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Title: A History of Rome During the Later Republic and Early Principate
Author: Greenidge, A. H. J. (Abel Hendy Jones), 1865-1906
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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 "A History of Rome During the Later Republic and Early Principate" ***

                           A HISTORY OF ROME

                     DURING THE LATER REPUBLIC AND
                            EARLY PRINCIPATE


                   A. H. J. GREENIDGE, M. A., D. LITT.

                                VOLUME I

                              B.C. 133-104

                             WITH TWO MAPS


                                 B. G.


                                 T. G.


This work will be comprised in six volumes. According to the plan which
I have provisionally laid down, the second volume will cover the period
from 104 to 70 B.C., ending with the first consulship of Pompeius and
Crassus; the third, the period from 70 to 44 B.C., closing with the
death of Caesar; the fourth volume will probably be occupied by the
Third Civil War and the rule of Augustus, while the fifth and sixth will
cover the reigns of the Emperors to the accession of Vespasian.

The original sources, on which the greater part of the contents of the
present volume is based, have been collected during the last few years
by Miss Clay and myself, and have already been published in an
abbreviated form. Some idea of the debt which I owe to modern authors
may be gathered from the references in the footnotes. As I have often,
for the sake of brevity, cited the works of these authors by shortened
and incomplete titles, I have thought it advisable to add to the volume
a list of the full titles of the works referred to. But the list makes
no pretence to be a full bibliography of the period of history with
which this volume deals. The map of the Wäd Mellag and its surrounding
territory, which I have inserted to illustrate the probable site of the
battle of the Muthul, is taken from the map of the "Medjerda supérieure"
which appears in M. Salomon Reinach's _Atlas de la Province Romaine

I am very much indebted to my friend and former pupil, Mr. E.J. Harding,
of Hertford College, for the ungrudging labour which he has bestowed on
the proofs of the whole of this volume. Many improvements in the form of
the work are due to his perspicacity and judgment.

A problem which confronts an author who plunges into the midst of the
history of a nation (however complete may be the unity of the period
with which he deals) is that of the amount of introductory information
which he feels bound to supply to his readers. In this case, I have felt
neither obligation nor inclination to supply a sketch of the development
of Rome or her constitution up to the period of the Gracchi. The amount
of information on the general and political history of Rome which the
average student must have acquired from any of the excellent text-books
now in use, is quite sufficient to enable him to understand the
technicalities of the politics of the period with which I deal; and I
was very unwilling to burden the volume with a _précis_ of a subject
which I had already treated in another work. On the other hand, it is
not so easy to acquire information on the social and economic history of
Rome, and consequently I have devoted the first hundred pages of this
book to a detailed exposition of the conditions preceding and
determining the great conflict of interests with which our story opens.

A. H. J. G.

_August_, 1904


CHAPTER I: Characteristics of the period. Recent changes in the
conditions of Roman life. Close of the period of expansion by means of
colonies or land assignments. Reasons for social discontent. The life of
the wealthier classes. The expenses of political life. Attempts to check
luxury. Motives for gain amongst the upper classes. Means of acquiring
wealth open to members of the nobility; those open to members of the
commercial class. The political influence of the Equites. The business
life of Rome; finance and banking. Foreign trade. The condition of the
small traders. Agriculture. Diminution in the numbers of peasant
proprietors. The Latifundium and the new agricultural ideal. Growth of
pasturage. Causes of the changes in the tenure of land. The system of
possession. Future prospects of agriculture. Slave labour; dangers
attending its employment; revolts of slaves in Italy. The servile war in
Sicily (_circa_ 140-131 B.C.). The need for reform.

CHAPTER II: The sources from which reform might have come, too. Attitude
of Scipio Aemilianus. Tiberius Gracchus; his youth and early career. The
affair of the Numantine Treaty. Motives that urged Tiberius Gracchus to
reform. His tribunate (B.C. 133). Terms of the agrarian measure which he
introduced. Creation of a special agrarian commission. Opposition to the
bill. Veto pronounced by Marcus Octavius. Tiberius Gracchus declares a
Justitium. Fruitless reference to the senate. Deposition of Octavius.
Passing of the agrarian law; appointment of the commissioners; judicial
power given to the commissioners. Employment of the bequest of Attalus.
Attacks on Tiberius Gracchus. His defence of the deposition of Octavius.
New programme of Tiberius Gracchus; suggestion of measures dealing with
the army, the law-courts and the Italians. Tiberius Gracchus's attempt
at re-election to the tribunate. Riot at the election and death of
Tiberius Gracchus, Consequences of his fall.

CHAPTER III: Attitude of the senate after the fall of Tiberius Gracchus.
Special commission appointed for the trial of his adherents (B.C. 132).
Fate of Scipio Nasica. Permanence of the land commission and
thoroughness of its work. Difficulties connected with jurisdiction on
disputed claims. The Italians appeal to Scipio Aemilianus. His
intervention; judicial power taken from the commissioners (B.C. 129).
Death of Scipio Aemilianus. Tribunate of Carbo (B.C. 131); ballot law
and attempt to make the tribune immediately re-eligible. The Italian
claims; negotiations for the extension of the franchise. Alien act of
Pennus (B.C. 126). Proposal made by Flaccus to extend the franchise
(B.C. 125). Revolt of Fregellae. Foundation of Fabrateria (B.C. 124).
Foreign events during this period; the kingdom of Pergamon. Bequest of
Attains the Third (B.C. 133). Revolt of Aristonicus (B.C. 132-130).
Organisation of the province of Asia (B.C. 129-126). Sardinian War (B.C.
126-125). Conquest and annexation of the Balearic Islands
(B.C. 123-132).

CHAPTER IV: The political situation at the time of the appearance of
Caius Gracchus as a candidate for the tribunate (B.C. 124). Early career
of Caius Gracchus. First tribunate of Caius Gracchus (B.C. 123). Laws
passed or proposed during this tribunate; law protecting the Caput of a
Roman citizen. Impeachment of Popillius. Law concerning magistrates who
had been deposed by the people. Social reforms. Law providing for the
cheapened sale of corn. Law mitigating the conditions of military
service, 208. Agrarian law. Judiciary law. Law permitting a criminal
prosecution for corrupt judgments. Law concerning the province of Asia.
The new balance of power created by these laws in favour of the Equites.
Law about the consular provinces. Colonial schemes of Caius Gracchus.
The Rubrian law for the renewal of Carthage. Law for the making of
roads. Election of Fannius to the consulship and of Caius Gracchus and
Flaccus to the tribunate. Activity of Caius Gracchus during his second
tribunate (B.C. 122). The franchise bill. Opposition to the bill.
Exclusion of Italians from Rome; threat of the veto, and suspension of
the measure. Proposal for a change in the order of voting in the Comitia
Centuriata. New policy of the senate; counter-legislation of Drusus.
Colonial proposals of Drusus. His measure for the protection of the
Latins. The close of Caius Gracchus's second tribunate. His failure to
be elected tribune for the third time. Proposal for the repeal of the
Rubrian law. The meeting on the Capitol and its consequences (B.C. 121).
Declaration of a state of siege. The seizure of the Aventine; defeat of
the Gracchans; death of Caius Gracchus and Flaccus. Judicial prosecution
of the adherents of Caius Gracchus. Future judgments on the Gracchi. The
closing years of Cornelia. Estimate of the character and consequences of
the Gracchan reforms.

CHAPTER V: The political situation after the fall of Caius Gracchus.
Prosecution and acquittal of Opimius (B.C. 120). Publius Lentulus dies
in exile. Prosecution and condemnation of Carbo (B.C. 119). Lucius
Crassus. Policy of the senate towards the late schemes of reform. Two
new land laws (_circa_ 121-119 B.C.). The settlement of the land
question with respect to Ager Publicus in Italy (B.C. III). Limitations
on the power of the nobility; the Equestrian courts; trials of Scaevola
(B.C. 120) and Cato (B.C. 113). Consulship of Scaurus (B.C. 115); law
concerning the voting power of freedmen. Sumptuary law; activity of the
censors Metellus and Domitius (B.C. 115). Triumphs of Domitius, Fabius
(B.C. 120) and Scaurus (B.C. 115), for military successes. Confidence of
the electors in the ancient houses. Recognition of talent by the
nobility; career of Scaurus (B.C. 163-115). The rise of Marius; his
early career (B.C. 157-119). Tribunate of Marius (B.C. 119). His law
about the method of voting in the Comitia carried in spite of the
opposition of the senate. He opposes a measure for the distribution of
corn. Marius elected praetor; accused and acquitted of Ambitus (B.C.
116). His praetorship (B.C. 115), and pro-praetorship in Spain (B.C.
114). Further opposition to the senate; foundation of Narbo Martius
(B.C. 118). Glaucia; his tribunate and his law of extortion (_circa_ 111
B.C.). The spirit of unrest; religious fears at Rome (B.C. 114). First
trial of the vestals (B.C. 114). Second trial of the vestals (B.C. 113).
Human sacrifice. Great fire at Rome (B.C. III).

CHAPTER VI: The kingdom of Numidia. The races of North Africa. The
Numidians. The Numidian monarchy. Reign of Micipsa (B.C. 148-118). Early
years of Jugurtha. Jugurtha at Numantia (B.C. 134-133). Joint rule of
Jugurtha, Adherbal and Hiempsal (B.C. 118). Murder of Hiempsal (_circa_
116 B.C.); war between Jugurtha and Adherbal. Both kings send envoys to
Rome; the appeal of Adherbal. Decision of the senate. Numidia divided
between the claimants. Renewal of the war between Jugurtha and Adherbal
(_circa_ 114 B.C.). Siege of Cirta (B.C. 112). Embassy from Rome
neglected by Jugurtha. Renewed appeal of Adherbal. Another commission
sent by Rome. Surrender of Cirta and murder of Adherbal. Massacre of
Italian traders. Its influence on the commercial classes at Rome;
protest by Memmius. Declaration of war against Jugurtha. Command of
Bestia in Numidia (B.C. III). Attitude of Bocchus of Mauretania.
Negotiations of Bestia with Jugurtha; conclusion of peace. Excitement in
Rome on the news of the agreement with Jugurtha. Activity of Memmius.
Jugurtha induced to come to Rome (B.C. III). Jugurtha at Rome; the scene
at the Contio. Murder of Massiva. Jugurtha leaves Rome and the war is
renewed, 365. Spurius Albinus in Numidia. He returns to Rome leaving
Aulus Albinus in command. Enterprise of Aulus Albinus; his defeat and
compact with Jugurtha (B.C. 109). Reception of the news at Rome; the
senate invalidates the treaty. Return of Spurius Albinus to Africa. The
Mamilian Commission (B.C. 110). Metellus appointed to Numidia
(B.C. 109).

CHAPTER VII: Metellus restores discipline in the army. Jugurtha attempts
negotiation; Metellus intrigues with the envoys. First campaign of
Metellus (B.C. 109). Seizure of Vaga. Battle of the Muthul. Reception of
the news at Rome. Second campaign of Metellus (B.C. 108). Siege of Zama.
Correspondence of Metellus with Bomilcar. Negotiations with Jugurtha.
Discontent in the province of Africa at the progress of the war;
ambitions of Marius. Plans for securing the command for Marius. Massacre
of the Roman garrison at Vaga. Recovery of Vaga by Metellus. Trial and
execution of Turpilius, Intrigues of Bomilcar. Bomilcar put to death by
Jugurtha. Marius returns to Rome. His election to the consulship (B.C.
108 or 107); Numidia assigned as his province. Enrolment of the Capite
Censi in the legions. Metellus's expedition to Thala (B.C. 107); capture
of the town, Leptis Major appeals for, and receives, Roman help.
Jugurtha finds help amongst the Gaetulians. Junction of Jugurtha and
Bocchus. Metellus moves to Cirta. Close of Metellus's command.

CHAPTER VIII: Marius arrives in Africa (B.C. 107). Return of Metellus to
Rome: his triumph. First campaign of Marius. Expedition to Capsa and
destruction of the town. Second campaign of Marius (B.C. 106);
operations on the Muluccha. Arrival of Sulla with cavalry from Italy.
Early career of Sulla. Renewed coalition of Jugurtha and Bocchus.
Retirement of Marius on Cirta; battles on the route. Marius approached
by Bocchus; Sulla and Manlius sent to interview Bocchus. Envoys from
Bocchus reach Sulla in the Roman winter-camp (B.C. 105). Armistice made
with Bocchus; he is then granted conditional terms of alliance by the
Roman senate. The mission of Sulla to Bocchus. The advocates of Numidia
and Rome at the Mauretanian court. Sulla urges Bocchus to surrender
Jugurtha. Betrayal of the Numidian king; conclusion of the war;
settlement of Numidia. Fate of Jugurtha. Triumph of Marius. Lessons of
the Numidian War. Growing rivalry between Marius and Sulla. Internal
politics of Rome; reaction in favour of the nobility; election of
Serranus and Caepio (B.C. 107). The judiciary law of Caepio (B.C. 106).
The measure supported by Crassus. Reaction against the proposal; victory
of the Equites; renewed coalition against the senate due to the conduct
of the campaign in the North. The consular elections for the year 105
B.C. Effect of the defeat at Arausio (6th Oct. 105 B.C.). Election of
Marius to a second consulship.


The Wäd Mellag and the surrounding territory.
Numidia and the Roman Province of Africa.
Titles of modern works referred to in the notes.

     _Does the Eagle know what is in the pit?
        Or wilt thou go ask the Mole?
      Can Wisdom be put in a silver rod?
        Or Love in a golden bowl?_



The period of Roman history on which we now enter is, like so many that
had preceded it, a period of revolt, directly aimed against the existing
conditions of society and, through the means taken to satisfy the fresh
wants and to alleviate the suddenly realised, if not suddenly created,
miseries of the time, indirectly affecting the structure of the body
politic. The difference between the social movement of the present and
that of the past may be justly described as one of degree, in so far as
there was not a single element of discontent visible in the revolution
commencing with the Gracchi and ending with Caesar that had not been
present in the earlier epochs of social and political agitation. The
burden of military service, the curse of debt, the poverty of an
agrarian proletariate, the hunger for land, the striving of the artisan
and the merchant after better conditions of labour and of trade--the
separate cries of discontent that find their unison in a protest against
the monopoly of office and the narrow or selfish rule of a dominant
class, and thus gain a significance as much political as social--all
these plaints had filled the air at the time when Caius Licinius near
the middle of the fourth century, and Appius Claudius at its close,
evolved their projects of reform. The cycle of a nation's history can
indeed never be broken as long as the character of the nation remains
the same. And the average Roman of the middle of the second century
before our era[1] was in all essential particulars the Roman of the
times of Appius and of Licinius, or even of the epoch when the ten
commissioners had published the Tables which were to stamp its perpetual
character on Roman law. He was in his business relations either
oppressor or oppressed, either hammer or anvil. In his private life he
was an individualist whose sympathies were limited to the narrow circle
of his dependants; he was a trader and a financier whose humanitarian
instincts were subordinated to a code of purely commercial morality, and
who valued equity chiefly because it presented the line of least
resistance and facilitated the conduct of his industrial operations.
Like all individualists, he was something of an anarchist, filled with
the idea, which appeared on every page of the record of his ancestors
and the history of his State, that self-help was the divinely given
means of securing right, that true social order was the issue of
conflicting claims pushed to their breaking point until a temporary
compromise was agreed on by the weary combatants; but he was hampered in
his democratic leanings by the knowledge that democracy is the fruit of
individual self-restraint and subordination to the common
will--qualities of which he could not boast and symbols of a prize which
he would not have cared to attain at the expense of his peculiar ideas
of personal freedom--and he was forced, in consequence of this
abnegation, to submit to an executive government as strong, one might
almost say as tyrannous, as any which a Republic has ever displayed--a
government which was a product of the restless spirit of self-assertion
and self-aggrandisement which the Roman felt in himself, and therefore
had sufficient reason to suspect in others.

The Roman was the same; but his environment had changed more startlingly
during the last fifty or sixty years than in all the centuries that had
preceded them in the history of the Republic. The conquest of Italy had,
it Is true, given to his city much that was new and fruitful in the
domains of religion, of art, of commerce and of law. Bat these
accretions merely entailed the fuller realisation of a tendency which
had been marked from the earliest stage of Republican history--the
tendency to fit isolated elements in the marvellous discoveries made by
the heaven-gifted race of the Greeks into a framework that was
thoroughly national and Roman. Ideas had been borrowed, and these ideas
certainly resulted in increased efficiency and therefore in increased
wealth. But the gross material of Hellenism, whether as realised in
intellectual ideas or (the prize that appealed more immediately to the
practical Roman with his concrete mind) in tangible things, had not been
seized as a whole as the reward of victory: and no great attempt had
been made in former ages to assimilate the one or to enjoy the other.
The nature of the material rewards which had been secured by the epochs
of Italian conquest had indeed made such assimilation or enjoyment
impossible. They would have been practicable only in a state which
possessed a fairly complete urban life; and the effect of the wars which
Rome waged with her neighbours in the peninsula had been to make the
life of the average citizen more purely agricultural than it had been in
the early Republic, perhaps even in the epoch of the Kings. The course
of a nation's political, social and intellectual history is determined
very largely by the methods which it adopts for its own expansion at the
inevitable moment when its original limits are found to be too narrow to
satisfy even the most modest needs of a growing population. The method
chosen will depend chiefly on geographical circumstances and on the
military characteristics of the people which are indissolubly connected
with these. When the city of Old Greece began to feel the strength of
its growing manhood, and the developing hunger which was both the sign
and the source of that strength, it looked askance at the mountain line
which cut it off from the inland regions, it turned hopeful eyes on the
sea that sparkled along its coasts; it manned its ships and sent its
restless youth to a new and distant home which was but a replica of the
old. The results of this maritime adventure were the glories of urban
life and the all-embracing sweep of Hellenism. The progress of Roman
enterprise had been very different. Following the example of all
conquering Italian peoples,[2] and especially of the Sabellian invaders
whose movements immediately preceded their own, the Romans adopted the
course of inland expansion, and such urban unity as they had possessed
was dissipated over the vast tract of territory on which the legions
were settled, or to which the noble sent his armed retainers, nominally
to keep the land as the public domain of Rome, in reality to hold it for
himself and his descendants. At a given moment (which is as clearly
marked in Roman as in Hellenic history) the possibility of such
expansion ceased, and the necessity for its cessation was as fully
exhibited in the policy of the government as in the tastes of the
people. No Latin colony had been planted later than the year 181, no
Roman colony later than 157,[3] and the senate showed no inclination to
renew schemes for the further assignment of territory amongst the
people. There were many reasons for this indifference to colonial
enterprise. In the first place, although colonisation had always been a
relief to the proletariate and one of the means regularly adopted by
those in power for assuaging its dangerous discontent, yet the
government had always regarded the social aspect of this method of
expansion as subservient to the strategic.[4] This strategic motive no
longer existed, and a short-sighted policy, which looked to the present,
not to the future, to men of the existing generation and not to their
sons, may easily have held that a colony, which was not needed for the
protection of the district in which it was settled, injuriously affected
the fighting-strength of Rome. The maritime colonies which had been
established from the end of the great Latin war down to the close of the
second struggle with Carthage claimed, at least in many cases, exemption
from military service,[5] and a tradition of this kind tends to linger
when its justification is a thing of the past. But, even if such a view
could be repudiated by the government, it was certain that the levy
became a more serious business the greater the number of communities on
which the recruiting commander had to call, and it was equally manifest
that the veteran who had just been given an allotment on which to
establish his household gods might be inclined to give a tardy response
to the call to arms. The Latin colony seemed a still greater anachronism
than the military colony of citizens. The member of such a community,
although the state which he entered enjoyed large privileges of
autonomy, ceased to be a Roman citizen in respect to political rights,
and even at a time when self-government had been valued almost more than
citizenship, the government had only been able to carry out its project
of pushing these half-independent settlements into the heart of Italy by
threatening with a pecuniary penalty the soldier who preferred his
rights as a citizen to the benefits which he might receive as an
emigrant.[6] Now that the great wars had brought their dubious but at
least potential profits to every member of the Roman community, and the
gulf between the full citizens and the members of the allied communities
was ever widening, it was more than doubtful whether a member of the
former class, however desperate his plight, would readily condescend to
enroll himself amongst the latter. But, even apart from these
considerations, it must have seemed very questionable to any one, who
held the traditional view that colonisation should subserve the purposes
of the State, whether the landless citizen of the time could be trusted
to fulfil his duties as an emigrant. As early as the year 186 the consul
Spurius Postumius, while making a judicial tour in Italy, had found to
his surprise that colonies on both the Italian coasts, Sipontum on the
Upper, and Buxentum on the Lower Sea, had been abandoned by their
inhabitants: and a new levy had to be set on foot to replace the
faithless emigrants who had vanished into space.[7] As time went on the
risk of such desertion became greater, partly from the growing
difficulty of maintaining an adequate living on the land, partly from
the fact that the more energetic spirits, on whom alone the hopes of
permanent settlement could depend, found a readier avenue to wealth and
a more tempting sphere for the exercise of manly qualities in the
attractions of a campaign that seemed to promise plunder and glory,
especially when these prizes were accompanied by no exorbitant amount of
suffering or toil. Thus when it had become known that Scipio Africanus
would accompany his brother in the expedition against Antiochus, five
thousand veterans, both citizens and allies, who had served their full
time under the command of the former, offered their voluntary services
to the departing consul,[8] and nineteen' years later the experience
which had been gained of the wealth that might be reaped from a campaign
in Macedonia and Asia drew many willing recruits to the legions which
were to be engaged in the struggle with Perseus.[9] The
semi-professional soldier was in fact springing up, the man of a spirit
adventurous and restless such as did not promise contentment with the
small interests and small rewards of life in an Italian outpost. But, if
the days of formal colonisation were over, why might not the concurrent
system be adopted of dividing conquered lands amongst poorer citizens
without the establishment of a new political settlement or any strict
limitation of the number of the recipients? This 'viritane' assignation
had always run parallel to that which assumed the form of colonisation;
it merely required the existence of land capable of distribution, and
the allotments granted might be considered merely a means of affording
relief to the poorer members of existing municipalities. The system was
supposed to have existed from the times of the Kings; it was believed to
have formed the basis of the first agrarian law, that of Spurius Cassius
in 486;[10] it had been employed after the conquest of the Volscians in
the fourth century and that of the Sabines in the third;[11] it had
animated the agrarian legislation of Flaminius when in 232 he romanised
the _ager Gallicus_ south of Ariminum without planting a single colony
in this region;[12] and a date preceding the Gracchan legislation by
only forty years had seen the resumption of the method, when some Gallic
and Ligurian land, held to be the spoil of war and declared to be
unoccupied, had been parcelled out into allotments, of ten _jugera_ to
Roman citizens and of three to members of the Latin name.[13] But to the
government of the period with which we are concerned the continued
pursuance of such a course, if it suggested itself at all, appealed in
the light of a policy that was unfamiliar, difficult and objectionable.
It is probable that this method of assignment, even in its later phases,
had been tinctured with the belief that, like the colony, it secured a
system of military control over the occupied district: and that the
purely social object of land-distribution, if it had been advanced at
all, was considered to be characteristic rather of the demagogue than
the statesman. From a strategic point of view such a measure was
unnecessary; from an economic, it assumed, not only a craving for
allotments amongst the poorer class, of which there was perhaps little
evidence, but a belief, which must have been held to be sanguine in the
extreme, that these paupers, when provided for, would prove to be
efficient farmers capable of maintaining a position which many of them
had already lost. Again, if such an assignment was to be made, it should
be made on land immediately after it had passed from the possession of
the enemy to that of Rome; if time had elapsed since the date of
annexation, it was almost certain that claims of some kind had been
asserted over the territory, and shadowy as these claims might be, the
Roman law had, in the interest of the State itself, always tended to
recognise a _de facto_ as a _de jure_ right. The claims of the allies
and the municipalities had also to be considered; for assignments to
Roman citizens on an extensive scale would inevitably lead to difficult
questions about the rights which many of these townships actually
possessed to much of the territory whose revenue they enjoyed. If the
allies and the municipal towns did not suffer, the loss must fall on the
Roman State itself, which derived one of its chief sources of stable and
permanent revenue--the source which was supposed to meet the claims for
Italian administration[14]--from its domains in Italy, on the
contractors who collected this revenue, and on the Enterprising
capitalists who had put their wealth and energy into the waste places to
which they had been invited by the government, and who had given these
devastated territories much of the value which they now possessed.
Lastly, these enterprising possessors were strongly represented in the
senate; the leading members of the nobility had embarked on a new system
of agriculture, the results of which were inimical to the interest of
the small farmer, and the conditions of which would be undermined by a
vast system of distribution such as could alone suffice to satisfy the
pauper proletariate. The feeling that a future agrarian law was useless
from an economic and dangerous from a political point of view, was
strengthened by the conviction that its proposal would initiate a war
amongst classes, that its failure would exasperate the commons and that
its success would inflict heavy pecuniary damage on the guardians of
the State.

Thus the simple system of territorial expansion, which had continued in
an uninterrupted course from the earliest days of conquest, might be now
held to be closed for ever. From the point of view of the Italian
neighbours of Rome it was indeed ample time that such a closing period
should be reached. If we possessed a map of Italy which showed the
relative proportions of land in Italy and Cisalpine Gaul which had been
seized by Rome or left to the native cities or tribes, we should
probably find that the possessions of the conquering State, whether
occupied by colonies, absorbed by the gift of citizenship, or held as
public domain, amounted to nearly one half of the territory of the whole
peninsula.[15] The extension of such progress was clearly impossible
unless war were to be provoked with the Confederacy which furnished so
large a proportion of the fighting strength of Rome; but, if it was
confessed that extension on the old lines was now beyond reach of
attainment and yet it was agreed that the existing resources of Italy
did not furnish an adequate livelihood to the majority of the citizens
of Rome, but two methods of expansion could be thought of as practicable
in the future. One was agrarian assignation at the expense either of the
State or of the richer classes or of both; the other was enterprise
beyond the sea. But neither of these seemed to deserve government
intervention, or regulation by a scheme which would satisfy either
immediate or future wants. The one was repudiated, as we have already
shown, on account of its novelty, its danger and its inconvenience; the
other seemed emphatically a matter for private enterprise and above all
for private capital. It could never be available for the very poor
unless it assumed the form of colonisation, and the senate looked on
transmarine colonisation with the eye of prejudice.[16] It took a
different view of the enterprise of the foreign speculator and merchant;
this it regarded with an air of easy indifference. Their wealth was a
pillar on which the State might lean in times of emergency, but, until
the disastrous effects of commercial enterprise on foreign policy were
more clearly seen, it was considered to be no business of the government
either to help or to hinder the wealthy and enterprising Roman in his
dealings with the peoples of the subject or protected lands.

Rome, if by this name we mean the great majority of Roman citizens, was
for the first time for centuries in a situation in which all movement
and all progress seemed to be denied. The force of the community seemed
to have spent itself for the time; as a force proceeding from the whole
community it had perhaps spent itself for ever. A section of the
nominally sovereign people might yet be welded into a mighty instrument
that would carry victory to the ends of the earth, and open new channels
of enterprise both for the men who guided their movements and for
themselves. But for the moment the State was thrown back upon itself; it
held that an end had been attained, and the attainment naturally
suggested a pause, a long survey of the results which had been reached
by these long years of struggle with the hydra-headed enemy abroad. The
close of the third Macedonian war is said by a contemporary to have
brought with it a restful sense of security such as Rome could not have
felt for centuries.[17] Such a security gave scope to the rich to enjoy
the material advantages which their power had acquired; but it also gave
scope to the poor to reflect on the strange harvest which the conquest
of the great powers of the world had brought to the men whose stubborn
patience had secured the peace which they were given neither the means
nor the leisure to enjoy. The men who evaded or had completed their
service in the legions lacked the means, although they had the leisure;
the men who still obeyed the summons to arms lacked both, unless the
respite between prolonged campaigns could be called leisure, or the
booty, hardly won and quickly squandered, could be described as means.
Even after Carthage had been destroyed Rome, though doubly safe, was
still busy enough with her legions; the government of Spain was one
protracted war, and proconsuls were still striving to win triumphs for
themselves by improving on their predecessors' work.[18] But such war
could not absorb the energy or stimulate the interest of the people as a
whole. The reaction which had so often followed a successful campaign,
when the discipline of the camp had been shaken off and the duties of
the soldier were replaced by the wants of the citizen, was renewed on a
scale infinitely larger than before--a scale proportioned to the
magnitude of the strain which had been removed and the greatness of the
wants which had been revived. The cries for reform may have been of the
old familiar type but their increased intensity and variety may almost
be held to have given them a difference of quality. There is a stage at
which a difference of degree seems to amount to one of kind: and this
stage seems certainly to have been reached in the social problems
presented by the times. In the old days of the struggle between the
orders the question of privilege had sometimes overshadowed the purely
economic issue, and although a close scrutiny of those days of turmoil
shows that the dominant note in the conflict was often a mere pretext
meant to serve the personal ambition of the champions of the Plebs, yet
the appearance rather than the reality of an issue imposes on the
imagination of the mob, and political emancipation had been thought a
boon even when hard facts had shown that its greater prizes had fallen
to a small and selfish minority. Now, however, there could be no
illusion. There was nothing but material wants on one side, there was
nothing but material power on the other. The intellectual claims which
might be advanced to justify a monopoly of office and of wealth, could
be met by an intellectual superiority on the part of a demagogue
clamouring for confiscation. The ultimate basis of the life of the State
was for the first time to be laid bare and subjected to a merciless
scrutiny; it remained to be seen which of the two great forces of
society would prevail; the force of habit which had so often blinded the
Roman to his real needs; or the force of want which, because it so
seldom won a victory over his innate conservatism, was wont, when that
victory had been won, to sweep him farther on the path of reckless and
inconsistent reform than it would have carried a race better endowed
with the gift of testing at every stage of progress the ends and needs
of the social organism considered as a whole.

An analysis of social discontent at any period of history must take the
form of an examination of the wants engendered by the age, and of the
adequacy or inadequacy of their means of satisfaction. If we turn our
attention first to the forces of society which were in possession of the
fortress and were to be the object of attack, we shall find that the
ruling desires which animated these men of wealth and influence were
chiefly the product of the new cosmopolitan culture which the victorious
city had begun to absorb in the days when conquest and diplomacy had
first been carried across the seas. To this she fell a willing victim
when the conquered peoples, bending before the rude force which had but
substituted a new suzerainty for an old and had scarcely touched their
inner life, began to display before the eyes of their astonished
conquerors the material comfort and the spiritual charm which, in the
case of the contact of a potent but narrow civilisation with one that is
superbly elastic and strong in the very elegance of its physical
debility, can always turn defeat into victory. But the student who
begins his investigation of the new Roman life with the study of Roman
society as it existed in the latter half of the second century before
our era, cannot venture to gather up the threads of the purely
intellectual and moral influences which were created by the new
Hellenistic civilisation. He feels that he is only at the beginning of a
process, that he lacks material for his picture, that the illustrative
matter which he might employ is to be found mainly in the literary
records of a later age, and that his use of this matter would but
involve him in the historical sins of anticipation and anachronism. Of
some phases of the war between the old spirit and the new we shall find
occasion to speak; but the culminating point attained by the blend of
Greek with Roman elements is the only one which is clearly visible to
modern eyes. This point, however, was reached at the earliest only in
the second half of the next century. It was only then that the fusion of
the seemingly discordant elements gave birth to the new "Romanism,"
which was to be the ruling civilisation of Italy and the Western
provinces and, in virtue of the completeness of the amalgamation and the
novelty of the product, was itself to be contrasted and to live for
centuries in friendly rivalry with the more uncompromising Hellenism of
Eastern lands. But some of the economic effects of the new influences
claim our immediate attention, for we are engaged in the study of the
beginnings of an economic revolution, and an analysis must therefore be
attempted of some of the most pressing needs and some of the keenest
desires which were awakened by Hellenism, either in the purer dress
which old Greece had given it or in the more gorgeous raiment which it
had assumed during its sojourn in the East.

A tendency to treat the city as the home, the country only as a means of
refreshment and a sphere of elegant retirement during that portion of
the year when the excitement of the urban season, its business and its
pleasure, were suspended, began to be a marked feature of the life of
the upper classes. The man of affairs and the man of high finance were
both compelled to have their domicile in the town, and, if agriculture
was still the staple or the supplement of their wealth, the needs of the
estate had to be left to the supervision of the resident bailiff.[19]
This concentration of the upper classes in the city necessarily entailed
a great advance in the price and rental of house property within the
walls. It is true that the reckless prices paid for houses, especially
for country villas, by the grandees and millionaires of the next
generation,[20] had not yet been reached; but the indications with which
we are furnished of the general rise of prices for everything in Rome
that could be deemed desirable by a cultivated taste,[21] show that the
better class of house property must already have yielded large returns,
whether it were sold or let, and we know that poor scions of the
nobility, if business or pleasure induced them to spend a portion of the
year in Rome, had soon to climb the stairs of flats or lodgings.[22] The
pressure for room led to the piling of storey on storey. On The roof of
old houses new chambers were raised, which could be reached by an
outside stair, and either served to accommodate the increased retinue of
the town establishment or were let to strangers who possessed no
dwelling of their own;[23] the still larger lodging-houses or "islands,"
which derived their name from their lofty isolation from neighbouring
buildings,[24] continued to spring up, and even private houses soon came
to attain a height which had to be restrained by the intervention of the
law. An ex-consul and augur was called on by the censors of 125 to
explain the magnitude of a villa which he had raised, and the altitude
of the structure exposed him not only to the strictures of the guardians
of morals but to a fine imposed by a public court.[25] Great changes
were effected in the interior structure of the houses of the
wealthy--changes excused by a pardonable desire for greater comfort and
rendered necessary both by the growing formality of life and the large
increase in the numbers of the resident household, but tending, when
once adopted, to draw the father of the family into that most useless
type of extravagance which takes the form of a craze for building. The
Hall or Atrium had once been practically the house. It opened on the
street. It contained the family bed and the kitchen fire. The smoke
passed through a hole in the roof and begrimed the family portraits that
looked down on the members of the household gathered round the hearth
for their common meal. The Hall was the chief bedroom, the kitchen, the
dining-room and the reception room, and it was also the only avenue from
the street to the small courtyard at the back. The houses of the great
had hitherto differed from those of the poor chiefly in dimensions and
but very slightly in structure. The home of the wealthy patrician had
simply been on a larger scale of primitive discomfort; and if his large
parlour built of timber could accommodate a vast host of clients, the
bed and the cooking pots were still visible to every visitor. The chief
of the early innovations had been merely a low portico, borrowed from
the Greeks by the Etruscans and transmitted by them to Rome, which ran
round the courtyard, was divided into little cells and chambers, and
served to accommodate the servants of the house.[26] But now fashion
dictated that the doorway should not front the street but should be
parted from it by a vestibule, in which the early callers gathered
before they were admitted to the hall of audience. The floor of the
Atrium was no longer the common passage to the regions at the back, but
a special corridor lying either on one or on both sides of the Hall[27]
led past the Study or Tablinum, immediately behind it, to the inner
court beyond. Even the sanctity of the nuptial couch could not continue
to give it the publicity which was irksome to the taste of an age which
had acquired notions of the dignity of seclusion, of the comfort that
was to be found in retirement, and of the convenience of separating the
chambers that were used for public from those which were employed for
merely private purposes. The chief bedrooms were shifted to the back,
and the sides of the courtyard were no longer the exclusive abode of the
dependants of the household. The common hearth could no longer serve as
the sphere of the culinary operations of an expensive cook with his
retinue of menials; the cooking fire was removed to one of the rooms
near the back-gate of the house, which finally became an ample kitchen
replete with all the imported means of satisfying the growing luxury of
the table; and the member of the family loitering in the hall, or the
visitor admitted through its portals, was spared the annoyances of
strong smells and pungent smoke. The Roman family also discovered the
discomfort of dining in a large and scantily furnished room, not too
well lit and accessible to the intrusions of the chance domestic and the
caller. It was deemed preferable to take the common meal in a light and
airy upper chamber, and the new type of Coenaculum satisfied at once the
desire for personal comfort and for that specialisation in the use of
apartments which is one of the chief signs of an advancing material
civilisation. The great hall had become the show-room of the house, but
even for this purpose its dimensions proved too small. Such was the
quantity of curios and works of art collected by the conquering or
travelled Roman that greater space was needed for the exhibition of
their rarity or splendour. This space was gained by the removal from the
Atrium of all the domestic obstacles with which it had once been
cumbered. It might now be made slightly smaller in its proportion to the
rest of the house and yet appear far more ample than before. The space
by which its sides were diminished could now be utilised for the
building of two wings or Alae, which served the threefold purpose of
lighting the hall from the sides, of displaying to better advantage, as
an oblong chamber always does, the works of art which the lord of the
mansion or his butler[28] displayed to visitor or client, and lastly of
serving as a gallery for the family portraits, which were finally
removed from the Atrium, to be seen to greater advantage and in a better
light on the walls of the wings. These now displayed the family tree
through painted lines which connected the little shrines holding the
inscribed _imagines_ of the great ancestors of the house.[29] It is also
possible that the Alae served as rooms for more private audiences than
were possible in the Atrium.[30] From the early morning crowd which
thronged the hall individuals or groups might have been detached by the
butler, and led to the presence of the great statesman or pleader who
paced the floor in the retirement of one of these long side-galleries.
[31] Business of a yet more private kind was transacted in the still
greater security of the Tablinum, the archive room and study of the
house. Here were kept, not only the family records and the family
accounts, but such of the official registers and papers as a magistrate
needed to have at hand during his year of office.[32] The domestic
transaction of official business was very large at Rome, for the State
had given its administrators not even the skeleton of a civil service,
and it was in this room that the consul locked himself up with his
quaestor and his scribes, as it was here that, as a good head of the
family and a careful business man, he carefully perused the record of
income and expenditure, of gains and losses, with his skilled Greek

The whole tendency of the reforms in domestic architecture was to
differentiate between the public and private life of the man of business
or affairs. His public activity was confined to the forepart of the
house; his repose, his domestic joys, and his private pleasures were
indulged in the buildings which lay behind the Atrium and its wings. As
each of the departments of life became more ambitious, the sphere for
the exercise of the one became more magnificent, and that which fostered
the other the scene of a more perfect, because more quiet, luxury. The
Atrium was soon to become a palatial hall adorned with marble
colonnades;[33] the small yard with its humble portico at the back was
to be transformed into the Greek Peristyle, a court open to the sky and
surrounded by columns, which enclosed a greenery of shrubs and trees and
an atmosphere cooled and freshened by the constant play of fountains.
The final form of the Roman house was an admirable type of the new
civilisation. It was Roman and yet Greek[34]--Roman in the grand front
that it, presented to the world, Greek in the quiet background of
thought and sentiment.

The growing splendour of the house demanded a number and variety in its
human servitors that had not been dreamed of in a simpler age. The slave
of the farm, with his hard hands and weather-beaten visage, could no
longer be brought by his elegant master to the town and exhibited to a
fastidious society as the type of servant that ministered to his daily
needs. The urban and rustic family were now kept wholly distinct; it was
only when some child of marked grace and beauty was born on the farm,
that it was transferred to the mansion as containing a promise that
would be wasted on rustic toil.[35] In every part of the establishment
the taste and wealth of the owner might be tested by the courtliness and
beauty of its living instruments. The chained dog at the gate had been
replaced by a human janitor, often himself in chains.[36] The visitor,
when he had passed the porter, was received by the butler in the hall,
and admitted to the master's presence by a series of footmen and ushers,
the show servants of the fore-part of the house, men of the impassive
dignity and obsequious repose that servitude but strengthens in the
Oriental mind.[37] In the penetralia of the household each need created
by the growing ideal of comfort and refinement required its separate
band of ministers. The body of the bather was rubbed and perfumed by
experts in the art; the service of the table was in the hands of men who
had made catering and the preparation of delicate viands the sole
business of their lives. The possession of a cook, who could answer to
the highest expectations of the age, was a prize beyond the reach of all
but the most wealthy; for such an expert the sum of four talents had to
be paid;[38] he was the prize of the millionaire, and families of more
moderate means, if they wished a banquet to be elegantly served, were
forced to hire the temporary services of an accomplished artist.[39] The
housekeeper,[40] who supervised the resources of the pantry, guided the
destinies of the dinner in concert with the _chef_; and each had under
him a crowd of assistants of varied names and carefully differentiated
functions.[41] The business of the outer world demanded another class of
servitors. There were special valets charged with the functions of
taking notes and invitations to their masters' friends; there was the
valued attendant of quick eye and ready memory, an incredibly rich
store-house of names and gossip, an impartial observer of the ways and
weaknesses of every class, who could inform his master of the name and
attributes of the approaching stranger. There were the lackeys who
formed the nucleus of the attendant retinue of clients for the man when
he walked abroad, the boys of exquisite form with slender limbs and
innocent faces, who were the attendant spirits of the lady as she passed
in her litter down the street. The muscles of the stouter slaves now
offered facilities for easy journeying that had been before unknown. The
Roman official need not sit his horse during the hot hours of the day as
he passed through the hamlets of Italy, and the grinning rustic could
ask, as he watched the solemn and noiseless transit of the bearers,
whether the carefully drawn curtains did not conceal a corpse.[42]

The internal luxury of the household was as fully exhibited in lifeless
objects as in living things. Rooms were scented with fragrant perfumes
and hung with tapestries of great price and varied bloom. Tables were
set with works of silver, ivory and other precious material, wrought
with the most delicate skill. Wine of moderate flavour was despised;
Falernian and Chian were the only brands that the true connoisseur would
deem worthy of his taste. A nice discrimination was made in the
qualities of the rarer kinds of fish, and other delicacies of the table
were sought in proportion to the difficulty of their attainment. The
fashions of dress followed the tendency of the age; the rarity of the
material, its fineness of texture, the ease which it gave to the body,
were the objects chiefly sought. Young men were seen in the Forum in
robes of a material as soft as that worn by women and almost transparent
in its thinness. Since all these instruments of pleasure, and the luxury
that appealed to ambition even more keenly than to taste, were pursued
with a ruinous competition, prices were forced up to an incredible
degree. An amphora of Falernian wine cost one hundred denarii, a jar of
Pontic salt-fish four hundred; a young Roman would often give a talent
for a favourite, and boys who ranked in the highest class for beauty of
face and elegance of form fetched even a higher price than this.[43] Few
could have been inclined to contradict Cato when he said in the
senate-house that Rome was the only city in the world where a jar of
preserved fish from the Black Sea cost more than a yoke of oxen, and a
boy-favourite fetched a higher price than a yeoman's farm.[44] One of
the great objects of social ambition was to have a heavier service of
silver-plate than was possessed by any of one's neighbours. In the good
old days,--days not so long past, but severed from the present by a gulf
that circumstances had made deeper than the years--the Roman had had an
official rather than a personal pride in the silver which he could
display before the respectful eyes of the distinguished foreigner who
was the guest of the State; and the Carthaginian envoys had been struck
by the similarity between the silver services which appeared at the
tables of their various hosts. The experience led them to a higher
estimate of Roman brotherhood than of Roman wealth, and the silver-plate
that had done such varied duty was at least responsible for a moral
triumph.[45] Only a few years before the commencement of the first war
with Carthage Rufinus a consular had been expelled from the senate for
having ten pounds of the wrought metal in his keeping,[46] and Scipio
Aemilianus, a man of the present age, but an adherent of the older
school, left but thirty-two pounds' weight to his heir. Less than forty
years later the younger Livius Drusus was known to be in possession of
plate that weighed ten thousand pounds,[47] and the accretions to the
primitive hoard which must have been made by but two or three members of
this family may serve as an index of the extent to which this particular
form of the passion for display had influenced the minds and practice of
the better-class Romans of the day.

There were other objects, valued for their intrinsic worth as much as
for the distinction conveyed by their possession, which attracted the
ambition and strained the revenues of the fashionable man. Works of art
must once have been cheap on the Roman market; for, even if we refuse to
credit the story of Mummius' estimate of the prize which fallen Corinth
had delivered into his hands,[48] yet the transhipment of cargoes of the
priceless treasures to Rome is at least an historic fact, and the
Gracchi must themselves have seen the trains of wagons bearing their
precious freight along the Via Sacra to the Capitol. The spoils of the
generous conqueror were lent to adorn the triumphs, the public buildings
and even the private houses, of others; but much that had been yielded
by Corinth had become the property neither of the general nor of the
State. Polybius had seen the Roman legionaries playing at draughts on
the Dionysus of Aristeides and many another famous canvas which had been
torn from its place and thrown as a carpet upon the ground;[49] but many
a camp follower must have had a better estimate of the material value of
the paintings of the Hellenic masters, and the cupidity of the Roman
collector must often have been satisfied at no great cost to his
resources. The extent to which a returning army could disseminate its
acquired tastes and distribute its captured goods had been shown some
forty years before the fall of Corinth when Manlius brought his legions
back from the first exploration of the rich cities of Asia. Things and
names, of which the Roman had never dreamed, soon gratified the eye and
struck the ear with a familiar sound. He learnt to love the bronze
couches meant for the dining hall, the slender side tables with the
strange foreign name, the delicate tissues woven to form the hangings of
the bed or litter, the notes struck from the psalter and the harp by the
fingers of the dancing-women of the East.[50] This was the first
irruption of the efflorescent luxury of Eastern Hellenism; but some
five-and-twenty years before this date Rome had received her first
experience of the purer taste of the Greek genius in the West. The whole
series of the acts of artistic vandalism which marked the footsteps of
the conquering state could be traced back to the measures taken by
Claudius Marcellus after the fall of Syracuse. The systematic plunder of
works of art was for the first time given an official sanction, and the
public edifices of Rome were by no means the sole beneficiaries of this
new interpretation of the rights of war. Much of the valuable plunder
had found its way into private houses,[51] to stimulate the envious
cupidity of many a future governor who, cursed with the taste of a
collector and unblessed by the opportunity of a war, would make subtle
raids on the artistic treasures of his province a secret article of his
administration. When the ruling classes of a nation have been
familiarised for the larger part of a century with the easy acquisition
of the best material treasures of the world, things that have once
seemed luxuries come to fill an easy place in the category of accepted
wants. But the sudden supply has stopped; the market value, which
plunder has destroyed or lessened, has risen to its normal level;
another burden has been added to life, there is one further stimulus to
wealth and, so pressing is the social need, that the means to its
satisfaction are not likely to be too diligently scrutinised before they
are adopted.

More pardonable were the tastes that were associated with the more
purely intellectual elements in Hellenic culture--with the influence
which the Greek rhetor or philosopher exercised in his converse with the
stern but receptive minds of Rome, the love of books, the new lessons
which were to be taught as to the rhythmic flow of language and the
rhythmic movement of the limbs. The Greek adventurer was one of the most
striking features of the epoch which immediately followed the close of
the great wars. Later thinkers, generally of the resentfully national,
academic and pseudo-historical type, who repudiated the amenities of
life which they continued to enjoy, and cherished the pleasing fiction
of the exemplary _mores_ of the ancient times, could see little in him
but a source of unmixed evil;[52] and indeed the Oriental Greek of the
commoner type, let loose upon the society of the poorer quarters, or
worming his way into the confidence of some rich but uneducated master,
must often have been the vehicle of lessons that would better have been
unlearnt. But Italy also saw the advent of the best professors of the
age, golden-mouthed men who spoke in the language of poetry, rhetoric
and philosophy, and who turned from the wearisome competition of their
own circles and the barren fields of their former labours to find a
flattering attention, a pleasing dignity, and the means of enjoying a
full, peaceful and leisured life in the homes of Roman aristocrats,
thirsting for knowledge and thirsting still more for the mastery of the
unrivalled forms in which their own deeds might be preserved and through
which their own political and forensic triumphs might be won. Soon towns
of Italy--especially those of the Hellenic South--would be vying with
each other to grant the freedom of their cities and other honours in
their gift to a young emigrant poet who hailed from Antioch, and members
of the noblest houses would be competing for the honour of his
friendship and for the privilege of receiving him under their roof.[53]
The stream of Greek learning was broad and strong;[54] it bore on its
bosom every man and woman who aimed at a reputation for elegance, for
wit or for the deadly thrust in verbal fence which played so large a
part in the game of politics; every one that refused to float was either
an outcast from the best society, or was striving to win an eccentric
reputation for national obscurantism and its imaginary accompaniment of
honest rustic strength.

Acquaintance with professors and poets led to a knowledge of books; and
it was as necessary to store the latter as the former under the
fashionable roof. The first private library in Rome was established by
Aemilius Paulus, when he brought home the books that had belonged to the
vanquished Perseus;[55] and it became as much a feature of conquest
amongst the highly cultured to bring home a goodly store of literature
as to gather objects of art which might merely please the sensuous taste
and touch only the outer surface of the mind.[56]

But it was deemed by no means desirable to limit the influences of the
new culture to the minds of the mature. There was, indeed, a school of
cautious Hellenists that might have preferred this view, and would at
any rate have exercised a careful discrimination between those elements
of the Greek training which would strengthen the young mind by giving it
a wider range of vision and a new gallery of noble lives and those which
would lead to mere display, to effeminacy, nay (who could tell?) to
positive depravity. But this could not be the point of view of society
as a whole. If the elegant Roman was to be half a Greek, he must learn
during the tender and impressionable age to move his limbs and modulate
his voice in true Hellenic wise. Hence the picture which Scipio
Aemilianus, sane Hellenist and stout Roman, gazed at with astonished
eyes and described in the vigorous and uncompromising language suited to
a former censor. "I was told," he said, "that free-born boys and girls
went to a dancing school and moved amidst disreputable professors of the
art. I could not bring my mind to believe it; but I was taken to such a
school myself, and Good Heavens! What did I see there! More than fifty
boys and girls, one of them, I am ashamed to say, the son of a candidate
for office, a boy wearing the golden boss, a lad not less than twelve
years of age. He was jingling a pair of castanets and dancing a step
which an immodest slave could not dance with decency." [57] Such might
have been the reflections of a puritan had he entered a modern
dancing-academy. We may be permitted to question the immorality of the
exhibition thus displayed, but there can be no doubt as to the social
ambition which it reveals--an ambition which would be perpetuated
throughout the whole of the life of the boy with the castanets, which
would lead him to set a high value on the polish of everything he called
his own--a polish determined by certain rigid external standards and to
be attained at any hazard, whether by the ruinous concealment of honest
poverty, or the struggle for affluence even by the most
questionable means.

But the burdens on the wealth of the great were by no means limited to
those imposed by merely social canons. Political life at Rome had always
been expensive in so far as office was unpaid and its tenure implied
leisure and a considerable degree of neglect of his own domestic
concerns in the patriot who was willing to accept it. But the State had
lately taken on itself to increase the financial expenditure which was
due to the people without professing to meet the bill from the public
funds. The 'State' at Rome did not mean what it would have meant in such
a context amongst the peoples of the Hellenic world. It did not mean
that the masses were preying on the richer classes, but that the richer
classes were preying on themselves; and this particular form of
voluntary self-sacrifice amongst the influential families in the senate
was equivalent to the confession that Rome was ceasing to be an
Aristocracy and becoming an Oligarchy, was voluntarily placing the
claims of wealth on a par with those of birth and merit, or rather was
insisting that the latter should not be valid unless they were
accompanied by the former. The chief sign of the confession that
political advancement might be purchased from the people in a legitimate
way, was the adoption of a rule, which was established about the time of
the First Punic War, that the cost of the public games should not be
defrayed exclusively by the treasury.[58] It was seldom that the people
could be brought to contribute to the expenses of the exhibitor by
subscriptions collected from amongst themselves;[59] they were the
recipients, not the givers of the feast, and the actual donors knew that
the exhibition was a contest for favour, that reputations were being won
or lost on the merits of the show, and that the successful competitor
was laying up a store-house of gratitude which would materially aid his
ascent to the highest prizes in the State. The personal cost, if it
could not be wholly realised on the existing patrimony of the
magistrate, must be assisted by gifts from friends, by loans from
money-lenders at exorbitant rates of interest and, worst but readiest of
all methods, by contributions, nominally voluntary but really enforced,
from the Italian allies and the provincials. As early as the year 180
the senate had been forced to frame a strong resolution against the
extravagance that implied oppression;[60] but the resolution was really
a criticism of the new methods of government; the roots of the evil (the
burden on the magistracy, the increase in the number of the regularly
recurring festivals) they neither cared nor ventured to remove. The
aedileship was the particular magistracy which was saddled with this
expenditure on account of its traditional connection with the conduct of
the public games; and although it was neither in its curule nor plebeian
form an obligatory step in the scale of the magistracies, yet, as it was
held before the praetorship and the consulship, it was manifest that the
brilliant display given to the people by the occupant of this office
might render fruitless the efforts of a less wealthy competitor who had
shunned its burdens.[61] The games were given jointly by the respective
pairs of colleagues,[62] the _Ludi Romani_ being under the guidance of
the curule,[63] the _Ludi Plebeii_ under that of the plebeian
aediles.[64] Had these remained the only annual shows, the cost to the
exhibitor, although great, would have been limited, But other festivals,
which had once been occasional, had lately been made permanent. The
games to Ceres (_Cerialia_), the remote origins of which may have dated
back to the time of the monarchy, first appear as fully established in
the year 202;[65] the festival to Flora (_Floralia_) dates from but 238
B.C.,[66] but probably did not become annual until 173;[67] while the
games to the Great Mother (_Megalesia_) followed by thirteen years the
invitation and hospitable reception of that Phrygian goddess by the
Romans, and became a regular feature in their calendar in 191.[68] This
increase in the amenities of the people, every item of which falls
within a term of fifty years, is a remarkable feature of the age which
followed Rome's assumption of imperial power. It proved that the Roman
was willing to bend his austere religion to the purposes of
gratification, when he could afford the luxury, that the enjoyment of
this luxury was considered a happy means of keeping the people in good
temper with itself and its rulers, and that the cost of providing it was
considered, not merely as compatible with the traditions of the existing
regime, but as a means of strengthening those traditions by closing the
gates of office to the poor.

The types of spectacle, in which the masses took most delight, were also
new and expensive creations. These types were chiefly furnished by the
gladiatorial shows and the hunting of wild beasts. Even the former and
earlier amusement had had a history of little more than a hundred years.
It was believed to be a relic of that realistic view of the after life
which lingered in Italy long after it had passed from the more spiritual
civilisation of the Greeks. The men who put each other to the sword
before the eyes of the sorrowing crowd were held to be the retinue which
passed with the dead chieftain beyond the grave, and it was from the
sombre rites of the Etruscans that this custom of ceremonial slaying was
believed to have been transferred to Rome. The first year of the First
Punic War witnessed the earliest combat that accompanied a Roman
funeral,[69] and, although secular enjoyment rapidly took the place of
grim funereal appreciation, and the religious belief that underlay the
spectacle may soon have passed away, neither the State nor the relatives
were supposed to have done due honour to the illustrious dead if his own
decease were not followed by the death-struggle of champions from the
rival gladiatorial schools, and men who aspired to a decent funeral made
due provision for such combats in their wills. The Roman magistrate
bowed to the prevalent taste, and displays of gladiators became one of
the most familiar features of the aediles' shows. Military sentiment was
in its favour, for it was believed to harden the nerves of the race that
had sprung from the loins of the god of war,[70] and humane sentiment
has never in any age been shocked at the contemporary barbarities which
it tolerates or enjoys. But a certain element of coarseness in the
sport, and perhaps the very fact that it was of native Italian growth,
might have given it a short shrift, had the cultured classes really
possessed the power of regulating the amusements of the public. Leaders
of society would have preferred the Greek _Agôn_ with its graceful
wrestling and its contests in the finer arts. But the Roman public would
not be hellenised in this particular, and showed their mood when a
musical exhibition was attempted at the triumph of Lucius Anicius Gallus
in 167. The audience insisted that the performers should drop their
instruments and box with one another.[71] This, although not the best,
was yet a more tolerable type of what a contest of skill should be. It
was natural, therefore, that the professional fighting man should become
a far more inevitable condition of social and political success than the
hunter or the race-horse has ever been with us. Some enterprising
members of the nobility soon came to prefer ownership to the hire system
and started schools of their own in which the _lanista_ was merely the
trainer. A stranger element was soon added to the possessions of a Roman
noble by the growing craze for the combats of wild beasts. The first
recorded "hunt" of the kind was that given in 186 by Marcus Fulvius at
the close of the Aetolian war when lions and panthers were exhibited to
the wondering gaze of the people.[72] Seventeen years later two curule
aediles furnished sixty-three African lions and forty bears and
elephants for the Circensian games.[73] These menageries eventually
became a public danger and the curule aedile (himself one of the chief
offenders) was forced to frame an edict specifying the compensation for
damage that might be committed by wild beasts in their transit through
Italy or their residence within the towns.[74] The obligation of wealth
to supply luxuries for the poor--a splendid feature of ancient
civilisation in which it has ever taken precedence of that of the modern
world--was recognised with the utmost frankness in the Rome of the day;
but it was an obligation that had passed the limits at which it could be
cheerfully performed as the duty of the patriot or the patron; it had
reached a stage when its demoralising effects, both to giver and to
receiver, were patent to every seeing eye, but when criticism of its
vices could be met by the conclusive rejoinder that it was a vital
necessity of the existing political situation.[75]

The review which we have given of the enormous expenditure created by
the social and political appetites of the day leads up to the
consideration of two questions which, though seldom formulated or faced
in their naked form, were ever present in the minds of the classes who
were forced to deem themselves either the most responsible authors, or
the most illustrious victims, of the existing standards both of politics
and society. These questions were "Could the exhausting drain be
stopped?" and "If it could not, how was it to be supplied?" A city in a
state of high fever will always produce the would-be doctor; but the
curious fact about the Rome of this and other days is that the doctor
was so often the patient in another form. Just as in the government of
the provinces the scandals of individual rule were often met by the
severest legislation proceeding from the very body which had produced
the evil-doers, so when remedies were suggested for the social evils of
the city, the senate, in spite of its tendency to individual
transgression, generally displayed the possession of a collective
conscience. The men who formulated the standard of purity and
self-restraint might be few in number; but, except they displayed the
irritating activity and the uncompromising methods of a Cato, they
generally secured the support of their peers, and the sterner the
censor, the more gladly was he hailed as an ornament to the order. This
guardian of morals still issued his edicts against delicacies of the
table, foreign perfumes and expensive houses;[76] as late as the year
169 people would hastily put out their lights when it was reported that
Tiberius Sempronius Graccus was coming up the street on his return from
supper, lest they should fall under the suspicion of untimely
revelry,[77] and the sporadic activity of the censorship will find ample
illustration in the future chapters of our work. Degradation from the
various orders of the State was still a consequence of its
animadversions; but a milder, more universal and probably far more
efficacious check on luxury--the system, pursued by Cato, of adopting an
excessive rating for articles of value[78] and thus of shifting the
incidence of taxation from the artisan and farmer to the shoulders of
the richest class[79]--had been taken out of its hands by the complete
cessation of direct imposts after the Third Macedonian War.[80]

Meanwhile sumptuary laws continued to be promulgated from the Rostra and
accepted by the people. All that are known to have been initiated or to
have been considered valid after the close of the great wars have but
one object--an attack on the expenses of the table, a form of sensuous
enjoyment which, on account of the ease and barbaric abundance with
which wealth may vaunt itself in this domain, was particularly in vogue
amongst the upper classes in Rome. Other forms of extravagance seem for
the time to have been left untouched by legislation, for the Oppian law
which had been due to the strain of the Second Punic War had been
repealed after a fierce struggle in 193, and the Roman ladies might now
adorn themselves with more than half an ounce of gold, wear robes of
divers colours and ride in their carriages through any street they
pleased.[81] The first enactment which attempted to control the
wastefulness of the table was an Orchian law of 181, limiting the number
of guests that might be invited to entertainments. Cato was consistent
in opposing the passing of the measure and in resisting its repeal. He
recognised a futile law when he saw it, but he did not wish this
futility to be admitted.[82] Twenty years later[83] a Fannian law grew
out of a decree of the senate which had enjoined that the chief men
(_principes_) of the State should take an oath before the consuls not to
exceed a certain limit of expense in the banquets given at the
Megalesian Games. Strengthened with a measure which prescribed more
harassing details than the Orchian law. The new enactment actually
determined the value and nature of the eatables whose consumption was
allowed. It permitted one hundred asses to be spent on the days of the
Roman Games, the Plebeian Games and the Saturnalia, thirty asses on
certain other festival occasions, and but ten asses (less than twice the
daily pay of a Roman soldier) on every other meal throughout the year;
it forbade the serving of any fowl but a single hen, and that not
fattened; it enjoined the exclusive consumption of native wine.[84] This
enactment was strengthened eighteen years later by a Didian law, which
included in the threatened penalties not only the giver of the feast
which violated the prescribed limits, but also the guests who were
present at such a banquet. It also compelled or induced the Italian
allies to accept the provisions of the Fannian law[85]--an unusual step
which may show the belief that a luxury similar to that of Rome was
weakening the resources of the confederacy, on whose strength the
leading state was so dependent, or which may have been induced by the
knowledge that members of the Roman nobility were taking holiday trips
to country towns, to enjoy the delights which were prohibited at home
and to waste their money on Italian caterers.[86]

The frequency of such legislation, which we shall find renewed once
again before the epoch of the reforms of Sulla[87] seems to prove its
ineffectiveness,[88] and indeed the standard of comfort which it desired
to enjoin was wholly incompatible with the circumstances of the age. The
desire to produce uniformity[89] of standard had always been an end of
Roman as of Greek sumptuary regulation, but what type of uniformity
could be looked for in a community where the extremes of wealth and
poverty were beginning to be so strongly marked, where capital was
accumulating in the hands of the great noble and the great trader and
being wholly withdrawn from those of the free-born peasant and artisan?
The restriction of useless consumption was indeed favourable to the more
productive employment of capital; but we shall soon see that this
productive use, which had as its object the deterioration of land by
pasturage and the purchase of servile labour, was as detrimental to the
free citizen as the most reckless extravagance could have been. There is
no question, however, that both the sumptuary laws and the censorian
ordinances of the period did attempt to attain an economic as well as a
social end; and, however mistaken their methods may have been, they
showed some appreciation of the industrial evils of the time. The
provision of the Fannian law in favour of native wines suggests the
desire to help the small cultivator who had substituted vine-growing for
the cultivation of cereals, and foreshadows the protective legislation
of the Ciceronian period.[90] Much of this legislation, too, was
animated by the "mercantile" theory that a State is impoverished by the
export of the precious metals to foreign lands[91]--a view which found
expression in a definite enactment of an earlier period which had
forbidden gold or silver to be paid to the Celtic tribes in the north of
Italy in exchange for the wares or slaves which they sold to Roman

Another series of laws aimed at securing the purity of an electorate
exposed to the danger of corruption by the overwhelming influence of
wealth. Laws against bribery, unknown in an earlier period,[93] become
painfully frequent from the date at which Rome came into contact with
the riches of the East. Six years after the close of the great Asiatic
campaign the people were asked, on the authority of the senate, to
sanction more than one act which was directed against the undue
influence exercised at elections;[94] in 166 fresh scandals called for
the consideration of the Council of State;[95] and the year 159 saw the
birth of another enactment.[96] Yet the capital penalty, which seems to
have been the consequence of the transgression of at least one of these
laws,[97] did not deter candidates from staking their citizenship on
their success. The still-surviving custom of clientship made the object
of largesses difficult to establish, and the secrecy of the ballot,
which had been introduced for elections in 139, made it impossible to
prove that the suspicious gift had been effective and thus to construct
a convincing case against the donor.

The moral control exercised by the magistrate and the sumptuary or
criminal ordinances expressed in acts of Parliament might serve as
temporary palliatives to certain pronounced evils of the moment; but
they were powerless to check the extravagance of an expenditure which
was sanctioned by custom and in some respects actually enforced by law.
One of the greatest of the practical needs of the new Roman was to
increase his income in every way that might be deemed legitimate by a
society which, even in its best days, had never been overscrupulous in
its exploitation of the poor and had been wont to illustrate the
sanctity of contract by visible examples of grinding oppression. The
nature and intensity of the race for wealth differed with the needs of
the anxious spendthrift; and in respect both to needs and to means of
satisfaction the upper middle class was in a far more favourable
position than its noble governors. It could spend its unfettered
energies in the pursuit of the profits which might be derived from
public contracts, trade, banking and money-lending, while it was not
forced to submit to the drain created by the canvass for office and the
exorbitant demands made by the electorate on the pecuniary resources of
the candidate. The brilliancy of the life of the mercantile class, with
its careless luxury and easy indifference to expenditure, set a standard
for the nobility which was at once galling and degrading. They were
induced to apply the measure of wealth even to members of their own
order, and regarded it as inevitable that any one of their peers, whose
patrimony had dwindled, should fill but a subordinate place both in
politics and society;[98] while the means which they were sometimes
forced to adopt in order to vie with the wealth of the successful
contractor and promoter were, if hardly less sound from a moral point of
view, at least far more questionable from a purely legal standpoint.

A fraction of the present wealth which was in the possession of some of
the leading families of the nobility may have been purely adventitious,
the result of the lucky accident of command and conquest amidst a
wealthy and pliant people. The spoils of war were, it is true, not for
the general but for the State; yet he exercised great discretionary
power in dealing with the movable objects, which in the case of Hellenic
or Asiatic conquest formed one of the richest elements in the prize, and
the average commander is not likely to have displayed the self-restraint
and public spirit of the destroyer of Corinth. Public and military
opinion would permit the victor to retain an ample share of the fruits
of his prowess, and this would be increased by a type of contribution to
which he had a peculiar and unquestioned claim. This consisted in the
honorary offerings made by states, who found themselves at the feet of
the victor and were eager to attract his pity and to enlist on their
behalf his influence with the Roman government. Instances of such
offerings are the hundred and fourteen golden crowns which were borne in
the triumph of Titus Quinctius Flamininus,[99] those of two hundred and
twelve pounds' weight shown in the triumph of Manlius,[100] and the
great golden wreath of one hundred and fifty pounds which had been
presented by the Ambraciots to Nobilior.[101] But the time had not yet
been reached when the general on a campaign, or even the governor of a
district which was merely disturbed by border raids, could calmly demand
hard cash as the equivalent of the precious metal wrought into this
useless form, and when the "coronary gold" was to be one of the regular
perquisites of any Roman governor who claimed to have achieved military
success.[102] Nor is it likely that the triumphant general of this
period melted down the offerings which he might dedicate in temples or
reserve for the gallery of his house, and we must conclude that the few
members of the nobility who had conducted the great campaigns were but
slightly enriched by the offerings which helpless peoples had laid at
their feet. It would be almost truer to say that the great influx of the
precious metals had increased the difficulties of their position; for,
if the gold or silver took the form of artistic work which remained in
their possession, it but exaggerated the ideal to which their standard
of life was expected to conform; and if it assumed the shape of the
enormous amount of specie which was poured into the coffers of the State
or distributed amongst the legionaries, its chief effects were the
heightening of prices and a showy appearance of a vast increase of
wealth which corresponded to no real increase in production.

But, whatever the effects of the metallic prizes of the great campaigns,
these prizes could neither have benefited the members of the nobility as
a whole nor, in the days of comparative peace which had followed the
long epoch of war with wealthy powers, could they be contemplated as a
permanent source of future capital or income. When the representative of
the official caste looked round for modes of fruitful investment which
might increase his revenues, his chances at first sight appeared to be
limited by legal restrictions which expressed the supposed principles of
his class. A Clodian law enacted at the beginning of the Second Punic
War had provided that no senator or senator's son should own a ship of a
burden greater than three hundred amphorae. The intention of the measure
was to prohibit members of the governing class from taking part in
foreign trade, as carriers, as manufacturers, or as participants in the
great business of the contract for corn which placed provincial grain on
the Roman market; and the ships of small tonnage which they were allowed
to retain were intended to furnish them merely with the power of
transporting to a convenient market the produce of their own estates in
Italy.[103] The restriction was not imposed in a self-regarding spirit;
it was odious to the nobility, and, as it was supported by Flaminius,
must have been popular with the masses, who were blind to the fact that
the restriction of a senator's energies to agriculture would be
infinitely more disastrous to the well-being of the average citizen than
the expenditure of those energies in trade. The restriction may have
received the support of the growing merchant class, who were perhaps
pleased to be rid of the competition of powerful rivals, and it
certainly served, externally at least, to mark the distinction between
the man of large industrial enterprises and the man whose official rank
was supported by landed wealth--a distinction which, in the shape of the
contrast drawn between knights and senators, appears at every turn in
the history of the later Republic. But, whatever the immediate motives
for the passing of the measure, a great and healthy principle lay behind
it. It was the principle that considerations of foreign policy should
not be directly controlled or hampered by questions of trade, that the
policy of the State should not become the sport of the selfish vagaries
of capital. The spirit thus expressed was directly inimical to the
interests of the merchant, the contractor and the tax-farmer. How
inimical it was could not yet be clearly seen; for the transmarine
interests of Rome had not at the time attained a development which
invited the mastery of conquered lands by the Roman capitalist. But,
whether this Clodian law created or merely formulated the antithesis
between land and trade, between Italian and provincial profits, it is
yet certain that this antithesis was one of the most powerful of the
animating factors of Roman history for the better part of the two
centuries which were to follow the enactment. It produced the conflict
between a policy of restricted enterprise, pursued for the good of the
State and the subject, and a policy of expansion which obeyed the
interests of capital, between a policy of cautious protection and that
madness of imperialism which is ever associated with barbarism,
brigandage or trade.

But, if we inquire whether this enactment attained its ostensible object
of completely shutting out senators from the profits of any enterprise
that could properly be described as commercial, we shall find an
affirmative answer to be more than dubious. The law was a dead letter
when Cicero indicted Verres,[104] but its demise may have been reached
through a long and slow process of decline. But, even if the provisions
of the law had been adhered to throughout the period which we are
considering, the avenue to wealth derived from business intercourse with
the provinces would not necessarily have been closed to the official
class. We shall soon see that the companies which were formed for
undertaking the state-contracts probably permitted shares to be held by
individuals who never appeared in the registered list of partners at
all, and we know that to hold a share in a great public concern was
considered one of the methods of business which did not subject the
participant to the taint of a vulgar commercialism.[105] And, if the
senator chose to indulge more directly in the profits of transmarine
commerce, to what extent was he really hindered by the provisions of the
law? He might not own a ship of burden, but his freedmen might sail to
any port on the largest vessels, and who could object if the returns
which the dependant owed his lord were drawn from the profits of
commerce? Again there was no prohibition against loans on bottomry, and
Cato had increased his wealth by becoming through his freedman a member
of a maritime company, each partner in which had but a limited liability
and the prospect of enormous gains.[106] The example of this energetic
money-getter also illustrates many ways in which the nobleman of
business tastes could increase his profits without extending his
enterprises far from the capital. It was possible to exploit the growing
taste in country villas, in streams and lakes and natural woods; to buy
a likely spot for a small price, let it at a good rental, or sell it at
a larger price. The ownership of house property within the town, which
grew eventually into the monopoly of whole blocks and streets by such a
man as Crassus,[107] was in every way consistent with the possession of
senatorial rank. It was even possible to be a slave-dealer without loss
of dignity, at least if one transacted the sordid details of the
business through a slave. The young and promising boy required but a
year's training in the arts to enable the careful buyer to make a large
profit by his sale.[108] Yet such methods must have been regarded by the
nobility as a whole as merely subsidiary means of increasing their
patrimony: and, in spite of the fact that Cato took the view that
agriculture should be an amusement rather than a business,[109] there
can be no doubt that the staple of the wealth of the official class was
still to be found in the acres of Italy. It was not, however, the wealth
of the moderate homestead which was to be won from a careful tillage of
the fields; it was the wealth which, as we shall soon see, was
associated with the slave-capitalist, the overseer, a foreign method of
cultivation on the model of the grand plantation-systems of the East,
and a belief in the superior value of pasturage to tillage which was to
turn many a populous and fertile plain into a wilderness of danger and

But, strive as he would, there was many a nobleman who found that his
expenditure could not be met by dabbling in trade where others plunged,
or by the revenues yielded by the large tracts of Italian soil over
which he claimed exclusive powers. The playwright of the age has figured
Indigence as the daughter of Luxury;[110] and a still more terrible
child was to be born in the Avarice which sprang from the useless
cravings and fierce competitions of the time.[111] The desire to get and
to hold had ever been a Roman vice; but, it had also been the unvarying
assumption of the Roman State, and the conviction of the Roman
official--a conviction so deeply seated and spontaneous as to form no
ground for self-congratulation that the lust for acquisition should
limit itself to the domain of private right, and never cross the rigid
barrier which divided that domain from the sphere of wealth and power
which the city had committed to its servant as a solemn trust. The
better sort of overseer was often found in the crabbed man of
business--a Cato, for example--who would never waive a right of his own
and protected those of his dependants with similar tenacity and passion.
The honour which prevailed in the commercial code at home was considered
so much a matter of course in all dealings with the foreign world, that
the State scorned to scrutinise the expenditure of its ministers and was
spared the disgrace of a system of public audit. Even in this age, which
is regarded by the ancient historians as marking the beginning of the
decline in public virtue, Polybius could contrast the attitude of
suspicion towards the guardians of the State, which was the
characteristic of the official life of his own unhappy country, with the
well-founded confidence which Rome reposed in the honour of her
ministers, and could tell the world that "if but a talent of money were
entrusted to a magistrate of a Greek state, ten auditors, as many seals
and twice as many witnesses are required for the security of the bond;
yet even so faith is not observed; while the Roman in an official or
diplomatic post, who handles vast sums of money, adheres to his duty
through the mere moral obligation of the oath which he has sworn"; that
"amongst the Romans the corrupt official is as rare a portent as is the
financier with clean hands amongst other peoples".[112] When the elder
Africanus tore up the account books of his brother--books which recorded
the passage of eighteen thousand talents from an Asiatic king to a Roman
general and from him to the Roman State[113]--he was imparting a lesson
in confidence, which was immediately accepted by the senate and people.
And it seems that, so far as the expenditure of public moneys was
concerned, this confidence continued to be justified. It is true that
Cato had furiously impugned the honour of commanders in the matter of
the distribution of the prizes of war amongst the soldiers and had drawn
a bitter contrast between private and official thieves. "The former," he
said, "pass their lives in thongs and iron fetters, the latter in purple
and gold." [114] But there were no fixed rules of practice which guided
such a distribution, and a commander, otherwise honest, might feel no
qualms of conscience in exercising a selective taste on his own behalf.
On the other hand, deliberate misappropriation of the public funds seems
to have been seldom suspected or at least seldom made the subject of
judicial cognisance, and for many years after a standing court was
established for the trial of extortion no similar tribunal was thought
necessary for the crime of peculation.[115] Apart from the long,
tortuous and ineffective trial of the Scipios,[116] no question of the
kind is known to have been raised since Manius Acilius Glabrio, the
conqueror of Antiochus and the Aetolians, competed for the censorship.
Then a story, based on the existence of the indubitable wealth which he
was employing with a lavish hand to win the favour of the people, was
raked up against him by some jealous members of the nobility. It was
professed that some money and booty, found in the camp of the king, had
never been exhibited in the triumph nor deposited in the treasury. The
evidence of legates and military tribunes was invited, and Cato, himself
a competitor for the censorship, was ready to testify that gold and
silver vases, which he had seen in the captured camp, had not been
visible in the triumphal procession. Glabrio waived his candidature, but
the people were unwilling to convict and the prosecution was
abandoned.[117] Here again we are confronted by the old temptation of
curio-hunting, which, the nobility deemed indecent in so "new" a man as
Glabrio; the evidence of Cato--the only testimony which proved
dangerous--did not establish the charge that money due to the State had
been intercepted by a Roman consul.

But the regard for the property of the State was unfortunately not
extended to the property of its clients. Even before the provinces had
yielded a prey rendered easy by distance and irresponsibility, Italian
cities had been forced to complain of the violence and rapacity of Roman
commanders quartered in their neighbourhood,[118] and the passive
silence with which the Praenestines bore the immoderate requisitions of
a consul, was a fatal guarantee of impunity which threatened to alter
for ever the relations of these free allies to the protecting
power.[119] But provincial commands offered greater temptations and a
far more favourable field for capricious tyranny; for here the exactions
of the governor were neither repudiated by an oath of office nor at
first even forbidden by the sanctions of a law. Requisitions could be
made to meet the needs of the moment, and these needs were naturally
interpreted to suit the cravings and the tastes of the governor of the
moment.[120] Cato not only cut down the expenses that had been
arbitrarily imposed on the unhappy natives of Sardinia,[121] but seems
to have been the author of a definite law which fixed a limit to such
requisitions in the future.[122] But it was easier to frame an ordinance
than to guarantee its observation, and, at a time when the surrounding
world was seething with war, the regulations made for a peaceful
province could not touch the actions of a victorious commander who was
following up the results of conquest. Complaints began to pour in on
every hand--from the Ambraciots of Greece, the Cenomani of Gaul[123]
--and the senate did its best, either by its own cognisance or by the
creation of a commission of investigation, to meet the claims of the
dependent peoples. A kind of rude justice was the result, but it was
much too rude to meet an evil which was soon seen to be developing into
a trade of systematic oppression. A novel step was taken when in 171
delegates from the two Spains appeared in the Curia to complain of the
avarice and insolence of their Roman governors. A praetor was
commissioned to choose from the senatorial order five of such judges as
were wont to be selected for the settlement of international disputes
(_recuperatores_), to sit in judgment on each of the indicted
governors,[124] and the germ of a regular court for what had now become
a regular offence was thus developed. The further and more shameful
confession, that the court should be permanent and interpret a definite
statute, was soon made, and the Calpurnian law of 149[125]was the first
of that long series of enactments for extortion which mark the futility
of corrective measures in the face of a weak system of legal, and a
still weaker system of moral, control. Trials for extortion soon became
the plaything of politics, the favourite arena for the exercise of the
energies of a young and rising politician, the favourite weapon with
which old family feuds might be at once revenged and perpetuated. They
were soon destined to gain a still greater significance as furnishing
the criteria of the methods of administration which the State was
expected to employ, as determining the respective rights of the
administrator and the capitalist to guide the destinies of the
inhabitants of a dependent district. Their manifold political
significance destroys our confidence in their judgments, and we can
seldom tell whether the acquittal or the condemnation which these courts
pronounced was justified on the evidence adduced. But there can be no
question of the evil that lay behind this legislative and judicial
activity. The motive which led men to assume administrative posts abroad
was in many cases thoroughly selfish and mean,--the desire to acquire
wealth as rapidly as was consistent with keeping on the safe side of a
not very exacting law. No motive of this kind can ever be universal in a
political society, and in Rome we cannot even pronounce it to be
general. Power and distinction attracted the Roman as much as wealth,
and some governors were saved from temptation by the colossal fortunes
which they already possessed. But how early it had begun to operate in
the minds of many is shown by the eagerness which, as we shall see, was
soon to be displayed by rival consuls for the conduct of a war that
might give the victor a prolonged control over the rich cities which had
belonged to the kingdom of Pergamon, if it is not proved by the strange
unwillingness which magistrates had long before exhibited to assume some
commands which had been entrusted to their charge.[126]

A suspicion of another type of abuse of power, more degrading though not
necessarily more harmful than the plunder of subjects, had begun to be
raised in the minds of the people and the government. It was held that a
Roman might be found who would sell the supposed interests of his
country to a foreign potentate, or at any rate accept a present which
might or might not influence his judgment, A commissioner to Illyria had
been suspected of pocketing money offered him by the potentates of that
district in 171,[127] and the first hint was given of that shattering of
public confidence in the integrity of diplomatists which wrought such
havoc in the foreign politics of the period which forms the immediate
subject of our work. The system of the Protectorate, which Rome had so
widely adopted, with its secret diplomatic dealings and its hidden
conferences with kings, offered greater facilities for secret
enrichment, and greater security for the enjoyment of the acquired
wealth, even than the plunder of a province. The proof of the committal
of the act was difficult, in most cases impossible. We must be content
to chronicle the suspicion of its growing frequency, and the suspicion
is terrible enough. If the custom of wringing wealth from subjects and
selling support to potentates continued to prevail, the stage might soon
be reached at which it could be said, with that element of exaggeration
which lends emphasis to a truth, that a small group of men were drawing
revenues from every nation in the world.[128]

Such were the sources of wealth that lay open to men, to whom commerce
was officially barred and who were supposed to have no direct interest
in financial operations. Far ampler spheres of pecuniary enrichment,
more uniformly legal if sometimes as oppressive, were open to the class
of men who by this time had been recognised as forming a kind of second
order in the State. The citizens who had been proved by the returns at
the census to have a certain amount of realisable capital at their
disposal--a class of citizens that ranged from the possessors of a
moderate patrimony, such as society might employ as a line of
demarcation between an upper and a lower middle class, to the
controllers of the most gigantic fortunes--had been welded into a body
possessing considerable social and political solidarity. This solidarity
had been attained chiefly through the community of interest derived from
the similar methods of pecuniary investment which they employed, but
also through the circumstance (slight in itself but significant in an
ancient society which ever tended to fall into grades) that all the
members of this class could describe themselves by the courtesy title of
"Knights"--a description justified by the right which they possessed of
serving on their own horses with the Roman cavalry instead of sharing
the foot-service of the legionary. A common designation was not
inappropriate to men who were in a certain sense public servants and
formed in a very real sense a branch of the administration. The knight
might have many avocations; he might be a money-lender, a banker, a
large importer; but he was preeminently a farmer of the taxes. His
position in the former cases was simply that of an individual, who might
or might not be temporarily associated with others; his position in the
latter case meant that he was a member of a powerful and permanent
corporation, one which served a government from which it might wring
great profits or at whose hands it might suffer heavy loss--a government
to be helped in its distress, to be fought when its demands were
overbearing, to be encouraged when its measures seemed progressive, to
be hindered when they seemed reactionary from a commercial point of
view. A group of individuals or private firms could never have attained
the consistency of organisation, or maintained the uniformity of policy,
which was displayed by these societies of revenue-collectors; even a
company must have a long life before it can attain strength and
confidence sufficient to act in a spirited manner in opposition to the
State; and it seems certain that these societies were wholly exempted
from the paralysing principle which the Roman law applied to
partnership--a principle which dictated that every partnership should be
dissolved by the death or retirement of one of the associates.[129] The
State, which possessed no civil service of its own worthy of the name,
had taken pains to secure permanent organisations of private
share-holders which should satisfy its needs, to give them something of
an official character, and to secure to each one of them as a result of
its permanence an individual strength which, in spite of the theory that
the taxes and the public works were put up to auction, may have secured
to some of these companies a practical monopoly of a definite sphere of
operations. But a company, at Rome as elsewhere, is powerful in
proportion to the breadth of its basis. A small ring of capitalists may
tyrannise over society as long as they confine themselves to securing a
monopoly over private enterprises, and as long as the law permits them
to exercise this autocratic power without control; but such a ring is
far less capable of meeting the arbitrary dictation of an aristocratic
body of landholders, such as the senate, or of encountering the
resentful opposition of a nominally all-powerful body of consumers, such
as the Comitia, than a corporation which has struck its roots deeply in
society by the wide distribution of its shares. We know from the
positive assurance of a skilled observer of Roman life that the number
of citizens who had an interest in these companies was particularly
large.[130] This observer emphasises the fact in order to illustrate the
dependence of a large section of society on the will of the senate,
which possessed the power of controlling the terms of the agreements
both for the public works which it placed in the hands of contractors
and for the sources of production which it put out to lease;[131] but it
is equally obvious that the large size of the number of shareholders
must have exercised a profoundly modifying influence on the arbitrary
authority of a body such as the senate which governed chiefly through
deference to public opinion; and we know that, in the last resort, an
appeal could be made to the sovereign assembly, if a magistrate could be
found bold enough to carry to that quarter a proposal that had been
discountenanced by the senate.[132] In such crises the strength of the
companies depended mainly on the number of individual interests that
were at stake; the shareholder is more likely to appear at such
gatherings than the man who is not profoundly affected by the issue, and
it is very seldom that the average consumer has insight enough to see,
or energy enough to resist, the sufferings and inconveniences which
spring from the machinations of capital. It may have been possible at
times to pack a legislative assembly with men who had some financial
interest, however slight, in a dispute arising from a contract calling
for decision; and the time was soon to come when such questions of
detail would give place to far larger questions of policy, when the
issues springing from a line of foreign activity which had been taken by
the government might be debated in the cold and glittering light of the
golden stakes the loss or gain of which depended upon the policy
pursued. Nor could it have been easy even for the experienced eye to see
from the survey of such a gathering that it represented the army of
capital. Research has rendered it probable that the companies of the
time were composed of an outer as well as of an inner circle; that the
mass of shareholders differed from those who were the promoters,
managers and active agents in the concern, that the liability of the
former at least was limited and that their shares, whether small or
great, were transmissible and subject to the fluctuations of the
market.[133] But, even if we do not believe that this distinction
between _socii_ and _participes_ was legally elaborated, yet there were
probably means by which members of the outside public could enter into
business relations with the recognised partners in one of these concerns
to share its profits and its losses.[134] The freedman, who had invested
his small savings in the business of an enterprising patron, would
attach the same mercantile value to his own vote in the assembly as
would be given to his suffrage in the senate by some noble peer, who had
bartered the independence of his judgment for the acquisition of more
rapid profits than could be drawn from land.

The farmers of the revenue fell into three broad classes. First there
were the contractors for the creation, maintenance and repair of the
public works possessed or projected by the State, such as roads,
aqueducts, bridges, temples and other public buildings. Gigantic profits
were not possible in such an enterprise, if the censors and their
advisers acted with knowledge, impartiality and discretion; for the
lowest possible tender was obtained for such contracts and the results
might be repudiated if inspection proved them to be unsatisfactory.
Secondly there were the companies which leased sources of production
that were owned by the State such as fisheries, salt-works, mines and
forest land. In some particular cases even arable land had been dealt
with in this way, and the confiscated territories of Capua and Corinth
were let on long leases to _publicani_. Thirdly there were the
societies, which did not themselves acquire leases but acted as true
intermediaries between the State and individuals[135] who paid it
revenue whether as occupants of its territory, or as making use of sites
which it claimed to control, or as owing dues which had been prescribed
by agreement or by law. These classes of debtors to the State with whom
the middlemen came into contact may be illustrated respectively by the
occupants of the domain land of Italy, the ship-masters who touched at
ports, and the provincials such as those of Sicily or Sardinia who were
burdened with the payment of a tithe of the produce of their lands.[136]
If we consider separately the characteristics of the three classes of
state-farmers, we find that the first and the second are both direct
employers of labour, the third reaping only indirect profits from the
production controlled by others. It was in this respect, as employers of
labour, that the societies of the time were free from the anxieties and
restrictions that beset the modern employment of capital. Except in the
rare case where the contractors had leased arable land and sublet it to
its original occupants,--the treatment which seems to have been adopted
for the Campanian territory[137]--there can be no question that the
work which they controlled was done mainly by the hands of slaves. They
were therefore exempt from the annoyance and expense which might be
caused by the competition and the organised resistance of free labour.
The slaves employed in many of these industries must have been highly
skilled; for many of these spheres of wealth which the State had
delegated to contractors required peculiar industrial appliances and
unusual knowledge in the foremen and leading artificers. The weakness of
slave-labour,--its lack of intelligence and spirit--could not have been
so keenly felt as it was on the great agricultural estates, which
offered employment chiefly for the unskilled; and the difficulties that
might arise from the lack of strength or interest, from the possession
of hands that were either feeble or inert, were probably overcome in the
same uncompromising manner in the workshop of the contractor and on the
domains of the landed gentry. The maxim that an aged slave should be
sold could not have been peculiar to the dabbler in agriculture, and the
_ergastulum_ with its chained gangs must have been as familiar to the
manufacturer as to the landed proprietor.[138] As to the promoters and
the shareholders of these companies, it could not be expected that they
should trace in imagination, or tremble as they traced, the heartless,
perhaps inhuman, means by which the regular returns on their capital
were secured.[139] Nor is it probable that the government of this period
took any great care to supervise the conditions of the work or the lot
of the workman. The partner desired quick and great returns, the State
large rents and small tenders. The remorseless drain on human energy,
the waste of human life, and the practical abeyance of free labour which
was flooding the towns with idlers, were ideas which, if they ever
arose, were probably kept in the background by a government which was
generally in financial difficulties, and by individuals animated by all
the fierce commercial competition of the age.

The desire of contractors and lessees for larger profits naturally took
the form of an eagerness to extend their sphere of operations. Every
advance in the Roman sphere of military occupation implied the making of
new roads, bridges and aqueducts; every extension of this sphere was
likely to be followed by the confiscation of certain territories, which
the State would declare to be public domains and hand over to the
company that would guarantee the payment of the largest revenue. But the
sordid imperialism which animated the contractor and lessee must have
been as nothing to that which fed the dreams of the true
state-middleman, the individual who intervened between the taxpayer and
the State, the producer and the consumer. Conquest would mean fresh
lines of coast and frontier, on which would be set the toil-houses of
the collectors with their local directors and their active "families" of
freedmen and slaves. It might even mean that a more prolific source of
revenue would be handed over to the care of the publican. The spectacle
of the method in which the land-tax was assessed and collected in Sicily
and Sardinia may have already inspired the hope that the next instance
of provincial organisation might see greater justice done to the
capitalists of Rome. When Sicily had been brought under Roman sway, the
aloofness of the government from financial interests, as well as its
innate conservatism, justified by the success of Italian organisation,
which dictated the view that local institutions should not be lightly
changed, had led it to accept the methods for the taxation of land which
it found prevalent in the island at the time of its annexation. The
methods implied assessment by local officials and collection by local
companies or states.[140] It is true that neither consequence entirely
excluded the enterprise of the Roman capitalists; they had crossed the
Straits of Messina on many a private enterprise and had settled in such
large numbers in the business centres of the island that the charter
given to the Sicilian cities after the first servile war made detailed
provision for the settlement of suits between Romans and natives.[141]
It was not to be expected that they should refrain from joining in, or
competing with, the local companies who bid for the Sicilian tithes, nor
was such association or competition forbidden by the law. But the
scattered groups of capitalists who came into contact with the Sicilian
yeomen did not possess the official character and the official influence
of the great companies of Italy. No association, however powerful, could
boast a monopoly of the main source of revenue in the island. But what
they had done was an index of what they might do, if another opportunity
and a more complaisant government could be found. Any individual or any
party which could promise the knights the unquestioned control of the
revenues of a new province would be sure of their heartiest sympathy
and support.

And it would be worth the while of any individual or party which
ventured to frame a programme traversing the lines of political
orthodoxy, to bid for the co-operation of this class. For recent history
had shown that the thorough organisation of capital, encouraged by the
State to rid itself of a tiresome burden in times of peace and to secure
itself a support in times of need, might become, as it pleased, a
bulwark or a menace to the government which had created it. The useful
monster had begun to develop a self-consciousness of his own. He had his
amiable, even his patriotic moments; but his activity might be
accompanied by the grim demand for a price which his nominal master was
not prepared to pay. The darkest and the brightest aspects of the
commercial spirit had been in turn exhibited during the Second Punic
War. On the one hand we find an organised band of publicans attempting
to break up an assembly before which a fraudulent contractor and wrecker
was to be tried;[142] on the other, we find them meeting the shock of
Cannae with the offer of a large loan to the beggared treasury, lent
without guarantee and on the bare word of a ruined government that it
should be met when there was money to meet it.[143] Other companies came
forward to put their hands to the public works, even the most necessary
of which had been suspended by the misery of the war, and told the
bankrupt State that they would ask for their payment when the struggle
had completely closed.[144] A noble spectacle! and if the positions of
employer and employed had been reversed only in such crises and in such
a way, no harm could come of the memory either of the obligation or the
service. But the strength shown by this beneficence sometimes exhibited
itself in unpleasant forms and led to unpleasant consequences. The
censorships of Cato and of Gracchus had been fierce struggles of
conservative officialdom against the growing influence and (as these
magistrates held) the swelling insolence of the public companies; and in
both cases the associations had sought and found assistance, either from
a sympathetic party within the senate, or from the people. Cato's
regulations had been reversed and their vigorous author had been
threatened with a tribunician prosecution before the Comitia;[145] while
Gracchus and his colleague had actually been impeached before a popular
court.[146] The reckless employment of servile labour by the companies
that farmed the property of the State had already proved a danger to
public security. The society which had purchased from the censors the
right of gathering pitch from the Bruttian forest of Sila had filled the
neighbourhood with bands of fierce and uncontrolled dependants, chiefly
slaves, but partly men of free birth who may have been drawn from the
desperate Bruttians whom Rome had driven from their homes. The
consequences were deeds of violence and murder, which called for the
intervention of the senate, and the consuls had been appointed as a
special commission to inquire into the outrages.[147] Nor were
complaints limited to Italy; provincial abuses had already called for
drastic remedies. A proof that this was the case is to be found in the
striking fact that on the renewed settlement of Macedonia in 167 it was
actually decreed that the working of the mines in that country, at least
on the extended scale which would have required a system of contract,
should be given up. It was considered dangerous to entrust it to native
companies, and as to the Roman-their mere presence in the country would
mean the surrender of all guarantees of the rule of public law or of the
enjoyment of liberty by the provincials.[148] The State still preferred
the embarrassments of poverty to those of overbearing wealth; its choice
proved its weakness; but even the element of strength displayed in the
surrender might soon be missed, if capital obtained a wider influence
and a more definite political recognition. As things were, these
organisations of capital were but just becoming conscious of their
strength and had by no means reached even the prime of their vigour. The
opening up of the riches of the East were required to develop the
gigantic manhood which should dwarf the petty figure of the agricultural
wealth of Italy.

Had the state-contractors stood alone, or had not they engaged in varied
enterprises for which their official character offered a favourable
point of vantage, the numbers and influence of the individuals who had
embarked their capital in commercial enterprise would have been far
smaller than they actually were. But, in addition to the publican, we
must take account of the business man (_negotiator_) who lent money on
interest or exercised the profession of a banker. Such men had pecuniary
interests which knew no geographical limits, and in all broad questions
of policy were likely to side with the state-contractor.[149] The
money-lender (_fenerator_) represented one of the earliest, most
familiar and most courted forms of Roman enterprise--one whose intrinsic
attractions for the grasping Roman mind had resisted every effort of the
legislature by engaging in its support the wealthiest landowner as well
as the smallest usurer. It is true that a taint clung to the trade--a
taint which was not merely a product of the mistaken economic conception
of the nature of the profits made by the lender, but was the more
immediate outcome of social misery and the fulminations of the
legislature. Cato points to the fact that the Roman law had stamped the
usurer as a greater curse to society than the common thief, and makes
the dishonesty of loans on interest a sufficient ground for declining a
form of investment that was at once safe and profitable.[150] Usury, he
had also maintained, was a form of homicide.[151] But to the majority of
minds this feeling of dishonour had always been purely external and
superficial. The proceedings were not repugnant to the finer sense if
they were not made the object of a life-long profession and not
blatantly exhibited to the eyes of the public. A taint clung to the
money-lender who sat in an office in the Forum, and handed his loans or
received his interest over the counter;[152] it was not felt by the
capitalist who stood behind this small dealer, by the nobleman whose
agent lent seed-corn to the neighbouring yeomen, by the investor in the
state-contracts who perhaps hardly realised that his profits represented
but an indirect form of usury. But, whatever restrictions public opinion
may have imposed on the money-lender as a dealer in Rome and with
Romans, such restrictions were not likely to be felt by the man who had
the capital and the enterprise to carry his financial operations beyond
the sea. Not only was he dealing with provincials or foreigners, but he
was dealing on a scale so grand that the magnitude of the business
almost concealed its shame. Cities and kings were now to be the
recipients of loans and, if the lender occupied a political position
that seemed inconsistent with the profession of a usurer, his
personality might be successfully concealed under the name of some local
agent, who was adequately rewarded for the obloquy which he incurred in
the eyes of the native populations, and the embarrassing conflicts with
the Roman government which were sometimes entailed by an excess of zeal.
Cato had swept both principals and agents out of his province of
Sardinia;[153] but he was a man who courted hostility, and he lived
before the age when the enmity of capital would prove the certain ruin
of the governor and a source of probable danger to the senate. In the
operations of the money-lender we find the most universal link between
the Forum and the provinces. There was no country so poor that it might
not be successfully exploited, and indeed exploitation was often
conditioned by simplicity of character, lack of familiarity with the
developed systems of finance, and the lack of thrift which amongst
peoples of low culture is the source of their constant need. The
employment of capital for this purpose was always far in advance of the
limits of Roman dominion. A protectorate might be in the grasp of a
group of private individuals long before it was absorbed into the
empire, the extension of the frontiers was conditioned by considerations
of pecuniary, not of political safety, and the government might at any
moment be forced into a war to protect the interests of capitalists
whom, in its collective capacity as a government, it regarded as the
greatest foes of its dominion.

A more beneficent employment of capital was illustrated by the
profession of banking which, like most of the arts which exhibit the
highest refinement of the practical intellect, had been given to the
Romans by the Greeks.[154] It had penetrated from Magna Graecia to
Latium and from Latium to Rome, and had been fully established in the
city by the time of the Second Punic War.[155] The strangers, who had
introduced an art which so greatly facilitated the conduct of business
transactions, had been welcomed by the government, and were encouraged
to ply their calling in the shops rented from the State on the north and
south sides of the Forum. These _argentarii_ satisfied the two needs of
the exchange of foreign money, and of advances in cash on easier terms
than could be gained from the professional or secret usurer, to citizens
of every grade[156] who did not wish, or found it difficult, to turn
their real property into gold. Similar functions were at a somewhat
later period usurped by the money-testers (_nummularii_), who perhaps
entered Rome shortly after the issue of the first native silver coinage,
and competed with the earlier-established bankers in most of the
branches of their trade.[157] Ultimately there was no department of
business connected with the transference and circulation of money which
the joint profession did not embrace. Its representatives were concerned
with the purchase and sale of coin, and the equalisation of home with
foreign rates of exchange; they lent on credit, gave security for
others' loans, and received money on deposit; they acted as
intermediaries between creditors and debtors in the most distant places
and gave their travelling customers circular notes on associated houses
in foreign lands; they were equally ready to dissipate by auction an
estate that had become the property of a congress of creditors or a
number of legatees. Their carefully kept books improved even the
methodical habits of the Romans in the matter of business entries, and
introduced the form of "contract by ledger" (_litterarum obligatio_),
which greatly facilitated business operations on an extended scale by
substituting the written record of obligation for other bonds more
difficult to conclude and more easy to evade.

