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Chapter XVII

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
A History of Rome
by
Tenney Frank

published by
Henry Holt and Company
New York 1923

The text is in the public domain.

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and I believe it to be free of errors.
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Chapter XIX

 p314  Chapter XVIII

Internal Conditions

We have followed the external and political history of Rome through a century of crises. It is time to stop and take a brief survey of the less obtrusive activities of the people.

Education. The Roman Republic had long hesitated to assume any burdens beyond those of governing. Economic and social welfare was considered the concern of the individual. It seems to be generally true that paternalistic autocrats are those who have most extended the functions of government. The Roman household had always cared for the education of children and continued to a large extent to do so during this period. Private schools were, however, increasing rapidly in number. When boys had learned the rudiments of reading, writing, and arithmetic, their parents were apt to send them to a teacher (a grammaticus) who taught them Greek and read Homer and the Greek dramatists with them, drilling, explaining and lecturing. The poems of Ennius, Livius, and Lucilius came similarly to be Latin text-books used for study. After this if the pupil desired further guidance in general reading he was apt to go to Athens, Rhodes or Naples, and attend lectures under several masters, some of whom taught philosophy, others literature and the rules of composition. Most Roman boys of good family however kept in mind the possibility of entering a public career. They therefore combined lectures in composition and "rhetoric" with actual attendance upon some distinguished friend of the family who practised law and spoke in the Forum.

The "rhetorical" training was precise and extensive. The pupils studied model selections of oratorical prose  p315 in Greek and Latin, analyzed the faults and virtues of each, tried to comprehend the rules of composition even to the point of knowing, for instance, some sixty figures of speech and the applicability of each. The attendance on some man actually engaged in the Forum brought knowledge of content as well as of form. It even performed the functions of a course at law by use of what may be called an applied "case system." That is to say, the young apprentice could help in working up the brief, could take notes in court of the manner and method of his preceptor and of the opponent, and could have his preceptor's comments upon all phases of the case. So also he would attend in the Forum when political speeches were being made, imbibing the secrets of mob psychology while observing the style and delivery of the speaker. It was in this way that Rome's great public men were trained for their work. Since moreover a young man could not enter upon a curule office til he was at least thirty, his years of general study (unless he went into army service) were apt to continue, at least in a desultory fashion, for a long time. In Cicero's day most young men of good families were well read in Greek literature and philosophy.

Philosophy. The philosophic discussions of this period were no longer very fruitful, for philosophy had made its way into a cul‑de‑sac as it were. The brilliant Greek thinkers of a few centuries before had set out to follow the thinking process wherever it led, and it seemed for the moment to lead to infinite possibilities. Intellect seemed for a while capable of explaining the secrets of the universe, the nature of God, and the composition of matter. A faculty that could ferret out the harmonies in numbers revealed by geometry, that could organize society into states, and that could by an effort of the imagination beget atomic theories seemed capable of everything. And since the behavior of the mind seemed far more interesting than dead matter, philosophers chose to rationalize rather than  p316 experiment. This is why philosophy so quickly soared into metaphysics and hesitated so long to undertake minute researches in mere physical nature. The greatest and most promising field was obviously to be tried first, and it required some centuries to explain it and discover that in order to make progress man has patiently to begin at the humbler task of acquiring data from a careful examination of the physical world. By the time philosophy came to Rome the first great period of exultant discovery was over. Metaphysics had discovered its shortcomings. The Skeptics had found out that imagination was not a reliable guide to truth, and that even man's senses with which he tried to acquire firm data were apparently not wholly reliable. Then came a period of depression and doubt. The successors of Aristotle were humbly confessing that the great facts of the universe were probably unattainable, and that philosophy should perhaps busy itself with the humbler task of defining man's social and political duties. Thus it is that in Cicero's day the teachers of philosophy, mostly Stoics and Epicureans, were for the moment concerning themselves generally with questions of conduct, that is with ethics. The fault lay neither with the Greeks nor the Romans. It is simply a natural reaction that always comes at a certain stage of thought, as it has again returned after a century of enthusiastic post-Kantian metaphysics which has ended in a reversion towards Stoical "pragmatism."

Stoicism still remained popular at Rome. Men of strong character, who had inherited the family traditions and temperament of an unsentimental puritanism, as very many of the Roman nobles had, found a natural appeal in its firm call to duty and in its encouragement of political activity. Its pantheistic metaphysics had to be taken on faith, and faith did not ordinarily appeal to the practical-minded logic of the Romans, but there seemed to be a justification for pantheism in Rome's own political experience, the rapid establishment of a world-empire. Since ultimate cause was  p317 admittedly an inscrutable thing, the Stoic metaphysics could at least be tolerated — and neglected. That the philosophy had a great positive influence we do not find. On intellectual progress its effects were on the whole banal, for it tended to satisfy the inquisitive mind of man with empty phrases, to discourage philosophic and scientific investigation, to insist that man's thinking must be directed wholly to ethical ends and that any science which had no direct bearing upon the conduct of man towards his fellowmen was wholly futile. And philosophy, as well as science, which aims only at practical ends soon decays at the core.

