the phenomena of the heavenly bodies to uniform movements of
circular orbits. We have settled by physical geography the exact form
of the earth, but the ancients arrived at their knowledge by
astronomical reasoning. Says Whewell:--

"The reduction of the motions of the sun, moon, and five planets to
circular orbits, as was done by Hipparchus, implies deep concentrated
thought and scientific abstraction. The theories of eccentrics and
epicycles accomplished the end of explaining all the known phenomena.
The resolution of the apparent motions of the heavenly bodies into an
assemblage of circular motions was a great triumph of genius, and was
equivalent to the most recent and improved processes by which modern
astronomers deal with such motions."

Astronomy was probably born in Chaldaea as early as the time of Abraham.
The glories of the firmament were impressed upon the minds of the rude
primitive races with an intensity which we do not feel, with all the
triumphs of modern science. The Chaldaean shepherds, as they watched
their flocks by night, noted the movements of the planets, and gave
names to the more brilliant constellations. Before religious rituals
were established, before great superstitions arose, before poetry was
sung, before musical instruments were invented, before artists
sculptured marble or melted bronze, before coins were stamped, before
temples arose, before diseases were healed by the arts of medicine,
before commerce was known, those Oriental shepherds counted the anxious
hours by the position of certain constellations. Astronomy is therefore
the oldest of the ancient sciences, although it remained imperfect for
more than four thousand years. The old Assyrians, Egyptians, and Greeks
made but few discoveries which are valued by modern astronomers, but
they laid the foundation of the science, and ever regarded it as one of
the noblest subjects that could stimulate the faculties of man. It was
invested with all that was religious and poetical.

The spacious level and unclouded horizon of Chaldaea afforded peculiar
facilities of observation; and its pastoral and contemplative
inhabitants, uncontaminated by the vices and superstitions of subsequent
ages, active-minded and fresh, discovered after a long observation of
eclipses--some say extending over nineteen centuries--the cycle of two
hundred and twenty-three lunations, which brings back the eclipses in
the same order. Having once established their cycle, they laid the
foundation for the most sublime of all the sciences. Callisthenes
transmitted from Babylon to Aristotle a collection of observations of
all the eclipses that preceded the conquests of Alexander, together with
the definite knowledge which the Chaldaeans had collected about the
motions of the heavenly bodies. Such knowledge was rude and simple, and
amounted to little beyond the fact that there were spherical
revolutions about an inclined axis, and that the poles pointed always to
particular stars. The Egyptians also recorded their observations, from
which it would appear that they observed eclipses at least sixteen
hundred years before the beginning of our era,--which is not improbable,
if the speculations of modern philosophers respecting the age of the
world are entitled to credit. The Egyptians discovered by the rising of
Sirius that the year consists of three hundred and sixty-five and
one-quarter days; and this was their sacred year, in distinction from
the civil, which consisted of three hundred and sixty-five days. They
also had observed the courses of the planets, and could explain the
phenomena of the stations and retrogradations; and it is asserted too
that they regarded Mercury and Venus as satellites of the sun. Some have
maintained that the obelisks which the Egyptians erected served the
purpose of gnomons for determining the obliquity of the ecliptic, the
altitude of the pole, and the length of the tropical year. It is thought
even that the Pyramids, by the position of their sides toward the
cardinal points, attest Egyptian acquaintance with a meridional line.
The Chinese boast of having noticed and recorded a series of eclipses
extending over a period of thirty-eight hundred and fifty-eight years;
and it is probable that they anticipated the Greeks two thousand years
in the discovery of the Metonic cycle,--or the cycle of nineteen years,
at the end of which time the new moons fall on the same days of the
year. The Chinese also determined the obliquity of the ecliptic eleven
hundred years before our era. The Hindus at a remote antiquity
represented celestial phenomena with considerable exactness, and
constructed tables by which the longitude of the sun and moon were
determined, and dials to measure time. Bailly thinks that thirty-one
hundred and two years before Christ astronomy was cultivated in Siam
which hardly yields in accuracy to that which modern science has built
on the theory of universal gravitation.

But the Greeks after all were the only people of antiquity who elevated
astronomy to the dignity of a science. They however confessed that they
derived their earliest knowledge from the Babylonian and Egyptian
priests, while the priests of Thebes claimed to be the originators of
exact astronomical observations. Diodorus asserts that the Chaldaeans
used the Temple of Belus, in the centre of Babylon, for their survey of
the heavens. But whether the Babylonians or the Egyptians were the
earliest astronomers is of little consequence, although the pedants make
it a grave matter of investigation. All we know is that astronomy was
cultivated by both Babylonians and Egyptians, and that they made but
very limited attainments. They approximated to the truth in reference
to the solar year, by observing the equinoxes and solstices and the
heliacal rising of particular stars.

The early Greek philosophers who visited Egypt and the East in search of
knowledge, found very little to reward their curiosity or industry,--not
much beyond preposterous claims to a high antiquity, and to an esoteric
wisdom which has not yet been revealed. Plato and Eudoxus spent thirteen
years in Heliopolis for the purpose of extracting the scientific
knowledge of the Egyptian priests, yet they learned but little beyond
the fact that the solar year was a trifle beyond three hundred and
sixty-five days. No great names have come down to us from the priests of
Babylon or Egypt; no one gained an individual reputation. The Chaldaean
and Egyptian priests may have furnished the raw material of observation
to the Greeks, but the latter alone possessed the scientific genius by
which undigested facts were converted into a symmetrical system. The
East never gave valuable knowledge to the West; it gave the tendency to
religious mysticism, which in its turn tended to superstition. Instead
of astronomy, it gave astrology; instead of science, it gave magic,
incantations, and dreams. The Eastern astronomers connected their
astronomy with divination from the stars, and made their antiquity reach
back to two hundred and seventy thousand years. There were soothsayers
in the time of Daniel, and magicians, exorcists, and interpreters of
signs. They were not men of scientific research, seeking truth; it was
power they sought, by perverting the intellect of the people. The
astrology of the East was founded on the principle that a star or
constellation presided over the birth of an individual, and that it
either portended his fate, or shed a good or bad influence upon his
future life. The star which looked upon a child at the hour of his birth
was called the "horoscopus," and the peculiar influence of each planet
was determined by the astrologers. The superstitions of Egypt and
Chaldaea unfortunately spread among both the Greeks and Romans, and
these were about all that the Western nations learned from the boastful
priests of occult Oriental science. Whatever was known of real value
among the ancients is due to the earnest inquiries of the Greeks.

And yet their researches were very unsatisfactory until the time of
Hipparchus. The primitive knowledge was almost nothing. The Homeric
poems regarded the earth as a circular plain bounded by the heaven,
which was a solid vault or hemisphere, with its concavity turned
downward. This absurdity was believed until the time of Herodotus, five
centuries after; nor was it exploded fully in the time of Aristotle. The
sun, moon, and stars were supposed to move upon or with the inner
surface of the heavenly hemisphere, and the ocean was thought to gird
the earth around as a great belt, into which the heavenly bodies sank at
night. Homer believed that the sun arose out of the ocean, ascended the
heaven, and again plunged into the ocean, passing under the earth, and
producing darkness. The Greeks even personified the sun as a divine
charioteer driving his fiery steeds over the steep of heaven, until he
bathed them at evening in the western waves. Apollo became the god of
the sun, as Diana was the goddess of the moon. But the early Greek
inquirers did not attempt to explain how the sun found his way from the
west back again to the east; they merely took note of the diurnal
course, the alternation of day and night, the number of the seasons, and
their regular successions. They found the points of the compass by
determining the recurrence of the equinoxes and solstices; but they had
no conception of the ecliptic,--of that great circle in the heaven
formed by the sun's annual course,--and of its obliquity when compared
with our equator. Like the Egyptians and Babylonians, the Greeks
ascertained the length of the year to be three hundred and sixty-five
days; but perfect accuracy was lacking, for want of scientific
instruments and of recorded observations of the heavenly bodies. The
Greeks had not even a common chronological era for the designation of
years. Herodotus informs us that the Trojan War preceded his time by
eight hundred years: he merely states the interval between the event in
question and his own time; he had certain data for distant periods. The
Greeks reckoned dates from the Trojan War, and the Romans from the
building of their city. The Greeks also divided the year into twelve
months, and introduced the intercalary circle of eight years, although
the Romans disused it afterward, until the calendar was reformed by
Julius Caesar. Thus there was no scientific astronomical knowledge worth
mentioning among the primitive Greeks.

Immense research and learning have been expended by modern critics to
show the state of scientific astronomy among the Greeks. I am amazed
equally at the amount of research and its comparative worthlessness; for
what addition to science can be made by an enumeration of the
puerilities and errors of the Greeks, and how wasted and pedantic the
learning which ransacks all antiquity to prove that the Greeks adopted
this or that absurdity![1]

[Footnote 1: The style of modern historical criticism is well
exemplified in the discussions of the Germans whether the Arx on the
Capitoline Hill occupied the northeastern or southwestern corner, which
take up nearly one half of the learned article on the Capitoline in
Smith's Dictionary.]

The earliest historic name associated with astronomy in Greece was
Thales, the founder of the Ionic school of philosophers. He is reported
to have made a visit to Egypt, to have fixed the year at three hundred
and sixty-five days, to have determined the course of the sun from
solstice to solstice, and to have calculated eclipses. He attributed an
eclipse of the moon to the interposition of the earth between the sun
and moon, and an eclipse of the sun to the interposition of the moon
between the sun and earth,--and thus taught the rotundity of the earth,
sun, and moon. He also determined the ratio of the sun's diameter to its
apparent orbit. As he first solved the problem of inscribing a
right-angled triangle in a circle, he is the founder of geometrical
science in Greece. He left, however, nothing to writing; hence all
accounts of him are confused,--some doubting even if he made the
discoveries attributed to him. His philosophical speculations, which
science rejects,--such as that water is the principle of all
things,--are irrelevant to a description of the progress of astronomy.
That he was a great light no one questions, considering the ignorance
with which he was surrounded.

Anaximander, who followed Thales in philosophy, held to puerile
doctrines concerning the motions and nature of the stars, which it is
useless to repeat. His addition to science, if he made any, was in
treating the magnitudes and distances of the planets. He constructed
geographical charts, and attempted to delineate the celestial sphere,
and to measure time with a gnomon, or time-pillar, by the motion of its
shadow upon a dial.[2]

[Footnote 2: Dr. E.H. Knight, in his "American Mechanical Dictionary"
(i. 692), cites the Scriptural account of the beautiful altar seen by
King Ahaz of Jerusalem, in Damascus, when he went thither to greet
Tiglath-Pileser, the Assyrian who had helped him against his Samarian
enemy. Ahaz erected a similar altar at Jerusalem, and also a _sun-dial,_
the same one mentioned in the account of the miraculous cure of his son
Hezekiah. "This," says Dr. Knight, "was probably the first dial on
record, and is one hundred and forty years before Thales, and nearly
four hundred before Plato and Aristotle, and just a little previous to
the lunar eclipses observed at Babylon, as recorded by Ptolemy.... The
Hebrew word [for this dial] is said by Colonel White of the Bengal army
to signify a _staircase_, which much strengthens the inference that it
was like the equinoctial dial of the Indian nations and of Mesopotamia,
from whence its pattern is assumed to have been derived."]

Anaximenes of Miletus taught, like his predecessors, crude notions of
the sun and stars, and speculated on the nature of the moon, but did
nothing to advance his science on true grounds, except by the
construction of sun-dials. The same may be said of Heraclitus,
Xenophanes, Parmenides, and Anaxagoras: they were great men, but they
gave to the world mere speculations, some of which are very puerile.
They all held to the idea that the heavenly bodies revolved around the
earth, and that the earth was a plain; but they explained eclipses, and
supposed that the moon derived its light from the sun. Some of them
knew the difference between the planets and the fixed stars. Anaxagoras
scouted the notion that the sun was a god, and supposed it to be a mass
of ignited stone,--for which he was called an atheist.

Socrates, who belonged to another school, avoided all barren
speculations concerning the universe, and confined himself to human
actions and interests. He looked even upon geometry in a very practical
way, valuing it only so far as it could be made serviceable to
land-measuring. As for the stars and planets, he supposed it was
impossible to arrive at a true knowledge of them, and regarded
speculations upon them as useless.

It must be admitted that the Greek astronomers, however barren were
their general theories, laid the foundation of science. Pythagoras
taught the obliquity of the ecliptic, probably learned in Egypt, and the
identity of the morning and evening stars. It is supposed that he
maintained that the sun was the centre of the universe, and that the
earth revolved around it; but this he did not demonstrate, and his whole
system was unscientific, assuming certain arbitrary principles, from
which he reasoned deductively. "He assumed that fire is more worthy than
earth; that the more worthy place must be given to the more worthy; that
the extremity is more worthy than the intermediate parts,--and hence,
as the centre is an extremity, the place of fire is at the centre of the
universe, and that therefore the earth and other heavenly bodies move
round the fiery centre." But this was no heliocentric system, since the
sun moved, like the earth, in a circle around the central fire. This was
merely the work of the imagination, utterly unscientific, though bold
and original. Nor did this hypothesis gain credit, since it was the
fixed opinion of philosophers that the earth was the centre of the
universe, around which the sun, moon, and planets revolved. But the
Pythagoreans were the first to teach that the motions of the sun, moon,
and planets are circular and equable. Their idea that the celestial
bodies emitted a sound, and were combined into a harmonious symphony,
was exceedingly crude, however beautiful "The music of the spheres"
belongs to poetry, as well as to the speculations of Plato.

Eudoxus, in the fifth century before Christ, contributed to science by
making a descriptive map of the heavens, which was used as a manual of
sidereal astronomy to the sixth century of our era.

The error of only one hundred and ninety days in the periodic time of
Saturn shows that there had been for a long time close observations.
Aristotle--whose comprehensive intellect, like that of Bacon, took in
all forms of knowledge--condensed all that was known in his day into a
treatise concerning the heavens. He regarded astronomy as more
intimately connected with mathematics than any other branch of science.
But even he did not soar far beyond the philosophers of his day, since
he held to the immobility of the earth,--the grand error of the
ancients. Some few speculators in science (like Heraclitus of Pontus,
and Hicetas) conceived a motion of the earth itself upon its axis, so as
to account for the apparent motion of the sun; but they also thought it
was in the centre of the universe.

The introduction of the gnomon (time-pillar) and dial into Greece
advanced astronomical knowledge, since they were used to determine the
equinoxes and solstices, as well as parts of the day. Meton set up a
sun-dial at Athens in the year 433 B.C., but the length of the hour
varied with the time of the year, since the Greeks divided the day into
twelve equal parts. Dials were common at Rome in the time of Plautus,
224 B.C.; but there was a difficulty in using them, since they failed at
night and in cloudy weather, and could not be relied on. Hence the
introduction of water-clocks instead.

Aristarchus is said to have combated (280 B.C.) the geocentric theory so
generally received by philosophers, and to have promulgated the
hypothesis "that the fixed stars and the sun are immovable; that the
earth is carried round the sun in the circumference of a circle of
which the sun is the centre; and that the sphere of the fixed stars,
having the same centre as the sun, is of such magnitude that the orbit
of the earth is to the distance of the fixed stars as the centre of the
sphere of the fixed stars is to its surface." Aristarchus also,
according to Plutarch, explained the apparent annual motion of the sun
in the ecliptic by supposing the orbit of the earth to be inclined to
its axis. There is no evidence that this great astronomer supported his
heliocentric theory with any geometrical proof, although Plutarch
maintains that he demonstrated it. This theory gave great offence,
especially to the Stoics; and Cleanthes, the head of the school at that
time, maintained that the author of such an impious doctrine should be
punished. Aristarchus left a treatise "On the Magnitudes and Distances
of the Sun and Moon;" and his methods to measure the apparent diameters
of the sun and moon are considered theoretically sound by modern
astronomers, but practically inexact owing to defective instruments. He
estimated the diameter of the sun at the seven hundred and twentieth
part of the circumference of the circle which it describes in its
diurnal revolution, which is not far from the truth; but in this
treatise he does not allude to his heliocentric theory.

Archimedes of Syracuse, born 287 B.C., is stated to have measured the
distance of the sun, moon, and planets, and he constructed an orrery in
which he exhibited their motions. But it was not in the Grecian colony
of Syracuse, but of Alexandria, that the greatest light was shed on
astronomical science. Here Aristarchus resided, and also Eratosthenes,
who lived between the years 276 and 196 B.C. The latter was a native of
Athens, but was invited by Ptolemy Euergetes to Alexandria, and placed
at the head of the library. His great achievement was the determination
of the circumference of the earth. This was done by measuring on the
ground the distance between Syene, a city exactly under the tropic, and
Alexandria, situated on the same meridian. The distance was found to be
five thousand stadia. The meridional distance of the sun from the zenith
of Alexandria he estimated to be 7° 12', or a fiftieth part of the
circumference of the meridian. Hence the circumference of the earth was
fixed at two hundred and fifty thousand stadia,--which is not very
different from our modern computation. The circumference being known,
the diameter of the earth was easily determined. The moderns have added
nothing to this method. He also calculated the diameter of the sun to be
twenty-seven times greater than that of the earth, and the distance of
the sun from the earth to be eight hundred and four million stadia, and
that of the moon seven hundred and eighty thousand stadia,--a close
approximation to the truth.

Astronomical science received a great impulse from the school of
Alexandria, the greatest light of which was Hipparchus, who flourished
early in the second century before Christ. He laid the foundation of
astronomy upon a scientific basis. "He determined," says Delambre, "the
position of the stars by right ascensions and declinations, and was
acquainted with the obliquity of the ecliptic. He determined the
inequality of the sun and the place of its apogee, as well as its mean
motion; the mean motion of the moon, of its nodes and apogee; the
equation of the moon's centre, and the inclination of its orbit. He
calculated eclipses of the moon, and used them for the correction of his
lunar tables, and he had an approximate knowledge of parallax." His
determination of the motions of the sun and moon, and his method of
predicting eclipses evince great mathematical genius. But he combined
with this determination a theory of epicycles and eccentrics which
modern astronomy discards. It was however a great thing to conceive of
the earth as a solid sphere, and to reduce the phenomena of the heavenly
bodies to uniform motions in circular orbits. "That Hipparchus should
have succeeded in the first great steps of the resolution of the
heavenly bodies into circular motions is a circumstance," says Whewell,
"which gives him one of the most distinguished places in the roll of
great astronomers." But he did even more than this: he discovered that
apparent motion of the fixed stars round the axis of the ecliptic, which
is called the Precession of the Equinoxes,--one of the greatest
discoveries in astronomy. He maintained that the precession was not
greater than fifty-nine seconds, and not less than thirty-six seconds.
Hipparchus also framed a catalogue of the stars, and determined their
places with reference to the ecliptic by their latitudes and longitudes.
Altogether he seems to have been one of the greatest geniuses of
antiquity, and his works imply a prodigious amount of calculation.

Astronomy made no progress for three hundred years, although it was
expounded by improved methods. Posidonius constructed an orrery, which
exhibited the diurnal motions of the sun, moon, and five planets.
Posidonius calculated the circumference of the earth to be two hundred
and forty thousand stadia, by a different method from Eratosthenes. The
barrenness of discovery from Hipparchus to Ptolemy,--the Alexandrian
mathematician, astronomer, and geographer in the second century of the
Christian era,--in spite of the patronage of the royal Ptolemies of
Egypt, was owing to the want of instruments for the accurate measure of
time (like our clocks), to the imperfection of astronomical tables, and
to the want of telescopes. Hence the great Greek astronomers were unable
to realize their theories. Their theories however were magnificent, and
evinced great power of mathematical combination; but what could they do
without that wondrous instrument by which the human eye indefinitely
multiplies its power? Moreover, the ancients had no accurate almanacs,
since the care of the calendar belonged not so much to the astronomers
as to the priests, who tampered with the computation of time for
sacerdotal objects. The calendars of different communities differed.
Hence Julius Caesar rendered a great service to science by the reform of
the Roman calendar, which was exclusively under the control of the
college of pontiffs, or general religious overseers. The Roman year
consisted of three hundred and fifty-five days; and in the time of
Caesar the calendar was in great confusion, being ninety days in
advance, so that January was an autumn month. He inserted the regular
intercalary month of twenty-three days, and two additional ones of
sixty-seven days. These, together with ninety days, were added to three
hundred and sixty-five days, making a year of transition of four hundred
and forty-five days, by which January was brought back to the first
month in the year after the winter solstice; and to prevent the
repetition of the error, he directed that in future the year should
consist of three hundred and sixty-five and one-quarter days, which he
effected by adding one day to the months of April, June, September, and
November, and two days to the months of January, Sextilis, and
December, making an addition of ten days to the old year of three
hundred and fifty-five. And he provided for a uniform intercalation of
one day in every fourth year, which accounted for the remaining
quarter of a day.

Caesar was a student of astronomy, and always found time for its
contemplation. He is said even to have written a treatise on the motion
of the stars. He was assisted in his reform of the calendar by
Sosigines, an Alexandrian astronomer. He took it out of the hands of the
priests, and made it a matter of pure civil regulation. The year was
defined by the sun, and not as before by the moon.

Thus the Romans were the first to bring the scientific knowledge of the
Greeks into practical use; but while they measured the year with a great
approximation to accuracy, they still used sun-dials and water-clocks to
measure diurnal time. Yet even these were not constructed as they should
have been. The hour-marks on the sun-dial were all made equal, instead
of varying with the periods of the day,--so that the length of the hour
varied with the length of the day. The illuminated interval was divided
into twelve equal parts; so that if the sun rose at five A.M., and set
at eight P.M., each hour was equal to eighty minutes. And this rude
method of measurement of diurnal time remained in use till the sixth
century. Clocks, with wheels and weights, were not invented till the
twelfth century.

The last great light among the ancients in astronomical science was
Ptolemy, who lived from 100 to 170 A.D., in Alexandria. He was
acquainted with the writings of all the previous astronomers, but
accepted Hipparchus as his guide. He held that the heaven is spherical
and revolves upon its axis; that the earth is a sphere, and is situated
within the celestial sphere, and nearly at its centre; that it is a mere
point in reference to the distance and magnitude of the fixed stars, and
that it has no motion. He adopted the views of the ancient astronomers,
who placed Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars next under the sphere of the fixed
stars, then the sun above Venus and Mercury, and lastly the moon next to
the earth. But he differed from Aristotle, who conceived that the earth
revolves in an orbit around the centre of the planetary system, and
turns upon its axis,--two ideas in common with the doctrines which
Copernicus afterward unfolded. But even Ptolemy did not conceive the
heliocentric theory,--the sun the centre of our system. Archimedes and
Hipparchus both rejected this theory.

In regard to the practical value of the speculations of the ancient
astronomers, it may be said that had they possessed clocks and
telescopes, their scientific methods would have sufficed for all
practical purposes. The greatness of modern discoveries lies in the
great stretch of the perceptive powers, and the magnificent field they
afford for sublime contemplation. "But," as Sir G. Cornewall Lewis
remarks, "modern astronomy is a science of pure curiosity, and is
directed exclusively to the extension of knowledge in a field which
human interests can never enter. The periodic time of Uranus, the nature
of Saturn's ring, and the occultation of Jupiter's satellites are as far
removed from the concerns of mankind as the heliacal rising of Sirius,
or the northern position of the Great Bear." This may seem to be a
utilitarian view, with which those philosophers who have cultivated
science for its own sake, finding in the same a sufficient reward, can
have no sympathy.

The upshot of the scientific attainments of the ancients, in the
magnificent realm of the heavenly bodies, would seem to be that they
laid the foundation of all the definite knowledge which is useful to
mankind; while in the field of abstract calculation they evinced
reasoning and mathematical powers that have never been surpassed.
Eratosthenes, Archimedes, and Hipparchus were geniuses worthy to be
placed by the side of Kepler, Newton, and La Place, and all ages will
reverence their efforts and their memory. It is truly surprising that
with their imperfect instruments, and the absence of definite data,
they reached a height so sublime and grand. They explained the doctrine
of the sphere and the apparent motions of the planets, but they had no
instruments capable of measuring angular distances. The ingenious
epicycles of Ptolemy prepared the way for the elliptic orbits and laws
of Kepler, which in turn conducted Newton to the discovery of the law of
gravitation,--the grandest scientific discovery in the annals of
our race.

Closely connected with astronomical science was geometry, which was
first taught in Egypt,--the nurse and cradle of ancient wisdom. It arose
from the necessity of adjusting the landmarks disturbed by the
inundations of the Nile. There is hardly any trace of geometry among the
Hebrews. Among the Hindus there are some works on this science, of great
antiquity. Their mathematicians knew the rule for finding the area of a
triangle from its sides, and also the celebrated proposition concerning
the squares on the sides of the right-angled triangle. The Chinese, it
is said, also knew this proposition before it was known to the Greeks,
among whom it was first propounded by Thales. He applied a circle to the
measurement of angles. Anaximander made geographical charts, which
required considerable geometrical knowledge. Anaxagoras employed
himself in prison in attempting to square the circle. Thales, as has
been said, discovered the important theorem that in a right-angled
triangle the squares on the sides containing the right angle are
together equal to the square on the opposite side of it. Pythagoras
discovered that of all figures having the same boundary, the circle
among plane figures and the sphere among solids are the most capacious.
Hippocrates treated of the duplication of the cube, and wrote elements
of geometry, and knew that the area of a circle was equal to a triangle
whose base is equal to its circumference and altitude equal to its
radius. The disciples of Plato invented conic sections, and discovered
the geometrical foci.

It was however reserved for Euclid to make his name almost synonymous
with geometry. He was born 323 B.C., and belonged to the Platonic sect,
which ever attached great importance to mathematics. His "Elements" are
still in use, as nearly perfect as any human production can be. They
consist of thirteen books. The first four are on plane geometry; the
fifth is on the theory of proportion, and applies to magnitude in
general; the seventh, eighth, and ninth are on arithmetic; the tenth on
the arithmetical characteristics of the division of a straight line; the
eleventh and twelfth on the elements of solid geometry; the thirteenth
on the regular solids. These "Elements" soon became the universal study
of geometers throughout the civilized world; they were translated into
the Arabic, and through the Arabians were made known to mediaeval
Europe. There can be no doubt that this work is one of the highest
triumphs of human genius, and it has been valued more than any single
monument of antiquity; it is still a text-book, in various English
translations, in all our schools. Euclid also wrote various other works,
showing great mathematical talent.

Perhaps a greater even than Euclid was Archimedes, born 287 B.C. He
wrote on the sphere and cylinder, terminating in the discovery that the
solidity and surface of a sphere are two thirds respectively of the
solidity and surface of the circumscribing cylinder. He also wrote on
conoids and spheroids. "The properties of the spiral and the quadrature
of the parabola were added to ancient geometry by Archimedes, the last
being a great step in the progress of the science, since it was the
first curvilineal space legitimately squared." Modern mathematicians may
not have the patience to go through his investigations, since the
conclusions he arrived at may now be reached by shorter methods; but the
great conclusions of the old geometers were reached by only prodigious
mathematical power. Archimedes is popularly better known as the inventor
of engines of war and of various ingenious machines than as a
mathematician, great as were his attainments in this direction. His
theory of the lever was the foundation of statics till the discovery of
the composition of forces in the time of Newton, and no essential
addition was made to the principles of the equilibrium of fluids and
floating bodies till the time of Stevin, in 1608. Archimedes detected
the mixture of silver in a crown of gold which his patron, Hiero of
Syracuse, ordered to be made; and he invented a water-screw for pumping
water out of the hold of a great ship which he had built. He contrived
also the combination of pulleys, and he constructed an orrery to
represent the movement of the heavenly bodies. He had an extraordinary
inventive genius for discovering new provinces of inquiry and new points
of view for old and familiar objects. Like Newton, he had a habit of
abstraction from outward things, and would forget to take his meals. He
was killed by Roman soldiers when Syracuse was taken; and the Sicilians
so soon forgot his greatness that in the time of Cicero they did not
know where his tomb was.

Eratosthenes was another of the famous geometers of antiquity, and did
much to improve geometrical analysis. He was also a philosopher and
geographer. He gave a solution of the problem of the duplication of the
cube, and applied his geometrical knowledge to the measurement of the
magnitude of the earth,--being one of the first who brought
mathematical methods to the aid of astronomy, which in our day is almost
exclusively the province of the mathematician.

Apollonius of Perga, probably about forty years younger than Archimedes,
and his equal in mathematical genius, was the most fertile and profound
writer among the ancients who treated of geometry. He was called the
Great Geometer. His most important work is a treatise on conic sections,
which was regarded with unbounded admiration by contemporaries, and in
some respects is unsurpassed by any thing produced by modern
mathematicians. He however made use of the labors of his predecessors,
so that it is difficult to tell how far he is original. But all men of
science must necessarily be indebted to those who have preceded them.
Even Homer, in the field of poetry, made use of the bards who had sung
for a thousand years before him; and in the realms of philosophy the
great men of all ages have built up new systems on the foundations which
others have established. If Plato or Aristotle had been contemporaries
with Thales, would they have matured so wonderful a system of
dialectics? Yet if Thales had been contemporaneous with Plato, he might
have added to the great Athenian's sublime science even more than did
Aristotle. So of the great mathematicians of antiquity; they were all
wonderful men, and worthy to be classed with the Newtons and Keplers of
our times. Considering their means and the state of science, they made
as _great_ though not as _fortunate_ discoveries,--discoveries which
show patience, genius, and power of calculation. Apollonius was one of
these,--one of the master intellects of antiquity, like Euclid and
Archimedes; one of the master intellects of all ages, like Newton
himself. I might mention the subjects of his various works, but they
would not be understood except by those familiar with mathematics.

Other famous geometers could also be named, but such men as Euclid,
Archimedes, and Apollonius are enough to show that geometry was
cultivated to a great extent by the philosophers of antiquity. It
progressively advanced, like philosophy itself, from the time of Thales
until it had reached the perfection of which it was capable, when it
became merged into astronomical science. It was cultivated more
particularly by the disciples of Plato, who placed over his school this
inscription: "Let no one ignorant of geometry enter here." He believed
that the laws by which the universe is governed are in accordance with
the doctrines of mathematics. The same opinion was shared by Pythagoras,
the great founder of the science, whose main formula was that _number_
is the essence or first principle of all things. No thinkers ever
surpassed the Greeks in originality and profundity; and mathematics,
being highly prized by them, were carried to the greatest perfection
their method would allow. They did not understand algebra, by the
application of which to geometry modern mathematicians have climbed to
greater heights than the ancients; but then it is all the more
remarkable that without the aid of algebraic analysis they were able to
solve such difficult problems as occupied the minds of Archimedes and
Apollonius. No positive science can boast of such rapid development as
geometry for two or three hundred years before Christ, and never was the
intellect of man more severely tasked than by the ancient

No empirical science can be carried to perfection by any one nation or
in any particular epoch; it can only expand with the progressive
developments of the human race itself. Nevertheless, in that science
which for three thousand years has been held in the greatest honor, and
which is one of the three great liberal professions of our modern times,
the ancients, especially the Greeks, made considerable advance. The
science of medicine, having in view the amelioration of human misery and
the prolongation of life itself, was very early cultivated. It was,
indeed, in old times another word for _physics_,--the science of
Nature,--and the _physician_ was the observer and expounder of physics.
The physician was supposed to be acquainted with the secrets of
Nature,--that is, the knowledge of drugs, of poisons, of antidotes to
them, and the way to administer them. He was also supposed to know the
process of preserving the body after death. Thus Joseph, seventeen
hundred years before the birth of Christ, commanded his physician to
embalm the body of his father; and the process of embalming was probably
known to the Egyptians before the period when history begins. Helen, of
Trojan fame, put into wine a drug that "frees man from grief and anger,
and causes oblivion of all ills." Solomon was a great botanist,--a realm
with which the science of medicine is indissolubly connected. The origin
of Hindu medicine is lost in remote antiquity. The Ayur Veda, written
nine hundred years before Hippocrates was born, sums up the knowledge of
previous periods relating to obstetric surgery, to general pathology, to
the treatment of insanity, to infantile diseases, to toxicology, to
personal hygiene, and to diseases of the generative functions.

