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Title: Life in the Roman World of Nero and St. Paul
Author: Tucker, T. G. (Thomas George), 1859-1946
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 "Life in the Roman World of Nero and St. Paul" ***

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AND ST. PAUL***


LIFE IN THE ROMAN WORLD OF NERO AND ST. PAUL

by

T. G. TUCKER

1924



PREFACE


The reception accorded to my _Life in Ancient Athens_ has led me to
write the present companion work with an eye to the same class of
readers. In the preface to the former volume it was said: "I have
sought to leave an impression true and sound, so far as it goes, and
also vivid and distinct. The style adopted has therefore been the
opposite of the pedantic, utilizing any vivacities of method which are
consistent with truth of fact." The same principles have guided me in
the present equally unpretentious treatise. I agree entirely with Mr.
Warde Fowler when he says: "I firmly believe that the one great hope
for classical learning and education lies in the interest which the
unlearned public may be brought to feel in ancient life and thought."

For the general reader there is perhaps no period in the history of
the ancient world which is more interesting than the one here chosen.
Yet, so far as I know, there exists no sufficiently popular work
dealing with this period alone and presenting in moderate compass a
clear general view of the matters of most moment. My endeavour has
been to represent as faithfully as possible the Age of Nero, and
nowhere in the book is it implied that what is true for that age is
necessarily as true for any other. The reader who is not a special
student of history or antiquities is perhaps as often confused by
descriptions of ancient life which cover too many generations as by
those--often otherwise excellent--which include too much detail.

I have necessarily consulted not only the Latin and Greek writers who
throw light upon the time, but also all the best-known Standard works
of modern date. It is perhaps scarcely necessary to state that in
matters of contemporary government, administration, and public life my
guides have been chiefly Mommsen, Arnold, and Greenidge; for social
life Marquardt, Friedländer, and Becker-Göll; for topography and
buildings Jordan, Hülsen, Lanciani, and Middleton; nor that the
Dictionaries of Smith and of Daremberg and Saglio have been always at
hand, as well as Baumeister's _Denkmäler_, and Guhl and Koner's _Life
of the Greeks and Romans_. The admirable _Pompeii_ of Mau-Kelsey has
been, of course, indispensable. I have also derived profit from the
writings of Prof. Sir W. M. Ramsay in connexion with St. Paul, and
from Conybeare and Howson's _Life and Epistles_ of the Apostle. Useful
hints have been found in Mr. Warde Fowler's _Social Life in Rome in
the Age of Cicero_, and in Prof. Dill's Roman_ Society from Nero to
Marcus Aurelius_. A personal study of ancient sites, monuments, and
objects of antiquity at Rome, Pompeii, and elsewhere has naturally
been of prime value. Those intimately acquainted with the immense
amount of the available material will best realize the difficulty
there has been in deciding how much to say and how much to "leave in
the inkstand."

For the drawings other than those of which another source is specified
I have to thank Miss M. O'Shea, on whom has occasionally fallen the
difficult task of giving ocular form to the mental visions of one who
happens to be no draughtsman. For the rest I make acknowledgment to
those books from which the illustrations have been directly derived
for my own purposes, without reference to more original sources.

I am especially grateful for the permission to use so considerable a
number of illustrations from the _Pompeii_ of Mau-Kelsey, from
Professor Waldstein's _Herculaneum_, and from Lanciani's _New Tales of
Old Rome_.

T.G.T.

October 1909.



CONTENTS


INTRODUCTION

CHAPTERS


    I EXTENT AND SECURITY OF THE EMPIRE

   II TRAVEL WITHIN THE EMPIRE

  III A BRIEF SURVEY OF THE PROVINCES

   IV THE IMPERIAL SYSTEM: EMPEROR, SENATE, KNIGHTS, AND PEOPLE

    V NERO THE EMPEROR

   VI ADMINISTRATION AND TAXATION OF THE EMPIRE

  VII ROME: THE IMPERIAL CITY

 VIII STREETS, WATER-SUPPLY, AND BUILDING MATERIAL

   IX THE ROMAN TOWN HOUSE

    X THE COUNTRY HOMESTEAD AND COUNTRY SEAT

   XI ROMAN FURNITURE

  XII SOCIAL DAY OF A ROMAN ARISTOCRAT--MORNING

 XIII SOCIAL DAY OF A ROMAN ARISTOCRAT (_continued_)--AFTERNOON AND
      DINNER

  XIV LIFE IN THE MIDDLE AND LOWER CLASSES

   XV HOLIDAYS AND AMUSEMENTS: THEATRE, CIRCUS, AMPHITHEATRE

  XVI THE WOMEN: MARRIAGE, THE ROMAN MATRON, AND HER DRESS

 XVII CHILDREN AND EDUCATION

XVIII THE ARMY: MILITARY SERVICE: PUBLIC CAREER

  XIX ROMAN RELIGION--STATE AND INDIVIDUAL

   XX STUDY AND SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE AMONG THE ROMANS

  XXI PHILOSOPHY--STOICS AND EPICUREANS

 XXII THE ROMAN PROFUSION OF ART

XXIII THE LAST SCENE OF ALL--BURIAL AND TOMBS

INDEX

ILLUSTRATIONS

FIG.

Frontispiece

      View into Roman Forum from Temple of Vesta, A.D. 64.
      (Restoration partly after Auer, Hülsen, Tognetti, etc.).

  1. The Pont du Gard (Aqueduct and Bridge).

  2. The Appian Way by the so-called Tomb of Seneca (Laneiani, _New
     Tales of Old Rome_).

  3. Plan of Inn at Pompeii. (After Mau).

  4. Ship beside the Quay at Ostia. (Hill, _Illustrations of School
     Classics_, FIG. 498 ).

  6. The Acropolis at Athens. (From D'Ooge).

  7. Plan of Antioch.

  8. Emblem of Antioch. (_Dict. of Geog_. i. 116 ).

  9. Emblem of Alexandria. (Mau, _Pompeii_, Fig 187).

 10.  Emblem of Rome. (From the column of Antoninus at Rome).

 11.  Augustus as Emperor.

 12.  Coin of Nero. (In the British Museum).

 13.  Bust of Seneca. (_Archäiologische Zeitung_).

 14.  Agrippina, Mother of Nero. (Photo, Mansell & Co.).

 15.  Bust of Nero.

 16.  Some Remains of the Claudian Aqueduct.

 17.  The Rostra: back view. (Modified from Hülsen).

 18.  Ruins of Forum. (Record-Office in background with modern building
      above.) (Photo, Anderson).

 19.  N.E. of Forum, A.D. 64.  (Complementary to Frontispiece).

 20.  Temple of Fortuna Augusta at Pompeii. (Mau, FIG. 58).

 21.  So-called Temple of the Sibyl at Tivoli.

 22.  Vestal Virgin. (Hill, FIG. 340 ).

 23.  Temple of Mars the Avenger in Forum of Augustus. (After
      Ripostelli).

 24.  Exterior of Theatre of Marcellus. (Present state).

 25.  Exterior of Theatre of Marcellus. (Restored).

 26.  A Greek Exedra. (Baumeister).

 27.  Circus Maximus (restored). (Modified from Guhl and Koner).

 28.  Building Materials. (From Middleton).

 29.  Typical Scheme of Roman House.

 30.  Entrance to House of Pansa.

 31.  Interior of Roman House. (Restored).

 32.  House of Cornelius Rufus. (Mau, FIG. 121 ).

 33.  Peristyle with Garden and al fresco Dining-Table. (After Guhl and
      Koner).

 34.  Peristyle in House of the Vettii. (Present state) (Mau, FIG.
      162).

 35.  Kitchen Hearth in the House of the Vettii. (Mau, FIG. 125).

 36.  Cooking Hearths. (_Dict. Ant_. i. 672).

 37.  Shrine in House of the Tragic Poet. (Mau, FIG. 153 ).

 38.  Household Shrine.  (Hill, FIG. 345).

 38A. Leaden Pipes in House of Livia. (From a photograph).

 39.  Portable Braziers. (Daremberg and Saglio).

 40.  Manner of Roofing with Tiles.

 41.  House of Pansa at Pompeii. (After Mau).

 42.  House of the Vettii at Pompeii. (After Mau).

 43.  Specimen of Painted Room.

 44.  Specimen of Wall-Painting. (Mau, FIG. 264).

 45.  Plan of Homestead at Boscoreale. (After Mau).

 46.  Roman Folding Chair. (Schreiber).

 47.  Bronze Seat. (Overbeck).

 48.  Framework of Roman Couch. (Mau, FIG. 188).

 49.  Plan of Dining-Table with Three Couches.

 50.  Sigma.

 51.  Tripod from Herculaneum. (From Waldstein, _Herculaneum_, Plate
      41).

 52.  Chest (Strong-box). (Mau, FIG. 120).

 53.  Mirrors. (Mau, FIG. 213).

 54.  Lamps. (Mau, FIG. 196).

 55.  Lampholder as Tree. (Mau, FIG. 202).

 56.  Cup from Herculaneum. (Waldstein, Plate 45).

 57.  Kitchen Utensils. (Mau, FIG. 204).

 58.  Pail from Herculaneum. (Waldstein, Plate 42).

 59.  Patrician Shoes.  (_Dict. Ant_. i. 335).

 60.  Roman in the Toga.  (Waldstein, Plate 18).

 61.  Slave in Fetters.

 62.  Litter. (_Dict. Ant_. ii. 15).

 63.  Reading a Proclamation. (Mau, FIG. 17).

 64.  Sealed Receipt of Jueundus. (Mau, FIG. 275).

 65.  Discus-Thrower. (Photo, Anderson).

 66.  Stabian Baths.  (Mau, Plate 5).

 67.  Bathing Implements. (Mau, FIG. 209).

 68.  Acrobats. (Baumeister, i. 585).

 69.  Surgical Instruments. (Guhl and Koner).

 70.  Bakers' Mills. (Mau, FIG. 218).

 71.  Cupids as Goldsmiths. (Wall-Painting.)(Mau, FIG. 167).

 72.  Garland-Makers. (_Abhandlungen, historische-philologische
      Classe Königlich Sächsischen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften_).

 73.  Bust of Caecilius Jueundus. (Mau, FIG. 256).

 74.  Ploughs. (Hill, FIG. 383; _Dict. Ant_. i. 160).

 75.  Tools on Tomb. (_Dict. Ant_. ii. 243).

 76.  Pompeian Cook-Shop. (Mau, FIG. 131).

 77.  In a Wine-Shop. (Mau, FIG. 234).

 78.  Boxing-Gloves. (_Dict. Ant_. i. 329).

 79.  Theatre at Orange. (Restored.) (Baumeister, iii. 1742).

 80.  Theatre at Aspendus. (Guhl and Koner).

 81.  Tragic Actor. (Hill, FIG. 421).

 82.  Comic Masks. (Terence's _Andria_).

 83.  Scene from Comedy. (Hill, FIG. 422).

 84.  Plan of Circus.

 85.  The Turn in the Circus.

 86.  Chariot Race. (_Dict. Ant_. i. 434).

 87.  Amphitheatre at Pompeii. (Mau, Plate 6).

 88.  Barracks of Gladiators. (Mau, Plate 4).

 89.  Stocks for Gladiators. (Remains from Pompeii.) (Mau, FIG. 74).

 90.  Gladiators Fighting. (Guhl and Koner).

 91.  Toilet Scene. (Wall-Painting.) (Waldstein, Plate 32).

 92.  Woman in Full Dress. (Waldstein, Plate 7).

 93.  Hairpins. (Mau, FIG. 211).

 94.  Writing Materials.

 95.  Horsing a Boy. (After Sächs.) (Baumeister, iii. FIG. 1653).

 96.  Papyri and Tabulae. (From Dyer's _Pompeii_).

 97.  Roman Standards. (Guhl and Koner).

 98.  Armed Soldier.

 99.  A Roman General. (Hill, FIG. 465).

100.  Centurion. (Hill, FIG. 466).

101.  Standard-Bearer. (Hill, FIG. 470).

102.  Baggage-Train. (Daremberg and Saglio, FIG. 1196).

103.  Soldiers with Packs. (Seyffert, _Dict. Class. Ant_. p. 348).

104.  Roman Soldiers Marching. (Schreiber).

105.  Imperial Guards. (Guhl and Koner).

106.  Besiegers with the "Tortoise." (Hill, FIG. 481).

107.  Roman Artillery. (_Dict. Ant_. ii. 855).

108.  Auxiliary Cavalryman. (_Dict. Ant_.  i. 790).

109.  Jupiter. (Vatican Museum).

110.  A Sacrifice. (Mau, FIG. 44).

111.  Isis Worship. (Wall-Painting.) (Mau, FIG. 81).

112.  Household Shrine. (Mau, FIG. 127).

113.  The World (approximately) as conceived about A.D. 100.

114.  The Dying Gaul.

115.  A "Candeliera" or Marble Pilaster of the Basilica Aemilia
      (Lanciani, _New Tales, etc._, p. 147).

116.  Fragments of the Architecture of the Regia.  (Lanciani, p. 70).

117.  Wall-Painting. (Woman with Tablets.) (Waldstein, _Herculaneum_,
      Plate 35).

118.  Wall-Painting from Herculaneum. (Women playing with
      Knuckle-Bones.) (Waldstein, Plate 4).

119.  Lyre and Harp.

120.  "Conclamatio" of the Dead. (Guhl and Koner).

121.  Tomb of Caecilia Metella.

122.  Street of Tombs. (Mau, Plate 10).

123.  Columbarium. (Guhl and Koner).

124.  Temple of Jupiter on the Capitol.



MAPS AND PLANS:

      Map of Roman Empire, A.D. 64.

      Plan of Rome with Chief Topographical Features.

      Plan of Forum, A.D. 64.



INTRODUCTION

The subject of this book is "Life in the Roman World of Nero and St.
Paul." This is not quite the same thing as "Life in Ancient Rome" at
the same date. Our survey is to be somewhat wider than that of the
imperial city itself, with its public and private structures, its
public and private life. The capital, and these topics concerning it,
will naturally occupy the greater portion of our time and interest.
But it is quite impossible to realise Rome, its civilisation, and the
meaning of its monuments, unless we first obtain some general
comprehension of the empire--the Roman world--with its component
parts, its organisation and administration. The date is approximately
anno Domini 64, although it is not desirable, even if it were
possible, to adhere in every detail to the facts of that particular
year. In A.D. 64 the Emperor Nero was at the height of his folly and
tyranny, and, so far as our information goes, the Apostle Paul was
journeying about the Roman world in the interval between his first and
second imprisonments in the capital.

One cannot, perhaps, achieve a wholly satisfying picture in a treatise
of the present dimensions. It would require a very bulky volume to
realise with any adequateness the ideal aim. It would be well if, in
the first instance, we could imagine ourselves standing somewhere far
aloft over the centre of the empire, and possessing as wide-ranging a
vision as that of the Homeric gods. From that exalted standpoint we
might gaze upon the active life of towns, upon the labourers working
their lands from the Atlantic to the Euphrates, and upon the men who
go down to the sea in ships and do their business in great waters. We
should perceive their occupations and amusements, their material
surroundings, their various dress and manners, their methods of
travel, the degree of their personal safety and liberty. Then we
should descend to earth in the middle of Rome itself, and become for
the time being inhabitants of that city, privileged to take part in
its public business and its public pleasures, to enter the houses of
what may be called its representative citizens, to share in the
various elements of its social day, and to estimate the moral,
intellectual, and artistic cultivation of Roman society.

Such would be the ideal. Here it must suffice, to select the most
essential or interesting matters, and to present them with such
vividness as the necessary brevity will permit. Very little
preliminary knowledge will be taken for granted; the use of Latin or
technical terms will be shunned, and every topic will be dealt with,
as far as possible, in the plainest of English.

Nevertheless, while aiming at entire lucidity, the following chapters
will aim even more scrupulously at telling the truth. There are
doubtless a number of matters--though generally of relatively small
moment--about which we are, and probably always shall be, uncertain.
The best way to deal with these, in a work which is descriptive rather
than argumentative, is to omit them. For the rest it must be expected
of any one whose professional concern it has been to saturate himself
for many years in the literature of the times, and to study carefully
their monumental remains, that he should occasionally make some
statement, drop some passing remark or judgment, which may appear to
be in conflict with assertions made in other quarters. If a few
examples are met with in the present book, they may be taken as made
with all deference, but with deliberation.

It is perhaps well to say this with some emphasis, in view of the
blunders often innocently committed by those who happen to be speaking
of this period. There are those who know it almost only through the
medium of the _Acts of the Apostles_, and who entertain the most
erroneous notions concerning Gallio or Festus, concerning Roman
justice, Roman taxation, or Roman moral and religious attitudes. There
are those, again, who know it almost only through the manuals of
history; that is to say, they know the dates and facts of the reigns
of the emperors, but have never realised, not to say visualised, the
contemporary Roman as a human being. There exist denunciations of the
morals of the Roman world of this date which would lead one to believe
that every man was a Nero and every woman a Messalina: denunciations
so lurid that, if they were a third part true, the continuance of the
Roman Empire, or even of the Roman race, for a single century would be
simply incomprehensible. On the other hand there have been accounts of
the material glory of Rome which have conjured up visions of splendour
worthy only of the _Arabian Nights_; and sometimes the comment is
added that it was all won from the blood and sweat heartlessly wrung
from a world of miserable slaves. It is not too much to say that none
of these descriptions could come from a writer or speaker who knew the
period at first hand.

The most dangerous form of falsehood is that which contains some
portion of truth. The life of many a Roman was deplorably dissolute;
the splendour of Rome was beyond doubt astonishing; of oppression
there were too many scattered instances; but we do not judge the
civilisation of the British Empire by the choicest scandals of London,
nor the good sense of the United States by the freak follies of New
York. We do not take it that the modern satirist who vents his spleen
on an individual or a class is describing each and all of his
contemporaries, nor even that what he says is necessarily true of such
individual or class. Nor is the professional moralist himself immune
from jaundice or from the disease of exaggeration.

The endeavour here will be to realise more veraciously what life in
the Roman world was like. For those who are familiar with the
political history and the escapades of Nero there may be some filling
in of gaps and adjusting of perspective. For those who are familiar
with the journeyings and experiences of St. Paul there may be some
correction of errors and misconceptions. For those who have any
thought of visiting the ruins of Rome and Pompeii, it may prove
helpful to have secured some comprehension of this period. Pompeii was
destroyed only fifteen years after our date, and all those houses,
large and small, were occupied in the year 64 by their unsuspecting
inhabitants. Meanwhile mansions, temples, and halls stood in splendour
above those platforms and foundations over which we tread amid the
broken columns in the Roman Forum or on the Palatine Hill.



CHAPTER I

EXTENT AND SECURITY OF THE EMPIRE


The best means of realising the extent of the Roman Empire in or about
the year 64 is to glance at the map. It will be found to reach from
the Atlantic Ocean to the Euphrates, from the middle of
England--approximately the river Trent--to the south of Egypt, from
the Rhine and the Danube to the Desert of Sahara. The Mediterranean
Sea is a Roman lake, and there is not a spot upon its shores which is
not under Roman rule. In round numbers the empire is three thousand
miles in length and two thousand in breadth. Its population, which, at
least in the western parts, was much thinner then than it is over the
same area at present, cannot be calculated with any accuracy, but an
estimate of one hundred millions would perhaps be not very far from
the mark.

Beyond its borders--sometimes too dangerously near to them and apt to
overstep them--lay various peoples concerning whom Roman knowledge was
for the most part incomplete and indefinite. Within its own boundaries
the Roman government carefully collected every kind of information.
Such precision was indispensable for the carrying out of those Roman
principles of administration which will be described later. But of the
nations or tribes beyond the frontiers only so much was known as had
been gathered from a number of more or less futile campaigns, from
occasional embassies sent to Rome by such peoples, from the writings
of a few venturous travellers bent on exploration, from slaves who had
been acquired by war or purchase, or from traders such as those who
made their way to the Baltic in quest of amber, or to Arabia,
Ethiopia, and India in quest of precious metals, jewels, ivory,
perfumes, and fabrics.

There had indeed been sundry attempts to annex still more of the
world. Roman armies had crossed the Rhine and had twice fought their
way to the Elbe; but it became apparent to the shrewd Augustus and
Tiberius that the country could not be held, and the Rhine was for the
present accepted as the most natural and practical frontier. In the
East the attempts permanently to annex Armenia, or a portion of
Parthia, had so far proved but nominal or almost entirely vain.

On the Upper Euphrates at this date there was a sort of acknowledgment
of vague dependence on Rome, but the empire had acquired nothing more
solid. Forty years before our date a Roman expedition had penetrated
into South-west Arabia, of which the wealth was extravagantly
over-estimated, but it had met with complete failure. Into Ethiopia a
punitive campaign had been made against Queen Candace, and a loose
suzerainty was claimed over her kingdom, but the Roman frontier still
stopped short at Elephantine. Over the territories of the semi-Greek
semi-Scythian settlements to the north of the Black Sea Rome exercised
a protectorate, which was for obvious reasons not unwelcome to those
concerned. Along or near the eastern frontier she well understood the
policy of the "buffer state," and, within her own borders in those
parts, was ready to make tools of petty kings, whose own ambitions
would both assist her against external foes and relieve her of
administrative trouble.

At no time did the Roman Empire possess so natural or scientific a
frontier as at this, when it was bounded by the Rhine, the Danube, the
Black Sea, the Euphrates, the Desert, and the Atlantic. The only
exception, it will be perceived, was in Britain, but the Roman idea
there also was to annex the whole island, a feat which was never
accomplished. Two generations after our chosen date Rome had conquered
as far as the Firths of Clyde and Forth; it had crossed the Southern
Rhine, and annexed the south-west corner of Germany, approximately
from Cologne to Ratisbon; it had passed the Danube, and secured and
settled Dacia, which is roughly the modern Roumania; and it had pushed
its power somewhat further into the East. But it had not thereby
increased either its strength or its stability.

At the period then with which we are to deal, the Roman Empire
included the countries now known as Holland, Belgium, France, Spain
and Portugal, Switzerland, Italy, the southern half of the Austrian
Empire, Greece, Turkey, Asia Minor, Syria and Palestine, Egypt,
Tripoli and Tunis, Algeria, Morocco, and also the southern two-thirds
of England. Within these borders there prevailed that greatest
blessing of the Roman rule, the _pax Romana_, or "Roman peace."
Whatever defects may be found in the Roman administration, on whatever
abstract grounds the existence of such an empire may be impugned, it
cannot be questioned that for at least two centuries the whole of this
vast region enjoyed a general reign of peace and security such as it
never knew before and has never known since. That peace meant also
social and industrial prosperity and development. It meant an immense
increase in settled population and in manufactures, and an immense
advance--particularly in the West--in civilised manners and
intellectual interests.

Peoples and tribes which had been at perpetual war among themselves or
with some neighbour were reduced to quietude. Communities which had
been liable to sudden invasion and to all manner of arbitrary changes
in their conditions of life, in their burdens of taxation, and even in
their personal freedom, now knew exactly where they stood, and, for
the most part, perceived that they stood in a much more tolerable and
a distinctly more assured position than before. If there must
sometimes be it would be the Roman tyrant, and he, as we shall find,
affected them but little. All irresponsible local tyrannies, whether
of kings or parties, were abolished.

On the high seas within the empire you might voyage with no fear
whatever of pirates. If you looked for pirates you must look beyond
the Roman sphere to the Indian Ocean. There might also be a few to be
found in the Black Sea. On the high road you might travel from
Jerusalem to Rome, and from Rome to Cologne or Cadiz, with no fear of
any enemy except such banditti and footpads as the central or local
government could not always manage to put down. On the whole there was
nearly everywhere a clear recognition of the advantages conferred by
the empire.

It is quite true that during these two centuries we meet with frequent
trouble on the borders and with one or two local revolts of more or
less strength. At our chosen date the Jews were being stirred by their
fanatical or "zealot" party into an almost hopeless insurrection;
within two years the rebellion broke out. Three years later still,
certain ambitious semi-Romans took advantage of a troubled time to
make a determined but futile effort to form a Gaulish or
German-Gaulish empire of their own. Half a century after Nero the Jews
once again rose, but were speedily suppressed. But apart from these
abortive efforts--made, one by a unique form of religious zeal, one by
adventurous ambition, at opposite extremities of the Roman
world--there was established a general, and in most cases a willing,
acceptance of the situation and a proper recognition of its benefits.

The only serious war to be feared within the empire itself was a civil
war, begun by some aspiring leader when his chance seemed strong of
ousting the existing emperor or of succeeding to his throne. Four
years from the date at which we have placed ourselves such a war
actually did break out. Nero was driven from the throne in favour of
Galba, and the history of the year following is the history of Otho
murdering Galba, Vitellius overthrowing Otho, and Vespasian in his
turn overthrowing Vitellius. Yet all this is but the story of one
entirely exceptional year, the famous "year of four emperors." Take
out that year from the imperial history; count a hundred years before
and more than a hundred years after, and it would be impossible to
find in the history of the world any period at which peace, and
probably contentment, was so widely and continuously spread. Think of
all the countries which have just been enumerated as lying within the
Roman border; then imagine that, with the exception of one year of
general commotion, two or three provincial and local revolts, and
occasional irruptions and retaliations upon the frontier, they have
all been free from war and its havoc ever since the year 1700. In our
year of grace 64, although the throne is occupied by a vicious emperor
suffering from megalomania and enormous self-conceit, the empire is in
full enjoyment of its _pax Romana_.

Another glance at the map will show how secure this internal peace was
felt to be. The Roman armies will be found almost entirely upon the
frontiers. It was, of course, imperative that there should be strong
forces in such positions--in Britain carrying out the annexation; on
the Rhine and Danube defending against huge-bodied, restless Germans
and their congeners; on the Euphrates to keep off the nimble and
dashing Parthian horse and foot; in Upper Egypt to guard against the
raids of "Fuzzy-Wuzzy "; in the interior of Tunis or Algeria to keep
the nomad Berber tribes in hand. In such places were the Roman legions
and their auxiliary troops regularly kept under the eagles, for there
lay their natural work, and there do we find them quartered generation
after generation.

It is, of course, true that they might be employed inwards as well as
outwards; but it must be manifest that, if there had been any
widespread disaffection, any reasonable suspicion that serious revolts
might happen, there would have been many other large bodies of troops
posted in garrison throughout the length and breadth of the provinces.
In point of fact the whole Roman military force can scarcely have
amounted to more than 320,000 men, while the navy consisted of two
small fleets of galleys, one regularly posted at Misenum at the
entrance to the Bay of Naples, the other at Ravenna on the Adriatic.
To these we may add a flotilla of boats operating on the Lower Rhine
and the neighbouring coasts. Except during the year of civil war the
two fleets have practically no history. They enjoyed the advantage of
having almost nothing to fight against. If pirates had become
dangerous--as for a brief time they threatened to do during the Jewish
revolt--the imperial ships would have been in readiness to suppress
them. They could be made useful for carrying despatches and imperial
persons or troops, or they might be used against a seaside town if
necessary. Beyond this they hardly correspond to our modern navies.
There was no foreign competition to build against, and no "two-power
standard" to be maintained.

The Roman troops, it has already been said, were almost wholly on the
frontier. So far as there are exceptions, they explain themselves. It
was found necessary at all times to keep at least one legion regularly
quartered in Northern Spain, where the mountaineers were inclined to
be predatory, and where they were skilful, as they have always been,
at carrying on guerilla warfare. We may, if we choose, regard this
comparatively small army as policing a lawless district. In but few
other places do we find a regular military force. Rome itself had both
a garrison and also a large body of Imperial Guards. The garrison,
consisting of some 6000 men, was in barracks inside the city, and its
purpose was to protect the wealth of the metropolis and the seat of
government from any sudden riot or factious tumult. It must be
remembered that among the Romans it was soldiers who served as police,
whether at Rome or in the provinces. The Imperial Guards, consisting
of 12,000 troops, were stationed just outside the gates, in order to
secure the safety and position of the emperor himself, if any attempt
should be made against his person or authority. The rich and important
town of Lugdunum (or Lyons) had a small garrison of 1200 men, and a
certain number of troops were always to be found in garrison in those
great towns where factious disturbances were either probable or
possible. Thus at Alexandria, where the Jews were fanatical and at
loggerheads with the Greeks, and where the native Egyptians were no
less fanatical and might be at loggerheads with both, it was necessary
to keep a disciplinary force in readiness. Somewhat similar was the
case at Antioch, where the discords of the Greeks, Syrians, and Jews
stood in need of the firm Roman hand. Nor could a similar regiment be
spared from Jerusalem. The western towns were generally smaller in
size, more homogeneous, and more tranquil. It was around the Levant
that the popular _émeute_ was most to be feared. Doubtless one may
meet, whether in the New Testament or in Roman and Greek writers, with
frequent mention of soldiers, and we make acquaintance with an
occasional centurion--something socially above a colour-sergeant and
below a captain--or other officer in various parts of the empire. But
it should be understood that, except in such places as those which
have been named, soldiers were distributed in small handfuls, to act
as _gendarmerie_, to deal with brigands, to serve as bodyguard and
orderlies to a governor, to bear despatches, to be custodians of state
prisoners. To these classes belong the centurions of the _Acts of the
Apostles_, while Lysias was the colonel of the regiment keeping order
in Jerusalem.

What the Roman army was like, whence it was recruited, how it was
armed, and what were its operations, are matters to be shown in a
later chapter. Regarded then as a controlling agent, maintaining
widespread peace, the Roman Empire answers closely to the British
_raj_ in India. The analogy could indeed be pressed very much further
and with more closeness of detail, but this is scarcely the place for
such a discussion.



CHAPTER II


TRAVEL WITHIN THE EMPIRE

Of the administration in Rome and throughout the provinces enough will
be said in the proper place. Meanwhile we may look briefly at one or
two questions of interest which will presumably suggest themselves at
this stage. Since all this vast region now formed one empire, since
Roman magistrates and officers were sent to all parts of it, since
trade and intercourse were vigorous between all its provinces, it will
be natural to ask, for example, by what means the traveller got from
place to place, at what rate of progress, and with what degree of
safety and comfort.

In setting forth by land you would elect, if possible, to proceed by
one of the great military roads for which the Roman world was so
deservedly famous. Not only were they the best kept and the safest;
they were also generally the shortest. As far as possible the Roman
road went straight from point to point. It did not circumvent a
practicable hill, nor, where necessary, did it shrink from cutting
through a rock, say to the depth of sixty feet or so. It did not avoid
a river, but bridged it with a solid structure such as often remains
in use till this day. If it met with a marsh, wooden piles were driven
in and the road-bed laid upon them. When it came to a deep narrow
valley it built a viaduct on arches.

[Illustration: FIG. 1.--THE PONT DU GARD (AQUEDUCT AND BRIDGE).]

The road so laid was meant for permanence. A width of ground was
carefully prepared, trenches were dug at the sides, three different
layers of road material were deposited, with sufficient upward curve
to throw off the water, and then the whole was paved with
closely-fitting many-cornered blocks of stone. In the chief instances
there were sidewalks covered with some kind of gravel. The width was
not great, but might be anything between ten and fifteen feet. Along
such roads the Roman armies marched to their camps, along them the
government despatches were carried by the imperial post, and along
them were the most conveniently situated and commodious houses of
accommodation. For their construction a special grant might be made by
the Roman treasury--the cost being comparatively small, since the
work, when not performed by the soldiers, was done by convicts and
public slaves--and for their upkeep a rate was apparently levied by
the local corporations. Besides the paved roads there was, needless to
say, always a number of smaller roads, many of them mere strips of
four feet or so in width; there were also short-cuts, by-paths, and
ill-kept tracks of local and more or less fortuitous creation.

[Illustration: FIG. 2.--THE APPIAN WAY BY THE SO-CALLED TOMB OF
SENECA.]

Beside the great highways stood milestones in the shape of short
pillars, and generally there were in existence charts or itineraries,
sometimes pictured, giving all necessary directions as to the
turnings, distances, stopping-places, and inns, and even as to the
sights worth seeing on the way. Wherever there were such objects of
interest--in Egypt, Syria, Greece, or any other region of art,
history, and legend--the traveller could always find a professional
guide, whose information was probably about as reliable as that of the
modern _cicerone_. In Rome itself there was displayed, in one of the
public arcades, a plan of the empire, with notes explaining the
dimensions and distances.

The vehicle employed by the traveller would depend upon circumstances.
You would meet the poor man riding on an ass, or plodding on foot with
his garments well girt; the better provided on a mule; a finer person
or an official on a horse; the more luxurious or easy-going either in
some form of carriage or borne in a litter very similar to the
oriental palanquin. To carriages, which were of several
kinds--two-wheeled, four-wheeled, heavy and light--it may be necessary
to make further reference; here it is sufficient to observe that, in
order to assist quick travelling, there existed individuals or
companies who let out a light form of gig, in which the traveller rode
behind a couple of mules or active Gaulish ponies as far as the next
important stopping-place, where he could find another jobmaster, or
keeper of livery-stables, to send him on further. The rich man,
travelling, as he necessarily would, with a train of servants and with
full appliances for his comfort, would journey in a coach, painted and
gilded, cushioned and curtained, drawn by a team showily caparisoned
with rich harness and coloured cloths. This must have presented an
appearance somewhat similar to that of the extravagantly decorated
travelling-coach of the fourteenth century. The ordinary man of modest
means would be satisfied with his mule or horse, and with his one or
two slaves to attend him. On the less frequented stretches of road,
where there was no proper accommodation for the night, his slaves
would unpack the luggage and bring out a plain meal of wine, bread,
cheese, and fruits. They would then lay a sort of bedding on the
ground and cover it with a rug or blanket. The rich folk might bring
their tents or have a bunk made up in their coaches.

Where there was some sort of lodging for man and horse the average
wayfarer would make the best of it. In the better parts of the empire
and in the larger places of resort there were houses corresponding in
some measure to the old coaching-inns of the eighteenth century; in
the East there were the well-known caravanserais; but for the most
part the ancient hostelries must have afforded but undesirable
quarters. They were neither select nor clean. You journeyed along till
you came to a building half wine-shop and store, half lodging-house.
Outside you might be told by an inscription and a sign that it was the
"Cock" Inn, or the "Eagle," or the "Elephant," and that there was
"good accommodation." Its keeper might either be its proprietor, or
merely a slave or other tenant put into it by the owner of a
neighbouring estate and country-seat. Your horses or mules would be
put up--with a reasonable suspicion on your part that the poor beasts
would be cheated in the matter of their fodder--and you would be shown
into a room which you might or might not have to share with someone
else. In any case you would have to share it with the fleas, if not
with worse.

Perhaps you base brought your food with you, perhaps you send out a
slave to purchase it, perhaps you obtain it from the innkeeper. That
is your own affair. For the rest you must be prepared to bear with
very promiscuous and sometimes unsavoury company, and to possess
neither too nice a nose nor too delicate a sense of propriety. Your
only consolation is that the charges are low, and that if anything is
stolen from you the landlord is legally responsible.

[Illustration: FIG. 3.--PLAN OF INN AT POMPEII.]

Doubtless there were better and worse establishments of this kind.
There must have been some tolerably good quarters at Rome or
Alexandria, and at some of the resorts for pleasure and health, such
as Balae on the Bay of Naples, or Canopus at the Nile mouth. It is
true also that for those who travelled on imperial service there were
special lodgings kept up at the public expense at certain stations
along the great roads. Nevertheless it may reasonably be asked why, in
view of the generally accepted standards of domestic comfort and even
luxury of the time--what may be called middle-class standards--there
was no sufficiency of even creditable hotels. The answer is that in
antiquity the class of people who in modern times support such hotels
seldom felt the need of their equivalent. In the first place, they
commonly trusted to the hospitality of individuals to whom they were
personally or officially known, or to whom they carried private or
official introductions. If they were distinguished persons, they were
readily received, whether in town or country, on their route. In less
frequented districts they trusted to their own slaves and to the
resources of their own baggage. Their own tents, bedding, provisions
and cooking apparatus were carried with them. If they made a stay of
any length in a town, they might hire a suite of rooms.

We must not dwell too long upon this topic. Suffice it that travel was
frequent and extensive, whether for military and political business,
for commerce, or for pleasure. Some roads, particularly that "Queen of
Roads," the Appian Way--the same by which St. Paul came from Puteoli
to Rome--must have presented a lively appearance, especially near the
metropolis. Perhaps on none of these great highways anywhere near an
important Roman city could you go far without meeting a merchant with
his slaves and his bales; a keen-eyed pedlar--probably a Jew--carrying
his pack; a troupe of actors or tumblers; a body of gladiators being
taken to fight in the amphitheatre or market-place of some provincial
town; an unemployed philosopher gazing sternly over his long beard; a
regiment of foot-soldiers or a squadron of cavalry on the move; a
horseman scouring along with a despatch of the emperor or the senate;
a casual traveller coming at a lively trot in his hired gig; a couple
of ladies carefully protecting their complexions from sun and dust as
they rode in a kind of covered wagonette; a pair of scarlet-clad
outriders preceding a gorgeous but rumbling coach, in which a Roman
noble or plutocrat is idly lounging, reading, dictating to his
shorthand amanuensis, or playing dice with a friend; a dashing youth
driving his own chariot in professional style to the disgust of the
sober-minded; a languid matron lolling in a litter carried by six
tall, bright-liveried Cappadocians; a peasant on his way to town with
his waggon-load of produce and cruelly belabouring his mule. If you
are very fortunate you may meet Nero himself on one of his imperial
progresses. If so, you had better stand aside and wait. It will take
him a long time to pass; or, if this is one of his more serious
undertakings, there will be a thousand carriages, many of them
resplendent with gold and silver ornament in relief upon the woodwork,
and drawn by horses or mules whose bridles are gleaming with gold.
And, if the beautiful and conscienceless Poppaea is with him, there
may be a Procession of some five hundred asses, whose it is to supply
her with the milk in which she bathes for the preservation of her
admirable velvety skin.

There are, of course, many other individuals and types to be met with.
If you happen to be traversing certain parts of Spain, the mountains
of Greece, the southern provinces of Asia Minor, or the upper parts of
Egypt, you will perhaps also meet with a bandit, or even with a band
of them. In that case, prepare for the worst. Some of the gang have
been caught and crucified: you may have passed the crosses upon your
way. This does not render the rest more amiable. St. Paul takes it as
natural to be thus "in peril of robbers." Perhaps certain regions of
Italy itself were as dangerous as any. We have more than one account
of a traveller who was last seen at such-and-such a place, and was
never heard of again. It is therefore well, before undertaking a
journey through suspected parts, to ascertain whether any one else is
going that way. There is sure to be either an official with a military
escort or some other traveller with a retinue; at least there will be
some trusty man bearing letters, or some sturdy fellow whom you can
hire expressly to accompany you.

After allowing for this occasional embarrassment--which was certainly
not greater and almost certainly very much less than you would have
encountered in the same parts of the world a century ago--it must be
declared that, on the whole, travel by land in the Roman world of the
year 64 was remarkably safe. If it was not very expeditious, it was
probably on the average quite as much so as in the eighteenth century.

Ordinary travelling by road may not have averaged more than sixty or
seventy miles a day, although hundred miles could be done without much
difficulty, while a courier on urgent business could greatly increase
that speed.

Next let us suppose that our friend proposes to travel by sea. As a
rule navigation takes place only between the beginning of March and
the middle of November, ships being kept snug in harbour during the
winter months. The traveller may be sailing from Alexandria to the
capital or from Rome to Cadiz or to Rhodes. If a trader of sufficient
boldness, he may even be proceeding outside the empire as far as
India. If so, he will pass up the Nile as far as Coptos, then take
either the canal or the caravan route to Myos Hormos on the Red Sea,
and thence find ship for India, with a reasonable prospect--if he
escapes the Arab pirates--of completing his business and returning
home in about six months. Over 120 ships, small and great, leave the
above-mentioned harbour each year on the voyage to India, for
Alexandria is the great depot for the trade round the Indian Ocean,
and the products of India are in lively demand at Rome.

[Illustration: FIG. 4.--SHIP BESIDE THE QUAY AT OSTIA. (Wolf and twins
on mainsail.)]

On such a remote course, however, we will not follow. Let us rather
suppose that our traveller is proceeding from Alexandria, the second
city of the empire, to Rome, which is the first. In this case he may
enjoy the great advantage of going on board one those merchantmen
belonging to the imperial service, which sail regularly with a freight
of corn to feed the empire city. His port of landing will be Puteoli
(Puzzuoli) in the Bay of Naples, which was then the Liverpool of
Italy. The rest of the journey he will either make by the Appian Road,
or, less naturally, by smaller freight-ship, putting in at Ostia, the
port of Rome recently constructed by the Emperor Claudius at the mouth
of the river Tiber. His ship, a well-manned and strongly-built vessel
of from 500 tons up to 1100 or more, will carry one large mainsail,
formed of strips of canvas strengthened by leather at their joinings,
a smaller foresail, and a still smaller topsail. It will be steered by
a pair of huge paddles on either side of the stern. There will be a
crow's-nest on the mast, and at the bows a rehead of Rome or
Alexandria or of some deity, perhaps of Castor and Pollux combined. A
tolerable, but by no means a liberal, amount of cabin accommodation
will be provided. A good-sized ship might reach 200 feet in length by
50 in breadth. One of them brought to Rome the great obelisk which now
stands in the Piazza of St. Peter's; another ship had brought another
obelisk, 400,000 bushels of wheat and other cargo, and a very large
number of passengers. At a favourable season, and with a quite
favourable wind, the ship may expect to reach the Bay of Naples in as
little as eight or nine days: sometimes it will take ten days,
sometimes as many as twelve. The ship may either proceed directly
south of Crete, or it may run across to Myra in Asia Minor, or to
Rhodes, and thence proceed due west. As a rule the ancient navigator
preferred to keep somewhat near the shore. Other ships, picking up and
putting down cargo and passengers as they went along, would pass up
the Syrian coast, calling at Caesarea, Tyre, Sidon, and other places
before passing either north or south of Cyprus. From such a ship it
might be necessary--as it was with St. Paul and the soldiers to whose
care he was committed--to tranship into another vessel proceeding
directly to Italy. If, as we have imagined, the traveller is on a
cornship of the Alexandria-Puteoli line, he will reach the Bay one day
after passing the straits of Messina, and his vessel will sail proudly
up to port without striking her topsail, the only kind of ship which
was permitted to do this being such imperial liners.

There were other famous trade routes of the period. One is from
Corinth; another from the Graeco-Scythian city at the mouth of the Sea
of Azov, whence corn and salted fish were sent in abundance; a third
from Cadiz, outside the straits of Gibraltar, by which were brought
the wool and other produce of Andalusia; a fourth from Tarragona
across to Ostia, the regular route for official and passenger
intercourse with Spain. Yet another took you to Carthage in three
days. Across the Adriatic from Brindisi you would reach in one day
either Corfu or the Albanian coast at Dyrrhachium (Durazzo), where
began the great highroad to the East. Given a fair wind, your ship
might average 125 or 130 miles in the twenty-four hours, and, if you
left Rome on Monday morning, you had a reasonable prospect of landing
in Spain on the following Saturday. From Cadiz you would probably
require ten or eleven days. There was, it is true, no need to come by
sea from that town. There was a good road all the way, with a
milestone at every Roman mile, or about 1600 yards. Unfortunately that
route would generally take you nearly a month.

It is not probable that sea travelling was at all comfortable; but it
was apparently quite as much so, and quite as rapid, as it was on the
average a century ago. Ships were made strong and sound; nevertheless
shipwrecks were very frequent, as they always have been in sailing
days. Wreckers who showed false lights were not unknown. There is also
little doubt that the vessels were often terribly overcrowded; one
ship, it is said, brought no less than 1200 passengers from
Alexandria. That on which St. Paul was wrecked had 276 souls on board,
and one upon which Josephus once found himself had as many as 600. It
is incidentally stated in Tacitus that a body of troops, who had been
both sent to Alexandria and brought back thence by sea, were greatly
debilitated in mind and body by that experience. On the other hand, as
has been already stated, there was generally no such thing as a pirate
to be heard of in all the waters of the Mediterranean.



CHAPTER III


A BRIEF SURVEY OF THE PROVINCES

After thus considering, however incompletely, the manner in which the
people of the Roman world contrived to move about within the empire
itself, we may proceed to glance at the constituent parts of the world
in which they thus travelled to and fro.

And first we must draw a distinction of the highest importance between
the western and eastern halves. Naturally enough, Italy itself was
before all others the land of the Romans. It was the favoured land,
enjoyed the fullest privileges, and was the most completely romanized
in population, manners, and sentiment. Besides its larger and smaller
romanized towns--of which there were about 1200--it was dotted from
end to end with the country-seats and pleasure resorts of Romans.
North and west of Italy were various peoples, differing widely in
character, habits, and religion, as well as in physique. East of it
were various other peoples differing also from each other in such
respects, but for the most part marked by a common civilisation in
which the West had but an almost inconsiderable share. Before the
Roman conquest the nations and tribes of the West had been in general
rude, unlettered, and unorganised. Except here and there in Spain,
where the Phoenicians or Carthaginians had been at work, and in the
Greek colonies sprung from Marseilles, they had hardly possessed such
a thing as a town. They scarcely knew what was meant by civic life,
with its material luxuries and graces, its art and literature. They
were commonly small peoples without unity, brave fighters, but, in all
those matters commonly classed as civilisation, distinctly behind the
times. The superiority of the Roman in these parts was not merely one
of organised strength, military skill, and political method, it was a
superiority also of intellectual life and culture. In Spain, Gaul,
Britain, Switzerland, the Tyrol and southern Austria, and also in
North-West Africa, the Roman proceeded to organise after his own
heart, to settle his colonies, to impose his language, and to
inculcate his ideals. He was dealing with inferiors; this he fully
recognised, and so for the most part did they.

Meanwhile to the eastward also Rome spread her conquests. Here,
however, she was dealing with peoples who had already passed under
influences in many respects superior to those brought by the
conqueror, influences which were in a sense only beginning to educate
the conqueror himself. Let us here, for the sake of clearness, make a
brief digression into previous history.

Throughout the eastern half of the Mediterranean countries, conquering
Rome had been face to face with an older, a more polished, a more
keenly intellectual, and more artistic culture than her own. This was
the civilisation of Greece. We need not dwell upon the character of
Hellenic culture. Anyone who has made acquaintance with the richness
of Greek literature, the clear sureness of Greek art, the keen insight
of Greek science and philosophy, and the bold experiments of Greek
society--especially as represented by Athens--will understand at once
what is meant. When the Romans, more than two hundred years before our
date, conquered Greece, in so far as they were a people of letters or
of effort in abstract thought, in so far as they possessed the arts of
sculpture, architecture, painting, and music, they were almost wholly
indebted to Greece. Their own strength lay in solidity and gravity of
character, in a strong sense of national and personal discipline, in
the gift of law-making and law-obeying. In culture they stood to the
Greeks of that time very much as the Germans of two centuries ago
stood to the French. After their conquest by the Romans the Greeks
perforce submitted to the rule of might, but the typical Greek never
looked upon the Roman as socially or intellectually his equal. He
became himself the philosophic, artistic, and social teacher of his
conqueror. His own language was richer in literature, and it was
better adapted to every form of conversation. The Latin of the Romans
therefore made no progress in Greece or the Greek world. It might be
made the language of the Roman courts and of official documents; but
beyond this the ordinary Greek disdained to study it. On the other
hand the ordinary well-educated Roman could generally speak Greek.
Magistrates and officials were almost invariably thus accomplished,
and in Athens or Ephesus they talked Greek as we should naturally talk
French in Paris--only better, inasmuch as they learned the language in
a more rational and practical way. Nero himself could act, or thought
he could act, a Greek play and sing a Greek ode among the Greeks. Most
probably the Roman noble had been brought up by a Greek nurse, just as
so many English families formerly employed a nurse imported from
France. Nor did the Greeks merely ignore the Latin language. They
refused to be romanized in any other respect. Even the Roman
amusements tended to disgust them, and it is to the credit of his
superior refinement that the average Greek was repelled by those
brutal exhibitions of gladiatorial bloodshed and slaughter over which
the coarser Roman gloated.

When, next, we pass from Greece proper--that is to say, from the
Grecian peninsula and the islands and Asiatic shores of the Aegean
Sea--into Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt, we still find the Roman
conqueror annexing peoples more versed in the higher arts of life than
himself. For ages there had existed in these regions various forms of
advanced civilisation. The Assyrian, Babylonian, Phoenician, Hebrew,
and Egyptian cultures were old before Rome was born. Later the Persian
subjugated all these peoples. And then, four hundred years before the
time with which we are dealing, had come the Macedonian Greek
Alexander the Great, and had conquered every one of those provinces
which were subsequently to form the eastern part of the Roman Empire
as represented on our map. The language and culture of Alexander were
Greek, and he carried these and settled them with the most determined
policy in every available quarter. After his death his empire broke up
into kingdoms, but those kings who succeeded him--every Antiochus of
Syria and every Ptolemy of Egypt--were Greek. Their court was Greek,
and Hellenism was everywhere the fashion in life, thought, letters,
and art. All round the coasts, in all the great cities, on all the
main routes, up all the great river valleys of these eastern kingdoms,
this graecizing proceeded. Alexander had founded the city of
Alexandria, and soon that great and opulent city became more the home
of Greek science and literature than Athens itself. His successors
founded other great cities, such as Antioch, and there also the
civilisation was Greek.

Egyptians, Jews, and Syrians who were possessed of any kind of public,
social, or even mercantile ambition therefore naturally spoke Greek,
either only, or more often in conjunction with their native tongue.
This is the reason why the Septuagint appeared in Greek; why Greek as
well as Hebrew and Latin was written over the Cross; why our New
Testament was written in Greek; and why Paul could travel about the
eastern half of the Roman world and talk fluently wherever he went. He
could address a Roman governor directly at Paphos because that
governor had learned Greek at Rome, either in school or under his
nurse or tutor. He could stand before the Areopagus at Athens and
address that distinguished body in its own tongue because it was also
one of _his_ own tongues.

Not that one could expect the Greek culture, or even the language, to
remain pure when thus spread abroad. There were blendings of Oriental
elements, Egyptian, Jewish, or Syrian; but these elements were
themselves derived from advanced and time-honoured civilisations.

It follows, therefore, that all through the Eastern half of its domain
Rome could not contrive to romanize. She did not attempt to suppress
Greek ideas; she preferred to utilise them. So long as the Roman rule
was obeyed in its essentials, Rome was satisfied.

In the main, then, we have, outside Italy, two very distinct halves of
the Roman world: the Eastern, with its large cities, its active civic
life, its high culture, its contributions to science, art, and
luxury--and, it must be added, its general dissoluteness--with here
and there its pronounced leanings to Oriental fanaticism; and the
Western, with very few large towns, with a life more determined by
clans and tribes or country districts, with comparatively little
social culture, contributing almost nothing to art or science,
stronger in its contribution of natural products and virile men than
in those of the more refined or artificial luxury. Over this half the
Roman tongue, Roman dress, and Roman manners spread rapidly. In it
Roman settlers made themselves more at home. The aim of the better
classes of the natives was to render themselves as Roman as possible.
It is in the western part of the empire that you will find the names
which mark systematic Roman settlement and which often denote the work
of an emperor. Towns such as Saragossa (Caesarea Augusta), Aosta,
Augsburg, Autun (Augustodunum), and Augst are foundations of Augustus.
Hence the fact that Spain and Prance speak a Latin tongue at this day,
while no Latin was ever even temporarily the recognised language
between the southern Adriatic and the Euphrates.

This prime division made, let us now pass quickly round the empire,
making such brief observations as may appear most helpful as we go.

In the year 64 the south of Spain, the province of Baetica--of
which we may speak more familiarly as Andalusia--was prosperous
and peaceful, almost completely romanized and latinized. Many
of its inhabitants were true Latins, most had made themselves
indistinguishable from Latins. Along the river Guadalquivir there were
flourishing towns, chief among them being those now known as Seville
and Cordova. The whole region was one of rich pasture and tillage, and
from it the merchant ships from Cadiz brought to Rome cargoes of the
finest wool and of excellent olives and other fruits. The east of
Spain, with Tarragona for its capital, stood next in order for its
settled life and steady produce, including wine, salt fish and sauces,
while in the interior the finest steel--corresponding to the Bilbao
blades of more modern history--was tempered in the cold streams of the
hills above the sources of the Tagus. From Portugal came cochineal and
olives. In several parts of the peninsula--in Portugal, in the
Asturias, and near Cartagena--were mines of gold and silver, which had
been worked by the old Phoenicians and which the Romans had reopened.
The chief trouble of Spain, it may be interesting to learn, was the
rabbits, and against these there were no guns and no poison, but only
dogs, traps, and ferrets. In Gaul there is one province
long-established and fully romanized, with its capital at Narbonne,
and with flourishing Roman towns, which are now familiar under such
names as Aries and Nîmes. This is a region over the coast of which the
culture of Greece had managed to stray, centuries before, through the
accident of a Greek colony having been founded at Marseilles. In this
province a Roman might live and feel that he was still as good as in
Italy. But beyond lay what was known as "Long-haired" Gaul, sometimes
"Trousered" Gaul, so called from the distinguishing externals of its
inhabitants, who wore breeches, let their hair grow long, and on their
faces grew only a moustache--three things which no Roman did, and from
which, even in these districts, the nobles, who were the first to
romanize, were beginning to desist.

The peoples of these Gaulish provinces preferred, like all early
Celtic communities, to give their adherence only to clans or tribes,
and to unite no further than impulse or expediency dictated, forming
no towns larger than a village, living for the most part in poor huts
scattered through forests, hills, marshes, and pasture land, and
content to sleep on straw, if only they could wear a fine plaid and
boast of a gold ornament. The names of many such tribes still remain
in the names of the towns which grew up from the chief village of each
canton. Such were the Ambiani, who have given us Amiens, and the Remi,
who have given us Rheims. Paris and Trèves denote the administrative
villages of the Parisii and Treveri. Nevertheless the country had its
corn-lands and was rich in minerals and cattle, from which the hides
came regularly down the Rhone to be carried to the Mediterranean
markets. "Long-haired" Gaul was at this date rude and superstitious,
with that weird druidical religion which the Emperor Claudius had done
his best to suppress. Its chief vice was that of drunkenness. As with
the French, who have largely descended from them, the proverbial
passions of the Gauls were for war and for the art of speaking; but at
our date the former passion was decaying and the latter gaining
ground. The Gaulish provinces united at a point on the Rhone, near
which necessarily arose the largest city of that part of the world,
namely, Lugdunum, or Lyons, which speedily became not only a seat of
administration but a noted school of eloquence.

Of Britain there is as yet little to say. For the last twenty years
the Romans had done their best to conquer the Celtic tribes, who
suffered, as Celtic tribes were always apt to suffer, from their own
disunion. They had now reached the Trent--or rather a line from
Chester to Lincoln--had just punished Boudicca (or Boadicea) for her
vigorous effort at retaliation and her slaughter of 70,000 Romans or
adherents of Rome, and were following the true Roman practice of
securing what they had won by building military roads and establishing
strong posts of control, as at Colchester, Chester, and
Caerleon-on-Usk. Some amount of iron-working was being done in
Britain, but its chief exports were, as they had long been, tin, salt,
and hides. The British themselves had no towns. The places so called
were nothing more than collections of huts, surrounded by rampart and
ditch, in some easily defensible spot amid wood or marsh.

Along the Rhine it is enough to note that the Germans were being kept
in hand. South of the Danube the region now known as Styria and
Carinthia was rich in iron, and both here and all along the
mountainous tract of the Tyrol and neighbourhood Rome was steadily
pushing her language and habits by means of settlement, trading, and
military occupation. It may be remarked by the way that at this date
there were in use practically all the Alpine passes now familiar to
us--the Mont Genèvre, the Little and Great St. Bernard, the Simplon,
the St. Gothard, and the Brenner.

The Upper Balkans were necessarily under military occupation, but
Macedonia was a flourishing graecized province with Thessalonica--the
modern Salonika--for its capital. Greece proper, known officially as
Achaia, had declined in every respect since the classical age of
Athens. The monuments of that city were, indeed, as sumptuous as ever;
a number had been added in Roman times, though generally in inferior
taste. Athens was still a sort of university, but its professors were
for the most part sophists or rhetoricians, beating over again the old
straws of philosophies which had once possessed a living meaning and
exercised a living force. Athens herself had never properly recovered
from the migration of learning to Alexandria. Delphi, the great
oracular seat of the Greek world, had also declined in importance,
although it could still boast of an imposing array of buildings and
memorials. The centre of commerce and of official life, a Roman colony
in the midst of Greece, a cosmopolitan and a dissolute place, was
Corinth on the Isthmus. Here Nero had intended to cut a canal through
from sea to sea--he had turned the first sod with his own hand--but
his personal extravagance caused an insufficiency of funds, and the
project met with the fate of the first enterprise at Panama. It was,
therefore, still necessary for a traveller proceeding to the East to
cross the Isthmus and reship at Cenchreae. The rest of Greece was
almost all poor and sparsely populated, and many ancient sites and
monuments were already suffering from neglect and dropping into ruin.

[Illustration: Fig. 6--THE ACROPOLIS AT ATHENS (From D'Ooge.)]

Across the Aegean, Asia Minor was in a condition of unprecedented
prosperity. It contained no less than five hundred towns of
considerable repute, chief among them being Smyrna and Ephesus, with
their handsome public buildings, open squares, theatres, gardens, and
promenades. Smyrna in particular boasted of its wide marble-paved
streets crossing each other at right angles, and provided with arcades
running along their sides. Its one defect was the want of proper
sewers. Among the sights of the world was the huge temple at Ephesus,
dedicated to Artemis, the "Great Diana" of the _Acts of the Apostles_.
This temple, the largest in the ancient world, was 425 feet long, 220
wide, and its columns were 60 feet in height and numbered 127.

South-east of the Aegean was situated the opulent Rhodes, the
handsomest and strongest port in the Mediterranean, provided with fine
harbour buildings, a seat of learning, and so full of art that it
contained no less than 3000 statues. In the somewhat desolate interior
of Asia Minor were spacious runs for sheep and horses, but wheat also
was grown, and the country could at least produce tall and sturdy
slaves. In northern Galatia the common people had not yet forgotten
the Celtic tongue which they had brought from Gaul over three
centuries ago. In the south-east, opposite Cyprus, lay Tarsus, the
birthplace of Paul, a city which combined the art of manufacturing
goats' hair into tent-cloth with the pursuit of what may be called a
university instruction in philosophy, science, and letters. In both
these local avocations the apostle employed his youth to good purpose.
Across the water Cyprus produced the copper which still bears its
name.

[Illustration: FIG. 7.--PLAN OF ANTIOCH.]

Of Syria, rich in corn and fruits, the chief city--the third in the
empire--was Antioch, a town splendidly laid out upon the Orontes in a
strikingly modern fashion. A broad street with colonnades extended in
a straight line through and beyond the city for four miles, and was
crossed by others at right angles. This street is said to have been
lighted at nights, while the Roman streets remained dark and
dangerous. In the neighbourhood of the city was the celebrated park
called Daphne, where the voluptuous and almost incredible dissipation
of the ancient world perhaps reached its acme. Like Alexandria,
Antioch was furiously addicted to horseracing.

Further down the coast Sidon produced its famous glass, and Tyre its
famous purple dye. Inland from these lay the handsome city of
Damascus, famed for its gardens and for its work in fine linen. Still
farther south was Hierosolyma, or Jerusalem, of which it is perhaps
not necessary here to give details. Its population was reckoned at a
quarter of a million.

On the coast of Egypt, after you had caught sight, some thirty miles
away, of the first glint from the huge marble lighthouse standing 400
feet high upon the island of Pharos, you arrived at Alexandria, the
second city of the Roman world and the great emporium for the trade of
Egypt, of all Eastern Africa as far as Zanzibar, and of India. From it
came the papyrus paper, delicate glass-work, muslin, embroidered
cloths, and such additions to luxury as roses out of season.
Alexandria, built like Antioch on a rectangular plan, with its chief
streets 100 feet in width, contained a Jewish quarter, controlled by a
Jewish headman and a Sanhedrin; an Egyptian quarter; and a Greek
quarter, in which were the splendid buildings of the Library with its
600,000 volumes, and the University, devoted to all branches of
learning and science--including medicine--and provided with botanical
and zoological gardens. Here also were the temple of Caesar and the
fine harbour buildings. Its population, exceedingly money-loving and
pleasure-loving, and comprising representatives of every Oriental
people, may have numbered three-quarters of a million. The circuit of
the city was about thirteen miles, and its chief street some four
miles in length.