The business life of Rome was in every way worthy of her position as an
imperial city, and her business centre was becoming the greatest
exchange of the commercial world of the day. The forum still drew its
largest crowds to listen to the voice of the lawyer or the orator; but
these attractions were occasional and the constant throng that any day
might witness was drawn thither by the enticements supplied by the
spirit of adventure, the thirst for news and the strain of business
life. The comic poet has drawn for us a picture of the shifting crowd
and its chief elements, good and bad, honest and dishonest. He has shown
us the man who mingles pleasure with his business, lingering under the
Basilica in extremely doubtful company; there too is a certain class of
business men giving or accepting verbal bonds. In the lower part of the
Forum stroll the lords of the exchange, rich and of high repute; under
the old shops on the north sit the bankers, giving and receiving loans
on interest.[158]

The Forum has become in common language the symbol of all the ups and
downs of business life,[159] and the moralist of later times could refer
all students, who wish to master the lore of the quest and investment of
money, to the excellent men who have their station by the temple of
Janus.[160] The aspect of the market place had altered greatly to meet
the growing needs. Great Basilicae--sheltered promenades which probably
derived their names from the Royal Courts of the Hellenic East--had
lately been erected. Two of the earliest, the Porcian and Sempronian,
had been raised on the site of business premises which had been bought
up for the purpose,[161] and were meant to serve the purposes of a
market and an exchange.[162] Their sheltering roofs were soon employed
to accommodate the courts of justice, but it was the business not the
legal life of Rome that called these grand edifices into existence.

The financial activity which centred in the Forum was a consequence, not
merely of the contract-system encouraged by the State and of the
business of the banker and the money-lender, but of the great foreign
trade which supplied the wants and luxuries of Italy and Rome. This was
an import trade concerned partly with the supply of corn for a nation
that could no longer feed itself, partly with the supply of luxuries
from the East and of more necessary products, including instruments of
production, from the West. The Eastern trade touched the Euxine Sea at
Dioscurias, Asia Minor chiefly at Ephesus and Apamea, and Egypt at
Alexandria. It brought Pontic fish, Hellenic wines, the spices and
medicaments of Asia and of the Eastern coast of Africa, and countless
other articles, chiefly of the type which creates the need to which it
ministers. More robust products were supplied by the West through the
trade-routes which came down to Gades, Genua and Aquileia. Hither were
brought slaves, cattle, horses and dogs; linen, canvas and wool; timber
for ships and houses, and raw metal for the manufacture of implements
and works of art. Neither in East nor West was the product brought by
the producer to the consumer. In accordance with the more recent
tendencies of Hellenistic trade, great emporia had grown up in which the
goods were stored, until they were exported by the local dealers or
sought by the wholesale merchant from an Italian port. As the Tyrrhenian
Sea became the radius of the trade of the world, Puteoli became the
greatest staple to which this commerce centred; thence the goods which
were destined for Rome were conveyed to Ostia by water or by land, and
taken by ships which drew no depth of water up the Tiber to the
city.[163] But it must not be supposed that this trade was first
controlled by Romans and Italians when it touched the shores of Italy.
Groups of citizens and allies were to be found in the great staples of
the world, receiving the products as they were brought down from the
interior and supplying the shipping by which they were transferred to
Rome.[164] They were not manufacturers, but intermediaries who reaped a
larger profit from the carrying trade than could be gained by any form
of production in their native land. The Roman and Italian trader was to
be inferior only to the money-lender as a stimulus and a stumbling-block
to the imperial government; he was, like the latter, to be a cause of
annexation and a fire-brand of war, and serves as an almost equal
illustration of the truth that a government which does not control the
operations of capital is likely to become their instrument.[165]

If we descend from the aristocracy of trade to its poorer
representatives, we find that time had wrought great changes in the lot
of the smaller manufacturer and artisan. It is true that the old
trade-gilds of Rome, which tradition carried back to the days of Numa,
still maintained their existence. The goldsmiths, coppersmiths,
builders, dyers, leather-workers, tanners and potters[166] still held
their regular meetings and celebrated their regular games. But it is
questionable whether even at this period their collegiate life was not
rather concerned with ceremonial than with business, whether they did
not gather more frequently to discuss the prospects of their social and
religious functions than to consider the rules and methods of their
trades. We shall soon see these gilds of artificers a great political
power in the State--one that often alarmed the government and sometimes
paralysed its control of the streets of Rome. But their political
activity was connected with ceremonial rather than with trade; it was as
religious associations that they supported the demagogue of the moment
and disturbed the peace of the city. They made war against any
aristocratic abuse that was dangled for the moment before their eyes;
but they undertook no consistent campaign against the dominance of
capital. Their activity was that of the radical caucus, not of the
trade-union. But, if even their industrial character had been fully
maintained and trade interests had occupied more of their attention than
street processions and political agitation, they could never have posed
as the representatives of the interests of the free-born sons of Rome.
The class of freedmen was freely admitted to their ranks, and the
freedman was from an economic point of view the greatest enemy of the
pure-blooded Italian. We shall also see that the freedman was usually
not an independent agent in the conduct of the trade which he professed.
He owed duties to his patron which limited his industrial activity and
rendered a whole-hearted co-operation with his brother-workers
impossible. It is questionable whether any gild organisation could have
stood the shock of the immense development of industrial activity of
which the more fortunate classes at Rome were now reaping the fruits.
The trades represented by Numa's colleges would at best have formed a
mere framework for a maze of instruments which formed the complex
mechanism needed to satisfy the voracious wants of the new society. The
gold-smithery of early times was now complicated by the arts of chasing
and engraving on precious stones; the primitive builder, if he were
still to ply his trade with profit, must associate it with the skill of
the men who made the stuccoed ceilings, the mosaic pavements, the
painted walls. The leather-worker must have learnt to make many a kind
of fashionable shoe, and the dyer to work in violet, scarlet or saffron,
in any shade or colour to which fashion had given a temporary vogue.
Tailoring had become a fine art, and the movable decorations of houses
demanded a host of skilled workmen, each of whom was devoted to the
speciality which he professed. It would seem as though the very
weaknesses of society might have benefited the lower middle class, and
the siftings of the harvest given by the spoils of empire might have
more than supplied the needs of a parasitic proletariate. It is an
unquestioned fact that the growing luxury of the times did benefit trade
with that doubtful benefit which accompanies the diversion of capital
from purposes of permanent utility to objects of aesthetic admiration or
temporary display; but it is an equally unquestioned fact that this
unhealthy nutriment did not strengthen to any appreciable extent such of
the lower classes as could boast pure Roman blood. The military
conscription, to which the more prosperous of these classes were
exposed, was inimical to the constant pursuit of that technical skill
which alone could enable its possessor to hold the market against freer
competitors. Such of the freedmen and the slaves as were trained to
these pursuits--men who would not have been so trained had they not
possessed higher artistic perception and greater deftness in execution
than their fellows--were wholly freed from the military burden which
absorbed much of the leisure, and blunted much of the skill, possessed
by their free-born rivals. The competition of slaves must have been
still more cruel in the country districts and near the smaller country
towns than in the capital itself. At Rome the limitations of space must
have hindered the development of home-industries in the houses of the
nobles, and, although it is probable that much that was manufactured by
the slaves of the country estate was regularly supplied to the urban
villa, yet for the purchase of articles of immediate use or of goods
which showed the highest qualities of workmanship the aristocratic
proprietor must have been dependent on the competition of the Roman
market. But the rustic villa might be perfectly self-supporting, and the
village artificer must have looked in vain for orders from the spacious
mansion, which, once a dwelling-house or farm, had become a factory as
well. Both in town and country the practice of manumission was
paralysing the energies of the free-born man who attempted to follow a
profitable profession. The frequency of the gift of liberty to slaves is
one of the brightest aspects of the system of servitude as practised by
the Romans; but its very beneficence is an illustration of the
aristocrat's contempt for the proletariate; for, where the ideal of
citizenship is high, manumission--at least of such a kind as shall give
political rights, or any trading privileges, equivalent to those of the
free citizen--is infrequent. In the Rome of this period, however, the
liberation of a slave showed something more than a mere negative neglect
of the interests of the citizen. The gift of freedom was often granted
by the master in an interested, if not in a wholly selfish, spirit. He
was freed from the duty of supporting his slave while he retained his
services as a freedman. The performance of these services was, it is
true, not a legal condition of manumission; but it was the result of the
agreement between master and slave on which the latter had attained his
freedom. The nobleman who had granted liberty to his son's tutor, his
own doctor or his barber, might still bargain to be healed, shaved or
have his children instructed free of expense. The bargain was just in so
far as the master was losing services for which he had originally paid,
and juster still when the freedman set up business on the _peculium_
which his master had allowed him to acquire during the days of his
servitude. But the contracting parties were on an unequal footing, and
the burden enforced by the manumittor was at times so intolerable that
towards the close of the second century the praetor was forced to
intervene and set limits to the personal service which might be expected
from the gratitude of the liberated slave.[167] The performance of such
gratuitous services necessarily diminished the demand for the labour of
the free man who attempted to practise the pursuit of an art which
required skill and was dependent for its returns on the custom of the
wealthier classes; and even such needs as could not be met by the
gratuitous services of freedmen or the purchased labour of slaves, were
often supplied, not by the labour of the free-born Roman, but by that of
the immigrant _peregrinus_. The foreigner naturally reproduced the arts
of his own country in a form more perfect than could be acquired by the
Roman or Italian, and as Rome had acquired foreign wants it was
inevitable that they should be mainly supplied by foreign hands. We
cannot say that most of the new developments in trade and manufacture
had slipped from the hands of the free citizens; it would be truer to
maintain that they had never been grasped by them at all. And, worse
than this, we must admit that there was little effort to attain them.
Both the cause and the consequence of the monopoly of trade and
manufacture of a petty kind by freedmen and foreigners is to be found in
the contempt felt by the free-born Roman for the "sordid and illiberal
sources of livelihood." [168] This prejudice was reflected in public law,
for any one who exercised a trade or profession was debarred from office
at Rome.[169] As the magistracy had become the monopoly of a class, the
prejudice might have been little more than one of the working principles
of an aristocratic government, had not the arts which supplied the
amenities of life actually tended to drift into the hands of the
non-citizen or the man of defective citizenship. The most abject Roman
could in his misery console himself with the thought that the hands,
which should only touch the plough and the sword, had never been stained
by trade. His ideal was that of the nobleman in his palace. It differed
in degree but not in kind. It centred round the Forum, the battlefield
and the farm.

For even the most lofty aristocrat would have exempted agriculture from
the ban of labour;[170] and, if the man of free birth could still have
toiled productively on his holding, his contempt for the rabble which
supplied the wants of his richer fellow-citizens in the towns would have
been justified on material, if not on moral, grounds. He would have held
the real sources of wealth which had made the empire possible and still
maintained the actual rulers of that empire. Italian agriculture was
still the basis of the brilliant life of Rome. Had it not been so, the
epoch of revolution could not have been ushered in by an agrarian law.
Had the interest in the land been small, no fierce attack would have
been made and no encroachment stoutly resisted. We are at the
commencement of the epoch of the dominance of trade, but we have not
quitted the epoch of the supremacy of the landed interest.

The vital question connected with agriculture was not that of its
failure or success, but that of the individuals who did the work and
shared the profits. The labourer, the soil, the market stand in such
close relations to one another that it is possible for older types of
cultivation and tenure to be a failure while newer types are a brilliant
success. But an economic success may be a social failure. Thus it was
with the greater part of the Italian soil of the day which had passed
into Roman hands. Efficiency was secured by accumulation and the smaller
holdings were falling into decay.

A problem so complex as that of a change in tenure and in the type of
productive activity employed on the soil is not likely to yield to the
analysis of any modern historian who deals with the events of the
ancient world. He is often uncertain whether he is describing causes or
symptoms, whether the primary evil was purely economic or mainly social,
whether diminished activity was the result of poverty and decreasing
numbers, or whether pauperism and diminution of population were the
effects of a weakened nerve for labour and of a standard of comfort so
feverishly high that it declined the hard life of the fields and induced
its possessors to refuse to propagate their kind. But social and
economic evils react so constantly on one another that the question of
the priority of the one to the other is not always of primary
importance. A picture has been conjured up by the slight sketches of
ancient historians and the more prolonged laments of ancient writers on
agriculture, which gives us broad outlines that we must accept as true,
although we may refuse to join in the belief that these outlines
represent an unmixed and almost incurable evil. These writers even
attempt to assign causes, which convince by their probability, although
there is often a suspicion that the ultimate and elusive truth has not
been grasped.

The two great symptoms which immediately impress our imagination are a
decline, real or apparent, in the numbers of the free population of
Rome, and the introduction of new methods of agriculture which entailed
a diminution in the class of freehold proprietors who had held estates
of small or moderate size. The evidence for an actual decline of the
population must be gathered exclusively from the Roman census
lists.[171] At first sight these seem to tell a startling tale. At the
date of the outbreak of the First Punic War (265 B.C.) the roll of Roman
citizens had been given as 382,284,[172] at a census held but three
years before the tribunate of Tiberius Gracchus (136 B.C.) the numbers
presented by the list were 307,833.[173] In 129 years the burgess roll
had shrunk by nearly 75,000 heads of the population. The shrinkage had
not always been steadily progressive; sometimes there is a sudden drop
which tells of the terrible ravages of war. But the return of peace
brought no upward movement that was long maintained. In the interval of
comparative rest which followed the Third Macedonian War the census
rolls showed a decrease of about 13,000 in ten Years.[174] Seven years
later 2,000 more have disappeared,[175] and a slight increase at the
next _lustrum_ is followed by another drop of about 14,000.[176] The
needs of Rome had increased, and the means for meeting them were
dwindling year by year. This must be admitted, however we interpret the
meaning of these returns. A hasty generalisation might lead us to infer
that a wholesale diminution was taking place in the population of Rome
and Italy. The returns may add weight to other evidence which points
this way; but, taken by themselves, they afford no warrant for such a
conclusion. The census lists were concerned, not only purely with Roman
citizens, but purely with Roman citizens of a certain type. It is
practically certain that they reproduce only the effective fighting
strength of Rome,[177] and take no account of those citizens whose
property did not entitle them to be placed amongst the _classes_.[178]
But, if it is not necessary to believe that an actual diminution of
population is attested by these declining numbers, the conclusion which
they do exhibit is hardly less serious from an economic and political
point of view. They show that portions of the well-to-do classes were
ceasing to possess the property which entitled them to entrance into the
regular army, and that the ranks of the poorer proletariate were being
swelled by their impoverishment. It is possible that such impoverishment
may have been welcomed as a boon by the wearied veterans of Rome and
their descendants. It meant exemption from the heavier burdens of
military service, and, if it went further still, it implied immunity
from the tribute as long as direct taxes were collected from Roman
citizens.[179] As long as service remained a burden on wealth, however
moderate, there could have been little inducement to the man of small
means to struggle up to a standard of moderately increased pecuniary
comfort, which would certainly be marred and might be lost by the
personal inconvenience of the levy.

The decline in the numbers of the wealthier classes is thus attested by
the census rolls. But indications can also be given which afford a
slight probability that there was a positive diminution in the free
population of Rome and perhaps of Italy. The carnage of the Hannibalic
war may easily be overemphasised as a source of positive decline. Such
losses are rapidly made good when war is followed by the normal
industrial conditions which success, or even failure, may bring. But, as
we shall soon see reason for believing that these industrial conditions
were not wholly resumed in Italy, the Second Punic War may be regarded
as having produced a gap in the population which was never entirely
refilled. We find evidences of tracts of country which were not annexed
by the rich but could not be repeopled by the poor. The policy pursued
by the decaying Empire of settling foreign colonists on Italian soil had
already occurred to the statesmen of Rome in the infancy of her imperial
expansion. In 180 B.C. 40,000 Ligurians belonging to the Apuanian people
were dragged from their homes with their wives and children and settled
on some public land of Rome which lay in the territory of the Samnites.
The consuls were commissioned to divide up the land in allotments, and
money was voted to the colonists to defray the expense of stocking their
new farms.[180] Although the leading motive for this transference was
the preservation of peace amongst the Ligurian tribes, yet it is
improbable that the senate would have preferred the stranger to its
kindred had there been an outcry from the landless proletariate to be
allowed to occupy and retain the devastated property of the State.

But moral motives are stronger even than physical forces in checking the
numerical progress of a race. Amongst backward peoples unusual
indulgence and consequent disease may lead to the diminution or even
extinction of the stock; amongst civilised peoples the motives which
attain this result are rather prudential, and are concerned with an
ideal of life which perhaps increases the efficiency of the individual,
but builds up his healthy and pleasurable environment at the expense of
the perpetuity of the race. The fact that the Roman and Italian physique
was not degenerating is abundantly proved by the military history of the
last hundred years of the Republic. This is one of the greatest periods
of conquest in the history of the world. The Italy, whom we are often
inclined to think of as exhausted, could still pour forth her myriads of
valiant sons to the confines marked by the Rhine, the Euphrates and the
Sahara; and the struggle of the civil wars, which followed this
expansion, was the clash of giants. But this vigour was accompanied by
an ideal, whether of irresponsibility or of comfort, which gave rise to
the growing habit of celibacy--a habit which was to stir the eloquence
of many a patriotic statesman and finally lead to the intervention of
the law. When the censor of 131 uttered the memorable exhortation "Since
nature has so ordained that we cannot live comfortably with a wife nor
live at all without one, you should hold the eternal safety of the State
more dear than your own brief pleasure," [181] it is improbable that he
was indulging in conscious cynicism, although there may have been a
trace of conscious humour in his words. He was simply bending to the
ideal of the people whom he saw, or imagined to be, before him. The
ideal was not necessarily bad, as one that was concerned with individual
life. It implied thrift, forethought, comfort--even efficiency of a
kind, for the unmarried man was a more likely recruit than the father of
a family. But it sacrificed too much--the future to the present; it
ignored the undemonstrable duty which a man owes to the permanent idea
of the State through working for a future which he shall never see. It
rested partly on a conviction of security; but that feeling of security
was the most perilous sign of all.

The practice of celibacy generally leads to irregular attachments
between the sexes. In a society ignorant of slavery, such attachments,
as giving rise to social inconveniences far greater than those of
marriage, are usually shunned on prudential grounds even where moral
motives are of no avail. But the existence in Italy of a large class of
female dependants, absolutely outside the social circle of the citizen
body, rendered the attachment of the master to his slave girl or to his
freedwoman fatally easy and unembarrassing. It was unfortunately as
attractive as it was easy. Amidst the mass of servile humanity that had
drifted to Italy from most of the quarters of the world there was
scarcely a type that might not reproduce some strange and wonderful
beauty. And the charm of manner might be secured as readily as that of
face and form. The Hellenic East must often have exhibited in its women
that union of wit, grace and supple tact which made even its men so
irresistible to their Roman masters. The courtesans of the capital,
whether of high or low estate,[182] are from the point of view which we
are considering not nearly so important as the permanent mistress or
"concubine" of the man who might dwell in any part of Italy. It was the
latter, not the former, that was the true substitute for the wife. There
is reason to believe that it was about this period that "concubinage"
became an institution which was more than tolerated by society.[183] The
relation which it implied between the man and his companion, who was
generally one of his freedwomen, was sufficiently honourable. It
excluded the idea of union with any other woman, whether by marriage or
temporary association; it might be more durable than actual wedlock, for
facilities for divorce were rapidly breaking the permanence of the
latter bond; it might satisfy the juristic condition of "marital
affection" quite as fully as the type of union to which law or religion
gave its blessing. But it differed from marriage in one point of vital
importance for the welfare of the State. Children might be the issue of
_concubinatus_, but they were not looked on as its end. Such unions were
not formed _liberûm quaerendorum causâ_.

The decline, or at least the stationary character, of the population may
thus be shown to be partly the result of a cause at once social and
economic; for this particular social evil was the result of the economic
experiment of the extended use of slavery as a means of production. This
extension was itself partly the result of the accidents of war and
conquest, and in fact, throughout this picture of the change which was
passing over Italy, we can never free ourselves from the spectres of
militarism and hegemony. But an investigation of the more purely
economic aspects of the industrial life of the period affords a clear
revelation of the fact that the effects of war and conquest were merely
the foundation, accidentally presented, of a new method of production,
which was the result of deliberate design and to some extent of a
conscious imitation of systems which had in turn built up the colossal
wealth, and assisted the political decay, of older civilisations with
which Rome was now brought into contact. The new ideal was that of the
large plantation or _latifundium_ supervised by skilled overseers,
worked by gangs of slaves with carefully differentiated duties, guided
by scientific rules which the hoary experience of Asia and Carthage had
devised, but, in unskilled Roman hands, perhaps directed with a reckless
energy that, keeping in view the vast and speedy returns which could
only be given by richer soils than that of Italy, was as exhaustive of
the capacities of the land as it was prodigal of the human energy that
was so cheaply acquired and so wastefully employed. The East, Carthage
and Sicily had been the successive homes of this system, and the Punic
ideal reached Rome just at the moment when the tendency of the free
peasantry to quit their holdings as unprofitable, or to sell them to pay
their debts, opened the way for the organisation of husbandry on the
grand Carthaginian model.[184] The opportunity was naturally seized with
the utmost eagerness by men whose wants were increasing, whose incomes
must be made to keep pace with these wants, and whose wealth must
inevitably be dependent mainly on the produce of the soil. Yet we have
no warrant for accusing the members of the Roman nobility of a
deliberate plan of campaign stimulated by conscious greed and
selfishness. For a time they may not have known what they were doing.
Land was falling in and they bought it up; domains belonging to the
State were so unworked as to be falling into the condition of rank
jungle and pestilent morass. They cleared and improved this land with a
view to their own profit and the profit of the State. Free labour was
unattainable or, when attained, embarrassing. They therefore bought
their labour in the cheapest market, this market being the product of
the wars and slave-raids of the time. They acted, in fact, as every
enlightened capitalist would act under similar circumstances. It seemed
an age of the revival of agriculture, not of its decay. The official
class was filled with a positive enthusiasm for new and improved
agricultural methods. The great work of the Carthaginian Mago was
translated by order of the senate.[185] Few of the members of that body
would have cared to follow the opening maxim of the great expert, that
if a man meant to settle in the country he should begin by selling his
house in town;[186] the men of affairs did not mean to become gentlemen
farmers, and it was the hope of profitable investment for the purpose of
maintaining their dignity in the capital, not the rustic ideal of the
primitive Roman, that appealed to their souls. But they might have hoped
that most of the golden precepts of the twenty-eight books, which
unfolded every aspect of the science of the management of land, would be
assimilated by the intelligent bailiff, and they may even have been
influenced by a patriotic desire to reveal to the small holder
scientific methods of tillage, which might stave off the ruin that they
deplored as statesmen and exploited as individuals. But the lessons were
thrown away on the small cultivator; they probably presupposed the
possession of capital and labour which were far beyond his reach; and
science may have played but little part even in the accumulations of the
rich, although the remarkable spectacle of small holdings, under the
personal supervision of peasant proprietors, being unable to hold their
own against plantations and ranches managed by bailiffs and worked by
slaves, does suggest that some improved methods of cultivation were
adopted on the larger estates. The rapidity with which the plantation
system spread must have excited the astonishment even of its promoters.
Etruria, in spite of the fact that three colonies of Roman citizens had
lately been founded within its borders,[187] soon showed one continuous
series of great domains stretching from town to town, with scarcely a
village to break the monotonous expanse of its self-tilled plains.
Little more than forty years had elapsed since the final settlement of
the last Roman colony of Luna when a young Roman noble, travelling along
the Etruscan roads, strained his eyes in vain to find a free labourer,
whether cultivator or shepherd.[188] In this part of Italy it is
probable that Roman enterprise was not the sole, or even the main, cause
of the wreckage of the country folk. The territory had always been
subject to local influences of an aristocratic kind; but the Etruscan
nobles had stayed their hand as long as a free people might help them to
regain their independence.[189] Now subjection had crushed all other
ambition but that of gain and personal splendour, while the ravages of
the Hannibalic war had made the peasantry an easy victim of the
wholesale purchaser. Farther south, in Bruttii and Apulia, the hand of
Rome had co-operated with the scourge of war to produce a like result.
The confiscations effected in the former district as a punishment for
its treasonable relations with Hannibal, the suitability of the latter
for grazing purposes, which had early made it the largest tract of land
in Italy patrolled by the shepherd slave,[190] had swept village and
cultivator away, and left through whole day's journeys but vast
stretches of pasture between the decaying towns.

For barrenness and desolation were often the results of the new and
improved system of management. There were tracts of country which could
not produce cereals of an abundance and quality capable of competing
with the corn imported from the provinces; but even on territories where
crops could be reared productively, it was tempting to substitute for
the arduous processes of sowing and reaping the cheaper and easier
industry of the pasturage of flocks. We do not know the extent to which
arable land in fair condition was deliberately turned into pasturage;
but we can imagine many cases in which the land recently acquired by
capitalists, whether from the State or from smaller holders, was in such
a condition, either from an initial lack of cultivation or from neglect
or from the ravages of war, that the new proprietor may well have shrunk
from the doubtful enterprise of sinking his capital in the soil, for the
purpose of testing its productive qualities. In such cases it was
tempting to treat the great domain as a sheep-walk or cattle-ranch. The
initial expenses of preparation were small, the labour to be employed
was reduced to a minimum, the returns in proportion to the expenses were
probably far larger than could be gained from corn, even when grown
under the most favourable conditions. The great difficulty in the way of
cattle-rearing on a large scale in earlier times had been the treatment
of the flocks and herds during the winter months. The necessity for
providing stalls and fodder for this period must have caused the
proprietor to limit the heads of cattle which he cared to possess. But
this constraint had vanished at once when a stretch of warm coast-line
could be found, on which the flocks could pasture without feeling the
rigour of the winter season. Conversely, the cattle-rearer who possessed
the advantage of such a line of coast would feel his difficulties
beginning when the summer months approached. The plains of the Campagna
and Apulia could have been good neither for man nor beast during the
torrid season. The full condition which freed a grazier from all
embarrassment and rendered him careless of limiting the size of his
flocks, was the combined possession of pastures by the sea for winter
use, and of glades in the hills for pasturage in summer.[191] Neither
the men of the hills nor the men of the plains, as long as they formed
independent communities, could become graziers on an extensive scale,
and it has been pointed out that even a Greek settlement of the extent
of Sybaris had been forced to import its wool from the Black Sea through
Miletus.[192] But when Rome had won the Apennines and extended her
influence over the coast, there were no limits to the extent to which
cattle rearing could be carried.[193] It became perhaps the most
gigantic enterprise connected with the soil of Italy. Its cheapness and
efficiency appealed to every practical mind. Cato, who had a sentimental
attachment to agriculture, was bound in honesty to reply to the question
"What is the best manner of investment?" by the words "Good pasturage."
To the question as to the second-best means he answered "Tolerable
pasturage." When asked to declare the third, he replied "Bad pasturage."
To ploughing he would assign only the fourth place in the descending
Scale.[194] Bruttii and Apulia were the chief homes of the ranch and the
fold. The Lucanian conquest of the former country must, even at a time
preceding the Roman domination, have formed a connection between the
mountains and the plains, and pasturage on a large scale in the mountain
glades of the Bruttian territory may have been an inheritance rather
than a creation of the Romans; but the ruin caused in this district by
the Second Punic War, the annexation to the State of large tracts of
rebel land,[195] and the reduction of large portions of the population
to the miserable serf-like condition of _dediticii_,[196] must have
offered the capitalists opportunities which they could not otherwise
have secured; and both here and in Apulia the tendency to extend the
grazing system to its utmost limits must have advanced with terrible
rapidity since the close of the Hannibalic war. It was the East coast of
Southern Italy that was chiefly surrendered to this new form of
industry, and we may observe a somewhat sharp distinction between the
pastoral activity of these regions and the agricultural life which still
continued, although on a diminished scale, in the Western

We have already made occasional reference to the accidents on which the
new industrial methods that created the _latifundia_ were designedly
based. It is now necessary to examine these accidents in greater detail,
if only for the purpose of preparing the ground for a future estimate of
the efficacy of the remedies suggested by statesmen for a condition of
things which, however naturally and even honestly created, was
deplorable both on social and political grounds. The causes which had
led to the change from one form of tenure and cultivation to another of
a widely different kind required to be carefully probed, if the
Herculean task of a reversion to the earlier system was to be attempted.
The men who essayed the task had unquestionably a more perfect knowledge
of the causes of the change than can ever be possessed by the student of
to-day; but criticism is easier than action, and if it is not to become
shamelessly facile, every constraining element in the complicated
problem which is at all recoverable (all those elements so clearly seen
by the hard-headed and honest Roman reformers, but known by them to
possess an invulnerability that we have forgotten) must be examined by
the historian in the blundering analysis which is all that is permitted
by his imperfect information, and still more imperfect realisation, of
the temporary forces that are the millstones of a scheme of reform.

The havoc wrought by the Hannibalic invasion[198] had caused even
greater damage to the land than to the people. The latter had been
thinned but the former had been wasted, and in some cases wasted, as
events proved, almost beyond repair. The devastation had been especially
great in Southern Italy, the nations of which had clung to the Punic
invader to the end. But such results of war are transitory in the
extreme, if the numbers and energy of the people who resume possession
of their wrecked homes are not exhausted, and if the conditions of
production and sale are as favourable after the calamity as they were
before. The amount of wealth which an enemy can injure, lies on the mere
surface of the soil, and is an insignificant fraction of that which is
stored in the bosom of the earth, or guaranteed by a favourable
commercial situation and access to the sea. Carthage could pay her war
indemnity and, in the course of half a century, affright Cato by her
teeming wealth and fertility. Her people had resumed their old habits,
bent wholeheartedly to the only life they loved, and the prizes of a
crowded haven and bursting granaries were the result. If a nation does
not recover from such a blow, there must be some permanent defect in its
economic life or some fatal flaw in its administrative system. The
devastation caused by war merely accelerates the process of decay by
creating a temporary impoverishment, which reveals the severity of the
preceding struggle for existence and renders hopeless its resumption.
Certainly the great war of which Italy had been the theatre did mark
such an epoch in the history of its agricultural life. A lack of
productivity began to be manifested, for which, however, subsequent
economic causes were mainly responsible. The lack of intensity, which is
a characteristic of slave labour, lessened the returns, while the
secondary importance attached to the manuring of the fields was a
vicious principle inherent in the agricultural precepts of the
time.[199] But it is probable that from this epoch there were large
tracts of land the renewed cultivation of which was never attempted; and
these were soon increased by domains which yielded insufficient returns
and were gradually abandoned. The Italian peasant had ever had a hard
fight with the insalubrity of his soil. Fever has always been the
dreaded goddess of the environs of Rome. But constant labour and
effective drainage had kept the scourge at bay, until the evil moment
came when the time of the peasant was absorbed, and his energy spent, in
the toils of constant war, when his land was swallowed up in the vast
estates that had rapid profits as their end and careless slaves as their
cultivators. Then, the moist fields gave out their native pestilence,
and malaria reigned unchecked over the fairest portion of the Italian

One of the leading economic causes, which had led to the failure of a
certain class of the Italian peasant-proprietors, was the competition to
which they were exposed from the provinces. Rome herself had begun to
rely for the subsistence of her increasing population on corn imported
from abroad, and many of the large coast-towns may have been forced to
follow her example. The corn-producing powers of the Mediterranean lands
had now definitely shifted from the regions of the East and North to
those of the South.[201] Greece, which had been barely able to feed
itself during the most flourishing period of its history, could not
under any circumstances have possessed an importance as a country of
export for Italy; but the economic evils which had fallen on this
unhappy land are worthy of observation, as presenting a forecast of the
fate which was in store for Rome. The decline in population, which could
be attributed neither to war nor pestilence, the growing celibacy and
childlessness of its sparse inhabitants,[202] must have been due to an
agricultural revolution similar to that which was gradually being
effected on Italian soil. The plantation system and the wholesale
employment of slave labour must have swept across the Aegean from their
homes in Asia Minor. Here their existence is sufficiently attested by
the servile rising which was to assume, shortly after the tribunate of
Tiberius Gracchus, the pretended form of a dynastic war; and the
troubles which always attended the collection of the Asiatic tithes, in
the days when a Roman province had been established in those regions,
give no favourable impression of the agricultural prosperity of the
countries which lay between the Taurus and the sea. As far south as
Sicily there was evidence of exhaustion of the land, and of unnatural
conditions of production, which excluded the mass of the free
inhabitants from participation both in labour and profits. But even
Sicily had learned from Carthage the evil lesson that Greece had
acquired from Asia; the plantation system had made vast strides in the
island, and the condition of the _aratores_, whether free-holders or
lessees, was not what it had been in the days of Diocles and Timoleon.
The growing economic dependence of Rome on Sicily was by no means wholly
due to any exceptional productive capacities in the latter, but was
mainly the result of proximity, and of administrative relations which
enabled the government and the speculator in corn to draw definite and
certain supplies of grain from the Sicilian cultivators. This was true
also, although to a smaller degree, of Sardinia. But Sicily and Sardinia
do mark the beginning of the Southern zone of lands which were capable
of filling the markets of the Western world. It was the Northern coast
of Africa which rose supreme as the grain-producer of the time. In the
Carthaginian territory the natural absence of an agricultural peasantry
amidst a commercial folk, and the elaboration of a definite science of
agriculture, had neutralised the ill effects which accompanied the
plantation system amongst other peoples less business-like and
scientific; the cultivators had shown no signs of unrest and the soil no
traces of exhaustion. It has been inferred with some probability that
the hostility of Cato, the friend of agriculture and of the Italian
yeoman, to the flourishing Punic state was directed to some extent by
the fear that the grain of Africa might one day drive from the market
the produce of the Italian fields;[203] and, if this view entered into
the calculations which produced the final Punic War, the very
short-sightedness of the policy which destroyed a state only to give its
lands to African cities and potentates or to Roman speculators, who
might continue the methods of the extinct community, is only too
characteristic of that type of economic jealousy which destroys an
accidental product and leaves the true cause of offence unassailed. The
destruction of Carthage had, as a matter of fact, aggravated the danger;
for the first use which Masinissa of Numidia made of the vast power with
which Rome had entrusted him, was an attempt to civilise his people by
turning them into cultivators;[204] and the virgin soil of the great
country which stretched from the new boundaries of Carthage to the
confines of the Moors, was soon reckoned amongst the competing elements
which the Roman agriculturist had to fear.

But the force of circumstances caused the Sicilian and Sardinian
cultivator to be the most formidable of his immediate competitors. The
facility of transport from Sicily to Rome rendered that island superior
as a granary to even the more productive portions of the Italian
mainland. Sicily could never have revealed the marvellous fertility of
the valley of the Po, where a bushel and a half of wheat could be
purchased for five pence half-penny, and the same quantity of barley was
sold for half this price;[205] but it was easier to get Sicilian corn to
Rome by sea than to get Gallic corn to Rome by land; and the system of
taxation and requisitions which had grown out of the provincial
organisation of the island, rendered it peculiarly easy to place great
masses of corn on the Roman market at very short notice. Occasionally
the Roman government enforced a sale of corn from the province
(_frumentum emptum_),[206] a reasonable price being paid for the grain
thus demanded for the city or the army; but this was almost the only
case in which the government intervened to regulate supplies. In the
ordinary course of things the right to collect the tithes of the
province was purchased by public companies, who paid money, not grain,
into the Roman treasury, and these companies placed their corn on the
market as best they could. The operations of the speculators in grain
doubtless disturbed the price at times. But yet the certainty, the
abundance and the facilities for transport of this supply were such as
practically to shut out from competition in the Roman market all but the
most favourably situated districts of Italy. Their chance of competition
depended mainly on their accidental possession of a good road, or their
neighbourhood to the sea or to a navigable river.[207] The larger
proprietors in any part of Italy must have possessed greater facilities
for carrying their grain to a good market than were enjoyed by the
smaller holders. The Clodian law on trade permitted senators to own
sea-going ships of a certain tonnage; they could, therefore, export
their own produce without any dependence on the middle-man, while the
smaller cultivators would have been obliged to pay freight, or could
only have avoided such payment by forming shipping-companies amongst
themselves. But such combination was not to be looked for amongst a
peasant class, barely conscious even of the external symptoms of the
great revolution which was dragging them to ruin, and perhaps almost
wholly oblivious of its cause.

It required less penetration to fathom the second of the great reasons
for the accumulation of landed property in the hands of the few; for
this cause had been before the eyes of the Roman world, and had been
expounded by the lips of Roman statesmen, for generations or, if we
credit a certain class of traditions,[208] even for centuries. This
cause of the growing monopoly of the land by the few was the system of
possession which the State had encouraged, for the purpose of securing
the use and cultivation of its public domain. The policy of the State
seems to have changed from time to time with reference to its treatment
of this particular portion of its property, which it valued as the most
secure of its assets and one that served, besides its financial end, the
desirable purpose of assisting it to maintain the influence of Rome
throughout almost every part of Italy. When conquered domain had first
been declared "public," the government had been indifferent to the type
of occupier which served it by squatting on this territory and
reclaiming land that had not been divided or sold chiefly because its
condition was too unattractive to invite either of these processes.[209]
It had probably extended its invitation even to Latin allies,[210] and
looked with approval on any member of the burgess body who showed his
enterprise and patriotism by the performance of this great public
service. If the State had a partiality, it was probably for the richer
and more powerful classes of its citizens. They could embrace a greater
quantity of land in their grasp, and so save the trouble which attended
an estimate of the returns of a great number of small holdings; they
possessed more effective means of reclaiming waste or devastated land,
for they had a greater control of capital and labour; lastly, through
their large bands of clients and slaves, they had the means of
efficiently protecting the land which they had occupied, and this must
have been an important consideration at a time when large tracts of the
_ager publicus_ lay amidst foreign territories which were barely
pacified, and were owned by communities that often wavered in their
allegiance to Rome. But, whatever the views of the government, it is
tolerably clear that the original occupiers must have chiefly
represented men of this stamp. These were the days when the urban and
the rustic tribes were sharply divided, as containing respectively the
men of the town and the men of the country, and when there were
comparatively few of the latter folk that did not possess some holding
of their own. It was improbable that a townsman would often venture on
the unfamiliar task of taking up waste land; it was almost as improbable
that a small yeoman would find leisure to add to the unaided labour on
his own holding the toil of working on new and unpromising soil, except
in the cases where some unclaimed portion of the public domain was in
close proximity to his estate.

We may, therefore, infer that from very early times the wealthier
classes had asserted themselves as the chief occupiers of the public
domain. And this condition of things continued to be unchallenged until
a time came[211] when the small holders, yielding to the pressure of
debt and bankruptcy, sought their champions amongst the tribunes of the
Plebs. The absolute control of the public domain by the State, the
absolute insecurity of the tenure of its occupants, furnished an
excellent opportunity for staving off schemes of confiscation and
redistribution of private property, such as had often shaken the
communities of Greece, and even for refusing to tamper with the existing
law of debtor and creditor.[212] It was imagined that bankrupt yeomen
might be relieved by being allowed to settle on the public domain, or
that the resumption or retention of a portion of this domain by the
State might furnish an opportunity for the foundation of fresh colonies,
and a law was passed limiting the amount of the _ager publicus_ that any
individual might possess. The enactment, whatever its immediate results
may have been, proved ineffective as a means of checking the growth of
large possessions. No special commission was appointed to enforce
obedience to its terms, and their execution was neglected by the
ordinary magistrates. The provisions of the law were, indeed, never
forgotten, but as a rule they were remembered only to be evaded. Devious
methods were adopted of holding public land through persons who seemed
to be _bonâ fide_ possessors in their own right, but were in reality
merely agents of some planter who already held land up to the permitted
limit.[213] Then came the agricultural crisis which followed the Punic
Wars. The small freeholds, mortgaged, deserted or selling for a fraction
of their value, began to fall into the meshes of the vast net which had
spread over the public domain. In some cases actual violence is said to
have been used to the smaller yeomen by their neighbouring tyrants,[214]
and we can readily imagine that, when a holding had been deserted for a
time through stress of war or military service, it might be difficult to
resume possession in the face of effective occupation by the bailiff of
some powerful neighbour. The _latifundium_--acquired, as it was
believed, in many cases by force, fraud and shameless violation of the
law--was becoming the standard unit of cultivation throughout
Italy.[215] When we consider the general social and economic
circumstances of the time, it is possible to imagine that large
properties would have grown in Italy, as in Greece, had Rome never
possessed an inch of public domain; but the occupation of _ager
publicus_ by the rich is very important from two points of view. On the
one hand, it unquestionably accelerated the process of the formation of
vast estates; and a renewed impulse had lately been given to this
process by the huge confiscations in the South of Italy, and perhaps by
the conquest of Cisalpine Gaul; for it is improbable that the domain
possessed by the State in this fertile country had been wholly parcelled
out amongst the colonies of the northern frontier.[216] But on the other
hand, the fact that the kernel of these estates was composed of public
land in excess of the prescribed limit seemed to make resumption by the
State and redistribution to the poor legally possible. The _ager
publicus_, therefore, formed the basis for future agitation and was the
rallying point for supporters and opponents of the proposed methods of
agricultural reform.

But it was not merely the negligence of the State which led to the
crushing of the small man by the great; the positive burdens which the
government was forced to impose by the exigencies of the career of
conquest and hegemony into which Rome had drifted, rendered the former
an almost helpless competitor in the uneven struggle. The conscription
had from early days been a source of impoverishment for the commons and
of opportunity for the rich. The former could obey the summons of the
State only at the risk of pledging his credit, or at least of seeing his
homestead drift into a condition of neglect which would bring the
inevitable day when it could only be rehabilitated by a loan of seed or
money. The lot of the warrior of moderate means was illustrated by the
legend of Regulus. He was believed to have written home to the consuls
asking to be relieved of his command in Africa. The bailiff whom he had
left on his estate of seven _jugera_ was dead, the hired man had stolen
the implements of agriculture and run away; the farm lay desolate and,
were its master not permitted to return, his wife and children would
lack the barest necessaries of existence.[217] The struggle to maintain
a household in the absence of its head was becoming more acute now that
corn-land was ceasing to pay, except under the most favourable
conditions, and now that the demand for conscripts was sometimes heavier
and always more continuous than it had ever been before. Perhaps
one-tenth of the adult male population of Rome was always in the
field;[218] the units came and went, but the men who bore the brunt of
the long campaigns and of garrison duty in the provinces were those to
whom leisure meant life--the yeomen who maintained their place in the
census lists by hardy toil, and who risked their whole subsistence
through the service that had been wrested from them as a reward for a
laborious career. When they ceased to be owners of their land, they
found it difficult to secure places even as labourers on some rich man's
property. The landholder preferred the services of slaves which could
not be interrupted by the call of military duty.[219]

The economic evils consequent on the conscription must have been felt
with hardly less severity by such of the Italian allies as lived in the
regions within which the _latifundia_ were growing up. To these were
added the pecuniary burdens which Rome had been forced to impose during
the Second Punic War. These burdens were for the most part indirect, for
Rome did not tax her Italian _socii_, but they were none the less
severe. Every contingent supplied from an allied community had its
expenses, except that of food during service, defrayed from the treasury
of its own state,[220] and ten continuous years of conscription and
requisition had finally exhausted the loyalty even of Rome's Latin
kindred.[221] It is true that the Italians were partially, although not
wholly, free from the economic struggle between the possessors of the
public land and the small freeholders; but there is no reason for
supposing that those of Western Italy were exempt from the consequences
of the reduction in price that followed the import of corn from abroad,
and the drain on their incomes and services which had been caused by war
could scarcely have fitted them to stand this unexpected trial. Rome's
harsh dealings with the treasonable South, although adopted for
political motives, was almost unquestionably a political blunder. She
confiscated devastated lands, and so perpetuated their devastation. She
left ruined harbours and cities in decay. She crippled her own resources
to add to the pastoral wealth of a handful of her citizens. In the East
of Italy there was a far greater vitality than elsewhere in agriculture
of the older type. The Samnites in their mountains, the Peligni,
Marrucini, Frentani and Vestini between the Apennines and the sea still
kept to the system of small freeholds. Their peasantry had perhaps
always cultivated for consumption rather than for sale; their
inhabitants were rather beyond the reach of the ample supply from the
South; and for these reasons the competition of Sicilian and African
corn did not lead them to desert their fields. They were also less
exposed than the Romans and Latins to the aggressions of the great
_possessor_; for, since they possessed no _commercium_ with Rome, the
annexation of their property by legal means was beyond the reach even of
the ingenious cupidity of the times.[222] The proof of the existence of
the yeoman in these regions is the danger which he caused to Rome. The
spirit which had maintained his economic independence was to aim at a
higher goal, and the struggle for equality of political rights was to
prove to the exclusive city the prowess of that class of peasant
proprietors which she had sacrificed in her own domains.

But, although this sacrifice had been great, we must not be led into the
belief that there was no hope for the agriculturist of moderate means
either in the present or in the future. Even in the present there were
clear indications that estates of moderate size could under careful
cultivation hold their own. The estate of Lucius Manlius, which Cato
sketches in his work on agriculture,[223] was far from rivalling the
great demesnes of the princes of the land. It consisted of 240 _jugera_
devoted to the olive and of 100 _jugera_ reserved for the vine.
Provision was made for a moderate supply of corn and for pasturage for
the cattle that worked upon the fields. But the farm was on the whole a
representative of the new spirit, which saw in the vine and the olive a
paying substitute for the decadent culture of grain. Even on an estate
of this size we note as significant that the permanent and even the
higher personnel of the household (the latter being represented by the
_villici_ and the _villicae_) was composed of slaves; yet hirelings were
needed for the harvest and the corn was grown by cottagers who held
their land on a _métayer_ tenure. But such an estate demanded unusual
capital as well as unusual care. On the tiny holdings, which were all
that the poorest could afford, the scanty returns might be eked out by
labour on the fields of others, for the small allotment did not demand
the undivided energies of its holder.[224] There was besides a class of
_politores_[225] similar to that figured as cultivating the Cornland on
the estate of Manlius, who received in kind a wage on which they could
at least exist. They were nominally _métayer_ tenants who were provided
with the implements of husbandry by their landlord; but the quantity of
grain which they could reserve to their own use was so small, varying as
it did from a ninth to a fifth of the whole of the crop which they had
reaped,[226] that their position was little better than that of the
poorest labourer by the day.[227] The humblest class of freemen might
still make a living in districts where pasturage did not reign supreme.
But it was a living that involved a sacrifice of independence and a
submission to sordid needs that were unworthy of the past ideal of Roman
citizenship. It was a living too that conferred little benefit on the
State; for the day-labourers and the _politores_ could scarcely have
been in the position on the census list which rendered them liable to
the conscription.

If it were possible to lessen the incidence of military service and to
secure land and a small amount of capital for the dispossessed, the
prospects for the future were by no means hopeless. The smaller culture,
especially the cultivation of the vine and the olive, is that to which
portions of Italy are eminently suited. This is especially true of the
great volcanic plain of the West extending from the north of Etruria to
the south of Campania and comprising, besides these territories, the
countries of the Latins, the Sabines, the Volsci and the Hernici. The
lightness and richness of the alluvion of this volcanic soil is almost
as suited to the production of cereals as to that of the vine and the
olive or the growth of vegetables.[228] But, even on the assumption that
corn-growing would not pay, there was nothing to prevent, and everything
to encourage the development of the olive plantation, the vineyard and
the market garden throughout this region. It was a country sown with
towns, and the vast throat of Rome alone would cry for the products of
endless labour. Even Cato can place the vine and the olive before
grazing land and forest trees in the order of productivity,[229] and
before the close of the Republic the government had learnt the lesson
that the salvation of the Italian peasantry depended on the cultivation
of products like these. The conviction is attested by the protective
edict that the culture of neither the vine nor the olive was to be
extended in Transalpine Gaul.[230] Market gardening was also to have a
considerable future, wherever the neighbourhood of the larger towns
created a demand for such supplies.[231] A new method of tenure also
gave opportunities to those whose capital or circumstances did not
enable them to purchase a sufficient quantity of land of their own.
Leaseholds became more frequent, and the _coloni_ thus created[232]
began to take an active share in the agricultural life of Italy. Like
the _villici_, they were a product, of the tendency to live away from
the estate; but they gained ground at the expense of the servile
bailiffs, probably in consequence of their greater trustworthiness and
keener interest in the soil.

But time was needed to effect these changes. For the present the reign
of the capitalist was supreme, and the plantation system was dominant
throughout the greater part of Italy. The most essential ingredient in
this system was the slave,--an alien and a chattel, individually a thing
of little account, but reckoned in his myriads the most powerful factor
in the economic, and therefore in the political, life of the times, the
gravest of the problems that startled the reformer. The soil of Italy
was now peopled with widely varied types, and echoes of strange tongues
from West and East could be heard on every hand. Italy seemed a newly
discovered country, on which the refuse of all lands had been thrown to
become a people that could never be a nation. The home supply of slaves,
so familiar as to seem a product of the land, was becoming a mere trifle
in comparison with the vast masses that were being thrust amongst the
peasantry by war and piracy. At the time of the protest of Tiberius
Gracchus against the dominance of slave labour in the fields scarcely
two generations had elapsed since the great influx had begun. The Second
Punic War had spread to every quarter of the West; Sicily, Sardinia,
Cisalpine Gaul and Spain all yielded their tribute in the form of human
souls that had passed from the victor to the dealer, from the dealer to
the country and the town. Only one generation had passed since a great
wave had swept from Epirus and Northern Greece over the shores of Italy.
In Epirus alone one hundred and fifty thousand prisoners had been
sold.[233] Later still the destruction of Carthage must have cast vast
quantities of agricultural slaves upon the market.[234] Asia too had
yielded up her captives as the result of Roman victories; but the
Oriental visages that might be seen in the streets of Rome or the plains
of Sicily, were less often the gift of regular war than of the piracy
and the systematised slave-hunting of the Eastern Mediterranean. Rome,
who had crushed the rival maritime powers that had attempted, however
imperfectly, to police the sea, had been content with the work of
destruction, and seemed to care nothing for the enterprising buccaneers
who sailed with impunity as far west as Sicily. The pirates had also
made themselves useful to the Oriental powers which still retained their
independence; they had been tolerated, if they had not been employed, by
Cyprus and Egypt when these states were struggling against the Empire of
the Seleucids.[235] But another reason for their immunity was the view
held in the ancient world that slave-hunting was in itself a legitimate
form of enterprise.[236] The pirate might easily be regarded as a mere
trader in human merchandise. As such, he had perhaps been useful to
Carthage;[237] and, as long as he abstained from attacking ports or
nationalities under the protectorate of Rome, there was no reason why
the capitalists in power should frown on the trade by which they
prospered. For the pirates could probably bring better material to the
slave market than was usually won in war.[238] A superior elegance and
culture must often have been found in the helpless victims on whom they
pounced; beauty and education were qualities that had a high marketable
value, and by seizing on people of the better class they were sure of
one of two advantages--either of a ransom furnished by the friends of
the captives, or of a better price paid by the dealer. There was
scarcely a pretence that the traders were mere intermediaries who bought
in a cheap market and sold in a dear. They were known to be raiders as
well, and numbers of the captives exhibited in the mart at Side in
Pamphylia were known to have been freemen up to the moment of the
auction.[239] The facility for capture and the proximity of Delos, the
greatest of the slave markets which connected the East with the West,
rendered the supply enormous; but it was equalled by the demand, and
myriads of captives are said to have been shipped to the island and to
have quitted it in a single day. The ease and rapidity of the business
transacted by the master of a slave-ship became a proverb;[240] and
honest mercantile undertakings with their tardy gains must have seemed
contemptible in comparison with this facile source of wealth.

An abundant supply and quick returns imply reasonable prices; and the
cheapness of the labour supplied by the slave-trade, whether as a
consequence of war or piracy, was at once a necessary condition of the
vitality of the plantation system and a cause of the recklessness and
neglect with which the easily replaced instruments might be used. Cato,
a shrewd man of business, never cared to pay more than fifteen hundred
denarii for his slaves.[241] This must have been the price of the best
type of labourer, of a man probably who was gifted with intelligence as
well as strength. Ordinary unskilled labour must have fetched a far
smaller sum; for the prices which are furnished by the comic poetry of
the day--prices which are as a rule conditioned by the value of personal
services or qualities of a particular kind, by the attractions of sex
and the competition for favours--do not on the average far exceed the
limit fixed by Cato.[242] For common work newly imported slaves were
actually preferred, and purchasers were shy of the _veterator_ who had
seen long service.[243] Employment in the fashionable circles of the
town doubtless enhanced the value of a slave, when he was known to have
been in possession of some peculiar gift, whether it were for cookery,
medicine or literature; but the labours of the country could easily be
drilled into the newest importation, and prices diminished instead of
rising with the advancing age and experience of the rustic slave.[244]

The cheapened labour which was now spread over Italy presented as many
varieties of moral as of physical type, and these came to be well known
to the prospective owner, not because he aimed at being a moral
influence, but because he objected to being worried by the vagaries of
an eccentric type. Sardinians were always for sale, not because they
were specially abundant, but because they showed an indocility that
rendered them a sorry possession.[245] The passive Oriental, the
Spaniard fierce and proud, required different methods of management and
inspired different precautions; yet experience soon proved that the
hellenised sons of the East had a better capacity for organising revolt
than their fellow-sufferers from the North and West, and much of the
harshness of Roman slavery was prompted by the panic which is the
nemesis of the man who deals in human lives. But more of it was due to
the indifference which springs from familiarity, and from the cold
practical spirit in which the Roman always tended to play with the pawns
of his business game, even when they were freemen and fellow-citizens. A
man like Cato, who had sense and honesty enough to look after his own
business, elaborated a machine-like system for governing his household,
the aim of which was the maximum of profit with the minimum amount of
humanity which is consistent with the attainment of such an end. The
element of humanity is, however, accidental. There is no conscious
appeal to such a feeling. The slaves seem to be looked on rather as
automata who perform certain mental and physical processes analogous to
those of men. Cato's servants were never to enter another house except
at his bidding or at that of his wife, and were to express utter
ignorance of his domestic history to all inquirers; their life was to
alternate between working and sleeping, and the heavy sleeper was valued
as presumably a peaceful character; little bickerings between the
servants were to be encouraged, for unanimity was a matter for suspicion
and fear; the death sentence pronounced on any one of them by the law
was carried out in the presence of the assembled household, so as to
strike a wholesome terror into the rest. If they wished to propagate
their kind, they must pay for the privilege, and a fixed sum was
demanded from the slave who desired to find a mate amongst his
fellow-servants.[246] The rations were fixed and only raised at the
people's festivals of the Saturnalia and Compitalia;[247] a sick slave
was supposed to need less than his usual share[248]--perhaps an
excellent hygienic maxim, but one scarcely adopted on purely hygienic
grounds. Such a life was an emphatic protest against the indulgence of
the city, the free and careless intercourse which often reversed the
position of master and slave and formed part of the stock-in-trade of
the comedian. Yet, even when the bond between the man of fashion and his
artful Servants had merely a life of pleasure and of mischief as its
end, we Are at least lifted by such relations into a human sphere, and
it is exceedingly questionable whether the warped humanity of the city
did mark so low a level as the brutalised life of the estate over which
Cato's fostering genius was spread. If we develop Cato's methods but a
little, if we admit a little more rigour and a little less
discrimination, we get the dismal barrack-like system of the great
plantations--a barrack, or perhaps a prison, nominally ruled by a
governor who might live a hundred miles away, really under the control
of an anxious and terrified slave, who divided his fears between his
master who wanted money and his servants who wanted freedom. The
_villicus_ had been once the mere intendant of the estate on which his
master lived; he was now sole manager of a vast domain for his absent
lord,[249] sole keeper of the great _ergastulum_ which enclosed at
nightfall the instruments of labour and disgorged them at daybreak over
the fields. The gloomy building in which they were herded for rest and
sleep showed but its roof and a small portion of its walls above the
earth; most of it lay beneath the ground, and the narrow windows were so
high that they could not be reached by the hands of the inmates.[250]
There was no inspection by the government, scarcely any by the
owners.[251] There was no one to tell the secrets of these dens, and if
the unwary traveller were trapped and hidden behind their walls, all
traces of him might be for ever lost.[252] When the slaves were turned
out into the fields, the safety of their drivers was secured by the
chains which bound their limbs, but which were so adjusted as not to
interfere with the movements necessary to their work.[253] Some whose
spirit had been broken might be left unbound, but for the majority bonds
were the only security against escape or vengeance.[254]

There was, however, one type of desperate character who was permitted to
roam at large. This was the guardian of the flocks, who wandered
unrestrained over the mountains during the summer months and along the
prairies in the winter season. These herdsmen formed small bands. It was
reckoned that there should be one for every eighty or hundred sheep and
two for every troop of fifty horses.[255] It was sometimes found
convenient that they should be accompanied by their women who prepared
their meals--women of robust types like the Illyrian dames to whom
child-birth was a mere incident in the daily toils.[256] Such a life of
freedom had its attractions for the slave, but it had its drawbacks too.
The landowner who preferred pasturage to tillage, saved his capital, not
only by the small number of hands which the work demanded, but also by
the niggardly outlay which he expended on these errant serfs. It was not
needful to provide them with the necessaries of life when they could
take them for themselves. When Damophilus of Enna was entreated by his
slaves to give them something better than the rags they wore, his answer
was: "Do travellers then travel naked through the land? Have they
nothing for the man who wants a coat?" [257] Brigandage, in fact, was an
established item In the economic creed of the day.

The desolation of Italy was becoming dangerous, and the master of the
lonely villa barred himself in at nights as though an enemy were at his
gates. On one occasion Scipio Africanus was disturbed in his retreat at
Liternum by a troop of bandits. He placed his armed servants on the roof
and made every preparation for repelling the assault. But the visitors
proved to be pacific. They were the very _élite_ of the fraternity of
brigands and had merely come to do honour to the great man. They sent
back their troops, threw down their arms, laid presents before his door
and departed in joyous mood.[258] The immunity of such bands proved that
a slave revolt might at any moment imperil every life and every dwelling
in some unprotected canton. It was indeed the epoch of peace, when Roman
and Phoenician armies no longer held the field in Italy, that first
suggested the hope of liberation to the slave. Hannibal would have
imperilled his character of a protector of Italian towns had he
encouraged a slave revolt, even if the Phoenician had not shrunk from a
precedent so fatal to his native land. But one of the unexpected results
of the Second Punic War was to kindle a rising in the very heart of
Latium, and it was the African slave, not the African freeman, that
stirred the last relics of the war in Italy. At Setia were guarded the
noble Carthaginians who were a pledge of the fidelity of their state.
These hostages, the sons of merchant princes, were allowed to retain the
dignity of their splendid homes, and a vast retinue of slaves from
Africa attended on their wants. The number of these was swelled by
captive members of the same nationalities whom the people of Setia had
acquired in the recent war.[259] A spirit of camaraderie sprung up
amongst men who understood one another's language and had acquired the
spurious nationality that comes from servitude in the same land. Their
numbers were obvious, the paucity of the native Setians was equally
clear, and no military force was close at hand. They planned to increase
their following by spreading disaffection amongst the servile
populations of the neighbouring country towns, and emissaries were sent
to Norba in the North and Circei in the South. Their project was to wait
for the rapidly approaching games of the Setian folk and to rush on the
unarmed populace as they were gazing at the show; when Setia had been
taken, they meant to seize on Norba and Circei. But there was treason in
their ranks. The urban praetor was roused before dawn by two slaves who
poured the whole tale of the impending massacre into his ear. After a
hasty consultation of the senate he rushed to the threatened district,
gathering recruits as he swept with his legates through the country
side, binding them with the military oath, bidding them arm and follow
him with all speed. A hasty force of about two thousand men was soon
gathered; none knew his destination till he reached the gates of Setia.
The heads of the conspiracy were seized, and such of their followers as
learnt the fact fled incontinently from the town. From this point onward
it was only a matter of hunting down the refugees by patrols sent round
the country districts. Southern Latium was freed from its terror; but it
was soon found that the evil had spread almost to the gates of Rome. A
rumour had spread that Praeneste was to be seized by its slaves, and it
was sufficient to stimulate a praetor to execute nearly five hundred of
the supposed delinquents.[260]

Two years later a rising, which almost became a war, shook the great
plantation lands of Etruria.[261] Its suppression required a legion and
a pitched battle. The leaders were crucified; others of the slaves who
had escaped the carnage were restored to their masters. But these
disturbances, that may have seemed mere sporadic relics of the havoc and
exhaustion left by the Hannibalic war, were only quelled for the moment.
It was soon found that the seeds of insecurity were deeply planted in
the settlement that was called a peace. During the year 185 the
shepherds of Apulia were found to have formed a great society of
plunder, and robbery with violence was of constant occurrence on the
grazing lands and public roads. The praetor who was in command at
Tarentum opened a commission which condemned seven thousand men. Many
were executed, although a large number of the criminals escaped to other

These movements in Italy were but the symptoms of a spirit that was
spreading over the Mediterranean lands. The rising of the serfs only
just preceded the great awakening of the masses of the freemen.[263]
Both classes were ground down by capital; both would make an effort to
shake the burden from their shoulders; and, as regards the methods of
assertion, it is a matter of little moment whether they took the form of
a national rising against a government or a protectorate, a sanguinary
struggle in the Forum against the dominance of a class, or an attack by
chattels, not yet brutalised by serfdom but full of the traditions and
spirit of freemen, against the cruelty and indifference of their owners.
In one sense the servile movements were more universal, and perhaps
better organised, than those of the men to whom, free birth gave a
nominal superiority. A sympathy for each other's sufferings pervaded the
units of the class who were scattered in distant lands. Sometimes it was
a sympathy based on a sense of nationality, and the Syrian and Cilician
in Asia would feel joy and hope stirring in his heart at the doings of
his brethren who had been deported to the far West. The series of
organised revolts in the Roman provinces and protectorate which commence
shortly after the fall of Carthage and close for the moment with the war
of resistance to the Romans in Asia, forms a single connected chain.
Dangerous risings had to be repressed at the Italian coast towns of
Minturnae and Sinuessa; at the former place four hundred and fifty
slaves were crucified, at the latter four thousand were crushed by a
military force; the mines of Athens, the slave market of Delos,
witnessed similar outbreaks,[264] and we shall find a like wave of
discontent spreading over the serf populations of the countries of the
Mediterranean just before the second great outbreak in Sicily which
darkens the close of the second century. The evil fate which made this
island the theatre of the two greatest of the servile wars is explicable
on many grounds. The opportunity offered by the sense of superiority in
numbers was far ampler here than in any area of Italy of equal size. For
Sicily was a wheat-growing country, and the cultivated plains demanded a
mass of labour which was not needed in more mountainous or less fertile
lands, where pasturage yielded a surer return than the tilling of the
soil. The pasture lands of Sicily were indeed large, but they had not
yet dwarfed the agriculture of the island. The labour of the fields was
in the hands of a vast horde of Asiatics, large numbers of whom may
conceivably have been shipped from Carthage across the narrow sea, when
that great centre of the plantation system had been laid low and the
fair estates of the Punic nobles had been seized and broken up by their
conquerors.[265] In the history of the great Sicilian outbreaks Syrians
and Cilicians meet us at every turn. These Asiatic slaves had different
nationalities and they or their fathers had been citizens of widely
separated towns. But there were bonds other than a common suffering
which produced a keen sense of national union and a consequent feeling
of ideal patriotism in the hearts of all. They were the products of the
common Hellenism of the East; they or their fathers could make a claim
to have been subjects of the great Seleucid monarchy; many, perhaps most
of them, could assert freedom by right of birth and acknowledged slavery
only as a consequence of the accidents of war or piracy. The mysticism
of the Oriental, the political ideal of the Hellene, were interwoven in
their moral nature--a nature perhaps twisted by the brutalism of slavery
to superstition in the one direction, to licence in the other, but none
the less capable of great conceptions and valiant deeds. The moment for
both would come when the prophet had appeared, and the prophet would
surely show himself when the cup of suffering had overflowed.[266]

The masters who worked this human mechanism were driving it at a pace
which must have seemed dangerous to any human being less greedy, vain
and confident than themselves. The wealth of these potentates was
colossal, but it was equalled by their social rivalry and consequent
need of money. A contest in elegance was being fought between the
Siceliot and the Italian.[267] The latter was the glass of fashion, and
the former attempted to rival, first his habits of domestic life and, as
a consequence, the economic methods which rendered these habits
possible. Here too, as in Italy, whole gangs of slaves were purchased
like cattle or sheep; some were weighed down with fetters, others ground
into subordination by the cruel severity of their tasks. All without
exception were branded, and men who had been free citizens in their
native towns, felt the touch of the burning iron and carried the stigma
of slavery to their graves.[268] Food was doled out in miserable
quantities,[269] for the shattered instrument could so easily be
replaced. On the fields one could see little but abject helplessness, a
misery that weakened while it tortured the soul. But in some parts of
Sicily bodily want was combined with a wild daring that was fostered by
the reckless owners, whose greed had overcome all sense of their own
security or that of their fellow-citizens. The treatment of pastoral
slaves which had been adopted by the Roman graziers was imitated
faithfully by the Italians and Siceliots of the island. These slaves
were turned loose with their flocks to find their food and clothing
where and how they could. The youngest and stoutest were chosen for this
hard, wild life: and their physical vigour was still further increased
by their exposure to every kind of weather, by their seldom finding or
needing the shelter of a roof, and by the milk and meat which formed
their staple food. A band of these men presented a terrifying aspect,
suggesting a scattered invasion of some warlike barbarian tribe. Their
bodies were clad in the skins of wolves and boars; slung at their sides
or poised in their hands were clubs, lances and long shepherds' staves.
Each squadron was followed by a pack of large and powerful hounds.
Strength, leisure, need, all suggested brigandage as an integral part of
their profession. At first they murdered the wayfarer who went alone or
with but one companion. Then their courage rose and they concerted
nightly attacks on the villas of the weaker residents. These villas they
stormed and plundered, slaying any one who attempted to bar their way.
As their impunity increased, Sicily became impracticable to travellers
by night, and residence in the country districts became a tempting of
providence. There was violence, brigandage or murder on every hand. The
governors of Sicily occasionally interposed, but they were almost
powerless to check the mischief. The influence of the slave-owners was
such that it was dangerous to inflict an adequate punishment.[270]

The proceedings of these militant shepherds must have opened the eyes of
the mass of the slaves to the possibilities of the position. Secret
meetings began to be held at which the word "revolt" was breathed. An
occasion, a leader, a divine sanction were for the moment lacking. The
first requisite would follow the other two, and these were soon found
combined in the person of Eunus. This man was a Syrian by birth, a
native of Apamea, and he served Antigenes of Enna. He was more than a
believer in the power of the gods to seize on men and make them the
channel of their will; he was a living witness to it in his own person.
At first he saw shadows of superhuman form and heard their voices in his
dreams. Then there were moments when he would be seized with a trance;
he was wrapt in contemplation of some divine being. Then the words of
prophecy would come; they were not his utterance but the bidding of the
great Syrian goddess. Sometimes the words were preceded by a strange
manifestation of supernatural power; smoke, sparks or flame would issue
from his open mouth.[271] The clairvoyance may have been a genuine
mental experience, the thaumaturgy the type of fiction which the best of
_media_ may be tempted to employ; but both won belief from his fellows,
eager for any light in the darkness, and a laughing acceptance from his
master, glad of a novelty that might amuse his leisure. As a matter of
fact, Eunus's predictions sometimes came true. People forgot (as people
will) the instances of their falsification, but applauded them heartily
when they were fulfilled. Eunus was a good enough _medium_ to figure at
a fashionable _séance_. His latest profession was the promise of a
kingdom to himself; it was the Syrian goddess who had held out the
golden prospect. The promise he declared boldly to his master, knowing
perhaps the spirit in which the message would be received. Antigenes was
delighted with his prophet king. He showed him at his own table, and
took him to the banquets given by his friends. There Eunus would be
questioned about his kingdom, and each of the guests would bespeak his
patronage and clemency. His answers as to his future conduct were given
without reserve. He promised a policy of mercy, and the quaint
earnestness of the imposture would dissolve the company in laughter.
Portions of food were handed him from the board, and the donors would
ask that he should remember their kindness when he came into his
kingdom. These were requests which Eunus did not forget.

With such an influence in its centre, Enna seemed destined to be the
spring of the revolt. But there was another reason which rendered it a
likely theatre for a deed of daring. The broad plateau on which the town
was set was thronged with shepherds in the winter season,[272] and some
of the great graziers of Enna owned herds of these bold and lawless men.
Conspicuous amongst these graziers for his wealth, his luxury and his
cruelty was one Damophilus, the man who had formulated the theory that
the shepherd slave should keep himself by robbing others. Damophilus was
a Siceliot, but none of the Roman magnates of the island could have
shown a grander state than that which he maintained. His finely bred
horses, his four-wheeled carriages, his bodyguard of slaves, his
beautiful boys, his crowd of parasites, were known all over the broad
acres and huge pasture lands which he controlled. His town house and
villas displayed chased silverwork, rich carpets of purple dye and a
table of royal elegance. He surpassed Roman luxury in the lavishness of
his expense, Roman pride in his sense of complete independence of
circumstance, and Roman niggardliness and cruelty in his treatment of
his slaves. Satiety had begotten a chronic callousness and even savagery
that showed itself, not merely in the now familiar use of the
_ergastulum_ and the brand, but in arbitrary and cruel punishments which
were part of the programme of almost every day. His wife Megallis,
hardened by the same influences, was the torment of her maidens and of
such domestics as were more immediately under her control. The servants
of this household had one conviction in common--that nothing worse than
their present evils could possibly be their lot.

This is the conviction that inspires acts of frenzy; but the madness of
these slaves was of the orderly, systematic and therefore dangerous
type. They would not act without a divine sanction to their whispered
plans. Some of them approached Eunus and asked him if their enterprise
was permitted by the gods. The prophet first produced the usual
manifestations which attested his inspiration and then replied that the
gods assented, if the plan were taken in hand forthwith. Enna was the
destined place; it was the natural stronghold of the whole island; it
was foredoomed to be the capital of the new race that would rule over
Sicily.[273] Heartened by the belief that Heaven was aiding their
efforts, the leaders then set to work. They secretly released such of
Damophilus's household as were in bonds; they gathered others together,
and soon a band to the number of about four hundred were mustered in a
field in the neighbourhood of Enna. There in the early hours of the
night they offered a sacrifice and swore their solemn compact. They had
gathered everything which could serve as a weapon, and when midnight was
approaching they were ready for the first attempt. They marched swiftly
to the sleeping town and broke its stillness with their cries of
exhortation. Eunus was at their head, fire streaming from his mouth
against the darkness of the night. The streets and houses were
immediately the scene of a pitiless massacre. The maddened slaves did
not even spare the children at the breast; they dragged them from their
mothers' arms and dashed them upon the ground. The women were the
victims of unspeakable insult and outrage.[274] Every slave had his own
wrongs to avenge, for the original assailants had now been joined by a
large number of the domestics of the town. Each of these wreaked his own
peculiar vengeance and then turned to take his share in the
general massacre.

Meanwhile Eunus and his immediate following had learnt news of the
arch-enemy Damophilus, He was known to be staying in his pleasance near
to the city. Thence he and his wife were fetched with every mark of
ignominy, and the unhappy pair were dragged into the town with their
hands bound behind their backs. The masters of the city now mustered in
the theatre for an act of justice; but Damophilus did not lose his wits
even when he scanned that sea of hostile faces and accusing eyes. He
attempted a defence and was listened to in silence--nay, with approval,
for many of his auditors were visibly stirred by his words. But some
bolder spirits were tired of the show or fearful of its issue. Hermeias
and Zeuxis, two of his bitterest enemies, shouted out that he was an
Impostor[275] and rushed upon him. One of the two thrust a sword through
his side, the other smote his head off with an axe. It was then the
women's turn. Megallis's female slaves were given the power to treat her
as they would. They first tortured her, then led her up to a high place
and dashed her to the ground. Eunus avenged his private wrongs by the
death of his own masters, Antigenes and Python. The scene in the theatre
had perhaps revealed more than the desire for a systematised revenge. It
may have shown that there was some sense of justice, of order in the
savage multitude. And indeed vengeance was not wholly indiscriminate.
Eunus concealed and sent secretly away the men who had given him meat
from their tables.[276] Even the whole house of Damophilus did not
perish. There was a daughter, a strange product of such a home, a maiden
with a pure simplicity of character and a heart that melted at the sight
of pain. She had been used to soothe the anguish of those who had been
scourged by her parents and to relieve the necessities of such as were
put in bonds. Hence the abounding love felt for her by the slaves, the
pity that thrilled them when her home was doomed. An escort was selected
to convey her in safety to some relatives at Catana. Its most devoted
member was Hermeias,[277] perhaps the very man whose hands were stained
by her father's blood.

The next step in the progress of the revolt was to form a political and
military organisation that might command the respect of the countless
slaves who were soon to break their bonds in the other districts of
Sicily. Eunus was elected king. His name became Antiochus, his subjects
were "Syrians." [278] It was not the first time that a slave had assumed
the diadem; for was it not being worn for the moment by Diodotus
surnamed Tryphon, the guardian and reputed murderer of Alexander of
Syria?[279] The elevation of Eunus to the throne was due to no belief in
his courage or his generalship. But he was the prophet of the movement,
the cause of its inception, and his very name was considered to be of
good omen for the harmony of his subjects. When he had bound the diadem
on his brow and adopted regal state, he elevated the woman who had been
his companion (a Syrian and an Apamean like himself) to the rank of
queen. He formed a council of such of his followers as were thought to
possess wits above the average, and he set himself to make Enna the
adequate centre of a lengthy war. He put to death all his captives in
Enna who had no skill in fashioning arms; the residue he put in bonds
and set to the task of forging weapons.

Eunus was no warrior, but he had the regal gift of recognising merit.
The soul of the military movement which spread from Enna was
Achaeus,[280] a man pre-eminent both in counsel and in action,[281] one
who did not permit his reason to be mastered by passion and whose anger
was chiefly kindled by the foolish atrocities committed by some of his
followers.[282] Under such a leader the cause rapidly advanced. The
original four hundred had swelled in three days to six thousand; it soon
became ten thousand. As Achaeus advanced, the _ergastula_ were broken
open and each of these prison-houses furnished a new multitude of
recruits.[283] Soon a vast addition to the available forces was effected
by a movement in another part of the island. In the territory of
Agrigentum one Cleon a Cilician suddenly arose as a leader of his
fellows. He was sprung from the regions about Mount Taurus and had been
habituated from his youth to a life of brigandage. In Sicily he was
supposed to be a herdsman of horses. He was also a highwayman who
commanded the roads and was believed to have committed murders of varied
types. When he heard of the success of Eunus, he deemed that the moment
had come for raising a revolt on his own account. He gathered a band of
followers, overwhelmed the city of Agrigentum and ravaged the
surrounding territory.[284]

The terrified Siceliots, and perhaps some of the slaves themselves,
believed that this dual movement might ruin the servile cause. There
were daily expectations that the armies of Eunus and Cleon would meet in
conflict. But such hopes or fears were disappointed. Cleon put himself
absolutely under the authority of Eunus and performed the functions of a
general to a king. The junction of the forces occurred about thirty days
after the outbreak at Enna, and the Cilician brought five thousand men
to the royal standard. The full complement of the slaves when first they
joined battle with the Roman power amounted to twenty thousand men;
before the close of the war their army numbered over sixty

The Roman government exhibited its usual slowness in realising the
gravity of the situation; yet it may be excused for believing that it
had only to deal with local tumults such as those which had been so
easily suppressed in Italy. The force of eight thousand men which it put
into the field under the praetor Lucius Hypsaeus may have seemed more
than sufficient. Yet it was routed by the insurgent army, now numbering
twenty thousand men, and in the skirmishes which followed the balance of
success inclined to the rebels. The immediate progress of the struggle
cannot be traced in any detail, but there is a general record of the
storming of Roman camps and the flight of Roman generals.[286]

The theatre of the war was certainly extending at an alarming rate. The
rebels had first controlled the centre and some part of the South
Western portion of the island, the region between Enna and Agrigentum;
but now they had pushed their conquests up to the East, had reached the
coast and had gained possession of Catana and Tauromenium.[287] The
devastation of the conquered districts is said to have been more
terrible than that which followed on the Punic War.[288] But for this
the slaves were not wholly, perhaps not mainly, responsible. The rebel
armies, looking to a settlement in the future when they should enjoy the
fruit of their victories, left the villas standing, their furniture and
stores uninjured, and did no harm to the implements of husbandry. It was
the free peasantry of Sicily that now showed a savage resentment at the
inequality of fortune and of life which severed them from the great
landholders. Under pretext of the servile war[289] they sallied out, and
not only plundered the goods of the conquered, but even set fire to
their villas.

The words of Eunus when, at the beginning of the revolt, he claimed Enna
as the metropolis of the new nation, and the conduct of his followers in
sparing the grandeur and comfort which had fallen into their hands, are
sufficient proofs that the revolted slaves, in spite of their possession
of the seaports of Catana and Tauromenium, had no intention of escaping
from Sicily. Perhaps even if they had willed it, such a course might
have been impossible. They had no fleet of their own; the Cilician
pirates off the coast might have refused to accept such dangerous
passengers and to imperil their reputation as honest members of the
slave trade. And, if the fugitives crossed the sea, what homes had they
to which they could return? To their own cities they were dead, and the
long arm of Rome stretched over her protectorates in the East.[290]

It was therefore with a power which intended a permanent settlement in
Sicily, that the Roman government had to cope. Its sense of the gravity
of the situation was seen in the despatch of consular armies. The first
under Caius Fulvius Flaccus seems to have effected little.[291] The
second under Lucius Calpurnius Piso, the consul of the following year,
laid siege to Enna,[292] and captured a stronghold of the rebels. Eight
thousand of the slaves were slain by the sword, all who could be seized
were nailed to the cross.[293] The crowning victories, and the nominal
pacification of the island, remained for Piso's successor, Publius
Rupilius. He drove the rebels into Tauromenium and sat down before the
city until they were reduced to unspeakable straits by famine. The town
was at length yielded through treachery; Sarapion a Syrian betrayed the
acropolis, and the Roman commander found a multitude of starving men at
his mercy, He was pitiless in his use of victory. The captives were
first tortured, then taken up to a high place and dashed downwards to
the ground. The consul then moved on Enna. The rebels defended their
last stronghold with the utmost courage and persistence. Achaeus seems
to have already fallen, but the brave Cilician leaders still held out
with all the native valour of their race. Cleon made a sortie from the
town and fought heroically until he fell covered with wounds. Cleon's
brother Coma[294] was captured during the siege and brought before
Rupilius, who questioned him about the strength and the plans of the
remaining fugitives. He asked for a moment to collect his thoughts,
covered his head with his cloak, and died of suffocation, in the hands
of his guard and in sight of the general, before a compromising word had
passed his lips. King Eunus was not made of such stern stuff. When Enna,
impregnable in its natural strength, had been taken by treachery, he
fled with his bodyguard of a thousand men to still more precipitous
regions. His companions, knowing that it was impossible to escape their
fate (for Rupilius was already moving) fell on each others swords. But
Eunus could not face this death. He took refuge in a cave, from which he
was dragged with the last poor relics of his splendid court--his cook,
his baker, his bath attendant and his buffoon. The Romans for some
reason spared his life, or at least did not doom him to immediate death.
He was kept a prisoner at Morgantia, where he died shortly afterwards
of disease.

It is said that by the date of the fall of Enna more than twenty
thousand slaves had perished.[295] Even without this slaughter, the
capture of their seaport and their armoury would have been sufficient to
break the back of the revolt.[296] It only remained to scour the country
with picked bands of soldiers for organised resistance to be shattered,
and even for the curse of brigandage to be rooted out for a while. Death
was no longer meted out indiscriminately to the rebels. Such of the
slave-owners as survived would probably have protested against wholesale
crucifixion, and the destruction of all of the fugitives would have
impaired the resources of Sicily. Thus many were spared the cross and
restored to their bonds.[297] The extent to which reorganisation was
needed before the province could resume its normal life, is shown by the
fact that the senate thought it worth while to give Sicily a new
provincial charter. Ten commissioners were sent to assist Rupilius in
the work, which henceforth bore the proconsul's name.[298] The work, as
we know it, was of a conservative character; but it is possible that no
complete charter had ever existed before, and the war may have revealed
defects in the arrangements of Sicily that had heretofore been

A climax of the type of the servile war in Sicily was perhaps needed to
bring the social problem home to thinking men in Rome. Not that it by
any means sufficed for all who pondered on the public welfare or
laboured at the business of the State. The men who measured happiness by
wealth and empire might still have retained their unshaken confidence in
the Fortune of Rome. Had a Capys of this class arisen, he might have
given a thrilling picture of the immediate future of his city, dark but
grimly national in its emergence from trial to triumph. He might have
seen her conquering arms expanding to the Euphrates and the Rhine, and
undreamed sources of wealth pouring their streams into the treasury or
the coffers of the great. If there was blood in the picture, when had it
been absent from the annals of Rome? Even civil strife and a new Italian
war might be a hard but a necessary price to pay for a strong government
and a grand mission. If an antiquated constitution disappeared in the
course of this glorious expansion, where was the loss?

But there were men in Rome who measured human life by other canons: who
believed that the State existed for the individual at least as much as
the individual for the State: who, even when they were imperialists, saw
with terror the rotten foundations on which the empire rested, and with
indignation the miserable returns that had been made to the men who had
bought it with their blood. To them the brilliant present and the
glorious future were veiled by a screen that showed the ghastly spectres
of commercial imperialism. It showed luxury running riot amongst a
nobility already impoverished and ever more thievishly inclined, a
colossal capitalism clutching at the land and stretching out its
tentacles for every source of profitable trade, the middle class fleeing
from the country districts and ousted from their living in the towns,
and the fair island that was almost a part of their Italian home, its
garden and its granary, in the throes of a great slave war.


A cause never lacks a champion, nor a great cause one whom it may render
great. Failure is in itself no sign of lack of spirit and ability, and
when a vast reform is the product of a mean personality, the individual
becomes glorified by identification with his work. From this point of
view it mattered little who undertook the task of the economic
regeneration of the Roman world. Any senator of respectable antecedents
and moderate ability, who had a stable following amongst the ruling
classes, might have succeeded where Tiberius Gracchus failed; it was a
task in which authority was of more importance than ability, and the
sense that the more numerous or powerful elements of society were united
in the demand for reform, of more value than individual genius or
honesty of purpose. This was the very circumstance that foreshadowed
failure, for the men of wide connections and established fame had shrunk
from an enterprise with which they sympathised in various degrees. In
the proximate history of the Republic there had been three men who
showed an unwavering belief in the Italian farmer and the blessings of
agriculture. These were M. Porcius Cato, P. Cornelius Scipio and Ti.
Sempronius Gracchus. But the influence of Cato's house had become
extinct with its first founder. The elder son, an amiable man and an
accomplished jurist, had not out-lived his father; the second still
survived, but seems to have inherited little of the fighting qualities
of the terrible censor. The traditions of a Roman house needed to be
sustained by the efforts of its existing representative, and the
"newness" of the Porcii might have necessitated generations of vigorous
leaders to make them a power in the land. Scipionic traditions were now
represented by Aemilianus, and the glow of the luminary was reflected in
paler lights, who received their lustre from moving in that charmed
orbit. One of these, the indefatigable henchman Laelius, had risen to
the rank of consul, and stimulated by the vigorous theorisings of his
hellenised environment, he contemplated for a moment the formation of a
plan which should deal with some of the worst evils of the agrarian
question. But he looked at the problem only to start back in affright.
The strength and truculency of the vested interests with which he would
have to deal were too much for a man whose nerve was weakened by
philosophy and experience, and Laelius by his retreat justified, if he
did not gain, the soubriquet which proclaimed his "sapience".[299] But
why was Scipio himself idle? The answer is to be found both in his
temperament and in his circumstances. With all his dash and energy, he
was something of a healthy hedonist. As the chase had delighted him in
his youth, so did war in his manhood. While hating its cruelties, he
gloried in its excitement, and the discipline of the camp was more to
his mind than the turbulence of an assembly. His mind, too, belonged to
that class which finds it almost impossible to emancipate itself from
traditional politics. His vast knowledge of the history of other
civilisations may have taught him, as it taught Polybius, that Rome was
successful because she was unique.[300] Here there was to be no break
with the past, no legislator posing as a demi-god, no obedience to the
cries of the masses who, if they once got loose, might turn and rend the
enlightened few, and reproduce on Italian soil the shocking scenes of
Greek socialistic enterprise. As things were, to be a reformer was to be
a partisan, and Scipio loved the prospect of his probable supporters as
little as that of his probable opponents. The fact of the Empire, too,
must have weighed heavily with a man who was no blind imperialist. Even
though economic reform might create an added efficiency in the army,
Scipio must have known, as Polybius certainly knew, that soldiers are
but pawns in the great game, and that the controlling forces were the
wisdom of the conservative senator, the ambition of the wealthy noble,
and the capital of the enterprising knight. The wisdom of disturbing
their influence, and awakening their resentment, could scarcely appeal
to a mind so perfectly balanced and practical as Scipio's.
Circumstances, too, must have had their share in determining his
quiescence. The Scipios had been a power in Rome in spite of the
nobility. They were used because they were needed, not because they were
loved, and the necessary man was never in much favour with the senate.
Although there was no tie of blood between Aemilianus and the elder
Scipio, they were much alike both in fortune and in temperament. They
had both been called upon to save military situations that were thought
desperate; their reputation had been made by successful war; and though
neither was a mere soldier, they lacked the taste and the patience for
the complicated political game, which alone made a man a power amidst
the noble circles and their immediate dependants at Rome.

But the last generation had seen in Tiberius Gracchus a man whose
political influence had been vast, a noble with but scant respect for
the indefeasible rights of the nobility and as stern as Cato in his
animadversions on the vices of his order, a man whose greatest successes
abroad had been those of diplomacy rather than of war, one who had
established firm connections and a living memory of himself both in West
and East, whose name was known and loved in Spain, Sardinia, Asia and
Egypt. It would have been too much to hope that this honest old
aristocrat would attempt to grapple with the evils which had first
become manifest during his own long lifetime; but it was not unnatural
that people should look to a son of his for succour, especially as this
son represented the blood of the Scipios as well as of the Gracchi. The
marriage of the elderly Gracchus with the young Cornelia had marked the
closing of the feud, personal rather than political, which had long
separated him from the elder Scipio: and a further link between the two
families was subsequently forged by the marriage of Sempronia, a
daughter of Cornelia, to Scipio Aemilianus. The young Tiberius Gracchus
may have been born during one of his father's frequent absences on the
service of the State.[301] Certainly the elder Gracchus could have seen
little of his son during the years of his infancy. But the closing years
of the old man's life seem to have been spent uninterruptedly in Italy,
and Tiberius must have been profoundly influenced by the genial and
stately presence that Rome loved and feared. But he was little more than
a boy when his father died, and the early influences that moulded his
future career seem to have been due mainly to his mother. Cornelia would
have been the typical Roman matron, had she lived a hundred years
earlier; she would then have trained sons for the battlefield, not for
the Forum. As it was, the softening influences of Greek culture had
tempered without impairing her strength of character, had substituted
rational for purely supernatural sanctions, and a wide political outlook
for a rude sense of civic duty. Herself the product of an education such
as ancient civilisations rarely bestowed upon their women, she wrote and
spoke with a purity and grace which led to the belief that her sons had
learnt from her lips and from her pen their first lessons in that
eloquence which swayed the masses and altered the fortunes of Rome.[302]
But her gifts had not impaired her tenderness. Her sons were her
"Jewels," and the successive loss of nine of the children which she had
borne to Gracchus must have made the three that remained doubly dear.
The two boys had a narrow escape from becoming Eastern princes: for the
hand of the widow Cornelia was sought in marriage by the King of
Egypt.[303] Such an alliance with the representative of the two houses
of the Gracchi and the Scipios might easily seem desirable to a
protected king, although the attractions of Cornelia may also have
influenced his choice. She, however, had no aspirations to share the
throne of the Lagidae, and the hellenism of Tiberius and of his younger
brother Caius, though deep and far-reaching, was of a kind less violent
than would have been gained by transportation to Alexandria. They were
trained in rhetoric by Diophanes an exile from Mitylene, and in
philosophy by Blossius of Cumae, a stoic of the school of Antipater of
Tarsus.[304] Many held the belief that Tiberius was spurred to his
political enterprise by the direct exhortation of these teachers; but,
even if their influence was not of this definite kind, there can be
little doubt that the teaching of the two Greeks exercised a powerful
influence on the political cast of his mind. Ideals of Greek liberty,
speeches of Greek statesmen who had come forward as champions of the
oppressed, stories of social ruin averted by the voice and hand of the
heaven-sent legislator, pictures of self-sacrifice and of resigned
submission to a standard of duty--these were lessons that may have been
taught both by rhetorician and philosopher. Nor was the teaching of
history different. In the literary environment in which the Gracchi
moved, ready answers were being given to the most vital questions of
politics and social science. Every one must have felt that the
approaching struggle had a dual aspect, that it was political as well as
social. For social conservatism was entrenched behind a political
rampart: and if reform, neglected by the senate, was to come from the
people, the question had first to be asked, Had the people a legal right
to initiate reform? The historians of that and of the preceding
generation would have answered this question unhesitatingly in the
affirmative. The _de facto_ sovereignty of the senate had not even
received a sanction in contemporary literature, while to that of the
immediate past it was equally unknown. The Roman annalists from the time
of the Second Punic War had revealed the sovereignty of the people as
the basis of the Roman constitution,[305] and the history of the long
struggle of the Plebs for freedom made the protection of the commons the
sole justification of the tribunate. From the lips of Polybius himself
Tiberius may have heard the impression which the Roman polity made on
the mind of the educated Greek: and the fact that this was a Greek
picture did not lessen its validity; for the Greek was moulding the
orthodox history of Rome, and the victims of his genius were the best
Roman intellects of the day. He might have learnt how in this mixed
constitution the people still retained their inalienable rights, how
they elected, ratified, and above all how they punished.[306] He might
have gathered that the identification of the tribunate with the
interests of the nobility was a perversion of its true and vital
function: that the tribune exists but to assist the commons and can be
subject to no authority but the people's will, whether expressed
directly by them or indirectly through his colleagues.[307] The history
of the Punic wars did indeed reveal, in the fate of a Varro or a
Minucius, how popular insubordination might be punished, when its end
was wrong. Polybius's own voice was raised in prophetic warning against
a possible demagogy of the future.[308] But that history showed the
healthy discipline of a healthy people--a people that had vanquished
genius through subordination, a peasant class whose loyalty and tenacity
were as great as those of its leaders, and without whom those leaders
would have been helpless. Where was such a class to be found now? Change
the subject or turn the page, and the Greek statesman and historian
could point to the dreadful reverse of this picture.[309] He could show
a Greek nation, gifted with political genius but doomed to political
decay--a nation whose sons accumulated money, lived in luxury with
little forethought for the future, and refused to beget children for the
State: a nation with a wealthy and cultured upper class, but one that
was literally perishing for the lack of men.[310] Was this the fate in
store for Rome? A temperament that was merely vigorous and keen might
not have been affected by such reflections. One that was merely
contemplative might have regarded them only as a subject for curious
study. But Tiberius's mind ran to neither of these two extremes. He was
a thoughtful and sensitive man of action. Sweet in temper, staid in
deportment, gentle in language, he attracted from his dependants a
loyalty that knew no limits, and from his friends a devotion that did
not even shrink from death on his behalf. Even in his pure and polished
oratory passion revealed itself chiefly in appeals to pity, not in the
harsher forms of invective or of scorn. His mode of life was simple and
restrained, but apparently with none of the pedantic austerity of the
stoic. In an age that was becoming dissolute and frivolous he was moral
and somewhat serious.[311] But his career is not that of the man who
burdens society with the impression that he has a solemn mission to
perform. Such men are rarely taken as seriously as they take themselves;
they do not win aged men of experience to support their cause; the
demeanour that wearies their friends is even likely to be found irksome
by the mob.

Roman society must have seen much promise in his youth, for honours came
early. A seat at the augural board was regarded as a tribute to his
merit rather than his birth;[312] and indeed the Roman aristocrats, who
dispensed such favours, were too clever to be the slaves of a name, when
political manipulation was in question and talent might be diverted to
the true cause. His marriage was a more important determinant in his
career. The bride who was offered him was the daughter of Appius
Claudius Pulcher, a man of consular and censorian rank and now Princeps
of the senate,[313] a clever representative of that brilliant and
eccentric house, that had always kept liberalism alive in Rome. Appius
had already displayed some of the restless individuality of his
ancestors. When the senate had refused him a triumph after a war with
the Salassi, he had celebrated the pageant at his own expense, while his
daughter, a vestal, walked beside the car to keep at bay the importunate
tribune who attempted to drag him off.[314] A similar unconventionality
was manifested in the present betrothal. The story runs that Appius
broached the question to Tiberius at an augural banquet. The proposition
was readily accepted, and Appius in his joy shouted out the news to his
wife as he entered his own front door. The lady was more surprised than
annoyed. "What need for all this haste," she said, "unless indeed you
have found Tiberius Gracchus for our girl?" [315] Appius, hasty as he
was, was probably in this case not the victim of a sudden inspiration.
The restless old man doubtless pined for reform; but he was weighed down
by years, honours and familiarity with the senate. He could not be the
protagonist in the coming struggle; but in Tiberius he saw the man of
the future.

The chances of the time favoured a military even more than a political
career; the chief spheres of influence were the province and the camp,
and it was in these that the earliest distinctions of Tiberius were won.
When a lad of fifteen he had followed his brother-in-law Scipio to
Africa, and had been the first to mount the walls of Carthage in the
vain assault on the fortress of Megara.[316] He had won the approval of
the commander by his discipline and courage, and left general regret
amongst the army when he quitted the camp before the close of the
campaign. But an experience as potent for the future as his first taste
of war, must have been those hours of leisure spent in Scipio's
tent.[317] If contact with the great commander aroused emulation, the
talk on political questions of Scipio and his circle must have inspired
profound reflection. Here he could find aspirations enough; all that was
lacking was a leader to translate them into deeds. The quaestorship, the
first round of the higher official ladder, found him attached to the
consul Mancinus and destined for the ever-turbulent province of Spain.
It was a fortunate chance, for here was the scene of his father's
military and diplomatic triumphs. But the sequel was unexpected. He had
gone to fulfil the duties of a subordinate; he suddenly found himself
performing those of a commander-in-chief or of an accredited
representative of the Roman people. The Numantines would treat only with
a Gracchus, and the treaty that saved Roman lives but not Roman honour
was felt to be really his work. In a moment he was involved in a
political question that agitated the whole of Rome. The Numantine treaty
was the topic of the day. Was it to be accepted or, if repudiated,
should the authors of the disaster, the causes of the breach of faith,
be surrendered in time-honoured fashion to the enemy as an expiation for
the violated pledge? On the first point there was little hesitation; the
senate decided for the nullity of the treaty, and it was likely that
this view would be accepted by the people, if the measures against the
ratifying officials were not made too stringent. For on this point there
was a difference of opinion. The poorer classes, whose sons and brothers
had been saved from death or captivity by the treaty, blamed Mancinus as
the cause of the disaster, but were grateful to Tiberius as the author
of the agreement. Others who had less to lose and could therefore afford
to stand on principle, would have enforced the fullest rigour of the
ancient rules and have delivered up the quaestor and tribunes with the
defaulting general.[318] It was thought that the influence of Scipio,
always great with the agricultural voters, might have availed to save
even Mancinus, nay that, if he would, he might have got the peace
confirmed.[319] But his efforts were believed to have been employed in
favour of Tiberius. The matter ended in an illogical compromise. The
treaty was repudiated, but it was decreed that the general alone should
be surrendered.[320] A breach in an ancient rule of religious law had
been made in favour of Tiberius.

But, in spite of this mark of popular favour, the experience had been
disheartening and its effect was disturbing. Although it is impossible
to subscribe to the opinion of later writers, who, looking at the matter
from a conservative and therefore unfavourable aspect, saw in this early
check the key to Tiberius's future action,[321] yet anger and fear leave
their trace even on the best regulated minds. The senate had torn up his
treaty and placed him for the moment in personal peril. It was to the
people that he owed his salvation. If circumstances were to develop an
opposition party in Rome, he was being pushed more and more into its
ranks. And a coolness seems to have sprung up at this time between him
and the man who had been his great _exemplar_. Tiberius took no counsel
of Scipio before embarking on his great enterprise; support and advice
were sought elsewhere. He may have already tested Scipio's lack of
sympathy with an active propaganda; shame might have kept back the hint
of a plan that might seem to imply a claim to leadership. But it is
possible that there was some feeling of resentment against the warrior
now before Numantia, who had done nothing to save the last Numantine
treaty and the honour of the name of Gracchus.

