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The Great Empires of Prophecy, from Babylon to the Fall of Rome

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    Rome’s Plunder and Luxury—Territory and Government—Money the One Thought—The Rich Richer, the Poor Poorer—Distribution of the Land—Public Granaries Established—War with Mithradates—Sulla’s “Reforms”—Rise of Pompey and Caesar—Mithradates on the Romans—Pompey Subdues Judea—Antipater the Idumaean—Rullus and Cicero

    WITH the exception of Britain, all the permanent conquests of Rome were made by the arms of the republic, which, though “sometimes vanquished in battle,” were “always victorious in war.” But as Roman power increased, Roman virtue declined; and of all forms of government, the stability of the republican depends most upon the integrity of the individual.GEP 250.1

    2. Abraham Lincoln’s definition of a republic is the best that can ever be given: “A government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” A republic is a government “of the people”—the people compose the government. The people are governed by “the people”—by themselves. They are governed by the people, “for the people”—they are governed by themselves, for themselves. Such a government is but self-government; each citizen governs himself, by himself,—by his own powers of self-restraint,—and he does this for himself, for his own good, for his own best interests. In proportion as this conception is not fulfilled, in proportion as the people lose the power of governing themselves, in the same proportion the true idea of a republic will fail of realization.GEP 250.2

    3. It is said of the early Romans that “they possessed the faculty of self-government beyond any people of whom we have historical knowledge,” with the sole exception of the Anglo-Saxons. And by virtue of this, in the very nature of the case, they became the most powerful nation of all ancient times.GEP 250.3

    4. But their extensive conquests filled Rome with gold. “In twelve years the war indemnity levied upon Carthage, Antiochus, and the AEtolians, had amounted to $28,800,000. The gold, silver, and bronze borne by the generals in their triumphs represented as much more. These $57,600,000 will be easily doubled if we add all the plunder that was taken by the officers and the soldiers, the sums distributed to the legionaries, and the valuables, furniture, stuffs, silverware, bronzes, brought to Europe from the depths of Asia; for nothing escaped the rapacity of the Romans.”—Duruy. 1[Page 251] “History of Rome,” chap 35, sec. ii, par. 5.GEP 250.4

    5. In the forty years from 208 to 168 B. C., the wealth brought to Rome from conquered and plundered kings and countries was nearly $192,000,000. “It was not allowed to a proconsul to return with empty hands, though he had been making war on the poorest of men—upon those intractable tribes from whom he could not even make prisoners that might be sold as slaves. There was no profit so small that the Romans disdained it.... To these revenues arising from the plunder of the world, must be added the gifts made willingly, it was said, by the cities and provinces. The AEtolians offered Fulvius a gold crown of one hundred and fifty talents; a king of Egypt sent one to Pompeiius, which weighed four thousand gold pieces; and there was no city favored by exemption from tribute, no people declared free, that did not feel itself obliged to offer to a victorious proconsul one of these crowns, whose weight was measured by the servility of the giver. At his triumph, Manlius carried two hundred of them.”—Duruy. 2[Page 251] Id., pars. 6, 7.GEP 251.1

    6. With wealth came luxury; as said Juvenal,—“Luxury came on more cruel than our arms, And avenged the vanquished world with her charms.”GEP 251.2

    “The army of Manlius, returning from Asia, imported foreign luxury into the city. These men first brought to Rome gilded couches, rich tapestry, with hangings, and other works of the loom. At entertainments likewise were introduced female players on the harp and timbrel, with buffoons for the diversion of the guests. Their meals also began to be prepared with greater care and cost; while the cook, whom the ancients considered as the meanest of their slaves, became highly valuable, and a servile office began to be regarded as an art. The price of a good cook rose to four talents [about $4,500]. Then was seen a young and handsome slave costing more than a fertile field, and a few fishes more than a yoke of oxen.... Formerly, all the senators had in common one silver service, which they used in rotation when they entertained foreign ambassadors. Now some of them had as much as a thousand pounds’ weight of plate, and a little later Livius Drusus had ten thousand pounds. They required for their houses and villas, ivory, precious woods, African marble, and the like.”—Duruy. 3[Page 252] Id., par. 4.GEP 251.3

    7. And in the train of luxury came vice. “There was now gluttony and drunkenness and debauchery hitherto unknown. Listen to Polybius, an eye-witness. ‘Most of the Romans,’ he says, ‘live in strange dissipation. The young allow themselves to be carried away in the most shameful excesses. They are given to shows, to feasts, to luxury and disorder of every kind, which it is too evident they have learned from the Greeks during the war with Perseus.’ ... Greek vices hitherto unknown in Rome, now become naturalized there.”—Duruy. 4[Page 252] Id., pars. 1, 2.GEP 252.1

    8. “It is from the victory over Antiochus, and the conquest of Asia, that Pliny dates the depravity and corruption of manners in the republic of Rome, and the fatal changes which took place there. Asia, vanquished by the Roman arms, in its turn vanquished Rome by its vices. Foreign wealth extinguished in that city a love for the ancient poverty and simplicity in which its strength and honor had consisted. Luxury, which in a manner entered Rome in triumph with the superb spoils of Asia, brought with her in her train irregularities and crimes of every kind, made greater havoc in the cities than the mightiest armies could have done, and in that manner avenged the conquered globe.”—Rollin. 5[Page 252] “Ancient History,” book xix, chap. 1, sec. vii, par. 59.GEP 252.2

    9. Thus the native Roman self-restraint was broken down; the power of self-government was lost; and the Roman republic failed, as every other republic must fail, when that fails by virtue of which alone a republic is possible. The Romans ceased to govern themselves, and, consequently, they had to be governed. They lost the faculty of self-government, and with that vanished the republic: and its place was supplied by an imperial tyranny supported by a military despotism.GEP 252.3