[Illustration: FIG. 8.--EMBLEM OF ANTIOCH.]

Behind it lay Egypt, with its irrigation and traffic canals kept in
good order; with its monuments in far better preservation than
now--the pyramids, for example, being still coated with their smooth
marble sides, and not to be mounted by the present steps, from which
the marble has been torn; with its rich corn-lands, its convict mines
and quarries, the Siberia of antiquity; with its string of towns along
the Nile and its seven or, eight millions of inhabitants--mostly
speaking Coptic--and full of strange superstitions and peculiar
worship of animals.

Coming westward we reach the prosperous Cyrene, and then, by the
rather out-of-the-world Bight of Tripoli, Africa proper, where once
ruled mighty Carthage, the colony of Tyre, and where the Phoenician or
Punic language still survived among the population of mixed
Phoenicians and Berbers. Here, too, are wide and luxuriant stretches
of corn-land, upon which Rome depends only next, if next, to those of
Alexandria. Further west are the Berber tribes of Mauretania, governed
by Rome but hardly yet fully assimilated into the Roman system.

[Illustration: FIG. 9.--EMBLEM OF ALEXANDRIA.]

In the Mediterranean Sea lie Crete, a place which had now become of
little importance; Sicily, as much Greek as Roman, fertile in crops
and possessed of many a splendid Greek temple and theatre; Sardinia,
an unhealthy island infested by banditti, and employed as a sort of
convict station, producing some amount of grain and minerals; and
Corsica, which bore much the same character for savagery as it did in
times comparatively recent, and which had little reputation for any
product but its second-rate honey and its wax. The Balearic Islands
were chiefly noted for their excellence in the art of slinging for
painters' earth, and for breeding snails for the Roman table.

[Illustration: FIG. 10.--EMBLEM OF ROME. From the Column of Antoninus
at Rome.]

It remains to say that the feeling of local pride was very strong in
the rival towns of the empire. Each gloried in its distinguishing
commerce and natural advantages, and the chosen emblems of the greater
cities set forth their boasts with much artistic ingenuity. Thus
Antioch is symbolised by a female figure seated on a rock, crowned
with a turreted diadem, and holding in her hand a bunch of ears of
corn, while her foot is planted on the shoulder of a half-buried
figure representing the river Orontes. Alexandria, with her Horn of
Plenty, her Egyptian fruits, and the representations of her elephants,
asps, and panthers, as well as of her special deities, appears in
relief upon a silver vessel found at Boscoreale near Pompeii and here
reproduced.

Such in brief was the Roman Empire. How all this empire was governed,
what was meant by emperor, governor, taxation, and justice, is matter
for other chapters.



CHAPTER IV


THE IMPERIAL SYSTEM: EMPEROR, SENATE, KNIGHTS, AND PEOPLE

We have seen, and succinctly traversed, the extent of the Roman world.
The next step is to consider, as tersely as possible, its system of
government and administration about the year 64. This task is not only
entirely necessary to our immediate purpose; it is also one of great
interest and profit in itself. If we are either to see in their proper
light the experiences of such a man as St. Paul, or to understand the
long continuance of so wide an empire, we must observe carefully the
principles and methods adopted by the Romans as rulers.

We speak fluently of the "Roman Emperor" and of the "reign of Nero."
What was an emperor? What were his powers, and how did he exercise
them?

In the first place, it must be noted that, strictly speaking, Rome
acknowledged no such thing as an autocrat. It had no monarch; the
title "king" was disowned by the Caesars and entirely denied by the
people; the emperor was technically not a superior sovereign, but, on
the contrary, something inferior to a sovereign. He was the first
citizen, the "first man of the state." The state was nominally a
commonwealth, and the emperor its most important officer.

He was, to begin with, the representative of Rome as civil and
military governor of all provinces containing an army, or apparently
calling for an army. "Emperor" means military commander, and he was
the commander-in-chief of all the forces of the empire, military or
naval, but in a sense far more liberal than would now be intended by
such an expression. Of all the fighting forces he had absolute
control, determining their numbers, their service, all appointments,
their pay, and their discharge. He moved them where he chose, and,
beyond this, he possessed the power of declaring war and concluding
peace. Wherever there existed an armed force, whether in the far-off
field or in garrison, its obedience was due to him. In sign of this
every soldier, on the first of January and on the anniversary of the
emperor's accession, took a solemn oath--and an oath in those days was
felt as no mere matter of form, but as a solemn act of religion--that
he would loyally obey the commander-in-chief. The emperor's effigy was
conspicuous in the middle of every camp, and, in small, it figured on
the standard of every regiment. The sacred obligation of the soldier
to an Augustus or a Nero was kept perpetually in evidence, and he was
never allowed to forget it. Wherever the emperor appeared or
intervened in the provinces, all other powers became subordinate to
his.

[Illustration: FIG. 11.--AUGUSTUS AS EMPEROR.]

Theoretically such a commander might always be deposed by the Roman
people, acting through its Senate. In reality he was master of the
situation. If he was ever deposed, or if a new commander was ever
appointed, it was by the army. If he proved a tyrant, there was no
other means of getting rid of him than by the army, unless it were by
assassination. At such times the Senate might make a show of naming
the successor, and the army might make a show of agreeing with the
Senate, but such expressions, as Tacitus repeats, were "empty and
meaningless words." The madman Caligula had been assassinated. When,
four years after our date, Nero was compelled to flee from his palace
and was persuaded into committing suicide, it was because the soldiers
had declared against him and had elected another.

The vast powers of the emperor had come into the hands of one man
simply because the republic had been found incompetent to handle its
empire, whether from a military or a financial point of view. It
managed neither so consistently nor so honestly as did the individual.

The emperor, then, by a constitutional fiction, was an officer of the
commonwealth, commanding its forces, not only with the freedom of
action which Rome had always allowed to its experts in dealing with
the enemy, but with that freedom greatly enlarged, and with a tenure
of the office perpetually renewed.

But to him that hath shall be given--especially if he is in a position
to insist on the gift. The emperor's military authority, his position
as governor of provinces, could not alone rightfully qualify him to
control Rome itself, with its laws, its magistrates, its domestic and
provincial policy. Theoretically the Roman emperor never did control
these matters.

In practice he did with them very much as he chose. If he seriously
wished a certain course to be followed, a certain law to be passed or
abolished, even a certain man to be elected to an office, it was
promptly done. But how could he thus perpetually interfere and yet
appear to remain a constitutional officer? Not through the mere
obsequiousness of every one concerned, including the Senate. That
would be too transparent, clumsy, and invidious. It was necessary that
he should possess some adequate appearance of real authority, and he
was therefore ingeniously invested with that authority. It was thus.
There were under the commonwealth certain annual officers of wide and
rather indefinite powers called "tribunes of the commons." These
persons could veto any measure which they declared to be in opposition
to the interests of the people. They could also summon the Senate, and
bring proposals before it. Meanwhile their persons were "sacrosanct,"
or inviolable, during their term of office. Here lay the opportunity.
The emperor was invested by the Senate with these "powers of the
tribune." He was not actually elected a tribune, for the office was
only annual and could not be held along with any other, whereas the
emperor must have the prerogatives always, and in conjunction with any
other functions which he might choose to hold. He, therefore, only
received the corresponding "powers" and privileges. This position
enabled him to veto a measure whenever he chose, and with impunity.
Naturally therefore it became the custom, as far as possible, to find
out his wishes beforehand, and to move accordingly. He could also, in
the same right, summon the Senate and bring measures, or get them
brought, before it. To make certainty doubly certain, he was granted
the right to what we should call "the first business on the
notice-paper."

Observe further the shrewdness of the first emperor, Augustus, when he
selected this particular position. The "tribunes of the commons" were
constitutionally popular champions; they represented the interests of
the common people. By assuming a position similar to theirs, the
emperor--or commander-in-chief--made it appear to the common people
that he was their chief and perpetual representative, and that their
interests were bound up with his authority. He took them under his
wing, and saw, among other things, that they did not starve or go
stinted of amusements. He saw to it that they had corn for their
bread, plenty of water, and games in the circus. His "bread and games"
kept them quiet.

Supported by the army on one side, with his person secure, enjoying
the right of initiative and the right of veto, this officer of the
"commonwealth" became indeed the Colossus who bestrode the Roman
world. He was invariably made also the Pontifex Maximus, or chief
guardian of the religious interests of Rome. He might in addition
receive other constitutional appointments--for example, that of
supervisor or corrector of morals--whenever these might suit a special
purpose. What more could a man desire, if he was satisfied to forego
the name of autocrat so long as he possessed the substance? It was
quite as much to the purpose to be called _Princeps_, or "head of the
state," as to be called a king, like the Parthian or other Oriental
monarchs. Among the Romans, therefore, "Princeps" was his regular
title. The Graeco-Oriental half of the empire, which had long been
accustomed to kings and to treating them almost as gods, frankly
styled this head of the state "king" or "autocrat," but no true Roman
would forget himself so far as to lapse into this vulgar truth.

One other title, however, the Romans did attach to their "Princeps."
Something was still wanting to bring home, to both the Roman and the
provincial, the peculiarly exalted position of so great a man;
something which should be a recognition of that majesty which made him
almost divine, at least with the divinity that doth hedge a king. The
title selected for this purpose was _Augustus_, a word for which there
is no nearer English equivalent than "His Highness," or perhaps "His
Majesty," if we imagine that term applied to one who, by a legal
fiction, is not a king. The insane Caligula called himself, or let
himself be called, "Lord and Master," and later Domitian temporarily
added to this title "God," but even Nero claimed neither of these
modest epithets.

Here, then, is the position of Nero: Commander-in-chief of all the
forces of Rome by land and sea, and master of its foreign policy; the
titular protector of its commons and therefore inviolable of person
and virtual controller of laws and resolutions; official head of the
state religion; rejoicer in the style of "His Highness the Head of the
State." To speak ill of him, or to do anything derogatory to his
authority, was _lèse majesté_.

[Illustration: FIG. 12.--COIN OF NERO. British Museum.]

Reference has several times been made to the Senate. It is time now to
speak briefly of that body. For the sake of clearness, however, we
must include a survey of the recognised constituent elements or
"orders" of Roman society.

The body politic consisted nominally of all who where known as "Roman
citizens." These included men of every rank, from the artisan, the
agricultural labourer, or even the idle loafer--of whom there was more
than plenty--up through every grade of the middle classes to the
richest and bluest-blooded aristocrat who considered himself in point
of birth more than the equal of the emperor. Any such citizen was
secured in person and property by the Roman laws. It was a punishable
act for the local authorities at Philippi to take Paul, a "Roman
citizen," and, before he was condemned, chastise him with rods.

According to the letter of the constitution, the power of electing all
officers of state, and of passing laws, had belonged to this
miscellaneous body, the "people," gathered in assembly. Meanwhile the
power of determining foreign policy and controlling the finances had
lain with a special body, consisting largely of the aristocracy and of
ex-officers of state, known as the "Senate." We are not here concerned
with the causes of the changes which buried this constitution out of
sight, but only with the actual state of things in the year 64.

In point of fact there were, under the emperors, no longer any
assemblies of the "people"; the people at large neither elected nor
legislated. The chief articles of the constitution had fallen into
complete abeyance during the troublous times which preceded the
establishment of that poorly disguised monarchy which we know as the
empire. All real power of electing and law-making came to be in the
hands of the Senate, acting with the emperor. While the emperor
dominated the Senate, he was nevertheless glad to fall back upon that
body in justification of his own actions and as a means of keeping up
the constitutional pretence. He permitted the Senate to pass
resolutions, and to exercise authority, just so far as there was no
conflict with his own pronounced wishes and interests. It was not his
policy to interfere and irritate when there was no occasion. On the
other hand, when he desired a piece of legislation or an important
administrative novelty, he preferred that it should be backed up by
the sanction, or promoted by the apparently spontaneous action, of the
Senate. It then bore a better appearance, and was less open to cavil.
The people are no longer consulted at all in such matters. They have
no say in them, for they have neither plebiscite nor representative
government.

It must not be supposed that there never was friction between emperor
and Senate. The Senate was often--or rather generally--servile,
because it was intimidated. But there were times when it was inclined
to assert itself; some of its members occasionally allowed themselves
a certain freedom of speech, toward which one emperor might be
surprisingly lenient or good-naturedly contemptuous, and another
outrageously vindictive. In the year 64 the Senate was outwardly
docile enough, although at heart it was anything but loyal to his
Highness Nero the Head of the State. It must always be remembered that
among the Senate were included many of the highest-born, proudest, and
strictest of the Roman nobles or men of eminence. To them the whole
succession of emperors was still a series of upstarts--the family of
the Caesars--usurping powers which properly belonged to the Senate.
You could not expect these persons, aristocrats at heart, and many of
them true patriots, bearing names distinguished throughout Roman
history, to acquiesce in the spectacle of one who was no better than
they, as he passed up to his huge palace on the Palatine Hill,
escorted by his guards, or as he entered the Senate-House to give what
were practically his orders, perhaps scarcely deigning to recognise
men whose families had been illustrious while his was obscure. At
times a member here or there was calculating his own chances of
supplanting the man who galled him by condescension, or coldness, or
even insult. These aristocrats felt as the French nobles might feel
with Napoleon. And on his side the emperor, good or bad, never felt
quite safe from a plot to overthrow him. On the whole these earlier
emperors were much engaged in keeping the Senate in its place, and
were inclined, with quite sufficient reason, to be jealous and
suspicious of its more important members.

It was natural, therefore, that they should keep a very practical
control over the composition of that body. The situation was much as
if a modern nation were ruled by a virtual autocrat assisted by a
House of Peers. The senators and their families formed a "senatorial
order." So far as the Romans had such a thing as a peerage under the
empire, it is to be found in the senatorial order. And as a title may
now be either hereditary or conferred by the sovereign as the "fount
of honour," so, under the Roman emperors, the right to belong to the
senatorial order might come from birth or from the choice of the head
of the state. Normally you belonged to the "order" if you were the son
of a senator; you ranked in that class of society. To belong to the
Senate itself and to take part in its debates you must then have held
a certain public office and must possess not less than £8000. The
£8000 is the minimum. Most senators were rich, and some were
enormously wealthy. They are found with a capital of £3,000,000 or
£4,000,000 and an income up to £150,000. As for the public office
which you must first hold, you could not even be a candidate for it
unless you were already of the "order." If, when you are a senator,
there is anything serious against you, or if you become impoverished,
your name may be expunged from the list. Otherwise you remain a
senator all your life, and your son in turn is of the "order," and may
pass into the Senate by the same process. If you were a popular or
highly deserving person, and from any accident had lost your property,
the emperor would frequently make up the deficiency, or your brother
senators would subscribe the necessary amount.

But an emperor could meanwhile raise to the "order" anyone he chose.
He could give him standing, and so make him eligible as a candidate
for that public office which was preliminary to entering the actual
Senate. Moreover, when it came to the elections to this office which
served as the indispensable stepping-stone to the Senate-House, the
vacancies were limited in number, and the emperor had the right of
either nominating or recommending the candidates whom he preferred.
Needless to say, those candidates were invariably elected. It was, of
course, monstrous arrogance for Caligula to boast that he could make
his horse a consul if he chose, but the taunt contained a measure of
truth.

Let us then put the case thus. Imagine that a modern senate is
recruited from persons whose names are in the _Peerage and
Baronetage_, and that, before any scion of such a family can enter the
Senate itself, he must go through some sort of under-secretaryship, to
which he must first be elected.

But next imagine that the sovereign can raise to the rank of "peerage
or baronetage" some favoured person whose family does not yet figure
in _Debrett_. Such a man is then entitled to put his name on the list
of candidates for the necessary under-secretaryship, and, when the
sovereign reviews that list, he marks the candidate as nominated or
recommended by himself. So he passes into the Senate.

Most emperors did this but sparingly. They made the Senate an
aristocratic and wealthy body, keeping its numbers at somewhere near
600. We must not be perpetually assuming that the Caesars were either
reckless or unscrupulous, because two or three were of that character.
Many of them were remarkably capable and sagacious men. They
recognised the need of ability and high character in their Senate.
They had themselves enough of the old Roman exclusiveness to keep
their honours from being made too cheap, and the probability is that
under their rule the Senate was quite as honourable and quite as able
a body as it was at any time under the republic.

The feeling of _noblesse oblige_ was strongly implanted in this
senatorial class. The wealth of most members also put them above the
more sordid temptations. The senator was not permitted to undertake
any mercantile or financial business. The ancient notion still
survived, that the only really honourable occupations for money were
war and agriculture. The senator might own land and dispose of its
produce or receive its rents, but he could not, for instance, be a
money-lender or tax-farmer. Sometimes, no doubt, a senator evaded
these provisions by employing a "dummy," but we must not probe too
deep under the surface. In compensation for this disability it was
from the senatorial class that were drawn all the governors of the
important provinces, except Egypt, and all the higher military
officers. In these capacities they received salaries. The governor of
Africa, for example, was paid £10,000 a year.

Such men were no mere inexperienced aristocrats or plutocrats. They
had regularly passed through a military training in youth, and had
then held a minor civil appointment, commonly involving some knowledge
of public finance. Next they had passed into the Senate and taken part
in its business; had then held other public offices which taught them
practical administration and probably legal procedure; and had
afterwards been put in command of a "legion," that is to say, a
brigade or _corps d'armée_. After performing such functions with
credit, a senator might be sent to govern Syria or Macedonia or
Britain or some other province. He was then a man of varied experience
and ripe judgment, trained in official discipline and etiquette, as
well as in knowledge. This was the kind of man whom Paul met in Cyprus
in the person of the governor Sergius Paulus, or at Corinth in the
person of Gallio.

Certain smaller provinces might be administered by men of another
order, who were neither filled with the senatorial traditions nor had
passed through the senatorial career. These were but "factors" or
"agents" of Caesar, and among them were the Pontius Pilate, Felix, and
Festus, who were administrators of Judaea in New Testament times.

Next in rank to the senatorial order stood that of the "Knights." If
the senators represent, in a certain sense, the peerage and
baronetage, the next order represents--also in a certain sense.--the
knightage. Generally speaking, it comprehended what we should call the
upper middle classes, and particularly those concerned in the higher
walks of finance; such persons as, with us, would be the directors or
managers of great companies and banks. It also included persons whom
the head of the state chose to honour with something less than
senatorial standing. Many of these men were extremely wealthy, but the
minimum property qualification stood at only £3200, and Roman citizens
who possessed that amount were rather apt to pose as knights, and to
be commonly spoken of as such by a kind of courtesy title, although
their names could not be found upon the authorised rolls. Though
several emperors did their best to stop this practice, the endeavour
was for the most part fruitless. Once in England the "esquires" were a
class with certain recognised claims, but nothing could stop the
polite tendency to add "Esq." to the name of a person on a private
letter. The case was somewhat similar at Rome, although the practice
did not proceed quite so far.

Nevertheless there was a distinct and official roll of "Roman
knights," whom the head of the state had honoured with a public
present of "the gold ring," a ceremony corresponding to the royal
sword-stroke of modern times. This body, mounted on horses nominally
presented by the public, and riding in procession through the streets,
was reviewed and revised every year. Their roll was called, and if a
name was omitted from its proper place, it meant--without explanation
necessary--that by the pleasure of the emperor the person in question
had ceased to be a knight. Every member of the already-mentioned
higher or senatorial order was by right a knight until he actually
became a senator, from which time he ceased to enjoy the privileges of
a knight because he was enjoying those of the higher order rank. For
there were privileges as well as disabilities in each case. As a
senator could govern large provinces and command armies, but could not
engage in purely financial business; so the knight could--and almost
alone did--conduct the large financial enterprises of the Roman world,
but could not command armies nor hold any of the great public offices
or higher provincial appointments, except the governorship of Egypt.
Relatively to the senators the emperor was technically only "first
among equals"; he was the first senator, as well as the first man of
the state. At this date a senator would hold a truly public office,
civil or military, with or under this "superior equal," but he would
not act as his personal agent or assistant. The Roman aristocrat had
not yet learned to serve in that capacity, still less on the
"household" staff of the autocrat. There were as yet no highly placed
Romans serving as Lord High Chamberlain, much less as Private
Secretary. The "knights" stood in a different position. They were
prepared to be the emperor's personal agents, just as they were
prepared to be the agents of any one else, if sufficiently
remunerated. They would take his personal orders, whether in managing
his estates, collecting his provincial revenues, or relieving him of
some routine portion of his own official labour.

It follows that it was often more lucrative to be a knight than a
senator, and a number of senators were not unwilling to give up their
rank, for the same reasons which induce a modern peer to serve on
companies or a peeress to open a shop. On the other hand many a knight
would have declined to become a senator, at least until he had
sufficiently feathered his nest. The inducement to become or remain a
senator was the social rank, the honour and dignity, with their
outward insignia and the deference paid to them, the front seat, and
the reception at court. In these the wives also shared, and at Rome
the influence of the wife could not be disregarded.

If you met a senator, or a person of senatorial rank, in the street,
you would know him for such by the broad band of purple which ran down
the front, and probably also down the back, of his tunic, and by the
silver or ivory crescent which he wore upon his black shoes. His wife,
it is perhaps needless to say made even more show of what is called
the "broad stripe." If you met a knight, you would perceive his
standing by his two narrow stripes of purple appearing upon the same
part of his dress. Each would wear a gold ring; but that in itself
would prove nothing, since, despite all attempts at prohibiting the
custom, every Roman who could afford a gold ring permitted himself
that luxury.

If you entered one of the large semicircular theatres, which are to be
described in due course, you would find that the men wearing the broad
stripe seated themselves in the chairs which stood upon the level in
front of the stage, while those wearing the narrow stripes would
occupy the first fourteen tiers of seats rising just behind them. No
one else might, occupy those places. If some one who had been
improperly posing as a knight, or who had been degraded from his rank
because he had wasted his credit and his money and no longer possessed
either £3200 or a reputation, ventured to seat himself in the fourteen
rows in the hope of being unnoticed, he would be speedily called upon
by the usher to withdraw. Snobs occasionally made the attempt, and, at
a somewhat later date, we have an amusing epigram of Martial
concerning one who repeatedly but unsuccessfully dodged the usher and
who was at last compelled to kneel in the gangway opposite the end of
the fourteenth row, where it might look to those behind as if he were
sitting among the knights, while technically he could claim that he
was not sitting at all.

Elsewhere also, as for instance at the chariot-races in the Circus,
and at the gladiatorial shows in the amphitheatre, there were special
places set apart for the two orders.

Below the senators and the knights came the "people,"--the "commons,"
or "third estate"--with all its usual grades and its usual variety of
occupation or no occupation, of manners and character or absence of
both. With the life of these, as with the life of a noble, we shall
deal at the proper time.

So much for the Roman citizen proper. Other elements of the population
were the foreigners. At Rome these were exceedingly numerous, and the
city may in this respect be called--as indeed it was called--a
microcosm, a small copy or epitome of the Roman world. Gauls,
Africans, Greeks, Jews, Syrians, and Egyptians were perhaps the most
commonly to be seen, but particularly prominent were the Greeks and
the Jews. The Greeks were recognised above all as the clever men, the
artists, the social entertainers, and the literary guides. The Jews,
who formed a sort of colony in what is now known as Trastevere--the
low-lying quarter across the Tiber--were not yet the princes of high
finance. As yet they were chiefly the hucksters and petty traders,
notorious for their strange habits and for the fanaticism of their
religion, which nevertheless exercised a strange potency and made many
proselytes even in high places, especially among the women. Poppaea,
the wife of Nero himself, is commonly considered to have been such a
proselyte, although the strange notion that she herself was a Jewess
is without any sort of foundation. It is a common error to suppose
that the Jews came to Rome only after the destruction of Jerusalem.
The dispersion had occurred long before Rome had anything to do with
Judaea, and naturally the enterprising Jew was to be found in all
profitable places, whether in Alexandria, Antioch, Smyrna, Corinth,
Rome, or farther afield.

In the political sense all these foreigners belonged to their own
provinces and communities. They might be citizens there, but they were
not citizens at Rome. At Rome they had no public claims and no
official career, unless--as not seldom happened--they received, for
some service or some distinction, the gift of the Roman citizenship.
Sometimes the citizenship was given wholesale to a town, or even to a
province. How the Hebrew father or grandfather of St. Paul became a
Roman citizen, we do not know. Their own abilities or the emperor's
favour might carry such citizens, or their children, up all the steps
which were open to the ordinary Roman.

After the foreigners come the slaves. At Rome itself they formed about
one-third of the population. This is not the moment for any detailed
account of their employment, their treatment, or their liberation.

Suffice it for the present that the slave possessed no rights at all.
He was the chattel of his master, who possessed over him the full
power of life and death, limited only by public opinion and prudential
considerations. A Roman might have at his disposal one slave or ten
thousand slaves. He could use them as he liked, kill them if he chose,
and, subject to certain limitations, set them free if he willed,
provided that he did not set too many free at once. The last
restriction was especially necessary, inasmuch as a slave who was
manumitted by his master with the proper ceremonies became _ipso
facto_ a Roman citizen, but was still bound by certain ties of loyalty
to his former master. For a Roman to possess too large an attachment
of "freedmen," as they were called, might prove dangerous. The
"freedman," though a citizen, could not himself enter upon a public
career; neither, in ordinary circumstances, could his children; but in
the third generation the family stood on an entire equality with any
other Roman family in that respect.

For the present it may be added that our conception of the meaning of
the word "slave" must not be that attached to its modern use. Many
such slaves were men of great special or general ability, or men of
high culture, especially if Greeks, Syrians, Jews, or Egyptians. They
were frequently superior to their masters, and subsequently, as free
citizens, added much to either the refinement or the over-refinement
of Roman life. Perhaps it is as well, in passing, to point out that
the later Roman people was in no small degree descended from all this
aggregation of foreigners and emancipated slaves, and that we must
speak with the greatest reservation when we describe the modern Roman
as a direct descendant of the ancient stock who fought with Hannibal
and subjugated the world.



CHAPTER V


NERO THE EMPEROR

Roughly then this is the situation at the centre of government.
Sumptuously housed on the Palatine Hill--the origin of our word
"palace"--is His Highness Claudius Nero, Head of the State,
Commander-in-Chief of the Forces, Empowered to act as Tribune of the
People, and Head of the State Religion: in modern times commonly
called "the Emperor." Every day and night his palace is surrounded by
a regiment of the Imperial Guards, and attached to his person is a
special corps for bodyguard, and orderlies. In practice, whatever be
the theory, he possesses the control of legislation and appointments;
upon him practically depends all recognised distinction of social
rank. Down below, to the side of the Forum, is the Senate-House, in
which there gathers, twice each month, and oftener if summoned, the
great deliberative body which, in spite of all disturbances, civil
wars, and limitations or broadenings of its power, is the continuation
of the assembly of grave Roman fathers who first met some eight
hundred years before. These men, who are of birth and wealth and
commonly of sound public training, are the nominal upholders and
directors of the commonwealth, still left to perform many functions
and to administer the more peaceful provinces in their own
way--especially if they relieve the emperor of trouble--but in
practice controlled by His Highness whenever and however it suits his
purpose. They and the emperor form a partnership in authority, but the
Senate is very distinctly the junior partner. They lend him advice or
sanction when he seeks it, and they sometimes act as a break on his
impetuosity. It is not well to alienate them, for they are proud; they
are jointly, sometimes individually, powerful; and their moral weight
with army and public is not to be despised.

Thus stands the central government, while socially there follows the
order of the Knights, depending for their rank upon the emperor, and
in many cases serving in his employ. Below these the populace, of
whose rights and liberties the emperor is an official champion to whom
theoretically any Roman citizen can appeal against a sentence of death
or against cruel wrong. It is hard to conceive of a stronger position
for one man to hold.

When we survey this vast aggregation of various provinces, with their
differences of race, language, religion, and habits; when we remember
that it was on the whole strictly, energetically, and legally
administered; it is hard--even allowing for a wise Senate and capable
ministers--to realise a man competent for the position.

Yet Augustus had been conspicuously successful, and Tiberius not less
so; Claudius, despite a certain weakness, cannot by any means be
called a failure; after Nero, Vespasian and Titus were capable enough;
while Trajan deserves nothing but admiration. On the other hand
Caligula, it is true, had had more than a touch of the madman in his
composition, and had believed himself to be omnipotent and on a level
with Jupiter. Nero had begun well, but had been led by vanity, vice,
and extravagance to an astounding pitch of folly and oppression.
Nevertheless it must be remarked, and it should be firmly emphasised,
that what is called the tyranny of Caligula and Nero is mainly--and in
Caligula's case almost solely--a tyranny affecting the Romans
themselves, affecting the lives and property of the Roman senators and
other prominent persons, and affecting the lives and honour of their
wives and daughters. The outcry against these two emperors comes from
the Romans, not from the subject peoples. At least in Caligula's case
the provinces were as peaceful and prosperous as at other times. It is
true that the madman once meant to insist on the Jews putting up his
own statue in the temple at Jerusalem, but this was because his vanity
was aggrieved by their unwillingness. Under Nero the case is much the
same. His tyranny for the most part took the shape of cruelty, insult,
and plunder in Rome itself. It was only when he was becoming
hopelessly in debt that he began to plunder the provinces as well as
Italy by demanding contributions of money, and in particular to seize
upon Greek works of art without paying for them. It is a mistake to
think of Nero as habitually and without scruple trampling under his
blood-stained foot the rights and privileges of the provinces, or
grinding from them the last penny, or harrying, slaying, and violating
throughout the empire.

There is nothing to show that, during the greater part of his reign,
the provinces at large felt any material difference between the rule
of Nero and the rule of Claudius, or that they rejoiced particularly
in his fall. In many quarters he was a favourite. In the latter half
of his reign he made himself a brute beast, and often a fool, in the
eyes of respectable Romans. But it was, as still more with Caligula,
rather in his immediate environment that his tyranny was felt to be
intolerable; that is to say, among the men and women who had the
misfortune to come in his way with sufficient attraction of purse or
beauty to awaken his cupidity. And these were the Romans themselves,
senators and knights, not the populace, and in but a small degree, if
at all, the provincials in Spain or Greece or Palestine.

[Illustration: FIG. 13.--BUST OF SENECA. Archeologische Zeitung.]

Perhaps this is the time to look for a little while at this Nero,
whose name has deservedly passed into a byword for heartless
bestiality. In the year 64 he is 27 years of age, and has been seated
on the throne for ten years. Four years more are to elapse before he
perishes with the cry, "What an artist the world is losing!" In his
early years his vicious propensities, inherited from an abominable
father, had been kept in check partly by his preceptor, the
philosopher Seneca, and by Burrus, the commander of the Imperial
Guards, partly by his domineering and furious-tempered mother,
Agrippina, who seems to have so closely resembled the mother of Lord
Byron. But at this date he had got rid of both his tutors. Burrus was
dead, probably by poison, and Seneca was in forced retirement. The
emperor had also caused his own mother to be murdered. Poisoning,
strangling, drowning, or a command--explicit or implied--to depart
this life, were his ways of shaking off any incubus upon a free
indulgence of his will. His follies and vices had revealed themselves
from the first, and had gone to outrageous lengths, but now he is
entirely unhampered in exhibiting them.

[Illustration: Photo--Mansell & Co. FIG. 14--BUST OF AGRIPPINA, MOTHER
OF NERO.]

Educated slightly in philosophy, but better in music and letters, he
could speak, like others of his day, Greek as well as his native
Latin. His aim was to be an "artist," but if the want of balance which
too often goes with what is called the "artistic temperament" ever
manifested itself in its worst form, it was in Nero. Apart from his
passion for music and verse, he developed an early mania for
horse-racing, and when he was caught talking in school--where such
conversation was forbidden--about a charioteer who had fallen out of
his chariot and been dragged along the ground, he explained that he
was discussing the passage in Homer where Achilles drags the body of
Hector round the walls of Troy. In after life he carried both forms of
mania to amazing lengths. The highest form of music was then
represented by singing to the harp. Nero's ambition was no less than
to compete with the champion minstrels of the world. As he remarked,
"music is not music unless it is heard," and he decided to make public
appearances upon the stage like any professional. Whenever he did so,
a number of energetic youths, salaried for the purpose, were
distributed among the audience as _claqueurs_--the words actually used
for them being perhaps translatable as "boomers" or "rattlers." He
acted parts in plays--a proceeding which would correspond to an
appearance in opera--and made a peregrination through Greece and back
by way of Naples as an exponent of the art of singing to the harp.
While upon this tour, whenever he was performing in the theatre, the
doors were shut, and no one might leave the building for any reason
whatever. "Many," says the memoir-writer, "got so tired of listening
and praising that they jumped down from the wall, or pretended to be
dead, so as to get carried out." Naturally he always won the prize,
and, on his side, it should be remarked that he honestly believed he
had earned it. He practised assiduously, took hard physical training,
regulated his diet for the cultivation of his voice, which was not
naturally of the best, and probably became not at all a bad amateur.
His monstrous self-conceit did the rest. Besides singing to the harp,
he was prepared to perform upon the flute and the bagpipes, and to
give a dance afterwards. All this, of course, was undignified and
ridiculous, but it was scarcely tyranny. Doubtless there was
sufficient suffering among the audience, but that cruelty was hardly
deliberate. In the Roman noble, whose ideal of behaviour included
dignity and gravity, these public appearances perhaps often aroused
more indignation and scorn than did his sensual vices. The same
contempt was often evoked by other proceedings of a similar nature.
His insatiable fondness for horse-racing, or rather chariot-racing,
induced him to appear also as a charioteer. First he practised in his
extensive private park or gardens, which were situated across the
Tiber on the ground now approximately occupied by St. Peter's and the
Vatican. When he appeared at the Olympic games driving a team of ten
horses, he was thrown out of the car, and had to be lifted into it
again. Though he was eventually compelled to abandon the race, he was,
of course, crowned victor all the same. He dabbled also in painting
and modelling.

We must not dwell too long upon his eccentricities. One might describe
how in his earlier years he often put on mufti and roamed the streets
at night with a few choice Mohawks, broke into shops, and insulted
respectable citizens, throwing them into the drains if they resisted;
how, being unrecognized, he once received a sound thrashing from a
person of the senatorial order, and was thereafter attended on such
occasions by police following at a distance. One might describe his
dicing at £3 or £4 a pip, or his banquets, at one of which he paid as
much as £30,000 for roses from Alexandria. After the great
conflagration which swept over a large part of Rome in this very year
64 he began to build his enormous Golden House, in which stood a
colossal effigy of himself 120 feet high, and in which the circuit of
the colonnade made three Roman miles. Whether he deliberately set fire
to the city in order to make room for this stupendous palace is open
to doubt. It was naturally believed at the time, and, in order to
divert suspicion from himself, he turned it upon those persons for
whom the Roman populace had at that moment the greatest contempt,
because, as the historian puts it, of their pestilent superstition and
of a profound suspicion that they harboured a "hatred of the human
race." These were the new sect of the Christians, and with burning
Christians did Nero proceed to light up his gardens on one famous
night, as a means of placating the populace whom he had offended, but
who for the most part loved him for his misplaced generosity in the
matter of "bread and sports." The tolerant attitude of the Romans
towards foreign religions will be discussed in its own place; but the
cruelty of a Nero in the year 64 can hardly be put down as properly a
religious persecution in any way typical of the Roman government.

The sensual vices of Nero are indescribable, and that word must
suffice. His extravagances, whether in lavish presents or in personal
expenditure, soon rendered him bankrupt. He had no means of paying the
soldiers or meeting his own appetites. Then began, or increased, his
attacks on wealthy persons, his executions and banishments of senators
and other wealthy men, and his flimsy pretexts for all manner of
confiscation. The Senate he hated and the Senate hated him.
Nevertheless, so far as the empire itself was concerned, no systematic
or widespread oppression can have been perceptible. His officers and
the officers of the Senate were apparently all the time governing and
administering the law and the taxation throughout the empire in as
sound and steady a way as if an Augustus sat upon the throne.

If we wish to picture Nero to ourselves, here is his description: "He
was of a fairly good height; his skin was blotched, and his odour
unpleasant; his hair was inclined to be yellow; his face was more
handsome than attractive; his eyes were grayish-blue and
short-sighted; his neck was fat; he was protuberant below the waist;
his legs were very slender; his health was good."

Such was the man to whom St. Paul elected to have his case referred,
when at Caesarea he exercised his privilege as a Roman citizen and
appealed to the titular protector of the commons. "Thou hast appealed
unto Caesar, and unto Caesar shalt thou go." There is indeed no great
probability that the apostle was ever brought directly before this
precious emperor. We may perhaps draw from bur inner consciousness
elaborate and interesting pictures of the two men confronting each
other, but we must not forget that they will be pure imagination. The
appeal of a citizen did not imply such right to an interview, for the
Caesar in such minor cases commonly delegated his powers to other
judicial authorities at Rome. Paul's object was gained if his case was
safely removed from the local influences of Judaea and the weaker
policy of its governor, the "agent of Caesar," to the capital with its
broader-minded men and its superiority to small bribes and local
interference.

[Illustration: FIG. 15.--BUST OF NERO.]



CHAPTER VI


ADMINISTRATION AND TAXATION OF THE EMPIRE

We are now brought to the consideration of the methods by which this
huge empire was organised and governed.

And first let us observe that the Romans--strict disciplinarians and
great lawyers as they were--never sought to impose upon the subject
provinces any uniformity. They never sought, any more than Great
Britain has sought, to erect one code of law, one form of
administration, one standard of rights, one rate of taxation, one
religion, and to make it equally applicable to Spain and Britain,
Greece and Africa, Gaul and Asia Minor. There were, of course, common
to all the empire certain rules essential to civilisation, certain
natural laws and laws of all nations. Murder, violence, robbery,
deliberate sacrilege, and so forth were punishable everywhere, though
not necessarily by the same authority nor in the same manner.
Necessarily it was held everywhere that contracts must be fulfilled
and debts paid. Beyond the fact that Rome demanded peace and order and
the essentials of civilised life, and provided machinery to secure
those ends, she troubled little about differences of local procedure
and varieties of local law, so long as the Roman rule was duly
recognised and the Roman taxes duly paid. As with Great Britain, her
care was for results, not for machinery, or, as the great Roman
historian puts it, she "valued the reality of the empire, not the
show."

Outside Italy there spread the provinces. These had been conquered or
peacefully annexed at various times. A number of small states had come
in by perpetual alliance. Some provinces, such as Gaul, had formerly
been divided among tribes and tribal chiefs. Some, such as Greece, had
consisted of highly civilised city-communities with small territories
and managing their own affairs, although they might all alike be
acknowledging the suzerainty of some powerful prince. Some, such as
Cappadocia, Syria, and Egypt, had been under their native kings.
Judaea was a peculiar example of a small theocratic state, in which
the chief power lay with the priests.

Rome was too wise to meddle more than she need with existing
conditions. She preferred as far as possible to accept the existing
machinery and to use it, with only necessary modifications, as her
instrument of administration. To the Sanhedrin at Jerusalem, for
example, she conceded a large criminal jurisdiction over
ecclesiastical offenders, so long as that jurisdiction did not limit
the universal rights of a "Roman citizen."

When a province was conquered, all its territory became technically
the property of the Roman state. Some of it was kept as such, and
mines of gold, silver, lead, iron, and salt, or quarries of marble,
granite, and gravel, were commonly annexed as state property. If it
was expedient to allot some portion of the conquered land to a Roman
settlement--commonly a settlement of veteran soldiers called a
"colony"--that was done. Such a settlement meant the founding of a
town, to which was granted a certain environment of land. Those who
took part in its formation were "Roman citizens" and forfeited no
rights as such. As the native people came in from the surrounding
districts to reside in it, they also, it appears, somewhat easily
acquired similar privileges. Here the Roman law existed in its
entirety. A colony was almost exactly a little Rome in respect of its
system of officers and its legal procedure. Sometimes a town which had
not originally been so founded might be made a "colony" by receiving a
draft of Romans, and sometimes it was made such in sheer compliment.
In the Eastern half of the empire such settlements were comparatively
rare; they were but dots upon the map, as at Corinth, Philippi,
Antioch in Pisidia, or Caesarea. In the West they were much more
numerous. The south of France contained many; a number also existed in
southern Spain. So many indeed were planted in these parts that they
became, as has been already remarked, completely romanized. Farther
north Cologne still perpetuates its Roman name of Colonia.
Nevertheless in the West the bulk of the land of the provinces is far
from being taken up, in the year 64, by colonies.

Apart from the lands thus appropriated, what happens to the rest of
the conquered territory which is theoretically Roman property?
Generally it is handed back to its original inhabitants, on condition
that they pay rent for it, whether in money or in kind, or partly in
each. Egypt pays in kind when it sends to Rome the corn in the great
merchantmen; Africa pays in kind when it does the same; the Frisians
of Holland pay in kind when they supply a certain quantity of hides.
Before the days of the Emperor Augustus there had existed for the
empire in general the abominable system of tithes, which were farmed
by companies. But after him, and at our date, for the most part the
payment is by a fixed sum of money, which has been calculated upon the
basis of those tithes. In the imperial Record Office there is a
register of the area of land in a given province, and an assessment of
its producing value. The amount of the land-tax to be paid into the
Roman treasury is therefore fixed. Those who read in the New Testament
that Augustus Caesar sent forth an order that "all the world--that is,
the Roman world--should be taxed" need find no difficulty in
understanding what it means. "Taxed" is Old English for assessed, as
when we speak of "taxing a bill of costs." The Greek word means simply
that a register should be made. The order of Augustus was that a
census should be taken throughout the provinces; that a return should
be made of population, property, trades, and all that a reasonable
government requires to know; and that payments should be determined
thereby. All the world had been "taxed" in the modern sense long
before Augustus, and it has been taxed, unfortunately without much
promise of respite, ever since.

The chief revenues of Rome were derived from this land-tax; but, when
combined with other taxes, a large proportion of it was spent in the
administration of the province from which it was obtained. No error
could be greater than to suppose that Roman officers simply came and
carried off all this money as booty to Rome for the pampering of its
emperor and populace. Naturally the balance which accrued for the
feeding of Borne, for Roman enjoyment and Roman buildings was very
large; and doubtless this fact was bad for the morale of Rome itself
and requires considerable casuistry to defend it. But it would be a
monstrous misconception to imagine that all the "tribute paid to
Caesar" was absolutely drained, by an act of sheer oppression, clean
out of the province year by year. No country can be protected,
policed, and have its justice administered without taxes, and the
provincials were not paying more, and were often paying much less, as
well as paying it in a more just and rational way, than when they were
being taxed by their own kings, their own oligarchies, or their own
socialistic democracies. The Roman settlements--the colonies--unless
specially exempted, had to pay the land-tax as much as any other
community. The only land which was exempt from it was Italy, and Italy
paid sundry other taxes to make up for it, at least in part. But
though Italy was first and foremost in the imperial regard, the
emperor was by no means indifferent to the welfare of the provinces.
If an earthquake, a fire, or other great calamity befell a town, it
was by no means rare for the emperor to send a large sum of money in
relief.

Besides the land-tax there was also a tax on persons and personal
property. The tax on persons was not precisely a poll-tax, except in
places like Britain and Egypt, where it was difficult to make proper
estimates otherwise, but a tax on occupations and trades. This, if we
choose, may be put down as a crude form of income-tax, although it was
not actually assessed on income. In another sense it may be regarded
as a tax on a license, assuming that we demand a license for every
kind of occupation. Italy again was exempt from this taxation also.
Obviously a census, and a regularly revised census, was necessary to
carry out this system; and Rome required a whole army of agents, just
as a modern state would require one, for assessing and collecting
these dues.

The land-tax and the person-tax were the two chief sources of Roman
revenue. These were regular and direct. There were others, subject,
like our own taxes, to increase or decrease according to
circumstances, but for the most part kept at very much the same
standards under several consecutive emperors. For instance there were
customs duties, paid on the frontiers of the empire and also on those
of provinces or natural groups of provinces, not as part of any
protective system, since the empire is all one, but as a means of
raising money from commodities. In Italy there was a duty of 2-1/2 per
cent. Luxuries from India and Arabia via Red Sea ports were specially
taxed at 25 per cent. If you sold a slave, you would pay from 2 to 4
per cent on the purchase-money. Occasionally there was a tax on
bachelors. In Italy, but not elsewhere, 5 per cent legacy duty was
paid when the recipient was not a near relative, and when the legacy
was not under £1000.

Add to these revenues the rents of state pastures, state forests, and
state mines. Into the treasury came also unclaimed property and the
property of certain classes of condemned criminals.

So much for the nature of the taxation. In point of government, the
Romans were singularly liberal. When a province was conquered or
annexed, the Senate sent out a commission of ten persons, who
carefully considered the existing state of things, the laws and forms
of administration actually in vogue, and drew up a constitution for
the province, embodying as much of these as was possible or at all
commendable; as much, in fact, as was compatible with the Roman
connection. This constitution, when sanctioned by the Senate, was
binding, whatever governor might be appointed by Rome to the province.
Such a governor might interpret the law; he could not alter it.

But though a province was a unit in so far as it was under one
governor, the Romans were firm believers in strictly local
administration. Their policy in this, as in conquest, was "divide and
rule." It did not suit their ends to make any large part of the empire
conscious of a corporate existence. The unit of administration was,
therefore, a town and its district--a "community." In Gaul there were
about sixty such divisions, each roughly corresponding in size to a
modern French "department." Such a community had its own local council
and officials, who were ultimately responsible to the governor. So
long as they performed their municipal or communal functions correctly
and honestly they were not interfered with. The chief principle upon
which Rome insisted was that their local government should be
aristocratic, or rather that office should be based on wealth. The
governor, of course, stepped in when he felt it to be his duty. He was
required to suppress all secret societies or political unions. A
strike of the bakers in one city of Asia Minor was promptly put down
by the governor as interfering with social order and social needs.

The communities made their own by-laws, they collected the land-tax of
their own district and handed it over to the financial representative
of the Roman government. This was done by men of their own people,
often of a low class, known in the Gospels as the "publicans," who
were so commonly associated with sinners. St. Matthew had been one of
the minor agents for such collection in Galilee. Other taxes--those
which were indirect--might be collected by the great tax-farming
companies of Roman "knights," who offered a lump sum for them to the
government, and made what they could out of the bargain.

One incidental consequence of this systematic division into communes
was that there spread throughout the empire a strong municipal
patriotism, especially in the Greek world. This was followed by
liberal local expenditure on the part of rich provincials in
beautifying their centres with public buildings and works of art,
chiefly, no doubt, given for the sake of the local honours with which
they were repaid, but given nevertheless.

Most of the towns or communities throughout the empire were in the
position described. Some communities, however, such as Thessalonica,
though situated inside a province, were for some special service in
the past exempted from the interference of the governor, and were
allowed to exercise their own laws to the full, even upon Roman
citizens who might happen to reside there. These were called "free"
towns. In other cases the community, having come into voluntary
alliance with Rome at an earl; date and before conquest, was still
treated as an "allied" state, and was exempted from either
interference or taxation, so long as it supplied its quota of soldiers
when called upon. Such cities, however, were distinctly the exception,
and most of them in the end preferred to come directly within the
Roman sphere of administration. They often found their burdens smaller
and less capricious than when they taxed themselves through their own
authorities.

       *       *       *       *       *

The function of the governor was to see that the various local bodies
did their work, kept within their rights, and paid their taxes. He
also, either in person or by his deputies, administered justice
wherever the Roman laws were concerned. Where they were not concerned,
he necessarily acted as Gallio did with the Jewish charges against
Paul at Corinth; he dismissed the case as not demanding his
jurisdiction. Said Gallio: "If it were a question of a misdemeanour or
a crime, I should be called upon to bear with you; but if they are
questions of (mere) words and names and of your (Jewish) law, you must
see to it yourselves." When the Greeks who were standing by proceeded
to beat the chief of Paul's Jewish accusers, the governor shut his
eyes to the matter. This may have been a laxity, but it would almost
appear as if Gallio liked their behaviour.

For the purposes of justice a province was divided into "Assize
Districts," and the governor or his deputies went on circuit. In the
court he sat upon a platform in his official chair and with his
lictors in attendance. The official language of the court and of its
records was of course Latin, but in the Eastern half of the empire the
bench cannot always have pretended not to understand Greek. Since it
would not, however, understand Hebrew, the Jews would need to speak
through a representative who knew Latin, and this is apparently the
reason for the appearance of Tertullus against St. Paul at Caesarea. A
Roman citizen--that is, a person possessed of full Roman rights--if he
either denied the jurisdiction or was in danger of being condemned to
capital punishment, might, unless he had been caught red-handed in
certain heinous crimes, appeal to Caesar and claim to be sent to Rome.
Unless the governor had been expressly entrusted with exceptional
powers, or unless the case was so self-evident that he had nothing to
fear from refusing, he had no alternative but to send the appellant on
to the metropolis. Arrived there, the prisoner was taken to the
guardrooms or cells in the barracks of a special prefect who had
charge of such arrivals from abroad, and his case would in due course
be taken either by the emperor himself, if it was sufficiently
important, or by magistrates to whom the emperor delegated his powers
for the purpose.

Meanwhile, provincials other than full Roman citizens enjoyed no such
privilege. They could make no appeal. The governor was supreme judge,
and his verdict or sentence was carried out. In matters of doubt,
whether administrative or judicial, the governor might refer to the
emperor for direction or advice, and we have at a somewhat later date
a considerable collection of letters and their replies which passed in
this manner between Pliny and the Emperor Trajan.

       *       *       *       *       *

A glance at the map will show some provinces named in heavy type and
some in italics. Those in _italics_ are the provinces to which the
Senate has the right to appoint the governors, in this case called
"proconsuls." Of course His Highness the Head of the State is
graciously pleased to approve the choice of the Senate; which means
that the Senate will not attempt any appointment which the emperor
would dislike. The revenues of these provinces go into a treasury
controlled by the Senate. Of those named in heavy type the emperor is
himself the governor or proconsul. Theoretically he is made governor
of all these simply because they contain, or may need, armies, and he
is the commander-in-chief of those armies. But since he is at Rome,
and in any case cannot be everywhere at once, he governs all such
provinces by means of his deputies, whom he appoints for himself. They
are his lieutenants, and are so called--to wit, "lieutenants of
Caesar" and "deputies of the commander." The revenues of these
imperial provinces are collected by an "agent" or "factor" of Caesar,
and go into a treasury controlled by the emperor. In any one of his
provinces the emperor would be its governor, and would exercise the
usual military and civil powers of a governor. His lieutenant to each
province simply acts in his place, receives the same powers, and is
the governor of that province exactly as the proconsul sent by the
Senate is governor in his. But whereas the governors in the senatorial
provinces wear the garb of peace, and are appointed, like other civil
officers, for one year only, the "deputies of Caesar," the
commander-in-chief, wear the military garb, and are kept in office
just so long as their superior thinks fit. It is as if in modern times
the governor of the one kind of province made his public appearances
in civilian dress, and the governor of the other kind in uniform.

The actual outcome of this system was that the provinces of the
emperor were on the whole better administered than those of the
Senate. In the latter, changes were too frequent, and a governor might
sometimes strain a point to enrich himself quickly. But it must on no
account be imagined that at this date a governor could with impunity
be extortionate or oppress the provincials, as he too often did in the
good old days of the republic. He was paid his salary, which might be
anything up to £10,000; his allowances and power of making
requisitions, such as of salt, wood, and hay when travelling, were
strictly defined by law; any pronounced extortion, oppression, or
dishonesty laid him open to impeachment; and such a charge was
tolerably certain to be brought. Among so many governors it was
inevitable that a number should have been impeached. We know of
twenty-seven instances, resulting in twenty condemnations and only
seven acquittals. The emperors at least looked sharply to their own
provinces; nor would they readily tolerate any gross irregularity in
those other provinces which were nominally controlled by the Senate.
On leaving his province every governor must make out duplicate copies
of his accounts, one to be left in the province, one to be forwarded
to Rome.

In the _Acts of the Apostles_ we have mention of two governors of
senatorial provinces--in other words, two "proconsuls"--Gallio in
Achaia (or Greece), and Sergius Paulus in Cyprus. It is instructive to
compare the lenient and common sense attitude of these trained Roman
aristocrats with that of the turbulent local mobs who dealt with St.
Paul in Asia Minor, Judaea, or Greece. Of the minor governors of
smaller provinces--styled "agents" or "factors" of Caesar--we meet
with Pontius Pilate, Felix, and Festus.

It remains only to remark that, while the Senate's treasury, which
received the revenues from the senatorial provinces, paid the expenses
of their management and also of the administration of Italy, the
emperor's treasury, which received the revenues from the other
provinces, provided for their administration, for the pay of the army,
for the corn and water of Rome, for public buildings, for the great
military roads, and for the imperial post. Nevertheless the emperor
could handle all this latter money exactly as he chose, and it is upon
this chest that Nero was drawing for all his lavish prodigalities and
his undeserved and wasteful bounties. Yet even Nero was scarcely so
bad as Caligula, who managed to spend £22,000,000 in less than one
year.



CHAPTER VII


ROME: THE IMPERIAL CITY

In the year 64 the capital of the Roman Empire was, it is true, a
large and splendid city and an "epitome of the world," but it had not
yet reached either its zenith of splendour or its maximum, of size.
Many of the largest and most sumptuous structures of which we possess
the records, and in most cases the ruins, were not yet built or even
contemplated. There was no Colosseum; there were no Baths of Trajan,
Caracalla, or Diocletian. The Column of Trajan, still soaring in the
Foro Traiano, and of Marcus Aurelius, now so conspicuous in the Piazza
Colonna, are of a later date. So also are the three great triumphal
arches which are still standing--those of Titus, Severus, and
Constantine. The Mausoleum of Hadrian, now stripped of its outward
magnificence of marble and sculpture, and known as the Castle of Sant'
Angelo, was not built for two generations. On the Palatine Hill the
palaces of the Caesars were wide and lofty, but not more than half so
spacious and imposing as they became by the end of the following
century.

Down in the Forum there stood no Basilica of Constantine; the place of
several later temples and shrines was occupied by edifices of less
dignity; many columns and statues, and much ornament of gilt or
marble, were still to come. Beside and beyond the two embellished
public places which had been added to the public comfort and
convenience by Julius Caesar and Augustus, and which were known
respectively as the Julian and the Augustan Forum, lay only the houses
of citizens or streets of shops. Up from the Forum towards the later
Arch of Titus and the Colosseum, the "Upper Sacred Way" ran as but a
narrow road between buildings for the most part of ordinary character,
principally shops catering for luxury. It was later by two centuries
and a half that this street was converted into a broad avenue forming
a worthy approach to the "hub of the universe."

In the ruins which lie on the Palatine Hill, or along the valley of
the Forum below, or up the Sacred Slope towards the Colosseum, or
across where the streets wind round from the "Roman" Forum through the
Forum of Trajan to the Corso, the modern visitor to the Eternal City
does not behold simply the remnants of the temples, halls, squares,
and arches which actually existed in the days of Nero. We must not say
of these places that St. Paul trod the very paving-stones or gazed on
the very walls which we now find in their worn and broken state. In a
few cases it may be so; in most it is certainly otherwise. Either the
building was not there, or what we now behold is part of a
reconstruction or an enlargement. Fire, flood, earthquake and the wear
and tear of time called for many a rebuilding or restoration. In the
very year upon which we have fixed, there swept over all this part of
the city perhaps the most disastrous fire that it ever experienced.
Another only a little less destructive occurred in A.D. 283, and when
we say that the remains of the glory of ancient Rome are still visible
in the excavated Forum, we must recognise that the glory which they
represent is the glory of the place as restored after that year.

This does not mean that the general plan and appearance were markedly
different under Nero, nor that there was any lack of magnificence; it
is only meant by way of caution against a frequent misconception.

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

If there was no Arch of Severus in the Forum, there was an Arch of
Augustus, near the Temple of Castor, surmounted by his statue in the
four-horsed chariot of the conqueror, and there was an Arch of
Tiberius near the temple of Saturn. If to the north there was as yet
no bridge or "castle" of Sant' Angelo to celebrate the dead Hadrian,
there was, on the near side of the Tiber, not far from the modern
Piazza del Popolo, a splendid Mausoleum of the deified Augustus and
his family. In the chief Forum the Temples of Vesta, of Julius Caesar,
of Castor, Saturn, and Concord existed under Nero in the same spots
and in much the same style as they did through all the remainder of
Roman history. Above them towered the Capitoline Hill, with its
resplendent Temple of Jupiter on the one summit and its great shrine
of Juno on the other. Beyond, in the "Field of Mars"--the site of the
densest part of modern Rome--was an almost continuous cluster of
public buildings and resorts, of theatres, temples--including the
first form of that incomparable edifice, the Pantheon, the only
building of ancient Rome which still remains practically whole--of
baths, porticoes, and enclosed promenades.

[Illustration: FIG. 16.--SOME REMAINS OF THE CLAUDIAN AQUEDUCT.]

Away in the opposite direction stretched the Appian Way, and in the
year 64 the beautiful tomb of Caecilia Metella, which is so familiar
in picture, stood as perhaps the noblest among the multitude of
patrician tombs. The Apostle Paul certainly passed close by it on his
way from Puteoli. The aqueduct, of which so many arches still meet the
eye as you cross the Campagna, was the work of Nero's predecessor,
Claudius, and it still bears his name--the Aqua Claudia. Where now you
go out of the gate to St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls there stood--more
free and visible than now--that pyramid of Cestius, close to whose
shadow lie the graves of the English Shelley and Keats. There was no
gate at this spot in the days of Nero, for the great wall, of which so
many portions--more or less restored--are still conspicuous, had no
existence till a much later date, when the empire was already
tottering to its fall, and when Aurelian was driven to recognise that
the heart of the empire, after remaining secure for centuries, must at
last look to be assailed. There was, it is true, an inner wall of
ancient date (to be seen upon the plan) which had enclosed the "Seven
Hills" before Rome was mistress of more than her own small
environment. But the city had long ago overflowed this boundary, and
the newer quarters lay as open to the country as do our own modern
cities.

How far the suburbs stretched, or precisely how far Rome proper
extended, in the days of Nero, is no easy matter to decide. We shall
in all probability be near the mark if we accept the line of the later
wall of Aurelian as practically the limit of what might be included in
the "Metropolitan Area." The total circumference of the whole city
would be about twelve English miles, a circuit which fell somewhat
short of that of Alexandria and probably of Antioch, although in
actual importance these cities took but the second and third rank
respectively.

Some parts within this line were thickly inhabited, in some the houses
must have been but sparse. Particularly along the upper slopes of the
hills--of the Pincian, Quirinal, Esquiline, Caelian, and
Aventine--were the spacious houses and gardens of the wealthy. The
Palatine was almost, though not completely, monopolised by the
emperors' palaces and sundry temples. The Campus Martius was mostly a
region of public buildings and grounds for promenade and exercise,
although some of the finest shops stood very close to where they stand
to-day, in that Flaminian Way which is now called the Corso of
Humbert. On one side below the Palatine Hill, space was taken up by
the vast Circus or racing-ground; on the other lay the public places
known as the Fora. It was left for the poorer inhabitants to crowd
themselves into the valleys of the town, either between the Forum and
the spurs of the several hills which trend towards the centre--up
under Quirinal, Viminal, Esquiline, or Caelian--to the left behind the
buildings as you now go from the bottom of the Forum to the Colosseum;
or between the Forum and the Tiber in the low-lying ground called the
Velabrum and there-abouts; or else across the river in that
"Transtiberine" region which still bears the name of Trastevere.