His reticence could scarcely have been due to ignorance of his own
designs; for his brother Caius left it on record that it was while
journeying northward from Rome on his way to Numantia that Tiberius's
eyes were first fully opened to the magnitude of the malady that cried
aloud for cure.[322] It was in Etruria, the paradise of the capitalist,
that he saw everywhere the imported slave and the barbarian who had
replaced the freeman. It was this sight that first suggested something
like a definite scheme. A further stimulus was soon to be found in
scraps of anonymous writing which appeared on porches, walls and
monuments, praying for his succour and entreating that the public land
should be recovered for the poor.[323] The voiceless Roman people was
seeking its only mode of utterance, a tribune who should be what the
tribune had been of old, the servant of the many not the creature of the
few. To Gracchus's mother his plans could hardly have been veiled. She
is even said to have stimulated a vague craving for action by the
playful remark that she was still known as the mother-in-law of Scipio,
not as the mother of the Gracchi.[324]

But there was need of serious counsel. Gracchus did not mean to be a
mere demagogue, coming before the people with a half-formed plan and
stirring up an agitation which could end merely in some idle resolution.
There were few to whom he could look for advice, but those few were of
the best. Three venerable men, whose deeds and standing were even
greater than their names, were ready with their support. There was the
chief pontiff, P. Licinius Crassus Mucianus, the man who was said to
combine in a supreme degree the four great blessings of wealth, birth,
eloquence and legal lore;[325] there was the brother of Crassus, P.
Mucius Scaevola,[326] the greatest lawyer of his age and already
destined to the consulship for the following year; lastly there was
Tiberius's father-in-law, the restless Appius, now eagerly awaiting the
fulfilment of a cherished scheme by the man of his own choice.[327]

Thus fortified, Tiberius Gracchus entered on his tribunate, and
formulated the measure which was to leave large portions of the public
domain open for distribution to the poor. In the popular gatherings with
which he opened his campaign, he dwelt on the nature of the evils which
he proposed to remedy. It was the interest of Italy, not merely of the
Roman proletariate, that was at stake.[328] He pointed out how the
Italian peasantry had dwindled in numbers, and how that portion of it
which still survived had been reduced to a poverty that was irremediable
by their own efforts. He showed that the slave gangs which worked the
vast estates were a menace, not a help, to Rome. They could not be
enlisted for service in the legions; their disaffection to their masters
was notorious; their danger was being proved even now by the horrible
condition of Sicily, the fate of its slave-owning landlords, the long,
difficult and eventful war which had not even yet been brought to a
close.[329] Sometimes the language of passion replaced that of reason in
his harangues to the crowds that pressed round the Rostra. "The beasts
that prowl about Italy have holes and lurking-places where they may make
their beds. You who fight and die for Italy enjoy but the blessings of
air and light. These alone are your heritage. Homeless, unsettled, you
wander to and fro with your wives and children. Our generals are in the
habit of inspiring their soldiers to the combat by exhorting them to
repel the enemy in defence of their tombs and ancestral shrines. The
appeal is idle and false. You cannot point to a paternal altar, you have
no ancestral tomb. No! you fight and die to give wealth and luxury to
others. You are called the masters of the world; yet there is no clod of
earth that you can call your own." [330]

The proposal, which was ushered in by these stirring appeals, seemed at
first sight to be of a moderate and somewhat conservative character. It
professed to be the renewal of an older law, which had limited the
amount of domain land which an individual might possess to five hundred
_jugera_;[331] it professed, that is, to reinforce an injunction which
had been persistently disobeyed, for this enactment restricting
possession had never been repealed. The extent to which a proposal of
this kind is a re-enactment, in the spirit as well as in the letter,
depends entirely on the length of time which has elapsed since the
original proposal has begun to be violated. A political society, which
recognises custom as one of the bases of law, must recognise desuetude
as equally valid. A law, which has not been enforced for centuries,
would, by the common consent of the courts of such nations as favour
progressive legislation, be regarded as no law at all. Again, the age of
an ordinance determines its suitability to present conditions. It may be
justifiable to revive an enactment that is centuries old; but the
revival should not necessarily dignify itself with that name. It must be
regarded as a new departure, unless the circumstances of the old and the
new enactment can be proved to be approximately the same. Our attempts
to judge the Gracchan law by these considerations are baffled by our
ignorance of the real date of the previous enactment, the stringency of
whose measures he wished to renew. If it was the Licinian law of the
middle of the fourth century,[332] this law must have been renewed, or
must still have continued to be observed, at a period not very long
anterior to the Gracchan proposal; for Cato could point his argument
against the declaration of war with Rhodes by an appeal to a provision
attributed to this measure[333]--an appeal which would have been
pointless, had the provision fallen into that oblivion which persistent
neglect of an enactment must bring to all but the professed students of
law. We can at least assert that the charge against Gracchus of reviving
an enactment so hoary with age as to be absurdly obsolete, is not one of
the charges to be found even in those literary records which were most
unfriendly to his legislation.[334]

The general principle of the measure was, therefore, the limitation to
five hundred _jugera_ of the amount of public land that could be
"possessed" by an individual. The very definition of the tenure
immediately exempted large portions of the State's domain from the
operation of this rule.[335] The Campanian land was leased by the State
to individuals, not merely possessed by them as the result of an
occupation permitted by the government; it, therefore, fell outside the
scope of the measure;[336] but, as it was technically public land and
its ownership was vested in the State, it would have been hazardous to
presume its exemption; it seems, therefore, to have been specifically
excluded from the operation of the bill, and a similar exception was
probably made in favour of many other tracts of territory held under a
similar tenure.[337] Either Gracchus declined to touch any interest that
could properly describe itself as "vested," even though it took merely
the form of a leasehold, or he valued the secure and abundant revenue
which flowed into the coffers of the State from these domains. There
were other lands strictly "public" where the claim of the holders was
still stronger, and where dispossession without the fullest compensation
must have been regarded as mere robbery. We know from later legislation
that respect was had to such lands as the Trientabula, estates which had
been granted by the Roman government at a quit rent to its creditors, as
security for that portion of a national debt which had never been
repaid. It is less certain what happened in the case of lands of which
the usufruct alone had been granted to communities of Roman citizens or
Latin colonists. Ownership in this case still remained vested in the
Roman people, and if the right of usufruct had been granted by law, it
could be removed by law. In the case of Latin communities, however, it
was probably guaranteed by treaty, which no mere law could touch: and so
similar were the conditions of Roman and Latin communities in this
particular, that it is probable that the land whose use was conferred on
whole communities by these ancient grants, was wholly spared by the
Gracchan legislation. In the case of those commons which were possessed
by groups of villagers for the purposes of pasturage (_ager
compascuus_),[338] it is not likely that the group was regarded as the
unit: and therefore, even in the case of such an aggregate possessing
over five hundred _jugera_, their occupation was probably left

All other possessors must vacate the land which exceeded the prescribed
limit. Such an ordinance would have been harsh, had no compensation been
allowed, and Gracchus proposed certain amends for the loss sustained. In
the first place, the five hundred _jugera_ retained by each possessor
were to be increased by half as much again for each son that he might
possess: although it seems that the amount retained was not to exceed
one thousand _jugera_.[339] Secondly, the land so secured to existing
possessors was not to be held on a merely precarious tenure, and was not
to be burdened by the payment of dues to the State; even if ownership
was not vested in its holders, they were guaranteed gratuitous
undisturbed possession in perpetuity.[340] Thirdly, the bill as
originally drafted even suggested some monetary compensation for the
land surrendered.[341] This compensation was probably based on a
valuation of stock, buildings, and recent permanent improvements, which
were to be found on the territory now reverting to the State. It must
have applied for the most part only to arable land, and practically
amounted to a purchase by the State of items to which it could lay no
legal claim; for it was the soil alone, not the buildings on the soil,
over which its lordship could properly be asserted.

The object of reclaiming the public land was its future distribution
amongst needy citizens. This distribution might have taken either of two
forms. Fresh colonies might have been planted, or the acquired land
might merely be assigned to settlers who were to belong to the existing
political organisations. It was the latter method of simple assignation
that Gracchus chose. There was felt to be no particular need for new
political creations; for the pacification of Italy seemed to be
accomplished, and the new farming class would perform their duty to the
State equally well as members of the territory of Rome or of that of the
existing municipia and coloniae of Roman citizens. There is some
evidence that the new proprietors were not all to be attached to the
city of Rome itself, but that many, perhaps most, were to be attributed
to the existing colonies and municipia, in the neighbourhood of which
their allotments lay.[342] The size of the new allotments which Gracchus
projected is not known; it probably varied with the needs and status of
the occupier, perhaps with the quality of the land, and there is some
indication that the maximum was fixed at thirty _jugera_.[343] This is
an amount that compares favourably with the two, three, seven or ten
_jugera_ of similar assignments in earlier times, and is at once a proof
of the decrease in the value of land--a decrease which had contributed
to the formation of the large estates--and of the large amount of
territory which was expected to be reclaimed by the provisions of the
new measure. The allotments thus assigned were not, however, to be the
freehold property of their recipients. They were, indeed, heritable and
to be held on a perfectly secure tenure by the assignees and their
descendants; but a revenue was to be paid to the State for their use:
and they were to be inalienable--the latter provision being a desperate
expedient to check the land-hunger of the capitalist, and to save the
new settlers from obedience to the economic tendencies of the

It is doubtful whether the social object of Gracchus could have been
fully accomplished, had he confined his attention wholly to the existing
citizens of Rome. The area of economic distress was wider than the
citizen body, and it was the salvation of Italy as a whole that Gracchus
had at heart.[345] There is much reason for supposing that some of the
Italian allies were to be recipients of the benefits of the
measure.[346] In earlier assignations the Latins had not been excluded,
and it is probable that at least these, whether members of old
communities or of colonies, were intended to have some share in the
distribution. There could be no legal hindrance to such participation.
With respect to rights in land, the Latins were already on a level with
Roman citizens, and their exclusion from the new allotments would have
been due to a mere political prejudice which is not characteristic
either of Gracchus or his plans.

The ineffectiveness of laws at Rome was due chiefly to the apathy of the
executive authority. Gracchus saw clearly that his measure would, like
other social efforts of the past, become a mere pious resolution, if its
execution were entrusted to the ordinary officials of the State.[347]
But a special commission, which should effectually carry out the work
which he contemplated, must be of a very unusual kind. The magnitude of
the task, and the impossibility of assigning any precise limit of time
to its completion, made it essential that the Triumvirate which he
established should bear the appearance of a regular but extraordinary
magistracy of the State. The three commissioners created by the bill
were to be elected annually by the Comitia of the Tribes.[348]
Re-election of the same individuals was possible, and the new magistracy
was to come to an end only with the completion of its work. Its
occupants, perhaps, possessed the Imperium from the date of the first
institution of the office; they certainly exercised it from the moment
when, as we shall see, their functions of assignment were supplemented
by the addition of judicial powers. Gracchus was doubtless led to this
new creation purely by the needs of his measure; but he showed to later
politicians the possibility of creating a new and powerful magistracy
under the guise of an agrarian law.

Such was the measure that seemed to its proposer a reasonable and
equitable means of remedying a grave injustice and restoring rather than
giving rights to the poor. He might, if he would, have insisted on
simple restitution. Had he pressed the letter of the law, not an atom of
the public domain need have been left to its present occupiers. The
possessor had no rights against the State; he held on sufferance, and
technically he might be supposed to be always waiting for his summons to
ejectment. To give such people something over and above the limit that
the laws had so long prescribed, to give them further a security of
tenure for the land retained which amounted almost to complete
ownership--were not these unexpected concessions that should be received
with gratitude? And even up to the eve of the polling the murmurs of the
opposition were sometimes met by appeals to its nobler sentiments. The
rich, said Gracchus, if they had the interests of Italy, its future
hopes and its unborn generations at heart, should make this land a free
gift to the State; they were vexing themselves about small issues and
refusing to face the greater problems of the day.[349]

But personal interests can never seem small, and the average man is more
concerned with the present than with the future. The opposition was
growing in volume day by day, and the murmurs were rising into shrieks.
The class immediately threatened must have been numerically small; but
they made up in combination and influence what they lacked in numbers.
It was always easy to startle the solid commercial world of Rome by the
cry of "confiscation". A movement in this direction might have no
limits; the socialistic device of a "re-division of land," which had so
often thrown the Greek commonwealths into a ferment, was being imported
into Roman politics. All the forces of respectability should be allied
against this sinister innovation. It is probable that many who
propagated these views honestly believed that they exactly fitted the
facts of the case. The possessors did indeed know that they were not
owners. They were reminded of the fact whenever they purchased the right
of occupation from a previous possessor, for such a title could not pass
by mancipation; or whenever they sued for the recovery of an estate from
which they had been ejected, for they could not make the plea before the
praetor that the land was theirs "according to the right of the
Quirites," but could rely only on the equitable assistance of the
magistrate tendered through the use of the possessory interdicts; or,
more frequently still, whenever they paid their dues to the Publicanus,
that disinterested middle-man, who had no object in compromising with
the possessors, and could seldom have allowed an acre of land to escape
his watchful eye. But, in spite of these reminders, there was an
impression that the tenure was perfectly secure, and that the State
would never again re-assert its lordship in the extreme form of
dispensing entirely with its clients. Gracchus might talk of
compensation, but was there any guarantee that it would be adequate,
and, even supposing material compensation to be possible, what solace
was that to outraged feelings? Ancestral homes, and even ancestral
tombs, were not grouped on one part of a domain, so that they could be
saved by an owner when he retained his five hundred _jugera_; they were
scattered all over the broad acres. Estates that technically belonged to
a single man, and were therefore subject to the operation of the law,
had practically ceased to confer any benefit on the owner, and were
pledged to other purposes. They had been divided as the _peculia_ of his
sons, they had been promised as the dowry of his daughters. Again those
former laws may have rightly forbidden the occupation of more than a
certain proportion of land; but much of the soil now in possession had
not been occupied by its present inhabitant; he had bought the right to
be there in hard cash from the former tenant. And think of the invested
capital! Dowries had been swallowed up in the soil, and the Gracchan law
was confiscating personal as well as real property, taking the wife's
fortune as well as the husband's. Nay, if the history of the public land
were traced, could it not be shown that such value as it now possessed
had been given it by its occupiers or their ancestors? The land was not
assigned in early times, simply because it was not worth assignation. It
was land that had been reclaimed for use, and of this use the authors of
its value were now to be deprived.[350]

Such was the plaint of the land-holders, one not devoid of equity and,
therefore, awakening a response in the minds of timid and sober business
men, who were as yet unaffected by the danger. But some of these found
their own personal interests at stake. So good had the tenure seemed,
that it had been accepted as security for debt,[351] and the Gracchan
attack united for once the usually hostile ranks of mortgagers and
mortgagees. The alarm spread from Rome to the outlying municipalities.
[352] Even in the city itself a very imperfect view of the scope of the
bill was probably taken by the proletariate. We may imagine the
distorted form in which it reached the ears of the occupants of the
country towns. "Was it true that the land which had been given them in
usufruct was to be taken away?" was the type of question asked in the
municipia and in the colonies, whether Roman or Latin. The needier
members of these towns received the news with very different feelings.
They had every chance of sharing in the local division of the spoils,
and their voices swelled the chorus of approval with which the poorer
classes everywhere received the Gracchan law. Amidst this proletariate
certain catch-words--well-remembered fragments of Gracchus's speeches--
had begun to be the familiar currency of the day. "The numberless
campaigns through which this land has been won," "The iniquity of
exclusion from what is really the property of the State," "The disgrace
of employing the treacherous slave in place of the free-born citizen"--
such was the type of remark with which the Roman working-man or idler
now entertained his fellow. All Roman Italy was in a blaze, and there
must have been a sense of insecurity and anxiety even in those allied
towns whose interest in Roman domain-land was remote. Might not State
interests be as lightly violated as individual interests by a sovereign
people: and was not the example of Rome almost as perilous as her action?

The opponents of Gracchus had no illusions as to the numerical strength
which he could summon to his aid. If the battle were fought to a finish
in the Comitia, there could be no doubt as to his triumphant victory.
Open opposition could serve no purpose except to show what a remnant it
was that was opposing the people's wishes. But there was a means of at
least delaying the danger, of staving off the attack as long as Gracchus
remained tribune, perhaps of giving the people an opportunity of
recovering completely from their delirium. When the college of tribunes
moved as a united body, its force was irresistible; but now, as often
before, there was some division in its ranks. It was not likely that ten
men, drawn from the order of the nobility, should view with equal favour
such a radical proposal as that of Tiberius Gracchus. But the popular
feeling was so strong that for a time even the unsympathetic members of
the board hesitated to protest, and no colleague of Tiberius is known to
have opposed the movement in its initial stages. Even the man who was
subsequently won over to the capitalist interest hesitated long before
taking the formidable step: It was believed, however, that the hesitancy
of Marcus Octavius was due more to his personal regard for Tiberius than
to respect for the people's wishes.[353] The tribune who was to scotch
the obnoxious measure was an excellent instrument for a dignified
opposition. He was grave and discreet, a personal friend and intimate of
Tiberius.[354] It is true that he was a large holder on the public
domain, and that he would suffer by the operation of the new agrarian
law. But it was fitting that the landlord class should be represented by
a landlord, and, if there had been the least suspicion of sordid
motives, it would have been removed by Octavius's refusal to accept
private compensation for himself from the slender means of Tiberius
Gracchus.[355] The offer itself reads like an insult, but it was
probably made in a moment of passionate and unreflecting fervour.
Neither the profferer nor the refuser could have regarded it in the
light of a bribe. Even when the veto had been pronounced, the daily
contest between the two tribunes in the Forum never became a scene of
unseemly recrimination. The war of words revolved round the question of
principle. Both disputants were at white heat; yet not a word was said
by either which conveyed a reflection on character or motive.[356]

These debates followed the first abortive meeting of the Assembly. As
the decisive moment approached, streams of country folk had poured into
Rome to register their votes in favour of the measure.[357] The Contio
had given way to the Comitia, the people had been ready to divide, and
Gracchus had ordered his scribe to read aloud the words of the bill.
Octavius had bidden the scribe to be silent;[358] the vast meeting had
melted away, and all the labours of the reformer seemed to have been in
vain. To accept a temporary defeat under such circumstances was in
accordance with the constitutional spirit of the times. The veto was a
mode of encouraging reflection; it might yield to a prolonged campaign,
but it was regarded as a barrier against a hasty popular impulse which,
if unchecked, might prove ruinous to some portion of the community.
Gracchus, however, knew perfectly well that it was now being used in the
interest of a small minority, and he held the rights which it protected
to be non-existent; he believed the question of agrarian reform to be
bound up with his own personality, and its postponement to be equivalent
to its extinction; he had no intention of allowing his own political
life to be a failure, and, instead of discarding his weapons of attack,
he made them more formidable than before. Perhaps in obedience to
popular outcries, he redrafted his bill in a form which rendered it more
drastic and less equitable.[359] It is possible that some of the
_douceurs_ given to the possessors by his original proposal were not
really in accordance with his own judgment. They were meant to disarm
opposition. Now that opposition had not been disarmed, they could be
removed without danger. The stricter measure had the same chance of
success or failure as the less severe. We do not know the nature of the
changes which were now introduced; but it is possible that the pecuniary
compensation offered for improvements on the land to be resumed was
either abolished or rendered less adequate than before.

But even the form of the law was unimportant in comparison with the
question of the method by which the new opposition was to be met. The
veto, if persisted in by Octavius, would suspend the agrarian measure
during the whole of Tiberius's year of office. It could only be
countered by a device which would make government so impossible that the
opposition would be forced to come to terms. The means were to be found
in the prohibitive power of the tribunes, that right, which flowed from
their _major potestas_, of forbidding under threat of penalties the
action of all other magistrates. It was now rarely used except at the
bidding of the senate and for certain specified purposes. It had become,
in fact, little more than the means of enforcing obedience to a
temporary suspension of business life decreed by the government. But
recent events suggested a train of associations that brought back to
mind the great political struggles of the past, and recalled the mode in
which Licinius and Sextius had for five years sustained their anarchical
edict for the purpose of the emancipation of the Plebs. The difference
between the conditions of life in primitive Rome and in the cosmopolitan
capital of to-day did not appeal to Tiberius. The Justitium was as
legitimate a method of political warfare as the Intercessio. He issued
an edict which forbade all the other magistracies to perform their
official functions until the voting on the agrarian law should be
carried through; he placed his own seals on the doors of the temple of
Saturn to prevent the quaestors from making payments to the treasury or
withdrawing money from it; he forbade the praetors to sit in the courts
of justice and announced that he would exact a fine from those who
disobeyed. The magistrates obeyed the edict, and most of the active life
of the State was in suspense.[360] The fact of their obedience showed
the overwhelming power which Tiberius now had behind him; for an
ill-supported tribune, who adopted such an obsolete method of warfare,
would have been unable to enforce his decrees and would merely have
appeared ridiculous. The opponents of the law were now genuinely
alarmed. Those who would be the chief sufferers put on garments of
mourning, and paced the silent Forum with gloom and despair written on
their faces, as though they were the innocent victims of a great wrong.
But, while they took this overt means of stirring the commiseration of
the crowd, it was whispered that the last treacherous device for
averting the danger was being tried. The cause would perish with the
demagogue, and Tiberius might be secretly removed. Confidence in this
view was strengthened when it was known that the tribune carried a
dagger concealed about his person.[361]

An attempt was now made to discover whether the pressure had been
sufficient and whether the veto would be repeated. Gracchus again
summoned the assembly, the reading of the bill was again commenced and
again stopped at the instance of Octavius.[362] This second
disappointment nearly led to open riot. The vast crowd did not
immediately disperse; it felt its great physical strength and the utter
weakness of the regular organs of government. There were ominous signs
of an appeal to force, when two men of consular rank, Manlius and
Fulvius,[363] intervened as peacemakers. They threw themselves at the
feet of Tiberius, they clasped his hands, they besought him with tears
to pause before he committed himself to an act of violence. Tiberius was
not insensible to the appeal. The immediate future was dark enough, and
the entreaties of these revered men had saved an awkward situation. He
asked them what they held that he should do. They answered that they
were not equal to advise on a matter of such vast import; but that there
was the senate. Why not submit the whole matter to the judgment of the
great council of the State? Tiberius's own attitude to this proposal may
have been influenced by the fact that it was addressed to his colleagues
as well as to himself,[364] and that they apparently thought it a
reasonable means of relieving the present situation. It is difficult to
believe that the man who had never taken the senate into his confidence
over so vital a matter as the agrarian law, could have had much hope of
its sympathy now. But his conviction of the inherent reasonableness of
his proposal,[365] of his own power of stating the case convincingly,
and his knowledge that the senate usually did yield at a crisis, that
its government was only possible because it consistently kept its finger
on the pulse of popular opinion, may have directed his acceptance of its
advice. Immediate resort was had to the Curia. The business of the house
must have been immediately suspended to listen to a statement of the
merits of the agrarian measure, and to a description of the political
situation which it had created. When the debate began, it was obvious
that there was nothing but humiliation in store for the leaders of the
popular movement. The capitalist class was represented by an
overwhelming majority; carping protests and riddling criticism were
heard on every side, and Tiberius probably had never been told so many
home truths in his life. It was useless to prolong the discussion, and
Tiberius was glad to get into the open air of the Forum again. He had
formed his resolution, and now made a proposal which, if carried
through, might remove the deadlock by means that might be construed as
legitimate. The new device was nothing less than the removal of his
colleague Octavius from office. He announced that at the next meeting of
the Assembly two questions would be put before the Plebs, the acceptance
of the law and the continuance by Octavius of his tenure of the
tribunate.[366] The latter question was to be raised on the general
issue whether a tribune who acted contrary to the interests of the
people was to continue in office. At the appointed time[367] Octavius's
constancy was again tested, and he again stood firm. Tiberius broke out
into one of his emotional outbursts, seizing his colleague's hands,
entreating him to do this great favour to the people, reminding him that
their claims were just, were nothing in proportion to their toils and
dangers. When this appeal had been rejected, Tiberius summed up the
impossibility of the situation in terms which contained a condemnation
of the whole growth and structure of the Roman constitution. It was not
in human power, he said, to prevent open war between magistrates of
equal authority who were at variance on the gravest matters of
state;[368] the only way which he saw of securing peace was the
deposition of one of them from office. He did not care in the present
instance which it was. The people would be the arbiter. Let his own
deposition be proposed by Octavius; he would walk quietly away into a
private station, if this were the will of the citizens. The man who
spoke thus had more completely emancipated himself from Roman formulae
than any Roman of the past. To Octavius it must have seemed a mere
outburst of Greek demagogism. The offer too was an eminently safe one to
make under the circumstances. On no grounds could it be accepted. At
this point the proceedings were adjourned to allow Octavius time for

On the following day Gracchus announced that the question of deposition
would be taken first, and a fresh and equally vain appeal was made to
the feelings of the unshaken Octavius.[369] The question was then put,
not as a vague and general resolution, but as a determinate motion that
Octavius be deprived of the tribunate. The thirty-five tribes voted, and
when the votes of seventeen had been handed up and proclaimed,[370] and
the voice of but one was Lacking to make Octavius a private citizen,
Tiberius as the presiding tribune stopped for a moment the machinery of
the election. He again showed himself as a revolutionist unfortunate in
the possession of a political and personal conscience. The people were
witnessing a more passionate scene than ever, one that may appear as the
last effort of reconciliation between the two social forces that were to
meet in terrible conflict. Gracchus's arms were round his opponent's
neck; broken appeals fell from his lips--the old one that he should not
break the heart of the people: the new one that he should not cause his
own degradation, and leave a bitter memory in the mind of the author of
his fall. Observers saw that Octavius's heart was touched; his eyes were
filled with tears, and for some time he kept a troubled silence. But he
soon remembered his duty and his pledge. Tiberius might do with him what
he would. Gracchus called the gods to witness that he would willingly
have saved his colleague from dishonour, and ordered the resumption of
the announcement of the votes. The bill became law and Octavius was
stripped of his office. It was probably because he declined to recognise
the legality of the act that he still lingered on the Rostra. One of the
tribunician _viatores_, a freedman of Gracchus, was commanded to fetch
him down. When he reached the ground, a rush was made at him by the mob;
but his supporters rallied round him, and Tiberius himself rushed from
the Rostra to prevent the act of violence. Soon he was lost in the crowd
and hurried unobserved from the tumult.[371] His place in the
tribunician college was filled up by the immediate election of one
Quintus Mummius.[372]

The members of the assembly that deposed Octavius may have been the
spectators and authors of a new precedent in Roman history, one that was
often followed in the closing years of the Republic, but one that may
have received no direct sanction from the records of the past. The
abrogation of the imperium of a proconsul had indeed been known,[373]
but the deposition of a city magistrate during his year of office seems
to have been a hitherto untried experiment. We cannot on this ground
alone pronounce it to have been illegal; for an act never attempted
before may have perfect legal validity, as the first occasion on which a
legitimate deduction has been made from admitted principles of the
constitution. It had always been allowed that under certain
circumstances (chiefly the neglect of the proper formalities of
election) a magistrate might be invited to abdicate his office; but the
fact of this invitation is itself an evidence for the absence of any
legal power of suspension. Tradition, however, often supplemented the
defects of historical evidence, and one, perhaps the older, tale of the
removal of the first consul Collatinus stated that it was effected by a
popular measure introduced by his colleague.[374] This story was a
fragment of that tradition of popular sovereignty which animated the
historical literature of the age of the Gracchi: and one deduction from
that theory may well have seemed to be that the sovereign people could
change its ministers as it pleased. It was a deduction, however, that
was not drawn even in the best period of democratic Athens; it ran
wholly counter to the Roman conception of the magistracy as an authority
co-ordinate with the people and one that, if not divinely appointed,
received at least something of a sacred character from the fact of
investiture with office. Even the prosecution of a magistrate for the
gravest crime, although technically permissible during his year of
office, had as a rule been relegated to the time when he again became a
private citizen; the tribunician college, in particular, had generally
thrown its protecting shield around its offending members, and had thus
sustained its own dignity and that of the people. But, even if it be
supposed that the sovereign could, at any moment and without any of the
due formalities, proclaim itself a competent court of justice, and even
though removal from office might be improperly represented as a
punishment, there was the question of the offence to be considered. No
crime known to the law had been charged against Octavius. In the
exercise of his admitted right, or, as he might have expressed it, of
his sacred duty, he had offended against the will of a majority. The
analogy of the criminal law was from this point of view hopeless, and
was therefore not pressed on this occasion. From another point of view
it was not quite so remote. The tumultuous popular assemblages that had,
on the bidding of a prosecuting tribune, often condemned commanders for
vague offences hardly formulated in any particular law, scarcely
differed, except in the fact that no previous magisterial inquiry had
been conducted, from the meeting that deposed Octavius. The gulf that
lies between proceedings in a parliament and proceedings in a court of
law, was far less in Rome than it would have been in those Hellenic
communities that possessed a developed system of criminal judicature.

If criminal analogies failed, a purely political ground of defence must
be adduced. This could hardly be based on considerations of abstract
justice, although, as we shall see, an attempt was made by Tiberius
Gracchus to give it even this foundation. Could it be based on
convenience? Obviously, as Gracchus saw, his act was the only effective
means of removing a deadlock created by a constitution which knew only
magistrates and people and had effectively crippled both. So far, it
might be defended on grounds of temporary necessity. But an act of this
kind could not die. To what consequences might not its repetition lead?
Imagine a less serious question, a less representative assembly. Think
of the possibility of a few hundred desperate members of the
proletariate gathering on the Capitoline hill and deposing a tribune who
represented the interests of the vast outlying population of Rome. This
is a consequence which, it is true, was not realised in the future. But
that was only because the tribunate was more than Gracchus conceived it,
and was too strong in tradition and associations of sanctity to be
broken even by his attack. The scruples which troubled him most arose
from the suspicion that the sacred office itself might have been held to
suffer by the deposition of Octavius, and it was to a repudiation of
this view that he subsequently devoted the larger part of his systematic
defence of his action.

At the same meeting at which Octavius was deposed, the agrarian bill was
for the first time read without interruption to the people and
immediately became law. Shortly after, the election of the commissioners
was proceeded with and resulted in the appointment of Tiberius Gracchus
himself, of his father-in-law Appius Claudius and of Gracchus's younger
brother Caius.[375] It was perhaps natural that the people should pin
their faith on the family of their champion; but it could hardly have
increased the confidence of the community as a whole in the wisdom with
which this delicate task would be executed, to find that it was
entrusted to a family party, one of which was a mere boy; and the
mistrust must have been increased when, somewhat later in the course of
the year, the thorny questions which immediately encompassed the task of
distribution led to the introduction by Tiberius of another law, which
gave judicial power to the triumvirs, for the purpose of determining
what was public land and what was private.[376] The fortunes of the
richer classes seemed now to be entrusted to one man, who combined in
his own person the tribunician power and the imperium, whose
jurisdiction must have seriously infringed that of the regular courts,
and who was assisted in issuing his probably inappellable decrees by a
father-in-law and a younger brother. But, although effective protest was
impossible, the senate showed its resentment by acts that might appear
petty and spiteful, did we not remember that they were the only means
open to this body of passing a vote of censure on the recent
proceedings. The senate controlled every item of the expenditure; and
when the commissioners appealed to it for their expenses, it refused a
tent and fixed the limit of supplies at a denarius and a half a day. The
instigator of this decree was the ex-consul Scipio Nasica, a heavy loser
by the agrarian law, a man of strong and passionate temper who was every
day becoming a more infuriated opponent of Tiberius Gracchus.[377]

Meanwhile the latter had celebrated a peaceful triumph which far
eclipsed the military pageants of the imperators of the past. The
country people, before they returned to their farms, had escorted him to
his house; they had hailed him as a greater than Romulus, as the
founder, not of a city nor of a nation, but of all the peoples of
Italy.[378] It is true that his escort was only the poor, rude mob.
Stately nobles and clanking soldiers were not to be seen in the
procession. But they were better away. This was the true apotheosis of a
real demagogism. And the suspicion of the masses was as readily fired as
their enthusiasm. A friend of Tiberius died suddenly and ugly marks were
seen upon the body. There was a cry of poison; the bier was caught up on
the shoulders of the crowd and borne to the place of burning. A vast
throng stood by to see the corpse consumed, and the ineffectiveness of
the flames was held a thorough confirmation of the truth of their
suspicions.[379] It remained to see how far this protective energy would
serve to save their favourite when the day of reckoning came.

Tiberius could hardly have shared in the general elation. To make
promises was one thing, to fulfil them another. Everything depended on
the effectiveness of the execution of the agrarian scheme; and, although
the mechanism for distribution was excellent, some of the material
necessary for its successful fulfilment was sadly lacking. There were
candidates enough for land, and there was sufficient land for the
candidates. But whence were the means for starting these penniless
people on their new road to virtue and prosperity to be derived? To give
an ardent settler thirty _jugera_ of soil and to withhold from him the
means of sowing his first crop or of making his first effort to turn
pasture into arable land, was both useless and cruel; and we may imagine
that the evicted possessors had not left their relinquished estates in a
very enviable condition. The doors of the Aerarium were closed, for its
key was in the hands of the senate; and Gracchus had to cast an anxious
eye around for means for satisfying the needs of his clients.

The opportunity was presented when the Roman people came into the
unexpected inheritance of Attalus the Third, king of Pergamon. The
testament was brought to Rome by Eudemus the Pergamene, whose first
business was with the senate. But, when Eudemus arrived in the city, he
saw a state of things which must have made him doubt whether the senate
was any longer the true director of the State. It sat passive and
sullen, while an energetic _prostates_ of the Greek type was doing what
he liked with the land of Italy. No sane ambassador could have refused
to neglect Gracchus, and it is practically certain that Eudemus
approached him. This fact we may believe, even if we do not accept the
version that the envoy had taken the precaution of bringing in his
luggage a purple robe and a diadem, as symbols that might be necessary
for a fitting recognition of Tiberius's future position.[380] It is also
possible that suspicion of the rule of senators and capitalists may also
have prompted the Greek to attempt to discover whether a more tolerable
settlement might not be gained for his country through the leader of the
popular party.[381] We cannot say whether Gracchus ever contemplated a
policy with respect to the province as a whole. His mind was probably
full of his immediate needs. He saw in the treasures of Attalus more
than an equivalent for the revenues enclosed in the locked Aerarium, and
he announced his intention of promulgating a plebiscite that the money
left by the king should be assigned to the settlers provided for by his
agrarian law.[382] It is possible that he contemplated the application
of the future revenues of the kingdom of Pergamon to this or some
similar purpose; and it was perhaps partly for this reason, partly in
answer to the objection that the treasure could not be appropriated
without a senatorial decree, that he announced the novel doctrine that
it was no business of the senate to decide the fate of the cities which
had belonged to the Attalid monarchy, and that he himself would prepare
for the people a measure dealing with this question.[383]

This was the fiercest challenge that he had yet flung to the senate.
There might be a difference of opinion as to the right of a magistrate
to put a question to the people without the guidance of a senatorial
decree; the assignment of land was unquestionably a popular right in so
far as it required ratification by the commons; even the deposition of
Octavius was a matter for the people and would avenge itself. But there
were two senatorial rights--the one usurped, the other created--whose
validity had never been questioned. These were the control of finance
and the direction of provincial administration. Were the possibility
once admitted that these might be dealt with in the Comitia, the
magistrates would cease to be ministers of the senate; for it was
chiefly through a system of judicious prize-giving that the senate
attached to itself the loyalty of the official class. There was perhaps
less fear of what Gracchus himself might do than of the spectre which he
was raising for the future. For in Roman history the events of the past
made those of the future; there were few isolated phenomena in its

From this time the attacks of individual senators on Gracchus became
more vehement and direct. They proceeded from men of the highest rank. A
certain Pompeius, in whom we may probably see an ex-consul and a future
censor, was not ashamed of raising the spectre of a coming monarchy by
reference to the story of the sceptre and the purple robe, and is said
to have vowed to impeach Gracchus as soon as his year of magistracy had
expired;[384] the ex-consul Quintus Caecilius Metellus, of Macedonian
fame, reproached Tiberius with his rabble escort. He compared the
demeanour of the father and the son. In the censorship of the former the
citizens used to quench their lights at night, as they saw him pass up
the street to his house, that they might impress the censorial mind with
the ideas of early hours and orderly conduct; now the son of this man
might be seen returning home amidst the blaze of torches, held in the
stout arms of a defiant body-guard drawn from the neediest classes.[385]
These arrows may have Missed the mark; the one that hit was winged by an
aged senator, Titus Annius Luscus, who had held the consulship twenty
years before. His wit is said to have been better established than his
character. He excelled in that form of ready altercation, of impaling
his opponent on the horns of a dilemma by means of some innocent
question, which, both in the courts and the senate, was often more
effective than the power of continuous oratory. He now challenged
Tiberius to a wager (_sponsio_), such as in the public life of Rome was
often employed to settle a disputed point of honour or of fact, to
determine the question whether he had dishonoured a colleague, who was
holy in virtue of his office and had been made sacrosanct by the laws.
The proposal was received by the senators with loud cries of
acclamation. A glance at Tiberius would probably have shown that Annius
had found the weak spot, not merely in his defensive armour, but in his
very soul. The deposition of Octavius was proving a very nemesis; it was
a democratic act that was in the highest degree undemocratic, an
assertion and yet a gross violation of popular liberty.[386] The
superstitious masses were in the habit of washing their hands and
purifying their bodies before they entered into the presence of a
tribune.[387] Might there not be a thrill of awe and repentance when the
idea was brought home to them that this holy temple had been violated:
and must not this be followed by a sense of repugnance to the man who
had prompted them to the unhallowed deed? Tiberius sprang to his feet,
quitted the senate-house and summoned the people. The majesty of the
tribunate in his person had been outraged by Annius. He must answer for
his words. The aged senator appeared before the crowd; he knew his
disadvantage if the ordinary weapons of comitial strife were employed.
In power of words and in repute with the masses he stood far behind
Tiberius. But his presence of mind did not desert him. Might he ask a
few questions before the regular proceedings began? The request was
allowed and there was a dead silence. "Now suppose," said Annius, "you,
Tiberius, were to wish to cover me with shame and abuse, and suppose I
were to call on one of your colleagues for help, and he were to come up
here to offer me his assistance, and suppose further that this were to
excite your displeasure, would you deprive that colleague of yours of
his office?" To answer that question in the affirmative was to admit
that the tribunician power was dead; to answer it in the negative was to
invite the retort that the _auxilium_ was only one form of the
_intercessio_. The quick-witted southern crowd must have seen the
difficulty at once, and Tiberius himself, usually so ready and bold in
speech, could not face the dilemma. He remained silent and dismissed the

But matters could not remain as they were. This new aspect of Octavius's
deposition was the talk of the town, and there were many troubled
consciences amongst the members of his own following. Something must be
done to quiet them; he must raise the question himself. The situation
had indeed changed rapidly. Tiberius Gracchus was on his defence. Never
did his power of special pleading appear to greater advantage than in
the speech which followed. He had the gift which makes the mighty
Radical, of diving down and seizing some fundamental truth of political
science, and then employing it with merciless logic for the illustration
or refutation of the practice of the present. The central idea here was
one gathered from the political science of the Greeks. The good of the
community is the only test of the rightness of an institution. It is
justified if it secures that end, unjustified if it does not: or, to use
the language of religion, holy in the one case, devoid of sanctity in
the other. And an institution is not a mere abstraction; we must judge
it by its use. We must, therefore, say that when it obeys the common
interest, it is right: when it ceases to obey it, it is wrong. But the
right must be preserved and the wrong plucked out. So Gracchus
maintained that the tribune was holy and sacrosanct because he had been
sanctified to the people's service and was the people's head. If then he
change his character and do the people wrong, cutting down its strength
and silencing its voice as expressed through the suffrage, he has
deprived himself of his office, for he has ceased to conform to the
terms on which he received it. Should we leave a tribune alone who was
pulling down the Capitolium or burning the docks? And yet a tribune who
did these things would remain a tribune, though a bad one. It is only
when a tribune is destroying the power of the people that he is no
longer a tribune at all. The laws give the tribune the power to arrest
the consul. It is a power given against a man elected by the people; for
consul and tribune are equally mandataries of the people. Shall not then
the people have the right of depriving the tribune of his authority,
when he uses this authority in a way prejudicial to the interests of the
giver? What does the history of the past teach us? Can anything have
been more powerful or more sacred than the ancient monarchy of Rome? The
Imperium of the king was unlimited, the highest priestly offices were
his. Yet the city expelled Tarquin for his crimes. The tyranny of a
single man was alone sufficient to bring to an end a government which
had its roots in the most distant past, which had presided over the very
birth of the city. And, if sanctity alone is to be the ground of
immunity, what are we to think of the punishment of a vestal virgin? Is
there anything in Rome more holy and awe-inspiring than the maidens who
tend and guard the eternal flame? Yet their sin is visited by the most
horrible of deaths. They hold their sacrosanct character through the
gods; they lose it, therefore, when they sin against the gods. Should
the same not be true of the tribune? It is on account of the people that
he is sacred; he cannot retain this divine character when he wrongs the
people; he is a man engaged in destroying the very power which is the
source of his strength. If the tribunate can justly be gained by a
favourable vote of the majority of the tribes, can it not with greater
justice be taken away by an adverse vote of all of them? Again, what
should be the limits of our action in dealing with sacred things? Does
sanctity mean immobility? By no means. What are more holy and inviolable
than things dedicated to the gods? Yet this character does not prevent
the people from handling, moving, transferring them as it pleases. In
the case of the tribunate, it is the office, not the man, that is
inviolable; it may be treated as an object of dedication and transferred
to another. The practice of our own State proves that the office is not
inviolable in the sense of being inalienable, for its holders have often
forsworn it and asked to be divested of it.[389]

The strongest part of this utterance was that which dealt with the
sacred character of office; it was a mere emanation from the performance
of certain functions; the protection, not the reality, of the thing.
Gracchus might have added that even a treaty might under certain
circumstances be legitimately broken. The weakest, from a Roman
standpoint or indeed from that of any stable political society, was the
identification of the permanent and temporary character of an
institution, the assumption that a meeting of the people was the people,
that a tribune was the tribune. How far the speech was convincing we do
not know; it certainly did not relieve Tiberius of his embarrassments,
which were now thickening around him.

Tiberius's success had been mainly due to the country voters. It is true
that he had a large following in the city; but this was numerically
inferior to a mass of urban folk, whose attitude was either indifferent
or hostile. They were indifferent in so far as they did not want
agrarian assignments, and hostile in so far as they were clients of the
noble houses which opposed Tiberius's policy. This urban party was now
in the ascendant, for the country voters had scattered to their
homes.[390] The situation demanded that he should work steadily for two
objects, re-election to the tribunate and the support of the city
voters. If, in addition to this support, he could hold out hopes that
would attract the great capitalists to his side, his position would be
impregnable. Hence in his speeches he began to throw out hints of a new
and wide programme of legislation.[391] There was first the military
grievance. Recent regulations, by the large decrease which they made in
the property qualifications required for service,[392] had increased the
liability to the conscription of the manufacturing and trading classes
of Rome. Gracchus proposed that the period of service should be
shortened--his suggestion probably being, not that the years of
liability to service (the seventeenth to the forty-sixth) should be
lessened, but that within these years a limited number of campaigns
should be agreed on, which should form the maximum amount of active
service for every citizen.[393] Two other proposals dealt with the
question of criminal jurisdiction. The first allowed an appeal to the
people from the decision of _judices_. The form in which this proposal
is stated by our authority, would lead us to suppose that the courts to
be rendered appellable were those constituted under standing laws. The
chief of these _quaestiones_ or _judicia publica_ was the court which
tried cases for extortion, established in the first instance by a Lex
Calpurnia, and possibly reconstituted before this epoch by a Junian
law.[394] A permanent court for the trial of murder may also have
existed at this time.[395] The judges of these standing commissions were
drawn from the senatorial order; and Gracchus, therefore, by suggesting
an appeal from their judgment to the people, was attacking a senatorial
monopoly of the most important jurisdiction, and perhaps reflecting on
the conduct of senatorial _judices_, as displayed especially in relation
to the grievances of distressed provincials. But it is probable that he
also meant to strike a blow at a more extraordinary prerogative claimed
by the senate, and to deny the right of that body to establish special
commissions which could decide without appeal on the life and fortunes
of Roman citizens.[396] So far his proposals, whether based on a
conviction of their general utility or not, were a bid for the support
of the average citizen. But when he declared that the qualification for
the criminal judges of the time could not be allowed to stand, and that
these judges should be taken either from a joint panel of senators and
knights, or from the senate increased by the addition of a number of
members of the equestrian order equal to its present strength, he was
holding out a bait to the wealthy middle class, who were perhaps already
beginning to feel senatorial jurisdiction in provincial matters irksome
and disadvantageous to their interests. We are told by one authority
that Gracchus's eyes even ranged beyond the citizen body and that he
contemplated the possibility of the gift of citizenship to the whole of
Italy.[397] This was not in itself a measure likely to aid in his
salvation by the people; if it was not a disinterested effort of
far-sighted genius, it may have been due to the gathering storm which
his experience showed him the agrarian commission would soon be forced
to meet.[398] Certainly, if all these schemes are rightly attributed to
Tiberius Gracchus, it was he more than any man who projected the great
programme of reform that the future had in store.

Unfortunately for Gracchus the time was short for nursing a new
constituency or spreading a new ideal. The time for the tribunician
elections was approaching, an active canvass was being carried on by the
candidates, and the aggrieved landowners were throwing the whole weight
of their influence into the opposite scale.[399] Wild rumours of his
plans were being circulated. The family clique that filled the agrarian
commission was to snatch at other offices; Gracchus's brother, a youth
still unqualified even for the quaestorship,[400] was to be thrust into
the tribunate, and his father-in-law Appius was destined for the
consulate.[401] Rome was to be ruled by a dynasty, and the tyranny of
the commission was to extend to every department of the State. Gracchus
felt that the city-combination against him was too strong, and sent an
earnest summons to his supporters in the country. But practical needs
were stronger than gratitude; the farmers were busy with their harvest;
and it was plain that on this occasion the man of the street was to have
the decisive voice. The result showed that even he was not unmoved by
Gracchus's services, and by his last appeal that a life risked on behalf
of the people should be protected by a renewed investiture with the

The day of the election arrived and the votes were taken. When they came
to be read out, it was found that the two first tribes had given their
voice for Gracchus. Then there was a sudden uproar. The votes were going
against the landlords; a legal protest must be made. Men rose in the
assembly, and shouted out that immediate re-election to the tribunate
was forbidden by the law. They were probably both right and wrong in
their protest, as men so often were who ventured to make a definite
assertion about the fluid public law of Rome. There was apparently no
enactment forbidding the iteration of this office, and appointment to
the tribunate must have been governed by custom. But recent custom seems
to have been emphatically opposed to immediate re-election, and the
appeal was justified on grounds of public practice.[403] It would
probably have been disregarded, had the Gracchan supporters been in an
overwhelming majority, or Gracchus's colleagues unanimous in their
support. But the people were divided, and the president was not
enthusiastic enough in the cause to risk his future impeachment.
Rubrius, to whom the lot had assigned the conduct of the proceedings on
that day, hesitated as to the course which he ought to follow. A bolder
spirit Mummius, the man who had been made by the deposition of Octavius,
asked that the conduct of the assembly should be handed over to him.
Rubrius, glad to escape the difficulty, willingly yielded his place; but
now the other members of the college interposed. The forms of the
Comitia were being violated; a president could not be chosen without the
use of the lot. The resignation of Rubrius must be followed by another
appeal to sortition. The point of order raised, as usual, a heated
discussion; the tribunes gathered on the Rostra to argue the matter out.
Nothing could be gained by keeping the people as the spectators of such
a scene, and Gracchus succeeded in getting the proceedings adjourned to
the following day.[404]

The situation was becoming more desperate; for each delay was a triumph
for the opposition, and could only strengthen the belief in the
illegality of Gracchus's claim. He now resorted to the last device of
the Roman; he ceased to be a protector and became a suppliant. Although
still a magistrate, he assumed the garb of mourning, and with humbled
and tearful mien begged the help of individuals in the market

He led his son by the hand; his children and their mother were to be
wards of the people, for he had despaired of his own life. Many were
touched; to some the tribunate of Gracchus seemed like a rift in a dark
cloud of oppression which would close around them at his fall, and their
hearts sank at the thought of a renewed triumph of the nobility. Others
were moved chiefly by the fears and sufferings of Gracchus. Cries of
sympathy and defiance were raised in answer to his tears, and a large
crowd escorted him to his house at nightfall and bade him be confident
of their support on the following day. During his appeals he had hinted
at the fear of a nocturnal attack by his foes: and this led many to form
an encampment round his house and to remain as its vigilant defenders
throughout the night.[406]

Before day-break he was up and engaged in hasty colloquy with his
friends. The fear of force was certainly present; and definite plans may
have been now made for its repulsion. Some even believed that a signal
for battle was agreed on by Gracchus, if matters should come to that
extreme.[407] With a true Roman's scruples he took the omens before he
left his house. They presaged ill. The keeper of the sacred chickens,
which Gracchus's Imperium now permitted him to consult, could get
nothing from the birds, even though he shook the cage. Only one of the
fowls advanced, and even that would not touch the food. And the unsought
omens were as evil as those invited. Snakes were found to have hatched a
brood in his helmet, his foot stumbled on the threshold with such
violence that blood flowed from his sandal; he had hardly advanced on
his way when crows were seen struggling on his left, and the true object
of the sign was pointed when a stone, dislodged by one of them from a
roof, fell at his own feet. This concourse of ill-luck frightened his
boldest comrades; but his old teacher, Blossius of Cumae, vehemently
urged the prosecution of the task. Was a son of Gracchus, the grandson
of Africanus, chief minister of the Roman people,[408] to be deterred by
a crow from listening to the summons of the citizens? If the disgrace of
his absence amused his enemies, they would keep their laughter to
themselves. They would use that absence seriously, to denounce him to
the people as a king who was already aping the luxury of the tyrant. As
Blossius spoke, men were seen running from the direction of the Capitol;
they came up, they bade him press on, as all was going well. And, in
fact, it seemed as if all might turn out brightly. The Capitoline
temple, and the level area before it, which was to be the scene of the
voting, were filled with his supporters. A hearty cheer greeted him as
he appeared, and a phalanx closed round him to prevent the approach of
any hostile element. Shortly after the proceedings began, the senate was
summoned by the consul to meet in the temple of Fides.[409] A few yards
of sloping ground was all that now separated the two hostile camps.[410]

The interval for reflection had strengthened the belief of some of the
tribunes that Gracchus's candidature was illegal, and they were ready to
support the renewed protests of the rich. The election, however, began;
for the faithful Mummius was now presiding, and he proceeded to call on
the tribes to vote. But the business of filing into their separate
compartments, always complicated, was now impossible. The fringe of the
crowd was in a continual uproar; from its extremities the opponents of
the measure were wedging their way in. As his supporters squared their
shoulders, the whole mass rocked and swayed. There was no hope of
eliciting a decision from this scuffling and pushing throng. Every
moment brought the assembly nearer to open riot. Suddenly a man was seen
at some distance from Tiberius gesticulating with his hand as though he
had something to impart. He was recognised as Fulvius Flaccus, a
senator, a man perhaps already known as a sympathiser with schemes of
reform. Gracchus asked the crowd immediately around him to give way a
little, and Fulvius fought his way up to the tribune. His news was that
in the sitting of the senate the rich proprietors had asked the consul
to use force, that he had declined, and that now they were preparing on
their own motion to slay Tiberius. For this purpose they had collected a
large band of armed slaves and retainers.[411] Tiberius immediately
imparted the news to his friends. Preparations for defence were hastily
made: an improvised body-guard was formed; togas were girt up, and the
staves of the lictors were broken into fragments to serve as clubs. The
Gracchans more distant from the centre of the scene were meanwhile
marvelling at the strange preparations of which they caught but
glimpses, and could be seen asking eager questions as to their meaning.
To reach these distant supporters by his voice was impossible; Tiberius
could but touch his forehead with his hand to indicate that his life was
in danger. Immediately a shout went up from the opposite side "Tiberius
is asking for the diadem," and eager messengers sped with the news to
the senate.[412] There was probably a knowledge that physical support
for their cause would be found in that quarter, and the exodus of these
excited capitalists was apparently assisted by an onslaught from the
mob. A regular tumult was brewing, and the tribunes, instead of striving
to preserve order, or staying to interpose their sacred persons between
the enraged combatants, fled incontinently from the spot. Their fear was
natural, for by remaining they might seem to be identifying themselves
with a cause that was either lost or lawless. With the tribunes vanished
the last trace of legality. The priests closed the temple to keep its
precincts from the mob. The more timorous of the crowd fled in wild
disorder, spreading wilder rumours. Tiberius was deposing the remaining
tribunes from office; he was appointing himself to a further tribunate
without the formalities of election.[413]

Meanwhile the senate was deliberating in the temple of Fides. In the old
days their deliberations might have resulted in the appointment of a
dictator, and one of the historians who has handed down the record of
these facts marvels that this was not the case now.[414] But the
dictatorship had been weakened by submission to the appeal, and long
before it became extinct had lost its significance as a means of
repressing sedition within the city. The Roman constitution had now no
mechanism for declaring a state of siege or martial law. From one point
of view the extinction of the dictatorship was to be regretted. The
nomination of this magistrate would have involved at least a day's
delay;[415] some further time would have been necessary before he had
collected round him a sufficient force in a city which had neither
police nor soldiers. Had it been decided to appoint a dictator, the
outrages of the next hour could never have occurred. As things were, it
seemed as though the senate had to choose between impotence and murder.
There was indeed another way. Such was the respect for members of the
senatorial order, that a deputation of that body, headed by the consul,
would probably have led to the dispersal of the mob. But passions were
inflamed and it was no time for peaceful counsels. The advocate of
summary measures was the impetuous Nasica. He urged the consul to save
the city and to put down the tyrant. He demanded that the sense of the
house should be taken as to whether extreme measures were now necessary.
Even at this time a tradition may have existed that a magic formula by
which the senate advised the magistrates "to see to it that the State
took no harm," [416] could justify any act of violence in an emergency.
The sense of the house was with Nasica, but a resolution could not be
framed unless the consul put the question. The answer of Scaevola was
that of a lawyer. He would commence no act of violence, he would put to
death no citizen uncondemned. If, however, the people, through the
persuasion or compulsion of Tiberius, should come to any illegal
decision, he would see that such a resolution was not observed. Nasica
sprang to his feet. "The consul is betraying the city; those who wish
the salvation of the laws, follow me." [417] With this he drew the hem
of his toga over his head,[418] and rushed from the door in the
direction of the Capitoline temple. He was followed by a crowd of
senators, all wrapping the folds of their togas round their left arms.
Outside the door they were joined by their retainers armed with clubs
and staves.[419]

Meanwhile the proceedings in the Area Capitolii had been becoming
somewhat less turbulent. The turmoil had quieted down with the exclusion
of the more violent members of the opposition. Gracchus had called a
Contio, for the purpose, it was said, of encouraging his supporters and
asserting his own constancy and defiance of senatorial authority. The
gathering had become a mere partisan mass meeting, such as had often
been seen in the course of the current year, and the herald was crying
"Silence," [420] when suddenly the men on the outskirts of the throng
fell back to right and left. A long line of senators had been seen
hastening up the hill. A deputation from the fathers had come. That must
have been the first impression: and the crowd fell back before its
masters. But in a moment it was seen that the masters had come to
chastise, not to plead. With set faces and blazing eyes Nasica and his
following threw themselves on the yielding mass. The unarmed senators
snatched at the first weapons that lay to hand, the fragments of the
shattered furniture of the meeting, severed planks and legs of benches,
while their retinue pressed on with clubs and sticks. The whole column
made straight for Tiberius and his improvised body-guard. Resistance was
hopeless, and the tribune and his friends turned to flee. But the idea
of restoring order occupied but a small place in the minds of the
maddened senators, The accumulated bitterness of a year found its outlet
in one moment of glorious vengeance. The fathers were behaving like a
Greek street mob of the lowest type which had turned against an
oppressive oligarchy. They were clubbing the Gracchans to death.
Tiberius was in flight when some one seized his toga. He slipped it off
and fled, clad only in his tunic, when he stumbled over a prostrate body
and fell. As he rose, a rain of blows descended on his head.[421] The
man who was seen to strike the first blow is said to have been Publius
Saturius, one of his own colleagues. The glory of his death was
vehemently disputed; one Rufus, since he could not claim the first blow,
is said to have boasted of being the author of the second. Tiberius is
said to have fallen by the very doors of the Capitoline temple, not far
from the statues of the Kings.[422] The number of his adherents that
perished was over three hundred, and it was noted that not one of these
was slain by the sword.[423] Their bodies were thrown into the
Tiber--not by the mob but by the magistrates; the hand of an aedile
committed that of Tiberius to the stream.[424]

The murder of a young man, who was still under thirty at the time of his
death,[425] and the slaughter of a few hundreds of his adherents, may
not seem to be an act of very great significance in the history of a
mighty empire. Yet ancient historians regarded the event as
epoch-marking, as the turning point in the history of Rome, as the
beginning of the period of the civil wars.[426] To justify this
conclusion it is not enough to point to the fact that this was the first
blood shed in civic discord since the age of the Kings;[427] for it
might also have been the last. Though the vendetta is a natural
outgrowth of Italian soil, yet masses of men are seldom, like
individuals, animated solely by the spirit of revenge. The blood of the
innocent is a good battle-cry in politics, but it is little more; it is
far from being the mere pretext, but it is equally far from being the
true cause, of future revolution. Familiarity with the use of force in
civic strife is also a fatal cause of its perpetuation; but familiarity
implies its renewed employment: it can hardly be the result of the first
experiment in murder. The repetition of this ghastly phenomenon in Roman
politics can only be accounted for by the belief that the Gracchan
_émeute_ was of its very nature an event that could not be isolated:
that Gracchus was a pioneer in a hostile country, and that his opponents
preserved all their inherent weakness after the first abortive
manifestation of their pretended strength. A bad government may be
securely entrenched. The senate, whether good or bad, had no defences at
all. Its weakness had in the old days been its pride. It ruled by
influencing opinion. Now that it had ceased to influence, it ruled by
initiating a riot in the streets. It had no military support except such
as was given it by friendly magistrates, and this was a dangerous weapon
which it hesitated to use. To ignore militarism was to be at the mercy
of the demagogue of the street, to admit it was found subsequently to be
equivalent to being at the mercy of the demagogue of the camp. In either
case authority must be maintained at the cost of civil war. But the
material helplessness of the senate was only one factor in the problem.
More fatal flaws were its lack of insight to discover that there were
new problems to be faced, and lack of courage in facing them. This moral
helplessness was due partly to the selfishness of individuals, but
partly also to the fixity of political tradition. In spite of the
brilliancy and culture of some of its members, the senate in its
corporate capacity showed the possession of a narrow heart and an
inexpansive intelligence. Its sympathies were limited to a class; it
learnt its new lessons slowly and did not see their bearing on the
studies of the future. Imperialism abroad and social contentment at home
might be preserved by the old methods which had worked so well in the
past. But to the mind of the masses the past did not exist, and to the
mind of the reformer it had buried its dead. The career of Tiberius
Gracchus was the first sign of a great awakening; and if we regard it as
illogical, and indeed impossible, to pause here and estimate the
character of his reforms, it is because the more finished work of his
brother was the completion of his efforts and followed them as
inexorably as the daylight follows the dawn.


The attitude of the senate after the fall of Gracchus was not that of a
combatant who had emerged secure from the throes of a great crisis. A
less experienced victor would have dwelt on the magnitude of the
movement and been guilty of an attempt at its sudden reversal. But the
government pretended that there had been no revolution, merely an
_émeute_. The wicked authors of the sedition must be punished; but the
Gracchan legislation might remain untouched. More than one motive
probably contributed to shape this view. In the first place, the
traditional policy of Rome regarded reaction as equivalent to
revolution. A rash move should be stopped in its inception; but, had it
gone a little way and yielded fruit in the shape of some permanent
organisation, it would be well to accept and, if possible, to weaken
this product; it would be the height of rashness to attempt its
destruction. The recognition of the _fait accompli_ had built up the
Roman Empire, and the dreaded consequences had not come. Why should not
the same be true of a new twist in domestic policy? Secondly, the
opposition of the senate to Gracchus's reforms was based far more
decidedly on political than on economic grounds. The frenzy which seized
the fathers during the closing act of the tribune's life, was excited by
his comprehensive onslaught on their monopoly of provincial, fiscal and
judicial administration. His attempt to annex their lands had aroused
the resentment of individuals, but not the hatred of a corporation. The
individual was always lost in the senate, and the wrongs of the
landowner could be ignored for the moment and their remedy left to time,
if political prudence dictated a middle course. Again, reflection may
have suggested the thought whether these wrongs were after all so great
or so irremediable. The pastoral wealth of Italy was much; but it was
little compared with the possibilities of enterprise in the provinces.
Might not the bait of an agrarian law, whose chances of success were
doubtful and whose operation might in time be impeded by craftily
devised legislation, lull the people into an acceptance of that
senatorial control of the foreign world, which had been so scandalously
threatened by Gracchus? There was a danger in the very raising of this
question; there was further danger in its renewal. A party cry seldom
becomes extinct; but its successful revival demands the sense of some
tangible grievance. To remove the grievance was to silence the
demagogue; what the people wanted was comfort and not power. And lastly,
the senate was not wholly composed of selfish or aggrieved land-holders.
Amongst the sternest upholders of its traditions there were probably
many who were immensely relieved that the troublesome land question had
received some approach to a solution. There are always men hide-bound by
convention and unwilling to move hand or foot in aid of a remedial
measure, who are yet profoundly grateful to the agitator whom they
revile, and profoundly thankful that the antics which they deem
grotesque, have saved themselves from responsibility and their country
from a danger.

It was with such mixed feelings that the senate viewed the Gracchan
_débâcle_. It was impossible, however, to accept the situation in its
entirety; for to recognise the whole of Gracchus's career as legitimate
was to set a dangerous precedent for the future. The large army of the
respectable, the bulwark of senatorial power, had not been sufficiently
alarmed. It was necessary to emphasise the fact that there had been an
outrageous sedition on the part of the lower classes. With this object
the senate commanded that the new consuls Popillius and Rupilius should
sit as a criminal commission for the purpose of investigating the
circumstances of the outbreak.[428] The commission was empowered to
impose any sentence, and it is practically certain that it judged
without appeal. The consuls, as usual, exercised their own discretion in
the choice of assessors. The extreme party was represented by Nasica.
Laelius, who also occupied a place on the judgment-seat, might have been
regarded as a moderate;[429] although, as popular sedition and not the
agrarian question was on its trial, there is no reason to suppose that a
member of the Scipionic circle would be less severe than any of his
colleagues in his animadversions on the wretched underlings of the
Gracchan movement whom it was his duty to convict of crime. It was in
fact the street cohort of Tiberius, men whose voices, torches and sticks
had so long insulted the feelings of respectable citizens, that seems to
have been now visited with the penalties for high treason; for no
illustrious name is found amongst the victims of the commission. On some
the ban of interdiction was pronounced, on others the death penalty was
summarily inflicted. Amongst the slain was Diophanes the rhetor; and one
Caius Villius, by some mysterious effort of interpretation which baffles
our analysis, was doomed to the parricide's death of the serpent and the
sack.[430] Blossius of Cumae was also arraigned, and his answer to the
commission was subsequently regarded as expressing the deepest villainy
and the most exalted devotion. His only defence was his attachment to
Gracchus, which made the tribune's word his law. "But what," said
Laelius "if he had willed that you should fire the Capitol?" "That would
never have been the will of Gracchus," was the reply, "but had he willed
it, I should have obeyed".[431] Blossius escaped the immediate danger,
but his fears soon led him to leave Rome, and now an exile from his
adopted as well as from his parent state, he could find no hope but in
the fortunes of Aristonicus, who was bravely battling with the Romans in
Asia. On the collapse of that prince's power he put himself to

The government may have succeeded in its immediate object of proving
itself an effective policeman. The sense of order may have been
satisfied, and the spirit of turbulence, if it existed, may have been
for the moment cowed. But the memory of the central act of the ghastly
tragedy on the Capitoline hill could not be so easily obliterated, and
the chief actor was everywhere received with lowered brows and
ill-omened cries.[433] It was superstition as well as hatred that
sharpened the popular feeling against Nasica. A man was walking the
streets of Rome whose hands were stained by a tribune's blood. He
polluted the city wherein he dwelt and the presence of all who met him.
The convenient theory that a mere street riot had been suppressed might
have been accepted but for the awkward fact that the sanctity of the
tribunate had been trodden under foot by its would-be vindicators. A
prosecution of Nasica was threatened; and in such a case might not the
arguments that vindicated Octavius be the doom of the accused? Popular
hatred finds a convenient focus in a single man; it is easier to loathe
an individual than a group. But for this very reason the removal of the
individual may appease the resentment that the group deserves. Nasica
was an embarrassment to the senate and he might prove a convenient
scapegoat. It was desirable that he should be at once rewarded and
removed; and the opportunity for an honourable banishment was easily
found. The impending war with Aristonicus necessitated the sending of a
commission to Asia, and Nasica was included amongst the five members of
this embassy.[434] There was honour in the possession of such a post and
wealth to be gained by its tenure; but the aristocracy had eventually to
pay a still higher price for keeping Nasica beyond the borders of Italy.
When the chief pontificate was vacated by the fall of Crassus in 130
B.C., the refugee was invested with the office so ardently sought by the
nobles of Rome.[435] He was forced to be contented with this shadow of a
splendid prize, for he was destined never to exercise the high functions
of his office in the city. He seems never to have left Asia and, after a
restless change of residence, he died near the city of Pergamon.[436]

The permanence of the land commission was the most important result of
the senate's determination to detach the political from the economic
consequences of the Gracchan movement.[437] But they tolerated rather
than accepted it. Had they wished to make it their own, every nerve
would have been strained to secure the three places at the annual
elections for men who represented the true spirit of the nobility. But
there was every reason for allowing the people's representatives to
continue the people's work. The commission was an experiment, and the
government did not wish to participate in possible failure; a seasonable
opportunity might arise for suspending or neutralising its activities,
and the senate did not wish to reverse its own work; whether success or
failure attended its operations, the task of the commissioners was sure
to arouse fears and excite odium, especially amongst the Italian allies;
and the nobility were less inclined to excite such sentiments than to
turn them to account. So the people were allowed year after year to
perpetuate the Gracchan clique and to replace its members by avowed
sympathisers with programmes of reform. Tiberius's place was filled by
Crassus, whose daughter Licinia was wedded to Caius Gracchus.[438] Two
places were soon vacated by the fall of Crassus in Asia and the death of
Appius Claudius. They were filled by Marcus Fulvius Flaccus and Gaius
Papirius Carbo.[439] The Former had already proved his sympathy with
Gracchus, the latter had Just brought to an end an agitating tribunate,
which had produced a successful ballot law and an abortive attempt to
render the tribune re-eligible. The personnel of the commission was,
therefore, a guarantee of its good faith. Its energy was on a level with
its earnestness. The task of annexing and distributing the domain land
was strenuously undertaken, and other officials, on whom fell the purely
routine function of enforcing the new limit of occupation, seem to have
been equally faithful to their work. Even the consul Popillius, one of
the presidents of the commission that tried the Gracchan rioters, has
left a record of his activity in the words that he was "the first to
expel shepherds from their domains and install farmers in their
stead".[440] The boundary stones of the commissioners still survive to
mark the care with which they defined the limits of occupied land and of
the new allotments; and the great increase in the census roll between
the years 131 and 125 B.C. finds its best explanation in the steady
increase of small landholders effected by the agrarian law. In the
former year the register had shown rather less than 319,000 citizens; in
the latter the number had risen to somewhat more than 394,000.[441] If
this increase of nearly 76,000 referred to the whole citizen body, it
would be difficult to connect it with the work of the commission, except
on the hypothesis that numerous vagrants, who did not as a rule appear
at the census, now presented themselves for assessment; but, when it is
remembered that the published census list of Rome merely contained the
returns of her effective military strength, and that this consisted
merely of the _assidui_, it is clear that a measure which elevated large
portions of the _capite censi_ to the position of yeoman farmers must
have had the effect of increasing the numbers on the register; and this
sudden leap in the census roll may thus be attributed to the successful
working of the new agrarian scheme.[442] A result such as this could not
have been wholly transitory; in tracing the agrarian legislation of the
post-Gracchan period we shall indeed find the trial of experiments which
prove that no final solution of the land question had been reached; we
shall see the renewal of the process of land absorption which again led
to the formation of gigantic estates; but these tendencies may merely
mark the inevitable weeding-out of the weaker of the Gracchan colonists;
they do not prove that the sturdier folk failed to justify the scheme,
to work their new holdings at a profit, and to hand them down to their
posterity. It is true that the landless proletariate of the city
continued steadily to increase; but the causes which lead to the
plethora of an imperial capital are too numerous to permit us to explain
this increase by the single hypothesis of a renewed depopulation of the
country districts.

The distribution of allotments, however, represented but the simpler
element of the scheme. The really arduous task was to determine in any
given case what land could with justice be distributed. The judicial
powers of the triumvirs were taxed to the utmost to determine what land
was public, and what was private. The possessors would at times make no
accurate profession of their tenure; such as were made probably in many
cases aroused distrust. Information was invited from third parties, and
straightway the land courts were the scene of harrowing litigation.[443]
It could at times be vaguely ascertained that, while a portion of some
great domain was held on occupation from the State, some other portion
had been acquired by purchase; but what particular part of the estate
was held on either tenure was undiscoverable, for titles had been lost,
or, when preserved, did not furnish conclusive evidence of the justice
of the original transfer. Even the ascertainment of the fact that a
tract of land had once belonged to the State was no conclusive proof
that the State could still claim rights of ownership; for some of it had
in early times been assigned in allotments, and no historical record
survived to prove where the assignment had ended and the permission of
occupation had begun. The holders of private estates had for purposes of
convenience worked the public land immediately adjoining their own
grounds, the original landmarks had been swept away, and, although they
had paid their dues for the possession of so many acres, it was
impossible to say with precision which those acres were. The present
condition of the land was no index; for some of the possessors had
raised their portion of the public domain to as high a pitch of
cultivation as their original patrimonies: and, as the commissioners
were naturally anxious to secure arable land in good condition for the
new settlers, the original occupiers sometimes found themselves in the
enjoyment of marsh or swamp or barren soil,[444] which remained the sole
relics of their splendid possessions. The judgments of the court were
dissolving ancestral ties, destroying homesteads, and causing the
transference of household gods to distant dwellings. Such are the
inevitable results of an attempt to pry into ancient titles, and to
investigate claims the basis of which lies even a few decades from the
period of the inquisition.

But, while these consequences were unfortunate, they were not likely to
produce political complications so long as the grievances were confined
to members of the citizen body. The vested interests which had been
ignored in the passing of the measure might be brushed aside in its
execution. Had the territory of Italy belonged to Rome, there would have
been much grumbling but no resistance; for effective resistance required
a shadow of legal right. But beyond the citizen body lay groups of
states which were interested in varying degrees in the execution of the
agrarian measure: and their grievances, whether legitimate or not,
raised embarrassing questions of public law. The municipalities composed
of Roman citizens or of half-burgesses had, as we saw, been alarmed at
the introduction of the measure, perhaps through a misunderstanding of
its import and from a suspicion that the land which had been given them
in usufruct was to be resumed. Possibly the proceedings of the
commission may have done something to justify this fear, for the limits
of this land possessed by corporate bodies had probably become very
ill-defined in the course of years. But, although a corporate was
stronger than an individual interest and rested on some public
guarantee, the complaints of these townships, composed as they were of
burgesses, were merely part of the civic question, and must have been
negligible in comparison with the protests of the federate cities of
Italy and the Latins. We cannot determine what grounds the Italian Socii
had either for fear or protest. It is not certain that land had been
assigned to them in usufruct,[445] and such portions of their conquered
territories as had been restored to them by the Roman State were their
own property. But, whether the territories which they conceived to be
threatened were owned or possessed by these communities, such ownership
or possession was guaranteed to them by a sworn treaty, and it is
inconceivable that the Gracchan legislation, the strongest and the
weakest point of which was its strict legality, should have openly
violated federative rights. When, however, we consider the way in which
the public land of Rome ran in and out of the territories of these
allied communities, it is not wonderful that doubts should exist as to
the line of demarcation between state territories and the Roman domain.
Vexed questions of boundaries might everywhere be raised, and the
government of an Italian community would probably find as much
difficulty as a private possessor in furnishing documentary evidence of
title. The fears of the Latin communities are far more comprehensible,
and it was probably in these centres that the Italian revolt against the
proceedings of the commission chiefly originated. The interests of the
Latins in this matter were almost precisely similar to those of the
Romans: and this identity of view arose from a similarity of status. The
Latin colonies had had their territories assigned by Roman
commissioners: and it is probable, although it cannot be proved, that
doubts arose as to the legitimate extent of these assignments in
relation to the neighbouring public land. Many of these territories may
have grown mysteriously at the expense of Rome in districts far removed
from the capital: and in Gaul especially encroachments on the Roman
domain by municipalities or individuals of the Latin colonies most
recently established may have been suspected. But the Latin community
had another interest in the question, which bore a still closer
resemblance to that shown by the Roman burgesses. As the individual
Latin might be a recipient of the favour of the commissioners, so he
might be the victim of their legal claims. The fact that he shared the
right of commerce with Rome and could acquire and sue for land by Roman
forms, makes it practically certain that he could be a possessor of the
Roman domain. So eager had been the government in early times to see
waste land reclaimed and defended, that it could hardly have failed to
welcome the enterprising Latin who crossed his borders, threw his
energies into the cultivation of the public land, and paid the required
dues. Many of the wealthier members of Latin communities may thus have
been liable to the fate of the ejected possessors of Rome; but even
those amongst them whose possessions did not exceed the prescribed limit
of five hundred _jugera_, may have believed that their claims would
receive, or had received, too little attention from the Roman
commission, while the difficulties resulting from the fusion of public
and private land in the same estates may have been as great in these
communities as they were in the territory of Rome. Such grievances
presented no feature of singularity; they were common to Italy, and one
might have thought that a Latin protest would have been weaker than a
Roman. But there was one vital point of difference between the two. The
Roman could appeal only as an individual; the Latin appealed as a member
of a federate state. He did not pause to consider that his grievance was
due to his being half a Roman and enjoying Roman rights. The truth that
a suzerain cannot treat her subjects as badly as she treats her citizens
may be morally, but is not legally, a paradox. The subjects have a
collective voice, the citizens have ceased to have one when their own
government has turned against them. The position of these Latins,
illogical as it may have been, was strengthened by the extreme length to
which Rome had carried her principle of non-interference in ail dealings
with federate allies. The Roman Comitia did not legislate for such
states, no Roman magistrate had jurisdiction in their internal concerns.
By a false analogy it could easily be argued that no Roman commission
should be allowed to disturb their peaceful agricultural relations and
to produce a social revolution within their borders. The allies now
sought a champion for their cause, since the constitution supplied no
mechanism for the direct expression of Italian grievances. The
complaints of individual cities had in the past been borne to the senate
and voiced by the Roman patrons of these towns. Now that a champion for
the confederacy was needed, a common patron had to be created. He was
immediately found in Scipio Aemilianus.[446]

The choice was inevitable and was dictated by three potent
considerations. There was the dignity of the man, recently raised to its
greatest height by the capture of Numantia; there was his known
detachment from the recent Gracchan policy and his forcibly expressed
dislike of the means by which it had been carried through; there was the
further conviction based on his recent utterances that he had little
liking for the Roman proletariate. The news of Gracchus's fall had been
brought to Scipio in the camp before Numantia; his epitaph on the
murdered tribune was that which the stern Hellenic goddess of justice
and truth breathes over the slain Aegisthus:--

    So perish all who do the like again.[447]

To Scipio Gracchus's undertaking must have seemed an act of impudent
folly, its conduct must have appeared something worse than madness. In
all probability it was not the agrarian movement which roused his
righteous horror, but the gross violation of the constitution which
seemed to him to be involved in the inception and consequences of the
plan. Of all political temperaments that of the Moderate is the least
forgiving, just because it is the most timorous. He sees the gulf that
yawns at his own feet, he lacks the courage to take the leap, and sets
up his own halting attitude, of which he is secretly ashamed, as the
correct demeanour for all sensible and patriotic men. The Conservative
can appreciate the efforts of the Radical, for each is ennobled by the
pursuit of the impossible; but the man of half measures and
indeterminate aims, while contemning both, will find the reaction from
violent change a more potent sentiment even than his disgust at corrupt
immobility. Probably Scipio had never entertained such a respect for the
Roman constitution as during those busy days in camp, when the incidents
of the blockade were varied by messages describing the wild proceedings
of his brother-in-law at Rome. Yet Scipio must have known that an
unreformed government could give him nothing corresponding to his
half-shaped ideals of a happy peasantry, a disciplined and effective
soldiery, an uncorrupt administration that would deal honestly and
gently with the provincials. His own position was in itself a strong
condemnation of the powers at Rome. They were relying for military
efficiency on a single man. Why should not they rely for political
efficiency on another? But the latter question did not appeal to Scipio.
To tread the beaten path was not the way to make an army; but it was
good enough for politics.

Scipio did not scorn the honours of a triumph, and the victory of
Numantia was followed by the usual pageant in the streets.[448] He was
unquestionably the foremost man of Rome, and senate and commons hung on
his lips to catch some definite expression of his attitude to recent
events, or to those which were stirring men's minds in the present. They
had not long to wait, for a test was soon presented. When in 131 Carbo
introduced his bill permitting re-election to the tribunate, all the
resources of Scipio's dignified oratory were at the disposal of the
senate, and the coalition of his admirers with the voters whom the
senate could dispose of, was fatal to the chances of the bill.[449] Such
an attitude need not have weakened his popularity; for excellent reasons
could be given, in the interest of popular government itself, against
permitting any magistracy to become continuous, But his political
enemies were on the watch, and in one of the debates on the measure care
was taken that a question should be put, the answer to which must either
identify or compromise him with the new radicalism. Carbo asked him what
he thought about the death of Tiberius Gracchus. Scipio's answer was
cautious but precise; "If Gracchus had formed the intention of seizing
on the administration of the State, he had been justly slain." It was
merely a restatement of the old constitutional theory that one who aimed
at monarchy was by that very fact an outlaw. But the answer,
hypothetical as was its expression, implied a suspicion of Gracchus's
aims. It did not please the crowd; there was a roar of dissent. Then
Scipio lost his temper. The contempt of the soldier for the civilian, of
the Roman for the foreigner, of the man of pure for the man of mixed
blood--a contempt inflamed to passion by the thought that men such as he
were often at the mercy of these wretches--broke through all reserve. "I
have never been frightened by the clamour of the enemy in arms," he
shouted, "shall I be alarmed by your cries, ye step-sons of Italy?" This
reflection on the lineage of his audience naturally aroused another
protest. It was met by the sharp rejoinder, "I brought you in chains to
Rome; you are freed now, but none the more terrible for that!" [450] It
was a humiliating spectacle. The most respected man in Rome was using
the vulgar abuse of the streets to the sovereign people; and the man who
used this language was so blinded by prejudice as not to see that the
blood which he reviled gave the promise of a new race, that the mob
which faced him was not a crowd of Italian peasants, willing victims of
the martinet, that the Asiatic and the Greek, with their sordid clothes
and doubtful occupations, possessed more intelligence than the Roman
members of the Scipionic circle and might one day be the rulers of Rome.
The new race was one of infinite possibilities. It needed guidance, not
abuse. Carbo and his friends must have been delighted with the issue of
their experiment. Scipio had paid the first instalment to that treasury
of hatred, which was soon to prove his ruin and to make his following a
thing of the past.

Such was the position of Scipio when he was approached by the Italians.
His interest in their fortunes was twofold. First he viewed them with a
soldier's eye.[451] They were tending more and more to form the flower
of the Roman armies abroad: and, although in obedience to civic
sentiment he had employed a heavier scourge on the backs of the
auxiliaries than on those of the Roman troops before Numantia,[452] the
chastisement, which he would have doubtless liked to inflict on all, was
but an expression of his interest in their welfare. Next he admired the
type for its own sake. The sturdy peasant class was largely represented
here, and he probably had more faith in its permanence amongst the
federate cities than amongst the needy burgesses whom the commissioners
were attempting to restore to agriculture. He could not have seen the
momentous consequences which would follow from a championship of the
Italian allies against the interests of the urban proletariate; that
such a dualism of interests would lead to increased demands on the part
of the one, to a sullen resistance on the part of the other; that in
this mere attempt to check the supposed iniquities of a too zealous
commission lay the germ of the franchise movement and the Social War.
His protection was a matter of justice and of interest. The allies had
deserved well and should not be robbed; they were the true protectors of
Rome and their loyalty must not be shaken. Scipio, therefore, took their
protest to the senate. He respected the susceptibilities of the people
so far as to utter no explicit word of adverse criticism on the Gracchan
measure; but he dwelt on the difficulties which attended its execution,
and he suggested that the commissioners were burdened with an invidious
task in having to decide the disputed questions connected with the land
which they annexed. By the nature of the case their judgments might
easily appear to the litigants as tinged with prejudice. It would be
better, he suggested, if the functions of jurisdiction were separated
from those of distribution and the former duties given to some other
authority.[453] The senate accepted the suggestion, and its
reasonableness must have appealed even to the people, for the measure
embodying it must have passed the Comitia, which alone could abrogate
the Gracchan law.[454] Possibly some recent judgments of the
commissioners had produced a sense of uneasiness amongst large numbers
of the citizen body, and there may have been a feeling that it would be
to the advantage of all parties if the cause of scandal were removed.
Perhaps none but the inner circle of statesmen could have predicted the
consequences of the change. The decision of the agrarian disputes was
now entrusted to the consuls, who were the usual vehicles of
administrative jurisdiction. The history of the past had proved over and
over again the utter futility of entrusting the administration of an
extraordinary and burdensome department to the regular magistrates. They
were too busy to attend to it, even if they had the will. But in this
case even the will was lacking. Of the two consuls Manius Aquillius was
destined for the war in Asia, and his colleague Caius Sempronius
Tuditanus had no sooner put his hand to the new work than he saw that
the difficulties of adjudication had been by no means the creation of
the commissioners. He answered eagerly to the call of a convenient
Illyrian war and quitted the judgment seat for the less harassing
anxieties of the camp.[455] The functions of the commissioners were
paralysed; they seem now to have reached a limit where every particle of
land for distribution was the subject of dispute, and, as there was no
authority in existence to settle the contested claims, the work of
assignation was brought to a sudden close. The masses of eager
claimants, that still remained unsatisfied, felt that they had been
betrayed; the feeling spread amongst the urban populace, and the name of
Scipio was a word that now awoke suspicion and even execration.[456] It
was not merely the sense of betrayal that aroused this hostile
sentiment; the people charged him with ingratitude. Masses of men, like
individuals, love a _protégé_ more than a benefactor. They have a pride
in looking at the colossal figure which they have helped to create. And
had not they in a sense made Scipio? Their love had been quickened by
the sense of danger; they had braved the anger of the nobles to put
power into his hands; they had twice raised him to the consulship in
violation of the constitution. And now what was their reward? He had
deliberately chosen to espouse the cause of the allies and oppose the
interests of the Roman electorate. Scipio's enemies had good material to
work upon. The casual grumblings of the streets were improved on, and
formulated in the openly expressed belief that his real intention was
the repeal of the Sempronian law, and in the more far-fetched suspicion
that he meant to bring a military force to bear on the Roman mob, with
its attendant horrors of street massacre or hardly less bloody

The attacks on Scipio were not confined to the informal language of
private intercourse. Hostile magistrates introduced his enemies to the
Rostra, and men like Fulvius Flaccus inveighed bitterly against
him.[458] On the day when one of these attacks was made, Scipio was
defending his position before the people; he had been stung by the
charge of ingratitude, for he retorted it on his accusers; he complained
that an ill return was being made to him for his many services to the
State. In the evening Scipio was escorted from the senate to his house
by a crowd of sympathisers. Besides senators and other Romans the escort
comprised representatives of his new clients, the Latins and the Italian
allies.[459] His mind was full of the speech which he meant to deliver
to the people on the following day. He retired early to his sleeping
chamber and placed his writing tablet beside his bed, that he might fix
the sudden inspirations of his waking hours. When morning dawned, he was
found lying on his couch but with every trace of life extinct. The
family inquisition on the slaves of the household was held as a matter
of course. Their statements were never published to the world, but it
was believed that under torture they had confessed to seeing certain men
introduced stealthily during the night through the back part of the
house; these, they thought, had strangled their master.[460] The reason
which they assigned for their reticence was their fear of the people;
they knew that Scipio's death had not appeased the popular fury, that
the news had been received with joy, and they did not wish by invidious
revelations to become the victims of the people's hate. The fears of the
slaves were subsequently reflected in the minds of those who would have
been willing to push the investigation further. There was ground for
suspicion; for Scipio, although some believed him delicate,[461] had
shown no sign of recent illness. A scrutiny of the body is even said to
have revealed a livid impress near the throat.[462] The investigation
which followed a sudden death within the walls of a Roman household, if
it revealed the suspicion of foul play, was usually the preliminary to a
public inquiry. The duty of revenge was sacred; it appealed to the
family even more than to the public conscience. But there was no one to
raise the cry for retribution. He had no sons, and his family was
represented but by his loveless wife Sempronia. His many friends must
indeed have talked of making the matter public, and perhaps began at
once to give vent to those dark suspicions which down to a late age
clouded the names of so many of the dead man's contemporaries. But the
project is said to have been immediately opposed by representatives of
the popular party;[463] the crime, if crime there was, had been no
vulgar murder; a suspicion that violence had been used was an insult to
the men who had fought him fairly in the political field; a _quaestio_
instituted by the senate might be a mere pretext for a judicial murder;
it might be the ruse by which the nobles sought to compass the death of
the people's new favourite and rising hope, Caius Gracchus. Ultimately
those who believed in the murder and pined to avenge it, were
constrained to admit that it was wiser to avoid a disgraceful political
wrangle over the body of their dead hero. But, for the retreat to be
covered, it must be publicly announced by those who had most authority
to speak, that Scipio had died a natural death. This was accordingly the
line taken by Laelius, when he wrote the funeral oration which Quintus
Fabius Maximus delivered over the body of his uncle;[464] "We cannot
sufficiently mourn this death by disease" were words purposely spoken to
be an index to the official version of the decease. The fear of
political disturbance which veiled the details of the tragedy, also
dictated that the man, whom friends and enemies alike knew to have been
the greatest of his age, should have no public funeral.[465]

The government might well fear a scandalous scene--the Forum with its
lanes and porticoes crowded by a snarling holiday crowd, the laudation
of the speakers interrupted by gibes and howls, the free-fight that
would probably follow the performance of the obsequies.

But suppression means rumour. The mystery was profoundly enjoyed by this
and subsequent ages. Every name that political or domestic circumstances
could conveniently suggest, was brought into connection with Scipio's
death. Caius Gracchus,[466] Fulvius Flaccus,[467] Caius Papirius
Carbo[468] were all indifferently mentioned. Suspicion clung longest to
Carbo, probably as the man who had lately come into the most direct
conflict with his supposed victim; even Carbo's subsequent conversion to
conservatism could not clear his name, and his guilt seems to have been
almost an article of faith amongst the optimates of the Ciceronian
period. But there were other versions which hinted at domestic crime.
Did not Cornelia have an interest in removing the man who was undoing
the work of her son, and might she not have had a willing accomplice in
Scipio's wife Sempronia?[469] It was believed that this marriage of
arrangement had never been sanctioned by love; Sempronia was plain and
childless, and the absence of a husband's affection may have led her to
think only of her duties as a daughter and a sister.[470] People who
were too sane for these extravagances, but were yet unwilling to accept
the prosaic solution of a natural death and give up the pleasant task of
conjecture, suggested that Scipio had found death by his own hand. The
motive assigned was the sense of his inability to keep the promises
which he had made.[471] These promises may have been held to be certain
suggestions for the amelioration of the condition of the Latin and
Italian allies.

But it required no conjecture and no suspicion to emphasise the tragic
nature of Scipio's death. He was but fifty-six; he was by far the
greatest general that Rome could command, a champion who could spring
into the breach when all seemed lost, make an army out of a rabble and
win victory from defeat; he was a great moral force, the scourge of the
new vices, the enemy of the provincial oppressor; he was the greatest
intellectual influence in aristocratic Rome, embellishing the staid
rigour of the ancient Roman with something of the humanism of the Greek;
Xenophon was the author who appealed most strongly to his simple and
manly tastes; and his purity of soul and clearness of intellect were
fitly expressed in the chasteness and elegance of his Latin style. The
modern historian has not to tax his fancy in discovering great qualities
in Scipio; the mind of every unprejudiced contemporary must have echoed
the thought of Laelius, when he wrote in his funeral speech "We cannot
thank the gods enough that they gave to Rome in preference to other
states a man with a heart and intellect like this".[472] But the
dominant feeling amongst thinking men, who had any respect for the
empire and the constitution, was that of panic at the loss. Quintus
Metellus Macedonicus had been his political foe; but when the tidings of
death were brought him, he was like one distraught. "Citizens," he
wailed, "the walls of our city are in ruins." [473] And that a great
breach had been made in the political and military defences of Rome is
again the burden of Laelius's complaint, "He has perished at a time when
a mighty man is needed by you and by all who wish the safety of this
commonwealth." These utterances were not merely a lament for a great
soldier, but the mourning for a man who might have held the balance
between classes and saved a situation that was becoming intolerable. We
cannot say whether any definite means of escape from the brewing storm
was present to Scipio's mind, or, if he had evolved a plan, whether he
was master of the means to render it even a temporary success. Perhaps
he had meddled too little with politics to have acquired the dexterity
requisite for a reconciler. Possibly his pride and his belief in the
aristocracy as an aggregate would have stood in his way. But he was a
man of moderate views who led a middle party, and he attracted the
anxious attention of men who believed that salvation would not come from
either of the extremes. He had once been the favourite of the crowd, and
might be again, he commanded the distant respect of the nobility, and he
had all Italy at his side. Was there likely to be a man whose position
was better suited to a reconciliation of the war of jarring interests?
Perhaps not; but at the time of his death the first steps which he had
taken had only widened the horizon of war. He found a struggle between
the commons and the nobles; he emphasised, although he had not created,
the new struggle between the commons and Italy. His next step would have
been decisive, but this he was not fated to take.

When we turn from the history of the agrarian movement and its
unexpected consequences to other items in the internal fortunes of Rome
during this period, we find that Tiberius Gracchus had left another
legacy to the State. This was the idea of a magistracy which, freed from
the restraint of consulting the senate, should busy itself with
political reform, remove on its own initiative the obstacles which the
constitution threw in the path of its progress, and effect the
regeneration of Rome and even of Italy by means of ordinances elicited
from the people. The social question was here as elsewhere the efficient
cause; but it left results which seemed strangely disproportionate to
their source. The career of Gracchus had shown that the leadership of
the people was encumbered by two weaknesses. These were the packing of
assemblies by dependants of the rich, whose votes were known and whose
voices were therefore under control, and the impossibility of
re-election to office, which rendered a continuity of policy on the part
of the demagogue impossible. It was the business of the tribunate of
Carbo to remove both these hindrances to popular power. His first
proposal was to introduce voting by ballot in the legislative
assemblies;[474] it was one that could not easily be resisted, since the
principle of the ballot had already been recognised in elections, and in
all judicial processes with the exception of trials for treason. These
measures seem to have had the support of the party of moderate reform:
and Scipio and his friends probably offered no resistance to the new
application of the principle. Without their support, and unprovided with
arguments which might excite the fears or jealousy of the people, the
nobility was powerless: and the bill, therefore, easily became law. The
change thus introduced was unquestionably a great one. Hitherto the
country voters had been the most independent; now the members of the
urban proletariate were equally free, and from this time forth the voice
of the city could find an expression uninfluenced by the smiles or
frowns of wealthy patrons. The ballot produced its intended effect more
fully in legislation than in election; its introduction into the latter
sphere caused the nobility to become purchasers instead of directors;
but it was seldom that a law affected individual interests so directly
as to make a bargain for votes desirable. The chief bribery found in the
legislative assemblies was contained in the proposal submitted by the

Carbo's second proposal, that immediate and indefinite re-election to
the tribunate should be permitted, was not recommended on the same
grounds of precedent or reason. The analogies of the Roman constitution
were opposed to it, and the rules against the perpetuity of office which
limited the patrician magistracies, and made even a single re-election
to the consulship illegal,[475] while framed in support of aristocratic
government, had had as their pretext the security of the Republic, and
therefore ostensibly of popular freedom and control. Again, the people
might be reminded that the tribunate was not always a power friendly to
their interests, and that the veto which blocked the expression of their
will might be continued to a second year by the obstinate persistence of
a minority of voters. Excellent arguments of a popular kind could be,
and probably were, employed against the proposal. Certainly the
sentiment which really animated the opposition could have found little
favour with the masses, who ultimately voted for the rejection of the
bill. All adherents of senatorial government must have seen in the
success of the measure the threat of a permanent opposition, the
possibility of the rise of official demagogues of the Greek type,
monarchs in reality though, not in name, the proximity of a Gracchan
movement unhampered by the weakness which had led to Gracchus's fall. It
is easier for an electorate to maintain a principle by the maintenance
of a personality than to show its fervour for a creed by submitting new
and untried exponents to a rigid confession of faith. The senate knew
that causes wax and wane with the men who have formulated them, and it
had always been more afraid of individuals than of masses. Scipio's view
of the Gracchan movement and his acceptance of the cardinal maxims of
existing statecraft, prepare us for the attitude which he assumed on
this occasion. His speech against the measure was believed to have been
decisive in turning the scale. He was supported by his henchmen, and the
faithful Laelius also gave utterance to the protests of the moderates
against the unwelcome innovation. This victory, if decisive, would have
made the career of Caius Gracchus impossible--a career which, while it
fully justified the attitude of the opposition, more than fulfilled the
designs of the advocates of the change. But the triumph was evanescent.
Within the next eight years re-election to the tribunate was rendered
possible under certain circumstances. The successful proposal is said to
have taken the form of permitting any one to be chosen, if the number of
candidates fell short of the ten places which were to be filled.[476]
This arrangement was probably represented as a corollary of the ancient
religious injunction which forbade the outgoing tribunes to leave the
Plebs unprovided with guardians; and this presentment of the case
probably weakened the arguments of the opposition. The aristocratic
party could hardly have misconceived the import of the change. It was
intended that a party which desired the re-election of a tribune should,
by withdrawing some of its candidates at the last moment,[477] qualify
him for reinvestiture with the magistracy.

The party of reform were rightly advised in attempting to secure an
adequate mechanism for the fulfilment of a democratic programme before
they put their wishes into shape. That they were less fortunate in the
proposals that they formulated, was due to the fact that these proposals
were at least as much the result of necessity as of deliberate choice.
The agrarian question was still working its wicked will. It hung like an
incubus round the necks of democrats and forced them into most
undemocratic paths. The legacy left by Scipio had become the burdensome
inheritance of his foes. Italian claims were now the impasse which
stopped the present distribution and the future acquisition of land. The
minds of many were led to inquire whether it might not be possible to
strike a bargain with the allies, and thus began that mischievous
co-operation between a party in Rome and the protected towns in Italy,
which suggested hopes that could not be satisfied, led to open revolt as
the result of the disappointment engendered by failure, and might easily
be interpreted as veiling treasonable designs against the Roman State,
The franchise was to be offered to the Italian towns on condition that
they waived their rights in the public land.[478] The details of the
bargain were probably unknown, even to contemporaries, for the
negotiations demanded secrecy; but it is clear that the arrangements
must have been at once general and complex; for no organisation is
likely to have existed that could bind each Italian township to the
agreement, nor could any town have undertaken to prejudice all the
varying rights of its individual citizens. When the Italians eagerly
accepted the offer, a pledge must have been got from their leading men
that the local governments would not press their claims to the disputed
land as an international question; for it was under this aspect that the
dispute presented the gravest difficulties. The commons of these states
might be comforted by the assurance that, when they had become Roman
citizens, they would themselves be entitled to share in the
assignations. These negotiations, which may have extended over two or
three years, ended by bringing crowds of Italians to Rome. They had no
votes; but the moral influence of their presence was very great. They
could applaud or hiss the speakers in the informal gatherings of the
Contio; it was not impossible that in the last resort they might lend
physical aid to that section of the democrats which had advocated their
cause. It might even have been possible to manufacture votes for some of
these immigrants. A Latin domiciled in Rome always enjoyed a limited
suffrage in the Comitia, and a pretended domicile might easily be
invented for a temporary resident. Nor was it even certain that the
wholly unqualified foreigner might not give a surreptitious vote; for
the president of the assembly was the man interested in the passing of
the bill, and his subordinates might be instructed not to submit the
qualifications of the voters to too strict a scrutiny. It was under
these circumstances that the senate resorted to the device, rare but not
unprecedented, of an alien act. Following its instructions, the tribune
Marcus Junius Pennus introduced a proposal that foreigners should be
excluded from the city.[479] We know nothing of the wording of the act.
It may have made no specific mention of Italians, and its operation was
presumably limited to strangers not domiciled before a certain date.
But, like all similar provisions, it must have contained further
limitations, for it is inconceivable that the foreign trader, engaged in
legitimate business, was hustled summarily from the city. But, however
limited its scope, its end was clear: and the fact that it passed the
Comitia shows that the franchise movement was by no means wholly
popular. A crowd is not so easy of conversion as an individual. Recent
events must have caused large numbers of the urban proletariate to hate
the very name of the Italians, and the idea of sharing the privileges of
empire with the foreigner must already have been distasteful to the
average Roman mind. It was in vain that Caius Gracchus, to whom the
suggestion of his brother was already becoming a precept, tried to
emphasise the political ruin which the spirit of exclusiveness had
brought to cities of the past.[480] The appeal to history and to nobler
motives must have fallen on deaf ears. It is possible, however, that the
personality of the speaker might have been of some avail, had he been
ably supported, and had the people seen all their leaders united on the
question of the day. But there is reason for supposing that serious
differences of opinion existed amongst these leaders as to the wisdom of
the move. Some may have held that the party of reform had merely drifted
in this direction, that the proposal for enfranchisement had never been
considered on its own merits, and that they had no mandate from the
people for purchasing land at this costly price. It may have been at
this time that Carbo first showed his dissatisfaction with the party, of
which he had almost been the accepted leader. If he declined to
accompany his colleagues on this new and untried path, the first step in
his conversion to the party of the optimates betrays no inconsistency
with his former attitude; for he could maintain with justice that the
proposal for enfranchising Italy was not a popular measure either in
spirit or in fact.