    10. Rome had now spread her conquests round the whole coast of the Mediterranean Sea, and had made herself the supreme tribunal in the last resort between kings and nations.” “The southeast of Spain, the coast of France from the Pyrenees to Nice, the north of Italy, Illyria and Greece, Sardinia, Sicily, and the Greek islands, the southern and western shores of Asia Minor, were Roman provinces, governed directly under Roman magistrates. On the African side, Mauritania (Morocco) was still free. Numidia (the modern Algeria) retained its native dynasty, but was a Roman dependency. The Carthaginian dominions, Tunis and Tripoli, had been annexed to the empire. The interior of Asia Minor up to the Euphrates, with Syria and Egypt, was under sovereigns called allies, but, like the native princes in India, subject to a Roman protectorate.GEP 253.1

    11. “Over this enormous territory, rich with the accumulated treasures of centuries, and inhabited by thriving, industrious races, the energetic Roman men of business had spread and settled themselves, gathering into their hands the trade, the financial administration, the entire commercial control of the Mediterranean basin. They had been trained in thrift and economy, in abhorrence of debt, in strictest habits of close and careful management. Their frugal education, their early lessons in the value of money, good and excellent as those lessons were, led them as a matter of course, to turn to account their extraordinary opportunities. Governors with their staffs, permanent officials, contractors for the revenue, negotiators, bill-brokers, bankers, merchants, were scattered everywhere in thousands. Money poured in upon them in rolling streams of gold.”—Froude. 6[Page 253] “Caesar,” chap 2, par. 6.GEP 253.2

    12. The actual administrative powers of the government were held by the body of the senators, who held office for life. The Senate had control of the public treasury, and into its hands went not only the regular public revenue from all sources, but also the immense spoil of plundered cities and conquered provinces. With the Senate lay also the appointment, and from its own ranks, too, of all the governors of provinces; and a governorship was the goal of wealth. A governor could go out from Rome poor, perhaps a bankrupt, hold his province for one, two, or three years, and return with millions. The inevitable result was that the senatorial families and leading commoners built up themselves into an aristocracy of wealth ever increasing.GEP 253.3

    13. Owing to the opportunities for accumulating wealth in the provinces much more rapidly than at home, many of the most enterprising citizens sold their farms and left Italy. The farms were bought up by the Roman capitalists, and the small holdings were merged into vast estates. Besides this, the public lands were leased on easy terms by the Senate to persons of political influence, who, by the lapse of time, had come to regard the land as their own by right of occupation. The Licinian law passed in 367 B. C., provided that no one should occupy more than three hundred and thirty-three acres of the public lands; and that every occupant should employ a certain proportion of free laborers. But at the end of two hundred years these favored holders had gone far beyond the law in both of these points; they extended their holdings beyond the limits prescribed by the law; and they employed no free laborers at all, but worked their holdings by slave labor wholly. Nor was this confined to the occupiers of the public lands; all wealthy landowners worked their land by slaves.GEP 254.1

    14. When, in the Roman conquests, prisoners were taken in battle, or upon the capture or the unconditional surrender of a city, they were all sold as slaves. Thus the Roman slaves were Spaniards, Gauls, Greeks, Asiatics, Carthaginians, etc., etc. Of course they were made up of all classes, yet many of them were intelligent, trained, and skillful; and often among them would be found those who were well educated. These were bought up by the wealthy Romans by the thousands. The skilled mechanics and artisans among them were employed in their owners’ workshops established at Rome; the others were spread over the vast landed estates, covering them with vineyards, orchards, olive gardens, and the products of general agriculture; and all increasing their owners’ immense incomes.GEP 254.2

    15. “Wealth poured in more and more, and luxury grew more unbounded. Palaces sprang up in the city, castles in the country, villas at pleasant places by the sea, and parks, and fish-ponds, and game preserves, and gardens, and vast retinues of servants,” everywhere. The effect of all this absorbing of the land, whether public or private, into great estates worked by slaves, was to crowd the free laborers off the lands and into the large towns, and into Rome above all. There they found every trade and occupation filled with slaves, whose labor only increased the wealth of the millionaire, and with which it was impossible successfully to compete. The only alternative was to fall into the train of the political agitator, become the stepping-stone to his ambition, sell their votes to the highest bidder, and perhaps have a share in the promised more equable division of the good things which were monopolized by the rich.GEP 254.3

    16. For to get money, by any means, lawful or unlawful, had become the universal passion. “Money was the one thought, from the highest senator to the poorest wretch who sold his vote in the Comitia. For money judges gave unjust decrees, and juries gave corrupt verdicts.”—Froude. 7[Page 255] Id., par. 8. It has been well said that “with all his wealth, there were but two things which the Roman noble could buy—political power and luxury.”—Froude. 8[Page 255] Id., par. 7. And the poor Roman had but one thing that he could sell—his vote. Consequently, with the rich, able only to buy political power, and with the poor, able only to sell his vote, the elections, once pure, became matters of annual bargain and sale between the candidates and the voters.GEP 255.1

    17. “To obtain a province was the first ambition of a Roman noble. The road to it lay through the praetorship and the consulship; these offices, therefore, became the prizes of the State; and being in the gift of the people, they were sought after by means which demoralized alike the givers and the receivers. The elections were managed by clubs and coteries; and, except on occasions of national danger or political excitement, those who spent most freely were most certain of success. Under these conditions the chief powers in the commonwealth necessarily centered in the rich. There was no longer an aristocracy of birth, still less of virtue.... But the door of promotion was open to all who had the golden key. The great commoners bought their way into the magistracies. From the magistracies they passed into the Senate.”—Froude. 9[Page 256] Id., pars. 8, 9. And from the Senate they passed to the governship of a province.GEP 255.2

    18. To obtain the first office in the line of promotion to the governship, men would exhaust every resource, and plunge into what would otherwise have been hopeless indebtedness. Yet having obtained the governship, when they returned, they were fully able to pay all their debts, and still be millionaires. “The highest offices of State were open in theory to the meanest citizen; they were confined, in fact, to those who had the longest purses, or the most ready use of the tongue on popular platforms. Distinctions of birth had been exchanged for distinctions of wealth. The struggle between plebeians and patricians for equality of privilege was over, and a new division had been formed between the party of property and a party who desired a change in the structure of society.”—Froude. 10[Page 256] Id., chap 1, par. 5.GEP 256.1