If, therefore, it is asked what may have been the Population of
Neronian Rome, it need cause no surprise if the number should appear
comparatively small to one who is accustomed to our huge modern towns.
Rome had never been a seat of manufactures. Its wealth and luxury came
almost wholly from its empire, and it was emphatically a city for the
rich and ruling classes. In Nero's day it was still growing, and even
in its fullest times it is doubtful if the population ever exceeded or
even reached a million and a quarter. Perhaps for the year 64 we may
most safely put it down at about 750,000.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now suppose yourself to be standing at F in the recognised centre of
Roman life, the "Roman Forum." Here, before we begin our rapid
exploration of the city, it is well to clear our minds of one false
notion which too commonly prevails. Think of any modern town you
please, and remember that, whatever may be the accumulation of
architectural magnificence around any given spot, the people of that
town treat it all with familiarity and without any waste of sentiment.
They will set up their shops or stalls wherever they are allowed; they
will carry on their traffic and their amusements; they will saunter
and sit on steps and misbehave without feeling oppressed by any
appreciable awe of their surroundings. So was it, and even more so, in
ancient Rome. The fact that there were shrines or public buildings on
all sides did not prevent the Romans from loitering and loafing in the
Forum, from sitting on the steps of a temple or a basilica, or leaning
against its columns or statues, or playing at a sort of draughts or of
backgammon on its marble platforms--the lines to put the "men" upon
are here and there still visible upon the pavements--or even
scratching a name or a drawing on a pillar. In certain parts the Forum
was alive with the bustle of financial business and, doubtless under
certain limitations, with the traffic of the pedlar. Curiosities were
exhibited, the crier shouted his advertisements, and, in short, the
place was almost as freely used for the vulgar purposes of ordinary
life as for the dignified gatherings and ceremonies which to our minds
appear so much more appropriate to it. Though we are not yet dealing
with the social life of Rome, whether indoor or outdoor, it seems
advisable to make this observation before proceeding.

[Illustration: FIG. 17.--THE ROSTRA: BACK VIEW. (Probable
restoration for A.D. 64.)]

Let us now stand at F and look about us toward the Capitol, noting
only the chief features of the scene. The reader would do well to
consider the plan along with the frontispiece to this book. We are
upon an open space paved with marble slabs, round which stand sundry
honorary statues and various minor monuments into which we need not
now enquire. Facing us, toward the far end, is a platform about 80
feet long and 11 feet in height, with marble facing. A trellis-work
rail, or pierced screen, runs along it at either side, and also
extends along the front for one-third of the distance from either end.
The one-third in the middle of the front is open. This platform is
approached by a flight of steps at the back, while in the sheer face
are set as ornaments rows of bronze "beaks" or "rams" cut from ships
captured in war. From these "beaks" the platform obtains its name--the
Rostra. It is the platform for harangues delivered to the Roman
people--the Roman citizens who are politely assumed to be the body
politic--and the open space on the front is the position for the
orator. It is from this stand that important announcements are made to
the people at large. An emperor or his nominee may speak from it; a
magistrate may deliver some pronouncement; a political exhortation may
be uttered; in the case of a public funeral, or even of the private
obsequies in some eminent family, an oration over the deceased may be
spoken with that finished and animated elocution which the Romans so
zealously cultivated, and which the Italians still affect with no
little success. It is not indeed the same platform as was used by
Cicero and the orators of the republic: this stood elsewhere, and
doubtless the substance of public speaking had declined deplorably
since that day. Nevertheless many a torrent of rich and sonorous Latin
must have streamed over the Forum from that noble standing-place, and
it must still have been worth while for a Roman to develop both his
speaking voice and his oratorical art. Still further back, to the
right behind the Rostra, there stands the Temple of Concord, where the
Senate in older times gathered on more than one occasion to listen to
Cicero, and where the emperors have formed practically a gallery of
works of art; to the left is the Temple of Saturn, long used as the
Roman Treasury, of which eight pillars still remain as perhaps the
most conspicuous feature among the existing ruins. Another object in
the background to the left, at the rear of the Rostra, will be a stone
pillar coated with gilded bronze, upon which the first emperor,
Augustus, inscribed the names of the great roads leading out from Rome
into the length and breadth of the empire, with a list of the chief
towns to which those roads would take you, and their distances. The
name of this pillar is the "Golden Milestone." Behind these objects,
running along the high face of the Capitoline Hill, are visible the
arcades of the Record Office, of which the greater portion still
exists, though stripped of its architectural graces and built over and
about in more modern times, in the state represented in FIG. 18. Still
higher on the summit to the left, with its gilded tiles glistening in
the sun--at least they were gilded within the next few years--rises
the most sacred structure of all, the building most closely identified
in the Roman mind with the eternity of the empire. This is the
splendid temple of Jove, Supreme and Most Benign. Of this edifice
nothing considerable except its platform now remains, its site being
occupied by an object of which the existence would have been
inconceivable to the ancient Roman--to wit, the German Embassy. On the
other summit, a fortified citadel to your right stands the temple of
the consort of Jupiter. In this shrine she was known as Juno Moneta,
and since, attached to her temple in this citadel, was the office of
the Roman coinage, her name Moneta has become familiar to modern
mouths in the form of "the Mint." If you seek the place of this temple
now, you must look for it under the Church of Santa Maria in Ara
Coeli.

[Illustration: FIG. 18.--RUINS OF FORUM.]

[Illustration: Photo, Anderson. (Record Office in background with
modern building above.)]

Next, instead of looking up at the hill, glance to your left, and you
will see running along that side of the Forum, beside the Sacred Way,
a spacious public building known as the Basilica of Julius, that is to
say, of Julius Caesar. It is an edifice of a type familiar in cities
of the Roman world. You mount the steps from the Sacred Way and find
yourself under an outer two-storied arcade suitable for lounging or
promenading while discussing business or gossip with your friends.
Passing from this inwards you are in a building which consists of a
covered colonnade, or nave, about 270 feet in length, with a row of
pillars on either hand. On each side is a gallery, or upper floor,
from which spectators may look down upon the interior, or, from the
outer side, upon the open Forum. At the far end is a recess with a
raised tribunal, shut off, if necessary, by railings. In other
basilicas there may be an apse at this point, similarly enclosed. This
serves as a court of justice, round which the curious may stand, or
upon which listening spectators may gaze from the ends of the
galleries above. Meanwhile up and down the open space of the nave all
kinds of verbal business may be transacted by appointment, exactly as
such business used to be carried on in old St. Paul's Cathedral in
London or in churches elsewhere. In what may be called the inner
side-aisle are situated offices of various kinds, including those of
sundry public corporations, boards, or commissions. The whole of this
great hall is paved with coloured marbles; its pillars are coated with
marble; its ceiling is adorned with painting and gilt; it is
embellished with statues; and it is lighted from above by a
clerestory. Though the question has been debated, it is almost certain
that it was mainly from buildings like this, or from rooms similarly
constructed in palatial houses, that the early Church developed its
basilicas--with their nave, aisles, and clerestory, and with their
railed apse at the end, where was placed the chair of the bishop on
its dais. Across the Forum on the opposite side, to your right, lies
another structure of the same kind, in artistic respects more
excellent. In this, the Basilica Aemilia, the chief business was that
of the bankers and money-changers, although it served various other
purposes according to convenience.

If you could see round the farther end of this basilica to the right,
you would perceive the beginning of one of the busiest streets in
Rome--the Argiletum--chiefly known to fame as a favourite quarter of
the booksellers, who fasten on their door-posts, or on the pillars
which support a balcony or upper floor, the lists of the newest or
most popular publications to be bought within. And where that street
enters the Forum, though standing back a little from your line of
vision--perhaps you can catch sight of the top of it over the corner
of the Basilica--is the temple-like Senate-House with its offices.
Here is the meeting-place of the six hundred who nominally govern
jointly with the emperor. If you visit Rome to-day you will find the
greater part of the actual chamber, though miserably despoiled,
bearing the name of the church of S. Adriano.

[Illustration: FIG. 19.--N.E. OF FORUM, A.D. 64. (Complementary to
frontispiece.)

From left: in background, Record Office, with Temple of Concord and
Rostra below; on summit, Temple of Juno and Citadel; below, Prison,
with shrine of Janus in front. To right: Basilica Aemilia, with gable
of Senate-House beyond. (Largely after Tognetti.)]

The little building, half arch, half shrine, which you observe
standing free where the roads converge upon the Forum, is the famous
sanctuary of Janus, of which the doors are never shut unless there is
complete peace throughout the Roman world. So long as Rome is anywhere
engaged in a great or little war, the open doors of Janus tell the
fact to a people which might otherwise be unconscious of so slight or
remote a circumstance.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: FIG. 20.--TEMPLE OF FORTUNA AUGUSTA. (Pompeii.)]

We need not describe in detail the temple of Castor, or rather of the
"Twin Brethren," which stands immediately to your left, or that of the
deified Julius Caesar, which is just behind you, on the spot where the
body of the great dictator was burned. It is perhaps more interesting
to note the ordinary--though not by any means the only--form of the
Roman temple in general. Those who have seen the so-called Maison
Carrée at Nimes will possess a fair notion of the commonest or most
typical shape and arrangement. For the most part we have a rather
lofty platform, mounted from one end by steps, which are flanked by
walls or balustrades, often bearing at their extremities equestrian
statues or other appropriate figures. Upon the platform stands the
temple proper, consisting of a chamber containing the statue of the
god. Where more than one deity are combined in the same temple--as in
that of Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill, where the supreme deity has
Juno and Minerva to left and right of him--there may either be as many
separate chambers or as many chapel-like bays as there are deities.
The altar for sacrifice stands outside opposite the entrance, being
placed either upon the top of the main platform or more commonly on a
minor platform of its own in the middle of the steps. In most cases
the chamber stands back behind a row, in some instances two rows, of
columns, which support the characteristic entablature seen in the
illustrations. In the case of the more grandiose temples a series of
columns may run all round the building, carrying an extension of the
roof, under which is thus formed a covered colonnade. More commonly
the sides and back of the chamber have only what are known as
"engaged" columns, as it were half-embedded in the wall. The roof is
gabled and tiled, with ornaments along the eaves. The front has an
embellished entablature, with its triangle of masonry called the
"pediment," consisting of a cornice overhanging a sunken surface
decorated with a sculptured group. Over each angle, right, left, and
summit, is a base of stone supporting some conspicuous ornament, such
as a statue, an eagle, or a figure in a chariot. In the middle of the
front of the building, behind the columns of the portico, are double
doors, commonly made of decorated bronze, with an open grating of the
same metal above them. The whole is outwardly of marble, either all
white or with colour in the pillars, but the core of at least the
platform is commonly made of the immensely strong Roman concrete, or
else of blocks of the less beautiful and costly kinds of stone.

In point of architectural style the Romans of this date--who in
artistic matters were but imitators of the Greeks and far less certain
in taste than their masters--affected the Corinthian, as being the
most florid. Even this they could not leave in its native purity, but
for the most part converted it into Graeco-Roman or composite
varieties. A prime fault of the Roman taste was then, as it has always
been, a love of gorgeousness, of excessive and obtrusive ornament. In
almost any Roman church of to-day we find the walls and pillars stuck
about with figures, slabs, and so-called decorations to such an extent
that the finer lines and proportions are often ruined, The ancient
Roman likewise was commonly under the impression that the more
decoration you added, the more magnificent was the building. There
were doubtless many buildings in simpler and purer taste, probably
executed by Greek artists under the authority of some Roman who
happened to possess a finer judgment or less self-assertiveness.
Nevertheless the fault of over-elaboration is distinctly Roman.

[Illustration: FIG. 21.--SO-CALLED TEMPLE OF THE SIBYL AT TIVOLI.]

We must not omit to say that, besides temples of this typical
rectangular form, there were others of a round shape, encircled by
columns, like that graceful structure at Tivoli commonly, though
mistakenly, known as the temple of the Sibyl, and that small building
which still exists in an impoverished condition near the Tiber, and
which used to bear the erroneous title of the temple of Vesta. Others
again were simply round and domed, like the true temple of Vesta in
the Forum, or the superb and impressive Pantheon in the Campus
Martius. So far as the bare round was broken in these cases, it was
either by a pillared portico, as with the Pantheon, or by engaged
columns and ornament, as with the true temple of Vesta.

The mention of the temple of Vesta reminds us that it is time to face
about, and, passing behind the temple of Julius, to look in the
opposite direction, from V. Before us lies this circular shrine, a
form gradually developed from the primitive round hut which once
served as house to the prehistoric ancestors of the Roman stock. As it
was the duty of the maiden daughters of that ancient tribe to keep
alight the fire upon the domestic hearth, so through all the history
of Rome it was the duty of certain chosen virgins to keep perpetually
burning the hearth-fire of the city. The roof of the temple is open in
the middle, and you may perhaps see the smoke issuing from it. But if
you are a male, you may not enter. No man, except the chief Pontifex,
may set foot inside the shrine of the virgin goddess, who is attended
by virgin priestesses. Close behind the temple stands the house of
these Vestals. They are in a large measure the ancient prototype of
the modern nun, and their house is the prototype of the convent. Six
nobly-born young women, sworn to chastity, and dressed in a ritual
garb, live in an edifice of much magnificence under the rule of one
who is the chief Vestal, a sort of Mother Superior. Many pedestals of
the statues of such chief priestesses still remain, and we can clearly
trace the arrangement of their abode, with its open court--once
containing a garden and cool cisterns of pure water--its separate room
for each Vestal, its baths, and its resources of considerable comfort
and even luxury.

[Illustration: FIG. 22.--VESTAL VIRGIN]

If, as you face this way, you look up to your right, you will perceive
the Palatine Hill rising steeply above you, with its summit crowned by
the lofty palaces and gardens constructed by the Caesars. At the side
and corner which look down upon the Forum stands the part built by
Caligula, the epileptic who thought himself no less than a god, and
who in consequence not only turned the temple of Castor into a lower
vestibule to his own house, but also built a bridge across the valley
over the temple of Augustus and the Basilica of Julius to the
Capitoline Hill, so that he might visit and converse with Jupiter, his
only compeer. From the top of the Basilica he occasionally threw money
into the Forum to be scrambled for by people who crushed each other to
death in the process. It would require too much space if we climbed
the sloping road which leads on to the Palatine and examined the
various structures upon that hill. As we now see it in its ruins it is
perhaps the most mysteriously impressive place in the world. But many
alterations and enlargements of the palaces were made after the date
of Nero, and we cannot now be sure of the precise aspect of the
hill-top in his day. Suffice it that, overlooking the Forum,
overlooking the Velabrum Valley which leads from the Forum to the
Tiber, and overlooking the middle of the valley where the vast Circus
or race-ground separated the imperial hill from the Aventine, there
were portions of the huge imperial abodes, rising in several stories
gleaming with marble, and enjoying the purest air and the widest views
obtainable within the city. Nero himself, it is true, was not content
with such mere human housing. After the great fire of this year 64, he
proceeded to make for himself what he called "a home fit for a man,"
and so built--though he never finished--that famous or infamous
"Golden House," which ran from the Palatine all across the upper
Sacred Way and the hollow now occupied by the Colosseum far on to the
opposite hills--a house of countless chambers, with three miles of
colonnade, enclosed gardens large enough to be called a park, and a
statue of himself 120 feet in height. The epigram went that the people
of Rome must migrate, inasmuch as what had once been a city was now
but a private house. This, however, had not yet occurred, and we have
rather to think of palaces and gardens rich indeed, but by no means
occupying the whole of the Palatine Hill alone. There were, of course,
numerous buildings more or less connected with the imperial
establishment, among them being quarters for the officers and soldiers
of the guard. There were also a number of temples, one of which, the
magnificent shrine of Apollo, the god of light and learning, stood in
a court marvellously enriched with sculptured masterpieces, while
connected with it were libraries filled with Greek and Latin books and
adorned with the busts and medallion-portraits or statues of great
authors.

If we proceeded now to walk up the Sacred Way, along the narrow street
edged by jewellers' and other shops, we should meet as yet with no
Arch of Titus, nor in descending beyond should we see any Colosseum,
but only a block of ordinary dwellings, to be swept away later in this
year by the fire which made room here for the ornamental waters of
Nero's Golden House. Turning to the right along the valley between the
Palatine and Caelian Hills, we should not have to pass under any Arch
of Constantine; but, after glancing up to the left at the great
unfinished temple of Claudius and going under the Claudian aqueduct
which carries water to the Palatine, we should proceed between private
houses and gardens till we reached a famous gate in the ancient wall
and found ourselves on that noted Appian Way, which would take us to
Capua and thence over the Apennines to Brindisi and the East. Just
outside the gate we should find the livery-stables, with their
vehicles and horses or mules waiting to be hired for the stage which
would carry us as far as the slope on the southern edge of the Alban
Hills.

But we will not proceed in this direction. From our stand at V in
front of the temple of Vesta we will turn back, walk over the Forum to
the right of the Rostra, between the sanctuary of Janus and the front
of the Senate-House. Thence we will cross an enclosed forum, or public
place, erected by Julius Caesar, with its temple of "Venus the Mother"
in the middle, and so enter the Forum of Augustus. This is worth a
pause. As you pass to-day up the narrow Via Bonella and perceive near
the Pantani Arch a few imposing columns and a patch of rather
depressing bare wall, it requires much effort to realise that here was
once a noble space enclosed by marble-covered walls 100 feet in
height, and that those walls contained in a series of niches a gallery
of statues of all the military heroes and patriots of Roman history
from Aeneas downwards. Meanwhile the few columns at your side are the
sole survivors of the number which surrounded the splendid temple of
Mars the Avenger, the shrine which was identified in imperial times
with the military power of Rome, and which received the standards
captured from the enemy, just as captured flags are to be seen in many
a modern church.

Leaving this Forum, we will not bear to the right to find ourselves
amid the dense population of the Subura and its neighbourhood, but we
will turn to the left and pass between the Capitoline and Quirinal
Hills, which then met more steeply and closely than they did fifty
years later, when Trajan had cut away the rising ground and levelled
an open space which must have been an incalculable advantage to the
convenience of the city. It is perhaps well to observe here that the
piling up of fallen ruins and the deliberate levellings and gradings,
both in ancient and modern times, have greatly altered the appearance
of the often-mentioned hills of Rome, especially of the Quirinal,
Viminal, and Esquiline.

[Illustration: FIG. 23.--TEMPLE OP MARS THE AVENGER IN FORUM OF
AUGUSTUS. (After Ripostelli.)]

Emerging from this too narrow passage-way and proceeding a short
distance, we enter that straight Flaminian Road which has been
replaced by the modern Corso beginning at the Piazza Venezia. For the
first part of its course it was also known as "Broadway." We are now
in that more open part of Rome which lies outside the ancient wall,
and which is commonly spoken of loosely as the Campus Martius. Here
again, it is impossible to inspect all the various sights visible in
the year 64. A few examples must suffice. As you walk along this
straight thorough-fare--the commencement of the road which would
eventually carry you to the North of Italy--you will find but few
buildings of any note on your right. Lying to your left is a long and
wide cloistered space which contains not only certain public offices
and a pillared promenade, but also the richest shops in Rome, where
are sold gold and silver work, objects of art, tapestries, and fine
fabrics from Alexandria, Syria, and farther East. The place is, in
fact, mainly a huge bazaar. Up the Flaminian Way beyond this enclosure
we go under a triumphal arch erected by the late Emperor Claudius to
record his conquest of Britain, where he subdued "eleven kings"
without Roman loss. Keeping straight on we pass, this time on our
right, another large enclosure surrounded by arcades, where is now the
east side of the Piazza Colonna. In and about this locality are
carried on not only promenades and saunterings but also various
athletic exercises, including feats of horsemanship. Farther on still,
and you will see to your left the Mausoleum of Augustus, rising some
220 feet into the air. Its base, coated with sculptured marble,
contains one grand sepulchral chamber for Augustus himself, and
fourteen smaller chambers for members of his family. Above this base
towers a conical mound of earth planted with evergreen trees, and on
the summit is a colossal statue of the first emperor. Close by is a
paved space, where the bodies of the Caesars are cremated before their
ashes are placed in the Mausoleum. From this spot a ready faith saw
their immortal part carried up to heaven by the eagle, messenger of
Jove.

Turning back and passing across the Campus we arrive at the public
baths erected by Nero, and then at the Pantheon. This building, though
shorn of many of its decorative splendours both within and without,
still stands structurally intact, at least as it was restored and
enlarged two generations later than our date. It is scarcely possible
to say how far its shape was altered at its restoration under Hadrian,
but we may provisionally treat the edifice as already belonging to our
period. It is still, after all these centuries, an entirely noble
pile, and forms a fit receptacle for the tomb, not only of Victor
Emanuel, but of Raphael. Its form is that of a rotunda, with walls of
concrete 20 feet in thickness and with a dome of concrete cast in a
solid mass. The middle of the dome is open to the sky, and by that
means the building is lighted in a manner most perfectly suited to it.
Could we behold it fully restored and at its best, we should see above
its portico, which is supported by huge marble pillars each made of a
single stone, large bronze reliefs of gods and giants. To one side of
the doors would be a colossal statue of Augustus; on the other a
colossal statue of the builder Agrippa, the son-in-law of that
emperor. Inside there is a series of niches for colossal effigies of
Mars, Venus, and other deities connected with the Julian family. The
marble pillars dividing the niches have capitals of fine bronze, and
the coffered ceiling of the dome, now bare and colourless, shines with
gilt on blue, like the sky lit up with stars. The doors, which have
mysteriously remained entire, are also of noble bronze; the roof
consists of tiles of bronze thinly plated with gold. The gold has
naturally vanished, after passing into Saracen hands; of the bronze
nearly half a million pounds weight has been stripped from the
building, some to make cannon for the defence of the Castle of St.
Angelo, some to form the twisted columns which now support the giant
baldacchino under St. Peter's dome.

At a short distance behind this magnificent temple Agrippa--who was in
charge of the aqueducts and water-supply--had also built the first
great public baths. It would probably be incorrect to found any
detailed description of them upon what we know of the stupendous
structures of Caracalla and Diocletian, which were perhaps the most
amazing exhibitions of public luxury ever seen in the world. Of these
we know how huge and splendid were the halls, with their coloured
marbles, their mosaic floors, their colossal masterpieces of statuary,
their elaborate arrangements of baths--cold, tepid, hot and
dry-sweating--their conversation-rooms and reading-rooms. But we
cannot pretend to say how far the Agrippan and Neronian baths of the
year 64 corresponded in magnificence to these. We shall be safer in
simply assuming that, since the baths of Pompeii were in full swing in
the year in question, Home must have possessed establishments of a
similar kind but on a larger and more sumptuous scale.

[Illustration: FIG. 24.--EXTERIOR OP THEATRE OF MARCELLUS. (Present
state.)]

Leaving without further mention the various temples of Minerva, Isis,
Serapis, and other deities which might be found about the Campus
Martius, we note an undistinguished stone amphitheatre, the only
resort of the kind as yet possessed by the metropolis. In this were
exhibited the sanguinary combats of gladiators with each other, and
the fights with wild beasts performed by trained professionals or by
criminals selling their lives as dearly as possible. Of these "sports"
we have to treat in a later chapter. Coming nearer to the Tiber, while
returning towards the city proper, we pass in succession the three
great theatres, lofty semicircular constructions of stone and concrete
faced with marble, one computed to hold 40,000 spectators, but
probably accommodating not more than 25,000, and the others some
20,000 and 12,000 respectively. In these matters we must allow both
for Roman exaggeration and Roman close-packing. The theatres rise in
three stories, of which the outward sides consist of open arcades
adorned with pillars in varied styles, while round their bases are
shops for the sale of sweetmeats, beverages, perfumes, and other
articles which the theatre-goer or the loitering public may require.
What a theatrical Performance was like is a matter belonging to the
question of spectacles and amusements. At the back of the largest
theatre--that of Pompey--lies a large square surrounded by colonnades
of a hundred pillars, where sycamores form avenues and fountains play,
while statues of finished workmanship stand where they produce the
best effect. Particularly grateful to the Roman lounger were the seats
in the large semi-circular bays, so placed as to offer full protection
from too hot a sun or too cold a wind.

[Illustration: FIG. 25.--THEATRE OF MARCELLUS. (Restored.)]

[Illustration: FIG. 27.--CIRCUS MAXIMUS (restored); Imperial Palaces
on Palatine to left.]

By the time that we have passed the last theatre of the three we have
arrived at the river end of the low valley leading into the Forum
between the Capitoline Hill and the Palatine, a place which had once
been a cattle-market but had now become an open place surrounded by
dwellings of the humbler sort. It still, however, bore the name of
"Cattle-Market." If from this point we followed the river bank, we
should come to the wharves, to which the smaller ships bring up the
Tiber the freights of grain transhipped from the larger vessels from
Alexandria or Carthage, or of marble from the quarries of Numidia,
Greece, and Phrygia, or of granite and porphyry from Upper Egypt. All
along this bank are the offices and storehouses of such cargoes, and
here too is performed much of the shaping of those blocks which Rome
is using in such astonishing profusion. Along the river by the stone
embankment the ships are moored, with their cables passed through huge
stone corbels or sculptured lions' mouths. No busier part of Rome
could be found than this, but we have no time to proceed further in
this direction.

In front of us rises the Aventine Hill, another quarter of the
wealthy, but otherwise chiefly distinguished by its temples of Juno
the Queen and of Diana. Turning our eyes from the Aventine to the left
we see lying in the valley between Aventine and Palatine--where now
are the Jewish Cemetery and the grimy Gasworks--the vast Circus
Maximus or Hippodrome. This structure, devoted chiefly to
chariot-racing, is some 700 yards in length and 135 in width, and will
at a pinch hold nearly a quarter of a million spectators. In all
probability it would seat 150,000. It consists, as the illustration
will show, of long tiers of seats sweeping down the sides and round
the curved end of an oblong space. As with the theatres, its outside
view presents three tiers of marble arches, and through the lowest
tier are numerous staircases leading to the various sections of the
seats within. Those seats themselves are laid upon large vaults of
concrete; the lower rows are of marble, the upper ones are as yet of
wood. How the chariot-races were run, and what is meant by the "sports
of the circus," will naturally require a separate narration.

Coming back from the entrance of this mammoth place of amusement and
turning up the Velabrum Valley, we pass by a temple of Augustus, to
which is attached a public library, and issue by the temple of Castor
into the Forum to our first standing-point at F.



CHAPTER VIII


STREETS, WATER-SUPPLY, AND BUILDING MATERIAL

After this rapid walk through the more interesting parts of the
capital, we may consider one or two connected topics of natural
interest.

Amid all this splendour and spaciousness of public buildings, what is
the aspect of the ordinary streets? In this respect Rome was by no
means fortunate. As in Old London, Old Paris, or Old New York, the
streets had for the most part grown up as chance circumstances would
have it. There were very few thoroughfares laid out straight from the
first like the Flaminian or "Broad" Road. Alexandria and Antioch were
the creations of monarchs who began with a clear field and a
consistent scheme. Their straight, broad streets might well be the
envy of the capital. The Romans, then as now, possessed the
engineering genius, but they could not well undo the work of a
struggling past, which had necessitated the crowding of population,
within the defences of a wall. They knew how to supply the city
abundantly with water, and how to drain it with sewers of great
capacity and strength. The chief of such sewers--the Cloaca
Maxima--which passed underneath the Forum to the Tiber and was laid
down more than twenty-five centuries ago, is still in working order.
But no republican or imperial government ever took it in hand to
Hansmannise the city, even after one of those devastating
conflagrations which might seem to have cleared the way. It is true
that all traffic of vehicles, except for special processions, for
Vestal Virgins, and a few other cases--was forbidden for ten hours in
the day. All through the morning and afternoon there were no wheels in
the Roman streets, unless some public building imperatively demanded
its load of stones or timber, or unless the few privileged persons
were proceeding in their carriages to some festival. Nevertheless the
rich men and women in their litters or sedan-chairs, attended by their
servants or their clients; the porters carrying their heavy loads; the
itinerant hucksters; and the ordinary man on errand or other business
bent, made up crowds which were often difficult to pass through.

Another consequence of the old compression within narrow walls was
that, as population increased, the houses grew more lofty. How high
the Romans built, or were allowed to build, in republican times we
cannot tell. The tendency was certainly to build higher and higher,
and sky-scrapers would perhaps have become the rule if the ancient
Roman had understood the use of materials both sufficiently light and
sufficiently strong, or if he had been forced to establish his work on
secure foundations. In point of fact there had been, and there
continued to be, too much of jerry-building. Houses sometimes
collapsed, and many were unsubstantially shored up. A flood or an
earthquake was apt to find them out, and there was frequent peril in
the streets. The majority of the abodes of people of humble means were
not like those in smaller towns, such as Pompeii, still less like
those in the country. They were "tenement houses," large blocks let
out in rooms and flats, and it was natural that landlords should make
haste to run them up and to increase the number of their stories. When
Augustus became emperor he enacted what may be called a Metropolitan
Building Act, which insisted on firmer foundations and limited the
height to 70 feet. That act was apparently still in force in the age
of Nero, and we may take it that along the more frequented streets the
houses commonly ran to a height of four or five stories. They looked
the taller because of the narrowness of the street itself. While it is
perhaps, though not necessarily, an exaggeration for the
epigrammatist--who lived "up three pair of stairs, and high ones"--to
say that he could touch his opposite neighbour with his hand, it is at
least an indication of the truth. Some of the narrower lanes between
blocks cannot have been more than a few feet across.

Nor does it appear that the occupants' of rooms opening on the streets
were very particular as to what they threw out in the way of rubbish
or dirty water. It is true that there were aediles, or officers to
look after the order of the streets and public places, but their
efforts seem to have been mainly directed to preventing conspicuous
obstruction. Practices which we should regard as heinous were treated
lightly or disregarded. To make matters worse, the shopkeepers, who
occupied the lower fronts of most of such houses, took the greatest
liberties in encroaching upon the roadway when exhibiting their wares,
and it was not till twenty years later than our date that the Emperor
Domitian ordered them to keep within their own thresholds.

Apart from the question of the freedom of traffic, it can be readily
imagined that, with all the wooden counters, doors, and shutters down
below, and with the disproportionate quantity of woodwork in the
beams, floors, and even walls above, fires were of the commonest
occurrence, and, with streets so high and narrow, the conflagration of
a whole quarter of the town was speedy and complete. Augustus had
divided the metropolitan area into fourteen regions, and had
distributed over these a force of 7000 watchmen to keep the peace and
to deal with fires at night; but it was not to be expected, if a fire
occurred in a lofty block, that this body, assisted or hampered by the
neighbours, could do much with the buckets, siphons, and wet blankets
which formed the extinguishing apparatus of the time.

Another serious danger, or, when not danger, at least discomfort, came
from the trick which the Tiber has always had of flooding the lower
parts of the city. Somewhat later than our date the river restrained
by strong stone embankments, which one had to descend by steps in
order to reach the river at the ferries or other boats; but this must
have been but inadequately achieved in the early period of the empire,
and a severe flood might bring the houses in the Velabrum, for
example, tumbling about the ears of their inhabitants.

       *       *       *       *       *

On the whole the streets of Neronian Rome were neither very
comfortable nor very safe to walk in. At night there was no lighting,
except when, at some great festival, illuminations might be made by
order of the emperor for a whole night or perhaps a series of nights.
In ordinary times torches and lanterns must be provided by yourself,
and even the 7000 watchmen scarcely gave you a full feeling of
security. The precise arrangements made for scavenging are unknown,
but presumably it was done by the public slaves under the supervision
of the aediles. It is, however, easy to discover from contemporary
complaints that the streets were often annoyingly wet and slimy.

One thing the ordinary Roman appears never to have minded, any more
than it is minded at the present day. This was noise. There are
studious men enough in ancient literature who complain that sleep or
study is impossible in Rome. They exclaim upon the bawling of the
hawkers, the canting songs of the beggars, the banging of hammers, the
sing-song of schoolboys learning to read in the open-air verandahs or
balconies which often served as schools, and the shouting in the
baths. All night long there was the rattle of carts and the creaking
of heavy waggons. But the average Roman cared, and still cares, very
little for quiet or sleep, and no emperor attempted to check the
annoyance. Perhaps he could devise no check. Perhaps he himself, being
on the Palatine, and his counsellors, being in their own comparatively
secluded houses on the hills, scarcely realised the full enormity of
the nocturnal roar of Rome. In any case the fact of the noise is
unquestionable. It was then very much as it is now if one tries to
sleep in rooms in the Corso or the Via Babuino. The saying that "God
made the country and man made the town" is met with in a Roman writer
of the age of Augustus, and the noise is one factor in the difference.

The ancient Romans, we have said, were masters of practical
engineering, and a chief glory of the city was its abundant supply of
water. Apart from the Tiber and the natural springs, there were in the
year 64 at least eight aqueducts bringing drinkable water into the
city. It was the emperor's concern to see to this matter, as he did to
the corn-supply, but in practice he appointed what he might call his
Minister of Water-supply, and gave him liberal means to provide a
large staff of engineers, surveyors, masons, pipelayers, inspectors,
and custodians. It is a common error to imagine that the Romans were
ignorant of the simple hydraulic law that water will find its own
level, and to suppose that their aqueducts were built in consequence
of that ignorance. In point of fact they knew the law as well as we
do. Their earlier aqueducts were conduits almost wholly underground;
their later were all on arches. When they wished to carry water to a
height within the city, up a watertower to a distributing cistern, or
to the top storey of a building, they did so by pipes, just as we
should; but when they brought water from forty miles away they
preferred to bring it in channels lined with impermeable cement and
carried upon arches, which wound across the country according to the
levels in order to avoid the excessive pressure of too steep a
gradient. The reasons for their choice are simple enough. Their chief
difficulty was in making pipes of iron of sufficient capacity. On the
other hand, it was easy to construct a cemented channel in masonry of
any size you desired. In the next place the water about Rome rapidly
lays a calcareous deposit, and it is much easier to clear this from a
readily accessible channel than from pipes buried in the ground. The
pipes which the Romans commonly made were of lead, bronze, or wood.
None of these could be made and cleared cheaply enough to serve for
the volume of water required for household use, the baths, and the
public fountains of Rome. Meanwhile slave labour was inexpensive, and
the cost of building an aqueduct of any length was of little account
to the Roman.

When the water reached the city it was conducted into settling and
distributing reservoirs and its flow regulated. Thence it was carried
by pipes, mostly of lead, wherever it was required. When Agrippa was
minister of water-supply he constructed in the city 700 public pools
or basins and 500 fountains, drawing their supply from 130 collecting
heads or reservoirs. And it is to the credit of Agrippa and of Rome
that all these pools, fountains, and reservoirs were made pleasant to
the eye with suitable adornment. There is mention of 400 marble
columns and 300 statues, but these are to be regarded as only chief
among the embellishments.

The streets of Rome were commonly paved with blocks of lava quarried
in the neighbourhood from the abundant deposits which had formed in a
not very remote volcanic period.

The materials employed for substantial building were various; in the
older days red and black tufa--a stone so soft as to require
protection by a layer of stucco; later the dark-brown peperino, the
golden-creamy travertine, marble white and coloured, and concrete. The
modern visitor to Rome who regards the ruins but superficially would
naturally imagine that many of the edifices were mainly constructed of
brick. In reality there was no building so composed. The flat
triangular bricks, or rather tiles, which are so much in evidence, are
but inserted in the face of concrete to cover the nakedness of that
material. Concrete alone might serve for cores and substructures, but
those parts of the building which showed were required to present a
more pleasing surface. At the date of Nero this might be achieved by a
fronting of marble slabs and blocks, but more commonly it was obtained
by means of the triangular red or yellow tiles above mentioned. In
buildings of slightly earlier date the exterior often presented a
"diamond pattern" or network arrangement of square pieces of stone
inserted in the concrete while it was still soft. The huge vaults and
arches affected by the Romans made concrete a particularly convenient
material, and nothing could better illustrate its strength than the
tenacity with which it has endured the strain in the unsupported
portions of the vaults of the Basilica of Constantine. Any of the more
imposing buildings which were not mainly of concrete were composed of
blocks of stone, held to each other by clamps soldered in with lead.
Few, if any, such buildings were made entirely of marble. In the case
of those composes of the other varieties of stone already named, the
surface was commonly coated either with stucco or with marble facings
attached by hook-like clamps fixed into the main structure Externally
the appearance of Rome--so far as its public buildings are
concerned-was that of a city of marble. The present having been for
centuries torn away, either to be used elsewhere, or more often to be
burned down for lime.

[Illustration: FIG. 28.--BUILDING MATERIALS. (From Middleton.)]



CHAPTER IX


THE ROMAN TOWN HOUSE

We have taken a general survey of the city of Rome, its open places,
streets, and public buildings. We may now look at the houses in which
the Romans lived, and at the furniture to be expected inside them.

Mention has already been made of the large and lofty tenement houses
or blocks, often mere human rookeries, which were let out in lodgings
to those who did not possess sufficient means to occupy a separate
domicile of their own. These buildings, which were naturally to be
found in the busier streets and more thickly inhabited quarters, were
not, however, the habitations most typical of the romanized world.
They were created by the special circumstances of the city, and might
recur in other towns wherever the conditions were similar. The cramped
island part of Tyre, for example, possessed houses even loftier than
those of Rome. Where there was sufficient room--that is to say, where
there was no large population crowded into a space limited by nature
or by walls of defence--the ordinary house was of a very different
character. It was built on a different plan and seldom ran to more
than two stories, if so high. We shall shortly proceed to describe
such a house; but it is first desirable to say something more of the
tenement "block" in the metropolis. It is to be regretted that no such
building has actually come down to us; we are therefore compelled to
form our notions of one from the scattered references and hints of
literature. Nevertheless if these are read in the light of customs
still observable in Rome itself and in other parts of Italy, the
picture becomes fairly definite.

A block--or "island," as it was called--might be a building of four or
five stories, surrounded by four of the narrow streets, lanes, or
alleys which formed a network in the city. Whether managed by the
landlord, by his agent, or by a tenant who sub-let at a profit, it was
divided into lodgings, which might consist either of a single room or
of a suite. Some such rooms and flats were "ordinary," others were
described (as they are still in the advertisements of modern Rome) as
"suitable for a gentleman," or, to use the exact language of the day,
"suitable for a knight." Access to the respective quarters of the
house was to be gained, not solely through a main door, but by
separate stairs leading up directly from the streets and lanes. It
would appear that each tenant had his own key, corresponding, though
hardly in convenience of size, to our latch-key. Whereas it will be
found that the ordinary private house of one storey was for the most
part lighted by openings in the roof and by wide courts, this
arrangement could manifestly be applied only partially to the tall
tenement buildings. There might, it is true, exist in the middle
interior of such a block an open space or "well," with galleries
running round it at each floor, so that the inner rooms could obtain
light from that quarter. It is also to be assumed that stairs ran up
to these galleries, so that the inward rooms or flats were made
accessible in this way. Mainly, however, the light came from windows
opening on the street. If we glanced up at these from below we should
find them narrower than ours at the present day--since we have
discovered how to produce large and entirely diaphanous sheets of
glass--but probably not narrower than those of a century ago. They
were either mere openings with shutters, or, in the better houses,
were glazed with transparent material. In the brighter part of the
year they contained their boxes of flowering or other plants, and were
often provided with a shade-awning not unlike those so familiar in
Paris.

The roof of such a building was either gabled and covered with tiles
or, though perhaps less often, it was flat. The flat roof sometimes
formed a terrace, on which the plants of a "roof-garden" might be
found growing either in earthenware tubs or in earth spread over a
layer of impermeable cement. The lowest floor, level with the street,
commonly consisted of shops, which were open at full length in the
day, but were shuttered and barred at night. As with the shops which
are now built into the sides of large hotels and the like, they had no
communication with the interior of the building. Regularly, however,
they possessed a short staircase at the back or side leading to an
upper room or _entresol_, where, in the poorer instances, the
shopkeeper might actually reside. To the aristocratic Roman, with his
contempt of petty trade, "born in the shop-loft" was a contemptuous
phrase for a "son of nobody."

Meanwhile the more representative houses of the strictly Roman part of
the Roman world--that is to say, the dwellings of Romans or of
imitators of Romans, wherever they might be settled, as distinct from
the Greek and Oriental houses or from the various kinds of primitive
huts to be found among the Western provincials--were of three chief
kinds. These were the town house, the country seat, and the country
homestead. There was, of course, nothing to prevent a wealthy Roman
from building his town house exactly like a country seat, or vice
versa, if he had so chosen, but from considerations of purpose, apart
from those of local space and view, it would have been altogether
irrational to take either course. The conditions of his life in town
and country differed even more widely than they do with us. The
average Roman, moreover, was a lover of variety in respect of his
habitation. We find in a somewhat later epigrammatist that one grandee
keeps up four town houses in Rome itself, and moves capriciously
from one to the other, so that you never know where you will find
him. At different seasons or in different moods he might prefer
this or that situation or aspect. As for country seats of various
degrees of magnificence, a man might--like many modern nobles or
royalties--possess three, four, a dozen, or twenty. He might, for
example, own one or more on the Italian Lakes, one in Tuscany, one on
the Sabine or Alban Hills, one on the coast within a half-day's run of
Rome, one on the Bay of Naples, one down in the heel of Italy, and so
on. Pliny the Younger, who was born in the reign of Nero, was not a
particularly rich man, yet he owned several country seats on Lake Como
alone, besides others nearer to Rome on north and south, at the
seaside, or on the hills.

We may begin with a town house, and our simplest procedure is to take
a plan exhibiting those parts which were most usual for an
establishment of even moderate pretensions. Let it be understood that
it is but the symmetrical outline of a general scheme which was in
practice submitted to indefinite enlargement or modification. In the
house of Livia, the mother of Augustus, on the Palatine Hill at Rome,
and in various houses at Pompeii--such as those of the Vettii, of
"Sallust," of the "Faun," or of "The Tragic Poet"--there will be found
much diversity in the number and arrangement of the rooms, halls, and
courts. Nevertheless the main principle of division, the general
conception of the portions requisite for their several purposes, was
practically the same. Some of the differences and enlargements may be
illustrated after we have considered our first simple outline. Before
we undertake this, however, it may be well to warn any one who may
have visited or be about to visit Pompeii, that he must exclude from
his thoughts all those small premises of a room or two which face so
many of the streets. These were mostly shops, with which we are not
now dealing. He must also exclude all the public edifices. This done,
he must remember that we now possess only portions of the walls
without the roofs, and that in such circumstances apartments always
appear to be much smaller than they are by actual measurement, or than
they appear when they contain their furniture and appointments
properly disposed. Finally, he must not take a Pompeian house, even
the most spacious, as a fair example of either the size or splendour
of the great houses in the metropolis. Pompeii was but a small place,
with a population of no great wealth or standing, and its houses would
have cut but a provincial figure among those of the same date on the
Aventine, Caelian, Esquiline, or Quirinal Hills. Nevertheless they are
extremely useful to us in reconstructing the type. It is that type and
not the exception which we now consider.

A town house might either be detached or it might stand in a street,
like one of the tenement-blocks, with shops let into the less
important parts of the outer wall of the ground floor. Much would
naturally depend upon the means and dignity of the owner. In any case
the interior portions would belong to the private residence. As a rule
the exterior of the ordinary house was little regarded. No
architecture was wasted upon it; decoration and other magnificence
belonged to the interior. Provided a house possessed a more or less
imposing doorway its exterior walls might be left either to shops or
to a dull monochrome of stucco, pierced here and there, if necessary,
at 9 or 10 feet from the ground by barred slits, which cannot be
called windows, for the admittance of light. The general principle of
a Roman house, as of a Greek, was that of rooms surrounding spaces
lighted from within. Privacy from the outer world was not indeed so
scrupulously sought by the Romans as by the Athenians--principally
because of the more free position occupied by the Roman
women--nevertheless it was secured by the absence of ground-floor
windows opening on any thoroughfare.

[Illustration: FIG. 29.--TYPICAL SCHEME OF ROMAN HOUSE.]

Before the actual door there was commonly an open recess or space a
little backward from the street, in which callers could wait until the
door was opened. This was the "vestibule," and in the case of the
larger houses of the nobles it was often adorned with honorary
statues, on horseback or otherwise, while above the door might be seen
the insignia of triumphs won by the family, a decoration in some
measure corresponding to the modern hatchment, except that it was
permanently fixed. This regularly remained as a mark of the house even
when it changed owners. It was in such a vestibule of his Golden House
that Nero erected his own colossal statue, destined afterwards to give
its name to the Colosseum. Over the larger vestibules there might be a
partial roof, but generally, and perhaps always at this date, they
were without cover.

Facing you in the middle of the vestibule are double or folding doors,
more or less ornate with bronze, ivory, and other work, and generally
bearing a large ring or handle to serve either as a knocker or to pull
the door to. Above them is a bronze grating or fretwork for further
adornment and to admit light and air. Some householders, more
superstitious or conventional than the rest, affected an inscription,
such as "Let no evil enter here," and over some humbler entrance you
might find a cage containing a parrot or magpie, which had been
trained to say "Good luck to you" in Greek. At either side of the
door, or of the actual entrance to the vestibule, is a column or
pilaster, either made of timber and cased with other woods of a more
beautiful and costly kind, or consisting of coloured marble with an
ornate capital. These "doorposts" were wreathed with laurel or other
foliage on festal occasions, such as when the occupant had won some
distinguished honour in the field, in the courts, or at the elections,
or when a marriage took place from within. At funerals small cypress
trees or branches would be placed in and about the vestibule. At one
side of it you might sometimes find a smaller door, to be used for the
ordinary going in and out when it was unnecessary or inconvenient for
the larger doors to be opened.

[Illustration: FIG. 30.--ENTRANCE TO HOUSE OF PANSA. (Pompeii.)]

The doors themselves turn, not upon hinges of the modern kind, but
upon pivots, which move, often too noisily, in sockets let into the
threshold and lintel. The fastenings consisted of locks--often highly
ingenious--of a bar laid across from wall to wall, of bolts shot
across or upward and downward, and sometimes of a prop leaning against
the inside of the door and entering a cavity in the floor of the
passage. The floor of the entrance passage itself might be paved with
marble tiles, or made simply of a polished cement with or without
patterns worked in it; or it might consist of small cubes of stone,
white and black or more variously coloured, frequently worked into
figures, and now and then accompanied by an inscription just within
the threshold, such as "Greeting" or "Beware the Dog." In one Pompeian
house the floor bears the well-known mosaic likeness of a dog held
upon its chain. At the side of the passage there is often a smaller
room for the janitor. When there is none, he must be supposed to have
used a movable seat.

Passing through the passage, you find yourself in a rectangular hall,
upon which was lavished the chief display in the way of loftiness and
decoration. In the middle of the ceiling is an open space, square or
oblong, to which the tiles of the gabled roof converge from above, and
in the middle of the floor beneath is a corresponding basin, edged and
paved with coloured or plain marble. The basin is of no great depth,
and contains the water which has been poured into it from the
ornamental pipe-mouths of bronze or terra-cotta projecting, like
gargoyles, from the edge of the opening above. Sometimes the basin
contained a fountain. There is of course an outlet pipe for the
surplus water, but some of that overflow often ran into a covered
cistern, over which you would find a small circular well-mouth,
ornamented with sculptured reliefs. The opening in the ceiling may be
formed simply by the space between the four cross-beams, or it may be
supported by a pillar--of marble or of brick cased with marble--at
each corner, or it may rest upon a greater number of such pillars. It
is this opening which lets in the light and air to the hall, and it
should always be remembered that the Italian house had more occasion
to seek coolness and freshness than warmth. On a day of glaring
sunshine and heat it was always possible to spread under the opening
an awning or curtain of purple or other colour, of which the reflected
hues meanwhile lent a richness to the space below. If we take one of
the finer houses, we shall see, in glancing at the ceiling which
covers the rest of the hall, that it is divided into sunken panels or
coffers, which are adorned with reliefs in stucco and are painted, or
else are decorated with copper, gold or ivory. The height may be
whatever the owner wishes, but perhaps 25 feet would be a modest
average estimate. The floor in such a house will generally consist of
slabs of marble or of marble tiles arranged in patterns. In houses of
less show it may be made of the same materials as those described for
the entrance passage. To right and left are various chambers, shut off
by lofty doors or by portières or both. To these light is admitted
their doors and the gratings over them, from the high window-slits
already mentioned in the outer wall, or sometimes, when there is no
upper storey, from sky-lights. And here let it be observed that the
notion that the Romans of this date used very little glass is
altogether erroneous, as the discoveries at Pompeii and elsewhere
sufficiently prove.

[Illustration: FIG. 31.--Interior of Roman House. (Looking from
Reception-hall to Peristyle.)]

The walls of the hall are in the better instances either coated with
panels of tinted marble, or parcelled out in bright bands or oblongs
of paint, or decorated with pictures of mythological, architectural,
and other subjects worked in bright colours upon darkened stucco. To
our own taste these colours--red, yellow, bluish-green, and others--as
seen at Pompeii, are often excessively crude and badly harmonised. But
while it is true that the ancients appear to have been actually
somewhat deficient in colour-sense, it must be borne in mind that many
of the Pompeian houses were decorated by journeymen rather than by
artists, and, above all, full allowance must be made for the
comparatively subdued light in which most of the paintings would be
seen. The hall might also contain statuary placed against the walls or
against the supporting pillars, where these existed. At the farther
end from the entrance you will perceive to right and left two large
recesses or bays, generally with pilasters on either side. These
"wings" were utilised for a variety of purposes. One of them might
occasionally serve for a smaller dining-room, or it might hold presses
and cupboards. In noble houses one of them would contain certain
family possessions of which the occupants were especially proud. These
were the effigies of distinguished ancestors, which served as a
family-tree represented in a highly objective form. At our chosen date
there would be a series of portrait busts or else of portrait
medallions, in relief or painted, while in special receptacles,
labelled underneath with name and rank, were kept life-like wax masks
of the line of distinguished persons, which could be brought out and
carried in procession at the funeral of a member of the family. Though
there was no "College of Heralds" in antiquity, it was commonly quite
possible for a wealthy parvenu to get a pedigree invented for him. It
is true that by use and wont the "right of effigies" was confined to
those families which had held the higher offices of state, but there
was no specific law on the subject, and the Roman _nouveau riche_
could act exactly like his modern representative in securing his
"portraits of ancestors."

[Illustration: FIG. 32.--HOUSE OF CORNELIUS RUFUS. (Pompeii.)]

Having thus glanced to right and left, to the ceiling and the floor,
we now look at the end of the hall facing us. The middle section of
this is open, and is framed by a couple of high pillars or pilasters
and a cornice, which together formed perhaps the most distinguishing
feature of this part of the house. Between the pillars is an apartment
which may or may not be raised a step or two above the level of the
hall. This, unlike the hall itself, is of the nature of a
sitting-room, reception-room, or "parlour" (in the old sense of that
word), and contains appropriate furniture. In it the master receives a
guest, interviews his clients, makes up his accounts, and transacts
such other private business as may fall to his lot. At the back it may
be entirely closed, or it may contain a large window, through which we
can catch a vista of the colonnaded and planted court beyond. The
floor may here consist of a large carpet-like mosaic, such as that
famous piece, taken from the House of the Faun at Pompeii and now in
the Naples Museum, which represents a battle between Alexander and the
Persians. To one side of the entrance to this "parlour" there will
often stand on a pedestal the bust of the owner, as "Genius of the
home." On the other side there is a passage serving as the means of
access to the second or inner division of the house.

[Illustration: FIG. 33.--PERISTYLE WITH GARDEN AND AL FRESCO
DINING-TABLE.]

On making our way through this passage we find ourselves in a space
still more open than the hall. It is commonly an unroofed,
quadrangular court surrounded by a roofed colonnade, and thence known
as the "peristyle." Or the colonnade may extend only round three
sides, the back being free to the garden. In the uncovered space lying
between the rows of pillars there are ornamental shrubs and flowers,
marble tables, a cistern of water containing goldfish, a fountain, and
marble basins into which fresh water is spouted from bronze or marble
statuettes, from figures of animals, or from masks. Under the
colonnade are marble floors or other more or less rich pavements,
decorated walls, and such works of art as the owner most affects.

[Illustration: FIG. 34.--PERISTYLE IN HOUSE OF THE VETTII. (Present
state.)]

When it seems desirable for shade and coolness, coloured curtains or
awnings may be suspended between the columns, so that one can sit or
walk with comfort under the cloistered portion. At the sides are
apartments for different purposes. At the far end, or elsewhere, there
is regularly the largest dining-room, often with mosaic floor and
generally with pictured walls. Whereabouts in the house the family or
an invited party should dine would depend partly on the number to be
present, partly on the season of the year, and partly on some passing
inclination. A house of any pretensions would possess several rooms
used, or capable of being used, for this purpose. Some dining-rooms
had what we should call French windows on three sides, permitting the
diners to enjoy the view of the garden or the shrubbery outside.

Other large and airy apartments or saloons off the peristyle were used
for social conversation, or as drawing-rooms. Farther back still,
approached by another passage or door, there was often to be found a
garden, containing an arbour or a terrace covered with a trailing
vine, of the kind known in modern Italy as a _pergola_. In suitable
weather _al fresco_ meals were often taken here, and occasionally
there were fixed couches and tables of masonry always ready for that
purpose.

Coming back from the garden into the court, we might explore other
passages, leading to the kitchen or to the bathrooms of hot, warm, and
cold water. These offices would be respectively situated wherever
circumstances made them most convenient. In the kitchen the part
corresponding to our "range" consisted of a flat structure of masonry,
on which the fire was lighted. The cooking pots were placed either
upon ridges of masonry running across the fire or upon three legged
stands of iron. The accompanying illustrations will sufficiently show
what is meant. The bedrooms, little better than cells, of the slaves,
and also the storerooms, were variously distributed. Underground
cellars were apparently exceptional, although examples may be seen at
Pompeii.

[Illustration: FIG. 35.--KITCHEN HEARTH IN THE HOUSE OF THE VETTII.]

[Illustration: FIG. 36.--KITCHEN HEARTHS (Drawing).]

Somewhere in one of the bays of the hall, at the back of the peristyle
court, or elsewhere, would be found a small shrine for the worship of
the domestic gods. This was variously constructed. Sometimes it was a
niche or recess containing paintings or little effigies and with an
altar or altar-shelf beneath, sometimes a miniature temple erected
against the wall. There was apparently no special place to which,
rather than any other, it was to be assigned. To the nature and
meaning of the household gods we may refer again when dealing with the
general subject of religion.

[Illustration: FIG. 37.--SHRINE (IN BACKGROUND) IN HOUSE OF THE TRAGIC
POET.]

In the homes of persons of culture there would also be included a
library and, perhaps less regularly, a picture-gallery. The library,
which sometimes comprised thousands of rolls, would be a room not only
surrounded by large pigeon-holes or open cupboards containing the
round boxes for the parchment rolls, but also traversed by lower
partitions provided on either side with similar shelves. About the
room, over or by the shelves, stand portrait busts or medallions of
great authors, both Greek and Roman, the "blind" Homer being
represented in traditional form, but the majority, from Aeschylus and
Thucydides down to Virgil and Livy, being authentic and excellent
likenesses. In the picture-gallery would be found paintings either
done upon the stucco walls in a frame-like setting or upon panels of
wood attached to the walls, very much as we hang our modern pictures.

[Illustration: FIG. 38.--HOUSEHOLD SHRINE.]

It was scarcely ever the case that a second storey--where one existed
at all--extended over the whole house. If upper rooms were used, they
were placed over those parts where they would interfere least with the
light, the comfort, and the appearance of the ground-floor
arrangements. The stairs leading to them were variously disposed and
as little as possible in evidence. In such upper apartments there was
naturally not the same risk from the curious or the burglar as in the
case of the lower, and windows of perhaps 4 by 2-1/2 feet were
therefore freely employed. In some instances, though we cannot tell
how frequently, the second storey projected on strong beams over the
street, as in the example at Pompeii known as the "House of the
Hanging Balcony."

It remains to make brief observations upon one or two matters
interesting to any practical householder. These are the questions of
water-supply, drainage, warming, and roofing.

In respect of water there was no difficulty. It was brought in the
ordinary way, from those reservoirs which formed the ends of the
aqueducts or conduits, by means of pipes, mostly made of lead, though
sometimes of bronze. These were conducted to the points where they
were required, and there the flow was manipulated by means of taps and
plugs. In order to make a water-pipe, a sheet of lead or bronze was
rolled into a cylinder, the joining of the two edges taking the shape
of a raised ridge, which was soldered. One end of a section was
squeezed or narrowed so that it might be inserted into the widened end
of the next. Lead pipes of no inconsiderable size, stamped with the
name of the owner, are to be seen preserved in the Palatine House of
Livia, and a number of smaller ones remain at Pompeii. For drainage
there the sewers, and also pipes to carry the less offensive overflow
of water into the street channels, which in their turn led into
underground drains.

[Illustration: FIG. 88 A.--LEADEN PIPES IN HOUSE OF LIVIA.
(Palatine.)]

[Illustration: FIG. 39.--PORTABLE BRAZIERS.]

For the warming of a house the Romans not only portable braziers with
charcoal for fuel, but in the larger establishments there existed a
system of "central" heating, by which hot air was conducted from a
furnace in the basement through flues running beneath the floor and up
through the walls, where its effect might be regulated by adjustable
openings or registers. The only fixed fire-place in a town house was
in the kitchen. From this the smoke was carried off by a flue,
constituting to all intents and purposes a chimney. The belief that
the Romans were unacquainted with such things as chimneys has been
proved to be untrue.

[Illustration: FIG. 40.--MANNER OF ROOFING WITH TILES.]

The roofing, when constructed, as it most frequently was, in a gabled
form, consisted of terra-cotta tiles arranged on a regular system.
First came the flat layers, each higher row overlapping the lower. The
descending edges of a row of these flat plates, as they lay side by
side, were turned up into a kind of flange of about 2-1/4 inches in
height, so that at the points of contact a ridge was formed down the
roof. Over this line was laid a series of other tiles shaped into a
half-cylinder, the lower end of each tile overlapping the next. By
this means the rain was prevented from penetrating the crevice between
the flanges. At the bottom, above the eaves, the line of semicircular
tiles ended in a flower-like or mask-like ornament, which broke the
monotony of the horizontal edge of the roof.

After this description of what may be considered a representative
Roman house, it is necessary to repeat that it is but typical. Many
were considerably smaller, containing, for example, no peristyle. Many
on the contrary were far more spacious and sumptuous, possessing more
than one hall and more than one peristyle, and varying the nature as
well as the number and position of those portions of the house. In
exceptional cases the hall had no opening in the ceiling and therefore
no basin below, but was covered with a simple gabled roof which shed
the rain-water into the street. In exceptional cases also there was no
"parlour" of the kind described a little while ago. The situation of
the house, enlargements made after the main part was built, the
joining of two houses into one, or other causes, often modified the
rectangular and symmetrical appearance presented in the plan hitherto
given. Such modifications are, however, better illustrated by a
comparison of the plans of two well-known Pompeian houses than by any
amount of verbal description. The first is that of Pansa, which forms
the main portion of a whole block, smaller dwellings and shops
unconnected with the Pansa establishment being built round and into it
at various points. The arrangements of this house closely approach the
normal or simple type described in this chapter. The second is the
famous house of the Vettii, which departs somewhat freely from the
customary disposition of apartments.

[Illustration: FIG. 41.--HOUSE OF PANSA AT POMPEII.]

The parts within the dark lines belong to the one house; the rest are
other houses and shops built into the block.

 1. Vestibule             11. Rooms
 2. Passage               12. Dining-Room
 3. Hall                  13. Winter Dining-Room
 4. Rooms                 14. Saloon (Drawing-Room)
 5. Wings                 15. Kitchen
 6. Dining-Room           16. Carriage Room
 7. Parlour               17. Boudoir
 8. Passage               18. Portico
 9. Library?              19. Saleroom
10. Peristyle             20. Passage to Side Door

[Illustration: FIG. 32.--HOUSE OF CORNELIUS RUFUS. (Pompeii.)]

[Illustration: FIG. 42.--HOUSE OF THE VETTII AT POMPEII. A second
storey extended over the corners and front parts included under the
nine small crosses.]

[Illustration: FIG. 43--SPECIMEN OF PAINTED ROOM.]