Thus Hippocrates, the father of European medicine, must have derived his
knowledge not merely from his own observations, but from the writings of
men unknown to us and from systems practised for an indefinite period.
The real founders of Greek medicine are fabled characters, like Hercules
and Aesculapius,--that is, benefactors whose fictitious names alone
have descended to us. They are mythical personages, like Hermes and
Chiron. Twelve hundred years before Christ temples were erected to
Aesculapius in Greece, the priests of which were really physicians, and
the temples themselves hospitals. In them were practised rites
apparently mysterious, but which modern science calls by the names of
mesmerism, hydropathy, the use of mineral springs, and other essential
elements of empirical science. And these temples were also medical
schools. That of Cos gave birth to Hippocrates, and it was there that
his writings were begun. Pythagoras--for those old Grecian philosophers
were the fathers of all wisdom and knowledge, in mathematics and
empirical sciences as well as philosophy itself--studied medicine in the
schools of Egypt, Phoenicia, Chaldaea, and India, and came in conflict
with sacerdotal power, which has ever been antagonistic to new ideas in
science. He travelled from town to town as a teacher or lecturer,
establishing communities in which _medicine_ as well as _numbers_
was taught.

The greatest name in medical science in ancient or in modern times, the
man who did the most to advance it, the greatest medical genius of whom
we have any early record, was Hippocrates, born on the island of Cos,
460 B.C., of the great Aesculapian family. He received his instruction
from his father. We know scarcely more of his life than we do of Homer
himself, although he lived in the period of the highest splendor of
Athens. Even his writings, like those of Homer, are thought by some to
be the work of different men. They were translated into Arabic, and were
no slight means of giving an impulse to the Saracenic schools of the
Middle Ages in that science in which the Saracens especially excelled.
The Hippocratic collection consists of more than sixty works, which were
held in the highest estimation by the ancient physicians. Hippocrates
introduced a new era in medicine, which before his time had been
monopolized by the priests. He carried out a system of severe induction
from the observation of facts, and is as truly the creator of the
inductive method as Bacon himself. He abhorred theories which could not
be established by facts; he was always open to conviction, and candidly
confessed his mistakes; he was conscientious in the practice of his
profession, and valued the success of his art more than silver and gold.
The Athenians revered Hippocrates for his benevolence as well as genius.
The great principle of his practice was _trust in Nature_; hence he was
accused of allowing his patients to die. But this principle has many
advocates among scientific men in our day; and some suppose that the
whole successful practice of Homoeopathy rests on the primal principle
which Hippocrates advanced, although the philosophy of it claims a
distinctly scientific basis in the principle _similia similibus
curantur_. Hippocrates had great skill in diagnosis, by which medical
genius is most severely tested; his practice was cautious and timid in
contrast with that of his contemporaries. He is the author of the
celebrated maxim, "Life is short and art is long." He divides the causes
of disease into two principal classes,--the one comprehending the
influence of seasons, climates, and other external forces; the other
including the effects of food and exercise. To the influence of climate
he attributes the conformation of the body and the disposition of the
mind; to a vicious system of diet he attributes innumerable forms of
disease. For more than twenty centuries his pathology was the foundation
of all the medical sects. He was well acquainted with the medicinal
properties of drugs, and was the first to assign three periods to the
course of a malady. He knew but little of surgery, although he was in
the habit of bleeding, and often employed the knife; he was also
acquainted with cupping, and used violent purgatives. He was not aware
of the importance of the pulse, and confounded the veins with the
arteries. Hippocrates wrote in the Ionic dialect, and some of his works
have gone through three hundred editions, so highly have they been
valued. His authority passed away, like that of Aristotle, on the
revival of science in Europe. Yet who have been greater ornaments and
lights than these two distinguished Greeks?

The school of Alexandria produced eminent physicians, as well as
mathematicians, after the glory of Greece had departed. So highly was it
esteemed that Galen in the second century,--born in Greece, but famous
in the service of Rome,--went there to study, five hundred years after
its foundation. It was distinguished for inquiries into scientific
anatomy and physiology, for which Aristotle had prepared the way. Galen
was the Humboldt of his day, and gave great attention to physics. In
eight books he developed the general principles of natural science known
to the Greeks. On the basis of the Aristotelian researches, the
Alexandrian physicians carried out extensive inquiries in physiology.
Herophilus discovered the fundamental principles of neurology, and
advanced the anatomy of the brain and spinal cord.

Although the Romans had but little sympathy with science or philosophy,
being essentially political and warlike in their turn of mind, yet when
they had conquered the world, and had turned their attention to arts,
medicine received a good share of their attention. The first physicians
in Rome were Greek slaves. Of these was Asclepiades, who enjoyed the
friendship of Cicero. It is from him that the popular medical theories
as to the "pores" have descended. He was the inventor of the
shower-bath. Celsus wrote a work on medicine which takes almost equal
rank with the Hippocratic writings.

Medical science at Rome culminated in Galen, as it did at Athens in
Hippocrates. Galen was patronized by Marcus Aurelius, and availed
himself of all the knowledge of preceding naturalists and physicians. He
was born at Pergamos about the year 130 A.D., where he learned, under
able masters, anatomy, pathology, and therapeutics. He finished his
studies at Alexandria, and came to Rome at the invitation of the
Emperor. Like his imperial patron, Galen was one of the brightest
ornaments of the heathen world, and one of the most learned and
accomplished men of any age. He left five hundred treatises, most of
them relating to some branch of medical science, which give him the name
of being one of the most voluminous of authors. His celebrity is founded
chiefly on his anatomical and physiological works. He was familiar with
practical anatomy, deriving his knowledge from dissection. His
observations about health are practical and useful; he lays great stress
on gymnastic exercises, and recommends the pleasures of the chase, the
cold bath in hot weather, hot baths for old people, the use of wine, and
three meals a day. The great principles of his practice were that
disease is to be overcome by that which is contrary to the disease
itself,--hence the name Allopathy, invented by the founder of
Homoeopathy to designate the fundamental principle of the general
practice,--and that nature is to be preserved by that which has relation
with nature. His "Commentaries on Hippocrates" served as a treasure of
medical criticism, from which succeeding annotators borrowed. No one
ever set before the medical profession a higher standard than Galen
advanced, and few have more nearly approached it. He did not attach
himself to any particular school, but studied the doctrines of each. The
works of Galen constituted the last production of ancient Roman
medicine, and from his day the decline in medical science was rapid,
until it was revived among the Arabs.

The physical sciences, it must be confessed, were not carried by the
ancients to any such length as geometry and astronomy. In physical
geography they were particularly deficient. Yet even this branch of
knowledge can boast of some eminent names. When men sailed timidly along
the coasts, and dared not explore distant seas, the true position and
characteristics of countries could not be ascertained with the
definiteness that it is at present. But geography was not utterly
neglected in those early times, nor was natural history.

Herodotus gives us most valuable information respecting the manners and
customs of Oriental and barbarous nations; and Pliny wrote a Natural
History in thirty-seven books, which is compiled from upwards of two
thousand volumes, and refers to twenty thousand matters of importance.
He was born 23 A.D., and was fifty-six when the eruption of Vesuvius
took place, which caused his death. Pliny cannot be called a scientific
genius in the sense understood by modern savants; nor was he an original
observer,--his materials being drawn up second-hand, like a modern
encyclopaedia. Nor did he evince great judgment in his selection: he had
a great love of the marvellous, and his work was often unintelligible;
but it remains a wonderful monument of human industry. His Natural
History treats of everything in the natural world,--of the heavenly
bodies, of the elements, of thunder and lightning, of the winds and
seasons, of the changes and phenomena of the earth, of countries and
nations, of seas and rivers, of men, animals, birds, fishes, and plants,
of minerals and medicines and precious stones, of commerce and the fine
arts. He is full of errors, but his work is among the most valuable
productions of antiquity. Buffon pronounced his Natural History to
contain an infinity of knowledge in every department of human
occupation, conveyed in a dress ornate and brilliant. It is a literary
rather than a scientific monument, and as such it is wonderful. In
strict scientific value, it is inferior to the works of modern research;
but there are few minds, even in these times, who have directed
inquiries to such a variety of subjects as are treated in Pliny's

If we would compare the geographical knowledge of the ancients with that
of the moderns, we confess to the immeasurable inferiority of
the ancients.

Eratosthenes, though more properly an astronomer, and the most
distinguished among the ancients, was also a considerable writer on
geography, indeed, the first who treated the subject systematically,
although none of his writings have reached us. The improvements he
pointed out were applied by Ptolemy himself. His work was a presentation
of the geographical knowledge known in his day, so far as geography is
the science of determining the position of places on the earth's
surface. When Eratosthenes began his labors, in the third century before
Christ, it was known that the surface of the earth was spherical; he
established parallels of latitude and longitude, and attempted the
difficult undertaking of measuring the circumference of the globe by the
actual measurement of a segment of one of its great circles.

Hipparchus (beginning of second century before Christ) introduced into
geography a great improvement; namely, the relative situation of
places, by the same process that he determined the positions of the
heavenly bodies. He also pointed out how longitude might be determined
by observing the eclipses of the sun and moon. This led to the
construction of maps; but none have reached us except those that were
used to illustrate the geography of Ptolemy. Hipparchus was the first
who raised geography to the rank of a science. He starved himself to
death, being tired of life.

Posidonius, who was nearly a century later, determined the arc of a
meridian between Rhodes and Alexandria to be a forty-eighth part of the
whole circumference,--an enormous calculation, yet a remarkable one in
the infancy of astronomical science. His writings on history and
geography are preserved only in quotations by Cicero, Strabo,
and others.

Geographical knowledge however was most notably advanced by Strabo, who
lived in the Augustan era; although his researches were chiefly confined
to the Roman empire. Strabo was, like Herodotus, a great traveller, and
much of his geographical information is the result of his own
observations. It is probable he was much indebted to Eratosthenes, who
preceded him by three centuries. The authorities of Strabo were chiefly
Greek, but his work is defective from the imperfect notions which the
ancients had of astronomy; so that the determination of the earth's
figure by the measure of latitude and longitude, the essential
foundation of geographical description, was unknown. The enormous
strides which all forms of physical science have made since the
discovery of America throw all ancient descriptions and investigations
into the shade, and Strabo appears at as great disadvantage as Pliny or
Ptolemy; yet the work of Strabo, considering his means, and the
imperfect knowledge of the earth's surface and astronomical science in
his day, was really a great achievement. He treats of the form and
magnitude of the earth, and devotes eight books to Europe, six to Asia,
and one to Africa. The description of places belongs to Strabo, whose
work was accepted as the text-book of the science till the fifteenth
century, for in his day the Roman empire had been well surveyed. He
maintained that the earth is spherical, and established the terms
_longitude_ and _latitude_, which Eratosthenes had introduced, and
computed the earth to be one hundred and eighty thousand stadia in
circumference, and a degree to be five hundred stadia in length, or
sixty-two and a-half Roman miles. His estimates of the length of a
degree of latitude were nearly correct; but he made great errors in the
degrees of longitude, making the length of the world from east to west
too great, which led to the belief in the practicability of a western
passage to India. He also assigned too great length to the
Mediterranean, arising from the difficulty of finding the longitude with
accuracy. But it was impossible, with the scientific knowledge of his
day, to avoid errors, and we are surprised that he made so few.

Whatever may be said of the accuracy of the great geographer of
antiquity, it cannot be denied that he was a man of immense research and
learning. His work in seventeen books is one of the most valuable that
have come down from antiquity, both from the discussions which run
through it, and the curious facts which can be found nowhere else. It is
scarcely fair to estimate the genius of Strabo by the correctness and
extent of his geographical knowledge. All men are comparatively ignorant
in science, because science is confessedly a progressive study. The
great scientific lights of our day may be insignificant, compared with
those who are to arise, if profundity and accuracy of knowledge be made
the test. It is the genius of the ancients, their grasp and power of
mind, their original labors, which we are to consider.

Thus it would seem that among the ancients, in those departments of
science which are inductive, there were not sufficient facts, well
established, from which to make sound inductions; but in those
departments which are deductive, like pure mathematics, and which
require great reasoning powers, there were lofty attainments,--which
indeed gave the foundation for the achievements of modern science.

       *       *       *       *       *


An exceedingly learned work (London, 1862) on the Astronomy of the
Ancients, by Sir George Cornewall Lewis, though rather ostentatious in
the parade of authorities, and minute on points which are not of much
consequence, is worth consulting. Delambre's History of Ancient
Astronomy has long been a classic, but is richer in materials for a
history than a history itself. There is a valuable essay in the
Encyclopaedia Britannica, which refers to a list of special authors.
Whewell's History of the Inductive Sciences may also be consulted with
profit. Dunglison's History of Medicine is a standard, giving much
detailed information, and Leclerc among the French and Speugel among the
Germans are esteemed authorities. Strabo's Geography is the most
valuable of antiquity; see also Polybius: both of these have been
translated and edited for English readers.



4000-50 B.C.

While the fine arts made great progress among the cultivated nations of
antiquity, and with the Greeks reached a refinement that has never since
been surpassed, the ancients were far behind modern nations in
everything that has utility for its object. In implements of war, in
agricultural instruments, in the variety of manufactures, in machinery,
in chemical compounds, in domestic utensils, in grand engineering works,
in the comfort of houses, in modes of land-travel and transportation, in
navigation, in the multiplication of books, in triumphs over the forces
of Nature, in those discoveries and inventions which abridge the labors
of mankind and bring races into closer intercourse,--especially by such
wonders as are wrought by steam, gas, electricity, gunpowder, the
mariner's compass, and the art of printing,--the modern world feels its
immense superiority to all the ages that have gone before. And yet,
considering the infancy of science and the youth of nations, more was
accomplished by the ancients for the comfort and convenience and luxury
of man than we naturally might suppose.

Egypt was the primeval seat of what may be called material civilization,
and many arts and inventions were known there when the rest of the world
was still in ignorance and barbarism. More than four thousand years ago
the Egyptians had chariots of war and most of the military weapons known
afterward to the Greeks,--especially the spear and bow, which were the
most effective offensive weapons known to antiquity or the Middle Ages.
Some of their warriors were clothed in coats of brass equal to the steel
or iron cuirass worn by the Mediaeval knights of chivalry. They had the
battle-axe, the shield, the sword, the javelin, the metal-headed arrow.
One of the early Egyptian kings marched against his enemies with six
hundred thousand infantry, twenty thousand cavalry, and twenty-three
thousand chariots of war, each drawn by two horses. The saddles and
bridles of their horses were nearly as perfect as ours are at the
present time; the leather they used was dyed in various colors, and
adorned with metal edges. The wheels of their chariots were bound with
hoops of metal, and had six spokes. Umbrellas to protect from the rays
of the sun were held over the heads of their women of rank when they
rode in their highly-decorated chariots. Walls of solid masonry, thick
and high, surrounded their principal cities, while an attacking or
besieging army used movable towers. Their disciplined troops advanced to
battle in true military precision, at the sound of the trumpet.

The public works of Egyptian kings were on a grand scale. They united
rivers with seas by canals which employed hundreds of thousands of
workmen. They transported heavy blocks of stone, of immense weight and
magnitude, for their temples, palaces, and tombs. They erected obelisks
in single shafts nearly one hundred feet in height, and they engraved
the sides of these obelisks from top to bottom with representations of
warriors, priests, and captives. They ornamented their vast temples with
sculptures which required the hardest metals. Rameses the Great, the
Sesostris of the Greeks, had a fleet of four hundred vessels in the
Arabian Gulf, and the rowers wore quilted helmets. His vessels had
sails, which implies the weaving of flax and the twisting of heavy
ropes; some of his war-galleys were propelled by forty-four oars, and
were one hundred and twenty feet in length.

Among their domestic utensils the Egyptians used the same kind of
buckets for wells that we find to-day among the farmhouses of New
England. Skilful gardeners were employed in ornamenting grounds and in
raising fruits and vegetables. The leather cutters and dressers were
famous for their skill, as well as workers in linen. Most products of
the land, as well as domestic animals, were sold by weight in carefully
adjusted scales. Instead of coins, money was in rings of gold, silver,
and copper. The skill used by the Egyptians in rearing fowls, geese, and
domestic animals greatly surpassed that known to modern farmers.
According to Wilkinson, they caught fish in nets equal to the seines
employed by modern fishermen. Their houses as well as their monuments
were built of brick, and were sometimes four or five stories in height,
and secured by bolts on the doors. Locks and keys were also in use, made
of iron; and the doorways were ornamented. Some of the roofs of their
public buildings were arched with stone. In their mills for grinding
wheat circular stones were used, resembling in form those now employed,
generally turned by women, but sometimes so large that asses and mules
were employed in the work. The walls and ceilings of their buildings
were richly painted, the devices being as elaborate as those of the
Greeks. Besides town-houses, the rich had villas and gardens, where they
amused themselves with angling and spearing fish in the ponds. The
gardens were laid in walks shaded with trees, and were well watered from
large tanks. Vines were trained on trellis-work supported by pillars,
and sometimes in the form of bowers. For gathering fruit, baskets were
used somewhat similar to those now employed. Their wine-presses showed
considerable ingenuity, and after the necessary fermentation the wine
was poured into large earthen jars, corresponding to the amphorae of the
Romans, and covered with lids made air-tight by resin and bitumen. The
Egyptians had several kinds of wine, highly praised by the ancients; and
wine among them was cheap and abundant. Egypt was also renowned for
drugs unknown to other nations, and for beer made of barley, as well as
wine. As for fruits, they had the same variety as we have at the present
day, their favorite fruit being dates. "So fond were the Egyptians of
trees and flowers that they exacted a contribution from the nations
tributary to them of their rarest plants, so that their gardens bloomed
with flowers of every variety in all seasons of the year." Wreaths and
chaplets were in common use from the earliest antiquity. It was in their
gardens, abounding with vegetables as well as with fruits and flowers,
that the Egyptians entertained their friends.

In Egyptian houses were handsome chairs and fauteuils, stools and
couches, the legs of which were carved in imitation of the feet of
animals; and these were made of rare woods, inlaid with ivory, and
covered with rich stuffs. Some of the Egyptian chairs were furnished
with cushions and covered with the skins of leopards and lions; the
seats were made of leather, painted with flowers. Footstools were
sometimes made of elegant patterns, inlaid with ivory and precious
woods. Mats were used in the sitting-rooms. The couches were of every
variety of form, and utilized in some instances as beds. The tables were
round, square, and oblong, and were sometimes made of stone and highly
ornamented with carvings. Bronze bedsteads were used by the
wealthy classes.

In their entertainments nothing was omitted by the Egyptians which would
produce festivity,--music, songs, dancing, and games of chance. The
guests arrived in chariots or palanquins, borne by servants on foot, who
also carried parasols over the heads of their masters. Previous to
entering the festive chamber water was brought for the feet and hands,
the ewers employed being made often of gold and silver, of beautiful
form and workmanship. Servants in attendance anointed the head with
sweet-scented ointment from alabaster vases, and put around the heads of
the guests garlands and wreaths in which the lotus was conspicuous; they
also perfumed the apartments with myrrh and frankincense, obtained
chiefly from Syria. Then wine was brought, and emptied into
drinking-cups of silver or bronze, and even of porcelain, beautifully
engraved, one of which was exclusively reserved for the master of the
house. While at dinner the party were enlivened with musical
instruments, the chief of which were the harp, the lyre, the guitar, the
tambourine, the pipe, the flute, and the cymbal. Music was looked upon
by the Egyptians as an important science, and was diligently studied and
highly prized; the song and the dance were united with the sounds of
musical instruments. Many of the ornamented vases and other vessels used
by the Egyptians in their banquets were not inferior in elegance of form
and artistic finish to those made by the Greeks at a later day. The
Pharaoh of the Jewish Exodus had drinking-vessels of gold and silver,
exquisitely engraved and ornamented with precious stones.

Some of the bronze vases found at Thebes and other parts of Egypt show
great skill in the art of compounding metals, and were highly polished.
Their bronze knives and daggers had an elastic spring, as if made of
steel. Wilkinson expresses his surprise at the porcelain vessels
recently discovered, as well as admiration of them, especially of their
rich colors and beautiful shapes. There is a porcelain bowl of exquisite
workmanship in the British Museum inscribed with the name of Rameses
II., proving that the arts of pottery were carried to great perfection
two thousand years before Christ. Boxes of elaborate workmanship, made
of precious woods finely carved and inlaid with ivory, are also
preserved in the different museums of Europe, all dating from a remote
antiquity. These boxes are of every form, with admirably fitting lids,
representing fishes, birds, and animals. The rings, bracelets, and other
articles of jewelry that have been preserved show great facility on the
part of the Egyptians in cutting the hardest stones. The skill displayed
in the sculptures on the hard obelisks and granite monuments of Egypt
was remarkable, since they were executed with hardened bronze.

Glass-blowing was another art in which the Egyptians excelled. Fifteen
hundred years before Christ they made ornaments of glass, and glass
vessels of large size were used for holding wine. Such was their skill
in the manufacture of glass that they counterfeited precious stones with
a success unknown to the moderns. We read of a counterfeited emerald six
feet in length. Counterfeited necklaces were sold at Thebes which
deceived strangers. The uses to which glass was applied were in the
manufacture of bottles, beads, mosaic work, and drinking-cups, and their
different colors show considerable knowledge of chemistry. The art of
cutting and engraving stones was doubtless learned by the Israelites in
their sojourn in Egypt. So perfect were the Egyptians in the arts of
cutting precious stones that they were sought by foreign merchants, and
they furnished an important material in commerce.

From the earliest times the Egyptians were celebrated for their
manufacture of linen, which was one of the principal articles of
commerce; and cotton and woollen cloths as well as linen were woven.
Cotton was used not only for articles of dress, but for the covering of
chairs and other kinds of furniture. The great mass of the mummy cloths
is of coarse texture; but the "fine linen" spoken of in the Scripture
was as fine as muslin, in some instances containing more than five
hundred threads to an inch, while the finest productions of the looms of
India have only one hundred threads to the inch. Not only were the
threads of linen cloth of extraordinary fineness, but the dyes were
equally remarkable, and were unaffected by strong alkalies. Spinning was
principally the occupation of women, who also practised the art of
embroidery, in which gold thread was used, supposed to be beaten out by
the hammer; but in the arts of dyeing and embroidery the Egyptians were
surpassed by the Babylonians, who were renowned for their cloths of
various colors.

The manufacture of paper was another art for which the Egyptians were
famous, made from the papyrus, a plant growing in the marsh-land of the
Nile. The papyrus was also applied to the manufacture of sails, baskets,
canoes, and parts of sandals. Some of the papyri, on which is
hieroglyphic writing dating from two thousand years before our era, are
in good preservation. Sheep-skin parchment also was used for writing.

The Egyptians were especially skilled in the preparation of leather for
sandals, shields, and chairs. The curriers used the same semicircular
knife which is now in use. The great consumption of leather created a
demand far greater than could be satisfied by the produce of the
country, and therefore skins from foreign countries were imported as
part of the tribute laid on conquered nations or tribes.

More numerous than the tanners in Egypt were the potters, among whom the
pottery-wheel was known from a remote antiquity, previous to the arrival
of Joseph from Canaan, and long before the foundation of the Greek
Athens. Earthenware was used for holding wine, oils, and other liquids;
but the finest production of the potter were the vases, covered with a
vitreous glaze and modelled in every variety of forms, some of which
were as elegant as those made later by the Greeks, who excelled in this
department of art.

Carpenters and cabinet-makers formed a large class of Egyptian workmen
for making coffins, boxes, tables, chairs, doors, sofas, and other
articles of furniture, frequently inlaid with ivory and rare woods.
Veneering was known to these workmen, probably arising from the scarcity
of wood. The tools used by the carpenters, as appear from the
representations on the monuments, were the axe, the adze, the hand-saw,
the chisel, the drill, and the plane. These tools were made of bronze,
with handles of acacia, tamarisk, and other hard woods. The hatchet, by
which trees were felled, was used by boat-builders. The boxes and other
articles of furniture were highly ornamented with inlaid work.

Boat-building in Egypt also employed many workmen. Boats were made of
the papyrus plant, deal, cedar, and other woods, and were propelled both
by sails and oars. One ship-of-war built for Ptolemy Philopater is said
by ancient writers to have been 478 feet long, to have had forty banks
of oars, and to have carried 400 sailors, 4,000 rowers, and 3,000
soldiers. This is doubtless an exaggeration, but indicates great
progress in naval architecture. The construction of boats varied
according to the purpose for which they were intended. They were built
with ribs as at the present day, with small keels, square sails, with
spacious cabins in the centre, and ornamented sterns; there was usually
but one mast, and the prows terminated in the heads of animals. The
boats of burden were somewhat similar to our barges; the sails were
generally painted with rich colors. The origin of boat-building was
probably the raft, and improvement followed improvement until the
ship-of-war rivalled in size our largest vessels, while Egyptian
merchant vessels penetrated to distant seas, and probably doubled the
Cape of Good Hope.

In regard to agriculture the Egyptians were the most advanced of the
nations of antiquity, since the fertility of their soil made the
occupation one of primary importance. Irrigation was universally
practised, the Nile furnishing water for innumerable canals. The soil
was often turned up with the hoe rather than the plough. The grain was
sown broadcast, and was trodden in by goats. Their plough was very
simple, and was drawn by oxen; the yoke being attached to the horns.
Although the soil was rich, manures were frequently used. The chief
crops were those of wheat, barley, beans, peas, lentils, vetches,
lupines, clover, rice, indigo, cotton, lettuce, flax, hemp, cumin,
coriander, poppy, melons, cucumbers, onions, and leeks. We do not read
of carrots, cabbages, beets, or potatoes, which enter so largely into
modern husbandry. Oil was obtained from the olive, the castor-berry,
simsin, and coleseed. Among the principal trees which were cultivated
were the vine, olive, locust, acacia, date, sycamore, pomegranate, and
tamarisk. Grain, after harvest, was trodden out by oxen, and the straw
was used as provender. To protect the fields from inundation dykes
were built.

All classes in Egypt delighted in the sports of the field, especially in
the hunting of wild animals, in which the arrow was most frequently
used. Sometimes the animals were caught in nets, in enclosed places near
water-brooks. The Egyptians also had numerous fish-ponds, since they
were as fond of angling as they were of hunting. Hunting in Egypt was an
amusement, not an occupation as among nomadic people. Not only was
hunting for pleasure a great amusement among Egyptians, but also among
Babylonians and Persians, who coursed the plains with dogs. They used
the noose or lasso also to catch antelopes and wild cattle, which were
hunted with lions; the bow used in the chase was similar to that
employed in war. All the subjects of the chase were sculptured on the
monuments with great spirit and fidelity, especially the stag, the ibex,
the porcupine, the wolf, the hare, the lion, the fox, and the giraffe.
The camel is not found among the Egyptian sculptures, nor the bear. Of
the birds found in their sculptures were vultures, eagles, kites, hawks,
owls, ravens, larks, swallows, turtle-doves, quails, ostriches, storks,
plovers, snipes, geese, and ducks, many of which were taken in nets. The
Nile and Lake Birket el Keroun furnished fish in great abundance. The
profits of the fisheries were enormous, and were farmed out by the

The Egyptians were very fond of ornaments in dress, especially the
women. They paid great attention to their sandals; they wore their hair
long and plaited, bound round with an ornamented fillet fastened by a
lotus bud; they wore ear-rings and a profusion of rings on the fingers
and bracelets for the arms, made of gold and set with precious stones.
The scarabaeus, or sacred beetle, was the adornment of rings and
necklaces; even the men wore necklaces and rings and chains. Both men
and women stained the eyelids and brows. Pins and needles were among the
articles of the toilet, usually made of bronze; also metallic mirrors
finely polished. The men carried canes or walking-sticks,--the wands of
Moses and Aaron.

As the Egyptians paid great attention to health, physicians were held in
great repute; and none were permitted to practise but in some particular
branch, such as diseases of the eye, the ear, the head, the teeth, and
the internal maladies. They were paid by government, and were skilled in
the knowledge of drugs. The art of curing diseases originated, according
to Pliny, in Egypt. Connected with the healing art was the practice of
embalming dead bodies, which was carried to great perfection.

In elegance of life the Greeks and Romans, however, far surpassed any
of the nations of antiquity, if not in luxury itself, which was confined
to the palaces of kings. In social refinements the Greeks were not
behind any modern nation, as one infers from reading Becker's Charicles.
Among the Greeks was the network of trades and professions, as in Paris
and London, and a complicated social life in which all the amenities
known to the modern world were seen, especially in Athens and Corinth
and the Ionian capitals. What could be more polite and courteous than
the intercourse carried on in Greece among cultivated and famous people?
When were symposia more attractive than when the _élite_ of Athens, in
the time of Pericles, feasted and communed together? When was art ever
brought in support of luxury to greater perfection? We read of libraries
and books and booksellers, of social games, of attractive gardens and
villas, as well as of baths and spectacles, of markets and fora in
Athens. The common life of a Pericles or a Cicero differed but little
from that of modern men of rank and fortune.