    19. Senatorial power was the sure road to wealth. The way to this was through the praetorship and the consulship. These offices were the gift of the populace through election by popular vote. The votes of the great body of the populace were for sale; and as only those who could control sufficient wealth were able to buy enough votes to elect, the sure result was, of course, that all the real powers of the government were held by the aristocracy of wealth. Then, as these used their power to increase their own wealth and that of their favorites, and only used their wealth to perpetuate their power, another sure result was the growth of jealousy on the part of the populace, and a demand growing constantly louder and more urgent, that there should be a more equable division of the good things of life which were monopolized by the favored few. “All orders in a society may be wise and virtuous, but all can not be rich. Wealth which is used only for idle luxury is always envied, and envy soon curdles into hate. It is easy to persuade the masses that the good things of this world are unjustly divided, especially when it happens to be the exact truth.”—Froude. 11[Page 256] Id., chap 2, par. 9.GEP 256.2

    20. And as these two classes were constantly growing farther apart,—the rich growing richer and the poor poorer,—there ceased to be any middle class to maintain order in government and society, by holding the balance of power. There remained only the two classes, the rich and the poor, and of these the rich despised the poor, and the poor envied the rich. And there were always plenty of men to stir up the discontent of the masses, and present schemes for the reorganization of society and government. Some of these were well-meaning men,—men who really had in view the good of their fellow men; but the far greater number were mere demagogues,—ambitious schemers who used the discontent of the populace only to lift themselves into the places of wealth and power which they envied others, and which, when they had secured, they used as selfishly and as oppressively as did any of those against whom they clamored. But whether they were well-meaning men or demagogues, in order to hold the populace against the persuasions and bribes of the wealthy they were compelled to make promises and concessions which were only in the nature of larger bribes, and which in the end were as destructive of free government as the worst acts of the Senate itself.GEP 256.3

    21. In the long contest between the people and the Senate, which ended in the establishment of an imperial form of government, the first decisive step was taken by Tiberius Gracchus, who was elected tribune of the people in the year 133 B. C. On his way home from Spain shortly before, as he passed through Tuscany, he saw in full operation the large estate system carried on by the wealthy senators or their favorites,—the public lands unlawfully leased in great tracts, “the fields cultivated by the slave gangs, the free citizens of the republic thrust away into the towns, aliens and outcasts in their own country, without a foot of soil which they could call their own.” He at once determined that the public lands should be restored to the people; and as soon as he was elected tribune, he set to work to put his views into law.GEP 257.1

    22. As the government was of the people, if the people were only united they could carry any measure they pleased in spite of the Senate. As the senators and their wealthy favorites were the offenders, it was evident that if any such law should be secured, it would have to be wholly by the people’s overriding the Senate; and to the people Tiberius Gracchus directly appealed. He declared that the public land belonged to the people, demanded that the monopolists should be removed, and that the public lands should be redistributed among the citizens of Rome. The monopolists argued that they had leased the land from the Senate, and had made their investments on the faith that the law was no longer of force. Besides this they declared that as they were then occupying the lands, and as the lands had been so occupied for ages before, with the sanction of the government, to call in question their titles now, was to strike at the very foundations of society. Tiberius and his party replied only by pointing to the statute which stood unrepealed, and showing that however long the present system had been in vogue, it was illegal and void from the beginning.GEP 257.2

    23. Yet Tiberius did not presume to be arbitrary. He proposed to pay the holders for their improvements; but as for the public land itself, it belonged to the people, and to the people it should go. The majority of the citizens stood by Tiberius. But another of the tribunes, Octavius Caecina by name, himself having large interests in the land question, went over to the side of the Senate; and in the exercise of his constitutional right, forbade the taking of the vote. From the beginning, the functions of the tribunes were that they should be the defenders of the people and the guardians of the rights of the people, against the encroachment of the consulate and the Senate. And now, when one of their own constitutional defenders deserted them and went over to the enemy, even though in doing so he exercised only his constitutional prerogative, the people would not bear it. It was to support an unlawful system that it was done; the people were all-powerful, and they determined to carry their measure, constitution or no constitution. 12[Page 258] Reference to the Roman Constitution must not be understood in the American sense.as being a written constitution. The Roman Constitution was, as is the British, merely a system of precedents and unwritten rules of long-established usage. Tiberius called upon them to declare Caecina deposed from the tribunate; they at once complied. Then they took the vote which Caecina had treacherously forbidden, and the land law of Tiberius Gracchus was secured.GEP 258.1

    24. Three commissioners were appointed to carry into effect the provisions of the law. But from whatever cause, the choosing of the commissioners was unfortunate—they were Tiberius himself, his younger brother, and his father-in-law. Being thus apparently a family affair, the aristocrats made the most of it, and bided their time; for the tribunes were elected for only a year, and the aristocrats hoped so to shape the elections when the year should expire, as to regain their power. But when the year expired, Tiberius unconstitutionally presented himself for re-election, and the prospect was that he would secure it. When the election day came, the aristocrats, with their servants and hired voters, went armed to the polls, and as soon as they saw that Tiberius would surely be chosen, they raised a riot. The people, being unarmed, were driven off. Tiberius Gracchus and three hundred of his friends were killed and pitched into the Tiber. Yet though they had killed Tiberius, they did not dare to attempt at once the repeal of the law which he had secured, nor openly to interfere with the work of the commissioners in executing the law. Within two years the commissioners had settled forty thousand families upon public lands which the monopolists had been obliged to surrender.GEP 259.1