It was, therefore, with more than doubtful chances of success that
Fulvius Flaccus, who was consul in the following year, attempted to
bring the question to an issue by an actual proposal of citizenship for
the allies. The details of his scheme of enfranchisement have been very
imperfectly preserved.[481] We are unaware whether, like Caius Gracchus
some three years later, he proposed to endow the Latins with higher
privileges than the other allies: and, although he contemplated the
non-acceptance of Roman citizenship by some of the allied communities,
since he offered these cities the right of appeal to the people as a
substitute for the status which they declined, we do not know whether
his bill granted citizenship at once to all accepting states, or merely
opened a way for a request for this right to come from individual cities
to the Roman people. But it is probable that the bill in some way
asserted the willingness of the people to confer the franchise, and
that, if any other steps were involved in the method of conferment, they
were little more than formal. The fact that the _provocatio_ was
contemplated as a substitute for citizenship is at once a proof that the
old spirit of state life, which viewed absorption as extermination, was
known still to be strong in some of the Italian communes, and that many
of the individual Italians were believed to value the citizenship mainly
as a means of protecting their persons against Roman officialdom. That
the democratic party was strong at the moment when this proposal was
given to the world is shown by the fact that Flaccus filled the
consulship; that it had little sympathy with his scheme is proved by the
isolation of the proposer and by the manner in which the senate was
allowed to intervene. The conferment of the franchise had been proved to
be essentially a popular prerogative;[482] the consultation of the
senate on such a point might be advisable, but was by no means
necessary; for, in spite of the ruling theory that the authority of the
senate should be respected in all matters of legislation, the complex
Roman constitution recognised shades of difference, determined by the
quality of the particular proposal, with respect to the observance of
this rule. The position of Flaccus was legally stronger than that of
Tiberius Gracchus had been. Had he been well supported by men of
influence or by the masses, the senate's judgment might have been set at
naught. But the people were cold, Carbo had probably turned away, and
Caius Gracchus had gone as quaestor to Sardinia. The senate was
emboldened to adopt a firm attitude. They invited the consul to take
them into his confidence. After much delay he entered the senate house;
but a stubborn silence was his only answer to the admonitions and
entreaties of the fathers that he would desist from his purpose.[483]
Flaccus knew the futility of arguing with people who had adopted a
foregone conclusion; he would not even deign to accept a graceful
retreat from an impossible position. The matter must be dropped; but to
withdraw it at the exhortation of the senate, although complimentary to
his peers and perhaps not unpleasing even to the people in their present
humour, would prejudice the chances of the future. In view of better
days it was wiser to shelve than to discard the measure. His attitude
may also have been influenced by pledges made to the allies; to these,
helpless as he was, he would yet be personally faithful. His fidelity
would have been put to a severe test had he remained in Italy; but the
supreme magistrate at Rome had always a refuge from a perplexing
situation. The voice of duty called him abroad,[484] and Flaccus set
forth to shelter Massilia from the Salluvii and to build up the Roman
power in Transalpine Gaul.[485] Perhaps only a few of the leading
democrats had knowledge enough to suspect the terrible consequences that
might be involved in the failure of the proposal for conferring the
franchise. To the senate and the Roman world they must have caused as
much astonishment as alarm. It could never have been dreamed that the
well-knit confederacy, which had known no spontaneous revolt since the
rising of Falerii in the middle of the third century, could again be
disturbed by internal war. Now the very centre of this confederacy, that
loyal nucleus which had been unshaken by the victories of Hannibal, was
to be the scene of an insurrection, the product of hope long deferred,
of expectations recently kindled by injudicious promises, of resentment
at Pennus's success and Flaccus's failure. Fregellae, the town which
assumed the lead in the movement and either through overhaste or faulty
information alone took the fatal step,[486] was a Latin colony which had
been planted by Rome in the territory of the Volsci in the year 328
B.C.[487] The position of the town had ensured its prosperity even
before it fell into the hands of Rome. It lay on the Liris in a rich
vine-growing country, and within that circle of Latin and Campanian
states, which had now become the industrial centre of Italy. It was
itself the centre of the group of Latin colonies that lay as bulwarks of
Rome between the Appian and Latin roads, and had in the Hannibalic war
been chosen as the mouthpiece of the eighteen faithful cities, when
twelve of the Latin states grew weary of their burdens and wavered in
their allegiance.[488] The importance of the city was manifest and of
long-standing, its self-esteem was doubtless great, and it perhaps
considered that its signal services had been inadequately recompensed by
Rome. But its peculiar grievances are unknown, or the particular reasons
which gave Roman citizenship such an excessive value in its eyes. It is
possible that its thriving farmer class had been angered by the agrarian
commission and by undue demands for military service, and, in spite of
the commercial equality with the Romans which they enjoyed in virtue of
their Latin rights, they may have compared their position unfavourably
with that of communities in the neighbourhood which had received the
Roman franchise in full. Towns like Arpinum, Fundi and Formiae had been
admitted to the citizen body without forfeiting their self-government.
Absorption need not now entail the almost penal consequences of the
dissolution of the constitution; while the possession of citizenship
ensured the right of appeal and a full participation in the religious
festivals and the amenities of the capital. It is also possible that, in
the case of a prosperous industrial and agricultural community situated
actually within Latium, the desire for actively participating in the
decisions of the sovereign people may have played its part. But
sentiment probably had in its councils as large a share as reason: and
the fact that this sentiment led to premature action, and that the fall
of the state was due to treason, may lead as to suppose that the Romans
had to deal with a divided people and that one section of the community,
perhaps represented by the upper or official class, although it may have
sympathised with the general desire for the attainment of the franchise,
was by no means prepared to stake the ample fortunes of the town on the
doubtful chance of successful rebellion. A prolonged resistance of the
citizens within their walls might have given the impulse to a general
rising of the Latins. Had Fregellae played the part of a second
Numantia, the Social War might have been anticipated by thirty-five
years. But the advantage to be gained from time was foiled by treason. A
certain Numitorius Pullus betrayed the state to the praetor Lucius
Opimius, who had been sent with an army from Rome. Had Fregellae stood
alone, it might have been spared; but it was felt that some extreme
measure either of concession or of terrorism was necessary to keep
discontent from assuming the same fiery form in other communities. In
the later war with the allies a greater danger was bought off by
concession. But there the disease had run its course; here it was met in
its earliest stage, and the familiar devise of excision was felt to be
the true remedy. The principle of the "awful warning," which Alexander
had applied to Thebes and Rome to Corinth, doomed the greatest of the
Latin cities to destruction. Regardless of the past services of
Fregellae and of the fact that the passion for the franchise was the
most indubitable sign of the loyalty of the town, the government ordered
that the walls of the surrendered city should be razed and that the town
should become a mere open village undistinguished by any civic
privilege.[489] A portion of its territory was during the next year
employed for the foundation of the citizen colony of Fabrateria.[490]
The new settlement was the typical Roman garrison in a disaffected
country. But it proved the weakness of the present régime that such a
crude and antiquated method should have to be employed in the heart of
Latium. Security, however, was perhaps not the sole object of the
foundation. The confiscated land of Fregellae was a boon to a government
sadly in need of popularity at home.

An excellent opportunity was now offered for impressing the people with
the enormity of the offence that had been committed by some of their
leaders, and prosecutions were directed against the men who had been
foremost in support of the movement for extending the franchise. It was
pretended that they had suggested designs as well as kindled hopes. The
fate of the lesser advocates of the Italian cause is unknown; but Caius
Gracchus, against whom an indictment was directed, cleared his name of
all complicity in the movement.[491] The effect of these measures of
suppression was not to improve matters for the future. The allies were
burdened with a new and bitter memory; their friends at Rome were
furnished with a new cause for resentment. If the Roman people continued
selfish and apathetic, a leader might arise who would find the Italians
a better support for his position than the Roman mob. If he did not
arise or if he failed, the sole but certain arbitrament was that of
the sword.

The foreign activity of Rome during this period did not reflect the
troubled spirit of the capital. It was of little moment that petty wars
were being waged in East and West, and that bulletins sometimes brought
news of a general's defeat. Rome was accustomed to these things; and her
efforts were still marked by their usual characteristics of steady
expansion and decorous success. To predicate failure of her foreign
activity for this period is to predicate it for all her history, for
never was an empire more slowly won or more painfully preserved. It is
true that at the commencement of this epoch an imperialist might have
been justified in taking a gloomy view of the situation. In Spain
Numantia was inflicting more injury on Roman prestige than on Roman
power, while the long and harassing slave-war was devastating Sicily.
But these perils were ultimately overcome, and meanwhile circumstances
had led to the first extension of provincial rule over the wealthy East.

The kingdom of Pergamon had long been the mainstay of Rome's influence
in the Orient. Her contact with the other protected princedoms was
distant and fitful; but as long as her mandates could be issued through
this faithful vassal, and he could rely on her whole-hearted support in
making or meeting aggressions, the balance of power in the East was
tolerably secure. It had been necessary to make Eumenes the Second see
that he was wholly in the power of Rome, her vassal and not her ally. He
had been rewarded and strengthened, not for his own deserts, but that he
might be fitted to become the policeman of Western Asia, and it had been
successfully shown that the hand which gave could also take away. The
lesson was learnt by the Pergamene power, and fortunately the dynasty
was too short-lived for a king to arise who should forget the crushing
display of Roman power which had followed the Third Macedonian War, or
for the realisation of that greater danger of a protectorate--a struggle
for the throne which should lead one of the pretenders to appeal to a
national sentiment and embark on a national war. Eumenes at his death
had left a direct successor in the person of his son Attalus, who had
been born to him by his wife Stratonice, the daughter of Ariarathes King
of Cappadocia.[492] But Attalus was a mere boy at the time of his
father's death, and the choice of a guardian was of vital importance for
the fortunes of the monarchy. Every consideration pointed to the uncle
of the heir, and in the strong hands of Attalus the Second the regency
became practically a monarchy.[493] The new ruler was a man of more than
middle age, of sober judgment, and deeply versed in all the mysteries of
kingcraft; for a mutual trust, rare amongst royal brethren in the East,
had led Eumenes to treat him more as a colleague than as a lieutenant.
He had none of the insane ambition which sees in the diadem the good to
which all other blessings may be fitly sacrificed, and had resisted the
invitation of a Roman coterie that he should thrust his suspected
brother from the throne and reign himself as the acknowledged favourite
of Rome. In the case of Attalus familiarity with the suzerain power had
not bred contempt. He had served with Manlius in Galatia[494] and with
Paulus in Macedonia,[495] and had been sent at least five times as envoy
to the capital itself.[496] The change from a private station to a
throne did not alter his conviction that the best interests of his
country would be served by a steady adherence to the power, whose
marvellous development to be the mainspring of Eastern politics was a
miracle which he had witnessed with his own eyes. He had grasped the
essentials of the Roman character sufficiently to see that this was not
one of the temporary waves of conquest that had so often swept over the
unchangeable East and spent their strength in the very violence of their
flow, nor did he commit the error of mistaking self-restraint for
weakness. Monarchs like himself were the necessary substitute for the
dominion which the conquering State had been strong enough to spurn; and
he threw himself zealously into the task of forwarding the designs of
Rome in the dynastic struggles of the neighbouring nations. He helped to
restore Ariarathes the Fifth to his kingdom of Cappadocia,[497] and
appealed to Rome against the aggressions of Prusias the Second of
Bithynia. He was saved by the decisive intervention of the senate, but
not until he had been twice driven within the walls of his capital by
his victorious enemy.[498] His own peace and the interests of Rome were
now secured by his support of Nicomedes, the son of Prusias, who had won
the favour of the Romans and was placed on the throne of his father. He
had even interfered in the succession to the kingdom of the Seleucidae,
when the Romans thought fit to support the pretensions of Alexander
Balas to the throne of Syria.[499] Lastly he had sent assistance to the
Roman armies in the conflict which ended in the final reduction of
Greece.[500] There was no question of his abandoning his regency during
his life-time. Rome could not have found a better instrument, and it was
perhaps in obedience to the wishes of the senate, and certainly in
accordance with their will, that he held the supreme power until his
reign of twenty-one years was closed by his death.[501] Possibly the
qualities of the rightful heir may not have inspired confidence, for a
strong as well as a faithful friend was needed on the throne of
Pergamon. The new ruler, Attalus the Third, threatened only the danger
that springs from weakness; but, had not his rule been ended by an early
death, it is possible that Roman intervention might have been called in
to save the monarchy from the despair of his subjects, to hand it over
to some more worthy vassal, or, in default of a suitable ruler, to
reduce it to the form of a province. The restraint under which Attalus
had lived during his uncle's guardianship, had given him the sense of
impotence that issues in bitterness of temper and reckless suspicion.
The suspicion became a mania when the death of his mother and his
consort created a void in his life which he persisted in believing to be
due to the criminal agency of man. Relatives and friends were now the
immediate victims of his disordered mind,[502] and the carnival of
slaughter was followed by an apathetic indifference to the things of the
outer world. Dooming himself to a sordid seclusion, the king solaced his
gloomy leisure with pursuits that had perhaps become habitual during his
early detachment from affairs. He passed his time in ornamental
gardening, modelling in wax, casting in bronze and working in
metal.[503] His last great object in life was to raise a stately tomb to
his mother Stratonice. It was while he was engaged in this pious task
that exposure to the sun engendered an illness which caused his death.
When the last of the legitimate Attalids had gone to his grave, it was
found that the vacant kingdom had been disposed of by will, and that the
Roman people was the nominated heir.[504] The genuineness of this
document was subsequently disputed by the enemies of Rome, and it was
pronounced to be a forgery perpetrated by Roman diplomats.[505] History
furnishes evidence of the reality of the testament, but none of the
influences under which it was made.[506] It is quite possible that the
last eccentric king was jealous enough to will that he should have no
successor on the throne, and cynical enough to see that it made little
difference whether the actual power of Rome was direct or indirect. It
is equally possible that the idea was suggested by the Romanising party
in his court; although, when we remember the extreme unwillingness that
Rome had ever shown to accept a position of permanent responsibility in
the East, we can hardly imagine the plan to have received the direct
sanction of the senate. It is conceivable, however, that many leading
members of the government were growing doubtful of the success of merely
diplomatic interference with the troubled politics of the East; that
they desired a nearer point of vantage from which to watch the movements
of its turbulent rulers; and that, if consulted on the chances of
success which attended the new departure, they may have given a
favourable reply. It was impossible by the nature of the case to
question the validity of the act. The legatees were far too powerful to
make it possible for their living chattels to raise an effective protest
except by actual rebellion. But, from a legal point of view, a
principality like Pergamon that had grown out of the successful seizure
of a royal estate by its steward some hundred and fifty years before
this time, might easily be regarded as the property of its kings;[507]
and certainly if any heirs outside the royal family were to be admitted
to the bequest, these would naturally be sought in the power, which had
increased its dominions, strengthened its position and made it one of
the great powers of the world. Neglected by Rome the principality would
have become the prey of neighbouring powers; whilst the institution of a
new prince, chosen from some royal house, would, have excited the
jealousy and stimulated the rapacity of the others. The acceptance of
the bequest was inevitable, although by this acceptance Rome was
departing from the beaten track of a carefully chosen policy. It is
hinted that Attalus in his bequest, or the Romans in their acceptance,
stipulated for the freedom of the dominion.[508] This freedom may be
merely a euphemism for provincial rule when contrasted with absolute
despotism; but we may read a truer meaning into the term. Rome had often
guaranteed the liberty of Asiatic cities which she had wrested from
their overlord, she had once divided Macedonia into independent
Republics, she still maintained Achaea in a condition which allowed a
great deal of self-government to many of its towns, and the system of
Roman protectorate melted by insensible degrees into that of provincial
government. It is possible that her treatment of the bequeathed
communities might have been marked by greater liberality than was
actually shown, had not the dominion been immediately convulsed by a war
of independence.

A pretender had appeared from the house of the Attalids. He could show
no legitimate scutcheon; but this was a small matter. If there was a
chance of a national outbreak, it could best be fomented by a son of
Eumenes. Aristonicus was believed to have been born of an Ephesian
concubine of the king.[509] We know nothing of his personality, but the
history of his two years' conflict with the Roman power proves him to
have been no figure-head, but a man of ability, energy and resource. A
strictly national cause was impossible in the kingdom of Pergamon; for
there was little community of sentiment between the Greek coast line and
the barbaric interior. But the commercial prosperity of the one, and the
agricultural horrors of the other, might justify an appeal to interest
based on different grounds. At first Aristonicus tried the sea. Without
venturing at once into any of the great emporia, he raised his standard
at Leucae, a small but strongly defended seaport lying almost midway
between Phocaea and Smyrna, and placed on a promontory just south of the
point where the Hermus issues into its gulf. Some of the leading towns
seem to have answered to his call.[510] But the Ephesians, not content
with mere repudiation, manned a fleet, sailed against him, and inflicted
a severe defeat on his naval force off Cyme.[511] Evidently the
commercial spirit had no liking for his schemes; it saw in the Roman
protectorate the promise of a wider commerce and a broader civic
freedom. Aristonicus moved into the interior, at first perhaps as a
refugee, but soon as a liberator. There were men here desperate enough
to answer to any call, and miserable enough to face any danger. Sicily
had shown that a slave-leader might become a king; Asia was now to prove
that a king might come to his own by heading an army of the
outcasts.[512] The call to freedom met with an eager response, and the
Pergamene prince was soon marching to the coast at the head of "the
citizens of the City of the Sun," the ideal polity which these remnants
of nationalities, without countries and without homes, seem to have made
their own.[513] His success was instantaneous. First the inland towns of
Northern Lydia, Thyatira, and Apollonis, fell into his hands.[514]
Organised resistance was for the moment impossible. There were no Roman
troops in Asia, and the protected kings, to whom Rome had sent an urgent
summons, could not have mustered their forces with sufficient speed to
prevent Aristonicus sweeping towards the south. Here he threatened the
coast line of Ionia and Caria; Colophon and Myndus fell into his power:
he must even have been able to muster something of a fleet; for the
island of Samos was soon joined to his possessions.[515] It is probable
that the co-operation of the slave populations in these various cities
added greatly to his success. His conquests may have been somewhat
sporadic, and there is no reason to suppose that he commanded all the
country included in the wide range of his captured cities and extending
from Thyatira to the coast and from the Gulf of Hermus to that of
Iassus. The forces which he could dispose of seem to have been
sufficiently engaged in holding their southern conquests; there is no
trace of his controlling the country north of Phocaea or of his even
attempting an attack on Pergamon the capital of his kingdom. His army,
however, must have been increasing in dimensions as well as in
experience. Thracian mercenaries were added to his servile bands,[516]
and the movement had assumed dimensions which convinced the Romans that
this was not a tumult but a war. Their earlier efforts were apparently
based on the belief that local forces would be sufficient to stem the
rising. Even after the revolt of Aristonicus was known, they persisted
in the idea that the commission, which would doubtless in any case have
been sent out to inspect the new dependency, was an adequate means of
meeting the emergency. This commission of five,[517] which included
Scipio Nasica, journeyed to Asia only to find that they were attending
on a civil war, not on a judicial dispute, and that the country which
was to be organised required to be conquered. The client kings of
Bithynia, Paphlagonia, Cappadocia and Pontus, all eager for praise or
for reward, had rallied loyally to the cause of Rome;[518] but the
auxiliary forces that they brought were quite unable to pacify a country
now in the throes of a servile war, and they lacked a commander-in-chief
who would direct a series of ordered operations. Orders were given for
the raising of a regular army, and in accordance with the traditions of
the State this force would be commanded by a consul.

The heads of the State for this year were Lucius Valerius Flaccus and
Publius Licinius Crassus. Each was covetous of the attractive command;
for the Asiatic campaigns of the past had been easy, and there was no
reason to suppose that a pretender who headed a multitude of slaves
would be more difficult to vanquish than a king like Antiochus who had
had at his call all the forces of Asia. The chances of a triumph were
becoming scarcer; here was one that was almost within the commander's
grasp. But there were even greater prizes in store. The happy conqueror
would be the first to touch the treasure of the Attalids, and secure for
the State a prize which had already been the source of political strife;
he would reap for himself and his army a royal harvest from the booty
taken in the field or from the sack of towns, and he would almost
indubitably remain in the conquered country to organise, perhaps to
govern for years, the wealthiest domain that had fallen to the lot of
Rome, and to treat like a king with the monarchs of the protected states
around. These attractions were sufficient to overcome the religious
scruples of both the candidates; for it chanced that both Crassus and
Flaccus were hampered by religious law from assuming a command abroad.
The one was chief pontiff and the other the Flamen of Mars; and, if the
objections were felt or pressed, the obvious candidate for the Asiatic
campaign was Scipio Aemilianus, the only tried general of the time. But
Scipio's chances were small. The nature of the struggle did not seem to
demand extraordinary genius, and Scipio, although necessary in an
emergency, could not be allowed to snatch the legitimate prizes of the
holders of office.[519] So the contest lay between the pontiff and the
priest. The controversy was unequal, for, while the pontiff was the
disciplinary head of the state religion, the Flamen was in matters of
ritual and in the rules appertaining to the observance of religious law
subject to his jurisdiction. Crassus restrained the ardour of his
colleague by announcing that he would impose a fine if the Flamen
neglected his religious duties by quitting the shores of Italy. The
pecuniary penalty was only intended as a means of stating a test case to
be submitted, as similar cases had been twice before,[520] to the
decision of the people. Flaccus entered an appeal against the fine, and
the judgment of the Comitia was invited. The verdict of the people was
that the fine should be remitted, but that the Flamen should obey the
pontiff.[521] As Crassus had no superior in the religious world, it was
difficult, if not impossible, for the objections against his own tenure
of the foreign command to be pressed.[522] The people, perhaps grateful
for the Gracchan sympathies of Crassus, felt no scruple about dismissing
their pontiff to a foreign land, and readily voted him the conduct
of the war.

The story of the campaign which followed is confined to a few personal
anecdotes connected with the remarkable man who led the Roman armies.
The learning of Crassus was attested by the fact that, when he held a
court in Asia, he could not only deliver his judgments in Greek, but
adapt his discourse to the dialect of the different litigants.[523] His
discipline was severe but indiscriminating; it displayed the rigour of
the erudite martinet, not the insight of the born commander. Once he
needed a piece of timber for a battering ram, and wrote to the architect
of a friendly town to send the larger of two pieces which he had seen
there. The trained eye of the expert immediately saw that the smaller
was the better suited to the purpose; and this was accordingly sent. The
intelligence of the architect was his ruin. The unhappy man was stripped
and scourged, on the ground that the exercise of judgment by a
subordinate was utterly subversive of a commander's authority.[524]
Another account represents such generalship as he possessed as having
been diverted from its true aim by the ardour with which, in spite of
his enormous wealth, he followed up the traces of the spoils of
war.[525] But his death, which took place at the beginning of the second
year of his command,[526] was not unworthy of one who had held the
consulship. He was conducting operations in the territory between Elaea
and Smyrna, probably in preparation for the siege of Leucae,[527] still
a stronghold of the pretender. Here he was suddenly surprised by the
enemy. His hastily formed ranks were shattered, and the Romans were soon
in full retreat for some friendly city of the north. But their lines
were broken by uneven ground and by the violence of the pursuit. The
general was detached from the main body of his army and overtaken by a
troop of Thracian horse. His captors were probably ignorant of the value
of their prize; and, even had they known that they held in their hands
the leader of the Roman host, the device of Crassus might still have
saved him from the triumph of a rebel prince and shameful exposure to
the insults of a servile crowd. He thrust his riding whip into the eye
of one of his captors. Frenzied with pain, the man buried his dagger in
the captive's side.[528]

The death of Crassus created hardly a pause in the conduct of the
campaign; for Marcus Perperna, the consul for the year, was soon in the
field and organising vigorous measures against Aristonicus. The details
of the campaign have not been preserved, but we are told that the first
serious encounter resulted in a decisive victory for the Roman
arms.[529] The pretender fled, and was finally hunted down to the
southern part of his dominions. His last stand was made at Stratonicea
in Caria. The town was blockaded and reduced by famine, and Aristonicus
surrendered unconditionally to the Roman power.[530] Perperna reserved
the captive for his triumph, he visited Pergamon and placed on shipboard
the treasures of Attalus for transport to Rome;[531] by these decisive
acts he was proving that the war was over, for yet a third eager consul
was straining every nerve to get his share of glory and of gain. Manius
Aquillius was hastening to Asia to assume a command which might still be
interpreted as a reality;[532] the longer he allowed his predecessor to
remain, the more unsubstantial would his own share in the enterprise
become. A triumph would be the prize of the man who had finished the
war, and perhaps even Aristonicus's capture need not be interpreted as
its close. A scene of angry recrimination might have been the result of
an encounter between the rival commanders; but this was avoided by
Perperna's sudden death at Pergamon.[533] It is possible that
Aristonicus was saved the shame of a Roman triumph, although one
tradition affirms that he was reserved for the pageant which three years
later commemorated Aquillius's success in Asia.[534] But he did not
escape the doom which the State pronounced on rebel princes, and was
strangled in the Tullianum by the orders of the senate.[535]

Aquillius found in his province sufficient material for the prolongation
of the war. Although the fall of Aristonicus had doubtless brought with
it the dissolution of the regular armies of the rebels, yet isolated
cities, probably terrorised by revolted slaves who could expect no mercy
from the conqueror, still offered a desperate resistance. In his
eagerness to end the struggle the Roman commander is said to have shed
the last vestiges of international morality, and the reduction of towns
by the poisoning of the streams which provided them with water,[536]
while it inflicted an indelible stain on Roman honour, was perhaps
defended as an inevitable accompaniment of an irregular servile war. The
work of organisation had been begun even before that of pacification had
been completed. The State had taken Perperna's success seriously enough
to send with Aquillius ten commissioners for the regulation of the
affairs of the new province,[537] and they seem to have entered on their
task from the date of their arrival.[538] There was no reason for delay,
since the kingdom of Pergamon had technically become a province with the
death of Attalus the Third.[539] The Ephesians indeed even antedated
this event, and adopted an era which commenced with the September of the
year 134,[540] the reason for this anticipation being the usual Asiatic
custom of beginning the civil year with the autumnal equinox. The real
point of departure of this new era of Ephesus was either the death of
Attalus or the victory of the city over the fleet of Aristonicus. But,
though the work of organisation could be entered on at once, its
completion was a long and laborious task, and Aquillius himself seems to
have spent three years in Asia.[541] The limits of the province, which,
like that of Africa, received the name of the continent to which it
belonged, required to be defined with reference to future possibilities
and the rights of neighbouring kingdoms; the taxation of the country had
to be adjusted; and the privileges of the different cities proportioned
to their capacity or merits. The law of Aquillius remained in essence
the charter of the province of Asia down to imperial times, although
subsequent modifications were introduced by Sulla and Pompeius. The new
inheritance of the Romans comprised almost all the portion of Asia Minor
lying north of the Taurus and west of Bithynia, Galatia and Cappadocia.
Even Caria, which had been declared free after the war with Perseus,
seems to have again fallen under the sway of the Attalid kings. The
monarchy also included the Thracian Chersonese and most of the Aegean
islands.[542] But the whole of this territory was not included in the
new province of Asia. The Chersonese was annexed to the province of
Macedonia,[543] a small district of Caria known as the Peraea and
situated opposite the island of Rhodes, became or remained the property
of the latter state; in the same neighbourhood the port and town of
Telmissus, which had been given to Eumenes after the defeat of
Antiochus, were restored to the Lycian confederation.[544] With
characteristic caution Rome did not care to retain direct dominion over
the eastern portions of her new possessions, some of which, such as
Isauria, Pisidia and perhaps the eastern portion of Cilicia, may have
rendered a very nominal obedience to the throne of the Attalids. She
kept the rich, civilised and easily governed Hellenic lands for her own,
but the barbarian interior, as too great and distant a burden for the
home government, was destined to enrich her loyal client states.
Aquillius and his commissioners must have received definite instructions
not to claim for Rome any territory lying east of Mysia, Lydia and
Caria; but they seem to have had no instructions as to how the discarded
territories were to be disposed of. The consequence was that the kings
of the East were soon begging for territory from a Roman commander and
his assistants. Lycaonia was the reward of proved service; it was given
to the sons of Ariarathes the Fifth, King of Cappadocia, who had fallen
in the war.[545] Cilicia is also said to have accompanied this gift, but
this no man's land must have been regarded both by donor and recipient
as but a nominal boon. For Phrygia proper, or the Greater Phrygia as
this country south of Bithynia and west of Galatia was called,[546]
there were two claimants.[547] The kings of Pontus and Bithynia competed
for the prize, and each supported his petition by a reference to the
history of the past. Nicomedes of Bithynia could urge that his grandsire
Prusias had maintained an attitude of friendly neutrality during Rome's
struggle with Antiochus. The Pontic king, Mithradates Euergetes,
advanced a more specious pretext of hereditary right. Phrygia, he
alleged, had been his mother's dowry, and had been given her by her
brother, Seleucus Callinicus, King of Syria.[548] We do not know what
considerations influenced the judgment of Aquillius in preferring the
claim of Mithradates. He may have considered that the Pontic kingdom, as
the more distant, was the less dangerous, and he may have sought to
attract the loyalty of its monarch by benefits such as had already been
heaped on Nicomedes of Bithynia. His political enemies and all who in
subsequent times resisted the claim of the Pontic kings, alleged that he
had put Phrygia up to auction and that Mithradates had paid the higher
price; this transaction doubtless figured in the charges of corruption,
on which he was accused and acquitted: and, doubtful as the verdict
which absolved him seemed to his contemporaries and successors, we have
no proof that the desire for gain was the sole or even the main cause of
his decision. Had he considered that the investiture of Nicomedes would
have been more acceptable to the home government, the King of Bithynia
would probably have been willing to pay an adequate sum for his
advocacy. He may have been guilty of a wilful blunder in alienating
Phrygia at all. The senate soon discovered his and its own mistake. The
disputed territory was soon seen to be worthy of Roman occupation.
Strategically it was of the utmost importance for the security of the
Asiatic coast, as commanding the heads of the river valleys which
stretched westward to the Aegean, while its thickly strewn townships,
which opened up possibilities of inland trade, placed it on a different
plane to the desolate Lycaonia and Cilicia. It is possible that the
capitalist class, on whose support the senate was now relying for the
maintenance of the political equilibrium in the capital, may have joined
in the protest against Aquillius's mistaken generosity. But, though the
government rapidly decided to rescind the decision of its commissioners,
it had not the strength to settle the matter once for all by taking
Phrygia for itself. A decree of the people was still technically
superior to a resolution of the senate; it was always possible for
dissentients to urge that the people must be consulted on these great
questions of international interest; and Phrygia became, like Pergamon a
short time before, the sport of party politics. The rival kings
transferred their claims, and possibly their pecuniary offers, from the
province to the capital, and the network of intrigue which soon shrouded
the question was brutally exhibited by Caius Gracchus when, in his first
or second tribunate, he urged the people to reject an Aufeian law, which
bore on the dispute. "You will find, citizens," he urged, "that each one
of us has his price. Even I am not disinterested, although it happens
that the particular object which I have in view is not money, but good
repute and honour. But the advocates on both sides of this question are
looking to something else. Those who urge you to reject this bill are
expecting hard cash from Nicomedes; those who urge its acceptance are
looking for the price which Mithradates will pay for what he calls his
own; this will be their reward. And, as for the members of the
government who maintain a studious reserve on this question, they are
the keenest bargainers of all; their silence simply means that they are
being paid by every one and cheating every one." This cynical
description of the political situation was pointed by a quotation of the
retort of Demades to the successful tragedian "Are you so proud of
having got a talent for speaking? why, I got ten talents from the king
for holding my peace".[549] This sketch was probably more witty than
true; condemnation, when it becomes universal, ceases to be convincing,
and cynicism, when it exceeds a certain degree, is merely the revelation
of a diseased or affected mental attitude. Gracchus was too good a
pleader to be a fair observer. But the suspicion revealed by the
diatribe may have been based on fact; the envoys of the kings may have
brought something weightier than words or documents, only to find that
the balance of their gilded arguments was so perfect that the original
objection to Phrygia being given to any Eastern potentate was the only
issue which could still be supported with conviction. Yet the government
still declined to annex. Its hesitancy was probably due to its
unwillingness to see a new Eastern province handed over to the
equestrian tax-farmers, to whom Caius Gracchus had just given the
province of Asia. The fall of Gracchus made an independent judgment by
the people impossible, and, even had it been practicable for the Comitia
to decide, their judgment must have been so perplexed by rival interests
and arguments that they would probably have acquiesced in the equivocal
decision of the senate. This decision was that Phrygia should be
free.[550] It was to be open to the Roman capitalist as a trader, but
not as a collector; it was not to be the scene of official corruption or
regal aggrandisement. It was to be an aggregate of protected states
possessing no central government of its own. Yet some central control
was essential; and this was perhaps secured by attaching Phrygia to the
province of Asia in the same loose condition of dependence in which
Achaea had been attached to Macedonia. In one other particular the
settlement of Aquillius was not final. We shall find that motives of
maritime security soon forced Rome to create a province of Cilicia, and
it seems that for this purpose a portion of the gift which had been just
made to the kings of Cappadocia was subsequently resumed by Rome. The
old Pergamene possessions in Western Cilicia were probably joined to
some towns of Pamphylia to form the kernel of the new province. When
Rome had divested herself of the superfluous accessories of her bequest,
a noble residue still remained. Mysia, Lydia and Caria with their
magnificent coast cities, rich in art, and inexhaustible in wealth,
formed, with most of the islands off the coast,[551] that "corrupting"
province which became the Favourite resort of the refined and the
desperate resource of the needy. Its treasures were to add a new word to
the Roman vocabulary of wealth;[552] its luxury was to give a new
stimulus to the art of living and to add a new craving or two to the
insatiable appetite for enjoyment; while the servility of its population
was to create a new type of Roman ruler in the man who for one glorious
year wielded the power of a Pergamene despot, without the restraint of
kingly traditions or the continence induced by an assured tenure
of rule.

The western world witnessed the beginning of an equally remarkable
change. On both sides of Italy accident was laying the foundation for a
steady advance to the North, and forcing the Romans into contact with
peoples, whose subjection would never have been sought except from
purely defensive motives. The Iapudes and Histri at the head of the
Adriatic were the objects of a campaign of the consul Tuditanus,[553]
while four years later Fulvius Flaccus commenced operations amongst the
Gauls and Ligurians beyond the Alps,[554] which were to find their
completion seventy-five years later in the conquests of Caesar. But
neither of these enterprises can be intelligently considered in
isolation; their significance lies in the necessity of their renewal,
and even the proximate results to which they led would carry us far
beyond the limits of the period which we are considering. The events
completely enclosed within these limits are of subordinate importance.
They are a war in Sardinia and the conquest of the Balearic isles. The
former engaged the attention of Lucius Aurelius Orestes as consul in 126
and as proconsul in the following year.[555] It is perhaps only the
facts that a consul was deemed necessary for the administration of the
island, and that he attained a triumph for his deeds,[556] that justify
us in calling this Sardinian enterprise a war. It was a punitive
expedition undertaken against some restless tribes, but it was rendered
arduous by the unhealthiness of the climate and the difficulty of
procuring adequate supplies for the suffering Roman troops.[557] The
annexation of the Balearic islands with their thirty thousand
inhabitants[558] may have been regarded as a geographical necessity, and
certainly resulted in a military advantage. Although the Carthaginians
had had frequent intercourse with these islands and a Port of the
smaller of the two still bears a Punic name,[559] they had done little
to civilise the native inhabitants. Perhaps the value attached to the
military gifts of the islanders contributed to preserve them in a state
of nature; for culture might have diminished that marvellous skill with
the sling,[560] which was once at the service of the Carthaginian, and
afterwards of the Roman, armies. But, in spite of their prowess, the
Baliares were not a fierce people. They would allow no gold or silver to
enter their country,[561] probably in order that no temptation might be
offered to pirates or rapacious traders.[562] Their civilisation
represented the matriarchal stage; their marriage customs expressed the
survival of polyandric union; they were tenacious of the lives of their
women, and even invested the money which they gained on military service
in the purchase of female captives.[563] They made excellent
mercenaries, but shunned either war or commerce with the neighbouring
peoples, and the only excuse for Roman aggression was that a small
proportion of the peaceful inhabitants had lent themselves to piratical
pursuits.[564] The expedition was led by the consul Quintus Caecilius
Metellus and resulted in a facile conquest. The ships of the invaders
were protected by hides stretched above the decks to guard against the
cloud of well-directed missiles;[565] but, once a landing had been
effected, the natives, clad only in skins, with small shields and light
javelins as their sole defensive weapons, could offer no effective
resistance at close quarters and were easily put to rout. For the
security of the new possessions Metellus adopted the device, still rare
in the case of transmarine dependencies, of planting colonies on the
conquered land. Palma and Pollentia were founded, as townships of Roman
citizens, on the larger island; the new settlers being drawn from Romans
who were induced to leave their homes in the south of Spain.[566] This
unusual effort in the direction of Romanisation was rendered necessary
by the wholly barbarous character of the country; and the introduction
into the Balearic isles of the Latin language and culture was a better
justification than the easy victory for Metellus's triumph and his
assumption of the surname of "Baliaricus".[567] The islands flourished
under Roman rule. They produced wine and wheat in abundance and were
famed for the excellence of their mules. But their chief value to Rome
must have lain in their excellent harbours, and in the welcome addition
to the light-armed forces of the empire which was found in their warlike


Rome had lived for nine years in a feverish atmosphere of projected
reform; yet not a single question raised by her bolder spirits had
received its final answer. The agrarian legislation had indeed run a
successful course; yet the very hindrance to its operation at a critical
moment had, in the eyes of the discontented, turned success into failure
and left behind a bitter feeling of resentment at the treacherous
dexterity of the government. The men, in whose imagined interests the
people had been defrauded of their coveted land, had by a singular irony
of fortune been driven ignominiously from Rome and were now the victims
of graver suspicions on the part of the government than on that of the
Roman mob. The effect of the late senatorial diplomacy had been to
create two hostile classes instead of one. From both these classes the
aristocrats drew their soldiers for the constant campaigns that the
needs of Empire involved: and both were equally resentful of the burdens
and abuses of military service, for which no one was officially directed
to suggest a cure. The poorest classes had been given the ballot when
they wanted food and craved a less precarious sustenance than that
afforded by the capricious benevolence of the rich. The friction between
the senatorial government and the upper middle class was probably
increasing. The equites must have been casting hungry eyes at the new
province of Asia and asking themselves whether commercial interests were
always to be at the mercy of the nobility as represented by the senate,
the provincial administrators and the courts of justice. It was believed
that governors, commissioners and senators were being bought by the gold
of kings, and that mines of wealth were being lost to the honest
capitalist through the utter corruption of the governing few. The final
threats of Tiberius Gracchus were still in the air, and a vast unworked
material lay ready to the hand of the aspiring agitator. In an ancient
monarchy or aristocracy of the feudal type, where abuses have become
sanctified by tradition, or in a modern nation or state with its
splendid capacity for inertia due to the habitual somnolence of the
majority of its electors, such questions may vaguely suggest themselves
for half a century without ever receiving an answer. But Rome could only
avoid a revolution by discarding her constitution. The sovereignty of
the people was a thesis which the senate dared not attack; and this
sovereignty had for the first time in Roman history become a stern
reality. The city in its vastness now dominated the country districts:
and the sovereign, now large, now small, now wild, now sober, but ever
the sovereign in spite of his kaleidoscopic changes, could be summoned
at any moment to the Forum. Democratic agitation was becoming habitual.
It is true that it was also becoming unsafe. But a man who could hold
the wolf by the ears for a year or two might work a revolution in Rome
and perhaps be her virtual master.

It was no difficult task to find the man, for there was one who was
marked out by birth, traditions, temperament and genius as the fittest
exponent of a cause which, in spite of its intricate complications that
baffled the analysis of the ordinary mind, could still in its essential
features be described as the cause of the people. It is indeed singular
that, in a political civilisation so unkind as the Roman to the merits
of youth, hopes should be roused and fear inspired by a man so young and
inexperienced as Caius Gracchus. But the popular fancy is often caught
by the immaturity that is as yet unhampered by caution and undimmed by
disillusion, and by the fresh young voice that has not yet been attuned
to the poor half-truths which are the stock-in-trade of the worldly
wise. And those who were about Gracchus must soon have seen that the
traces of youth were to be found only in his passion, his frankness, his
impetuous vigour; no discerning eye could fail to be aware of the cool,
calculating, intellect which unconsciously used emotion as its mask, of
a mind that could map and plan a political campaign in perfect
self-confident security, view the country as a whole and yet master
every detail, and then leave the issue of the fight to burning words and
passionate appeals. This supreme combination of emotional and artistic
gifts, which made Gracchus so irresistible as a leader, was strikingly
manifested in his oratory. We are told of the intensity of his mien, the
violence of his gestures, the restlessness that forced him to pace the
Rostra and pluck the toga from his shoulder, of the language that roused
his hearers to an almost intolerable tension of pity or
indignation.[568] Nature had made him the sublimest, because the most
unconscious of actors; eyes, tone, gesture all answered the bidding of
the magic words.[569] Sometimes the emotion was too highly strung; the
words would become coarser, the voice harsher, the faultless sentences
would grow confused, until the soft tone of a flute blown by an
attendant slave would recall his mind to reason and his voice to the
accustomed pitch.[570] Men contrasted him with his gentle and stately
brother Tiberius, endowed with all the quiet dignity of the Roman
orator, and diverging only from the pure and polished exposition of his
cause to awake a feeling of commiseration for the wrongs which he
unfolded.[571] Tiberius played but on a single chord; Caius on many.
Tiberius appealed to noble instincts, Caius appealed to all and his
Protean manifestations were a symbol of a more complex creed, a wider
knowledge of humanity, a greater recklessness as to his means, and of
that burning consciousness, which Tiberius had not, that there were
personal wrongs to be avenged as well as political ideas to be realised.
To a narrow mind the vendetta is simply an act of justice; to an
intellectual hater such as Gracchus it is also a work of reason. The
folly of crime but exaggerates its grossness, and the hatred for the
criminal is merged in an exalting and inspiring contempt. Yet the man
thus attuned to passion was, what every great orator must be, a painful
student of the most delicate of arts. The language of the successful
demagogue seldom becomes the study of the schools; yet so it was with
Gracchus. The orators of a later age, whose critical appreciation was
purer than their practice, could find no better guide to the aspirant
for forensic fame than the speeches of the turbulent tribune. Cicero
dwells on the fulness and richness of his flow of words, the grandeur
and dignity of the expression, the acuteness of the thought.[572] They
seemed to some to lack the finishing touch;[573] which is equivalent to
saying that with him oratory had not degenerated into rhetoric. The few
fragments that survive awaken our wonder, first for their marvellous
simplicity and clearness: then, for the dexterous perfection of their
form. The balance of the rhythmic clauses never obscures or overloads
the sense. Gracchus could tell a tale, like that of the cruel wrongs
inflicted on the allies, which could arouse a thrill of horror without
also awakening the reflection that the speaker was a man of great
sensibility and had a wonderful command of commiserative terminology. He
could ask the crowd where he should fly, whether to the Capitol dripping
with a brother's blood, or to the home where the widowed mother sat in
misery and tears;[574] and no one thought that this was a mere figure of
speech. It all seemed real, because Gracchus was a true artist as well
as a true man, and knew by an unerring instinct when to pause. This type
of objective oratory, with its simple and vivid pictures, its brilliant
but never laboured wit, its capacity for producing the illusion that the
man is revealed in the utterance, its suggestion of something deeper
than that which the mere words convey--a suggestion which all feel but
only the learned understand--is equally pleasing to the trained and the
unlettered mind. The polished weapon, which dazzled the eyes of the
crowd, was viewed with respect even by the cultured nobles against whom
it was directed.

Caius's qualities had been tested for some years before he attained the
tribunate, and the promise given by his name, his attitude and his
eloquence was strengthened by the fact that he had no rival in the
popular favour. Carbo was probably on his way to the Optimates, and
Flaccus's failure was too recent to make him valuable in any other
quality than that of an assistant. But Caius had risen through the
opportunities given by the agitation which these men had sustained,
although his advance to the foremost place seemed more like the work of
destiny than of design. When a youth of twenty-one, he had found himself
elevated to the rank of a land commissioner;[575] but this accidental
identification with Tiberius's policy was not immediately followed by
any action which betrayed a craving for an active political career. He
is said to have shunned the Forum, that training school and advertising
arena where the aspiring youth of Rome practised their litigious
eloquence, and to have lived a life of calm retirement which some
attributed to fear and others to resentment. It was even believed by a
few that he doubted the wisdom of his brother's career.[576] But It was
soon found that the leisure which he cultivated was not that of easy
enjoyment and did not promise prolonged repose. He was grappling with
the mysteries of language, and learning by patient study the art of
finding the words that would give to thought both form and wings. The
thought, too, must have been taking a clearer shape: for Tiberius had
left a heritage of crude ideas, and men were trying to introduce some of
these into the region of practical politics. The first call to arms was
Carbo's proposal for legalising re-election to the tribunate. It drew
from Gracchus a speech in its support, which contained a bitter
indictment of those who had been the cause of the "human sacrifice"
fulfilled in his brother's murder.[577] Five years later he was amongst
the foremost of the opponents of the alien-act of Pennus, and exposed
the dangerous folly involved in a jealous policy of exclusion. But the
courts of law are said to have given him the first great opportunity of
revealing his extraordinary powers to the world. As an advocate for a
friend called Vettius, he delivered a speech which seemed to lift him to
a plane unapproachable by the other orators of the day. The spectacle of
the crowd almost raving with joy and frantically applauding the
new-found hero, showed that a man had appeared who could really touch
the hearts of the people, and is said to have suggested to men of
affairs that every means must be used to hinder Gracchus's accession to
the tribunate.[578] The chance of the lot sent him as quaestor with the
consul Orestes to Sardinia. It was with joyful hearts that his enemies
saw him depart to that unhealthy clime,[579] and to Caius himself the
change to the active life of the camp was not unpleasing. He is said
still to have dreaded the plunge into the stormy sea of politics, and in
Sardinia he was safe from the appeals of the people and the entreaties
of his friends.[580] Yet already he had received a warning that there
was no escape. While wrestling with himself as to whether he should seek
the quaestorship, his fevered mind had conjured up a vision. The phantom
of his brother had appeared and addressed him in these words "Why dost
thou linger, Caius? It is not given thee to draw back. One life, one
death is fated for us both, as defenders of the people's rights." His
belief in the reality of this warning is amply attested;[581] but the
sense that he was predestined and foredoomed, though it may have given
an added seriousness to his life, left him as calm and vigorous as
before. Like Tiberius he was within a sphere of his father's influence,
and this memory must have stimulated his devotion to his military and
provincial duties. He won distinction in the field and a repute for
justice in his dealings with the subject tribes, while his simplicity of
life and capacity for toil suggested the veteran campaigner, not the
tyro from the most luxurious of cities.[582] The extent of the services
in Sardinia and neighbouring lands which his name and character enabled
him to render to the State, has been perhaps exaggerated, or at least
faultily stated, by our authority; but, in view of the unquestioned
confidence shown by the Numantines in his brother when as young a man,
there is no reason to doubt their reality. It is said that, when the
treacherous winter of Sardinia had shaken the troops with chills, the
commander sent to the cities asking for a supply of clothing. These
towns, which were probably federate communities and exempt by treaty
from the requisitions of Rome, appealed to the senate. They feared no
doubt the easy lapse of an act of kindness into a burden fixed by
precedent. The senate, as in duty bound, upheld their contention; and
suffering and disease would have reigned in the Roman camp, had not
Gracchus visited the cities in person and prevailed on them to send the
necessary help.[583] On another occasion envoys from Micipsa of Numidia
are said to have appeared at Rome and offered a supply of corn for the
Sardinian army. The request had perhaps been made by Gracchus. To the
Numidian king he was simply the grandson of the elder Africanus: And the
envoys in their simplicity mentioned his name as the Intermediary of the
royal bounty. The senate, we are told, rejected the Proffered help. The
curious parallelism between the present career of Caius and the early
activities of his brother must have struck many; to the senate these
proofs of energy and devotion seemed but the prelude to similar
ingenious attempts to capture public favour at home: and their fears are
said to have helped them to the decision to keep Orestes for a further
year as proconsul in Sardinia.[584] It is possible that the resolution
was partly due to military exigencies; the fact that the troops were
relieved was natural in consideration of the sufferings which they had
undergone, but the retention of the general to complete a desultory
campaign which chiefly demanded knowledge of the country, was a wise and
not unusual proceeding. It was, however, an advantage that, as custom
dictated, the quaestor must remain in the company of his commander.
Gracchus's reappearance in Rome was postponed for a year. It was a
slight grace, but much might happen in the time.

It was in this latter sense that the move was interpreted by the
quaestor. A trivial wrong inflamed the impetuous and resentful nature
which expectation and entreaty had failed to move. Stung by the belief
that he was the victim of a disgraceful subterfuge, Gracchus immediately
took ship to Rome. His appearance in the capital was something of a
shock even to his friends.[585] Public sentiment regarded a quaestor as
holding an almost filial relation to his superior; the ties produced by
their joint activity were held to be indissoluble,[586] and the
voluntary departure of the subordinate was deemed a breach of official
duty. Lapses in conduct on the part of citizens engaged in the public
service, which fell short of being criminal, might be visited with
varying degrees of ignominy by the censorship: and it happened that this
court of morals was now in existence in the persons of the censors Cn.
Servilius Caepio and L. Cassius Longinus, who had entered office in the
previous year. The censorian judgments, although arbitrary and as a rule
spontaneous, were sometimes elicited by prosecution: and an accuser was
found to bring the conduct of Gracchus formally before the notice of the
magistrates. Had the review of the knights been in progress after his
arrival, his case would have been heard during the performance of this
ceremony; for he was as yet but a member of the equestrian order, and
the slightest disability pronounced against him, had he been found
guilty, would have assumed the form of the deprivation of his public
horse and his exclusion from the eighteen centuries. But it is possible
that, at this stage of the history of the censorship, penalties could be
inflicted upon the members of all classes at any date preceding the
lustral sacrifice, that the usual examination of the citizen body had
been completed, and that Gracchus appeared alone before the tribunal of
the censors. His defence became famous;[587] its result is unknown. The
trial probably ended in his acquittal,[588] although condemnation would
have exercised little influence on his subsequent career, for the
ignominy pronounced by the censors entailed no disability for holding a
magistracy. But, whatever may have been the issue, Gracchus improved the
occasion by an harangue to the people,[589] in which he defended his
conduct as one of their representatives in Sardinia. The speech was
important for its caustic descriptions of the habits of the nobility
when freed from the moral atmosphere of Rome. With extreme ingenuity he
worked into the description of the habits of his own official life a
scathing indictment, expressed in the frankest terms, of the
self-seeking, the luxury, the unnatural vices, the rampant robbery of
the average provincial despot. His auditors learnt the details of a
commander's environment--the elaborate cooking apparatus, the throng of
handsome favourites, the jars of wine which, when emptied, returned to
Rome as receptacles of gold and silver mysteriously acquired. Gracchus
must have delighted his audience with a subject on which the masses love
to dwell, the vices of their superiors. The luridness of the picture
must have given it a false appearance of universal truth. It seemed to
be the indictment of a class, and suggested that the speaker stood aloof
from his own order and looked only to the pure judgment of the people.
His enemies tried a new device. They knew that one flaw in his armour
was his sympathy with the claims of the allies. Could he be compromised
as an agent in that dark conspiracy which had prompted the impudent
Italian claims and ended in open rebellion, his credit would be gone,
even if his career were not closed by exile. He was accordingly
threatened with an impeachment for complicity in the movement which had
issued in the outbreak at Fregellae. It is uncertain whether he was
forced to submit to the judgment of a court; but we are told that he
dissipated every suspicion, and surmounted the last and most dangerous
of the obstacles with which his path was blocked.[590] Straightway he
offered himself for the tribunate, and, as the day of the election
approached, every effort was made by the nobility to secure his defeat.
Old differences were forgotten; a common panic produced harmony amongst
the cliques; it even seems as if his opponents agreed that no man of
extreme views should be advanced against him, for Gracchus in his
tribunate had to contend with no such hostile colleague as Octavius. The
candidature of an extremist might mean votes for Gracchus: and it was
preferable to concentrate support on neutral men, or even on men of
liberal views who were known to be in favour with the crowd. The great
_clientèle_ of the country districts was doubtless beaten up; and we
know that, on the other side, the hopes of the needy agriculturist, and
the gratitude of the newly established peasant farmer, brought many a
supporter to Gracchus from distant Italian homesteads. The city was so
flooded by the inrush of the country folk that many an elector found
himself without a roof to shelter him, and the place of voting could
accommodate only a portion of the crowd. The rest climbed on roofs and
tiles, and filled the air with discordant party cries until space was
given for a descent to the voting enclosures. When the poll was
declared, it was found that the electoral manoeuvres of the nobility had
been so far successful that Gracchus occupied but the fourth place on
the list.[591] But, from the moment of his entrance on office, his
predominance was assured. We hear nothing of the colleagues whom he
overshadowed. Some may have been caught in the stream of Gracchus's
eloquence; others have found it useless or dangerous to oppose the
enthusiasm which his proposals aroused, and the formidable combination
which he created by the alluring prospects that he held out to the
members of the equestrian order. The collegiate character of the
magistracy practically sank into abeyance, and his rule was that of a
single man. First he gave vent to the passions of the mob by dwelling,
as no one had yet dared to do, on the gloomy tragedy of his brother's
fall and the cruel persecution which had followed the catastrophe. The
blood of a murdered tribune was wholly unavenged in a state which had
once waged war with Falerii to punish a mere insult to the holy office,
and had condemned a citizen to death because he had not risen from his
place while a tribune walked through the Forum. "Before your very eyes,"
he said, "they beat Tiberius to death with cudgels; they dragged his
dead body from the Capitol through the midst of the city to cast it into
the river; those of his friends whom they seized, they put to death
untried. And yet think how your constitution guards the citizen's life!
If a man is accused on a capital charge and does not immediately obey
the summons, it is ordained that a trumpeter come at dawn before his
door and summon him by sound of trumpet; until this is done, no vote may
be pronounced against him. So carefully and watchfully did our ancestors
regulate the course of justice." [592] A cry for vengeance is here
merged in a great constitutional principle; and these utterances paved
the way for the measure immediately formulated that no court should be
established to try a citizen on a capital charge, unless such a court
had received the sanction of the people.[593] The power of the Comitia
to delegate its jurisdiction without appeal is here affirmed; the right
of the senate to institute an inquisition without appeal is here denied.
The measure was a development of a suggestion which had been made by
Tiberius Gracchus, who had himself probably called attention to the fact
that the establishment of capital commissions by the senate was a
violation of the principle of the _provocatio_ Caius Gracchus, however,
did not attempt to ordain that an appeal should be possible from the
judgment of the standing commissions (_quaestiones perpetuae_); for,
though the initiative in the creation of these courts had been taken by
the senate, they had long received the sanction of law, and their
self-sufficiency was perhaps covered by the principle that the people,
in creating a commission, waived its own powers of final jurisdiction.
But there were other technical as well as practical disadvantages in
instituting an appeal from these commissions. The _provocatio_ had
always been the challenge to the decision of a magistrate; but in these
standing courts the actions of the president and of the _judices_ who
sat with him were practically indistinguishable, and the sentence
pronounced was in no sense a magisterial decision. The courts had also
been instituted to avoid the clumsiness of popular jurisdiction; but
this clumsiness would be restored, if their decision was to be shaken by
a further appeal to the Comitia. Gracchus, in fact, when he proposed
this law, was not thinking of the ordinary course of jurisdiction at
all. He had before his mind the summary measures by which the senate
took on itself to visit such epidemics of crime as were held to be
beyond the strength of the regular courts, and more especially the
manner in which this body had lately dealt with alleged cases of
sedition or treason. The investigation directed against the supporters
of his brother was the crucial instance which he brought before the
people, and it is possible that, at a still later date, the inquiry
which followed the fall of Fregellae had been instituted on the sole
authority of the senate and had found a certain number of victims in the
citizen body. Practically, therefore, Gracchus in this law wholly
denied, either as the result of experience or by anticipation, the
legality of the summary jurisdiction which followed a declaration of
martial law.

In the creation of these extraordinary commissions the senate never took
upon itself the office of judge, nor was the commission itself composed
of senators appointed by the house. The jurisdiction was exercised by a
magistrate at the bidding of the senate, and the court thus constituted
selected its assessors, who formed a mere council for advice, at its own
discretion. It was plain that, if the law was to be effective, its chief
sanction must be directed, not against the corporation which appointed,
but against the judge. The responsibility of the individual is the
easiest to secure, and no precautions against martial law can be
effective if a division of authority, or even obedience to authority, is
once admitted. Gracchus, therefore, pronounced that criminal proceedings
should be possible against the magistrate who had exercised the
jurisdiction now pronounced illegal.[594] The common law of Rome went
even further, and pronounced every individual responsible for illegal
acts done at the bidding of a magistrate. The crime which the magistrate
had committed by the exercise of this forbidden jurisdiction was
probably declared to be treason: and, as there was no standing court at
Rome which took cognisance of this offence, the jurisdiction of the
Comitia was ordained. The penalty for the crime was doubtless a capital
one, and by ancient prescription such a punishment necessitated a trial
before the Assembly of the Centuries. It is, however, possible that
Gracchus rendered the plebeian assembly of the Tribes competent to
pronounce the capital sentence against the magistrate who had violated
the prescriptions of his law. But, although the magistrate was the
chief, he appears not to have been the sole offender under the
provisions of this bill. In spite of the fact that the senate as a whole
was incapable of being punished for the advice which had prompted the
magistrate to an illegal course of action, it seems that the individual
senator who moved, or perhaps supported, the decree which led to the
forbidden jurisdiction, was made liable to the penalties of the
law.[595] The operation of the enactment was made retrospective, or was
perhaps conceived by its very nature to cover the past abuses which had
called it into being; for in a sense it created no new crime, but simply
restated the principle of the appeal in a form suited to the proceedings
against which it wished to guard. It might have been argued that
customary law protected the consul who directed the proceedings of the
court which doomed the supporters of Tiberius Gracchus; but the
argument, if used, was of no avail. Popillius was to be the witness to
all men of the reality of this reassertion of the palladium of Roman
liberty. An impeachment was framed against him, and either before or
after his withdrawal from Rome, Caius Gracchus himself formulated and
carried through the Plebs the bill of interdiction which doomed him to
exile.[596] It was in vain that Popillius's young sons and numerous
relatives besought the people for mercy.[597] The memory of the outrage
was too recent, the joyful sense of the power of retaliation too novel
and too strong. All that was possible was a counter demonstration which
should emphasise the sympathy of loyalists with the illustrious victim,
and Popillius was escorted to the gates by a weeping crowd.[598] We know
that condemnation also overtook his colleague Rupilius,[599] and it is
probable that he too fell a victim to the sense of vengeance or of
justice aroused by the Gracchan law.

A less justifiable spirit of retaliation is exhibited by another
enactment with which Gracchus inaugurated his tribunate, although in
this, as in ail his other acts, the blow levelled at his enemies was not
devoid of a deep political significance. He introduced a proposal that a
magistrate who had been deposed by the people should not be allowed to
hold any further office.[600] Octavius was the obvious victim, and the
mere personal significance of the measure does not necessarily imply
that Gracchus was burning with resentment against a man, whose
opposition to his brother had rapidly been forgotten in the degradation
which he had experienced at that brother's hands. Hatred to the injured
may be a sentiment natural to the wrongdoer, but is not likely to be
imparted even to the most ardent supporter of the author of the
mischief. It were better to forget Octavius, if Octavius would allow
himself to be forgotten; but the sturdy champion of the senate, still in
the middle of his career, may have been a future danger and a present
eyesore to the people: Gracchus's invectives probably carried him and
his auditors further than he intended, and the rehabilitation of his
brother's tribunate in its integrity may have seemed to demand this
strong assertion of the justice of his act. But the legality of
deposition by the people was a still more important point. Merely to
assert it would be to imply that Tiberius had been wrong. How could it
be more emphatically proclaimed than by making its consequences
perpetual and giving it a kind of penal character? But the personal
aspect of the measure proved too invidious even for its proposer. A
voice that commanded his respect was raised against it: and Gracchus in
withdrawing the bill confessed that Octavius was spared through the
intercession of Cornelia.[601]

So far his legislation had but given an outlet to the justifiable
resentment of the people, and a guarantee for the security of their most
primitive rights. This was to be followed by an appeal to their
interests and a measure for securing their permanent comfort. The
wonderful solidarity of Gracchus and his supporters, the crowning
triumph of the demagogue which is to make each man feel that he is an
agent in his own salvation, have been traced to this constructive
legislation for the benefit of classes, which ancient authors, writing
under aristocratic prepossessions, have described by the ugly name of
bribery.[602] The poor of Rome, if we include in this designation those
who lived on the margin as well as those who were sunk in the depths of
destitution, probably included the majority of the inhabitants of the
town. The city had practically no organised industries. The retail
trader and the purveyor of luxuries doubtless flourished; but, in the
scanty manufactures which the capital still provided, the army of free
labour must have been always worsted by the cruel competition of the
cheaper and more skilful slave or freedman. But the poor of Rome did not
form the cowed and shivering class that are seen on the streets of a
northern capital. They were the merry and vivacious lazzaroni of the
pavement and the portico, composite products of many climes, with all
the lively endurance of the southerner and intellects sharpened by the
ingenious devices requisite for procuring the minimum sustenance of
life. Could they secure this by the desultory labour which alone was
provided by the economic conditions of Rome, their lot was far from
unhappy. As in most ancient civilisations, the poor were better provided
with the amenities than with the bare necessities of existence. Although
the vast provision for the pleasures of the people, by which the Caesars
maintained their popularity, was yet lacking, and even the erection of a
permanent theatre was frowned on by the senate,[603] yet the capital
provided endless excitement for the leisured mind and the observant eye.
It was for their benefit that the gladiatorial show was provided by the
rich, and the gorgeous triumph by the State; but it was the antics of
the nobility in the law courts and at the hustings that afforded the
more constant and pleasing spectacle. Attendance at the Contiones and
the Comitia not only delighted the eye and ear, but filled the heart
with pride, and sometimes the purse with money. For here the units,
inconsiderable in themselves, had become a collective power; they could
shout down the most dignified of the senators, exalt the favourite of
the moment, reward a service or revenge a slight in the perfect security
given by the secrecy of the ballot. Large numbers of the poorer class
were attached to the great houses by ancestral ties; for the descendants
of freedmen, although they could make no legal claim on the house which
represented the patron of their ancestors, were too valuable as voting
units to be neglected by its representatives, even when the sense of the
obligations of wealth, which was one of the best features of Roman
civilisation, failed to provide an occasional alleviation for the misery
of dependants. From a political point of view, this dependence was
utterly demoralising; for it made the recipients of benefits either
blind supporters of, or traitors to, the personal cause which they
professed. It was on the whole preferable that, if patronage was
essential, the State should take over this duty; the large body of the
unattached proletariate would be placed on a level with their more
fortunate brethren, and the latter would be freed from a dependence
which merely served private and selfish interests. A semi-destitute
proletariate can only be dealt with in three ways. They may be forced to
work, encouraged to emigrate, or partially supported by the State. The
first device was impossible, for it was not a submerged fraction with
which Rome had to deal, but the better part of the resident sovereign
body; the second, although discredited by the senate, had been tried in
one form by Tiberius Gracchus and was to be attempted in another shape
by Caius; but it is a remedy that can never be perfect, for it does not
touch the class, more highly strung, more intelligent, and at the same
time more capable of degradation, which the luxury of the capital
enthrals. The last device had not yet been attempted. It remained for
Gracchus to try it. We have no analysis of his motives; but many
provocatives to his modest attempt at state socialism may be suggested.
There was first the Hellenic ideal of the leisured and independent
citizen, as exemplified by the state payments and the "distributions"
which the great leaders of the old world had thought necessary for the
fulfilment of democracy. There was secondly the very obvious fact that
the government was reaping a golden harvest from the provinces and
merely scattering a few stray grains amongst its subjects. There was
thirdly the consideration that much had been done for the landed class
and nothing for the city proletariate. Other considerations of a more
immediate and economic character were doubtless present. The area of
corn production was now small. Sicily was still perhaps beggared by its
servile war, and the granary of Rome was practically to be found in
Africa. The import of corn from this quarter, dependent as it was on the
weather and controlled purely by considerations of the money-market, was
probably fitful, and the price must have been subject to great
variations. But, at this particular time, the supply must have been
diminished to an alarming extent, and the price proportionately raised,
by the swarm of locusts which had lately made havoc of the crops of
Africa.[604] Lastly, the purely personal advantage of securing a
subsidised class for the political support of the demagogue of the
moment--a consideration which is but a baser interpretation of the
Hellenic ideal--must have appealed to the practical politician in
Gracchus as the more impersonal view appealed to the statesman. He would
secure a permanent and stable constituency, and guard against the
danger, which had proved fatal to his brother, of the absence from Rome
of the majority of his supporters at some critical moment.

From the imperfect records of Gracchus's proposal we gather that a
certain amount of corn was to be sold monthly at a reduced price to any
citizen who offered himself as a purchaser.[605] The rate was fixed at
6-1/3 asses the modius, which is calculated to have been about half the
market-price.[606] The monthly distribution would practically have
excluded all but the urban proletariate, and would thus have both
limited the operation of the relief to the poor of the city and invited
an increase in its numbers. But the details of the measure, which would
be decisive as to its economic character, are unknown to us. We are not
told what proportion the monthly quantity of grain sold at this cheap
rate bore to the total amount required for the support of a family;
whether the relief was granted only to the head of a house or also to
his adult sons; whether any one who claimed the rights of citizenship
could appear at the monthly sale, or only those who had registered their
names at some given time. The fact of registration, if it existed, might
have been regarded as a stigma and might thus have limited the number of
recipients. Some of the economic objections to his scheme were not
unknown to Gracchus; indeed they were pressed home vigorously by his
opponents. It was pointed out that he was enervating the labourer and
exhausting the treasury, The validity of the first objection depends to
a large extent on the unknown "data" which we have just mentioned.
Gracchus may have maintained that a greater standard of comfort would be
secured for the same amount of work. The second objection he was so far
from admitting that he asserted that his proposal would really lighten
the burdens of the Aerarium.[607] He may have taken the view that a
moderate, steady and calculable loss on corn purchased in large
quantities, and therefore presumably at a reduced price, would be
cheaper in the end than the cost entailed by the spasmodic attempts
which the State had to make in times of crisis to put grain upon the
market; and there may have been some truth in the idea that, when the
State became for the first time a steady purchaser, competition between
the publicans of Sicily or the proprietors of Africa might greatly
reduce the normal market price. He does not seem to have been disturbed
by the consideration that the sale of corn below the market price at
Rome was hardly the best way of helping the Italian farmer. The State
would certainly buy in the cheapest market, and this was not to be found
in Italy. But it is probable that under no circumstances could Rome have
become the usual market for the produce of the recently established
proprietors, and that, except at times of unusual scarcity in the
transmarine provinces, imported corn could always have undersold that
which was grown in Italy. Under the new system the Italian husbandman
would find a purchaser in the State, if Sicily and Africa were visited
by some injury to their crops. A vulnerable point in the Gracchan system
of sale was exhibited in the fact that no inquiry was instituted as to
the means of the applicants. This blemish was vigorously brought home to
the legislator when the aged noble, Calpurnius Piso surnamed "the
Frugal," the author of the first law that gave redress to the
provincials, and a vigorous opponent of Gracchus's scheme, gravely
advanced on the occasion of the first distribution and demanded his
appropriate share.[608] The object lesson would be wasted on those who
hold that the honourable acceptance of relief implies the universality
of the gift: that the restraining influences, if they exist, should be
moral and not the result of inquisition. But neither the possibility nor
the necessity of discrimination would probably have been allowed by
Gracchus. It would have been resented by the people, and did not appeal
to the statesmanship, widely spread in the Greek and not unknown in the
Roman world, which regarded it as one of the duties of a State to
provide cheap food for its citizens. The lamentations of a later day
over a pauperised proletariate and an exhausted treasury[609] cannot
strictly be laid to the account of the original scheme, Except in so far
as it served as a precedent; they were the consequence of the action of
later demagogues who, instructed by Gracchus as to the mode in which an
easy popularity might be secured, introduced laws which sanctioned an
almost gratuitous distribution of grain. The Gracchan law contained a
provision for the building of additional store-houses for the
accumulation of the great reserve of corn, which was demanded by the new
system of regular public sales, and the Sempronian granaries thus
created remained as a witness of the originality and completeness of the
tribune's work.[610]

The Roman citizen was still frequently summoned from his work, or roused
from his lethargy, by the call of military service; and the practice of
the conscription fostered a series of grievances, one of which had
already attracted the attention of Tiberius Gracchus. Caius was bound to
deal with the question: and the two provisions of his enactment which
are known to us, show a spirit of moderation which neither justifies the
belief that the demagogue was playing to the army, nor accredits the
view that his interference relaxed the bonds of discipline amongst the
legions.[611] The most scandalous anomaly in the Roman army-system was
the miserable pittance earned by the conscript when the legal deductions
had been made from his nominal rate of pay. His daily wage was but
one-third of the denarius, or five and one-third asses a day, as it had
remained unaltered from the times of the Second Punic War, in spite of
the fact that the conditions of service were now wholly different and
that garrison duty in the provinces for long periods of years had
replaced the temporary call-to-arms which the average Italian campaign
alone demanded; and from this quota was deducted the cost of the
clothing which he wore and, as there is every reason to believe, of the
whole of the rations which he consumed. We should have expected a
radical reformer to have raised his pay or at least to have given him
free food. But Gracchus contented himself with enacting that the
soldier's clothing should be given him free of charge by the State.[612]
Another military abuse was due to the difficulty which commanders
experienced in finding efficient recruits. The young and adventurous
supplied better and more willing material than those already habituated
to the careless life of the streets, or already engaged in some settled
occupation: and, although it is scarcely credible that boys under the
age of eighteen were forced to enlist, they were certainly permitted and
perhaps encouraged to join the ranks. The law of Gracchus forbade the
enlistment of a recruit at an age earlier than the completion of the
seventeenth year.[613] These military measures, slight in themselves,
were of importance as marking the beginning of the movement by which the
whole question of army reform, utterly neglected by the government, was
taken up and carried out by independent representatives of the people.
But a Roman army was to a large extent the creation of the executive
power; and it required a military commander, not a tribune, to produce
the radical alterations which alone could make the mighty instrument,
which had won the empire, capable of defending it.

The last boon of Gracchus to the citizen body as a whole was a new
agrarian law.[614] The necessity of such a measure was chiefly due to
the suspension of the work of the agrarian commission, which had proved
an obstacle to the continued execution of his brother's scheme; and
there is every reason for believing that the new Sempronian law restored
their judicial powers to the commissioners. But experience may have
shown that the substance of Tiberius's enactment required to be
supplemented or modified; and Caius adopted the procedure usually
followed by a Roman legislator when he renewed a measure which had
already been in operation. His law was not a brief series of amendments,
but a comprehensive statute, so completely covering the ground of the
earlier Sempronian law that later legislation cites the law of Caius,
and not that of Tiberius Gracchus, as the authority for the regulations
which had revolutionised the tenure of the public land.[615] The new
provisions seem to have dealt with details rather than with principles,
and there is no indication that they aimed at the acquisition of
territory which had been exempted from the operation of the previous
measure, or even touched the hazardous question of the rights of Rome to
the land claimed by the Italian allies. We cannot attempt to define the
extent to which the executive power granted by the new agrarian law was
either necessary or effective. Certainly the returns of the census
during the next ten years show no increase in the number of registered
citizens;[616] but this circumstance may be due to the steps which were
soon to be taken by the opponents of the Gracchi to nullify the results
of their legislation. It is possible, however, that the new corn law may
have somewhat damped the ardour of the proletariate for a life of
agriculture which would have deprived them of its benefits.

The first tribunate of Caius Gracchus doubtless witnessed the completion
of these four acts of legislation, by which the debt to his supporters
was lavishly paid and their aid was enlisted for causes which could only
indirectly be interpreted as their own. But this year probably witnessed
as well the promulgation of the enactments which were to find their
fulfilment in a second tribunate.[617] Foremost amongst these was one
which dealt with the tenure of the judicial power as exercised, not by
the magistrate, but by the panels of jurors who were interpreters both
of law and fact on the standing commissions which had recently been
created by statute. The interest of the masses in this question was
remote. A permanent murder court seems indeed to have had its place
amongst the commissions; but, even though the corruption of its
president had on one occasion been clearly proved,[618] it is not likely
that senatorial judges would have troubled to expose themselves to undue
influences when pronouncing on the _caput_ of a citizen of the lower
class. The fact that this justice was administered by the nobility may
have excited a certain degree of popular interest; but the question of
the transference of the courts from the hands of the senatorial
_judices_ would probably never have been heard of, had not the largest
item in this judicial competence had a decisively political bearing. The
Roman State had been as unsuccessful as others of the ancient world in
keeping its judicial machinery free from the taint of party influences.
It had been accounted one of the surest signs of popular sovereignty
that the people alone could give judgment on the gravest crimes and
pronounce the capital penalty,[619] and recent political thought had
perhaps wholly adapted itself to the Hellenic view that the government
of a state must be swayed by the body of men that enforces criminal
responsibility in political matters. This vital power was still retained
by the Comitia when criminal justice was concerned with those elemental
facts which are the condition of the existence of a state. The people
still took cognisance of treason in all its degrees--a conception which
to the Roman mind embraced almost every possible form of official
maladministration--and the gloomy record of trials before the Comitia,
from this time onward to the close of the Republic, shows that the
weapon was exercised as the most forcible implement of political
chastisement. But chance had lately presented the opportunity of making
the interesting experiment of assimilating criminal jurisdiction in some
of its branches to that of the civil courts. The president and jurors of
one of the newly established _quaestiones_ formed as isolated a group as
the _judex_ of civil justice with his assessors, or the greater panels
of Centumvirs and Decemvirs. They possessed no authority but that of
jurisdiction within their special department; there seemed no reason why
they should be influenced by considerations arising from issues whether
legislative or administrative. But this appearance of detachment was
wholly illusory, and the well-intentioned experiment was as vain as that
of Solon, when he carefully separated the administrative and judicial
boards in the Athenian commonwealth and composed both bodies of
practically identical individuals. The new court for the trial of
extortion, constituted by the Calpurnian and renewed later by a Junian
law, was controlled by a detachment of the governing body which saw in
each impeachment a libel on its own system of administration, and in
each condemnation a new precedent for hampering the uncontrolled power
exercised in the past or coveted for the future by the individual juror.
This class spirit may have been more powerful than bribery in its
production of suspicious acquittals; and the fact that prosecution was
frankly recognised as the commonest of party weapons, and that speeches
for the prosecution and defence teemed with irrelevant political
allusions, reduced the question of the guilt of the accused to
subordinate proportions in the eyes of all the participants in this
judicial warfare. Charges of corruption were so recklessly hurled at
Rome that we can seldom estimate their validity; but the strong
suspicion of bribery is almost as bad for a government as the proved
offence; and it was certain that senatorial judges did not yield to the
evidence which would have supplied conviction to the ordinary man. Some
recent acquittals furnished an excellent text to the reformer. L.
Aurelius Cotta had emerged successfully from a trial, which had been a
mere duel between Scipio Aemilianus for the prosecution and Metellus
Macedonicus for the defence. The judges had shown their resentment of
Scipio's influence by acquitting Cotta; and few of the spectators of the
struggle seem even to have pretended to believe in the innocence of the
accused.[620] The whole settlement of Asia had been so tainted with the
suspicion of pecuniary influences that, when Manius Aquillius
successfully ran the gauntlet of the courts,[621] it was difficult to
believe that the treasures of the East had not co-operated towards the
result, especially as the senate itself by no means favoured some of the
features of Aquillius's organisation of the province. The legates of
some of the plundered dependencies were still in Rome, bemoaning the
verdict and appealing for sympathy with their helpless fellow
subjects[622] Circumstances favoured the reformer; it was possible to
bring a definite case and to produce actual sufferers before the people;
while the senate, perhaps in consequence of the attitude of some honest
dissentients, was unable to make any effectual resistance to the scandal
and its consequences.

Had Gracchus thought of restoring this jurisdiction to the Comitia, he
would have taken a step which had the theoretical justification that, of
all the powers at Rome, the people was the one which had least interest
in provincial misgovernment. But it would have been a retrograde
movement from the point of view of procedure; it would not necessarily
have abolished senatorial influence, and it would not have attained his
object of holding the government permanently in check by the political
recognition of a class which rivalled the senate in the definiteness of
its organisation and surpassed it in the homogeneity of its interests.
The body of capitalists who had assumed the titular designation of
knights, had long been chafing at the complete subjection of their
commercial interests to the caprice of the provincial governor and the
arbitrary dispositions of the home government. Tiberius Gracchus, when
he revealed the way to the promised land, had probably reflected rather
than suggested the ambition of the great business men to have a more
definite place in the administration assigned them. His appeal had come
too late, or seemed too hopeless of success, to win their support for a
reformer who had outraged their feelings as capitalists; but since his
death ten years for reflection had elapsed, and they were years which
witnessed a vast extension of their potential activity, and aroused an
agonised feeling of helplessness at the subordinate part which they
played both to senate and people when the disposal of kingdoms was in
question. The suggestions for giving them a share in the control of the
provincial world may have been numerous, and their variety is reflected
in the different plans which Caius Gracchus himself advanced. The system
at which his brother had hinted was that of a joint board composed of
the existing senators with the addition of an equal number of equites;
and we have already suggested the possibility that this House of Six
Hundred was intended to be the senate of the future, efficient for all
purposes and not exclusively devoted to the work of criminal
jurisdiction. The same significance may attach to the scheme, which
seems to have been propounded by Caius Gracchus during, or perhaps even
before, his first tenure of the tribunate, and appears at intervals in
proposals made by reformers down to the time of Sulla. Gracchus is said
to have suggested the increase of the senate by the addition of three,
or, as one authority states, six hundred members of the equestrian
order.[623] The proposal, if it was one for an enlarged senate, and not
for a joint panel of _judices_, in which a changing body of equites
would act as a check on the permanent senatorial jurors, must soon have
been seen to be utterly unsuited to its purpose. It is a scheme
characteristic of the aristocrat who is posing as a friend of the
mercantile class and hopes to deceive the vigilance of that keen-sighted
fraternity. To give the senate a permanent infusion of new blood would
be simply to strengthen its authority, while completely cutting away the
links which bound the new members to their original class. Even the
swamping of the existing body by a two-thirds majority of new members
would have been transitory in its effects. The new member of the Curia
would soon have shed his old equestrian views and assumed the outlook of
his older peers. It might indeed have been possible to devise a system
by which the senate would, at the recurring intervals of the _lustra_,
have been filled up in equal proportions from ex-magistrates and
knights: and in this way a constant supply of middle-class sentiment
might have been furnished to the governing body. But even this scheme
would have secured to the elected a life-long tenure of power, and this
was a fatal obstacle both to the intentions of the reformer and the
aspirations of the equestrian order. While the former desired a balance
of power, the latter wished that the interests of their class should be
enforced by its genuine representatives. Both knew that a participation
in the executive power was immaterial, and that all that was needed
might be gained by the possession of judicial authority alone.
Gracchus's final decision, therefore, was to create a wholly new panel
of _judices_ which should be made up exclusively from the members of the
titular class of knights.[624]

It was not necessary or desirable that the judiciary law should make any
mention of a class, or employ the courtesy title of _equites_ to
designate the new judges. The effect might be less invidiously secured
by demanding qualifications which were practically identical with the
social conditions requisite for the possession of titular knighthood.
One of the determining factors was a property qualification, and this
was possibly placed at the modest total of four hundred thousand
sesterces.[625] This was the amount of capital which seems at this
period to have given its possessor the right of serving on horseback in
the army and therefore the claim to the title of _eques_, but it was a
sum that did not convey alarming suggestions of government by
millionaires, but rather pointed to the upper middle class as the
fittest depositaries of judicial power. Not only were magistrates and
ex-magistrates excluded from the Bench, but the disqualification
extended to the fathers, brothers and sons of magistrates and of past or
present senators. The ostensible purpose of these provisions was
doubtless to ensure that the selected jurors should be bound by no tie
of kindred to the individuals who would appear before their judgment
seat; but they must have had the effect of excluding from the new panel
many of the true knights belonging to the eighteen centuries; for this
select corps was largely composed of members of the noble families. A
similar effect would have been produced by the age qualification. The
Gracchan jurors were to be over thirty and under sixty, while a large
number of the military _equites_ were under the former limit of age, in
consequence of the practice of retiring from the corps after the
attainment of the quaestorship or selection into the senate. The
aristocratic element in the equestrian order, if this latter expression
be used in its widest sense to include both the military and civilian
knights, was thus rigorously excluded: and there remained but the men
whose business interests were in no way complicated by respect for
senatorial traditions. The official list of the new jurors _(album
judicum)_ was probably to be made out annually; and there is every
reason to suppose that there was a considerable change of personnel at
each revision, since one of the conditions of membership of the
panel--residence within a mile of Rome--could hardly have been observed
by business men with world-wide interests for any extended period. The
conception which still prevailed that judicial service was a burden
_(munus)_, would alone have led the revising authority to free past
jurors from the service: and the practice must have been welcome to the
capitalists themselves, many of whom may well have desired the share of
power and perhaps of profit which jurisdiction over their superiors
conferred. We are told that the selection of the first panel was
entrusted to the legislator himself;[626] for the future the Foreign
Praetor was to draw up the annual list of four hundred and fifty who
were qualified to hear cases of extortion.[627] It is not known whether
this was the full number of the new jurors, or whether there were
additional members selected by a different authority for the trial of
other offences. It is not probable that the judiciary law of Gracchus
imposed the new class of _judices_ directly on the civil courts. The
_judex_ of private law still retained his character of an arbitrator
appointed by the consent of the parties, and it would have been improper
to restrict this choice to a class defined by statute. But the practical
monopoly of jurisdiction in important cases, which senators seem to have
acquired, was henceforth broken through, and the _judex_ in civil suits
was sometimes taken from the equestrian order.[628]

The superficial aspect of this great change seemed full of promise for
the future. The ample means of the new jurors might be taken as a
guarantee of their purity; their selection from the middle class, as a
security of the soundness and disinterestedness of their judgments.
Perhaps Gracchus himself was the victim of this hope, and believed that
the scourge of the nobility which he had placed in the hands of the
knights, might at least be decorously wielded. The judgment of the
after-world varied as to the mode in which they exercised their power.
Cicero, in advocating the claims of the order to a renewed tenure of
authority, could urge that during their possession of the courts for
nearly fifty years, their judgments had never been tainted by the least
suspicion of corruption.[629] This was a safe assertion if suspicion is
only justified by proof; for the Gracchan jurors seem to have been from
the first exempted from all prosecution for bribery.[630] This legal
exemption is all the more remarkable as Gracchus himself was the author
of a law which permitted a criminal prosecution for a corrupt
judgment.[631] It is difficult to understand the significance of this
enactment, for the magistrates, against whom it was directed, were in
few cases judges of fact, except in the military domain. It could not
have referred to the president of a standing commission who was a mere
vehicle for the judgment of the jury; but Gracchus probably contemplated
the occasional revival of special commissions sanctioned by the people,
and it is possible that even the two praetors who presided over the
civil courts may have been subject to the operation of the law, which
may not have been directed merely against corrupt sentences in criminal
matters, as was subsequently the case when the law was renewed by Sulla.
It is even possible that the law dates from a period anterior to the
creation of the equestrian _judices_; but, even on this hypothesis, the
exclusion of the latter from its operation was something of an anomaly;
for even the civil _judex_ of Rome, on whose analogy the jurors of the
standing commissions had been created, was in early times criminally,
and at a later period at least pecuniarily, liable for an unjust
sentence.[632] We shall elsewhere have occasion to dwell on the value
which the equestrian order attached to this immunity, and we shall see
that its relief at the freedom from vexatious prosecution is of itself
no sign of corruption. One of our authorities does indeed emphatically
assert the ultimate prevalence of bribery in the equestrian courts:[633]
and circumstances may be easily imagined which would have made this
resort natural, if not inevitable. A band of capitalists eager to secure
a criminal verdict, which had a purely commercial significance, would
scarcely be slow to employ commercial methods with their less wealthy
representatives on the Bench, and votes might have been purchased by
transactions in which cash payments played no part. But the corruption
of individuals was of far less moment than the solidarity of interest
and collective cupidity of the mercantile order as a whole. The verdicts
of the courts reflected the judgment of the Exchange. It was even
possible to create a prosecution[634] simply for the purpose of damning
a man who, in the exercise of his authority, had betrayed tendencies
which were interpreted as hostile to capitalism.

The future war between the senate and the equites would not have been
waged so furiously, had not Gracchus given his favoured class the chance
of asserting a positive control, in virtue of an almost official
position, over the richest domains of the Roman world. The fatal bequest
of Attalus was still the plaything of parties; but the prize which
Tiberius had destined for the people was used by Caius to seal his
compact with the knights. The concession, which could not be openly
avowed, was accomplished by means so indirect that its meaning must have
escaped the majority of the voters who sanctioned it, and its
consequences may not have been fully grasped by the legislator himself.
The masses who applauded the new law about the province of Asia, may
have seen in it but a promise of the increase of their revenues; while
the desire of swelling the public finances, which he had so heavily
burdened, of putting an end to the anomalous condition of a district
which was neither free nor governed, neither protectorate nor province,
perhaps even of meeting the wishes of some of the Asiatic provincials,
who preferred regular to irregular exactions, may have been combined in
the mind of Gracchus with the wish to see the equites confront the
senate in yet another sphere. The change which he proposed was one
concerned with the taxation of the province. It cannot be determined how
far he was responsible for the infliction of new burdens on Rome's
Asiatic subjects. The increase of the public revenue, of which he
boasted in one of his speeches to the people,[635] the new harbour dues
with which he is credited,[636] may point to certain creations of his
own; but the end at which he aimed seems to have been mainly a revival
of the system of taxation which had been current in the kingdom of the
Attalids, accompanied by a new and, as he possibly thought, better
system of collection. It could not have been he who first burdened the
taxpayer with the payment of tithes; for this method of revenue was of
immense antiquity in all Hellenised lands and is not likely to have been
unknown to the kings of Pergamon. It is a method that, from its elastic
nature, bears less heavily on the agriculturist than that of a direct
impost; for the payment is conditioned by the size of the crops and is
independent of the changing value of money. The chief objection to the
tax, considered in itself and apart from its accompanying circumstances,
was the immensity of the revenue which it yielded; the sums exacted by
an Oriental despot were unnecessary for the economical administration of
Rome; and the Roman administration of half a century earlier might have
reduced the tithe to a twentieth as it had actually cut down the taxes
of Macedonia to one-half of their original amount. Sicily, indeed,
furnished an example of the tithe system; but the expenses of a
government decrease in proportion to the area of administration, and
Sicily could not furnish the ample harbour dues and other payments in
money, which should have made the commercial wealth of Asia lighten the
burden on the holder of land. The rating of the new province was, in
fact, an admission of a change in the theory of imperial taxation. Asia
was not merely to be self-supporting; her revenues were to yield a
surplus which should supplement the deficit of other lands, or aid in
the support of the proletariate of the capital.

The realisation of this principle may not have imposed heavier burdens
than Asia had known in the time of her kings. But the fiction that the
new dependency was to be maintained in a state of "freedom," which even
after the downfall of Aristonicus seems to have exercised some influence
on Roman policy, had led to a suspension of regular taxation for the
purposes of the central government, which caused the Gracchan proposals
to be regarded by certain political circles at Rome in the light of a
novelty, and probably of a hardship.[637] They could hardly have borne
either character to the Asiatic provincials themselves. The war
indemnities and exactions which followed the great struggle, must have
been a more grievous burden than the system of taxation to which they
were inured: and it is incredible that during the six years which had
elapsed since the suppression of the revolt, or even the three years
that had passed since the completion of Aquillius's organisation, no
revenues had been raised by Rome from her new subjects for
administrative purposes. They probably had been raised, but in a manner
exasperating because irregular. What was needed was a methodical system,
which should abolish at once the fiction of "freedom" and the reality of
the exactions meted out at the caprice of the governor of the moment.
Such a system was supplied by Gracchus, and it was doubtless reached by
the application of the characteristic Roman method of maintaining,
whether for good or ill, the principles of organisation which were
already in existence in the new dependency.

The novelty of the Gracchan system lay, not in the manner of taxation,
but in the method adopted for securing the returns. The greatest
obstacle to the tithe system is the difficulty of instituting an
efficient method of collection. To gather in taxes which are paid in
kind and to dispose of them to the best advantage, is a heavy burden for
a municipality. The desire for a system of contract is sure to arise,
and in an Empire the efficient contractor is more likely to be found in
the central state than in any of its dependencies. It was of this
feeling that Gracchus took advantage when he enacted that the taxes of
Asia should be put up for auction at Rome,[638] and that the whole
province should be regarded as a single area of taxation at the great
auction which the censor held in the capital. It was certain that no
foreign competition could prevail in this sale of a kingdom's revenues.
The right to gather in the tithes could be purchased only by a powerful
company of Roman capitalists. The Decumani of Asia would represent the
heart and brain of the mercantile body; they would form a senate and a
Principate amongst the Publicani.[639] They would flood the province
with their local directors, their agents and their freedmen; and each
station would become a centre for a banking business which would involve
individuals and cities in a debt, of which the tithe was but a fraction.
Nor need their operations be confined to the dominions of Rome; they
would spread over Phrygia, rendered helpless by the gift of freedom, and
creep into the realms of the neighbouring protected kings, safe in the
knowledge that the magic name of "citizen of Rome" was a cover to the
most doubtful transaction and a safeguard against the slightest
punishment. The collectors were liable to no penalties for extortion,
for that crime could be committed only by a Roman magistrate: and their
possession of the courts enabled them to raise the spectre of conviction
on this very charge before the eyes of any governor who might attempt to
check the devastating march of the battalions of commerce.

As merchants and bankers the Knights would be sufficiently protected by
the judicial powers of their class; but their operations as speculators
in tithes needed another safeguard. The contracts made with the censor
would extend over a period of five years, and the keenness of the
competing companies would generally ensure to the State the promise of
an enormous sum for the privilege of farming the taxes. But the tithe
might be reduced in value by a bad harvest or the ravages of war, and
the successful company might overreach itself in its eagerness to secure
the contract. The power of revising such bargains had once assured to
the senate the securest hold which it possessed over the mercantile
class.[640] This complete dependence was now to be removed, and
Gracchus, while not taking the power of decision from the senate,
formulated in his law certain principles of remission which it was
expected to observe.[641]

By these indirect and seemingly innocent changes in the relations of the
mercantile order to the senate, a new balance of power had been created
in the State. The Republic, according to the reflection of a later
writer, had been given two heads,[642] and this new Janus, more ominous
than the old, was believed to be the harbinger of deadly conflict
between the rival powers. In moments of calm Gracchus may have believed
that his reforms were but a renewed illustration of that genius for
compromise out of which the Roman constitution had grown, and that he
had but created new and necessary defences against a recently developed
absolutism; but, in the heat of the conflict into which he was soon
plunged, his vindictive fancy saw but the gloomier aspect of his new
creation, and he boasted that the struggle for the courts was a dagger
which he had hurled into the Forum, an instrument which the possessor
would use to mangle the body of his opponent.[643]

But even these limitations of senatorial prerogative were not deemed
sufficient. A proposal was made which had the ingenious scope of
limiting the senate's control over the more important provinces in
favour of the magistrates, the equestrian order and the people. One of
the most valuable items of patronage which the senate possessed was the
assignment of the consular provinces. They claimed the right of deciding
which of the annual commands without the walls should be reserved for
the consuls of the year, and by their disposition in this matter could
reward a favourite with wealth or power, and condemn a political
opponent to impotence or barren exile. This power had long been employed
as a means of coercing the two chief magistrates into obedience to the
senate's will, and the equestrian order must have viewed with some alarm
the possibility of Asia becoming the prize of the candidates favoured by
the nobility. Had Gracchus declared that the direct election to
provincial commands should henceforth be in the hands of the people, the
change would have been but a slight departure from an admitted
constitutional precedent; for there is little more than a technical
difference between electing a man for an already ascertained sphere of
operations, as had been done in the cases of Terentius Varro and the two
Scipios during the Punic wars, and attaching a special command to an
individual already elected. But Gracchus preferred the traditional and
indirect method. He did not question the right of the senate to decide
what provinces should be assigned to the consuls, but he enacted that
this decision should be made before these magistrates were elected to
office.[644] The people would thus, in their annual choice of the
highest magistrates, be electing not only to a sphere of administration
at home, but to definite foreign commands as well; the prize which the
senate had hitherto bestowed would be indirectly the people's gift, and
the nominees of the Comitia would find themselves in possession of
departments which were presumably the most important that lay at the
disposal of the senate. To secure the finality of the arrangement made
by the senate, and to prevent this body subsequently reversing an
awkward assignment to which it had unwittingly committed itself,
Gracchus ordained that the tribunician veto should not be employed
against the senate's decision as to what provinces should be reserved
for the future consuls;[645] for he knew that the tribune was often the
instrument of the government, and that the suspensory veto of this
magistrate could cause the question of assignment to drag on until after
the consuls were elected, and thus restore to the senate its ancient
right of patronage. The change, although it produced the desired results
of freeing the magistrates from subservience, the mercantile order from
a reasonable fear, and the people from the pain of seeing their
favourite nominee rendered useless for the purposes for which he was
appointed, cannot be said to have added anything to the efficiency of
provincial administration. It may even be regarded as a retrograde step,
as the commencement of that system of routine in provincial
appointments, which regarded proved capacity for the government and
defence of the subjects of Rome as the last qualification necessary for
foreign command. The senate in its award may often have been swayed by
unworthy motives; but it was sometimes moved by patriotic fears. Of the
two consuls it might send the one of tried military ability to a
province threatened by war and dismiss the mere politician to a peaceful
district. But now, without any regard to present conditions or future
contingencies, it was forced to assign departments to men whose very
names were unknown. The people, in the exercise of their elective power,
were acting almost as blindly as the senate; for the issues of a Roman
election were often so ill-defined, its cross-currents, due to personal
influence and the power of the canvass, so strong and perplexing, that
it was rarely possible to predict the issue of the poll. On the other
hand, if there was a candidate so eminent that his return could be
predicted as a certainty, the senate might assign some insignificant
spheres of administration as the provinces of the future consuls; and
thus, in the one case where the decision might be influenced by
knowledge and reason, the Gracchan law was liable to defeat its own
ends. A further weakness of the enactment, from the point of view of
efficiency, was that it made no attempt to alter the mode in which the
designated provinces were to be occupied by their claimants. If the
consuls could not come to an agreement as to which _provincia_ each
should hold, the chance of the lot still decided a question on which the
future fortunes of the empire might turn.