In describing the various arts which marked the nations of antiquity, we
cannot but feel that in a material point of view the ancient
civilization in its important features was as splendid as our own. In
the decoration of houses, in social entertainments, in cookery, the
Romans were our equals. The mosaics, the signet rings, cameos,
bracelets, bronzes, vases, couches, banqueting-tables, lamps, colored
glass, potteries, all attest great elegance and beauty. The tables of
thuga root and Delian bronze were as expensive as modern sideboards;
wood and ivory were carved in Rome as exquisitely as in Japan and China;
mirrors were made of polished silver. Glass-cutters could imitate the
colors of precious stones so well that the Portland vase, from the tomb
of Alexander Severus, was long considered as a genuine sardonyx. The
palace of Nero glittered with gold and jewels; perfumes and flowers were
showered from ivory ceilings. The halls of Heliogabalus were hung with
cloth of gold, enriched with jewels; his beds were silver, and his
tables of gold. A banquet dish of Drusillus weighed five hundred pounds
of silver. Tunics were embroidered with the figures of various animals;
sandals were garnished with precious stones. Paulina wore jewels, when
she paid visits, valued at $800,000. Drinking-cups were engraved with
scenes from the poets; libraries were adorned with busts, and presses of
rare woods; sofas were inlaid with tortoise-shell, and covered with
gorgeous purple. The Roman grandees rode in gilded chariots, bathed in
marble baths, dined from golden plate, drank from crystal cups, slept on
beds of down, reclined on luxurious couches, wore embroidered robes,
and were adorned with precious stones. They ransacked the earth and the
seas for rare dishes for their banquets, and ornamented their houses
with carpets from Babylon, onyx cups from Bithynia, marbles from
Numidia, bronzes from Corinth, statues from Athens,--whatever, in short,
was precious or rare or curious in the most distant countries.

What a concentration of material wonders was to be seen in all the
countries that bordered on the Mediterranean,--not merely in Italy and
Greece, but in Sicily and Asia Minor, and even in Gaul and Spain! Every
country was dotted with cities, villas, and farms. Every country was
famous for oil, or fruit, or wine, or vegetables, or timber, or flocks,
or pastures, or horses. More than two hundred and fifty cities or towns
in Italy alone are historical, and some were famous.

The excavations of Pompeii attest great luxury and elegance of life.
Cortona, Clusium, Veii, Ancona, Ostia, Praeneste, Antium, Misenum,
Baiae, Puteoli, Neapolis, Brundusium, Sybaris, were all celebrated.

And still more remarkable were the old capitals of Greece, Asia Minor,
and Africa. Syracuse was older than Rome, and had a fortress of a mile
and a half in length. Carthage, under the emperors, nearly equalled its
ancient magnificence. Athens was never more splendid than in the time of
the Roman Antonines. In spite of successive conquests, there still
towered upon the Acropolis the most wonderful temple of antiquity, built
of Pentelic marble, and adorned with the sculptures of Phidias. Corinth
was richer and more luxurious than Athens, and possessed the most
valuable pictures of Greece, as well as the finest statues; a single
street for three miles was adorned with costly edifices. And even the
islands which were colonized by Greeks were seats of sculpture and
painting, as well as of schools of learning. Still grander were the
cities of Asia Minor. Antioch had a street four miles in length, with
double colonnades; and its baths, theatres, museums, and temples excited
universal admiration. At Ephesus was the grand temple of Diana, four
times as large as the Parthenon at Athens, covering as much ground as
Cologne Cathedral, with one hundred and twenty-eight columns sixty feet
high. The Ephesian theatre was capable of seating sixty thousand
spectators. Tarsus, the birthplace of Paul, was no mean city; and
Damascus, the old capital of Syria, was both beautiful and rich.

Laodicea was famous for tapestries, Hierapolis for its iron wares,
Cybara for its dyes, Sardis for its wines, Smyrna for its beautiful
monuments, Delos for its slave-trade, Cyrene for its horses, Paphos for
its temple of Venus, in which were a hundred altars. Seleucia, on the
Tigris, had a population of four hundred thousand. Caesarea in
Palestine, founded by Herod the Great, and the principal seat of
government to the Roman prefects, had a harbor equal in size to the
renowned Piraeus, and was secured against the southwest winds by a mole
of such massive construction that the blocks of stone, sunk under the
water, were fifty feet in length, eighteen in width, and nine in
thickness. The city itself was constructed of polished stone, with an
agora, a theatre, a circus, a praetorium, and a temple to Caesar. Tyre,
which had resisted for seven months the armies of Alexander, remained to
the fall of the empire a great emporium of trade; it monopolized the
manufacture of imperial purple. Sidon was equally celebrated for its
glass and embroidered robes. The Sidonians cast glass mirrors, and
imitated precious stones. But the glory of both Tyre and Sidon was in
ships, which visited all the coasts of the Mediterranean, and even
penetrated to Britain and India.

But greater than Tyre or Antioch, or any eastern city, was Alexandria,
the capital of Egypt. Egypt even in its decline was still a great
monarchy; and when the sceptre of three hundred kings passed from
Cleopatra the last of the Ptolemies, to Augustus Caesar the conqueror at
Actium, the military force of Egypt is said to have amounted to seven
hundred thousand men. The annual revenues of this State under the
Ptolemies amounted to about seventeen million dollars in gold and
silver, besides the produce of the earth. A single feast cost
Philadelphus more than half a million of pounds sterling, and he had
accumulated treasures to the amount of seven hundred and forty thousand
talents, or about eight hundred and sixty million dollars. What European
monarch ever possessed such a sum? The kings of Egypt, even when
tributary to Rome, were richer in gold and silver than was Louis XIV. in
the proudest hour of his life.

The ground-plan of Alexandria was traced by Alexander himself, but it
was not completed until the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus. Its
circumference was about fifteen miles; the streets were regular, and
crossed one another at right angles, being wide enough for free passage
of both carriages and foot passengers. Its harbor could hold the largest
fleet ever congregated; its walls and gates were constructed with all
the skill and strength known to antiquity; its population numbered six
hundred thousand, and all nations were represented in its crowded
streets. The wealth of the city may be inferred from the fact that in
one year sixty-two hundred and fifty talents, or more than six million
dollars, were paid to the public treasury for port dues. The library was
the largest in the world, numbering over seven hundred thousand
volumes; and this was connected with a museum, a menagerie, a botanical
garden, and various halls for lectures, altogether forming the most
famous university in the Roman empire. The inhabitants were chiefly
Greek, and had all the cultivated tastes and mercantile thrift of that
quick-witted people. In a commercial point of view Alexandria was the
most important city in the world, and its ships whitened every sea.
Unlike most commercial cities, it was intellectual, and its schools of
poetry, mathematics, medicine, philosophy, and theology were more
renowned than even those of Athens during the third and fourth
centuries. Alexandria, could it have been transported in its former
splendor to our modern world, would be a great capital in these times.

And all these cities were connected with one another and with Rome by
magnificent roads, perfectly straight, and paved with large blocks of
stone. They were originally constructed for military purposes, but were
used by travellers, and on them posts were regularly established; they
crossed valleys upon arches, and penetrated mountains; in Italy,
especially, they were great works of art, and connected all the
provinces. There was an uninterrupted communication from the wall of
Antoninus through York, London, Sandwich, Boulogne, Rheims, Lyons,
Milan, Rome, Brundusium, Dyrrachium, Byzantium, Ancyra, Tarsus,
Antioch, Tyre, Jerusalem,--a distance of thirty-seven hundred and forty
miles; and these roads were divided by milestones, and houses for
travellers erected upon them at points of every five or six miles.

Commerce under the Roman emperors was not what it now is, but still was
very considerable, and thus united the various provinces together. The
most remote countries were ransacked to furnish luxuries for Rome; every
year a fleet of one hundred and twenty vessels sailed from the Red Sea
for the islands of the Indian Ocean. But the Mediterranean, with the
rivers which flowed into it, was the great highway of the ancient
navigator. Navigation by the ancients was even more rapid than in modern
times before the invention of steam, since oars were employed as well as
sails. In summer one hundred and sixty-two Roman miles were sailed over
in twenty-four hours; this was the average speed, or about seven knots.
From the mouth of the Tiber vessels could usually reach Africa in two
days, Massilia in three, and the Pillars of Hercules in seven; from
Puteoli the passage to Alexandria had been effected, with moderate
winds, in nine days. These facts, however, apply only to the summer, and
to favorable winds. The Romans did not navigate in the inclement
seasons; but in summer the great inland sea was white with sails. Great
fleets brought corn from Gaul, Spain, Sardinia, Africa, Sicily, and
Egypt. This was the most important trade; but a considerable commerce
was carried on also in ivory, tortoise-shell, cotton and silk fabrics,
pearls and precious stones, gums, spices, wines, wool, and oil. Greek
and Asiatic wines, especially the Chian and Lesbian, were in great
demand at Rome. The transport of earthenware, made generally in the
Grecian cities, of wild animals for the amphitheatre, of marble, of the
spoils of eastern cities, of military engines and stores, and of horses,
required very large fleets and thousands of mariners, which probably
belonged chiefly to great maritime cities. These cities with their
dependencies required even more vessels for communication with one
another than for Rome herself,--the great central object of enterprise
and cupidity.

In this survey of ancient cities I have not yet spoken of the great
central city,--the City of the Seven Hills, to which all the world was
tributary. Whatever was costly or rare or beautiful, in Greece or Asia
or Egypt, was appropriated by her citizen kings, since citizens were
provincial governors. All the great highways, from the Atlantic to the
Tigris, converged to the capital,--all roads led to Rome; all the ships
of Alexandria and Carthage and Tarentum, and other commercial capitals,
were employed in furnishing her with luxuries or necessities. Never was
there so proud a city as this "Epitome of the Universe." London, Paris,
Vienna, Constantinople, St. Petersburg, Berlin, are great centres of
fashion and power; but they are rivals, and excel only in some great
department of human enterprise and genius, as in letters, or fashions,
or commerce, or manufactures,--centres of influence and power in the
countries of which they are capitals, yet they do not monopolize the
wealth and energies of the world. London may contain more people than
did ancient Rome, and may possess more commercial wealth; but London
represents only the British monarchy, not a universal empire. Rome,
however, monopolized every thing, and controlled all nations and
peoples; she could shut up the schools of Athens, or disperse the ships
of Alexandria, or regulate the shops of Antioch. What Lyons and Bordeaux
are to Paris, Corinth and Babylon were to Rome,--mere dependent cities.
Paul, condemned at Jerusalem, stretched out his arms to Rome, and Rome
protected him. The philosophers of Greece were the tutors of Roman
nobility. The kings of the East resorted to the palaces of Mount
Palatine for favors or safety; the governors of Syria and Egypt,
reigning in the palaces of ancient kings, returned to Rome to squander
the riches they had accumulated. Senators and nobles took their turn as
sovereign rulers of all the known countries of the world. The halls in
which Darius and Alexander and Pericles and Croesus and Solomon and
Cleopatra had feasted, became the witness of the banquets of Roman
proconsuls. Babylon, Thebes, and Athens were only what Delhi and
Calcutta are to the English of our day,--cities to be ruled by the
delegates of the imperial Senate. Rome was the only "home" of the proud
governors who reigned on the banks of the Thames, of the Seine, of the
Rhine, of the Nile, of the Tigris. After they had enriched themselves
with the spoils of the ancient monarchies they returned to their estates
in Italy, or to their palaces on the Aventine. What a concentration of
works of art on the hills, and around the Forum, and in the Campus
Martius, and other celebrated quarters! There were temples rivalling
those of Athens and Ephesus; baths covering more ground than the
Pyramids, surrounded with Corinthian columns, and filled with the
choicest treasures ransacked from the cities of Greece and Asia; palaces
in comparison with which the Tuileries and Versailles are small;
theatres which seated a larger audience than any present public
buildings in Europe; amphitheatres more extensive and costly than
Cologne, Milan, and York Minster cathedrals combined, and seating eight
times as many spectators as could be crowded into St. Peter's Church;
circuses where, it is said, three hundred and eighty-five thousand
persons could witness the games and chariot-races at a time; bridges,
still standing, which have furnished models for the most beautiful at
Paris and London; aqueducts carried over arches one hundred feet in
height, through which flowed the surplus water of distant lakes; drains
of solid masonry in which large boats could float; pillars more than one
hundred feet in height, coated with precious marbles or plates of brass,
and covered with bas-reliefs; obelisks brought from Egypt; fora and
basilicas connected together, and extending more than three thousand
feet in length, every part of which was filled with "animated busts" of
conquerors, kings, statesmen, poets, publicists, and philosophers;
mausoleums greater and more splendid than that Artemisia erected to the
memory of her husband; triumphal arches under which marched in stately
procession the victorious armies of the Eternal City, preceded by the
spoils and trophies of conquered empires.

Such was the proud capital,--a city of palaces, a residence of nobles
who were virtually kings, enriched with the accumulated treasures of
ancient civilization. Great were the capitals of Greece and Asia, but
how pre-eminent was Rome, since all were subordinate to her! How
bewildering and bewitching to a traveller must have been the varied
wonders of the city! Go where he would, his eye rested on something
which was both a study and a marvel. Let him drive or walk about the
suburbs,--there were villas, tombs, aqueducts looking like our railroads
on arches, sculptured monuments, and gardens of surpassing beauty and
luxury. Let him approach the walls,--they were great fortifications
extending twenty-one miles in circuit, according to the measurement of
Ammon as adopted by Gibbon, and forty-five miles according to other
authorities. Let him enter any of the various gates that opened into the
city from the roads which radiated to all parts of Italy and the
world,--they were of monumental brass covered with bas-reliefs, on which
the victories of generals for a thousand years were commemorated. Let
him pass through any of the crowded thoroughfares,--he saw houses
towering scarcely ever less than seventy feet, as tall as those of
Edinburgh in its oldest sections. Most of the houses in which this vast
population lived, according to Strabo, possessed pipes which gave a
never-failing supply of water from the rivers that flowed into the city
through the aqueducts and out again through the sewers into the Tiber.
Let the traveller walk up the Via Sacra,--that short street, scarcely
half a mile in length,--and he passed the Flavian Amphitheatre, the
Temple of Venus and Rome, the Arch of Titus, the Temples of Peace, of
Vesta, and of Castor, the Forum Romanum, the Basilica Julia, the Arch
of Severus, the Temple of Saturn, and stood before the majestic ascent
to the Capitoline Jupiter, with its magnificent portico and ornamented
pediment, surpassing the façade of any modern church. On his left, as he
emerged from beneath the sculptured Arch of Titus, was the Palatine
Mount, nearly covered by the palace of the Caesars, the magnificent
residences of the higher nobility, and various temples, of which that of
Apollo was the most magnificent, built by Augustus, of solid white
marble from Luna. Here were the palaces of Vaccus, of Flaccus, of
Cicero, of Catiline, of Scaurus, of Antoninus, of Clodius, of Agrippa,
and of Hortensius. Still on his left, in the valley between the Palatine
and the Capitoline, though he could not see it, concealed from view by
the great Temples of Vesta and of Castor, and the still greater edifice
known as the Basilica Julia, was the quarter called the Velabrum,
extending to the river, where the Pons Aemilius crossed it,--a low
quarter of narrow streets and tall houses where the rabble lived and
died. On his right, concealed from view by the Aedes Divi Julii and the
Forum Romanum, was that magnificent series of edifices extending from
the Temple of Peace to the Temple of Trajan, including the Basilica
Pauli, the Forum Julii, the Forum Augusti, the Forum Trajani, the
Basilica Ulpia,--a space more than three thousand feet in length, and
six hundred in breadth, almost entirely surrounded by porticos and
colonnades, and filled with statues and pictures,--displaying on the
whole probably the grandest series of public buildings clustered
together ever erected, especially if we include the Forum Romanum and
the various temples and basilicas which connected the whole,--a forest
of marble pillars and statues. Ascending the steps which led from the
Temple of Concord to the Temple of Juno Moneta upon the Arx, or Tarpeian
Rock, on the southwestern summit of the hill, itself one of the most
beautiful temples in Rome, erected by Camillus on the spot where the
house of M. Manlius Capitolinus had stood, and one came upon the Roman
mint. Near this was the temple erected by Augustus to Jupiter Tonans,
and that built by Domitian to Jupiter Custos. But all the sacred
edifices which crowned the Capitoline were subordinate to the Templum
Jovis Capitolini, standing on a platform of eight thousand square feet,
and built of the richest materials. The portico which faced the Via
Sacra consisted of three rows of Doric columns, the pediment profusely
ornamented with the choicest sculptures, the apex of the roof surmounted
by the bronze horses of Lysippus, and the roof itself covered with
gilded tiles. The temple had three separate cells, though covered with
one roof; in front of each stood colossal statues of the three deities
to whom it was consecrated. Here were preserved what was most sacred in
the eyes of Romans, and it was itself the richest of all the temples
of the city.

What a beautiful panorama was presented to the view from the summit of
this consecrated hill, only mounted by a steep ascent of one hundred
steps! To the south was the Via Sacra extending to the Colosseum, and
beyond it the Appia Via, lined with monuments as far as the eye could
reach. A little beyond the fora to the east was the Carinae, a
fashionable quarter of beautiful shops and houses, and still farther off
were the Baths of Titus, extending from the Carinae to the Esquiline
Mount. To the northeast were the Viminal and Quirinal hills, after the
Palatine the most ancient part of the city, the seat of the Sabine
population, abounding in fanes and temples, the most splendid of which
was the Temple of Quirinus, erected originally to Romulus by Numa, but
rebuilt by Augustus, with a double row of columns on each of its sides,
seventy-six in number. Near by was the house of Atticus, and the gardens
of Sallust in the valley between the Quirinal and Pincian, afterward the
property of the Emperor. Far back on the Quirinal, near the wall of
Servius, were the Baths of Diocletian, and still farther to the east the
Pretorian Camp established by Tiberius, and included within the wall of
Aurelian. To the northeast the eye lighted on the Pincian Hill covered
with the gardens of Lucullus, to possess which Messalina caused the
death of Valerius Asiaticus, into whose possession they had fallen. In
the valley which lay between the fora and the Quirinal was the
celebrated Subura, the quarter of shops, markets, and artificers,--a
busy, noisy, vulgar section, not beautiful, but full of life and
enterprise and wickedness. The eye then turned to the north, and the
whole length of the Via Flamina was exposed to view, extending from the
Capitoline to the Flaminian gate, perfectly straight, the finest street
in Rome, and parallel to the modern Corso; it was the great highway to
the north of Italy. Monuments and temples and palaces lined this
celebrated street; it was spanned by the triumphal arches of Claudius
and Marcus Aurelius. To the west of it was the Campus Martius, with its
innumerable objects of interest,--the Baths of Agrippa, the Pantheon,
the Thermae Alexandrinae, the Column of Marcus Aurelius, and the
Mausoleum of Augustus. Beneath the Capitoline on the west, toward the
river, was the Circus Flaminius, the Portico of Octavius, the Theatre of
Balbus, and the Theatre of Pompey, where forty thousand spectators were
accommodated. Stretching beyond the Thermae Alexandrinae, near the
Pantheon, was the magnificent bridge which crossed the Tiber, built by
Hadrian when he founded his Mausoleum, to which it led, still standing
under the name of the Ponte S. Angelo. The eye took in eight or nine
bridges over the Tiber, some of wood, but generally of stone, of
beautiful masonry, and crowned with statues. In the valley between the
Palatine and the Aventine, was the great Circus Maximus, founded by the
early Tarquin; it was the largest open space, inclosed by walls and
porticos, in the city; it seated three hundred and eighty-five thousand
spectators. How vast a city, which could spare nearly four hundred
thousand of its population to see the chariot-races! Beyond was the
Aventine itself. This also was rich in legendary monuments and in the
palaces of the great, though originally a plebeian quarter. Here dwelt
Trajan before he was emperor, and Ennius the poet, and Paula the friend
of Saint Jerome. Beneath the Aventine, and a little south of the Circus
Maximus, were the great Baths of Caracalla, the ruins of which, next to
those of the Colosseum, made on my mind the strongest impression of all
I saw that pertains to antiquity, though these were not so large as
those of Diocletian. The view south took in the Caelian Hill, the
ancient residence of Tullus Hostilius. This hill was the residence of
many distinguished Romans, among whose palaces was that of Claudius
Centumalus, which towered ten or twelve stories into the air. But
grander than any of these palaces was that of Plautius Lateranus, on
whose site now stands the basilica of St. John Lateran,--the gift of
Constantine to the bishop of Rome,--one of the most ancient of the
Christian churches, in which, for fifteen hundred years, daily services
have been performed.

Such were the objects of interest and grandeur that met the eye as it
was turned toward the various quarters of the city, which contained
between three and four millions of people. Lipsius estimates four
millions as the population, including slaves, women, children, and
strangers. Though this estimate is regarded as too large by Merivale and
others, yet how enormous must have been the number of the people when
there were nine thousand and twenty-five baths, and when those of
Diocletian could accommodate thirty-two hundred bathers at a time! The
wooden theatre of Scaurus contained eighty thousand seats; that of
Marcellus twenty thousand; the Colosseum would seat eighty-seven
thousand persons, and give standing space for twenty-two thousand more.
The Circus Maximus would hold three hundred and eighty-five thousand
spectators. If only one person out of four of the free population
witnessed the games and spectacles at a time, we thus must have four
millions of people altogether in the city. The Aurelian walls are now
only thirteen miles in circumference, but Lipsius estimates the
original circumference at forty-five miles, and Vopiscus at nearly
fifty. The diameter of the city must have been eleven miles, since
Strabo tells us that the actual limit of Rome was at a place between the
fifth and sixth milestone from the column of Trajan in the Forum,--the
central and most conspicuous object in the city except the capitol.

Modern writers, taking London and Paris for their measure of material
civilization, seem unwilling to admit that Rome could have reached such
a pitch of glory and wealth and power. To him who stands within the
narrow limits of the Forum, as it now appears, it seems incredible that
it could have been the centre of a much larger city than Europe can now
boast of. Grave historians are loath to compromise their dignity and
character for truth by admitting statements which seem, to men of
limited views, to be fabulous, and which transcend modern experience.
But we should remember that most of the monuments of ancient Rome have
entirely disappeared. Nothing remains of the Palace of the Caesars,
which nearly covered the Palatine Hill; little of the fora which,
connected together, covered a space twice as large as that inclosed by
the palaces of the Louvre and Tuileries, with all their galleries and
courts; almost nothing of the glories of the Capitoline Hill; and little
comparatively of those Thermae which were a mile in circuit. But what
does remain attests an unparalleled grandeur,--the broken pillars of the
Forum; the lofty columns of Trajan and Marcus Aurelius; the Pantheon,
lifting its spacious dome two hundred feet into the air; the mere
vestibule of the Baths of Agrippa; the triumphal arches of Titus and
Trajan and Constantine; the bridges which span the Tiber; the aqueducts
which cross the Campagna; the Cloaca Maxima, which drained the marshes
and lakes of the infant city; and, above all, the Colosseum. What glory
and shame are associated with that single edifice! That alone, if
nothing else remained of Pagan antiquity, would indicate a grandeur and
a folly such as cannot now be seen on earth. It reveals a wonderful
skill in masonry and great architectural strength; it shows the wealth
and resources of rulers who must have had the treasures of the world at
their command; it shows the restless passions of the people for
excitement, and the necessity on the part of government of yielding to
this taste. What leisure and indolence marked a city which could afford
to give up so much time to the demoralizing sports! What facilities for
transportation were afforded, when so many wild beasts could be brought
to the capitol from the central parts of Africa without calling out
unusual comment! How imperious a populace that compels the government to
provide such expensive pleasures! The games of Titus, on the dedication
of the Colosseum, lasted one hundred days, and five thousand wild beasts
were slaughtered in the arena. The number of the gladiators who fought
surpasses belief. At the triumph of Trajan over the Dacians, ten
thousand gladiators were exhibited, and the Emperor himself presided
under a gilded canopy, surrounded by thousands of his lords. Underneath
the arena, strewed with yellow sand and sawdust, was a solid pavement,
so closely cemented that it could be turned into an artificial lake, on
which naval battles were fought. But it was the conflict of gladiators
which most deeply stimulated the passions of the people. The benches
were crowded with eager spectators, and the voices of one hundred
thousand were raised in triumph or rage as the miserable victims sank
exhausted in the bloody sport.

Yet it was not the gladiatorial sports of the amphitheatre which most
strikingly attested the greatness and splendor of the city; nor the
palaces, in which as many as four hundred slaves were sometimes
maintained as domestic servants for a single establishment,--twelve
hundred in number according to the lowest estimate, but probably five
times as numerous, since every senator, every knight, and every rich man
was proud to possess a residence which would attract attention; nor the
temples, which numbered four hundred and twenty-four, most of which
were of marble, filled with statues, the contributions of ages, and
surrounded with groves; nor the fora and basilicas, with their porticos,
statues, and pictures, covering more space than any cluster of public
buildings in Europe, a mile and a half in circuit; nor the baths, nearly
as large, still more completely filled with works of art; nor the Circus
Maximus, where more people witnessed the chariot races at a time than
are nightly assembled in all the places of public amusement in Paris,
London, and New York combined,--more than could be seated in all the
cathedrals of England and France. It is not these which most
impressively make us feel the amazing grandeur of the old capital of the
world. The triumphal processions of the conquering generals were still
more exciting to behold, for these appealed more directly to the
imagination, and excited those passions which urged the Romans to a
career of conquest from generation to generation. No military review of
modern times equalled those gorgeous triumphs, even as no scenic
performance compares with the gladiatorial shows; the sun has never
shone upon any human assemblage so magnificent and so grand, so imposing
and yet so guilty. Not only were displayed the spoils of conquered
kingdoms, and the triumphal cars of generals, but the whole military
strength of the capital; an army of one hundred thousand men, flushed
with victory, followed the gorgeous procession of nobles and princes.
The triumph of Aurelian, on his return from the East, gives us some idea
of the grandeur of that ovation to conquerors. "The pomp was opened by
twenty elephants, four royal tigers, and two hundred of the most curious
animals from every climate, north, south, east, and west. These were
followed by sixteen hundred gladiators, devoted to the cruel amusement
of the amphitheatre. Then were displayed the arms and ensigns of
conquered nations, the plate and wardrobe of the Syrian queen. Then
ambassadors from all parts of the earth, all remarkable in their rich
dresses, with their crowns and offerings. Then the captives taken in the
various wars,--Goths, Vandals, Samaritans, Alemanni, Franks, Gauls,
Syrians, and Egyptians, each marked by their national costume. Then the
Queen of the East, the beautiful Zenobia, confined by fetters of gold,
and fainting under the weight of jewels, preceding the beautiful chariot
in which she had hoped to enter the gates of Rome. Then the chariot of
the Persian king. Then the triumphal car of Aurelian himself, drawn by
elephants. Finally the most illustrious of the Senate and the army
closed the solemn procession, amid the acclamations of the people, and
the sound of musical instruments. It took from dawn of day until the
ninth hour for the procession to pass to the capitol; and the festival
was protracted by theatrical representations, the games of the circus,
the hunting of wild beasts, combats of gladiators, and naval

Such were the material wonders of the ancient civilizations, culminating
in their latest and greatest representative, and displayed in its proud
capital,--nearly all of which became later the spoil of barbarians, who
ruthlessly marched over the classic world, having no regard for its
choicest treasures. Those old glories are now indeed succeeded by a
prouder civilization,--the work of nobler races after sixteen hundred
years of new experiments. But why such an eclipse of the glory of man?
The reason is apparent if we survey the internal state of the ancient
empires, especially of society as it existed under the Roman emperors.

       *       *       *       *       *


Herodotus, Strabo, Pliny, Polybius, Diodorus Siculus, Titus Livius,
Pausanias, on the geography and resources of the ancient nations. See an
able chapter on Mediterranean prosperity in Louis Napoleon's History of
Caesar. Smith's Dictionary of Ancient Geography is exhaustive. Wilkinson
has revealed the civilization of ancient Egypt. Professor Becker's
Handbook of Rome, as well as his Gallus and Charicles shed much light on
manners and customs. Dyer's History of the City of Rome is the fullest
description of its wonders that I have read. Niebuhr, Bunsen, and
Platner, among the Germans, have written learnedly, but also have
created much doubt about things supposed to be established. Mommsen,
Curtius, and Merivale are also great authorities. Nor are the
magnificent chapters of Gibbon to be disregarded by the student of Roman
history, notwithstanding his elaborate and inflated style.



1300-100 A.D.

In surveying the nations of antiquity nothing impresses us more forcibly
than the perpetual wars in which they were engaged, and the fact that
military art and science seem to have been among the earliest things
that occupied the thoughts of men. Personal strife and tribal warfare
are coeval with the earliest movements of humanity.

The first recorded act in the Hebraic history of the world after the
expulsion of Adam from Paradise is a murder. In patriarchal times we
read of contentions between the servants of Abraham and of Lot, and
between the petty kings and chieftains of the countries where they
journeyed. Long before Abraham was born, violence was the greatest evil
with which the world was afflicted. Before his day mighty conquerors
arose and founded kingdoms. Babylon and Egypt were powerful military
States in pre-historic times. Wars more or less fierce were waged before
nations were civilized. The earliest known art, therefore, was the art
of destruction, growing out of the wicked and brutal passions of
men,--envy and hatred, ambition and revenge; in a word, selfishness.
Race fought with race, kingdom with kingdom, and city with city, in the
very infancy of society. In secular history the greatest names are those
of conquerors and heroes in every land under the sun; and it was by
conquerors that those grand monuments were erected the ruins of which
astonish every traveller, especially in Egypt and Assyria.

But wars in the earliest ages were not carried on scientifically, or
even as an art. There was little to mark them except brute force. Armies
were scarcely more than great collections of armed men, led by kings,
either to protect their States from hostile invaders, or to acquire new
territory, or to exact tribute from weaker nations. We do not read of
military discipline, or of skill in strategy and tactics. A battle was
lost or won by individual prowess; it was generally a hand-to-hand
encounter, in which the strongest and bravest gained the victory.

One of the earliest descriptions of war is to be found in the Iliad of
Homer, where individual heroes fought with one another, armed with the
sword, the lance, and the javelin, protected by shields, helmets, and
coats of mail. They fought on foot, or from chariots, which were in use
before cavalry. The war-horse was driven before he was ridden in Egypt
or Palestine; but the Aryan barbarians in their invasion rode their
horses, and fought on horseback, like the modern Cossacks.

Until the Greeks became familiar with war as an art, armies were usually
very large, as if a great part of the population of a country followed
the sovereign who commanded them. Rameses the Great, the Sesostris of
the Greeks, according to Herodotus led nearly a million of men in his
expeditions. He was the most noted of ancient warriors until Cyrus the
Persian arose, and was nearly contemporaneous with Moses. The Trojan war
is supposed to have taken place during the period when the Israelites
were subject to the Ammonites; and about the time that the Philistines
were defeated by David, the Greeks were forced by war to found colonies
in Asia Minor.

After authentic history begins, war is the main subject with which it
has to deal; and for three thousand years history is simply the record
of the feats of warriors and generals, of their conquests and defeats,
of the rise and fall of kingdoms and cities, of the growth or decline of
military virtues. No arts of civilization have preserved nations from
the sword of the conqueror, and war has been both the amusement and the
business of kings. From the earliest ages, the most valued laurels have
been bestowed for success in war, and military fame has eclipsed all
other glories. The cry of the mourner has been unheeded in the blaze of
conquest; even the aspirations of the poet and the labors of the artist
have been as nought, except to celebrate the achievements of heroes.