It would be tempting to indulge in rhetoric and to dwell upon the
magnificence of some of the more luxurious houses of the wealthy
Romans; to describe their ostentation of rich marbles in pillar, wall,
or floor--the white marbles of Carrara, Paros, and Hymettus; the
Phrygian marble or "pavonazzetto" its streakings of crimson or violet;
the orange-golden glow of the Numidian stone of "giallo antico"; the
Carystian marble or "cipollino" with its onion-like layers of white
and pale-green; the serpentine variety from Laconia, and the porphyry
from Egypt. We might descant upon the lavish wall-paintings,
representing landscapes real and imaginary, scenes from mythology and
semi-history, floating figures, genre pictures, and pictures of still
life; or upon the mosaics in floor and wall depicting similar subjects
and often serving to the occupants not so much in the place of
pictorial art as in the place of wall-papers and of Brussels or
Kidderminster carpets. We might speak of the profuse collections of
statuary, of the gilding on ceiling and cornices, of the colours shed
by the rich curtains and awnings of purple and crimson, of the
grateful sound of water plashing in the fountains and basins or
babbling over a series of steps like a broken cascade in miniature.
But perhaps too much of such description might only encourage still
further the erroneous notion that the Roman houses were all of this
nature, and that even the average Roman lived in the midst of an
abundance of such domestic luxury and art. It requires but a little
sober thought to realise that such homes were, as they have always
been, the exception. It would be as reasonable to judge of an average
London house by the most opulent specimens in Park Lane, or of an
American house by the richest at Newport, as to judge of the abodes of
Romans in the time of Nero by the examples which appeal so strongly to
the novelist or the romancing historian. Suffice it that beside the
modest and frugal homes, the tenement flat, and the hovel, there were
houses distinguished by immense luxury; and, since Romans have at all
times sought the ostentatious and grandiose, perhaps such dwellings
were larger and more pretentious in proportion to wealth than they are
in most civilised countries at the present day. Seneca, who made
himself extremely comfortable in the days of Nero, exclaims upon the
rage for costly decoration. Says he of the bathing of the plutocrat:
"He seems to himself poor and mean, unless the walls shine with great
costly slabs, unless marbles of Alexandria are picked out with reliefs
of Numidian stone, unless the whole ceiling is elaborately worked with
all the variety of a painting, unless Thasian stone encloses the
swimming baths, unless the water is poured out from silver taps."
These, indeed, are comparatively humble. "What of the baths of the
freedmen? a mass of statues! What a multitude of pillars supporting
nothing, but put there only for ornament! What an amount of water
running over steps with a purling noise--and all for show!"

[Illustration: FIG. 44.--SPECIMEN OF WALL-PAINTING. (Pompeii.)]



CHAPTER X


THE COUNTRY HOMESTEAD AND COUNTRY SEAT

Throughout the romanized parts of the empire--in other words, wherever
Romans settled, in Italy, Spain, Gaul, Britain, and also wherever the
richer natives imitated the Roman fashions--the house in any city or
considerable town was built as nearly as possible after the type
described.

In the country the poor naturally had their much simpler cottages and
cabins of a room or two, commonly thatched or shingled, knowing
nothing of hall and court and all these arrangements of art and
luxury. In the case of the more well-to-do country people of
Italy--the larger farmers, wine-growers, olive-growers, and the
like--the homestead was of a kind which made for simplicity and
comfort. It was in such homes that one would find the most wholesome
life and the soundest moral fibre of the time.

Normally the homestead would be a large, and often a rambling,
building of one storey, except where a tower served as a store-room
for the mellowing wine or a loft for the mellowing fruit. When we read
in Horace about the liberal stack of wood to be kept in readiness near
the hearth, and about the wine-jar drinking in the smoke in the
store-room we must think of his country homestead on the Sabine Hills,
not of a house in Rome, for at Rome there was no blazing hearth to sit
round and no smoky tower-loft for the ripening of the Caecuban.

You enter an open court or yard, round the sides of which may run the
stalls of the horses and oxen of the farm, the tool-rooms, the lofts
of hay and corn, the quarters of the labourers--herdsmen, ploughmen,
vine-dressers--and the great farm-kitchen. It is in this kitchen that
you will find the bright hearth in winter-time, where all the members
of the homestead gather round the fire. It is here that they then all
eat, and in it the women of the establishment perform their work,
spinning and weaving and mending. Off from the court will be situated
the wine-press, or the olive-press, the-granaries, the fruit mellowing
on mats, and the various rooms or bins where wine is fermented and
stored, or where the olive-oil is treated and stocked. Commonly a more
retired court will contain the private rooms of the owner, and
somewhere in the homestead will be found the fowl-yard, with its hens,
ducks, geese, and guinea-fowl, the sties, and the preserves for
various toothsome animals, including perhaps dormice and snails.

[Illustration: FIG. 45.--PLAN OF HOMESTEAD AT BOSCOREALE.]

Frequently a Roman of the city affected a country house of this
character, to which he would flee during the tyrannous reign of the
Dogstar or the Lion---in other words, during that hot season of the
year which requires no description for those who have been so
ill-advised as to sojourn in Rome in July, August, and early
September. Many of his town slaves he would take with him, and what
was a holiday for him was also a holiday for them. His rural homestead
would possess great charm for the quieter type of man who had no real
love for the pomps and shows the rattle and tumult, of the city. The
vision of wholesome country-produce--of fresh milk and eggs and
vegetables, and of tender poultry--is one which still attracts our
city-folk. But the vision, then as now, was often subject to
disillusion. Complaints are many that you had to feed the homestead in
place of it feeding you, and when Martial has given a pleasant picture
of a family reaching the gate of Rome with a coachful of the typical
produce of the country, he ends by suddenly letting you know that they
are not coming in from their country house but are going out to it.
The complaint of the English seaside town that there will be no fish
"till the train comes in from London," is thus a sufficiently old one.
Yet the same Martial supplies another picture, painted with such zest
of frank enjoyment that we are at once convinced of its truth. Some
portions of it perhaps admit of translation in the following terms:--

      Our friend Fundanus' Baian seat,
      My Bassus, is no pleasance neat,
      Where myrtles trim in idle lines,
      Clipped box, and planes unwed to vines
      Rob of right use the acres wide:
      'Tis farm-life true and countrified.
      In every corner grain is stacked,
      Old wines in fragrant jars are packed:
      About the farmyard gabbling gander
      And spangled peacock freely wander:
      With pheasant and flamingo prowl
      Partridge and speckled guinea-fowl:
      Pigeon and waxen turtle-dove
      Rustle their wings in cotes above.
      The farm-wife's apron draws a rout
      Of greedy porkers round about;
      And eagerly the tender lamb
      Waits the filled udder of its dam.
      With plenteous logs the hearth is bright.
      The household Gods glow in the light,
      And baby slaves are sprawling round.
      No town-bred idlers here are found:
      No cellarer grows pale with sloth,
      No trainer wastes his oil, but both
      Go forth afield and subtly plan
      To snare the greedy ortolan.
      Meanwhile the garden rings with mirth,
      While townfolk dig the yielding earth:
      No need for the page-master's voice;
      The saucy long-haired boys rejoice
      To do the manager's commands.
      At morn 'tis not with empty hands
      The country pays its call, but some
      Bring honey in its native comb,
      Or cones of cheese; some think as good
      A sleepy dormouse from the wood;
      And honest tenants' big girls bring
      Baskets with "mother's offering."

The visit to the country in the season of the "mad star" and the
scirocco was as necessary to the ancient Roman as is his
_villeggiatura_ to the modern. But there were other seasons when he
fled from town. If to the heat of summer he sought the hills, in the
colder he might seek the south of Italy, and in spring or autumn the
seaside at various points the mouth of the Tiber to southward of
Salerno, might run away from inconvenient business or ceremonies, or
through a mere desire to get rest or sleep or change. He might wish,
as Cicero and Pliny did, to get away from the "games" and to study and
write in quiet. He might fancy that his health called for baths in the
hot springs on the Bay of Naples, or for sea-bathing somewhere on the
Latian or Campanian coasts. To put it briefly, he was very much like
our worried, bilious, or exhausted selves. His life of ceremony was a
hard one, and often he ate and drank too much. But whereas nowadays we
can make free choice of any agreeable spot, since every such spot
possesses its "Grand Hotel" or "Hotel Superbe," where we can always
find the crowd and discomfort which we pretend to be escaping, the
Roman idea was different. It corresponded more to that of our English
nobles, who, in Elizabethan or Queen Anne days or later, built
themselves country seats, one, two, or more, indulging in
architectural fancies and surrounding all with spacious gardens,
ponds, and rockeries. The Roman man of wealth created no hotels. He
dotted his country seats about in places where the air was warm for
winter and spring, or cool for summer and autumn, by the seashore, on
the lower hills, or high on the mountain side. You would find them on
the Italian lakes or elsewhere toward the north. In greater numbers
would you find them on the hills near Rome, at the modern Tivoli or
Palestrina, on the Alban heights near what are now Frascati, Albano,
or Genzano, along the shore at Antium, Terracina, Baiae, Naples,
Herculaneum, Pompeii, Castellamare, and Sorrento.

Perhaps it is not too much to say that more than a hundred and twenty
miles of this coast were practically a chain of country houses. The
shore of the Bay of Naples has been compared to a collar of pearls
strung round the blue. Wherever there was a wide and varied landscape
or seascape, there arose a Roman country house. We are too prone to
assume that the ancients felt but little love or even appreciation of
scenery, and to fancy that the feeling came as a revelation to a
Rousseau, a Wordsworth, or a nineteenth-century painter. That Roman
literature does not gush about the matter has been absurdly taken for
proof that the Roman writer did not copiously enjoy the glories
presented to his eyes. But, though Roman literature does not gush, it
often exhibits the same feelings towards scenery which at least a
Thomson or a Cowper exhibits. Perhaps it was so accustomed to scenic
beauties that it took for granted much that an English or German
writer cannot. At any rate we are sure that the Roman chose for his
country seat a site commanding the widest and most beautiful outlook,
and that he even built towers upon his house to command the view the
better. In this respect he was like the mediaeval monks, when they
chose the sites of monasteries at San Martino or Amalfi, and his love
of a belvedere was probably quite as great as theirs.

The country seat differed widely from the town house. We must forget
the plan which has been given above, with its hall and court lighted
from within, and made private from the passing crowds in the street.
In the country there is no need of such an arrangement. Moreover there
are no formal receptions to necessitate the hall, and there are ample
gardens to make the peristyle superfluous. Here the walls of the house
may break forth into large and open windows, while all around may run
pillared verandahs. Built in any variety of shape, according to the
situation and the fancy, it may contain an immense variety of
sitting-rooms, dining-rooms, bedrooms, facing in every direction to
catch the sun, the shade, the breeze, or the prospect, as the case may
be. Not that magnificence is any more neglected than in the great
English country seats. The pillars and pavements are as rich as means
allow, and works of painting and statuary are perhaps even finer and
more numerous than in town; there is more time to look at them, and
there are better facilities for showing them off. Many of the best
works of ancient sculpture now extant in the museums have come from
such country seats. There were of course vulgar houses in bad taste,
where the owner's notions of magnificence consisted in ostentatious
extravagance and a desire to outdo his neighbour. As now, everything
depended either on the culture of the man or on the amount of his good
sense in leaving such matters to his artistic adviser.

Outside the house lie the gardens and grounds. For the most part these
are laid out in the formal style adopted so often in more modern Italy
and favoured so greatly in England in the early eighteenth century.
Perhaps the Villa d'Este at Tivoli, though of course not ancient, may
convey some approximate idea of the prevailing principle. Along one
side of the Roman house we should find a smooth terrace ornamented
with statues and vases, to be used as a promenade. There are straight
walks and avenues between hedges and trees and shrubs--cyprus, laurel,
box, and other manageable plants--cut to the shape of beasts and birds
and inanimate objects. There are flower-beds--of the rose, the crocus,
the wallflower, the narcissus, the violet, but not, for example, the
tulip--laid out in geometrical patterns. There are trellis-work
arbours and walks covered with leafy vines or other trailing plants.
There are clumps of bay-trees, plane trees, or myrtles, with marble
seats beneath. There is either an avenue or a covered colonnade, where
the ground is made of soft earth or sand, and where the family may
take exercise by being carried in a litter up and down in the open or
under the shade. There are greenhouses and forcing-houses, where
flowers are grown under glass. There are fish-ponds, fountains, and
water-channels, with artificial cascades and a general suggestion of
babbling streams. Out beyond lie the orchards and the vegetable
gardens, where are grown most of the modern fruits, including peaches,
apricots, and almonds, but not yet including either the orange or the
lemon.

The country immediately round the mansion of the wealthy man was
commonly his own estate. A portion of this was frequently woodland,
affording opportunities for hunting deer, wild boar, and other game.
For the boar the weapon was a stout spear, and the general practice of
the sportsman was to wait at a certain spot until the beast was driven
towards it by a ring of beaters. Deer were caught in nets or
transfixed with javelins while running. In more open places the
hunter, accompanied by hounds, rode after a hare. But though far too
much of Italy was taken up by preserves of this unproductive kind, the
large estates were mostly turned to agricultural purposes. Different
owners, different practices; but the possessor of a number of country
seats would in some cases work the land for himself by means of
slaves--often in disgrace and labouring in chains--under the direction
of a manager or bailiff, while in others he would parcel out his land
on various terms among free tenants. It is gratifying to discover that
in bad seasons a generous landlord would sometimes remit a portion of
his dues, and that he recognised various obligations of a grand
seigneur to his district. Among them was the keeping up and
beautifying of the local shrines and contributing to buildings and
works for the public comfort.

Such would be the country seat when established landward. By the
seaside, especially in a much-frequented resort like Baiae, the room
was more limited and the equipment modified. The extensive garden
would be absent, and the height of the building increased by a second
or even a third storey. It was no uncommon thing for such a "villa,"
as it was called, to stand out on a promontory, where it could be
greeted by the sea on either side. In many cases it was actually built
out into the sea on piles or on a basis of concrete, and the occupant
made a special delight of fishing from his window, and of letting the
true sea-water flow into his swimming bath.



CHAPTER XI


ROMAN FURNITURE

On the customary furniture of a Roman house we need not spend many
words. For one thing, it was simple and scanty as compared with the
furnishing and upholstering of to-day. For another, its nature
presents little that would be strange to us or that would require
explanation.

Among the most conspicuous differences between Roman and modern
furnishing must be reckoned the absence of carpets, the comparatively
small use of tables and chairs, the absence of upholstery from such
chairs as were used, and the greater part played by couches. In place
of carpets there were the ornamental floors, whether in geometrical
pattern-work, arrangements of veined marbles, or mosaic pictures
composed of small blocks of coloured stone or glass. The making of
carpets was well understood in the East, and Rome would have found no
difficulty in obtaining as many as it chose, but so far as it employed
tapestries they were for portieres and curtains, for the coverings of
dining-couches and beds, or for throwing across a chair-back. The
Roman kept his floors, walls, pillars, and ceilings carefully cleared
of dust and stains by means of brushes of feathers or light hair,
brooms of palm or other leaves, and sponges. He thus saved himself
both the labour and the unwholesomeness of carpets.

[Illustration: FIG. 46.--ROMAN FOLDING CHAIR. (Schreiber.)]

[Illustration: FIG. 47.--BRONZE SEAT (Overbeck.)]

We need not enter into dry details concerning such articles as were
similar to our own. Of the Roman seats it is enough to say that they
were either square stools without back or arms, or folding-stools, or
they were true chairs either with straight arms and backs (the Origin
of the modern throne) to be used by the owner when receiving clients
or visitors on business, or with a long sloping back and without arms,
as used particularly by women. A movable cushion constituted all the
upholstery.

But the Roman man seldom took his ease in a chair: even his reading
and writing were commonly performed while reclining upon a couch. When
writing, he doubled his tablets on his knee, and it may be presumed
that habit made the practice easy and natural. The couch is, indeed,
perhaps the chief article of Roman furniture. So regular was it to
recline that, where we should speak of a sitting-room, the Romans
spoke of a "reclining-room." At business they sat; but they reclined
in social conversation--unless it was brief--when reading, when taking
the siesta, and when dining. Their beds in the proper sense were
similar to our own, though less heavy than those of our older fashion.
To mount them it was often necessary to use steps or an elongated
footstool. A slave in close attendance upon a master or mistress
sometimes slept upon a low truckle-bed, which, in the daytime, could
be pushed under the other. The couches for day use were lower and of
lighter and narrower build, with a movable rest at the head and with
or without a back.

[Illustration: FIG. 48.--FRAMEWORK OF ROMAN COUCH.]

Upon the frame of such couches a good deal of decoration was lavished
in the way of veneerings of ornamental wood, or thin plates of ivory
or tortoise-shell, or reliefs in bronze or even in gold or silver. The
feet might also, in the richer houses, consist of silver or of ivory.
For the dining-rooms of people of wealth a special feature was made of
such work upon the conspicuous parts of the frames, while the cushions
and coverings were of costly fabrics, richly dyed and embroidered or
damasked. The method of serving and eating a dinner is a subject which
belongs to our later treatment of a social day, and it must here
suffice to picture the ordinary arrangement of a dinner party.

[Illustration: FIG. 49.--PLAN OF DINING-TABLE WITH THREE COUCHES.]

[Illustration: FIG. 50.--SIGMA.]

In the middle is the table, either square or, if round, made if
possible of a single piece of costly wood richly grained by nature in
a wavy or peacock pattern and obtained by sawing through the lower
part of the trunk of a Moorish tree. The price depended on the size.
Of one such circular slab we learn that it cost £4000. It may be
needless to remark that many tables were only "imitation." When not in
use, and sometimes even then, such tables were protected by coloured
linen cloths. By preference this ancient equivalent of "the best
mahogany" was supported on a single leg, consisting of elephants'
tusks or of sculptured marble. On three sides are placed the couches,
covered with mattresses stuffed with flock or feathers, and provided
with soft cushions for the left arm to rest upon. Sometimes, instead
of the three separate couches, there was but one large couch shaped
like a crescent, either extending round half the large circular table,
or having more than one smaller table placed before it. Tables in
other rooms were scarcely to be found, since, as has already been
remarked, they were not required for reading or writing or for holding
the various articles which we moderns place upon them. Besides the
dining tables we should generally find only a sideboard placed in the
dining-room for the display of articles of plate. This was either of
ornamental wood or of marble with a sculptured stand, and was
distinctly meant for show. In place of tables for supporting necessary
objects we find tripods, either of bronze or marble, with a flat top
and sometimes with a rim.

[Illustration: FIG. 51.--TRIPOD FROM HERCULANEUM.]

Other articles of household furniture were chests and presses or
wardrobes. It was almost a rule that in the hall, at the side or end,
should stand a low heavy chest--occasionally more than one--sometimes
made of iron, sometimes of wood bound with bronze and decorated with
metal-work in relief. In this were contained supplies of money and
other articles of value, and for this reason it was strongly locked
and often fastened to the ground by a vertical rod of iron. Such a
chest is still to be seen in its place in the House of the Vettii at
Pompeii. Of portières, curtains and awnings enough has been said,
except that they were also used for draping the less ornamental walls.
Mirrors were apparently plentiful. No mention is made of such articles
in glass, probably because the ancients had not yet learned to make
that material sufficiently pure and true or to provide it with the
proper foil or background. For the most part they were made of highly
polished copper, bronze, or silver. The smaller ones were held in the
hand, the handle and back parts being richly and often tastefully
ornamented. There is an epigram extant which tells of a vindictive
Roman dame who struck her maid to the ground with her mirror, because
she detected a curl wrongly placed. Other mirrors were made so as to
stand upon a support, and there is mention of some sufficiently large
to show the full length of the body.

[Illustration: FIG. 52.--CHEST (STRONG-BOX).]

[Illustration: FIG. 53.--MIRRORS.]

In the absence of gas or electricity or even kerosene, there was no
better means of lighting a house than by oil-lamps. Even those were
provided with no chimney. Naturally every effort would be made to
obtain such oil as would produce the least smoke or smell, but
doubtless the difficulty was never completely overcome. It is
therefore natural to hear of the oil being mixed with perfume. In the
less well-to-do houses there might be wax candles, in still poorer
houses candles of tallow or even rush-lights, formed by long strips of
rush or other fibrous plant thinly dipped in tallow. Generally
speaking, however, the Roman house was lit by lamps filled with
olive-oil. The commonest were made of terra-cotta, the better sorts of
bronze or silver, often richly ornamented and sometimes very graceful.
As typical specimens we may take those here illustrated.

[Illustration: FIG. 54.--LAMPS.]

The little figure standing on the one lamp is holding a chain, to
which is attached the probe for forcing up the wick or for clearing
away the "mushrooms" that might form upon it. Lamps are made in all
manner of fantastic shapes--ships, shoes, and other objects--and may
burn either one wick or a considerable number, projecting from
different nozzles. For the purpose of lighting a room they may either
be placed upon the top of upright standards, four or five feet high
and sometimes with shafts which could be adjusted in height like the
modern reading-stand; or they may be hung from the ceiling by chains,
after the manner of a chandelier, or held by a statue, or suspended
from a stand shaped like a pillar or a tree, from whose branches they
hang like fruit. For use in the street there were torches and also
lanterns, which had a metal frame and were "glazed" with sheets of
transparent horn, with bladder in the cheaper instances, or with
transparent talc in the more costly.

[Illustration: FIG. 35.--LAMP-HOLDER AS TREE.]

As with the Greeks, a Roman house was lavish in the use and display of
cups and plate in great diversity of shape and material. Glass vessels
were numerous and, except for a perfectly pure white variety, were
produced both at Rome and Alexandria with the most ingenious finish. A
kind of porcelain was also known, but was very rare and highly valued.
For the most part the poor used earthenware cups and plates or wooden
trenchers. The rich sought after a lavish profusion of silver goblets
studded with jewels and sometimes ventured on a cup of gold, although
the use of a full gold service was by imperial ordinance restricted to
the palace. There were drinking vessels, broad and shallow with richly
embossed or _repoussé_ work, or deep with double handles and a foot,
or otherwise diversified. There were all manner of plates and dishes
of silver or of silver-gilt. There were graceful jugs and ladles and
mixing-bowls. What we regard as most essential articles, but missing
from a Roman table, are knives and forks. Table-forks, indeed, were
unknown till a very modern date, but even knives were scarcely in use
at Rome except by the professional carver at his stand. There were
also heaters, in which water could be kept hot at table and drawn off
by a small tap.

[Illustration: FIG. 56.--CUP FROM HERCULANEUM.]

[Illustration: FIG. 57.--KITCHEN UTENSILS.]

If now we stepped into the kitchen we should find there practically
every kind of utensil likely to be of use even for the modern cuisine.
There is no need here to catalogue the kettles and pots and pans, the
strainers and shapes and moulds, employed by Roman cooks. Perhaps it
will suffice to present a number of them to the eye. In general,
however, it deserves to be remarked that such a thing as a pail, a
pitcher, a pair of scales, or a steelyard was not regarded in the
Roman household as necessarily to be left a bare and unsightly thing
because it was useful. The triumph of tin and ugliness was not yet.
Such vessels as waterpots are still to be seen made of copper in
graceful shapes, if one will notice the women fetching water on the
Alban Hills. How far the domestic utensils resembled or differed from
those still in use may be judged from the specimens illustrated.

[Illustration: FIG. 58.--PAIL FROM HERCULANEUM.]

There existed no clocks of the modern kind, but the Romans do not
appear to have suffered much practical inconvenience in respect of
telling the time and meeting engagements. Sundials, both public and
private, were numerous, but these were obviously of no use on gloomy
days or at night. The instrument on which the Romans mainly relied was
therefore the "water-clock," which, though by no means capable of our
modern precision of minutes and even seconds could record time down to
small fractions of the hour. The principle was that of the hour-glass,
water taking the place of sand. From an upper vessel water slowly
trickled through an orifice into a lower receptacle, which at this
date was transparent and was marked with sections for the hour and its
convenient fractions. In this way the time would be told by the mark
to which the water had risen in the lower portion. The Romans were not
unaware of the difference between the conditions of summer and winter
flow of water, but it would appear that they had attained to proper
methods of "regulating" their rather awkward time-pieces. It is as
well to add that in the wealthier houses a slave was told off to watch
the clock and to report the passing of the hours, as well as to summon
any member of the family at the time arranged for an appointment.



CHAPTER XII


SOCIAL DAY OF A ROMAN ARISTOCRAT--MORNING

We have seen in what sort of a home a Roman dwelt in town or country.
Meanwhile it goes without saying that the non-Roman or non-Romanized
populations of the empire were living in houses and amid furniture of
their own special type--Greek, Syrian, Egyptian, or as the case might
be. They were also living their lives after their own fashion in
respect of dress, meals, occupations, and amusements.

We may now look at the manner in which a typical Roman might spend an
ordinary day in the metropolis, and endeavour to form some clear idea
of the outward aspects of such a life. In the first instance our Roman
shall be a man of the senatorial aristocracy, blessed with both high
position and ample means, but one who, for the time being, holds no
public office, whether as a governor, a military commander, a Minister
of Roads or Water Supply, an officer of the Exchequer, or of Justice.
Instead of referring to him awkwardly as "our citizen," we will call
him Silius. The same name may be borne by a large number of other
persons, for it is the name of an early Roman family which in course
of time may have divided into several branches or "houses," answering
to each other very much as the "Worcestershire" So-and-Sos may answer
to the "Hampshire" So-and-Sos, except that the distinction in the
Roman case is not territorial. Our Silius will therefore naturally
bear further names to distinguish him. One will be the special
appellation of his own "house" or branch, derived in all probability
from its first distinguishing member. Let us assume, for instance,
that he is a Silius Bassus. As, again, there are probably a number of
other persons belonging to the same branch and entitled to the same
two designations, he will possess a "front name," answering to our
"Christian" name, and he shall be called for our purposes Quintus
Silius Bassus. It is the middle name of the three which is regarded as
_the_ name, but when there is no danger of mistake our friend may be
addressed or written of as either Silius or Bassus. In private life
among his intimates he prefers to be called Quintus. The individual
name, family name, and branch name were frequently followed by others,
but at least these three are regularly owned by any Roman with claims
to old descent. To us, however, he will be Silius.

He lives, let us say, in one of the larger town-houses on the Caelian
Hill, looking across the narrow valley towards the Palatine, somewhere
near the modern church of SS. Giovanni e Paolo. It is before day-break
that the loud bell has awakened the household slaves and set them to
their work. In the road below and away in the city the carts, which
are forbidden during the full daytime, are still rumbling with their
loads of produce or building-material. All night long the less happily
housed inhabitants have tolerated this noise, together with the
droning and grating of the mills grinding the corn in the bakers'
shops. It is however, now approaching dawn, and imperial Rome, which
goes to sleep late, wakes early. No few Romans, even of the highest
classes, have already been up for an hour or two, reading by
lamplight, writing letters or dictating them to an amanuensis, who
takes them down rapidly in a form of shorthand. Out in the streets the
boys are on their way to school, the poorer ones carrying their own
lanterns--at least if it is the time of year when the days are
short--their writing-tablets and their reading-books, probably Virgil
and Horace, who were standard authors serving in the Roman schools as
Shakespeare and Pope do in our own. Boys of well-to-do parents are
accompanied by an elderly slave of stern demeanour. In the distance
are heard the sounds of the first hammers and the cries of the venders
of early breakfasts.

Silius rises, and with the help of a valet, who is of course a slave,
dresses himself. His household barber--another slave--shaves him,
trims his hair in the approved style and cleans his nails. At this
date clean shaving was the rule. Every emperor from Augustus to
Hadrian, fifty years later than Nero, was clean shaven, and the
fashion set by emperors was followed as closely by the contemporary
Roman as "imperials" and "ram's-horn" moustaches have been imitated in
later times. The hair was kept carefully neither too long nor too
short. Only in time of mourning was it permitted to grow to a
negligent length. By preference it should be somewhat wavy, but there
was no parting. Dandies had their hair curled with the tongs and
perfumed, so at to smell "all over the theatre." If they were bald,
they wore a wig; sometimes they actually had imitation hair painted
across the bare part of the scalp. If nature had given them the wrong
colour, they corrected it with dye. If the exposed parts of the body
were hairy, they plucked out the growth with tweezers or used
depilatories. But these were the dandies, and we need not assume
Silius to have been one of them.

It is to be a day of some formality, and Silius will therefore attire
himself accordingly. In other words, he will put on the typical Roman
garb. Of whatever else this may consist, it will comprise a band round
the middle, a woolen--less often a linen--tunic with or without
sleeves, and over this the voluminous woollen toga; on the feet will
be shoes. Of further underwear a Roman used as much or as little as he
chose. If, like the Emperor Augustus, he felt the cold, he might
indulge in several shirts and also short hose. Such practices,
however, were commonly regarded as coddling. Breeches were worn at
this date only by soldiers serving in northern countries, where they
had picked up the custom from the "barbarians." Mufflers were used by
persons with a tender throat.

[Illustration: FIG. 59.--PATRICIAN SHOES.]

[Illustration: FIG. 60.--ROMAN IN THE TOGA.]

Inasmuch as Silius is of senatorial rank, his tunic, which will show
through the open front of his toga, bears the broad inwoven stripe of
purple running down the middle, and his shoes--which otherwise might
be of various colours, such as yellow with red laces--are black,
fastened by cross straps running somewhat high up the leg and bearing
a crescent of silver or ivory upon the instep. The stripe, the shoes,
and the crescent mark his senatorial standing. That which marks him as
a citizen at all is the toga--an article of dress forbidden to any
inhabitant of the empire who could not call himself in the full sense
"_Civis Romanus_." It was a cumbrous and heavy garment (when spread
out it formed an oval of about 15 feet by 12), with which no man who
wanted to work or travel or simply to be comfortable would hamper
himself. St. Paul was a Roman citizen, but, if he ever wore a toga at
all, it would only be when he desired to bring his citizenship home to
a Roman court, and we should probably be quite mistaken in imagining
that he travelled about with a toga in his baggage, or, as the
Authorised Version calls it, his "carriage." When out of town, in his
country-seat or when amusing himself at home in the city, especially
in the warmer weather, the Roman cast off his toga with a sigh of
relief. In the provincial towns of Italy, though theoretically as much
in demand, this blanket-like covering was little used by any man
except on the most formal public and religious occasions, and, as a
poet says, "when dead," for then the toga was indispensable.
Nevertheless at Rome it was the necessary dress for all men of
position when appearing in any sort of public life. The Roman emperors
insisted upon its use in all places of public amusement--the theatre,
circus, or amphitheatre. In a court of justice the president certainly
could not "see" a pleader unless he wore it. You cannot be present at
a formal social ceremony--a wedding, a betrothal, a coming of age, a
levée--without this outward and visible mark of respect. Nor was it
sufficient that you should wear it. It must be properly draped and
must fall to the right point, which, in front, was aslant over the
lower part of the shin, while behind it fell to the heel. Your
wardrobe slave must see that it has been kept properly folded and
pressed. If you claimed to be a gentleman, and were not in mourning
and not an official, it must be simply and scrupulously white. Poorer
people might wear a toga of a duller or dark-grey wool, which would
better conceal a stain and require to go less frequently to the
fuller. The same dull hue was also worn in time of mourning, or as an
ostentatious token of a gloomy spirit, as for example, when one of
your friends was in peril of condemnation in the law-courts, or when
you fancied that some serious injustice was being done or threatened
to your social order. The only person privileged to wear a toga of
true purple was the emperor. On the whole the Roman dress was very
simple; far more so than in mediaeval times or the days of Elizabeth
or Charles II. Velvet and satin were not yet known, furs hardly so,
and there were very few changes of fashion.

Silius will also wear at least one large signet-ring as well as his
plain ring of gold, but he will leave it to the dandies to load their
fingers with half-a-dozen and to keep separate sets for winter and
summer. When Quintilian, in his _Training of the Orator_, touches upon
the subject of rings, he recommends as requisite for good form that
"the hand should not be covered with rings, and especially should they
not come below the middle joint." A handkerchief will be carried, but
only to wipe away perspiration.

Having finished his dressing, he may choose this time for taking his
morning "snack," corresponding to the coffee and roll or tea and
bread-and-butter of modern times. It is but a light repast of wine or
milk, with bread and honey, or a taste of olives or cheese or possibly
an egg. Schoolboys seem to have often eaten a sort of suet dumpling.
In the strength of this meat our friend will go till mid-day.

As he has no very early call to the imperial court upon the Palatine,
he will now proceed to hold his own reception of morning callers. For
this purpose he will come out to the spacious hall, which has been
already described as the most essential part of a Roman house, and
will there establish himself in the opening of the recess or bay which
has also been described as a kind of reception-room or parlour. Before
he arrives, the hall has been swept and polished by the brooms and
sponges of the slaves, under the direction of a foreman. The number of
Silius' household slaves is very great. Very many Romans of course
owned no slave at all; many had but one or two; but it was considered
that a person of anything like respectable means could hardly do with
less than ten. Silius will probably employ several times that number.
We have mentioned the valet, the barber, the wardrobe-keeper, and the
amanuensis. We must add to these the cooks, the pastry-makers, the
waiters, the room-servants, the doorkeeper, the footmen, messengers,
litter-carriers, the butler and pantrymen. Some of the superior slaves
have drudges of their own. The librarian, accountant, and steward are
all slaves. Even the family physician or architect may be a slave.
Many of these men may be persons of education and talent. Their one
deficiency is that they are not free. Many of them are in colour and
feature indistinguishable from the people outside; most, however, show
their origin in their foreign physique. They are Phrygians,
Cappadocians, Syrians, Jews, Egyptians, Ethiopians, Numidians,
Spaniards, Gauls, Germans, Thracians, and Greeks. Their master either
inherited them from his father or friends, or he bought them in the
slave-market. For whatever reason they became slaves--whether as
prisoners of war, by birth, through debt, through condemnation for
some offence, by kidnapping like that practised by the Corsairs or the
modern Arabs, or through being sold by their own parents--they had
become the Property of slave-dealers, who picked them up in the depots
on the Black Sea or at Delos or Alexandria, and brought them to Rome.
There they were stripped and exposed for sale, the choicer specimens
in a select part of a fashionable shop, the more ordinary types in the
auction mart, where they were placed upon a stand or stone bench, were
labelled with their age, nationality, defects, and accomplishments,
and were sold either under a guarantee or without one. For an ordinary
room-slave Silius, or his agent for him, has paid perhaps £20; for a
servant of more special skill, such as a particularly soft-handed
barber, perhaps £50; the price of a muleteer who was "too deaf to
overhear private conversation in a carriage" might thereby be enhanced
to £150; for a slave with educational or artistic accomplishments--a
good reader, reciter, secretary, musician, or actor--he may have paid
some hundreds. If he is a man of morbid tastes, and affects a
particular kind of dainty favourite, he may go as far as a thousand.
Curly-haired pages and amusing dwarfs are generally dear. It is the
business of the house-steward to see that each slave receives his
daily or monthly rations of corn, a trifling sum of money for other
needs, and perhaps an allowance of thin wine. Many a slave also
received a considerable number of "tips" from guests, as well as
perquisites and presents from his master. With economy he was thus
enabled to purchase his own freedom. The master might also in some
cases provide the slave with the essentials of his dress, to wit, a
coarse tunic, a rough cloak, and a pair of shoes or sabots.

Over all these persons, so long as they are slaves, the owner
possesses absolute power. He can box their ears, or condemn them to
hard labour--making them, for instance, work in chains upon his lands
in the country or in a sort of prison-factory--or he may punish them
with blows of the rod, the lash, or the knout; he can brand them upon
the forehead if they are thieves or runaways, or in the end, if they
prove irreclaimable, he can crucify them. Branded slaves who
afterwards became free and rich sought to conceal the marks by wearing
patches. There were inevitably some instances in which masters proved
so intolerably cruel that their slaves were driven to murder them. To
prevent any conspiracy of the kind the law ordained that, when a
master was so killed, the slaves should one and all be put to death.
It is gratifying to learn that in the reign of Nero the whole populace
sided with a body of slaves in this predicament and prevented the law
from being carried out.

[Illustration: FIG. 61.--SLAVE IN FETTERS.]

But, being a typical Roman, Silius has a strong sense of justice;
moreover he values public opinion as well as his own. Also, being a
typical Roman, he behaves with strictness and for the most part with a
distinct haughtiness of manner, graduated, no doubt, according to the
standing of the individual. When, as was often the case, he did not
even know the name of a slave whom he came across in hall or
peristyle, he frequently addressed him as "Sirrah" or "Sir" or "You,
Sir." To the waiter at table and for ordinary commands, where the
master affects no ceremony, the commonest term is "boy," precisely as
that word is used in the East or _garçon_ in French. If Silius knew
the actual appellation assigned to the slave when bought and was
disposed to be kindly, he accosted him by it, calling him "Syrian," or
"Thracian," or "Croesus," or by his proper Greek or Egyptian name. The
slave, unlike the Roman citizen, owned but one name, and the shorter
the better.

We meet, as is only natural, with many examples of great trust and
confidence between master and slave, and, in the case of the superior
types, no few instances of great kindness and consideration. Pliny
speaks of his "long friendship" for a cultivated slave named Zosimus,
whom he set free, and whom, because he was liable to consumption, he
sent to Egypt and the Riviera for the good of his health. A faithful
or very useful slave could make tolerably sure of being some day
emancipated with all due form and ceremony, either during the master's
lifetime or by his last will and testament. In such a case he became a
Roman citizen of the rank known as "freedman," and after the second
generation there was nothing to prevent his descendants from aspiring
to any position open to any other Roman. Sometimes even his son
attained to public office. On attaining his citizenship the freedman
became entitled to "the three names," and it was the rule that he
should adopt the family name of his master. A freedman of Silius is
himself a Silius. Also by preference he will be a Quintus Silius; but
he will not be a Bassus. The third name will still, for his own
lifetime, be such as to mark him for what he is. Moreover, though
free, he is himself still bound to pay a dutiful respect to his former
master's family, but beyond this he is at his own disposal and in
possession of every right in regard to person and property. Many such
men were extremely skilful in trade and made themselves rich enough to
vie with the Roman aristocracy in outward show. The freedmen of the
Emperor, who occupied positions of influence at court as chamberlains,
stewards, private secretaries and the like, and were the powers behind
the throne, became enormously wealthy. Their houses were adorned with
the finest marble columns, the most richly gilded ceilings, and the
most costly works of art; the choicest fruits ripened under glass in
their forcing-houses, and, when they died, their monuments were among
the most sumptuous by the side of the great highways. "Freedmen's
wealth" became a proverb. They were occasionally even appointed to
those minor governorships held by "agents" of Caesar, and the Felix of
the New Testament was himself a freedman of Nero's predecessor and
brother to one of the richest and most influential of the class. In
the provincial cities of Italy freedmen, though they were not
themselves eligible for the ordinary offices, might in return for acts
of munificence be admitted to what may be called an inferior grade of
knighthood--a sort of C.M.G.--styled the "Order of Augustus." They
thus became notables of their own town in a way of which they were
sufficiently proud, as the Pompeian inscriptions show. It was part of
the shrewdness of Augustus to kill two birds with one stone, by
erecting a provincial order directly attached to the cult of the
Emperor, and by encouraging the local self-made man to spend money
liberally upon the embellishment and comfort of his own municipality.

Well, Silius, meeting with or escorted by various slave attendants,
passes from the inner rooms through the passage into the hall and
finds waiting for him a throng of visitors known as his "clients" or
dependants. The position of these persons is somewhat remarkable. They
are commonly free Roman citizens of the "genteel" middle class, who
openly admit that they depend for the bulk of their living upon the
patronage of the noble or the rich. The custom arose from a very old
condition of things, under which certain classes of citizens, not
being entitled to appear in the law-courts or in public business on
their own behalf, put themselves under the protection of a person so
entitled, who, in return for certain acts of support and deference,
appeared as their advocate and champion. At a later time, even though
their rights had become complete, men might still seek counsel, legal
advice, and advocacy from a person of influence and eloquence. In
return they paid him the honour of escort in the streets, supported
him in his candidature for public office, applauded his speeches, and
exercised on his behalf such influence as they possessed. The standing
of a prominent Roman was apt to be measured by the number and quality
of the persons thus attaching themselves to him. If next it is
remembered that very few money-making occupations were looked upon
with favour by the Romans, and that the higher orders were for the
most part very rich, it will be obvious that there would grow up the
custom of the patron making liberal presents to his dependants--money
gifts, or gifts of small properties and of useful articles--as well as
of inviting them to his table. The clients themselves brought little
presents on the patron's birthday or some other special occasion, but
these were merely the sprats to catch the whale. It gradually resulted
that the patronage extended by the aristocrat or plutocrat was mainly
one of a direct pecuniary nature. As in other cases where a dubious
custom develops gradually, there ceased to be any shame in this
relation. Many members of the middle class, impoverished and earning
practically no other income, lived the life of genteel paupers. They
would attend the morning reception of a grandee, either bringing with
them, or causing a slave to bring, a small basket, or even a portable
cooking-stove, in which they carried off doles of food distributed
through his servants. The scene must have borne no slight resemblance
to that of the charity "soup-kitchen." In process of time, however,
this practice became inconvenient for all parties, and most of the
patrons compounded for such doles by making a fixed payment, still
called the "little basket," amounting perhaps to a shilling in modern
weight of money for each day of polite attention on the part of a
recognised "client." If a client was acknowledged by more than one
patron, so much the better for the amount of his "little baskets." In
some cases the dole was paid to each visitor at the morning call; in
others only after the work of the patron's day was done and when he
had gone to the elaborate bath which preceded his dinner in the later
part of the afternoon. By this means the complimentary escort duty was
secured until that time.

Among the dependants were nearly all the genteel unemployed of Rome,
including the Grub-Street men of letters, who in those days could make
little, if anything, by their books, and who therefore sought the same
kind of assistance as did our own literary rank and file in the early
eighteenth century. When we read the authors of the period we are
inevitably reminded of Samuel Johnson waiting in the ante-chamber of
Lord Chesterfield, and of the flattering dedications of books which
were so liberally or illiberally paid for by the recipients of such
compliments. From his little flat, often a single room and practically
an attic, in the tenement-house, the client would emerge before
daylight, dressed _de rigueur_ in his toga, which was often sadly worn
and thin. He would make his way for a mile or more through the carts,
the cattle, an the schoolboys, sometimes in fine weather, sometimes
through the rain and cold, when the streets were muddy and slippery,
and would climb the hill to his patron's door, joined perhaps on the
way by other citizens bent on the same errand. Gathering in that open
space or vestibule which has already been described, they waited for
the janitor to open the door. If the doorkeeper of Silius was like the
generality of his kind, he would take a flunkey's pleasure in keeping
them waiting, and also, except in the case of those who had been wise
enough to ease his manners with a "tip," or who were known to be in
special favour, a flunkey's pleasure in exhibiting his contempt.
Brought into the hall, they stood or sat about and conversed until
Silius appeared. Then, according to an established order of
precedence--which apparently depended on seniority of acquaintance,
while again it might be affected by a _douceur_--they were presented
one by one to the patron.

One must not expect a Roman noble to deign always to remember the
names of humble persons--sometimes he actually did not--and therefore
a slave, known as the "name-caller," announces each client in turn.
The client says, "Good morning, Sir," and Silius replies, "Good
morning, So-and-So," or "Good morning, Sir," or simply "Good morning."
There is a shaking of hands, or, if the patron is a gracious gentleman
and the client is of old standing, Silius may kiss him on the cheek
and offer some polite inquiry or remark. A very haughty person might
merely offer his hand to be kissed and perhaps not open his mouth at
all, even if he condescended to look at you. But these habits were
hardly so characteristic of our times as of a somewhat later date.

The reception over, the client obtains information as to the movements
of his patron during the day. On the present occasion it appears that
Silius himself is to proceed at once to pay his own morning homage to
a still higher patron, His Highness Nero, who is at home on the
Palatine Hill, and whose levée calls imperatively for the attendance
of certain members of the aristocracy. At the palace there exists a
roll of persons known as the "friends of Caesar"--a roll which depends
solely on the favour of the emperor. Naturally it contains the names
of a number of the highest senators and of the chief officers of the
state, but a place in it is not gained simply by such positions, nor
is it restricted to them. There may be a few knights and others on the
list. To be removed from the roll is to be socially a marked man and a
person to be avoided. Silius is, at least for the time being, one of
the "friends." Nero is not yet in sufficient financial straits to
require that Silius should be squeezed or sacrificed, nor has he
chosen to take offence at something which a spy or informer has
reported of him. Our friend therefore enjoys the _entrée_ to the
palace, and to the palace he goes.

It is a clear fine morning, and he has plenty of time. He therefore
perhaps elects to go on foot. Learning this, a number of his clients
form a procession. Some are honoured by walking at his side, a few go
in advance and so clear a way through the crowd--which is already
moving at the top of the Sacred Way--to the point where you turn off
on the left and ascend to the entrance to the Palatine Hill. Some of
the clients will walk behind, where also will be a lackey or two in
waiting. On the way Silius may perhaps meet with Manlius, another
noble, whom he probably greets with "Good morning, brother," and a
kiss upon the cheek. This kissing, it may be remarked, ultimately
became an intolerable nuisance, particularly among the middle classes,
and the epigrammatist, after complaining of the cold noses and wet
osculations of the winter-time, pleads to have the business at least
put off till the month of April.

When it is a bad or sloppy day, Silius will decide to go in his
litter, or Roman form of the palanquin. Being a senator he may use
this conveyance, otherwise at this date he could not. There are also
sedan chairs, but as yet there exists a prejudice against these as
being somewhat effeminate. At this decision four, six, or eight tall
fellows, slaves from Cappadocia or Germany by preference, clad in
crimson liveries, thrust two long poles through the rings or the
coloured leather straps which are to be found on the sides of the
litter, and place these poles upon their shoulders. To all intents and
purposes the litter is a couch with an arched roof above it, of the
shape here indicated, but covered with cushions, which are often
stuffed with down. Its woodwork is decorated with silver and ivory.
The litter may either be carried open on all sides, or with curtains
of coloured stuffs partially drawn, or it may be enclosed by windows
of talc or glass. In the days when litters were in promiscuous use,
persons who did not possess one, or perhaps the slaves to bear it,
might hire such a vehicle from the "rank," after the modern manner of
hiring a cab. In this receptacle Silius is carried amid the same
procession as before.

[Illustration: FIG. 62.--LITTER.]

He will wear nothing on his head. On a journey, or when the sun was
particularly strong in the roofless theatre or circus, he might put on
a broad-brimmed hat, very much like that of the modern Italian priest.
Instead of the hat it was common, when the weather so required, either
to draw a fold of the toga over the head or to wear a hood closely
resembling the monkish cowl. This might be either attached to a cloak
or made separately for the purpose. The hood was also employed when,
particularly in the evening, the wearer had either public or private
reasons for concealing his identity as he moved abroad, commonly
issuing in such cases from his side door. But on an ordinary day, and
when attending a ceremony, the Roman head is bare. So also are the
hands, for gloves are not yet in use.

On arriving at the palace--outside which there is generally standing a
crowd of the curious or the snobs--Silius passes through the guards,
Roman or German, at the doors, is taken in hand by the court slave or
freedman who acts as usher, and himself goes through a process similar
to that which his own clients have undergone. There are times, and
just now they may be frequent, at which he will have to submit to a
search, for fear he may be carrying a concealed weapon. If he is high
in favour or position, he belongs to the batch of "first admittance,"
or first _entrée_. If not, he must be contented with "second." He will
find that His Highness Nero, exacting as he may be concerning the
costume of his callers, will not trouble to put on his own toga, as a
more respectable emperor would have done, but will appear in anything
he pleases, frequently a tunic or a wrapper of silk, relieved only by
a handkerchief round the neck. Nor will his High Mightiness always
condescend to lace his shoes. If he is in a good humour, he may bestow
the kiss, remember your name, and call you "my very dear Silius." If
he has been accustomed to do so, but omits the warmer greeting on this
occasion, it may be taken as boding you no good. It is, however, very
probable that in this year 64 he will refuse the kiss to almost every
one of the senators, for he has already come openly to detest them. It
will suffice if he so much as offers his hand to be saluted. Caligula,
being a "god," had sometimes offered his foot, but only that
crack-brained emperor had so far attempted this enormity.

[Illustration: FIG. 63.--READING A PROCLAMATION. (Pompeii.) The
writing is upon a long board in front of equestrian statues.]

The day happens to be one on which the emperor has nothing further to
say and requires no advice. Silius is therefore free to go his ways.
There is also no meeting of the Senate, no festival, chariot-race, or
show of gladiators. He has therefore only the ordinary day before him,
and he proceeds, as practically every other caller does, towards the
Forum and its neighbourhood. If on his way he meets with a great
public official--a consul or a praetor--proceeding on duty, he
politely makes way, and, if his head chances to be covered, he
uncovers it. He loyally recognises the claims of that toga edged with
purple, and of those lictors walking in front with the symbolic
bundles of rods containing the symbolic axe. Whatever he may think of
the men, he pays all respect to their office. The Forum is now full,
the banking and money-changing are all aglow in the Basilica Aemilia,
the loungers are playing their games of "three men in a row," or
perhaps their backgammon, on the pavement of the outer colonnade of
the Basilica of Julius. Groups are reading and discussing the columns
of the "Daily News," which are either posted up or have been purchased
from the professional copiers. This is an official, and therefore a
censored, publication in clear manuscript, containing proclamations,
resolutions of the senate, bulletins of the court, results of trials,
the births and deaths registered in the city, announcements of public
shows and sports, striking events, such as fires, earthquakes, and
portents, and occasional advertisements. Silius may perhaps stop and
read; more probably his slaves regularly purchase a copy for his
private use. Criers are meanwhile bawling to you to come and see the
Asiatic giant, or the mermen, or the two-headed baby. The old sailor
who has been wrecked, or pretends to have been, is walking about with
a harrowing picture of the scene painted on a board and is soliciting
alms. The busybody is gossiping among little knots of people and
telling, manufacturing, or magnifying the latest scandal, or the
latest news from the frontier, from Antioch, from the racing-stables,
the law-courts, or the palace. Perhaps Silius has a little banking
business to do, and he enters the Basilica to give instructions as to
sending a draft to Athens or Alexandria in favour of some friend or
relative there who is in want of money, or whom he has instructed to
make artistic or other purchases. In about seven days his
correspondent will obtain the cash through a banker at Athens, or in
about twelve or fourteen days at Alexandria.

Perhaps, however, one of his clients has asked for his help in a case
at law, which is being tried either over the way in the Basilica of
Julius, or round the corner to the right in the Forum of Augustus. If
a man of study and eloquence, he may have consented to act as
pleader--taking no fee, because he is merely performing a patron's
duty. _Noblesse oblige_. In the year 64 a pleader who has taken up a
cause for some one else than a dependant is allowed by law to charge a
fee not exceeding £100, but the law says nothing, or at least can do
no thing, as to the liberal presents which are offered him under some
other pretext. If he is not to plead, Silius may at any rate have been
requested to lend moral support by seating himself beside the favoured
party and perhaps appearing as a witness to character. If he pleads in
any complicated or technical case, it will generally be after careful
consultation with an attorney or professional lawyer. Round the apse
or recess in which the court sits there will stand a ring of
interested spectators, and among them will be distributed as many as
possible of his own dependants, who will religiously applaud his
finely-turned periods and his witticisms. There was generally little
chance of missing a Roman forensic witticism; its character was for
the most part highly elaborate and its edge broad. In a later
generation it was not rare for chance bystanders to be hired on the
spot as _claqueurs_. The court itself consists of a large body of
jurymen of position empanelled, not for the particular case, but for
particular kinds of cases and for a period of time, and over these
there presides one of the public officials annually elected for the
judicial administration of Rome. The president sees that the
proceedings are in accordance with the law, but the verdict is given
entirely by the jury.

[Illustration: FIG. 64.--SEALED RECEIPT OF JUCUNDUS. Beside each seal
is a signature; the writing in the hollow leaf is a summary of the
receipt, which is itself shut between the two leaves bound with
string.]

If there is no need for Silius to attend such a court, he may find
many other demands upon his time. Among Romans of the higher classes
etiquette was extremely exacting. Contemporaries themselves complain
that social "duties" or "obligations" frittered away a large
proportion of their day, and that they were kept perpetually "busy
doing nothing." One man or woman is making a will, and asks you to be
one of the witnesses to the signature and sealing; another is
betrothing a son or daughter, and invites you to be present and attest
the ceremony; another has a son of fifteen or sixteen concerning whom
it is decided that he has now come of age, must put on the white toga
of a man in the place of the purple-edged toga of the boy, and be led
into the Forum in token of his new freedom; you must not omit the
courtesy of attending. Another desires you to go with him before the
magistrate while he emancipates a slave. Worst of all, perhaps, is the
man who has written a poem or declamation, and who proposes to read
it, or to get a professional elocutionist to read it, to his
acquaintances. He has either hired a hall or borrowed a convenient
room from a friend, and you are kindly invited to be present. We learn
that these amateur authors did not permit their victims to forget the
engagement, but sent them more than one reminder. At the reading or
recitation it was your duty to applaud frequently, to throw
complimentary kisses, and to exclaim in Greek, "excellent," "capital,"
"clever," "unapproachable," or "again," very much as we say "encore"
in what we think is French, or "bravo" in Italian. The native Latin
terms most commonly in use may perhaps be translated as "well said,"
"perfect," "good indeed," "divine," "a shrewd hit." On one occasion a
certain Priscus was present at the reading of a poem, and it happened
to open with an invocation to a Priscus. No sooner had the author
begun, "Priscus, thou bidst me tell ..." than the man of that name
called out "Indeed I don't." This "caused laughter" and "cast a chill
over the proceedings." Pliny apologises for the man, as being a little
light in the head, but he is manifestly tickled all the same. It is
scarcely a wonder that the Roman was glad to escape from all these
formalities of "toga'd Rome" to his country seat, or to the freer life
of Baiae.

His business in the Forum accomplished, Silius returns to his house on
the Caelian. As, on the slope of the Sacred Way, he passes the rich
shops of the jewellers, florists, and perfumers, he may be tempted to
make some purchase, which the attendant slaves will carry to the
house. Arrived there, he will take his luncheon, a fairly substantial
though by no means a heavy meal. He may perhaps be a married man. If
nothing has yet been said about his wife, it is because in the higher
Roman households the husband and wife owned their separate property,
lived their own lives, and were almost equally free to spend their
time in their own way, since marriage at this date was rather a
contract than a union. If, however, he is a benedict, it is probable
that at this meal the family will meet, no outside company being
present. Silius himself reclines on a couch, the children are seated,
and the wife may adopt either attitude. After this our friend will
probably take a siesta, precisely as he might take it in Italy to-day.
The practice was indeed not universal; nevertheless it was general. He
will not go to bed, but will sleep awhile upon a couch in some quiet
and darkened room. If he cannot sleep, or when he wakes, he may
perhaps read or be read to. Where he will spend the afternoon till the
bath and dinner is a matter of his own choice.



CHAPTER XIII


SOCIAL DAY OF A ROMAN ARISTOCRAT (_continued_)--AFTERNOON AND DINNER

We will suppose that Silius is specially inclined for action and
society. The afternoon is growing chilly, and, as he has no further
ceremonial to undergo, he will probably throw over his toga a richly
coloured mantle--violet, amethyst, or scarlet--to be fastened on the
shoulder with a buckle or brooch. In very cold weather, especially
when travelling, Romans of all classes would wear a thick cloak,
somewhat like the cape worn by a modern policeman or cab-driver, or
perhaps more closely resembling the _poncho_ of Spanish America. This,
which consisted of some strong and as nearly as possible waterproof
stuff, had no opening at the sides, but was put on by passing the head
through a hole. To-day Silius puts on the coloured mantle, and gets
himself carried across the Forum, through the gap between the
Capitoline and Quirinal Hills, and into the Campus Martius, somewhere
about the modern Piazza Venezia and the entrance to the Corso. Here he
may descend from his litter, and purchase a statuette, or a vessel of
Corinthian bronze or silver, or an attractive table with the true
peacock markings, or a handsome slave. While doing so, he may find
amusement in observing a pretender who "shops" but does not buy,
wearying the dealers by pricing and disparaging the costliest tables
and most artistic vessels, and ending with the purchase of a penny pot
which he carries home himself. He may then stroll along under the
pictured and statued colonnades, perhaps offering the cold shoulder to
various impecunious toadies who are there on the look-out for an
invitation to dinner, perhaps succumbing to their blandishments. His
lackeys are of course in attendance, and clients are still about him.
In passing he is greeted by some person who is hanging officiously
round a litter containing an elderly lady or gentleman, and whom he
recognises as what was called an "angler"--that is to say, one whose
business is to wheedle gifts or a legacy out of childless people of
wealth. This was a regular profession and extremely lucrative when
well managed.

A little further, and he stops to look at the young men curvetting and
wheeling on horseback over the riding-ground. Away in the distance
others are swimming backwards and forwards across the Tiber. Or he
steps into an enclosure, commonly connected with the baths, where not
only young men, but their seniors, even of high rank, are engaged in
various exercises. Some of them are stripped and are playing a game
with a small hard ball, which is struck or thrown, and smartly caught
or struck onward by right or left hand equally, from the three corners
of a triangle. Some are playing with a larger and lighter article,
something like a football stuffed with feathers, which seems to have
been punched about by the fist in a way calling for considerable
judgment and practice. Others are jumping with dumb-bells in each
hand, or they are running races, or hurling a disk of stone, or
wrestling. Yet others are practising all manner of sword strokes with
a heavy wooden weapon against a dummy post, merely to exercise
themselves keep down their flesh.

[Illustration: FIG. 65.--DISCUS-THROWER.]

[Illustration FIG 66.--STABIAN BATHS. (Pompeii.)]

Probably Silius will himself take a hand in the three-cornered game,
unless he possesses a private court at home and is intending to take
his bath there instead of in one of the larger public or semi-public
establishments. Whether he bathes in the baths of Agrippa at the back
of the Pantheon, or in those of Nero, or in his own, the process will
be much the same. The arrangements are practically uniform however
great may be the differences of sumptuousness and spaciousness. We
have not indeed yet reached the times of those huge and amazing
constructions of Caracalla and Diocletian, but there is no reason to
doubt that the existing public baths were already of much
magnificence. Regularly we should first find a dressing-room with
painted walls, a mosaic floor, and glass windows, and provided with
seats, as well as with niches in the walls to hold the clothes.
Adjoining this is a "cold" room, containing a large swimming-bath.
Next comes a "warm" chamber, with water heated to a sufficient and
reasonable degree, and with the general temperature raised either by
braziers or by warm air circulating under the floor or in the walls.
After this a "hot" room, with both a hot swimming-bath and a smaller
marble bath of the common domestic shape--though of much larger
size--provided with a shower, or rather with a cold jet. Lastly there
is a domelike sweating-chamber filled with an intense dry heat. The
public baths built by Nero were particularly notorious for their high
temperature. After the bath the body was rubbed over with perfumed
oil, in order to close the pores against the cold, and then was
scraped down with the hollow sickle-shaped instrument of bronze or
iron depicted in the illustration. The other articles there shown are
a vessel containing the oil, and a flat dish into which to pour it for
use. These, together with linen towels, were brought by your own
slave.

[Illustration: FIG. 67.--BATHING IMPLEMENTS.]

Silius is now carried home, and as it is approaching four o'clock, he
dresses, or is dressed, for dinner. His toga and senatorial
walking-shoes are thrown off, and he puts on light slippers or
house-shoes, and dons what is called a "confection" of light and easy
material--such as a kind of half-silk--and of bright and festive
colours. Some ostentatious diners changed this dress several times
during the course of a protracted banquet, giving the company the
benefit of as great a variety of "confections" as is afforded by a
modern star actress in the theatre. If the days are long and it is
suitable weather, he may perhaps dine in the garden at the back of the
peristyle. Otherwise in the dining-room the three couches mentioned in
a previous chapter (FIG. 48) are arranged along three sides of a
rectangle. Their metal and ivory work gleams brightly, and they are
resplendent with their embroidered cushions. In the middle of the
enclosed space shines the polished table, whether square or round. The
sideboard is laden with costly plate; the lamps are, or soon will be,
alight upon their tall shafts or hanging from their chains; the stand
for the carver is awaiting its load. The dining-room steward and his
subordinates are all in readiness.