    25. The commissioners soon became unpopular. Those who were compelled to resign their lands were exasperated, of course. On the other hand, those to whom the land was given were not in all cases satisfied. It was certain that some would be given better pieces of land than others, and that of itself created jealousy and discontent. But the greatest trouble was, that in the great majority of cases it was not land that they wanted, in fact. It was money that they wanted first of all; and although the land was virtually given to them, and well improved at that, they could not get money out of it without work. It had to be personal work, too, because to hire slaves was against the very law by virtue of which they had received the land; and to hire freemen was impossible, (1) because no freeman would work for a slave’s wages,—that in his estimate would be to count himself no better than a slave,—and (2) the new landed proprietor could not afford to pay the wages demanded by free labor, because he had to meet the competition of the wealthy landowners who worked their own land with slave labor. The only alternative was for the new landholders to work their land themselves, and do the best they could at it. But as the money did not come as fast as they wished, and as what did come was only by hard work and economical living, many of them heartily wished themselves back amid the stir and bustle of the busy towns, working for daily wages, though the wages might be small. The discontented cries soon grew loud enough to give the Senate its desired excuse to suspend the commissioners, and then quietly to repeal the law, and resume its old supremacy.GEP 259.2

    26. Just nine years after the death of Tiberius Gracchus, his brother Caius was elected a tribune, and took up the work in behalf of which Tiberius had lost his life. The Senate had been jealous of him for some time, and attacked him with petty prosecutions and false accusations; and when he was elected tribune, the Senate knew that this meant no good to it. Caius revived the land law that had been secured by his brother ten years before, but he did not stop there; he attacked the Senate itself.GEP 260.1

    27. All important State cases, whether civil or criminal, were tried before a court composed of senators—about sixty or seventy. This privilege also the senator shad turned to their own profit by selling their verdicts. It was no secret that the average senatorial juryman was approachable with money; if not in the form of a direct bribe, there were many other ways in which a wealthy senator could make his influence felt. Governors could plunder their provinces, rob temples, sell their authority, and carry away everything they could lay hands on: yet, although in the eyes of the law these were the gravest offenses, when they returned to Rome, they could admit their fellow senators to a share in their stealings, and rest perfectly secure. If the plundered provincials came up to Rome with charges against a governor, the charges had to be passed upon by a board of senators, who had either been governors themselves or else were only waiting for the first chance to become governors, and a case had to be one of special hardship, and notorious at that, before any notice would be taken of it in any effective way. The general course was only to show that the law was a mockery where the rich and influential were concerned. At this system of corruption, Caius Gracchus aimed a successful blow. He carried a law disqualifying forever any senator from sitting on a jury of any kind, and transferring these judicial functions to the equities, or knights. The knights were an order of men below the dignity of senators, yet they had to be possessed of a certain amount of wealth to be eligible to the order. By this measure, Caius bound to himself the whole body of the knights.GEP 260.2

    28. But these attacks upon the Senate, successful though they were, and these favors to the knights, were of no direct benefit to the people; therefore to maintain his position with them, Caius was obliged to do something that would be so directly in their favor that there could be no mistaking it. It was not enough that he should restore the land law that had been secured by his brother. That law, even while it was working at its best, was satisfactory to but few of its beneficiaries. The law was restored it is true, but the prospect of leaving Rome and going perhaps to some distant part of Italy to engage in hard work, was not much of a temptation to men who had spent any length of time in Rome, involved in its political strifes, and whose principal desire was to obtain money and the means of subsistence with as little work as possible. It required something more than the restoration of the land law to satisfy these, and Caius granted it.GEP 261.1

    29. With the “enthusiastic clapping” of every pair of poor hands in Rome, he secured the passage of a law decreeing that in Rome should be established public granaries, to be filled and maintained at the cost of the State, and that from these the wheat should be sold to the poor citizens at a merely nominal price. This law applied only to Rome, because in Rome the elections were held. “The effect was to gather into the city a mob of needy, unemployed voters, living on the charity of the State, to crowd the circus and to clamor at the elections, available no doubt immediately to strengthen the hands of the popular tribune, but certain in the long run to sell themselves to those who could bid highest for their voices.”—Froude. 13[Page 261] “Caesar,” chap 3, par. 5.GEP 261.2

    30. We have already seen that the only stock in trade of the poor citizen was his vote, and the effect of this law was greatly to increase the value of that commodity; because as he was now virtually supported by the State, he became more nearly independent, and could easily devote more time to political agitation, and could demand larger returns for his influence and his vote. But Caius carried his law, and so bound to himself, and greatly multiplied, too, the mass of voters in Rome; and having secured the support of both the knights and the populace, he carried all before him, and was even re-elected to the tribunate, and could have been elected the third time; but he proposed a scheme that estranged the mob, and his power departed.GEP 262.1

    31. He proposed that in different parts of the empire, Roman colonies should be established with all the privileges of Roman citizenship, and one of these places was Carthage. That city, while it existed, had always been the greatest earthly menace to Rome, and when it had been reduced to ashes and the Roman plowshare drawn over it, it was cursed forever. And now the mere suggestion to restore it was magnified by Caius’s enemies to a height that made the proposition appear but little short of treason. This of itself, however, might not have defeated him; but if this colonization scheme should be carried out, many of the populace would have to leave Rome and go to some distant part of the empire; and worse than all else, they would have to work. No longer could they be fed at the public expense and spend their lives in the capital, in the whirl of political excitement and the amusements of the Roman circus. Even to contemplate such a prospect was intolerable; still more, and as though Caius deliberately designed to add insult to injury, he proposed to bestow the franchise upon all the freemen of Italy. This would be only to cut down in an unknown ratio the value of the votes of those who now possessed the franchise. Such a calamity as that never could be borne. The course of the Senate might have been one of misrule, but this of Caius Gracchus was fast developing into unbearable despotism. The election day came, riots were raised, and Caius Gracchus and three thousand of his friends were killed, as had been his brother and his friends ten years before. The mob having now no leader, the Senate resumed its sway as before, and went on in the same old way, except that the laws actually passed by Caius had to stand.GEP 262.2