It is interesting then to inquire how far the ancients advanced in the
arts of war, which include military weapons, movements, the structure of
camps, the discipline of armies, the construction of ships and of
military engines, and the concentration and management of forces under a
single man. What was that mighty machinery by which nations were
subdued, or rose to greatness on the ruin of States and Empires? The
conquests of Rameses, of David, of Nebuchadnezzar, of Cyrus, of
Alexander, of Hannibal, of Caesar, and other heroes are still the
subjects of contemplation among statesmen and schoolboys. The exploits
of heroes are the pith of history.

The art of war must have made great progress in the infancy of
civilization, when bodily energies were most highly valued, when men
were fierce, hardy, strong, and uncorrupted by luxury; when mere
physical forces gave law alike to the rich and the poor, to the learned
and the ignorant; and when the avenue to power led across the field
of battle.

We must go to Egypt for the earliest development of art and science in
all departments; and so far as the art of war consists in the
organization of physical forces for conquest or defence, under the
direction of a single man, it was in Egypt that this was first
accomplished, about seventeen hundred years before Christ, as
chronologists think, by Rameses the Great.

This monarch, according to Wilkinson, the greatest and most ambitious of
the Egyptian kings, to whom the Greeks gave the name of Sesostris,
showed great ability in collecting together large bodies of his
subjects, and controlling them by a rigid military discipline. He
accustomed them to heat and cold, hunger and thirst, fatigue, and
exposure to danger. With bodies thus rendered vigorous by labor and
discipline, they were fitted for distant expeditions. Rameses first
subdued the Arabians and Libyans, and annexed them to the Egyptian
monarchy. While he inured his subjects to fatigue and danger, he was
careful to win their affections by acts of munificence and clemency. He
then made his preparations for the conquest of the known world, and
collected an army, according to Diodorus Siculus, of six hundred
thousand infantry, twenty-four thousand cavalry, and twenty-seven
thousand war-chariots. It is difficult to understand how a small country
like Egypt could furnish such an immense force. If the account of the
historian be not exaggerated, Rameses must have enrolled the conquered
Libyans and Arabians and other nations among his soldiers. He subjected
his army to a stern discipline and an uncomplaining obedience to
orders,--the first principle in the science of war, which no successful
general in the world's history has ever disregarded, from Alexander to
Napoleon. With this powerful army his march was irresistible. Ethiopia
was first subdued, and an exaction made from the conquered of a tribute
of gold, ivory, and ebony. In those ancient times a conquering army did
not resettle or colonize the territories it had subdued, but was
contented with overrunning the country and exacting tribute from the
people. Such was the nature of the Babylonian and Persian conquests.
After overrunning Ethiopia and some other countries near the Straits of
Babelmandeb, the conqueror proceeded to India, which he overran beyond
the Ganges, and ascended the high table-land of Central Asia; then
proceeding westward, he entered Europe, nor halted in his devastating
career until he reached Thrace. From thence he marched to Asia Minor,
conquering as he went, and invaded Assyria, seating himself on the
throne of Ninus and Semiramis. Then, laden with booty from the Eastern
world, he returned to Egypt after an absence of thirty years and
consolidated his empire, building those vast structures at Thebes, which
for magnitude have never been surpassed. Thus was Egypt enriched with
the spoil of nations, and made formidable for a thousand years. Rameses
was the last of the Pharaohs who pursued the phantom of military renown,
or sought glory in distant expeditions.

We are in ignorance as to the details of the conquests and the generals
who served under Rameses. There is doubtless some exaggeration in the
statements of the Greek historian, but there is no doubt that this
monarch was among the first of the great conquerors to establish a
regular army, and to provide a fleet to co-operate with his land forces.

The strength of the Egyptian army consisted mainly in archers. They
fought either on foot or in chariots; cavalry was not much relied upon,
although mention is frequently made of horsemen as well as of chariots.
The Egyptian infantry was divided into regiments, and Wilkinson tells us
that they were named according to the arms they bore,--as "bowmen,
spearmen, swordsmen, clubmen, slingers." These regiments were divided
into battalions and companies, commanded by their captains. The
infantry, heavily armed with spears and shields, formed a phalanx almost
impenetrable of twelve men deep, who marched with great regularity. Each
company had its standard-bearer, who was an officer of approved valor;
the royal standards were carried by the royal princes or by persons of
the royal household. The troops were summoned by the sound of trumpet,
and also by the drum, both used from the earliest period. The offensive
weapons were the bow, the spear, the javelin, the sword, the club, or
mace, and the battle-axe. The chief defensive weapon was the shield,
about three feet in length, covered with bull's hide, having the hair
outward and studded with nails. The shape of the bow was not essentially
different from that used in Europe in the Middle Ages, being about five
feet and a half long, round, and tapering at the ends; the bowstring was
of hide or catgut. The arrows of the archers averaged about thirty
inches in length, and were made of wood or reeds, tipped with a metal
point, or flint, and winged with feathers. Each bowman was furnished
with a plentiful supply of arrows. When arrows were exhausted, the
bowman fought with swords and battle-axes; his defensive armor was
confined chiefly to the helmet and a sort of quilted coat. The spear was
of wood, with a metal head, was about five or six feet in length, and
used for thrusting. The javelin was lighter, for throwing. The sling was
a thong of plaited leather, broad in the middle, with a loop at the end.
The sword was straight and short, between two and three feet in length,
with a double edge, tapering to a sharp point, and used for either cut
or thrust; the handle was frequently inlaid with precious stones. The
metal used in the manufacture of swords and spear-heads was bronze,
hardened by a process unknown to us. The battle-axe had a handle about
two-and a-half feet in length, and was less ornamented than other
weapons. The cuirass, or coat of armor, was made of horizontal rows of
metal plate, about an inch in breadth, well secured together by bronze
pieces. The Egyptian chariot held two persons,--the charioteer, and the
warrior armed with his bow-and-arrow and wearing a cuirass, or coat of
mail. The warrior carried also other weapons for close encounter, when
he should descend from his chariot to fight on foot. The chariot was of
wood, the body of which was light, strengthened with metal; the pole was
inserted in the axle; the two wheels usually had six spokes, but
sometimes only four; the wheel revolved on the axle, and was secured by
a lynch-pin. The leathern harness and housings were simple, and the
bridles, or reins, were nearly the same as are now in use.

"The Egyptian chariot corps, like the infantry," says Wilkinson, "were
divided into light and heavy troops, both armed with bows,--the former
chiefly employed in harassing the enemy with missiles; the latter called
upon to break through opposing masses of infantry." The infantry, when
employed in the assault of fortified towns, were provided with shields,
under cover of which they made their approaches to the place to be
attacked. In their attack they advanced under cover of the arrows of the
bowmen, and instantly applied the scaling-ladder to the ramparts. The
testudo, a wooden shelter, was also used, large enough to contain
several men. The battering-ram and movable towers resembled those of the
Romans a thousand years later.

It would thus appear that the ancient Egyptians, in the discipline of
armies, in military weapons offensive and defensive, in chariots and
horses, and in military engines for the reduction of fortified towns,
were scarcely improved upon by the Greeks and Romans, or by the
Europeans in the Middle Ages. Yet the Egyptians were an ingenious rather
than a warlike people, fond of peace, and devoted to agricultural

More warlike than they were the Assyrians and the Persians, although we
fail to discover any essential difference in the organization of armies,
or in military weapons. The great difference between the Persian and the
Egyptian armies was in the use of cavalry. From their earliest
settlements the Persians were skilful horsemen, and these formed the
guard of their kings. Under Cyrus, the Persians became the masters of
the world, but they rapidly degenerated, not being able to withstand the
luxurious life of the conquered Babylonians; and when they were
marshalled against the Greeks, and especially against the disciplined
forces of Alexander, they were disgracefully routed in spite of their
enormous armies, which could not be handled, and became mere mobs of
armed men.

The art of war made a great advance under the Greeks, although we do
not notice any striking superiority of arms over the Eastern armies led
by Sesostris or Cyrus. The Greeks were among the most warlike of all the
races of men; they had a genius for war. The Grecian States were engaged
in perpetual strifes with one another, and constant contention developed
military strength; and yet the Greeks, until the time of Philip, had no
standing armies. They relied for offence and defence on the volunteer
militia, which was animated by intense patriotic ideas. All armies in
the nature of things are more or less machines, moved by one commanding
will; but the Greek armies owed much of their success to the individual
bravery of their troops, who were citizens of States under
constitutional forms of government.

The most remarkable improvement in the art of war was made by the
Spartans, who, in addition to their strict military discipline,
introduced the _phalanx_,--files of picked soldiers, eight deep, heavily
armed with spear, sword, and shield, placed in ranks of eight, at
intervals of about six feet apart. This phalanx of eight files and eight
ranks,--sixty-four men,--closely locked when the soldiers received or
advanced to attack, proved nearly impregnable and irresistible. It
combined solidity and the power of resistance with mobility. The picked
men were placed in the front and rear; for in skilful evolutions the
front often became the rear, and the rear became the front. Armed with
spears projecting beyond the front, and with their shields locked
together, the phalanx advanced to meet the enemy with regular step, and
to the cadence of music; if beaten, it retired in perfect order. After
battle, each soldier was obliged to produce his shield as a proof that
he had fought or retired as a soldier should. The Athenian phalanx was
less solid than that of Sparta,--Miltiades having decreased the depth to
four ranks, in order to lengthen his front,--but was more efficient in a
charge against the enemy. The Spartan phalanx was stronger in defence,
the Athenian more agile in attack. The attack was nearly irresistible,
as the soldiers advanced with accelerated motion, corresponding to the
double-quick time of modern warfare. This was first introduced by
Miltiades at Marathon.

Philip of Macedon adopted the Spartan phalanx, but made it sixteen deep,
which gave it greater solidity, and rendered it still more effective. He
introduced the large oval buckler and a larger and heavier spear. When
the phalanx was closed for action, each man occupied but three square
feet of ground: as the pikes were twenty-four feet in length, and
projected eighteen feet beyond the front, the formation presented an
array of points such as had never been seen before. The greatest
improvement effected by Philip, however, was the adoption of standing
armies instead of the militia heretofore in use throughout the Grecian
States. He also attached great importance to his cavalry, which was
composed of the flower of the nobility, about twelve hundred in number,
all covered with defensive armor; these he formed into eight squadrons,
and constituted them his body-guard. The usual formation of the regular
cavalry was in the form of a wedge, so as to penetrate and break the
enemy's line,--a manoeuvre probably learned from Epaminondas of Thebes,
a great master in the art of war, who defeated the Spartan phalanx by
forming his columns upon a front less than their depth, thus enabling
him to direct his whole force against a given point. By these tactics he
gained the great victory at Leuctra, as Napoleon likewise prevailed over
the Austrians in his Italian campaign. In like manner Philip's son
Alexander, following the example of Epaminondas, concentrated his forces
upon the enemy's centre, and easily defeated the Persian hosts by
creating a panic. There was no resisting a phalanx sixteen files deep,
with their projecting pikes, aided by the heavily armed cavalry, all
under the strictest military discipline and animated by patriotic ardor.
This terrible Macedonian phalanx was a great advance over the early
armies of the Greeks, who fought without discipline in a hand to hand
encounter, with swords and spears, after exhausting their arrows. They
had learned two things of great importance,--a rigid discipline, and a
concentration of forces which made an army a machine. Under Alexander,
the grand phalanx consisted of 16,384 men, made up of four divisions and
smaller phalanxes.

In Roman armies we see a still further advance in the military art, as
it existed in the time of Augustus, which required centuries to perfect.
The hardy physique and stern nature of the Romans, exercised and
controlled by their organizing genius, evolved the Roman legion, which
learned to resist the impetuous assaults of the elephants of the East,
the phalanx of the Greeks, and the Teutonic barbarians. The indomitable
courage of the Romans, trained under severest discipline and directed by
means of an organization divided and subdivided and officered almost as
perfectly as our modern corps and divisions and brigades and regiments
and companies and squads, marched over and subdued the world.

The Roman soldier was trained to march twenty miles a day, under a
burden of eighty pounds; to swim rivers, to climb mountains, to
penetrate forests, and to encounter every kind of danger. He was taught
that his destiny was to die in battle: death was at once his duty and
his glory. He enlisted in the army with little hope of revisiting his
home; he crossed seas and deserts and forests with the idea of spending
his life in the service of his country. His pay was only a denarius
daily, equal to about sixteen cents of our money. Marriage for him was
discouraged or forbidden. However insignificant the legionary was as a
man, he gained importance from the great body with which he was
identified: he was both the servant and the master of the State. He had
an intense _esprit de corps_; he was bound up in the glory of his
legion. Both religion and honor bound him to his standards; the golden
eagle which glittered in his front was the object of his fondest
devotion. Nor was it possible to escape the penalty of cowardice or
treachery or disobedience; he could be chastised with blows by his
centurion, and his general could doom him to death. Never was the
severity of military discipline relaxed; military exercises were
incessant, in winter as in summer. In the midst of peace the Roman
troops were familiarized with the practice of war.

It was the spirit which animated the Roman legions, and the discipline
to which they were inured that gave them their irresistible strength.
When we remember that they had not our firearms, we can but be surprised
at their efficiency, especially in taking strongly fortified cities.
Jerusalem was defended by a triple wall, the most elaborate
fortifications, and twenty-four thousand soldiers, besides the aid
received from the citizens; and yet it fell in little more than four
months before an army of eighty thousand under Titus. How great must
have been the military science that could reduce a place of such
strength, in so short a time, without the aid of other artillery than
the ancient catapult and battering-ram! Whether the military science of
the Romans was superior or inferior to our own, no one can question that
it was as perfect as it could be, lacking any knowledge of gunpowder; we
surpass them only in the application of this great invention, especially
in artillery. There can be no doubt that a Roman army was superior to a
feudal army in the brightest days of chivalry. The world has produced no
generals greater than Caesar, Pompey, Sulla, and Marius. No armies ever
won greater victories over superior numbers than the Roman, and no
armies of their size ever retained in submission so vast an empire, and
for so long a time. At no period in the history of the Roman empire were
the armies so large as those sustained by France in time of peace. Two
hundred thousand legionaries, and as many more auxiliaries, controlled
diverse nations and powerful monarchies. The single province of Syria
once boasted of a military force equal in the number of soldiers to that
wielded by the Emperor Tiberius. Twenty-five Roman legions made the
conquest of the world, and retained that conquest for five hundred
years. The self-sustained energy of Caesar in Gaul puts to the blush
the efforts of all modern generals, unless we except Frederic II.,
Marlborough, Napoleon, Wellington, Grant, Sherman, and a few other great
geniuses whom warlike crises have developed; nor is there a better
text-book on the art of war than that furnished by Caesar himself in his
Commentaries. The great victories of the Romans over barbarians, over
Gauls, over Carthaginians, over Greeks, over Syrians, over Persians,
were not the result of a short-lived enthusiasm, like those of Attila
and Tamerlane, but extended over a thousand years.

The Romans were essentially military in all their tastes and habits.
Luxurious senators and nobles showed the greatest courage and skill in
the most difficult campaigns. Antony, Caesar, Pompey, and Lucullus at
home were enervated and self-indulgent, but at the head of their legions
they were capable of any privation and fatigue.

The Roman legion was a most perfect organization, a great mechanical
force, and could sustain furious attacks after vigor, patriotism, and
public spirit had fled. For three hundred years a vast empire was
sustained by mechanism alone. The legion is coeval with the foundation
of Rome, but the number of the troops of which it was composed varied at
different periods. It rarely exceeded six thousand men; Gibbon estimates
the number at six thousand eight hundred and twenty-six men. For many
centuries it was composed exclusively of Roman citizens. Up to the year
B.C. 107, no one was permitted to serve among the regular troops except
those who were regarded as possessing a strong personal interest in the
stability of the republic. Marius admitted all orders of citizens; and
after the close of the Social War, B.C. 87, the whole free population of
Italy was allowed to serve in the regular army. Claudius incorporated
with the legion the vanquished Goths, and after him the barbarians
filled up the ranks on account of the degeneracy of the times. But
during the period when the Romans were conquering the world every
citizen was trained to arms, like the Germans of the present day, and
was liable to be called upon to serve in the armies. In the early age of
the republic the legion was disbanded as soon as the special service was
performed, and was in all essential respects a militia. For three
centuries we have no record of a Roman army wintering in the field; but
when Southern Italy became the seat of war, and especially when Rome was
menaced by foreign enemies, and still more when a protracted foreign
service became inevitable, the same soldiers remained in activity for
several years. Gradually the distinction between the soldier and the
civilian was entirely obliterated. The distant wars of the
republic--such as the prolonged operations of Caesar in Gaul, and the
civil contests--made a standing army a necessity. During the civil wars
between Caesar and Pompey the legions were forty in number; under
Augustus, but twenty-five. Alexander Severus increased them to
thirty-two. This was the standing force of the empire,--from one hundred
and fifty thousand to two hundred and forty thousand men, stationed in
the various provinces.

The main dependence of the legion was on the infantry, which wore heavy
armor consisting of helmet, breastplate, greaves on the right leg, and
on the left arm a buckler, four feet in length and two and a half in
width. The helmet was originally made of leather or untanned skin,
strengthened and adorned by bronze or gold, and surmounted by a crest
which was often of horse-hair, and so made as to give an imposing look.
The crests served not only for ornament, but to distinguish the
different centurions. The breastplate, or cuirass, was generally made of
metal, and sometimes was highly ornamented. Chain-mail was also used.
The greaves were of bronze or brass, with a lining of leather or felt,
and reached above the knees. The shield worn by the heavy-armed infantry
was not round, like that of the early Greeks, but oval or oblong,
adapted to the shape of the body, such as was adopted by Philip and
Alexander, and was made of wood or wicker-work. The weapons were a light
spear, a pilum, or javelin, over six feet long, terminated by a steel
point, and a short cut-and-thrust sword with a double edge. Besides the
armor and weapons of the legionary, he usually carried on the marches
provisions for two weeks, three or four stakes used in forming the
palisade of the camp, besides various tools,--altogether a burden of
sixty or eighty pounds per man. The legion was drawn up eight deep, and
three feet intervened between rank and file, which disposition gave
great activity, and made it superior to the Macedonian phalanx, the
strength of which depended on sixteen ranks of long pikes wedged
together. The general period of service for the infantry was twenty
years, after which the soldier received a discharge, together with a
bounty in money or land.

The cavalry attached to each legion consisted of three hundred men, who
originally were selected from the leading men in the State. They were
mounted at the expense of the State, and formed a distinct order. The
cavalry was divided into ten squadrons. To each legion was attached also
a train of ten military engines of the largest size, and fifty-five of
the smaller,--all of which discharged stones and darts with great
effect. This train corresponded with our artillery.

The Roman legion--whether it was composed of four thousand men, as in
the early ages of the republic, or six thousand, as in the time of
Augustus--was divided into ten cohorts, and each cohort was composed of
Hastati (raw troops), Principes (trained troops), Triarii (veterans),
and Velites (light troops, or skirmishers). The soldiers of the first
line, called Hastati, consisted of youths in the bloom of manhood, who
were distributed into fifteen companies, or maniples. Each company
contained sixty privates, two centurions, and a standard-bearer. Two
thirds were heavily armed, and bore the long shield; the remainder
carried only a spear and light javelins. The second line, the Principes,
was composed of men in the full vigor of life, divided also into fifteen
companies, all heavily armed, and distinguished by the splendor of their
equipments. The third body, the Triarii, was composed of tried veterans,
in fifteen companies, the least trustworthy of which were placed in the
rear; these formed three lines. The Velites were light-armed troops,
employed on out-post duty, and mingled with the horsemen. The Hastati
were so called because they were armed with the _hasta_, or spear; the
Principes for being placed so near to the front; the Triarii, from
having been arrayed behind the first two lines as a body of reserve. The
Triarii were armed with the pilum, thicker and stronger than the Grecian
lance, four and a half feet long, of wood, with a barbed head of
iron,--so that the whole length of the weapon was six feet nine inches.
It was used either to throw or thrust with, and when it pierced the
enemy's shield the iron head was bent, and the spear, owing to the twist
in the iron, still held to the shield. Each soldier carried two of these
weapons, and threw the heavy pilum over the heads of their comrades in
front, in order to break the enemy's line. In the time of the empire,
when the legion was modified, the infantry wore cuirasses and helmets,
and carried a sword and dagger. The select infantry were armed with a
long spear and a shield; the rest, with a pilum. Each man carried a saw,
a basket, a mattock, a hatchet, a leather strap, a hook, a chain, and
provisions for three days. The Equites (cavalry) wore helmets and
cuirasses, like the infantry, having a broadsword at the right side, and
in the hand a long pole. A buckler swung at the horse's flank. They were
also furnished with a quiver containing three or four javelins.

The artillery were used both for hurling missiles in battle, and for the
attack on fortresses. The _tormentum_, which was an elastic instrument,
discharged stones and darts, and was held in general use until the
discovery of gunpowder. In besieging a city, the ram was employed for
destroying the lower part of a wall, and the _balista,_ which discharged
stones, was used to overthrow the battlements. The balista would project
a stone weighing from fifty to three hundred pounds. The _aries_, or
battering-ram, consisted of a large beam made of the trunk of a tree,
frequently one hundred feet in length, to one end of which was fastened
a mace of iron or bronze resembling in form the head of a ram; it was
often suspended by ropes from a beam fixed transversely over it, so that
the soldiers were relieved from supporting its weight, and were able to
give it a rapid and forcible swinging motion backward and forward. When
this machine was further perfected by rigging it upon wheels, and
constructing over it a roof, so as to form a _testudo_, which protected
the besieging party from the assaults of the besieged, there was no
tower so strong, no wall so thick, as to resist a long-continued attack,
the great length of the beam enabling the soldiers to work across the
defensive ditch, and as many as one hundred men being often employed
upon it. The Romans learned from the Greeks the art of building this
formidable engine, which was used with great effect by Alexander, but
with still greater by Titus in the siege of Jerusalem; it was first used
by the Romans in the siege of Syracuse. The _vinea_ was a sort of roof
under which the soldiers protected themselves when they undermined
walls. The _helepolis_, also used in the attack on cities, was a square
tower furnished with all the means of assault. This also was a Greek
invention; and the one used by Demetrius at the siege of Rhodes, B. C.
306, was one hundred and thirty-five feet high and sixty-eight wide,
divided into nine stories. The _turris_, a tower of the same class, was
used both by Greeks and Romans, and even by Asiatics. Mithridates used
one at the siege of Cyzicus one hundred and fifty feet in height. These
most formidable engines were generally made of beams of wood covered on
three sides with iron and sometimes with rawhides. They were higher than
the walls and all the other fortifications of a besieged place, and
divided into stories pierced with windows; in and upon them were
stationed archers and slingers, and in the lower story was a
battering-ram. The soldiers in the turris were also provided with
scaling-ladders, sometimes on wheels; so that when the top of the wall
was cleared by means of the turris, it might be scaled by means of the
ladders. It was impossible to resist these powerful engines except by
burning them, or by undermining the ground upon which they stood, or by
overturning them with stones or iron-shod beams hung from a mast on the
wall, or by increasing the height of the wall, or by erecting temporary
towers on the wall beside them.

Thus there was no ancient fortification capable of withstanding a long
siege when the besieged city was short of defenders or provisions. With
forces equal between the combatants an attack was generally a failure,
for the defenders had always a great advantage; but when the number of
defenders was reduced, or when famine pressed, the skill and courage of
the assailants would ultimately triumph. Some ancient cities made a most
obstinate resistance, like Tarentum; like Carthage, which stood a siege
of four years; like Numantia in Spain, and like Jerusalem. When cities
were of immense size, population, and resources, like Rome when besieged
by Alaric, it was easier to take them by cutting off all ingress and
egress, so as to produce famine. Tyre was taken by Alexander only by
cutting off the harbor. Cyrus could not have taken Babylon by assault,
since the walls were of such enormous height, and the ditch was too wide
for the use of battering-rams; he resorted to an expedient of which the
blinded inhabitants of that doomed city never dreamed, which rendered
their impregnable fortifications useless. Nor probably would the Romans
have prevailed against Jerusalem had not famine decimated and weakened
its defenders. Fortified cities, though scarcely ever impregnable, were
yet more in use in ancient than modern times, and greatly delayed the
operations of advancing armies; and it was probably the fortified camp
of the Romans, which protected an army against surprises and other
misfortunes, that gave such permanent efficacy to the legions.

The chief officers of the legion were the Tribunes; and originally
there was one in each legion from the three tribes,--the Ramnes,
Luceres, and Tities. In the time of Polybius the number in each legion
was six. Their authority extended equally over the whole legion; but to
prevent confusion, it was the custom for them to divide into three
sections of two, and each pair undertook the routine duties for two
months out of six; they nominated the centurions, and assigned each to
the company to which he belonged. These tribunes at first were chosen
the commanders-in-chief, by the kings and consuls; but during the palmy
days of the republic, when the patrician power was pre-eminent, they
were elected by the people, that is, the citizens. Later they were
named, half by the Senate and half by the consuls. No one was eligible
to this great office who had not served ten years in the infantry or
five in the cavalry. The tribunes were distinguished by their dress from
the common soldier. Next in rank to the tribunes, who corresponded to
the rank of brigadiers and colonels in our times, were the Centurions,
of whom there were sixty in each legion,--men who were more remarkable
for calmness and sagacity than for courage and daring valor; men who
would keep their posts at all hazards. It was their duty to drill the
soldiers, to inspect arms, clothing, and food, to visit the sentinels
and regulate the conduct of the men. They had the power of inflicting
corporal punishment. They were chosen for merit solely, until the later
ages of the empire, when their posts were bought, as is the case to some
extent to-day in the English army. The centurions were of unequal
rank,--those of the Triarii before those of the Principes, and those of
the Principes before those of the Hastati. The first centurion of the
first maniple of the Triarii stood next in rank to the tribunes, and had
a seat in the military councils. His office was very lucrative. To his
charge was intrusted the eagle of the legion. As the centurion might
rise from the ranks by regular gradation through the different maniples
of the Hastati, Principes, and Triarii, there was great inducement held
out to the soldiers. It would, however, appear that the centurion
received only twice the pay of the ordinary legionary. There was not
therefore so much difference in rank between a private and a captain as
there is in our day. There were no aristocratic distinctions in the
ancient world so marked as those existing in the modern. In the Roman
legion there was nevertheless a regular gradation of rank, although
there were but few distinct offices. The gradation was determined not by
length of service, but for merit alone, of which the tribunes were the
sole judges; hence the tribune in a Roman legion had more power than
that of a modern colonel. As the tribunes named the centurions, so the
centurions appointed their lieutenants, who were called sub-centurions.
Still below these were two sub-officers, or sergeants, and the
_decanus_, or corporal, to every ten men.

There was a change in the constitution and disposition of the legion
after the time of Marius, until the fall of the republic. The legions
were thrown open to men of all grades; they were all armed and equipped
alike; the lines were reduced to two, with a space between every two
cohorts, of which there were five in each line; the young soldiers were
placed in the rear; the distinction between Hastati, Principes, and
Triarii ceased; the Velites disappeared, their work being done by the
foreign mercenaries; the cavalry ceased to be part of the legion, and
became a distinct body; and the military was completely severed from the
rest of the State. Formerly no one could aspire to office who had not
completed ten years of military service, but in the time of Cicero a man
could pass through all the great dignities of the State with a very
limited experience of military life. Cicero himself did military service
in but one campaign.

Under the emperors there were still other changes. The regular army
consisted of legions and supplementa,--the latter being subdivided into
the imperial guards and the auxiliary troops.

The Auxiliaries (_Socii_) consisted of troops from the States in
alliance with Rome, or those compelled to furnish subsidies. The
infantry of the allies was generally more numerous than that of the
Romans, while the cavalry was three times as numerous. All the
auxiliaries were paid by the State; their infantry received the same pay
as the Roman infantry, but their cavalry received only two thirds of
what was paid to the Roman cavalry. The common foot-soldier received in
the time of Polybius three and a half asses a day, equal to about three
cents; the horseman three times as much. The praetorian cohorts received
twice as much as the legionaries. Julius Caesar allowed about six asses
a day as the pay of the legionary, and under Augustus the daily pay was
raised to ten asses,--little more than eight cents per day. Domitian
raised the stipend still higher. The soldier, however, was fed and
clothed by the government.

The Praetorian Cohort was a select body of troops instituted by Augustus
to protect his person, and consisted of ten cohorts, each of one
thousand men, chosen from Italy. This number was increased by Vitellius
to sixteen thousand, and they were assembled by Tiberius in a permanent
camp, which was strongly fortified. They had peculiar privileges, and
when they had served sixteen years received twenty thousand sesterces,
or more than one hundred pounds sterling. Each praetorian had the rank
of a centurion in the regular army. Like the body-guard of Louis XIV.
they were all gentlemen, and formed gradually a great power, like the
Janissaries at Constantinople, and frequently disposed of the
purple itself.

Our notice of the Roman legion would be incomplete without some
description of the camp in which the soldier virtually lived. A Roman
army never halted for a single night without forming a regular
intrenchment capable of holding all the fighting men, the beasts of
burden, and the baggage. During the winter months, when the army could
not retire into some city, it was compelled to live in the camp, which
was arranged and fortified according to a uniform plan, so that every
company and individual had a place assigned. We cannot tell when this
practice of intrenchment began; it was matured gradually, like all other
things pertaining to all arts. The system was probably brought to
perfection during the wars with Hannibal. Skill in the choice of ground,
giving facilities for attack and defence, and for procuring water and
other necessities, was of great account with the generals. An area of
about five thousand square feet was allowed for a company of infantry,
and ten thousand feet for a troop of thirty dragoons. The form of a camp
was an exact square, the length of each side being two thousand and
seventeen feet; there was a space of two hundred feet between the
ramparts and the tents to facilitate the marching in and out of
soldiers, and to guard the cattle and booty; the principal street was
one hundred feet wide, and was called Principia. The defences of the
camp consisted of a ditch, the earth from which was thrown inward, and
of strong palisades of wooden stakes driven into the top of the
earthwork so formed; the ditch was sometimes fifteen feet deep, and the
_vallum_, or rampart, ten feet in height. When the army encamped for the
first time the tribunes administered an oath to each individual,
including slaves, to the effect that they would steal nothing out of the
camp. Every morning at daybreak the centurions and the equites presented
themselves before the tents of the tribunes, and the tribunes in like
manner presented themselves before the praetorian, to learn the orders
of the consuls, which through the centurions were communicated to the
soldiers. Four companies took charge of the principal street, to see
that it was properly cleaned and watered; one company took charge of the
tent of the tribune; a strong guard attended to the horses, and another
of fifty men stood beside the tent of the general, that he might be
protected from open danger and secret treachery. The _velites_ mounted
guard the whole night and day along the whole extent of the vallum, and
each gate was guarded by ten men; the _equites_ were intrusted with the
duty of acting as sentinels during the night, and most ingenious
measures were adopted to secure their watchfulness and fidelity. The
watchword for the night was given by the commander-in-chief. "On the
first signal being given by the trumpet, the tents were all struck and
the baggage packed; at the second signal, the baggage was placed upon
the beasts of burden; and at the third, the whole army began to move.
Then the herald, standing at the right hand of the general, demands
thrice if they are ready for war, to which they all respond with loud
and repeated cheers that they are ready, and for the most part, being
filled with martial ardor, anticipate the question, 'and raise their
right hands on high with a shout.'" [3]

[Footnote 3: Smith's Dictionary of Antiquities, article "Castra."]