At the right time the guests arrive, endeavouring to show neither
undue eagerness by being too early nor rudeness by being too late.
Each brings his own footman to take off his shoes and to stand behind
him, in case he may be needed, though not to wait at table, for this
service belongs to the slaves of the house. After they have been
received by the host, the "name-caller" leads them to their places,
according to such order of precedence as Silius chooses to
pre-arrange. The regular number of guests for the three couches will
be nine--the number of the Muses--or three to each couch. To squeeze
in more was regarded as bad form. If the crescent couch and the large
round table are to be used the number may be either six or seven. The
position of Silius himself as host will be regularly that marked H on
the plan, while the position of honour--occupied by a consul if one be
present--will be that marked C.

Each guest throws himself as easily as possible into a reclining
attitude, resting his left elbow on the cushion provided for the
purpose. He has brought his own napkin, marked with a purple stripe if
he is a senator, and this he tucks, in a manner still sufficiently
familiar on the continent of Europe, into upper part of his attire.
Bread is cut and ready, but there are no knives and forks, although
there is a spoon of dessert size and also one with a smaller bowl and
a point at the other end of the handle for the purpose of picking out
the luscious snail or the succulent shell-fish. The dainty use of
fingers well inured to heat was necessarily a point of Roman domestic
training.

There have been many--perhaps too many--descriptions of a Roman
dinner, but the tendency, especially with the novelist, is to
exaggerate grossly the average costliness and gluttony of such
banquets. Undoubtedly there were such things as "freak" dinners almost
as absurd as those of the inferior order of American plutocrat.
Undoubtedly also there was often a detestable ostentation of reckless
expenditure. But we are endeavouring to obtain a fair view of
representative Roman practice, and must put out of our minds all such
vagaries as those of the ceiling opening and letting down surprises,
or of dishes composed of nightingales' tongues and flamingoes' brains.
These were always, as a later writer calls them, "the solecisms of
luxury." Nero himself, or rather the ministers of the vulgar pleasures
which he regarded as those of artistic genius, devised an abundance of
such expensive follies and surprises, but we must not permit the
professional satirist or Stoic moralist to delude us into believing
them typical of Roman life. Praise of the "simple life" and the simple
past is no new thing. It is extremely doubtful whether at an ordinary
Roman dinner-party there was any such lavish luxury as to surpass that
of a modern aldermanic banquet. We can hardly blame the people who
could afford it for obtaining for their tables the best of everything
produced around the Mediterranean Sea, any more than we blame the
modern citizen of London or New York for obtaining the choicest foods
and dainties from a much wider world. Doubtless a Roman dinner too
often meant over-eating and over-drinking, and doubtless neither the
ordinary table manners nor the ordinary table conversation would
recommend themselves to us. The same might be said of our own
Elizabethan age. But any one intimately acquainted with Latin
literature as a whole, and not merely with the more savoury passages
commonly selected, will necessarily incline to the belief that
novelistic historians have too often been taking what was exceptional,
eccentric, and strongly disapproved by contemporaries, for the usual
and the normal. If we read about Romans swallowing emetics after
gorging themselves, so that they might begin eating afresh, we may
feel both disgust and pity, but we must not imagine such a practice to
have been a national habit.

The dinner regularly consisted of three divisions: a preliminary
course of _hors d'oeuvres_, the dinner proper, and a sort of enlarged
dessert. It might or might not be accompanied or followed by various
entertainments, and closed by a protracted course of wine-drinking.
All would depend upon the tastes of the host and the nature of the
company. The meal, it may be mentioned, begins with an invocation
corresponding to our grace. The _hors d'oeuvres_ are taken in the
shape of shell-fish, such as oysters and mussels, snails with piquant
sauce, lettuce, radishes and the like, eggs, and a taste of wine
tempered with honey.

Next comes the dinner proper, commonly divided into three services,
comprising a considerable choice of fish (particularly turbot,
flounder, mullet, and lampreys), poultry and game (from chicken, duck,
pigeon, and peacock, to partridges, pheasants, ortolans, and
fieldfares), hare, joints of the ordinary meats, as well as of wild
boar and venison, a kind of haggis, a variety of the vegetables most
familiar to modern use, mushrooms, and truffles. There is abundant,
and to our taste excessive, use of seasonings, not only of salt,
vinegar, and pepper, but of oil, thyme, mint, ginger, and the like,
The _pièce de résistance_--a wild boar, or whatever it may
be--regularly arrives as the middle of the three services. The
substantial meal ends with a small offering to the household deities.
After this follows the dessert, consisting of fresh and dried fruits,
and of cakes and sweet-meats artistically composed.

During the dinner a special feature is made of the artistic
arrangement of the various viands upon the large trays or stands from
which the guest makes his choice, for the several dishes belonging to
one course were not brought separately to table. In full view of the
guests the professional carver exhibits his dexterity with much
demonstration of grace and rapidity, and well-dressed and
neat-fingered slaves render the necessary service. Of plates and
dishes of various shapes and purposes, silver and silver-gilt, there
is great profusion.

The conversation meanwhile depends upon the company. Sometimes it
turns upon the chariot-races and the chances of the "Red" or "Green";
sometimes it is social gossip and scandal. If the guests are of a
graver cast of mind, it may be concerned with questions of art and
literature, or even philosophy. The Roman particularly affected
encyclopaedic information, and frequently posted himself with such
miscellaneous matter derived from a salaried domestic philosopher or
_savant_--commonly, of course, a Greek. But upon politics in any real
sense conversation will either not turn at all, or else very
cautiously, at least until some one has drunk more than is good for
him. It is only too easy to drop some remark which may be construed
into an offence to the emperor, and there are too many ears among the
slaves, and perhaps too many among the guests, to permit of any risk
in that direction. In some rather serious companies a professional
reader or reciter entertained the diners with interesting passages of
poetry or prose; before others there might be a performance of scenes
from a comedy. At times vocal and instrumental music was discoursed by
the domestic minstrels; or persons, generally women, were hired to
play upon the harp, lyre, or double flageolet. Such performances would
also be carried on during the carousal which often followed deep into
the night, and to these may be added posture-dances by girls from
Cadiz, juggling and acrobatic feats, and other forms of "variety"
entertainment. Dicing in public, except at the chartered Saturnalian
festival, was illegal--a fact which did not, of course, prevent it
from being practised---but it was permitted in private gatherings like
this, provided that ostensibly no money was staked. The dice are
rattled in a tower-like box and are thrown upon a special board or
tray. You may play "for love," or, as the Romans called it, "for the
best man," or you may play for forfeits. Naturally the forfeits became
in practice, in spite of the law, sums of money. The best possible
throw is called "Venus," the worst possible "the dog." A sort of
draughts or of backgammon may be preferred at more quiet times of
social intercourse; but a game like "head or tail," called in Latin
"heads or ships," was a game for the vulgar.

[Illustration: FIG. 68.--ACROBATS.]

If it was decided to indulge in a prolonged carousal in form, heads
were wreathed with garlands of roses, violets, myrtle, or ivy; lots
were cast for an "umpire of the drinking," and he decided both how
much wine--Falernian, Setine, or Massic--should be drunk, and in what
degree it should be mixed with water. A large and handsome mixing-bowl
stands in the dining-hall. From this the wine is drawn by a ladle
holding about as much as a sherry-glass, and a certain number of such
"glasses" are poured into each cup according to the bidding of the
umpire. While being poured into the "mixer" the wine is passed through
a strainer and in the hot weather the strainer would be filled with
snow brought down from the nearest mountains and artificially
preserved. Healths were drank in as many "glasses" as the name
contained letters; absent ladies were toasted in a similar way; and at
some hour or other guests asked their footmen for their shoes and
cloaks, and departed to their homes under the escort of attendants,
who carried the torches or lanterns and were ready to deal with
possible footpads and garroters, if any were lurking in the unlighted
streets for pedestrians less wary or less protected. The "Mohawks"
also will let them alone, and perhaps their homeward way may be
entertained by the sounds of serenaders at the door of some beautiful
Chloe or Lydia on the Upper Sacred Way or near the Subura.

It is not, however, to be supposed that every evening meal, even of a
noble, took the form of a dinner-party. It is indeed probable that
there were few occasions upon which, while in town, he was not either
entertaining visitors or being himself entertained. Occasionally there
would be an invitation to dine at Court, where perhaps eighty or a
hundred guests of both sexes, distributed in different sets of nine or
seven over the wide banquet-hall, would eat off gold plate, and be
entertained from three or four o'clock till midnight with all the
unbridled extravagance that a Petronius or some other "arbiter of
taste" might devise for the Caesar. The snob of the period set an
enormous value upon this distinction. The emperor could not always
review his list of invitations, nor could he on every occasion be
personally acquainted with every guest. It was therefore quite
possible for his servants now and then to smuggle in a person
ambitious of having dined at the palace. Under Caligula a rich
provincial once paid nearly £2000 for such an "invitation." When the
emperor found it out, he was, if anything, rather flattered; the next
day he caused some worthless trifle to be sold to the same man for the
same amount, and on the strength of this acquaintance invited him to
dinner, this time pocketing the money for himself.

Yet there must have been no few evenings upon which Silius preferred
the company of an intimate friend or two, making all together the
"number of the graces," and dined with less form and ceremony. At such
times the meal would be of comparatively short duration, and there
would be deeper and more intimate matter of conversation. Now and then
the dinner would be purely domestic; and, after it, Silius would
perhaps pass an hour or two in reading, or in listening to the slave
who was his professional "reader." If he was himself an author, as an
astonishing number of his contemporaries actually were, he might spend
the time in preparing a speech, composing some non-committal epic or
drama, jotting down memoranda for a history, or concocting an epigram
or satire to embody his humorous fancies or to relieve his
exasperation. If, as was often the case, he kept in the house a
salaried Greek philosopher--in a large measure the analogue of the
domestic chaplain of the later seventeenth century--he might enjoy his
conversation and pick his brains; or, if a man of real earnestness of
purpose, discuss with him the tenets of his particular philosophy,
Stoic, Epicurean, or Eclectic. This was the nearest approach which the
ancient Roman made to what we should call theological or religious
argument.

On other days a patron would naturally entertain a number of his
clients at dinner, and on no occasion would he be better able to show
how much or how little he was a gentleman in the modern sense of the
term. It is not merely from the satirist that we learn how
discourteous the Roman grandee might be at his own table if he chose.
It was no uncommon thing for a patron to set before these humbler
guests dishes or portions of dishes markedly inferior to those which
were offered to himself and to any aristocrat whom he had placed near
him. In this sense the client was often made to feel very distinctly
that he was "sitting below the salt." While the mellowest Setine or
Falernian wine was poured into the patron's own jewelled goblet of
gold or silver or crystal, his client might be drinking from thick
glass or earthenware the poorer stuff grown on the Sabine Hills. The
fish presented to Silius and his "brother" noble might be a choice
turbot, and the bird might be pheasant, while Proculus the client must
be content with pike from the Tiber and the common barndoor fowl. The
later satirist Juvenal presents us with inimitable pictures of the
hungry dependants at the table of their "king," waiting "bread in
hand" (like the sword drawn for the fray) to see what fortune would
send them. On the other hand there were, of course, patrons who made
no such distinctions. The younger Pliny, who was himself a gentleman
almost in the modern sense--if we overlook a too frequent tendency to
contemplate his own undeniable virtues--writes a letter to a young
friend in the following terms: "I need not go into details as to how I
came to be dining with a person with whom I am by no means intimate.
In his own eyes he combined elegance with economy; in mine he combined
meanness with extravagance. The dishes set before himself and a few
others were of the choicest; those supplied to the rest were poor
scraps. There was the same difference in his wine, which was of three
kinds. The intention was not to offer a choice, but to prevent the
right of refusing. One kind was for himself and us; another for his
less important friends (for his friends are graded); another for his
and our freedmen. My next neighbour noticed this, and asked me if I
approved of it. I said 'No!' 'Well,' said he, 'what is your own
practice?' 'I treat every one alike, for I invite people to a dinner,
not to an insult, and when they share my table I let them share
everything.' 'Your freedmen as well?' 'Yes, at such times I regard
them as guests, not as freedmen.' At this he said, 'It costs you a
good deal?' 'Not at all.' 'How can that be?' 'Because it is not a case
of their drinking the same wine as I do, but of my drinking the same
wine as they do.'" The letter is perhaps nearly half a century later
than our chosen period, but there is no reason to think that manners
had undergone any great change in the interval.



CHAPTER XIV


LIFE IN THE MIDDLE AND LOWER CLASSES

Silius was a noble, with a nobleman's privileges and also his
limitations. The class next in rank below his consisted of the
"knights," of whom something has already been said. It will be
remembered that these men of the "narrow stripe" were the higher
middle class, who conducted most of the greater financial enterprises
of Rome and the provinces. While the senatorial order could govern the
important provinces, command legions, possess large estates, and
derive revenues from them, but could make money in other ways only
through the more or less concealed agency of knights or their own
freedmen, the knights were free to act as bankers, money-lenders,
tax-farmers, and merchants or contractors in a large way, and to take
charge of such third-rate provinces as the Caesar might think fit to
entrust to them. Money-lending at Rome was an extremely profitable
business. Not only was the nobleman often extravagant in his tastes,
but when once elected to a public position he was practically
compelled to spend money lavishly in giving shows and exhibitions of
the kind which will be described immediately, or upon some public
building, or otherwise. In consequence he often incurred heavy debts.
Meanwhile the smaller traders and agriculturists, who were in
competition with slave-labour and other false economic conditions, to
say nothing of bad seasons, were frequently in the hands of the
usurers. Though efforts were repeatedly made to check exorbitant rates
of interest, they were apparently quite as ineffectual as with us. An
almost standard charge was at the rate of one-twelfth of the loan, or
8-1/3 per cent, but another common rate was that of one per cent per
month. Rates both higher and lower are known to us from particular
cases. Naturally the question depended on the security, when it did
not depend upon the greed of the one side and the ignorance of the
other. Much, however, of what the books call money-lending was only
what we should consider legitimate banking. Be this as it may, the
knights made large fortunes from the practice. They were also the
tax-farmers, who operated in the case of those imposts which were
still left indirect. The practice was to make an estimate of the
amount of such a tax derivable from a province, to purchase it from
the government at as large a margin of profit as possible, and so
relieve the state of the trouble and cost of collecting it. For this
purpose "companies" were formed, with what we should call a "legal
manager" at Rome. The managers would bid at auction for the tax, pay
the purchase-money into the treasury, and proceed to get in the tax
through local managers and agents in the provinces concerned. It has
already been explained that the more important taxation of the empire
was at this date direct--a community in Gaul, Spain, Asia Minor, or
Syria knowing what its assessment was, taking its own measures, and
using its own native or local collectors. The knights at Rome might
still advance sums to such communities, but they were not in this case
tax-farmers. It is unfortunate that the word "publicans"--bracketed
with "sinners"--is used in the New Testament translation for the local
collectors like St. Matthew. Not only does the word convey either no
notion or a wholly incongruous one to the ordinary reader, but it is
apt to mislead those who know its origin. Because the financial
companies at Rome, in purchasing the taxes, were taking up a public
contract, they were called _publicani_. But it is not these men who
were themselves acting as petty collectors--in any case they had
nothing to do with the native collectors appointed by the
communities--and it is not these who enjoyed an immediate association
with "sinners." The fact is that the Latin word applied to the great
tax-farming companies, who were acting for Rome, was afterwards
transferred to even the smallest collecting agent with opportunities
for extortion and harshness.

The stratum of Roman society below the knights was extremely
composite. The slaves, of course, are not included. They have no right
to the Roman "toga," nor may they even wear the conical Roman cap,
except at the Saturnalia, when everything is deliberately topsy-turvy.
Omitting these, we may roughly divide the rest, as the Romans
themselves divided them, into "people" and "rabble." The rabble are
either persons without regular occupation, or _lazzaroni_, sheer
idlers, loafers, and beggars. Doubtless many of them would execute an
errand or carry a parcel for a small copper, otherwise they would be
found hanging about the public squares, lounging on the steps or in
the precincts of public buildings, such as temples, basilicas,
porticoes, and baths, and playing at what the Italians call _morra_--a
more clever and tricky species of "How many fingers do I hold up?"--or
at "Heads or Tails." The poor of ancient Rome, like those of modern
Italy, could subsist on very plain and simple food. Water, with a dash
of wine when it could be got--and apparently at this date wine cost
less than a penny a quart--and porridge or bread, however coarse,
would suffice, so long as there were amusements, sunshine, and no need
to work. Every considerable city of the empire round the Mediterranean
would doubtless contain its proportion of such "lewd fellows of the
baser sort," but it was naturally the imperial city that contained by
far the most. Rome was by no means the only city in which doles of
free corn were made and free spectacular exhibitions given. But in
other places the distributions were occasional and depended on the
bounty of local men of wealth or ambition, whereas at Rome the dole
was regular, and the spectacles frequent and splendid. Rome was the
capital, and the abode of the emperor. It claimed the privileges of
the Mistress City, including the enjoyment of the surplus revenues.
Policy also demanded that the rabble should be kept quiet by "bread
and games."

It is for these reasons that the names of some 200,000 citizens stood
upon a list to receive each month an allowance of corn--apparently
between six and seven bushels--at the expense of the imperial
treasury. This quantity they took away and made into bread as best
they could. In many cases doubtless they sold it to the bakers and
others. It must be added that, apart from the free distribution, the
imperial stores contained quantities of grain which could always be
purchased at a low rate. Occasionally a dole of money was added; in
one case Nero gave over £2 per man. Meanwhile there was water in
abundance to be had for nothing, brought by the carefully kept
aqueducts into numerous fountains conveniently placed throughout the
city. While, however, we must recognise that the number of idlers was
very large, we must be careful not to exaggerate. It is absurd to
assume, as some have done, that because 200,000 citizens are receiving
free corn there are 200,000 unemployed. The Roman emperors never
intended to put a premium on laziness, but only to deal with poverty.
In order to receive your dole of corn it was not necessary to show
that you were starving, but only that you were entitled, or in other
words, on the list. It is also a mistake to think that any chance
arrival among the Roman _olla podrida_ could claim his bushel and a
half of corn a week. In any case only Roman citizens could
participate. All the poorest workers, whether actually employed or
not, could take their corn with the rest. Nor must we forget that
among the unemployed there were a considerable number who were, for
one reason or another, only temporarily out of work. Nevertheless, it
requires no study of political economy to know, nor were Roman
statesmen blind to see, that the best way to make men cease to work is
to show them that they can live, however shabbily, without. The really
surprising thing is perhaps that the Roman government, with its
immense funds and resources, stopped short where it did. An unsound
economic system had brought about difficult conditions, with which the
emperors and their advisers dealt as best they could.

It was inevitable that among so numerous a pampered rabble, and so
many impoverished aliens who tried their fortunes in the capital,
there should be beggars in considerable numbers. We cannot tell
precisely how many they were. You might find them on the bridges,
where they marked, as it were, a "stand" for themselves and crouched
on a mat, or at the gates, or wherever carriages must proceed slowly
on the highroads near the city, as for instance up the slope of the
Appian Way as it passed over the south-western spur of the Alban
Hills. Other towns would be infested in the same manner. Nor were
thieves and footpads wanting in the streets or highwaymen upon the
roads, especially in the lonelier parts near the marshes between Rome
and the Bay of Naples. The city was, indeed, liberally policed, but
Roman streets, as we have seen, were for the most part narrow,
crooked, and unlighted at night. As usual, it was the comparatively
poor who suffered from the street robber; the rich, with their torches
and retinue, could always protect themselves.

After the "rabble" we will take the "people" in the sense current at
this date. We must begin by adjusting our notions somewhat. The Romans
made no such clear distinction as we do between trades and
professions. To perform work for others and to receive pay for it is
to be a hireling. Painters, sculptors, physicians, surgeons, and
auctioneers are but more highly paid and more pleasantly engaged
hirelings. Only so far do they differ from sign-painters, masons,
undertakers, or criers. No doubt the theory broke down somewhat in
practice, yet such is the theory. That which in our day constitutes a
"liberal" profession--a previous liberal education and a high code of
professional etiquette--can hardly be said to have existed in the case
of corresponding professions at Rome. If the liberality departs from
our own professional education and the etiquette is relaxed, we shall
presumably revert to the same state of things. A surgeon was commonly
a "sawbones," and a physician a compounder and prescriber of more or
less empirical drugs. Their knowledge and skill were by no means
contemptible, and their instruments and pharmacopoeia were
surprisingly modern. Among the Greeks and Orientals their social
standing was high, but at Rome, where they were chiefly foreigners,
for the most part Greeks, the old aristocratic exclusiveness kept them
in comparatively humble estimation, however large might be their fees
in the more important cases. Something will be said later as to the
state of science and knowledge in the Roman world. For the present it
is sufficient to note that artist, medical man, attorney,
schoolmaster, and clerk belong theoretically to the common "people,"
along with butchers, bakers, carpenters, and potters.

[Illustration: FIG. 69.--SURGICAL INSTRUMENTS. (Pompeii.)]

Setting aside the aristocratic and wealthy classes on the one hand,
and the pauperised class on the other, we have lying between them the
workers, whether native Romans or the emancipated slaves, who are now
citizens known as "freedmen." To these we must add the rather shabby
genteel persons whom we have already described as "clients." Among
workers are found men and women of all the callings most familiar to
ourselves, with one exception. They do not include domestic servants.
Romans who could afford regular servants kept slaves. It 18 true that
occasionally one of the poorer citizens, even a soldier on furlough,
might perform some menial task connected with a household, such as
hewing wood or carrying burdens; but such services were regarded as
"servile." With this exception there is scarcely an occupation in
which Roman citizens did not engage. In such work they often had to
compete with slave-labour. It is probable, doubtless, that the greater
proportion of the slave body were employed as domestic servants. But
many others tilled the lands of the larger proprietors. Others
laboured under the contractors who constructed the public works.
Others were used as assistants in shops and factories. It is obvious
that such competition reduced the field of free labour, when it did
not close it entirely, and the free labour must have been unduly
cheapened. But to suppose that all the Roman work, whether in town or
country, was done by slaves is to be grossly in the wrong. Romans were
to be found acting as ploughmen and herdsmen, workers in vineyards,
carpenters, masons, potters, shoemakers, tanners, bakers, butchers,
fullers, metal-workers, glass-workers, clothiers, greengrocers,
shopkeepers of all kinds. There were Roman porters, carters, and
wharf-labourers, as well as Roman confectioners and sausage-sellers.
To these private occupations must be added many positions in the lower
public or civil service. There was, for example, abundant call for
attendants of the magistrates, criers, messengers, and clerks.
Unfortunately our information concerning all this class is very
inadequate. The Roman writers--historians, philosophers, rhetoricians,
and poets--have extremely little to say about the humble persons who
apparently did nothing to make history or thought. They are mentioned
but incidentally, and generally without interest, if not with some
contempt, except where a poet is choosing to glorify the simple life
and therefore turns his gaze on the frugal peasantry, who doubtless
did, in sober fact, retain most of the sturdy old Roman spirit. About
the soldiers we know much, and not a little about the schoolmasters.
The connection of the one occupation with history and of the other
with authors will account for this fact. Something will be said of the
army and also of the schools in their special places. Keepers of inns
are not rarely in evidence in the literature of satire and epigram,
and no language seems too contemptuous for their alleged dishonesty.
But of inns enough has been said. We learn that the booksellers
made money out of the works of which they caused their slaves to
make copies, and which they sold in "well got up" style for four
shillings, or, in the case of slender volumes, for as little as
fourpence-halfpenny. But to this day we do not know how much profit an
author drew from the bookseller, or how it was determined, or whether
he drew any at all. It is most reasonable to suppose that he sold a
book straight out to the publisher for what he could get. Otherwise it
is hard to see how any check could be kept upon the sales. The only
occupation upon which literature offers us systematic information is
agriculture, including the pasturing of cattle and the culture of the
vine. For the rest we derive more knowledge from the excavations of
Pompeii than from any other source. From actual shops and their
contents, from pictures illustrating contemporary life, and from
inscriptions and advertisements, we are enabled to reconstruct some
picture of commercial and industrial operations. We can see the
fuller, the baker, the goldsmith, the wine-seller, and the
wreath-maker at their work. We can discern something of the retail
trade in the Forum; or we can see the auctioneer making up his
accounts.

[Illustration: FIG. 70.--BAKER'S MILLS. (Pompeii.)]

[Illustration: FIG. 71.--CUPIDS AS GOLDSMITHS. (Wall Painting.)]

[Illustration: FIG. 72.--GARLAND-MAKERS.]

[Illustration: FIG. 73.--BUST OF CAECILIUS JUCUNDUS.]

The baker, for example, was his own miller. There are still standing
the mills, with the upper stone--a hollow cylinder with a pinched
waist--capable of revolving upon the under stone and letting the flour
drop into the rim below. Into the holes in the middle of the upper or
"donkey" stone, and across the top, were fixed wooden bars, which were
either pushed by men or drawn by asses yoked to them. The oven is
still in place, and, charred as they are, we are quite familiar with
the round flat loaves shaped and divided like a large "cross" bun. The
dough was kneaded by a vertical shaft with arms revolving in a
receptacle, from the sides of which other arms projected inwards, so
that there was little room for the dough to be squeezed between them.
We have pictures of the fuller, to whom the woollen garments--the
togas and tunics, and the mantles of the women--were regularly sent to
be washed by treading in vats, to be beaten, stretched, and bleached
with sulphur, and to have their naps raised with a comb or a bunch of
thorns. The goldsmith is depicted at his furnace or his anvil. The
garland-makers are at work fastening the blossoms or petals on a
ribbon or a tough strip of lime-bark. Dealers in other goods are
showing the results of their labour to customers, who carefully
examine them by eye, touch, and smell. The tablets containing the
receipts for sales and rents still exist as they were found in the
house of the shrewd-looking Jucundus the auctioneer. They formally
acknowledge the receipt of such-and-such sums realised at an auction,
"minus commission," although unfortunately they do not happen to tell
us how much the commission was. We see the venders of wine filling the
jars for customers from the large wine-skin in the waggon. In
conclusion to this subject it should be observed that all manner of
descriptive signs were in use; and just as one may still see a
barber's pole or a gilt boot in front of a shop, or a painted sign at
a public-house, so one might see the representation of a goat at the
door of a milk-vender, or of an eagle or elephant at the door of an
inn.

[Illustration: FIG. 74.--PLOUGH. (Primitive and later forms.)]

Meanwhile out in the country we can perceive the farm, with its hedges
of quick-set, its stone walls, or its bank and ditch. The rather
primitive plough--though not always so primitive as it was a
generation or so ago in Italy--is being drawn by oxen, while, for the
rest, there are in use nearly all the implements which were employed
before the quite modern invention of machinery. It may be remarked at
this point that the rotation of crops was well understood and
regularly practised. Then there are the pasturelands, on the plains in
the winter, but in summer on the hills, to which the herdsmen drive
their cattle along certain drove-roads till they reach the unfenced
domains belonging to the state. There they form a camp of huts or
wigwams under a "head man," and surround their charges with strong
fierce dogs, whose business it is to protect them, not only from
thieves, but also from the wolves which were then common on the
Apennines--where, indeed, bears also were to be met. There was no want
of occupation in the country in the time of haymaking, of the vintage,
or of olive-picking. Even the city unemployed could gather a bunch of
grapes or pick an olive, just as they can with us, or just as the
London hop-picker can take a holiday and earn a little money in Kent.
In the vineyards, where the vines commonly trailed upon low elms and
other trees, various vegetables grew between the rows, as they still
do about Vesuvius; on the hills were olive-groves, which cost almost
nothing to keep in order, and which supplied the "butter" and the
lamp-oil of the Mediterranean world.

[Illustration: FIG. 75.--TOOLS ON TOMB.]

We need not waste much compassion upon the life of the Roman working
class. It is true that there was then no doctrine of the "dignity of
labour," but that there was reasonable pride taken in a trade
reputably maintained is seen from the frequent appearance of its tools
upon a tombstone. In respect of the mere enjoyment of life, the
labourers, of the Roman world were, so far as we can gather, tolerably
happy. They had abundant holidays, mostly of religious origin; but,
like our own, so frequently added to, and so far diverted from
religious thoughts, that they were more marked by jollity and sport
than by any solemnity of spirit. The workmen of a particular calling
formed their guilds, "city companies," or clubs, in the interests of
their trade and for mutual benefit. There was a guild of bakers, a
guild of goldworkers, and a guild of anything and everything else.
Each guild had its special deity--such as Vesta, the fire-goddess, for
the bakers, and Minerva, the goddess of wool-work, for the
fullers--and it held an annual festival in honour of such patrons,
marching through the streets with regalia and flag. Doubtless the
members of a guild acted in concert for the regulation of prices,
although the Roman government took care that these clubs should be
non-political, and would speedily suppress a strike if it seriously
interfered with the public convenience. The ostensible excuse for a
guild, and apparently the only one theoretically accepted by the
imperial government, was the excuse of a common worship. It is at
least certain that the emperors jealously watched the formation of any
new union, and that they would promptly abolish any which appeared to
have secret understandings and aims, or to act in contravention of the
law. In the towns which possessed local government the municipal
authorities were still elected by the people; and the guilds,
especially of shopkeepers, could and did play their parts in
determining the election of a candidate. The elections might make a
difference to them in those ways in which modern town-councillors and
mayors, may influence the rates, the conditions of the streets, the
rules of traffic, and so forth. There are sixteen hundred election
notices painted, in red and black about the walls of Pompeii, and we
find So-and-So recommended by such-and-such a trade as being a "good
man," or "an honest young man," or a person who will "keep an eye on
the public purse." It is amusing to note that, in satirical parody of
such appeals as "the fruitsellers recommend So-and-So," we find that
"the petty thieves recommend So-and-So," or we get the opinion of "the
sleepers one and all." Special objects connected with these and other
associations were the provision of "widows' funds," and of proper
burial for the members. Of the importance of the latter to the ancient
world we shall speak when we come to a funeral and the religious ideas
connected with it.

The most difficult task in dealing with antiquity is to visualise the
actual life as it was lived. In the life of the humbler citizens the
remains of Pompeii lend more help than anything else to the desired
sense of reality, but they are the remains of Pompeii, not of Rome.
Nevertheless there are many points in which we may fairly argue from
the little town to the larger, and it is customary to adopt this
course.

[Illustration: FIG. 76.--POMPEIAN COOK-SHOP.]

We may, therefore, think of the common people among these ancients as
very much alive in their frank curiosity, their broad humour, their
love of shows, and their keen enthusiasm for the competitions, their
interest in petty local elections, their advertising instincts, their
insatiable fondness for scribbling on walls and pillars, whether in
paint or with a "style," a sort of small stiletto with which they
commonly wrote on tablets. The ancient world becomes very near when we
read, side by side with the election notices, a line from Virgil or
Ovid scrawled in a moment of idleness, or a piece of abuse of a
neighbouring and rival town--such as "bad luck to the Nucerians"--or a
pretty sentiment, such as "no one is a gentleman who has not been in
love," or an advertisement to the effect that there are "To let, from
July 1, shops with their upper floors, a flat for a gentleman, and a
house: apply to Prinus, slave of So-and-So"; or "Found wandering, a
mare with packsaddle, apply, etc."--the latter, by the way, painted on
a tomb.

[Illustration: FIG. 77.--IN A WINE-SHOP.]

For places of social resort there were the baths, the colonnades, the
semicircular public seats, the steps of public buildings, the shops,
and the eating-houses and taverns. The middle classes, in the absence
of the modern clubs, met to gossip at the barber's, the bookseller's,
or the doctor's. Those of a humbler grade would often betake
themselves to the establishments corresponding to the modern Italian
_osterie_, where were to be obtained wine with hot or cold water and
also cooked food. As they sat on their stools in these "greasy and
smoky" haunts they might be compelled, says the satirist, to mix with
"sailors, thieves, runaway slaves, and the executioner," but even men
of higher standing were often not unwilling to seek low pleasures amid
such surroundings, especially when, as was frequently the case, there
was provision for secret dicing beyond the observation of the police.

From literature, meanwhile, we may fill in their vivacious language,
the courteous terms the people apply to each other, such as "you ass,
pig, monkey, cuckoo, chump, blockhead, fungus," or, on the other side,
"my honey, my heart, my dove, my life, my sparrowkin, my dainty
cheese." But to go more fully into matters like these would carry us
too far afield.

We will end this topic with a last look at the ordinary free workman,
who wears no toga, but simply a girt-up tunic, a pair of boots, and a
conical cap, and who goes home to his plain fare of bread, porridge,
lentil soup, goats'-milk cheese, "broad" and "French" beans, beetroot,
leeks, salted or smoked bacon, sausages, and black-pudding, which he
will eat off earthenware or a wooden trencher, and wash down with
cheap but not unwholesome wine mixed with water. He has no pipe to
smoke; he has never heard of tea, coffee, or spirits. He may have been
told that certain remote barbarians drink beer, and he may know of a
thing called butter, but he would not touch it so long as he can get
olive-oil. However humble his home, he will endeavour to own a silver
salt-cellar, and to keep it as an heirloom.



CHAPTER XV


HOLIDAYS AND AMUSEMENTS: THEATRE, CIRCUS, AMPHITHEATRE

These topics bring us naturally to the consideration of the chief
amusements and entertainments of Rome and of those parts of the empire
which were either fairly romanized or else contained a large number of
resident Romans.

Holidays, some of them lasting over several days, were at this date
liberally spread throughout the year. Most of them belonged to fixed
dates, others were festivals specially proclaimed for victories or
other causes of rejoicing. We may estimate their average number at
Rome itself at about a hundred. At first sight this might indicate an
astonishing waste of time and the prevalence of enormous indolence.
But we must remember that the Romans had no such thing as Sunday. Our
own Sundays and the weekly half-holidays make together seventy-eight
days, and if to these we add the holidays at Christmas, Easter, and
other Bank and public "closings," we shall find that our annual breaks
in the working year are not very far from the Roman total, however
differently they may be distributed. The difference between us and
them lies rather in the way in which the holidays were employed.
Originally the holidays did not imply any giving of shows and games in
the way of chariot-races, gladiatorial combats, and the like. They
were simply festivals of deities--of Flora, the goddess of flowers,
Ceres, the goddess of crops, Apollo the god of light and healing, and
other divinities--honoured by sacrifices, processions, and feasts. The
feast of Saturn, for example, was at first held for only one day.
Later it was extended over five and then over seven days, exactly as
our Christmas celebrations--which are a Christian adaptation of
it--tend virtually to spread over longer and longer periods. At this
winter festival of the Saturnalia there was an interchange of
presents--such as confectionery, game, articles of clothing,
writing-tablets--and a general outburst of goodwill and merriment. For
one day the slaves were allowed to put on the freeman's cap, the "cap
of liberty," and to pretend to be the masters. This is the source of
the mediaeval monkish custom of permitting one annual day of
"misrule." Meanwhile the citizen threw off the toga and clad himself
in colours as he chose. He played at dice publicly and with impunity.
The cry of "Hurrah for the Saturnalia!" was heard everywhere. Later it
became customary to hold public shows on these days, and the emperors
gave gladiatorial games and acrobatic or dramatic entertainments, at
which there were scrambled various objects, articles of food, coins or
tickets entitling the holder to some gift which might be valuable,
valueless, or comical. Similarly there was a holiday on New Year's
Day, when presents were again interchanged, regularly including a
small piece of money "for good luck." The gifts on this day frequently
bore the inscription "a Happy and Prosperous New Year to you."
Presents at all times played a prominent part in Roman etiquette and
sociality. Not only were they given at holidays but also at all
important domestic events. Even at a dinner-party, besides actual
articles of food to be carried home, there were frequently gifts of a
kind either expressly adapted to the recipient, or else drawn by a
humorous lottery. Among numerous other articles of which one might be
the recipient in various seasons and circumstances, there are
mentioned books, pictures, tablets of ivory, wood, or parchment,
cushions, mufflers, hats, hoods, sponges, soap, rings, flasks,
baskets, musical instruments, balls, pens, lamps, tooth-picks, dice,
money-boxes, satchels, parrots, magpies, and monkeys. On the Ides of
March the poorer classes made their way to the Campus Martius beside
the river, built themselves arbours or wigwams of boughs, and spent
the day and evening in riotous song and jollity.

In general, however, the parts of these festivals to which the people
looked forward with liveliest anticipation were those public
entertainments, commonly known as "the games" or "sports," which were
provided for them free of cost. The expense was theoretically borne by
the state--whether from the exchequer of the emperor or from that of
the senate and the state did indeed spend as much as six or eight
thousand pounds upon a particular celebration. But, both in Rome
itself and in the provinces, it was practically obligatory that the
public officer who had charge of a given festival for the year should
spend liberally of his own upon it. No man either at Rome or in a
provincial city could permit himself to be elected to such a public
position unless he was prepared to disburse a sum perhaps as large as
the subvention given by the state. The more he gave, particularly if
he introduced some striking or amusing addition to the ordinary shows,
the more popular he became for the time being. In the Roman world you
must pay for your ambitions, and this was the most approved way of
paying. We might moralise over the enormous frivolity which could
waste day after day thousands and thousands of pounds upon such
transitory pleasures, instead of conferring lasting benefits in the
way of hospitals or schools. But it is not the object of this book to
moralise. We may feel confident that the Roman populace, if offered
the choice, would have voted for the chariot-races or the gladiators,
not for the college or the hospital.

[Illustration: FIG. 78: BOXING-GLOVES.]

The entertainments provided were of several kinds, by no means equally
popular. There were plays in the theatres; there were contests of
running, wrestling, boxing, throwing of spears and disks, and other
"events," corresponding to our athletic sports; there were
chariot-races in the Circus, answering to our horse-races at Epsom or
Newmarket; and there were spectacles in the amphitheatre, to which,
happily, we have no modern parallel. These included huntings and
baitings of animals, fights with wild beasts--performances far more
dangerous than those of the Spanish bull-ring--and, above all, the
combats of the gladiators or professional "swordsmen." So far as there
exists a later analogue to the last it is to be found in the more
chivalrous tourney in the lists, but the resemblance is not very
close. Least valued among the real Romans were the athletic sports.
For genuine enjoyment of these we must look to the Greek part of the
empire. At Rome they appeared tame, for the mind of the Roman populace
was naturally coarse in grain; what it delighted in was something
sensationally acrobatic, or provocative of a rather gross laughter, or
else involving a thrilling anticipation of danger and bloodshed. In
taste the Romans were in fact similar to those modern spectators who
love to see a man plunge from a lofty trapeze into a narrow tank, with
a reasonable chance of breaking his neck. It is a strange
contradiction with other Roman attitudes when we find that they
objected to the Greek wrestling or running on grounds of decorum,
because it was innocently nude. On the athletic sports, although they
were never wanting in the "games" at Rome, we need not therefore
dwell. It may be sufficient to show by an illustration what sort of
notion the ancient world entertained of interesting pugilism. It is
only fair to say that the "boxing-gloves" here given--thongs of
leather wrapped tightly round the arm and hand, and loaded or studded
with lead or iron--were a notion borrowed from the professional
pugilists of Greece.

[Illustration: FIG. 80.--THEATRE AT ASPENDUS.]

Next lowest in esteem stood the plays given on the theatrical stage.
Mention has been made in a previous chapter of the three great
theatres of Rome, one of them said, though somewhat incredibly, to be
capable of holding 40,000 spectators. Their shape and arrangement have
already been hinted at. Huge structures of a similar kind existed in
all the great romanized towns of Italy and other provinces. One at
Orange in France is still well preserved, and two of smaller
dimensions--one without a roof for plays, and one roofed for musical
performances--are among the most easily remembered of the remains
extant at Pompeii. In the Grecian half of the empire the theatres were
not essentially different, the chief distinguishing feature being
that, while the Roman auditorium formed half a circle, that of the
Greek type formed over two-thirds. In the Roman type the level
semicircle in front of the stage, from which we derive the name
"orchestra," was occupied by the chairs of the senators, and the
fourteen tiers of stone seats immediately behind them by the knights;
certain sections were also set apart for special classes, one being
for soldiers, one for boys not yet of age, and one for women, whose
presence was not encouraged, and who, except at the tragedies, would
have shown more modesty by staying away. Facing the seats is a stage,
higher than among the Greeks, but somewhat lower than it is commonly
made in modern times; and at the back of the stage is a wall
architecturally adorned to represent a house or "palace" front, and
containing one central and two side doors, which served for separate
purposes conventionally understood. Over the stage is a roof, which
slopes backward to join the wall. The entrances to the ordinary tiers
of seats are from openings reached by stairs from the outside arcade
surrounding the building; those to the level "orchestra" are from
right and left by passages under an archway, which supports a private
box for the presiding official. The two boxes are approached from the
stage, and when the emperor is present he is seated in the one to the
spectators' left. Round the top of the building, inside above the
seats, runs a covered walk, which serves as a lounge and a _foyer_.
Over the heads of the spectators a coloured awning--dark-red or
dark-blue by preference--may be stretched on masts or poles; when no
awning is provided, or when it cannot be used because the wind is too
strong, the spectator is permitted to wear a broad-brimmed hat, if he
finds one desirable for his comfort. The whole building must be
thought of as lined and seated with marble, gilded in parts, and
decorated with pillars and statues.

The curtain, instead of being pulled up, as with us, when the play
begins is pulled down, falling into a groove in the stage. Where we
should say the "curtain is up" the Romans would say exactly the
reverse, "the curtain is lowered." For plays in which the palace-front
was not appropriate, scenery was employed to cover it, being painted
on canvas or on boards which could be pulled aside; other scenes were
stretched on frames, which could be made to revolve so as to present
various faces.

The actors, however much admired for their art, and however
influential in irregular ways, were looked upon as in a degraded
position, and no Roman who valued social regard would adopt this line
of life. Among the Greeks and such Orientals as were under Greek
influence no such stigma rested upon the profession, and therefore
many of the chief actors of the imperial city had received their
training in this more liberal-minded part of the Roman world. The rest
were mostly slaves or ex-slaves. If a Roman of any standing took part,
it was either because he was a ruined man, or else because the emperor
had capriciously ordered him to undergo this humiliation.

[Illustration: FIG. 81.--TRAGIC ACTOR.]


The plays themselves were certainly of no great merit from a
constructive or literary point of view. We hear a good deal nowadays
of the "decline of the drama," but perhaps in no civilised country has
it declined so far as it had descended in Rome by the year A.D. 64.
The regular and classical drama--that is to say, literary tragedy and
comedy--was not likely to appeal to any ordinary Roman gathering. The
philosopher Seneca indeed wrote tragedies in imitation of the Greek,
but they were intended for the reader and the library, and there is
little probability that they were ever performed, or even offered to
the stage. Tragedies were, it is true, represented, but they were
mostly Greek, and the performance was in the Greek style. The heroic
actors wore masks, covering not only the face but the whole head,
which they raised considerably in height. About the body fell long and
trailing robes of splendid material and colour, and on the feet were
thick-soled boots which increased the height by several inches. The
comedian played in low shoes or slippers; and "boot" and "slipper"
were therefore terms in common vogue to distinguish the two kinds of
theatrical entertainment. Of Pliny's two favourite country-houses on
Lake Como one was called "Tragedy" as standing high, the other
"Comedy" because on a lower site beside the water. The whole effect
sought in the heroic play was the grandiose, and no attempt was made
to reproduce the actualities of life. In the accompanying illustration
will be seen the tragic hero as he appeared upon the Roman stage. In
considering this somewhat amazing apparition it must be remembered
that at Rome, as in Greece, the theatre was huge, effective
opera-glasses were not known, and subtle changes of facial expression
would have passed unnoticed. The make-up of the actor, like the
painting of the scenes, was compelled to depend upon broad effects.

With its love of the false heroic, of rhetorical bombast, of sumptuous
dress, magnificent scenes, and gorgeous accessories in the way of
"supers" and processions, the Roman tragic drama of this period must
have borne a striking resemblance to the corresponding English pieces
of the Restoration or age of Dryden. Perhaps the most popular part of
the performance was the music and dancing, whether by individual
actors or as ballets, accompanied by the flageolet, the lyre, or the
cymbals.

In comedy there was apparently no originality. As in the oldest days
of their drama the Romans had copied the Greeks, so they copied them
still. We may believe that the acting was often excellent; especially
in respect of intonation and gesture, but little can be said for the
play, whether from the point of view of literature or of morals. Since
verbal description must necessarily be of little force, it will serve
better to present here a few specimens of comic masks and a scene from
comedy:

[Illustration: FIG. 82.--COMIC MASKS.]

[Illustration: FIG. 83.--SCENE FROM COMEDY.]

Much more in demand were theatrical performances of a lower kind.
These were farces, interludes, character-pieces, and dumb-shows known
as "pantomimes." The farce     was a loosely constructed form of
fooling comedy, containing much of the ready Italian improvisation or
"gag," and regularly introducing the four stock characters which have
lasted with little disguise for so many centuries There was an old
"grandfather," the forerunner of the modern pantaloon; a cunning
sharper; a garrulous glutton with a fat face (known as "Chops"); and
an amorous Simple Simon. Sometimes types of foreigners or provincials
were introduced, with caricatures of their dress and language, after
the manner, and probably with the veracity, of the stage Scotchman,
Irishman, or Frenchman. All these parts were played in masks.

The interlude again was a slight piece with very little plot, and
composed in a large measure of buffoonery, practical jokes, hitting
and slapping, and dancing. Topical allusions and contemporary
caricatures were freely introduced, and the whole performance, however
coarsely amusing, was both vulgar and indecent. In these pieces no
masks were worn and also no shoes, and the women's parts--taken in the
other instances by men and boys--were actually played by females,
whose posture-dances were no credit to their sex.

The dumb-shows or "pantomimes" were performances in which expressive
and elaborate gestures and movements were left to tell the whole tale.
For this kind of piece the actors naturally required not only uncommon
cleverness but also great suppleness of body. As usual, these
qualities, together with the qualities of voice, the magnificent
dress, and the carefully cultivated long hair, won for the actor
demoralising influence over too large a number of the more
impressionable and untrammelled Roman dames.

Meanwhile the huge audience must not be conceived as sitting in quiet
and restrained attention, but as roaring with laughter, applauding and
stamping, shouting approval and encores, hissing and waving
handkerchiefs. And meanwhile the _claqueurs_ will have been duly
distributed by those interested in the success of the performance.
Every now and then a fine rain of saffron perfume is shed over the
audience from pipes and jets distributed round the building. It
deserves remark also that in the theatre, as in the other places of
amusement, the gathering frequently broke out into demonstrations of
its feeling towards persons and politics. There was safety in numbers,
and the applause or hissing which greeted a personage or a topical
allusion--or a line which could be twisted into such--could hardly be
laid to the account of any individual. A certain license was conceded
and fully utilised at the festivals: it served as a safety-valve, and
wise emperors apparently so regarded it. At Rome the government was
indeed "despotism tempered by epigram," but it was no less tempered by
these demonstrations at the games and spectacles.

More worthy of imperial Rome were the exhibitions of chariot-races
held in the immense Circus Maximus. That building, already described,
would at this date probably hold some 200,000 persons, but it could
never provide room enough for the excited people, who not only
gathered in multitudes from Rome itself, but also from all the
country, even all the empire, within reach. For weeks the chances of
the parties have been discussed and betted upon; even the schoolboys
have talked chariots, chariot-drivers, and horses. The fortune-tellers
have been consulted about them; dreamers have dreamed the winners; and
many an underhand attempt, sometimes including the hocussing of men or
horses, has been made to corrupt the sport. The struggle is in reality
not between chariot and chariot, but between what we should call
stable and stable. There are four parties--the white, red, green, and
blue--whose drivers will wear the respective colours, in which also
the chariots were probably painted. By some means the green and blue
have at this date contrived to stand out beyond the others, and the
chief interest commonly centres upon these.

The day of the great spectacle arrives. Outside the building and in
the porticoes surrounding it the sellers of books of the races and of
cushions are plying their trade along with venders of confectionery
and perfumes. The people are streaming into the numerous entrances
which lead by stairways to the particular blocks or tiers of seats in
which they are entitled to sit, and for which they bear a ticket. Full
citizens are wearing the toga, or, if the emperor has not forbidden
the practice, the brightly coloured cloak which has been already
described. Seats are reserved for officials, senators, knights, and
Vestal Virgins; and on the side under the Palatine is a large
balcony-box for the emperor and his suite. At these games women have
no special place set apart for them; they sit in their richest land
showiest attire among the general body of the spectators, and flirting
and love-making are part of the order of the day. A very crude form of
field-glass or "spy-glass" was already in use, apparently consisting
generally of a mere hollow tube, but occasionally provided with a
magnifying lens. Nero himself, in consequence of his short-sight, had
a "glass" in some way contrived of emerald.

At one end of the Circus is a building containing a curved line of
stalls, equidistant from the starting-point, in which the drivers hold
their chariots in readiness. These are all barred, and only at the
signal will the doors be thrown open. The horses are commonly
three-year-olds or five-year-olds. In some races there are two horses
to the chariot, in others four. Less commonly there are three or six,
or even a greater number. In the year 64 the number of cars running
will be four, one for each club. How many races there are to be, and
in what variety, will depend upon the presiding officer, who, as has
been said, is paying a considerable portion of the expenses, and who
will receive or lose applause according to the entertainment he
affords to the spectators. Commonly there will be about twenty races
run, although occasionally even that number be increased.

Down the middle of the arena, though not quite in its axis, runs a low
broad wall called the "backbone," bearing various sculptures along its
summit and in the middle an obelisk, now standing in the Piazza del
Popolo, which Augustus had brought from Egypt after his conquest of
that country. On the extremities of the "backbone" are placed the
figures of seven dolphins and seven large eggs, and just free of each
end, on a base of their own, stand three tall cones coated with gilt,
round which the chariots are to turn as a yacht turns round the buoy.
Seven times will the chariots race down the arena, round the end of
the backbone, and back again. At each lap a dolphin and an egg will be
removed from the wall, and as the last disappears the winning driver
makes straight on for the white line which serves as the winning-post.

[Illustration: FIG. 84.--PLAN OF CIRCUS.]

But they have not yet started. At the fixed hour a procession starts
from the Capitol, descends by the temple of Saturn and past the face
of the Basilica Julia, turns along the "Tuscan Street," and enters the
Circus under a large archway in the middle of the building which
contains the stalls. In front go a body of musicians with blare of the
straight Roman trumpet and the scream of the flageolets; behind these
comes the high official who has charge of the particular festival. He
is mounted high on a chariot, and is clothed in a toga embroidered
with gold and a tunic figured with golden palm-branches: in his hand
he carries an ivory sceptre, and over his head is held a crown of
gold-leaf. Behind the chariot is collected a retinue in festal array.
The competing chariots follow; after these are the effigies of
deities, borne on platforms or on vehicles to which are attached
richly caparisoned horses, mules, or elephants; in attendance upon
them are the connected priestly bodies. As this procession passes
round the Circus the spectators rise from their seats, roar their
acclamations, and wave their handkerchiefs. When it has made the
circuit, its members retire to their places, and the chariots are shut
in their stalls. Soon the president takes his stand in his box, lifts
a large handkerchief or napkin, and drops it. Immediately the bolts of
the barriers are withdrawn, and the chariots dash forward towards the
point marked A. The drivers, clothed in a close sleeveless tunic and
wearing a skull-cap, all of their particular colour, lean forward over
their steeds, and encourage them with whips and shouting. At their
waists you will see the reins gathered to a girdle, at which also
hangs a knife, in readiness to cut them away in case of accident. The
chariot is a low and shallow vehicle of wood covered with ornament and
as light as it can well be made, and it requires no little skill for
the charioteer to maintain his footing while controlling his team.
Down the straight they rush, each endeavouring to gain an advantage at
the turn, where the left rein is pulled, and the left horse--the pick
of the team--is brought as closely round the end of the wall as skill
and prudence can contrive. It is chiefly, though by no means only,
here that the accidents occur, and that the chariots lose their
balance and collide with each other, or strike against the end of the
wall and are over-thrown. How readily collision might happen may be
seen from the following diagram, where the courses of two chariots, A
and B, are indicated.

[Illustration: FIG. 85.--THE TURN IN THE CIRCUS.]

Sometimes the teams get out of hand and general disaster may result.
Round and round they go, the spectators yelling in their excitement
for the blue or the green, the red or the white, and making or
revising their bets. "Too far out!" "Well turned!" "The green wins!"
"Well done, Hirpinus!" Shouts like these form a roar to which perhaps
we have no modern parallel. One by one the eggs and dolphins disappear
from the wall; the chariots are reduced in number; the four or five
miles are completed; and an enormous shout goes up for the winner,
whose name--of man and horse and colour--will be for days in
everybody's mouth. For his reward he will not only obtain the honour
of the palm-branch; he will receive presents in money, gold and silver
wreaths, clothes, and various articles of value. Socially he may be
but a slave or a person in base esteem; the occupation, however
reputable in the Greek portion of the empire, is not for a free-born
Roman; nevertheless, like the jockey who wins the Derby, he is the
hero of the moment.

[Illustration: FIG. 86--CHARIOT-RACE.]

Race follows race, with an interval for the midday meal. During that
time there will be interludes of acrobatic and other performances. One
rider, for example, will stand upright on the back of two or more
horses, and will spring continually from one to the other while they
are at the gallop. Most of the company will take their refreshments
where they are. When a man of some standing was reproached by Augustus
for this rather undignified proceeding, he replied: "That is all very
well for you, Sire, but your place is sure to be kept." We need not
proceed further into details concerning the "events" in the Circus. It
may however be worth while to add that the Romans cared nothing for
the modern form of race by jockeys on single horses.

The Circus is quite a different thing from the oval amphitheatre, a
structure for once of native Roman devising, without which no Roman
town could consider itself complete. Though the Colosseum was not yet
built, there already existed an amphitheatre in the Campus Martius,
and such buildings were to be found in all considerable towns which
contained a large Roman element. There is one, though of later date
than Nero, still to be seen in fair preservation at Verona; the
well-known amphitheatre at Pompeii was in full use in the year 64, and
other cities--Capua, Puteoli, Nîmes, Antioch, or Caesarea--were
provided with the joys of the gladiatorial shows and the beast-fight.
Only in the thoroughly Greek or thoroughly Oriental part of the empire
was the amphitheatre absent. Where there was no fixed building of
stone or wood, a temporary structure was erected and a company of
gladiators would perform in the place at the expense of some local
officer or of some wealthy citizen with social ambitions. Whatever may
be thought of the Greeks in other respects, they felt no liking, but
only an openly expressed repulsion, for the barbarous exhibitions of
bloodshed in which the Roman revelled. Outside Jerusalem an
amphitheatre was built by the romanizing Herod, but it was done to the
horror of all orthodox Jews.

[Illustration: FIG. 87.--AMPHITHEATRE AT POMPEII.]

[Illustration: FIG. 98--BARRACKS OF GLADIATORS (Pompeii.)]

The performances were of two main kinds; fights between men and
beasts--occasionally between two kinds of wild beast--and fights
between men and men. There was no make-believe about these combats;
they meant at least serious wounds, even when they did not mean death.
Those who fought with beasts might in some cases be volunteers; in
general they were captives or condemned criminals, and it perhaps
hardly needs pointing out that, when St. Paul says he had "fought with
beasts at Ephesus," he is merely speaking in metaphor adapted to the
times. It was not intended that the criminal should escape death, but
only that he should be able to make a fight for his life. Meanwhile
the gladiators who fought with men and not with beasts were in the
position of professionals, who might be slaves, condemned brigands,
mutineers, prisoners of war, or volunteers. The picture drawn by
Byron, although the so-called "Dying Gladiator" which inspired him is
in reality no gladiator but a Gaulish warrior, perhaps fairly
represents one class of combatant, but it represents only one. In the
case of these "swordsmen" a number of successful fights might in the
end secure freedom and something more for slave or prisoner, and a
competence for the volunteer. It was not unnatural that men of courage
and strength should frequently offer themselves for this service.
Their physical training was indeed severe both in the way of exercise
and of diet, and their personal treatment was harsh and ignominious;
but their fame, such as it might be, was wide, and their rewards often
solid. Contemporary writers also complain that, however brutal and
ugly they were, there were always women ready to adore them and to
consider them as beautiful as Adonis. At Pompeii a scribbling calls
one of them "the sigh of the girls." Nevertheless no Roman with much
self-respect, unless forced by a malignant emperor, would bear the
stigma of having appeared as a gladiator, any more than in modern
times one would choose to be known as a professional pugilist.
Moreover these same heroes, after their glorious day in the arena,
were carefully stripped of their showy armour, imprisoned in barracks,
and, if disobedient or troublesome, chastised with the lash and put in
irons or the stocks.

The prelude to a beast-fight was frequently rather a "hunt," amounting
to a demonstration of skill in dealing with wild animals which could
hardly be said to fight, but which were difficult to capture or kill.
Success with javelins or arrows required somewhat more skill and
daring than the "big game" shooting of modern times. To give a greater
air of naturalness to the performance the arena was sometimes
temporarily planted with shrubs and trees, and diversified with
rock-work. After the beast "hunt" came the beast "fight," which might
be against bisons or bulls, wild boars or wolves, lions or tigers, a
rhinoceros or an elephant. In such contests the man commonly wore no
body-armour. He took his sword or spear, swathed his right arm and his
legs, and went out to meet the enemy in his tunic. The beasts were
either let loose from the end of the arena, or, as later in the
Colosseum, they were brought up in cages from their underground dens
by means of lifts worked by pulleys. Indirectly, it may be observed,
the mania for this sport produced one distinctly beneficial result,
inasmuch as the more dangerous wild beasts became almost exterminated
from the Roman world. The number killed was enormous, hundreds of
lions or panthers being produced and slain during the shows of a
single festival. It may be added that on the top of the wall or
platform surrounding the arena there was placed--at least in the
Colosseum--a metal grating or screen, of which the top bar revolved,
so that if a wild beast managed to spring so high and take a grip, the
feat was of no use to him. To keep him at a further distance a trench
surrounded the arena and separated it from the platform.

[Illustration: FIG. 89.--STOCKS FOR GLADIATORS. (Remains from
Pompeii.)]

[Illustration: FIG. 90.--GLADIATORS FIGHTING.]

But the great entertainment of the amphitheatre was the combats of men
with men. After the beast-fights, which were held in the mornings, and
amounted in estimation to a matinee, there followed the fights of the
gladiators. Outside the building are being sold the books which
catalogue the pairings, together with some record of the men, the name
of their training-school, and a statement as to the weapons with which
they will fight and as to whether they have made previous appearances.
At the appointed time the procession enters from one end of the arena,
and the combatants parade and salute the emperor, if he is present, or
the presiding officer. Their weapons are examined, and there is a
preliminary sham-fight, partly for exhibition of skill and to
influence bets, partly for practice. The men then return to their
places, a trumpet blows, and a pair commences the real fighting.
Sometimes a man is in full and heavy armour from head to foot;
sometimes he is lightly equipped with a half-shield and a spear;
sometimes he carries only a sharp three-pronged spear and a
casting-net, in which he endeavours to enmesh an enemy fully armed.
Besides combats on foot, there may be fights upon horseback, or even
in chariots of the kind then best known in Britain. To encourage the
participants, and to lend more spirit to the scene, there is a blowing
of horns and trumpets while the fight proceeds. All around the people
are shouting their comments and their advice; they applaud and adjure
and curse. "Get up to him!" "Kill him!" and the like are heard on
every side. A man falls, not dead, but disabled, and the spectators
shout "He has it." He holds up his finger in sign of defeat, but he
utters no cry. Shall he be killed, or shall he not? The answer depends
on the president or "giver" of the exhibition. He looks round, and if
he perceives that the great majority are giving an upward flick of the
thumb, and hears them call "Give him the steel!" the man is doomed;
if, on the contrary, handkerchiefs are waved, his life is spared. A
good fight or a good record may save him to fight again another day.
The formal presentation of a wooden sword would mean that he was
discharged for life from the necessity of further fighting. If his
enemy's dagger must be pressed into his throat, or if he has been
slain outright, there is a passage under the middle of the side of the
amphitheatre through which the body will be dragged by a hook into the
mortuary. Another combat follows between another pair--sometimes
between two sides--and should the arena become too sodden with blood,
it is raked over and fresh sand is scattered.