It is a relief to turn from this work of demolition, which in spite of
its many justifications is pervaded by a vindictive suspicion, to some
great constructive efforts by which Gracchus proved himself an
enlightened and disinterested social reformer. He did not view agrarian
assignation as an alternative to colonisation, but recognised that the
industrial spirit might be awakened by new settlements on sites
favourable to commerce, as the agricultural interest had been aroused by
the planting of settlers on the desolated lands. Gracchus was, indeed,
not the first statesman to employ colonisation as a remedy for social
evils; for economic distress and the hunger for land had played their
part from the earliest times in the military settlements which Rome had
scattered over Italy. But down to his time strategic had preponderated
over industrial motives, and he was the first to suggest that
colonisation might be made a means of relief for the better classes of
the urban proletariate, whose activities were cramped and whose energies
were stifled by the crowded life and heated atmosphere of the city. His
settlers were to be carefully selected. They were actually to be men who
could stand the test of an investigation into character.[646] It seems
clear that the new opportunities were offered to men of the lower middle
class, to traders of cramped means or of broken fortunes. His other
protégés had been cared for in other ways; the urban masses who lived on
the margin of destitution had been assisted by the corn law, and the
sturdy son of toil could look for help to the agrarian commission. Of
the many settlements which he projected for Italy,[647] two which were
actually established during his second tribunate[648] occupied maritime
positions favourable for commerce. Scylacium, on the bay which lies
southward of the Iapygian promontory, was intended to revivify a decayed
Greek settlement and to reawaken the industries of the desolated
Bruttian coast; while Neptunia was seemingly the name of the new
entrepôt which he founded at the head of the Tarentine Gulf. It was
apparently established on the land which Rome had wrested from Tarentum,
and may have originally formed a town distinct from this Greek city,
once the great seaport of Calabria, but retaining little of its former
greatness since its partial destruction in the Punic wars.[649] Its
Hellenism was on the wane, and this decline in its native civilisation
may account for the fact that the new and the old foundations seem
eventually to have been merged into one, and that Tarentum could receive
a purely Latin constitution after the close of the Social War.[650] Its
purple fisheries and rich wine-producing territory were worthy objects
of the enterprise of Gracchus. Capua was a still greater disgrace to the
Roman administration than Tarentum. Its fertile lands were indeed
cultivated by lessees of Rome and yielded a large annual produce to the
State. But the unredeemed site, on which had stood the pride of Southern
Italy, was still a lamentable witness to the jealousy of the conqueror.
Here Gracchus proposed to place a settlement[651] which through its
commercial promise might amply have compensated for a loss of a portion
of the State's domain. Neither he nor his brother had ever threatened
the distribution of the territory of Capua, and it is, therefore,
probable that in this case he did not contemplate a large agricultural
foundation, but rather one that might serve better than the existing
village to focus the commerce of the Campanian plain. But the revenue
from the domain, and the jealousy of Rome's old and powerful rival,
which might be awakened in all classes, were strong weapons in the hands
of his opponents, and the renewal of Capua was destined to be the work
of a later and more fortunate leader of the party of reform. The
colonising effort of Gracchus was plainly one that had the regeneration
of Italy, as well as the satisfaction of distressed burgesses, as its
object; none of the three sites, on which he proposed to establish his
communes of citizens, possessed at the time an urban centre capable of
utilising the vast possibilities of the area in which it was placed. But
this twofold object was not to be limited to Italy. He dreamed of
transmarine enterprise taking a more solid and more generally useful
form than that furnished by the vagrant trader or the local agent of the
capitalist.[652] The idea and practice of colonisation across the sea
were indeed no new ones; isolated foundations for military purposes,
such as Palma and Pollentia in the Balearic Isles, were being planted by
the direction of the government. But these were small settlements
intended to serve a narrow purpose; they doubtless spread Roman customs
and formed a basis for Roman trade; but, if these motives had entered
into their foundation, the experiment would have been tried on a far
larger scale. In truth the idea of permanent settlement beyond the seas
did not appeal either to the Roman character or to the political
theories of the governing classes. It is questionable whether an
imperial people, forming but a tiny minority amongst its subjects, and
easily reaping the fruits of its conquests, could ever take kindly to
the adventure, the initial hardships, and the lasting exclusion from the
dazzling life of the capital, which are implied in permanent residence
abroad. The Roman in pursuit of gain was a restless spirit, who would
voyage to any land that was, or was likely to be, under imperial
control, establish his banking house and villa under any clime, and be
content to spend the most active years of his life in the exploitation
of the alien; but to him it was a living truth that all roads led to
Rome. The city was the nucleus of enterprise, the heart of commerce; and
such sentiment as the trader possessed was centred on the commercial
life of the Forum and the political devices on which it fed. Such a
spirit is not, favourable to true colonisation, which implies a
detachment from the affairs of the mother city; and it was not by this
means, but rather by the spontaneous evolution of natural centres for
the teeming Italian immigrants already settled in the provinces, that
the Romanisation of the world was ultimately assisted. Consequently no
great pressure had ever been put on the government to induce it to relax
the principles which led it to look with indifference or disfavour on
the foundation of Roman settlements abroad. There was probably a fear
that the establishment of communities of Roman citizens in the provinces
might awaken the desire of the subject states to participate in Roman
rights. It was deemed better that the highest goal of the provincial's
ambition should be the freedom of his state, and that he should never
dream of that absorption into the ruling body to which the Italian alone
was permitted to aspire. Added to this maxim of statecraft was one of
those curious superstitions which play so large a part in imperial
politics and attain a show of truth from the superficial reading of
history. It was pointed out by the wise that colonies had often proved
more potent than their parent states, that Carthage had surpassed Tyre,
Massilia Phocaea, Syracuse Corinth, and Cyzicus Miletus. In the same way
a daughter of Rome might wax greater than her mother, and the city that
governed Italy might be powerless to cope with a rebellious dependency
in the provinces.[653] This was not altogether an idle fear in the
earlier days of conquest; for at any period before the war with Pyrrhus
a transmarine city of Italian blood and customs might have proved a
formidable rival. Nor at the stage which the empire had reached at the
time of Gracchus was it without its justification; for Rome was by no
means a convenient centre for a government that ruled in Asia as well as
in Europe. It is more likely that the dread of rivalry was due to the
singular defects of the aspect and environment of Rome, of which its
citizens were acutely conscious, rather than to the awkwardness of its
geographical position; but, had the latter deficiency been realised, it
would be unfair to criticise the narrowness of view which failed to see
that the change of a capital does not necessarily involve the surrender
of a government. But, whether the objections implied in this
superstition were shadowy or well defined, they could not have been
lessened by the choice which was made by Gracchus and his friends of the
site for their new transmarine settlement. It was none other than
Carthage, the city which had been destroyed because the blessings of
nature had made a mockery of conquest, the city that, if revived, would
be the centre of the granary of Rome. A proposal for the renewal of
Carthage under the name of Junonia was formulated by Rubrius, one of the
colleagues of Gracchus in his first tribunate.[654] The number of the
colonists, which was less than six thousand, was specified in the
enactment, and the proportion of the emigrants to the immense territory
at his disposal rendered it possible for the legislator to assign
unusually large allotments of land. A better and an inferior class of
settlers were apparently distinguished, the former of whom were to hold
no less than two hundred _jugera_ apiece.[655] The recipients of all
allotments were to maintain them in absolute ownership, a system of
tenure which had hitherto been confined to Italy being thus extended to
provincial soil.[656] Caius Gracchus and Fulvius Flaccus were named
amongst the triumvirs who were to establish the new colony.[657] It is
probable that Roman citizens were alone considered eligible for the
colonies both in Italy and abroad, when these foundations were first
proposed, and that it was not until Gracchus had embarked on his
enterprise of enfranchising the Latins, that he allowed them to
participate in the benefits of his colonial schemes and thus indirectly
acquire full Roman citizenship.

But the commercial life of Italy might be quickened by other means than
the establishment of colonies whether at home or abroad. Gracchus saw
that the question of rapid and easy communication between the existing
towns was all important. The great roads of Rome betrayed their military
intent in the unswerving inflexibility of their course. The positions
which they skirted were of strategic, but not necessarily of industrial,
importance. To bring the hamlet into connection with the township, and
the township into touch with the capital, a series of good cross-roads
was needed; and it was probably to this object that the law of
Gracchus[658] was directed. But ease of communication may serve a
political as well as a commercial object. The representative character
of the Comitia would be increased by the provision of facilities for the
journey to Rome; and perhaps when Gracchus promulgated his measure,
there was already before his mind the possibility of the extension of
the franchise to the Latins, which would vastly increase the numbers of
the rural electorate. In any case, the measure was one which tended to
political centralisation, and Gracchus must have known that the
attainment of this object was essential to the unity and stability of a
popular government.

The great enterprise was carried through with extraordinary rapidity
during his second tribunate. But the hastiness of the construction did
not impair the beauty of the work. We are told that the roads ran
straight and fair through the country districts, showing an even surface
of quarried stone and tight-packed earth. Hollows were filled up,
ravines and torrent beds were bridged, and mounting-blocks for horsemen
lay at short and easy distances on both sides of the level course.[659]
Although the initial expense of this construction may have borne heavily
on the finances of the State, it is probable that the future maintenance
of the roads was provided for in other ways. The commerce which they
fostered may have paid its dues at toll-gates erected for the
purpose:[660] and the ancient Roman device of creating a class of
settlers on the line of a public road, for the purpose of keeping it in
repair,[661] was probably extended. Road-making was often the complement
of agrarian assignation,[662] and the two may have been employed
concurrently by Gracchus. It was the custom to assign public land on the
borders of a highway to settlers, the tenure of which was secured to
them and their heirs on condition of keeping the road in due repair.
Sometimes their own labour and that of their slaves were reckoned the
equivalent of the usual dues; at other times the dues themselves were
used by the public authorities for the purpose. Gracchus may thus have
turned his agrarian law to an end which was not contemplated by that
of Tiberius.

The execution of the law must have been a heavy blow to the power and
prestige of the senate. Its control of the purse was infringed and it
ceased to be the sole employer of public labour. For Gracchus, in
defiance of the principle that the author of a measure should not be its
executant,[663] was his own road-maker, as his brother Tiberius had been
his own land commissioner. He was the patron of the contractor and the
benefactor of the Italian artisan. The bounties which he now gave were
the reward of labour, and not subject to the criticism which had
attended his earlier efforts for the relief of poverty in Rome; but some
pretended to take the sinister view that the bands of workmen by which
he was surrounded might be employed for a less innocent purpose than the
making of roads.[664].

The proceedings of Gracchus during his first year of office had made it
inevitable that he should hold the tribunate for a second time. Enough
had been performed to win him the ardent support of the masses; enough
had been promised to make his return to office desirable, not only to
the people, but to the expectant capitalists. The legal hindrances to
re-election had been removed, or could be evaded, and the continuity of
power, which was essential to the realisation of an adequate programme
of reform, could now for the first time be secured. In the present state
of public feeling there was little probability of the veto being
employed by any one of his future colleagues, although some of these
would inevitably be moderates or members of the senatorial party. But
Gracchus was eager that his cause should be represented in another
department of the State, which presented possibilities of assistance or
of mischief, and that the spectacle of the tribunate as the sole focus
of democratic sentiment, exalting itself in opposition to the higher
magistracies of the people, should, if possible, be averted. In one of
his addresses to the commons he said he had to ask a favour of them.
Were it granted, he would value it above all things; should they think
good to refuse, he would bear no grudge against them. Here he paused;
the favour remained undisclosed; and he left popular imagination to
revel in the possibilities of his claims. It was a happy stroke; for he
had filled the minds of his auditors with a gratifying sense of their
own boundless power, and with suspicions of illegal ambitions, with
which it was well that they should become familiar, but which one
dramatic moment would for the time dispel. His words were interpreted as
a request for the consulship: and the prevalent opinion is said to have
been that he desired to hold this office in combination with the
tribunate. The time for the consular elections was approaching and
expectation was roused to its highest pitch, when Gracchus was seen
conducting Gaius Fannius into the Forum and, with the assistance of his
own friends, accosting the electors in his behalf.[665] The candidate
was a man whose political temperament Caius had had full opportunities
of studying. As a tribune he had been much under the influence of Scipio
Aemilianus,[666] and as he rose slowly through the grades of curule
rank,[667] he must still have retained his character as a moderate. He
was therefore preferable to any candidate put forward by the optimates:
and the influence of Gracchus secured Fannius the consulship almost at
the moment when, without the trouble of a canvass or even of a formal
candidature, he himself secured his second term of office. His position
was further strengthened by the return of the ex-consul Fulvius Flaccus,
as one of his colleagues in the tribunate.

It was now, when the grand programme was actually being carried through,
and the execution of the most varied measures was being pressed on by a
single hand, that the possibilities of personal government were first
revealed in Rome. The fiery orator was less to be dreaded than the
unwearied man of action, whose restless energy was controlled by a
clearness of judgment and concentration of purpose, which could
distinguish every item of his vast sphere of administration and treat
the task of the moment as though it were the one nearest to his heart.
Even those who hated and feared Gracchus were struck with amazement at
the practical genius which he revealed; while the sight of the leader in
the midst of his countless tasks, surrounded by the motley retinue which
they involved, roused the wondering admiration of the masses.[668] At
one moment he was being interviewed by a contractor for public works, at
another by an envoy from some state eager to secure his mediation; the
magistrate, the artisan, the soldier and the man of letters besieged his
presence chamber, and each was received with the appropriate word and
the kindly dignity, which kings may acquire from training, but men of
kingly nature receive from heaven as a seal of their fitness to rule.
The impression of overbearing violence which had been given by his
speeches, was immediately dispelled by contact with the man. The time of
storm and stress had been passed for the moment, and in the fruition of
his temporary power the true character of Gracchus was revealed. The
pure intellectual enjoyment which springs from the sense of efficiency
and the effective pursuit of a long-desired task, will not be shaken by
the awkward impediments of the moment. All the human instruments, which
the work demands, reflect the value of the object to which they
contribute: and Gracchus was saved from the insolent pride of the
patrician ruler and the helpless peevishness of the mere agitator whom
circumstances have thrust into power, by the fact that his emotional
nature was mastered by an intellect which had outlived prejudice and had
never known the sense of incapacity. By the very character of its
circumstances the regal nature was forced into a style of life which
resembled and foreshadowed that of the coming monarchy. The
accessibility to his friends and clients of every grade was the pride of
the Roman noble, and doubtless Gracchus would willingly have modelled
his receptions on the informal pattern which sufficed the proudest
patrician at the head of the largest _clientèle_. But Gracchus's callers
were not even limited to the whole of Rome; they came from Italy and the
provinces: and it was found to be essential to adopt some rules of
precedence, which would produce a methodical approach to his presence
and secure each of his visitors an adequate hearing. He was the first
Roman, we are told, to observe certain rules of audience. Some members
of the crowd which thronged his ante-chamber, were received singly,
others in smaller or in larger groups.[669] It is improbable that the
mode of reception varied wholly with the official or social rank of
those admitted; the nature of the client's business must also have
dictated the secrecy or publicity of the interview; but the system must
have seemed to his baffled enemies a welcome confirmation of their real
or pretended fears--a symptom of the coming, if not actual, overthrow of
Republicanism, the suspicion of which might one day be driven even into
the thick heads of the gaping crowds, who stood by the portals to gaze
at the ever-shifting throng of callers and to marvel at the power and
popularity of their leader. Had Gracchus been content to live in the
present and to regard his task as completed, it is just possible that
the diverse interests which he had so dexterously welded together might
have enabled him to secure, not indeed a continuity of power (for that
would have been as strenuously resisted by the middle as by the upper
class), but immediate security from the gathering conspiracy, the
preservation of his life, and the probability of a subsequent political
career. It is, however, difficult, to conceive that the position which
Gracchus held could be either resigned or forgiven; and, although we
cannot credit him with any conscious desire for holding a position not
admitted by the laws, yet his genius unconsciously led him to identify
the commonwealth with himself, while his mind, as receptive as it was
progressive, would not have readily acquiesced in the view that a
political creation can at any moment be called complete. The
disinterested statesman will cling to power as tenaciously as one
devoured by the most sordid ambition: and even on the lowest ground of
personal security, the possession of authority is perhaps more necessary
to the one than to the other. So indissolubly blended are the power and
the projects of a leader, that it is idle to raise the question whether
personal motives played any part in the project with which Gracchus was
now about to delight his enemies and alienate his friends. He took up
anew the question of the enfranchisement of the Italians--a question
which the merest political tyro could have told him was enough to doom
the statesman who spoke even a word in its favour. But Caius's position
was no ordinary one, and he may have regarded his present influence as
sufficient to induce the people to accept the unpalatable measure, the
success of which might win for himself and his successors a wider
constituency and a more stable following. The error in judgment is
excusable in one who had never veiled his sympathy with the Italian
cause, and had hitherto found it no hindrance to his popularity; but so
clear-sighted a man as Gracchus must have felt at times that he was
staking, not only his own career, but the fate of the programme and the
party which he had built up, on the chance of securing an end, which had
ceased to be regarded as the mere removal of an obstacle and had grown
to be looked on as the coping-stone of a true reformer's work.

The scope of his proposal[670] was more moderate than that which had
been put forward by Flaccus. He suggested the grant of the full rights
of citizenship to the Latins, and of Latin rights to the other Italian
allies.[671] Italy was thus, from the point of view of private law, to
be Romanised almost up to the Alps;[672] while the cities already in
enjoyment of some or all of the private privileges of the Roman, were to
see the one anomaly removed, which created an invidious distinction
between them and the burgess towns, hampered their commerce, and
imperilled their landed possessions. The proposal had the further
advantage that it took account of the possible unwillingness of many of
the federate cities to accept the Roman franchise; such a refusal was
not likely to be made to the offer of Latin rights: for the Latin
community was itself a federate city with its own laws, magistrates and
courts, and the sense of autonomy would be satisfied while many of the
positive benefits of Roman citizenship would be gained. Grades of
privilege would still exist in Italy, and a healthy discontent might in
time be fostered, which would lead all Italian communities to seek
absorption into the great city. Past methods of incorporation might be
held to furnish a precedent; the scheme proposed by Gracchus was hardly
more revolutionary than that which had, in the third and at the
beginning of the second centuries, resulted in the conferment of full
citizenship on the municipalities of half-burgesses. It differed from it
only in extending the principle to federate towns; but the rights of the
members of the Latin cities bore a close resemblance to those of the old
_municipes_, and they might easily be regarded as already enjoying the
partial citizenship of Rome. The conferment of this partial citizenship
on the other Italians, while in no way destroying local institutions or
impairing local privileges, would lead to the possibility of a common
law for the whole of Italy, would enable every Italian to share in the
benefits of Roman business life, and appear in the court of the urban
praetor to defend such rights as he had acquired, by the use of the
forms of Roman law. The tentativeness of the character of Gracchus's
proposal, while recommending it as in harmony with the cautious spirit
of Roman development which had worked the great changes of the past, may
also have been dictated by the feeling that the more moderate scheme
stood a better chance of acceptance by the mob of Rome. All he asked was
that the grievances which had led to the revolt of Fregellae, and the
dangers revealed by that revolt, should be removed. The numbers of the
added citizens would not be overwhelming; for the majority of Italians
all that was asked was the possession of certain private rights, which
had been so ungrudgingly granted to communities in the past. Throughout
the campaign he probably laid more stress on the duty of protecting the
individual than on the right of the individual to power. And the fact
that the protection was demanded, not against the Roman State, but
against an oppressive nobility that disgraced it by a misuse of its
powers, gave a democratic colouring to the demand, and suggested a
community of suffering, and therefore of sympathy, between the donors
and recipients of the gift. Even before his franchise law was before the
world, he seems to have been engaged in educating his auditors up to
this view of the case; for it was probably in the speeches with which he
introduced his law for the better protection of the life of the Roman
citizen, that he illustrated the cruel caprice of the nobility by grisly
stories of the sufferings of the Italians. He had told of the youthful
legate who had had a cow-herd of Venusia scourged to death, as an answer
to the rustic's jesting query whether the bearers of the litter were
carrying a corpse: and of the consul who had scourged the quaestor of
Teanum Sidicinum, the man of noblest lineage in his state, because the
men's baths, in which the consul's wife had elected to bathe, were not
adequately prepared for her reception.[673] Since the objections of the
populace to the extension of the franchise were the result of prejudice
rather than of reason, they might be weakened if the sense of jealousy
and distrust could be diverted from the people's possible rivals to the
common oppressors of Rome and Italy.

The appeal to sentiment might have been successful, had not the most
sordid passions of the mob been immediately inflamed by the oratory of
the opponents of the measure. The most formidable of these opponents was
drawn from the ranks of Gracchus's own supporters; for the franchise
question had again proved a rock which could make shipwreck of the unity
of the democratic party. His _protégé_, the consul Fannius, was not
ashamed to appeal to the most selfish instincts of the populace. "Do you
suppose," he said, "that, when you have given citizenship to the Latins,
there will be any room left for you at public gatherings, or that you
will find a place at the games or festivals? Will they not swamp
everything with their numbers?" [674]

Fannius, as a moderate, was an excellent exponent of senatorial views,
and it was believed that many noble hands had collaborated in the
crushing speech which inflicted one of its death-blows on the Gracchan

The opportunity for active opposition had at last arrived, and the
senate was emboldened to repeat the measure which four years earlier had
swept the aliens out of Rome. Perhaps in consequence of powers given by
the law of Pennus, the consul Fannius was empowered to issue an edict
that no Italian, who did not possess a vote in the Roman assemblies,
should be permitted within five miles of Rome at the time when the
proposal about the franchise was to be submitted to the Comitia.[676]
Caius answered this announcement with a fiery edict of his own, in which
he inveighed against the consul and promised his tribunician help to any
of the allies who chose to remain in the city.[677] The power which he
threatened to exercise was probably legal, since there is no reason to
suppose that the tribunician _auxilium_ could be interposed solely for
the assistance of members of the citizen body;[678] but he must have
known that the execution of this promise was impracticable, since the
injured party could be aided only by the personal interposition of the
tribune, and it was clear that a single magistrate, burdened with many
cares, and living a life of the most varied and strenuous activity,
could not be present in every quarter of Rome and in a considerable
portion of the surrounding territory. Even the cooperation of his ardent
colleague Flaccus could not have availed for the protection of many of
his Italian friends, and the course of events so soon taught him the
futility of this means of struggling for Italian rights that when,
somewhat later in the year, one of his Italian friends was seized by a
creature of Fannius before his eyes, he passed by without an attempt at
aid. His enemies, he knew, were at the time eager for a struggle in
which, when they had isolated him from his Italian supporters, physical
violence would decide the day: and he remarked that he did not wish to
give them the pretext for the hand-to-hand combat which they
desired.[679] One motive, indeed, of the invidious edict issued by the
consul seems to have been to leave Gracchus to face the new position
which his latest proposal had created, without any external help; but as
external help, if successfully asserted, could only have taken the form
of physical violence, there was reasonable ground for holding that the
decree excluding the Italians was the only means of preventing a serious
riot or even a civil war. The senate could scarcely have feared the
moral influence of the Italians on the voting populace of Rome, and they
knew that, in the present state of public sentiment, the constitutional
means of resistance which had failed against Tiberius Gracchus might be
successfully employed against his brother. The whole history of the
first tribunate of Caius Gracchus proves the frank recognition of the
fact that the tribunician veto could no longer be employed against a
measure which enlisted anything like the united support of the people;
but, like all other devices for suspending legislation, its employment
was still possible for opponents, and welcome even to lukewarm
supporters, when the body politic was divided on an important measure
and even the allies of its advocate felt their gratitude and their
loyalty submitted to an unwelcome strain. Resistance by means of the
intercession did not now require the stolid courage of an Octavius, and
when Livius Drusus threatened the veto,[680] there was no question of
his deposition. Some nerve might have been required, had he made this
announcement in the midst of an excited crowd of Italian postulants for
the franchise; but from this experience he was saved by the
precautionary measure taken by the senate. It is probable that Drusus's
announcement caused an entire suspension of the legal machinery
connected with the franchise bill, and that its author never ventured to
bring it to the vote.

It is possible that to this stage of Gracchus's career belongs a
proposal which he promulgated for a change in the order of voting at the
Comitia Centuriata. The alteration in the structure of this assembly,
which had taken place about the middle of the third century, had indeed
done much to equalise the voting power of the upper and lower classes;
but the first class and the knights of the eighteen centuries were still
called on to give their suffrage first, and the other classes doubtless
voted in the order determined by the property qualification at which
they were rated. As the votes of each century were separately taken and
proclaimed, the absolute majority required for the decisions of the
assembly might be attained without the inferior orders being called on
to express their judgment, and it was notorious that the opinion of
later voters was profoundly influenced by the results already announced.
Gracchus proposed that the votes of all the classes should be taken in
an order determined solely by the lot.[681] His interest in the Comitia
Centuriata was probably due to the fact that it controlled the consular
elections, and a democratic consulship, which he had vainly tried to
secure by his support of Fannius, might be rendered more attainable by
the adoption of the change which he advocated. The great danger of the
coming year was the election of a consul strongly identified with the
senatorial interest--of a man like Popillius who would be keen to seize
some moment of reaction and attempt to ruin the leaders of the reform
movement, even if he could not undo their work. It is practically
certain that this proposal of Gracchus never passed into law, it is
questionable whether it was ever brought before the Comitia. The
reformer was immediately plunged into a struggle to maintain some of his
existing enactments, and to keep the favour of the populace in the face
of insidious attempts which were being made to undermine their
confidence in himself.

The senate had struck out a new line of opposition, and they had found a
willing, because a convinced, instrument for their schemes. It is
inconceivable that a council, which reckoned within itself
representatives of all the noblest houses at Rome, should not have
possessed a considerable number of members who were influenced by the
political views of a Cato or a Scipio, or by the lessons of that
humanism which had carried the Gracchi beyond the bounds of Roman
caution, but which might suffuse a more conservative mind with just
sufficient enlightenment to see that much was wrong, and that moderate
remedies were not altogether beyond the limits of practicability. But
this section of senatorial opinion could find no voice and take no
independent action. It was crushed by the reactionary spirit of the
majority of the peers, and frightened at the results to which its
theories seem to lead, when their cautious qualifications, never likely
to find acceptance with the masses, were swept away by more
thorough-going advocates. But the voice, which the senate kept stifled
during the security of its rule, might prove valuable in a crisis. The
moderate might be put forward to outbid the extremist; for his
moderation would certainly lead him to respect the prejudices of the
mob, while any excesses, which he was encouraged or instructed to
commit, need not touch the points essential to political salvation, and
might be corrected, or left to a natural dissolution, when the crisis
had been passed and the demagogue overthrown. The instrument chosen by
the senate was Marcus Livius Drusus,[682] the tribune who had threatened
to interpose his veto on the franchise bill. There is no reason why the
historian should not treat the political attitude of this rival of
Gracchus as seriously as it seems to have been treated by Drusus's
illustrious son, who reproduced, and perhaps borrowed from his father's
career, the combination of a democratic propaganda, which threw specious
unessentials to the people, with the design of maintaining and
strengthening the rule of the nobility. The younger Drusus was, it is
true, a convert to the Italian claims which his father had resisted; but
even this advocacy shows development rather than change, for the party
represented by the elder Drusus was by no means blind to the necessity
for a better security of Italian rights. The difference between the
father and the son was that the one was an instrument and the other an
agent. But a man who is being consciously employed as an instrument, may
not only be thoroughly honest, but may reap a harvest of moral and
mental satisfaction at the opportunities of self-fulfilment which chance
has thrown in his way. The position may argue a certain lack of the
sense of humour, but is not necessarily accompanied by any conscious
sacrifice of dignity. Certainly the public of Rome was not in the secret
of the comedy that was being played. It saw only a man of high birth and
aristocratic culture, gifted with all the authority which great wealth
and a command of dignified oratory can give,[683] approaching them with
bounties greater in appearance than those which Gracchus had recently
been willing to impart, attaching no conditions to the gift and, though
speaking in the name of the senate, conveying no hint of the deprivation
of any of the privileges that had so recently been won. And the new
largess was for the Roman people alone; it was not depreciated by the
knowledge that the blessings, which it conferred or to which it was
added, would be shared by rivals from every part of Italy.

An aspirant for favour, who wished to enter on a race with the recent
type of popular leader, must inevitably think of provision for the poor;
but a mere copy or extension of the Gracchan proposals was impossible.
No measure that had been fiercely opposed by the senate could be
defended with decency by the representative, and, as Drusus came in
after time to be styled, the "advocate" of that body.[684] Such a scheme
as an extension of the system of corn distribution would besides have
shocked the political sense both of the patron and his clients, and
would not have served the political purposes of the latter, since such a
concession could not easily have been rescinded. The system of agrarian
assignation, in the form in which it had been carried through by the
hands of the Gracchi, had at the moment a complete machinery for its
execution, and there was no plausible ground for extending this measure
of benevolence. The older system of colonisation was the device which
naturally occurred to Drusus and his advisers, and the choice was the
more attractive in that it might be employed in a manner which would
accentuate certain elements in the Gracchan scheme of settlement that
had not commended themselves to public favour. The masses of Rome
desired the monopoly of every prize which the favourite of the moment
had to bestow; but Gracchus's colonies were meant for the middle class,
not for the very poor, and the preliminary to membership of the
settlements was an uncomfortable scrutiny into means, habits and
character.[685] The masses desired comfort. Capua may have pleased them,
but they had little liking for a journey across the sea to the site of
desolated Carthage. The very modesty of Gracchus's scheme, as shown in
the number of the settlements projected and of the colonists who were to
find a home in each, proved that it was not intended as a benefit to the
proletariate as a whole. Drusus came forward with a proposal for twelve
colonies, all of which were probably to be settled on Italian and
Sicilian soil;[686] each of these foundations was to provide for three
thousand settlers, and emigrants were not excluded on the ground of
poverty. An oblique reflection on the disinterestedness of Gracchus's
efforts was further given in the clause which created the commissioners
for the foundation of these new colonies, Drusus's name did not appear
in the list. He asked nothing for himself, nor would he touch the large
sums of money which must flow through the hands of the commissioners for
the execution of so vast a scheme.[687] The suspicion of self-seeking or
corruption was easily aroused at Rome, as it must have been in any state
where such large powers were possessed by the executive, and where no
control of the details of execution or expenditure had ever been
exercised by the people; and Gracchus's all-embracing energy had
betrayed him into a position, which had been accepted in a moment of
enthusiasm, but which, disallowed as it was by current sentiment and
perhaps by the law, might easily be shaken by the first suggestion of
mistrust. The scheme of Drusus, although it proved a phantom and perhaps
already possessed this elusive character when the senate pledged its
credit to the propounder of the measure, was of value as initiating a
new departure in the history of Roman colonisation. Even Gracchus had
not proposed to provide in this manner for the dregs of the city, and
the first suggestion for forming new foundations simply for the object
of depleting the plethora of Rome--the purpose real or professed of many
later advocates of colonisation--was due to the senate as an accident in
a political game, to Drusus perhaps as the result of mature reflection.
Since his proposal, which was really one for agrarian assignation on an
enormous scale, was meant to compete with Gracchus's plan for the
founding of colonies, it was felt to be impossible to burden the new
settlers with the payment of dues for the enjoyment of their land.
Gracchus's colonists were to have full ownership of the soil allotted to
them, and Drusus's could not be placed in an inferior position. But the
existence of thirty-six thousand settlers with free allotments would
immediately suggest a grievance to those citizens who, under the
Gracchan scheme of land-assignment, had received their lots subject to
the condition of the payment of annual dues to the State. If the new
allotments were to be declared free, the burden must be removed from
those which had already been distributed.[688] Drusus and the senate
thus had a logical ground for the step which seems to have been taken,
of relieving all the land which had been distributed since the tribunate
of the elder Gracchus from the payment of _vectigal_. It was a popular
move, but it is strange that the senate, which was for the most part
playing with promises, should have made up its mind to a definite step,
the taking of which must have seriously injured the revenues of the
State. But perhaps they regarded even this concession as not beyond
recall, and they may have been already revolving in their minds those
tortuous schemes of land-legislation, which in the near future were to
go far to undo the work of the reformers.

The senate also permitted Drusus to propose a law for the protection of
the Latins, which should prove that the worst abuses on which Gracchus
dwelt might be removed without the gift of the franchise. The enactment
provided that no Latin should be scourged by a Roman magistrate, even on
military service.[689] Such summary punishment must always have been
illegal when inflicted on a Latin who was not serving as a soldier under
Roman command and was within the bounds of the jurisdiction of his own
state; the only conceivable case in which he could have been legally
exposed to punishment at the hands of Roman officials in times of peace,
was that of his committing a crime when resident or domiciled in Rome.
In such circumstances the penalty may have been summarily inflicted, for
the Latins as a whole did not possess the right of appeal to the Roman
Comitia.[690] The extension of the magisterial right of coercion over
the inhabitants of Latin towns, and its application in a form from which
the Roman citizen could appeal, were mere abuses of custom, which
violated the treaties of the Latin states and were not first forbidden
by the Livian law. But the declaration that the Latin might not be
scourged by a Roman commander even on military service, was a novelty,
and must have seemed a somewhat startling concession at a time when the
Roman citizen was himself subject to the fullest rigour of martial law.
It was, however, one that would appeal readily to the legal mind of
Rome, for it was a different matter for a Roman to be subject to the
martial law of his own state, and for the member of a federate community
to be subjected to the code of this foreign power. It was intended that
henceforth the Latin should suffer at least the degrading punishment of
scourging only after the jurisdiction and on the bidding of his own
native commander; but it cannot be determined whether he was completely
exempted from the military jurisdiction of the Roman commander-in-chief
--an exemption which might under many circumstances have proved fatal to
military discipline and efficiency. There is every reason to suppose
that this law of Drusus was passed, and some reason to believe that it
continued valid until the close of the Social War destroyed the
distinctions between the rights of the Latin and the Roman. Its enactment
was one of the cleverest strokes of policy effected by Drusus and the
senate; for it must have satisfied many of the Latins, who were eager
for protection but not for incorporation, while it illustrated the
weakness, and as it may have seemed to many, the dishonesty, of
Gracchus's seeming contention that abuses could only be remedied by the
conferment of full political rights. The whole enterprise of Drusus
fully attained the immediate effect desired by the senate. The people
were too habituated to the rule of the nobility to remember grievances
when approached as friends; the advances of the senate were received in
good faith, and Drusus might congratulate himself that a representative
of the Moderates had fulfilled the appropriate task of a mediator
between opposing factions.[691]

We might have expected that Gracchus, in the face of such formidable
competition, would have stood his ground in Rome and would have
exhausted every effort of his resistless oratory in exhibiting the
dishonesty of his opponents and in seeking to reclaim the allegiance of
the people. But perhaps he held that the effective accomplishment of
another great design would be a better object-lesson of his power as a
benefactor and a surer proof of the reality of his intentions, as
contrasted with the shadowy promises of Drusus. He availed himself of
his position of triumvir for the foundation of the colony of Junonia--an
office which the senate gladly allowed him to accept--and set sail for
Africa to superintend in person the initial steps in the creation of his
great transmarine settlement.[692] His original plan was soon modified
by the opposition which it encountered; the promised number of
allotments was raised to six thousand, and Italians were now invited to
share in the foundation.[693] Both of these steps were doubtless the
result of the senate's dalliance with colonial schemes and with the
Latins, but the latter may also be interpreted as a desperate effort to
get the colony under weigh at any cost. Fulvius Flaccus, who was also
one of the colonial commissioners, either stayed at Rome during the
entire period of his colleague's absence or paid but the briefest visit
to Africa; for he is mentioned as the representative of the party's
interests in Rome during Gracchus's residence in the province. The
choice of the delegate was a bad one. Not only was Flaccus hated by the
senate, but he was suspected by the people. These in electing him to the
tribunate had forgiven his Italian leanings when the Italian cause was
held to be extinct; but now the odium of the franchise movement clung to
him afresh, and suspicion was rife that the secret dealings with the
allies, which were believed to have led to the outbreak of Fregellae,
had never been interrupted or had lately been renewed. The difficulties
of his position were aggravated by faults of manner. He possessed
immense courage and was an excellent fighter; but, like many men of
combative disposition, he was tactless and turbulent. His reckless
utterances increased the distrust with which he was regarded, and
Gracchus's popularity necessarily waned with that of his

Meanwhile the effort was being made to reawaken Carthage and to defy the
curse in which Scipio had declared that the soil of the fallen city
should be trodden only by the feet of beasts. No scruple could be
aroused by the division of the surrounding lands; the site where
Carthage had stood was alone under the ban,[695] and had Gracchus been
content with mere agrarian assignment or had he established Junonia at
some neighbouring spot, his opponents would have been disarmed of the
potent weapon which superstition invariably supplied at Rome. As it was,
alarming rumours soon began to spread of dreadful signs which had
accompanied the inauguration of the colony.[696] When the colonists
according to ancient custom were marching to their destined home in
military order with standards flying, the ensign which headed the column
was caught by a furious wind, torn from the grip of its resisting
bearer, and shattered on the ground. When the altars had been raised and
the victims laid upon them, a sudden storm-blast caught the offerings
and hurled them beyond the boundaries of the projected city which had
recently been cut by the share. The boundary-stones themselves were
visited by wolves, who seized them in their teeth and carried them off
in headlong flight. The reality of the last alarming phenomenon, perhaps
of all these omens, was vehemently denied by Gracchus and by
Flaccus;[697] but, even if the reports now flying abroad in Rome had any
basis in fact, the circumstances of the foundation did not deter the
leader nor frighten away his colonists. Gracchus proceeded with his work
in an orderly and methodical manner, and when he deemed his personal
supervision no longer essential, returned to Rome after an absence of
seventy days. He was recalled by the news of the unequal contest that
was being waged between the passionate Fulvius and the adroit Drusus.
Clearly the circumstances required a cooler head than that possessed by
Flaccus; and there was the threat of a still further danger which
rendered Gracchus's presence a necessity. The consulship for the
following year was likely to be gained by one of the most stalwart
champions of ultra-aristocratic views. Lucius Opimius had been defeated
when seeking that office in the preceding year, chiefly through the
support which Gracchus's advocacy had secured to Fannius. Now there was
every chance of his success;[698] for Opimius's chief claim to
distinction was the prompt action which he had shown in the conquest of
Fregellae, and the large numbers of the populace who detested the
Italian cause were likely to aid his senatorial partisans in elevating
him to the consulship. The consular elections might exercise a
reactionary influence on the tribunician; and, if Gracchus's candidature
was a failure, he might be at the mercy of a resolute opponent, who
would regard his destruction as the justifiable act of a saviour
of society.

When Caius returned, the people as a whole seemed more apathetic than
hostile. They listened with a cold ear both to appeals and promises, and
this coldness was due to satiety rather than suspicion. They had been
promised so much within the last few months that demagogism seemed to be
a normal feature of existence, and no keen emotion was stirred by any
new appeal to their vanity or to their interests. Such apathy, although
it may favour the military pretender, is more to be dreaded than actual
discontent by the man who rules merely by the force of character and
eloquence. Criticism may be met and faced, and, the keener it is, the
more it shows the interest of the critics in their leader. Pericles was
hated one moment, deified the next; but no man could profess to be
indifferent to his personality and designs. Gracchus took the lesson to
heart, and concentrated his attention on the one class of his former
supporters, whose daily life recalled a signal benefit which he had
conferred, a class which might be moved by gratitude for the past and
hope for the future. One of his first acts after his return was to
change his residence from the Palatine to a site lying below the
Forum.[699] Here he had the very poor as his neighbours, the true urban
proletariate which never dreamed of availing itself of agrarian
assignments or colonial schemes, but set a very real value on the
corn-distributions, and may have believed that their continuance would
be threatened by Gracchus's fall from power. It is probable, however,
that, even without this motive, the characteristic hatred which is felt
by the partially destitute for the middle class, may have deepened the
affection with which Gracchus was regarded by the poorer of his
followers, when they saw him abandoned by the more outwardly respectable
of his supporters. The present position of Gracchus showed clearly that
the powerful coalition on which he had built up his influence had
crumbled away. From a leader of the State he had become but the leader
of a faction, and of one which had hitherto proved itself powerless to
resist unaided a sudden attack by the government.

From this democratic stronghold he promulgated other laws, the tenor of
which is unknown, while he showed his sympathy with the lower orders in
a practical way which roused the resentment of his fellow-magistrates.
[700] A gladiatorial show was to be given in the Forum on a certain day,
and most of the magistrates had erected stands, probably in the form of
a rude wooden amphitheatre, which they intended to let on hire.[701]
Gracchus chose to consider this proceeding as an infringement of the
people's rights. It was perhaps not only the admission by payment, but
the opinion that the enclosure unduly narrowed the area of observation
and cut off all view of the performance from the surrounding crowd,[702]
that aroused Gracchus's protest, and he bade the magistrates pull down
the erection that the poorer classes might have a free view of the
spectacle. His request was disregarded, and Gracchus prepared a surprise
for the obstinate organisers. On the very night before the show he
sallied out with the workmen that his official duties still placed at his
disposal; the tiers of seats were utterly demolished, and when day dawned
the people beheld a vacant site on which they might pack themselves as
they pleased. To the lower orders it seemed the act of a courageous
champion, to the officials the wild proceeding of a headstrong
demagogue. It could not have improved Gracchus's chances with the
moneyed classes of any grade; he had merged their chances of enjoyment
with that of the crowd and violated their sense of the prerogatives
of wealth.

But, although Gracchus may have been acting violently, he was not acting
blindly. He must have known that his cause was almost lost, but he must
also have been aware that the one chance of success lay in creating a
solidarity of feeling in the poorer classes, which could only be
attained by action of a pronounced and vigorous type. To what extent he
was successful in reviving a following which furnished numerical support
superior, or even equivalent to, the classes alienated by his conduct or
won over by the intrigues of his opponents, is a fact on which we have
no certain information. Only one mention has been preserved of his
candidature for a third tribunate: and this narrative, while asserting
the near approach which Gracchus made to victory, confesses the
uncertainty of the accounts which had been handed down of the election.
The story ran that he really gained a majority of the votes, but that
the tribune who presided, with the connivance of some of his colleagues,
basely falsified the returns.[703] It is a story that cannot be tested
on account of our ignorance of the precautions taken, and therefore of
the possibilities of fraud which might be exhibited, in the elections of
this period. At a later period actual records of the voting were kept,
in case a decision should be doubted;[704] and had an appeal to a
scrutiny been possible at this time, Gracchus was not the man to let the
dubious result remain unchallenged. But the story, even if we regard it
as expressing a mere suspicion, suggests the profound disappointment of
a considerable class, which had given its favourite its united support
and received the news of his defeat with surprise and resentment. It
breathes the poor man's suspicion of the chicanery of the rich, and may
be an index that Gracchus retained the confidence of his humbler
supporters until the end.

The defeat, although a terrible blow, did not crush the spirit of
Gracchus; it only rendered it more bitter and defiant. It was now that
he exulted openly in the destructive character of his work, and he is
said to have answered the taunts of his enemies by telling them that
their laughter had a painful ring, and that they did not yet know the
great cloud of darkness which his political activity had wrapped around
their lives.[705] The dreaded danger of Opimius's election was soon
realised, and members of the newly appointed tribunician college were
willing to put themselves at the orders of the senate. The surest proof
that Gracchus had fallen would be the immediate repeal of one of his
laws, and the enactment which was most assailable was that which, though
passed under another's name, embodied his project for the refoundation
of Carthage. This Rubrian law might be attacked on the ground that it
contravened the rules of religious right, the violation of which might
render any public act invalid;[706] and the stories which had been
circulated of the evil omens that had attended the establishment of
Junonia, were likely to cause the scruples of the senate to be supported
by the superstition of the people. Gracchus still held an official
position as a commissioner for colonies, if not for land-distribution
and the making of roads, but none of these positions gave him the
authority to approach the people or the power to offer effective legal
resistance to the threatened measure; any further opposition might
easily take the form of a breach of the peace by a private individual
and give his enemies the opportunity for which they were watching; and
it was therefore with good reason that Gracchus at first determined to
adopt a passive attitude in the face of the proposal of the tribune
Minucius Rufus for the repeal of the Rubrian law.[707] Even Cornelia
seems to have counselled prudence, and it was perhaps this crisis in her
son's career which drew from her the passionate letter, in which the
mother triumphs over the patriot and she sees the ruin of the Republic
and the madness of her house in the loss which would darken her
declining years.[708] This protest is more than consistent with the
story that she sent country folk[709] to swell the following and protect
the person of her son, when she saw that he would not yield without
another effort to maintain his cause. The change of attitude is said to
have been forced on Gracchus by the exhortations of his friends and
especially of the impetuous Fulvius. The organisation of a band such as
Gracchus now gathered round him, although not in itself illegal, was a
provocation to riot; and a disastrous incident soon occurred which gave
his opponents the handle for which they had long been groping. At the
dawn of the day, on which the meeting was to be held for the discussion,
and perhaps for the voting, on the repeal of the threatened law,
Gracchus and his followers ascended to the Capitol, where the opposite
party was also gathering in strength. It seems that the consul Opimius
himself, although he could not preside at the final meeting of the
assembly, which was purely plebeian, was about to hold a Contio[710] or
to speak at one summoned by the tribunes. Gracchus himself did not
immediately enter the area in which the meeting was to be held, but
paced the portico of the temple buried in his thoughts.[711] What
immediately followed is differently told; but the leading facts are the
same in every version.[712] A certain Antullus or Antullius, spoken of
by some as a mere unit amongst the people, described by others as an
attendant or herald of Opimius, spoke some words--the Gracchans said, of
insolence: their opponents declared, of patriotic protest--to Gracchus
or to Fulvius, at the same time stretching out his arm to the speaker
whom he addressed. The gesture was misinterpreted, and the unhappy man
fell pierced with iron pens, the only weapons possessed by the unarmed
crowd. There could be no question that the first act of violence had
come from Gracchus's supporters, and the end for which Opimius had
waited had been gained. Even the eagerness with which the leader had
disclaimed the hasty action of his followers might be interpreted as a
renewed infringement of law. He had hurried from the Capitol to the
Forum to explain to all who would listen the unpremeditated nature of
the deed and his own innocence of the murder; but this very action was a
grave breach of public law, implying as it did an insult to the majesty
of the tribune in summoning away a section of the people whom he was
prepared to address.[713]

The meeting on the Capitol was soon dissolved by a shower of rain,[714]
and the tribunes adjourned the business to another day; while Gracchus
and Fulvius Flaccus, whose half-formed plans had now been shattered,
hastened to their respective homes. The weakness of their position had
been that they refused to regard themselves in their true light as the
leaders of a revolution against the government. Whatever their own
intentions may have been, it is improbable that their supporters
followed them to the Capitol simply with the design of giving peaceful
votes against the measure proposed: and, had Antullius not fallen, the
meeting on the Capitol might have been broken up by a rush of Gracchans,
as that which Tiberius once harangued had been invaded by a band of
senators. Success and even salvation could now be attained solely by the
use of force; and the question of personal safety must have appealed to
the rank and file as well as to the leaders, for who could forget the
judicial massacre which had succeeded the downfall of Tiberius? But the
security of their own lives was probably not the only motive which led
numbers of their adherents to follow the two leaders to their
homes.[715] Loyalty, and the keen activity of party spirit, which
stimulates faction into war, must also have led them to make a last
attempt to defend their patrons and their cause. The whole city was in a
state of restless anticipation of the coming day; few could sleep, and
from midnight the Forum began to be filled with a crowd excited but
depressed by the sense of some great impending evil.[716]

At daybreak the consul Opimius sent a small force of armed men to the
Capitol, evidently for the purpose of preventing the point of vantage
being seized by the hostile democrats, and then he issued notices for a
meeting of the senate. For the present he remained in the temple of
Castor and Pollux to watch events. When the fathers had obeyed his
summons, he crossed the Forum and met them in the Curia. Shortly after
their deliberations had begun, a scene, believed to have been carefully
prepared, began to be enacted in the Forum.[717] A band of mourners was
seen slowly making its way through the crowded market-place; conspicuous
on its bier was the body of Antullius, stripped so that the wound which
was the price of his loyalty might be seen by all. The bearers took the
route that led them past the senate-house, sobbing as they went and
wailing out the mourning cry. The consul was duly startled, and curious
senators hastened to the door. The bier was then laid on the ground, and
the horrified aristocrats expressed their detestation of the dreadful
crime of which it was a witness. Their indignation may have imposed on
some members of the crowd; others were inclined to mock this outburst of
oligarchic pathos, and to wonder that the men who had slain Tiberius
Gracchus and hurled his body into the Tiber, could find their hearts
thus suddenly dissolved at the death of an unfortunate but
undistinguished servant. The motive of the threnody was somewhat too
obvious, and many minds passed from the memory of Tiberius's death to
the thought of the doom which this little drama was meant to presage for
his brother.

The senators returned to the Curia, and the final resolution was taken.
Opimius was willing to venture on the step which Scaevola had declined,
and a new principle of constitutional law was tentatively admitted. A
state of siege was declared in the terms that "the consul should see
that the State took no harm," [718] and active measures were taken to
prepare the force which this decree foreshadowed. Opimius bade the
senators see to their arms, and enjoined each of the members of the
equestrian centuries to bring with him two slaves in full equipment at
the dawn of the next day.[719] But an attempt was made to avert the
immediate use of force by issuing a summons to Gracchus and Flaccus to
attend at the senate and defend their conduct there.[720] The summons
was perfectly legal, since the consul had the right to demand the
presence of any citizen or even any inferior magistrate; but the two
leaders may well be excused for their act of contumacy in disobeying the
command. They knew that they would merely be putting themselves as
prisoners into the hands of a hostile force; nor, in the light of past
events, was it probable that their surrender and punishment would save
their followers from destruction. Preparations for defence, or a
counter-demonstration which would prove the size and determination of
their following, might lead the senate to think of negotiation. Its
members had an inducement to take this view. Their legal position, with
respect to the step which they were now contemplating, was unsound; and
although they might claim that they had the government in the shape of
its chief executive officer on their side, and that their late policy
had attracted the support of the majority of the citizens, yet there was
no uncontested precedent for the legitimacy of waging war against a
faction at Rome; they had no mandate to perform this mission, and its
execution, which had lately been rendered illegal by statute law, might
subsequently be repudiated even by many of those whom they now regarded
as their supporters. Yet we cannot wonder at the uncompromising attitude
of the senate. They held themselves to be the legitimate government of
the State; they had learnt the lesson that a government must rest either
on its merits or on force; they were unwilling to repeat the scandalous
scene which, on the occasion of Tiberius Gracchus's death, had proved
their weakness, and were perhaps unable to resort to such unpremeditated
measures in the face of the larger following of Caius; they could enlist
on their side some members of the upper middle class who would share in
the guilt, if guilt there was: and lastly they had at their mercy two
men, of whom one had twice shaken the commonwealth and the other had
gloried in the prospect of its self-mutilation in the future.

The wisdom and justice of resistance appealed immediately to the mind of
Flaccus, whose combative instincts found their natural satisfaction in
the prospect of an interchange of blows. The finer and more complex
spirit of Gracchus issued in a more uncertain mood. The bane of the
thinker and the patriot was upon him. Was a man who had led the State to
fight against it, and the rule of reason to be exchanged for the base
arbitrament of the sword? None knew the emotions with which he turned
from the Forum to gaze long and steadfastly at the statue of his father
and to move away with a groan;[721] but the sight of his sorrow roused a
sympathy which the call to arms might not have stirred. Many of the
bystanders were stung from their attitude of indifference to curse
themselves for their base abandonment of the man who had sacrificed so
much, to follow him to his house, and to keep a vigil before his doors.
The night was passed in gloomy wakefulness, the spirits of the watchers
were filled with apprehension of the common sacrifice which the coming
day might demand, and the silence was only broken when the voluntary
guard was at intervals relieved by those who had already slumbered.
Meanwhile the neighbours of Flaccus were being startled by the sounds of
boisterous revelry that issued from his halls. The host was displaying
an almost boyish exuberance of spirits, while his congenial comrades
yelled and clapped as the wine and the jest went round. At daybreak
Fulvius was dragged from his heavy slumbers, and he and his companions
armed themselves with the spoils of his consulship, the Gallic weapons
that hung as trophies upon his walls.[722] They then set out with
clamorous threats to take possession of the Aventine. The home that
Icilius had won for the Plebs was to be the scene of another struggle
for freedom. It was in later times pretended that Fulvius had taken the
step, from which even Catilina shrank, of calling the slaves to arms on
a promise of freedom.[723] We have no means of disproving the
allegation, which seems to have occurred with suspicious frequency in
the records left by aristocratic writers of the popular movements which
they had assisted to crush. But it is easy to see that the devotion of
slaves to their own masters during such struggles, and the finding of
their bodies amidst the slain, would be proof enough to a government,
anxious to emphasise its merits as a saviour of society, that general
appeals had been made to the servile class. Such a deduction might
certainly have been drawn from a view of the forces mustered under
Opimius; for in these the slaves may have exceeded the citizens in

Gracchus's mind was still divided between resistance and resignation. He
consented to accompany his reckless friend to the Aventine, as the only
place of refuge; but he declined to don his armour, merely fastening
under his toga a tiny dagger,[725] as a means of defence in the last
resort, or perhaps of salvation, did all other measures fail. The
presage of his coming doom was shared by his wife Licinia who clung to
him at the door, and when he gently disengaged himself from her arms,
made one more effort to grasp his robe and sank senseless on the
threshold. When Gracchus reached the Aventine with his friends, he found
that Flaccus and his party had seized the temple of Diana and had made
hasty preparations for fortifying it against attack. But Gracchus,
impressed with the helplessness or the horror of the situation,
persuaded him to make an effort at accommodation, and the younger son of
Flaccus, a boy of singular beauty, was despatched to the Curia on the
mission of peace.[726] With modest mien and tears streaming from his
eyes he gave his message to the consul. Many--perhaps most--of those who
listened were not averse to accept a compromise which would relieve the
intolerable strain and avert a civil strife. But Opimius was inflexible;
the senate, he said, could not be approached by deputy; the principals
must descend from the Aventine, lay down their arms, deliver themselves
up to justice as citizens subject to the laws, and then they might
appeal to the senate's grace; he ended by forbidding the youth to
return, if he could not bring with him an acceptance of these final
terms. The more pacific members of the senate could offer no effective
objection, for it was clear that the consul was acting within his legal
rights. The coercion of a disobedient citizen was a matter for the
executive power and, though Opimius had spoken in the name of the
senate, the authority and the responsibility were his. Retirement would
have been their only mode of protest; but this would have been a
violation of the discipline which bound the Council to its head, and
would have betrayed a suspicious indifference to the cause which was
regarded as that of the constitution. It is said that, on the return of
the messenger, Gracchus expressed willingness to accept the consul's
terms and was prepared to enter the senate and there plead his own cause
and that of his followers.[727] But none of his comrades would agree,
and Flaccus again despatched his son with proposals similar to those
which had been rejected. Opimius carried out his injunction by detaining
the boy and, thirsting for battle to effect the end which delay would
have assured, advanced his armed forces against the position held by
Flaccus. He was not wholly dependent on the improvised levies of the
previous day. There were in Rome at that moment some bands of Cretan
archers,[728] which had either just returned from service with the
legions or were destined to take part in some immediate campaign. It was
to their efforts that the success of the attack was mainly due. The
barricade at the temple might have resisted the onslaught of the
heavily-armed soldier; but its defenders were pierced by the arrows, the
precinct was strewn with wounded men, and the ranks were in utter
disorder when the final assault was made. There were names of
distinction which lent a dignity to the massacre that followed. Men like
Publius Lentulus, the venerable chief of the senate, gave a perpetual
colour of respectability to the action of Opimius by appearing in their
panoplies amongst the forces that he led.[729]

When the rout was complete and the whole crowd in full flight, Flaccus
sought escape in a workshop owned by a man of his acquaintance; but the
course of his flight had been observed, the narrow court which led to
the house was soon crowded by pursuers, who, maddened by their ignorance
of the actual tenement that concealed the person of Flaccus, vowed that
they would burn the whole alley to the ground if his hiding-place were
not revealed.[730] The trembling artisan who had befriended him did not
dare to betray his suppliant, but relieved his scruples by whispering
the secret to another. The hiding place was immediately revealed, and
the great ex-consul who had laid the foundations of Rome's dominion in
farther Gaul, a man strenuous and enlightened, ardent and faithful but
perhaps not overwise, was hacked to pieces by his own citizens in an
obscure corner of the slums of Rome. His elder son fell fighting by his
side. To the younger, the fair ambassador of that day, now a prisoner of
the consul, the favour was granted of choosing his own mode of death.
Early Rome had repudiated the principle of visiting the sins of the
fathers upon the children;[731] but the cold-blooded horrors of the
Oriental and Hellenic world were now becoming accepted maxims of state
to a government trembling for its safety and implacable in its revenge.

Meanwhile Gracchus had been saved from both the stain of civil war and
the humiliation of capture by his foes. No man had seen him strike a
blow throughout the contest. In sheer disgust at the appalling scene he
had withdrawn to the shrine of Diana, and was there prepared to compass
his own death.[732] His hand was stayed by two faithful friends,
Pomponius and Laetorius,[733] who urged him to escape. Gracchus obeyed,
but it was believed by some that, before he left the temple, he
stretched forth his hand to the goddess and prayed that the Roman people
might never be quit of slavery as a reward for their ingratitude and
treachery.[734] This outburst of anger, a very natural consequence of
his own humiliating plight, is said to have been kindled by the
knowledge that the larger portion of the mob had already listened to a
promise of amnesty and had joined the forces of Opimius. Unlike most
imprecations, that of Gracchus was destined to be fulfilled.

The flight of Gracchus led him down the slope of the Aventine to the
gate called Trigemina which stood near the Tiber's bank. In hastening
down the hill he had sprained his ankle, and time for his escape was
only gained by the devotion of Pomponius,[735] who turned, and
single-handed kept the pursuing enemy at bay until trampling on his
prostrate body they rushed in the direction of the wooden bridge which
spanned the river. Here Laetorius imitated the heroism of his comrade.
Standing with drawn sword at the head of the bridge, he thrust back all
who tried to pass until Gracchus had gained the other bank. Then he too
fell, pierced with wounds. The fugitive had now but a single slave to
bear him company in his flight; it led them through frequented streets,
where the passers-by stopped on their way, cheered them on as though
they were witnessing a contest of speed, but gave no sign of help and
turned deaf ears to Gracchus's pleading for a horse; for the pursuers
were close behind, and the dulled and panic-stricken mob had no thought
but for themselves. The grove of Furrina[736] received them just before
they were overtaken by the pursuing band; and in the sacred precinct the
last act was accomplished. It was known only that master and slave had
been found lying side by side. Some believed that the faithful servant
had slain Gracchus and then pierced his own breast; others held that
they were both living when the enemy came upon them, but that the slave
clung with such frantic devotion to his master that Gracchus's body
could not be reached until the living shield had been pierced and torn
away.[737] The activity of the pursuers had been stimulated by greed,
for Opimius had put a price upon the heads of both the leaders of the
faction on the Aventine. The bearers of these trophies of victory were
to receive their weight in gold. The humble citizens who produced the
head of Flaccus are said to have been defrauded of their reward; but the
action of the man who wrested the head of Gracchus from the first
possessor of the prize and bore it on a javelin's point to Opimius, long
furnished a text to the moralist who discoursed on the madness of greed
and the thirst of gold. Its unnatural weight is said to have revealed
the fact that the brain had been extracted and the cavity filled with
molten lead.[738] The bodies of the slain were for the most part thrown
into the Tiber, but one account records that that of Gracchus was handed
over to his mother for burial.[739] The number of the victims of the
siege, the pursuit and the subsequent judicial investigation is said to
have been three thousand.[740] The resistance to authority, which was
all that could be alleged against the followers of Gracchus, was
treated, not as a riot, but as a rebellion. The Tullianum saw its daily
dole of victims, who were strangled by the executioner; the goods of the
condemned were confiscated by the State and sold at public auction. All
public signs of mourning were forbidden to their wives;[741] and the
opinion of Scaevola, the greatest legal expert of the day, was that some
property of his niece Licinia, which had been wrecked in the general
tumult, could be recovered only from the goods of her husband, to whom
the sedition was due.[742] The attitude of the government was, in fact,
based on the view that the members of the defeated party, whether slain
or executed, had been declared enemies of the State. Their action had
put them outside the pale of law, and the decree of the senate, which
had assisted Opimius in the extreme course that he had taken, was an
index that the danger, which it vaguely specified, aimed at the actual
existence of the commonwealth and undermined the very foundations of
society. Such was the theory of martial law which Opimius's bold action
gave to his successors. Its weakness lay in the circumstance that it was
unknown to the statutes and to the courts; its plausibility was due
partly to the fact that, since the desuetude of the dictatorship, no
power actually existed in Rome which could legally employ force to crush
even the most dangerous popular rising, and partly to the peculiarities
of the movement which witnessed the first exercise of this authority.
The killing of Caius Gracchus and his followers, however useless and
mischievous the act may have been, had about it an air of spurious
legality, with which no ingenuity could invest the murder of Tiberius
and his adherents. The fallen chiefs were in enjoyment of no magisterial
authority that could justify either their initial action or their
subsequent disobedience; they had fortified a position in the town, and
had certainly taken up arms, presumably for the purpose of inflicting
grievous harm on loyal fellow-citizens. As their opponents were
certainly the government, what could they be but declared foes who had
been caught red-handed in an act of treason so open and so violent that
the old identity of "traitors" and "enemies" was alone applicable to
their case? Thus legal theory itself proclaimed the existence of civil
war, and handed on to future generations of party leaders an instrument
of massacre and extirpation which reached its culminating point in the
proscription list of Sulla.

Opimius, after he had ceased to preside at his death-dealing commission,
expressed the view that he had removed the rabies of discord from the
State by the foundation of a temple to Harmony. The bitter line which
some unseen hand scribbled on the door,[743] expressed the doubt, which
must soon have crept over many minds, whether the doctor had not been
madder than the patient, and the view, which was soon destined to be
widely held, that the authors of the discord which had been professedly
healed, the teachers who were educating Rome up to a higher ideal of
civil strife, were the very men who were now in power.[744] We shall see
in the sequel with what speed Time wrought his political revenge. In the
hearts of men the Gracchi were even more speedily avenged. The Roman
people often alternated between bursts of passionate sentiment and
abject states of cowardly contentment; but through all these phases of
feeling the memory of the two reformers grew and flourished. To accept
the Gracchi was an article of faith impressed on the proudest noble and
the most bigoted optimate by the clamorous crowd which he addressed. The
man who aped them might be pronounced an impostor or a traitor; the men
he aped belonged almost to the distant world of the half-divine. Their
statues were raised in public places, the sites on which they had met
their death were accounted holy ground and were strewn with humble
offerings of the season's fruits. Many even offered to their images a
daily sacrifice and sank on their knees before them as before those of
the gods.[745] The quiet respect or ecstatic reverence with which the
names and memories of the Gracchi were treated, was partly due to a
vague sense in the mind of the common man that they were the authors of
the happier aspects of the system under which he lived, of the brighter
gleams which occasionally pierced the clouds of oppression and
discomfort; it was also due to the conviction in the mind of the
statesman, often resisted but always recurring, that their work was
unalterable. To undo it was to plunge into the dark ages, to attempt to
modify it was immediately to see the necessity of its renewal. At every
turn in the paths of political life the statesman was confronted by two
figures, whom fear or admiration raised to gigantic proportions. The
orthodox historian would angrily declare that they were but the figures
of two young men, whose intemperate action had thrown Rome into
convulsion and who had met their fate, not undeserved however
lamentable, the one in a street riot, the other while heading an armed
sedition. But the criticism contained the elements of its own
refutation. The youth, the brotherhood, the martyrdom of the men were
the very elements that gave a softening radiance to the hard contour of
their lives. The Gracchi were a stern and ever-present reality; they
were also a bright and gracious memory. In either character they must
have lived; but the combination of both presentments has secured them an
immortality which age, wisdom, experience and success have often
struggled vainly to secure. That strange feeling which a great and
beautiful life has often inspired, that it belongs to eternity rather
than to the immediate past, and that it has few points of contact with
the prosaic round of present existence, had almost banished from
Cornelia's mind the selfish instincts of her loss, and had perhaps even
dulled the tender memories which cluster round the frailer rather than
the stronger elements in the characters of those we love. Those who
visited her in her villa at Misenum, where she kept her intellectual
court, surrounded by all that was best in letters, and exchanging
greetings or gifts with the potentates of the earth, were amazed at the
composure with which she spoke of the lives and actions of her
sons.[746] The memory drew no tear, her voice conveyed no intonation of
sorrow or regret. She spoke of them as though they were historical
figures of the past, men too distant and too great to arouse the weak
emotion which darkens contemplation. Some thought that her mind had been
shaken by age, or that her sensibility had been dulled by misfortune.
"In this they proved their own utter lack of sensibility" says the
loving biographer of the Gracchi: They did not know, he adds, the signs
of that nobility of soul, which is sometimes given by birth and is
always perfected by culture, or the reasonable spirit of endurance which
mental and moral excellence supply. The calmness of Cornelia proved, as
well, that she was at one with her children after their death, and their
identity with a mind so pure is as great a tribute to their motives as
the admiration or fear of the Romans is to their intellect and their
deeds, Cornelia deserved a memorial in Rome for her own intrinsic worth;
but the demeanour of her latter days justifies the legend engraved on
the statue which was to be seen in the portico of Metellus: "To
Cornelia, the mother of the Gracchi".[747]

We are now in a position to form some estimate of the political changes
which had swept over Rome during the past twelve years. The
revolutionary legislation of this period was, strictly speaking, not
itself the change, but merely the formula which marked an established
growth; nor can any profit be derived from drawing a marked contrast
between the aims and methods of the two men who were responsible for the
most decisive of these reforms. A superficial view of the facts might
lead us to suppose that Tiberius Gracchus had bent his energies solely
to social amelioration, and that it was reserved for his brother Caius
to effect vast changes in the working, though not in the structure, of
the constitution. But even a chronological survey of the actions of
these two statesmen reveals the vast union of interests that suddenly
thrust themselves forward, with a vehemence which demanded either such a
resistance as no political society is homogeneous enough to maintain, or
such concessions as may be graciously made by a government which after
the grant may still retain most of the forms and much of the substance
of its former power. So closely interwoven were social and political
questions, so necessary was it for the attempted satisfaction of one
class immediately to create the demand for the recognition or
compensation of another, that Tiberius Gracchus had no sooner formulated
his agrarian proposals than he was beset with thoughts of legislating
for the army, transferring some of the judicial power to the equestrian
order, and granting the franchise to the allies. Even the belief that
these projects were merely a device for securing his own ascendency,
does not prove that their announcement was due to a brilliant discovery
of their originator, or that he created wants which he thereupon
proposed to satisfy. The desperate statesman seizes on the grievance
which is nearest to hand; it is true that he may increase a want by
giving the first loud and clear expression to the low and confused
murmurings of discontent; but a grievance that lives and gives violent
tokens of its presence, as did that of the Italian allies in the
Fregellan revolt, must be real, not fictitious: and when it finds a
remedy, as the needs of the poor and the political claims of the knights
did under the régime of Caius Gracchus, the presumption is that the
disease has been of long standing, and that what it has for a long time
lacked was not recognition, but the opportunity and the intelligence
necessary to secure redress. Caius Gracchus was as little of a political
explorer as his brother; it did not require the intuition of genius to
see facts which formed the normal environment of every prominent
politician of the age. His claim to greatness rests, partly on the
mental and moral strength which he shared with Tiberius and which gave
him the power to counteract the force of inertia and transmute vague
thought, first into glowing words and then into vigorous action; partly
on the extraordinary ingenuity with which he balanced the interests and
claims of classes so as to form a coalition which was for the time
resistless: and partly on the finality with which he removed the
jealousies of the hour from the idle arena of daily political strife,
and gave them their place in the permanent machinery of the
constitution, there to remain as the necessary condition of the
precarious peace or the internecine war which the jarring elements of a
balance of power bring in turn to its possessors.

Since the reality of the problems with which the Gracchi dealt is
undeniable, and since few would be inclined to admit that the most
effective treatment of a problem, whether social or political, is to
refuse it a solution, any reasonable criticism of their reforms must be
based solely on a consideration of their aims and methods. The land
question, which was taken up by both these legislators, attracts our
first attention. The aim of the resumption and redistribution of the
public domain had been the revival of the class of peasant holders, whom
legend declared, perhaps with a certain element of truth, to have formed
the flower of the civic population during the years when Rome was
struggling for a place amongst the surrounding peoples and in the
subsequent period of her expansion over Italy. Such an aim may be looked
at from two points of view. It may be regarded as an end in itself,
without any reference to its political results, or it may be looked on
as an effort to increase the power and security of the State without any
peculiar consideration of the comfort and well-being of its individual
members. The Gracchan scheme, regarded from the first point of view,
can, with respect to its end as distinguished from its methods, be
criticised unfavourably only by those who hold that an urban life does
under all circumstances convey moral, mental and physical benefits which
are denied by the conditions of residence in country districts. It is
true that the objector may in turn point out that the question of the
standard of comfort to be attained in either sphere is here of supreme
importance; but such an issue brings us at once within the region of
means and not of ends, and an ideal of human life cannot be judged
solely with reference to the practicability of its realisation. It is
the second point of view from which the aim of this land legislation may
be contemplated, which first gives the critic the opportunity of denying
the validity of the end as well as the efficiency of the means. If the
new agriculturist was meant to be an element of strength to the Roman
State, to save it from the selfishness of a narrow oligarchy, the
instability of a city mob and the corruption of both, to defend the
conquests which the city had won or to push her empire further, it was
necessary to prove that he could be of utility both as a voting unit and
as a soldier in the legions. His capacity for performing the first
function efficiently was, at the very least, extremely questionable. The
reality of the farmer's vote obviously depended on the closeness of his
residence to the capital, since there is not the least trace, at this or
at any future time during the history of the Republic, of the formation
of any design for modifying the rigidly primary character of the popular
assemblies of Rome. The rights of the voter at a distance had always
been considered so purely potential, that the inland and northern
settlements which Rome established in Italy had generally been endowed
with Latin rights, while the colonies of Roman citizens clustered more
closely round their mother; and men had always been found ready to
sacrifice the active rights of Roman citizenship, on account of the
worthlessness of their possession in a remote colony. It was even
difficult to reconcile the passive rights of Roman citizenship with
residence at a distance from the capital; for all the higher
jurisdiction was centred in Rome and could not easily be sought by the
inhabitants of distant settlements.[748] But, even if we exclude the
question of relative distance from the centre of affairs, it was still
not probable that the dweller in the country would be a good citizen
according to the Hellenic comprehension of that phrase. When Aristotle
approves of a country democracy, simply because it is not strictly a
democracy at all,[749] he is thinking, not merely of the farmer's lack
of interest in city politics, but of the incompatibility of the
perpetual demands which rural pursuits make on time and energy with
attendance on public business at the centre of affairs. The son of the
soil soon learns that he owes undivided allegiance to his mother: and he
will seldom be stirred by a political emotion strong enough to overcome
the practical appeals which are made by seed-time and harvest. But the
opportunities for discarding civic obligations were far greater in Rome
than in the Greek communities. The Roman assemblies had no stated days
of meeting, laws might be promulgated and passed at any period of the
year, their tenor was explained at public gatherings which were often
announced on the very morning of the day for which they were summoned,
and could be attended only by those whom chance or leisure or the
habitual pursuit of political excitement had brought to the Capitol or
the Forum. There was not at this period a fixed date even for the
elections of the higher magistrates. An attempt was perhaps made to
arrange them for the summer, when the roads were passable, the labours
of spring were over, and the toils of harvest time had not yet
commenced.[750] But the creation of the magistrates with Imperium
depended to a large extent on the convenience of the consuls, one of
whom had sometimes to be summoned back from a campaign to preside at the
Comitia which were to elect his successors; while even the date of the
tribunician elections might have been conditioned by political
considerations. The closing events of the life of Tiberius Gracchus
prove how difficult it was to secure the attendance of the country voter
even when an election of known political import was in prospect; while
Caius realised that the best security for the popular leader, whether as
a legislator or a candidate, was to attach the urban resident to himself
by the ties of gratitude and interest. We can scarcely admit, in the
face of facts like these, that the agriculturist created by the Gracchan
reforms was likely to render any signal political assistance to his
city. It is true that the existence of a practically disfranchised
proletariate may have a modifying influence on politics. It could not in
Rome serve the purpose, which it sometimes fulfils in the modern world,
of moulding the opinion of the voter; but even in Rome it suggested a
reserve that might be brought up on emergencies. A state, however, does
not live on emergencies but on the constant and watchful activity of its
members. Such activity could be displayed at Rome only by the leisured
senator or the leaders of the city mob. The forces that had worked for
oligarchy in the past might under changed conditions produce a narrow
type of urban democracy; but they presented no hope of the realisation
of a true popular government.

It might be hoped, however, that the newly created farmer might add to
the military, if not the political, strength of the State. The hope, so
far as it rested on the agriculturist himself, was rendered something of
an anachronism by the present conditions of service. Even in the old
days a campaign prolonged beyond the ordinary duration of six months had
often effected the ruin of the peasant proprietor; and now that the
cautious policy of the protectorate had been so largely abandoned and
Rome's military efforts, no longer limited to wars of defence or
aggression, were directed to securing her ascendency in distant
dependencies by means of permanent garrisons, service in the legions was
a still more fatal impediment to industrial development. Rome had not
yet learnt the lesson that an empire cannot be garrisoned by an army of
conscripts; but she was becoming conscious of the inadequacy of her own
military system, and this consciousness led her to take the easy but
fatal step of throwing far the larger burden of foreign service on the
Latins and Italian allies. Any increase in the number and efficiency of
her own military forces would thus remove a dangerous grievance, while
it added to the strength which, in the last resort, could alone secure
the permanence of her supremacy even in Italy. Such an increase was
finally effected in the only possible manner--by the adoption of a
system of voluntary enlistment and by carrying still further the
increasing disregard for those antiquated conditions of wealth and
status, which were a part of the theory that service was a burden and
wholly inconsistent with the new requirement that it should become a
profession. Although it must be confessed that little assistance in this
direction was directly tendered by the Gracchan legislation, yet it
should be remembered that, even if we exclude from consideration the
small efforts made by Caius to render military service a more attractive
calling, the increase of the farmer class might of itself have done much
to solve the problem. Although the single occupant of a farm was clearly
incapable of taking his part in expeditions beyond the seas without
serious injury to his own interests, yet the sons of such a man might
have performed a considerable term of military service without
disastrous consequences to the estate, and where the inheritance had
remained undivided and several brothers held the land in common, the
duties of the soldier and the farmer might have been alternated without
leaving the homestead divested of its head. The recognition of the
military life as a profession must have profited still more by the
policy which encouraged the growth of the country population; for the
energy of the surplus members of the household, whose services were not
needed or could not be adequately rewarded on the farm, would find a
more salutary outlet in the stirring life of the camp than in the
enervating influences of the city. The country-side might still continue
to supply a better physique and a finer morale than were likely to be
discovered in the poorer quarters of Rome.

The objects aimed at in the Gracchan scheme of land-reform, although in
some respects difficult of realisation, have aroused less hostile
criticism than the methods which were adopted for their fulfilment. It
may be held that the scheme of practical confiscation, which, advocated
by Tiberius Gracchus, plunged him at once into a fierce political
struggle and encountered resistance which could only be overcome by
unconstitutional means, might have been avoided had the reformer seen
that an economic remedy must be ultimate to be successful, and that an
economic tendency can only be resisted by destroying the conditions
which give it the false appearance of a law. The two conditions which
were at the time fatal to the efforts of the moderate holder of land,
are generally held to have been the cheapness and, under the inhumane
circumstances of its employment, even efficiency of slave labour, and
the competition of cheap corn from the provinces. The remedial measures
which might immediately present themselves to the mind of a modern
economist, who was unfettered by a belief in free trade or in the
legitimacy of securing the cheapest labour available, are the
prohibition of, or restrictions on, the importation of slaves, and the
imposition of a duty on foreign corn. The first device might in its
extreme form have been impracticable, for it would have been difficult
to ensure such a supervision of the slave market as to discriminate
between the sale of slaves for agricultural or pastoral work and their
acquirement for domestic purposes. A tax on servile labour employed on
land, or the moderate regulation which Caesar subsequently enforced that
a certain proportion of the herdsmen employed on the pasture lands
should be of free birth,[751] would have been more practicable measures,
and perhaps, if presented as an alternative to confiscation, might not
have encountered an unconquerable resistance from the capitalists,
although their very moderation might have won them but a lukewarm
support from the people, and ensured the failure that attends on
half-measures which do not carry their meaning on their face and lack
the boldness which excites enthusiasm. But the real objection which the
Gracchi and their circle would have had to legislation of this type,
whether it had been suggested to them in its extreme shape or in some
modified form, would have been that it could not have secured the object
at which they aimed. Such measures would merely have revived the free
labourer, while their dream was to re-establish the peasant proprietor,
or at least the occupant who held his land on a perfectly secure tenure
from the State. And even the revival of the free labourer would only
have been exhibited on the most modest scale; for such legislation would
have done nothing to reclaim arable land which had degenerated into
pasturage, and to reawaken life in the great deserted tracts, whose
solitude was only broken by the rare presence of the herdsman's cabin.
To raise a cry for the restoration of free labour on this exiguous scale
might have exposed a legislator to the disappointment, if not derision,
of his friends and invited the criticism, effective because popular, of
all his secret foes. The masters of the world were not likely to give
enthusiastic support to a leader who exhibited as their goal the lonely,
barren and often dangerous life of sheep-driver to some greedy
capitalist, and who offered them the companionship, and not the service,
of the slaves that their victorious arms had won.

The alternative of protective legislation for the defence of Italian
grain may be even more summarily dismissed. It was, in the first place,
impossible from the point of view of political expediency. The Gracchi,
or any other reforming legislators, had to depend for their main support
on the voting population of the city of Rome: and such a constituency
would never have dreamed for a moment of sanctioning a measure which
would have made the price of corn dearer in the Roman market, even if
the objections of the capitalists who placed the foreign grain on that
market could have been successfully overcome. So far from dreaming of
the practicability of such a scheme, Caius Gracchus had been forced to
allow the sale of corn at Rome at a cost below the current market-price.
But, even had protection been possible, it must have come as the last,
not as the first, of the constructive measures necessary for the
settlement of the agrarian question. It might have done something to
keep the small farms standing, but these farms had to be created before
their maintenance was secured; and if adopted, apart from some scheme
aiming at a redivision of the land, such a protective measure would
merely have benefited such existing owners of the large estates as still
continued to devote a portion of their domains to agriculture. The fact,
however, which may be regarded as certain, that foreign corn could
undersell that of Italy in the Roman market, and probably in that of all
the great towns within easy access of the sea, may seem a fatal flaw in
the agrarian projects of the Gracchi. What reason was there for
supposing that the tendencies which in the past had favoured the growth
of large holdings and replaced agriculture by pasturage, should remain
inoperative in the future? Tiberius Gracchus's own regulation about the
inalienability of the lands which he assigned, seemed to reveal the
suspicion that the tendencies towards accumulation had not yet been
exhausted, and that the occupants of the newly created farms might not
find the pursuit of agriculture so profitable as to cling to them in
scorn of the enticements of the encroaching capitalist. Doubtless the
prohibition to sell revealed a weakness in the agricultural system of
the times; but the regulation was probably framed, not in despair of the
small holder securing a maintenance, but as a protection against the
money-lender, that curse of the peasant-proprietor, who might now be
less willing to approach the peasant, when the security which he
obtained could under no circumstances lead to his acquiring eventual
ownership. With respect to the future, there was reasonable hope that
the farmer, if kept in tolerable security from the strategic advances of
his wealthier neighbours, would be able to hold his own. In a modern
state, possessing a teeming population and a complex industrial
organisation, where the profits of a widely spread commercial life have
raised the standard of comfort and created a host of varied needs, the
view may reasonably be taken that, before agriculture can declare itself
successful, it must be able to point to some central market where it
will receive an adequate reward for the labour it entails. But this view
was by no means so prevalent in the simpler societies of antiquity. The
difficulties of communication, which, with reference to transport, must
have made Rome seem nearer to Africa than to Umbria, and must have
produced a similar tendency to reliance on foreign imports in many of
the great coast towns, would alone have been sufficient to weaken the
reliance of the farmer on the consumption of his products by the larger
cities. The belief that the homestead might be almost self-sufficient
probably lingered on in remote country districts even in the days of the
Gracchi; or, if absolute self-existence was unattainable, the
necessities of life, which the home could not produce, might be procured
without effort by periodical visits to the market or fair, which formed
the industrial centre of a group of hamlets. The seemingly ample size of
the Gracchan allotments, some of which were three times as great as the
larger of the colonial assignments of earlier days,[752] pointed to the
possibility of the support of a large family, if the simpler needs of
life were alone considered. The farmer's soul need not be vexed by
competition if he was content to live and not to trade, and it might
have been hoped that the devotion to the soil, which ownership inspires,
might have worked its magic even on the lands left barren through
neglect. There might even be a hope for the cultivator who aimed at the
markets of the larger towns; for, if corn returned no profit, yet oil
and wine were not yet undersold, and were both of them commodities which
would bring better returns than grain to the minute and scrupulous care
in which the smaller cultivator excels the owner of a great domain. The
failure of corn-growing as a productive industry, perhaps the
legislation of the Gracchi itself, must have given a great impetus to
the cultivation of the vine and the olive, the value attached to which
during the closing years of the Republic is, as we have seen, attested
by the fact that the extension of these products was prohibited in the
Transalpine regions in order to protect the interests of the
Roman producer.

An agricultural revival was, therefore, possible; but its success
demanded a spirit that would enter readily into the work, and submit
without a murmur to the conditions of life which the stern task
enjoined. It was here that the agrarian legislation of the Gracchi found
its obstacle. So far as it did fail--so far, that is, as it was not
sufficient to prevent the renewed accumulation of the people in the
towns and the continued depopulation of the country districts--it failed
because it offended against social ideals rather than against economic
tendencies. Many of the settlers whom it planted on the allotments, must
already have been demoralised by the feverish atmosphere of Rome; while
others of a saner and more vigorous type may have soon looked back on
the capital, not as the lounging-place of the idler, but as the exchange
of the world, or have turned their thoughts to the provinces as the
sphere where energy was best rewarded and capital gave its speediest
returns. Of the other social measures of this period, colonisation, in
so far as it had a purely agricultural object, is subject to the
criteria that have been applied to the agrarian movements of the time;
although it is possible that the formation of new or the remodelling of
old political societies, which must have followed the scheme of Drusus,
had this been ever realised, would have infused a more vigorous life in
agricultural settlements of this type than was likely to be awakened in
those which formed a mere outlying part of Rome or some existing
municipality. We have seen how the colonial plan of Drusus differed in
its intention from that of Caius Gracchus; but the latter statesman had,
in the settlement which he projected at Junonia, planned a foundation
which would proximately have lived on the wealth of its territory rather
than on its trade, and must always have been, like Carthage of old, as
much an agricultural as a commercial state. To an agrarian project such
as this no economic objection could have been offered and, had the
scheme of transmarine colonisation been fully carried out, the provinces
themselves might have been made to benefit the farming class of Italy,
whose economic foes they had become. The distance also of such
settlements from Rome would have blunted the craving for the life of the
capital, which beset the minds and paralysed the energies of the
occupants of Italian land.

But, on the whole, the Gracchan scheme of colonisation was, as we have
seen, commercial rather than agricultural, and was probably intended to
benefit a class that was not adapted to rural occupations, either by
association or training. By this enterprise Caius Gracchus showed that
he saw with perfect clearness the true reason, and the final evidence,
of the stagnation of the middle class. A nation which has abandoned
agriculture and allows itself to be fed by foreign hands, even by those
of its own subjects, is exposed to military dangers which are obvious,
and to political perils somewhat more obscure but bearing their evil
fruit from time to time; but such treason to the soil is no sign of
national decay, if the legions of workers have merely transferred their
allegiance from the country to the town, from agriculture to manufacture
and commerce. In Italy this comforting explanation was impossible.
Except perhaps in Latium and Campania, there were few industrial
centres; many of those that existed were in the hands of Greeks, many
more had sunk under the stress of war and had never been revived. The
great syndicates in which Roman capital was invested, employed slaves
and freedmen as their agents; the operations of these great houses were
directed mainly to the provinces, and the Italian seaports were employed
merely as channels for a business which was speculative and financial
and, so far as Italy was concerned, only to a very slight, if to any,
degree productive. To re-establish the producer or the trader of
moderate means, was to revive a stable element in the population, whose
existence might soften the rugged asperity with which capital confronted
power on the one hand and poverty on the other. But to revive it at Rome
would have demanded artificial measures, which, attacking as they must
have done the monopolies possessed by the Equites, would have defeated
the legislator's immediate object and probably proved impracticable,
while such a revival would also have accentuated the centralisation,
which might be useful to the politician but was deplored by the social
reformer. The debilitated class might, however, recover its elasticity
if placed in congenial surroundings and invited to the sites which had
once attracted the enterprise of the Greek trader; and Caius Gracchus's
settlements in the south of Italy were means to this end. We have no
warrant for pronouncing the experiment an utter failure. Some of these
colonies lived on, although in what guise is unknown. But even a
moderate amount of success would have demanded a continuity in the
scheme, which was rudely interrupted by the fall of its promoter, and it
is not to be imagined that the larger capitalists, whose power the
reformer had himself increased, looked with a friendly eye upon these
smaller rivals. The scheme of social reform projected by Gracchus found
its completion in his law for the sale of corn. When he had made
provision for the born agriculturist and the born tradesman, there still
remained a residuum of poorer citizens whose inclination and habits
prompted them to neither calling. It was for these men that the monthly
grant of cheapened grain was intended. Their bread was won by labour,
but by a labour so fitful and precarious that it was known to be often
insufficient to secure the minimum means of subsistence, unless some
help was furnished by the State. The healthier form of state-aid--the
employment of labour--was certainly practised by Caius Gracchus, and
perhaps the extensive public works which he initiated and supervised,
were intended to benefit the artisan who laboured in their construction
as well as the trader who would profit by their completion.

Whatever may be our judgment on the merits and results of this social
programme, the importance of the political character which it was to
assume, from the close of the career of Caius Gracchus to the downfall
of the Republic, can hardly be exaggerated. The items of reform as
embodied in his legislation became the constant factors in every
democratic programme which was to be issued in the future. In these we
see the demand for land, for colonial assignations, for transmarine
settlements, for a renewal or extension of the corn law, perpetually
recurring. It is true that this recurrence may be in part due to the
very potency of the personality of the first reformer and to the magic
of the memory which he left behind him. Party-cries tend to become
shibboleths and it is difficult to unravel the web that has been spun by
the hand of a master. Even the hated cry for the Italian franchise,
which had proved the undoing of Caius Gracchus, became acceptable to
party leaders and to an ever-growing section of their followers, largely
because it had become entwined with his programme of reform. But the
vigorous life of his great manifesto cannot be explained wholly on this
ground. It is a greater exaltation of its author to believe that its
life was due to its intrinsic utility, and that Gracchus indicated real
needs which, because they remained unsatisfied until the birth of the
Principate, were ever the occasion for the renewal of proposals so
closely modelled on his own.

When we turn from the social to the political changes of this period, we
are on far less debatable ground. Although there may be some doubt as to
the intention with which each reform was brought into existence by Caius
Gracchus, its character as illustrated by its place in the economy of
the commonwealth is so clearly stamped upon it and so potently
manifested in the immediately following years, that a comprehensive
discussion of the nature of his single measures would be merely an
unprofitable effort to recall the past or anticipate the future. But the
collective effect of his separate efforts has been subjected to very
different interpretations, and the question has been further complicated
by hazardous, and sometimes overconfident, attempts to determine how far
the legislator's intentions were fulfilled in the actual result of his
reforms. Because it can be shown that the changes introduced by
Gracchus, or, to be more strictly accurate, the symptoms which elicited
these changes, ultimately led to monarchical rule, Gracchus has been at
times regarded as the conscious author and possessor of a personal
supremacy which he deliberately intended should replace the intricate
and somewhat cumbrous mechanism which controlled the constitutional
government of Rome; because he sowed the seeds of a discord so terrible
as to be unendurable even in a state which had never known the absence
of faction and conflict, and had preserved its liberties through
carefully regulated strife, his work has been held to be that of some
avenging angel who came, not to renew, but to destroy. There is truth in
both these pictures; but the Gracchus whom they portray as the force
that annihilated centuries of crafty workmanship, as the first precursor
of the coming monarchy, is the Gracchus who rightly lives in the
historic imagination which, unfettered by conditions of space or time,
prefers the contemplation of the eternity of the work to that of the
environment of the worker; it is a presentment which would be applicable
to any man as able and as resolute as Gracchus, who attempted to meet
the evils created by a weak and irresponsible administration, partly by
the restoration of old forms, partly by the recognition of new and
pressing claims. There is a point at which reform, except it go so far
as to blot out a constitution and substitute another in its place, must
act as a weakening and dissolving force. That point is reached when an
existing government is effectually hampered from exercising the
prerogatives of sovereignty and no other power is sufficiently
strengthened to act as its unquestioned substitute. The dissolution will
be easier if reform bears the not uncommon aspect of conservatism, and a
nominal sovereign, whose strength, never very great, has been sapped by
disuse and the habit of mechanical obedience, is placed in competition
with a somewhat effete usurper. It is not, however, fair to regard
Gracchus as a radical reactionary who was the first to drag a prisoned
and incapable sovereign into the light of day. Had he done this, he
would have been the author of a revolution and the creator of a new
constitution. But this he never attempted to be, and such a view of his
work rests on the mistaken impression that, at the time of his reforms,
the senate was recognised as the true government of Rome. Such a
pretension had never been published nor accepted. We are not concerned
with its reality as a fact; but no sound analysis, whether undertaken by
lawyer or historian, would have admitted its theoretical truth. The
literary atmosphere teemed with theories of popular sovereignty of a
limited kind, and Gracchus, while recognising this sovereignty, did
little to remove its limitations. It is true that, like his brother, he
legislated without seeking the customary sanction of the senate; but
initial reforms could never have been carried through, had the
legislator waited for this sanction; and the future freedom of the
Comitia from senatorial control was at best guaranteed by the force of
the example of the Gracchi, not by any new legal ordinances which they
ordained. Earlier precedents of the same type had not been lacking, and
it was only the comprehensiveness of the Gracchan legislation which
seemed to give a new impetus to the view that in all fundamental
matters, which called for regulation by Act of Parliament, the people
was the single and uncontrolled sovereign. Thus was developed the idea
of the possibility of a new period of growth, which should refashion the
details of the structure of the State into greater correspondence with
the changed conditions of the times. As the earlier process of change
had raised the senate to power, the latter might be interpreted as
containing a promise that a new master was to be given to the Roman
world. But it is highly improbable that to Gracchus or to any of his
contemporaries was the true nature of the prophecy revealed. For the
moment a balance of power was established, and the moneyed class stood
midway between the opposing factions of senate and people. Its new
powers were intended to constrain the senate into efficiency rather than
to reduce it to impotence, and to create these powers Gracchus had
endowed the equestrian order with that right of audit which, in the
earlier theory of the constitution, had been held to be one of the
securest guarantees of the power of the people. Gracchus predicted the
strife that was likely to follow this friction between the government
and the courts; but this prediction, while it perhaps reveals the hope
that in the issues of the future the mercantile class would generally be
found on the side of the people, betrays still more clearly the belief
that the people, and their patron of the moment, were utterly incapable
of standing alone, and that no true democratic government was possible
for Rome. In spite of his Hellenism Gracchus betrayed two
characteristics of the true Roman. He believed in the advisability of
creating a political impasse, from which some mode of escape would
ultimately be devised by the wearied and lacerated combatants; and he
held firmly to the view that the people, considered strictly in itself,
had no organic existence; that it never was, and never could be, a power
in its own right. He made no effort to give the Roman Comitia an
organisation which would have placed it on something like the
independent level of a Greek Ecclesia. Such an omission was perhaps the
result of neglect rather than of deliberation; but this very neglect
proves that Gracchus had in no way emancipated himself from the typical
Roman idea that the people could find expression only through the voice
of a magistrate. This idea unquestionably made the leader of the moment
the practical head of the State during any crisis that called for
constant intervention on the part of the Comitia; but there is no reason
to suppose a belief on the part of Gracchus that such intervention would
be unremittingly demanded, would become as integral a part of the
every-day mechanism of government as the senate's direction of the
provinces or the knight's control of the courts. But even had he held
this view, the situation which it conjured up need not have borne a
close resemblance to monarchy. The natural vehicle for the expression of
the popular will would have been the tribunate--an office which by its
very nature presented such obvious hindrances to personal rule as the
existence of colleagues armed with the power of veto, the short tenure
of office, and the enjoyment of powers that were mainly negative. It is
true that the Gracchi themselves had shown how some of these
difficulties might be overcome. The attempt at re-election, the
accumulation of offices, the disregard of the veto, were innovations
forced on them by the knowledge, gained from bitter experience, that
reform could proceed only from a power that was to some extent outside
the constitution, and that the efficient execution of the contemplated
measures demanded the concentration of varied types of authority in a
single hand. Perhaps Caius faced the situation more frankly than his
brother; but his consciousness of the necessity of such an occasional
power in the State was accompanied by the belief that it would prove the
ruin of the man who grasped it, that the work might be done but that the
worker would be doomed. These gloomy anticipations were not the result
of disordered nerves, but the natural fruit of the coldly calculating
intellect which saw that supremacy either of or through the people was
an illusion, that the power of the nobility must be resisted by keener
and more durable weapons than the Comitia and its temporary leaders,
that the authority of the senate might yield to a slow process of
attrition, but would never be engulfed by any cataclysmic outburst of
popular hostility. It was no part of the statesman's task to pry into
the future and vex himself with the query whether a new and permanent
headship of the State might not be created, to play the all-pervading
part which destiny had assigned to the senate. The senate's power had
not vanished, it was not even vanishing. It was a solid fact, fully
accepted by the very masses who were howling against it. Its decadence
would be the work of time, and all the great Roman reformers of the past
had left much to time and to fortune. The materials with which the
Gracchi worked were far too composite to enable them to forecast the
shape of the structure of which they were laying the foundations. The
essential fact of the future monarchy, the growth of the military power,
must have been almost completely hidden from their eyes. It is true
that, in relation to the fall of the Republic and the growth of the
monarchical idea, the Gracchi were more than mere preparatory or
destructive forces. They furnished faint types, which were gladly
welcomed by subsequent pretenders, of what a constitutional monarch
should be. But it is ever hazardous to identify the destroyer with the
creator or the type with the prophet.


The common destiny which had attended the Gracchi was manifested even in
the consequences of their fall. At both crises a brilliant but
disturbing element had vanished, the work of the reformer remained,
because it was the utterance of the people before whose sacred name the
nobility continued to bow, the political atmosphere was cleared, the
legitimate organs of government resumed their acknowledged sway. To
speak of a restoration of power to the nobility after the fall of Caius
Gracchus is to belie both the facts of history and the impressions of
the times. There is little probability that either the nobles or the
commons felt that the two years of successful agitation amounted to a
change of government, or that the senate ever abandoned the conviction
that the reformer, embarrassing as his proceedings might be on account
of the obvious necessity for their acceptance, must succumb to the
devices which had long formed the stock-in-trade of a successful
senatorial campaign; while the transition from the guidance of Gracchus
to that of the accredited representatives of the nobility was rendered
all the easier by the facts that the authority of the tribune had long
been waning, and that, for some months before his death, a large section
of the people had been greedily fixing its eyes on an attractive
programme which had been presented in the name of the senate. The
suppression of the final movement had, it is true, been marked by an
unexampled severity; but these stern measures had followed on an actual
appeal to arms, which had elicited a response from the passive or
quaking multitude and had made them in some sense participants in the
slaughter. If it was terrible to think that three thousand citizens had
been butchered in the streets or in the Tullianum, it was comforting to
remember that they had been officially denounced as public enemies by
the senate. There was no haunting sense of an inviolable wrong inflicted
on the tribunate, for Caius Gracchus had not been tribune when he fell;
there was no memory, half bitter, half grotesque, of indiscriminate
slaughter dealt by a mob of infuriated senators, for this latter and
greater _émeute_ had been suppressed by the regular forces of the State,
led by its highest magistrate. The position of the government was more
secure, the conscience of the people more easy than it had been after
the massacre of Tiberius Gracchus and his followers. This feeling of
security on the part of the government, and of acquiescence on that of
the people, was soon put to the test by the prosecution of the ex-consul
Lucius Opimius. His impeachment before the people by the tribune
Decius[753] raised the vital question whether the novel powers which he
had exercised in crushing Gracchus and his adherents, could be justified
on the ground that they were the necessary, and in fact the only, means
of maintaining public security. It was practically a question whether a
new form of martial law should be admitted to recognition by the highest
organ of the State, the voice of the sovereign people itself; and the
discussion was rendered all the more piquant by the fact that that very
sovereign was reminded that it had lately sanctioned an ordinance which
forbade a capital penalty to be pronounced against a Roman citizen
except by consent of the people, The arguments used on either side were
of the most abstract and far-reaching character.[754] In answer to
Decius's objection that the proceedings of Opimius were an obvious
contravention of statute law, and that the most wanton criminality did
not justify death without trial, the view, never unwelcome to the Roman
mind, that there was a higher justice than law, was advanced by the
champions of the accused. It was maintained that an ultimate right of
self-defence was as necessary to a state as to an individual. The man
who attempted to overturn the foundations of society was a public enemy
beyond the pale of law; the man who resisted his efforts by every means
that lay to hand was merely fulfilling the duty to his country which was
incumbent on a citizen and a magistrate. If this view were accepted, the
complex issue at law resolved itself into a simple question of fact. Had
the leader and the party that had been crushed shown by their actions
that they were overt enemies of the State? The majority which acquitted
Opimius practically decided that Gracchus and his adherents had been
rendered outlaws by their deeds. The sentiment of the moment had been
cleverly stirred by the nature of the issue which was put before them.
Had the voters been Gracchans at heart, they would probably have paid
but little attention to these unusual appeals to the fundamental
principles of political life, and would have shown themselves supporters
of the spirit, as well as of the letter, of the enactment whose author
they had just pronounced an outlaw. For there could be no question that
the Gracchan law, which no one dared assail, was meant to cover just the
very acts of which Opimius had been guilty after the slaughter of the
Gracchans in the streets had ended. The right to kill in an _émeute_
might be a questionable point; but the power of establishing a military
court for the trial of captured offenders was notoriously illegal, and
could under very few circumstances have been justified even on the
ground of necessity. The decision of the people also seemed to give a
kind of recognition to the utterance of the senate which had preceded
Opimius's display of force. It is quite true that no successful defence
of violence could ever be rested on the formula itself. This "ultimate
decree of the senate" was valued as a weighty and emphatic declaration
of the existence of a situation which demanded extreme measures, rather
than as a legal permit which justified the disregard of the ordinary
rights of the citizen. But formulae often have a power far in excess of
their true significance; they impose on the ignorant, and furnish both a
shield and a weapon to their cunning framers. The armoury of the senate,
or of any revolutionary who had the good fortune to overawe the senate,
was materially strengthened by the people's judgment in Opimius's
favour.[755] The favourable situation was immediately used to effect the
recall of Publius Popillius Laenas. His restoration was proposed to the
people by Lucius Bestia a tribune;[756] and the people which had just
sanctioned Opimius's judicial severities, did not betray the
inconsistency of continuing to resent the far more restricted
persecution of Popillius. Yet the step was an advance on their previous
action; for they were now actually rescinding a legal judgment of their
own, and approving of the actions of a court which had been established
by the senate on its own authority without any previous declaration of
the outlawry of its victims--a court whose proceedings were known to
have directed the tenor of that law of Caius Gracchus, the validity of
which was still unquestioned.