From what has come down to us of Roman military life, it appears to have
been full of excitement, toil, danger, and hardship. The pecuniary
rewards of the soldier were small; he was paid in glory. No profession
brought so much honor as the military; and it was from the undivided
attention of a great people to this profession, that it was carried to
all the perfection which could be attained before the great invention of
gunpowder changed the art of war. It was not the number of men employed
in the Roman armies which particularly arrests attention, but the genius
of organization which controlled and the spirit which animated them.
The Romans loved war, but so reduced it to a science that it required
comparatively small armies to conquer the world. Sulla defeated
Mithridates with only thirty thousand men, while his adversary
marshalled against him over one hundred thousand. Caesar had only ten
legions to effect the conquest of Gaul, and none of these were of
Italian origin. At the great decisive battle of Pharsalia, when most of
the available forces of the empire were employed on one side or the
other, Pompey commanded a legionary army of forty-five thousand men, and
his cavalry amounted to seven thousand more, but among them were
included the flower of the Roman nobility; the auxiliary force has not
been computed, although it was probably numerous. In the same battle
Caesar had under him only twenty-two thousand legionaries and one
thousand cavalry. But every man in both armies was prepared to conquer
or die. The forces were posted on the open plain, and the battle was
really a hand-to-hand encounter, in which the soldiers, after hurling
their lances, fought with their swords chiefly; and when the cavalry of
Pompey rushed upon the legionaries of Caesar, no blows were wasted on
the mailed panoply of the mounted Romans, but were aimed at the face
alone, as that only was unprotected. The battle was decided by the
coolness, bravery, and discipline of Caesar's veterans, inspired by the
genius of the greatest general of antiquity. Less than one hundred
thousand men, in all probability, were engaged in one of the most
memorable conflicts which the world has seen.

Thus it was by blended art and heroism that the Roman legions prevailed
over the armies of the ancient world. But this military power was not
gained in a say; it took nearly two hundred years, after the expulsion
of the kings, to regain supremacy over the neighboring people, and
another century to conquer Italy. The Romans did not contend with
regular armies until they were brought in conflict with the king of
Epirus and the phalanx of the Greeks, "which improved their military
tactics, and introduced between the combatants those mutual regards of
civilized nations which teach men to honor their adversaries, to spare
the vanquished, and to lay aside wrath when the struggle is ended."

After the consolidation of Roman power in Italy, it took but one hundred
and fifty years more to complete the conquest of the world,--of Northern
Africa, Spain, Gaul, Illyria, Epirus, Greece, Macedonia, Asia Minor,
Pontus, Syria, Egypt, Bithynia, Cappadocia, Pergamus, and the islands of
the Mediterranean. The conquest of Carthage left Rome without a rival in
the Mediterranean, and promoted intercourse with the Greeks. The
Illyrian wars opened to the Romans the road to Greece and Asia, and
destroyed the pirates of the Adriatic. The invasion of Cisalpine Gaul,
now that part of Italy which is north of the Apennines, protected Italy
from the invasion of barbarians. The Macedonian War against Philip put
Greece under the protection of Rome, and that against Antiochus laid
Syria at her mercy; when these kingdoms were reduced to provinces, the
way was opened to further conquests in the East, and the Mediterranean
became a Roman lake.

But these conquests introduced luxury, wealth, pride, and avarice, which
degrade while they elevate. Successful war created great generals, and
founded great families; increased slavery, and promoted inequalities.
Meanwhile the great generals struggled for supremacy; civil wars
followed in the train of foreign conquests; Marius, Sulla, Pompey,
Caesar, Antony, Augustus, sacrificed the State to their own ambitions.
Good men lamented and protested, and hid themselves; Cato, Cicero,
Brutus, spoke in vain. Degenerate morals kept pace with civil contests.
Rome revelled in the spoils of all kingdoms and countries, was
intoxicated with power, became cruel and tyrannical, and after
sacrificing the lives of citizens to fortunate generals, yielded at last
her liberties, and imperial despotism began its reign. War had added
empire, but undermined prosperity; it had created a great military
monarchy, but destroyed liberty; it had brought wealth, but introduced
inequalities; it had filled the city with spoils, but sown the vices of
self-interest. The machinery remained perfect, but life had fled. It
henceforth became the labor of Emperors to keep together their vast
possessions with this machinery, which at last wore out, since there was
neither genius to repair it nor patriotism to work it. It lasted three
hundred years, but was broken to pieces by the barbarians.

       *       *       *       *       *


Wilkinson is the best authority pertaining to Egyptian armies. The
highest authority in relation to the construction of an army is
Polybius, contemporary with Scipio, when Roman discipline was most
perfect. The eighth chapter of Livy is also very much prized. Salmasius
and Lepsius wrote learned treatises. Tacitus, Sallust, Livy, Dion
Cassius, Pliny, and Caesar reveal incidentally much that we wish to
know, the last giving us the liveliest idea of the military habits and
tactics of the Romans. Gibbon gives some important facts. The subject of
ancient machines is treated by Folard's Commentary attached to his
translation of Polybius. Josephus describes with great vividness the
siege of Jerusalem. Smith's Dictionary of Antiquities is full of details
in everything pertaining to the weapons, the armor, the military
engines, the rewards and punishments of the soldiers. The articles
"Exercitus," in Smith's Dictionary, and "Army," in the Encyclopedia
Britannica, give a practical summary of the best writers.


106-43 B.C.


Marcus Tullius Cicero is one of the great lights of history, because his
genius and influence were directed to the conservation of what was most
precious in civilization among the cultivated nations of antiquity.

He was not a warrior, like so many of the Roman Senators, but his
excellence was higher than that of a conqueror. "He was doomed, by his
literary genius, to an immortality," and was confessedly the most
prominent figure in the political history of his time, next to Caesar
and Pompey. His influence was greater than his power, reaching down to
our time; and if his character had faults, let us remember that he was
stained by no crimes and vices, in an age of violence and wickedness.
Until lately he has received almost unmixed praise. The Fathers of the
Church revered him. To Erasmus, as well as to Jerome and Augustine, he
was an oracle.

In presenting this immortal benefactor, I have no novelties to show.
Novelties are for those who seek to upturn the verdicts of past ages by
offering something new, rather than what is true.

Cicero was born B.C. 106, in the little suburban town of Arpinum, about
fifty miles from Rome,--the town which produced Marius. The period of
his birth was one of marked national prosperity. Great military roads
were built, which were a marvel of engineering skill; canals were dug;
sails whitened the sea; commerce was prosperous; the arts of Greece were
introduced, and its literature also; elegant villas lined the shores of
the Mediterranean; pictures and statues were indefinitely
multiplied,--everything indicated an increase of wealth and culture.
With these triumphs of art and science and literature, we are compelled
to notice likewise a decline in morals. Money had become the god which
everybody worshipped. Religious life faded away; there was a general
eclipse of faith. An Epicurean life produced an Epicurean philosophy.
Pleasure-seeking was universal, and even revolting in the sports of the
Amphitheatre. Sensualism became the convertible word for utilities. The
Romans were thus rapidly "advancing" to a materialistic millennium,--an
outward progress of wealth and industries, but an inward decline in
"those virtues on which the strength of man is based," accompanied with
seditions among the people, luxury and pride among the nobles, and
usurpations on the part of successful generals,--when Cicero began his
memorable career.

He was well-born, but not of noble ancestors. The great peculiarity of
his youth was his precocity. He was an intellectual prodigy,--like Pitt,
Macaulay, and Mill. Like them, he had a wonderful memory. He early
mastered the Greek language; he wrote poetry, studied under eminent
professors, frequented the Forum, listened to the speeches of different
orators, watched the posture and gestures of actors, and plunged into
the mazes of literature and philosophy. He was conscious of his
marvellous gifts, and was, of course, ambitious of distinction.

There were only three ways at Rome in which a man could rise to eminence
and power. One was by making money, like army contractors and merchants,
such as the Equites, to whose ranks he belonged; the second was by
military service; and the third by the law,--an honorable profession.
Like Caesar, a few years younger than he, Cicero selected the law. But
he was a _new man_,--not a patrician, as Caesar was,--and had few
powerful friends. Hence his progress was not rapid in the way of
clients. He was twenty-five years of age before he had a case. He was
twenty-seven when he defended Roscius, which seems to have brought him
into notice,--even as the fortune of Erskine was made in the Greenwich
Hospital case and that of Daniel Webster in the case of Dartmouth
College. To have defended Roscius against all the influence of Sulla,
then the most powerful man in Rome, was considered bold and audacious.
His fame for great logical power rests on his defence of Milo,--the
admiration of all lawyers.

Cicero was not naturally robust. His figure was tall and spare, his neck
long and slender, and his mouth anything but sensual. He looked more
like an elegant scholar than a popular public speaker. Yet he was
impetuous, ardent, and fiery, like Demosthenes, resorting to violent
gesticulations. The health of such a young man could not stand the
strain on his nervous system, and he was obliged to leave Rome for
recreation; he therefore made the tour of Greece and Asia Minor, which
every fashionable and cultivated man was supposed to do. Yet he did not
abandon himself to the pleasures of cities more fascinating than Rome
itself, but pursued his studies in rhetoric and philosophy under eminent
masters, or "professors" as we should now call them. He remained abroad
two years, returning when he was thirty years of age and settling down
in his profession, taking at first but little part in politics. He
married Terentia, with whom he lived happily for thirty years.

But the Roman lawyer was essentially a politician, looking ultimately to
political office, since only through the great public offices could he
enter the Senate,--the object of ambition to all distinguished Romans,
as a seat in Parliament is the goal of an Englishman. The Roman lawyer
did not receive fees, like modern lawyers, but derived his support from
presents and legacies. When he became a political leader, a man of
influence with the great, his presents were enormous. Cicero
acknowledged, late in life, to have received what would now be equal to
more than a million of dollars from legacies alone. The great political
leaders and orators were the stipendiaries of Eastern princes and nobles
who wanted favors from the Senate, and who knew as well how to reward
such services as do the railway kings in our times.

Before Cicero, then, could be a Senator, he must pass through those
great public offices which were in the gift of the people. The first
step on the ladder of advancement was the office of quaestor, which
entailed the duty of collecting revenues in one of the provinces. This
office he was sufficiently influential to secure, being sent to Sicily,
where he distinguished himself for his activity and integrity. At the
end of a year he renewed his practice in the courts at Rome,--being
hardly anything more than a mere lawyer for five years, when he was
elected an Aedile, to whom the care of the public buildings was

It was while he was aedile-elect that Cicero appeared as the public
prosecutor of Verres. This was one of the great cases of antiquity, and
the one from which the orator's public career fairly dates. His
residence in Sicily had prepared him for this duty; and he secured the
conviction of this great criminal, whose peculations and corruptions
would amaze our modern New Yorkers and all the "rings" of our great
cities combined. But the Praetor of Sicily was a provincial
governor,--more like Warren Hastings than Tweed. For this public service
Cicero gained more _éclat_ than Burke did for his prosecution of
Hastings; since Hastings, though a corrupt man, laid, after Clive, the
foundation of the English empire in India, and was a man of immense
talents,--greater than those of any who has since filled his place.
Hence the nation screened Hastings. But Verres had no virtues and no
great abilities; he was an outrageous public robber, and hoped, from his
wealth and powerful connections, to purchase immunity for his crimes. In
the hands of such an orator as Cicero he could not escape the penalty of
the law, powerful as he was, even at Rome. This case placed Cicero above
Hortensius, hitherto the leader of the Roman bar.

It was at this period that the extant correspondence of Cicero began,
which is the best picture we have of the manners and habits of the Roman
aristocracy at the time. History could scarcely spare those famous
letters, especially to Atticus, in which also the private life and
character of Cicero shine to the most advantage, revealing no vices, no
treacheries,--only egotism, vanity, and vacillation, and a way that some
have of speaking about people in private very differently from what they
say in public, which looks like insincerity. In these letters Cicero
appears as a very frank man, genial, hospitable, domestic, witty, whose
society and conversation must have been delightful. In no modern
correspondence do we see a higher perfection in the polished courtesies
and urbanities of social life, with the alloy of vanity, irony, and
discontent. But in these letters he also evinces a friendship which is
immortal; and what is nobler than the capacity of friendship? In these
he not only shines as a cultivated scholar, but as a great statesman and
patriot, living for the good of his country, though not unmindful of the
luxuries of home and the charms of country retirement, and those
enjoyments which are ever associated with refined and favored life. We
read here of pictures, books, medals, statues, curiosities of every
kind, all of which adorned his various villas, as well as his
magnificent palace on Mount Palatine, which cost him what would be equal
in our money to two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. To keep up this
town house, and some fifteen villas in different parts of Italy, and to
feast the greatest nobles, like Pompey and Caesar, would imply that his
income was enormous, much greater than that of any modern professional
man. And yet he seems to have lived, like Bacon and our Webster, beyond
his income, and was in debt the greater part of his life,--another flaw
in his character; for I do not wish to paint him without faults, but
only as a good as well as a great man, for his times. His private
character was as lofty as that of Chatham or Canning,--if we could
forget his vanity, which after all is not so offensive as the
intellectual pride of Burke and Pitt, and of sundry other great lights
who might be mentioned, conscious of their gifts and attainments. There
is something very different in the egotism of a silly and self-seeking
aristocrat from that of a great benefactor who has something to be proud
of, and with whose private experiences the greatest national deeds are
connected. I speak of this fault because it has been handled too
severely by modern critics. What were the faults of Cicero, compared
with those of Theodosius or Constantine, to say nothing of his
contemporaries, like Caesar, before whom so much incense has
been burned?

At the age of forty Cicero became Praetor, or Supreme Judge. This
office, when it expired, entitled him to a provincial government,--the
great ultimate ambition of a senator; since the administration of a
province, even for a single year, usually secured an enormous fortune.
But this tempting offer he resigned, since he felt he could not be
spared from Rome in such a crisis of public affairs, when the fortunate
generals were grasping power and the demagogues were almost preparing
the way for despotism. Some might say he was a far-sighted and ambitious
statesman, who could not afford to weaken his chances of being made
Consul by absence from the capital.

This great office, the consulship, the highest in the gift of the
people,--which gave supreme executive control,--was rarely conferred,
although elective, upon any but senators of ancient family and enormous
wealth. It was as difficult for a "new man" to reach this dignity, under
an aristocratic Constitution, as for a commoner a hundred years ago to
become prime minister of England. Transcendent talents and services
scarcely sufficed. Only generals who had won great military fame, or the
highest of the nobles, stood much chance. For a lawyer to aim at the
highest office in the State, without a great family to back him, would
have been deemed as audacious as for such a man as Burke to aspire to a
seat in the cabinet during the reign of George III. A lawyer at Rome,
like a lawyer in London, might become a lord chancellor or praetor, but
not easily a prime minister: he would be defeated by aristocratic
influence and jealousies. Although the people had the right of election,
they voted at the dictation of those who had money and power. Yet Cicero
obtained the consulship, probably with the aid of senators, which he
justly regarded as a great triumph. It was a very unusual thing. It was
more marvellous than for a Jew to reign in Great Britain, or, like
Mordecai, in the court of a Persian king.

The most distinguished service of Cicero as consul was to ferret out the
conspiracy of Catiline. Now, this traitor belonged to the very highest
rank in a Senate of nobles; he was like an ancient duke in the British
House of Peers. It was no easy thing for a plebeian consul to bring to
justice so great a culprit. He was more formidable than Essex in the
reign of Elizabeth, or Bassompierre in the time of Richelieu. He was a
man of profligate life, but of marked ability and boundless ambition. He
had a band of numerous and faithful followers, armed and desperate. He
was also one of those oily and aristocratic demagogues who bewitch the
people,--not, as in our times, by sophistries, but by flatteries. He was
as debauched as Mirabeau, but without his patriotism, though like him he
aimed to overturn the Constitution by allying himself with the
democracy. The people, whom he despised, he gained by his money and
promises; and he had powerful confederates of his own rank, so that he
was on the point of deluging Rome with blood, his aim being nothing less
than the extermination of the Senate and the magistrates by
assassination, and a general division of the public treasure, with
personal assumption of public power.

But all his schemes were foiled by Cicero, who added unwearied activity
to extraordinary penetration. For this great and signal service Cicero
received the highest tribute the State could render. He was called the
savior of his country; and he succeeded in staving off for a time the
fall of his country's liberties. It was a mournful sight to him to see
the ascendency which demagogues had already gained, since it betokened
the approaching destruction of the Constitution, which, good or bad, was
dear to him, and which as an aristocrat he sought to conserve.

Cicero's evil star was not Catiline, but Clodius,--another aristocratic
demagogue whose crimes he exposed, although he failed to bring him to
justice. Clodius was shielded by his powerful connections; and he was,
besides, a popular favorite, as well as a petted scion of one of the
greatest families. Clodius showed his hostility to Cicero, and sought
revenge by artfully causing the people to pass or revive a law that
whoever had inflicted capital punishment on a citizen without a trial
should be banished. This seemed to the people to be a protection to
their liberties. Now Cicero, when consul, had executed some of the
conspirators associated with Catiline, for which he was called the
savior of his country. But by the law which was now passed or revived by
the influence of Clodius, Cicero was himself a culprit, and it would
seem that all the influence of the Senate and his friends could not
prevent his exile. He appealed to his friend Pompey, but Pompey turned a
deaf ear; and also to Caesar, but Caesar was then outside the walls of
the city in command of an army. In fact, both these generals wished him
out of the way, although they equally admired and feared him; for each
of them was bent on being the supreme ruler of Rome.

So it was permitted for the most illustrious patriot which Rome then
held to go into exile. What a comment on the demoralization of the
times! Here was the best, the most gifted, and the most accomplished man
of the Republic,--a man who had rendered invaluable and acknowledged
services, that man of consular dignity and one of the leaders of the
Senate,--sent into inglorious banishment, on a mere technicality and for
an act which saved the State. And the "magnanimous" Caesar and the
"illustrious" Pompey allowed him to go! Where was salvation to a
Republic which banished its savior, and for having saved it? The heart
sickens over such a fact, although it occurred two thousand years ago.
When the citizens of Rome saw that great man depart mournfully from
among them, and to all appearance forever, for having rescued them from
violence and slaughter, and by their own act,--they ought to have known
that the days of the Republic were numbered. But this only a few
far-seeing patriots felt. And not only was Cicero banished, but his
palace was burned and his villas confiscated. He was not only disgraced,
but ruined; he was an exile and a pauper. What a fall! What an unmerited

Very few people conceive what a dreadful punishment it was in Greece and
Rome to be banished; or, as the formula went, "to be interdicted from
fire and water,"--the sacred fire of the hearth, the lustral water which
served for sacrifices. The exile was deprived of these by being forced
to extinguish the hearth-fire,--the elemental, fundamental religion of a
Greek and Roman. "He could not, deprived of this, hold property; having
no longer a worship, he had no longer a family. He ceased to be a
husband and father; his sons were no longer in his power, his wife was
no longer his wife, and when he died he had not the right to be buried
in the tombs of his ancestors." [4]

[Footnote 4: Coulanges: Ancient City.]

Is it to be wondered at that even so good and great a man as Cicero
should bitterly feel his disgrace and misfortunes? Is it surprising
that, philosopher as he was, he should have given way to grief and
despondency. He would have been more than human not to have lost his
spirits and his hopes. How natural were grief and despair, in such
complicated miseries, especially to a religious man! Chrysostom could
support _his_ exile with dignity; for Christianity had abolished the
superstitions of Greece and Rome as to household gods. Cicero could not:
he was not great enough for such a martyrdom. It is true we should have
esteemed him higher, had he accepted his fate with resignation: no man
should yield to despair. Had he been as old as Socrates, and had he
accomplished his mission, possibly he would have shown more equanimity.
But his work was not yet done. He was cut off in his prime and in the
midst of usefulness from his home, his religion, his family, his honor,
and his influence; he was utterly ruined. I think the critics make too
much of the grief and misery of Cicero in his banishment. We may be
disappointed that Cicero was not equal to his circumstances; but we need
not be hard on him. My surprise is, not that he was overwhelmed with
grief, but that he did not attempt to drown his grief in books and
literature. His sole relief was in pathetic and unmanly letters.

The great injustice of this punishment naturally produced a reaction.
Nor could the Romans afford to lose the services of their greatest
orator. They also craved the excitement of his speeches, more thrilling
and delightful than the performance of any actor. So he was recalled.
Cicero ought to have anticipated this; it seems, however, he had that
unfortunate temperament which favors alternate depression and
exhilaration of spirits, without measure or reason.

His return was a triumph,--a grand ovation, an unbounded tribute to his
vanity. His palace was rebuilt at the expense of the State, and his
property was restored. His popularity was regained. In fact, his
influence was never lost; and, because it was so great, his enemies
wished him out of the way. He was one of the few who retain influence
after they have lost power.

The excess of his joy on his restoration to home and friends and
property and fame and position, was as great as the excess of his grief
in his short exile. But this is a defect in temperament, in his mental
constitution, rather than a flaw in his character. We could have wished
more placidity and equanimity; but to condemn him because he was not
great in everything is unjust.

On his return to Rome Cicero resumed his practice in the courts with
greater devotion than ever. He was now past fifty years of age, in the
prime of his strength and in the height of his forensic fame. But,
notwithstanding his success and honors, his life was saddened by the
growing dissensions between Caesar and Pompey, the decline of public
spirit, and the approaching fall of the institutions in which he
gloried. It was clear that one or the other of these fortunate generals
would soon become the master of the Roman world, and that liberty was
about to perish. His eloquence now became sad; he sings the death-song
of departing glories; he wails his Jeremiads over the demoralization
which was sweeping away not merely liberty, but religion, and
extinguishing faith in the world. To console himself he retired to one
of his beautiful villas and wrote that immortal essay, "De Oratore,"
which has come down to us entire. His literary genius now blazed equally
with his public speeches in the Forum and in the Senate. Literature was
his solace and amusement, not a source of profit, or probably of
contemporary fame. He wrote treatises on the same principles that he
talked with friends, or that Fra Angelico painted pictures. He renewed
his attempts in poetry, but failed. His poetry is in the transcendent
rhythm of his prose compositions, like that of Madame de Staël, and
Macaulay, and Rousseau.

But he was dragged from his literary and forensic life to accept the
office of a governor of a province. It was forced upon him,--an honor to
him without a charm. Had he been venal and unscrupulous, he would have
seized it with avidity. He was too conscientious to enrich himself by
public corruption, as other Senators did, and unless he could accumulate
a fortune the command of a distant province was an honorable exile. He
was fifty-six years of age when he became Proconsul of Cilicia, an
Eastern province; and all historians have united in praising his
proconsulate for its justice, its integrity, and its ability. He
committed no extortions, and returned home, when his term of office
expired, as poor as when he went. One of the highest praises which can
be given to a public man who has chances of enriching himself is, that
he remains poor. When a member of Congress, known not to be worth ten
thousand dollars, returns to his home worth one hundred thousand
dollars, the public have an instinct that he has, somehow or other, been
untrue to himself and his country. When a great man returns home from
Washington poorer than when he went, his influence is apt to survive his
power; and this perpetuated influence is the highest glory of a public
man,--the glory of Jefferson, of Hamilton, of Washington, like the voice
of Gladstone during his retirement. Now Cicero had pre-eminently this
influence as long as he lived; and it was ever exerted for the good of
his country. Had his country been free, he would have died in honor. But
his country was enslaved, and his voice was drowned, and he had to pay
the penalty of speaking the truth about those unscrupulous men who
usurped authority.

On his return to Rome the state of public affairs was most alarming.
Caesar and Pompey were in antagonism. He must choose between them, and
he distrusted both. Caesar was the more able, accomplished, and
magnanimous, but he was the more unscrupulous and dangerous. He had
ventured to cross the Rubicon,--the first general who ever dared thus
openly to assail his country's liberties. Pompey was pompous, overrated,
and proud, and had been fortunate in the East. But then he sided with
the Constitutional authorities,--that is, with the Senate,--so far as
his ambition allowed. So Cicero took his side feebly, reluctantly, as
the least of the evils he had to choose, but not without vacillation,
which is one of the popular charges against him. "His distraction almost
took the form of insanity." "His inconsistency was an incoherence."
Never did a more wretched man than Cicero resort to Pompey's camp, where
he remained until his cause was lost. He returned, after the battle of
Pharsalia, a suppliant at the feet of Caesar, the conqueror. This, to
me, is one of his weakest acts. It would have been more lofty and heroic
to have perished in the camp of Pompey's sons.

In the midst of these public misfortunes which saddened his soul, his
private miseries began. He was now prematurely an old man, under sixty
years of age, almost broken down with grief. His beloved daughter
Tullia, with whom his life was bound up, died; and he was divorced from
his wife Terentia,--a proceeding the cause of which remains a mystery.
Neither in his most confidential letters, nor in his conversations with
most intimate friends, does it appear that he ever unbosomed himself,
although he was the frankest and most social of men. In his impressive
silence he has set one of the noblest examples of a man afflicted with
domestic infelicities. He buries his conjugal troubles in eternal
silence; although he is forced to give vent to sorrows, so plaintive and
bitter that both friend and foe were constrained to pity. He expects no
sympathy, even at Rome, for the sundering of conjugal relations, and he
communicates no secrets. In his grief and sadness he does, however, a
most foolish thing: he marries a young lady one-third his age. She
accepted him for his name and rank; he sought her for her beauty, her
youth, and her fortune. This union of May with December was of course a
failure. Both parties were soon disenchanted and disappointed. Neither
party found happiness, only discontent and chagrin. The everlasting
incongruities of such a relation--he sixty and she nineteen--soon led to
another divorce. _He_ expected his young wife to mourn with him the loss
of his daughter Tullia. _She_ expected that her society and charms
would be a compensation for all that he had lost; yea, more, enough to
make him the most fortunate and happy of mortals. In truth, he was too
old a man to have married a young woman whatever were the inducements.
It was the great folly of his life; an illustration of the fact that, as
a general thing, the older a man grows the greater fool he becomes, so
far as women are concerned; a folly that disgraced and humiliated the
two wisest and greatest men who ever sat on the Jewish throne.

In his accumulated sorrows Cicero now plunged for relief into literary
labors. It was thus that his private sorrows were the means which
Providence employed to transmit his precious thoughts and experiences to
future ages, as the most valued inheritance he could bestow on
posterity. What a precious legacy to the mind of the world was the book
of "Ecclesiastes," yet by what bitter experiences was its wisdom earned!

It was in the short period when Caesar rejoiced in the mighty power
which he transmitted to the Roman Emperors that Cicero wrote, in
comparative retirement, his history of "Roman Eloquence," his inquiry as
to the "Greatest Good and Evil," his "Cato," his "Orator," his "Nature
of the Gods," and his treatises on "Glory," on "Fate," on "Friendship,"
on "Old Age," and his grandest work of all, the "Offices."--the best
manual in ethics which has come down to us from heathen antiquity. In
his studious retirement he reminds us of Bacon after his fall, when on
his estate, surrounded with friends, and in the enjoyment of elegant
leisure, he penned the most valued of his immortal compositions. And in
those degenerate days at Rome, when liberty was crushed under foot
forever, it is beautiful to see the greatest of Roman statesmen and
lawyers consoling himself and instructing posterity by his exhaustive
treatises on the fundamental principles of law, of morality, and of

The assassination of Caesar by Roman senators, which Cicero seems to
have foreseen, and in which he rejoiced, at this time shocked and
disturbed the world. For nearly two thousand years the verdict of the
civilized world respecting this great conqueror has been unanimous. But
Mr. Froude has attempted to reverse this verdict, as he has in reference
to Henry VIII., and as Carlyle--another idolater of force--has attempted
in the cases of Oliver Cromwell and Frederick II. This remarkable
word-painter, in his Life of Caesar,--which is, however, interesting
from first to last, as everything he writes is interesting,--has
presented him as an object of unbounded admiration, as I have already
noticed in my lecture on Caesar. Whether in his eagerness to say
something new, or from an ill-concealed hostility to aristocratic and
religious institutions, or from an admiration of imperialism, or disdain
of the people in their efforts at self-government, this able special
pleader seems to hail the Roman conqueror as a benefactor to the cause
of civilization. But imperialism crushed all alike,--the people, no
longer able to send their best men to the Senate through the higher
offices perchance to represent their interests, and the nobles, shorn of
the administration of the Empire. Soldiers, not civilians, henceforth
were to rule the world,--a dreary thought to a great lawyer like Cicero,
or a landed proprietor like Brutus. Even if such a terrible revolution
as occurred in Rome under Caesar may have been ordered wisely by a
Superintending Power for those degenerate times, and as a preservation
of the peace of the world, that Christianity might take root and spread
in countries where all religions were dead,--still, the prostration of
what was dearest to the hearts of all true citizens by the sword was a
crime; and men are not to be commended for crime, even if those crimes
may be palliated. "It must need be that offences come, but woe to those
by whom they come."

Cicero was now sixty-three, prematurely old, discouraged, and
heart-broken. And yet he braced himself up for one more grand
effort,--for a life and death struggle with Antony, one of the ablest
of Caesar's generals; a demagogue, eloquent and popular, but
outrageously cruel and unscrupulous, and with unbridled passions. Had it
not been for his infatuated love of Cleopatra, he probably would have
succeeded to the imperial sceptre, for it was by the sword that he too
sought to suppress the liberties of the Senate and people. Against him,
as the enemy of his country, Cicero did not scruple to launch forth the
most terrible of his invectives. In thirteen immortal philippics--some
of which, however, were merely written and never delivered, after the
fashion of Demosthenes, with whom as an orator and a patriot he can
alone be compared--he denounced the unprincipled demagogue and general
with every offensive epithet the language afforded,--unveiling his
designs, exposing his forgeries, and proving his crimes. Nobler
eloquence was never uttered, and wasted, than that with which Cicero
pursued, in passionate vengeance, the most powerful and the most
unscrupulous man in the Roman Empire. And Cicero must have anticipated
the fate which impended over him if Antony were not decreed a public
enemy. But the protests of the orator were in vain. He lived to utter
them, as a witness of truth; and nothing was left to him but to die.

Of course Antony, when he became Triumvir,--when he made a bargain that
he never meant to keep with Octavius and Lepidus for a division of the
Empire between them,--would not spare such an enemy as Cicero. The
broken-hearted patriot fled mechanically, with a vacillating mind, when
his proscription became known to him,--now more ready to die than live,
since all hope in his country's liberties was utterly crushed. Perhaps
he might have escaped to some remote corner of the Empire. But he did
not wish for life, any more than did Socrates when summoned before his
judges. Desponding, uncertain, pursued, he met his fate with the heroism
of an ancient philosopher. He surrendered his wearied and exhausted body
to the hand of the executioner, and his lofty soul to the keeping of
that personal and supreme God in whom he believed as firmly as any man,
perhaps, of Pagan antiquity. And surely of him, more than of any other
Roman, could it be said,--as Sir Walter Scott said of Pitt, and as
Gladstone quoted, and applied to Sir Robert Peel,--

     "Now is the stately column broke,
     The _beacon light_ is quenched in smoke;
     The trumpet's silver voice is still,
     The warder silent on the hill."