It is amazing in what a cold-blooded manner all this was carried out.
When one reads the notices written up at Pompeii, that on
such-and-such a date there will be exhibited so many pairs of
gladiators, that "there will be a beast-hunt," and that "awnings will
be provided and perfume sprinkled," it is difficult at first to
realise that it means all that it does mean. To the credit of the
Romans--so far as they deserve any at all--let it be stated that the
presence of women was not encouraged at these shows; that if they
appeared at all, it must be in the upper tier, as far as possible from
the arena; and, strangely enough, that only the six Vestals, in virtue
of their religious claims, could be placed in any position of honour.
These sat upon the lowest platform, in line with the special seats of
the emperor or president and the highest officials of the state, but
it is probably a libel for an artist to depict them as so many Maenads
lusting for the blood of the vanquished.

The only other form of public entertainment which it seems desirable
to mention was that of a naval battle, in which the sea was either
represented by flooding the amphitheatre, or by means of a permanent
lake, such as that which Augustus created artificially across the
Tiber. The proceedings bore all the appearance of reality. Ships were
rammed, sunk, overturned, and boarded, and, so far as the men were
concerned, the battle might be as grim and bloody as any other kind of
gladiatorial contest.



CHAPTER XVI


THE WOMEN: MARRIAGE, THE ROMAN MATRON, AND HER DRESS

We will assume that Silius is a married man, and that his wife is a
typical Roman dame worthy of his station in life. Her name shall be
Marcia, or, if she possesses more than one, Marcia Sabina. Marriage
does not confer upon her the name of her husband, and if she requires
further identification in connection with him, she will be referred to
as "Silius's Marcia." At an earlier date a woman owned but a single
name, but already practical convenience and pride of descent had
combined to make it desirable that she should bear a second, which
might be taken from the family either of her father or of her mother.
Thus if Silius and Marcia themselves have a daughter, she may in her
turn perhaps be called Silia Bassa, perhaps Silia Marcia.

If now we proceed to describe the position of Marcia in her conjugal
and family relations, to speak of her way of life, and to suggest her
probable character, it must be understood that the description would
by no means necessarily fit every Roman matron. Women are said to be
infinitely various, and in this respect the ancient world was
precisely like the modern. And not only has it further to be borne in
mind that there were several strata of Roman society, and that city
life differed widely from country life; there was also an actual
difference in the legal position of a wife, according to the terms
upon which she had chosen to enter the state of wedlock. In other
words, there were two forms of matrimony. According to the
old-fashioned style a wife passed into the power of the husband; her
legal position--though not, of course, her domestic standing--was the
same as that of his daughter. Once on a time he had even possessed the
right of putting her to death, but at our date that privilege no
longer existed. It was enough that she should be subject to his
authority. In that position she managed the home and family, and often
managed him as well. How far this time-honoured style of marriage was
still maintained among the lower classes of Roman society it is
impossible to tell; our information is almost entirely restricted to
the higher, or at least the wealthier, orders. It is, however,
probable that among the artisans and labourers, where the dowry of a
wife cannot have amounted to anything very considerable, this more
stringent state of matrimony was the rule. Paterfamilias was the head
and lord of the house, while materfamilias held in practice much the
same position as she did in Anglo-Saxon households of two or three
generations ago.

Meanwhile among the upper classes, but in no way legally limited to
them, an alternative and easier form of marriage had become
increasingly popular. It was one which gave to both parties the
greatest amount of freedom of which a conjugal union could reasonably
allow. The woman did not pass into the power of the man, and, short of
actual infidelity, she lived her own life in her own way, although
naturally conforming to certain recognised etiquette as a partner in a
respectable Roman _ménage_. If neither affection nor moral suasion
could preserve harmony or proper courses, either party might formally
repudiate the contract, and, after a short interval, seek better
fortune in some other quarter. There was, of course, a public
sentiment to be considered; there was family influence; there was the
characteristic Roman pride; there was often a fair measure of mutual
esteem and even affection; and there were obvious joint interests
which made for stability; but beyond these considerations there was
nothing to hamper the inclination of either husband or wife. Yet it is
a grave mistake to imagine, because there was much, and sometimes
appalling, looseness of life under a Nero, that the race of noble and
virtuous Roman matrons--the Cornelias and Valerias and Volumnias--was
extinct; and it is equally a mistake to suppose that Rome no longer
produced its honourable gentlemen filled with a sense of their
responsibilities to family and state. The satirist should not here,
nor elsewhere, be our chief, much less our only, guide. The England of
Charles II is not to be judged in its entirety by the comedies of the
time nor by the _Memoirs_ of Grammont. On this matter, however, it
will be more convenient to touch in a later paragraph. It will be best
to deal first with the system in vogue, and then to consider the sort
of woman whom it produced.

It cannot be denied that at this date, though marriage was regarded as
the normal and proper condition for men and women who desired to do
their duty by the state, and though the wise emperors did everything
in their power to encourage it, a very large proportion of the men of
the upper classes regarded it as a burden and a vexatious interference
with their liberty. It was not necessarily that they had any desire to
be vicious, nor indeed would marriage be much of a hindrance to vice;
it was that they desired to be free. The cause of their disinclination
was the same as it is sometimes alleged to be now--the increasing
demands of women, their increasing unwillingness to bear the natural
responsibilities of matrimony, their extravagant expectations, and the
impossibility of there being two masters in one house claiming equal
authority. But whereas we recognise that love is a possible adjuster
of all the difficulties, it was no tradition of the Romans that
marriage should be based on love. With them it very seldom began with
love, or even with direct personal choice, but was in most instances
entirely a _mariage de convenance_ and arranged for them as such. Even
after marriage we are told by a contemporary writer that the proper
feeling for a man to entertain for his wife is rational respect, not
emotional affection. Experience has shown that the result was too
often unsatisfactory.

It is unfortunate that the only satires or criticisms on married life
which have come down to us were written by men; one would like to hear
what the women might have said, if a woman had ever been a satirist.
There is nearly always some basis of truth in a classic satire, but
the question is "How much?" Juvenal belongs to a later generation than
that of Nero, but what he says is doubtless equally applicable to that
age. It is therefore interesting to note one or two of his objections
to contemporary woman, regarded as a wife. In the first place she is
too interfering and even dictatorial. "What madness is it," he asks of
the man whom he supposes himself to be addressing, "that drives you to
marry? How can you bear with a tyrannous woman, when there are so many
good ropes in the world, when there are high windows to throw yourself
out of, or when there is the bridge quite handy?" "Why should you be
made to wear the muzzle?" "Why take into your house some one who will
perhaps shut the door in the face of an old friend whom you have known
ever since he was a boy?" "When you displease her, she weeps, for she
keeps tears always ready to fall, but when you try to prevent her from
displeasing you, she tells you it was agreed that each should have
liberty, and that she is a human being." He goes on to attack her
faithlessness, her extravagance, her superstition, her loquacity, and
so forth. Let us by all means discount his fierce invectives;
nevertheless we must take them as but a heightened way of putting
circumstances which had a real and all too frequent existence, and
which encouraged the growing fancy for bachelordom. We shall, however,
soon look at a very different picture of domestic relations, and it is
only fair to assume that these also were by no means uncommon.

A Roman girl with a reasonable dowry might expect to be married at any
age from about 13 to 18. The Italian of the south, like the Greek,
ripens early. The legal age was 12; on the other hand to be unmarried
at 19 was to be distinctly an old maid. In the northern provinces of
the empire maturity was less early, whereas south of the Mediterranean
it was even earlier. The legal age for the bridegroom was that at
which his father or guardian allowed him to put on the "toga of the
man" and enter the Forum. Thus theoretically a Roman youth might
become a benedict when about sixteen, and Nero was only at that age
when he married his first wife Octavia. Generally speaking, however,
if Marcia was as old as 16, Silius would hardly be under 26 or 27.

The marriage, as has been said already, would commonly be a matter of
arrangement between families, sometimes effected by their own members,
sometimes by an interested friend or some other go-between. "You ask
me," writes Pliny to Mauricus, "to look out for a husband for your
niece. There is no need to look far, for I know a man who might seem
to have been provided on purpose. His name is Minicius. He is
well-connected, and comes from Brescia, which you know to be a good
old-fashioned place retaining the simple and modest manners of the
country. He is a man of active energy and has held high public office.
In appearance he is a gentleman, well-built, and with a wholesome
ruddy complexion. His father has ample means, and though perhaps your
family is not much concerned on that point, we have to remember that a
man's income is one of the first considerations in the eyes, not only
of our social system, but of the law."

A marriage of the full and regular type could only be contracted
between free citizens. There were varying degrees of the morganatic
about all others, such as marriage with a foreigner or emancipated
slave. A non-Roman wife meant that the children were non-Roman. A man
of the senatorial order could not marry a freedwoman, if he wished to
have the union recognised; also no complete marriage could be
contracted with a person labouring under degradation publicly
inflicted by the authorities or degraded _ipso facto_ by certain
occupations. For this reason the actress on the "variety" stage could
not aspire to become even an acknowledged Roman wife, much less a
member of the order which more or less corresponded to our peerage.
Nor could a Roman marry a relative within certain prohibited degrees.
He might not, in fact, marry any woman whom he already possessed what
was called "the right to kiss."

We are, however, dealing with two persons entirely beyond exception,
namely Quintus Silius Bassus and Marcia Sabina. A match has been made
between these parties, perhaps several years before the actual
marriage can take place, and while the intended bride is a mere child
of ten: even the future groom may be but a boy. When the go-between
has done his or her work to the satisfaction of both families, there
takes place a betrothal ceremony, of which the original purpose was,
of course, to bind each party morally to carry out the contract, but
which, by the year 64, might mean very little.

In theory the Roman law required the consent of both participants; a
father could not absolutely force son or daughter to marry a
particular person, nor, indeed, any person at all. But on the other
hand, according to the Roman law, neither sons nor daughters were free
to act independently of the father's will, nor to possess independent
property, so long as the father lived, or until he chose to
"emancipate." It naturally follows that paternal pressure was the
chief factor in determining a marriage, and only those men or women
whose fathers were dead, or who had been formally freed from tutelage,
were in a position absolutely to please themselves. We need not
suppose either that sons were always very amenable, or that parents
were invariably self-willed and autocratic, but it is obvious that
marriages based on mutual attraction must have been extremely few. We
will suppose that Silius is his own master, while Marcia has a father
or a guardian still alive.

At the betrothal ceremony the friends of both houses are in
attendance, a regular form of words is interchanged between Silius and
the father of Marcia, a ring is given by the man to his _fiancée_, to
be worn on the fourth finger of her left hand, and he adds some other
present, most probably some form of that jewellery of which the Roman
women were and still are so extraordinarily fond. A feast naturally
follows.

You would think this performance sufficiently binding, and binding no
doubt it was from a moral point of view, so long as there was
reasonably good behaviour on either side, or so long as neither Silius
nor Marcia's father was prepared wantonly to flout general opinion or
to offend a whole connection by simply changing his mind. On the other
hand, there was no legal compulsion whatever to carry out the
contract. The Roman world knew nothing of actions for breach of
promise. If either party chose to repudiate the engagement, they were
free so to do. In that case they were said to "send back a refusal" or
to "send a counter-notice." A family dispute, a breath of suspicion, a
change of circumstances, and even an improved prospect might be
sufficient excuse, or no excuse need be offered at all.

In the present instance, however, no such ugly missive passes between
the house of Silius on the Caelian Hill and that of Marcius on the
Aventine, the wedding takes place in due course. It will not be in May
nor in early March or June, nor on certain other dates which, for
reasons mostly long forgotten, were regarded as inauspicious. It is a
social ceremony, and neither state nor priest will have anything to do
with sanctioning or blessing it. The pillars at the sides of the
vestibules of both houses are wreathed with leaves and boughs, and the
friends and clients of both families proceed in festal array to the
house of the bride. If Marcia is very young she has taken her
playthings--dolls and the like--and has dedicated them to the
household gods as a sign that she now puts away childish things and
devotes herself to the serious tasks of life. She has then been
carefully dressed for the occasion. Her hair, however she may have
worn it before or may wear it afterwards, is for to-day made up into
six plaits or braids, which are wound into a coil on the top of her
head. As an initial rite it is parted by means of an instrument
resembling a spear, a survival of the time when a bride was a prize of
war, and when her long locks were actually divided by a veritable
spear in token of her subjection. Round this coiffure is placed a
bridal wreath, made of flowers which she must have gathered with her
own hands, and over her head is thrown a veil--more strictly a
cloth--of some orange-yellow or "flame-coloured" material, which does
not, however, like the Grecian or Oriental veil, conceal her face. On
her feet are low yellow shoes. Meanwhile the bridegroom arrives,
escorted by his friends, and he also wears a festal garland. As with
all other important undertakings of Roman life, a professional seer
will be in attendance to take care that the auspices are favourable.
Peculiar portents, very unpropitious behaviour of nature, a very
strange appearance in the entrails of a sacrificial victim, are omens
which no properly constituted Roman can afford to overlook. The
auspices being favourable--and there is reason to believe that no
undue insistence was laid on their unpropitious aspects--the bride is
led into the reception-hall, and the contract of marriage is signed
and sealed. That there should be a dowry, and a considerable one, goes
without saying. In some cases it is actually settled on the husband,
who is to all intents and purposes purchased by it; but in most it is
available for his use only so long as the marriage continues unbroken.
For the rest, the wife's property is and remains her own. Her guardian
is still her father and not her husband: her legal connection is still
with her own family and not with his. She is a Marcia and not a Silia.
If the marriage is dissolved, at least without sufficient demonstrable
provocation on her part, her father will see that her dower is paid
back. To such terms as these the parties affix their names and seals,
and a certain number of friends add their signatures as witnesses.

This done, one of the younger married women present takes the bride
and leads her across to Silius who holds her right hand in his. Both
repeat a prescribed formula of words, and all the company present
exclaims "Good luck to you!" and offers such other congratulations as
seem fit. A wedding-dinner is held, generally, but not necessarily, in
the house of the bride, and a wedding-cake, served upon bay-leaves, is
cut up and divided among the guests. It is now evening, and a
procession is formed to bring Marcia home to the house of Silius. In
front will march the torchbearers and what we should call "the band,"
consisting in these circumstances of a number of persons playing upon
the flageolet. Silius goes through a pretence of carrying off Marcia
by force--another practice reminiscent of the ancient time when men
won their brides by methods similar to those of the Australian
aborigine with his waddy. Both groom and bride are important people,
and along the streets there is many a decoration; many a window and
doorway is filled with spectators; shouts, not always of the most
discreet, are heard from all sides, and loud above all rings the
regular _Io Talasse_--whatever that may have meant, for no man now
knows, and almost certainly no one knew then. In the midst of the
procession Marcia, followed by bearers of her spindle and distaff, is
being led by two pretty boys, while a third carries a torch; Silius
meanwhile is scattering nuts or walnuts, or _confetti_ made like them,
to the crowd. Arrived on the Caelian, the bride is once more seized
and lifted over the threshold; when inside the hall, Silius presents
her with fire and water in token of her common share in the household
and its belongings; and she offers prayers to various old-fashioned
goddesses who are supposed to preside over the introduction to married
life.

If we have given with some particularity the orthodox proceedings of a
fashionable wedding, it must again be remembered that not all weddings
were fashionable, and that one or other of these details might be
omitted as taste or circumstances required. Among the poorer folk
there must often have been practically no ceremony at all beyond the
"bringing home." And if there are certain items which appear to us
trivial and meaningless, it is probably unfamiliarity which breeds our
contempt. Perhaps a far-off generation may wonder how civilised folk
in the twentieth century could perform absurd antics with rice and
slippers.

Marcia is now what was known as a "matron." Her position is far more
free than it could ever have been in Greece or the Orient, more free
indeed than it would be in any civilised country at the present time.
The Romans had at all times placed the matron in a position of dignity
and responsibility, and to this is now added the greatest liberty of
action. Her husband salutes her in public as "Madam." Since he is a
senator, and it is beginning to be the vogue to call such men "The
Most Illustrious," she also shares that title in polite reference to
herself. She is not confined to any particular portion of the house,
nor, within the limits of decorum, is she excluded from masculine
company. She is the mistress of the establishment, controlling, not
only the female slaves, but also the males, in so far as they are
engaged in the work of the household. She keeps the keys of the
store-rooms. Theoretically at least she has been trained in all the
arts of the housekeeper, and thoroughly understands domestic
management, together with the weaving and spinning which her handmaids
are to perform. The merits of the wife, as summed up in the epitaphs
of the middle classes, are those of "good counsellor good manager, and
good worker in wool." She walks or is carried abroad at her pleasure,
attends the public games in the Circus, and goes with her husband to
dinner-parties, where she reclines at the meal just as he does. When
her tutelage is past she can take actions in the law-courts, or appear
as witness or surety. Her property is at her own disposal, and she
instructs her own agent or attorney. It is only necessary that she
should guard the honour of her husband. So long as he trusts her he
will not interfere. It is only a very tyrannical spouse who will
insist that her litter or sedan-chair shall have the curtains drawn
when in the streets. We will assume that Marcia is a lady of the true
Roman self-respect and dignity, and that Silius and she live a life of
reasonable harmony.

But though there were many such Marcias, there were other women of a
very different character. There is, for instance, Flavia, who has a
perfect frenzy for "manly" sports, and practises all manner of
athletic exercises, wrestling and fencing like any man, and perhaps
becoming infatuated and practically running away with some brawny but
hideous gladiator. She also indulges frankly in mixed bathing. There
is Domitia, who is too fond Of promenading in the colonnades and
temples, where a _cavaliere servente_, ostensibly her business
man--though he does not look like it--may regularly be seen carrying
her parasol. When at home, she neglects her attire and plasters her
face with dough in order to smooth out the wrinkles, so that she may
give to anybody but her own family the benefit of her beauty. There is
the ruinously extravagant Pollia, whose passion for jewels and fine
clothes runs her deeply into debt, for which, fortunately, her husband
is not responsible. There is Canidia, who is shrewdly suspected of
having poisoned more than one husband and who has either divorced or
been divorced by so many that she has had eight of them in five years,
and dates events by them instead of in the regular way by the
consulships: "Let me see. That was in the year in which I was married
to So-and-So." There is Asinia, whose selfishness is so great, and her
affection so frivolous, that she will weep over a sparrow and "let her
husband die to save her lap-dog's life." All these women are most
likely childless, and many a noble Roman house threatens to become
extinct.

There are others, again, whose foibles are more innocent. Baebia, for
example, is merely a victim to superstition. She is always consulting
the astrologers, the witches, and the dream-readers; she is devoted to
the mystic worship of the Egyptian Isis, with its secret rites of
purification, or she is a proselyte to the pestilent notions of the
Jews. She is too much under the influence of some squalid Oriental who
carries his pedlar's basket, or whose business is to buy broken glass
for sulphur matches Meanwhile Corellia is a blue-stocking, as bad as a
_précieuse_ with a _salon_. As soon as you sit down to table she
begins to quote Homer and Virgil and to compare their respective
merits. She cultivates bright conversation in both Greek and Latin,
and her tongue goes loudly and incessantly like a bell or gong. Her
poor husband is never permitted to indulge in an expression which is
not strictly grammatical. Worse still, she probably even writes little
poems of her own. She may keep a tame tutor in philosophy, but she
makes no scruple about interrupting his lesson on morals while she
writes a little billet-doux. Pomponia is an ambitious woman, whose
mania is to interfere in elections by bringing to bear upon the
senators what has been called in recent times the "duchesses'"
influence. If her husband becomes governor of a province, she will
endeavour to be the power behind the throne, and her meddling will in
any case prove harmful to the strict administration of justice.

The remedy in such cases was divorce. In the lower orders of society a
mild personal castigation was quite legal and probably not uncommon;
but then in these lower orders divorce was by no means so convenient.
Among the upper classes its frequency made it scarcely a matter of
remark. Nothing like it has been seen until modern America. There was
no need of an appeal to the courts or of a decree _nisi_; there was
not even need of a specific plea, although naturally one would be
offered in most cases. The husband or wife (or the wife's father, if
she had one), might send a formal and witnessed notice declaring the
marriage dissolved, or, as it was called, "breaking the marriage
lines." The man had only to take this step and say with due
deliberation "Take your own property"--or, as the satirist puts it,
"pack up your traps"--"give up the keys, and begone." The woman on her
side need only give similar notice and "take her departure." The only
check lay in family considerations, in public opinion, which was
extremely lenient, in financial convenience, or in the possibility of
particularly wanton conduct being so disapproved in high quarters that
a senator or a knight might perhaps find his name missing from the
list of his order at the next revision.

It has appeared necessary to give this darker side of the social
picture, for, though assuredly not so lurid as might be gathered from
the moralists, it was dark enough. For obvious reasons it is desirable
not to elaborate. It is perhaps more profitable, as well as
refreshing, to consider the brighter side. That there were noble women
and good wives, and that the froth and scum and dregs of idle
town-life did not make up the existence of the contemporary Roman
world, may be seen from passages like the following, which are either
quoted or condensed from a letter of Pliny concerning a lady named
Arria. The events belong to the reign of Nero's predecessor Claudius.
Pliny writes: "Her husband, Caecina Paetus, was ill; so also was her
son; and it was expected that both would die. The son, an extremely
handsome and modest youth, succumbed. His mother arranged for his
funeral and carried it out, the husband meanwhile being kept in
ignorance. Not only so, but every time she came into his room she
pretended that the son was alive and better, and very often, when he
asked how the boy was getting on, she answered, 'He has slept well,
and shown a good appetite.' Then, when the tears which she had so long
kept back proved too much for her, she used to leave the room and give
herself up to grief. When at last she had dried her eyes and composed
her countenance she returned to the room. When her husband had taken
part in an intended revolt against Claudius, he was to be carried as a
prisoner across the Adriatic to Rome. He was on the point of
embarking, when Arria begged the soldiers to take her on board with
him. 'I presume,' she said, 'you mean to allow an ex-consul a few
attendants of some kind, to give him his food, and to put on his
clothes and shoes. I will do all that myself.'" Her request being
refused, "she hired a fishing-smack and followed the big vessel in
this tiny one." When Claudius ordered the husband to put himself to
death, Arria took a dagger, stabbed herself in the breast, drew the
weapon out, and handed it to him with the words: "Paetus, it does not
hurt. It is what you are about to do that hurts."

Arria doubtless is a rare type of heroine. But also of the quiet
domesticated wife we have a description from the same writer.
Unfortunately the letter is one of the most priggish of all the rather
self-complacent epistles written by that thoroughly respectable and
estimable man; but that fact takes nothing from the information for
which we are looking. Pliny is writing to his own wife's aunt. "You
will be very glad to learn that Calpurnia is turning out worthy of her
father, of yourself, and of her grandfather. She has admirable sense
and is an excellent housekeeper; she is fond of me, which speaks well
for her character. Through her affection for me she has also developed
a taste for literature. She possesses my books and is always reading
them; she even learns them by heart. When I am to make a speech in
court, she is all anxiety; when I have made it, she is all joy. She
arranges a string of messengers to let her know what effect I produce,
what applause I win, and what result I have obtained. If I give a
reading, she sits in the next room behind a curtain and listens
greedily to the compliments paid to me. She even sets my verses to
music and sings them to the harp, with no professional to teach her,
but only love, who is the best of masters. I have therefore every
reason to hope that our harmony will not only last but grow greater
every day."

And all this time, away in the country homestead and cottage, the good
Marsian or Sabine mother is a veritable pattern of domestic probity
and discipline. If she possesses handmaids, she teaches them their
work in the kitchen or at the loom; if she possesses none, she brings
up her big daughters in the right ways of modesty, frugality, and
obedience to the gods; and her tall sons religiously obey her when she
sends them out to chop the firewood in the rain and cold of the
mountain-side.

One subject of perpetual interest where women are concerned is that of
dress and personal appearance. The Roman woman emphatically pursued
the cult of beauty and personal adornment. Perhaps the first prayer
which a mother offered for an expected daughter was that she should be
beautiful. Whether she proved so or not, no pains were spared to
correct or supplement the work of nature. It is true that fashion,
except in the dressing of hair, underwent none of those rapid and
astonishing changes which perplex the unsophisticated male of to-day.
Above all, there were no hats. But all that gold and jewels,
colours--blue, green, yellow, violet--and varied stuffs--woollen,
linen, muslin, and silk--could do for dress was done by every typical
woman of means; and every device for improving the complexion, the
teeth, the hair, the height, and the figure--which, by the way, never
sought the wasplike waist--was fully exploited. We need not go too
closely into details. It will be enough to describe the ordinary
attire and the ordinary methods of beautification.

[Illustration: FIG. 91.--TOILET SCENE. (Wall Painting.)]

The conventional indoor dress consisted of, first, an inner tunic,
short and sleeveless, with a band passing over or under the breast, so
as to produce something resembling what is called the Empire figure;
second, an outer tunic of linen or half-silk, less often of whole
silk, which fell to the feet. The outer tunic was fastened on the
shoulders with brooches; it had sleeves over the upper arm, and, in
the case of adults but not of young girls, a flounce or furbelow at
the bottom. A girdle produced a fold under the breast. The garment was
commonly white, but might be bordered with coloured fringes and
embroidery; for ladies of senatorial rank it bore the broad stripe
worked in purple or gold. On the feet sandals were often worn, but for
out-of-doors these were replaced by soft shoes of white, coloured or
gilded leather, sometimes studded with pearls or other gems.

[Illustration: FIG. 92.--WOMAN IN FULL DRESS.]

When a lady left the house she threw over the indoor dress a large
mantle or shawl, much resembling the toga of the men, except that its
colour was apparently what she pleased. This article was passed over
the left shoulder and under the right arm, which was left free; it
then fell in graceful folds to the feet. Works of art show that a fold
of the shawl was frequently laid over the top and back of the head,
for which no less becoming covering had yet been introduced.

[Illustration: FIG-93.--HAIRPINS.]

The hair alone was subject to innumerable vagaries either of fashion
or of individual taste. It might have a parting or no parting; it
might be plaited over the head and fastened by jewelled tortoise-shell
combs, or by pins of ivory, silver, or bronze with jewelled heads, as
varied and ornamental as the modern hatpin; it might be carried to the
back and rest in a knot on the neck, where it was bound with ribbons;
it might be piled into a huge pyramid or "towers of many stories," so
that a woman often looked tall in front and appeared quite a different
person at the back; it might be encased in a coloured cloth or in a
net of gold thread, for which poorer people substituted a bladder. But
in all cases it was preferred that the hair should be wavy, and this
was a matter which was attended to by a special _coiffeur_ kept among
the slaves. No handmaid had a harder or more ungrateful task than the
tiring-woman, who built up and fastened the reluctant locks while the
mistress contemplated the effect in her bronze or silver mirror. There
was no rule for a woman's treatment of herself in this respect.
"Consult your mirror," is the advice of the poet Ovid, who has
hopelessly lost all count of styles, since they were "more numerous
than the leaves on the oak or the bees on Hybla." To full dress
belonged a coronal or tiara, consisting of a band of gold and precious
stones.

But who shall dare to speak of the jewellery that bedecked a Roman
matron _en grande tenue_--of the pearl and pendant earrings, the
necklaces of pearl and diamonds, the gold snake armlets with their
emerald eyes, the bangles and finger-rings, the brooches and buckles
on the shoulders and down the sleeves, the gems scattered among the
hair, the chains and châtelaines strung with all manner of glittering
articles? Says one who lived at the time: "I have seen Lollia Paulina
covered with emeralds and pearls gleaming all over her head, hair,
ears, neck, and fingers to the value of over £300,000." If Rome is the
eternal city, it is eternal in this respect at least as much as in any
other.

Who, still more bold, shall pry into her apparatus for the
beautification of her person, examining her patch-box and the innocent
little pots of rouge, vermilion, and white lead for the complexion,
and of soot to rub under the eyes? Who shall scrutinise too closely
that delicate blue which tinges her temples? Who shall dare to
question whether that yellow hair of the most approved tone, then best
seen in Germany, grew where you find it or came from some head across
the Rhine? Who shall venture to ask whether that smooth skin was
preserved by her wearing last night a mask of meal, which she washed
off this morning with asses' milk? Petronius, indeed, says that the
"lady takes her eyebrows out of a little box," and probably Petronius
knew. For her artificial teeth there is an obvious and sensible
excuse, and it is no reproach to her if, as the poet declared, "she
puts her teeth aside at night, just as she does her silks." Probably
she scents herself far too heavily, but there are many Roman men who
are just as bad.

She is ready now for all emergencies, and we may leave her, sitting in
her long-backed cushioned chair, waving in one hand a fan of peacock's
feathers or of thin wood covered with gold-leaf, and holding in the
other a ball of amber or glass to keep her hands cool and dry.



CHAPTER XVII


CHILDREN AND EDUCATION

Unlike too many couples of the same class, Silius and Marcia are
blessed with children. We will assume that there are two, a boy, whose
full name shall be Publius Silius Bassus, and a girl, who is to be
called Silia Bassa. It is perhaps to be regretted that there is not a
third, for in that case the father would enjoy to the full certain
privileges granted by law to parents who so far do their duty by the
state. As it is, he will in the regular course of things receive
preference over childless men, when it comes to candidature for a
public office or to the allotting of a governorship. The decline in
the birthrate had become so startling at the close of the republic
that the first emperor, Augustus, had decided that it was necessary on
the one side to penalise persons who remained either unmarried or
childless, and on the other to grant fixed concessions to all who were
the parents of three. A bachelor could not, for instance, receive a
legacy from any one but a near relative; a married man without
children could only receive half of such a legacy; a man with three
children could not only enjoy his legacy in full, but could take the
shares forfeited by any bachelor or childless legatee who figured in
the same will. It does not appear that the law produced any great
effect, and, to make it still more futile, the later emperors began to
bestow what was called the "privilege of three children" on persons
who actually had either fewer or none at all.

The power of the father over the children is theoretically almost
absolute. Even when a son is grown up and married he legally belongs
to his father; so does all his supposed property. The same is the case
with a daughter, unless she becomes a Vestal Virgin, or unless she
marries according to the stricter of the two kinds of matrimony
already described. In the older days of Rome the father could, and
sometimes did, put his children to death if he chose. Though too free
an exercise of so extreme an authority was no longer recognised, it
was still quite legal to make away with an infant which was badly
deformed. Says Seneca, in the most matter-of-fact way, "We drown our
monstrosities." It was quite legal also to expose a child, and leave
it either to perish or to be taken up by whosoever chose. In most such
instances doubtless the child became the slave of the finder. Not only
was this allowable at Rome and in the romanized part of the empire; it
was a frequent practice throughout the Greek or Eastern portion.
Again, a father might sell his child as a slave, particularly for
continual disobedience. All these things the parent might legally do;
but it is extremely difficult to discover how far they were actually
done, inasmuch as our information in this respect hardly touches the
lower classes, while among the upper classes there was naturally far
less temptation to be rid of the burden of maintaining such few
children as most families produced. On the whole it appears highly
improbable that in the truly Roman part of the empire there was any
considerable destruction of infant life or exposure of infants. It
does not follow that, because the strict law does not prevent you from
doing a thing, you will therefore do it, in the face of public
disapproval and of all the promptings of natural affection. In their
family relations the ancient Romans possessed at least as much natural
feeling as is commonly shown in modern times. The fact is that in
matters of law the Romans were eminently conservative; they left as
much as possible to the silent working of social opinion. In the
oldest times the patriarchal system existed in the family, and new
Roman legislation interfered with parental power only just so far as
experience had loudly demanded such intervention. There can have been
no very pronounced abuse of the powers of the father, and, as the
discipline of the family was regarded as essential to the discipline
of the state, the law was always unwilling to weaken in any way the
hold of such family discipline. The strictly legal authority of the
father was therefore maintained, while its abusive exercise was
limited by the risk, if not the certainty, that it would meet with
both public and private censure.

Nevertheless, to return to the point which called for this
explanation, it is quite in the power of Silius to expose or sell
little Publius or little Silia. But for a man in his position to do
anything of the kind would bring the scorn of all Roman society about
his ears; and, among other humiliations, almost undoubtedly his name
would be expunged from the senatorial list. Moreover Silus, though a
pagan, is a human being, and his affection for his children would
certainly be no less warm than that of the average Christian man of
to-day.

Immediately after birth there is a little ceremony. The babe is
brought and laid upon the hearth or floor before the household gods
for the father to inspect it. As has been said already, if it is a
monstrosity, he may order it to be made away with. Otherwise it is
still open to him either to acknowledge the infant or to refuse to
have anything to do with it. The act of acknowledgment consists in
stooping down and lifting up the child from the ground. For this
reason the expression used for acknowledging and undertaking to rear a
child was "lifting" or "picking up." In our instance the little son
and daughter are, of course, not only picked up, but welcomed as the
young hopes of the proud house of Silii Bassi.

On the ninth day in case of the boy, or the eighth in that of the
girl, the child is named, after certain ceremonies of purification.
The whole proceeding bears much resemblance to a christening, except
that there is no calling in of the services of a church. The relations
and friends gather in the hall, each bringing his present, and even
the slaves make their little inexpensive offerings. The gifts are
chiefly little trinkets of gold, silver, and ivory--rings, miniature
hands, axes, swords, or crescents--which are to be strung across the
baby's breast. The original purpose of all these objects was to act as
charms against the blighting of the child by evil powers, or, more
definitely, by the "evil eye," that malignant influence which still
troubles so many good Italians, both ignorant and learned. With the
same intention the father hangs upon the child's neck a certain object
which it will carry till it comes of age. If a few years later you met
the boy Publius in the Roman streets, you would find him wearing a
round case or locket in gold, some two inches in diameter and
resembling the modern cased watch. Inside is shut his protecting
amulet. When he is sixteen and puts on the man's toga, his amulet will
be laid aside. In the case of the little Silia it will be worn until
she marries. Poorer folk, for whom gold is too expensive, will enclose
the amulet in a case of leather.

The naming over, the child is registered. The Romans were adepts in
the art of utilising a religious or superstitious practice for
purposes of state, and the development of the registration of births
and deaths is but one instance. In older times it had been a custom,
on the occasion of a birth, to pay a visit to the shrine of "Juno the
Birth-Goddess," and to leave a small coin by way of offering. It is
easy for a state to convert an already established general custom into
a rule; and at our date this shrine of Juno had become practically a
registration office, where a small fee was paid and the name of the
child entered upon the rolls.

We need not follow with any closeness the infancy of either boy or
girl till the seventh year. The ancient world was very much like the
modern. Suffice it to glance at them cutting their teeth on the teeth
of wolves or horses, rocked in cradles decorated with gold and purple,
or running about and calling their parents by the time-honoured
_mamma, tata_--words, if we can call them words, which came from those
small Roman mouths precisely as they have come from time immemorial
from so many others. Their slave nurse, who is a Greek and talks Greek
to them, tells them the old wives' tales and fables. They play with
rattles, balls, and little carts, with pet birds and monkeys, and the
girl with dolls of ivory or wax or of painted terra-cotta. They have
swings, and ride on sticks and build houses. When bigger, the boy has
his tops and hoops, with or without bells, and he plays marbles with
nuts. Meanwhile attempts are made, somewhat after the kindergarten
pattern, to teach them their alphabet by means of letters shaped in
wood or ivory. Whether or not it is modern kindergarten method to
tempt children to learn by offers of sugar-plums, that course was
often adopted in the world of both Greece and Rome.

On the whole the life of the child, though strictly governed, appears
to have been pleasant enough until schooldays began. Though many
children were taught at home by a more or less learned slave acting as
private tutor, the great majority, at least of the boys, were sent to
school. There was at this date no compulsory education; the state
dictated nothing and provided nothing in connection with the matter;
many children must have received no education at all, and many only
the barest elements. Nevertheless the average parent realised the
practical utility of at least reading, writing, and simple arithmetic,
and schools of the elementary type sprang up according to the demand.
What the higher education was like will be set forth in its place.

The ideal education, as understood in the older days of Rome, was a
training which should fit a man for his duty to the gods, the state,
and the family. It was above all things a moral and practical
training. A man has certain domestic, political, and religious
functions to perform: let him learn how best to perform these. Under
this system there was little room for accomplishments or for purely
intellectual pursuits. Little by little, however, such liberal
elements, artistic and philosophical, struggled into the sphere of
Roman education, but never to the extent or with the intellectual
effect which belonged to them in Greece. Even by A.D. 64 the education
of a Roman boy was very narrow, and, in the direction in which it
sought some liberality, it often went sadly astray. The clearest
course will be for us to take young Publius Silius through a course
typical of the time. We will assume that he does not receive all his
lessons at home, but that, through an old-fashioned preference on the
part of his father, he goes to a school, along with boys who are
mostly but not necessarily of the same social standing with himself.

We have unfortunately almost no information as to any social grading
of schools, or as to their size. All we know is that some schools were
taught entirely by one man, while others employed an undermaster or
several. In some cases the school is entirely a private enterprise,
the master charging a monthly fee--amounting in the elementary schools
to a penny or twopence a week--together with small money presents on
certain festivals. The more select establishments naturally charged
more. Probably most of the schools in Rome and the larger towns were
upon this private footing. In other instances a number of parents in a
smaller town would club together and subscribe sufficient money to
provide the salary of a schoolmaster for their children. In yet others
some benefactor, generally a wealthy local magnate, had given or
bequeathed an endowment fund, from which a school was either wholly or
partially financed. At a rather later date Pliny writes a letter, of
which the following is a passage, interesting in this connection.
"When I was lately in my native part of the country (that is to say,
at Como), a boy--the son of a fellow townsman--came to pay his
respects. I said, 'Are you at school?' 'Yes,' he replied. 'Where?' 'At
Milan.' 'And why not here?' At this his father said, 'Because we have
no teachers here.' 'And why have you none? It is of the greatest
importance to any of you who are fathers--and it happened that several
fathers were listening--that your children should be taught here
rather than anywhere else.... How small a thing it is to put money
together and engage teachers and to apply to their salary the amount
which you now spend on lodgings, travelling expenses, and the articles
that have always to be purchased when one is away from home.'"
Whereupon he proceeds himself to offer to contribute one-third of
whatever sum the parents collect. He does not believe in giving the
whole, because experience has taught him that endowments of this kind
are commonly misused. The parents must themselves retain an interest
in preventing corruption; and this will be the case so long as they
are themselves paying their share. In this instance we are, however,
to think rather of a high school or school of rhetoric than of the
primary school. Como would not lack a primary school, nor would
parents send very young children to lodge in Milan. There is no trace
of real boarding-schools.

To whatever school Publius goes he will be accompanied by a sedate
slave, generally elderly and also generally a Greek, whom you may call
his "guardian," or his "governor," or his "mentor," according to your
fancy. The function of this worthy is to look after the morals and
behaviour of the boy when in the streets, and also to supervise his
manners when at home. Publius will not be free of this incubus until
the day when he puts on the adult's toga; and he must be prepared to
accept, at least in his younger days, not only scolding, but also
corporal punishment from him. In poorer families the mother corrected
her children with a slipper. The "guardian" of Publius is nevertheless
a slave, and will carry the young master's books and school requisites
for him, while the sons of poorer parents are marching along, freer
and happier, with their tablets and writing-case slung over their left
arm. When, in the New Testament, we are told that the "Law hath been
our schoolmaster unto Christ," the word employed does not at all mean
schoolmaster. It means this slave who keeps the pupil under salutary
discipline until he reaches the schoolmaster, and who superintends his
conduct until he is of age.

[Illustration: FIG. 94.--WRITING MATERIALS.]

School age regularly begins at seven for the elementary stage, which
commonly includes writing, reading, and arithmetic. The first lessons
in writing are done upon wax tablets, which correspond to our slate.
For school purposes they are flat pieces of wood, with a rim, their
surface being covered with a thin layer of wax. The pupil takes a
"style," or metal stiletto, pointed at one end and flat at the other;
with the point he scratches, or "ploughs" as the Romans called it, the
writing in the wax; with the other end he flattens the wax and so
makes the necessary erasures when he desires to correct a word or to
"clean his slate."

His first efforts will probably consist either of tracing letters
through a stencil, or of forming them from a copy while the master
guides his hand. He will next write a series of words--the good old
copybook method with the good old copybook maxims. It is only when he
has gained some proficiency that he will be allowed to write upon
paper or parchment with ink and with a split reed for pen. In such a
case the backs of useless documents come in handy, and particularly
serviceable are the rolls containing the poems of the numerous authors
whom no one wants to read, but whose books thus find one of their
ultimate uses, another being to wrap up spices or salt fish. His
arithmetic will be merely such as will enable him to make up accounts.
The Roman numerals did not lend themselves easily to the method now
adopted of calculating on paper, and the Roman pupil therefore
reckoned partly with his fingers, partly by means of counters laid or
strung upon a board. At this he became remarkably proficient, and at
mental arithmetic there is reason to believe that he could beat the
modern boy hollow. Along with the reckoning he would also necessarily
learn his tables of weights and measures. "Two-and-a-half feet one
step; two steps one pace; a thousand paces one mile." So he said or
sang, and a mile--_mille_, "a thousand" paces--remains our own word to
this day, even though it has come to signify an eccentric 1760 yards.

That Roman boys bore no love to school or schoolmaster is little
wonder. Perhaps Publius may be fortunate; but if his schoolmaster is
of the ordinary type he will be an irascible loud-voiced person, who
bawls and scolds and thrashes. It will be a common thing to find, as
Seneca puts it, a man "in a violent passion teaching you that to be in
a passion is wrong." The doctrine went that "he who is not flayed is
not educated." The methods of the military centurion may have had
something to do with creating this behaviour, but there is perhaps
another excuse to be found for the Roman pedagogue. His school, if of
the inferior kind, is like any other shop, a place open to the street,
whether on the ground floor or in the balcony-like _entresol_. There
is no cloistered privacy about his instruction. To such a place at a
very early hour come the boys "creeping unwillingly." When the days
are short the school opens before daybreak, and the smoky lamps and
lanterns create an evil smell and atmosphere in the raw and chilly
morning. That is no time to be amiable towards inattention or
stupidity. There were many other circumstances to try the temper, and
the Roman temper, except among the highest classes, was, as it is,
quick and loud. No real boy who had been a Roman school but knew what
it was to have ears pinched and to take his punishment on his hands
with the cane or the tawse. Many had been "horsed," in the way
depicted in the illustration.

There is also no cause for surprise that boys often shammed illness
and did little things to their eyes so that mother or father might
keep them from their books for a while. There were of course academies
of a better class than these schools open to the street, and probably
Publius Silius would be taken to one where his "guardian" waits with
others in an antechamber, while he is himself being taught in a room
where the walls are pictured with historical or mythological scenes,
or with charts or maps, and where there stand busts of eminent
writers. The boys are seated on benches or forms, and the master on a
high-backed chair. When the pupil is called upon to repeat a lesson,
he stands up before the teacher; when the whole class is to deliver a
dictated passage it rises and delivers it all together, in orthodox
sing-song style.

[Illustration: FIG. 95.--HORSING A BOY. (After Sächs.)]

Somewhere towards eleven o'clock there is an interval, and the boys go
home for lunch or buy something from the seller of rissoles or
sausages in the street. In the afternoon--when the schoolmaster has
taken his own luncheon and probably his short siesta--they return to
school, putting in altogether about six hours of lessons in the day.

That boys and girls went to the same elementary schools is not
absolutely provable from any explicit statement to that effect; but
there are one or two passages in literature which point almost
certainly to that conclusion. It is at least undeniable that girls,
and even big girls, went to school, and that in those schools they
were taught by men. One schoolmaster is addressed by the poet as
"detestable to both boys and girls." We have seen that in maturity the
Roman woman lived in no sort of seclusion; and it is reasonable to
suppose that as a girl she was treated in much the same way as girls
in a mixed school of to-day. Nevertheless it is also almost certain
that such mixed schools were only those of the common people, or of
the lower middle classes: the daughters of the better-circumstanced
would be instructed at home by private tutors. There they would learn
to read and write both Greek and their native Latin, to play upon the
lyre or harp, to dance--Roman dancing being more a matter of gesture
with hands and body than of movement with the feet--and to carry
themselves with the bearing fit for a Roman lady. To teach the
household duties was the function of the mother.

At Rome, as with us, there was, first, a primary education, pure and
simple, given in the schools of those who would nowadays be registered
as teachers of primary subjects. Next there was what we should call a
secondary or high-school education, given by a "grammar master," in
which the education was almost wholly literary. The same school might
doubtless employ a special arithmetic master, and also a teacher of
music, but mainly the business of such an establishment was
theoretically to prepare the boy for a proper and effective use of
language, whether for social or for public purposes. In the Rome of
the republic a man of affairs or ambitions required above all things
to be an accomplished speaker, and this tradition had not weakened
under the empire. Moreover, for the training of the intellectual
faculties as such, the Romans had no better resource than grammatical
and literary study. Science was purely empirical, mathematics was
mainly arithmetic and mensuration, and there was no room in these
subjects for that exercise of discernment and acumen as well as of
taste which was provided by well-directed study of the best authors.
In the secondary education, therefore, the chief object sought was
"the knowledge of right expression," and the acquirement of "correct,
clear, and elegant diction." This was to be achieved by the most
painstaking study of both the Greek and the Latin poets; and it is
worth noting that the Romans had the good sense to begin with the
best. Every boy must know his Homer, and steep himself in the easy
style and sound sentiments of Menander; he must also know his Virgil
and his Terence. He must know how to read a passage with proper
intonation and appreciation of the sense, and he must learn large
quantities of such poetry by heart. In the early stages the master's
part is first to read aloud a certain passage what he thinks to be the
right articulation and expression; he then explains the meaning or the
allusions, and does whatever else he considers necessary for the
understanding and appreciation of the piece. It is then the pupil's
turn to stand up and repeat the passage so as to show that he has
caught the true sense and can impart the true intonation. No doubt
there were bad and indifferent teachers as well as good ones, and
doubtless there was much mere parroting on the part of the learner. It
was then, as it is now, chiefly a question of the sort of teacher. It
is probable that in many schools the action of the mental faculty as
well as of the voice became pure sing-song. Julius Caesar once made
the comment: "If you are singing, you are singing badly; if you are
reading, you are singing."

The more advanced stage of this higher education was that of the
"school of oratory." The pupil has already acquired a correct
grammatical style, and a reasonable amount of literary information; he
now trains himself for the actual practice of the law-courts or the
deliberative assembly. He is to learn how to argue a case; how to
arrange his matter; by what devices of language to make it most
effective; and how to deliver it. At a later date there were to be
public professorships of this art, endowed by the emperor, but there
are none of these at Rome itself under Nero. The "professor of
oratory" receives his fee of some £20 or so per annum from each pupil.
At this stage the study of the great prose-writers is substituted for
that of the poets; themes are set for essays to be written upon them;
and those essays will then be delivered as speeches. Sometimes a
familiar statement or maxim from a poet is put forward to be refuted
or supported, or for you to argue first against it and then for it. Or
some historical situation may be proposed, and the student asked to
set forth the wisest or most just course in the circumstances.
"Hannibal has beaten the Romans at Cannae: shall he or shall he not
proceed directly to attack Rome? Examine the question as if you were
Hannibal." Much of this appears theoretically sound enough.
Unfortunately the subjects were generally either hopelessly threadbare
or possessed no bearing upon real life. "We are learning," says
Seneca, "not for life, but for the school." The only novelty which
could be given to the treatment of old abstract themes or puerile
questions was novelty of phrase, and the one great mark of the
literature of this time is therefore the pursuit of the striking
expression, of something epigrammatic or glittering. A speech was
judged by its purple patches of rhetoric, not by the soundness of its
thoughts. Prizes, apparently of books, were offered in these Roman
schools, and a prize would go to the youth who could tell you in the
most remarkable string of brilliant language what was your duty
towards your country, or what were the evils of anger, or for what
reasons it is right for a father to disown his son. Meanwhile parents
would look in at the school from time to time and listen to the boys
declaiming, and it is easy to see with the mind's eye the father
listening, like the proud American parent at a "graduation" day, to
his gifted offspring "speaking a piece."

Education commonly stopped at this point. If the rhetorical training
is taken early, the boy is now about sixteen; but there was nothing to
prevent the oratorical course from following instead of preceding the
"coming of age." In this case we will suppose that it has preceded.
The youth has now received a good literary training and considerable
practice in the art of speech-making. He knows enough of elementary
arithmetic to keep accounts, or, in special cases--where he is
intended for certain professional careers--he may understand some
geometry and the principles of mechanics and engineering. He may or
may not have learned to sing, and enough of music to play creditably
on lyre or harp. Unlike the young Greek, he will not necessarily have
been made to recognise that gymnastic training is an essential part of
education. He may indulge in such exercises by way of pastime or for
health; he may, and generally will, have been taught athletics; but he
does not acknowledge that they have any practical bearing upon his
aptitude for either warfare or civil life.

It is hard to gauge the intellect of the average Roman youth of
sixteen; all we know is that, while the best of literature, science,
art, and philosophy was left to be undertaken by Greeks, the Romans
seized upon whatever learning had an appreciable practical bearing,
and that, as men capable of administering and directing, they left
their intellectual and artistic superiors far behind.

Up till this time the boy has worn a toga with a purple edge, and also
the gold amulet-case round his neck. The time has, however, come for
him to be regarded as a man--not indeed free of his father's
authority, but free to walk about without a bear-leader, to marry, if
his father so desires, or to decide upon a career. Accordingly, on the
17th of March by preference, he will put away the outward insignia of
boyhood, dedicate his amulet to the household gods, and will don the
all-white toga of a man. The relatives, friends, and clients will
gather at the house, and, after offering their congratulations, will
escort the youth to the Capitol, and thence down to the Forum, where
his appearance in this manner will be accompanied by introductions and
a recognition on all sides that he is now "of age." At the Record
Office the name of "Publius Silius Bassus, son of Quintus," is
recorded with due fulness of description, and he ranks henceforth as
one of the citizens of Rome.

After this little ceremony of coming of age, a number of the young men
apparently did nothing. The sons of poorer parents have long ago gone
to their work in their various trades. Those of the more well-to-do
may--and, if they are afterwards to seek public office, they must--now
undertake military service amid the conditions which are to be
described in the next chapter. Others, being of a more studious turn,
will proceed to complete their education by going abroad to one or
other of the great seats of philosophic study which corresponded to
our universities. Philosophy meant to the Roman a guide to the
direction of life. Roman religion, upon which we shall hereafter dwell
in some detail, consisted of a number of forms and ceremonies, or acts
of recognition paid to the deities; it embodied certain traditional
principles of duty to family and state; but otherwise it exercised
very little influence on the conduct of life. So far as such guidance
was supplied at all, it was by moral philosophy, the treatment of
which, as it was understood at this date, is bound up with that of
religion and must wait till we reach that subject. It is true that
there were professional teachers of philosophy at Rome itself, but the
metropolis was not their chief resort, any more than, until recently,
London would have been recognised as a seat of university learning of
the front rank. It is also true that many great houses maintained a
domestic philosopher, who not only helped in moulding the tone of the
master of the house and afforded him intellectual company, but might
act as private philosophic tutor to his son. But for the most part
this highest instruction was rather to be sought in cities specially
noted for their assemblage of professors and lecturers. Chief among
these figured Athens, Rhodes, Tarsus, Antioch, Alexandria, and
Marseilles. At Naples also might be found a large number of men of
learning, but they were chiefly persons who had retired from
professional life, and who chose that city because of its pleasant
climate and surroundings, and because they could there enjoy each
other's society. In some of the cities named--particularly Athens and
Alexandria--there were endowed professorships (though not endowed by
the Roman emperors) of which the benefit was enjoyed, not only by the
local student but also by those from other parts of the Roman world
who chose to resort to such established teachers. This does not mean
that such students paid no fee, nor that there was any lack of
lecturers unendowed. The student was free to take his choice. Where
there was endowment, as at Athens, there was control by the local
authorities over the behaviour of students and also of their teachers;
but it is evident that a professor's audience was by no means always a
very well-ruled or docile body. As in the German universities, the
visiting students were men, and some of them fairly advanced in years,
and, also as in Germany, they followed their own tastes in study and
changed from university to university at will. They, as it were,
"sampled" the professors and made their own election. The teacher not
only lectured to them, but also lectured them; while, on their side,
they were entitled to catechise, and in a sense "badger," the
lecturer, to propound difficulties, and to make more or less
pronounced exhibition of their sentiments.

In the philosophic lecture-room the student, possessing his share of
the vivacity and excitability of the south, would stamp, spring from
his seat, shout and applaud, calling out in Greek "splendid!"
"inimitable!" "capital!" "prettily said!" and so forth. Plutarch
writes a little essay on the proper manner of behaving in the
lecture-rooms, and he tells us: "You should sit in a proper manner and
not lounge; you should keep your eyes on the speaker and show a lively
interest; maintain a composed countenance and show no annoyance or
irritation, nor look as if you were thinking of other things." Such an
attitude was the ideal and orthodox; but he tells us also that there
were some who "scowled; their eyes wandered; they sprawled, crossed
their legs, nodded and whispered to their neighbour, smiled, yawned
sleepily, and let their heads droop." This was not necessarily because
the lecturer was dull, but because he might be giving lessons which
were unwelcome to some among his audience. The cap fitted them too
well, as it sometimes does when offered by a modern preacher. But,
says the same Plutarch, if you did not like these direct and
rough-tongued monitors, you could find other professors, _poseurs_,
who were all suavity; gentlemen whose philosophical stock-in-trade was
grey hair, a pleasant voice and delivery, graceful language, and much
self-appreciation. These were the Reverend Charles Honeymans of the
period, and their following was like unto the following of that
popular pulpiteer.

[Illustration: FIG. 96--Papyri and Tabulae. (From Dyer's Pompeii.)]

Since mention has been made more than once of reading and libraries,
it is well to realise the form commonly taken by books. We must not
think of the modern bound volume standing on its shelf or open in the
hand. At our date any books made up in the form of leaves--or what the
Romans called "tablet" form--consisted only of some four or six pages.
The regular shape for a book was that of a roll, or, if the work was a
large one, it might consist of several such "rolls" or "sections." The
material was either paper--in its original sense of papyrus--or the
skin known as parchment. Papyrus was naturally the cheaper and the
less durable. Prepared sheets of a given length and breadth--the
"pages"--were written upon and then pasted to each other side by side
until a long stretch was formed. The last sheet was then attached to a
thin roller, commonly of wood, answering to that used in a modern
wall-map. Round a roll of any pretensions there was wrapped a cover of
coloured parchment, red, yellow, or purple. The ends of the roll were
rubbed smooth with pumice-stone and dyed, and a tag or label was
affixed to bear the name of the author and the work. A number of such
rolls, related in subject or authorship, were placed on end in a round
box, with the labels upwards ready for inspection. In the library such
a box would stand in a pigeon-hole or section of shelf, from which it
might be carried where required. Sometimes the rolls themselves lay in
a heap horizontally in a pigeon-hole without a box, but this
manifestly a less convenient practice. To keep the bookworms cedar-oil
was rubbed upon them, giving them a yellowish tinge. The reader,
taking the body of the roll in one hand, begins to unwind the long
strip with the other. After reading the first column or page thus
exposed, he mechanically re-winds that portion, while the width of
another page is pulled into view. The writing itself was done by means
of a reed, sharpened and split like a quill-pen, and dipped in ink
made in various ways, but mostly less "biting" than our own. This made
it comparatively easy to sponge out what was written, and to use the
same roll over again--as a "palimpsest"--for some work more desired.
It is perhaps needless to say that the writing was regularly to be
found upon one side only. If the back was used, it was for economy,
for unimportant notes, or as an exercise book for schoolboys.
We may imagine a fine library copy, or edition de luxe, of Virgil as
consisting of a number of rolls, each a long strip of the best
parchment rolled round a staff of ivory with gilded ends. Its "cover"
is a wrapper of parchment richly dyed and bearing coloured bands of
leather to serve as fasteners. From the smoothed and dyed end stands
out a scarlet label, marked "Virgil Aeneid Book I." (or as the case
may be). When opened, the first page will reveal a painted portrait of
the poet, and the writing will be found to be in a beautifully clear
and even calligraphy. Beside the shelf on which the work is placed
there likely stands a lifelike bust of Virgil in marble in bronze.



CHAPTER XVIII


THE ARMY: MILITARY SERVICE: PUBLIC CAREER

In the older days of Roman history the fighting forces had been a
"citizen army," called out for so long as it was needed, and levied
from full and true Roman citizens. In the imperial times with which we
are here dealing it had become a standing army. Soldiering was a
profession, for which the men volunteered, and, so far as Roman
citizens were concerned, it was now seldom, if ever, the case that
military service required to be made compulsory on their part. It is
true that a young man of the higher classes who proposed to follow a
public career, leading to higher and higher offices of state, must
have gone through some amount of military training, but no other Roman
was actually obliged to serve. The empire was so vast and the total of
the standing forces comparatively so small that it was always possible
to fill up the legions with those who had some motive or inclination
that way. Theoretically the state possessed a claim upon every
able-bodied man, but the population of the empire was probably a
hundred millions, and to collect a total of some 320,000 soldiers,
made up of Roman or romanized "citizens" and of provincial subjects in
about equal shares, was a sufficiently easy task, and the recruiters
could therefore afford to pick and choose. Above all we must clear our
minds of the notion that the Roman soldiers necessarily came from
Rome, or even from Italy. They were drawn from the empire at large,
and a legion posted in Spain, for example, might be recruited from a
special class of Spaniards.

Roughly speaking, the regular army, extending along the frontiers from
Chester to Jerusalem and from Jerusalem to Algeria, was composed of
two main divisions, called respectively the "legions" and the
"auxiliaries." Other special or detached forces--such as the twelve
regiments of Imperial Guards and the six of the City Guard--came under
neither of these headings, and we may leave them out of the question
for the present.

A legion was a brigade of about 6000 infantry, with 120 horsemen
attached to it. It was recruited from any convenient part of the
empire, but only from men already enjoying the rights of Roman
citizens, or else from those other provincials who were considered
sufficiently homogeneous with the Roman civilisation to stand shoulder
to shoulder with such citizens. In being permitted to serve on these
terms a man regularly becomes _ipso facto_ a citizen. The
qualifications required were that you should be free-born--that is to
say, neither slave nor ex-slave--your physique must be good, and your
height about 5 feet 10 inches: there must be nothing serious against
your record or character as viewed from the Roman standpoint; and, if
you were not already a citizen, you must belong to one of those
organised communes which were the units of administration and of
taxation within the empire. You undertake to serve for twenty years,
after which time you will receive an honourable discharge and either a
sum of money--at this date apparently about £50--or a grant of land.
By ability and character you may rise from private soldier to
centurion, that is to say, commander of a hundred, but in ordinary
circumstances you can climb no further up the military ladder. If at
the end of your term you are still robust and are considered useful,
you may, if you choose, continue to serve in a special detachment of
"veterans," with lighter duties and with exemption from common drill.
The Roman legions would thus be made up for the most part of troops
from about 18 to 38 years of age, although a considerable number might
be somewhat older.

A legion once formed had a perpetual existence; its vacancies were
filled up as they occurred; and it is obvious that it must have
consisted of respectable men of picked physique, mostly in the prime
of life, and perfectly trained in all the qualities of a soldier. When
not on actual campaign they were drilled once a day, and the recruits
twice. They practised the hurling of spears and all the attitudes of
attack with sword and pike, and of defence with the shield. Now and
then there was a review or a sham fight. They learned how to fortify a
camp, how to attack it or to defend it. Every month they put on full
armour, marched out with steady Roman tramp for ten miles and back
again to camp for the sake of practice. Meanwhile they were made
useful in building the military roads, bridges, and walls. Add to this
the strict Roman discipline, and it is difficult to conceive of any
training more capable of turning a body of 6000 men into a stubborn
and effective fighting machine. The half-naked German across the Rhine
was physically as strong and as brave; the woad-dyed Celt of Britain
was probably more dashing in his onset; the mounted Parthian across
the Euphrates was more nimble in his movements; but neither German nor
Celt cultivated the organisation or solidarity of action of the Roman,
nor could the Parthian equal him for steady onward pressure or
determined stand.