    32. In 123 B. C. the corruption of justice by the senators had made it necessary to deprive them of the right to sit on juries, and this privilege was bestowed upon the knights. Yet within about thirty years the same evil had grown to such a height among the knights as to call loudly for a reform. Accordingly, in 91 B. C., Marcus Livius Drusus, a tribune, brought forward a proposal to reform the law courts; and thereby incurred the deadly enmity of the whole Equestrian order. With this he proposed both new land laws and new corn laws, which increased the hatred of the senatorial order toward the populace. These laws were passed; but the Senate declared them null and void.GEP 263.1

    33. Mithradates, king of Pontus, had set out (89 B. C.) to reduce all the East in subjection to himself. The Roman governors had made such a tyrannical use of their power that all the provinces of the East were ready to revolt at the first fair opportunity that offered. The fleets of Mithradates, coming out over the Black Sea, poured through the Hellespont and the Dardanelles into the Grecian Archipelago. All the islands, and the provinces of Ionia, Caria, and Lydia, taking advantage of this, rose at once in determined revolt, and put to death many thousands of the Roman residents (88 B. C.). Not only the governors, but the merchants, the bankers, and the farmers of the taxes, with their families, were promiscuously murdered.GEP 263.2

    34. Mithradates himself, with a powerful army, followed close upon the success of his fleet, crossed the Bosporus, and penetrated into Greece, which received him as a deliverer (87 B. C.). All this compelled Rome to declare war upon Mithradates; but this was only to deepen her own local contests; for there was bitter rivalry and contention as to who should command the armies to be sent against Mithradates. Marius was a great favorite; but there was a strong rival to his popularity, in the person of Lucius Cornelius Sulla.GEP 263.3

    35. Sulla had made himself the favorite of the soldiers by allowing them to indulge “in plundering, and in all kinds of license.” He had already made one journey into the East with an army, had defeated one of the generals of Mithradates, had restored order, for a time, in the Eastern provinces, and had received an embassy from the Parthians which was sent to solicit an alliance with Rome, B. C. 92. He had returned to Rome in 91. Sulla was one of the aristocracy, “a patrician of the purest blood;” but he had made an immense bid for the favor of the populace by exhibiting in the arena a hundred African lions.GEP 263.4

    36. Everybody in Rome, and for that matter in all Italy, knew that the contest for the command of the troops in the Mithradatic War lay between Marius and Sulla; and every one knew that the contest stood: Sulla and the senatorial party against Marius and the people. The contest deepened, and it was more and more evident that, in the existing state of things, it could not be decided without a crisis.GEP 264.1

    37. A tribune—Sulpicius Rufus—proposed that Marius should be given command in the Mithradatic War. This pleased the great majority of the people, but only aroused both the Senate and Sulla to the most determined opposition. Yet it soon became evident that the motion of Rufus would be carried. The consuls,—Sulla was one of them,—to prevent it, proclaimed the day a public holiday. Rufus armed his party and drove the consuls from the Forum, compelled them to withdraw the proclamation of a holiday, and carried his laws. But Sulla put himself at the head of his soldiers and marched them into the city, and “for the first time a Roman consul entered the city of Rome at the head of the legions of the republic.” There was resistance, but it was utterly vain. Marius escaped to Africa, Rufus was taken and killed, and twelve others of the popular leaders were put to death without a trial. Sulla, at the head of his troops and supported by the Senate, settled affairs to suit himself; and, with his legions, departed for the East in the beginning of the year 87 B. C. Marius died Jan. 13, 86.GEP 264.2

    38. Sulla was everywhere successful against Mithradates; and in the year 84 B. C. a peace was concluded by which Mithradates was reduced to the position of a vassal of Rome. In 83 Sulla determined to return to Italy, which had been almost entirely turned against him. The Italians dreaded to have Sulla return, and raised an army to prevent it; but Sulla landed in Italy with forty thousand veteran troops, and was there joined by Pompey with a legion which he had raised. Yet with this strong force it took Sulla about a year to bring all the country into subjection. As soon as he had made his position secure, he had the Senate to appoint him dictator, which made him master of everything and everybody in Italy. He then entered upon a course of continuous and systematic murder of all who were in any way opposed to him.GEP 264.3

    39. “Four thousand seven hundred persons fell in the proscription of Sylla, 14[Page 265] Froude and Duruy use the spelling “Sylla” instead of “Sulla.” The latter form is preferred here. It is that used by Merivale, Mommsen, and the Encyclopedia Britannica. all men of education and fortune. The real crime of many of them was the possession of an estate or a wife which a relative or a neighbor coveted. The crime alleged against all was the opinion that the people of Rome and Italy had rights which deserved consideration as well as the senators and nobles. The liberal party were extinguished in their own blood. Their estates were partitioned into a hundred and twenty thousand allotments, which were distributed among Sylla’s friends, or soldiers, or freedmen. The land reform of the Gracchi was mockingly adopted to create a permanent aristocratic garrison. There were no trials, there were no pardons. Common report or private information was at once indictment and evidence, and accusation was in itself condemnation.”—Froude. 15[Page 265] “Caesar,” chap 8, pars. 10, 13.GEP 265.1

    40. Reform was popular, and Sulla must needs be a reformer; but his was a reformation which aimed to make the Senate both supreme and absolute. He had already, while consul in 88, crippled the power of both the tribunes and the people, by passing a law that no proposal should be made to the assembly without the sanction of the Senate; and now the value of the office of tribune was lowered by the provision that any one who should become a tribune should never afterward be chosen to any other office. In another form, also, he lessened the power of the people: he enacted a law that no man should be elected consul who was not forty-three years old, and who had not already been a praetor or a quaestor; and that no one should be made consul a second time within ten years. He also took entirely away from the knights the right of sitting as the court of justice, and restored to the Senate this privilege. As in the matter of the election of tribunes and consuls, he had so far deprived the people of the exercise of their power, he now went further, and enacted a law that the assembly of the people should not even be called together without the Senate’s sanction. But the heaviest stroke of all that he made against the populace was to abolish entirely the grants of grain, and to shut up the public granaries.GEP 265.2