With the death--so sad--of the most illustrious of the Romans whose fame
was not earned on the battlefield, I should perhaps close my lecture.
Yet it would be incomplete without a short notice of those services
which--as statesman, orator, and essayist--he rendered to his country
and to future ages and nations.

In regard to his services as a statesman, they were rendered chiefly to
his day and generation, for he elaborated no system of political wisdom
like Burke, which bears (except casually and indirectly) on modern
governments and institutions. It was his aim, as a statesman, to
continue the Roman Constitution and keep the people from civil war. Nor
does he seem to have held, like Rousseau, the _vox populi_ as the voice
of God. He could find no language sufficiently strong to express his
abhorrence of those who led the people for their own individual
advancement. He was equally severe on corrupt governors and venal
judges. He upheld morality and justice as the only guides in public
affairs. He loved popularity, but he loved his country better. He hated
anarchy as much as did Burke. Like Bright, he looked upon civil war as
the greatest of national calamities. He advocated the most enlightened
views, based on the principles of immutable justice. He wished to
preserve his country equally from unscrupulous generals and unprincipled

As for his orations, they also were chiefly designed for his own
contemporaries. They are not particularly valuable to us, except as
models of rhetorical composition and transcendent beauty and grace of
style. They are not so luminous with fundamental principles as they are
vivid with invective, sarcasm, wit, and telling exaggeration,--sometimes
persuasive and working on the sensibilities, and at other times full of
withering scorn. They are more like the pleadings of an advocate than an
appeal to universal reason. He lays down no laws of political
philosophy, nor does he soar into the region of abstract truth, evolving
great deductions in morals. But as an orator he was transcendently
effective, like Demosthenes, though not equal to the Greek in force. His
sentences are perhaps too involved for our taste; yet he always swayed
an audience, whether the people from the rostrum, or the judges at the
bar, or the senators in the Curia. He seldom lost a case; no one could
contend with him successfully. He called out the admiration of critics,
and even of actors. He had a wonderful electrical influence; his very
tones and gestures carried everything before him; his action was superb;
and his whole frame quivered from real (or affected) emotion, like
Edward Everett in his happiest efforts. He was vehement in gesture, like
Brougham and Mirabeau. He was intensely earnest and impressive, like
Savonarola. He had exceeding tact, and was master of the passions of his
audience. There was an irresistible music in his tones of voice, like
that of St. Bernard when he fanned crusades. He was withering in his
denunciations, like Wendell Phillips, whom in person he somewhat
resembled. He was a fascination like Pericles, and the people could not
long spare him from the excitement he produced. It was their desire to
hear him speak which had no small share in producing his recall from
banishment. They crowded around him as the people did around Chrysostom
in Antioch. He amused like an actor, and instructed like a sage. His
sentences are not short, terse, epigrammatic, and direct, but elaborate
and artificial. Yet with all his arts of eloquence his soul, fired with
great sentiments, rose in its inspired fervor above even the melody of
voice, the rhythm of language, and the vehemence of action. A listener,
who was not a critic, might fancy it was gesture, voice, and language
combined; but, after all, it was the _man_ communicating his soul to
those who hung upon his lips, and securing conviction by his sincerity
and appeals to conscience. He must have had a natural gift for oratory,
aside from his learning and accomplishments and rhetorical arts,--a
talent very rare and approaching to creative genius. But to his natural
gifts--like Luther, or Henry Clay, born an orator--he added marvellous
attainments. He had a most retentive memory. He was versed in the whole
history of the world. He was always ready with apt illustrations, which
gave interest and finish to his discourses. He was the most industrious
and studious man of his age. His attainments were prodigious. He was
master of all the knowledge then known, like Gladstone of our day. He
was not so learned a man as Varro; but Varro's works have perished, as
the great monuments of German scholars are perhaps destined to perish,
for lack of style. Cicero's style embalmed his thoughts and made them
imperishable. No writer is immortal who is not an artist; Cicero was a
consummate artist, and studied the arrangement of sentences, like the
historian Tacitus and the Grecian Thucydides.

But greater than as an artist was he in the loftiness of his mind. He
appealed to what is noblest in the soul. Transcendent eloquence ever
"raises mortals to the skies" and never "pulls angels down." Love of
country, love of home, love of friends, love of nature, love of law,
love of God, is brought out in all his discourses, exalting the noblest
sentiments which move the human soul. He was the first to give to the
Latin language beauty and artistic finish. He added to its richness,
copiousness, and strength; he gave it music. For style alone he would be
valued as one of the immortal classics. All men of culture have admired
it, from Augustine to Bossuet, and acknowledged their obligations to
him. We accord to the great poets the formation of languages,--Homer,
Dante, Chaucer, Shakspeare; but I doubt if either Virgil or Horace
contributed to the formation of the Latin language more than Cicero.
Certainly they have not been more studied and admired. In every
succeeding age the Orations of Cicero have been one of the first books
which have been used as textbooks in colleges. Is it not something to
have been one of the acknowledged masters of human composition? What a
great service did Cicero render to the education of the Teutonic races!
Whatever the Latin language has done for the modern world, Cicero comes
in for a large share of the glory. More is preserved of his writings
than of any other writer of antiquity.

But not for style alone--seen equally in his essays and in his
orations--is he admirable. His most enduring claim on the gratitude of
the world is the noble tribute he rendered to those truths which save
the world. His testimony, considering he was a pagan, is remarkable in
reference to what is sound in philosophy and morals. His learning, too,
is seen to most advantage in his ethical and philosophical writings. It
is true he did not originate, like Socrates and Plato; but he condensed
and sifted the writings of the Greeks, and is the best expounder of
their philosophy. Who has added substantially to what the Greeks worked
out of their creative brain? I know that no Roman ever added to the
domain of speculative thought, yet what Roman ever showed such a
comprehension and appreciation of Greek philosophy as did Cicero? He was
profoundly versed in all the learning the Grecians ever taught. Like
Socrates, he had a contempt for physical science, because science in his
day was based on imperfect inductions. There were not facts enough known
of the material world to construct sound theories. Physical science at
that time was the most uncertain of all knowledge, although there were
great pretenders then, as now, who maintained it was the only certainty.
But the speculations of scientists disgusted him, for he saw nothing in
them upon which to base incontrovertible truth. They were mere dreams
and baseless theories on the origin of the universe. They were even
puerile; and they were then, as now, atheistic in their tendency. They
mocked the consciousness of mankind. They annihilated faith and
Providence. At best, they made all things subject to necessity, to an
immutable fate, not to an intelligent and ever-present Creator. But
Cicero, like Socrates, believed in God and in providential
interference,--in striking contrast with Caesar, who believed nothing.
He taught moral obligation, on the basis of accountability to God. He
repudiated expediency as the guide in life, and fell back on the
principles of eternal right. As an ethical writer he was profounder and
more enlightened than Paley. He did not seek to overturn the popular
religion, like Grecian Sophists, only (like Socrates) to overturn
ignorance, before a sound foundation could be laid for any system of
truth. Nor did he ridicule religion, as Lucian did in after-times, but
soared to comprehend it, like the esoteric priests of Egypt in the time
of Moses or Pythagoras. He cherished as lofty views of God and his moral
government as any moralist of antiquity. And all these lofty views he
taught in matchless language,--principles of government, principles of
law, of ethics, of theology, giving consolation not only to the men of
his day, but to Christian sages in after-times. And there is nothing
puerile or dreamy or demoralizing in his teachings; they all are
luminous for learning as well as genius. He rivalled Bacon in the
variety and profundity of his attainments. He gloried in the certitudes
which consciousness reveals, as well as in the facts which experience
and history demonstrate. With these he consoled himself in trouble; on
these he reposed in the hour of danger. Like Pascal he meditated on the
highest truths which task the intellect of man, but, unlike him, did not
disdain those weapons which _reason_ forged, and which no one used more
triumphantly than Pascal himself. And these great meditations he
transmitted for all ages to ponder, as among the most precious of the
legacies of antiquity.

Thus did he live, a shining light in a corrupt and godless age, in spite
of all the faults which modern critics have enlarged upon in their
ambitious desire for novelties, or in their thoughtless or malignant
desire? to show up human frailties. He was a patriot, taking the side of
his country's highest interests; a statesman, seeking to conserve the
wisdom of his ancestors; an orator, exposing vices and defending the
innocent; a philosopher, unfolding the wisdom of the Greeks; a moralist,
laying down the principles of immutable justice; a sage, pondering the
mysteries of life; ever active, studious, dignified; the charm and
fascination of cultivated circles; as courteous and polished as the
ornaments of modern society; revered by friends, feared by enemies,
adored by all good people; a kind father, an indulgent husband, a
generous friend; hospitable, witty, magnificent,--a most accomplished
gentleman, one of the best men of all antiquity. What if he was vain and
egotistical and vacillating, and occasionally weak? Can you expect
perfection in him who "is born of a woman"? We palliate the backslidings
of Christians; we excuse the crimes of a Constantine, a Theodosius, a
Cromwell: shall we have no toleration for the frailties of a Pagan, in
one of the worst periods of history? I have no patience with those
critics who would hurl him from the pedestal on which he has stood for
two thousand years. Contrast him with other illustrious men. How few
Romans or Greeks were better than he! How few have rendered such exalted
services! And even if he has not perpetuated a faultless character, he
has yet bequeathed a noble example; and, more, has transmitted a legacy
in the richness of which we forget the faults of the testator,--a legacy
of imperishable thought, clothed in the language of imperishable art,--a
legacy so valuable that it is the treasured inheritance of all civilized
nations, and one which no nation can afford to lose.

       *       *       *       *       *


Plutarch's Life of Cicero, Appian, Dion Cassius, Villeius Paterculus,
are the original authorities,--next to the writings of Cicero himself,
especially his Letters and Orations. Middleton's Life is full, but
one-sided. Forsyth takes the opposite side in his Life. The last work in
English is that of Anthony Trollope. In Smith's Biographical Dictionary
is an able article. Dr. Vaughan has written an interesting lecture.
Merivale has elaborately treated this great man in his valuable History
of the Romans. Colley Cibber's Character and Conduct of Cicero,
Drumann's Roman History, Rollin's Ancient History, Biographic
Universelle. Mr. Froude alludes to Cicero in his Life of Caesar, taking
nearly the same view as Forsyth.


69-30 B.C.


It is my object in this lecture to present the condition of woman under
the influences of Paganism, before Christianity enfranchised and
elevated her. As a type of the Pagan woman I select Cleopatra, partly
because she was famous, and partly because she possessed traits and
accomplishments which made her interesting in spite of the vices which
degraded her. She was a queen, the heir of a long line of kings, and
ruled over an ancient and highly civilized country. She was
intellectual, accomplished, beautiful, and fascinating. She lived in one
of the most interesting capitals of the ancient world, and by birth she
was more Greek than she was African or Oriental. She lived, too, in a
great age, when Rome had nearly conquered the world; when Roman senators
and generals had more power than kings; when Grecian arts and literature
were copied by the imperial Romans; when the rich and fortunate were
luxurious and ostentatious beyond all precedent; when life had reached
the highest point of material splendor, and yet when luxury had not
destroyed military virtues or undermined the strength of the empire. The
"eternal city" then numbered millions of people, and was the grandest
capital ever seen on this earth, since everything was there
concentrated,--the spoils of the world, riches immeasurable, literature
and art, palaces and temples, power unlimited,--the proudest centre of
civilization which then existed, and a civilization which in its
material aspects has not since been surpassed. The civilized world was
then most emphatically Pagan, in both spirit and forms. Religion as a
controlling influence was dead. Only a very few among speculative
philosophers believed in any god, except in a degrading sense,--as a
blind inexorable fate, or an impersonation of the powers of Nature. The
future state was a most perplexing uncertainty. Epicurean
self-indulgence and material prosperity were regarded as the greatest
good; and as doubt of the darkest kind hung over the future, the body
was necessarily regarded as of more value than the soul. In fact, it was
only the body which Paganism recognized as a reality; the soul, God, and
immortality were virtually everywhere ignored.

It was in this godless, yet brilliant, age that Cleopatra appears upon
the stage, having been born sixty-nine years before Christ,--about a
century before the new revolutionary religion was proclaimed in Judea.
Her father was a Ptolemy, and she succeeded him on the throne of Egypt
when quite young,--the last of a famous dynasty that had reigned nearly
three hundred years. The Ptolemies, descended from one of Alexander's
generals, reigned in great magnificence at Alexandria, which was the
commercial centre of the world, whose ships whitened the
Mediterranean,--that great inland lake, as it were, in the centre of the
Roman Empire, around whose shores were countless cities and villas and
works of art. Alexandria was a city of schools, of libraries and
museums, of temples and of palaces, as well as a mart of commerce. Its
famous library was the largest in the world, and was the pride of the
age and of the empire. Learned men from all countries came to this
capital to study science, philosophy, and art. It was virtually a
Grecian city, and the language of the leading people was Greek. It was
rivalled in provincial magnificence only by Antioch, the seat of the old
Syrian civilization, also a Greek capital, so far as the governing
classes could make it one. Greece, politically ruined, still sent forth
those influences which made her civilization potent in every land.

Cleopatra, the last of the line of Grecian sovereigns in Egypt, was
essentially Greek in her features, her language, and her manners. There
was nothing African about her, as we understand the term African, except
that her complexion may have been darkened by the intermarriage of the
Ptolemies; and I have often wondered why so learned and classical a man
as Story should have given to this queen, in his famous statue, such
thick lips and African features, which no more marked her than Indian
features mark the family of the Braganzas on the throne of Brazil. She
was not even Coptic, like Athanasius and Saint Augustine. On the ancient
coins and medals her features are severely classical.

Nor is it probable that any of the peculiarities of the ancient Egyptian
kings marked the dynasty of the Ptolemies. No purely Egyptian customs
lingered in the palaces of Alexandria. The old deities of Isis and
Osiris gave place to the worship of Jupiter, Minerva, and Venus. The
wonders of pristine Egypt were confined to Memphis and Thebes and the
dilapidated cities of the Nile. The mysteries of the antique Egyptian
temples were no more known to the learned and mercantile citizen of
Alexandria than they are to us. The pyramids were as much a wonder then
as now. The priests and jugglers alike mingled in the crowd of Jews,
Syrians, Romans, Greeks, Parthians, Arabs, who congregated in this
learned and mercantile city.

So we have a right to presume that Cleopatra, when she first appeared
upon the stage of history as a girl of fourteen, was simply a very
beautiful and accomplished Greek princess, who could speak several
languages with fluency, as precocious as Elizabeth of England, skilled
in music, conversant with history, and surrounded with eminent masters.
She was only twenty-one when she was an object of attraction to Caesar,
then in the midst of his triumphs. How remarkable must have been her
fascinations if at that age she could have diverted, even for a time,
the great captain from his conquests, and chained him to her side! That
refined, intellectual old veteran of fifty, with the whole world at his
feet, loaded down with the cares of government, as temperate as he was
ambitious, and bent on new conquests, would not have been chained and
enthralled by a girl of twenty-one, however beautiful, had she not been
as remarkable for intellect and culture as she was for beauty. Nor is it
likely that Cleopatra would have devoted herself to this weather-beaten
old general, had she not hoped to gain something from him besides
caresses,--namely, the confirmation of her authority as queen. She also
may have had some patriotic motives touching the political independence
of her country. Left by her father's will at the age of eighteen joint
heir of the Egyptian throne with her brother Ptolemy, she soon found
herself expelled from the capital by him and the leading generals of the
army, because they did not relish her precocious activity in
government. Her gathered adherents had made but little advance towards
regaining her rights when, in August, 48, Caesar landed in pursuit of
Pompey, whom he had defeated at Pharsalia. Pompey's assassination left
Caesar free, and he proceeded to Alexandria to establish himself for the
winter. Here the wily and beautiful young exile sought him, and won his
interest and his affection. After some months of revelry and luxury,
Caesar left Egypt in 47 to chastise an Eastern rebel, and was in 46
followed to Rome by Cleopatra, who remained there in splendid state
until the assassination of Caesar drove her back to Egypt. Her whole
subsequent life showed her to be as cunning and politic as she was
luxurious and pleasure-seeking. Possibly she may have loved so
interesting and brilliant a man as the great Caesar, aside from the
admiration of his position; but he never became her slave, although it
was believed, a hundred years after his death, that she was actually
living in his house when he was assassinated, and was the mother of his
son Caesarion. But Froude doubts this; and the probabilities are that he
is correct, for, like Macaulay, he is not apt to be wrong in facts, but
only in the way he puts them.

Cleopatra was twenty-eight years of age when she first met Antony,--"a
period of life," says Plutarch, "when woman's beauty is most splendid,
and her intellect is in full maturity." We have no account of the style
of her beauty, except that it was transcendent,--absolutely
irresistible, with such a variety of expression as to be called
infinite. As already remarked, from the long residence of her family in
Egypt and intermarriages with foreigners, her complexion may have been
darker than that of either Persians or Greeks. It probably resembled
that of Queen Esther more than that of Aspasia, in that dark richness
and voluptuousness which to some have such attractions; but in grace and
vivacity she was purely Grecian,--not like a "blooming Eastern bride,"
languid and passive and effeminate, but bright, witty, and intellectual.
Shakspeare paints her as full of lively sallies, with the power of
adapting herself to circumstances with tact and good nature, like a
Madame Récamier or a Maintenon, rather than like a Montespan or a
Pompadour, although her nature was passionate, her manner enticing, and
her habits luxurious. She did not weary or satiate, like a mere
sensual beauty.

     "Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale
      Her infinite variety."

She certainly had the power of retaining the conquests she had
won,--which rarely happens except with those who are gifted with
intellectual radiance and freshness. She held her hold on Antony for
eleven years, when he was burdened with great public cares and duties,
and when he was forty-two years of age. Such a superior man as he was
intellectually, and, after Caesar, the leading man of the empire,--a
statesman as well as soldier,--would not have been enslaved so long by
Cleopatra had she not possessed remarkable gifts and attainments, like
those famous women who reigned in the courts of the Bourbons in the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and who, by their wit and social
fascinations, gathered around their thrones the most distinguished men
of France, and made them friends as well as admirers. The Pompadours of
the world have only a brief reign, and at last become repulsive. But
Cleopatra, like Maintenon, was always attractive, although she, could
not lay claim to the virtues of the latter. She was as politic as the
French beauty, and as full of expedients to please her lord. She may
have revelled in the banquets she prepared for Antony, as Esther did in
those she prepared for Xerxes; but with the same intent, to please him
rather than herself, and win, from his weakness, those political favors
which in his calmer hours he might have shrunk from granting. Cleopatra
was a politician as well as a luxurious beauty, and it may have been her
supreme aim to secure the independence of Egypt. She wished to beguile
Antony as she had sought to beguile Caesar, since they were the masters
of the world, and had it in their power to crush her sovereignty and
reduce her realm to a mere province of the empire. Nor is there
evidence that in the magnificent banquets she gave to the Roman general
she ever lost her self-control. She drank, and made him drink, but
retained her wits, "laughing him out of patience and laughing him into
patience," ascendant over him by raillery, irony, and wit.

And Antony, again, although fond of banquets and ostentation, like other
Roman nobles, and utterly unscrupulous and unprincipled, as Roman
libertines were, was also general, statesman, and orator. He grew up
amid the dangers and toils and privations of Caesar's camp. He was as
greedy of honors as was his imperial master. He was a sunburnt and
experienced commander, obliged to be on his guard, and ready for
emergencies. No such man feels that he can afford to indulge his
appetites, except on rare occasions. One of the leading peculiarities of
all great generals has been their temperance. It marked Caesar,
Charlemagne, Gustavus Adolphus, Frederic the Great, Cromwell, and
Napoleon. When Alexander gave himself up to banquets, his conquests
ended. Even such a self-indulgent, pleasure-seeking man as Louis XIV.
always maintained the decencies of society amid his dissipated
courtiers. We feel that a man who could discourse so eloquently as
Antony did over the dead body of Caesar was something more than a
sensualist or a demagogue. He was also the finest-looking man in Rome,
reminding the people, it is said, of the busts of Hercules. He was
lavish, like Caesar, but, like him, sought popularity, and cared but
little what it cost. It is probable that Cicero painted him, in his
famous philippics, in darker colors than he deserved, because he aimed
to be Caesar's successor, as he probably would have been but for his
infatuation for Cleopatra. Caesar sent him to Rome as master of the
horse,--a position next in power to that of dictator. When Caesar was
assassinated, Antony was the most powerful man of the empire. He was
greater than any existing king; he was almost supreme. And after
Caesar's death, when he divided his sovereignty of the world with
Octavius and Lepidus, he had the fairest chance of becoming imperator.
He had great military experience, the broad Orient as his domain, and
half the legions of Rome under his control.

It was when this great man was Triumvir, sharing with only two others
the empire of the world, and likely to overpower them, when he was in
Asia consolidating and arranging the affairs of his vast department,
that he met the woman who was the cause of all his calamities. He was
then in Cilicia, and, with all the arrogance of a Roman general, had
sent for the Queen of Egypt to appear before him and answer to an
accusation of having rendered assistance to Cassius before the fatal
battle of Philippi. He had already known and admired Cleopatra in Rome,
and it is not improbable that she divined the secret of his judicial
summons. His envoy, struck with her beauty and intelligence, advised her
to appear in her best attire. Such a woman scarcely needed such a hint.
So, making every preparation for her journey,--money, ornaments,
gifts,--a kind of Queen of Sheba, a Zenobia in her pride and glory, a
Queen Esther when she had invited the king and his minister to a
banquet,--she came to the Cydnus, and ascended the river in a
magnificent barge, such as had never been seen before, and prepared to
meet her judge, not as a criminal, but as a conqueror, armed with those
weapons that few mortals can resist.

     "The barge she sat in, like a burnish'd throne,
     Burn'd on the water; the poop was beaten gold;
     Purple the sails, and so perfumed that
     The winds were love-sick with them: the oars were silver,
     Which to the tune of flutes kept stroke, and made
     The water, which they beat, to follow faster,
     As amorous of their strokes. For her own person,
     It beggar'd all description: she did lie
     In her pavilion (cloth-of-gold of tissue)
     O'er-picturing that Venus, where we see
     The fancy outwork nature: on each side her
     Stood pretty dimpled boys, like smiling Cupids,
     With diverse-color'd fans....
     Her gentlewomen, like the Nereides,
     So many mermaids, tended her i' the eyes.
     ... At the helm
     A seeming mermaid steers....
     ... From the barge
     A strange invisible perfume hits the sense
     Of the adjacent wharves. The city cast
     Her people out upon her; and Antony,
     Enthroned i' the market-place, did sit alone,
     Whistling to th' air; which, but for vacancy,
     Had gone to gaze on Cleopatra too,
     And made a gap in nature."

On the arrival of this siren queen, Antony had invited her to
supper,--the dinner of the Romans,--but she, with woman's instinct, had
declined, till he should come to her; and he, with the urbanity of a
polished noble,--for such he probably was,--complied, and found a
banquet which astonished even him, accustomed as he was to senatorial
magnificence, and which, with all the treasures of the East, he could
not rival. From that fatal hour he was enslaved. She conquered him, not
merely by her display and her dazzling beauty, but by her wit. Her very
tones were music. So accomplished was she in languages, that without
interpreters she conversed not only with Greeks and Latins, but with
Ethiopians, Jews, Arabians, Syrians, Medes, and Parthians. So dazzled
and bewitched was Antony, that, instead of continuing the duties of his
great position, he returned with Cleopatra to Alexandria, there to keep
holiday and squander riches, and, still worse, his precious time, to the
shame and scandal of Rome, inglorious and without excuse,--a Samson at
the feet of Delilah, or a Hercules throwing away his club to seize the
distaff of Omphale, confessing to the potency of that mysterious charm
which the sage at the court of an Eastern prince pronounced the
strongest power on earth. Never was a strong man more enthralled than
was Antony by this bewitching woman, who exhausted every art to please
him. She played at dice with him, drank with him, hunted with him,
rambled with him, jested with him, angled with him, flattering and
reproving him by turn, always having some new device of pleasure to
gratify his senses or stimulate his curiosity. Thus passed the winter of
41-40, and in the spring he was recalled to Borne by political
dissensions there.

At this stage, however, it would seem that ambition was paramount with
him, not love; for his wife Fulvia having died, he did not marry
Cleopatra, but Octavia, sister of Octavius, his fellow-triumvir and
general rival. It was evidently from political considerations that he
married Octavia, who was a stately and noble woman, but tedious in her
dignity, and unattractive in her person. And what a commentary on Roman
rank! The sister of a Roman grandee seemed to the ambitious general a
greater match than the Queen of Egypt. How this must have piqued the
proud daughter of the Ptolemies,--that she, a queen, with all her
charms, was not the equal in the eyes of Antony to the sister of
Caesar's heir! But she knew her power, and stifled her resentment, and
waited for her time. She, too, had a political end to gain, and was too
politic to give way to anger and reproaches. She was anything but the
impulsive woman that some suppose,--but a great actress and artist, as
some women are when they would conquer, even in their loves, which, if
they do not feign, at least they know how to make appear greater than
they are. For about three years Antony cut loose from Cleopatra, and
pursued his military career in the East, as the rival of Octavius might,
having in view the sovereignty that Caesar had bequeathed to the
strongest man.

But his passion for Cleopatra could not long be suppressed, neither from
reasons of state nor from the respect he must have felt for the
admirable conduct of Octavia, who was devoted to him, and who was one of
the most magnanimous and reproachless women of antiquity. And surely he
must have had some great qualities to call out the love of the noblest
and proudest woman of the age, in spite of his many vices and his
abandonment to a mad passion, forgetful alike both of fame and duty. He
had not been two years in Athens, the headquarters of his Eastern
Department, before he was called upon to chastise the Parthians, who had
thrown off the Roman yoke and invaded other Roman provinces. But hardly
had he left Octavia, and set foot again in Asia, before he sent for his
Egyptian mistress, and loaded her with presents; not gold, and silver,
and precious stones, and silks, and curious works of art merely, but
whole provinces even,--Phoenicia, Syria, Cilicia, and a part of Judea
and Arabia,--provinces which belonged not to him, but to the Roman
Empire. How indignant must have been the Roman people when they heard of
such lavish presents, and presents which he had no right to give! And
when the artful Cleopatra feigned illness on the approach of Octavia,
pretending to be dying of love, and wasting her body by fasting and
weeping by turns, and perhaps tearing her hair in a seeming paroxysm of
grief,--for an actress can do even this,--Antony was totally disarmed,
and gave up his Parthian expedition altogether, which was treason to the
State, and returned to Alexandria more submissive than ever. This
abandonment of duty and official trust disgusted and incensed the
Romans, so that his cause was weakened. Octavius became stronger every
day, and now resolved on reigning alone. This meant another civil war.
How strong the party of Antony must have been to keep together and
sustain him amid such scandals, treasons, and disgrace!

Antony, perceiving a desperate contest before him, ending in his
supremacy or ruin, put forth all his energies, assisted by the
contributions of Cleopatra, who furnished two hundred ships and twenty
thousand talents,--about twenty million dollars. He had five hundred
war-vessels, beside galleys, one hundred thousand foot and twelve
thousand horse,--one of the largest armies that any Roman general had
ever commanded,--and he was attended by vassal kings from the East. The
forces of Octavius were not so large, though better disciplined; nor was
he a match for Antony in military experience. Antony with his superior
forces wished to fight upon the land, but against his better judgment
was overruled by Cleopatra, who, having reinforced him with sixty
galleys, urged him to contend upon the sea. The rivals met at Actium,
where was fought one of the great decisive battles of the world. For a
while the fortunes of the day were doubtful, when Cleopatra, from some
unexplained motive, or from panic, or possibly from a calculating
policy, was seen sailing away with her ships for Egypt. And what was
still more extraordinary, Antony abandoned his fleet and followed her.
Had he been defeated on the sea, he still had superior forces on the
land, and was a match for Octavius. His infatuation ended in a weakness
difficult to comprehend in a successful Roman general. And never was
infatuation followed by more tragic consequences. Was this madness sent
upon him by that awful Power who controls the fate of war and the
destinies of nations? Who sent madness upon Nebuchadnezzar? Who blinded
Napoleon at the very summit of his greatness? May not that memorable
defeat have been ordered by Providence to give consolidation and peace
and prosperity to the Roman Empire, so long groaning under the
complicated miseries of anarchy and civil war? If an imperial government
was necessary for the existing political and social condition of the
Roman world,--and this is maintained by most historians,--how fortunate
it was that the empire fell into the hands of a man whose subsequent
policy was peace, the development of resources of nations, and a
vigorous administration of government!

It is generally conceded that the reign of Octavius--or, as he is more
generally known, Augustus Caesar--was able, enlightened, and efficient.
He laid down the policy which succeeding emperors pursued, and which
resulted in the peace and prosperity of the Roman world until vices
prepared the way for violence. Augustus was a great organizer, and the
machinery of government which he and his ministers perfected kept the
empire together until it was overrun by the New Germanic races. Had
Antony conquered at Actium, the destinies of the empire might have been
far different. But for two hundred years the world never saw a more
efficient central power than that exercised by the Roman emperors or by
their ministers. Imperialism at last proved fatal to genius and the
higher interests of mankind; but imperialism was the creation of Julius
Caesar, as a real or supposed necessity; it was efficiently and
beneficently continued by his grand-nephew Augustus; and its
consolidated strength became an established institution which the
civilized world quietly accepted.

The battle of Actium virtually settled the civil war and the fortunes of
Antony, although he afterwards fought bravely and energetically; but all
to no purpose. And then, at last, his eyes were opened, and Shakspeare
makes him bitterly exclaim,--

         "All is lost!
     This foul Egyptian hath betrayed me.
         ... Betray'd I am:
     O this false soul of Egypt!"

And with his ruin the ruin of his paramour was also settled; yet her
resources were not utterly exhausted. She retired into a castle or
mausoleum she had prepared for herself in case of necessity, with her
most valuable treasures, and sent messengers to Antony, who reported to
him that she was dead,--that she had killed herself in despair. He
believed it all. His wrath now vanished in his grief. He could not live,
or did not wish to live, without her; and he fell upon his own sword.
The wound was mortal, but death did not immediately follow. He lived to
learn that Cleopatra had again deceived him,--that she was still alive.
Even amid the agonies of the shadow of death, and in view of this last
fatal lie of hers, he did not upbraid her, but ordered his servants to
bear him to her retreat. Covered with blood, the dying general was
drawn up by ropes and through a window--the only entrance to the queen's
retreat that was left unbarred--into her presence, and soon expired.
Shakspeare has Antony greet Cleopatra with the words, "I am dying,
Egypt, dying!" This suggestive theme has been enlarged in a modern song
of pathetic eloquence:--

     I am dying, Egypt, dying,
       Ebbs the crimson life-tide fast,
     And the dark Plutonian shadows
       Gather on the evening blast;
     Let thine arms, O Queen, enfold me,
       Hush thy sobs and bow thine ear,
     Listen to the great heart-secrets
       _Thou_, and thou _alone_, must hear.