To each legion was given a number and also a name of its own, acquired
by some distinguished feat or some conspicuous campaign, or adopted in
vaunt or compliment. Thus it might be the "Victorious" Legion, the
"Indomitable," or the "Spanish" Legion, or it might, for example, wear
a crested lark upon its helmet and be called the Legion of the "Lark."
The commander of the whole legion is a man of senatorial rank; its
standard is a silver eagle on the top of a staff, commonly holding a
thunderbolt in its claw. To each legion there are ten regiments,
called "cohorts," averaging six hundred men, and every such regiment
has its colonel, or, as the translation of the Bible calls Claudius
Lysias, "its chief captain." The regiment in its turn consists of six
companies or "hundreds," with a "centurion" at the head of each, and
every pair of hundreds, if not every company, possesses a standard of
its own, consisting of a pole topped with large medallions, metal
disks, wreaths, an open hand, and other emblems.

[Illustration: FIG. 97.--ROMAN STANDARDS.]

[Illustration: FIG. 98--Armed Soldier.]


Let us imagine a certain Scius to become a private soldier in a
legion. He was born in Gaul, in the district of Lugdunum or Lyons, and
he is either a full Roman or sufficiently romanized to rank with
Romans. He is drafted to the Twentieth Legion, otherwise known as the
"Victorious Valerian," and finds himself stationed in the island of
Britain at that farthest camp of the north-west which has since grown
into the city of Chester. On joining his company he is made to take a
solemn oath that he will loyally obey all orders of his
commander-in-chief, the emperor, as represented by that emperor's
subordinates, his immediate officers. That oath he will repeat on each
1st of January and on the anniversary of the emperor's accession. For
full military dress he will first put on a tunic reaching nearly to
his knees, and, since he is serving in the northern cold, a pair of
fustian breeches covering the upper leg. On his feet will be a pair of
strong sandals, of which the thick soles are studded with hobnails.
Over his breast, and with flaps over the shoulders, he will wear a
corslet Of leather covered with hoop-like layers, or maybe scales, of
iron or bronze. On his head will be a plain pot-like helmet or
skull-cap of iron. For the rest he will possess also a thick cloak or
plaid to be used as occasion needs. In his right hand he will carry
the famous Roman pike. This is a stout weapon, over 6 feet in length,
consisting of a sharp iron head fixed in a wooden shaft, and the
soldier may either charge with it as with a bayonet, or he may hurl it
like a javelin and then fight at close quarters with his sword. On the
left arm is a large shield, which may be of various shapes. One common
form is curved inward at the sides like a portion of a cylinder some 4
feet in length by 2½ in width: another is six-sided--a diamond
pattern, but with the points of the diamond squared away. Sometimes it
is oval. In construction it is of wicker-work or wood, covered with
leather, and embossed a blazon in metal-work, one particularly well
known being that of a thunderbolt. The shield is not only carried by
means of a handle, but may be supported by a belt over the right
shoulder. In order to be out of the way of the shield, the sword--a
thrusting rather than a slashing weapon, approaching 3 feet in
length--is hung at the right side by a belt passing over the left
shoulder. Though this arrangement may seem awkward to us, it is to be
remembered that the sword is not required until the right hand is free
of the pike, and that then, before drawing, the weapon can easily be
swung round to the left by means of the suspending belt. On the left
side the soldier wears a dagger at his girdle. The writer of the
Epistle to the Ephesians is thinking of all this equipment when he
bids the Christian put on "the whole armour of God," including the
"belt of truth," the "breast-plate of righteousness," the "shield of
faith," the "helmet of salvation" and the "sword of the spirit." The
officer, of course, wears armour, cloak, and helmet of a more
ornamental kind, and must have presented a very martial and imposing
figure.

[Illustration: FIG.99--A Roman General.]

Our friend Scius goes through the drill, the exercises, and the hard
work already mentioned. His pay will be somewhere about £8 a year, or
a little over three shillings a week, and his food will consist mainly
of wheaten porridge and bread, with salt, and a drink of thin sour
wine little better than vinegar. His wheat--the price of which is
deducted from his pay--is measured out to him every month, and it is
his own business to grind it or get it ground and converted into
bread. Vegetables he will procure as he likes or can; but meat, except
a limited amount of bacon, he will commonly neither get nor very much
desire. On one occasion indeed we find the soldiers complaining that
they were being fed altogether too much upon meat. It deserves to be
remarked that the results speak well for the wholesomeness of this
simple diet of the legionary. For his quarters he will be one of ten
sharing the same tent under the supervision of a kind of corporal.
There are no married quarters. Not only are women not permitted in the
camp, but the soldier cannot legally marry during his term of service.

[Illustration: FIG. 100.--CENTURION.]

Scius will meet with no gentle treatment while in his pupilage. The
grim centurion, or commander of his company, is a man of iron, who has
risen from the ranks; his methods are sharp and summary, and he
carries a tough switch of vine-wood, with which he promptly belabours
the idle or the stupid. Any neglect of duty or act of disobedience is
inevitably Punished, sometimes by hard labour in digging trenches,
sometimes by a fine, sometimes by stripping the soldier of his armour
and making him stand for hours in civilian attire as a butt for
ridicule in the middle of the camp, sometimes by a lowering of his
rank corresponding to the modern taking away of a "man's stripes." If
a soldier proves a hopeless case he is expelled with ignominy from the
camp and army. If he deserts or plays the traitor he may either be
decapitated or beaten to death with cudgels. If a whole company or
regiment gets into disgrace, it may have to put up with barley
instead of wheat for its rations, and if it is guilty of gross
insubordination, or of some crime which cannot be sheeted home to the
individual, it may be "decimated," or, in other words, every tenth
man, drawn by lot, may be condemned to death. The last, of course, is
an extreme measure, and is only mentioned here as belonging to extreme
cases.

[Illustration: FIG. 101.--STANDARD BEARER.]

On the other hand, if Scius is a smart soldier he will gradually gain
recognition as such. He may become the head man in his mess of ten; or
be made an orderly, to carry the watchword round to the messes; or he
may be chosen by the centurion as his subaltern. As he gains maturity
and steadiness, and wins confidence, he may be elected to bear the of
his company, in which case a bear's skin will be thrown over his
shoulders, and the top of his helmet will be concealed beneath the
head of that beast, worn as a hood. Being a saving man, and taking a
pride in himself, he will gradually decorate his sword-belt and
girdle, and perhaps his scabbard, with silver knobs and ornaments.
Also behaving well in the victorious brushes with the Britons, he will
acquire, besides occasional loot and booty-money, a number of metal
medallions or disks, to be strung across his breast somewhat after the
manner of the modern war-medals. Gradually, as he becomes a veteran,
he may rise to be centurion, when he will wear a crest upon his helmet
and greaves upon his shins, have his corslet of scale-armour covered
with medallions, and will himself carry the vine-rod of authority. If
he should ever succeed in becoming, not merely the centurion of his
company, but the first or senior of all the sixty centurions belonging
to the whole legion, he will rank practically as a commissioned
officer, will retire on a competence if he does retire, and will in
all probability be made a knight. In that case he may proceed to
higher commands, as if he had been born in that order to which he has
at last attained.

[Illustration: FIG. 102.--BAGGAGE-TRAIN.]

But all this promotion is yet a long way off. One morning, while Scius
is still a private, he hears, not the "taratantara" of the long
straight trumpet which calls to ordinary work, but the sound of the
military horn, which means that the legion is to march. He helps to
pack up the tent, the hand-mills, and other indispensable needments,
and to place them on the mules, packhorses, or waggons. He then puts
on his full armour, although, if it is hot, and if there is no
immediate danger, he may sling his helmet over his shoulder, while his
shield, marked with his name and company, may perhaps be stacked with
others in a baggage-waggon. His food-supply for sixteen days--the
Roman fortnight--is wrapped in a parcel, and this, together with his
eating and drinking vessels and any other articles such as would
appertain to a modern knapsack, is carried over his shoulder on a
forked stick. It is known that to-night the army will be obliged to
camp on the way, and it is a binding rule of the service that no camp
arrangements shall be left to chance. Surveyors will ride on ahead
with a body of cavalry, and will choose a suitable position easily
defended and with water near. They will then outline the boundaries
according to a certain scale, and will parcel out the interior,
according to an almost invariable system, into blocks or sections to
accommodate certain units. When the legion arrives, it marches in with
a perfect understanding as to where each company of men and each part
of the baggage-train is to quarter itself. Being in an enemy's country
it is not enough simply to post sentries. A trench must be dug and a
palisade erected round the camp, and for that purpose every soldier on
the march has carried a couple of sharpened stakes and a sort of small
pickaxe. It may therefore be readily understood that Scius is heavily
laden. Besides the weight of his body-armour and his shield, pike, and
sword, his orthodox burden is about forty-five English pounds.

[Illustration: FIG. 103.--SOLDIERS WITH PACKS.]

[Illustration: FIG. 104--ROMAN SOLDIERS MARCHING. (Scheiber.)]

Before entering upon this description of service and armour of the
legionary troops, it was stated that the legions made up but one-half
of Roman army, the other half consisting of what were known as
"auxiliaries." If there were in the whole Roman empire 150,000
soldiers of the kind described there were also about 150,000 of a
different type. Just as it is a natural part of the British policy to
raise bodies of Indian or African troops from among the non-British
subjects of the empire, so it was an obvious course for the Romans to
raise native troops in Africa, Syria, Spain, Gaul, Britain, or the
German provinces on the western bank of the Rhine. And just as the
British bring their non-British regiments into connection with the
regular army, and put them under the command of British officers, so
the Romans associated their "auxiliary" soldiery, mostly under Roman
officers, with the regular force of the legions. To every legion of
6000 men there was attached, under the same general of division, a
force of about 6000 men of non-Roman standing. The subject people of a
province was called upon to recruit a certain quota of such troops,
and, when so recruited, the soldiers of this class were required to
serve for twenty-five years. At the expiration of their term they
became Roman citizens, and their descendants ranked as such in the
enjoyment of Roman opportunities. Such forces were not themselves
formed into "legions" under an "eagle"; they served in separate
regiments. Some of them were infantry almost indistinguishable from
the Roman; others were armed in a different manner as to shield,
spear, and sword; others were light skirmishing troops using their
native weapons, such as javelins, slings, and bows. A very large
proportion were cavalry, and whereas a legion possessed only 120 Roman
horsemen, the auxiliary cavalry attached to it would number one or
more regiments of dither 1000 or 500 men each. But it was also part of
the Roman policy to employ such auxiliary troops, not in the region in
which they were raised and among their own people, but elsewhere, and
sometimes even at the opposite extremity of the empire. Thus in
Britain might be found, not only Germans and Batavians, but Spaniards
or Syrians, while in Syria there might be quartered Africans or
Germans, and in Africa troops from the modern Austria. We cannot call
this custom an invariable one, but it was usual, and obviously it was
politic.

[Illustration: FIG. 105.--Imperial Guards.]

To these two co-operating forces--legions and auxiliaries--we must add
the Imperial Guards, twelve regiments of 1000 men each, quartered in
Italy, and generally congregated in a special camp just outside the
gate at the top of the Quirinal and Viminal Hills beyond the modern
railway station. Like other Guards, these were a picked body,
containing many volunteers from Italy itself, while others came from
the most romanized parts of Gaul or elsewhere. They enjoyed many
privileges, wore a more gorgeous armour, served only sixteen years and
received double pay. Frequently it came to be the case that this
particular body of troops was the one which made and unmade emperors,
chiefly under the influence of pecuniary promises or largess. Besides
these, 6000 City Guards were in barracks inside the metropolis for the
protection of the town; 7000 _gendarmerie_, already mentioned, served
as night-watch and fire-brigade, but perhaps scarcely rank as
soldiers. Here and there in the empire there also existed separate
volunteer detachments of various dimensions serving on special duty,
and it was to one of these that belonged the Cornelius of the Acts of
the Apostles, who is there described as a centurion of the "Italian
band."

[Illustration: FIG. 106.--BESIEGERS WITH THE "TORTOISE."]

It would carry us too far afield if we entered into detailed
descriptions of Roman warfare--of Roman marches, Roman camps, and
fortifications, Roman sieges, and military engines. Otherwise it would
be highly interesting to watch the attack made upon an enemy's wall or
gate by a band of men pushing in front of them a wicker screen covered
with hide, or holding their shields locked together above their heads,
so as to form a roof to shelter them from the spears, stones,
firebrands, and pots of flame which rained down from the walls.

[Illustration: FIG 107.--ROMAN ARTILLERY.]

Or we might see moving up on wheels a shed, from the open front of
which protrudes the great iron head of a ram affixed to a huge beam.
If you were under the shed, you would see that the beam was perhaps as
much as 60 feet in length, and that it was suspended on chains or
ropes by which it could be swung, so that the head butted with a
deadly insistence upon the masonry of the wall. Meanwhile the enemy
from the ramparts are doing their best to set the shed on fire, to
break off the ram's head with heavy stones, to pull it upwards by a
noose, or to deaden the effect of the shock by lowering stuffed sacks
or other buffer material between it and the wall. At another point, in
place of the shed, there is rolled forward a lofty construction like a
tower built in several stories. When this approaches the wall it will
overtop it, and a drawbridge with grappling irons may be dropped upon
the parapet. Elsewhere there is mining and countermining. From a safer
distance the artillery of the time is hurling its formidable missiles.
There is the "catapult," which shoots a giant arrow, sometimes tipped
with material on fire, from a groove or half-tube to a distance of a
quarter of a mile. The propelling force, in default of gunpowder or
other explosive, is the recoil of strings of gut or hair which have
been tightened by a windlass. There is also the heavier "hurler,"
which works in much the same manner, but which, instead of arrows,
throws stones and beams of from 14 pounds to half a hundredweight,
doing effective damage up to a distance of some 400 yards.

[Illustration: FIG. 108.--AUXILIARY CAVALRYMAN.]

Scius joins his legion as a private infantry soldier. He is in the
"hobnailed" service. But if our young noble, Publius Silius Bassus,
enters upon a military career, he will probably become one of the 120
Roman horsemen attached to the legion, and will be serving as a
"knight" or "gentleman," with servants to relieve him of his rougher
work. The cavalrymen among whom he serves do not ride upon a saddle
with stirrups, but on a mere saddlecloth. On their left arm is a round
shield or buckler; they carry a spear of extreme reach, wear a longer
sword than the infantrymen, and on their back is a quiver containing
three broad-pointed javelins, very similar to assegais, which serve
them as missiles. If by good service they obtain medallions like the
infantry, they will fasten them to the bridles and breast-straps of
their horses, and altogether will make a fine and jingling show.
Through the influence of his family, Publius will most likely be taken
under the personal supervision of the general in command, will
frequently mess with him, and will perhaps act as a kind of honorary
aide-de-camp. After a sufficient initiation into military business, he
will be appointed what may be called colonel of an infantry regiment
of auxiliaries, then colonel of a regiment of the legion, and
subsequently, if he is following the profession, colonel of a regiment
of the auxiliary cavalry. He does not at any time pass through the
rank of centurion, any more than the British officer passes through
that of sergeant-major. The class distinction is at least as great in
the case of the Romans.

When the young noble has completed this series of services--although
the whole of it is not absolutely necessary, and it will be sufficient
if he has been six months titular colonel of a regiment of the
legion--he may perhaps return to Rome, and at the age of twenty-five
may enter upon his first public position, and so become himself a
senator. His duties may be connected with the Treasury at Rome itself,
or more probably he will accompany a proconsul who is on his way to
govern a province for a year--perhaps Andalusia, or Macedonia, or
Bithynia. To his chief he stands for that year in a kind of filial
relation. His main business will be to supervise the financial
affairs, to act as paymaster, and to keep the accounts of the
province, but he will also, when required, administer justice in place
of the governor. In this capacity he learns the methods of provincial
government in readiness for the time when he himself may be made a
governor, whether by the senate or by the emperor. His next step
upward will be to the post of aedile, one of the officials who control
the streets, public buildings, markets, and police of Rome. By the age
of thirty he may arrive at the second highest step on the official
ladder, in a position which qualifies him to preside over a court of
law. Or it may bring with it no greater function than that of
presiding over "games" in the circus or amphitheatre, and of spending
a liberal sum of money of his own upon making them both magnificent
and novel. After this he may receive from the emperor the
command of a brigade--the 12,000 men composed of a legion and its
auxiliaries--perhaps at Cologne or Mainz, perhaps at Caerleon-on-Usk,
perhaps near Antioch. In this position his movements are subject to
the authority of the governor of the province, who is the "lieutenant"
or "deputy" of His Highness in the larger capacity, while he himself
is but a "lieutenant" of Caesar as commanding one of his legions.

He may now himself be appointed governor to a province, but hardly yet
to those which are the "plums" of the empire. There is still one
highest post for him to fill. This is the consulship. Under the
republic the two consuls had been the highest executive officers of
the state, and the year was dated by their names. Nominally they were
still in the same position, and the sane emperors made a point of
treating them with all outward respect. They took precedence of all
but "His Highness the Head of the State." But whereas under the
republic there had been but two consuls holding joint office for the
year, under the emperors the post had become to such a degree
complimentary, and there were so many nobles who desired the honour or
to whom the emperor was minded to grant it, that it became the custom
to hold the position only for two months, so that twelve persons in
each year might boast of being ex-consuls or having "passed the
consul's chair."

Publius Silius, we may suppose, passes up each step of the ladder, or
what was called the "career of honours," and becomes senatorial
governor of no less important a province than "Asia"--that nearer
portion of Asia Minor which contained flourishing cities like Smyrna,
Ephesus, and Rhodes. In that office, as in any other which he may
hold, it behoves him to comport himself with caution and modesty. If
he is a man of unusual influence or popularity he will do well to keep
the fact concealed. There must be nothing in his demeanour or his
speech to lay him open to a charge of becoming dangerous to the
emperor. That emperor is Nero; and even stronger and saner emperors
than Nero watched suspiciously the behaviour of aspiring men.



CHAPTER XIX


ROMAN RELIGION--STATE AND INDIVIDUAL

To undertake to set forth with any definiteness the "religious ideas
of a Roman" of A.D. 64 would be an extremely difficult task. Those
ideas would differ with the individual, being determined or varied by
a number of considerations and influences--by locality, education, and
temperament. Silius would not hold the views of Scius and probably not
those of Marcia. We may speak of the "State religion" of Rome, as
distinct from various other religions tolerated and practised in
different parts of the empire, but it is scarcely possible to define
the contents of that "State religion." There were certain special
priests and priestly bodies who saw to it that certain rites and
ceremonies should be perfortied scrupulously in a prescribed manner
and on prescribed dates; but these were officers of the state, whose
knowledge and functions were confined to the ritual observances with
which they had to deal. They were not persons trained in a system of
theology, nor were they preachers of a code of doctrines or morals;
they had no "cure of souls," and belonged to no church; they had no
_credo_ and no Bible or corresponding authority to which to refer.
Though most well-informed persons could have told the names of the
prominent deities in the calendar--such as Jupiter, Mars, Apollo, and
Ceres--perhaps scarcely any one but an encyclopaedist or antiquarian
could have named one-half of the total. It is not merely that the
deities on the list were so numerous. There were other reasons for
ignorance or vagueness. In the first place, the line between the
operations of one deity and those of another was often too fine to
draw, and deities originally more or less distinct came to be confused
or identified. Secondly, it was often hard, if not impossible, to make
up one's mind whether a so-called deity--such as Virtue, Peace, or
Health--was supposed to have a real existence, or whether it was
simply the personification of an abstract quality. Thirdly, many of
the ancient divinities had fallen out of fashion, and to a large
extent out of memory, while many new ones--Isis and Serapis for
example--had come, or were coming, into vogue.

The state possessed its old-established calendar of days sacred to a
number of deities, and its code of ritual to be performed in their
honour. There were ancient prescriptions as to what certain priests
should wear, what they should do or avoid in their priestly character,
what victims--ox, sheep, or pig--they should sacrifice, what
instruments they should use for the purpose, and in what formula of
words they should pray in particular connections. There was a standing
commission, with the Pontifex Maximus--at this date that excellent
religious authority, the emperor Nero--at its head, to safeguard the
state religion, to see that its requirements were carried out, and
that no one ventured to commit an outrage towards it. But the state
could not have told you with any precision that you must believe in
just so many deities and no others; it could not have told you
precisely what notions to entertain concerning those deities whom it
did officially recognise; it dictated no theological doctrines;
neither did it dictate any moral doctrines beyond those which you
would find in the secular law. It reserved the right to prevent the
introduction of foreign or new divinities if it found sufficient
cause; but so long as the temples, the rites and ceremonies, the
cardinal moral axioms of the Roman "religion," and the basic
principles of Roman society were respected, the state practised no
sort of inquisition into your beliefs or non-beliefs, and in no way
interfered with your particular selection of favourite deities.

Polytheism in an advanced community is always tolerant, because it is
necessarily always indefinite. What it does not readily endure is an
organised attack upon the entire system, whether openly avowed or
manifestly implied. Even undisguised unbelief in any deity at all it
is often willing to tolerate, so long as the unbelief is rather a
matter of dialectics than anything else, and makes no attempt at a
crusade. When a state so disposed is found to interfere with a novel
religion, it will generally be easy to perceive that the jealousy is
not on behalf of the deities nor of a creed, but on behalf of the
community in its political, economic, or social aspect. This, however,
is perhaps to anticipate. Let us endeavour to realise as best we can
the religious situation among the Roman or romanized portion of the
population.

Though we are not here directly concerned with the steps by which the
Roman religion had come to be what it was, we can scarcely hope to
understand the position without some comprehension of that
development. The Romans were a conservative people, and many of the
peculiarities of their worship were due to the retention of old forms
which had lost such spirit as they once possessed.

In the infant days of the nation there had been no such things as gods
in human shape, or in recognisable shape at all. There were only
"powers" or "influences" superior to mankind, by whose aid or
concurrence man must work out his existence. The early Romans and such
Italian tribes as they became blended with were, as they still are,
extremely superstitious. In a pre-scientific age they, like other
peoples, were at a loss to understand what produced thunder and
lightning, rain, the fertility or failure of crops, the changes of the
seasons, the flow or cessation of springs and streams, the
intoxication or exhilaration proceeding from wine, and a multitude of
other phenomena. Fire was a perplexing thing; so was wind: the woods
were full of mysterious sounds and movements. They could comprehend
neither birth nor death, nor the fructification of plants. The
consequence was a feeling that these things were due to unseen
agencies; and the attempt was made to bring those powers into some
sort of relation with mankind, either by the compulsion of magical
operations and magical formulae, or by sacrifices and offerings of
propitiation, or by promises. A superhuman power might be placed under
a spell, or placated with food and drink, or persuaded by a vow. Such
"powers" were exceedingly numerous. Greatest of all, and recognised
equally by all, was the power working in the sky with the thunder and
the rain. Its presence was everywhere alike, and its operations most
palpable at every season. Countless others were concerned with
particular localities or with particular functions. Every wood, if not
every tree, and also every fountain, was controlled by some such
higher "power"; every manifestation or operation of nature came from
such an "influence." There was no kind of action or undertaking, no
new stage of life or change of condition, which did not depend for
help or hindrance upon a similar power. At first the "powers" bore no
distinctive names, and were conceived in no definite shapes. They were
not yet gods. The human being who sought to work upon them to favour
him could only do, say, and offer such things as he thought likely to
move them. But in process of time it became inevitable that these
superhuman agencies should be referred to under some sort of title,
and the title literally expressed the conception. Hence a multitude of
names. Not only was there the ever-prominent Jupiter or "sky-father";
there a veritable multitude of powers with provinces great and small.
Among the larger conceptions the power concerned with the sowing of
seed was Saturn that with the growth of crops was Ceres, that with the
blazing of fire was Vesta. Among the smaller the power which taught a
babe to eat was Edulia that which attended the bringing home of a
bride was Domiduca. The ability to speak or to walk was supposed to be
imparted by separate agencies named accordingly. Flowers depended on
Flora and fruits on Pomona.

[Illustration: FIG. 109.--JUPITER.]

But to assign a name is a great step towards creating a "power" into a
"god," and such agencies began to take shape in the mind of those who
named them. This was the second stage. Jupiter, Ceres, Saturn, and
almost all the rest became "gods." The powers in the woodlands--a
Silvanus or Faunus--became embodied, like the more modern gnomes and
kobbolds. Once imagine a shape, and the tendency is to give it visible
form in an image "like unto man," and to honour it with an abode--a
temple or shrine. The earliest Romans known to us erected no images or
temples, but they were not long in creating them. Particularly rapid
was the reducing of a god to human form when they came into close
contact with the Etruscans and the Greeks. For all the important
deities poetry and art combined to evolve an appropriate bodily form,
which gradually became conventional, so that the ordinary notion of a
Jupiter, a Juno, a Mercury, or a Ceres was approximately that which
had been gathered from the statue thus developed. This trouble was not
taken with all the most ancient divinities. Many of the old rural and
local deities, and many of those with quite minor provinces, were left
vague and unrealised. They were represented in no temples and by no
statues. Naturally as the Roman state grew from a set of neighbouring
farms into a great city, and from a small settlement into a vast
empire, the little local gods fell into the background. The deities
which concerned the state, and to which it erected temples, were those
with the more far-reaching operations--such as the gods identified
with the sky and its thunders, with war, with fertility, with the sea,
with the hearth-fire of all Rome. The rest might well be left to
localities or to domestic worship.

From the early days of Rome there existed a calendar for festivals to
certain divinities important to the little growing town, and a code of
ceremonies to be performed in their honour, and of formulae of prayer
to be offered to them. The later Romans, in their characteristic
conservatism, adhered to those festivals, to that ritual, and to those
formulae, even when some of the deities had ceased to be of
appreciable account, and when neither the meaning of the ritual nor
the sense of the old words was any longer understood by the very
priests who used them.

Reflect a moment on this situation. First, we have a number of deities
of the first rank, housed in temples, embodied in statues, and
recognised in all the Roman world; next a number of minor divinities
whose operations and worship may be remotely rural or otherwise local,
and whose functions are by no means always distinguishable from those
of the greater gods; then a series of more or less unintelligible
ceremonials carried out by ancient rule in honour of divinities often
practically forgotten; outside these a number of vague powers
presiding over small domestic and other actions; finally, a peculiar
Roman tendency--in keeping with the last--to erect into divinities,
and to symbolise in statue housed in temples, all manner of abstract
qualities and states, such as Hope, Harmony, Peace, Wealth, Health,
Fame, and Youth.

[Illustration: FIG. 110.--A SACRIFICE.]

Reflect again that, when the Romans, as they spread, came into contact
with Greeks, Egyptians, or other foreigners, they met with deities
whose provinces were necessarily often identical with or closely akin
to their own. Then remember that there is no church and no official
document to define the complete list of Roman gods. Does it not
follow, as a matter of course, on the one hand, that the importation
of new gods was an easy matter, and on the other, that no individual
Roman could draw the line as to the number of even the old-established
deities in whom he should or should not believe?

The guardians of the public religion were satisfied if the due rites
were paid by the state to those deities, on those dates, and precisely
in that manner, which happened to be prescribed in the official
religious books. For the rest they left matters to the individual.

So much it has been necessary to say in order to account for existing
attitudes. We must use the plural, since the attitude of the state
officials is but one of several, and, inasmuch as the state officials
themselves were not a theological caste but only secular servants of
the community administering the regulations for external worship as
laid down in the records, it often happened that their official
attitude had nothing to do with their individual beliefs. Often they
did not know or care whether there was a real religious efficacy in
the acts which they performed; sometimes all that they knew was that
they were doing what the state required to be done properly by some
one.

Cicero quotes a dictum of a Pontifex Maximus that there was one
religion of the poet, another of the philosopher, and another of the
statesman. This is true, but it is hardly adequate. We must at least
add that of the common people. A well-known statement of more modern
birth puts the case--rather too strongly--that at our period all
religions were regarded by the people as equally true, by the
philosopher as equally false and by the statesman as equally useful.
We may begin with the ordinary people of whatever station, who were
not poets nor thinkers nor magistrates. It is an error to suppose that
such Romans of the first century were either atheistic or indifferent
to religion. Their fault was rather that they were too superstitious,
ready to believe too much rather than too little, but to believe
without relating their belief to conduct. They did not question the
existence of the traditional gods, nor the characters attributed to
them; they were ready to perform their dues of worship and to make
their due offerings, but all this had no bearing upon their own
morality. They believed with the terror of the superstitious in omens
and portents, and in rites of expiation and purification to avert the
threatened evil. They were alarmed by thunder and lightning,
earthquakes, bad dreams, ravens seen on the wrong side of the road,
and other evil tokens. They commonly accepted the existence of malign
spirits, including ghosts. They were prepared to believe that on
occasion a statue had bled or turned round on its base; that an ox had
spoken in human language; or that there had been a rain of blood.
There were doubtless exceptions, and superstition was less dire and
oppressive than once it was. More than fifty years before our date
Cicero had said that even old women no longer shuddered at the terrors
of an underworld, and fifty years after it the satirist asserts the
same of children. But both writers are speaking somewhat
hyperbolically. Doubtless it had been wondered how two augurs could
look at each other without a smile, but there is nothing to show that
even a minority of augurs were acutely conscious of anything to smile
at.

[Illustration: FIG. 111.--ISIS WORSHIP. (Wall-Painting.)]

In the multiplicity of deities the ordinary people were prepared to
accept as many more as you chose to offer them, especially if the
worship attaching to them contained mystic or orgiastic ceremonies. By
this date the populace had become exceedingly mixed, especially in the
capital, and the cool hard-headed Roman stock had been largely
replaced or leavened by foreign elements, especially from the East.
The official worship of the state was formal and frigid; it offered
nothing to the emotions or the hopes. Many among the people felt an
instinct for something more sacramental, and especially attractive was
any form of worship which promised a continued existence, and probably
a happier existence, after death. Even the mere mysteriousness of a
form of worship had its allurements. Hence a tendency to Judaism,
still more to the Egyptian worship of Isis and Osiris. The latter made
many proselytes, particularly among the women, and contained ideas
which are by no means ignoble but to our modern minds far more truly
"religious" than anything to be found in the native Roman cults. To
pass through purification, to practise asceticism, to feel that there
was a life beyond the grave apportioned to your deserts, to go through
an impressive form of worship held every day, and to have the emotions
thus worked upon--all this supplied something to the moral nature
which was lacking in the chill sacrifices and prayers to Jupiter and
the other national divinities. In vain had the authorities, in their
doubt as to the moral effects, tried on several occasions to suppress
this foreign worship; it always revived, and it now held its
established place both in the imperial city and in the provinces,
particularly near the sea, for it was especially a sailors' religion.
Rome, like Pompeii, had its temple of Isis and her daily celebrations.
There was, however, no necessary conflict between this worship and the
official religion. It was quite possible to accept Isis while
accepting Jupiter. Nor, though this particular cult has required
mention, must it be taken as belonging to more than a section of the
Roman population. Most Romans would look upon it and other deviations
with acquiescence, some with contempt, and perhaps some with a shake
of the head, while themselves satisfied with an indifferent conformity
to the more established customs of the state.

Setting aside the devotees of the mystic, the more ordinary point of
view was that between Romans and the established gods of Rome there is
an understanding. The gods will support Rome so long as Rome pays to
them their dues of formal recognition. Their ritual must not be
neglected by the authorities; it is not necessary for an individual
member of the community to concern himself further in the matter. The
state, through its appointed ministers, will make the necessary
sacrifices and say the necessary words; the citizen need not put in an
appearance or take any part. He will not do or say anything
disrespectful towards the deities in question, and he will enjoy the
festivals belonging to them. If remarkable portents and disasters
occur, he will agree that there is something wrong in the behaviour of
the state, and that there must be some public purification or other
placation of the gods. If the state orders such a proceeding, he will
perform whatever may be his share in it. So far he is loyal to the
"religion of the state."

[Illustration: FIG. 112.--HOUSEHOLD SHRINE. (Pompeii.)]

In his private capacity he has his own wants, fears, and hopes. He
therefore betakes himself to whatever divinity he considers most
likely to help him; he makes his own prayers and vows an offering if
his request is granted. Reduced to plain commercial language his
ordinary attitude is--no success, no payment. A cardinal difference
between the religion of the Romans and our own is to be seen in the
nature of their prayers. They always ask for some definite
advantage--prosperity, safety, health, or the like. They never pray
for a clean heart or for some moral improvement. Of more importance
than the man's moral condition will be his scrupulous observance of
the right external practices. Unlike the Greek, he will cover his head
when he prays. He will raise his hand to his lips before the statue,
or, if he is appealing to the celestial deities, he will stretch his
palms upwards above his head; if to the infernal powers, he will hold
them downwards. These are the things that matter.

At home, if he belongs to the better type of representative citizen,
our Roman has his household shrine and his household divinities, whom
he never neglects. If he is very pious, he may pray to them every
morning, or at least before every enterprise. In any case he will
remember them with a small offering when he dines. There are the "gods
of the stores"--his "penates"--certain deities whom he has selected as
guardians of his belongings, and who have their little images by the
hearth in the kitchen. There is the household "protector," or more
commonly there are two, who may be painted under the form of
lightly-stepping youths in a little niche or shrine above a small
altar. To these he will offer fruits, flowers, incense, and cakes. And
there is the "Genius" of the master of the house, who is also painted
on the wall, or who may be represented by his own portrait bust or by
the picture of a snake. That "Genius" means the power presiding over
his vitality and health and wellbeing. If he is an artisan and belongs
to a guild, he will pay special worship to the patron god or goddess
of that guild--to Vesta, if he is a baker, to Minerva, if he is a
fuller. Out of doors he will find a street shrine in the wall at a
crossing, pertaining to the tutelary god of what may be called his
"parish," and this he will not neglect. Like all other orthodox Romans
he will not undertake any new enterprise--betrothal, marriage,
journey, or important business--without ascertaining that the auspices
are favourable.

In a general way he has a notion that the gods are displeased at
certain forms of crime, and that they approve of justice and the
carrying out of compacts. The gods overlook the state, because the
state engages them so to do, and therefore to break the laws of the
state is to anger the gods of the state. But this is rather subtle for
the common man, and there is generally no understood immediate
relation between these gods and his moral conduct, unless he has sworn
an oath by one or other of them. The purpose of calling a god to
witness is to bring upon a perjurer the anger of the offended deity.
But he entertains no such conception as the modern one of "sin" or of
"remorse for sin." "Sin" is either a breach of the secular law or
breach of a contract with a deity and "remorse" is but fear of or
regret for the consequences.

His morality is determined by the laws of the state, family
discipline, and social custom. For that reason his vices on the
positive side will mostly be those of his appetites, and on the
negative side a want of charity and compassion. He may be guiltless of
lying and stealing, murder and violence; he may be honest and
law-abiding; but there is nothing to make him temperate, continent, or
gentle. His avowed code is "duty," and duty is defined by law and
tradition.

If this is the religious condition of the common-place man or woman--a
blend of superstition, formalism, and tolerance--it is by no means
that of the educated thinker. Such persons were for the most part
freethinkers. Many of them, finding no better guide to conduct,
conform to the "religion" of the state without any real belief in its
gods or attaching any importance to its ceremonies. They do not feel
called upon to propagate any other views, and they probably think the
current notions are at least as good for the ignorant as any others.
If they are poets, like Horace or Lucan, they will dress up the
mythology, mostly from Greek models, and write fluently about Jupiter
and Juno, Venus and Mercury, either attributing to them the recognised
characters and legends, or varying them so as to make them more
picturesque and interesting--perhaps even improving them--but all the
time believing no more in the stories they are telling, or in the
deities themselves, than Tennyson need have believed in King Arthur
and Guinevere. The gods are good poetic material and are sure to
afford popular, or at least inoffensive, reading. The poets doubtless
do something to humanise and beautify the popular conception of a
deity, but they seldom deliberately set out with any such purpose. If
the educated are not poets, but public men of affairs, they may
believe just as little, and yet regard the established cult of the
gods as an excellent discipline for the vulgar and the best known
means of upholding the national principle of "duty." If they are
philosophers they may not, and the Epicureans in reality do not,
believe in the gods at all--certainly not as they are generally
conceived--and will openly discuss in speech and in writing the
question of their existence or non-existence, and of their character
and nature if they do exist. They will endeavour to substitute for the
barren formalism of rites and ceremonies, or the inconsistent or
incomplete traditional morality of duty, another set of principles as
a sounder guide to life and conduct. Some are monotheists, some are
simply in doubt. Says Nero's own tutor, Seneca, "Do you want to
propitiate the gods? Then be good. The true worshipper of the gods is
he who acts like them." "Better," remarks Plutarch, "not believe in a
God at all than cringe before a god who is worse than the worst of
men." In the actual worship of images none of them believe. One
conspicuous writer of the time says: "To look for a form and shape to
a god, I consider to be a mark of human feebleness of mind."
Concerning the schools of thought and in particular the tenets of
those Stoics and Epicureans whom St. Paul met at Athens, and whom he
could meet in educated circles all over the Roman Empire, we shall
have to speak in a following chapter, when summing up the intellectual
and moral condition of the time. Meanwhile it should be understood
that, though a profound or anything approaching a professional study
of philosophy was discouraged among the true Romans--more than once
the professional philosophers were banished from the capital--there
were few cultivated persons who did not to some extent dabble in it,
and even go so far as to profess an adherence to one school or
another. None of these men believed in the "Roman religion" as
administered by the state, although many of them were administering it
themselves. The same man could one day freely discuss the gods in
conversation or a treatise, and the next he might be clad in priestly
garb and officially seeing that the rites of sacrifice were being
religiously carried out in terms of the books, or that the auspices
were being properly taken.

It does not, however, follow at all that because poet or public man
cared nothing for the pantheon and all its mythology, he was therefore
without his superstitions. He might still tremble at signs and
portents, at comets, at dreams, and at the unpropitious behaviour of
birds and beasts. He might believe in astrology and resort to its
professors, called the "Chaldaeans." On the other hand he might laugh
at such things. It was all a matter of temperament. It certainly was
not every man who dared to act like one of the Roman admirals. When it
was reported that the omens were unpropitious to an imminent battle
because the sacred chickens "would not eat," he ordered them to be
thrown into the sea so that at least they might drink. The
freethinkers were in advance of their times. "Science" in the modern
sense hardly existed, and until phenomena are explained it is hard to
avoid a perplexity or astonishment which is equivalent to
superstition.

Consider now these various states of mind--that of the people, ready
to add almost any deity to the large and vague number already
recognised; that of the poet, who finds the deities such useful
literary material; that of the magistrate or public man, who, without
enthusiasm or necessary belief, regards religion as a thing useful to
society; and that of the philosopher, who thinks all the current
religious conceptions unsound, if not absurd, and morally almost
useless.

Manifestly a society so composed will be one of unusual tolerance. The
Romans had no disposition to force their religion on the subject
provinces of the empire. Their religion was the Roman religion; the
religion of the Greeks might be left Greek, the Jewish religion
Jewish, and the Egyptian religion Egyptian. Any nation had a right to
the religion of its fathers. Nay, the Jews had such peculiar notions
about a Sabbath day and other matters that a Jew was exempted from the
military service which would have compelled him to break his national
laws. All religions were permitted, so long as they were national
religions. Also all religious views were permitted to the individual,
so long as they were not considered dangerous to the empire or
imperial rule, or so long as they threatened no appreciable harm to
the social order. If a Jew came to Rome and practised Judaism well and
good. It was, in the eyes of the Romans, a narrow-minded and
uncharitable religion, marked by many strange and absurd practices and
superstitions, but if a misguided oriental people liked to indulge in
it, well and good. Even if a Roman became a proselyte to Judaism, well
and good, so long as he did not flout the official religion of his own
country. If the Egyptians chose to worship cats, ibises, and
crocodiles, that was their affair, so long as they let other people
alone. In Gaul, it is true, the emperor Claudius, predecessor of Nero,
had put down the Druids. Earlier still the Druids had already been
interfered with; but that was because the Druids--those weird old
white-sheeted men with their long beards and strange magic--were
performing human sacrifices--burning men alive in wicker frames--and
such conduct was not only contrary to the secular law of Rome, but
even to natural law. And when Claudius finally suppressed them, or
drove the remnant out of Gaul into Britain, it was not simply because
they worshipped non-Roman gods and performed non-Roman rites, but
because they were, as they had always notoriously been, a dangerous
political influence interfering with the proper carrying out of the
Roman government.

And when we come to Christianity it must be remarked that, so long as
that nascent religion was regarded as merely a variety of Judaism, it
was actually protected by the Roman power, and owes no little of its
original progress to the fact. In the Acts of the Apostles it is
always from the Roman governor that St. Paul receives, not only the
fairest, but the most courteous treatment. It is the Jews who
persecute him and work up difficulties against him, because to them he
is a renegade and is weaning away their people. To the philosophers at
Athens he appears as the preacher of a new philosophy, and they think
him a "smatterer" in such subjects. To the Roman he is a man charged
by a certain community with being dangerous to social order, to wit,
causing factious disturbances and profaning the temple; and since he
refuses to let the local authorities judge his case, and has exercised
his citizen privilege by appealing to Caesar, to Caesar he is sent.
And, when a prisoner in somewhat free custody at Rome, note that he is
permitted to speak "with all freedom," and that in the first instance
he is acquitted.

True, but the fact remains that Nero burnt Christians in his gardens
after the great fire of Rome, and that certain later emperors are
found punishing Christians merely for avowing themselves such. Why was
Christianity thus singled out? It was not through what can be
reasonably called "religious intolerance," for, as has been said, the
Romans did not seek to force Roman religion on other peoples nor did
they make any inquisition into the beliefs of Romans themselves. The
reasons for singling out Christianity for special treatment are
obvious enough. The question is not whether the reasons were sound,
whether the Romans properly understood or tried to understand, whether
they could be as wise before the event as we are after it, but whether
the motive was what we should call a "religious" one. To allow
Epicureans to deny the existence of gods at all, and to make scornful
concessions to the peculiar tenets of Jews, could not be the action of
a people which was bigoted. If there was bigotry and intolerance, it
was political or social bigotry and intolerance, not religious. To
prevent any possible misconception let the present writer say here
that he considers the principles of Christianity, as laid down by its
Founder and as spread by St. Paul, to have been the most humanizing
and civilising influence ever brought to bear upon society. But that
is not the point. The early Christians were treated as they were, not
because they held non-Roman views, but because they held anti-Roman
views; not because they did not believe in Jupiter and Venus, but
because they refused to let any one else believe in them; not because
they threatened to weaken Roman faith, but because they threatened to
weaken and even to wreck the whole fabric of Roman society; not
because they were known to be heretics, but because they were supposed
to be disloyal; not because they converted men, but because they
appeared to convert them into dangerous characters. As it has been
put, the Christians were regarded as the "Nihilists" of the period. We
are apt to judge the Romans from the standpoint of Christianity
dominant and understood; it is fairer to judge them from the
standpoint of a dominant pagan empire looking on at a strange new
phenomenon altogether misunderstood and often deliberately
misrepresented. Moreover--and the point is worth more attention than
it commonly receives--we have only to read the Epistles to the
Corinthians, to perceive that the early Christian gatherings were by
no means always such meek, pure, and model assemblages as they are
almost always assumed to have been. Some of the members, for instance,
quarrelled and "were drunken." There were evidently many unworthy
members of the new communion, and of course there were also many
manifestations of insulting bigotry on their part. The class of
society to which the Christians belonged was closely associated in the
Roman mind with the rabble and the slave, if not with criminals. What
the pagan observer saw in the new religion was "a pestilent
superstition," "hatred of the human race," "a malevolent
superstition." He thought its practices to be connected with magic.
The _intransigeant_ Christian refused to take the customary oath in
the law courts, and therefore appeared to menace a trustworthy
administration of the law. He took no interest in the affairs of the
empire, but talked of another king and his coming kingdom, and he
appeared to be an enemy to the Roman power. He held what appeared to
be secret meetings, although the empire rigidly suppressed all secret
societies. He weakened the martial spirit of the soldier. He divided
families--the basis of Roman society--against themselves. He was a
socialist leveller. He threatened with ruin all the trades connected
with either the established worship--as amongst the silversmiths at
Ephesus--or with the luxuries and amusements of life. Those amusements
in circus or amphitheatre he hated, and therefore appeared
misanthropic. He not only stood aloof from the religious observances
of the state and the household, but treated them with contempt or
abhorrence.

Moreover, at this date, he refused to acknowledge the one great symbol
of the imperial authority. This was the statue of the emperor. When
that statue was set up in every town it was not understood by any
intelligent man that the emperor was actually a god, or that, when
incense was burnt before the statue, it was being burned to the
emperor himself as deity. But just as every householder had his
attendant "Genius"--the power determining his vital functions and
well-being--which was often represented as a bust with the man's own
features, so the statue of the Augustus, "His Highness," represented
the Genius of that Head of the State, and the offering of incense was
meant as an appeal to the Genius to keep the emperor and the imperial
power "in health and wealth long to live." The man who refused to make
such an offering was necessarily considered to be ill-disposed to the
majesty and welfare of the Head of the State, and therefore of the
state itself. The Roman attitude towards the early Christians was
partly that of a modern government towards Nihilists, and partly that
of a generation or two ago to a blend of extreme Radical with extreme
atheist.

We are not here concerned with the whole story of the persecution of
the Christians, but only with the situation at and immediately after
the date we have chosen. It is at least quite certain that when Nero
burned the Christians in the year 64 he was treating them, not as the
adherents of a religion, but as social criminals or nuisances. How far
his notions of Christianity may have been influenced by Poppaea we do
not know. At least he believed he was pleasing the populace.



CHAPTER XX


STUDY AND SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE AMONG THE ROMANS

In describing the education of a Roman youth, and also in setting
forth the various religious attitudes of the time, mention has been
made of the pursuit of philosophy. Religion supplied no real guide to
moral conduct, and education provided little exercise for the
cultivation of the higher intellectual faculties. It was left for
philosophy to fill these blanks as best it could. Unlike the Greeks,
the Romans, great as they were in law-making and administration, had
little natural gift or taste for abstract thought. All the philosophic
sects had been founded and continued by Greeks, and it was still to
the Greek half of the empire that the contemporary world looked for
the best schools and teachers of philosophy. The genuine Roman spirit
at all times felt some mistrust of such studies, especially if they
tended to carry the student away from practical life into the "shade"
and the "corner," or if they tended to subvert the traditional notions
of "duty" as inculcated by Roman law, Roman custom, and the religion
of the state. Nevertheless, not only did many Romans, even of mature
years, resort to the philosophic "Universities" of the time, but
wealthy houses often maintained a domestic philosopher, whose business
it was to supply moral teaching and intellectual companionship to his
employer. Some, indeed, preferred merely a _savant_, who might "post"
them with information concerning Greek writers, explain difficulties,
and act in general as a literary _vade mecum_. In many cases, if not
in most, the Roman aristocrat or plutocrat treated such a retainer as
a social inferior.

The Roman attitude towards thought and learning too often reminds one
of a certain modern type which has been irreverently described as
being "death on culture." While the Greek and graecized oriental loved
research, discussion, dialectics, ethical and scientific conversation,
and literary coteries for their own sake, the Roman more commonly
regarded such things as means for sharpening his abilities and for
imparting distinction in social intercourse. Doubtless there were, and
had been, exceptions. No Greek philosopher could be more in earnest
than Lucretius, the Roman poet of the later republic, and doubtless
there were no few Romans unknown to fame who both grappled seriously
with Greek philosophy and also endeavoured to carry it religiously
into practice. Yet for the most part the Roman, even when he is a
writer upon such subjects, carries with him the unmistakable air of
the amateur or the dilettante. In reading Seneca, as in reading
Cicero, we feel that we are dealing with an able man possessed of an
excellent gift for popular exposition or essay-writing, but hardly
with a man of original philosophic endeavour or of strong practical
conviction. And when we read the letters of the younger Pliny, we
perceive a genuine admiration for men of thought and a genuine liking
for "things of the mind," but we also discern that his dealing with
philosophers and philosophy is strictly such as he deems "fit for a
gentleman."

In his own way and for his own ends the Roman could be intensely
studious. He was eager to know and to possess information; but his
native taste was for information of a positive kind, for definite
facts more or less encyclopaedic--the facts of history, of science, of
art, of literature, or even of grammar. His natural bent was not
towards pure speculation. The elder Pliny was in his prime in the
later days of Nero, and though he is perhaps an extreme type, he is
nevertheless a type worth contemplating. His nephew writes a letter to
a friend in which he gives a formidable list of works which the uncle
had written or rather compiled, culminating in that huge miscellany
known as his _Natural History_--a book dealing, not only with
geography, anthropology, physiology, zoology, botany, mineralogy, but
also with fine art. How did he lead the ordinary Roman official life
and yet accomplish all this before he was fifty-six? Here is the
explanation. "He had a keen intellect, incredible zeal, and the
greatest capacity for wakefulness. The end of August had not come
before he began to work by lamplight long before dawn; in winter he
began as early as one or two o'clock in the morning. It is true that
he could readily command sleep, which visited and left him even during
his studies. Before daylight he used to go to the emperor
Vespasian--who also worked before day--and thence to his appointed
duty. Returning home he gave the remainder of his time to his studies.
After his _déjeuner_--which, like any other food that he took in the
daytime, was light and digestible in the old-fashioned style--if it
was summer, some leisure moments were spent in lying in the sun; a
book was read, and he marked passages or made extracts. He never read
anything without making excerpts, for he used to say that no book was
so bad as to contain no part that was useful. After sunning himself he
generally took a cold bath. He then took a snack and a very brief
siesta, subsequently reading till dinner-time as if it were a new day.
During dinner a book was read and marked, all very rapidly. I recall
an occasion on which a certain passage had been badly delivered by his
reader, whereupon one of the company stopped him and made him read it
again. Said my uncle, 'I suppose you had caught the meaning?' The
friend nodded. 'Then why did you call him back? We have lost more than
ten lines by this interruption of yours.' So economical was he of
time. In summer he rose from dinner while it was still light, and in
winter within an hour after dark, as if compelled by some law. Such
was his day amid all his work and the roar of the city. But when on
holiday the only time he was not I studying was bath-time. By bath I
mean when he I was actually right inside; for while he was under
scraper and towel he would be read to or dictate. When travelling he
thought of nothing else: at his side was a shorthand writer with a
book and his tablets. In winter the writer's hands were protected by
mittens, so that not even the sharpness of the weather should rob him
of a moment. For the same reason even at Rome he used to ride in a
sedan-chair (and not in a litter). I remember how he once took me to
task for walking. Said he, 'You need not have wasted these hours;' for
he considered as wasted all hours not spent upon study. It was by
application like this that he completed all those volumes and also
left to me a hundred and sixty note-books full of selections, written
in very small hand on both sides of the paper. He used himself to say
that, when he was the emperor's financial agent in Spain, he could
have sold these note-books to Largius Licinus for £3000, and at that
time they were considerably less numerous." ... "And so," writes the
nephew, "I always laugh when certain people call _me_ studious, for,
compared to him, I am a most indolent person."

And yet what does this "most indolent person" himself do in the course
of a lifetime? After a complete oratorical education of the typical
Roman kind he enters upon a full public career. He undergoes his
minimum military service with the legions in Syria. He returns to Rome
and passes right up to the consulship, acquiring particular ability in
connection with the Treasury. Often he acts as adviser to other
officers. Apart from his public position he is a pleader before the
courts. He takes a prominent part in the debates of the senate. He
belongs to one of the priestly bodies. He does his share in providing
the public games. He is appointed "Minister for the regulation of the
Tiber and of the Sewerage." He is afterwards made governor of
Bithynia, which has fallen into financial disorder and requires
reorganisation. He possesses numerous estates and has many tenants to
deal with. He writes speeches, occasional poems, and a large number of
letters carefully phrased with a view to publication. His social or
complimentary duties are numerous and exacting. One day he goes out
hunting wild boar on one of his estates, and kills three of them. How,
think you, does he pass the time while the beaters are driving the
animals towards the net? He is thinking up a subject and making notes,
and actually finds the silence and solitude helpful. He concludes his
short letter on the subject by advising his friend "when you go
hunting, take my advice and carry your writing-tablets as well as your
luncheon-basket and flask: you will find that Minerva roams the hills
no less than Diana." Pliny the Younger is writing, it is true, a
generation after Nero, but there had been no appreciable change in
Roman intellectual tastes during that short interval.

The Roman may have had little inclination towards abstract thinking,
but he was not an idle-minded man. Even the emperors often cultivated
the muse. Nero we have seen, wrote verses, while his predecessor
Claudius bore a strangely near resemblance to our own James I., not
only in respect of his weakness of character, but also of his
pretensions to erudition and authorship. We can hardly read the
literature of this and the next half-century without being amazed at
the number of names of writers who gained or sought some share of
repute, although few of them have left works important enough to have
been kept alive till now. It is true that through all the writing of
this time there runs what has been called the "falsetto" note, a fact
which is due partly to the absence of live national questions or the
freedom to discuss them, and partly to the false principles of the
rhetorical training already described. The general desire was to show
cleverness, wide reading, and information; there was no impulse to
great creation or to exhibitions of profound feeling. Epigram and
"point" are no less compassed in the overstrained epic of Lucan, and
in the philosophic essays of Seneca, than in the satires of Persius.
It is probable that what have been called intellectual "interests"
were never more widely spread than in the _pax Romana_ of the first
and second centuries A.D. We gather from literature that books
innumerable were produced on subjects often as special and minute as
those selected for a German thesis, and that almost every town worth
the name, at least in the Greek-speaking part of the empire, produced
an author of sorts. But when we look into the symposia or chat of
Plutarch or Aulus Gellius, we cannot fail to note that a large
proportion of this intellectual and literary activity was being
frittered away on questions either stereotyped and threadbare, or of
no appreciable utility either to knowledge or conduct. As for
dilettante production at Rome itself Pliny remarks in one letter:
"This year has produced a large crop of poets: there was scarcely a
day in the whole month of April on which some one did not give a
reading." During the generation into which Nero was born and that
which followed him, we meet with no great creative work in either
prose or poetry, no great contribution to the progress of science or
thought. The most generally interesting writer of the whole period was
the Greek Plutarch, but though the _Parallel Lives_ which he was
preparing are immortal in their kind, and though his _Moral Essays_
are often most excellent reading, it cannot be said that he is a
profound original thinker or a creator of anything more than a taking
literary form. Next to him in value, earlier in date, stands Seneca,
who, like Plutarch, is a lively thinker and a deft essayist, with the
same love for a quotation and the same wide interests, but assuredly
not a considerable enlarger of the field of human thought. To those
who know Montaigne, the best notion of Seneca and Plutarch will be
formed by remembering that his essays are admitted by himself to be
"wholly compiled of what I have borrowed from them." The elder Pliny
supplies us with extracts and summaries of the knowledge or the
notions then extant, and we have writings on agriculture by Columella.
The youthful and rather awkward satirist Persius sees the life which
he criticises rather through the medium of books than through his own
eyes. Such works of the period as have gained any kind of immortality
are certainly interesting and often instructive, but they indicate a
period in which reading is chiefly cultivated amusement, and knowledge
rather sought as a pastime and an accomplishment than as a power. The
favourite reading must contain matter or sense, not too deep or
exacting; and it must possess a style. Perhaps writers as various as
Dryden, Pope, Horace Walpole, Samuel Johnson, De Quincey, Macaulay,
or, on a lower platform, the authors of collections like the
_Curiosities of Literature_ would have been quite at home in this
period: but it would have produced no Shakespeare, Milton, or
Wordsworth. The agreeable poem, the well-expressed essay, are the
approved reading for men of indolent bent: the informative collection
for the more curious, serious, or practical-minded. If the early
empire is "despotism tempered by epigram," it is perhaps not
altogether untrue that the contemporary literature was pedantry
tempered by epigram, or at least by quotation.

Science, though its matter was attractive enough to the practical
Roman, was at a standstill. So far as it existed it was Greek. The
Greeks had done almost all that could be done by sheer brain-power and
acumen. They could hardly proceed further without those finer
instruments which we possess, but which they did not. Though they knew
of certain magnifying glasses, they had no real telescopes or
microscopes, no mariner's compass or chronometers, no very delicate
balances. They possessed a magnificent thinking apparatus and put it
to admirable use. The modern scientist has generally nothing but
admiration for their keen insight, and for the brilliant hypotheses
which they invented and which were frequently but unverified
anticipations or partial anticipations of theories now in vogue. Where
they stopped short was at experiment in test of hypothesis. Of all
exploits of pure thinking in the domain of science perhaps the
greatest has been the conception that the earth, instead of being a
flat disk, is a sphere. This theory was held before the age of Nero by
ancient astronomers and geographers, who had derived the notion partly
from the eclipses of the moon--of which they well understood the
cause--and partly from the rising of objects above the horizon. They
understood also that in a sphere there was gravitation to the centre,
and were able so to comprehend the level surface of water on the
globe. The geographer Strabo, more than a generation before our chosen
date, readily conceives that, if one sailed straight westward out of
the Mediterranean through the Straits of Gibraltar, he would
ultimately come back round the world by way of the East--that is to
say, by India. It was not left for Columbus to invent that doctrine.
It is true that in calculating the circumference of the earth they had
made it as much as one-seventh too large, but the wonder is that they
came so near as they did. In regard to the distance of the moon they
were not more than 1/12th from the modern estimate. The possibility of
error in dealing with the sun was much greater, and their 51,000,000
miles is little more than half of what it should have been. Exactly
how far this doctrine of the sphericity of the earth was popularly
entertained we cannot tell; it was probably almost confined to those
directly interested in the question. A theory, anticipating Galileo,
that it is the earth which moves round the sun, had been mooted, but
certainly had very little currency. Nor was speculation confined to
such astronomical conclusions. In the region of physical geography
rational attempts were made to account for various phenomena, such as
the existence of deltas or the risings of the Nile, or the appearance
of sea-shells high on dry land. Strabo, in dealing with the Black Sea,
has his theories of the elevation or subsidence of land. He also
suggests previous volcanic conditions of certain districts which had
been quiescent from before the memory or tradition of the inhabitants.

[Illustration: FIG. 113.--WORLD AS CONCEIVED ABOUT A.D. 100.]

Sound methods of discovering latitude and longitude were not yet in
use, and therefore a map of the world according to ideas current in
the first century would present a strange aspect to us. There is much
error in the placing of towns or districts upon their parallels; and
coasts or mountain ranges, particularly, of course, on the outskirts
of the empire or in the less familiar lands beyond its bounds, are
perhaps made to run north instead of north-west, or east instead of
south-east. It follows that measurements of distances especially
across the wider seas, were often very inaccurate, although within and
about the Mediterranean there was so much traffic and such close
observation of the stars that the errors were gradually reduced. The
mariner, when he did not follow the coast and guide his course by
familiar landmarks, steered by the stars, but of these he had a very
intimate knowledge, to which he joined a close observation of the
prevailing direction of the winds at the various seasons. There was a
well-ordered system of lighthouses, and charts and mariners' guides
were not wanting. In the winter months navigation over long distances
was regularly suspended, and ships waited in port for the spring.

So far as acquaintance with the world was concerned, we have
sufficient evidence that the trader knew his way very well down the
African coast as far as Zanzibar, and along the southern shores of
Asia as far as Cape Comorin. With Ceylon his acquaintance was vague,
and only by tradition did he know of Further India by way of the sea
and of China by way of the land. In the interior of Africa the
caravans reached the Oases, and by way of Nile or caravan there was
trade with the Soudan. Outside the Straits of Gibraltar, the Canary
Islands and Madeira--known indiscriminately as the "Fortunate Isles,"
or "Isles of the Blest"--were in touch with the port of Cadiz. The
shape of Great Britain beyond England was indefinite, although it was
known to be an island, with the Shetlands lying beyond. Ireland was
also recognised as an island and its relative size was not greatly
misconceived. The chief misconception in this corner of Europe was
that of orientation, Britain being placed either far too near or far
too parallel to Spain (through a large error as to the shape of the
Bay of Biscay). Meanwhile the coast of the Netherlands and Germany was
made to run in a line much too closely parallel to the eastern shores
of Britain. Scandinavia was known from navigating explorers and from
the amber trade, but was commonly regarded as a large island.
Knowledge of the Baltic did not extend beyond about the modern Riga,
and of the whole region thence to the Caspian only the dimmest notions
were entertained.