    41. Thus the power of the Senate was made absolute; and to render it secure, ten thousand slaves were enfranchised and formed into a senatorial guard. But in the existing order of things, it was impossible that such power could be respected, or that it could long be exercised. The only means by which Sulla was enabled to create such a power at all, was the army which was so entirely devoted to himself.GEP 266.1

    42. From this time forth, in the very nature of things, it became more and more certain that the army would be the real source of power; that whosoever should have the support of the strongest body of troops would possess the power; and that just as soon as that power should be turned against the Senate instead of for it, all this system which had been so carefully built up would be scarcely more tangible than the stuff that dreams are made of. Sulla himself had set the example in 88, it had been readily followed by Cinna in 87, it was repeated here by Sulla in 81, and he himself saw in Pompey a readiness to follow it this same year.GEP 266.2

    43. Pompey had been sent to Sicily and Africa to reduce things to order there; and he was eminently successful. When he returned to Rome, “Sylla, with all the people, went out to meet him, and saluted him with the title of ‘the Great.’ But Pompey wanted a triumph, a magnificent triumph, and he had brought back from Africa elephants to draw his chariot; but Sylla refused it to him, for the young general [he was about twenty-five] was not even as yet a senator. Upon this, Pompey went so far as to bid Sylla beware, and remember that the rising sun has more worshipers than the setting. His words produced an immense effect upon the crowd; and Sylla, overcome with surprise, for the first time in his life yielded. ‘Let him triumph!’ he said, and repeated the words. The people applauded Pompey’s boldness, and gazed with delight upon this general who did not tremble before the man whom all the world feared.”—Duruy. 16[Page 267] “History of Rome,” chap 48, sec. ii, par. 5GEP 266.3

    44. By this act of Pompey’s, Sulla saw that it would be the best thing to do to bind Pompey securely to himself. Pompey was already married to Antistia, a lady whose father had been murdered for standing up for Sulla, and whose mother had been driven to madness and to suicide by her husband’s terrible fate. But Sulla had a stepdaughter, Emilia, whom he proposed that Pompey should marry. Emilia was already married, and was soon to become a mother; yet at Sulla’s invitation Pompey divorced Antistia, and married Emilia.GEP 267.1

    45. There was just then another youth in Rome whom it was to Sulla’s interest to gain also; and he proposed to secure his allegiance in much the same way as he had gained Pompey’s. That youth was Julius Caesar. 46. Caesar was the nephew of the great Marius; and had married Cornelia, the daughter of Cinna, by whom he had a daughter named Julia. He was at this time about twenty years of age. Sulla proposed to him that he should divorce Cornelia, and marry some woman whom Sulla should choose. Caesar flatly refused. Sulla tried to compel him to it: he deprived him of his office of the priesthood; he took his wife’s dowry from him, and confiscated his estate. But Caesar would not yield a hair’s breadth. Next Sulla hired assassins to kill him, and he escaped only by bribing the assassins. Caesar’s friends interceded, and finally obtained his pardon; but he, not willing to trust himself within Sulla’s reach, left Italy, and joined the army in Asia. In 79 Sulla resigned his dictatorship, and died the following year.GEP 267.2

    47. The power which Sulla had given to the Senate was only used to build up itself. As, by the new legislation, no election could now be had without the appointment of the Senate, the elections soon fell under the control of senatorial rings and committees. No candidate could hope to succeed who had not the favor of the Senate; and the surest means of securing the favor of the senatorial party was the possession of wealth, and a willingness to spend it to secure an office.GEP 267.3

    48. The distribution of the land by Sulla had resulted no better than had that by the Gracchi, in fact hardly as well; because since that there had been forty years of degeneracy and political violence, and a part of the time almost anarchy. Extravagance in living had increased at a rapid rate among all classes,—among the really wealthy, in an ostentatious display, or the exhaustion of pleasure; among those of moderate fortunes, in an effort to ape the ways of the wealthy; and even among the poor, owing to the virtually free distribution of wheat. For so long as they could get the main part of their living for nothing, they were not likely to cultivate habits of economy. It was easy enough to distribute land to those who had neither land nor money. The difficulty was to keep it so distributed. Those to whom Sulla had distributed land, especially his soldiers, lived far beyond their means; their lands were soon mortgaged, and at last forfeited, falling once more into the hands of the wealthy landowners, to be worked by slaves, while the free citizens were again crowded into the cities. 49. Besides the vast numbers of slaves who were put to use on farms and in shops all over Italy, there were many who were kept and trained to fight one another in the amphitheater, solely for the amusement of the populace. Nothing made a person so popular as to set forth a few pairs of gladiators in the circus to murder one another. At Capua, about seventy-five miles south of Rome, was the most famous training-school for gladiators. In the year 73 B. C. two hundred of these gladiators, led by Spartacus, broke away from their “stables” at Capua, and were soon joined by escaped slaves from all the surrounding country, in such numbers that in a little while Spartacus found himself at the head of seventy thousand men ready for any sort of desperate action. For two years they spread terror from one end of Italy to the other, till Pompey and Crassus led forth an army and annihilated the whole host, B. C. 71. Spartacus was killed, sword in hand, and six thousand captives were crucified all along the highway from Capua to Rome.GEP 268.1

    50. Pompey and Crassus were made consuls for the year 70. Sulla’s legislation was undone, and everything was set back as it had been before, except that the prerogative of sitting as a court of law was not restored entirely to the knights. This privilege the senators had again prostituted to their old purposes; and as the knights could not be fully trusted either, the court was now to be composed of two-thirds knights and one-third senators. The power of the tribunes was fully restored, also the right of the populace to assemble at their own wish. The public granaries were once more opened. The mob was happy, the Senate was embittered, and the way was again opened for the full tide of political violence which immediately followed.GEP 269.1