       *       *       *       *       *

     Should the base plebeian rabble
       Dare assail my name at Rome,
     Where my noble spouse Octavia
       Weeps within her widow'd home,
     Seek her; say the gods bear witness--
       Altars, augurs, circling wings--
     That her blood, with mine commingled,
       Yet shall mount the throne of kings.

     As for thee, star-ey'd Egyptian!
       Glorious sorceress of the Nile!
     Light the path to Stygian horrors
       With the splendors of thy smile
     I can scorn the Senate's triumphs,
       Triumphing in love like thine.

       *       *       *       *       *

     Ah! no more amid the battle
       Shall my heart exulting swell:
     Isis and Osiris guard thee!

Thus perished the great Triumvir, dying like a Roman, whose blinded but
persistent love, whatever were its elements, ever shall make his name
memorable. All the ages will point to him as a man who gave the world
away for the caresses of a woman, and a woman who deceived and
ruined him.

As for her,--this selfish, heartless sorceress, gifted and beautiful as
she was,--what does she do when she sees her lover dead,--dying for her?
Does she share his fate? Not she. What selfish woman ever killed
herself for love?

     "Some natural tears she shed, but wiped them soon."

She may have torn her clothes, and beaten her breast, and disfigured her
face, and given vent to mourning and lamentations. But she does not seek
death, nor surrender herself to grief, nor court despair. She renews her
strength. She reserves her arts for another victim. She hopes to win
Octavius as she had won Julius and Antony; for she was only thirty-nine,
and still a queen. And for what? That she might retain her own
sovereignty, or the independence of Egypt,--still the most fertile of
countries, rich, splendid, and with grand traditions which went back
thousands of years; the oldest, and once the most powerful of
monarchies. _Her_ love was ever subservient to her interests. Antony
gave up ambition for love,--whatever that love was. It took possession
of his whole being, not pure and tender, but powerful, strange;
doubtless a mad infatuation, and perhaps something more, since it never
passed away,--admiration allied with desire, the worship of dazzling
gifts, though not of moral virtues. Would such a love have been
permanent? Probably not, since the object of it did not shine in the
beauty of the soul, but rather in the graces and adornments of the body,
intensified indeed by the lustre of bewitching social qualities and the
brightness of a cultivated intellect. It is hard to analyze a passionate
love between highly gifted people who have an intense development of
both the higher and the lower natures, and still more difficult when the
idol is a Venus Polyhymnia rather than a Venus Urania. But the love of
Antony, whether unwise, or mysterious, or unfortunate, was not feigned
or forced: it was real, and it was irresistible; he could not help it.
He was enslaved, bound hand and foot. His reason may have rallied to his
support, but his will was fettered. He may have had at times dark and
gloomy suspicions,--that he was played with, that he was cheated, that
he would be deserted, that Cleopatra was false and treacherous. And yet
she reigned over him; he could not live without her. She was all in all
to him, so long as the infatuation lasted; and it had lasted fourteen
years, with increasing force, in spite of duty and pressing labors, the
calls of ambition and the lust of power. In this consuming and abandoned
passion, for fourteen years,--so strange and inglorious, and for a woman
so unworthy, even if he were no better than she,--we see one of the
great mysteries of our complex nature, not uncommon, but insoluble.

I have no respect for Antony, and but little admiration. I speak of such
mad infatuation as a humiliating exhibition of human weakness. Any one
under its fearful spell is an object of pity. But I have more sympathy
for him than for Cleopatra, although she was doubtless a very gifted
woman. He was her victim; she was not his. If extravagant and reckless
and sensual, he was frank, generous, eloquent, brave, and true to her.
She was artful, designing, and selfish, and used him for her own ends,
although we do not know that she was perfidious and false to him. But
for her he would have ruled the world. He showed himself capable of an
enormous sacrifice. She made no sacrifices for him. She could even have
transferred her affections, since she afterwards sought to play her
blandishments upon his rival. Conceive of Antony, if you can, as loving
any one else than her who led him on to ruin. In the very degradation
of love we see its sacredness. In his fidelity we find some palliation.
Nor does it seem that Octavia, the slighted wife of Antony, gave way to
vengeance. Her sense of injury was overshadowed by her pity. This lofty
and dignified matron even took his six surviving children, three of whom
were Cleopatra's, and brought them up in her own house as her own. Can
Paganism show a greater magnanimity?

The fate of Cleopatra was tragic also. She too destroyed herself, not
probably by the bite of asps, as is the popular opinion, but by some
potent and subtile poison that she ever carried with her, and which had
the effect of benumbing the body and making her insensible to pain. Yet
she does not kill herself because she cannot survive the death of
Antony, but because she is too proud to be carried to Rome to grace the
triumph of the new Caesar. She will not be led a captive princess up the
Capitoline Hill. She has an overbearing pride. "Know, sir," says she to
Proculeius, "that I

     "Will not wait pinion'd at your master's court,
     Nor once be chastis'd with the sober eye
     Of dull Octavia....
      ... Rather a ditch in Egypt
     Be gentle grave to me!"

But whether pride or whether shame was the more powerful motive in
committing suicide, I do not read that she was a victim of remorse. She
had no moral sense. Nor did she give way to sentimental grief on the
death of Antony. Her grief was blended with disappointment and rage. Nor
did she hide her head, but wore a face of brass. She used all her arts
to win Octavius. Her resources did not fail her; but she expended them
on one of the coldest, most politic, and most astute men that ever
lived. And the disappointment that followed her defeat--that she could
not enslave another conqueror--was greater than the grief for Antony.
Nor during her whole career do we see any signs of that sorrow and
humility which, it would seem, should mark a woman who has made so great
and fatal a mistake,--cut off hopelessly from the respect of the world
and the peace of her own soul. We see grief, rage, despair, in her
miserable end, as we see pride and shamefacedness in her gilded life,
but not remorse or shame. And when she dies by her own hand, it is not
in madness, but to escape humiliation. Suicide was one of the worst
features of Pagan antiquity. It was a base and cowardly reluctance to
meet the evils of life, as much as indifference to the future and a
blunted moral sense.

So much for the woman herself, her selfish spirit, her vile career; but
as Cleopatra is one of the best known and most striking examples of a
Pagan woman, with qualities and in circumstances peculiarly
characteristic of Paganism, I must make a few remarks on these points.

One of the most noticeable of these is that immorality seems to have
been no bar to social position. Some of those who were most attractive
and sought after were notoriously immoral. Aspasia, whom Socrates and
Pericles equally admired, and whose house was the resort of poets,
philosophers, statesmen, and artists, and who is said to have been one
of the most cultivated women of antiquity, bore a sullied name. Sappho,
who was ever exalted by Grecian poets for the sweetness of her verses,
attempted to reconcile a life of pleasure with a life of letters, and
threw herself into the sea because of a disappointed passion. Lais, a
professional courtesan, was the associate of kings and sages as well as
the idol of poets and priests. Agrippina, whose very name is infamy, was
the admiration of courtiers and statesmen. Lucilla, who armed her
assassins against her own brother, seems to have ruled the court of
Marcus Aurelius.

And all these women, and more who could be mentioned, were--like
Cleopatra--cultivated, intellectual, and brilliant. They seem to have
reigned for their social fascinations as much as by their physical
beauty. Hence, that class of women who with us are shunned and excluded
from society were not only flattered and honored, but the class itself
seems to have been recruited by those who were the most attractive for
their intellectual gifts as well as for physical beauty. No woman, if
bright, witty, and beautiful, was avoided because she was immoral. It
was the immoral women who often aspired to the highest culture. They
sought to reign by making their homes attractive to distinguished men.
Their houses seem to have been what the _salons_ of noble and
fascinating duchesses were in France in the last two centuries. The
homes of virtuous and domestic women were dull and wearisome. In fact,
the modest wives and daughters of most men were confined to monotonous
domestic duties; they were household slaves; they saw but little of what
we now call society. I do not say that virtue was not held in honor. I
know of no age, however corrupt, when it was not prized by husbands and
fathers. I know of no age when virtuous women did not shine at home, and
exert a healthful influence upon men, and secure the proud regard of
their husbands. But these were not the women whose society was most
sought. The drudgeries and slaveries of domestic life among the ancients
made women unattractive to the world. The women who were most attractive
were those who gave or attended sumptuous banquets, and indulged in
pleasures that were demoralizing. Not domestic women, but bright women,
carried away those prizes which turned the brain. Those who shone were
those that attached themselves to men through their senses, and
possibly through their intellects, and who were themselves strong in
proportion as men were weak. For a woman to appear in public assemblies
with braided and decorated hair and ostentatious dress, and especially
if she displayed any gifts of eloquence or culture, was to proclaim
herself one of the immoral, leisurely, educated, dissolute class. This
gives point to Saint Paul's strict injunctions to the women of Corinth
to dress soberly, to keep silence in the assemblies, etc. The modest
woman was to "be in subjection." Those Pagan converts to the "New Way"
were to avoid even the appearance of evil.

Thus under Paganism the general influence of women was to pull men down
rather than to elevate them, especially those who were attractive in
society. Virtuous and domestic women were not sufficiently educated to
have much influence except in a narrow circle. Even they, in a social
point of view, were slaves. They could be given in marriage without
their consent; they were restricted in their intercourse with men; they
were confined to their homes; they had but few privileges; they had no
books; they led a life of terror from the caprices of their lords and
masters, and hence inspired no veneration. The wives and daughters of
the rich tyrannized over their servants, decked themselves with costly
ornaments, and were merely gilded toys, whose society was vapid and
uninteresting. The wives and daughters of the poor were drudges and
menials, without attraction or influence; noisy, quarrelsome, garrulous
women, who said the least when they talked the most.

Hence under Paganism home had none of those attractions which, in
Christian countries, invest it with such charms. The home of the poor
was squalid and repulsive; the home of the rich was gaudy and tinselled
enough, but was dull and uninspiring. What is home when women are
ignorant, stupid, and slavish? What glitter or artistic splendor can
make home attractive when women are mere butterflies or slaves with
gilded fetters? Deprive women of education, and especially of that
respect which Christian chivalry inspires, and they cannot rise to be
the equal companions of men. They are simply their victims or their
slaves. What is a home where women are treated as inferiors? Paganism
never recognized their equality with men; and if they ever ruled men, it
was by appealing to their lower qualities, or resorting to arts and
devices which are subversive of all dignity of character. When their
personal beauty fled, their power also departed. A faded or homely
woman, without intelligence or wit, was a forlorn object in a Pagan
home,--to be avoided, derided, despised,--a melancholy object of pity or
neglect, so far as companionship goes. She may have been valued as a
cook or drudge, but she was only a menial. Of all those sins of omission
of which Paganism is accused, the worst was that it gave to women no
mental resources to assist them in poverty, or neglect, or isolation,
when beauty or fortune deserted them. No home can be attractive where
women have no resources; and women can have no resources outside of
domestic duties, unless educated to some art or something calculated to
draw out their energies and higher faculties by which they win the
respect and admiration, not of men only, but of their own sex.

It was this lack of education which Paganism withheld from women which
not only destroyed the radiance of home, but which really made women
inferior to men. All writers, poets, and satirists alike speak of the
inferiority of women to men,--not physically only, but even
intellectually; and some authors made them more vicious than men in
natural inclination. And when the mind was both neglected and
undervalued, how could respect and admiration be kindled, or continue
after sensual charms had passed away? Paganism taught the inequality of
the sexes, and produced it; and when this inequality is taught, or
believed in, or insisted upon, then farewell to the glory of homes, to
all unbought charms, to the graces of domestic life, to everything that
gilds our brief existence with the radiance of imperishable joy.

Nor did Paganism offer any consolations to the down-trodden, injured,
neglected, uninteresting woman of antiquity. She could not rise above
the condition in which she was born. No sympathetic priest directed her
thoughts to another and higher and endless life. Nobody wiped away her
tears; nobody gave encouragement to those visions of beauty and serenity
for which the burdened spirit will, under any oppressions, sometimes
aspire to enjoy. No one told her of immortality and a God of
forgiveness, who binds up the bleeding heart and promises a future peace
and bliss. Paganism was merciful only in this,--that it did not open
wounds it could not heal; that it did not hold out hopes and promises it
could not fulfil; that it did not remind the afflicted of miseries from
which they could not rise; that it did not let in a vision of glories
which could never be enjoyed; that it did not provoke the soul to
indulge in a bitterness in view of evils for which there was no remedy;
that it did not educate the mind for enjoyments which could never be
reached; that it did not kindle a discontent with a condition from which
there is no escape. If one cannot rise above debasement or misery, there
is no use in pointing it out. If the Pagan woman was not seemingly aware
of the degradation which kept her down, and from which it was impossible
to rise, Paganism did not add stings to her misery by presenting it as
an accident which it was easy to surmount. There would be no
contentment or submission among animals if they were endowed with the
reason of men. Give to a healthy, but ignorant, coarse, uncultivated
country girl, surrounded only with pigs and chickens, almost without
neighbors, a glimpse of the glories of cities, the wonders of art, the
charms of social life, the triumphs of mind, the capacities of the soul,
and would she be any happier, if obliged to remain for life in her
rustic obscurity and labor, and with no possible chance of improving her
condition? Such was woman under Paganism. She could rise only so far as
men lifted her up; and they lifted her up only further to consummate her

But there was another thing which kept women in degradation. Paganism
did not recognize the immaterial and immortal soul: it only had regard
to the wants of the body. Of course there were exceptions. There were
sages and philosophers among the men who speculated on the grandest
subjects which can elevate the mind to the regions of immortal
truth,--like Socrates, Plato, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius,--even as there
were women who rose above all the vile temptations which surrounded
them, and were poets, heroines, and benefactors,--like Telessa, who
saved Argos by her courage; and Volumnia, who screened Rome from the
vengeance of her angry son; and Lucretia, who destroyed herself rather
than survive the dishonor of her house. There are some people who rise
and triumph over every kind of oppression and injury. Under Paganism
there was the possibility of the emancipation of the soul, but not the
probability. Its genius was directed to the welfare of the body,--to
utilitarian ends of life, to ornaments and riches, to luxury and
voluptuousness, to the pleasures which are brief, to the charms of
physical beauty and grace. It could stimulate ambition and inculcate
patriotism and sing of love, if it coupled the praises of Venus with the
praises of wine. But everything it praised or honored had reference to
this life and to the mortal body. It may have recognized the mind, but
not the soul, which is greater than the mind. It had no aspirations for
future happiness; it had no fears of future misery. Hence the frequency
of suicide under disappointment, or ennui, or satiated desire, or fear
of poverty, or disgrace, or pain.

And thus, as Paganism did not take cognizance of the soul in its future
existence, it disregarded man's highest aspirations. It did not
cultivate his graces; it set but a slight value on moral beauty; it
thought little of affections; it spurned gentleness and passive virtues;
it saw no lustre in the tender eye; it heard no music in the tones of
sympathy; it was hard and cold. That which constitutes the richest
beatitudes of love it could not see, and did not care for. Ethereal
blessedness it despised. That which raises woman highest, it was
indifferent to. The cold atmosphere of Paganism froze her soul, and made
her callous to wrongs and sufferings. It destroyed enthusiasm and poetic
ardor and the graces which shine in misfortune. Woman was not kindled by
lofty sentiments, since no one believed in them. The harmonies of home
had no poetry and no inspiration, and they disappeared. The face of
woman was not lighted by supernatural smiles. Her caresses had no
spiritual fervor, and her benedictions were unmeaning platitudes. Take
away the soul of woman, and what is she? Rob her of her divine
enthusiasm, and how vapid and commonplace she becomes! Destroy her
yearnings to be a spiritual solace, and how limited is her sphere! Take
away the holy dignity of the soul, and how impossible is a lofty
friendship! Without the amenities of the soul there can be no real
society. Crush the soul of a woman, and you extinguish her life, and
shed darkness on all who surround her. She cannot rally from pain, or
labor, or misfortune, if her higher nature is ignored. Paganism ignored
what is grandest and truest in a woman, and she withered like a stricken
tree. She succumbed before the cold blasts that froze her noblest
impulses, and sunk sullenly into obscurity. Oh, what a fool a man is to
make woman a slave! He forgets that though he may succeed in keeping her
down, chained and fettered by drudgeries, she will be revenged; that
though powerless, she will instinctively learn to hate him; and if she
cannot defy him she will scorn him,--for not even a brute animal will
patiently submit to cruelty, still less a human soul become reconciled
to injustice. And what is the possession of a human body without the
sympathy of a living soul?

And hence women, under Paganism,--having no hopes of future joy, no
recognition of their diviner attributes, no true scope for energies, no
field of usefulness but in a dreary home, no ennobling friendships, no
high encouragements, no education, no lofty companionship; utterly
unappreciated in what most distinguishes them, and valued only as
household slaves or victims of guilty pleasure; adorned and bedecked
with trinkets, all to show off the graces of the body alone, and with
nothing to show their proud equality with men in influence, if not in
power, in mind as well as heart,--took no interest in what truly
elevates society. What schools did they teach or even visit? What
hospitals did they enrich? What miseries did they relieve? What
charities did they contribute to? What churches did they attend? What
social gatherings did they enliven? What missions of benevolence did
they embark in? What were these to women who did not know what was the
most precious thing they had, or when this precious thing was allowed to
run to waste? What was there for a woman to do with an unrecognized
soul but gird herself with ornaments, and curiously braid her hair, and
ransack shops for new cosmetics, and hunt for new perfumes, and recline
on luxurious couches, and issue orders to attendant slaves, and join in
seductive dances, and indulge in frivolous gossip, and entice by the
display of sensual charms? Her highest aspiration was to adorn a
perishable body, and vanity became the spring of life.

And the men,--without the true sanctities and beatitudes of married
life, without the tender companionship which cultivated women give,
without the hallowed friendships which the soul alone can keep alive,
despising women who were either toys or slaves,--fled from their dull,
monotonous, and dreary homes to the circus and the theatre and the
banqueting hall for excitement or self-forgetfulness. They did not seek
society, for there can be no high society where women do not preside and
inspire and guide. Society is a Christian institution. It was born among
our German ancestors, amid the inspiring glories of chivalry. It was
made for women as well as men of social cravings and aspirations, which
have their seat in what Paganism ignored. Society, under Paganism, was
confined to men, at banquets or symposia, where women seldom entered,
unless for the amusement of men,--never for their improvement, and still
less for their restraint.

It was not until Christianity permeated the old Pagan civilization and
destroyed its idols, that the noble Paulas and Marcellas and Fabiolas
arose to dignify human friendships, and give fascination to reunions of
cultivated women and gifted men; that the seeds of society were sown. It
was not until the natural veneration which the Gothic nations seem to
have had for women, even in their native forests, had ripened into
devotion and gallantry under the teachings of Christian priests, that
the true position of women was understood. And after their equality was
recognized in the feudal castles of the Middle Ages, the _salons_ of the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries established their claims as the
inspiring geniuses of what we call society. Then, and not till then, did
physical beauty pale before the brilliancy of the mind and the radiance
of the soul,--at last recognized as the highest charm of woman. The
leaders of society became, not the ornamented and painted _heterae_
which had attracted Grecian generals and statesmen and men of letters,
but the witty and the genial and the dignified matrons who were capable
of instructing and inspiring men superior to themselves, with eyes
beaming with intellectual radiance, and features changing with perpetual
variety. Modern society, created by Christianity,--since only
Christianity recognizes what is most truly attractive and ennobling
among women--is a great advance over the banquets of imperial Romans
and the symposia of gifted Greeks.

But even this does not satisfy woman in her loftiest aspirations. The
soul which animates and inspires her is boundless. Its wants cannot be
fully met even in an assemblage of wits and beauties. The soul of Madame
de Staël pined amid all her social triumphs. The soul craves
friendships, intellectual banquetings, and religious aspirations. And
unless the emancipated soul of woman can have these wants gratified, she
droops even amid the glories of society. She is killed, not as a hero
perishes on a battle-field; but she dies, as Madame de Maintenon said
that she died, amid the imposing splendors of Versailles. It is only the
teachings and influences of that divine religion which made Bethany the
centre of true social banquetings to the wandering and isolated Man of
Sorrows, which can keep the soul alive amid the cares, the burdens, and
the duties which bend down every son and daughter of Adam, however
gilded may be the outward life. How grateful, then, should women be to
that influence which has snatched them from the pollutions and heartless
slaveries of Paganism, and given dignity to their higher nature! It is
to them that it has brought the greatest boon, and made them triumphant
over the evils of life. And how thoughtless, how misguided, how
ungrateful is that woman who would exchange the priceless blessings
which Christianity has brought to her for those ornaments, those
excitements, and those pleasures which ancient Paganism gave as the only
solace fox the loss and degradation of her immortal soul!

       *       *       *       *       *


Plutarch's Lives; Froude's Caesar; Shakspeare's Antony and Cleopatra;
Plato's Dialogues; Horace, Martial, and Juvenal, especially among the
poets; Lord's Old Roman World; Suetonius's Lives of the Caesars; Dion
Cassius; Rollin's Ancient History; Merivale's History of the Romans;
Biographic Universelle; Rees's Encyclopedia has a good article.



50 B.C.

We have now surveyed what was most glorious in the States of antiquity.
We have seen a civilization which in many respects rivals all that
modern nations have to show. In art, in literature, in philosophy, in
laws, in the mechanism of government, in the cultivated face of Nature,
in military strength, in aesthetic culture, the Greeks and Romans were
our equals. And this high civilization was reached by the native and
unaided strength of man; by the power of will, by courage, by
perseverance, by genius, by fortunate circumstances. We are filled with
admiration by all these trophies of genius, and cannot but feel that
only superior races could have accomplished such mighty triumphs.

Yet all this splendid exterior was deceptive; for the deeper we
penetrate the social condition of the people, the more we feel disgust
and pity supplanting all feelings of admiration and wonder. The Roman
empire especially, which had gathered into its strong embrace the whole
world, and was the natural inheritor of all the achievements of all the
nations, in its shame and degradation suggests melancholy feelings in
reference to the destiny of man, so far as his happiness and welfare
depend upon his own unaided efforts.

It is a sad picture of oppression, injustice, crime, and wretchedness
which I have now to present. Glory is succeeded by shame, strength by
weakness, and virtue by vice. The condition of the mass is deplorable,
and even the great and fortunate shine in a false and fictitious light.
We see laws, theoretically good, practically perverted, and selfishness
and egotism the mainsprings of life; we see energies misdirected, and
art corrupted. All noble aspirations have fled, and the good and the
wise retire from active life in despair and misanthropy. Poets flatter
the tyrants who trample on human rights, while sensuality and luxurious
pleasure absorb the depraved thoughts of a perverse generation.

The first thing which arrests our attention as we survey the civilized
countries of the old world, is the imperial despotism of Rome. The
empire indeed enjoyed quietude, and society was no longer rent by
factions and parties. Demagogues no longer disturbed the public peace,
nor were the provinces ransacked and devastated to provide for the
means of carrying on war. So long as men did not oppose the government
they were safe from molestation, and were left to pursue their business
and pleasure in their own way. Imperial cruelty was not often visited on
the humble classes. It was the policy of the emperors to amuse and
flatter the people, while depriving them of political rights. Hence
social life was free. All were at liberty to seek their pleasures and
gains; all were proud of their metropolis, with its gilded glories and
its fascinating pleasures. Outrages, extortions, and disturbances were
punished. Order reigned, and all classes felt secure; they could sleep
without fear of robbery or assassination. In short, all the arguments
which can be adduced in favor of despotism in contrast with civil war
and violence, show that it was beneficial in its immediate effects.

Nevertheless, it was a most lamentable change from that condition of
things which existed before the civil wars. Roman liberties were
prostrated forever; noble sentiments and aspirations were rebuked. Under
the Emperors we read of no more great orators like Cicero, battling for
human rights and defending the public weal. Eloquence was suppressed.
Nor was there liberty of speech even in the Senate. It was treason to
find fault with any public acts. From the Pillars of Hercules to the
Caspian Sea one stern will ruled all classes and orders. No one could
fly from the agents and ministers of the Emperor; he controlled the
army, the Senate, the judiciary, the internal administration of the
empire, and the religious worship of the people; all offices, honors,
and emoluments emanated from him. All influences conspired to elevate
the man whom no one could hope successfully to rival. Revolt was
madness, and treason absurdity. Nor did the Emperors attempt to check
the gigantic social evils of the empire. They did not seek to prevent
irreligion, luxury, slavery, and usury, the encroachments of the rich
upon the poor, the tyranny of foolish fashions, demoralizing sports and
pleasures, money-making, and all the follies which lax principles of
morality allowed; they fed the rabble with corn, oil, and wine, and thus
encouraged idleness and dissipation. The world never saw a more rapid
retrogression in human rights, or a greater prostration of liberties.
Taxes were imposed according to the pleasure or necessities of the
government. Provincial governors became still more rapacious and cruel;
judges hesitated to decide against the government. Patriotism, in its
most enlarged sense, became an impossibility; all lofty spirits were
crushed. Corruption in all forms of administration fearfully increased,
for there was no safeguard against it.

Theoretically, absolutism may be the best government, if rulers are
wise and just; but practically, as men are, despotisms are generally
cruel and revengeful. Despotism implies slavery, and slavery is the
worst condition of mankind.

It cannot be questioned that many virtuous princes reigned at Rome, who
would have ornamented any age or country. Titus, Hadrian, Marcus
Aurelius, Antoninus Pius, Alexander Severus, Tacitus, Probus, Carus,
Constantine, Theodosius, were all men of remarkable virtues as well as
talents. They did what they could to promote public prosperity. Marcus
Aurelius was one of the purest and noblest characters of antiquity.
Theodosius for genius and virtue ranks with the most illustrious
sovereigns that ever wore a crown,--with Charlemagne, with Alfred, with
William III., with Gustavus Adolphus.

But it matters not whether the Emperors were good or bad, if the régime
to which they consecrated their energies was exerted to crush the
liberties of mankind. The imperial despotism, whether brilliant or
disgraceful, was a mournful retrograde step in civilization; it implied
the extinction of patriotism and the general degradation of the people,
and would have been impossible in the days of Cato, Scipio, or Metellus.

If we turn from the Emperors to the class which before the dictatorship
of Julius Caesar had the ascendency in the State, and for several
centuries the supreme power, we shall find but little that is
flattering to a nation or to humanity. Under the Emperors the
aristocracy had degenerated in morals as well as influence. They still
retained their enormous fortunes, originally acquired as governors of
provinces, and continually increased by fortunate marriages and
speculations. Indeed, nothing was more marked and melancholy at Rome
than the vast disproportion in fortunes. In the better days of the
republic, property was more equally divided; the citizens were not
ambitious for more land than they could conveniently cultivate. But the
lands, obtained by conquest, gradually fell into the possession of
powerful families. The classes of society widened as great fortunes were
accumulated; pride of wealth kept pace with pride of ancestry; and when
plebeian families had obtained great estates, they were amalgamated with
the old aristocracy. The equestrian order, founded substantially on
wealth, grew daily in importance. Knights ultimately rivalled senatorial
families. Even freedmen in an age of commercial speculation became
powerful for their riches. The pursuit of money became a passion, and
the rich assumed all the importance and consideration which had once
been bestowed upon those who had rendered great public services.

As the wealth of the world flowed naturally to the capital, Rome became
a city of princes, whose fortunes were almost incredible. It took
eighty thousand dollars a year to support the ordinary senatorial
dignity. Some senators owned whole provinces. Trimalchio, a rich
freedman whom Petronius ridiculed, could afford to lose thirty millions
of sesterces in a single voyage without sensibly diminishing his
fortune. Pallas, a freedman of the Emperor Claudius, possessed a fortune
of three hundred millions of sesterces. Seneca, the philosopher, amassed
an enormous fortune.

As the Romans were a sensual, ostentatious, and luxurious people, they
accordingly wasted their fortunes by an extravagance in their living
which has had no parallel. The pleasures of the table and the cares of
the kitchen were the most serious avocation of the aristocracy in the
days of the greatest corruption. They had around them regular courts of
parasites and flatterers, and they employed even persons of high rank as
their chamberlains and stewards. Carving was taught in celebrated
schools, and the masters of this sublime art were held in higher
estimation than philosophers or poets. Says Juvenal,--

     "To such perfection now is carving brought,
      That different gestures by our curious men
      Are used for different dishes, hare or hen."

Their entertainments were accompanied with everything which could
flatter vanity or excite the passions; musicians, male and female
dancers, players of farce and pantomime, jesters, buffoons, and
gladiators exhibited, while the guests reclined at table after the
fashion of the Orientals. The tables were made of Thuja-root, with claws
of ivory or Delian bronze. Even Cicero, in an economical age, paid six
hundred and fifty pounds for his banqueting-table. Gluttony was carried
to such a point that the sea and earth scarcely sufficed to set off
their tables; they ate as delicacies water-rats and white worms. Fish
were the chief object of the Roman epicures, of which the _mullus_, the
_rhombus_, and the _asellus_ were the most valued; it is recorded that a
mullus (sea barbel), weighing but eight pounds, sold for eight thousand
sesterces. Oysters from the Lucrine Lake were in great demand; snails
were fattened in ponds for cooking, while the villas of the rich had
their piscinae filled with fresh or salt-water fish. Peacocks and
pheasants were the most highly esteemed among poultry, although the
absurdity prevailed of eating singing-birds. Of quadrupeds, the greatest
favorite was the wild boar,--the chief dish of a grand _coena_,--coming
whole upon the table; and the practised gourmand pretended to
distinguish by the taste from what part of Italy it came. Dishes, the
very names of which excite disgust, were used at fashionable banquets,
and held in high esteem. Martial devotes two entire books of his
"Epigrams" to the various dishes and ornaments of a Roman banquet.

The extravagance of that period almost surpasses belief. Cicero and
Pompey one day surprised Lucullus at one of his ordinary banquets, when
he expected no guests, and even that cost fifty thousand
drachmas,--about four thousand dollars; his table-couches were of
purple, and his vessels glittered with jewels. The halls of Heliogabalus
were hung with cloth of gold, enriched with jewels; his table and plate
were of pure gold; his couches were of massive silver, and his
mattresses, covered with carpets of cloth of gold, were stuffed with
down found only under the wings of partridges. His suppers never cost
less than one hundred thousand sesterces. Crassus paid one hundred
thousand sesterces for a golden cup. Banqueting-rooms were strewed with
lilies and roses. Apicius, in the time of Trajan, spent one hundred
millions of sesterces in debauchery and gluttony; having only ten
millions left, he ended his life with poison, thinking he might die of
hunger. Things were valued for their cost and rarity rather than their
real value. Enormous prices were paid for carp, the favorite dish of the
Romans as of the Chinese. Drusillus, a freedman of Claudius, caused a
dish to be made of five hundred pounds weight of silver. Vitellius had
one made of such prodigious size that he was obliged to build a furnace
on purpose for it; and at a feast which he gave in honor of this dish,
it was filled with the livers of the scarrus (fish), the brains of
peacocks, the tongues of parrots, and the roes of lampreys caught in the
Carpathian Sea.