But even on the swell of this anti-Gracchan tide the nobility had still
to steer its course with caution and circumspection. Personal prejudices
were stronger than principles with the masses. They might sanction
outrages which already had the blessing of men who represented,
externally at least, the more respectable portion of Roman society; but
they continued to detest individuals whose characters seemed to have
grown blacker rather than cleaner by participation in, or even
justification of, the recent acts of violence. One of our authorities
would have us believe that even the aged Publius Lentulus, once chief of
the senate, was sacrificed by his peers to the fate which had attended
Scipio Nasica. He had climbed the Aventine with Opimius's troops and had
been severely wounded in the ensuing struggle.[757] But neither his age
nor his wounds sufficed to overcome the strange prejudice of the mob.
Obloquy and abuse dogged his footsteps, until at length he was forced,
in the interest of his own peace or security, to beg of the senate one
of those honorary embassies which covered the retirement of a senator
either for private business or for leisure, and to seek a home in
Sicily.[758] His last public utterance was an impassioned prayer that he
might never return to his ungrateful country: and the gods granted him
his request. If this story is true, it proves that public opinion was
stronger even than the voice of the Comitia. Lentulus, if put on his
trial, would probably have been acquitted; but the resentful minority,
which was powerless in the assembly, may have been sufficiently strong
to make life unbearable to its chosen victim by its demeanour at public
gatherings and in the streets. But even the Comitia had limits to its
endurance. During the year which followed Opimius's acquittal there
appeared before them a suppliant for their favour who had about equal
claims to the gratitude and the hatred of both sections of the people.
They were the self-destructive or corroborative claims of the statesman
who is called a convert by his friends and a renegade by his foes. No
living man of the age had stood in a stronger political light than
Carbo. An active assistant of Tiberius Gracchus, and so embittered an
opponent of Scipio Aemilianus as to be deemed the author of his death,
he had severed his connection with the party of reform, probably in
consequence of the view that the extension of the franchise which had
become embedded in their programme was either impracticable or
undesirable. He must have proved a welcome ally to the nobility in their
struggle with Caius Gracchus, and their appreciation of his value seems
proved by the fact that he was elected to the consulship in the very
year of the tribune's fall, when the influence of the senate, and
therefore in all probability their power of controlling the elections,
had been fully re-established. The debt was paid by a vigorous
championship of the cause of Opimius, which was heard during the
consulship of Carbo.[759] The chief magistrate spoke warmly in defence
of his accused predecessor in office, and declared that the action of
Opimius in succouring his country was an act incumbent on the consul as
the recognised guardian of the State.[760] No man had greater reason to
feel secure than Carbo, who had so lately tested the suffrages of the
people as electors and as judges; yet no man was in greater peril. It
seems that, while exposed on the side of his former associates to the
impotent rage which is excited by the success of the convert, who is
believed to have been rewarded for his treachery, he had not won the
confidence, or at least could not arouse the whole-hearted support, of
his new associates and their following in the assembly. Perhaps the
landlords had not forgiven the agrarian commissioner, nor the moderates
the vehement opponent of Scipio; to the senate he had served his
purpose, and they may not have thought him serviceable enough to deserve
the effort which had rescued Opimius. Carbo was, in fact, an inviting
object of attack for any young political adventurer who wished to
inaugurate his career by the overthrow of a distinguished political
victim, and to sound a note of liberalism which should not grate too
harshly in the ears of men of moderate views. The assailant was Lucius
Crassus,[761] destined to be the greatest orator of his day, and a youth
now burning to test his eloquence in the greatest field afforded by the
public life of Rome, but scrupulous enough to take no unfair advantage
of the object of his attack.[762] We do not know the nature of the
charge on which Carbo was arraigned. It probably came under the
expansive conception of treason, and was possibly connected with those
very proceedings in consequence of which Opimius had been accused and
acquitted.[763] That the charge was of a character that had reference to
recent political events, or at least that the prosecutor felt himself
bound to maintain some distinct political principle of a liberal kind,
is proved by the regret which Crassus expressed in his maturer years
that the impetus of youth had led him to take a step which limited his
freedom of action for the future.[764] Some compunction may also have
been stirred by the unexpected consequence of his attack; for Carbo,
perhaps realising the animosity of his judges and the weakness or
coldness of his friends, is said to have put an end to his life by
poison.[765] Voluntary exile always lay open to the Roman who dared not
face the final verdict; and the suicide of Carbo cannot be held to have
been the sole refuge of despair; it is rather a sign of the bitterness
greater than that of death, which may fall on the soul of a man who can
appeal for sympathy to none, who knows that he has been abandoned and
believes that he has been betrayed. The hostility of his countrymen
pursued him beyond the grave; the aristocratic historian could not
forget the seditious tribune, and the contemporary chronicles which
moulded and handed on the conception of Carbo's life, showed the usual
incapacity of such writings to appreciate the possibility of that honest
mental detachment from a suspected cause which often leads, through
growing dissension with past colleagues and increasing co-operation with
new, to a more violent advocacy of a new faith than is often shown by
its habitual possessors.

The records of the political contests which occupied the two years
succeeding the downfall of Caius Gracchus, are sufficient to prove that
political thought was not stifled, that practically any political
views--saving perhaps such as expressed active sympathy with the final
efforts of Caius Gracchus and his friends--might be pronounced, and that
the nobility could only maintain its influence by bending its ear to the
chatter of the streets and employing its best instruments to mould the
opinion of the Forum by a judicious mixture of deference and
exhortation. The senate knew itself to be as weak as ever in material
resources; government could not be maintained for ever by a series of
_coups d'état_, and the only method of securing the interests of the
rulers was to maintain the confidence of the majority and to presume
occasionally on its apathy or blindness. This was the attitude adopted
with reference to the proposals which had lately been before the people.
Drusus's scheme of colonisation was not withdrawn, but its execution was
indefinitely postponed,[766] and the same treatment was meted out to the
similar proposals of Caius Gracchus. Two of his Italian colonies,
Neptunia near Tarentum and Scylacium, seem actually to have survived;
but this may have been due to the fact that the work of settlement had
already commenced on these sites, and that the government did not
venture to rescind any measure which had been already put into
execution. It was indeed possible to stifle the settlement on the site
of Carthage, for here the superstition of the people supported the
objections of the senate, and the question of the abrogation of this
colony had been raised to such magnitude by the circumstances of
Gracchus's fall that to withdraw would have been a sign of weakness. But
even this objectionable settlement in Africa gave proof of the scruples
of the senate in dealing with an accomplished fact. When the Rubrian law
was repealed, it was decided not to take from the _coloni_ the lands
which had already been assigned; no religious pretext could be given for
their disturbance, for the land of Carthage was not under the ban that
doomed the city to desolation; and the colonists remained in possession
of allotments, which were free from tribute, were held as private
property, and furnished one of the earliest examples of a Roman tenure
of land on provincial soil.[767] The assignment was by the nature of the
case changed from that of the colonial to that of the purely agrarian
type; the settlers were members of Rome alone and had no local
citizenship, although it is probable that some modest type of urban
settlement did grow up outside the ruined walls of Carthage to satisfy
the most necessary requirements of the surrounding residents.

The benefits conferred by the Gracchi on the poorer members of the
proletariate were also respected. The corn law may have been left
untouched for the time being[768]--a natural concession, for the senate
could only hope to rule by its influence with the urban mob, and, in the
case of so simple an institution, any modification would have been so
patent an infringement of the rights of the recipients as to have
immediately excited suspicion and anger. With the agrarian law it was
different. Its repeal was indeed impossible; but the land-hunger of the
dispossessed capitalists might to some extent be appeased by a measure
that was not only tolerable, but welcome; and modifications, so gradual
and subtle that their meaning would be unintelligible to the masses,
might subsequently be introduced to remedy observed defects, to calm the
apprehensions of the allies, and perhaps to secure the continuance of
large holdings, if economic causes should lead to their revival. The
agrarian legislation of the ten years that followed the fall of Caius
Gracchus, seems to have been guided by the wishes of the senate; but
much of it does not bear on its surface the signs which we might expect
of capitalistic influence or oligarchic neglect of the poor. Large
portions of it seem rather to reveal the desire of banishing for ever a
harrowing question which was the opportunity of the demagogue; and the
peculiar mixture of prudence, liberality, and selfishness which this
legislation reveals, can only be appreciated by an examination of its
separate stages.

Shortly after the death of Caius Gracchus--perhaps in the very year of
his fall--a law was passed permitting the alienation of the
allotments.[769] This measure must have been as welcome to the lately
established possessors as it was to the large proprietors; it removed
from the former a galling restraint which, like all such legal
prohibitions, formed a sentimental rather than an actual grievance, but
one that was none the less keenly felt on that account; while to the
latter it offered the opportunity of satisfying those expectations,
which the initial struggles of the newly created farmers must in many
cases have aroused. The natural consequence of the enactment was that
the spurious element amongst the peasant-holders, represented by those
whose tastes and capacities utterly unfitted them for agriculture,
parted with their allotments, which went once more to swell the large
domains of their wealthier neighbours.[770] We do not know the extent or
rapidity of this change, or the stage which it had reached when the
government thought fit to introduce a new agrarian law, which may have
been two or three years later than the enactment which permitted
alienation.[771] The new measure contained three important
provisions.[772] Firstly, it forbade the further distribution of public
land, and thus put an end to the agrarian commission which had never
ceased to exist, and had continued to enjoy, if not to exercise, its
full powers since the restoration of its judicial functions by Caius
Gracchus. We cannot say to what extent the commission was still
Encountering claims on its jurisdiction and powers of distribution at
the time of its disappearance; but fourteen years is a long term of
power for such an extraordinary office, whose work was necessarily one
of perpetual unsettlement; and the disappearance of the triumvirs must
have been welcome, not only to the existing Roman occupants of land
which still remained public, but to those of the Italians to whom the
commission had ever been a source of apprehension. The extinction of the
office must have been regarded with indifference by those for whom the
commission had already provided, and by the large mass of the urban
proletariate which did not desire this type of provision. The residuum
of citizens which still craved land may be conceived to have been small,
for eagerness to become an agriculturist would have suggested an earlier
claim; and the passing of the commission was probably viewed with no
regret by any large section of the community. The law then proceeded to
establish the rights of all the occupants of land in Italy that had once
been public and had been dealt with by the commission. To all existing
occupants of the land which had been assigned, perfect security of
tenure was given, and this security may have been extended now, as it
certainly was later, to many of the occupants who still remained on
public land which had not been subjected to distribution. So far as the
land which had been assigned was concerned, this law could have made no
specification as to the size of the allotments, for the law permitting
alienation had made it practically private property and given its
purchaser a perfectly secure title. Hence the accumulations which
followed the permit to alienate were secured to their existing
possessors, and a legal recognition was given to the formation of such
large estates as had come into existence during the last three years.
But the security of tenure was conditioned by the reimposition of the
dues payable to the State, which had been abolished by Drusus. We are
not informed whether these dues were to be henceforth paid only by those
who had received allotments from the land commission, or by all in whose
hands such allotments were at the moment to be found; perhaps the
intention was to impose them on all lands that had been public before
the tribunate of Tiberius Gracchus; although many of the larger
proprietors, who had recently added to their holdings, might have urged
in their defence that they had acquired the land as private property and
that it was burdened by no dues at the time of its acquisition. But,
even if this burden fell mainly on the class of smaller possessors, it
could scarcely be regarded as a grievance, for it had formed part of the
Gracchan scheme, and there was no legitimate reason why the newly
established class of cultivators should be placed in a better position
than the older occupants of the public domain, who still paid dues both
on arable land and for the privilege of pasturing their flocks. The
temporary motive which had led to their abolition had now ceased to
exist, for the agricultural colonies of Drusus, who had promised land
free from all taxes, had not been established, and the chief, almost the
sole, example of a recent assignment on such liberal principles was to
be discovered in distant Africa. But, even if the cultivators grumbled,
their complaints were not dangerous to the government. They would have
found no echo at Rome, where the urban proletariate was content with the
easier provision which had been made for its support; and the new
revenues from the public land were made still more acceptable to the
eyes of the masses by the provision contained in this agrarian law that
they should be employed solely for the benefit of needier citizens. The
precise nature of the promised employment is unhappily unknown, our
authority merely informing us that "they were to be used for purposes of
distribution". We cannot understand by these words free gifts either in
money or corn; for such extreme measures never entered even into the
social ideals of Caius Gracchus, and the senate to its credit never
deigned to purchase popularity through the pauperising institutions by
which the Caesars maintained the security of their rule in Rome. The
words might imply an extension of the system of the sale of cheap corn,
or a cheapening of the rates at which it was supplied; but the Gracchan
system seems hardly to have admitted of extension, so far as the number
of recipients was concerned, and cheaper sales would hardly have been
encouraged by a government, which, anxious as it was to secure
popularity, was responsible for the financial administration of the
State and looked with an anxious eye upon the existing drain on the
resources of the treasury.[773] Perhaps the new revenues were held up to
the people as a guarantee that the sale of cheap corn would be
continued, and public confidence was increased when it was pointed out
that there was a special fund available for the purpose. If we abandon
the view that the promised employment of the revenues in the interest of
the people referred to the distribution of corn, there remains the
possibility that it had reference to the acquisition of fresh land for
assignation. This promise would indeed have rendered practicable the
partial realisation of the shadowy schemes of Drusus, which had never
been officially withdrawn; but it is doubtful whether it would have done
much to strengthen the hold of the government upon the urban voter; for
the whole scheme of this new land law seems to prove that the agrarian
question was viewed with indifference, and no pressure seems to have
been put on the government to carry their earlier promises into effect.

Apart from the welcome prospect implied in the abolition of the agrarian
commission, no positive guarantee against disturbance had yet been given
to the Latins and Italians. This was formally granted, in terms unknown
to us, at the appropriate hands of Marcus Livius Drusus during his
tenure of the consulship.[774] The senate, now that it had satisfied the
larger proprietors and the urban proletariate, and could boast that it
had at least not injured the smaller cultivators, completed its work of
pacification by holding out the hand of fellowship to the allies. It was
tacitly understood that the new friend was not to ask for more, but he
might be induced to look to the senate as his refuge against the
rapacity of the mob and the recklessness of its leaders.

Shortly afterwards the tribune Spurius Thorius[775] carried a law which
again abolished the _vectigal_ on the allotments. If we regard this
measure as an independent effort on the part of the tribune, it may have
been an answer to the protests of the smaller agriculturists still
struggling for existence; if it was dictated by the senate, it may have
been due to the absorption of the allotments by the larger proprietors
and their unwillingness to pay dues for land which they had added to
their private property. But, to whatever party we may assign it, we may
see in it also the desire to reach a final settlement of the agrarian
question by abolishing all the invidious distinctions between the
different tenures of land which had once formed part of the public
domain. It removed the injustice of burdening the small holding with a
rent which was not exacted from estates that had been partly formed by
accretions of such allotments; and by the abolition of all dues[776] it
tended to remove all land which had been assigned, from the doubtful
category to which it had hitherto belonged of possessions which, though
in a sense private, still recognised the overlordship of the State, and
to revive in all its old sharpness the simple distinction between public
and private land. This tendency makes it probable that the law of
Thorius is identical with one of which we possess considerable
fragments; for this partially preserved enactment is certainly as
sweeping a measure as could have been devised by any one eager to see
the agrarian question, so far as it affected Italian soil, finally
removed from the region of political strife.

Internal evidence makes it probable that this law was passed in the year
111 B.C.,[777] and consequently at the close of that period of
comparative quiescence which was immediately followed by the political
storm raised by the conduct of the war in Numidia. It may, therefore, be
regarded as a product of senatorial enlightenment, although its
provisions would be quite as consistent with the views of a tolerably
sober democrat. The main scope of the enactment is to give the character
of absolute private ownership, unburdened by any restrictions such as
the payment of dues to the State, to nearly all the land which had been
public at the time of the passing of the agrarian law of Tiberius
Gracchus. The first provisions refer to lands which had not been dealt
with by the agrarian commissioners. Any occupant of the public domain,
who has been allowed to preserve his allotment intact, because it does
not exceed the limit fixed by the earlier laws, and any one who has
received public land from the State in exchange for a freehold which he
has surrendered for the foundation of a colony, is henceforth to hold
such portions of the public domain as his private property. The same
provision holds for all land that has been assigned, whether by colonial
or agrarian commissioners. The first class of assignments are those
incidental to the one or two colonies of Caius Gracchus, and perhaps of
Drusus, that were actually established in Italy. Even at the time of
settlement such land must have been made the private property of its
holders; and this law, therefore, but confirms the tenure, and implies
the validity of the act of colonisation. Such land is mentioned as
having been "given and assigned in accordance with a resolution of the
people and the plebs," and all eases in which recent colonial laws had
been repealed or dropped--cases which would include Caius Gracchus's
threatened partition of the Campanian territory--are tacitly excluded.
The second class of assignments refer to those made by the
land-commissioners during the whole period of their chequered existence,
and the land whose private character is thus confirmed, must have
covered much the larger part of what had once been the State's domain
in Italy.

A certain portion of this domain still remains, however, the property of
the State and is not converted into private land. The whole of the soil
which had been given in usufruct to colonies and municipal towns, is
retained in its existing condition; the holders, whether Latin colonists
or Roman citizens, are confirmed in their possessions; but, as the land
still remains public, they are doubtless expected to continue to pay
their quit-rent to the State. Similar provision is made for a peculiar
class of land, which had been given by Rome as security for a national
debt. The debt had never been liquidated, probably because the creditors
preferred the land. This they were now to retain on condition of
continued payment of the quit-rent, which marked the fact that the State
was still its nominal owner. A public character is also maintained for
land which had been assigned for the maintenance of roads. Here we find
the only instance of an actual assignation of the Gracchan commissioners
which was not converted, into private property; the obvious reason for
this exception being that these occupants performed a specific and
necessary duty, which would disappear if their tenure was converted into
absolute ownership. Exception against ownership was also made for those
commons on which the occupants of surrounding farms had an exclusive
right of sending their flocks to pasture;[778] for the conversion of
such grazing land into private lots would have injured the collective
interests, and conferred little benefit on the individuals of the
group.[779] The remaining classes of land which still remain the
property of the State, are the roads of Italy, such public land as had
been specially exempted from distribution by the legislation of the
Gracchi, and such as had remained public on other grounds. The only
known instance of the first class is the Campanian territory, which
continued to be let on leases by the State and to bring to the treasury
a sure and considerable revenue; the second class was probably
represented by land which was not arable and had for this reason escaped
distribution. The law provides that it is not to be occupied but to
serve the purposes of grazing-land, and a limit is fixed to the number
of cattle and sheep belonging to a single owner to which it is to afford
free pasturage. For the enjoyment of grazing-rights beyond this limit
dues are to be paid to the contractors who have purchased the right of
collection from the State.

The law then quits the public domains of Italy for those of Africa and
Corinth, partly for the purpose of specifying with exactitude the rights
of the various occupiers and tenants who were settled on the
territories, but chiefly with the object of effecting the sale of some
of the public domain in the province of Africa and the dependency of
Achaea. This intention of alienation is perhaps the chief reason why the
great varieties of tenure of the African soil are marshalled before us
with such detail and precision; for it was necessary, in view of the
contemplated sale, to re-assert the stability of rights that should be
secure by their very nature or had been guaranteed by solemn compact.
But the occasion of a comprehensive settlement of the agrarian question
in Italy was no doubt gladly seized as affording the right opportunity
for surveying, revising, and establishing the claims of those who were
in enjoyment of what was, or had been, the provincial domain of Rome
across the seas. The rights of Roman citizens and subjects are
indifferently considered, and amongst the former those of the settlers
who had journeyed to Africa in accordance with the promises of the
Rubrian law are fully recognised. The degree of permanence accorded to
the manifold kinds of tenure passed in review can not be determined from
our text; but, even when all claims that deserved a permanent
recognition had been subtracted, there still remained a residuum of
land, leased at quinquennial intervals by the censors, which might be
alienated without the infliction of injury on established rights. We do
not know to what extent this sale, the mechanism for which was minutely
provided for in the law, was carried in Africa; its application to the
domain land of Corinth was either withdrawn or, if carried out, was but
slight or temporary; for Corinthian land remained to be threatened by
later agrarian legislation. It is not easy to suggest a motive for this
sale; for it would seem a short-sighted policy to part, on an extensive
scale and therefore presumably at a cheapened rate, with some of the
most productive land in the world, such as was the African domain of the
period, in order to recoup the treasury for the immediate pecuniary
injury which it was suffering in the loss of the revenues from the
public land of Italy. Perhaps the government had grown suspicious of the
operations of the middle-men, and, since they had restricted their
activity by limiting the amount of public land in Italy, deemed a
similar policy advisable in relation to some of their foreign

The length at which we have dwelt on this law is proportionate to its
importance in the political history of the times, and if we possessed
fuller knowledge of its effects, we should doubtless be able to add, in
their social history as well. Its economic results, however, are
exceedingly obscure, and possibly it produced none worthy of serious
consideration; for the artificial stability which it may have seemed to
give to the existing tenure of land could in no way check the play of
economic forces. If these tendencies were still in favour of large
holdings,[780] the process of accumulation must have continued, and, as
we have before remarked, the accumulator was in a securer position when
purchasing land which was admittedly the private property of its owner,
than when buying allotments which might be held to be still liable to
the public dues. On the other hand, the remission of the impost must
have relieved, and the sense of private ownership inspired, the labours
of the smaller proprietors; and the perpetuation of a considerable
proportion of the Gracchan settlers is probable on general grounds. The
reason why it is difficult to give specific reasons for this belief is
that, at the time when we next begin to get glimpses of the condition of
the Italian peasant class, the great reform had been effected which
incorporated the nations of Italy into Rome. The existence of numerous
small proprietors in the Ciceronian period is attested, but many of
these may have been citizens recently given to Rome by the Italian
stocks, amongst whom agriculture on a small scale had never
become extinct.

But the political import of this measure is considerable. By restricting
to narrow limits all the land of Italy to which the State could make a
claim, it altered the character of agrarian agitation for the future. It
did not indeed fulfil its possible object of obviating such measures;
but it rendered the vested interests of all Italian cultivators secure,
with the exception of the lessees of the leased domain, who perhaps had
no claim to permanence of tenure. This domain was represented chiefly by
the Campanian land: and the reformer who would make this territory his
prey, injured the finances of the State more than the interests of the
individual. If he desired more, he must seek it either in the foreign
domains of Rome or by the adoption of some scheme of land purchase.
Assignment of lands in particular districts of Italy or in the provinces
naturally took the form of colonisation, and this is the favourite shape
assumed by the agrarian schemes of the future. Rome was still to witness
many fierce controversies as to the merits of the policy of colonial
expansion, and as to the wisdom of employing public property and public
revenues to this end; the rights of the conqueror to the lands of his
vanquished fellow-citizens were also to be cruelly asserted, and the
civil wars also invited a species of brigandage for the attainment of
possession which too often replaced the judgments of the courts; but
never again do we find a regular political warfare waged between the
rich and the poor for the possession of territories to which each of the
disputants laid claim. The storm which had burst on the Roman world with
the land law of Tiberius Gracchus had now spent its force. It had
undoubtedly produced a great change on the face of Italy; but this was
perhaps more striking in appearance than in reality; neither the work of
demolition, nor the opportunities offered for renewal, attained the
completeness which they had presented in the reformer's dreams.

But the peace of the citizen body was not the only blessing believed to
be secured by this removal of a temptation to tamper with Italian lands.
The anxieties of the Latins and Italians were also quieted, although it
may be questioned whether the memory of past wrongs, now rendered
irrevocable by the progress of recent agrarian experiments, did not
enter into the agitation for the conferment of the franchise, which they
still continued to sustain. The last great law, following the spirit of
the enactment of Drusus which had preceded it by about a year, does
indeed show traces of an anxiety to respect Italian claims. Apart from
the fact, which we have already mentioned, that all lands which had been
granted in usufruct to colonists, were still to be public and were,
therefore, in the case of Latin colonies, to be at the disposal of the
communities to which they had been granted by treaty, the law contains a
special provision for the maintenance of the rights of Latins and
Italians, so far as they are in harmony with the rights allowed to Roman
citizens by the enactment.[781] The guarantees which had been sanctioned
by Drusus, were therefore respected; but their observance was
conditioned by the rule that all prohibitions now created for Romans
should be extended to the allies. As we do not know the purport of
Drusus's measure, or the practices current on the Roman domains occupied
by Latins, we cannot say whether this clause produced any derogation of
their rights; but it must have limited the right of free pasturage on
the public commons, if they had possessed this in a higher degree than
was now permitted, and the right to occupy public land was also
forbidden them in the future. But it was from the negative point of view
that the law might be interpreted as creating or perpetuating a
grievance; for some of the positive benefits which it conferred seem to
have been limited to Romans. The land which it makes private property,
is land which has been assigned by colonial or agrarian commissioners,
or land which has been occupied up to a certain limit. If colonial land
had really been assigned to Latins by Caius Gracchus, their rights are
retained by this law, if they had been made Roman citizens at the time
of the settlement; but if they had been admitted as participants in the
agrarian distribution throughout Italy, their rights as owners are not
confirmed with those of Roman citizens; and the Latin who merely
occupied land was not given the privilege of the Roman possessor of
becoming the owner of the soil, if his occupation were restricted within
a certain limit.[782] He still retained merely a precarious possession,
for which dues to the State were probably exacted. It was something to
have rights confirmed, but they probably appeared less valuable when
those of others were extended. A more generous treatment could hardly
have been expected from a law of Rome dealing with her own domain,
primarily in the interests of her own citizens; but the Italians were
tending to forget their civic independence, and chose rather to compare
their personal rights with those of the Roman burgesses. Such a
comparison applied to the final agrarian settlement must have done
something to emphasise their belief in the inferiority of
their position.

This review of the legislation on social questions which was initiated
or endured by the senate, shows the tentative attitude adopted by the
nobility in their dealings with the people, and proves either a
statesmanlike view of the needs of the situation or the entire lack of a
proud consciousness of their own immunity from attack. Even had they
possessed the power to dictate to the Comitia, they were hemmed in on
another side; for they had not dared to raise a protest against the law
of Gracchus which transferred criminal jurisdiction over the members of
their own order to the knights. The equestrian courts sat in judgment on
the noblest members of the aristocracy; for the political or personal
motives which urged to prosecution were stronger even than the
camaraderie of the order, and governors of provinces were still in
danger of indictment by their peers. Within two years of the
transference of the courts, Quintus Mucius Scaevola, known in later life
as "the Augur" and famed for his knowledge of the civil law, returned
from his province of Asia to meet the accusation of Titus Albucius.[783]
The knights did not begin by a vindictive exercise of their authority.
Although Asia was the most favoured sphere of their activity, Scaevola
was acquitted. Seven years later they gave a stern and perhaps righteous
example of their severity in the condemnation of Caius Porcius
Cato.[784] The accused when consul had obtained Macedonia as his
province, and had waged a frontier war with the Scordisci, which ended
in the annihilation of his forces and his own narrow escape from the
field of battle. His ill-success perhaps deepened the impression made by
his extortions in Macedonia, and he was sentenced to the payment of a
fine. Neither in the case of the acquittal nor in that of the
condemnation does political bias seem to have influenced the judgment of
the courts, and the equestrian jurors may have seemed for a time to
realise the best hopes which had inspired their creation.

The attention of the leading members of the nobility was probably too
absorbed by the problem of adapting senatorial rule to altered
circumstances to allow them the leisure or the inclination to embark on
fresh legislative projects of their own. Our record of these years is so
imperfect that it would be rash to conclude that the scanty proposals on
new subjects which it reveals exhausted the legislative activity of the
senate; but had they done so, the circumstance would be intelligible;
for the work that invited the attention of the senate in its own
interest, was one of consolidation rather than of reform; the political
feeling of the time put measures of a distinctly reactionary character,
such as might have been welcomed by the more conservative members of the
order, wholly out of the question; and the government was not likely,
except under compulsion, to undertake legislation of a progressive type.
The only important law of the period certainly proceeding from
governmental circles, and dealing with a question that was novel, in the
sense that it had not been heard of for a considerable number of years
and had played no part in the Gracchan movements, was one passed by the
consul Marcus Aemilius Scaurus. It dealt with the voting power of the
freedmen,[785] and probably confirmed its restriction to the four city
tribes. It is difficult to assign a political meaning to this law, as we
do not know the practice which prevailed at the time of Scaurus's
intervention; but it is probable that the restriction imposed by the
censors of 169, who had confined the freedmen to a single tribe,[786]
had not been observed, that great irregularity prevailed in the manner
of their registration, and that Scaurus's measure, which was a return to
the arrangement reached at the end of the fourth century, was intended
to restrict the voting privileges of the class. This interpretation of
his intention would seem to show that the increasing liberality of the
Roman master had created a class the larger portion of which was not
dependent on the wealthier and more conservative section of the citizen
body, or was at least enabled to assert its freedom from control through
the secrecy of the ballot. The interests of the class were almost
identical with those of the free proletariate, in which the descendants
of the freedmen were merged: and the law of Scaurus, which strengthened
the country vote by preventing this urban influence spreading through
all the tribes, may be an evidence that the senate distrusted the
present passivity of the urban folk, and looked forward with
apprehension to a time when they might have to rely on the more stable
element which the country districts supplied. We shall see in the sequel
that this anticipation of the freedmen's attitude was not unjustified,
and that the increase of their voting power still continued to be an
effective battle-cry for the demagogue who was eager to increase his
following in the city.

Scaurus was also the author of a sumptuary law.[787] It came
appropriately from a man who had been trained in a school of poverty,
and shows the willingness of the nobility to submit, at least in
appearance, to the discipline which would present it to the world as a
self-sacrificing administration, reaping no selfish reward for its
intense labour, and submitting to that equality of life with the average
citizen which is the best democratic concession that a powerful
oligarchy can make. The activity of the censorship was exhibited in the
same direction. Foreign and expensive dishes were prohibited by the
guardians of public morals, as they were by Scaurus's sumptuary
law:[788] and the censors of 115, Metellus and Domitius, undertook a
scrutiny of the stage which resulted in the complete exclusion from Rome
of all complex forms of the histrionic art and its reduction to the
simple Latin type of music and song.[789] Their energy was also
displayed in a destructive examination of the morals of their own order,
and as a result of the scrutiny thirty-two senators were banished from
the Curia.[790] To guard the senate-house from scandal was indeed the
necessary policy of a nobility which knew that its precarious power
rested on the opinion of the streets; and the efforts of the censors,
directed like those of their predecessors, to a regeneration which had a
national type as its goal, show that that opinion could not yet have
been considered wholly cosmopolitan or corrupt. The frequent splendour
of triumphal processions, such as those which celebrated the victories
of Domitius and Fabius over the Allobroges, of Metellus over the
Dalmatians, and of Scaurus over the Ligurians,[791] produced a
comfortable impression of the efficiency of the government in extending
or preserving the frontiers of the empire; the triumph itself was the
symbol of success, and few could have cared to question the extent and
utility of the achievement. Satisfied with the belief that they were
witnessing the average type of successful administration, the electors
pursued the course, from which they so seldom deflected, of giving their
unreserved confidence to the ancient houses; and this epoch witnessed a
striking instance of hereditary influence, if not of hereditary talent,
when Metellus Macedonicus was borne to his grave by sons, of whom four
had held curule office, three had possessed the consulship, and one had
fulfilled in addition the lofty functions of the censor and enjoyed the
honour of a triumph.[792]

Yet distinction without a certain degree of fitness was now, as at every
other time, an impossibility in Rome. The nobility, although it did not
love originality, extended a helping hand to the capacity that was
willing to support its cause and showed the likelihood of dignifying its
administration; a career was still open to talent and address, if they
were held to be wisely directed; and the man of the period who best
deserves the title of leader of the State, was one who had not even
sprung from the second strata of Roman society, but had struggled with a
poverty which would have condemned an ordinary man to devote such
leisure as he could spare for politics to swelling the babel of the
Forum and the streets. It is true that Marcus Aemilius Scaurus bore a
patrician name, and was one of those potential kings who, once in the
senate, might assume the royal foot-gear and continue the holy task,
which they had performed from the time of Romulus, of guarding and
transmitting the auspices of the Roman people. But the splendour of the
name had long been dimmed. Even in the history of the great wars of the
beginning of the century but one Aemilius Scaurus appears, and he holds
but a subordinate command as an officer of the Roman fleet. The father
of the future chief of the senate had been forced to seek a livelihood
in the humble calling of a purveyor of charcoal.[793] The son, resolute,
ambitious and conscious of great powers, long debated with himself the
question of his future walk in life.[794] He might remain in the ranks
of the business world, supply money to customers in place of coal, and
seize the golden opportunities which were being presented by the
extension of the banking industry in the provincial world. Had he chosen
this path, Scaurus might have been the chief of the knights and the most
resolute champion of equestrian claims against the government. But his
course was decided by the afterthought that the power of words was
greater than that of gold, and that eloquence might secure, not only
wealth, but the influence which wealth alone cannot attain. The fame
which he gained in the Forum led inevitably to service in the field. He
reaped distinction in the Spanish campaigns and served under Orestes in
Sardinia. His narrow means rather than his principles may have been the
reason why his aedileship was not marked by the generous shows to which
the people were accustomed and by which their favour was usually
purchased; in Scaurus's tenure of that office splendour was replaced by
a rigorous performance of judicial duties;[795] but that such an
equivalent could serve his purpose, that it should be even no hindrance
to his career, proves the respect that his strenuous character had won
from the people, and the anticipation formed by the government of the
value of his future services. Now, when he was nearing his fiftieth
year, he had secured the consulship, the bourne of most successful
careers, but not to be the last or greatest prize of a man whose stately
presence, unbending dignity, and apparent simplicity of purpose, could
generally awe the people into respect, and whose keenness of vision and
talent for intrigue impressed the senatorial mind with a sense of his
power to save, when claims were pressing and difficulties acute.[796]
His consulship, though without brilliancy, added to the respectable
laurels that he had already attained. A successful raid on some Illyrian
tribes[797] showed at least that he had retained the physical endurance
of his youth; while his legislation on sumptuary matters and the
freedman's vote showed the spirit of a milder Cato, and the moderate
conservatism, not distasteful to the Roman of pure blood, which would
preserve the preponderance in political power to the citizen untainted
by the stain of servitude. A stormy event of his period of office gave
the crowd an opportunity of seeing the severity with which a magistrate
of the older school could avenge an affront to the dignity of his
office. Publius Decius, who was believed to be a conscious imitator of
Fulvius Flaccus in the exaggerated vehemence of his oratory, and who had
already proved by his prosecution of Opimius that he was ready to defend
certain features of the Gracchan cause even when such championship was
fraught with danger, was in possession of the urban praetorship at the
time when Scaurus held the consulship. One day the consul passed the
open court of justice when the praetor was giving judgment from the
curule chair. Decius remained seated, either in feigned oblivion or in
ostentatious disregard of the presence of his superior. The politic
wrath of Scaurus was aroused; an enemy had been delivered into his
hands, and the people might be given an object-lesson of the way in
which the most vehement champion of popular rights was, even when
covered with the dignity of a magistracy, but a straw in the iron grasp
of the higher Imperium. The consul ordered Decius to rise, his official
robe to be rent, the chair of justice to be shattered in pieces, and
published a warning that no future litigant should resort to the court
of the contumacious praetor.[798] The vulgar mind is impressed, when it
is not angered, by such scenes of violence. A repute for sternness is
the best cloak for the flexibility which, if revealed, would excite
suspicion. Scaurus to the popular mind was an embodiment of stiff
patrician dignity, perhaps happily devoid of that touch of insolence
which is often the mark of a career assured without a struggle; of a
self-complacent dignity, quietly conscious of its own deserts and
demanding their due reward, of the calmness of a soul that is above
suspicion and refuses to admit even in its inmost sanctuary the thought
that its motives can be impugned. Meanwhile certain disrespectful
onlookers were expressing wonder at his mysteriously growing wealth and
marvelling as to its source. But, marvel as they might, they never drove
Scaurus to the necessity of an explanation. We shall find him as an old
man repelling all attacks by the irresistible appeal to his services and
his career. The condemnation of Scaurus appealed to the conservative as
a blow struck at the dignity of the State itself; to the man of a more
open mind it was at least the shattering of a delightful illusion.

The period which witnessed the crowning of the efforts of the poor and
struggling patrician was also sufficiently liberal, or sufficiently poor
in aristocratic talent, to admit the initial steps in the official
career of a genuine son of the people. It was now that Caius Marius was
laboriously climbing the grades of curule rank, and showing in the
pursuit of political influence at home the rugged determination which
had already distinguished him in the field. A Volscian by descent, he
belonged to Rome through the accident of birth in the old municipality
of Arpinum, which since the early part of the second century had enjoyed
full Roman citizenship and therefore gave its citizens the right of
suffrage and of honours in the capital. Born of good yeoman stock in the
village of Cereatae in the Arpinate territory,[799] he had passed a
boyhood which derived no polish from the refinements, and no taint from
the corruptions, of city life. In his case there was no puzzling
discrepancy between the outer and the inner man. His frame and visage
were the true index of a mind, somewhat unhewn and uncouth, but with a
massive reserve of strength, a persistence not blindly obstinate, a
patience that could wear out the most brilliant efforts of his rivals
and opponents. He did not court hostility, but simply shouldered his way
sturdily to the front, encouraged by Rome's better spirits, who saw in
him the excellent officer with qualities that might make the future
general, and appealing to the people, when they gradually became
familiar with his presence, as a type of that venerable myth, the rustic
statesman of the past. The poverty of his early lot was perhaps
exaggerated by historians[800] who wished to point the contrast between
his humble origin and his later glory, and to find a suitable cradle for
his rugged nature; even the initial stages of his career afford no
evidence of a struggle against pressing want, nor is there any proof
that he was supported by the bounty of his powerful friends. Even if he
entered the army as a common foot-soldier, he would merely have shared
the lot of many a well-to-do yeoman who obeyed the call of the
conscription. With Marius, however, military service was not to be an
incident, but a profession. The needs of a widening empire were calling
for special capacities such as had never been demanded in the past. The
career of Scaurus had shown the successful pleader surmounting the
obstacle of poverty; even the higher barrier of birth might be leaped
amidst the democratising influences of the camp. The nobility was not
sufficiently self-centred to be wholly blind to its own interests; and
it was easier to patronise a soldier than a pleader. In the latter case
the aspirant's political creed must be examined; in the former the last
question that would be asked was whether the officer possessed any
political creed at all. It might be a question of importance for the
future with respect to the candidature for those offices which alone
conferred high military command, even though there was as yet no dream
of the sword becoming the arbiter of political life; but the genuine
commander, engaged in the difficult task of remodelling an army, had no
eye but for the bearing and qualities of the soldier, and would not
scruple to cast aside his patrician prejudices in a despairing effort to
find the fittest instruments for the perfecting of his great design. It
was Marius's fortunate lot to enter the field at a time of trial, and to
serve his first campaign under a general, who was combating the adverse
forces of influence, licence and incompetence in the official staff
supplied by the government and represented by the young scions of the
nobility. To the camp before Numantia, where Scipio was scourging his
men into obedience, rooting out the amenities of life, and astonishing
his officers with new ideas of the meaning of a campaign, Marius brought
the very qualities on which the general had set his heart. An
unflinching courage, shown on one occasion in single combat when he
overthrew a champion of the foe, a power of physical endurance which
could submit to all changes of temperature and food, a minute precision
in the performance of the detailed duties of the camp, soon led to his
rapid advancement and to his selection as a member of the intimate
circle which surrounded the commander-in-chief. Every great specialist
has a small claim to the gift of prophecy; for he possesses an instinct
which reveals more than his reason will permit him to prove; and we need
not wonder at the story that, when once the debate grew warm round
Scipio's table as to who would succeed him as the chosen commander of
the Roman host, he lightly touched the shoulder of Marius and answered
"Perhaps we shall find him here".[801]

The higher commands in the army could be sought only through a political
career; and Marius, inspired with the highest hopes by Scipio's
commendation, was forced to breathe the uncongenial atmosphere of the
city and to fight his way upwards to the curule offices. There is no
proof that he took advantage of the current of democratic feeling which
accompanied the movements of the Gracchi. It was, perhaps, as well that
he did not; for such an association might have long delayed his higher
political career. The nobles who posed as democrats probably attached
more importance to forensic skill than to military merit; and the
support which Marius enjoyed was sought and found amongst the
representatives of the opposite party. Scipio's death removed a man who
might have been a powerful advocate on his behalf; the vague
relationship of clientship in which the family of Marius had stood to
the clan of the Herennii[802]--a relation common between Roman families
and the members of Italian townships, and in this case probably dating
from a time before Arpinum had received full Roman rights--seems never
to have led to active interference on his behalf on the part of the
representatives of that ancient Samnite house. Perhaps the Herennii were
too weak to assist the fortunes of their client; they certainly give no
names to the Fasti of this period. It is also possible that the proud
soldier was galled by the memory of the hereditary yoke, and sought
assistance where it would be given simply as a mark of merit, not as a
duty conditioned by the claim to irksome reciprocal obligations. The
all-powerful family of the Caecilii Metelli, who were at this time
vigorously fulfilling the destiny of office which heaven had prescribed
for their clan, stretched out a helping hand to the distinguished
soldier;[803] a family born to military command might consult its
interests, while it gratified its sympathies, by attaching to its
_clientèle_ a warrior who had received the best training of the school
of Africanus. After he had held the military tribunate and the
quaestorship,[804] Marius attained the tribunate of the Plebs with the
assistance of Lucius Caecilius Metellus.[805] He was in his thirty-ninth
year when he entered on the first office which gave him the opportunity
of claiming the attention of the people by the initiation of legislative
measures. The slowness of his rise may have led him to believe that he
might accelerate his career by taking his fortune into his own hands;
certainly if the law which bore his name was not unwelcome to the better
portion of the nobility, the methods by which he forced it through did
not commend themselves even to his patron. His proposal was meant to
limit the exercise of undue influence at the Comitia, and although the
law doubtless referred to legislative meetings summoned for every
purpose, it was chiefly directed to securing the independence of the
voter in such public trials as still took place before the people,[806]
and was perhaps inspired by scenes that might have been witnessed at the
acquittal of Opimius one year previously. One of the clauses of the bill
provided that the exits to the galleries, through which the voters filed
to give their suffrages to the tellers, should be narrowed,[807] the
object being to exclude the political agents who were accustomed to
occupy the sides of the passages, and influence or intimidate, by their
presence if not by their words, the voting citizen at the critical
moment when he was about to record his verdict. Such methods were
probably found effective even where the ballot was used, but their
success must have been even greater in trials for treason, at which
voting by word of mouth was still employed. It was difficult for a
government, which had accepted the ballot, to offer a decent resistance
to a measure of this kind. The proposal attacked indifferently political
methods which might be, and probably were, employed by both parties;
and, although its success would no doubt inflict more injury on the
government than on the opposition, it could not be repudiated by the
senate on the ground that it was tainted by an aggressively "popular"
character. The opposition which it actually encountered was apparently
based on the formal ground that the heads of the administration had not
been sufficiently consulted. The law was not the outcome of any
senatorial decree, nor had the senate's opinion been deliberately taken
on the utility of the measure. The consul Cotta persuaded the house to
frame a resolution expressing dissatisfaction with the proposal as it
stood, and to summon Marius for an explanation. The summons was promptly
obeyed, but the expected scene of humiliation of the untried parvenu was
rudely interrupted at an early period of the debate. Marius knew that he
had the people and the tribunician college with him, and that even the
most perverse ingenuity could never construe the measure as a factious
opposition to the interests of the State. Obedience to the senate would
in this instance mean the sacrifice of a reputation for political
honesty and courage; it might be better to burn his boats and to trust
for the future to the generosity of the people for the gifts which the
nobility so grudgingly bestowed. He chose to regard the controversy as
one of those cases of hopeless conflict between the members of the
magistracy, for the solution of which the law had provided regular
though exceptional means. He fell back on the majesty of the tribunician
power, and threatened Cotta with imprisonment if he did not withdraw his
resolution.[808] It is probable that up to this point no decree
expressing wholesale condemnation of the bill had been passed, and the
senate might therefore be coerced through the magistrate, without its
authority being utterly disregarded. Cotta turned to his colleague
Metellus, known to be the friend of the obstinate tribune, and Metellus
rising gave the consul his support. Marius, undaunted by the attitude of
his patron, hurried matters to a close. He summoned his attendant to the
Curia, and bade him take Metellus himself into custody and conduct him
to a place of confinement. Metellus appealed to the other tribunes, but
none would offer his help; and the senate was forced to save the
situation by sacrificing its vote of censure. So rapid and complete a
victory, even on an issue of no great importance, delighted the popular
mind. The senate was then in good favour at Rome; but a chance for
realising their superiority over the greatest of their servants was
always welcome to the people. They also loved those exhibitions of
physical force by which the genius of Rome had solved the difficulties
of her constitution: and the violence of a tribune was as impressive now
as was that of a consul four years later. Marius had gained a character
for sturdy independence and unshaken constancy, which was to produce
unexpected results in the political world of the future, and was to be
immediately tested in a manner that must have proved profoundly
disappointing to many who acclaimed him. It seems as though this victory
over the resolution of the senate may have urged certain would-be
reformers to believe that measures of a Gracchan type might win the
favour of the people, and secure the support of a tribunician college
which seemed to be out of sympathy with the government. Some proposal
dealing with the distribution of corn,[809] perhaps an extension of the
existing scheme, was made. It found no more resolute opponent than
Marius, and his opposition helped to secure its utter defeat. In this
resistance we may perhaps see the genuinely neutral character of the
man; for the attribution of interested motives, although the historian's
favourite revenge for the difficulties of his task, endows his
characters with a foresight which is as abnormal as their lack of
principle; although it is questionable whether Marius would have gained
by identifying himself with a cause which had not yet emerged from the
ruin of its failure.

The lack of official support and the alienation of a section of the
people may perhaps be traced in the successive defeats of his
candidature for the curule and plebeian aedileships,[810] although in
the elections to these offices the attention of the people was so keenly
directed to the candidate's pecuniary means as a guarantee of their
gratification by brilliant shows, that the aedileship must have been of
all magistracies the most difficult of attainment by merit unsupported
by wealth. Even when the rejected candidate had won favour on other
grounds, the electors could salve their consciences with the reflection
that the aedileship was no obligatory step in an official career, and
that, where merit and not money was in question, they could show their
appreciation of personal qualities in the elections to the praetorship.
A year after his repulse Marius turned to the candidature for this
office, which conveyed the first opportunity of the tenure of an
independent military command. He was returned at the bottom of the poll,
and even then had to fight hard to retain his place in the praetorian
college.[811] A charge of undue influence was brought against the man
who had struggled successfully to preserve the purity of the Comitia,
and it was pretended that a slave of one of his closest political
associates had been seen within the barriers mixing with the voters.
That the charge was supported by powerful influences, or was generally
believed to be correct, is perhaps shown by the conduct of the censors
of the succeeding year who expelled this associate from the senate.[812]
The jurors[813] before whom the case was tried--representatives, as we
must suppose, of the equestrian order and therefore presumably
uninfluenced by senatorial hostility--were long perplexed by the
conflict of evidence. During the first days of the trial it seemed as
though the doom of Marius was sealed, and his unexpected acquittal was
only secured by the scrutiny of the tablets revealing an equality of
votes, a condition which, according to the rules of Roman process,
necessitated a favourable verdict.

His praetorship, in accordance with the rules which now governed this
magistracy in consequence of the multiplication of the courts of
justice, confined his energies to Rome. We do not know what department
of this office he administered; but, as the charge of no department
could make an epoch in the career of any one but a lawyer gifted with
original ideas, we are not surprised to find that Marius's tenure of
this magistracy, although creditable, did not excite any marked
attention.[814] After his praetorship he obtained his first independent
military command in Farther Spain. Such a province had always its little
problems of pacification to present to an energetic commander, and
Marius's military talents were moderately exercised by the repression of
the habitual brigandage of its inhabitants.[815] His tenure of a foreign
command may have added to his wealth, for provincial government could be
made to increase the means of the most honest administrator. It was
still more important that his tenure of the praetorship had added him to
the ranks of the official nobility. His birth was now no bar to any
social distinction to which his simple and resolute soul might think it
profitable to aspire: and a family of the patrician Julii was not
ashamed to give one of its daughters to the adventurer from
Arpinum.[816] Thus Marius remained for a while; to Roman society an
interesting specimen of the self-made man, marked by a bluntness and
directness appropriate to the type and provocative of an amused regard;
to the professed politician a man with a fairly successful but puzzling
political career, and one that perhaps needed not to be too seriously
considered. For to all who understood the existent conditions of Roman
public life, his attainment of the consulship and of a dominant position
in the councils of the State must have seemed impossible. There was but
one contingency that could make Marius a necessary man. This was war on
a grand scale. But the contingency was distant, and, even if it arose,
the government might employ his skill while keeping him in a
subordinate position.

The career of Marius is not the only proof that the tradition of
successful opposition to the senate could be easily revived. In the year
following his tribunate a new and successful effort was made in the
direction of transmarine colonisation.[817] The pretext for the measure
was the necessity for preserving command of the territory which had been
won by the great victories of Domitius and Fabius on the farther side of
the Alps; the strategic value of the foundation was undeniable, and the
opposition of the government was probably directed by the form which it
was proposed that the new settlement should take. It was not to be a
mere fort in the enemy's country, like the already-established Aquae
Sextiae,[818] but a true _colonia_ of Roman citizens,[819] the creation
of which was certain to lead to excessive complications in the foreign
policy which dealt with the frontiers of the north. Such a colony would
become the centre of an active trade with the surrounding tribes; though
professedly founded in the people's interest, it would rapidly become a
mere feeler for extending the operations of the great mercantile class;
the growth of Roman trade-interests would necessarily involve a policy
of defence and probably of expansion, which would tell heavily on the
resources of the State. The success of the government was dependent on
the restriction of its efforts, and there is nothing surprising in the
hearty opposition which it offered to the projected colony of Narbo
Martius. Even after the original measure sanctioning the settlement had
passed the Comitia, senatorial influence led to the promulgation of a
new proposal in which the people was asked to reconsider its
decision.[820] But the project had found an ardent champion in the young
Lucius Crassus, who strengthened the position which he had won in the
previous year, by a speech weighty beyond the promise of his age.[821]
In his successful advocacy of a national undertaking he was not afraid
to impugn the authority of the senate, and reaped an immediate reward in
being selected, despite his youth, as one of the commissioners for
establishing the settlement.[822]

It is probable that without the support of the equestrian order the
project for the foundation of Narbo Martius might have fallen through.
The man of popular sympathies whose measures attracted their support was
tolerably certain of success, and the man who posed as the champion of
the order was still more firmly placed. The latter position was occupied
for a considerable time by Caius Servilius Glaucia, whose tribunate
probably belongs to the close of the period which we are
describing.[823] Glaucia himself, probably one of those scions of the
nobility whom an original bent of mind had alienated from the narrow
interests of his order, was a man who, lacking in the gift of passionate
but steadfast seriousness which makes the great reformer, possessed
powers admirably adapted for holding the popular ear and inspiring his
auditors with a kind of robust confidence in himself. Ready, acute and
witty,[824] he possessed the happy faculty of taking the Comitia, under
the guise of the plain and honest man, into his confidence. The very
ignorance of his auditors became a respectable attribute, when it was
figured as ingenuous simplicity which needed protection against the
tortuous wiles of the legislator and the official draughtsman. On one
occasion he told his audience that the essence of a law was its
preamble. If, when read to them, it was found to contain the words
"dictator, consul, praetor or magister equitum," the bill was no concern
of theirs. But, if they caught the utterance "and whosoever after this
enactment," then they must wake up, for some new fetter of law was being
forged to bind their limbs.[825] A man of this unconventional type was
not likely to be popular in the senate, and the opprobrious name, which
he subsequently bore in the Curia,[826] is a proof of the liveliness
which he imparted to debate.

At the time of Glaucia's tribunate some subtle movement seems to have
been on foot for undoing the judiciary law of Caius Gracchus and ousting
the knights from their possession of the court before which senators
most frequently appeared. The law which dealt with the crime of
extortion by Roman officials had been frequently renewed, and, whenever
a proposal was made for recasting the enactment with a view to effecting
improvements in procedure, the equestrian tenure of the court was
threatened; for a new law might state qualifications for the jurors
differing from those which had given this department of jurisdiction to
the knights. The relief of the order was therefore great when the
necessary work of revision was undertaken by one who showed himself an
ardent champion of equestrian claims.[827] Glaucia's alteration in
procedure was thorough and permanent. He introduced the system of the
"second hearing "--an obligatory renewal of the trial, which rendered it
possible for counsel to discuss evidence which had been already given,
and for jurors to get a grasp of the mass of scattered data which had
been presented to their notice--[828] and he also made it possible to
recover damages, not only from the chief malefactor, but from all who
had dishonestly shared his spoils.[829] These principles continued to be
observed in trials for extortion to the close of the Republic, and may
have been the only permanent relic of Glaucia's feverish political
career. But for the moment the clauses of his law which dealt with the
qualifications of the jurors, were those most anxiously awaited and most
heartily acclaimed. He had stemmed a reaction and consolidated, beyond
hope of alteration for a long term of years, the system of dual control
established by Caius Gracchus.

The careers and successes of Marius, Crassus and Glaucia exhibit the
spirit of unrest which broke at intervals through the apathetic
tolerance displayed by the people towards the rule of the nobility.
These alternations of confidence and distrust find their counterpart in
the religious history of the times; but a panic springing from a belief
in the anger of the gods was even more difficult to control than the
alarm excited by the attitude of the government. Such a panic knew no
distinctions of station, sex or age; it seized on citizens who cared
nothing for the problems of administration, it was strong in proportion
to the weakness of its victims, and gathered from the dark thoughts and
wild words of the imbecile the poison which infected the sober mind and
assumed, from the very universality of the sickness, the guise of a
healthy effort at rooting out some deep-seated pollution from the State.
The gloomy record of the religious persecutions of the past made it
still more difficult for a government, which prided itself on the
retention of the ancient control of morals, which gloried in its
monopoly of an historic priesthood that had often set its hand to the
work of extirpation, to stifle such a cry. The demand for atonement was
the voice of the conserver of Rome's moral life, of the patriotic
devotee who was striving earnestly to reclaim the waning favour of her
tutelary gods. If it was further believed that the seat of the
corruption was to be found amidst the families of the nobility itself,
the last barrier to resistance had been broken down, for even to seem to
shield the unholy thing was to make its lurking place an object of
horror and execration.

The nerves of the people were first excited by various prodigies that
had appeared; a confirmation of their fears might have been found in the
utter destruction of the army of Porcius Cato in Thrace;[830] and a
strange calamity soon gave an index to the nature of the offence which
excited the anger of the gods. When Helvius, a Roman knight, was
journeying with his wife and daughter from Rome to Apulia, they were
enveloped in a sudden storm. The alarm of the girl urged the father to
seek shelter with all speed. The horses were loosed from the vehicle,
the maiden was placed on one, and the party was hastening along the
road, when suddenly there was a blinding flash and, when it had passed,
the young Helvia and her horse were seen prone upon the ground. The
force of the lightning had stripped every garment and ornament from her
body, and the dead steed lay a few paces off with its trappings riven
and scattered around it.[831] Death by a thunderbolt had always a
meaning, which was sometimes hard to find; but here the gods had not
left the inquiring votary utterly in doubt. The nakedness of the
stricken maiden was a riddle that the priests could read. It was a
manifest sign that a virginal vow had been broken, and that some of the
keepers of the eternal fire were tainted with the sin of unchastity. The
destruction of the horse seemed to portend that a knight would be found
to be a partner in the crime.[832] Evidence was invited and was soon
forthcoming. The slave of a certain Barrus came forward and deposed to
the corruption of three of the vestal virgins, Aemilia, Licinia and
Marcia.[833] He pretended that the incestuous intercourse had been of
long standing, and he named his own master amongst many other men whom
he declared to be the authors of the sacrilege. The maidens were
believed to have added to their lovers to screen their first offence;
the sacrifice of their honour became the price of silence; and their
first corrupters were forced to be dumb when jealousy was mastered by
fear. The knowledge of the crime is believed to have been widely spread
amongst the circles of the better class, until the conspiracy of silence
was broken down by the action of a slave,[834] and all who would not be
deemed accomplices were forced to add their share to the weight of the
accusing testimony.

A scandal of this magnitude called for a formal trial by the supreme
religious tribunal, and towards the close of the year[835] Lucius
Metellus, the chief pontiff, summoned the incriminated vestals before
the college. Aemilia was condemned, but Licinia and Marcia were
acquitted. There was an immediate outcry; the pontiff's leniency was
severely censured; and the anger and fear of the people emboldened a
tribune, Sextus Peducaeus, to propose for the first time that the
secular arm should wrest from the pontifical college the spiritual
jurisdiction that it had abused. He carried a resolution that a special
commission should be established by the people to continue the
investigation.[836] The judges were probably Roman knights after the
model of the Gracchan jurors; the president was the terrible Lucius
Cassius Longinus, already known for his severity as a censor and famed
for his penetration as a criminal judge. This fatal penetration, which
had endowed his tribunal with the nickname "the reef of the
accused," [837] was now welcomed as a surety that the inquiry would be
searching, and that the innocence which survived it would be so well
established that all doubt and fear would be dissolved. This commission
condemned, not only the two vestals whom the pontiffs had acquitted, but
many of their female intermediaries as well.[838] Some of their supposed
paramours must also have been convicted; amongst the accused was Marcus
Antonius, who was in future days to share the realm of oratory with
Lucius Crassus. He was on the eve of his departure to Asia, where he was
to exercise the duties of a quaestor, when he was summoned to appear
before the court over which Cassius presided. He might have pleaded the
benefit of his obligation to continue his official duties;[839] but he
preferred to waive his claim and face his judges. His escape was
believed to have been mainly due to the heroic conduct of a young slave,
who, presented of his own free will to the torture, bore the anguish of
the rack, the scourge and the fire without uttering a word that might
incriminate his master.[840] The free employment of such methods in
trials for incest throws a grave doubt on the value of the judgment
which they elicited; and, when a court is established for the purpose of
appeasing the popular conscience, a part at least of its conduct may be
easily suspected of being preordained. Cassius's rigour in this matter
was thought excessive;[841] but, even had he and the jurors meted out
nothing but the strictest justice, the memory of their sentence would
long have rankled in the minds of the influential families whose members
they had condemned, and thus perpetuated the tradition of their
unnecessary severity. It may be doubted, however, whether a secular
court was competent to inflict the horrible penalties of pontifical
jurisdiction, to condemn the vestal to a living grave and her paramour
to death by the scourge;[842] interdiction, and perhaps in the more
serious cases the death by strangling usually reserved for traitors, may
have been meted out to the men, while the women may have been handed
over to their relatives for execution. But even this exemplary
visitation of the vices which lurked in the heart of the State was not
deemed sufficient to appease the gods or to quiet the popular
conscience. To punish the guilty was to offer the barest satisfaction to
heaven and to conscience; a fuller atonement was demanded, and the
Sibylline oracles, when consulted on the point, were understood to
ordain the cultivation of certain strange divinities by the living
sacrifice of four strangers, two of Hellenic and two of Gallic
race.[843] The accomplishment of this act must have been a severe strain
on the reason and conscience of a government which sixteen years later
absolutely prohibited the performance of human sacrifice[844] and soon
made efforts to stamp out the barbarous ritual even in its foreign
dependencies.[845] Even this concession to the panic of the times could
not be regarded as fraught with much worldly success. The gods seemed
still to retain an unkind feeling both to the city and the government.
Two years later there was a return of dreadful prodigies, and a great
part of Rome was laid waste by a terrible fire. A few months more and
news was brought from Africa which shook to its very foundations the
fabric of senatorial rule.[846]


The land, on which the eyes of the world were soon to be fastened, was
the neglected protectorate which had been built up to secure the
temporary purpose of the overthrow of Carthage, and had since remained
in the undisturbed possession of the peaceful descendants of Masinissa.
The fortunes of the kingdom of Numidia, so far as they affected that
kingdom itself, deserved to be neglected by its suzerain; for the power
which Masinissa had won by arms and diplomacy was more than sufficient
to protect its own interests. The Numidia of the day formed in
territorial extent one of the mightiest kingdoms of the world, and
ranked only second to Egypt amongst the client powers of Rome.[847] It
extended from Mauretania to Cyrenaica,[848] from the river Muluccha to
the greater Syrtis, thus touching on the west the Empire of the Moors,
at that time confined to Tingitana, on the east almost penetrating to
Egypt, and enjoying the best part of the fertile region which borders
the coast of the Mediterranean.[849] For the Moroccan boundary of the
kingdom--the river Muluccha or Molocath--see Göbel _Die Westküste
Afrikas im Altertum_ pp. 79,80. From this vast tract of country Rome had
cut out for herself a small section on the north-east. In the creation
of the province of Africa her moderation and forbearance must have
astonished her Numidian client; and, if Masinissa showed signs of
hesitancy in rousing himself for the destruction of Carthage, the fears
of his sons must have been immediately dispelled when they saw the
slender profits which Rome meant to reap from the suppression of their
joint rival. The Numidian kings were even allowed to keep the territory
which had been wrested from Carthage between the Second and Third Punic
Wars. This comprised the region about the Tusca, which boasted not less
than fifty towns, the district known as the Great Plains,[850] which has
been identified with the great basin of the Dakhla of the
Oulad-bon-Salem, and probably the plateau of Vaga (Bêdja) which
dominates this basin.[851] The Roman lines merely extended from the
Tusca (the Wäd El-Kebir) in the North, where that river flows into the
Mediterranean opposite the island of Thabraca (Tabarka) to Thenae
(Henschir Tina) on the south-east.[852] But even the upper waters of the
Tusca belonged to Numidia, as did the towns of Vaga, Sicca Veneria and
Zama Regia. Consequently the Roman frontier must have curved eastward
until it reached the point where a rocky region separates the basin of
the Bagradas (Medjerda) from the plains of the Sahel; thence it ran to
the neighbourhood of Aquae Regiae and thence, probably following the
line of a ditch drawn between the two great depressions of Kairouan and
El-Gharra, to its ultimate bourne at Thenae.[853] It is clear that the
Romans did not look on their province as an end desirable in itself.
They had left in the hands of their Numidian friends some of the most
fertile lands, some of the richest commercial towns, situated in a
district which they might easily have claimed. Against such annexation
Masinissa could have uttered no word of legitimate protest. His kingdom
had already been almost doubled by the acquisition of the lands of his
rival Syphax, and his sons saw themselves through the aid of Rome in
possession of an artificially created kingdom, which was so entirely out
of harmony with the traditions of Numidian life that it could scarcely
have entered into the dreams of any prince of that race. But the
conquering city reposed some faith in gratitude, and reposed still more
in its habitual policy of caution. The province which it created was
simply a political and strategic necessity. It was intended to secure
the negative object of preventing the reconstitution of the great
political and commercial centre which had fallen.[854] If Carthage was
never to rise again, a fragment of the coast-line must be kept in the
hands of the possessors of its devastated site. It might have been
better for the peace of Africa had the Romans been a little more
grasping and had the Roman position been stronger than it was. The
Phoenicians scattered along the coast had become familiar objects to the
Berber inhabitants and their kings; to the enlightened monarch they were
a valuable addition to the population of any of his cities--all the more
valuable now that they were politically powerless. But with the Roman
official and the Roman trader it was different. Here was an alien and
(in spite of the restraint of the government) an encroaching
civilisation, utterly unfamiliar to the eyes of the natives, but known
to justify its lordly security by that dim background of power which
clung to the name of the paramount city of the West. The Roman
possessions were an ugly eyesore to a man who held that Africa should be
for the Africans. The wise Masinissa might tolerate the spectacle,
content (as, indeed, he should have been) with the power and security
which Rome's friendship had brought to her ally. But it remained to be
seen whether his views would always be held by his own subjects or by
some less cautious or less happily placed successor of his own line.

It was indeed possible that a hostile feeling of nationality might be
awakened beyond the limits even of the great kingdom of Numidia. The
designations which the Romans employ for the natives of North Africa
obscure the fact, which was recognised in later times by the Arab
conquerors, of the unity of the great Berber folk.[855] Roman historians
and geographers speak of the Numidians and Mauretanians as though they
were distinct peoples; but there can be little doubt that, then as
to-day, they were but two fractions of the same great race, and that
even the wild Gaetulians of the South are but representatives of the
parent stock of this indigenous people. As in the case of nearly all
races which in default of historical data we are forced to call
indigenous, two separate elements may be distinguished in this stock, an
earlier and a later, and survivals of the original distinctions between
these elements were clearly discernible in many parts of Northern
Africa; but, as the fusion between these stocks had been effected in
prehistoric times, a common Berber nationality may be held to have
extended from the Atlantic almost to Egypt, at the time when the Romans
were added to the immigrant Semites and Greeks who had already sought to
dwell amidst its borders. The basis of this nationality is thought to be
found in the aborigines of the Sahara who had gradually moved up from
the desert to the present littoral. There they were joined by a race of
another type who were wending their way from what is now the continent
of Europe. The Saharic man was of a dark-brown colour but with no traces
of the negroid type. His European comrade was a man of fair complexion
and light hair; and these curiously blended races continued to live side
by side and to form a single nation, preserving perhaps each some of its
own psychical characteristics, but speaking in common the language of
the older Saharic stock.[856] But the two races were not uniformly
distributed over the various territories of Northern Africa. The white
race was perhaps more in evidence in Mauretania, as it is in the Morocco
of to-day;[857] the dark race was probably most strongly represented
amongst the Gaetulians of the South. There were, in short, in Northern
Africa two zones, marked by differences of civilisation as well as of
ethnic descent, which were clearly distinguished in antiquity. The first
is represented by the Afri, Numidians, and Moors, who inhabited the
coast region from East to West. These were early subjected to alien
influences, the greatest of which, before the coming of the Roman, was
the advent of the Semite. The second is shown by the vast aggregate of
tribes which form a curve along the south from the ocean to the
Cyrenaica. These tribes, which were called by the common name of
Gaetuli, were almost exempt from European influences in historic, and
probably in prehistoric, times. A few intermingled with the Aethiopians
of the Sahara,[858] but, taken as a whole, they are believed to
represent the primitive race of brown Saharic dwellers in all
its purity.

Had the term Nomad or Numidian been applied to the southern races, the
designation might have been justified by the migratory character of
their life. But it is more than questionable whether the designation is
defensible as applied to the people to whom it is usually attached. The
Numidians do not seem to have possessed either the character or habits
of a genuinely nomadic people such as the Arabs.[859] They lived in huts
and not in tents. These huts (_mapalia_), which had the form of an
upturned boat, may have seemed a poor habitation to Phoenicians, Greeks
and Romans; but, as habitations, they were meant to be permanent; they
were an index of the possession of property, of a lasting attachment to
the soil. The village formed by a group of these little homes clustering
round a steep height, was a still further index of a political and
military society that intended to maintain and defend the area on which
it had settled. The pages of Sallust give ample evidence of an active
village life engrossed with the toils of agriculture, and the mass of
the population of the region of the Tell must have been for a long time
fixed to the soil which yielded it a livelihood. Elsewhere there was
indeed need of something like periodic migration. On the high plateaux
pastoral life made the usual change from summer to winter stations
necessary. But this regulated movement does not correspond strictly to
the desultory life of a truly nomadic people. Yet it is easy to see how,
in contrast to the regular and often sedentary mercantile life of the
Phoenician and the Greek, that of the Numidian might be considered wild
and migratory. He was in truth a "trekker" rather than a nomad, and he
possessed the invaluable military attributes of the man unchained by
cities and accustomed to wander far in a hard and bracing country. A
skill in horsemanship that was the wonder of the world, the eye for a
country hastily traversed, the memory for the spot once seen, the power
of rapid mobilisation and of equally rapid disappearance, the gift of
being a knight one day, a shepherd or a peasant the next--these were the
attributes that made a Roman conquest of Numidia so long impossible and
rendered diplomacy imperative as a supplement to war.

It is less easy to reconstruct the moral and political attributes of
this people from the data which we at present possess, or to reconcile
the experience of to-day with the impressions of ancient historians. But
so permanent has been the great bulk of the population of Northern
Africa that it is tempting to interpret the ancient Numidian in the
light of the modern Kabyle. One who has had experience of the latter
endows him with an intelligent head, a frank and open physiognomy and a
lively eye, describes him as active and enterprising, lively and
excitable, possessed of moral pride, eminently truthful, a stern holder
of his plighted word and a respecter of women--a respect shown by the
general practice of monogamy.[860] Even when stirred to war he is said
not to lend himself to unnecessary cruelty.[861] The activity,
liveliness and excitability of this people may be traced in the accounts
of antiquity; but Roman records would add the impression of duplicity,
treachery and cruelty as characteristics of the race. Yet as these
characteristics are exhibited in the record of a great national war
against a hated invader, and are chiefly illustrated in the persons of a
king or his ministers--individuals spoilt by power or maddened by
fear--we need not perhaps attach too much importance to the discrepancy
between the evidence of the ancient and modern world.

Much of the history of Numidia, especially during the epoch of the war
of the Romans against Jugurtha, would be illuminated if we could
interpret the political tendencies of its ancient inhabitants by those
of the Kabyle of modern times. The latter is said to be a sturdy
democrat, founding his society on the ideas of equality and
individuality. Each member of this society enjoys the same rights and is
bound down to the same duties. There is no military or religious
nobility, there are no hereditary chiefs. The affairs of the society,
about which all can speak or vote, are administered by simple
delegates.[862] There is nothing in the history of the war with Jugurtha
to belie these characteristics, there is much which confirms them. In
the narrative of that war there is no mention of a nobility. The
influential men described are simply those who have been elevated by
wealth or familiarity with the king. The monarchy itself is a great
power where the king is present, but the life of the community is not
broken when the king is a fugitive; and loyalty to the crown centres
round a great personality, who is expected to drive the hated invaders
into the sea, not merely round the name of a legitimate dynasty.

Monarchy, in fact, seems a kind of artificial product in Numidia; but,
artificial as it may have been, it had done good work. An active reign
of more than fifty years by a man who united the absolutism of the
savage potentate with the wisdom and experience of the civilised ruler,
had produced effects in Numidia that could never die, Masinissa had
proved what Numidian agriculture might become under the guidance of
scientific rules by the creation of model farms, whose fertile acres
showed that cultivated plants of every kind could be grown on native
soil;[863] while under his rule and that of his son Micipsa the life of
the city showed the same progress as that of the country. Numidia could
not become one of the granaries of the world without its capital rising
to the rank of a great commercial city. Cirta, though situated some
forty-eight Roman miles from the sea,[864] was soon sought by the
Greeks, those ubiquitous bankers of the Mediterranean world,[865] while
Roman and Italian capitalists eagerly plied their business in this new
and attractive sphere which had been presented to their efforts by the
conquests of Rome and the civilising energy of its native rulers.

The kingdom of Numidia suffered from a weakness common to monarchies
where the strong spirits of subjects and local chiefs can be controlled
only by the still stronger hand of the central potentate, and where the
practice of polygamy and concubinage in the royal house sometimes gave
rise to many pretenders but to no heir with an indefeasible claim to
rule. There was no settled principle of succession to the throne, and
the death of the sovereign for the time being threatened the peace or
unity of the kingdom, while it entailed grave responsibilities upon its
nominal protector. Masinissa himself had been excluded from the throne
by an uncle,[866] and but for his vigour and energy might have remained
the subject of succeeding pretenders.

A crisis was threatened at his own decease but was happily averted by
the prudence of the dying monarch. Loath as he probably was to
acknowledge the supremacy of Rome, he thrust on her the invidious task
of deciding the succession to the throne. He felt that Roman authority
would be more effective than paternal wishes; perhaps he saw that
amongst his sons there was not one who could be trusted alone and
unaided to continue to build up the fortunes of the state and to claim
recognition from his brothers as their undisputed lord, while the show
of submission to Rome might weaken the vigilance and disarm the jealousy
of the protecting power. Scipio was summoned to his deathbed to
apportion the kingdom between the legitimate sons who survived him,
Micipsa, Gulussa and Mastanabal.[867] To Micipsa was given the capital
Cirta, the royal palace and the general administration of the kingdom,
the warlike Gulussa was made commander-in-chief, while to Mastanabal the
youngest was assigned the task of directing the judicial affairs of the
dominion.[868] This division of authority was soon disturbed by the
death of the two younger brothers, and Micipsa was left alone to indulge
his peaceful inclinations during a long and uneventful reign of nearly
thirty years. The fall of Carthage had left him free from all irritating
external relations; for the King of Numidia was no longer required to
act the part of a constant spy on the actions, and an occasional
trespasser on the territory, of the greatest of African powers. The
nearest scene of disturbance was the opposite continent of Spain, and
here he did Rome good service by sending her assistance against
Viriathus and the Numantines.[869] Unvexed by troubles within his
borders, Micipsa devoted his life to the arts of peace. He beautified
Cirta and attracted Greek settlers to the town, amongst them men of arts
and learning, who delighted the king with their literary and philosophic
discourse.[870] The period of rest fostered the resources of the
kingdom, and in spite of a devastating pestilence which is said to have
swept off eight hundred thousand of the king's subjects,[871] the state
could boast at his death of a regular army of ten thousand cavalry and
twenty thousand foot.[872] This was but the nucleus of the host that
might be raised in the interior, and swelled by the border tribes of
Numidia; and the man who could win the confidence of the soldiers and
the attachment of the peasantry held the fortune of Numidia in his
hands. This reflection may have cast a shadow over the latter years of
Micipsa. Certainly the prospect of the succession was as dark to him as
it had been to his father, Masinissa. Like his predecessor he believed
that a dynasty was stronger than an individual, and he deliberately
imitated the work of Scipio by leaving a collegiate rule to his
successors. One of these successors, however, was not his own offspring.
His brother Mastanabal had left behind him an illegitimate son named
Jugurtha. The boy had been neglected during the lifetime of his
grandfather, Masinissa; perhaps the hope that Mastanabal might yet beget
a representative worthy of the succession caused little importance to be
attached to the concubine's son, in spite of the fact that it was the
policy of the Numidian monarchs to keep as many heirs in reserve as it
was possible for them to procure. But when Gauda, the only legitimate
son of Mastanabal, proved to be weak in body and deficient in mind,[873]
greater regard was paid to the vigorous boy who was now the sole
efficient representative of one branch of the late dynasty. Even without
this motive the kindly nature of Micipsa would probably have led him to
look with favour on the orphan child of his brother; the young Jugurtha
was reared in the palace and educated with the heirs presumptive,
Adherbal and Hiempsal, the two sons of the reigning king. It soon became
manifest that a very lion had been begotten and was growing to strength
in the precincts of the royal court. All the graces of the love-born
offspring seem to have been present at Jugurtha's birth. A mighty frame,
a handsome face, were amongst his lesser gifts. More remarkable were the
vigour and acuteness of his mind, the moral strength which yielded to no
temptation of ease or indolence, the keen zest for life which led him to
throw himself into the hardy sports of his youthful compeers, to run, to
ride, to hurl the javelin with a skill known only to the nomad, the
_bonhomie_ and bright good temper which endeared him to the comrades
whom his skill had vanquished. Much of his leisure was passed in
tracking the wild beasts of the desert; his skill as a hunter was
matchless, or was equalled only by his easy indifference to his

The sight of these qualities gladdened Micipsa's heart; for the military
leader, so essential to the safety of the Numidian monarchy, seemed to
be now assured. We are told that a shade of anxiety crossed his mind
when he compared the youth of his own sons with the glorious manhood of
Jugurtha, and thought of the temptations which the prospect of an
undivided monarchy might present to a mind gradually weaned from loyalty
by the very sense of its own greatness;[875] but there is no reason to
believe that the good old king allowed his imagination to embrace
visions of the dagger or the poisoned bowl, and that the mysterious
death of his nephew was only hindered by the thought of the resentment
which it would arouse amongst the Numidian chiefs and their dependents.
Certainly the mission with which Jugurtha was soon credited--the mission
which was perhaps to alter the whole tone of his mind and to concentrate
its energies on an unlawful end--was one which any Numidian king might
have destined for the most favoured of his sons. Jugurtha was to be sent
to Numantia to lead the Numidian auxiliaries of horse and foot, to be a
member of the charmed circle that surrounded Scipio, to see, as he moved
amongst the young nobility, the promise of greatness that was in store
for Rome in the field whether of politics or of war, to form perhaps
binding friendships and to lay up stores of gratitude for future use. In
dismissing his nephew, Micipsa was putting the issue into the hands of
fate. Jugurtha might never return; but, if he did, it would be with an
experience and a prestige which would render him more than ever the
certain arbiter of the destinies of the kingdom.

The advantage which Jugurtha took of this marvellous opportunity was a
product of his nature and proves no ulterior design. Had he been the
simplest and most loyal of souls, he would have been forced to act as he
did. As a man of insight he soon learnt Scipio by heart, as a born
strategist and trained hunter he soon saw through the tricks of the
enemy, as a man devoid of the physical sense of fear he was foremost in
every action. He had grasped at once the secret of Roman discipline, and
his habit of implicit obedience to the word of command was as remarkable
as his readiness in offering the right suggestion, when his opinion was
asked. Intelligence was not a striking feature in the mental equipment
of the staff which surrounded Scipio; it was grasped by the general
wherever found without respect to rank or nationality; and while Marius
was rising step by step in virtue of his proved efficiency, the Numidian
prince, who might have been merely an ornamental adjunct to the army,
was made the leader or participant in almost every enterprise which
demanded a shrewd head and a stout heart. The favour of Scipio increased
from day to day.[876] This was to be won by merit and success alone.
With Romans of a weaker mould Jugurtha's wealth and social qualities
produced a similar result. He entertained lavishly, he was clever,
good-natured and amusing. He charmed the Romans whom he excelled as in
his childish days he had charmed the Numidian boys whom he outraced.

In these rare intervals of rest from warfare there was opportunity for
converse with men of influence and rank. Jugurtha's position and the
future of Numidia were sometimes discussed, and the youthful wiseacres
who claimed his friendship would sometimes suggest, with the cheerful
cynicism which springs from a shallow dealing with imperial interests,
that merit such as his could find its fitting sphere only if he were the
sole occupant of the Numidian throne.[877] The words may often have been
spoken in jest or idle compliment; although some who used them may have
meant them to be an expression of the maxim that a protectorate is best
served by a strong servant, and that a divided principality contains in
itself the seeds of disturbance. Others went so far as to suggest the
means as well as the end. Should difficulties arise with Rome, might not
the assent of the great powers be purchased with a price? Scipio had not
been blind to the colloquies of his favourite. When Numantia had been
destroyed and the army was folding its tents, he gave Jugurtha the
benefit of a public ovation and a private admonition. Before the
tribunal he decorated him with the prizes of war, and spoke fervidly in
his praise; then he invited him secretly to his tent and gave him his
word of warning. "The friendship of the Roman people should be sought
from the Roman people itself; no good could come of securing the support
of individuals by equivocal means; there was a danger in purchasing
public interest from a handful of vendors who professed to have power to
sell; Jugurtha's own qualities were his best asset; they would secure
him glory and a crown; if he tried to hasten on the course of events,
the material means on which he relied might themselves provoke his utter
ruin." [878]

On one point only Scipio seems to have been in agreement with the evil
counsellors of Jugurtha. He seems to have believed that the true
guardian of Numidia had been found, and the prince took with him a
splendid testimonial to be presented to his uncle Micipsa. Scipio wrote
in glowing terms of the great qualities which Jugurtha had displayed
throughout the war; he expressed his own delight at these services, his
own intention of making them known to the senate and Roman people, his
sense of the joy that they must have brought to the monarch himself. His
old friendship with Micipsa justified a word of congratulation; the
prince was worthy of his uncle and of his grandfather Masinissa.[879]

Whatever Micipsa's later intentions may have been, whether under
ordinary circumstances his natural benevolence and even his patriotism
would have continued to war with an undefined feeling of distrust, this
letter relieved his doubts, if only because it showed that Jugurtha
could never fill a private station. The act of adoption was immediately
accomplished, and a testament was drawn up by which Jugurtha was named
joint heir with Micipsa's own sons to the throne of Numidia.[880] A few
years later the aged king lay on his deathbed. As he felt his end
approaching, he is said to have summoned his friends and relatives
together with his two sons, and in their presence to have made a parting
appeal to Jugurtha. He reminded him of past kindnesses but acknowledged
the ample return; he had made Jugurtha, but Jugurtha had made the
Numidian name again glorious amongst the Romans and in Spain. He
exhorted him to protect the youthful princes who would be his colleagues
on the throne, and reminded him that in the maintenance of concord lay
the future strength of the kingdom. He appealed to Jugurtha as a
guardian rather than as a mere co-regent; for the power and name of the
mature and distinguished ruler would render him chiefly responsible for
harmony or discord; and he besought his sons to respect their cousin, to
emulate his virtues, to prove to the world that their father was as
fortunate in the children whom nature had given him as in the one who
had been the object of his adoption.[881] The appeal was answered by
Jugurtha with a goodly show of feeling and respect, and a few days later
the old king passed away. The hour which closed his splendid obsequies
was the last in which even a show of concord was preserved between the
ill-assorted trio who were now the rulers of Numidia. The position of
Jugurtha was difficult enough; for to rule would mean either the
reduction of his cousins to impotence or the perpetual thwarting of his
plans by crude and suspicious counsels. For that these would be
suspicious as well as crude, was soon revealed: and the situation was
immediately rendered intolerable by the conduct of Hiempsal. This
prince, the younger of the two brothers, was a headstrong boy filled
with a sense of resentment at Jugurtha's elevation to the throne and
smarting at the neglect of what he held to be the legitimate claim to
the succession. When the first meeting of the joint rulers was held in
the throne room, Hiempsal hurried to a seat at the right of Adherbal,
that Jugurtha might not occupy the place of honour in the centre; it was
with difficulty that he was induced by the entreaties of his brother to
yield to the claims of age and to move to the seat on the other side.
This struggle for precedence heralded the coming storm. In the course of
a long discussion on the affairs of the kingdom Jugurtha threw out the
suggestion that it might be advisable to rescind the resolutions and
decrees of the last five years, since during that period age had
impaired the faculties of Micipsa. Hiempsal said that he agreed, since
it was within the last three years that Jugurtha had been adopted to a
share in the throne. The object of this remark betrayed little emotion;
but it was believed that the peevish insult was the stimulus to an
anxious train of thought which, as was to be expected from the resolute
character of the thinker, soon issued into action. To be a usurper was
better than to be thought one; the first situation entailed power, the
second only danger. Anger played its part no doubt; but in a temperament
like Jugurtha's such an emotion was more likely to be the justification
than the cause of a crime. His thoughts from that moment were said to
have been bent on ensnaring the impetuous Hiempsal. But guile moves
slowly, and Jugurtha would not wait.[882]

The first meeting of the kings had given so thorough a proof of the
impossibility of united rule that a resolution was soon framed to divide
the treasures and territories of the monarchy. A time was fixed for the
partition of the domains, and a still earlier date for the division of
the accumulated wealth. The kings meanwhile quitted the capital to
reside in close propinquity to their cherished treasures. Hiempsal's
temporary home was in the fortified town of Thirmida,[883] and, as
chance would have it, he occupied a house which belonged to a man who
had once been a confidential attendant on Jugurtha.[884] The inner
history of the events which followed could never have been known with
certainty; but it was believed that Jugurtha induced this man to visit
the house under some pretext and bring back impressions of the keys. The
security of Hiempsal's person and treasures was supposed to be
guaranteed by his regularly receiving into his own hands the keys of the
gates after they had been locked; but a night came in which the portals
were noiselessly opened and a band of soldiers burst into the house.
They divided into parties, ranging each room in turn, prying into every
recess, bursting doors that barred their entrance, stabbing the
attendants, some in their sleep, others as they ran to meet the
invaders. At last Hiempsal was found crouching in a servant's room; he
was slain and beheaded, and those who held Jugurtha to be the author of
the crime reported that the head of the murdered prince was brought to
him as a pledge of the accomplished act.[885]

The news of the crime was soon spread through the whole of Northern
Africa. It divided Numidia into two camps. Adherbal was forced by panic
to arm in his own defence, and most of those who remained loyal to the
memory of Micipsa gathered to the standard of the legitimate heir. But
Jugurtha's fame amongst the fighting men of the kingdom stood him in
good stead. His adherents were the fewer in number, but they were the
more effective warriors.[886] He rapidly gathered such forces as were
available, and dashed from city to city, capturing some by storm and
receiving the voluntary submission of others. He had plunged boldly into
a civil war, and by his action declared the coveted prize to be nothing
less than the possession of the whole Numidian kingdom. But boldness was
his best policy; Rome might more readily condone a conquest than a
rebellion, and be more willing to recognise a king than a claimant.

Adherbal meanwhile had sent an embassy to the protecting State, to
inform the senate of his brother's murder and his own evil plight. But,
diffident as he was, he must have felt that a passive endurance of the
outrages inflicted by Jugurtha dimmed his prestige and imperilled his
position; he found himself at the head of the larger army, and trusting
to his superiority in numbers ventured to risk a battle with his veteran
enemy. The first conflict was decisive; his forces were so utterly
routed that he despaired of maintaining his position in any part of the
kingdom. He fled from the battlefield to the province of Africa and
thence took ship to Rome.[887]

Jugurtha was now undisputed master of the whole of Numidia and had
leisure to think out the situation. It could not have needed much
reflection to show that the safer course lay in making an appeal to
Rome. It was no part of his plan to detach Numidia entirely from the
imperial city; even if such an end were desirable, a national war could
not be successfully waged by a people divided in allegiance, against a
state whose tenacious policy and inexhaustible resources were only too
well known to Jugurtha. But he also knew that Rome, though tenacious,
had the tolerance which springs from the unwillingness to waste blood
and treasure on a matter of such little importance as a change in the
occupancy of a subject throne, that a dynastic quarrel would seem to
many _blasé_ senators a part of the order of nature in a barbarian
monarchy, that it is usually to the interest of a protecting state to
recognise a king in fact as one in law, and that he himself possessed
many powerful friends in the capital and had been told on good authority
that royal presents judiciously distributed might confirm or even mould
opinion. Within a few days of his victory he had despatched to Rome an
embassy well equipped with gold and silver. His ambassadors were to
confirm the affection of his old friends, to win new ones to his cause,
and to spare no pains to gain any fraction of support that a bountiful
generosity could buy.[888] Possibly few, who received courteous visits
or missives from these envoys, would have admitted that they had been
bribed. It was the custom of kings to send presents, and they did but
answer to the call of an old acquaintance and a man who had done signal
service to Rome. The news of Hiempsal's tragic end, the flight and
arrival of his exiled brother, had at the moment caused a painful
sensation in Roman circles. Now many members of the nobility plucked up
courage to remark that there might be another side to the question. The
newly gilded youth thronged their seniors in the senate and begged that
no inconsiderate resolution should be taken against Jugurtha. The
envoys, as men conscious of their virtue, calmly expressed their
readiness to await the senate's pleasure. The appointed day arrived, and
Adherbal, who appeared in person, unfolded the tale of his wrongs.[889]

Apart from the emotions of pity and consequent sympathy which may have
been awakened in some breasts by the story of the ruined and exiled
king, his appeal--passionate, vigorous and telling as it was--could not
have been listened to with any great degree of pleasure by the assembled
fathers; for it brought home to the government of a protecting state
that most unpleasant of lessons, its duty to the protected. With the
ingenuity of despair Adherbal exaggerated the degree of Roman
government, in order to emphasise the moral and political obligations of
the rulers to their dependents. If the King of Numidia was a mere agent
of the imperial[890] city, subordinating his wishes to her ends, seeing
the security of his own possessions in the extension of her influence
alone, clinging to her friendship with a trust as firm as that inspired
by ties of blood, it was the duty of the mistress to protect such a
servant, and to avenge an outrage which reflected alike on her gratitude
and her authority. It had been a maxim of Micipsa's that the clients of
Rome supported a heavy burden, but were amply compensated by the
immunity from danger that they enjoyed. And, if Rome did not protect, to
whom could a client-king look for aid? His very service to Rome had made
him the enemy of all neighbouring powers. It was true that Adherbal
could claim little in his own right; he was a suppliant before he could
be a benefactor, stripped of all power of benefiting his great protector
before his devotion could be put to the test. Yet he could claim a debt;
for he was the sole relic of a dynasty that had given their all to Rome.
Jugurtha was destroying a family whose loyalty had stood every test, he
was committing horrid atrocities on the friends of Rome, his insolence
and impunity were inflicting as grave an injury on the Roman name as on
the wretched victims of his cruelty.

Such was the current of subtle and cogent reasoning that ran through the
passionate address of the exiled king, crying for vengeance, but above
all for justice. The answer of Jugurtha's envoys was brief and to the
point. They had only to state their fictitious case. A plausible case
was all that was needed; their advocates would do the rest. Hiempsal,
they urged, had been put to death by the Numidians in consequence of the
cruelty of his rule. Adherbal had been the aggressor in the late war. He
had suffered defeat, and was now petitioning for help because he had
found himself unable to perpetrate the wrong which he had intended.
Jugurtha entreated the senate to let the knowledge which had been gained
of him at Numantia guide their opinion of him now, and to set his own
past deeds before the words of a personal enemy.[891] Both parties then
withdrew and the senate fell to debate.

It is sufficiently likely that, even had there been no corruption or
suspicion of corruption, the opinions of the House would have been
divided on the question that was put before them. Some minds naturally
suspicious might have been doubtful of the facts. Were Hiempsal's death
and Adherbal's flight due to national discontent or the unprovoked
ambition of Jugurtha? If the former was the case, was the restoration of
the king to an unwilling people by an armed force a measure conducive to
the interest of the protecting state? But even some who accepted
Adherbal's statement of the case, may have doubted the wisdom of a
policy of armed intervention; for it was manifest that a considerable
degree of force would have to be employed to lead Jugurtha to relinquish
his claims and to stamp out the loyalty of his adherents. The senate
could have been in no humour for another African war; they regarded
their policy as closed in that quarter of the world; they had shifted
the burden of frontier defence on to the Kings of Numidia, and must have
viewed with alarm the prospect of something far worse than a frontier
war arising from the quarrels of those kings. It is probable, therefore,
that proposals for a peaceful settlement would in any case have
commanded the respectful attention of the senate; had these been made
with a show of decency, with a general recognition of Adherbal's claims,
and some censure of Jugurtha's overbearing conduct (for this must have
been better attested than his share in Hiempsal's death), but little
adverse comment might have been excited by the tone of the debate. As it
was, when member after member rose, lauded Jugurtha's merits to the
skies and poured contempt on the statements of Adherbal,[892] an
unpleasant feeling was excited that this fervour was not wholly due to a
patriotic interest in the security of the empire. The very
boisterousness of the championship induced a more rigorous attitude on
the part of those who had not been approached by Jugurtha's envoys or
had resisted their overtures. They maintained that Adherbal must be
helped at all costs, and that strict punishment should be exacted for
Hiempsal's murder. This minority found an ardent advocate in Scaurus,
the keeper of the conscience of the senate, the man who knew better than
any that an individual or a government lives by its reputation, who saw
with horror that no specious pretexts were being employed to clothe a
policy which the malevolent might interpret as a political crime, and
that the sinister rumours which had been current in Rome were finding
their open verification in the senate. A vigorous championship of the
cause of right from the foremost politician of the day, might not
influence the decision of the House, and would certainly not lead to a
quixotic policy of armed intervention; but it might prove to critics of
the government that the inevitable decision had not been reached wholly
in defiance of the claims of the suppliant and wholly in obedience to
the machinations of a usurper. The decision, which closed the unreal
debate, recognised Jugurtha and Adherbal as joint rulers of Numidia. It
wilfully ignored Hiempsal's death, it wantonly exposed the lamb to the
wolf, it was worthless as a settlement of the dynastic question, unless
Jugurtha's supporters entertained the pious hope that their favourite's
ambition might be satisfied with the increase now granted to his wealth
and territory, and that his prudence might withhold him from again
testing the forbearance of the protecting power. But those who possessed
keener insight or who knew Jugurtha better, must have foreseen the
probable result of the impunity which had been granted; they must have
presaged, with anxious foreboding or with patient cynicism, the final
disappearance of Adherbal from the scene and a fresh request for the
settlement of the Numidian question, which would have become less
complex when there was but one candidate for the throne. The decree of
the senate enjoined the creation of a commission of ten, which should
visit Numidia and divide the whole of the kingdom which had been
possessed by Micipsa, between the rival chiefs.[893]

The head of the commission was Lucius Opimius, whose influence amongst
the members of his order had never waned since he had exercised and
proved his right of saving the State from the threatened dangers of
sedition. His selection on this occasion gave an air of impartiality to
the commission, for he was known to be no friend to Jugurtha.[894]

That prince, however, did not allow his past relations to be an obstacle
to his present enterprise. The conquest of Opimius was the immediate
object to which he devoted all his energies. As soon as the
commissioners had appeared on African soil, they and their chief were
received with the utmost deference by the king. The frequent and secret
colloquies which took place between the arbitrators and one of the
parties interested in their decision were not a happy omen for an
impartial judgment, and, if the award could by the exercise of
malevolent ingenuity be interpreted as unfair, would certainly breed the
suspicion, and, in case the matter was ever submitted to a hostile court
of law, the proof that the honour of the commissioners had succumbed to
the usual vulgar and universally accredited methods of corruption. On
the face of it the award seemed eminently just. Numidia was becoming a
commercial and agricultural state; but since commerce and agriculture
did not flourish in the same domains, it was impossible to endow each of
the claimants equally with both these sources of wealth. To Adherbal was
given that part of the kingdom which in its external attributes seemed
the more desirable; he was to rule over the eastern half of Numidia
which bordered on the Roman province, the portion of the country which
enjoyed a readier access to the sea and could boast of a fuller
development of urban life. Cirta the capital lay within this sphere, and
Adherbal could continue to give justice from the throne of his fathers.
But those who held that the strength of a country depended mainly on its
people and its soil, believed that Jugurtha had received the better
part. The territories with which he was entrusted were those bordering
on Mauretania, rich in the products of the soil and teeming with healthy
human life.[895] From the point of view of military resources there
could be no question as to which of the two kings was the stronger. The
peaceful character of Adherbal may have seemed a justification for his
peaceful sphere of rule; but the original aggressor was kept at his
normal strength. Jugurtha ruled over the lands in which the national
spirit, of which he was himself the embodiment, found its fullest and
fiercest expression. He did not mean to acquiesce for a moment in the
settlement effected by the commission. No sooner had it completed its
task and returned home, than he began to devise a scheme which would
lead to war between the two principalities and the consequent
annihilation of Adherbal. He shrank at first from provoking the senate
by a wanton attack on the neighbouring kingdom which they had just
created; his design was rather to draw Adherbal into hostilities which
would lead to a pitched battle, a certain victory, the disappearance of
the last of Micipsa's race and the union of the two crowns. With this
object he massed a considerable force on the boundary between the two
kingdoms and suddenly crossed the frontier. His mounted raiders captured
shepherds with their flocks, ravaged the fields of the peasantry, looted
and burned their homes; then swept back within their own borders.[896]
But Adherbal was not moved to reprisals. His circumstances no less than
his temperament dictated methods of peace: and, if he could not keep his
crown by diplomacy, he must have regarded it as lost. The Roman people
was a better safeguard than his Numidian subjects, and it was necessary
to temporise with Jugurtha until the senate could be moved by a strong
appeal. Envoys were despatched to the court of the aggressor to complain
of the recent outrage; they brought back an impudent reply; but
Adherbal, steadfast in his pacific resolutions, still remained
quiescent, Jugurtha's plan had failed and he was in no mood for further
delay; he held now, as he had done once before, that his end could best
be effected by vigorous and decisive action. The lapse of time could not
improve his own position but might strengthen that of Adherbal, and it
was advisable that a new Roman commission should witness an accomplished
fact and make the best of it rather than engage again in the settlement
of a disputed claim. It was no longer a predatory band but a large and
regular army that he now collected; his present purpose was not a foray
but a war.[897] He advanced into his rival's territory ravaging its
fields, harrying its cities and gathering booty as he went. At every
step the confidence of his own forces, the dismay of the enemy

Adherbal was at last convinced that he must appeal to the sword for the
security of his crown. A second flight to Rome would have utterly
discredited him in the eyes of his subjects, perhaps in those of the
Roman government itself; yet, as his chief hope still lay in Rome, he
hurriedly despatched an embassy to the suzerain city[898] while he
himself prepared to take the field. With unwilling energy he gathered
his available forces and marched to oppose Jugurtha's triumphant
progress. The invading host had now skirted Cirta to the west and was
apparently attempting to cut off its communications with the sea. The
disastrous results that would have followed the success of this attempt,
may have been the final motive that spurred Adherbal to his appeal to
arms; and it was somewhere within the fifty miles that intervened
between the capital and its port of Rusicade and at a spot nearer to the
sea than to Cirta,[899] that the opposing armies met. The day was
already far spent when Adherbal came into touch with his enemy: there
was no thought of a pitched battle in the gathering gloom, and either
party took up his quarters for the night. Towards the late watches of
the night, in the doubtful light of the early dawn, the soldiers of
Jugurtha crept up to the outposts of the enemy; at a given signal they
rushed on the camp and carried it by storm. Adherbal's soldiers, heavy
with sleep and groping for their arms, were routed or slain; the prince
himself sprang on his horse and with a handful of his knights sped for
safety to the walls of Cirta, Jugurtha's troops in hot pursuit. They had
almost closed on the fugitive before the walls were reached; but the
race had been watched from the battlements, and, as the flying Adherbal
passed the gates, the walls were manned by a volunteer body of Italian
merchants who kept the pursuing Numidians at bay.[900] It was the
merchant class that had most to fear from the cruelty and cupidity of
the nomad hordes that now beat against the fortress, and during the
siege that followed they controlled the course of events far more
effectually than the unhappy king whom they had for the moment saved
from destruction.

