History of Rome





Anno Urbis - The Roman Empire Online

A HISTORY OF ROME DURING THE LATER REPUBLIC AND EARLY PRINCIPATE

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CHAPTER III

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 death.[432]

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 persecution.[457]

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 demagogue.

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 inhabitants.



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