    51. Mithradates had again entered the field with a powerful army, having secured the alliance of Tigranes, king of Armenia. He tried to gain also the alliance of the king of the Parthians. In his letter to this king he used language so vigorous and so true, concerning the Romans, that it is worth repeating for everlasting remembrance. Mithradates wrote, in part, as follows:—GEP 269.2

    “Do not deceive yourself; it is with all the nations, States, and kingdoms of the earth that the Romans are at war; and two motives, as ancient as powerful, put their arms into their hands: the unbounded ambition of extending their conquests, and the insatiable thirst of riches.... Do you not know that the Romans, when they found themselves stopped by the ocean in the west, turned their arms in this way? That, to look back to their foundation and origin, whatever they have, they have from violence,—home, wives, lands, and dominions? A vile herd of every kind of vagabond, without country, without forefathers, they established themselves for the misfortune of the human race. Neither divine nor human laws restrain them from betraying and destroying their allies and friends, remote nations or neighbors, the weak or the powerful. They reckon as enemies all that are not their slaves; and especially whatever bears the name of king....GEP 269.3

    “It will be for your immortal glory to have supported two great kings, and to have conquered and destroyed these robbers of the world. This is what I earnestly advise and exhort you to do, by warning you to choose rather to share with us, by a salutary alliance, in the conquest of the common enemy, than to suffer the Roman Empire to extend itself still farther by our ruin.” 17[Page 269] Rollin’s “Ancient History,” book xxiii, sec. iii, par. 30.GEP 269.4

    52. Lucullus had contended against Mithradates eight years, 74-66 B. C., when, against the will of the Senate, and by the unanimous voice of the people, Pompey, in 66, was appointed to the command in the East, relieving Lucullus. In a single battle, Pompey destroyed the army of Mithradates; and that last great foe of the Romans became a fugitive, perishing in 63 B. C. Pompey established the Roman authority over Armenia, concluded an alliance with the Parthians, led his legions through the country of the Albanians, and into that of the Iberians at the foot of the Caucasus Mountains. “In reaching the Caucasus, Pompey had left behind him the historic lands of the Roman Republic, and entered upon the regions of fable. Having conquered these tribes, he came round to the river Phasis.” He returned to Amisus in Armenia “where, during the winter [65-64], he held his court with all the barbaric splendor of an Oriental potentate. Surrounded by Asiatic chiefs, and ambassadors from all the kings, he distributed commands and provinces; granted or denied the alliance of Rome; treated with the Medes and Elymaeans, who were rivals of Parthia, and refused to Phraates [king of Parthia] the title of ‘King of Kings.’”—Duruy. 18[Page 270] “History of Rome,” chap 1, sec. ii, pars. 10, 11. In the spring of 64 he organized Pontus into a Roman province, and passed over the Taurus Mountains into Syria to set things in order there. In Syria he came also into connection with the affairs of the Jews, which, just at this time, were of considerable importance in the East.GEP 270.1

    53. In the year 130 B. C., the king of Syria was slain in a battle with the Parthians. Then John Hyrcanus, the high priest of the Jews, “took the advantage of the disturbances and divisions that thenceforth ensued ... to make himself absolute and wholly independent. For after this, neither he nor any of his descendants owned any further dependence on the kings of Syria; but thenceforth wholly freed themselves from all manner of homage, servitude, or subjection, to them.”—Prideaux. 19[Page 270] “Connexion,” under 130 B. C. And thus the government of the now independent country of Judea was merged in the high priests, in succession: the high priest being the head of both religion and the State. In the year 129 B. C., the same high priest conquered the Idumaeans,—Edomites,—and “reduced them to this necessity: either to embrace the Jewish religion or else to leave the country and seek new dwellings elsewhere.” They chose to adopt the Jewish religion, rather than be driven from their country. But under such circumstances they were as much Idumaeans as before, except only in the forms of worship. About the year 128 B. C., Hyrcanus sent an embassy to Rome “to renew the league of friendship they had with the Romans.” “And when the Senate had received their epistle, they made a league of friendship with them;” and “decreed” “to renew their league of friendship and mutual assistance with these good men, and who were sent by a good and friendly people.”—Josephus. 20[Page 271] “Antiquities of the Jews,” book xiii, chap 10, par. 2.GEP 270.2

    54. In the year 106 B. C., Aristobulus, the eldest son of John Hyrcanus, regularly succeeded to the high-priesthood, and, being also the head of the State, resolved “to change the government into a kingdom;” and “first of all put a diadem on his head, four hundred and eighty-one years and three months after the people had been delivered from Babylonish slavery, and were returned to their own country again.”—Josephus. 21[Page 271] Id., chap 11, par. 1. This piece of worldly ambition opened among the Jews the flood-gates of jealousy, strife, assassination, and domestic war, which evils were, if possible, more indulged than among the nations round.GEP 271.1

    55. After Aristobulus, Alexander Jannaeus reigned; and after him his widow, Alexandra. While Alexandra was queen, Hyrcanus, the eldest son of Jannaeus, was high priest. At the court there was a shrewd and ambitious Idumaean, Antipater by name. He studiously gained the ascendant over Hyrcanus. This he did in the hope that when Hyrcanus should become king, at the death of his mother, he himself would virtually rule the kingdom. However, when the time actually came, Antipater saw all his plans upset by the revolt of Aristobulus II, the brother of Hyrcanus. For Hyrcanus was defeated in a battle, and was obliged to resign to Aristobulus the office of high priest and king. Yet Antipater did not despair; he immediately set on foot, and persistently wrought, an intrigue to replace Hyrcanus upon the throne.GEP 271.2

    56. Such was the condition of affairs in Judea when Pompey came into Syria of Damascus. To Pompey at Damascus came ambassadors from both Hyrcanus and Aristobulus—Antipater the Idumaean on behalf of Hyrcanus, and more for himself. Also there came ambassadors from the people to make representations against both Hyrcanus and Aristobulus, and to plead that the kingship be abolished and the governorship be only in the high priest as such. Pompey heard them all; but deferred the decision until he should arrive in Judea. By the time that Pompey reached Judea, Aristobulus had taken a course greatly to offend him. But Pompey coming to Jerusalem, Aristobulus repented and went out to meet him, and offered to receive him into the city and give him money. But the partizans of Aristobulus would not accept this arrangement. They stationed themselves at the temple and prepared for a siege.GEP 272.1