Jugurtha's plans were foiled; Adherbal had escaped, and there lay before
him the irksome prospect of a siege, of probable interference from Rome
and, it might be, of the necessity of openly defying the senate's
commands. But it was now too late to draw back, and he set himself
vigorously to the work of reducing Cirta by assault or famine. The task
must have been an arduous one. The town formed one of the strongest
positions for defence that could be found in the ancient world. It was
built on an isolated cube of rock that towered above the vast cultivated
tracts of the surrounding plain. At its eastern extremity the precipice
made a sheer drop of six hundred feet, and was perhaps quite
inaccessible on this side, although it threw out spurs, whether natural
or of artificial construction, which formed a difficult and easily
defensible communication with the lower land around. Its natural
bastions were completed by a natural moat, for the river Ampsaga (the
Wäd Remel) almost encircled the town, and on the eastern side its deep
and rushing waters could only be crossed by a ledge of rock, through
which it bored a subterranean channel and over which some kind of bridge
or causeway had probably been formed.[901] The natural and easy mode of
approach to the city was to be found in the south-west, where a neck of
land of half a furlong's breadth led up to the principal gate.

In spite of the formidable difficulties of the task Jugurtha attempted
an assault, for it was of the utmost importance that he should possess
the person of Adherbal before interference was felt from Rome. Mantlets,
turrets and all the engines of siege warfare were vigorously employed to
carry the town by storm;[902] but the stout walls baffled every effort,
and Jugurtha was forced to face as best he might another Roman embassy
which Adherbal's protests had brought to African soil. The senate, when
it had learnt the news of the renewed outbreak of the war, was as
unwilling as ever to intervene as a third partner in a three-sided
conflict. To play the part of the policeman as well as of the judge was
no element in Roman policy; the very essence of a protectorate was that
it should take care of itself; were intervention necessary, it should be
decisive, and it would be a lengthy task and an arduous strain to gather
and transport to Africa a force sufficient to overawe Jugurtha. The easy
device of a new commission was therefore adopted. If its Suggestions
were obeyed, all would be well; if they were neglected, matters could
not be much worse than they were at present. As the new commissioners
had merely to take a message and were credited with no discretionary
power, it was thought unnecessary to burden the higher magnates of the
State with the unenviable task, or to expose them to the undignified
predicament of finding their representations flouted by a rebel who
might have eventually to be recognised as a king. A chance was given to
younger members of the senatorial order, and the three who landed in
Africa were branded by the hostile criticism that was soon to find
utterance and in the poverty of its indictment to catch at every straw,
as lacking the age and dignity demanded by the mission--qualities which,
had they been present, would probably have failed to make the least
impression on Jugurtha's fixed resolve. The commissioners were to
approach both the kings and to bring to their notice the will and
resolution of the Roman senate and people, which were to the effect that
hostilities should be suspended and that the questions at issue between
the rivals should be submitted to peaceful arbitration. This conduct the
senate recommended as the only one worthy of its royal clients and of

The speed of the envoys was accelerated by the impression that they
might find but one king to be the recipient of their message. On the eve
of their departure the news of the decisive battle and the siege of
Cirta had reached their ears. Haste was imperative, if they were to
retain their position as envoys, for the next despatch might bring news
of Adherbal's death. The actual news received fell short of the
truth,[904] and was perhaps still further softened for the public ear;
the fact that the envoys had sailed was itself an official indication
that all hope had not been abandoned. If they cherished a similar
illusion themselves, it must almost have vanished before the sight that
met their eyes in Numidia. They saw a closely beleaguered town in which
one of the kings, who were to be the recipients of their message, was so
closely hemmed that access to him was impossible.[905] The other,
without abating one jot of his military preparations, met them with an
answer as uncompromising as it was courteous. Jugurtha held nothing more
precious than the authority of the senate; from his youth up he had
striven to meet the approbation of the good; it was by merit not by
artifice, that he had gained the favour of Scipio; it was desert that
had won him a place amongst Micipsa's children and a share in the
Numidian crown. But qualities carry their responsibilities; the very
distinction of his services made it the more incumbent on him to avenge
a wrong. Adherbal had treacherously plotted against his life; the crime
had been revealed and he had but taken steps to forestall it; the Roman
people would not be acting justly or honourably, if they hindered him
from taking such steps in his own defence as were the common right of
all men.[906]

He would soon send envoys to Rome to deal with the whole question in

This answer showed the Roman commissioners the utter helplessness of
their position. Their presence in Jugurtha's camp within sight of a city
in which a client king and a number of their own citizens were
imprisoned, was itself a stigma on the name of Rome. If they had prayed
to see Adherbal, the request, must have been refused; to prolong the
negotiations was to court further insult, and they set their faces once
more for Rome after faithfully performing the important mission of
repeating a message of the senate with verbal correctness. Jugurtha
granted them the courtesy of not renewing his active operations until he
thought that they had quitted Africa. Then, despairing of carrying the
town by assault, he settled to the work of a regular siege. The nature
of the ground must have made a complete investment impossible; but it
also rendered it unnecessary. The cliffs and the river bed made escape
as difficult as attack. On some sides it was but necessary to maintain a
strenuous watch on every possible egress; on others lines of
circumvallation, with ramparts and ditches, kept the beleaguered within
their walls. Siege-towers were raised to mate the height of the
fortifications which they threatened, and manned with garrisons to harry
the town and repel all efforts of its citizens to escape. The blockade
was varied by a series of surprises, of sudden assaults by day or night;
no method of force or fraud was left untried; the loyalty of the
defenders who appeared on the walls was assailed by threats or promises;
the assailants were strenuously exhorted to effect a speedy entry.

It would seem that Cirta was ill-provided with supplies.[907] Adherbal,
who had made it the basis of his attack and must have foreseen the
probability of his defeat, should have seen that it was well
provisioned; and the vast cisterns and granaries cut in the solid rock,
that were in later times to be found within the city, should have
supplied water and food sufficient to prolong the siege to a degree that
might have tried the senate's patience as sorely as Jugurtha's. But
neither the king nor his advisers were adepts in the art of war; it must
have been difficult to regulate the distribution of provisions amidst
the trading classes, of unsettled habits and mixed nationalities, that
were crowded within the walls; discontent could not be restrained by
discipline and might at any moment be a motive to surrender. The
imprisoned king saw no prospect of a prolongation of the war that could
secure even his personal safety; no help could be looked for from
without and a ruthless enemy was battering at his gates. His only hope,
a faint one, lay in a last appeal to Rome; but the invader's lines were
drawn so close that even a chance of communicating with the protecting
city seemed denied. At length, by urgent appeals to pity and to avarice,
he induced two of the comrades who had joined his flight from the field
of battle, to risk the venture of penetrating the enemy's lines and
reaching the sea.[908] The venture, which was made by night, succeeded;
the two bold messengers stole through the enclosing fortifications,
rapidly made for the nearest port, and thence took ship to Rome. Within
a few days they were in the presence of the senate,[909] and the
despairing cry of Adherbal was being read to an assembly, to whom it
could convey no new knowledge and on whom it could lay no added burden
of perplexity. But emotion, although it cannot teach, may focus thought
and clarify the promptings of interest. To many a loose thinker
Adherbal's missive may have been the first revelation, not only of the
shame, but of the possible danger of the situation. The facts were too
well known to require detailed treatment. It was sufficient to remind
the senate that for five months a friend and ally of the Roman people
had been blockaded in his own capital; his choice was merely one between
death by the sword and death by famine. Adherbal no longer asked for his
kingdom; nay, he barely ventured to ask for his life; but he deprecated
a death by torture--a fate that would most certainly be his if he fell
into the hands of his implacable foe. The appeal to interest was
interwoven with that made to pity and to honour. What were Jugurtha's
ultimate motives? When he had consummated his crimes and absorbed the
whole of Numidia, did he mean to remain a peaceful client-king, a
faithful vassal of Rome? His fidelity and obedience might be measured by
the treatment which he had already accorded to the mandate and the
envoys of the senate. The power of Rome in her African possessions was
at stake; and the majesty of the empire was appealed to no less than the
sense of friendship, loyalty, and gratitude, as a ground for instant
assistance which might yet save the suppliant from a terrible and
degrading end.

The impression produced by this appeal was seen in the bolder attitude
adopted by that section of the senate which had from the first regarded
Jugurtha as a criminal at large, and had never approved the policy of
leaving Numidia to settle its own affairs. Voices were heard advocating
the immediate despatch of an army to Africa, the speedy succour of
Adherbal, the consideration of an adequate punishment for the contumacy
of Jugurtha in not obeying the express commands of Rome.[910] But the
usual protests were heard from the other side, protests which were
interpreted as a proof of the utter corruption of those who uttered
them,[911] but which were doubtless veiled in the decent language, and
may in some cases have been animated by the genuine spirit, of the
cautious imperialist who prefers a crime to a blunder. The conflict of
opinion resulted in the usual compromise. A new commission was to be
despatched with a more strongly worded message from the senate; but, as
rumour had apparently been busy with the adventures of the "three young
men" whom Jugurtha had turned back, it was deemed advisable to select
the present envoys from men whose age, birth and ample honours might
give weight to a mission that was meant to avert a war.[912] The
solemnity of the occasion was attested, and some feeling of assurance
may have been created, by the fact that there figured amongst the
commissioners no less a person than the chief of the senate Marcus
Aemilius Scaurus, beyond all question the foremost man of Rome,[913] the
highest embodiment of patrician dignity and astute diplomacy. The
pressing appeal of Adherbal's envoys, the ugly rumours which were
circulating in Rome, urged the commissioners to unwonted activity.
Within three days they were on board, and after a short interval had
landed at Utica in the African province. The experience of the former
mission had taught them that their dignity might be utterly lost if they
quitted the territory of the Roman domain. They did not deign to set
foot in Numidia, but sent a message to Jugurtha informing him that they
had a mandate from the senate and ordering him to come with all speed to
the Roman province.

Jugurtha was for the moment torn by conflicting resolutions. The very
audacity of his acts had been tempered and in part directed by a secret
fear of Rome. Whether in any moments of ambitious imagination he had
dreamed of throwing off the protectorate and asserting the unlimited
independence of the Numidian kingdom, must remain uncertain; but in any
case that consummation must belong to the end, not to the intermediate
stage, of his present enterprise. His immediate plan had been to win or
purchase recognition of an accomplished fact from the somnolence,
caution or corruption of the government; and here was intervention
assuming a more formidable shape while the fact was but half
accomplished and he himself was but playing the part of the rebel, not
of the king. The dignity of the commissioners, and the peremptory nature
of their demand, seemed to show that negotiations with Rome were losing
their character of a conventional game and assuming a more serious
aspect. It is possible that Jugurtha did not know the full extent of the
danger which he was running; it is possible that, like so many other
potentates who had relations with the imperial city, he made the mistake
of imagining that the senate was in the fullest sense the government of
Rome, and had no cognisance of the subtle forces whose equilibrium was
expressed in a formal control by the nobility; but even what he saw was
sufficient to alarm him and to lead him, in a moment of panic or
prudence, to think of the possibility of obeying the commission. At the
next moment the new man, which the deliberate but almost frenzied
pursuit of a single object had made of Jugurtha, was fully
reasserted.[914] But his passion was not blind; his recklessness still
veiled a plan; his one absorbing desire was to see Adherbal in his hands
before he should himself be forced to meet the envoys. He gave orders
for his whole force to encircle the walls of Cirta; a simultaneous
assault was directed against every vulnerable point; the attention of
the defenders was to be distracted by the ubiquitous nature of the
attack; a failure of vigilance at any point might give him the desired
entry by force or fraud. But nothing came of the enterprise; the
assailants were beaten back, and Jugurtha had another moment for cool
reflection. He soon decided that further delay would not strengthen his
position. The name of Scaurus weighed heavily on his mind.[915] He was
an untried element with respect to the details of the Numidian affair;
but all that Jugurtha knew of him--his influence with the senate, his
uncompromising respectability, his earlier attitude on the
question--inspired a feeling of fear. Obedience to the demand which the
commissioners had made for his presence might be the wiser course;
whatever the result of the interview, such obedience might prolong the
period of negotiation and delay armed intervention until his own great
object was fulfilled. With a few of his knights Jugurtha crossed into
the Roman province and presented himself before the commissioners. We
have no record of the discussion which ensued. The senate's message was
almost an ultimatum; it threatened extreme measures if Jugurtha did not
desist from the siege of Cirta; but the peremptory nature of the missive
did not prevent close and lengthy discussions between the envoys and the
king. The plausible personality of Jugurtha may have told in his favour
and may have led to the hopes of a compromise; for it is not probable
that he ventured on a summary rejection of their orders or advice. But
the commissioners could merely threaten or advise; they had no power to
wring promises from the king or to keep him to them when they were made.
Thus when, at the close of the debates, Jugurtha returned to Numidia and
the envoys embarked at Utica, it was felt on all sides that nothing had
been accomplished.[916] The commissioners may have believed that they
had made Jugurtha sensible of his true relations to Rome; they had
perhaps threatened open war as the result of disobedience; but they had
neither checked his progress nor stayed his hand; and the taint with
which all dealings with the wealthy potentate infected his environment,
clung even to this select body of distinguished men.

The immediate effect of the fruitless negotiations was the disaster
which every one must have foreseen. Cirta and her king had been utterly
betrayed by their protectress; and when the news of the departure of the
envoys and the return of Jugurtha penetrated within the walls, despair
of further resistance gave substance to the hope of the possibility of
surrender on tolerable terms. The hope was never present to the mind of
Adherbal; he knew his enemy too well. Nor could it have been entertained
in a very lively form by the king's Numidian councillors and subjects.
But the Numidian was not the strongest element in Cirta. There the
merchant class held sway. In the defence of their property and commerce,
the organised business and the homes which they had established in the
civilised state, they had taken the lead in repelling the hordes of
Western Numidians which Jugurtha led; and amongst the merchant class
those of Italian race had been the most active and efficient in
repelling the assaults of the besiegers. To these men the choice was not
between famine and the sword; but merely between famine and the loss of
property or comfort. For what Roman or Italian could doubt that the most
perfect security for his life and person was still implicit in the magic
name of Rome? Confident in their safety they advised Adherbal to hand
over the town to Jugurtha; the only condition which he needed to make
was the preservation of his own life and that of the besieged; all else
was of less importance, for their future fortunes rested not with
Jugurtha but with the senate.[917] It is questionable whether the
Italians were really inspired with this blind confidence in the senate's
power to restore as well as to save; even their ability to save was more
than doubtful to Adherbal; still more worthless was a promise made by
his enemy. The unhappy king would have preferred the most desperate
resistance to a trust in Jugurtha's honour; but the advice of the
Italians was equivalent to a command; and a gleam of hope, sufficient at
least to prevent him from taking his own life, may have buoyed him up
when he yielded to their wishes and made the formal surrender. The hope,
if it existed, was immediately dispelled. Adherbal was put to death with
cruel tortures.[918] The Italians then had their proof of the present
value of the majesty of the name of Rome. Their calculations had been
vitiated by one fatal blunder. They forgot that they were letting into
their stronghold an exasperated people drawn from the rudest parts of
Numidia--a people to whom the name of Rome was as nothing, to whom the
name of merchant or foreigner was contemptible and hateful. As the
surging crowd of Jugurtha's soldiery swept over the doomed city,
massacring every Numidian of adult age, the claim of nationality made by
the protesting merchants was not unnaturally met by a thrust from the
sword. If even the assailants could distinguish them in the frenzy of
victory, they knew them for men who had occupied the fighting line; and
this fact was alone sufficient to doom them to destruction. Jugurtha may
also have made his blunder. Unless we suppose that his penetrating mind
had been, suddenly clouded by the senseless rage which prompts the
half-savage man to a momentary act of demoniacal folly, he could never
have willed the slaughter of the Roman and Italian merchants.[919] If he
willed it in cold blood, he was consciously making war on Rome and
declaring the independence of Numidia. For, even with his limited
knowledge of the balance of interests in the capital, he must have seen
that the act was inexpiable. His true policy, now as before, was not to
cross swords with Rome, but merely to wring from her indifference a
recognition of a purely national crime. His wits had failed him if he
had ordered a deed which put indifference and recognition out of the
question. It is probable that he did not calculate on the fury of his
troops; it is possible that he had ceased to lead and was a mere unit
swept along in the avalanche which sated its wrath at the prolonged
resistance, and avenged the real or fancied crimes committed by the
merchant class.

The massacre of the merchants caused a complete change in the attitude
with which Numidian events were viewed at Rome. It cut the commercial
classes to the quick, and this third party which moulded the policy of
Rome began closing up its ranks. The balance of power on which the
nobility had rested its presidency since the fall of Caius Gracchus,
began to be disturbed. It was possible again for a leader of the people
to make his voice heard; not, however, because he was the leader of the
people, but because he was the head of a coalition. The man of the hour
was Caius Memmius, who was tribune elect for the following year. He was
an orator, vehement rather than eloquent, of a mordant utterance, and
famed in the courts for his power of attack.[920] His critical
temperament and keen eye for abuses had already led him to join the
sparse ranks of politicians who tried still to keep alive the healthy
flame of discontent, and to utter an occasional protest against the
manner in which the nobility exercised their trust.[921] His influence
must have been increased by the growing suspicion of the last few years
and the scandal that fed on tales of bribery in high places; it was
assured by the latest news which, through the illogical process of
reasoning out of which great causes grow, seemed to make rumour a
certainty and to justify suspicion by the increased numbers and
respectability of the suspecting. A pretext for action was found in the
shifty and dilatory proceedings of the senate. Even the latest phase of
the Numidian affair was not powerful or horrible enough to crush all
attempts at a temporising policy.[922] Men were still found to interrupt
the course of a debate which promised to issue in some strong and speedy
resolution, by raising counter-motions which the great names of the
movers forced on the attention of the house; every artifice which
influence could command was employed to dull the pain of a wounded
self-respect; and when this method failed, idle recrimination took the
place of argument as a means of consuming the time for action and
passing the point at which anger would have cooled into indifference, or
at least into an emotion not stronger than regret. It was plain that the
stimulus must be supplied from without; and Memmius provided it by going
straight to the people and embodying their floating suspicions in a bald
and uncompromising form. He told them[923] that the prolonged
proceedings in the senate meant simply that the crime of Jugurtha was
likely to be condoned through the influence of a few ardent partisans of
the king; and it is probable that he dealt frankly and in the true Roman
manner with the motives for this partisanship. The pressure was
effectual in bringing to a head the deliberations of the senate. The
council as a whole did not need conversion on the main question at
issue, for most of its members must have felt that it had exhausted the
resources of peaceful diplomacy, and it showed its characteristic
aversion to the provocation of a constitutional crisis, which might
easily arise if the people chose to declare war on the motion of a
magistrate without waiting for the advice of the fathers; while the
obstructive minority may have been alarmed by the distant vision of a
trial before the Assembly or before a commission of inquiry composed of
judges taken from the angry Equites. The senate took the lead in a
formal declaration of war; Numidia was named as one of the provinces
which were to be assigned to the future consuls in accordance with the
provisions of the Sempronian law. The choice of the people fell on
Publius Scipio Nasica and Lucius Calpurnius Bestia as consuls for the
following year.[924] The lot assigned the home government and the
guardianship of Italy to Nasica, while Bestia gained the command in the
impending war. Military preparations were pushed on with all haste; an
army was levied for service in Africa; pay and supplies were voted on an
adequate scale.

The news is said to have surprised Jugurtha.[925] Perhaps earlier
messages of a more cheerful import had reached him from Rome during the
days when successful obstruction seemed to be achieving its end, and had
dulled the fears which the massacre of Cirta most have aroused even in a
mind so familiar with the acquiescent policy of the senate. Yet even now
he did not lose heart, nor did his courage take the form, prevalent
amongst the lower types of mind, of a mere reliance on brute force, on
the resources of that Numidia of which he was now the undisputed lord.
With a persistence born of successful experience he still attempted the
methods of diplomacy-methods which prove a lack of insight only in the
sense that Rome was an impossible sphere for their present exercise. The
king had not gauged the situation in the capital; but subsequent events
proved that he still possessed a correct estimate of the real
inclinations of the men who were chiefly responsible for Roman policy.
The Numidian envoy was no less a person than the king's own son, and he
was supported by two trusty counsellors of Jugurtha.[926] As was usual
in the case of a diplomatic mission arriving from a country which had no
treaty relations, or was actually in a state of war, with Rome, the
envoys were not permitted to pass the gates until the will of the senate
was known. An excellent opportunity was given for proving the conversion
of the senate. When the consul Bestia put the question "Is it the
pleasure of the house that the envoys of Jugurtha be received within the
walls?" the firm answer was returned that "Unless these envoys had come
to surrender Numidia and its king to the absolute discretion of the
Roman people, they must cross the borders of Italy within ten
days".[927] The consul had this message conveyed to the prince, and he
and his colleagues returned from their fruitless mission.

Bestia meanwhile was consumed with military zeal. His army was ready,
his staff was chosen, and he was evidently bent on an earnest
prosecution of the war. He was in many respects as fit a man as could
have been selected for the task. His powers of physical endurance and
the vigour of his intellect had already been tested in war; he possessed
the resolution and the foresight of a true general. But the canker of
the age was supposed to have infected Bestia and neutralised his
splendid qualities.[928] The proof that he allowed greed to dominate his
public conduct is indeed lacking; but he would have departed widely from
the spirit of his time if he had allowed no thought of private gain to
add its quota to the joy of the soldier who finds himself for the first
time in the untrammelled conduct of a war. To the commanders of the age
foreign service was as a matter of course a source of profit as well as
a sphere of duty or of glory. To Bestia it was also to be a sphere for
diplomacy; and diplomacy and profit present an awkward combination,
which gives room for much misinterpretation. Although the war was in
some sense a concession to outside influences, the consul did not
represent the spirit to which the senate had yielded. Nine years earlier
he had served the cause of the nobility by effecting the recall of
Popillius from exile, and was now a member of that inner circle of the
government whose cautious manipulation of foreign affairs was veiled in
a secrecy which might easily rouse the suspicion, because it did not
appeal to the intelligence, of the masses. How vital a part diplomacy
was to play in the coming war, was shown by Bestia's selection of his
staff. It was practically a committee of the inner ring of governing
nobles,[929] and the importance attached to the purely political aspect
of the African war was proved by the fact that Scaurus himself deigned
to occupy a position amongst the legates of the commander. It was a
difficult task which Bestia and his assistants had to perform. They were
to carry out the mandate of the people and pursue Jugurtha as a
criminal; they were to follow out their own conviction as to the best
means of saving Rome from a prolonged and burdensome war with a whole
nation-a conviction which might, force them to recognise Jugurtha as a
king. To avenge honour and at the same time to secure peace was, in the
present condition of the public mind, an almost impossible task. Its
gravity was increased by the fact that, through the method of selection
employed for composing the general's council, a certain section of the
nobility, already marked out for suspicion, would be held wholly
responsible for its failure. It was a gravity that was probably
undervalued by the leaders of the expedition, who could scarcely have
looked forward to the day when it might be said that Bestia had selected
his legates with a view of hiding the misdeeds which, he meant to commit
under the authority of their names.[930]

When the time for departure had arrived, the legions were marched
through Italy to Rhegium, were shipped thence to Sicily and from Sicily
were transferred to the African province. This was to be Bestia's basis
of operations; and when he had gathered adequate supplies and organised
his lines of communication, he entered Numidia. His march was from a
superficial point of view a complete success; large numbers of prisoners
were taken and several cities were carried by assault.[931] But the
nature of the war in hand was soon made painfully manifest. It was a war
with a nation, not a mere hunting expedition for the purpose of tracking
down Jugurtha. The latter object could be successfully accomplished only
if some assistance were secured from friendly portions of Numidia or
from neighbouring powers. But there was no friendly portion of Numidia.
The mercantile class had been wiped out, and though the Romans seem to
have regained possession of Cirta at an early period of the war,[932] it
is not likely that it ever resumed the industrial life, which might have
supplied money and provisions, if not men; while the position of the
town rendered it useless as a basis of operations for expeditions into
that western portion of Numidia, from which the chief military strength
of Jugurtha was drawn. In these regions a possible ally was to be found
in Bocchus King of Mauretania; but his recent overtures to Rome had been
deliberately rejected by the senate. Nothing but the name of this great
King of the Moors, who ruled over the territory stretching from the
Muluccha to Tingis, had hitherto been known to the Roman people; even
the proximity of a portion of his kingdom to the coast of Spain had
brought him into no relations, either friendly or hostile, to the
imperial government.[933]

Bocchus had secured peace with his eastern neighbour by giving his
daughter in marriage to Jugurtha; but he never allowed this family
connection to disturb his ideas of political convenience and, as soon as
he heard that war had been declared against Jugurtha, he sent an embassy
to Rome praying for a treaty with the Roman people and a recognition as
one of the friends of the Republic.[934] This conduct may have been due
to the belief that a victory of the Romans over Jugurtha would entail
the destruction of the Numidian monarchy and the reduction of at least a
portion of the territory to the condition of a province. In this case
Mauretania would itself be the frontier kingdom, playing the part now
taken by Numidia; and Bocchus may have wished to have some claim on Rome
before his eastern frontier was bordered, as his northern was commanded,
by a Roman province. He may even have hoped to benefit by the spoils of
war, as Masinissa had once benefited by those which fell from Syphax and
from Carthage, and to increase his territories at the expense of his
son-in-law. There can be no better proof of the real intentions of the
government as regards Numidia, even after war had been declared, than
the senate's rejection of the offer made by Bocchus. His aid would be
invaluable from a strategic point of view, if the aim of the expedition
were to make Numidia a province or even to crush Jugurtha. But the most
constant maxim of senatorial policy was to avoid an extension of the
frontiers, and this principle was accompanied by a strong objection to
enter into close relations with any power that was not a frontier state.
Such relations might involve awkward obligations, and were inconsistent
with the policy which devolved the whole obligation for frontier defence
and frontier relations on a friendly client prince. Whether the
maintenance of the traditional scheme of administration in Africa
demanded the renewed recognition of Jugurtha as King of Numidia, was a
subordinate question; its answer depended entirely on the possibility of
the Numidians being induced to accept any other monarch.

It must have required but a brief experience of the war to convince
Bestia and his council that a Numidian kingdom without the recognition
of Jugurtha as king was almost unthinkable, unless Rome was prepared to
enter on an arduous and harassing war for the piecemeal conquest of the
land or (a task equally difficult) for the purpose of securing the
person of an elusive monarch, who could take every advantage of the
natural difficulties of his country and could find a refuge and ready
assistance in every part of his dominions. The tentative approaches of
Jugurtha, who negotiated while he fought, were therefore admitted both
by the consul and by Scaurus, who inevitably dominated the diplomatic
relations of the war. That Jugurtha sent money as well as proposals at
the hands of his envoys, was a fact subsequently approved by a Roman
court of law, and deserves such credence as can be attached to a verdict
which was the final phase of a political agitation. That Bestia was
blinded by avarice and lost all sense of his own and his country's
honour, that Scaurus's sense of respectability and distrust of Jugurtha
went down before the golden promises of the king,[935] were beliefs
widely held, and perhaps universally, professed, by the democrats who
were soon thundering at the doors of the Curia--by men, that is, who did
not understand, or whose policy led them to profess misunderstanding of,
the problem in statecraft, as dishonouring in some of its aspects as
such problems usually are, which was being faced by a general and a
statesman who were pursuing a narrow and traditional but very
intelligible line of policy. The policy was indeed sufficiently ugly
even had there been no suspicion of personal corruption; its ugliness
could be tested by the fact that even the sanguine and cynical Jugurtha
could hardly credit the extent of the good fortune revealed to him by
the progress of the negotiations. At first his diplomatic manoeuvres had
been adopted simply as a means of staying the progress of hostilities,
of gaining a breathing space while he renewed his efforts at influencing
opinion in the imperial city. But when he saw that the very agents of
war were willing to be missionaries of peace, that the avengers sent out
by an injured people were ready for conciliation before they had
inflicted punishment, he concentrated his efforts on an immediate
settlement of the question.[936] It was necessary for the enemy of the
Roman people to pass through a preliminary stage of humiliation before
he could be recognised as a friend; it was all the more imperative in
this case since a number of angry people in Rome were clamouring for
Jugurtha's punishment. It was also necessary to arrange a plan by which
the humiliation might be effected with the least inconvenience to both
parties. An armistice had already been declared as a necessary
preliminary to effective negotiations for a surrender. This condition of
peace rendered it possible for Jugurtha to be interviewed in person by a
responsible representative of the consul.[937] Both the king and the
consul were in close touch with one another near the north-western part
of the Roman province, and Jugurtha was actually in possession of Vaga,
a town only sixty miles south-west of Utica. The town, in spite of its
geographical position, was an appanage[938] of the Numidian kingdom, and
the pretext under which Bestia sent his quaestor to the spot, was the
acceptance of a supply of corn which had been demanded of the king as a
condition of the truce granted by the consul. The presence of the
quaestor at Vaga was really meant as a guarantee of good faith, and
perhaps he was regarded as a hostage for the personal security of
Jugurtha.[939] Shortly afterwards the king rode into the Roman camp and
was introduced to the consul and his council. He said a few words in
extenuation of the hostile feeling with which his recent course of
action had been received at Rome, and after this brief apology asked
that his surrender should be accepted. The conditions, it appeared, were
not for the full council; they were for the private ear of Bestia and
Scauras alone.[940] With these Jugurtha was soon closeted, and the final
programme was definitely arranged, On the following day the king
appeared again before the council of war; the consul pretended to take
the opinion of his advisers, but no clear issue for debate could
possibly be put before the board; for the gist of the whole proceedings,
the recognition of the right of Jugurtha to retain Numidia, was the
result of a secret understanding, not of a definite admission that could
be blazoned to the world. There was some formal and desultory
discussion, opinions on the question of surrender were elicited without
any differentiation of the many issues that it might involve, and the
consul was able to announce in the end that his council sanctioned the
acceptance of Jugurtha's submission.[941] The council, however, had
deemed it necessary that some visible proof, however slight, should be
given that a surrender had been effected; for it was necessary to convey
to the minds of critics at home the impression that some material
advantage had been won and that Jugurtha had been humiliated. With this
object in view the king was required to hand over something to the Roman
authorities. He kept his army, but solemnly transferred thirty
elephants, some large droves of cattle and horses, and a small sum of
money--the possessions, presumably, which he had ready at hand in his
city of Vaga--to the custody of the quaestor of the Roman army.[942] The
year meanwhile was drawing to a close, and the consul, now that peace
had been restored, quitted his province for Rome to preside at the
magisterial elections.[943] The army still remained in the Roman
province or in Numidia, but the cessation of hostilities reduced it to a
state of inaction which augured ill for its future discipline should it
again be called upon to serve.

The agreement itself must have seemed to its authors a triumph of
diplomacy. They had secured peace with but an inconsiderable loss of
honour; they had saved Rome from a long, difficult and costly war,
whilst a modicum of punishment might with some ingenuity be held to have
been inflicted on Jugurtha. They must have been astounded by the chorus
of execration with which the news of the compact was received at
Rome.[944] Nor indeed can any single reason, adequate in itself and
without reference to others, be assigned for this feeling of hostility.
First, there was the idle gossip of the public places and the
clubs--gossip which, in the unhealthy atmosphere of the time, loved to
unveil the interested motives which were supposed to underlie the public
actions of all men of mark, and which exhibited moderation to an enemy
as the crowning proof of its suspicions. Secondly there was the feeling
that had been stirred in the proletariate at Rome. The question of
Jugurtha, little as they understood its merits, was still to them the
great question of the hour, a matter of absorbing interest and
expectation. Their feelings had been harrowed by the story of his
cruelties, their fears excited by rumours of his power and intentions.
They had roused the senate from its lethargy and forced that illustrious
body to pursue the great criminal; they had seen a great army quitting
the gates of Rome to execute the work of justice; their relatives and
friends had been subjected to the irksome duties of the conscription.
Everywhere there had been a fervid blaze of patriotism, and this blaze
had now ended in the thinnest curl of smoke. But to the masses the
imagined shame of the Jugurthine War had now become but a single count
in an indictment. The origin of the movement was now but its stimulus;
as is the case with most of such popular awakenings, the agitation was
now of a wholly illimitable character. The one vivid element in its
composition was the memory of the recent past. It was easy to arouse the
train of thought that centred round the two Gracchan movements and the
terrible moments of their catastrophe. The new movement against the
senate was in fact but the old movement in another form. The senate had
betrayed the interests of the people; now it was betraying the interests
of the empire; but to imagine that the form of the indictment as it
appealed to the popular mind was even so definite as this, is to credit
the average mind with a power of analysis which it does not, and
probably would not wish to, possess. It is less easy to gauge the
attitude of the commercial classes in this crisis. Their indignation at
the impunity given to Jugurtha after the massacre of the merchants at
Cirta is easily understood; but with this class sentiment was wont to be
outweighed by considerations of interest, and the preservation of peace
in Numidia, and consequently of facilities for trade, must have been the
end which they most desired. But perhaps they felt that the only peace
which would serve their purposes was one based on a full reassertion of
Roman prestige, and perhaps they knew that Jugurtha, the reawakener of
the national spirit of the Numidians, would show no friendship to the
foreign trader. They must also have seen that, whatever the prospects of
the mercantile class under Jugurtha's rule might be, the convention just
concluded could not be lasting. Their own previous action had determined
its transitory character. By their support of the agitation awakened by
Memmius they had created a condition of feeling which could not rest
satisfied with the present suspected compromise. But if satisfaction was
impossible, a continuance of the war was inevitable. They had before
them the prospect of continued unsettlement and insecurity in a fruitful
sphere of profit; and they intended to support the present agitation by
their influence in the Comitia and, if necessary, by their verdicts in
the courts, until a strong policy had been asserted and a decisive
settlement attained.

Even before the storm of criticism had again gathered strength, there
was great anxiety in the senate over the recent action in Numidia. That
body could doubtless read between the lines and see the real motives of
policy which had led up to the present compact; they could see that the
agreement was a compromise between the views of two opposing sections of
their own house; and they must have approved of it in their hearts in so
far as it expressed the characteristic objection of the senate as a
whole to imperil the security of their imperial system, perhaps even to
expose the frontiers of their northern possessions now threatened by
barbarian hordes, through undertaking an unnecessary war in a southern
protectorate. But none the less they saw clearly the invidious elements
in the recent stroke of diplomacy, the combination of inconsistency and
dishonesty exhibited in the comparison between the magnificent
preparations and the futile result--a result which, as interpreted by
the ordinary mind, made its authors seem corrupt and the senate look
ridiculous. Their anxiety was increased by the fact that an immediate
decision on their part was imperative. Were they to sanction what had
been done, or to refuse to ratify the decision of the consul?[945]

The latter was of itself an extreme step, but it was rendered still more
difficult by the fact that every one knew that Bestia would never have
ventured on such a course had he not possessed the support of
Scaurus.[946] To frame a decision which must be interpreted to mean a
vote of lack of confidence in Scaurus, was to unseat the head of the
administration, to abandon their ablest champion, perhaps to invite the
successful attacks of the leaders of the other camp who were lying in
wait for the first false step of the powerful and crafty organiser.
Again, as in the discussion which had followed the fall of Cirta, the
debates in the senate dragged on and there was a prospect of the
question being indefinitely shelved--a result which, when the popular
agitation had cooled, would have meant the acceptance of the existing
state of things. Again the stimulus to greater rapidity of decision was
supplied by Memmius. The leader of the agitation was now invested with
the tribunate, and his position gave him the opportunity of unfettered
intercourse with the people. His _Contiones_ were the feature of the
day,[947] and these popular addresses culminated in the exhortation
which he addressed to the crowd after the return of the unhappy Bestia.
His speech[948] shows Memmius to be both the product and the author of
the general character which had now been assumed by this long continued
agitation on a special point. The golden opportunity had been gained of
emphasising anew the fundamental differences of interest between the
nobility and the people, of reviewing the conduct of the governing class
in its continuous development during the last twenty years,[949] of
pointing out the miserable consequences of uncontrolled power,
irresponsibility and impunity. For the purpose of investing an address
with the dignity and authority which spring from distant historical
allusion, of brightening the prosaic present with something of the
glamour of the half-mythical past, even of flattering his auditors with
the suggestion that they were the descendants and heirs of the men who
had seceded to the Aventine, it was necessary for a popular orator to
touch on the great epoch of the struggle between the orders. But
Memmius, while satisfying the conditions of his art by the introduction
of the subject, uses it only to point the contrast between the epoch
when liberty had been won and that wherein it had been lost, or to
illustrate the uselessness of such heroic methods as the old secessions
as weapons against a nobility such as the present which was rushing
headlong to its own destruction. More important was the memory of those
recent years which had seen the life of the people and of their
champions become the plaything of a narrow oligarchy. The judicial
murders that had followed the overthrow of the Gracchi, the spirit of
abject patience with which they had been accepted and endured, were the
symbol of the absolute impunity of the oligarchy, the source of their
knowledge that they might use their power as they pleased. And how had
they used it? A general category of their crimes would be misleading; it
was possible to exhibit an ascending scale of guilt. They had always
preyed on the commonwealth; but their earlier depredations might be
borne in silence. Their earlier victims had been the allies and
dependants of Rome; they had drawn revenues from kings and free peoples,
they had pillaged the public treasury. But they had not yet begun to put
up for sale the security of the empire and of Rome itself. Now this last
and monstrous stage had been reached. The authority of the senate, the
power which the people had delegated to its magistrate, had been
betrayed to the most dangerous of foes; not satisfied with treating the
allies of Rome as her enemies, the nobility were now treating her
enemies as allies.[950] And what was the secret of the uncontrolled
power, the shameless indifference to opinion that made such misdeeds
possible? It was to be found partly in the tolerance of the people--a
tolerance which was the result of the imposture which made ill-gained
objects of plunder--consulships, priesthoods, triumphs--seem the proof
of merit. But it was to be found chiefly in the fact that co-operation
in crime had been raised to the dignity of a system which made for the
security of the criminal. The solidarity of the nobility, its very
detachment from the popular interest, was its main source of strength.
It had ceased even to be a party; it had become a clique--a mere faction
whose community of hope, interest and fear had given it its present
position of overweening strength.[951] This strength, which sprang from
perfect unity of design and action, could only be met and broken
successfully by a people fired with a common enthusiasm. But what form
should this enthusiasm assume? Should an adviser of the people advocate
a violent resumption of its rights, the employment of force to punish
the men who have betrayed their country? No! Acts of violence might
indeed be the fitting reward for their conduct, but they are unworthy
instruments for the just vengeance of an outraged people. All that we
demand is full inquiry and publicity. The secrets of the recent
negotiations shall be probed. Jugurtha himself shall be the witness. If
he has surrendered to the Roman people, as we are told, he will
immediately obey your orders; if he despises your commands, you will
have an opportunity of knowing the true nature of that peace and that
submission which have brought to Jugurtha impunity for his crimes, to a
narrow ring of oligarchs a large increase in their wealth, to the state
a legacy of loss and shame.

It was on this happily constructed dilemma that Memmius acted when he
brought his positive proposal before the people. It was to the effect
that the praetor Lucius Cassius Longinus should be sent to Jugurtha and
bring him to Rome on the faith of a safe conduct granted by the State;
Jugurtha's revelations were to be the key by which the secret chamber of
the recent negotiations was to be unlocked, with the desired hope of
convicting Scaurus and all others whose contact with the Numidian king,
whether in the late or in past transactions,[952] had suggested their
corruption. The object of this mission had been rapidly regaining the
complete control of Numidia, which had been momentarily shaken by the
Roman invasion. The presence of the Roman army, some portion of which
was still quartered in a part of his dominions, was no check on his
activity; for the absence of the commander, the incapacity and
dishonesty of the delegates whom he had left in his place, and the
demoralising indolence of the rank and file, had reduced the forces to a
condition lower than that of mere ineffectiveness or lack of discipline.
The desire of making a profit out of the situation pervaded every grade.
The elephants which had been handed over by Jugurtha, were mysteriously
restored; Numidians who had espoused the cause of Rome and deserted from
the army of the king--loyalists whom, whatever their motives and
character, Rome was bound to protect--were handed back to the king in
exchange for a price;[953] districts already pacified were plundered by
desultory bands of soldiers. The Roman power in Numidia was completely
broken when Cassius arrived and revealed his mission to the king. The
strange request would have alarmed a timid or ignorant ruler; Jugurtha
himself wavered for a moment as to whether he should put himself
unreservedly into the power of a hostile people; but he had sufficient
imagination and familiarity with Roman life to realise that the
principles of international honour that prevailed amongst despotic
monarchies were not those of the great Republic even at its present
stage, and he professed himself encouraged by the words of the amiable
praetor that "since he had thrown himself on the mercy of the Roman
people, he would do better to appeal to their pity than to challenge
their might".[954] His guide added his own word of honour to that of the
Republic, and such was the repute of Cassius that this assurance helped
to remove the momentary scruples of the king. Once he was assured of
personal safety, Jugurtha's visit to Rome became merely a matter of
policy, and his rapid mind must have surveyed every issue depending on
his acceptance or refusal before he committed himself to so doubtful a
step. His real plan of action is unfortunately unknown; for we possess
but the barest outline of these incidents, and we have no information on
the really vital point whether communications had reached him from his
supporters in the capital, which enabled him to predict the course
events would take if he obeyed the summons of Cassius. Had such
communications reached him, he might have known that the projected
investigation would be nugatory. But a failure in the purpose for which
he was summoned could convey no benefit to Jugurtha or his supporters;
it would simply incense the people and place both the king, and his
friends amongst the nobility, in a worse position than before. The
course of action, by turns sullen, shifty and impudent, which he pursued
at Rome, must have been due to the exigencies of the moment and the
frantic promptings of his frightened friends; for it could scarcely have
appealed to a calculating mind as a procedure likely to lead to fruitful
results. Its certain issue was war; but war could be had without the
trouble of a journey to Rome. He had but to stay where he was and
decline the people's request, and this policy of passive resistance
would have the further merit of saving his dignity as a king. It may
seem strange that he never adopted the bold but simple plan of standing
up in Rome and telling the whole truth, or at least such portions of the
truth as might have satisfied the people. It was a course of action that
might have secured him his crown. Doubtless if his transactions with
Roman officials had been innocent, the truth, if he adhered to it, might
not have been believed; but, if his evidence was damning, the people
might well have been turned from the insignificant question "Who was to
be King of Numidia?" to the supreme task of punishing the traitors whom
he denounced. But we have no right to read Jugurtha's character by the
light of the single motive of a self-interest which knew no scruples. He
may have had his own ideas of honour and of the protection due to a
benefactor or a trusty agent. Self-interest too might in this matter
come to the aid of sentiment; for it was at least possible that the
popular storm might spend its fury and leave the nobility still holding
their ground. So far as we with our imperfect knowledge can discern,
Jugurtha could have had no definite plan of action when he consented to
take the journey to Rome. But he had abundant prospects, if even he
possessed no plan. His presence in the capital was a decided advantage,
in so far as it enabled him to confer with his leading supporters, and
to attend to a matter affecting his dynastic interests which we shall
soon find arousing the destructive energy which was becoming habitual to
his jealous and impatient mind.

When Jugurtha appeared in Rome under the guidance of Cassius, he had
laid aside all the emblems of sovereignty and assumed the sordid garb
that befitted a suppliant for the mercy of the sovereign people.[955] He
seemed to have come, not as a witness for the prosecution, but as a
suspected criminal who appeared in his own defence. He was still keeping
up the part of one whom the fortune of war had thrown absolutely into
the power of the conquering state--a part perhaps suggested by the
friendly Cassius, but one that was perfectly in harmony with the
pretensions of Bestia and Scaurus. But the heart beneath that miserable
dress beat high with hope, and he was soon cheered by messages from the
circle of his friends at Rome and apprised of the means which had been
taken to baffle the threatened investigation,[956] The senate had, as
usual, a tribune at its service. Caius Baebius was the name of the man
who was willing to play the part, so familiar to the practice of the
constitution, of supporter of the government against undue encroachments
on its power and dignity, or against over-hasty action by the leaders of
the people. The government undoubtedly had a case. It was contrary to
all accepted notions of order and decency that a protected king should
be used as a political instrument by a turbulent tribune. Memmius had
impeached no one and had given no notice of a public trial; yet he
intended to bring Jugurtha before a gathering of the rabble and ask him
to blacken the names of the foremost men in Rome. It was exceedingly
probable that the grotesque proceeding would lead to a breach of the
peace; the sooner it was stopped, the better; and, although it was
unfortunately impossible to prevent Memmius from initiating the drama by
bringing forward his protagonist, the law had luckily provided means for
ending the performance before the climax had been reached. It was
believed that the sound constitutional views of Baebius were
strengthened by a great price paid by Jugurtha,[957] and, if we care to
believe one more of those charges of corruption, the multitude of which
had not palled even on the easily wearied mind of the lively Roman, it
is possible to imagine that the implicated members of the senate, in
whose interest far more than in that of Jugurtha Baebius was acting, had
persuaded the king that it was to his advantage to make the gift.

The eagerly awaited day arrived, on which the scandal-loving ears of the
people were to be filled to the full with the iniquities of their
rulers, on which their long-cherished suspicions should be changed to a
pleasantly anticipated certainty. Memmius summoned his Contio and
produced the king. Even the suppliant garb of Jugurtha did not save him
from a howl of execration. From the tribunal, to which he had been led
by the tribune, he looked over a sea of angry faces and threatening
hands, while his ears were deafened by the roar of fierce voices, some
crying that he should be put in bonds, others that he should suffer the
death of the traitor if he failed to reveal the partners of his
crimes.[958] Memmius, anxious for the dignity of his unusual proceedings
which were being marred by this frantic outburst, used all his efforts
to secure order and a patient hearing, and succeeded at length in
imposing silence on the crowd--a silence which perhaps marked that
psychological moment when pent up feeling had found its full expression
and passion had given way to curiosity. The tribune also vehemently
asserted his intention of preserving inviolate the safe conduct which
had been granted by the State. He then led the king forward[959] and
began a recital of the catalogue of his deeds. He spared him nothing;
his criminal activity at Rome and in Numidia, his outrages on his
family--the whole history of that career, as it continued to live in the
minds of democrats, was fully rehearsed. He concluded the story, which
he assumed to be true, by a request for the important details of which
full confirmation was lacking. "Although the Roman people understood by
whose assistance and ministry all this had been done, yet they wished to
have their suspicions finally attested by the king. If he revealed the
truth, he could repose abundant hope on the honour and clemency of the
Roman people; if he refused to speak, he would not help the partners of
his guilt, but his silence would ruin both himself and his future."
Memmius ceased and asked the king for a reply; Baebius stepped forward
and ordered the king to be silent.[960] The voice of Jugurtha could
legally find utterance only through the will of the magistrate who
commanded; it was stifled by the prohibition of the colleague who
forbade. The people were in the presence of one of those galling
restraints on their own liberty to which the jealousy of the magistracy,
expressed in the constitutional creations of their ancestors, so often
led. Baebius was immediately subjected to the terrorism which Octavius,
his forerunner in tribunician constancy, had once withstood. The frantic
mob scowled, shouted, made rushes for the tribunal, and used every
effort short of personal assault which anger could suggest, to break the
spirit of the man who balked their will. But the resolution--or, as his
enemies said, the shamelessness[961]--of Baebius prevailed. The
multitude, tricked of its hopes, melted from the Forum in gloomy
discontent. It is said that the hopes of Bestia and his friends rose
high.[962] Perhaps they had lived too long in security to realise the
danger threatened by a disappointed crowd that might meet to better
purpose some future day; that had gained from the insulting scene itself
an embittered confirmation of its views, with none of the softening
influence which springs from a curiosity completely satiated; that, as
an assembly of the sovereign people, might at any moment avenge the
latest outrage which had been inflicted on its dignity.

Jugurtha had, perhaps through no fault of his own, sorely tried the
patience of the people on the one occasion on which, as a professed
suppliant, he had come into contact with his sovereign. He was now, on
his own initiative, to try it yet further, and to test it in a manner
which aroused the horror and resentment of many who did not share the
views of Memmius. The king was not the only representative of
Masinissa's house at present to be found in Rome. There resided in the
city, as a fugitive from his power, his cousin Massiva, son of Gulussa
and grandson of Masinissa. It is not known why this scion of the royal
house had been passed over in the regulation of the succession, although
it is easily intelligible that Micipsa, with two sons of his own, might
not have wished to increase the number of co-regents of Numidia by
recognising his brother's heirs, and would not have done so had he not
been forced by circumstances to adopt Jugurtha. During the early
struggles between the three kings, Massiva had attached himself to the
party of Hiempsal and Adherbal, and had thus incurred Jugurtha's enmity;
but he had continued to live in Numidia as long as there was any hope of
the continuance of the dual kingship. The fall of Cirta and the death of
Adherbal had forced him to find a refuge at Rome, where he continued to
reside in peace until fate suddenly made him a pawn in the political
game. At last there had arisen a definite section amongst the nobility
which found it to its interest to offer an active opposition to
Jugurtha's claims. The consuls who succeeded Bestia and Nasica, were
Spurius Albinus and Quintus Minucius Rufus. The latter had won the
province of Macedonia and the protection of the north-eastern frontier;
to the former had fallen Numidia and the conduct of affairs in Africa.
The fact that the senate had declared Numidia a consular province before
the close of the previous year, was the ostensible proof that they had
yielded to the pressure applied by Memmius and nominally at least
repudiated the pacification effected by Bestia and Scaurus. But the
rejection of this arrangement seems never to have been officially
declared; there was still a chance of the recognition of Jugurtha's
claims, and of the governor of Numidia being assigned the inglorious
function of seeing to the restoration of the king and then evacuating
his territory. Such a modest _rôle_ did not at all harmonise with the
views of Albinus. He wished a real command and a genuine war; but it was
not easy to wage such a war as long as Jugurtha was the only candidate
in the field. Even if his surrender were regarded as fictitious and the
war were resumed on that ground, it was difficult to assign it an
ultimate object, since the senate had no intention of making Numidia a
province. But the object which would make the war a living reality could
be secured, if a pretender were put forward for the Numidian crown; and
such a pretender Albinus sought in the scion of Masinissa's race now
resident in Rome, whose birth gave him a better hereditary claim than
Jugurtha himself. The consul approached Massiva and urged him to make a
case out of the odium excited and the fears inspired by Jugurtha's
crimes, and to approach the senate with a request for the kingdom of
Numidia.[963] The prince caught at the suggestion, the petition was
prepared, and this new and unexpected movement began to make itself
felt. Jugurtha's fear and anger were increased by the sudden discovery
that his friends at Rome were almost powerless to help him. They could
not parade a question of principle when it came to persons; a kingdom in
Numidia was more easily defended than its king; every act of assistance
which they rendered plunged them deeper in the mire of suspicion; it was
a time to walk warily, for those who had no judge in their own
conscience found one in the keen scrutiny of a hostile world. But the
danger was too great to permit Jugurtha to relax his efforts through the
failure of his friends. He appealed to his own resources, which
consisted of the passive obedience of his immediate attendants and the
power of his purse. To Bomilcar his most trusted servant he gave the
mission of making one final effort with the gold which had already done
so much. Men might be hired who would lie in wait for Massiva. If
possible, the matter was to be effected secretly. If secrecy was
impossible, the Numidian must yet be slain. His death was deserving of
any risk. Bomilcar was prompt in carrying out his mission. A band of
hired spies watched every movement of Massiva. They learnt the hours at
which he left and returned to his home; the places he visited, the times
at which his visits were paid. When the seasonable hour arrived, the
ambush was set by Bomilcar. The elaborate precautions which had been
taken proved to have been thrown away; the assassin who struck the fatal
blow was no adept in the art of secret killing. Hardly had Massiva
fallen when the alarm was given and the murderer seized.[964] The men
who had an interest in Massiva's life were too numerous and too great to
make it possible for the act to sink to the level of ordinary street
outrages, or for the assassin caught red-handed to be regarded as the
sole author of the crime. The consul Albinus amongst others pressed the
murderer to reveal the instigator of the deed, and the senate must have
promised the immunity that was sometimes given to the criminal who named
his accomplices. The man named Bomilcar, who was thereupon formally
arraigned of the murder and bound over to stand his trial before a
criminal court. Even this step was taken with considerable hesitation,
for it was admitted that the safe-conduct which protected Jugurtha
extended to his retinue.[965] The king and his court were strictly
speaking extra-territorial, and the strict letter of international law
would have handed Bomilcar over for trial by his sovereign. But it was
felt that a departure from custom was a less evil than to allow such an
outrage to remain unpunished, and it was easier to satisfy the popular
conscience by finding Bomilcar guilty than to fix the crime on the man
whom every one named as its ultimate author. Jugurtha himself was
inclined for a time to acquiesce in this view; he regarded the trial of
his favourite as inevitable and furnished fifty of his own acquaintances
who were willing to give bail for the appearance of the accused. But
reflection convinced him that the sacrifice was unnecessary; his name
could not be saved by Bomilcar's doom, and no influence or wealth could
create even a pretence at belief in his own innocence. His standing in
Rome was gone, and this made him the more eager to consider his standing
as King of Numidia. If Bomilcar were sacrificed, his powerlessness to
protect the chief member of his retinue might shake the allegiance of
his own subjects.[966] He therefore smuggled his accused henchman from
Rome and had him conveyed secretly to Numidia. This, of all Jugurtha's
acts of perfidy perhaps the mildest and most excusable, in spite of the
awkward predicament in which it left the fifty securities, was the last
of the baffling incidents that had been crowded into his short sojourn
at Rome. His presence must have been an annoyance to every one. He had
exhausted his friends, had failed to serve the purposes of the
opposition leader, and had inspired in the senate memories and
anticipations which they were willing to forget. When that body ordered
him to quit Italy--it must have expressed the wish of every class.
Within a few days of Bomilcar's disappearance the king himself was
leaving the gates. It is said that he often turned and took a long and
silent look at the distant town, and that at last the words broke from
him "A city for sale and ripe for ruin, if only a purchaser can be
found!" [967]

The departure of Jugurtha implied the renewal of the war. The compact
made with Bestia and Scaurus had been tacitly, if not formally,
repudiated by the senate, and the fiction that Jugurtha had surrendered,
although it had played its part in the negotiations which brought him to
Rome, disappeared with the compact. Since, however, the right of
Jugurtha to retain Numidia, which was the objectionable element in the
late agreement, seems to have been implied rather than expressed, it may
have seemed possible to take the view that Jugurtha's surrender was
unconditional, and that the war was now the pursuit of an escaped
prisoner of Rome. Such a conception was absolutely worthless so far as
most of the practical difficulties of the task were concerned; for,
whether Jugurtha was an enemy or a rebel, he was equally difficult to
secure; but it may have had a considerable influence on the principles
on which the Numidian war was now to be conducted, and we shall find on
the part of Rome a growing disinclination to give Jugurtha the benefits
of those rules of civilised warfare of which she generally professed a
scrupulous observance in the letter if not in the spirit. The object of
the war was, through its very simplicity, extraordinarily difficult of
attainment. It was neither more nor less than the seizure of the person
of Jugurtha. Numidia had no common government and no unity but those
personified in its king, and the conquest of fragments of the country
would be almost useless until the king was secured. The hope of setting
up a rival pretender, whose recognition by Rome might have enabled
organisation to keep pace with conquest, had perished with the murder of
Massiva,[968] although it is very questionable whether the name even of
the son of the warlike Gulussa would have detached any of the military
strength of Numidia from a monarch who had stirred the fighting spirit
of the nation and was regarded as the embodiment of its manliest
traditions. The outlook of the consul Albinus, the new organiser of the
war on the Roman side, was indeed a poor one, and it was made still
poorer by the fact that a considerable portion of his year of office had
already lapsed, and the events of his campaign must of necessity be
crowded into the few remaining months of the summer and the early
autumn. Had there been any spirit of self-sacrifice in Roman commanders,
or any true continuity in Roman military policies, Albinus might have
set himself the useful task of organising victory for his successors;
yet he cannot be wholly blamed for the hope, wild and foolish as it
seems, of striking some decisive blow in the narrow time allowed
him.[969] The military operations of the war at this stage become almost
wholly subordinate to political considerations. Senate and consuls were
being swept off their feet and forced into a disastrous celerity or
superficiality of action by the growing tide of indignation which
animated commons and capitalists alike; and the feeling that something
decisive must be accomplished for the satisfaction of public opinion,
was supplemented by the lower but very human consideration that a
general must seem to have attained some success if he hoped to have his
command prolonged for another year. The senate, it is true, might have
insight enough to see that success in a war such as that in Numidia
could not be gauged by the brilliance of the results obtained; but how
were they to defend their verdict to the people unless they could point
to exploits such as would dazzle the popular eye? But although a
feverish policy seemed the readiest mode of escape from public suspicion
or inglorious retirement, it had its own particular nemesis, of which
Albinus seemed for the moment to be oblivious. To finish the war in a
short time meant to finish it by any means that came to hand. But, if a
striking victory did not surrender Jugurtha into the hands of his
conqueror--and even the most glorious victory did not under the
circumstances of the war imply the capture of the vanquished--what means
remained except negotiation and the voluntary surrender of the
king?[970] Such means had been employed by Bestia, and every one knew
now with what result. The policy of haste might breed more suspicion and
bitterness than the most desultory conduct of the campaign.

Albinus made rapid but ample preparation of supplies, money and
munitions of war, and hurried off to the scene of his intended
successes. The army which he found must have been in a miserable
condition, if we may judge by the state which the last glimpse of it
revealed; but his fixed intention of accomplishing something, no matter
what, must have rendered adequate re-organisation impossible, and he
took the field against Jugurtha with forces whose utter demoralisation
was soon to be put to a frightful test. The war immediately assumed that
character of an unsuccessful hunt, varied by indecisive engagements and
fruitless victories, which it was to retain even under the guidance of
the ablest that Rome could furnish. Jugurtha adhered to his inevitable
plan of a prolonged and desultory campaign over a vast area of country;
the size and physical character of his kingdom, the extraordinary
mobility of his troops, the credulity and anxious ambition of his
opponent, were all elements of strength which he used with consummate
skill. He retired before the threatening column; then, that his men
might not lose heart, he threw himself with startling suddenness on the
foe; at other times he mocked the consul with hopes of peace, entered
into negotiations for a surrender and, when he had disarmed his
adversary by hopes, suddenly drew back in a pretended access of
distrust. The futility of Albinus's efforts was so pronounced--a
futility all the more impressive from the intensity of his preparations
and his excessive eagerness to reach the field of action--that people
ignorant of the conditions of the campaign began again to whisper the
perpetual suspicion of collusion with the king.[971] The suspicion might
not have been avoided even by a commander who declined negotiation; but
Albinus's case had been rendered worse by his unsuccessful efforts to
play with a master of craft, and it was with a reputation greatly
weakened from a military, and slightly damaged from a moral, point of
view that he brought the campaign to a close, sent his army into winter
quarters, and left for Rome to preside at the electoral meetings of the
people.[972] The Comitia for the appointment of the consuls and the
praetors were at this time held during the latter half of the year, but
at no regular date, the time for their summons depending on the
convenience of the presiding consul and on his freedom from other and
more pressing engagements.[973] Albinus may have arrived in Rome during
the late autumn. Had he been able to get the business over and return to
Africa for the last month or two of the year, his conduct of the war
might have been considered ineffective but not disastrous, and the
senate might have been spared a problem more terrible than any that had
yet arisen out of its relations with Jugurtha. For Albinus, though
sanguine and unpractical, seems to have been reasonably prudent, and he
might have handed over an army, unsuccessful but not disgraced, and
recruited in strength by its long winter quarters, to the care of a more
fortunate successor. But, as it happened, every public department in
Rome was feeling the strain caused by a minor constitutional crisis
which had arisen amongst the magistrates of the Plebs. The sudden
revival of the people's aspirations had doubtless led to a certain
amount of misguided ambition on the part of some of its leaders, and the
tribunate was now the centre of an agitation which was a faint
counterpart of the closing scenes in the Gracchan struggles. Two
occupants of the office, Publius Lucullus and Lucius Annius, were
attempting to secure re-election for another year. Their colleagues
resisted their effort, probably on the ground that the conditions
requisite for re-election were not in existence, and this conflict not
merely prevented the appointment of plebeian magistrates from being
completed, but stayed the progress of the other elective Comitia as
well.[974] The tribunes, whether those who aimed at re-election or those
who attempted to prevent it, had either declared a _justitium_ or
threatened to veto every attempt made by a magistrate of the people to
hold an electoral assembly; and the consequence of this impasse was
that, when the year drew to a close,[975] no new magistrates were in
existence and the consul Albinus was still absent from his
African command.

Unfortunately the absence of the proconsul, as Albinus had now become in
default of the appointment of a successor, did not have the effect of
checking the enterprise of the army. It was now under the authority of
Aulus Albinus, to whom his brother had delegated the command of the
province and the forces during his stay at Rome. The stimulus which
moved Aulus to action is not known. The unexpected duration of his
temporary command may have familiarised him with power, stimulated his
undoubted confidence in himself, and suggested the hope that by one of
those unexpected blows, with which the annals of strategic genius were
filled, he might redeem his brother's reputation and win lasting glory
for himself. Others believed that the perpetually suspected motive of
cupidity was the basis of his enterprise, that he had no definitely
conceived plan of conquest, but intended by the terror of a military
demonstration to exact money from Jugurtha.[976] If the latter view was
correct, it is possible that Aulus imagined himself to be acting in the
interest of his army as well as of himself. The long winter quarters may
have betrayed a deficiency in pay and provisions, and if Jugurtha
purchased the security of a district, its immunity would be too public
an event to make it possible for the commander of the attacking forces
to pocket the whole of the ransom.

It was in the month of January, in the very heart of a severe winter,
that Aulus summoned his troops from the security of their quarters to a
long and fatiguing march. His aim was Suthul, a strongly fortified post
on the river Ubus, nearly forty miles south of Hippo Regius and the sea,
and so short a distance from the larger and better-known town of Calama,
the modern Gelma, that the latter name was sometimes used to describe
the scene of the incidents that followed.[977] We are not told the site
of the winter quarters from which the march began; but the
ineffectiveness of the former campaign and the caution of Albinus, who
did not mean his legions to fight during his absence, might lead us to
suppose that the troops had been quartered in or near the Roman
province; and in this case Aulus might have marched along the valley of
the Bagradas to reach his destined goal, which would finally have been
approached from the south through a narrow space between two ranges of
hills, the westernmost of which was crowned at its northern end by the
fortifications of Suthul. This was reported to be the chief
treasure-city of Jugurtha; could Aulus capture it, or even bargain for
its security with the king, he might cripple the resources of the
Numidian monarch and win great wealth for himself and his army. By long
and fatiguing marches he reached the object of his attack, only to
discover at the first glance that it was impregnable--nay even, as a
soldier's eye would have seen, that an investment of the place was
utterly impossible.[978] The rigour of the season had aggravated the
difficulties presented by the site. Above towered the city walls perched
on their precipitous rock; below was the alluvial plain which the
deluging rains of a Numidian winter had turned into a swamp of liquid
mud. Yet Aulus, either dazzled by the vision of the gold concealed
within the fortress which it had caused him such labour to reach, or
with some vague idea that a pretence at an investment might alarm the
king into coming to terms for the protection of his hoard, began to make
formal preparations for a siege, to bring up mantlets, to mark out his
lines of circumvallation,[979] to deceive his enemy, if he could not
deceive himself, into a belief that the conditions rendered an attack on
Suthul possible.

It is needless to say that Jugurtha knew the possibilities of his
treasure-city far better than its assailant. But the simple device of
Aulus was admirably suited to his plans. Humble messages soon reached
the camp of the legate; the missives of every successive envoy augmented
his illusion and stirred his idle hopes to a higher pitch. Jugurtha's
own movements began to give proof of a state of abject terror. So far
from coming to the relief of his threatened city, he drew his forces
farther away into the most difficult country he could find, everywhere
quitting the open ground for sheltered spots and mountain paths. At last
from a distance he began to hold out definite hopes of an agreement with
Aulus. But it was one that must be transacted personally and in private.
The plain round Suthul was much too public a spot; let the legate follow
the king into the fastnesses of the desert and all would be arranged.
The legate advanced as the king retired; but at every point of the
difficult march Numidian spies were hovering around the Roman column.
The disgust of the soldiers at the hardships to which they had been
submitted in the pursuit of this phantom gold, the last evidence of
which had vanished when their commander turned his back on the walls of
Suthul, now resulted in a frightful state of demoralisation. The lower
officers in authority, centurions and commanders of squadrons of horse,
stole from the camp to hold converse with Jugurtha's spies; some sold
themselves to desert to the Numidian army, others to quit their posts at
a given signal. The mesh was at last prepared. On one dark night, at the
hour of the first sleep when attack is least suspected, the camp of
Aulus was suddenly surrounded by the Numidian host. The surprise was
complete. The Roman soldiers, in the shock of the sudden din, were
utterly unnerved. Some groped for their arms; others cowered in their
tents; a few tried to create some order amongst their terror-stricken
comrades. But nowhere could a real stand be made or real discipline
observed. The blackness of the night and the heavy driving clouds
prevented the numbers of the enemy from being seen, and the size of the
Numidian host, large in itself, was perhaps increased by a terrified
imagination. It was difficult to say on which side the greater danger
lay. Was it safer to fly into darkness and some unknown ambush or to
keep one's ground and meet the approaching enemy? The evils of
preconcerted treachery were soon added to those of surprise. The
defections were greatest amongst the auxiliary forces. A cohort of
Ligurian infantry with two squadrons of Thracian cavalry deserted to the
king. Their example was followed by but a handful of the legionaries;
but the fatal act of treason was committed by a Roman centurion of the
first rank. He let the Numidians through the post which he had been
given to defend, and through this ingress they poured to every part of
the camp. The panic was now complete; most of the Romans threw their
arms away and fled from slaughter to the temporary safety of a
neighbouring hill. The early hour at which the attack had been made,
prevented an effective pursuit, for there was much of the night yet to
run; and the Numidians were also busied with the plunder of the camp.
The dawn of day revealed the hopelessness of the Roman position and
forced Aulus into any terms that Jugurtha cared to grant. The latter
adopted the language of humane condescension. He said that, although he
held the Roman army at his mercy, certain victims of famine or the
sword, yet he was not unmindful of the mutability of human fortune, and
would spare the lives of all his prisoners, if the Roman commander would
make a treaty with him.[980] The army was to pass under the yoke; the
Romans were to evacuate Numidia within ten days. The degrading terms
were accepted: an army that before its defeat had numbered forty
thousand men,[981] passed under the spear that symbolised their
submission and disgrace, and peace reigned in Numidia--a peace which
lacked no element of shame, dictated by a client king to the sovereign
that had decreed his chastisement.

The Roman public had become so familiar with discredit as to be in the
habit of imagining it even when it did not exist; but humiliation
exhibited in an actual disaster on this colossal scale was sufficiently
novel to stir the people to the profoundest depths of grief and
fear.[982] To men who thought only of the empire, its glory seemed to be
extinguished by the fearful blow; but many of the masses, who knew
nothing of war or of Rome's relations with peoples beyond the seas, were
filled with a fear too personal to permit their thoughts to dwell solely
on the loss of honour. To yet another class, whose knowledge exempted
them from such idle terror, the army seemed more than the empire. Rome
had not yet learnt to fight with mercenary forces; and the men who had
seen service formed a considerable element in the Roman proletariate.
Such veterans, especially those whose repute in war could give their
words an added point, were unmeasured in their condemnation of the
conduct of Aulus. The general had had a sword in his hand; yet he had
thought a disgraceful capitulation his only means of deliverance. On no
side could a word be heard in defence of the action of the unhappy
commander. The blessings of the wives and children of the men whom
Aulus's treaty had saved were, if breathed, apparently smothered under a
weight of patriotic execration.

The feeling of insecurity must have been rendered greater by the fact
that the State still lacked an official head, and the African
dependencies possessed no governor in whom any confidence could be
reposed. The year must have opened with a series of _interregna_, since
no consuls had been elected to assume the government on the 1st of
January; Numidia had again been made by senatorial decree a consular
province; but since no consul existed to assume the administration,
Albinus was still in command of the African army.[983] It was the
painful duty of the ex-consul to raise in the senate the question of the
ratification of his brother's treaty. Even he could never have attempted
to defend it; his dominant feeling was an overwhelming sense of the
weight of undeserved ignominy under which he lay, tempered by an
undercurrent of fear as to the danger that might follow in the track of
the universal disfavour with which he and his brother were regarded. The
action that he took even before the senate's opinion was known, was a
proof that he regarded the continuance of the war as inevitable. He
relieved his mind and sought to restore his credit by pushing on
military preparations with a fevered energy; supplementary drafts for
the African army were raised from the citizens; auxiliary cohorts were
demanded of the Latins and Italian allies. While these measures were in
progress, the judgment of the senate was given to the world. It was a
judgment based on the often-repeated maxim that no legitimate treaty
could be concluded without the consent of the senate and people.[984] It
was a decision that recalled the days of Numantia or the more distant
history of the Caudine Forks; but the formal sacrifice that followed and
was thought to justify those famous instances of breach of contract, was
no longer deemed worthy of observance, and Aulus was not surrendered to
the vengeance or mercy of the foe with whom he had involuntarily broken
faith. This summary invalidation of the treaty may have been the result
of a deduction drawn from the peculiar circumstances which had preceded
the renewal of the war--circumstances which, as we have seen, might be
twisted to support the view that Jugurtha was not an independent enemy
of Rome and was, therefore, not entitled to the full rights of a

The senate's decision left Albinus free to act and to make use of the
new military forces that he had so strenuously prepared. But a sudden
hindrance came from another quarter. Some tribunes expressed the not
unreasonable view that a commander of Albinus's record should not be
allowed to expose Rome's last resources to destruction. Had they meant
him to remain in command, their attitude would have been indefensible;
but, when they forbade him to take the new recruits to Africa,[985] they
were merely reserving them for a more worthy successor. Albinus,
however, meant to make the most of his limited tenure. He had his own
and his brother's honour to avenge, and within a few days of the
senate's decree permitting a renewal of the war, he had taken ship for
the African province, where the whole army, withdrawn from Numidia in
accordance with the compact, was now stationed in winter quarters. For a
time his burning desire to clear his name made him blind to the defects
of his forces; he thought only of the pursuit of Jugurtha, of some
vigorous stroke that might erase the stain from the honour of his
family. But hard facts soon restored the equilibrium of his naturally
prudent soul. The worst feature of the army was not that it had been
beaten, but that it had not been commanded. The reins of discipline had
been so slack that licence and indulgence had sapped its fighting
strength. The tyranny of circumstances demanded a peaceful sojourn in
the province, and Albinus resigned himself to the inevitable.

At Rome meanwhile the movement for inquiry that had been stayed for the
moment by the co-operation of Jugurtha and his senatorial friends, and
by the obstructive attitude of Baebius, had been resumed with greater
intensity and promise of success. It did not need the disaster of Aulus
to re-awaken it to new life. That disaster no doubt accelerated its
course and invested it with an unscrupulous thoroughness of character
that it might otherwise have lacked; but the movement itself had perhaps
taken a definite shape a month before the result of Aulus's experiment
in Numidia was known, and was the natural result of the feeling of
resentment which the conspiracy of silence had created. It now assumed
the exact and legal form of the demand for a commission which should
investigate, adjudicate and punish. The leaders of the people had
conceived the bold and original design of wresting from the hands, and
directing against the person, of the senate the powerful weapon with
which that body had so often visited epidemics of crime or turbulence
that were supposed to have fastened on the helpless proletariate. Down
to this time special commissions had either been set up by the
co-operation of senate and people, or had, with questionable legality,
been established by the senate alone. The commissioners, who were
sometimes consuls, sometimes praetors, had, perhaps always but certainly
in recent history, judged without appeal; and in the judicial
investigations which followed the fall of the Gracchi, the people had
had no voice either in the appointment of the judge or in the
ratification of the sentence which he pronounced. Now the senate as a
whole was to be equally voiceless; it was not to be asked to take the
initiative in the creation of the court, the penalties were to be
determined without reference to its advice, and although the presidents
would naturally be selected from members of the senatorial order, if
they were to be chosen from men of eminence at all, these presidents
were to be merely formal guides of the proceedings, like the praetor who
sat in the court which tried cases of extortion, and the verdict was to
be pronounced by judges inspired by the prevailing feeling of hostility
to the crimes of the official class.

Caius Mamilius Limetanus, who proposed and probably aided in drafting
this bill, was a tribune who belonged to the college which perhaps came
into office towards the close of the month of December which had
preceded the recent disaster in Numidia. The bill, the promulgation of
which was probably one of the first acts of his tribunate, proposed
"that an inquiry should be directed into the conduct of all those
individuals, whose counsel had led Jugurtha to neglect the decrees of
the senate, who had taken money from the king whether as members of
commissions or as holders of military commands, who had handed over to
him elephants of war and deserters from his army; lastly, all who had
made agreements with enemies of the State on matters of peace or
war".[986] The comprehensive nature of the threatened inquiry spread
terror amongst the ranks of the suspected. The panic was no sign of
guilt; a party warfare was to be waged with the most undisguised party
weapons: and mere membership of the suspected faction aroused fears
almost as acute as those which were excited by the consciousness of
guilt, There was a prospect of rough and ready justice, where proof
might rest on prepossession and verdicts be considered preordained. The
bitterness of the situation was increased by the impossibility of open
resistance to the measure; for such a resistance would imply an
unwillingness to submit to inquiry, and such a refusal, invidious in
itself, would fix suspicion and be accepted as a confession of misdeeds
which could not bear the light of investigation. With the city
proletariate against them, the threatened members of the aristocracy
could look merely to secret opposition by their own supporters, and to
such moderate assistance as was secured by the friendly attitude which
their recent agrarian measures had awakened in the Latins and Italian
allies.[987] But the latter support was moral rather than material, or
if it became effective, could only secure this character by fraud. The
allies, whom the senate had driven from Rome by Pennus's law, were
apparently to be invited to flood the _contiones_ and raise cries of
protest against the threatened indictment. But this device could only be
successful in the preliminary stages of the agitation. The Latins
possessed but few votes, the Italians none, and personation, if resorted
to, was not likely to elude the vigilance of the hostile presidents of
the tribunician assembly, or, if undetected, to be powerful enough to
turn the scale in favour of the aristocracy. For the unanimity of
opposition which the nobility now encountered in the citizen body, was
almost unexampled. The differences of interest which sometimes separated
the country from the city voters, seem now to have been forgotten. The
tribunes found no difficulty in keeping the agitation up to fever-heat,
and its permanence was as marked as its intensity. The crowds that
acclaimed the proposal, were sufficiently in earnest to remain at Rome
and vote for it; the emphasis with which the masses assembled at the
final meeting, "ordered, decreed and willed" the measure submitted for
their approval, was interpreted (perhaps rightly) as a shout of
triumphant defiance of the nobility, not as a vehement expression of
disinterested affection for the State.[988] The two emotions were indeed
blended; but the imperial sentiment is oftenest aroused by danger; and
the individuals who have worked the mischief are the concrete element in
a situation, the reaction against which has roused the exaltation which
veils vengeance and hatred under the names of patriotism and justice.

When the measure had been passed, it still remained to appoint the
commissioners. This also was to be effected by the people's vote, and
never perhaps was the effect of habit on the popular mind more
strikingly exhibited than when Scaurus, who was thought to be trembling
as a criminal, was chosen as a judge.[989] The large personal following,
which he doubtless possessed amongst the people, must have remained
unshaken by the scandals against his name; but the reflection amongst
all classes that any business would be incomplete which did not secure
the co-operation of the head of the State, was perhaps a still more
potent factor in his election. Never was a more splendid testimonial
given to a public man, and it accompanied, or prepared the way for, the
greatest of all honours that it was in the power of the Comitia to
bestow--the control of morals which Scaurus was in that very year to
exercise as censor.[990] The presence of the venerable statesman amongst
the three commissioners created under the Mamilian law, could not,
however, exercise a controlling influence on the judgments of the
special tribunal. Such an influence was provided against by the very
structure of the new courts. The three commissioners were not to judge
but merely to preside; for in the constitution of this commission the
new departure was taken of modelling it on the pattern of the newly
established standing courts, and the judges who gave an uncontrolled and
final verdict were men selected on the same qualifications as those
which produced the Gracchan jurors, and were perhaps taken from the list
already in existence for the trial of cases of extortion. The knights
were, therefore, chosen as the vehicle for the popular indignation, and
the result justified the choice. The impatience of a hampered commerce,
and perhaps of an outraged feeling of respectability, spent itself
without mercy on the devoted heads of some of the proudest leaders of
the faction that had so long controlled the destinies of the State.
Expedition in judgment was probably secured by dividing the
commissioners into three courts, each with his panel of _judices_ and
all acting concurrently. It was still more effectually secured by the
mode in which evidence was heard, tested and accepted, and by the
scandalous rapidity with which judgment was pronounced. The courts were
influenced by every chance rumour and swayed by the wild caprices of
public opinion. No sane democrat could in the future pretend to regard
the Mamilian commission as other than an outrage on the name of justice;
to the philosophic mind it seemed that a sudden turn in fortune's wheel
had brought to the masses the same intoxication in the sense of
unbridled power that had but a moment before been the disgrace of the
nobility.[991] An old score was wiped off when Lucius Opimius, the
author of the downfall of Caius Gracchus, was condemned. Three other
names completed the tale of victims who had been rendered illustrious by
the possession of the consular _fasces_. Lucius Bestia was convicted for
the conclusion of that dark treaty with Jugurtha, although his
counsellor Scaurus had been elevated to the Bench. Spurius Albinus fell
a victim to his own caution and the blunder of his too-enterprising
brother; the caution was supposed to have been purchased by Jugurtha's
gold, and the absent pro-consul was perhaps held responsible for the
rashness or cupidity of his incompetent legate, who does not seem to
have been himself assailed. Caius Porcius Cato was emerging from the
cloud of a recent conviction for extortion only to feel the weight of a
more crushing judgment which drove him to seek a refuge on Spanish soil.
Caius Sulpicius Galba, although he had held no dominant position in the
secular life of the State, was a distinguished member of the religious
hierarchy; but even the memorable speech which he made in his defence
did not save him from being the first occupant of a priestly office to
be condemned in a criminal court at Rome.[992]

We do not know the number of criminals discovered by the Mamilian
courts, and perhaps only the names of their more prominent victims have
been preserved. The worldly position of these victims may, however, have
saved others of lesser note, and the dignity of the sacrifice may have
been regarded in the fortunate light of a compensation for its limited
extent. The object of the people and of their present agents, the
knights, so far as a rational object can be discerned in such a carnival
of rage and vengeance, was to teach a severe lesson to the governing
class. Their full purpose had been attained when the lesson had been
taught. It was not their intention, any more than it had been that of
Caius Gracchus, to usurp the administrative functions of government or
to attempt to wrest the direction of foreign administration out of the
senate's hands. The time for that further step might not be long in
coming; but for the present both the lower and middle classes halted
just at the point where destructive might have given place to
constructive energy. The leaders of the people may have felt the entire
lack of the organisation requisite for detailed administration, and the
right man who might replace the machine had not yet been found; while
the knights may, in addition to these convictions, have been influenced
by their characteristic dislike of pushing a popular movement to an
extreme which would remove it from the guidance of the middle class.

The senate had indeed learnt a lesson, and from this time onward the
history of the Numidian war is simplified by the fact that its progress
was determined by strategic, not by political, considerations. There is
no thought of temporising with the enemy; the one idea is to reduce him
to a condition of absolute submission--a submission which it was known
could be secured only by the possession of his person. It is true that
the conduct of the campaign became more than ever a party question; but
the party struggle turned almost wholly on the military merit of the
commander sent to the scene of action, and although there was a
suspicion that the war was being needlessly prolonged for the purpose of
gratifying personal ambition, there was no hint of the secret operation
of influences that were wholly corrupt. Such a suspicion was rendered
impossible by the personality of the man who now took over the conduct
of the campaign. The tardily elected consuls for the year were Quintus
Caecilius Metellus and Marcus Junius Silanus. Of these Metellus was to
hold Numidia and Silanus Gaul.[993] It is possible that, in the counsels
of the previous year, considerations of the Numidian campaign may to
some extent have determined the election of Metellus; the senate may
have welcomed the candidature of a man of approved probity, although not
of approved military skill, for the purpose of obviating the chance of
another scandal; and the people may in the same spirit have now ratified
his election. But, when we remember the almost mechanical system of
advancement to the higher offices which prevailed at this time, it is
equally possible that Metellus's day had come, that the senate was
fortunate rather than prescient in its choice of a servant, and that,
although the people in their present temper would probably have rejected
a suspicious character, they accepted rather than chose Metellus. The
existing system did not even make it possible to elect a man who would
certainly have the conduct of the African war; and if we suppose that in
this particular case the division of the consular provinces did not
depend on the unadulterated use of the lot, but was settled by agreement
or by a mock sortition,[994] the probity rather than the genius of
Metellus must have determined the choice, for Silanus was assigned a
task of far more vital importance to the welfare of Rome and Italy.

The repute of Metellus was based on the fact that, although an
aristocrat and a staunch upholder of the privileges of his order, he was
honest in his motives and, so far at least as civic politics were
concerned, straightforward in his methods. Rome was reaching a stage at
which the dramatic probity of Hellenic annals, as exemplified by the
names of an Aristeides or a Xenocrates, could be employed as a measure
to exalt one member of a government among his fellows; the
incorruptibility which had so lately been the common property of
all,[995] had become the monopoly of a few, and Metellus was a witness
to the folly of a caste which had not recognised the policy of honesty.
The completeness with which the prize for character might be won, was
shown by the attitude of a jury before which he had been impeached on a
charge of extortion. Even the jealous _Equites_ did not deign to glance
at the account-books which were handed in, but pronounced an immediate
verdict of acquittal.[996] But the merely negative virtue of
unassailability by grossly corrupting influences could not have been the
only source of the equable repute which Metellus enjoyed amongst the
masses. It was but one of the signs of the self-sufficient directness,
repose and courtesy, which marked the better type of the new nobility,
of a life that held so much that it needed not to grasp at more, of the
protecting impulse and the generosity which, in the purer type of minds
constricted by conservative prejudices, is an outcome of the conviction
of the unbridgeable gulf that separates the classes. The nobility of
Metellus was wholly in his favour; it justified the senate while it
hypnotised the people. The man who was now consul and would probably
within a short space of time attach the name of a conquered nationality
to his own, was but fulfilling the accepted destiny of his family.
Metellus could show a father, a brother, an uncle and four cousins, all
of whom had held the consulship. Since the middle of the second century
titles drawn from three conquered peoples had become appellatives of
branches of his race. His uncle had derived a name from Macedon, a
cousin from the Baliares, his own elder brother from the Dalmatians. It
remained to see whether the best-loved member of this favoured race
would be in a position to add to the family names the imposing
designation of Numidicus.

Metellus was a man of intellect and energy as well as of character,[997]
and he showed himself sufficiently exempt from the prejudices of his
caste, and sufficiently conscious of the seriousness of the work in
hand, to choose real soldiers, not diplomatists or ornamental warriors,
as his lieutenants. If the restiveness of Marius had left a disturbing
memory behind, it was judiciously forgotten by the consul, who drew the
_protégé_ of his family from the uncongenial atmosphere of the city to
render services in the field, and to teach an ambitious and somewhat
embittered man that each act of skill and gallantry was performed for
the glory of his superior. Another of his legates was Publius Rutilius
Rufus, who like Marius had held the praetorship, and was not only a man
of known probity and firmness of character, but a scientific student of
tactics with original ideas which were soon to be put to the test in the
reorganisation of the army which followed the Numidian war. For the
present it was necessary to create rather than reorganise an army, and
Metellus in his haste had no time for the indulgence of original views.
The reports of the forces at present quartered in the African province
were not encouraging; and every means had to be taken to find new
soldiers and fresh supplies. A vigorous levy was cheerfully tolerated by
the enthusiasm of the community; the senate showed its earnestness by
voting ample sums for the purchase of arms, horses, siege implements and
stores. Renewed assistance was sought from, and voluntarily rendered by,
the Latins and Italian allies, while subject kings proved their loyalty
by sending auxiliary forces of their own free will.[998] When Metellus
deemed his preparations complete, he sailed for his province amidst the
highest hopes. They were hopes based on the probity of a single man; for
the impression still prevailed that Roman arms were invincible and had
been vanquished only by the new vices of the Roman character. Such hopes
are not always the best omen for a commander to take with him; a joy in
the present, they are likely to prove an embarrassment in the
immediate future.


The delay in his own appointment to the consulship, and the length of
time required for collecting his supplementary forces and their
supplies, had robbed Metellus of some of the best months of the year
when he set foot on African soil; but his patience was to be put to a
further test, for the most casual survey of what had been the army of
the proconsul Albinus showed the impossibility of taking the field for
some considerable time.[999] What he had heard was nothing to what he
saw. The military spirit had vanished with discipline, and its sole
survivals were a tendency to plunder the peaceful subjects of the
province and a habit of bandying words with superior officers. The camp
established by Aulus for his beaten army had hardly ever been moved,
except when sanitary reasons or a lack of forage rendered a short
migration unavoidable. It had developed the character of a highly
disorderly town, the citizens of which had nothing to do except to
traffic for the small luxuries of life, to enjoy them when they were
secured, and, in times when money and good things were scarce, to spread
in bands over the surrounding country, make predatory raids on the
fields and villas of the neighbourhood, and return with the spoils of
war, whether beasts or slaves, driven in flocks before them. The trader
who haunts the footsteps of the bandit was a familiar figure in the
camp; he could be found everywhere exchanging his foreign wine and the
other amenities in which he dealt for the booty wrung from the
provincials. Since discipline was dead and there was no enemy to fear,
even the most ordinary military precautions had ceased to be observed.
The ramparts were falling to pieces, the regular appointment and relief
of sentries had been abandoned, and the common soldier absented himself
from his company as often and for as long a period as he pleased.

Metellus had to face the task which had confronted Scipio at Numantia.
He performed it as effectually and perhaps with greater gentleness; for
the most singular feature in the methods by which he restored discipline
was his avoidance of all attempts at terrorism.[1000] The moderation and
restraint, which had won the hearts of the citizens, worked their magic
even in the disorganised rabble which he was remodelling into an army.
The habits of obedience were readily resumed when the tones of a true
commander were heard, and the way for their resumption was prepared by
the regulations which abolished all the incentives to the luxurious
indolence which he had found prevalent in the camp. The sale of cooked
food was forbidden, the camp followers were swept away, and no private
soldier was allowed the use of a slave or beast of burden, whether in
quarters or on the march. Other edicts of the same kind followed, and
then the work of active training began. Every day the camp was broken up
and pitched again after a cross-country march; rampart and ditch were
formed and pickets set as though the enemy was hovering near, and the
general and staff went their rounds to see that every precaution of real
warfare was observed. On the line of march Metellus was everywhere, now
in the van, now with The rearguard, now with the central column. His eye
criticised every disposition and detected every departure from the
rules; he saw that each soldier kept his line, that he filled his due
place in the serried ranks that gathered round a standard, that he bore
the appropriate burden of his food and weapons. Metellus preferred the
removal of the opportunities for vice to the vindictive chastisement of
the vicious; his wise and temperate measures produced a healthy state of
mind and body with no loss of self-respect, and in a short time he
possessed an army, strong in physique as in morale, which he might now
venture to move against the foe.

Jugurtha had shown no inclination to follow up his success by active
measures against the defeated Roman army, even after he had learnt the
repudiation of his treaty with Aulus and knew that the state of war had
been resumed. The miserable condition of the forces in the African
province, of which he must have been fully aware, must have offered an
inviting object of attack, and a sudden raid across the borders might
have enabled him to dissipate the last relics of Roman military power in
Africa. But he was now, as ever, averse to pushing matters to extremes,
he declined to figure as an aggressive enemy of the Roman power; and to
give a pretext for a war which could have no issue but his own
extinction, would be to surrender the chances of compromise which his
own position as a client king and the possibilities, however lessened,
of working on the fears or cupidity of members of the Roman
administration still afforded him. His strength lay in defensive
operations of an elusive kind, not in attack; the less cultivated and
accessible portions of his own country furnished the best field for a
desultory and protracted war, and he seems still to have looked forward
to a compromise to which weariness of the wasteful struggle might in the
course of time invite his enemies. He may even have had some knowledge
of the embarrassments of the Republic in other quarters of the world,
and believed that both the unwillingness of Rome to enter into the
struggle, and her eagerness, when she had entered, to see it brought to
a rapid close, were to some extent due to a feeling that an African war
would divert resources that were sorely needed for the defence of her
European possessions.

The king's confidence in the weakness and half-heartedness of the Roman
administration is said to have been considerably shaken by the news that
Metellus was in command.[1001] During his own residence in Rome he may
have heard of him as the prospective consul; he had at any rate learnt
the very unusual foundations on which Metellus's influence with his
peers and with the people was based, and knew to his chagrin that these
were unshakable. The later news from the province was equally
depressing. The new commander was not only honest but efficient, and the
shattered forces of Rome were regaining the stability that had so often
replaced or worn out the efforts of genius. Delicate measures were
necessary to resist this combination of innocence and strength, and
Jugurtha began to throw out the tentacles of diplomacy. The impression
which he meant to produce, and actually did produce on the mind of the
historian who has left us the fullest record of the war, was that of a
genuine desire to effect a surrender of himself which should no longer
be fictitious, and to throw himself almost unreservedly on the mercy of
the Roman people.[1002] But Jugurtha was in the habit of exhibiting the
most expansive trust, based on a feeling of his own utter helplessness,
at the beginning of his negotiations, and of then seeming to permit his
fears to get the better of his confidence. He was an experimental
psychologist who held out vivid hopes in the belief that the craving
once excited would be ultimately satisfied with less than the original
offer, while the physical and mental retreat would meanwhile divert his
victim from military preparations or lead him to incautious advances. It
must have been in some such spirit that he assailed Metellus with offers
so extreme in their humility that their good faith must have aroused
suspicion in any mind where innocence did not imply simplicity of
character, as Jugurtha perhaps hoped that it did in the case of this
novel type of Roman official. The Numidian envoys promised absolute
submission; even the crown was to be surrendered, and they stipulated
only for the bare life of the king and his children.[1003] Metellus,
convinced of the unreality of the promise, matched his own treachery
against that of the king. He had not the least scruple in following the
lead which the senate had given, and regarding Jugurtha as unworthy of
the most rudimentary rights of a belligerent. Believing that he had seen
enough of the Numidian type to be sure that its conduct was guided by no
principles of honour or constancy, and that its shifty imagination could
be influenced by the newest project that held out a hope of excitement
or of gain,[1004] he began in secret interviews with each individual
envoy, to tamper with his fidelity to the king. The subjects of his
interviews did not repudiate the suggestion, and adopted an attitude of
ready attention which invited further confidences. It might have been an
attitude which in these subtle minds denoted unswerving loyalty to their
master; but Metellus interpreted it in the light of his own desires, and
proceeded to hold out hopes of great reward to each of the envoys if
Jugurtha was handed over into his power; he would prefer to have the
king alive; but, if that was impossible, the surrender of his dead body
would be rewarded. He then gave in public a message which he thought
might be acceptable to their master. It is sufficiently probable that
the private dialogues no less than the public message were imparted to
Jugurtha's ear by messengers who now had unexampled means of proving
their fidelity and each of whom may have attempted to show that his
loyalty was superior to that of his fellows; incentives to frankness had
certainly been supplied by Metellus; but this frankness may have been
itself of value to the Roman commander. It would prove to Jugurtha the
presence of a resolute and unscrupulous man who aimed at nothing less
than his capture and with whom further parleyings would be waste
of time.

A few days later Metellus entered Numidia with an army marching with all
the vigilance which a hostile territory demands, and prepared in the
perfected carefulness of its organisation to meet the surprises which
the enemy had in store. The surprise that did await it was of a novel
character.[1005] The grimly arrayed column found itself forging through
a land which presented the undisturbed appearance of peace, security and
comfort. The confident peasant was found in his homestead or tilling his
lands, the cattle grazed on the meadows; when an open village or a
fortified town was reached, the army was met by the headman or governor
representing the king. This obliging official was wholly at the disposal
of the Roman general; he was ready to supply corn to the army or to
accumulate supplies at any base that might be chosen by the commander;
any order that he gave would be faithfully carried out. But Metellus's
vigilance was not for a moment shaken by this bloodless triumph. He
interpreted the ostentatious submission as the first stage of an
intended ambush, and he continued his cautious progress as though the
enemy were hovering on his flank. His line of march was as jealously
guarded as before, his scouts still rode abroad to examine and report on
the safety of the route. The general himself led the van, which was
formed of cohorts in light marching order and a select force of slingers
and archers; Marius with the main body of cavalry brought up the rear,
and either flank was protected by squadrons of auxiliary horse that had
been placed at the disposal of the tribunes in charge of the legions and
the prefects who commanded the divisions of the contingents from the
allies. With these squadrons were mingled light-armed troops, their
joint function being to repel any sudden assault from the mobile
Numidian cavalry. Every forward step inspired new fears of Jugurtha's
strategic craft and knowledge of the ground; wherever the king might be,
his subtle influence oppressed the trespasser on any part of his
domains, and the most peaceful scene appeared to the anxious eyes of the
Roman commander to be fraught with the most terrible perils of war.

The route taken by Metellus may have been the familiar line of advance
from the Roman province, down the valley of the Bagradas. But before
following the upper course of that river into the heart of Numidia, he
deemed it necessary to make a deflection to the north, and secure his
communications by seizing and garrisoning the town of Vaga, the most
important of the Eastern cities of Jugurtha. Its position near the
borders of the Roman province had made it the greatest of Numidian
market towns, and it had once been the home, and the seat of the
industry, of a great number of Italian traders.[1006] We may suppose
that by this time the merchants had fled from the insecure locality and
that the foreign trade of the town had passed away; but both the site of
the city and the character of its inhabitants attracted the attention of
Metellus. The latter, like the Eastern Numidians generally, were a
receptive and industrious folk, who knew the benefits that peace and
contact with Rome conferred on commerce, and might therefore be induced
to throw off their allegiance to Jugurtha. The site suggested a suitable
basis for supplies and, if adequately protected, might again invite the
merchant. Metellus, therefore, placed a garrison in the town, ordered
corn and other necessaries to be stored within its walls, and saw in the
concourse of the merchant class a promise of constant supplies for his
forces and a tower of strength for the maintenance of Roman influence in
Numidia when the work of pacification had been done. The slight delay
was utilised by Jugurtha in his characteristic manner. The seizure of
one of his most important cities offered an occasion or pretext for
fresh terrors. Metellus was beset by grovelling envoys with renewed
entreaties; peace was sought at any price short of the life of the king
and his children; all else was to be surrendered. The consul still
pursued his cherished plan of tampering with the fidelity of the
messengers and sending them home with vague promises. He would not cut
off Jugurtha from all hope of a compromise. He may have believed that he
was paralysing the king's efforts while he continued his steady advance,
and turning his enemy's favourite weapon against that enemy himself.
Perhaps he even let his thoughts dally with the hope that the envoys who
had proved such facile traitors might find some means of redeeming their
promises.[1007] But, unless he committed the cardinal mistake of
misreading or undervaluing his opponent, these could have been but
secondary hopes. He must have known that to penetrate into Western
Numidia without a serious battle, or at least without an effort of
Jugurtha to harass his march or to cut his communications, was an event
beyond the reach of purely human aspiration.

Jugurtha had on his part framed a plan of resistance complete in every
detail. The site in which the attempt was to be made was visited and its
military features were appraised in all their bearings; the events which
would succeed each other in a few short hours could be predicted as
surely as one could foretell the regular movements of a machine; the
Roman general was walking into a trap from which there should be no
escape but death. The framing of Jugurtha's scheme necessarily depended
on his knowledge of Metellus's line of march. We do not know how soon
the requisite data came to hand; but there is little reason for
believing that his plan was a resolution of despair or forced on him as
a last resort, except in the sense that he would always rather treat
than fight, and that to inflict disaster on a Roman army was no part of
the policy which he deemed most desirable. But, since his ideal plan had
stumbled on the temperament of Metellus, a check to the invading army
became imperative.[1008] The sacrifice of Vaga could scarcely have
weighed heavily on his mind, for it was an integral element in any
rational scheme of defence; but, even apart from the obvious
consideration that a king must fight if he cannot treat for his crown,
the thought of his own prestige may now have urged him to combat.
Unbounded as the faith of his Numidian subjects was, it might not
everywhere survive the impression made by the unimpeded and triumphant
march of the Roman legions.