The nobles squandered money equally on their banquets, their stables,
and their dress; and it was to their crimes, says Juvenal, that they
were indebted for their gardens, their palaces, their tables, and their
fine old plate.

Unbounded pride, insolence, inhumanity, selfishness, and scorn marked
this noble class. Of course there were exceptions, but the historians
and satirists give the saddest pictures of their cold-hearted depravity.
The sole result of friendship with a great man was a meal, at which
flattery and sycophancy were expected; but the best wine was drunk by
the host, instead of by the guest. Provinces were ransacked for fish and
fowl and game for the tables of the great, and sensualism was thought to
be no reproach. They violated the laws of chastity and decorum; they
scourged to death their slaves; they degraded their wives and sisters;
they patronized the most demoralizing sports; they enriched themselves
by usury and monopolies; they practised no generosity, except at their
banquets, when ostentation balanced their avarice; they measured
everything by the money-standard; they had no taste for literature, but
they rewarded sculptors and painters who prostituted art to their vanity
or passions; they had no reverence for religion, and ridiculed the gods.
Their distinguishing vices were meanness and servility, the pursuit of
money by every artifice, the absence of honor, and unblushing

Gibbon has eloquently abridged the remarks of Ammianus Marcellinus
respecting these people:--

"They contend with each other in the empty vanity of titles and
surnames. They affect to multiply their likenesses in statues of bronze
or marble; nor are they satisfied unless these statues are covered with
plates of gold. They boast of the rent-rolls of their estates; they
measure their rank and consequence by the loftiness of their chariots
and the weighty magnificence of their dress; their long robes of silk
and purple float in the wind, and as they are agitated by art or
accident they discover the under garments, the rich tunics embroidered
with the figures of various animals. Followed by a train of fifty
servants, and tearing up the pavement, they move along the streets as if
they travelled with post-horses; and the example of the senators is
boldly imitated by the matrons and ladies, whose covered carriages are
continually driving round the immense space of the city and suburbs.
Whenever they condescend to enter the public baths, they assume, on
their entrance, a tone of loud and insolent command, and maintain a
haughty demeanor, which perhaps might have been excused in the great
Marcellus after the conquest of Syracuse. Sometimes these heroes
undertake more arduous achievements: they visit their estates in Italy,
and procure themselves, by servile hands, the amusements of the chase.
And if at any time, especially on a hot day, they have the courage to
sail in their gilded galleys from the Lucrine Lake to their elegant
villas on the sea-coast of Puteoli and Cargeta, they compare these
expeditions to the marches of Caesar and Alexander; yet should a fly
presume to settle on the silken folds of their gilded umbrellas, should
a sunbeam penetrate through some unguarded chink, they deplore their
intolerable hardships, and lament, in affected language, that they were
not born in the regions of eternal darkness. In the exercise of domestic
jurisdiction they express an exquisite sensibility for any personal
injury, and a contemptuous indifference for the rest of mankind. When
they have called for warm water, should a slave be tardy in his
obedience, he is chastised with a hundred lashes; should he commit a
wilful murder, his master will mildly observe that he is a worthless
fellow, and shall be punished if he repeat the offence. If a foreigner
of no contemptible rank be introduced to these senators, he is welcomed
with such warm professions that he retires charmed with their
affability; but when he repeats his visit, he is surprised and mortified
to find that his name, his person, and his country are forgotten. The
modest, the sober, and the learned are rarely invited to their sumptuous
banquets, only the most worthless of mankind,--parasites who applaud
every look and gesture, who gaze with rapture on marble columns and
variegated pavements, and strenuously praise the pomp and elegance
which he is taught to consider as a part of his personal merit. At the
Roman table the birds, the squirrels, the fish, which appear of uncommon
size, are contemplated with curious attention, and notaries are summoned
to attest, by authentic record, their real weight. Another method of
introduction into the houses of the great is skill in games, which is a
sure road to wealth and reputation. A master of this sublime art, if
placed at a supper below a magistrate, displays in his countenance a
surprise and indignation which Cato might be supposed to feel when
refused the praetorship. The acquisition of knowledge seldom engages the
attention of the nobles, who abhor the fatigue and disdain the
advantages of study; and the only books they peruse are the 'Satires of
Juvenal,' or the fabulous histories of Marius Maximus. The libraries
they have inherited from their fathers are secluded, like dreary
sepulchres, from the light of day; but the costly instruments of the
theatre--flutes and hydraulic organs--are constructed for their use. In
their palaces sound is preferred to sense, and the care of the body to
that of the mind. The suspicion of a malady is of sufficient weight to
excuse the visits of the most intimate friends. The prospect of gain
will urge a rich and gouty senator as far as Spoleta; every sentiment of
arrogance and dignity is suppressed in the hope of an inheritance or
legacy, and a wealthy, childless citizen is the most powerful of the
Romans. The distress which follows and chastises extravagant luxury
often reduces the great to use the most humiliating expedients. When
they wish to borrow, they employ the base and supplicating style of the
slaves in the comedy; but when they are called upon to pay, they assume
the royal and tragic declamations of the grandsons of Hercules. If the
demand is repeated, they readily procure some trusty sycophant to
maintain a charge of poison or magic against the insolent creditor, who
is seldom released from prison until he has signed a discharge of the
whole debt. And these vices are mixed with a puerile superstition which
disgraces their understanding. They listen with confidence to the
productions of haruspices, who pretend to read in the entrails of
victims the signs of future greatness and prosperity; and this
superstition is observed among those very sceptics who impiously deny or
doubt the existence of a celestial power."

Such, in the latter days of the empire, was the leading class at Rome,
and probably also in the cities which aped the fashions of the capital.
Frivolity and luxury loosened all the ties of society. They were bound
up in themselves, and had no care for the people except as they might
extract more money from them.

As for the miserable class whom the patricians oppressed, their
condition became worse every day from the accession of the Emperors. The
plebeians had ever disdained those arts which now occupied the middle
classes; these were intrusted to slaves. Originally, they employed
themselves upon the lands which had been obtained by conquest; but these
lands were gradually absorbed or usurped by the large proprietors. The
small farmers, oppressed with debt and usury, parted with their lands to
their wealthy creditors. Even in the time of Cicero, it was computed
that there were only about two thousand citizens possessed of
independent property. These two thousand persons owned the world; the
rest were dependent and powerless, and would have perished but for
largesses. Monthly distributions of corn were converted into daily
allowance for bread. The people were amused with games and festivals,
fed like slaves, and of course lost at last even the semblance of
manliness and independence. They loitered in the public streets, and
dissipated in gaming their miserable pittance; they spent the hours of
the night in the lowest resorts of crime and misery; they expired in
wretched apartments without attracting the attention of government;
pestilence, famine, and squalid misery thinned their ranks, and they
would have been annihilated but for constant accession to their numbers
from the provinces.

In the busy streets of Rome might be seen adventurers from all parts of
the world, disgraced by all the various vices of their respective
countries. They had no education, and but small religious advantages;
they were held in terror by both priests and nobles,--the priest
terrifying them with Egyptian sorceries, the nobles crushing them by
iron weight; like lazzaroni, they lived in the streets, or were crowded
into filthy tenements; a gladiatorial show delighted them, but the
circus was their peculiar joy,--here they sought to drown the
consciousness of their squalid degradation; they were sold into slavery
for trifling debts; they had no homes. The poor man had no ambition or
hope; his wife was a slave; his children were precocious demons, whose
prattle was the cry for bread, whose laughter was the howl of
pandemonium, whose sports were the tricks of premature iniquity, whose
beauty was the squalor of disease and filth; he fled from a wife in whom
he had no trust, from children in whom he had no hope, from brothers for
whom he felt no sympathy, from parents for whom he felt no reverence;
the circus was his home, the fights of wild beasts were his consolation;
the future was a blank, death was the release from suffering. There were
no hospitals for the sick and the old, except one on an island in the
Tiber; the old and helpless were left to die, unpitied and unconsoled.
Suicide was so common that it attracted no attention.

Superstition culminated at Rome, for there were seen the priests and
devotees of all the countries that it governed,--"the dark-skinned
daughters of Isis, with drum and timbrel and wanton mien; devotees of
the Persian Mithras; emasculated Asiatics; priests of Cybele, with their
wild dances and discordant cries; worshippers of the great goddess
Diana; barbarian captives with the rites of Teuton priests; Syrians,
Jews, Chaldaean astrologers, and Thessalian sorcerers.... The crowds
which flocked to Rome from the eastern shores of the Mediterranean
brought with them practices extremely demoralizing. The awful rites of
initiation, the tricks of magicians, the pretended virtues of amulets
and charms, the riddles of emblematical idolatry with which the
superstition of the East abounded, amused the languid voluptuaries who
had neither the energy for a moral belief nor the boldness requisite for
logical scepticism."

We cannot pass by, in this enumeration of the different classes of Roman
society, the number and condition of slaves. A large part of the
population belonged to this servile class. Originally brought in by
foreign conquest, it was increased by those who could not pay their
debts. The single campaign of Regulus introduced as many captives as
made up a fifth part of the whole population. Four hundred were
maintained in a single palace, at a comparatively early period; a
freedman in the time of Augustus left behind him forty-one hundred and
sixteen; Horace regarded two hundred as the suitable establishment for a
gentleman; some senators owned twenty thousand. Gibbon estimates the
number of slaves at about sixty millions,--one-half of the whole
population. One hundred thousand captives were taken in the Jewish war,
who were sold as slaves, and sold as cheap as horses. William Blair
supposes that there were three slaves to one freeman, from the conquest
of Greece to the reign of Alexander Severus. Slaves often cost two
hundred thousand sesterces, yet everybody was eager to possess a slave.
At one time the slave's life was at the absolute control of his master;
he could be treated at all times with brutal severity. Fettered and
branded, he toiled to cultivate the lands of an imperious master, and at
night was shut up in a subterranean cell. The laws hardly recognized his
claim to be considered a moral agent,--he was _secundum hominum genus_;
he could acquire no rights, social or political,--he was incapable of
inheriting property, or making a will, or contracting a legal marriage;
his value was estimated like that of a brute; he was a thing and not a
person, "a piece of furniture possessed of life;" he was his master's
property, to be scourged, or tortured, or crucified. If a wealthy
proprietor died under circumstances which excited suspicion of foul
play, his whole household was put to torture. It is recorded that on the
murder of a man of consular dignity by a slave, every slave in his
possession was condemned to death. Slaves swelled the useless rabbles of
the cities, and devoured the revenues of the State. All manual labor
was done by slaves, in towns as well as the country; they were used in
the navy to propel the galleys. Even the mechanical arts were cultivated
by the slaves. Nay more, slaves were schoolmasters, secretaries, actors,
musicians, and physicians, for in intelligence they were often on an
equality with their masters. Slaves were procured from Greece and Asia
Minor and Syria, as well as from Gaul and the African deserts; they were
white as well as black. All captives in war were made slaves, also
unfortunate debtors; sometimes they could regain their freedom, but
generally their condition became more and more deplorable. What a state
of society when a refined and cultivated Greek could be made to obey the
most offensive orders of a capricious and sensual Roman, without
remuneration, without thanks, without favor, without redress! What was
to be expected of a class who had no object to live for? They became the
most degraded of mortals, ready for pillage, and justly to be feared in
the hour of danger.

Slavery undoubtedly proved the most destructive canker of the Roman
State. It was this social evil, more than political misrule, which
undermined the empire. Slavery proved at Rome a monstrous curse,
destroying all manliness of character, creating contempt of honest
labor, making men timorous yet cruel, idle, frivolous, weak, dependent,
powerless. The empire might have lasted centuries longer but for this
incubus, the standing disgrace of the Pagan world. Paganism never
recognized what is most noble and glorious in man; never recognized his
equality, his common brotherhood, his natural rights. It had no
compunction, no remorse in depriving human beings of their highest
privileges; its whole tendency was to degrade the soul, and to cause
forgetfulness of immortality. Slavery thrives best when the generous
instincts are suppressed, when egotism, sensuality, and pride are the
dominant springs of human action.

The same influences which tended to rob man of the rights which God has
given him, and produce cruelty and heartlessness in the general
intercourse of life, also tended to degrade the female sex. In the
earlier age of the republic, when the people were poor, and life was
simple and primitive, and heroism and patriotism were characteristic,
woman was comparatively virtuous and respected; she asserted her natural
equality, and led a life of domestic tranquillity, employed upon the
training of her children, and inspiring her husband to noble deeds. But
under the Emperors these virtues had fled. Woman was miserably educated,
being taught by a slave, or some Greek chambermaid, accustomed to ribald
conversation, and fed with idle tales and silly superstitions; she was
regarded as more vicious in natural inclination than man, and was
chiefly valued for household labors; she was reduced to dependence; she
saw but little of her brothers or relatives; she was confined to her
home as if it were a prison; she was guarded by eunuchs and female
slaves; she was given in marriage without her consent; she could be
easily divorced; she was valued only as a domestic servant, or as an
animal to prevent the extinction of families; she was regarded as the
inferior of her husband, to whom she was a victim, a toy, or a slave.
Love after marriage was not frequent, since woman did not shine in the
virtues by which love is kept alive. She became timorous or frivolous,
without dignity or public esteem; her happiness was in extravagant
attire, in elaborate hair-dressings, in rings and bracelets, in a
retinue of servants, in gilded apartments, in luxurious couches, in
voluptuous dances, in exciting banquets, in demoralizing spectacles, in
frivolous gossip, in inglorious idleness. If virtuous, it was not so
much from principle as from fear. Hence she resorted to all sorts of
arts to deceive her husband; her genius was sharpened by perpetual
devices, and cunning was her great resource. She cultivated no lofty
friendships; she engaged in no philanthropic mission; she cherished no
ennobling sentiments; she kindled no chivalrous admiration. Her
amusements were frivolous, her taste vitiated, her education neglected,
her rights violated, her sympathy despised, her aspirations scorned.
And here I do not allude to great and infamous examples that history has
handed down in the sober pages of Suetonius and Tacitus, or that
unblushing depravity which stands out in the bitter satires of those
times; I speak not of the adultery, the poisoning, the infanticide, the
debauchery, the cruelty of which history accuses the Messalinas and
Agrippinas of imperial Rome; I allude not to the orgies of the Palatine
Hill, or the abominations which are inferred from the paintings of
Pompeii,--I mean the general frivolity and extravagance and
demoralization of the women of the Roman empire. Marriage was considered
inexpedient unless large dowries were brought to the husband. Numerous
were the efforts of Emperors to promote honorable marriages, but the
relation was shunned. Courtesans usurped the privileges of wives, and
with unblushing effrontery. A man was derided who contemplated
matrimony, for there was but little confidence in female virtue or
capacity, and woman lost all her fascination when age had destroyed her
beauty; even her very virtues were distasteful to her self-indulgent
husband. When, as sometimes happened, the wife gained the ascendency by
her charms, she was tyrannical; her relatives incited her to despoil her
husband; she lived amid incessant broils; she had no care for the
future, and exceeded man in prodigality. "The government of her house is
no more merciful," says Juvenal, "than the court of a Sicilian tyrant."
In order to render herself attractive, she exhausted all the arts of
cosmetics and elaborate hair-dressing; she delighted in magical
incantations and love-potions. In the bitter satire of Juvenal we get an
impression most melancholy and loathsome:--

     "'T were long to tell what philters they provide,
     What drugs to set a son-in-law aside,--
     Women, in judgment weak, in feeling strong,
     By every gust of passion borne along.
     To a fond spouse a wife no mercy shows;
     Though warmed with equal fires, she mocks his woes,
     And triumphs in his spoils; her wayward will
     Defeats his bliss and turns his good to ill.
     Women support the bar; they love the law,
     And raise litigious questions for a straw.
     Nay, more, they fence! who has not marked their oil,
     Their purple rigs, for this preposterous toil!
     A woman stops at nothing; when she wears
     Rich emeralds round her neck, and in her ears
     Pearls of enormous size,--these justify
     Her faults, and make all lawful in her eye.
     More shame to Rome! in every street are found
     The essenced Lypanti, with roses crowned;
     The gay Miletan and the Tarentine,
     Lewd, petulant, and reeling ripe with wine!"

In the sixth satire of Juvenal is found the most severe delineation of
woman that ever mortal penned. Doubtless he is libellous and
extravagant, for only infamous women can stoop to such arts and
degradations as would seem to have been common in his time. But with all
his probable exaggeration, we are forced to feel that but few women,
even in the highest class, except those converted to Christianity,
showed the virtues of a Lucretia, a Volumnia, a Cornelia, or an Octavia.
The lofty virtues of a Perpetua, a Felicitas, an Agnes, a Paula, a
Blessilla, a Fabiola, would have adorned any civilization; but the great
mass were, what they were in Greece even in the days of Pericles, what
they have ever been under the influence of Paganism, what they ever will
be without Christianity to guide them,--victims or slaves of man,
revenging themselves by squandering his wealth, stealing his secrets,
betraying his interests, and deserting his home.

Another essential but demoralizing feature of Roman society was to be
found in the games and festivals and gladiatorial shows, which
accustomed the people to unnatural excitement and familiarity with
cruelty and suffering. They made all ordinary pleasures insipid; they
ended in making homicide an institution. The butcheries of the
amphitheatre exerted a fascination which diverted the mind from
literature, art, and the enjoyments of domestic life. Very early they
were the favorite sport of the Romans. Marcus and Decimus Brutus
employed gladiators in celebrating the obsequies of their fathers,
nearly three centuries before Christ. "The wealth and ingenuity of the
aristocracy were taxed to the utmost to content the populace and provide
food for the indiscriminate slaughter of the circus, where brute fought
with brute, and man again with man, or where the skill and weapons of
the latter were matched against the strength and ferocity of the first."
Pompey let loose six hundred lions in the arena in one day; Augustus
delighted the people with four hundred and twenty panthers. The games of
Trajan lasted one hundred and twenty days, when ten thousand gladiators
fought, and ten thousand beasts were slain. Titus slaughtered five
thousand animals at a time; twenty elephants contended, according to
Pliny, against a band of six hundred captives. Probus reserved six
hundred gladiators for one of his festivals, and slaughtered on another
two hundred lions, twenty leopards, and three hundred bears; Gordian let
loose three hundred African hyenas and ten Indian tigers in the arena.
Every corner of the earth was ransacked for these wild animals, which
were so highly valued that in the time of Theodosius it was forbidden by
law to destroy a Getulian lion. No one can contemplate the statue of the
Dying Gladiator which now ornaments the capitol at Rome, without
emotions of pity and admiration. If a marble statue can thus move us,
what was it to see the Christian gladiators contending with the fierce
lions of Africa! "The Christians to the lions!" was the cry of the
brutal populace. What a sight was the old amphitheatre of Titus, five
hundred and sixty feet long and four hundred and seventy feet wide,
built on eighty arches and rising one hundred and forty feet into the
air, with its four successive orders of architecture, and enclosing its
eighty thousand seated spectators, arranged according to rank, from the
Emperor to the lowest of the populace, all seated on marble benches
covered with cushions, and protected from the sun and rain by ample
canopies! What an excitement, when men strove not with wild beasts
alone, but with one another; and when all that human skill and strength,
increased by elaborate treatment, and taxed to the uttermost, were put
forth in needless slaughter, until the thirsty soil was wet and
saturated with human gore! Familiarity with such sights must have
hardened the heart and rendered the mind insensible to refined
pleasures. What theatres are to the French, what bull-fights are to the
Spaniards, what horse-races are to the English, these gladiatorial shows
were to the ancient Romans. The ruins of hundreds of amphitheatres
attest the universality of the custom, not in Rome alone, but in the

Probably no people abandoned themselves to pleasures more universally
than the Romans, after war had ceased to be their master passion. All
classes alike pursued them with restless eagerness. Amusements were the
fashion and the business of life. At the theatre, at the great
gladiatorial shows, at the chariot races, emperors and senators and
generals were always present in conspicuous and reserved seats of honor;
behind them were the patricians, and then the ordinary citizens, and in
the rear of these the people fed at the public expense. The Circus
Maximus, the Theatre of Pompey, the Amphitheatre of Titus, would
collectively accommodate over four hundred thousand spectators. We may
presume that over five hundred thousand persons were in the habit of
constant attendance on these demoralizing sports; and the fashion spread
throughout all the great cities of the empire, so that there was
scarcely a city of twenty thousand inhabitants which had not its
theatres, amphitheatres, or circus. And when we remember the heavy bets
on favorite horses, and the universal passion for gambling in every
shape, we can form some idea of the effect of these amusements on the
common mind,--destroying the taste for home pleasures, and for all that
was intellectual and simple.

What are we to think of a state of society where all classes had
continual leisure for these sports! Habits of industry were destroyed,
and all respect for employments that required labor. The rich were
supported by contributions from the provinces, since they were the
great proprietors of conquered lands; the poor had no solicitude for a
living, since they were supported at the public expense. All therefore
gave themselves up to pleasure. Even the baths, designed for sanatory
purposes, became places of resort and idleness, and ultimately of
intrigue and vice. In the time of Julius Caesar we find no less a
personage than the mother of Augustus making use of the public
establishments; and in process of time the Emperors themselves bathed in
public with the meanest of their subjects. The baths in the time of
Alexander Severus were not only kept open from sunrise to sunset, but
even during the whole night. The luxurious classes almost lived in the
baths. Commodus took his meals in the bath. Gordian bathed seven times
in the day, and Gallienus as often. They bathed before they took their
meals, and after meals to provoke a new appetite; they did not content
themselves with a single bath, but went through a course of baths in
succession, in which the agency of air as well as of water was applied;
and the bathers were attended by an army of slaves given over to every
sort of roguery and theft. Nor were water and air baths alone used; the
people made use of scented oils to anoint their persons, and perfumed
the water itself with the most precious essences. Bodily health and
cleanliness were only secondary considerations; voluptuous pleasure was
the main object. The ruins of the baths of Titus, Caracalla, and
Diocletian in Rome show that they were decorated with prodigal
magnificence, and with everything that could excite the
passions,--pictures, statues, ornaments, and mirrors. The baths were
scenes of orgies consecrated to Bacchus, and the frescos on the
excavated baths of Pompeii still raise a blush on the face of every
spectator who visits them. I speak not of the elaborate ornaments, the
Numidian marbles, the precious stones, the exquisite sculptures that
formed part of the decorations of the Roman baths, but of the
demoralizing pleasures with which they were connected, and which they
tended to promote. The baths ultimately became, according to the ancient
writers, places of excessive and degrading debauchery.

     "Balnea, vina, Venus corrumpunt corpora nostra."

If it were possible to allude to an evil more revolting than the sports
of the amphitheatre and circus, or the extravagant luxuries of the
table, I would say that the universal abandonment to money-making, for
the enjoyment of the factitious pleasures it purchased, was even still
more melancholy, since it struck deeper into the foundations which
supported society. The leading spring of life was money. Boys were bred
from early youth to all the mysteries of unscrupulous gains. Usury was
practised to such an incredible extent that the interest on loans in
some instances equalled, in a few months, the whole capital; this was
the more aristocratic mode of making money, which not even senators
disdained. The pages of the poets show how profoundly money was prized,
and how miserable were people without it. Rich old bachelors, without
heirs, were held in the supremest honor. Money was the first object in
all matrimonial alliances; and provided that women were only wealthy,
neither bridegroom nor parent was fastidious as to age, or deformity, or
meanness of family, or vulgarity of person. The needy descendants of the
old patricians yoked themselves with fortunate plebeians, and the
blooming maidens of a comfortable obscurity sold themselves, without
shame or reluctance, to the bloated sensualists who could give them what
they supremely valued,--chariots and diamonds. The giddy women in love
with ornaments and dress, and the godless men seeking what they should
eat, could only be satisfied with what purchased their pleasures. The
haughtiest aristocracy ever known on earth, tracing their lineage to the
times of Cato and boasting of their descent from the Scipios and the
Pompeys, accustomed themselves at last to regard money as the only test
of their own social position. The great Augustine found himself utterly
neglected at Rome because of his poverty,--being dependent on his
pupils, and they being mean enough to run away without paying him.
Literature languished and died, since it brought neither honor nor
emolument. No dignitary was respected for his office, only for his
gains; nor was any office prized which did not bring rich emoluments.
Corruption was so universal that an official in an important post was
sure of making a fortune in a short time. With such an idolatry of
money, all trades and professions which were not favorable to its
accumulation fell into disrepute, while those who administered to the
pleasures of a rich man were held in honor. Cooks, buffoons, and dancers
received the consideration which artists and philosophers enjoyed at
Athens in the days of Pericles. But artists and scholars were very few
indeed in the more degenerate days of the empire; nor would they have
had influence. The wit of a Petronius, the ridicule of a Martial, the
bitter sarcasm of a Juvenal were lost on a people abandoned to frivolous
gossip and demoralizing excesses. The haughty scorn with which a sensual
beauty, living on the smiles and purse of a fortunate glutton, would
pass in her gilded chariot some of the impoverished descendants of the
great Camillus might have provoked a smile, had any one been found, even
a neglected poet, to give them countenance and sympathy. But, alas!
everybody worshipped at the shrine of Mammon; everybody was valued for
what he _had_, rather than for what he _was_; and life was prized, not
for those pleasures which are cheap and free as heaven, not for quiet
tastes and rich affections and generous sympathies,--the glorious
certitudes of love, esteem, and friendship, which, "be they what they
may, are yet the fountain-life of all our day,"--but for the
gratification of depraved and expensive tastes, of those short-lived
enjoyments which ended with the decay of appetite and the _ennui_ of
realized expectation,--all of the earth, earthy; making a wreck of the
divine image which was made for God and heaven, preparing the way for a
most fearful retribution, and producing on contemplative minds a sadness
allied with despair, driving them to caves and solitudes, and making
death the relief from sorrow.

The fourteenth satire of Juvenal is directed mainly to the universal
passion for gain and the demoralizing vices it brings in its train,
which made Rome a Vanity Fair and even a Pandemonium.

The old Greek philosophers gloried in their poverty; but poverty was the
greatest reproach to a Roman. "In exact proportion to the sum of money a
man keeps in his chest," says Juvenal, "is the credit given to his oath.
And the first question ever asked of a man is in reference to his
income, rather than his character. How many slaves does he keep; how
many acres does he own; what dishes are his table spread with?--these
are the universal inquiries. Poverty, bitter though it be, has no
sharper sting than this,--that it makes men ridiculous. Who was ever
allowed at Borne to become a son-in-law, if his estate was inferior?
What poor man's name appears in any will?"

And with this reproach of poverty there were no means to escape from it.
Nor was there alleviation. A man was regarded as a fool who gave
anything except to the rich. Charity and benevolence were unknown
virtues. The sick and the miserable were left to die unlamented and
unknown. Prosperity and success, no matter by what means they were
purchased, secured reverence and influence.

Such was imperial Rome, in all the internal relations of life, and amid
all the trophies and praises which resulted from universal conquest,--a
sad, gloomy, dismal picture, which fills us with disgust as well as
melancholy. If any one deems it an exaggeration, he has only to read
Saint Paul's first chapter in his epistle to the Romans. I cannot
understand the enthusiasm of Gibbon for such a people, or for such an
empire,--a grinding and resistless imperial despotism, a sensual and
proud aristocracy, a debased and ignorant populace, enormously
disproportionate conditions of fortune, slavery flourishing to a state
unprecedented in the world's history, women the victims and the toys of
men, lax sentiments of public and private morality, a whole people given
over to demoralizing sports and spectacles, pleasure the master passion
of the people, money the mainspring of society, a universal indulgence
in all the vices which lead to violence and prepare the way for the
total eclipse of the glory of man. Of what value was the cultivation of
Nature, or a splendid material civilization, or great armies, or an
unrivalled jurisprudence, or the triumph of energy and skill, when the
moral health was completely undermined? A world therefore as fair and
glorious as our own must needs crumble away. There were no powerful
conservative forces; the poison had descended to the extremities of the
social system. A corrupt body must die when vitality has fled. The soul
was gone; principle, patriotism, virtue, had all passed away. The
barbarians were advancing to conquer and desolate; there was no power to
resist them but enervated and timid legions, with the accumulated vices
of all the nations of the earth, which they had been learning for four
hundred years. Society must needs resolve itself into its original
elements when men would not make sacrifices, and so few belonged to
their country. The machine was sure to break up at the first great
shock. No State could stand with such an accumulation of wrongs, with
such complicated and fatal diseases eating out the vitals of the
empire. No form of civilization, however brilliant and lauded, could
arrest decay and ruin when public and private virtue had fled. The house
was built upon the sand.

The army might rally under able generals, in view of the approaching
catastrophe; philosophy might console the days of a few indignant
citizens; good Emperors might attempt to raise barriers against
corruption,--still, nothing, according to natural laws, could save the
empire. Even Christianity could not arrest the ruin. It had converted
thousands, and had sowed the seeds of future and better civilizations.
It was sent, however, not to save a decayed and demoralized empire, but
the world itself. Not until the Germanic barbarians, with their nobler
elements of character, had taken possession of the seats of the old
civilization, were the real triumphs of Christianity seen. Had the Roman
empire continued longer, Christianity might have become still more
corrupted; in the prevailing degeneracy it certainly could not save what
was not worth preserving. The strong grasp which Rome had laid upon the
splendors of all the ancient Pagan Civilizations was to be relaxed.
Antiquity had lived out its life. The empire of the Caesars was doomed.
Retributive justice must march on in its majestic course. The empire had
accomplished its mission; the time came for it to die. The Sibylline
oracle must needs be fulfilled: "O haughty Rome, the divine chastisement
shall come upon thee; fire shall consume thee; thy wealth shall perish;
foxes and wolves shall dwell among thy ruins: and then what land that
thou hast enslaved shall be thy ally, and which of thy gods shall save
thee? For there shall be confusion over the face of the whole earth, and
the fall of cities shall come."

       *       *       *       *       *


Mr. Merivale has written fully on the condition of the empire. Gibbon
has occasional paragraphs which show the condition of Roman society.
Lyman's Life of the Emperors should be read, and also DeQuincey's Lives
of the Caesars. See also Niebuhr, Arnold, Mommsen, and Curtius, though
these writers have chiefly confined themselves to republican Rome. But
if one would get the truest and most vivid description, he must read the
Roman poets, especially Juvenal and Martial. The work of Petronius is
too indecent to be read. Ammianus Marcellinus gives us some striking
pictures of the later Romans. Suetonius, in his lives of the Caesars,
furnishes many facts. Becker's Gallus is a fine description of Roman
habits and customs. Lucian does not describe Roman manners, but he aims
his sarcasm at the hollowness of Roman life, as do the great satirists
generally. These can all be had in translations.

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