    57. The siege of the temple was promptly begun by Pompey; but he was obliged to spend three months of hard work and fierce fighting before it was taken. However, when the temple was finally taken, Pompey refrained from plundering it of its wealth or of anything, though he passed into the most holy place within the veil. Judea was now held in subjection, and laid under tribute, to the Roman power, from which she never escaped except by annihilation.GEP 272.2

    58. “Now the occasions of this misery which came upon Jerusalem were Hyrcanus and Aristobulus, by raising a sedition one against the other; for now we lost our liberty, and became subject to the Romans, and were deprived of that country which we had gained by our arms from the Syrians, and were compelled to restore it to the Syrians. Moreover the Romans exacted of us, in a little time, above ten thousand talents [about $12,000,000]; and the royal authority, which was a dignity formerly bestowed on those that were high priests by the right of their family, became the property of private men.”—Josephus. 22[Page 272] “Antiquities of the Jews,” book xiv, chap 4, par. 5.GEP 272.3

    59. “Pompey committed Coele-Syria, as far as the river Euphrates and Egypt, to Scaurus with two Roman legions, and then went away to Cilicia, and made haste to Rome.”—Josephus. 23[Page 273] Id. Joppa, Gaza, and other coast towns were added to the province of Syria, which was the cause of that province’s reaching to Egypt. Thus the Euphrates was made by Pompey the eastern boundary of the Roman Empire.GEP 272.4

    60. As the cause of Hyrcanus had been represented throughout by Antipater the Idumaean, he succeeded in so gaining the favor of Pompey and the Romans that he sustained confidential relations with them and with Pompey’s successor in the East, Gabinius, who “settled the affairs which belonged to the city of Jerusalem, as was agreeable to Antipater’s inclination.”—Josephus. 24[Page 273] “Antiquities of the Jews,” book xiv, chap 6, par. 4.GEP 273.1

    61. When Gabinius “came from Rome to Syria as commander of the Roman forces,” there was in his army a young officer named Mark Antony. In Judea young Alexander, the son of Aristobulus, had “suddenly got together ten thousand armed footmen and fifteen hundred horsemen, and fortified Alexandrium, a fortress near Coreae, and Macherus, near the mountains of Arabia.” In subduing the revolt of Alexander, Antony and Antipater were brought into such relationship that a firm friendship was established between them, and which in after years, out of a curious combination of events wholly undreamed of now by either of them, had a positive bearing upon one of the most significant occurrences in the world’s history.GEP 273.2

    62. In Rome, Caesar was now fast becoming popular. He and Bibulus had been elected aediles for the year 65. The office of the aediles was to take charge of the public buildings, the games, and the theaters. “They were expected to decorate the city with new ornaments, and to entertain the people with magnificent spectacles.” Caesar acquitted himself so well in this as to make himself the favorite of the whole multitude of the people. Then, as he felt his influence becoming more firmly established, he set on foot an inquiry into the proscription that had been carried on by Sulla. A committee of investigation was appointed, of which Caesar himself was made chairman.GEP 273.3

    63. The people decided next to make Caesar the head of religion by electing him to the office of pontifex maximus, which became vacant just at this time. This was the greatest honor that could come to a Roman citizen. The office was for life, and until now had always been held by members of the aristocracy. Sulla had sought to confine it exclusively to these by giving to the sacred college the privilege of electing its own chief. Labienus being tribune, had succeeded in carrying a vote in the assembly, by which this privilege was restored to the people.GEP 273.4

    64. To fill the vacant office of pontifex maximus, two of the aristocracy were presented by the senatorial party, and Caesar was nominated by the people. Immense sums of money were spent by the senatorial party to buy sufficient votes to elect one or the other of their two candidates. Caesar likewise spent money freely, although deep in debt already. When he left home for the Forum on the morning of the election day, and his mother kissed him good-by, he told her he would either come home pontifex maximus or would not come home at all. Such an extreme alternative, however, was not necessary; because he was elected by a vote larger than that of both the other candidates put together. This was in the year 63, and soon afterward Caesar was elected praetor for the next year.GEP 274.1

    65. The land monopoly had again become as notorious as at any time before. The small proprietors had sold out, and large holdings had increased, until the land had fallen into a few hands, and Rome was crowded with a rabble of poor citizens largely fed at public expense. Pompey’s conquests in the East had brought to the State large quantities of land, and his honest conduct of affairs there had filled the treasury with money. Here was a grand opportunity for reform. Rullus, a tribune, brought forward a proposition that part of the territory acquired by Pompey should be sold, and the money used to buy land in Italy upon which to settle poor citizens from Rome. Cicero, as consul, opposed it strenuously. He railed on Rullus with all the bitterness his abusive tongue could utter.GEP 274.2

    66. Rullus had stated that the populace of Rome was become so powerful as to be dangerous; and that for the good of the State it would be proper that some should be removed from the city, and placed upon lands where they could support themselves. This was all true, as Cicero well knew; yet he hesitated not a moment to curry favor with these, by setting it before them in as objectionable a light as possible, in order to defeat the aim of Rullus.GEP 274.3

    67. Cicero hated the influence of the people as much as anybody else in Rome; but he hated Rullus’s proposition more, because it would lessen the power of the aristocracy, whose favor he just now longed for more than for anything else. He therefore pretended to be the friend of the people, and to be defending them against the ulterior scheme of Rullus. He succeeded. Rullus’s bill was defeated, and his plan came to nothing. And had his plan even succeeded, it would likewise have come to nothing; because now the cry had become popular, and was becoming more and more imperative: “Bread for nothing, and games forever!”GEP 275.1

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