Metellus when he quitted Vaga had continued to operate in the eastern
part of Numidia. The theatre of his campaign was probably to be the
territory about the plateau of Vaga and the Great Plains, its ultimate
prizes perhaps were to be the important Numidian towns of Sicca Veneria
and Zama Regia to the south. The nature of the country rendered it
impossible for him to enter the defiles of the Bagradas from the
north-west, while it was equally impossible for him to march direct from
Vaga to Sicca, for the road was blocked by the mountains which
intervened on his south-eastern side. To reach the neighbourhood of
Sicca it was necessary to turn to the south-west and follow for a time
the upward course of the river Muthul (the Wäd Mellag). By this route he
would reach the high plateaux, which command on the south-east the
plains of Sicca and Zama, on the north-west those of Naraggara and
Thagaste, on the south those of Thala and Theveste.[1009] Metellus's
march led him over a mountain height which was some miles from the
river.[1010] The western side of this height, down which the Roman army
must descend, although of some steepness at the beginning of its
declivity, did not terminate in a plain, but was continued by a swelling
rise, of vast and even slope, which found its eastern termination on the
river's bank. The greater portion of this great hill, and especially
that part of it which lay nearest to the mountain, was covered by a
sparse and low vegetation, such as the wild olive and the myrtle, which
was all that the parched and sandy soil would yield. There was no water
nearer than the river, and this had made the hill a desert so far as
human habitation was concerned. It was only on its eastern slope which
touched the stream that the presence of man was again revealed by
thick-set orchards and cattle grazing in the fields. [1011]

Jugurtha's plan was based on the necessity which would confront the
Romans of crossing this arid slope to reach the river. Could he spring
on them as they left the mountain chain and detain them in this torrid
wilderness, nature might do even more than the Numidian arms to secure a
victory; meanwhile measures might be taken to close the passage to the
river, and to bring up fresh forces from the east to block the desired
route while the ambushed army was harassed by attacks from the flank
and rear.

Jugurtha himself occupied the portion of the slope which lay just
beneath the mountain. He kept under his own command the whole of the
cavalry and a select body of foot-soldiers, probably of a light and
mobile character such as would assist the operations of the horse. These
he placed in an extended line on the flank of the route that must be
followed by an army descending from the mountain. The line was continued
by the forces which he had placed under the command of Bomilcar. These
consisted of the heavier elements of the Numidian army, the elephants of
war and the major part of the foot soldiers. It is, however, probable
that there was a considerable interval between the end of Jugurtha's and
the beginning of Bomilcar's line.[1012] The latter on its eastern side
extended to a point at no great distance from the river; and according
to the original scheme of the ambush the function assigned to Bomilcar
must have been that of executing a turning movement which would prevent
the Roman forces from gaining the stream. As it was expected that the
impact of the heavy Roman troops would be chiefly felt in this
direction, the sturdier and less mobile portions of the Numidian army
had been placed under Bomilcar's command.

Metellus was soon seen descending the mountain slope,[1013] and there
seemed at first a chance that the Roman column might be surprised along
its length by the sudden onset of Jugurtha's horse. But the vigilant
precautions which Metellus observed during his whole line of march,
although they could not in this case avert a serious danger, possibly
lessened the peril of the moment. His scouts seem to have done their
work and spied the half-concealed Numidians amongst the low trees and
brushwood. The superior position of the Roman army must in any case soon
have made this knowledge the common property of all, unless we consider
that some ridge of the chain concealed Jugurtha's ambush from the view
of the Roman army until they should have almost left the mountain for
the lower hill beneath it. Jugurtha must in any case have calculated on
the probability of the forces under his own command soon becoming
visible to the enemy, for perfect concealment was impossible amidst the
stunted trees which formed the only cover for his men.[1014] The
efficacy of his plan did not depend on the completeness or suddenness of
the surprise; it depended still more on Jugurtha's knowledge of the
needs of a Roman army, and on the state of perplexity into which all
that was visible of the ambush would throw the commander. For the little
that was seen made it difficult to interpret the size, equipment and
intentions of the expectant force. Glimpses of horses and men could just
be caught over the crests of the low trees or between the interlacing
boughs. Both men and horses were motionless, and the eye that strove to
see more was baffled by the scrub which concealed more than it revealed,
and by the absence of the standards of war which might have afforded
some estimate of the nature and size of the force and had for this
reason been carefully hidden by Jugurtha.

But enough was visible to prove the intended ambush. Metellus called a
short halt and rapidly changed his marching column to a battle formation
capable of resistance or attack. His right flank was the one immediately
threatened. It was here accordingly that he formed the front of his
order of battle, when he changed his marching column into a fighting
line.[1015] The three ranks were formed in the traditional manner; the
spaces between the maniples were filled by slingers and archers; the
whole of the cavalry was placed on the flanks. It is possible that at
this point the line of descent from the mountain would cause the Roman
army to present an oblique front to the slope and the distant
river,[1016] and the cavalry on the left wing would be at the head of
the marching column, if it descended into the lower ground.[1017] Such a
descent was immediately resolved on by Metellus. To halt on the heights
was impossible, for the land was waterless; an orderly retreat was
perhaps discountenanced by the difficulties of the country over which he
had just passed and the distance of the last watering-place which he had
left, while to retire at the first sight of the longed-for foe would not
have inspired his newly remodelled army with much confidence in
themselves or their general.

When the army had quitted the foot of the mountain, a new problem faced
its general. The Numidians remained motionless,[1018] and it became
clear that no rapid attack that could be as suddenly repulsed was
contemplated by their leader. Metellus saw instead the prospect of a
series of harassing assaults that would delay his progress, and he
dreaded the fierceness of the season more than the weapons of the enemy.
The day was still young, for Jugurtha had meant to call in the alliance
of a torrid sun, and Metellus saw in his mind's eye his army, worn by
thirst, heat and seven miles of harassing combat, still struggling with
the Numidian cavalry while they strove to form a camp at the river which
was the bourne of their desires. It was all important that the extreme
end of the slope which touched the river should be seized at once, and a
camp be formed, or be in process of formation, by the time that his
tired army arrived. With this object in view he sent on his legate
Rutilius with some cohorts of foot soldiers in light marching order and
a portion of the cavalry. The movement was well planned, for by the
nature of the case it could not be disturbed by Jugurtha. His object was
to harry the main body of the army and especially the heavy infantry,
and his refusal to detach any part of his force in pursuit of the
swiftly moving Rutilius is easily understood, especially when it is
remembered that Bomilcar was stationed near to the ground which the
Roman legate was to seize. An attack on the flying column would also
have led to the general engagement which Metellus wished to provoke. The
presence of Bomilcar and his force was probably unknown to the Romans.
He in his turn must have been surprised, and may have been somewhat
embarrassed, by Rutilius's advance; but the movement did not induce him
to abandon his position. To oppose Rutilius would have been to surrender
the part assigned him in the intended operations against the main Roman
force; and, if this part was now rendered difficult or impossible by the
presence of the Romans in his rear, he might yet divide the forces of
the enemy, and assist Jugurtha by keeping Rutilius and his valuable
contingents of cavalry in check. He therefore permitted the legate to
pass him[1019] and waited for the events which were to issue from the
combat farther up the field.

Metellus meanwhile continued his slow advance, keeping the marching
order which had been observed in the descent from the mountain. He
himself headed the column, riding with the cavalry that covered the left
wing, while Marius, in command of the horsemen on the right, brought up
the rear.[1020] Jugurtha waited until the last man of the Roman column
had crossed the beginning of his line, and then suddenly threw about two
thousand of his infantry up the slope of the mountain at the point where
Metellus had made his descent. His idea was to cut off the retreat of
the Romans and prevent their regaining the most commanding position in
the field. He then gave the signal for a general attack. The battle
which followed had all the characteristic features of all such contests
between a light and active cavalry force and an army composed mainly of
heavy infantry, inferior in mobility but unshakable in its compact
strength. There was no possibility of the Numidians piercing the Roman
ranks, but there was more than a possibility of their wearing down the
strength of every Roman soldier before that weary march to the river had
even neared its completion. The Roman defence must have been hampered by
the absence of that portion of the cavalry which had accompanied
Rutilius; it was more sorely tried by the dazzling sun, the floating
dust and the intolerable heat. The Numidians hung on the rear and either
flank, cutting down the stragglers and essaying to break the order of
the Roman ranks on every side. It was of the utmost difficulty to
preserve this order, and the braver spirits who preferred the security
of their ranks to reckless and indiscriminate assault, were maddened by
blows, inflicted by the missiles of their adversaries, which they were
powerless to return. Nor could the repulse of the enemy be followed by
an effective pursuit. Jugurtha had taught his cavalry to scatter in
their retreat when pursued by a hostile band; and thus, when unable to
hold their ground in the first quarter which they had selected for
attack, they melted away only to gather like clouds on the flank and
rear of pursuers who had now severed themselves from the protecting
structure of their ranks. Even the difficulties of the ground favoured
the mobile tactics of the assailants; for the horses of the Numidians,
accustomed to the hill forests, could thread their way through the
undergrowth at points which offered an effective check to the
pursuing Romans.

It seemed as though Jugurtha's plan was nearing its fulfilment. The
symmetry of the Roman column was giving place to a straggling line
showing perceptible gaps through which the enemy had pierced. The
resistance was becoming individual; small companies pursued or retreated
in obedience to the dictates of their immediate danger; no single head
could grasp the varied situation nor, if it had had power to do so,
could it have issued commands capable of giving uniformity to the
sporadic combats in which attack and resistance seemed to be directed by
the blind chances of the moment. But every minute of effectual
resistance had been a gain to the Romans. The ceaseless toil in the
cruel heat was wearing down the powers even of the natives; the
exertions of the latter, as the attacking force, must have been far
greater than those of the mass of the Roman infantry; and the Numidian
foot soldiers in particular, who were probably always of an inferior
quality to the cavalry and had been obliged to strain their physical
endurance to the utmost by emulating the horsemen in their lightning
methods of attack and retreat, had become so utterly exhausted that a
considerable portion of them had practically retired from the field.
They had climbed to the higher ground, perhaps to join the forces which
Jugurtha had already placed near the foot of the mountain, and were
resting their weary limbs, probably not with any view of shirking their
arduous service but with a resolution of renewing the attack when their
vigour had been restored. This withdrawal of a large portion of the
infantry was a cause, or a part, of a general slackening of the Numidian
attack; and it was the breathing space thus afforded which gave Metellus
his great chance. Gradually he drew his straggling line together and
restored some order in the ranks; and then with the instinct of a true
general he took active measures to assail his enemy's weakest point.
This point was represented by the Numidian infantry perched on the
height. Some of these were exhausted and perhaps dispirited, others it
is true were as yet untouched by the toil of battle; but as a body
Metellus believed them wholly incapable of standing the shock of a Roman
charge. The confidence was almost forced on him by his despair of any
other solution of the intolerable situation. The evening was closing in,
his army had no camp or shelter; even if it were possible to guard
against the dangers of the night, morning would bring but a renewal of
the same miserable toil to an army worn by thirst, sleeplessness and
anxiety. He, therefore, massed four legionary cohorts against the
Numidian infantry,[1021] and tried to revive their shattered confidence
by appealing at once to their courage and to their despair, by pointing
to the enemy in retreat and by showing that their own safety rested
wholly on the weapons in their hands. For some time the Roman soldiers
surveyed their dangerous task and looked expectantly at the height that
they were asked to storm. The vague hope that the enemy would come down
finally disappeared; the growing darkness filled them with resolute
despair; and, closing their ranks, they rushed for the higher ground. In
a moment the Numidians were scattered and the height was gained. So
rapidly did the enemy vanish that but few of them were slain; their
lightness of armour and knowledge of the ground saved them from the
swords of the pursuing legionaries.

The conquest of the height was the decisive incident of the battle, and
it was clearly a success that, considered in itself, was due far more to
radical and permanent military qualities than to tactical skill. It may
seem wholly a victory of the soldiers, in which the general played no
part, until we remember that strategic and tactical considerations are
dependent on a knowledge of such permanent conditions, and that Metellus
was as right in forcing his Romans up the height as Jugurtha was wrong
in believing that his Numidians could hold it. With respect to the
events occurring in this quarter of the field, Metellus had saved
himself from a strategic disadvantage by a tactical success; but even
the strategic situation could not be estimated wholly by reference to
the events which had just occurred or to the position in which the two
armies were now left. Had Bomilcar still been free to bar the passage to
the river and to join Jugurtha's forces during the night, the position
of the Romans would still have been exceedingly dangerous. But the
mission of Rutilius had successfully diverted that general's attention
from what had been the main purpose of the original plan. His leading
idea was now merely to separate the two divisions of the Roman army, and
the thought of blocking the passage of Metellus, although not
necessarily abandoned, must have become secondary to that of checking
the advance of Rutilius when the legate should have become alarmed at
the delay in the progress of his commander. Bomilcar, after he had
permitted the Roman force to pass him, slowly left the hill where he had
been posted and brought his men into more level ground,[1022] while
Rutilius was making all speed for the river. Quietly he changed his
column into a line of battle stretching across the slope which at this
point melted into the plain, while he learnt by constant scouting every
movement of the enemy beyond. He heard at length that Rutilius had
reached his bourne and halted, and at the same time the din of the
battle between Jugurtha and Metellus came in louder volumes to his ear.
The thought that Rutilius's attention was disengaged now that his main
object had been accomplished, the fear that he might seek to bring help
to his labouring commander, led Bomilcar to take more active measures.
His mind was now absorbed with the problem of preventing a junction of
the Roman forces. His mistrust of the quality of the infantry under his
command had originally led him to form a line of considerable depth;
this he now thought fit to extend with the idea of outflanking and
cutting off all chance of egress from the enemy. When all was ready he
advanced on Rutilius's camp.[1023]

The Romans were suddenly aware of a great cloud of dust which hung over
the plantations on their landward side; but the intervening trees hid
all prospect of the slope beyond: and for a time they looked on the
pillar of dust as one of the strange sights of the desert, a mere
sand-cloud driven by the wind. Then they thought that it betrayed a
peculiar steadiness in its advance; instead of sweeping down in a wild
storm it moved with the pace and regularity of an army on the march;
and, in spite of its slow progress, it could be seen to be drawing
nearer and nearer. The truth burst upon their minds; they seized their
weapons and, in obedience to the order of their commander, drew up in
battle formation before the camp. As Bomilcar's force approached, the
Romans shouted and charged; the Numidians raised a counter cheer and met
the assault half-way. There was scarcely a moment when the issue seemed
in doubt. The Romans, strong in cavalry, swept the untrained Numidian
infantry before them, and Bomilcar had by his incautious advance thrown
away the utility of that division of his army on which he and his men
placed their chief reliance. His elephants, which were capable of
manoeuvring only on open ground, had now been advanced to the midst of
wooded plantations, and the huge animals were soon mixed up with the
trees, struggling through the branches and separated from their
fellows.[1024] The Numidians made a show of resistance until they saw
the line of elephants broken and the Roman soldiers in the rear of the
protecting beasts; then they threw away their heavy armour and vanished
from the spot, most of them seeking the cover of the hills and nearly
all secure in the shelter of the coming night. The elephants were the
chief victims of the Roman pursuit; four were captured and the forty
that remained were killed.

It had been a hard day's work for the victorious division. A forced
march had been followed by the labour of forming a camp and this in turn
by the toil of battle. But it was impossible to think of rest. The delay
of Metellus filled them with misgivings, and they advanced through the
darkness to seek news of the main division with a caution that bespoke
the prudent view that their recent victory had not banished the evil
possibilities of Numidian guile.[1025] Metellus was advancing from the
opposite direction and the two armies met. Each division was suddenly
aware of a force moving against it under cover of the night; with nerves
so highly strung as to catch at any fear each fancied an enemy in the
other. There was a shout and a clash of arms, as swords were drawn and
shields unstrung. It was fortunate that mounted scouts were riding in
advance of either army. These soon saw the welcome truth and bore it to
their companions. Panic gave place to joy; as the combined forces moved
into camp, the soldiers' tongues were loosed, and pent up feelings found
expression in wonderful stories of individual valour.

Metellus, as in duty bound, gave the name of victory to his salvation
from destruction. He was right in so far as an army that has vanished
may be held to have been beaten; and his compliments to his soldiers
were certainly well deserved; for the triumph, such as it was, had been
mainly that of the rank and file, and the Roman legionary had not merely
given evidence of the old qualities of stubborn endurance which
Metellus's training had restored, but had proved himself vastly superior
to anything in the shape of a soldier of the line that Jugurtha could
put into the field. The commendation and thanks which the general
expressed in his public address to the whole army, the individual
distinctions which he conferred on those whose peculiar merit in the
recent combats was attested, were at once an apology for hardship, a
recognition of desert and a means of inspiring self-respect and future
efficiency. If it is true that Metellus added that glory was now
satisfied, and plunder should be their reward in future,[1026] he was at
once indulging in a pardonable hyperbole and veiling the unpleasant
truth that combats with Jugurtha were somewhat too expensive to attract
his future attention. His own private opinion of the recent events was
perhaps as carefully concealed in his despatches to the senate. It was
inevitable that a populace which had learnt to look on news from Numidia
as a record of compromise or disaster, should welcome and exaggerate the
cheering intelligence; should not only glory in the indisputable fact of
the renewed excellence of their army, but should regard Jugurtha as a
fugitive and Metellus as master of his land.[1027] It was equally
natural that the senate should embrace the chance of shaking off the
last relics of suspicion which clung to its honour and competency by
exalting the success of its general. It decreed supplications to the
immortal gods, and thus produced the impression that a decisive victory
had been won. Everywhere the State displayed a pardonable joy mingled
with a less justifiable expectation that this was the beginning of
the end.

The man who raises extravagant hopes is only less happy than the man who
dashes them to the ground. The days that followed the battle of the
Muthul must have been an anxious time for Metellus; for he had been
taught that it was necessary to change his plan of campaign into a shape
which was not likely to secure a speedy termination of the war. For four
days he did not leave his camp--a delay which may have had the
ostensible justification of the necessity of caring for his wounded
soldiers,[1028] and may even have been based on the hope that
negotiations for surrender might reach him from the king, but which also
proved his view that the pursuit of Jugurtha was wholly impracticable,
and that in the case of a Numidian army capture or destruction was not a
necessary consequence of defeat. He contented himself with making
inquiries of fugitives and others as to the present position and
proceedings of the king, and received replies which may have contained
some elements of truth. He learnt that the Numidian army which had
fought at the Muthul had wholly broken up in accordance with the custom
of the race, that Jugurtha had left the field with his body-guard alone,
that he had fled to wild and difficult country and was there raising a
second army--an army that promised to be larger than the first, but was
likely to be less efficient, composed as it was of shepherds and
peasants with little training in war.[1029] We cannot say whether
Metellus accepted the strange view that the vanished army, which had now
probably returned to the peaceful pursuits of agriculture and pasturage,
would not be reproduced in the new one; but certainly the news of the
future weakness of Jugurtha's forces did not seem to him to justify an
advance into Western Numidia, then as ever the stronghold of the king
and the seat of that treasure of human life which was of more value than
gold and silver. The Roman general, while recognising that the
belligerent aspect of the king made a renewal of the war inevitable, was
fully convinced that pitched battles were not the means of wearing down
Numidian constancy. The pursuit of Jugurtha was impossible without
conflicts, from which the vanquished emerged less scathed than the
victors,[1030] and even this primary object of the expedition was for
the time abandoned. He was forced to adopt the circuitous device of
attracting the presence of the king, and weakening the loyalty of his
subjects, by a series of mere plundering raids on the wealthiest
portions of the country. It was a plan that in default of a really
effective occupation of the whole country, especially of some occupation
of Western Numidia, implied a certain amount of self-contradiction and
inconsistency. The plunder of the land was intended to secure the end
which Metellus wished to avoid--a conflict with the king; and the
mobility which he so much dreaded could find no fairer field for its
exercise than the rapid marches across country which might secure a town
from attack, undo the work of conquest which had just been effected in
some other stronghold, or harass the route of the Roman forces as they
moved from point to point. Metellus was making himself into an admirable
target for the most effective type of guerilla warfare; but the whole
history of the struggle down to its close proves that this helplessness
was due to the situation rather than to the man. The Roman forces were
wholly inadequate to an effective occupation of Numidia; and a general
who despaired of pushing on in an aimless and dangerous pursuit, had to
be content with the chances that might result from the capture of towns,
the plunder of territories, and secret negotiations which might bring
about the death or surrender of the king.

Neither the movements which followed the battle of the Muthul nor the
site of the winter quarters into which Metellus led his men, have been
recorded. The campaign of the next year seems still to have been
confined to the eastern portion of Numidia, its object being the
security of the country between Vaga and Zama. This rich country was
cruelly ravaged, every fortified post that was taken was burnt, all
Numidians of fighting age who offered resistance were put to the sword.
This policy of terrorism produced some immediate results. The army was
well provisioned, the frightened natives bringing in corn and other
necessaries in abundance; towns and districts yielded hostages for their
good behaviour; strong places were surrendered in which garrisons were
left.[1031] But the presence of Jugurtha soon made itself felt. The
king, if he had collected an army, had left the major part of it behind.
He was now at the head of a select body of light horse, and with this
mobile force he followed in Metellus's tracks. The Romans felt
themselves haunted by a phantom enemy who passed with incredible
rapidity from point to point, whose stealthy advances were made under
cover of the darkness and over trackless wastes, and whose proximity was
only known by some sudden and terrible blow dealt at the stragglers from
the camp. The death or capture of those who left the lines could neither
be hindered nor avenged; for before reinforcements could be hurried up,
the Numidians had vanished into the nearest range of hills. The most
ordinary operations of the army were now being seriously hindered.
Supply and foraging parties had to be protected by cohorts of infantry
and the whole force of cavalry; plundering was impossible; and fire was
found the readiest means of wasting country which could no longer be
ravaged for the benefit of the men. It was thought unsafe for the whole
army to operate in two independent columns. Such columns were indeed
formed, Metellus heading one and Marius the other; but it was necessary
for them to keep the closest touch. Although they sometimes divided to
extend the sphere of their work of terror and devastation, they often
united through the pressure of fear, and the two camps were never at a
great distance from each other.[1032] The king meanwhile followed them
along the hills, destroying the fodder and ruining the water supply on
the line of march; now he would swoop on Metellus, now on Marius, harass
the rear of the column and vanish again into his hiding places.

The painful experiences of the later portion of this march convinced
Metellus that some decisive effort should be made, which would crown his
earlier successes, give him some sort of command of the line of country
through which he had so perilously passed, and might, by the importance
of the attempt, force Jugurtha to a battle. The hilly country through
which he had just conducted his legions, was that which lay between the
great towns of Sicca and Zama.[1033] The possession of both these places
was absolutely essential if the southern district which he had terrified
and garrisoned was to be kept permanently from the king. Sicca was
already his, for it had been the first of the towns to throw off its
allegiance to Jugurtha after the battle on the Muthul had dissipated the
Numidian army.[1034] He now turned his attention to the still more
important town of Zama, the true capital and stronghold of this southern
district, and prepared to master the position by assault or siege.
Jugurtha was soon cognisant of his plan, and by long forced marches
crossed Metellus's line and entered Zama.[1035] He urged the citizens to
a vigorous defence and promised that at the right moment he would come
to their aid with all his forces; he strengthened their garrison by
drafting into it a body of Roman deserters, whose circumstances
guaranteed their loyalty, and disappeared again from the vision of
friends and foes. Shortly afterwards he learnt that Marius had left the
line of march for Sicca, and that he had with him but a few cohorts
intended to convoy to the army the corn which he hoped to acquire in the
town. In a moment Jugurtha was at the head of his chosen cavalry and
moving under cover of the night. He had hoped perhaps to find the
division in the town, to turn the tide of feeling in Sicca by his
presence, and to see the ablest of his opponents trapped within the
walls. But, as he reached the gate, the Romans were leaving it. He
immediately hurled his men upon them and shouted to the curious folk who
were watching the departure of the cohorts, to take the division in the
rear. Chance, he cried, had lent them the occasion of a glorious deed of
arms. Now was the time for them to recover freedom, for him to regain
his kingdom. The magic of the presence of the national hero had nearly
worked conversion to the Siccans and destruction to the Romans. The
friendly city would have proved a hornets' nest, had not Marius bent all
his efforts to thrusting a passage through Jugurtha's men and getting
clear of the dangerous walls. In the more open ground the fighting was
sharp but short. A few Numidians fell, the rest vanished from the field,
and Marius came in safety to Zama, where he found Metellus contemplating
his attack.

The city lay in a plain and nature had contributed but little to its
defence,[1036] but it was strong in all the means that art could supply
and well prepared to stand a siege. Metellus planned a general assault
and arranged his forces around the whole line of wall. The attack began
at every point at once; in the rear were the light-armed troops,
shooting stones and metal balls at the defenders and covering the
efforts of the active assailants, who pressed up to the walls and strove
to effect an entry by scaling ladders and by mines. The defending force
betrayed no sign of terror or disordered haste. They calmly distributed
their duties, and each party kept a watchful eye on the enemy whom it
was its function to repel; while some transfixed those farther from the
wall with javelins thrown by the hand or shot from an engine, others
dealt destruction on those immediately beneath them, rolling heavy
stones upon their heads and showering down pointed stakes, heavy
missiles and vessels full of blazing pine fed with pitch and

The battle raging round the walls may have absorbed the thoughts even of
that section of the Roman army which had been left to guard the camp.
Certainly they and their sentries were completely off their guard when
Jugurtha with a large force dashed at the entrenchments and, so complete
was the surprise, swept unhindered through the gate.[1038] The usual
scene of panic followed with its flight, its hasty arming, the groans of
the wounded, the silent falling of the slain. But the unusual degree of
the recklessness of the garrison was witnessed by the fact that not more
than forty men were making a collective stand against the Numidian
onset. The little band had seized a bit of high ground and no effort of
the enemy could dislodge them. The missiles which had been aimed against
them they hurled back with terrible effect into the dense masses around;
and when the assailants essayed a closer combat, they struck them down
or drove them back with the fury of their blows. Their resistance may
have detained Jugurtha in the camp longer than he had intended; but the
immediate escape from the emergency was due to the cowards rather than
to the brave. Metellus was wrapt in contemplation of the efforts of his
men before the walls of Zama when he suddenly heard the roar of battle
repeated from another quarter. As he wheeled his horse, he saw a crowd
of fugitives hurrying over the plain; since they made for him, he judged
that they were his own men. It seems that the cavalry had been drawn up
near the walls, probably as a result of the impression that Jugurtha, if
he attacked at all, would attempt to take the besiegers in the rear.
Metellus now hastily sent the whole of this force to the camp, and bade
Marius follow with all speed at the head of some cohorts of the allies.
His anguish at the sullied honour of his troops was greater than his
fear. With tears streaming down his face he besought his legate to wipe
out the stain which blurred the recent victory and not to permit the
enemy to escape unpunished.

Jugurtha had no intention of being caught in the Roman camp; but it was
not so easy to get out as it had been to come in. Some of his men were
jammed in the exits, while others threw themselves over the ramparts;
Marius took full advantage of the rout, and it was with many losses that
Jugurtha shook himself free of his pursuers and retreated to his own
fastnesses. Soon the approach of night brought the siege operations to
an end. Metellus drew off his men and led them back to camp after a
day's experience that did not leave a pleasant retrospect behind it.
Warned by its incidents that the cavalry should be posted nearer to the
camp, he began the work of the following day by disposing the whole of
this force over that quarter of the ground on which the king had made
his appearance;[1039] more definite arrangements were also made for the
detailed defence of the Roman lines, and the assault of the previous day
was renewed on the walls of Zama. Yet in spite of these elaborate
precautions Jugurtha's coming was in the nature of a surprise. The
silence and swiftness of his onset threw the first contingents of Romans
whom he met into momentary panic and confusion; but reserves were soon
moved up and restored the fortune of the day. They might have turned it
rapidly and wholly, but for a tactical device which Jugurtha had adopted
as a means of neutralising the superior stability of the Romans--a means
which permitted him to show a persistence of frontal attack unusual with
the Numidians. He had mingled light infantry with his cavalry; the
latter charged instead of merely skirmishing, and before the breaches
which they had made in the enemy's ranks could be refilled, the foot
soldiers made their attack on the disordered lines.[1040]

Jugurtha's object was being fulfilled as long as he could remain in the
field to effect this type of diversion and draw off considerable forces
from the walls of Zama. But his ingenious efforts attracted the
attention of the besieged as well as of the besiegers. It is true that,
when the assault was hottest, the citizens of Zama did not permit their
minds or eyes to stray; but there were moments following the repulse of
some great effort when the energy of the assailants flagged and there
was a lull in the storm of sound made by human voices and the clatter of
arms. Then the men on the walls would look with strained attention on
the cavalry battle in the plain, would follow the fortunes of the king
with every alternation of joy or fear, and shout advice or exhortation
as though their voices could reach their distant friends.[1041] Marius,
who conducted the assault at that portion of the wall which commanded
this absorbing view, formed the idea of encouraging this distraction of
attention by a feint and seizing the momentary advantage which it
afforded. A remissness and lack of confidence was soon visible in the
efforts of his men, and the undisturbed interest of the Numidians was
speedily directed to the manoeuvres of their monarch in the plain.
Suddenly the assault burst on them in its fullest force; before they
could brace themselves to the surprise, the foremost Romans were more
than half-way up the scaling ladders. But the height was too great and
the time too short. Stones and fire were again poured on the heads of
the assailants. It was some time before their confidence was shaken; but
when one or two ladders had been shattered into fragments and their
occupants dashed down, the rest--most of them already covered with
wounds--glided to the ground and hastened from the walls. This was the
last effort. The night soon fell and brought with it, not merely the
close of the day's work, but the end of the siege of Zama.

Metellus saw that neither of his objects could be fulfilled. The town
could not be taken nor would Jugurtha permit himself to be brought to
the test of a regular battle.[1042] The fighting season was now drawing
to its close and he must think of winter quarters for his army. He
determined, not only to abandon the siege, but to quit Numidia and to
winter in the Roman province. The sole relic of the fact that he had
marched an army through the territory between Vaga and Zama were a few
garrisons left in such of the surrendered cities as seemed capable of
defence. The despatches of this winter would not cheer the people or
encourage the senate. The policy of invasion had failed; and, if success
was to be won, it could be accomplished by intrigue alone. Metellus,
when the leisure of winter quarters gave him time to think over the
situation, decided that scattered negotiations with lesser Numidian
magnates would prove as delusive in the future as they had in the past.
The king's mind must be mastered if his body was to be enslaved; but it
was a mind that could be conquered only by confidence, and to secure
this influence it was necessary to approach the monarch's right-hand
man. This man was Bomilcar, the most trusted general and adviser of
Jugurtha--trusted all the more perhaps in consequence of the delusion,
into which even a Numidian king might fall, that the man who owes his
life to another will owe him his life-long service as well. A more
reasonable ground for Bomilcar's attachment might have been found in the
consideration that, in the eyes of Rome, he was as deeply compromised as
Jugurtha himself--from an official point of view, indeed, even more
deeply compromised; for to the Roman law he was an escaped criminal over
whose head still hung a capital charge of murder.[1043] But might not
that very fact urge the minister to make his own compact with Rome? His
life depended on the king's success, or on the king's refusal to
surrender him if peace were made with Rome; it depended therefore on a
double element of doubt. Make that life a certainty, and would any
Numidian longer balance the doubt against the certainty? Such was the
thought of Metellus when he opened correspondence with Bomilcar. The
minister wished to hear more, and Metellus arranged a secret interview.
In this he gave his word of honour that, if Bomilcar handed over
Jugurtha to him living or dead, the senate would grant him impunity and
the continued possession of all that belonged to him. The Numidian
accepted the promise and the condition it involved; his mind was chiefly
swayed by the fear that a continuance of the even struggle might result
in a compromise with Rome, and that his own death at the hands of the
executioner would be one of the conditions of that compromise.

What passed between Bomilcar and Jugurtha can never have been known. The
king had no reason to regret the exploits of the year, and an appeal to
the desperate nature of his position would have been somewhat out of
place. But some of the reflections of Bomilcar, preserved or invented by
tradition,[1044] which pointed to weakness and danger in the future, may
conceivably have been expressed. It was true that the war was wasting
the material strength of the kingdom; it might be true that it would
wear out the constancy of the Numidians themselves and induce them to
put their own interests before those of their king. Such arguments could
never have weighed with Jugurtha had not his recent success suggested
the hope of a compromise; as a beaten fugitive he would have had nothing
to hope for; as a man who still held his own he might win much by a
ready compact with a Roman general in worse plight than himself. It
seems certain that Jugurtha was for the first time thoroughly deceived.
His judgment, sound enough in its estimate of the general situation,
must have been led astray by Bomilcar's representation of Metellus's
attitude, although the minister could not have hinted at a personal
knowledge of the Roman's views; and his confidence in his adviser led to
this rare and signal instance of a total misconception of the character
and powers of his adversary.

Some preliminary correspondence probably passed between Jugurtha and
Metellus before the king sent his final message.[1045] It was to the
effect that all the demands would be complied with, and that the kingdom
and its monarch would be surrendered unconditionally to the
representative of Rome. Metellus immediately summoned a council, to
which he gave as representative a character as was possible under the
circumstances. The transaction of delicate business by a clique of
friends had cast grave suspicions on the compact concluded by Bestia;
and it was important that the witnesses to the fact that the transaction
with Jugurtha contained no secret clause or understanding, should be as
numerous and weighty as possible. This result could be easily secured by
the general's power to summon all the men of mark available; and thus
Metellus called to the board not only every member of the senatorial
order whom he could find, but a certain number of distinguished
individuals who did not belong to the governing class.[1046] The policy
of the board was to make tentative and gradually increasing demands such
as had once tried the patience of the Carthaginians.[1047] Jugurtha
should give a pledge of his good faith; and, if it was unredeemed, Rome
would have the gain and he the loss. The king was now ordered to
surrender two hundred thousand pounds of silver, all his elephants and a
certain quantity of horses and weapons.[1048] He was also required to
furnish three hundred hostages.[1049] The request, at least as regards
the money and the materials for war, was immediately complied with. Then
the demands increased. The deserters from the Roman army must be handed
over. A few of these had fled from Jugurtha at the very first sign that
a genuine submission was being made, and had sought refuge with Bocchus
King of Mauretania;[1050] but the greater part, to the number of three
thousand,[1051] were surrendered to Metellus. Most of these were
auxiliaries, Thracians and Ligurians such as had abandoned Aulus at
Suthul; and the sense of the danger threatened by the treachery of
allies, who must form a vital element in all Roman armies, may have been
the motive for the awful example now given to the empire of Rome's
punishment for breach of faith. Some of these prisoners had their hands
cut off; others were buried in the earth up to their waists, were then
made a target for arrows and darts, and were finally burnt with fire
before the breath had left their bodies.[1052] The final order concerned
Jugurtha himself, He was required to repair to a place named
Tisidium,[1053] there to wait for orders. The confidence of the king now
began to waver. He may have hoped to the last moment for some sign that
his cause was being viewed with a friendly eye; but none had come.
Surrender to Rome was a thinkable position, while he was in a position
to bargain. It would be the counsel of a madman, if he put himself
wholly in the power of his enemy. He had sacrificed much; but the loss,
except in money, was not irremediable. Elephants were of no avail in
guerilla warfare, and Numidia, which was still his own, had horses and
men in abundance. He waited some days longer, probably more in
expectancy of a move by Metellus and in preparation of the step he
himself meant to take, than in doubt as to what that step should be;
when no modification of the demand came from the Roman side, he broke
off negotiations and continued the war. Metellus was still to be his
opponent; for earlier in the year the proconsulate of the commander had
been renewed.[1054]

The events of the summer and the peace of winter-quarters had given food
for reflection to others besides Metellus. We shall soon see what the
merchant classes in Africa thought of the progress of the war; more
formidable still were the emotions that had lately been excited in the
rugged breast of the great legate Marius. There are probably few
lieutenants who do not think that they could do better than their
commanders. Whether Marius held this view is immaterial; he soon came to
believe that he did, and expressed this belief with vigour. The really
important fact was that a man who had been praetor seven years before
and probably regarded himself as the greatest soldier of the age, was
carrying out the behests and correcting the blunders of a general who
owed his command to his aristocratic connections and blameless record in
civil life. The subordination in this particular form seemed likely to
be perpetuated in Numidia, for Metellus was entering on his second
proconsulate and his third year of power; in other forms and in every
sphere it was likely to be eternal, for it was an accepted axiom of the
existing regime that no "new man" could attain the consulship.[1055] The
craving for this office was the new blight that had fallen on Marius's
life; for it is the ambition which is legitimate that spreads the most
morbid influence on heart and brain. But the healthier part of his soul,
which was to be found in that old-fashioned piety so often maligned by
the question-begging name of superstition, soon came to the help of the
worldly impulse which the strong man might have doubted and crushed. On
one eventful day in Utica Marius was engaged in seeking the favour of
the gods by means of sacrificial victims. The seer who was interpreting
the signs looked and exclaimed that great and wonderful things were
portended. Let the worshipper do whatsoever was in his mind; he had the
support of the gods. Let him test fortune never so often, his heart's
desire would be fulfilled.[1056]

The gods had given a marvellous response in the only way in which the
gods could answer. They did not suggest, but they could confirm, and
never was confirmation more emphatic. Marius's last doubts were removed,
and he went straightway to his commander and asked for leave of absence
that he might canvass for the consulship in that very year. Metellus was
a good patron; that is, he was a bad friend. The aristocratic bristles
rose on the skin that had seemed so smooth. At first he expressed mild
wonder at Marius's resolution--the wonder that is more contemptuous than
a gibe--and exhorted him in words, the professedly friendly tone of
which must have been peculiarly irritating, not to let a distorted
ambition get the better of him; every one should see that his desires
were appropriate and limit them when they passed this stage; Marius had
reason to be satisfied with his position; he should be on his guard
against asking the Roman people for a gift which they would have a right
to refuse. There was no suspicion of personal jealousy in these
utterances; they reflected the standard of a caste, not of a man. But
Marius had measured the situation, and was not to be deterred by its
being presented again in a galling but not novel form. A further request
was met by the easy assumption that the matter was not so pressing as to
brook no delay; as soon as public business admitted of Marius's
departure, Metellus would grant his request. Still further entreaties
are said to have wrung from the impatient proconsul, whose good advice
had been wasted on a boor who did not know his place and could take no
hints, the retort that Marius need not hurry; it would be time enough
for him to canvass for the consulship when Metellus's own son should be
his colleague.[1057] The boy was about twenty, Marius forty-nine. The
prospective consulship would come to the latter when he had reached the
mature age of seventy-two. The jest was a blessing, for anything that
justified the whole-hearted renunciation of patronage, the dissolution
of the sense of obligation, was an avenue to freedom. Marius was now at
liberty to go his own way, and he soon showed that there was enough
inflammable material in the African province to burn up the credit of a
greater general than Metellus.

It is said that the division of the army, commanded by Marius, soon
found itself enjoying a much easier time than before;[1058] the stern
legate had become placable, if not forgetful--a circumstance which may
be explained either by the view that a care greater than that of
military discipline sat upon his mind, or by a belief that the new-born
graciousness was meant to offer a pleasing contrast to the rigour of
Metellus. But in this case the civilian element in the province was of
more importance than the army. The merchant-princes of Utica, groaning
over the vanished capital which they had invested in Numidian concerns,
heard a criticism and a boast which appealed strongly to their impatient
minds. Marius had said, or was believed to have said, that if but one
half of the army were entrusted to him, he would have Jugurtha in chains
in a few days;[1059] that the war was being purposely prolonged to
satisfy the empty-headed pride which the commander felt in his position.
The merchants had long been reflecting on the causes of the prolongation
of the war with all the ignorance and impatience that greed supplies;
now these causes seemed to be revealed in a simple and convincing light.

The unfortunate house of Masinissa was also made to play its part in the
movement. It was represented in the Roman camp by Gauda son of
Mastanabal, a prince weak both in body and mind, but the legitimate heir
to the Numidian crown, if it was taken from Jugurtha and Micipsa's last
wishes were fulfilled. For the old king in framing his testament had
named Gauda as heir in remainder to the kingdom, if his two sons and
Jugurtha should die without issue.[1060] The nearness of the succession,
now that the reigning king of Numidia was an enemy of the Roman people,
had prompted the prince to ask Metellus for the distinctions that he
deemed suited to his rank, a seat next that of the commander-in-chief, a
guard of Roman knights[1061] for his person. Both requests had been
refused--the place of honour because it belonged only to those whom the
Roman people had addressed as kings, the guard, because it was
derogatory to the knights of Rome to act as escort to a Numidian. The
prince may have taken the refusal, not merely as an insult in itself,
but as a hint that Metellus did not recognise him as a probable
successor to Jugurtha. He was in an anxious and moody frame of mind when
he was approached by Marius and urged to lean on him, if he would gain
satisfaction for the commander's contumely. The glowing words of his new
friend made hope appeal to his weak mind almost with the strength of
certainty. He was the grandson of Masinissa, the immediate occupant of
the Numidian throne, should Jugurtha be captured or slain; the crown
might be his at no distant date, should Marius be made consul and sent
to the war. He should make appeal to his friends in Rome to secure the
means which would lead to the desired end. The ship that bore the
prince's letter to Rome took many other missives from far more important
men--all of them with a strange unanimity breathing the same purport,
"Metellus was mismanaging the war, Marius should be made commander".
They were written by knights in the province--some of them officers in
the army, others heads of commercial houses[1062]--to their friends and
agents in Rome. All of these correspondents had not been directly
solicited by Marius, but in some mysterious way the hope of peace in
Africa had become indissolubly associated with his name. The central
bureau of the great mercantile system would soon be working in his
favour. Who would withstand it? Certainly not the senate still shaken by
the Mamilian law; still less the people who wanted but a new suggestion
to change the character of their attack. All things seemed working
for Marius.

It was soon shown that, whoever the future commander of Numidia was to
be, he would have a real war on his hands; for the struggle had suddenly
sprung into new and vigorous life, and one of the few permanent
successes of Rome was annihilated in a moment by the craft of the
reawakened Jugurtha. The preparations of the king must have been
conjectured from their results; their first issue was a complete
surprise; for few could have dreamed that the personal influence of the
monarch, who had given away so much for an elusive hope of safety and
had almost been a prisoner in the Roman lines, should assert itself in
the very heart of the country believed to be pacified and now held by
Roman garrisons. The town of Vaga, the intended basis of supplies for an
army advancing to the south or west, the seat of an active commerce and
the home of merchants from many lands who traded under the aegis of the
Roman peace and a Roman garrison perched on the citadel, was suddenly
thrilled by a message from the king, and answered to the appeal with a
burst of heartfelt loyalty--a loyalty perhaps quickened by the native
hatred of the ways of the foreign trader. The self-restraint of the
patriotic plotters was as admirable as their devotion to a cause so
nearly lost. Many hundreds must have been cognisant of the scheme, yet
not a word reached the ears of those responsible for the security of the
town. Even the poorest conspirator did not dream of the fortune that
might be reaped from the sale of so vast a secret, and the Roman was as
ignorant of the hidden significance of native demeanour as he was of the
subtleties of the native tongue. In eye and gesture he could read
nothing but feelings of friendliness to himself, and he readily accepted
the invitation to the social gathering which was to place him at the
mercy of his host.[1063] The third day from the date at which the plot
was first conceived offered a golden opportunity for an attack which
should be unsuspected and resistless. It was the day of a great national
festival, on which leisured enjoyment took the place of work and every
one strove to banish for the time the promptings of anxiety and fear.
The officers of the garrison had been invited by their acquaintances
within the town to share in their domestic celebrations. They and their
commandant, Titus Turpilius Silanus, were reclining at the feast in the
houses of their several hosts when the signal was given. The tribunes
and centurions were massacred to a man; Turpilius alone was spared; then
the conspirators turned on the rank and file of the Roman troops. The
position of these was pitiable. Scattered in the streets, without
weapons and without a leader, they saw the holiday throng around them
suddenly transformed into a ferocious mob. Even such of the meaner
classes as had up to this time been innocent of the murderous plot, were
soon baying at their heels; some of these were hounded on by the
conspirators; others saw only that disturbance was on foot, and the
welcome knowledge of this fact alone served to spur them to a senseless
frenzy of assault. The Roman soldiers were merely victims; there was
never a chance of a struggle which would make the sacrifice costly, or
even difficult.[1064] The citadel, in which their shields and standards
hung, was in the occupation of the foe; when they sought the city gates,
they found the portals closed; when they turned back upon the streets,
the line of fury was deeper than before, for the women and the very
children on the level housetops were hurling stones or any missiles that
came to hand on the hated foreigners below. Strength and skill were of
no avail; such qualities could not even prolong the agony; the veteran
and the tyro, the brave and the shrinking, were struck or cut down with
equal ease and swiftness. Only one man succeeded in slipping through the
gates. This was the commandant Turpilius himself. Even the lenient view
that a lucky chance or the pity of his host had given him his freedom,
did not clear him of the stain which the tyrannical tradition of Roman
arms stamped on every commander who elected to survive the massacre of
the division entrusted to his charge.[1065]

When the news was brought to Metellus, the heart-sick general buried
himself in his tent.[1066] But his first grief was soon spent, and his
thoughts turned to a scheme of vengeance on the treacherous town.
Rapidly and carefully the scheme was unfolded in his mind, and by the
setting of the sun the first steps towards the recovery of Vaga had been
taken. In the dusk he left his camp with the legion which had been
stationed in his own quarters and as large a force of Numidian cavalry
as he could collect. Both horse and foot were slenderly equipped, for he
was bent on a surprise and a long and hard night's march lay before him.
He was still speeding on three hours after the sun had risen on the
following day. The tired soldiers cried a halt, but Metellus spurred
them on by pointing to the nearness of their goal (Vaga, he showed, was
but a mile distant, just beyond the line of hills which shut out their
view), the sanctity of the work of vengeance, the certainty of a rich
reward in plunder. He paused but to reform his men. The cavalry were
deployed in open order in the van; the infantry followed in a column so
dense that nothing distinctive in their equipment or organisation could
be discerned from afar, and the standards were carefully
concealed.[1067] When the men of Vaga saw the force bearing down upon
their town, their first and right impression led them to close the
gates; but two facts soon served to convince them of their error. The
supposed enemy was not attempting to ravage their land, and the horsemen
who rode near the walls were clearly men of Numidian blood. It was the
king himself, they cried, and with enthusiastic joy they poured from the
gates to meet him. The Romans watched them come; then at a given signal
the closed ranks opened, as each division rushed to its appointed task.
Some charged and cut in pieces the helpless multitude that had poured
upon the plain; others seized the gates, others again the now undefended
towers on the walls. All sense of weariness had suddenly vanished from
limbs now stimulated by the lust of vengeance and of plunder. The
slaughter was pitiless, the search for plunder as thorough as the
slaughter. The war had not yet given such a prize as this great trading
town. Its ruin was the general's loss as it was the soldiers' gain; but
the need for rapid vengeance vanquished every other sentiment in
Metellus's mind. Roman punishment was as swift as it was sure, if but
two days could elapse between the sin and the suffering of the men of
Vaga. A gloomy task still remained. Inquiry must be made as to the mode
in which Turpilius the commandant had escaped unharmed from the
massacre. The investigation was a bitter trial to Metellus; for the
accused was bound to him by close ties of hereditary friendship, and had
been accredited by him with the command of the corps of engineers.[1068]
The command at Vaga had been a further mark of favour, and it was
believed by some that Turpilius had justified his commander's hopes only
too well, and that it was his very humanity and consideration for the
townsfolk under his command which had offered him means of escape such
as only the most resolute would have refused.[1069] But the scandal was
too grave to admit of a private inquiry, in which the honour of the army
might seem to be sacrificed to the caprice of the friendly judgment of
Metellus. His very familiarity with the accused entailed the duty of a
cold impartiality, and Turpilius found little credence or excuse for the
tale that he unfolded before the members of the court which adjudicated
on his case. The harsh view of Marius was particularly recalled in the
light of subsequent events. The fact or fancy that it was Marius who had
himself condemned and had urged his brother judges to deliver an adverse
vote, was seized by the gatherers of gossip, ever ready to discover a
sinister motive in the actions of the man who never forgot, was embedded
in that prose epic of the "Wrath of Marius" which subsequently adorned
the memoirs of the great, and became a story of how the relentless
lieutenant had, in malignant disregard of his own convictions, caused
Metellus to commit the inexpiable wrong of dooming a guest-friend to an
unworthy death.[1070] The death was inflicted with all the barbarity of
Roman military law; Turpilius was scourged and beheaded,[1071] and
through this final expiation the episode of Vaga remained to many minds
a still darker horror than before.

But much had been gained by the recovery of the revolted town. It is
true that in its present condition it was almost useless to its
possessors; but its fate must have stayed the progress of revolt in
other cities, and the rapidity of Metellus's movements had hampered
Jugurtha's immediate plans. The king had probably intended that Vaga
should be a second Zama, and that the Romans should be kept at bay by
its strong walls while he himself harassed their rear or attacked their
camp. Now the scene of a successful guerilla warfare must be sought
elsewhere. Its choice depended on the movements of the Roman army; but
the time for the commencement of the new struggle was postponed longer
than it might have been by a domestic danger which, while it confirmed
the king in his resolution to struggle to the bitter end, absorbed his
attention for the moment and hampered his operations in the field.
Bomilcar's negotiations with Rome were bearing their deadly fruit.[1072]
The minister was a victim of that expectant anguish, which springs from
the failure of a treacherous scheme, when the cause of that failure is
unknown. Why had the king broken off the negotiations? Was he himself
suspected? Would the danger be lessened, if he remained quiescent? It
might be increased, for the peril from Rome still existed, and there was
the new terror from the vengeance of a master, whose suspicion seemed to
his affrighted soul to be revealing itself in a cold neglect. Bomilcar
determined that he would face but a single peril, and plunged into a
course of intrigue far more dangerous than any which he had yet essayed.
He no longer worked through underlings or appealed to the emissaries of
Rome. He aimed at internal revolution, at the fall of the king by the
hands of his servants--a stroke which he might exhibit to the suzerain
power as his own meritorious work--and he adopted as a confidant a man
of his own rank and at the moment of greater influence than himself.
Nabdalsa was the new favourite of Jugurtha. He was a man of high birth,
of vast wealth, of great and good repute in the district of Numidia
which he ruled. His fame and power had been increased by his appointment
to the command of such forces as the king could not lead in person, and
he was now operating with an army in the territory between the
head-quarters of Jugurtha and the Roman winter camp, his mission being
to prevent the country being overrun with complete impunity by the
invaders. His reason for listening to the overtures of Bomilcar is
unknown; perhaps he knew too much of the military situation to believe
in his master's ultimate success, and aimed at securing his own
territorial power by an appeal to the gratitude of Rome. But he had not
his associate's motive for hasty execution; and when Bomilcar warned him
that the time had come, his mind was appalled by the magnitude of a deed
that had only been prefigured in an ambiguous and uncertain shape. The
time for meeting came and passed. Bomilcar was in an agony of impatient
fear. The doubtful attitude of his associate opened new possibilities of
danger; a new terror had been added to the old, and the motive for
despatch was doubled. His alarm found vent in a brief but frantic letter
which mingled gloomy predictions of the consequences of delay with
fierce protestations and appeals. Jugurtha, he urged, was doomed, the
promises of Metellus might at any moment work the ruin of them both, and
Nabdalsa's choice lay between reward and torture.[1073]

When this missive was delivered by a faithful hand, the general, tired
in mind and body, had stretched himself upon a couch. The fiery words
did not stimulate his ardour; they plunged him still deeper in a train
of anxious thought, until utter weariness gave way to sleep. The letter
rested on his pillow. Suddenly the covering of the tent door was
noiselessly raised. His faithful secretary, who believed that he knew
all his master's secrets, had heard of the arrival of a courier. His
help and skill would be needed, and he had anticipated Nabdalsa's demand
for his presence. The letter caught his eye; he lightly picked it up and
read it, as in duty bound--for did he not deal with all letters, and
could there be aught of secrecy in a paper so carelessly laid down? The
plot now flashed across his eyes for the first time, and he slipped from
the tent to hasten with the precious missive to the king. When Nabdalsa
awoke, his thoughts turned to the letter which had harassed his last
waking moments. It was gone, and he soon found that his secretary had
disappeared as well. A fruitless attempt to pursue the fugitive
convinced him that his only hope lay in the clemency, prudence or
credulity of Jugurtha. Hastening to his master, he assured him that the
service which he had been on the eve of rendering had been anticipated
by the treachery of his dependent; let not the king forget their close
friendship, his proved fidelity; these should exempt him from suspicion
of participation in such a horrid crime.

Jugurtha replied in a conciliatory tone.[1074] Neither then nor
afterwards did he betray any trace of violent emotion. Bomilcar and many
of his accomplices were put to death swiftly and secretly; but it was
not well that rumours of a widely spread treason should be noised
abroad. The pretence of security was a means of ensuring safety, and he
had to ask too much of his Numidians to indulge even the severity that
he held to be his due. Yet it was believed that the tenor of Jugurtha's
life was altered from that moment. It was whispered that the bold
soldier and intrepid ruler searched dark corners with his eyes and
started at sudden sounds, that he would exchange his sleeping chamber
for some strange and often humble resting place at night, and that
sometimes in the darkness he would start from sleep, seize his sword and
cry aloud, as though maddened by the terror of his dreams.

The news of the fall of Bomilcar swept from Metellus's mind the last
faint hope that the war might be brought to a speedy close by the
immediate surrender of Jugurtha,[1075] and he began to make earnest
preparations for a fresh campaign. In the new struggle he was to be
deprived of the services of his ablest officer, for Marius had at length
gained his end and had won from his commander a tardy permit to speed to
Rome and seek the prize, which was doubtless still believed in the
uninformed circles of the camp to be utterly beyond his grasp. The
consent, though tardy, was finally given with a good will, for Metellus
had begun to doubt the wisdom of keeping by his side a lieutenant whose
restless discontent and growing resentment to his superior were beyond
all concealment. Marius must have wished that his general's choler had
been stirred at an earlier date, for the leave had been deferred to a
season which would have deterred a less strenuous mind, from all
thoughts of a political campaign during the current year. Delay,
however, might be fatal; the war might be brought to a dazzling close
before the consular elections again came round; the political balance at
Rome might alter; it was necessary to reap at once the harvest of
mercantile greed and popular distrust that had been so carefully
prepared. It is possible that the usual date for the elections had
already been passed and that It was only the postponement of the Comitia
that gave Marius a chance of success.[1076] Even then it was a slender
one, for it was believed in later times that his leave had been won only
twelve days before the day fixed for the declaration of the
consuls.[1077] In two days and a night he had covered the ground that
lay between the camp and Utica. Here he paused to sacrifice before
taking ship to Italy. The cheering words of the priest who read the
omens[1078] seemed to be approved by the good fortune of his voyage. A
favourable wind bore him in four days across the sea, and he reached
Rome to find men craving for his presence as the crowning factor in a
popular movement, delightful in its novelty and entered into with a
genuine enthusiasm by the masses, who were fully conscious that there
was a wrong of some undefined kind to be set right, and were as a whole
perhaps blissfully ignorant of the intrigues by which they were being
moved. Yet the thinking portion of the community had some grounds for
resentment and alarm. The Numidian was not merely injuring those
interested in African finance, but was engaging an army that was sadly
needed elsewhere. The struggle in the North was going badly for Rome,
and despatches had lately brought the news of the defeat of the consul
Silanus by a vast and wandering horde known as the Cimbri,[1079] who
hovered like a threatening cloud on the farther side of the Alps and
might at no distant date sweep past the barrier of Italy. The senatorial
government, although its position had not been formally assailed, had
been sufficiently shaken by the Mamilian commission to distrust its
power of stemming an adverse tide; and Scaurus, its chief bulwark, had
lately been so ill-advised as to force a conflict with constitutional
procedure in a way which could not be approved by a class of men to
which the smallest precedent of political life that had once been
stereotyped, appealed as a vital element in administration. He had
spoilt a magnificent display of energy during his tenure of the
censorship--an energy that issued in the rebuilding of the Mulvian
bridge[1080] and in the continuance of the great coast road[1081] from
Etruria past Genua to Dertona in the basin of the Po--by an
unconstitutional attempt to continue in his office after the death of
his colleague. His resignation had been enforced by some of the
tribunes;[1082] and the great man seems still to have been under the
passing cloud engendered by his own obstinate ambition, when the
intrigues of the ever-dreaded coalition of the mercantile classes and
the popular leaders were completed by the arrival of Marius.

This new figurehead of the democracy had a comparatively easy part
assigned him. Had it been necessary for him to persuade, he would
probably have failed, for he lacked the gifts of the orator and the
suppleness of the intriguer; but he was expected only to confirm, and
better confirmation was to be gained from his martial bearing and his
rugged manner than from his halting words. The speaking might be done by
others more practised in the art; a few words of harsh verification from
this living exemplar of the virtues of the people were all that was
demanded. His censure of Metellus was followed by a promise that he
would take Jugurtha alive or dead.[1083] The censure and the promise
gave the text for a fiery stream of opposition oratory. Threats of
prosecuting Metellus on a capital charge were mingled with passionate
assertions of confidence in the true soldier who could vindicate the
honour of Rome. The excitement spread even beyond the lazier rabble of
the city. Honest artisans, who were usually untouched by the delirious
forms of politics, and even thrifty country farmers,[1084] to whom time
meant money at this busy season of the year, were drawn into the throng
that gazed at Marius and listened to the burning words of his
supporters. Against such a concourse the nobility and its dependents
could make no head. The people who had come to listen stayed to vote,
and the suffrage of the centuries gave the "new man" as a colleague to
Lucius Cassius Longinus. But this triumph was but the prelude to
another. The people, now assembled in the plebeian gathering of the
tribes, were asked by the tribune Titus Manlius Mancinus whom they
willed to conduct the war against Jugurtha. The answer "Marius" was
given by overwhelming numbers, and the decision already reached by the
senate was brushed aside. That body had, in the exercise of its legal
authority, determined the provinces which should be administered by the
consuls of the coming year.[1085] Numidia had not been one of these, for
it had unquestionably been destined for Metellus. Gaul, on the other
hand, called for the presence of a consul and a soldier; and the senate,
although it had no power to make a definite appointment to this
province, had perhaps intended that Marius, if elected, should be
entrusted with its defence. Had this resolution been adopted, the paths
of Marius and Metellus would have ceased to cross; the Numidian war,
which demanded patience and diplomacy but not genius, might have
dwindled gradually away; and the barbarians of the North might have
yielded to their future victor before they had established their gloomy
record of triumphs over the arms of Rome. But this was not to be. The
party triumph would be incomplete if the senate's nominee was not ousted
from his command. We cannot say whether Marius shared in the blindness
which saw a more glorious field for military energy in Numidia than in
Gaul; personal rivalry and political passion may have already blunted
the instincts of the soldier. But, whatever his thoughts may have been,
his actions were determined by a superior force. He was but a pawn in
the hands of tribunes and capitalists; he had made promises which had
raised hopes, definitely commercial and vaguely political. These hopes
it must be his mission to fulfil. Before quitting Rome he found
words[1086] which vented all the spleen of the classes screened out of
office by the close-drawn ring of the nobility. The platitudes of merit,
tested by honest service and approved by distinctions won in war, were
advanced against the claims of birth; the luxurious life of the nobility
was gibbeted on the ground that sensuality was a bar to energy and
efficiency; even the elegant and conscientious taste of the cultured
commander, who supplied the defects of experience by the perusal of
Greek works on military tactics during his journey to the scene of war,
was held up to criticism as a sign that the vain and ignorant amateur
was usurping the tasks that belonged to the tried and hardy
expert.[1087] Fortunately the energy of Marius was better expended on
deeds than words. Whether the African war really required a more
vigorous army than that serving under Metellus, might be an open
question. Marius pretended that the need was patent, and exhibited the
greatest energy in beating up veteran legionaries and attracting to his
standard such of the Latin allies as had already approved their skill in
service.[1088] The senate lent a ready hand. Nothing was more unpopular
than a drastic levy, and the favourite might fail when he called for a
fulfilment of the brave language that had been heard on every side. But
the confidence in the new commander baffled its hopes; the conscripts
were marching to glory not to danger, and the supplementary army, that
was to avert a phantom peril and save an imaginary situation, was soon
enrolled. Such a demonstration had often been seen before in Rome; the
energy of an ambitious commander had with lamentable frequency rebuked
the indolence or confidence of his predecessor, and Marius was but
following in the footsteps of Bestia and Albinus. The real merits of his
labours were due to his freedom from a strange superstition which had
hitherto clung to the minds even of the best commanders that the later
Republic had produced. They had continued to hold the theory that the
effective soldier must be a man of means--a belief inherited from the
simple days of border warfare, when each conscript supplied his panoply
and the landless man could serve only as a half-armed skirmisher. For
ages past the principle had been breaking down. The vast forces required
for foreign wars demanded a wider area for the conscription; but this
area, as defined by the old conditions of service, so far from
increasing, was ever becoming less. In the age of Polybius the minimum
qualification requisite for service in the legions had sunk from eleven
thousand to four thousand asses;[1089] later it had been reduced to a
yet lower level;[1090] but, in spite of these concessions to necessity,
the senate had refused to accept the lesson, taught by the military
needs of the State and the social condition of Italy, that an empire
cannot be garrisoned by an army of conscripts. The legal power to effect
a radical alteration had long been in their hands; for the poorer
proletariate of Rome whom the law described as the men assessed "on
their heads," not on their holdings, had probably been liable to
military service of any kind in time of need.[1091] Perhaps it was mere
conservatism, perhaps it was a faint perception of the truth that an
armed rabble is fonder of men than institutions, and an appreciation of
the fact that the hold of the nobility over the capital would be
weakened if their clients were allowed to don the armour which made them
men, that had kept the senate within the strait limits of the antiquated
rules. Fortunately, however, the methods of raising an army depended
almost entirely on the discretion of the general engaged on the task.
Did he employ the conscription in a manner not justified by convention,
he might be met by resistance and appeals; but, if he chose to invite to
service, there was no power which could prescribe the particular modes
in which he should employ the units that flocked to his standard. It was
this latter method that was adopted by Marius. He did not strain his
popularity, and invite a conflict with senatorial tribunes, by forcing
foreign service on the ragged freemen who had hailed him as the saviour
of the State; but he invited their assistance in the glorious work and
asked them to be his comrades in the triumphal progress that lay before
him.[1092] The spirit of adventure, if not of patriotism, was touched:
the call was readily answered, and the stalwart limbs that had lounged
idly on the streets or striven vainly to secure the subsistence of the
favoured slave, became the instruments by which the State was to be
first protected and finally controlled. The conscription still remained
as the resort of necessity; but the creation of the first mercenary army
of Rome pointed to the mode in which any future commander could avoid
the friction and unpopularity which often attended the enforcement of
liability to service. The innovation of Marius was sufficiently
startling to attract comment and invite conjecture. Some held that the
army had been democratised to suit the consulship, and that the masses
who had seen in Marius's elevation the realisation of the vague and
detached ambitions of the poor, would continue to furnish a sure support
to the power which they had created.[1093] It is not unlikely that
Marius, with his knowledge of the tone of the army of Metellus, may have
wished to create for himself an environment that would mould the temper
of his future officers; but those more friendly critics who held that
efficiency was his immediate aim, and that "the bad" were chosen only
because "the good" were scarce,[1094] suggested the reason that was
probably dominant as a motive and was certainly adequate as a defence.
No thought of the ultimate triumph of the individual over the State by
the help of a devoted soldiery could have crossed the mind either of the
consul or of his critics. The Republic was as yet sacred, however
unhealthy its chief organs might be deemed; and although Marius was to
live to see the sinister fruit of his own reform, the harvest was to be
reaped by a rival, and the first fruits enjoyed by the senate whom that
rival served.

While the election of Marius, his appointment to Numidia, and his
preparations for the campaign were in progress, the war had been passing
through its usual phases of skirmishes and sieges. For a time no certain
news could be had of the king; he was reported at one moment to be near
the Roman lines, at another to be buried in the solitude of the
desert;[1095] the annoyance caused by his baffling changes of plan was
avenged by the interpretation that they were symptoms of a disordered
mind; his old counsellors were said to have been dispersed, his new ones
to be distrusted; it was believed that he changed his route and his
officers from day to day, and that he retreated or retraced his steps as
the terrors of suspicion and despair alternated with the faintly
surviving hope that a stand might yet be made. Only once did he come
into conflict with Metellus.[1096] The site of the skirmish is unknown,
and its result was indecisive. The Numidian army is said to have been
surprised and to have formed hastily for battle. The division led by the
king offered a brief resistance; the rest of the line yielded at once to
the Roman onset. A few standards and arms, a handful of prisoners, were
all that the victors had to show for their triumph. The nimble enemy had
disappeared beyond all hope of capture or pursuit.

After a time news was brought that the king had made for the southern
desert with a fraction of his mounted troops and the Roman deserters,
whose despair ensured their loyalty. He had shut himself up in
Thala,[1097] a large and wealthy town to which his treasures and his
children had already been transferred. This city lay some thirteen miles
east of the oasis of Capsa, and a dismal and waterless desert stretched
between the Romans and the refuge of the king. No Roman army had at any
part of the campaign attempted to penetrate such trackless regions, and
the court at Thala may have believed even this foretaste of the desert
to be an adequate protection against an enemy which clung to towns and
cultivated lands and relied, in the cumbrous manner of civilised
warfare, on organised lines of communication. But the news that Jugurtha
had at last occupied a position, the strength of which, together with
the presence of his family and treasures within its walls, might supply
a motive for a lengthy residence within the town and even suggest the
resolution of holding it against every hazard, fired Metellus with a
hope which the awkward political situation at Rome must have made more
real than it deserved to be. The end of the war might be in sight, if he
could only cross that belt of burning land. His plan was rapidly formed.
The burden of the baggage animals was reduced to ten days' supply of
corn; skins of water were laid upon their backs; the domestic cattle
from the fields were driven in, and they were laden with every kind of
vessel that could be gathered from the Numidian homesteads. The
villagers in the neighbourhood of the recent victory, whom the flight of
the king had made for the moment the humble servants of Rome, were
bidden to bring water to a certain spot, and the day was named on which
this mission was to be fulfilled. Metellus's own vessels were filled
from the river, and the rapid march to Thala was begun. The resting
place was reached and the camp was entrenched; water was there in
greater abundance than had been asked or hoped, for a sharp downpour of
rain made the plethoric skins presented by the punctual Numidians almost
a superfluous luxury and, as a happy omen, cheered the souls of the
soldiers as much as it refreshed their bodies.[1098] The devoted
villagers had also brought an unexpectedly large supply of corn, so
eager were they to give emphatic proof of their newly acquired loyalty.
But one day more and the walls of Thala came in sight. Its citizens were
surprised but not dismayed; they made preparations for the siege, while
their king vanished into the desert with his children and a large
portion of his hoarded wealth. It was too much to hope that Jugurtha
would be caught in such a trap. The alternative prospects at Thala were
immediate capture or a siege as protracted as the nature of the
territory would permit. In the latter case a cordon would be drawn round
the town and a price would probably be put upon the rebel's head. It is
strange that the desperate band of deserters did not accompany the king
in his flight. There may have been no time for the retreat of so large a
force, or the strength and desolation of the site may have filled them
with confidence of success. But, if things came to the worst, they had a
surprise in store for their former comrades who were now battering
against the walls.

Metellus, in spite of the fact that he had lightened his baggage animals
of all the superfluities of the camp, must have brought his siege train
with him; it would, indeed, have been madness to attempt an assault on a
fortified town without the necessary instruments of attack. He seems in
his lines round Thala to have had all that he needed for a blockade;
even the planks for the great moving turrets were ready to his
hand.[1099] The engines were soon in place on an artificial mound raised
by the labour of the troops, the soldiers advanced under cover of the
mantlets, and the rams began to batter against the walls. For forty days
the courage of the besieged tried the patience of assailants already
wearied with the toils of a long forced march. Had human endurance been
the deciding factor, Metellus might have been forced to retire. But the
wall of Thala was weaker than the spirit of its defenders; a portion of
the rampart crumbled beneath the blows of the ram, and the victorious
Romans rushed in to seize the plunder of the treasure-city. They found
instead a holocaust of wealth and human victims. The royal palace had
been invaded by the deserters from the Roman army whom Jugurtha had left
behind. Thither they had borne the gold, the silver and the precious
stuffs which formed the glory of the town. A feast was spread and
continued until the banqueters were heavy with meat and wine. The palace
was then fired, and when the plundering mob of Romans had made their way
to the centre of the city's wealth, they found but the smouldering
traces of a baffled vengeance and a disappointed greed.

The capture of Thala was one of those successes which might have been
important, had it been possible to limit the area of the war or to check
the disaffection which was now spreading throughout almost the whole of
Northern Africa. The fringe of the desert had but been reached; the king
had fled beyond it; the south and west were soon to be in a blaze; we
shall soon see Metellus forced to take up his position in the north; and
a slight incident which occurred while Metellus was at Thala showed that
even cities of the distant east, which had never been under the
immediate sway of the Numidian power, were wavering in their attachment
to Rome. The Greater Leptis, situate in the territory of the Three
Cities between the gulfs which separated Roman Africa from the territory
of Cyrene, had sought the friendship and alliance of Rome from the very
commencement of the war. A Sidonian settlement,[1100] it had, like most
commercial towns which sought a life of peace, preferred the
protectorate of Rome to that of the neighbouring dynasties, and had
readily responded to the calls made on it by Bestia, Albinus and
Metellus.[1101] Such assistance as it furnished must have been supplied
by sea, for it was more than four hundred miles by land from the usual
sphere of Roman operations; but the commissariat of the Roman army was
so serious a problem that the ships of the men of Leptis must always
have been a welcome sight at the port of Utica. Now the stability of
their constitution, and their service to Rome, were threatened by the
ambition of a powerful noble. This Hamilcar was defying the authority
both of laws and magistrates, and Leptis, they wrote, would be lost, if
Metellus did not send timely help. Four cohorts of Ligurians with a
praefect at their head were sent to the faithful state, and the Roman
general turned to meet the graver dangers which were threatening in
the west.

Jugurtha had crossed the desert with a handful of his men and was now
amongst the Gaetulian tribes,[1102] who stretched from the limits of his
own dominions far across the southern frontier of his brother king of
Mauretania. His eyes were now turned to the west; the men of the desert,
the King of the Moors, would be infallible means of prolonging the war
with Rome, if their help could be secured. No Roman army had yet dared
to penetrate even into Western Numidia, and such a venture would be more
hopeless than ever, if the nomad tribes of the desert frontier and
Bocchus of Mauretania enclosed that district with myriads of mounted men
that might sweep it at any time from point to point, and destroy in a
moment the laborious efforts at occupation that might be made by Rome.
The Gaetulians, although perhaps a nomad, were not a barbarian people.
They plied with Mediterranean cities a trade in purple dye, the material
for which was gathered on the Atlantic coast; and their merchants were
sometimes seen in the marketplace at Cirta;[1103] but as fighting men
they lacked even the organisation to which the Numidians had attained,
and Jugurtha, while he sought or purchased their help, was obliged to
teach them the rudiments of disciplined warfare. Gradually they learnt
to keep the line, to follow the standards, to wait for the word of
command before they threw themselves upon the foe;[1104] these untrained
warriors must have been fired mainly by the love of adventure, of pay or
of plunder, or have been impressed by the greatness of the fugitive who
had suddenly appeared amongst their tribes; they had no hatred or
previous fear of the power of Rome, for most of the Gaetulian chiefs
were ignorant even of the name of the imperial city.[1105]

This name, however, had long been in the mind of the king who governed
the northern neighbours of the Gaetulians, and it was to the fears or
hopes of Bocchus of Mauretania that Jugurtha now appealed with the
design of gaining an auxiliary force greater than any which he himself
could put into the field. He had a claim on the Mauretanian king which
might have been valid in a land in which polygamy did not prevail, for
he was the husband of that monarch's daughter; but the dissipation of
affection amongst a multitude of wives and their respective progeny did
not permit the connection with a son-in-law to be a particularly binding
tie.[1106] There were, however, other motives which might spur the king
to action. His early overtures to Rome had been rejected, and this
neglect must have aroused in his mind a feeling of anxiety as well as of
wounded pride. If Rome conquered Numidia, she might become his
neighbour. What in that case would be the position of Mauretania,
connected as it would be by no previous ties of friendship or alliance
with the conquering state? If Bacchus joined Jugurtha, he would
immediately become a power with whom Rome would be forced to deal. An
ally detached from her enemies had often become her most trusted friend;
it was thus that the power of Masinissa had been secured and his kingdom
had been increased. If Jugurtha were victorious, the Romans would be
kept at bay; if he showed signs of failure, the defection of Bocchus
might be bought at a great price. The game on which he had entered was
absolutely safe; he could only be the loser if at the critical moment
chivalry or national sentiment interfered with the designs of a
calculating prudence. The great necessity of his position was to force
the hand of the Roman general and the Roman senate; but meanwhile he
would keep an open mind and see whether the power which he dreaded might
not be permanently kept at bay.

It may have been with thoughts like these that Bocchus bowed to the
teaching of his counsellors when they urged a meeting with
Jugurtha.[1107] The meeting was that of equals, not of a suppliant and
his protector. The Numidian king again headed an army of his own, and,
after the oath of alliance had been given and received, exhorted his
father-in-law in his own interest to join in a war that was as necessary
as it was just. The Romans, he pointed out, had been made by their lust
for conquest the common enemies of the human race. One had only to look
at their treatment of Perseus of Macedon, of Carthage, of himself. Who
was Bocchus that he alone should be immune from such a danger? The mood
of the king responded to Jugurtha's words, and without an instant's
delay they took the field together. Jugurtha was insistent on despatch,
for he knew the varying temper of his relative and feared that even a
slight delay would cool his resolve for decisive action.

The scene of the war now shifts with amazing suddenness to the north and
centres for the first time round the walls of Cirta.[1108] Metellus had
evidently been drawn from the south by the news of the threatened
coalition; for, if the territories near the coast were undefended, the
Mauretanians might sweep like a devastating storm over the land that
might have been held with some show of justice to be in the possession
of Rome. Cirta now appears as within the pacified territory and,
although we have no record as to the time when it was lost by
Jugurtha,[1109] its possession by the Romans need excite no surprise. It
may have been lost at an early period of the war, for there is no sign
that it was employed by Jugurtha either as a military or political
capital, and if, in spite of the massacre that had followed its capture
from Adherbal, its cosmopolitan mercantile life had been revived, the
attachment of the town to Rome would be assured on the news of the
waning fortunes of its king. Its surrender was certainly peaceful, and
the strength which might have defied the arms of Rome had rendered it
incapable of recovery by its former owner. To Cirta Metellus had
transferred his prisoners, his booty and his baggage,[1110] and it was
against Cirta that the two kings moved with their formidable force.
Jugurtha was the moving spirit in the enterprise, his idea being that,
even if the town could not be taken, the Romans would be forced to come
to its support and a battle would be fought beneath its walls. A battle
was now an issue to be courted, for never had he faced the enemy with
greater numbers on his side.

Metellus was as fully conscious of the change in the situation. Lately
he had been forcing himself on Jugurtha at every point; now he held back
and waited for the favourable chance. He wished above all to learn
something of the fighting spirit and methods of the Moors;[1111] they
were an untried foe, and Roman success was usually the fruit of
knowledge and not of experiment. He waited in his fortified camp near
Cirta to watch events, when news was brought from Rome which proved to
his mind that cautious inaction was now not merely the wiser but the
only policy. The news that came by letter was of stunning force.
Metellus had already learnt of Marius's election to the consulship. This
knowledge should have prepared him for the worst; but a proud man,
conscious of his deserts, will not meet in anticipation an event that,
however probable, seems incredible. Yet here it was before him in black
and white. He had been superseded in his command and the province of
Numidia belonged to Marius.[1112] There was no pretence of
self-restraint; tears rose to his eyes, as bitter language flowed from
his lips. It was disputed whether natural pride or the sense of
unmerited wrong was the secret of his wrath, or whether he held (as many
thought) that a victory already won was being wrested from his grasp.
But it was safely conjectured that his grief would not have been so
violent had any man but Marius been his successor.

To risk a defeat at the moment when the command was slipping from his
grasp seemed to Metellus the height of folly; but, even had he not
possessed this additional motive for inaction, the situation would
probably have forced him to temporise and to attempt to dissolve the
hostile coalition by diplomacy. He therefore sent a message to Bocchus
urging him to think seriously of the course of action which he had
adopted.[1113] An opportunity was still open to him of becoming the
friend and ally of Rome; why should he adopt this motiveless attitude of
hostility? The cause of Jugurtha was desperate; did the King of
Mauretania wish to bring his own country into the same miserable plight?
These were the first words that Bocchus had heard of a possible
convention with Rome; he had scored the first point, but was much too
wise to give away the game. Definite offers must be made and securely
guaranteed before he would withdraw the terror of his presence. Firmness
and conciliation must be blended in his answer, which, when delivered,
was both gracious and chivalrous. He longed, he said, for peace, but was
stirred to pity for the fortunes of Jugurtha. If the latter were also
given the chance of making terms with Rome, all might be arranged.
Metellus replied with another message framed to meet the position taken
up by the king; the answer of Bocchus was a cautious mixture of assent
and protest. As he showed no unwillingness to continue the discussion,
Metellus occupied the remainder of his own tenure of the command in
further parleyings. Envoys came and went, and the war was practically
suspended. A delicate and promising negotiation was on foot; it remained
to be seen whether it would be patiently continued or rudely interrupted
by the new governor of Numidia.


The summer must have been well advanced when Marius landed at Utica with
his untried forces. The veterans were handed over to his care by the
legate Rutilius[1114] for Metellus had fled the sight of the man, whose
success had been based on a slanderous attack on his own reputation. It
must have been with a heavy heart that he accomplished the voyage to
Rome; for the greatest expert in the moods of the people could scarcely
have foretold the surprise that awaited him there. The popular passion
was spent; it was a feverish force that had burnt itself out; the
country voters had at last bethought themselves of their work and
returned to their farms; many of the most active and disorderly spirits,
the restless loud-voiced men who are the potent minority in an
agitation, had been removed by the levy of Marius; with the city mob
docility generally alternated with revolution, and it was now inclined
to look to the verdict of the recognised heads of the State. In this
moment of reaction, too, many must have been inclined to wonder what
after all could be said against this general who had never lost a
battle, who had conquered cities and pitilessly revenged the one
disaster which was not his fault, who had constantly swept the terrible
King of Numidia as a helpless fugitive before him. The presence of
Metellus completed the work by giving stability to these half-formed
views. The common folk are the true idealists. They love a hero rather
better than a victim, although it often depends on the turn of a hair
which part the object of their attentions is to play. Now they followed
the lead of the senate; the returned commander was the man of the
day[1115] he had exalted the glory of the Roman name; and if there was
no fault, there could only have been misfortune; but misfortune might be
compensated by honour. There was the prospect of a triumph in store,
that mixed source of sensuous satisfaction and national
self-congratulation. Thus Metellus won his prizes from the Numidian war,
a parade through the streets to the Capitol and the addition of the
surname "Numidicus" to the already lengthy nomenclature of his

The war itself, under the guidance of Marius, soon assumed the character
which it had possessed under that of all his predecessors. The
originality of the new commander seemed to have spent itself in the
selection of his troops; no new idea seems to have been introduced into
the conduct of operations, which resumed their old shapes of precautions
against surprise, weary marches from end to end of Numidia, and the
siege of strongholds which were no sooner taken than they proved to be
beyond the area of actual hostilities. Perhaps no new idea was possible
except one that exchanged the weapons of war for those of diplomacy; but
even the final attempt that had been made in this direction by Metellus
was not continued by Marius. Bocchus, unwilling to lose the chance which
had been presented of a definite convention with Home, sent repeated
messages to her new representative to the effect that he desired the
friendship of the Roman people, and that no acts of hostility on his
part need be feared[1117] but his protestations were received with
distrust, and Marius, accustomed to the duplicity of the African mind
and rejecting the view that the king might really be wavering between
war and peace, chose to regard them as the treacherous cover for a
sudden attack. The desultory campaign which followed seems to have been
directed by two motives. The first was the training of the raw levies
which had just been brought from Rome; the second the supposed necessity
of cutting Jugurtha off from the strongholds which he still held at the
extremities of his kingdom. As these extremities were now threatened or
commanded, on the south by the Gaetulians and on the west by the
Mauretanians, the area of the war was no less than that of Numidia
itself; and, as the occupation of such an area was impossible, the
destruction of these strongholds, which was little loss to a mobile
self-supporting force such as that which Jugurtha had at his command,
was the utmost end which could be secured.

The practice of the untrained Roman levies was rendered easy by the fact
that Jugurtha had resumed the offensive. He no longer had the help of
his Mauretanian auxiliaries, for Bocchus had retired to his own kingdom,
and he had therefore lost his desire for a pitched battle; but his
swarms of Gaetulian horse had enabled him to resume his old style of
guerilla fighting, and he had taken advantage of the practical
suspension of hostilities which had accompanied the change in the Roman
command, to set on foot a series of raids against the friends of Rome
and even to penetrate the borders of the Roman province itself.[1118]
For some time the attention of Marius was absorbed in following his
difficult tracks, in striving to anticipate his rapidly shifting plans,
in creating in his own men the habits of endurance, the mobility and the
strained attention, which even a brief period of such a chase will
rapidly engender in the rawest of recruits. The pursuit gradually
shifted to the west, and a series of sharp conflicts on the road ended
finally in the rout of the king in the neighbourhood of Cirta. With
troops now seasoned to the toils of long marches and deliberate attack,
Marius turned to the more definite, if not more effective, enterprise of
beleaguering such fortified positions as were still strongly held, and
by their position seemed to give a strategic advantage to the enemy. His
object was either to strip Jugurtha of these last garrisons or to force
him to a battle if he came to their defence. At first he confined his
operations within a narrow area; the best part of the summer months
seems to have been spent in the territory lying east and south of Cirta,
and within this region several fortresses and castles still adhering to
the king were reduced by persuasion or by force.[1119] Yet Jugurtha made
no move, and Marius gained a full experience of the helpless irritation
of the commander who hears that his enemy is far away, neglectful of his
efforts and wholly absorbed in some deep-laid scheme the very rudiments
of which are beyond the reach of conjecture. His operations seem to have
brought him to a point somewhere in the neighbourhood of Sicca, and this
proximity to the southern regions of Numidia suggested the thought of an
enterprise that might rival and even surpass Metellus's storm of Thala.
About thirteen miles west of that town[1120] lay the strong city of
Capsa.[1121] It marked almost the extremest limit of Jugurtha's empire
in this direction, placed as it was just north of the great lakes and
west of the deepest curve of the Lesser Syrtis. The town was the gift of
an oasis, which here broke the monotony of the desert with pleasant
groves of dates and olives and a perennial stream of water. The sources
of this stream, which was formed by the union of two fountains, had been
enclosed within the walls, and supplied drinking water for the city
before it passed beyond it to irrigate the land. Even this supply hardly
sufficed for the moderate needs of the Numidians, who supplemented it by
rain water[1122] which they caught and stored in cisterns. A siege of
Capsa in the dry season might therefore prove irksome to the
inhabitants; but the invading army might be even less well supplied, for
although four other springs outside the walls fed the canals which
served the work of irrigation, they tended to run low when the season of
rain was past. The security of the city, although its defences and its
garrison were strong, was thought to reside mainly in its desert
barrier. The waste through which an invading army would have to pass was
waterless and barren, while the multitude of snakes and scorpions that
found a congenial home on the arid soil increased the horror, if not the
danger, of the route.[1123] Jugurtha had dealt kindly by the lonely
citizens of Capsa; they were free from taxes and had seldom to answer to
any demand of the king: and this favour, which was perhaps as much the
product of necessity as of policy, had strengthened their loyalty to the
Numidian throne. It is probable that some strategic, or at least
military, motive was mingled in the mind of Marius with the mere desire
of excelling his predecessor and creating a deep impression in the minds
of the proletariate in his army and at home. Although Capsa, with its
limited resources, could hardly ever have served as the point of
departure for a large Numidian or Gaetulian host, it might have been of
value as a refuge for the king when he wished to vanish from the eyes of
his enemies, and perhaps as a means of communication with friendly
cities or peoples situated between the two Syrtes. To vanquish the
difficulties of such an enterprise might also strike terror into the
Numidian garrisons of other towns, and the subjects of Jugurtha might
feel that no stronghold was safe when the unapproachable Capsa had been
taken or destroyed. But the difficulties of the task were great. The
Numidians of these regions were more attached to a pastoral life than to
agriculture; the stores of corn to be found along the route were
therefore scanty, and their scarcity was increased by the fact that the
king, who seems but lately to have passed through these regions, had
ordered that large supplies of grain should be conveyed from the
district and stored in the fortresses which his garrisons still
held.[1124] Nothing could be got from the fields, which at this late
period of the autumn showed nothing but arid stubble. It was fortunate
that some stores still lay at Lares (Lorbeus), a town at a short
distance to the south-east of his present base;[1125] these were to be
supplemented by the cattle that the foraging parties had driven in, and
the Roman soldier would at least have his unwelcome supply of meat
tempered by a moderate allowance of meal. Yet the terrors of the journey
were so great that Marius thought it wise to conceal the object of his
enterprise even from his own men, and even when, after a six days' march
to the south, he had reached a stream called the Tana,[1126] the motive
of the expedition was still in all probability unknown. Here, as in
Metellus's march on Thala, a large supply of water was drawn from the
river and stored in skins, all heavy baggage was discarded, and the
lightened column prepared for its march across the desert. By day the
soldiers kept their camp and every stage of the journey was accomplished
between night-fall and dawn. On the morning of the third day they had
reached some rising ground not more than two miles from Capsa.[1127] The
sun had not yet risen when Marius halted his men in a hollow of the
dunes, and watched the town to see whether his cautious plans had really
effected a surprise. Evidently they had; for, when day broke, the gates
were seen to open and large numbers of Numidians could be observed
leaving the city for the business of the fields. The word was given, and
in a moment the whole of the cavalry and the lightest of the infantry
were dashing on the town. They were meant to block the gates; while
Marius and the heavier troops followed as speedily as they could,
driving the straggling Numidians before them. It was the possession of
these hostages that decided the fate of the town. The commandant
parleyed and agreed to admit the Romans within the walls, the condition,
whether tacit or expressed, of this surrender being that the lives of
the citizens should be spared. The condition was immediately broken. The
town was given over to the flames, all the Numidians of full age were
put to the sword, the rest were sold into slavery, and the movable
property which had been seized was divided amongst the soldiers. The
breach of international custom was not denied; the only attempt at
palliation was drawn from the reflection that it was due neither to
motiveless treachery nor to greed; a position like Capsa, it was
urged,--difficult of approach, open to the enemy, the home of a race
notorious for its mobile cunning-could be held neither by leniency nor
by fear.[1128] The expedition had miscarried, if the town was not
destroyed; and, as frequently happens in the pursuit of wars with
peoples to whom the convenient epithet of "barbarian" can be applied,
the successful fruit of cruelty and treachery was perhaps defended on
the ground that the obligations of international law must be either
reciprocal or non-existent.

The destruction of Capsa was followed by other successes of a similar
though less arduous kind. The event had served the purpose of Marius
well in so far as it spread before him a name of terror which caused
some of the Numidian garrisons to flee their strong places without a
struggle. In the few cases where resistance was met, it was beaten down,
and the fortified places which Jugurtha's soldiers were not rash enough
to defend, were utterly destroyed by fire.[1129] Marius left a
wilderness behind him on his return march to winter quarters,[1130] and
perhaps renewed his devastating course in the south-eastern parts of
Numidia during the spring of the following year, before his attention
was suddenly called to another point in the vast area of the war. This
easy triumph which cost little Roman blood and enriched the soldiers
with the spoils of war, created in his men a belief in his foresight and
prowess which seemed sufficient to stand the severest strain.[1131] A
great effort had now to be made in a quarter of Numidia which lay not
less than seven hundred miles from the recent scene of operations. As
neither the site of Marius's recent winter quarters nor the base which
he chose for his spring campaign are known to us, we cannot say whether
the expedition which he now directed to the extreme west of Numidia was
an unpleasant diversion from a scheme already in operation, or whether
it was the result of a plan matured in the winter camp; but in either
case this conviction of the necessity for sweeping the country in such
utterly diverse directions proves the full success of the plan which
Jugurtha was pursuing. It is more difficult to determine whether Marius
increased the success of this plan by a political blunder of his own.
The point at which he is now found operating was near the river Muluccha
or Molocath,[1132] the dividing line between the kingdoms of Numidia and
Mauretania. If the incursion which he made into this region was
unprovoked, it was a challenge to King Bocchus and an impolitic
disturbance of the recent attitude of quiescence that had been assumed
by that hesitating monarch; but it is possible that news had reached
Marius that a Mauretanian attack was impending, and that the same motive
which had impelled Metellus to hasten from the south to the defence of
Cirta, now urged his successor to push his army more than five hundred
miles farther to the west up to the very borders of Mauretania. The
movement seems to have been defensive, for at the moment when we catch
sight of his efforts he had not attempted to cross the admitted
frontier,[1133] but was endeavouring to secure a strong position that
lay within what he conceived to be the Numidian territory. A giant rock
rose sheer out of the plain, tapering into the narrow fortress which
continued by its walls an ascent so smoothly precipitous that it seemed
as though the work of nature had been improved by the hand of man.[1134]
But one narrow path led to the summit and was believed to be the only
way, not merely to a position of supreme value for defensive purposes,
but also to one of those rich deposits which the many-treasured king was
held to have laid up in the strongest parts of his dominions. The
difficulties of a siege were almost insurmountable. The garrison was
strong and well supplied with food and water; the only avenue for a
direct assault upon the walls was narrow and dangerous; the site was as
ill-suited as it could be for the movement of the heavier engines of
war. When the attack was made, the mantlets of the besiegers were easily
destroyed by fire and stones hurled from above; yet the soldiers could
not leave cover, nor get a firm hold on the steeply sloping ground; the
foremost amongst the storming party fell stricken with wounds, and a
panic seemed likely to prevail amidst the ever-victorious army if it
were again urged to the attack. While Marius was brooding over this
unexpected check, and his mind was divided between the wisdom of a
retreat and the chances that might be offered by delay, an accident
supplied the defects of strength and counsel.[1135] A Ligurian in quest
of snails was tempted to pursue his search from ridge to ridge on that
side of the hill which lay away from the avenue of attack and had
hitherto been deemed inaccessible. He suddenly found that he had nearly
reached the summit; a spirit of emulation urged him to complete the work
which he had unconsciously begun, and the branches of a giant holmoak,
which twisted amongst the rocks, gave him a hold and footing when the
perpendicular walls of the last ascent seemed to deny all chance of
further progress. When at length he craned over the edge of the highest
ridge, the interior of the fort lay spread before him. No member of the
garrison was to be seen, for every man was engaged in repelling the
assault which had been renewed on the opposite side. A prolonged survey
was therefore possible, and all the important details of the fortress
were imprinted on the mind of the Ligurian before he began his leisurely
descent. The features of the slope he traversed were also more
cautiously observed; the next ascent would be attempted by more than
one, and every irregularity that might give a foothold must be noted by
the man who would have to prove and illustrate his tale. When the story
was told to Marius he sent some of his retinue to view the spot; their
reports differed according to the character of their minds; some of the
investigators were sanguine, others more than doubtful; but the consul
eventually determined to make the experiment. The escalade was to be
attempted by a band of ten; five of the trumpeters and buglemen were
selected and four centurions, the Ligurian was to be their guide. With
head and feet bare, their only armour a sword and light leathern shield
slung across their backs, the soldiers painfully imitated the daring
movements of their active leader. But he was considerate as well as
daring. Sometimes he would weave a scaling ladder of the trailing
creepers; at others he would lend a helping hand; at others again he
would gather up their armour and send them on before him, then step
rapidly aside and pass with his burden up and down their struggling
line. His cheery boldness kept them to their painful task until every
man had reached the level of the fort. It was as desolate as when first
seen by the Ligurian, for Marius had taken care that a frontal attack
should engage the attention of the garrison. The climb had been a long
one, and the battle had now been raging many hours when news was brought
to the anxious commander that his men had gained the summit.[1136] The
assault was now renewed with a force that astonished the besieged, and
soon with a recklessness that led them to think the besiegers mad. They
could see the Roman commander himself leaving the cover of the mantlets
and advancing in the midst of his men up the perilous ascent under a
tortoise fence of uplifted shields. Over the heads of the advancing
party came a storm of missiles from the Roman lines below. Confident as
the Numidians were in the strength of their position, scornful as were
the gibes which a moment earlier they had been hurling against the foe,
they could not think lightly of the serried mass that was moving up the
hill and the rain of bullets that heralded its advance. Every hand was
busy and every mind alert when suddenly the Roman trumpet call was heard
upon their rear. The women and boys, who had crept out to watch the
fight, were the first to take the alarm and to rush back to the shelter
of the fort; most of the men were fighting in advance of their outer
walls; those nearest to the ramparts were the first to be seized with
the panic; but soon the whole garrison was surging backwards, while
through and over it pressed the long and narrow wedge of Romans, cutting
their way through the now defenceless mass until they had seized the
outworks of the fort.

It is difficult to gauge the positive advantages secured by this feat of
arms; but it is probable that the capture of this particular
hill-fortress, although its difficulty gave it undue prominence in the
annals of the war, was not an isolated fact, but one of a series of
successful attempts to establish a chain of posts upon the Mauretanian
border, which might bring King Bocchus to better counsels and interrupt
his communications with Jugurtha. The enterprise may have been followed
by a tolerably long campaign in these regions. This campaign has not
been recorded, but that it was contemplated is proved by the fact that
Marius had ordered an enormous force of cavalry to meet him near the
Muluccha.[1137] The force thus summoned actually served the purpose of
covering a retirement that was practically a retreat; but this could not
have been the object which it was intended to fulfil when its presence
was commanded. A large force of horse was essential, if Bocchus was to
be paralysed and the border country swept clear of the enemy. The cloud
that was to burst from Mauretania was not the only chance that could be
foretold; it was the issue to be dreaded, if all plans at prevention
failed; but it was one that might possibly be averted by the presence of
a commanding force in the border regions.

It had taken nearly a year to collect and transport from Italy the
cavalry force that now entered the camp of Marius. The reason why Italy
and not Africa was chosen as the recruiting ground is probably to be
found in the lack of confidence which the Romans felt even in those
Numidians who professed a friendly attitude; otherwise cheapness and
even efficiency might seem to have dictated the choice of native
contingents, although it is possible that, as a defensive force, the
tactical solidarity of the Italians gave them an advantage even over the
Numidian horse. The Latins and Italian allies had furnished the troopers
that had lately landed on African soil,[1138] perhaps not at the port of
Utica, but at some harbour on the west, for the time consumed by Marius
in the march to his present position, even had not his campaign been
planned in winter quarters, would have given him an opportunity to send
notice of his whereabouts to the leader of the auxiliary force. This
leader was Lucius Cornelius Sulla, who had spent nearly the whole of the
first year of his quaestorship in beating up on Italian soil the troops
of horsemen which he now led into the camp. In comparison with the
arrival of the force that of the quaestor was as nothing; yet the advent
of such a subordinate was always a matter of interest to a general.
Tradition had determined that the ties between a commander and his
quaestor should be peculiarly close; the superior was responsible for
every act of the minor official whom the chance of the lot might thrust
upon him; if his subordinate were capable, he was the chosen delegate
for every delicate operation in finance, diplomacy, jurisdiction, or
even war: if he were incapable, he might be dismissed,[1139] but could
not be neglected, for he was besides the general the only man in the
province holding the position of a magistrate, and was in titular rank
superior even to the oldest and most distinguished of the legates.[1140]
It was a matter of chance whether a government or a campaign was to be
helped or hindered by the arrival of a new quaestor; and Marius, when he
first heard of the man whom destiny had brought to his side, was
inclined to be sceptical as to the amount of assistance which was
promised by the new appointment.[1141] Apart from a remarkable personal
appearance--an impression due to the keen blueness of the eyes, the
clear pallor of the face, the sudden flush that spread at moments over
the cheeks as though the vigour of the mind could be seen pulsing
beneath the delicate skin[1142]--there was little to recommend Sulla to
the mind of a hard and stern man engaged in an arduous and disappointing
task. The new lieutenant had no military experience, he was the scion of
a ruined patrician family, and, if the gossip of Rome were true, his
previous life suggested the light-hearted adventurer rather than the
student of politics or war. In his early youth he seemed destined to
continue the later traditions of his family--those of an unaspiring
temper or a careless indolence, which had allowed the consulship to
become extinct in the annals of the race and had been long content with
the minor prize of the praetorship. Even this honour had been beyond the
reach of the father of Sulla; the hereditary claim to office had been
completely broken, and the family fortune had sunk so low that there
seemed little chance of the renewal of this claim. The present bearer of
the name, the elder son of the house, had lived in hired rooms, and such
slender means as he could command seemed to be employed in gratifying a
passion for the stage.[1143] Yet this taste was but one expression of a
genuine thirst for culture;[1144] and, whatever the opinion of men might
be, this youth whose most strenuous endeavours were strangely mingled
with a careless geniality and an appetite that never dulled for the
pleasures of the senses and the flesh, had a wonderful faculty for
winning the love of women. His father had made a second marriage with a
lady of considerable means; and the affection of the step-mother, who
seems to have been herself childless, was soon centred on her husband's
elder son.[1145] At her death he was found to be her heir, and the
fortune thus acquired was added to or increased by another that had also
come by way of legacy from a woman. This benefactress was Nicopolis, a
woman of Greek birth, whose transitory loves, which had Brought her
wealth, were closed by a lasting passion for the man to Whom this wealth
was given.[1146] The possession of this co