From what has been said concerning the calculation of the earth's
diameter and of the distances of the sun and moon, it may be readily
understood that the ancient mathematician had arrived at great
proficiency in the geometrical branch of mathematics. This should
cause no surprise when we remember what is meant by "Euclid." That
eminent genius had lived at Alexandria three centuries and a half
before the age of Nero, and he by no means represents all that was
known of such mathematics at the latter date. The ancients were quite
sufficiently versed in the solution of triangles to have made the
necessary calculations in geography and astronomy, if they had but
possessed the right instruments. Perhaps only an expert should
deal--even in the few sentences required for our purpose--with such
matters as the calculation of the capacity and proportional relations
of cylinders, or with the mechanics and hydrostatics of Archimedes.
That philosopher so far understood the laws of applied force that he
had boasted: "Give me a place to stand on and I will move the world."
What he and others had learned concerning fluid pressure, or
concerning pulleys, levers, and other mechanical devices, had not been
lost by the Greeks and had been borrowed from them for full practical
use by the Romans. They knew how to lift huge weights, and how to hurl
heavy missiles by the artillery previously mentioned. Experiments had
been made at Alexandria in the use of steam-power, but had led to
nothing practical. It is obvious also from their buildings and works
of engineering, even without explicit statement, that they well
understood the distribution of weight and the laws of stability. The
laws of acoustics were understood with sufficient clearness to make
them applicable with success to theatres. In practical mensuration--a
daily necessity for men who were perpetually allotting lands or
marking out camps--the Romans were experts. In pure arithmetic the
contemporary world had made some considerable advance, such as in the
extraction of square-roots and cube-roots; but, as has been already
said, the Roman interest was virtually confined to such arithmetic or
mathematics as appeared to possess some bearing on actual use.

Of chemistry, in the modern scientific sense, the ancients knew almost
nothing. Empirically they were aware of certain properties exhibited
by substances, and could perform certain manipulations; but, like
moderns down to a very recent time, they had no real understanding of
the quantitative or qualitative relations of elements. Long ago Greek
philosophy, followed by the Epicurean school, had set forth an "atomic
theory," which on the surface is surprisingly like the modern chemical
hypothesis; but this contained strange and illogical features and had
no connection with actual practice. In this department the chief
proficiency of the world of this date lay in metallurgy, in which the
processes empirically discovered, chiefly by Egyptians and
Phoenicians, were closely similar to those now employed. They
thoroughly understood the smelting of ores, but could render no
scientific account of the processes. Botany was in a very crude
condition, scarcely extending beyond such knowledge as was required on
the one hand for farming and horticulture, and on the other for the
vegetable medicines used by contemporary physicians.

The doctoring of the time was also, of course, largely empirical, but
assuredly hardly more so than it was a century or so ago, and
distinctly more rational than it became in the Middle Ages. We cannot
conceive of a reputable doctor at Rome prescribing the nauseous
mediaeval absurdities. Practical surgery must have been surprisingly
advanced, and there is scarcely a modern surgeon who does not exclaim
in admiration of the instruments discovered at Pompeii and now
preserved in the Naples Museum (see FIG. 69). In physic it is, of
course, tolerably certain that many of the remedies or methods of
treatment were of the sound and simple kind discovered by the long
experience of mankind and often put in use by our grandmothers.
The defect contemporary medicine was that it was almost wholly
empirical. The ancient surgeon could doubtless perform ordinary
operations--amputations and excisions--with neatness, and the ancient
physician knew perfectly well what to do with the ordinary
complaints--the fevers and agues, the bilious attacks, the gout, or
the dropsy--but he was baffled by any new conditions. Moreover, if he
could diagnose and cure, he could seldom prevent, inasmuch as he had
little understanding of the causes of maladies. He had everything to
learn in regard to sanitation and the preventing of infection. A
plague would sometimes kill half the people in a town or district, and
the loss of 30,000 persons in the metropolis would probably appear to
most Romans as a visitation of the gods, nor is it certain that the
doctors would generally disagree with that view. Though there were
many quacks, it is not the case that the reputable medical men--most
of them Greek, some of them Romans, who borrowed a Greek name because
it "paid"--lacked the scientific spirit or such knowledge as the time
afforded. They went to the medical school at Alexandria or elsewhere,
and studied their treatises on physic and anatomy, but, at least in
the latter subject, they were sadly hampered. Dissection of human
bodies was forbidden by law as being a desecration of the dead, and
though it might sometimes be practised _sub rosa_, it was the general
custom to perform the dissections on other animals, particularly
monkeys, and to argue thence erroneously to mankind.



CHAPTER XXI


PHILOSOPHY--STOICS AND EPICUREANS

With such an unsatisfactory equipment of science, and with such a
vague and morally inoperative religion, it was no wonder that the
higher minds of the contemporary world turned to the study of
philosophy. Of such studies there had been many schools or sects, but
at this date we have chiefly to reckon with two--the Stoics and
Epicureans. There were, it is true, the Academics, who disputed
everything, and held no doctrine to be more true than its contrary.
There were Eclectics, who picked and chose. But the majority of those
who affected a positive philosophy attached themselves either to the
Stoic or else to the Epicurean system, not necessarily with orthodox
rigidity on every point, but as a general guide--at least in
theory--to the conduct of life. Where we belong to a certain religious
denomination or church, and "sit under" a certain class of preachers,
they belonged to a certain school of philosophy, and attended the
lectures of certain of its expounders. Instead of a chaplain or parish
clergyman they engaged or associated with an expert in their special
system. But just as the Frenchman remarked, "_Je suis catholique, mais
je ne pratique pas_," so might one be in principle a good Stoic
without much exercise of the accepted doctrines. The distinction
between the tenets of the two great schools was wide, but within each
school itself individuals might differ as widely as "Broad Church"
from whatever its opposite may be called. The choice between the two
schools was mainly a matter of temperament. Persons of the sterner
type of mind, caring comparatively little for the physical comforts
and gracious amenities of life, and possessed of a strong sense of
duty and decorum--inclined, perhaps, not only to piety and
self-abnegation, but also to be somewhat dour and uncompromising--were
naturally attracted to Stoicism. Those of the complementary character
preferred the doctrines of Epicurus. The Stoics were the Pharisees,
the Epicureans the Sadducees, of pagan philosophy. As the Pharisees
were the most Hebraic of the Hebrews, so it was Stoicism that came to
be the characteristic Roman creed. The ordinary Roman had been brought
up in the tradition of obeying the law of the state and the claims of
duty; he had high notions of personal dignity and a leaning to the
heroic virtues. Give him a strong, consistent, and elevating religion
and he would be normally a pious man. Stoicism supplied him with a
standard which was in keeping with such tendencies. About Epicureanism
there was nothing heroic or elevating.

Put briefly, and therefore crudely, the Epicurean doctrine was that
happiness is the end of life. What men seek, and have a right to seek,
is the most pleasant existence. Our conduct should secure for us as
much real pleasure as possible. Now at first sight this looks like
what it was opprobriously called by its enemies, "the philosophy of
the pig-sty." It by no means meant this to its founder. For what is
"pleasure"? Not by any means necessarily the gratification of the
moment, physical or otherwise. A present pleasure may mean future
pain, either of body or of mind. Wrong actions and bestial enjoyments
bring their own penalty. You must choose wisely, and so direct your
life that you suffer least and enjoy most consistently. Temperance and
wisdom are therefore virtues necessary to a true Epicurean. You desire
health; therefore you will live, as Epicurus lived, on simple and
wholesome food. You desire tranquillity or peace of mind; therefore
you will abstain from all perverse acts and gratifications, desires
and emotions, which disturb that peace. In short the thing to be
sought is nothing else but this grateful composure of mind--a thing
which you cannot have if you are always wanting this or that and
either abusing or misusing your bodily or mental functions, or
needlessly mortifying yourself. To the plain man this apparently meant
"Take life easily and keep free of worry." Naturally the plain man's
ideas of taking life easily became those of taking pleasures as they
come, indolently accepting the agreeables of life and feeling no call
to make much of its duties. It is all very well for a high-minded
philosopher to avoid a pleasure in order to avoid its pain, and to
realize that a pleasure of the mind is worth more than a pleasure of
the body, but one cannot expect the ordinary pupil--the _homme moyen
sensuel_--to comprehend this attitude with heartiness sufficient to
put it into practice. It followed therefore that the Epicurean tended,
not only to become lazy, but to become vicious, or to make light of
vices. This was not indeed true Epicureanism, and Epicurus is not to
blame for it; it simply shows that Epicureanism, whatever its logical
or other merits, provided no sufficient stimulus to a right life. As
regards theology the position of the school was that there might very
well be such things as higher beings--there was nothing in physical
philosophy to make them any more impossible than a man or a fish--but
that, if they existed, they were not concerned with man's affairs; his
moral conduct, like his sacrifices and prayers, was not matter for
their consideration. No need, therefore, to let superstition worry
you, or to trouble about future punishment. Conduct your life
according to the same principles laid down, and let the gods--if there
be any--look to themselves. Naturally the result of such a position is
that ceasing to regard the gods means ceasing to believe in them, and,
as a Roman writer says: "In theory it leaves us the gods, in practice
it abolishes them."

The other school--that of the Stoics--is perhaps less easily
comprehended, nor can it be said that its doctrines were always quite
so coherent. Again we may put the position briefly, and therefore,
perhaps, only approximately. The rule of life is to live as "nature"
directs. Nature has its laws, which you cannot disobey with impunity.
The law of nature is the mind of God. The material universe is the
body, God is its soul, and He directs the workings of nature with
foreknowledge and perfect wisdom. If man can only be brought to act in
strict accordance with the mind of God--or law of nature--he is sure
of perfect well-being, because he can do nothing as it should not be
done. If he can only arrive at such perfect operation of his mental
processes, he will necessarily be the perfect speaker, the perfect
ruler, the perfect craftsman, the perfect performer of every task,
including the securing of his own happiness. Doubtless this is logical
enough, but how is one to attain to such right mental operations, and
to become what was called a "sage"? Only by acting always according to
reason and not according to passion. That and that alone is "virtue."
The divine mind is not swayed by passion--by hope, fear, exultation,
or grief--but only and always by reason. Learn therefore to obey
reason and reason only. Do not permit yourself to be drawn from the
true path by fear of threats, even of death, nor by grief, even for
your dearest friends. Such feelings warp your reason, distract
your judgment, and deflect you from the right course. When
passion--feeling--comes in conflict with reason, you must drive
feeling away. Your reason may not always be right; nevertheless it is
the best guide you have, and you must cultivate it to act as rightly
as possible. Remember that the power to act in accordance with the
divine mind--the law of nature--lies in your own will; things external
have nothing to do with that straight-forward proceeding--they cannot
help you, and you must not let them hinder you. The condition of your
mind is everything; as long as its operation is right, you are living
in the right way. Your mind may act as rightly in poverty as in
riches; you may be equally wise and virtuous whether you have the
external advantages or not. You must therefore learn to ignore these
things--pain, grief, fear, joy, and all the other perturbing
influences. Cultivate, therefore, right reason and the absence of
emotions.

This, you will say, is a very high, unattainable, if not inhuman,
standard. Quite so, and therefore, while Epicureanism often produced
vicious men, this often produced pretenders and even hypocrites.
Nevertheless it is better to set oneself a high standard than a low
one, and a Roman who endeavoured to control himself by reason, and to
place himself above fear and pain, was thereby on the way to be brave,
patient, truthful, and just. Those who would see what high character
could be associated with Stoicism--whether as the result or as the
motive of the choice of the school--should read Epictetus, whose text,
written early in the next century, was "sustain and abstain," and also
the great-minded gentle Emperor Marcus Aurelius. A logical outcome of
Stoicism was that you should say only the thing which reason approved,
and say it unafraid. A good republican virtue, this, but under the
emperors a dangerous one, as an honest Stoic like Thrasea found out.
In practice there was naturally much qualifying or mellowing of the
rigid Stoic attitude: the exigencies of actual life had to be met part
of the way, and both Greek and Roman Stoics were often only Stoics in
part--the complete "sage" was of course impossible.

As for the gods, it is obvious that the Stoics were pantheists; there
was one God, and He was the soul of the universe. They also, of
course, recognised His providence. What then of the gods of the state?
Some did not attempt to discuss them. Others treated the various
so-called separate deities in the list as being only so many
manifestations or avatars of the same divine power, and whether they
were content or not with that attempt at harmonisation, who shall say?

Meanwhile, at least in the eastern part of the empire, you might meet
with another type of philosopher, the Cynic, belonging to the same
school as the famous Diogenes, who had lived in that large earthenware
jar commonly known as his "tub." Like the Stoic, the Cynic held that
externals were of no value, and therefore he contented himself with a
piece of bread, a wallet full of beans, and a jug of water. Like the
Stoic, he believed in perfect freedom of speech, and therefore he
spoke loudly and often abusively of all and sundry who appeared to him
to deserve it. Some such men doubtless were sincere enough, like the
earlier hermits or preaching friars, but many of them were simply idle
and virulent impostors who thoroughly deserved that name of the "dog"
which was commonly given to them, and which came to designate their
school.

The mention of impostors and hypocrites brings us naturally to a point
which may have been foreseen. To the ancient world the professional
philosophers were the nearest approach to our professional clergy.
They affected an appearance accordingly; and the philosopher was
regularly known by his long beard, his coarse cloak, and his staff.
But, alas! there were many who disgraced their cloth. There were Stoic
teachers who practised all manner of secret vices, and whose behaviour
was in outrageous contradiction to their creed of the "absence of
emotions." There were not only many Honeymans, there were many
Stigginses. There were idlers and vagabonds on a level with the
mendicant friars and pardon-sellers of the time of Chaucer. There were
pompous hypocrites. Also side by side with the serious and earnest
philosopher, as deeply learned in the books of his sect as a modern
divine, there were charlatans and dabblers. It is unfortunately in
this last light that the Apostle Paul appeared to the professional
Stoic and Epicurean teachers of Athens. They were the finished
products of the philosophic schools of the most famous universities,
while he was supposed by them to be teaching some new kind of
philosophy. Philosophers were apt to be itinerant, and St. Paul was
looked upon as but another of these new arrivals. In his language they
detected what seemed to be borrowed notions not consistently bound
together, and they therefore called him by a name which it is not easy
to translate. Literally it is "a picker up of seeds"--that is to say,
a sciolist who gathers scraps from profounder people and gives them
out with an air. Perhaps the nearest, although an undignified, word is
"quack." That Paul possessed a knowledge of Greek philosophy, and
particularly of Stoicism, is practically certain. He came from Tarsus
in Cilicia, and Cilicia was the native home of many leading Stoics,
including its greatest representative in all antiquity. He had been
taught by Gamaliel, who was versed in "the learning of the Greeks."
His address at Athens was deliberately meant to bear a relation to the
philosophy of the experts who were present, but necessarily it could
only introduce a few salient allusions, such as even a dabbler could
have picked up, and we can hardly blame the specialists for their
erroneous judgment. As he says himself: "The Greeks demand philosophy;
but we proclaim a Messiah crucified, to the Jews a stumbling-block,
and to the Greeks a folly."

To discuss further the moral ideas of the Roman world would consume
more space and time than can be afforded here. It may, however, be
worth while to mention that suicide was commonly--and especially by
the Stoics--looked upon as a natural and blameless thing, when calm
reason appeared to justify the proceeding, and when due consideration
was given to social claims. To seek a euthanasia in such cases was an
act of wisdom. Belief in an underworld or an after life was not rare
among the common people, but it certainly did not exist in any force
among the cultivated classes. It was taught neither by philosophy nor
by the religion of the state. Yet the sense that rewards or
punishments are unfairly meted out in this world was strong in many a
mind, and this is one of the facts which account for the hold taken
upon such minds, first by the religion of Isis, and then in a still
greater and more abiding measure by Christianity.



CHAPTER XXII


THE ROMAN PROFUSION OP ART

[Illustration: FIG. 114.--THE DYING GAUL.]

[Illustration: FIG. 115.--A "CANDELIERA" OR MARBLE PILASTER OF THE
BASILICA AEMILIA.]

[Illustration: FIG. 116.--FRAGMENTS OF THE ARCHITECTURE OF THE REGIA.]

It would be a more than agreeable task to deal at some length with the
art of the Roman world of this period, but the subject is vast, and
demands a treatise to itself. How general was the love of art--or at
least the recognition of its place in life--must be obvious to those
who have seen the great collections in Rome, gathered partly from the
city itself and partly from the towns and country "villas" of Italy,
and those in the National Museum at Naples, acquired mainly from the
buried cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Nor are we amazed merely at
the quantity of statues, statuettes, busts, reliefs, paintings, mosaic
gems and cameos, and artistically wrought objects and utensils, which
have been preserved while so many thousands of such productions have
disappeared in the conflagrations of Rome, the vandalisms of the
ignorant, or the kilns and melting-pots of the Middle Ages. The
quality is still more a source of delight than the quantity. This last
sentence, of course, contains a truism, since art is no delight
without high quality. If we had only preserved to us such masterpieces
as the Capitoline Venus, the Dying Gaul, the Laocoon, the Dancing
Faun, the so-called Narcissus, and the Resting Mercury, we should
realise something of the exquisite skill in plastic art which had been
attained in antiquity and has never been attained since. But we might
perhaps imagine that these were altogether exceptional pieces and the
choicest gems possessed by the world of the time. Yet the preservation
of these is but an accident, and there is no reason to believe them to
be more than survivals out of many equally excellent. On the contrary,
our ancient authorities--such as the elder Pliny--prove that there was
a multitude of similar creations contained in public buildings alone.
Pompeii, it has already been said more than once, was a provincial
town in no way distinguished for the high culture of its inhabitants;
yet there is scarcely a house of any consideration which has not
afforded some example of fine art in one form or another. We know that
several of the Roman temples--such as those of Concord in the Forum
and of Apollo on the Palatine--were veritable galleries of
masterpieces; and that the rich Romans adorned both their town houses
and country villas with dozens of statues, colossal, life-size, or
miniature, by distinguished masters. But still more striking is the
fact that the comparatively small homes of Pompeii often possessed a
work for which no price would now be too large, and of which we are
content even to obtain a tolerably good copy. At Herculaneum there
evidently lived persons of greater literary and artistic I refinement
than at Pompeii, and the discoveries from that only very partially
excavated town make an incalculably rich show of their own. What then
would be the case with Naples, Baiae, the resorts all along the coast
as far as the Tiber, the luxurious villas on the Alban Hills, and the
great metropolis itself?

Yet the fact of this universal recognition of art is scarcely made so
impressive by these collected specimens of perfect taste and perfect
execution, as it is incidentally by observing the delicate and
graceful finish of some moulding on a chance fragment from a building,
such as the Basilica Aemilia or the office of the Pontifex in the
Forum, or the exquisite chiselling of trailing ivy upon a cup from
Herculaneum (FIG. 56), or the dainty pattern wrought on no more
important a thing than a bucket (FIG. 58), or the graceful shape
imparted to a household lamp (FIG. 54). Water could hardly be
permitted to spout in a peristyle or garden without doing so from some
charming statuette, animal figure, or decorative mask or head. When
fine art is sought in things like these, we may guess how
uncompromisingly it was sought in things more avowedly "on show."

The age with which we have been dealing fell within the most
flourishing period of Roman, or rather Graeco-Roman, taste and
craftsmanship. A hundred years later both taste and execution were
declining, and by the age of Constantine--two centuries and a half
after Nero--not one artist could pretend to achieve such work as had
belonged to a multitude between the reigns of Augustus and Hadrian.

It is not indeed probable that, even at our date, the large and noble
simplicity of the older Greek masters could be rivalled. It is not
probable that most of the former creations of art still preserved
could have been wrought as originals by any Greek or Roman artist
living in the time of Nero. Nevertheless technical craftsmanship was
still superb, and while the contemporary artist could not create a
splendid original, he was at least able to create an almost perfect
copy. The Roman public buildings and private houses were enriched with
a host of such copies, or, when not exact copies, with modifications
which, though not improvements, were at least such as could not offend
by displaying a lack of technical mastery. Let us grant that it was
for the most part Greeks who were the artists; nevertheless the Greek
is an active member of the Roman world and of its metropolitan life,
and he executes his work to the order of the Roman state or the Roman
patron; and therefore the art of the time deserves to be called Roman
in that sense. There is little doubt that the Romans, if left to
themselves, would have developed only the solid, or the gorgeous, or
the baroque. But influences which penetrate a society are part of that
society, and the Greek influence accepted by the Roman becomes a Roman
principle.

Perhaps it is also true that many a Roman who possessed fine works of
art, and even exquisite ones, was not in reality a true connoisseur;
that, even if he were, he lacked instructive and ardent appreciation
of art for its own sake; and that, like his cultivation of
intellectual society or learning, his cultivation of art was rather
that of a man determined to be on a level with the culture of his
times. Nevertheless the fact is palpable, that the cultivation was
there, and was displayed in public architecture and in household
embellishment in a way which puts the modern world to shame. With us
art is a luxury for the few, and a keen enjoyment for still fewer; in
the age of Nero it penetrated the life of every class.

In architecture the native Roman gift was for the practical combined
with the massive and grandiose. The structures in which they
themselves excelled were the amphitheatre, the public baths, the
triumphal arch, the basilica, the bridge, and the aqueduct. Their
mastery of the arch, their excellent concrete, and their engineering
genius, enabled them to produce works in this kind which had had no
parallels in the Greek world. Nor had the Greeks felt the same need
for such buildings. They had been innocent of gladiatorial shows, and
they had been unfortunately too innocent of large conceptions in the
way of water-supply. When an amphitheatre or aqueduct of the Roman
kind was to be found in the graecized half of the empire, it was
constructed under Roman influence. The modern may well afford to
wonder at and envy the profusion of such structures in the ancient
world. How noble and at the same time how strong was the work of the
Romans when they undertook to supply even a provincial town with
abundant and adequate water, is manifest from such aqueducts as are
still to be seen at Nîmes (FIG. 1) or at Segovia. In other
architectural conceptions the Romans of the time of Nero mainly
followed the Greek lead and employed Greek artists. The architectural
"orders" were Greek, with sundry Graeco-Roman modifications,
particularly in the way of more ornate or fantastic Corinthian
capitals; the notions of sculptural decoration were equally of
Hellenic origin. Their theatres also were of the Greek kind adapted in
non-essentials to the somewhat different conditions of a Roman
performance. The Greek taste in decoration was the simpler and purer:
the Roman cultivated the sumptuous and the ornate, sometimes, with
conspicuous success, often with an overloaded effect. As Friedlander
(who, however, deals with a much longer period than ours) puts the
matter: "Nowhere, least of all at Rome, was an important public
building erected without the chiseller, the stucco-worker, the carver,
the founder, the painter, and mosaic-maker being called in. Statues,
single or in groups, filled gables, roofs, niches, interstices of
columns, staircases in the temples, theatres, amphitheatres,
basilicas, public baths, bridges, arches, portals, and viaducts. . . .
Triumphal arches generally had at their summits equestrian figures,
trophies, chariots of four or six horses, driven by figures of
victory. Reliefs and medallions bedecked the frieze, and reliefs or
paintings the walls; ceilings were gay with stucco or coloured work,
and the floors with glittering mosaics. All the architectural
framework, supports, thresholds, lintels, mouldings, windows, and even
gutters were overloaded with decorative figures."

It was above all in plastic art that the contemporary world was
enormously rich. Not only could no public building dispense with such
decorations as those above mentioned; no private house of the least
pretensions was without its statues, busts, statuettes, carved
reliefs, and stucco-work. Never was statuary in marble or bronze so
plentiful in every part of the empire, in public squares, or in the
houses of representative people--in reception-hall, peristyle court,
garden, or colonnade. Portrait statues in the largest towns were to be
counted by hundreds, and sometimes by thousands. Men distinguished in
war, in letters, in public life, and in local benefactions were as
regularly commemorated by statues or busts as they are in modern times
by painted portraits. Sometimes--unlike the modern portraits of
course--these were paid for by the recipient of the compliment. In the
comparatively unimportant Forum of Pompeii there stood five colossal
statues, between seventy and eighty life-size equestrian statues, and
as many standing figures, while the public buildings surrounding this
open space contained their dozen or twenty each. As has been said
already, most of the best work in sculpture--apart from these bronze
and marble portraits of contemporaries--was reproduction of Grecian
masterpieces dating from the time of Pheidias onward. Particularly did
the Roman affect the more elaborate work of the period of the later
"Macedonian" kings. Where the actual work was not exactly copied it at
least supplied the main conception or motive. It followed naturally
that there would be in existence many copies of the same piece, and,
in procuring these, both the public and the householder would feel
relieved of any danger of betraying the wrong taste. The workshops or
studios of Greek artists turned out large numbers of a given
masterpiece--a Faun, a Venus, or a Discobolus--at prices from £50 or
so upwards. It followed also that there were numerous imitations
passed off as originals, and many a wealthy man boasted of possessing
an "original" or a genuine "old master"--a Praxiteles or a
Lysippus--when he owned but a clever reproduction. The same remark
applies, not only to the statues, but to the genre-groups and animal
forms of which such fine examples can be seen in the Vatican Museum,
and also to silver cups by "Mentor" or to bronzes of Corinth.
Petronius, the coarse but witty "arbiter of taste" under Nero, mocks
at the vulgar _nouveau riche_ who imagined that the Corinthian bronzes
were the work of an artist named Corinthus.

[Illustration: FIG. 117.--WALL-PAINTING. (Woman with Tablets.)]

[Illustration: FIG. 118.--WALL-PAINTING FROM HERCULANEUM. (Women
playing with Knuckle-Bones.)]

Next to sculpture came painting, and in this art Romans themselves
appear to have often acquired a technical skill which rivalled that of
the Greeks. There is also plenty of evidence that among the pictorial
artists there were no few women. For us practically the only painting
of the time which has been preserved is that upon the walls of private
houses, and it is probable that we see some of the worst specimens of
the kind as well as some of a high order of excellence. It is not
difficult to distinguish between the truly artistic design and
colouring of wall-pictures in the House of Vettii or of the "Tragic
Poet" and the crude journeyman work in sundry other Pompeian houses
which must have belonged to anything but connoisseurs. Paintings, it
must be remembered, were the ancient wall-papers, as well as the
ancient pictures. Here, as in sculpture, we find the same or similar
motives and groupings repeated in a way which shows that the
painter--or rather the collaborating painters--must have been
reproducing or adapting an original which was particularly admired or
had obtained a fashionable vogue. The wall-pictures, done in fresco or
distemper and in various dimensions, fall into four main classes.
There are landscapes, from a pretty realistic garden scene to a
fantastic stretch of sea and land diversified with woods, rocks,
figures, and buildings. There are subjects from mythology and from
poetical "history" or legend, chiefly representing "moments of
dramatic interest." There are genre-pictures, such as those of the
Cupids acting as goldsmiths, oil-dealers, or wine-merchants. Finally
there are pictures of still-life--of fishes, birds, fruits, and other
objects--often admirable in their kind. Serving as frame or setting to
many of the scenes there are architectural paintings--sometimes in
complicated but highly skilful perspective, but often extremely unreal
and confusing in conception--representing columns and pediments of
buildings. It must here suffice to offer one or two characteristic
examples out of the multitude of wall-paintings which have been found
(see also Figs. 43, 44).

Though Romans themselves, and even persons of standing, sometimes
dabbled in the fine arts, it is unquestionable that they commonly
regarded the professional artist as only a superior tradesman. They
admired his skill, but rendered little esteem to the man. A Roman
knight or a Roman lady might occasionally paint for pleasure; Nero
himself might model a figure or handle a brush; but so soon as art
ceased to be dilettante and became a calling, so soon as its work was
produced for payment, the artist ranked with other hirelings, however
superior he might be in kind. Seneca expresses an open contempt,
although he is perhaps, here as elsewhere, judging by a standard more
severe than that of his contemporaries in general. To some extent this
attitude is explained by the very abundance of objects of art, and by
the immense number of artists, now nameless, belonging to the period;
it is also to some extent excused by the fact that the craftsmanship,
however consummate, was not at this period accompanied by the
originality of the great Greek times from which it borrowed. Much of
the work--particularly perhaps in painting and metal-chasing--was done
by slaves. Apart from this consideration, the studios were so numerous
and taught so well, that there must have been thousands of persons
working either alone or co-operatively, whose position, however
excellent the performance, became analogous to that of a
house-decorator. On a wall to be painted in fresco a number of
painters would be employed together. Throughout the Roman world,
wherever works of art were wanted, the professional would travel,
often with his assistants, and take up a contract. In modern parlance,
the communities requiring some monument of art "called for tenders"
and were prone to accept the lowest.

Whatever abundance of art the Roman world cultivated and possessed;
however indispensable to a public place was a wealth of buildings with
lavish decoration of sculptured pillars, of statues, or of triumphal
arches; however necessary to a private house were originals, supposed
originals, and copies in the way of statuary, paintings, bronzes,
mosaics, and other means of artistic adornment; it is very doubtful
whether any large number of Romans entertained that spontaneous
enjoyment of the beauty of art which is known as genuine "artistic
feeling." In their literature we look in vain for any expression of
enthusiasm on the subject. There are many references to works of art,
but none which possess any intense glow of warmth. Doubtless art was
so abundant that, as has already been said in reference to the
appreciation of natural beauty, the absence of "gush" need not
indicate absence of real enjoyment. Enjoyment there was, but it was
apparently for the most part the enjoyment either of the collector or
of the man who realises that an appreciation of art demands a large
place in culture, and who is determined to be as well supplied and as
well informed as his neighbour, while his judgment of a piece of work,
though far from unintelligent, and often excellent in regard to
principles of design and technical execution, is mainly the result of
a deliberate training and cult, and is in consequence somewhat chill
and detached.

[Illustration: FIG. 119.--LYRE AND HARP.]

Of music the Romans were passionately fond, but the music itself was
of a description which perhaps would hardly commend itself to modern
notions, particularly those of northern Europe. The instruments in use
were chiefly the harp, the lyre, and the flageolet (or flute played
with a mouthpiece). To these we may add for processions the straight
trumpet and the curved horn, and, for more orgiastic occasions or
celebrations, the panpipes, cymbals, and tambourine or kettledrum.
Performers from the East played upon certain stringed instruments not
greatly differing from the lyre and harp of Greece and Italy. Women
from Cadiz used the castagnettes. Hydraulic organs with pipes and keys
were coming into vogue, and the bagpipes were also sufficiently
familiar. In the use of all these instruments the ancients knew
nothing of the harmonisation of parts; to them harmony and concerto
implied no more than unison, or a difference of octaves. Whatever
emotions may have been evoked by the music so produced, it cannot be
imagined that they were of the intensity or subtlety of which the
modern art and instruments are capable. Apart from the professionals,
many Roman youths and the majority of Roman girls learned both to play
and Sing, the instrument most affected being the harp, and the teacher
of harp-playing being held in the highest esteem and receiving the
highest emoluments. Sacrifices were regularly accompanied by the
flageolet; processions by this and the trumpet; the rites of Bacchus
by pipes, tambourines, and cymbals; performances in the theatre by an
immense orchestra of various instruments; the more elaborate dinners
by flute, harp, concerto of the two, singing, and such coarser and
more exciting performances as were to the taste of the host or his
company. The greatest houses kept their own choir and orchestra of
slaves; the less wealthy hired musicians as they needed them. As for
the Romans themselves, certain religious ceremonies called for singing
of boys and girls in chorus; and in a purely domestic way the women of
the house played on the harp and sang. Where there was singing, the
words dominated the music and not the contrary, but snatches from
recent popular pieces were sung and hummed in the streets for the sake
of their taking air, just as they are in modern times. We cannot
conceive of any Roman festivity without abundance of music. When in
spring at Baiae on the Bay of Naples the holiday frequenters of that
resort were rowed about the Lucrine Lake in their flower-bedecked
gondolas or boats with coloured sails, the musicians were no less in
evidence than they are now at every opportunity on the waters of the
same bay or in the evening on the Grand Canal at Venice. In the truly
Greek portion of the empire music, though no more advanced in method,
was for the most part of a finer and severer kind; but at
Alexandria--where it amounted to a mania--the influence of the native
Egyptian style, blent with the more passionate among the Greek modes,
had produced a music extremely exciting and highly demoralising.

On the whole, it may reasonably be held that music played at least as
important a part both in the houses and the public entertainments of
the ancient Romans as it plays in modern Italy. The artists were as
carefully trained, the audiences as critical or as receptive, the
personal affectations of the musicians as characteristic, and their
effect on emotional admirers of the opposite sex as great, as they are
at the present day. The difference between the two ages consists in
the nature of the music itself, and in the instruments through which
it is respectively delivered; and in these respects the advantage is
entirely with the modern world.



CHAPTER XXIII


THE LAST SCENE OF ALL--BURIAL AND TOMBS

Whatever conceptions may have been entertained as to existence beyond
the grave, there was no doubt in the Roman mind as to the claim of the
dead to a proper burial and a worthy monument. It had once on a time
been a matter of universal belief that the spirit which had departed
from an unburied corpse could find no admittance to the company in the
realms of Hades. It could not join "the majority" below. Originally no
doubt the notion was simply that, as the body had not been consigned
to the earth, the spirit also remained homeless above ground.
Gradually this fancy shifted to the notion that, through neglect of
burial, the dead man was dishonoured--he had no friends--and that his
spirit was thereby disgraced and unworthy of reception by the powers
beneath. It must therefore remain shivering on the near side of the
river across which the grim Charon ferried the more fortunate souls.
Even when the body had been decently buried, the spirit, though
received into the gloomy realm, called for continued respect on the
part of its friends on earth. Unless it received its periodical
honours and was commemorated by a fitting sepulchre, it would meet
with slights from other ghosts and would feel its position keenly.
Naturally it would then do its best, by some form of haunting, to
punish the living for their disregard and forgetfulness. From such
considerations there arose in very ancient days in Italy, as in
Greece, a great anxiety to perform scrupulously "the dues" of the
defunct. Even if the body could not be found, it was obligatory to
perform the obsequies and to build a cenotaph. If a stranger came
across a dead body he must not pass it by without throwing at least
three handfuls of dust or earth upon it and bidding it "Farewell."

Though the burial customs still employed sprang from old fancies like
these, we are not to suppose that such notions were in full life in
the Roman world of our period. Poets might play with them, and some
ignorant folk might still vaguely entertain them. The mere belief in
ghosts was doubtless general, and even the learned argued the question
of their existence. Here are parts of another letter culled from Pliny
already several times quoted. He writes to his friend Sura: "I should
very much like to know whether you think that apparitions actually
exist, with a real shape of their own and a kind of supernatural
power, or that it is only our fear which gives an embodiment to vain
fancies. My own inclination is to believe in them, and chiefly because
of an experience which, I am told, befell Curtius Rufus." He then
speaks of a phantom form which prophesied that person's fortune.
"Another occurrence, quite as wonderful and still more terrifying, I
will relate as I was told it. There was at Athens a house which was
roomy and commodious, but which bore an ill-name and was
plague-stricken. In the silence of the night there was heard a sound
of iron. On closer attention it proved to be a rattling of chains,
first at a distance and then close at hand. Soon there appeared the
spectre of an old man, miserably thin and squalid, with a long beard
and unkempt hair. On his legs were fetters, and on his hands chains,
which he kept shaking. In consequence the inhabitants spent horrible
and sleepless nights; the sleeplessness made them ill, and, as their
terror increased, the illness was followed by death.... As a result
the house was deserted and totally abandoned to the ghost.
Nevertheless it was advertised, on the chance that some one ignorant
of all this trouble" (note the commercial morality) "might choose to
buy it or rent it. To Athens there comes a philosopher named
Athenodorus, who reads the placard. On hearing the price and finding
it so cheap, he has his suspicions" (the ancient philosopher had his
practical side), "makes enquiry, and learns the whole story. So far
from being less inclined to hire it, he is only the more willing. On
the approach of evening he gives orders for his couch to be made up in
the front part of the house, and asks for his tablets, pencils, and a
light. After dismissing his attendants to the back rooms, he applies
all his attention, as well as his eyes and hand, steadily to his
writing, for fear his mind, if unoccupied, might conjure up imaginary
sounds and causeless fears. At first there was the same silence of the
night as elsewhere; then there was a shaking of iron, a movement of
chains. The philosopher refused to lift his eyes or stop his pencil;
instead he braced up his mind so as to overcome his hearing. The noise
grew louder; it approached; it sounded as if on the threshold; then as
if within the room. He looks behind him; sees and recognises the
apparition of which he has been told. It was standing and beckoning to
him with its finger, as if calling him. In answer our friend makes it
a sign with his hand to wait a while, and once more applies himself to
tablet and pencil. The ghost began to rattle its chains over his head
while he was writing. He looks behind him again, sees it making the
same signal as before, and promptly picks up the light and follows. It
goes at a slow pace, as if burdened with chains, then, after turning
into the open yard of the house, it suddenly vanishes and leaves him
by himself. At this he gathers some grass and leaves, and marks the
spot with them. The next day he goes to the magistrates and urges them
to dig up the spot in question; and they find bones tangled with
chains through which they were passed... These they put together and
bury at the public charge. The spirit being thus duly, laid, the house
was henceforward free of them."

Whatever the Roman beliefs on this point, so far as funeral rites and
ceremonies were concerned, they were carried out simply in accordance
with custom and tradition. The Romans of this date no more analysed
their motives and sentiments than we do ours in dealing with such
matters. They honoured the dead with funeral pomp and conspicuous
monument; but, at the bottom, it was often more out of respect for
themselves than because they imagined that it made any difference to
the departed. In a very early age it had been considered that the
spirit led in the underworld a feeble replica of human existence: it
required food, playthings, utensils, money, as well as consideration.
Hence food was periodically poured into the ground, playthings and
utensils were burned on the pyre or laid in the coffin, and money was
placed in that most primitive of purses, the mouth. Conservatism is
nowhere so strong as in rites and ceremonies, and therefore the Romans
continued to burn and bury articles along with the remains of the
dead, and they continued to put a coin in the mouth before the burial.
But it would be absurd to suppose that an intelligent Roman of our
date would have offered the original and ancient motives for this
conduct as rational motives still actuating himself. Enough that
convention expected certain proceedings as "due" and "proper": a true
Roman would not fail to perform what convention decreed.

[Illustration: FIG. 120.--"CONCLAMATIO" OF THE DEAD.]

Our friend the elder Silius dies a natural death, after completing the
fullest public career. His family has its full share of both affection
and pride, and therefore his obsequies will be worthy of his character
and standing. When his Greek physician Hermogenes assures the watching
family that life is departing, Marcia or Publius or Bassa will
endeavour to catch the last breath with a kiss, and will then close
the eyelids. Upon this all those who are present will call "Silius!
Silius! Silius!" The original motive of this cry--which has its modern
parallel in the case of a dead Pope--was to make sure that the man was
actually dead and beyond reply. This point made certain, the
professional undertaker is called in and instructed to take charge of
all the proceedings usual in such cases. It is he who will provide the
persons who are to wash and anoint the body and lay it in state, and
also, on the day of the procession, the musicians, the wailing-women,
the builders of the funeral pyre, and others who may be necessary,
together with the proper materials and accessories. He will further
see that the name of Quintus Silius Bassus is registered in the
death-roll in the temple of "Juno the Death-Goddess," and that the
registration fee is paid. The name will also appear in the next issue
of the "Daily News." The body, anointed so as to preserve it till the
third day, and dressed in the toga--which will be that of the highest
position he ever occupied--is laid in state in the high
reception-hall, with the feet pointing to the door. On the bier are
wreaths, by it is burning a pan of incense, in or before the vestibule
is placed a cypress tree or a number of cypress branches for warning
information to the public.

On the day next but one after death the contractor, attended by
subordinates dressed in black, marshals his procession. Though it is
daytime, the procession will be accompanied by torches--another piece
of conservatism reminiscent of the time when funerals took place at
night, as they still did with children and commonly with the lower
orders. First go the musicians, playing upon flageolet, trumpet, or
horn; behind these, professional wailing-women, who raise loud
lamentation and beat their breasts. Next come the wax-masks, already
mentioned, of the distinguished ancestors of the Silii. These, which
are life-like portraits, have been taken out of their cupboards in the
wing of the reception-hall, and are worn over their faces by men of a
build as nearly as possible resembling that of the ancestors
represented. Each man also wears the insignia of the character for
whom he stands. The more of such "effigies" a house could produce, the
greater its glory. Such, however, was not the original purpose of this
part of the procession, for--though it had doubtless been generally
forgotten--the intention was to represent the deceased as being
conducted into the underworld by an honourable company already
established there. After the effigies comes that which would
correspond to our hearse. It is, however, no hearse of the modern
kind, but a bier or couch with the usual embellishment of ivory and
with covers of purple worked with gold. On this the body lies, open to
the sky, like that of Juliet. The bearers are either relatives or such
slaves as have been set free under Silius's last will. Behind come the
nearest relatives or heirs, the freedmen, friends, and clients, all
clothed in black, except the women, who are in white, without colour
or gold upon their dress. Young Publius will walk with his head
covered by his toga; Bassa with her hair loose and dishevelled. The
whole party will utter lamentations, though under more restraint than
those of the professional women in front.

Silius having been a senator and a man of other official standing, the
procession passes from the Caelian Hill along the Sacred Way to the
Forum, as far as the Rostra or speaking-platform. There the bier is
set down, the "ancestors" seat themselves on the folding-stools which
were the old-fashioned chairs of the higher officers, and one of the
relatives delivers an oration in praise, not only of Silius, but of
his family as represented in the ancestors.

[Illustration: FIG. 121.--TOMB OF CAECILIA METELLA.]

[Illustration: FIG. 122.--STREET OF TOMBS. (POMPEII.)]

The procession then forms again, and the party proceeds to whatever
place outside the walls may contain the family tomb of the Silii. No
burial is allowed within the city proper, and for our purposes we will
assume that the place is distant nearly a mile along the Appian Way.
We will assume also that Silius is to be cremated, and not simply
buried in a coffin or a marble sarcophagus. Few persons of the higher
classes, except certain of the Cornelii, are buried at this date,
although there is nothing in law or custom to prevent the choice.
There exists no "crematorium," and the Silii are regularly burned at
their own sepulchral allotment beside the "Queen of Roads."

If you were with the procession on this day you would find yourself
before one of an almost continuous chain of monuments, built in all
manner of shapes and sizes--such as great altars, small shrines,
pyramids (like that of Cestius on another road), or round towers like
the beautiful tomb of Caecilia Metella. The exterior of these
structures is often adorned with commemorative or symbolic carvings,
and the inside, which may be wholly above the surface or partly sunk
beneath--is a chamber surrounded by niches, in which are placed the
urns containing the ashes of the dead. Perhaps an illustration of the
present state of the "Street of Tombs" at Pompeii will afford some
notion, although the sepulchres of that provincial place by no means
matched those upon the various roads outside the Roman gates. Often
the monumental chamber stands somewhat back from the road, leaving
space for a large semicircular seat of stone open to public use, its
back wall being inscribed with some statement of honour to the family.
Round the sepulchre--"where all the kindred of the Silii lie" is a
space of ground, planted with shrubs and trees, and surrounded by a
low wall. Somewhere near, on an open level, the funeral pile has been
built of pine-logs, with the interstices stuffed with pitch,
brushwood, or other inflammable material. It is natural that the pyre
should take the shape of an altar and that cypress branches should
lean against the sides.

Upon the summit of this pile is laid Silius on his bier; incense and
unguents are shed over him; wreaths and other offerings, often of no
little value, are cast upon the heap. While loud cries of lamentation
are being raised by the company present, a near kinsman approaches the
pile with a torch, and, turning his face away, sets fire to the whole
structure. It speedily burns down, the last embers are quenched with
wine, the general company thrice cries "farewell," and, except for the
nearest relatives, the procession returns to the city. The relatives
who stay take off their shoes, wash their hands, and proceed to gather
up the bones--which they cleanse in wine and milk--and the ashes,
which they mix with perfume. These remains are then placed in the urn
of bronze, marble, alabaster, or maybe of coloured glass, and the urn
fills one more niche in the chamber of the monument.

[Illustration: FIG. 123.--COLUMBARIUM.]

Now and then there were more magnificent obsequies than those of
Silius. A "public" funeral might be decreed to a man who had deserved
conspicuously well of the state. On such an occasion the crier would
go round, calling "Oyez, come all who choose to the funeral of
So-and-So." The invitation meant, not merely participation in a solemn
procession, but also in the funeral feast, and probably an exhibition
of gladiators. On the other hand the majority of burials were
naturally of a far more simple and inexpensive kind. The poor could
not afford to use unguents and keep their dead till the third day;
they could not afford real cypress trees, but must use cheaper
substitutes, if anything at all. They could not afford all the
processionists and paraphernalia of the undertaker, but must be
satisfied with four commonplace bearers, who hurried away the corpse
in the evening, not on a couch but in a cheap box, and carried it out
to the common necropolis beyond the Esquiline Gate. Seldom could they
afford the fuel to burn the body, and in many cases it must simply be
thrown into a pit roughly dug and there left without monument. To
secure more respect and decency there were many burial clubs, whether
connected with the trade-guilds or not, and these procured a joint
tomb of the kind known as a "dovecote," or columbarium, from the
resemblance of its niches to so many pigeon-holes. These cooperative
sepulchres were underground vaults, and it is perhaps hardly necessary
to point out their direct relation to the Christian catacombs. Similar
tombs were sometimes used by the great Roman families for the remains
of the freedmen and slaves of their house.

[Illustration: FIG. 124.--TEMPLE OF JUPITER ON THE CAPITOL (Platform
omitted).]



INDEX


Actors, contempt for, 268
Advertisements, 257
Aemilia, Basilica, 108
Africa, 45
Age, coming of, 332
Agriculture, implements of, 252
Alexander the Great, 34
Alexandria, 14, 25, 34, 44
Amphitheatres, 280
  performances, 282
Amulets, 318
Andalusia, 36
Antioch, 14, 43
Appian Way, 22, 118
Aqueducts, 136
Architecture, 112, 422-424
Argiletum, the, 108
Aristocrat, clients of, 206
  daily life of, 193
  dress of, 196
  as pleader in law-courts, 216
  social duties of, 217
Army, the, 12, 52, 338-358
  artillery, 356
  auxiliaries, 352
  camping arrangements, 349
  cavalry, 339, 353, 356
  composition, 339
  dress and equipment, 342
  Imperial Guards, 353
  infantry, 339, 352
  legionaries, 339
  pay and rations, 344
  promotion, 347
  terms of service, 340
  training, 340, 345
  typical soldier's life, 342-350
Art, 416-433
  apparent lack of artistic feeling, 429
  contempt for professional artists, 428
  influence of Greece, 421
  profession and quality of, 416-420
  statues, 418, 424
  wall-paintings, 425-428
Artemis, temple of, 42
Artillery, 356
Asia Minor, towns of, 42
Astronomy, 359
Athens, 40
Athletics, 263
Auctioneers, receipt tablets of, 250
Augustus, title of emperor, 55
Augustus, Forum of, 188
  mausoleum of, 120
Authors, amateur, 219, 235

Baetica (_see_ Andalusia)
Bakers, 248
Bandits, 24
Banking, 216, 239
Basilica Aemilia, 108
  of Julius, 106
Baths, 122, 124
Beard, method of wearing, 195
Beds, 182
Beggars, 243
Betrothal ceremony, 296
Boadicea, 39
Books, size and shape of, 335-337
Booksellers, 109, 247
Boots (_see_ Shoes)
Boxing-gloves, 265
Breakfast, 200
Britain, 39
Burial, 434-447
  funeral rites, 439-445
  offerings to the dead, 438
  tombs, 444, 446

Caligula, 73, 95, 115, 234
Camps, military, 349
Campus Martius, the, 120
Carpets, absence of, 180
Carriages, 19
  regulation of traffic, 131
Cavalry, 339, 353, 356
Census of Augustus, 85
Chariot-races, 263, 274, 280
  colours in, 274, 278
  horses, 275
  prizes, 278
  procession of chariots, 277
Charts, 18
Chemistry, 402
Children:
  ceremony at birth and naming, 317
  coming of age, 332
  early life, 319
  education, 320-335
  parental power over, 315-317
  privileges of parents, 314
  registration, 318
Christians, earlier tolerance towards, 383
  their subsequent persecution, 79, 384-387
Circus Maximus, 128, 173
Citizens: as clients of the wealthy, 206
  doles of corn and money to, 242
  freed slaves may become, 204
  rights of, 56, 92
Civilisation, Roman, 30
  Greek, 32
  Asiatic, 33
_Claqueurs_, in law-courts, 217
  in theatres, 273
  Nero's use of, 77
Class distinctions, 66
Clients, 206, 222, 245
  dinner to, 235
  escort to patron, 211
  literary, 208
Cloaks, 220
Clocks, water, 192
"Colony," formation of, 84
Columbarium, joint sepulchre, 447
Commerce, 36
Concord, Temple of, 105
Concrete, extensive use of, in building, 138
Consulship, the, 359
Cook-shops, 258
Corinth, 40
Corn, monthly allowances of, 242
  corn-lands, 45
Couches, 181, 226
Cremation, 445
Crops, rotation of, 252
Customs duties, 87
Cynics, the, 412

Damascus, 44
Dancing girls, 232
Dead, offerings to the, 438
Decoration, house, 150, 164
  in theatres, 267
Deities, festivals of, 261
  household, 376
  official duties to, 374
  variety of, 362, 366, 368
Delphi, 40
Dicing, 232, 258
Dinners:
  conversation and entertainment at, 231, 235
  description of, 229, 234
  exaggerated accounts, 228
  extravagance of Court, 234
  to clients, 235
  wine at, 233
Dissection, human, prohibition of, 404
Divorce, 304
Doles of corn and money, 242
Doors, 145
Dowry, 299
Drainage, 161
Drama, low level of the, 268, 270
Dress:
  distinctions of, 65
  for dinner, 226
  hats, 212
  mantles, 221, 274
  military, 342
  toga, 197, 332
  theatrical, 269
  typical aristocrat's, 196
  women's, 308-313
Druids, the, 382

Education:
  of boys, 321-326
  of girls, 327
  ideal of, 320
  physical training, 331
  primary and secondary, 327-331
Egypt, 45
Elections, municipal, 255
Emblems, city, 47
Emperor, the:
  dependence upon the army, 52
  nomination of Senators by, 60
  powers of, 50
  and the Senate, 57
  symbolic character of statue, 386
Empire, the Roman:
  Eastern and Western halves, 35
  extent, 6, 8
  expeditions, 7
  government, 9
  military and naval forces, 12
  provinces, 30
  roads, 16
  security under, 12
Ephesus, 42
Epicureans, the, 407-409
Etiquette, exactions of, 217
Euclid, 401

Festivals, 261
Field-glass, primitive, 275
Fingers, use of, at meals, 228
Fires, destructive, 98, 133
Floors, 149, 180
Flour-mills, 248
Food, 200, 230, 258
Foreigners, 67
Forum, the, 102
  public life in, 214
"Free" towns, 90
Freedmen, 204, 245
  wealth of, 205
Freethought, 378-381
"Friends of Caesar," 211
Frontiers, protection of, 12
Fullers, 250
Funeral rites, 439-445
Furniture:
  beds, 182
  chairs and couches, 181
  chests, 185
  kitchen utensils, 189
  lamps, 186
  mirrors, 186
  silver and glass ware, 188
  tables, 183
  tripods, 184

Games, 214, 222, 232, 262
Gaul, 37
  tribes of, 38
Geographical knowledge, 398-401
Ghosts, belief in, 435-437
Gladiators, 264, 280, 282, 285-288
  female spectators at combats, 288
"Golden House," the, 116
"Golden Milestone," the, 105
Goldsmiths, 250
Government, system of, 49
   emperor, 50
   "knights," 63
  provinces, 82-95
  Senate, 56
  tribunes, 53
Governors, provincial, dress of, 93
  duties, 91
  emoluments, 94
Greece, indebtedness to, 32
  influence of art of, 421
  language and culture, 34
  scientific thought, 397
Greeks, prominence of, 67
Greeting, manner of 211
Guards, Imperial, 353
Guides, professional, 19
Guilds, _trade_, 254

Hair, method of wearing, 37, 195 298, 311
Hairpins, 311
Hats, 212
Health resorts, 174
Heating, domestic, 161
Holidays, 254
  number of, 260
Homestead, country, 169
Horses, in chariot-races, 275
Hotels, scarcity of, 22
Hour of rising, 195
House, country, 175-179
House, typical town, 143-163
  decoration, 150, 164
  dining-rooms, 155
  doors, 145
  exterior, 144
  floors, 149
  garden, 154, 156
  hall, 148
  heating system, 161
  kitchen, 156
  library and picture-gallery, 158
  lighting, 145, 150, 153, 160, 186
  peristyle, 154
  reception-room, 153
  roofs, 141, 162
  shrine, 157, 376
  water-supply and drainage, 160
  vestibule, 146
Houses, 131
  height of, 131, 139
  lighting of, 141
  tenement blocks,140

Imperial Guards, 353
Infantry, 339, 352
Inns, 20
Instruments, musical, 430
Interest, rates of, 239
Isis-worship, 373
Italy, 30

Janitors, 209
Janus, Temple of, 110
Jerusalem, 14, 44
Jewelry, female love of, 297, 312
Jews, colony of,  67
  rebellious among, 10
  toleration shown to, 382
Jove, Temple of, 105
Julius, Basilica of, 106
Jurymen, 217
Juvenal, on marriage, 293

Kissing, excessive, 211
Kitchens, 156, 170, 189
"Knights," order of:
  composition, 63
  dress, 66
  occupations, 238
  privileges, 64
Knives and forks, absence of, 189, 228

Lamps, 186
Land-tax, 85
Land-travelling, 16-25
Language, 32, 36, 91
  of the people, 258
  predominance of the Greek, 34
Law-courts, pleaders in, 216
 president and jury, 217
Learning, tastes in, 398
Legacies, 314
Legions, number and name of, 341
  strength, 339
Life, social, aristocratic, 193-237
  middle and lower class, 238-259
Literature, 394-396
  literary dependants, 208
Litter, 211
Loafers, 241
Local government, 89
Lugdunum (Lyons), 14, 38
Luncheon, 219

Macedonia, 40
Marriage, 220
  betrothal ceremony, 296
  divorce, 304
  dowry, 299
  festivities, 300
  two forms of, 290
  Juvenal on, 293
  legal age for, 294
  not based on love, 292, 294
  matrimonial freedom, 291
  morganatic, 295
  wedding ceremony, 297
Mars, Temple of, 118
Martial on country life, 172
Masks:
  at funerals, 152, 440
  theatrical, 268
Mathematics, 401
Mausoleum of Augustus, 120
Meals:
  breakfast, 200
  luncheon, 219
  dinner, 226, 229
Medicine, 403
Mediterranean Sea, 46
Milestones, 18, 28
Mines, 37
Mirrors, 186
Money-lending, 238
Morals, 378
Municipal elections, 255
Music, as part of education, 331, 341
  fondness for, 430
  instruments, 430
Mysticism, 372

Names, family, 194
  of slaves, 204
Navy, 12
Nero:
  musical eccentricities of, 78
  persecution of Christians by, 79, 383, 387
  personal appearance, 80, 213
  powers vested in, 55, 71
  reception by, 213
  reign, 74
  vices and follies 75, 116
New Year's Day, 262
News-sheets, official, 215
Noises, street, 134, 195

Oath of obedience, military, 342
Officials, public, 358
Oratory, school of, 329
Ornament, architectural, 112, 423

Paintings, wall, 325-328
Palatine Hill, 115
Pantheon, the, 121
Papyri, 336
Passes, Alpine, 39
Patriotism, municipal, 90
Paul, St., 34, 42, 80, 197, 383, 413
_Pax Romana_, the 9, 12
Pedigrees, 152
"People," the, 67, 241
  doles of corn and money to, 242
Person-tax, 87
Philosophy, study of, 332-335, 380
Pipes, lead, 160
Pliny the elder, literary industry of, 390-392
Pliny the younger, 236, 294, 305, 321, 392, 435
Plutarch, 334, 395
Police, soldiers as, 14
Polytheism, 364
Population of the city, 101
Portugal, 37
Present-giving, prominence of, 262
Priests, 361
Processions:
  chariot, 227
  funeral, 440
  wedding, 300
Proconsuls, 93
Provinces, 30
  civilisation of, 31
  commerce, 36
  contributions by, 85
  distinctions between, 35
  government, 82-95
  language, 32
Public service, 358-360
Publicans (tax-collectors), 89, 240

Record Office, the, 105
Religion, 333, 361-387
  attitude of state towards, 361-364, 370
  conservatism in, 364, 368
  free-thought, 378-381
  mixed elements, 370
  mysticism in, 372
  polytheistic character of, 364
  priests, 361
  private observances, 375
  superstitions in, 371
  tolerance in, 381
  treatment of Christians, 383-387
Rhodes, 42
Rings, 200
Roads, military, 16
  construction and upkeep, 18
  variety of traffic, 22
Rome in A.D., 64
  appearance, 96-100
  baths, 122
  extent and population, 100-102
  habits of the people, 102
  public buildings, 102-129
  streets, 130-138
  theatres, 123
Roofs 141, 162
Rostra, the, 104

Sandals, 309
Saturn, Temple of, 105
Saturnalia, the, 261
Schools, 321-331
Science, 396-405
Sculpture, 418, 424
Sea-travelling, 25-28
Senate, the, 56, 71
  imperial nomination to, 60
  qualifications for membership, 59
  relations with the emperor, 57, 72
  senators' dress, 65
  training of members, 62
Senate-House, the, 109
Seneca, 395
Sewers, 130
Ships, 26
Shoes, 197,310
Shops, 133, 141, 222
Shrine, household 159, 376
Sidon, 44
Signs, trade, 251
Slaves, 68, 206, 211, 240
  citizenship bestowed on, 204
  domestic, 201
  dress, 202
  licence at Saturnalia, 261
  as musicians, 431
  names, 204
  occupations, 246
  treatment, 203
Smyrna, 42
Snails, breeding of, 46
Social life, of aristocrats, 193-237
  of middle and lower classes, 238-259
Spain, 36
Spoons, 228
Sports, 178, 263
Statues, 418, 424
Stoics, the, 409-412
Strabo, 379
Streets, 130
  narrowness of, 132
  noisiness, 134, 195
  paving, 137
  regulation of traffic, 131
Suicide, attitude regarding, 23
Sun-dials, 191
Superstitions, 371
Surgery, 404

Tarragona, 37
Tarsus, 42
Taxes:
  collection 89, 240
  farming of, 239
  land, 85
  miscellaneous 88
  personal, 87
Temple, description of, 123, 265
Temples: of
  Concord, 105
  Janus, 110
  Jove, 105
  Mars, 118
  Saturn, 105
  Vesta, 114
Theatres, 123, 265
  actors' status 268
  _claqueurs_, 273
  compared with Greek, 266
  curtain, 267
  decoration, 267
  masks and dresses, 268
  music and dancing, 270
  plays performed, 268, 270-273
  scenery, 267
  seats, 267
  women's presence not encouraged, 266
Tiles, 157, 162
Time, method of telling, 192
Toga:
  colours of 218
  compulsory use on formal occasions 198
  distinctive meaning of, 197, 214
Toleration, religious, 381
Tombs, 253, 444
Trade guilds 254
  signs, 251
Trade routes, 27
Travelling, land and sea:
  accommodation, 20
  dangers 24, 29
  modes, 19
  period and routes, 25
  speed, 25, 28
"Tribunes of the commons," 53
Tunics, 196, 308
Tyre, 44, 45

Utensils, kitchen, 189

Vehicles, 19
Vesta, Temple of, 114

Water-clocks, 192
Water-supply, 135, 160
Wedding ceremony, 297
Wild-beast fights, 282, 284
Windows, 141, 145, 150, 60
Wine, 233, 241
Women:
  fondness for jewelry, 297, 312
  divorce, 304
  domestic virtues, 307
  dowry, 299
  dress, 308-313
  marriageable age, 294
  position after marriage, 289, 301
  presence at theatres not encouraged, 266
  property after marriage, 299, 302
  types of, 302, 306
Working-classes, the, 214
  competition with slave-labour 246
  dress and food 258
  language 258
  life of 253, 256
  professions all ranked among, 258
Writing materials, 323, 337

Youths:
  coming of age of 218, 382
  military training, 338





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