Epicureanism was growing more popular in the Caesarian period. The Stoics derided it because of what they called its immoral implications in that it frankly accepted hedonism. This, however, was a phase with which the early Roman devotees of Epicureanism, like Lucretius and Vergil, did not concern themselves. In fact the loftiest ethical teachers of Rome happen to belong to this school. What attracted them especially were the atomic theory and the theory of evolution which, incomplete though they were, enabled the rationalistic Romans to break away from a crude and already despised mythology as well as from the aprioristic mysticism of such solutions as Stoicism offered them. The Romans had by this time passed through several centuries of startling experiences in large governmental problems, in law making, in the intricate logic of courts. They had grown to like the tangible and common sense point of view in logic. A cosmology based upon the clash of atoms seemed to them far more sensible than transcendental hypotheses. This theory also dignified intellectual activity. It acknowledged that the search for universal causes was worth while even if it had no bearing upon conduct. And men being endowed with the instinct to search felt a sense of relief in a philosophy which took cognizance of this instinct. Unfortunately the Romans had not yet had time to develop the tools and methods of scientific  p318 research — skepticism of metaphysical methods had barely had time as yet to do its work — but they were searching out the new way. When Lucretius argued the theories of the indestructibility of matter, and the constancy of connections between cause and effect, he did not, to be sure, devise laboratory methods by which to test these theories, but he did use nature as a laboratory, observe very keenly how nature worked, and based his conclusions on such observations. This was the beginning of the inductive scientific method; and because of such preliminary work the modern laboratories found the way clear to continue research by use of direct experimental work. Had Epicureanism had a fair chance against imperial opposition — which was exerted on ethical grounds — and against mysticism — which came on with Original immigration — it might well have brought the day of scientific research by following up the enthusiastic propaganda of such young men as Lucretius and Vergil.

Ethics and morality. To the modern student trained from childhood to base his conduct on an authoritative system of conduct, it is always a curious question what civilized men took as their standard of conduct before Christianity imposed its dictum. He wonders how it is that men like Cato and Cicero, Vergil and Horace, might even now be accepted as living exemplary lives in any modern community. They were not after all prepared each seventh day by moral discourses to keep up their standards of conduct for the week. We do not find an answer to this question in Roman religion, for the early religion, which had shown a tendency — not very strong — to take on ethical import, had long ago been overwhelmed by Greek mythology, which despite its beauty was as pagan as a luxuriant imagination could while make it. Indeed the Greek gods had rather to be moralized by the Romans. Nor do we find a serious answer in philosophy. The Epicurean tenet which held that only a well regulated life led  p319 to true happiness brought no compulsion, for the young man was at liberty to choose immediate pleasure in preference to ultimate happiness if he cared to assume the risks. The Stoic argument was too elaborate to be quite convincing. It did try to find a universally binding sanction for good conduct by saying that nature's laws are to be followed, and that since what was peculiarly natural to man was his reason, he should at all times consult his reason. Good conduct naturally followed. But the query might readily suggest itself to the young man whether instincts were not as natural as reason. And if he decided that they were, his philosophy held up no authority nor any fear of consequences in the Stoic Nirvana of collective survival of souls to deter him from following natural impulses of which his reason might not approve.

Nevertheless the standard catalogue of virtues emphasized by the Romans, though it does not quite coincide with Christian doctrine, differs less in content than in a shift of emphasis. The Romans possessed a keen sense of equity which, at least up to the time of the civil wars, manifested itself in honest dealing. It had begotten the liberal spirit in politics that made the federation of Italy a success, for Rome's word was trustworthy, and this sense of equity was the element in Roman law which adapted it to the use of all courts in all lands. Polybius has especially remarked that in contracts the oath of a Roman could be relied upon as that of Greeks could not.

The Romans also had a strong feeling of fellowship, based apparently on a social instinct which was inherited from of old. No state has in the past grown very great whose citizens prized individuality above cohesion. This is doubtless the instinct that made Romans place so high a value on the social groups, the state and the family. For state and family they always assumed that they were to risk everything. In private life this quality manifested itself in a generous apportionment of private property by  p320 gifts and bequests to worthy persons and in the erection of buildings for public use.

Physical courage was also rated high, as was necessary in a state so dependent upon military success. For centuries the army had been organized on a system that sent the noblest and wealthiest men into the front rank of the army. Even in Cicero's day we hear of strong social pressure applied to uphold respect for valor. When, for instance, Scaurus had failed to stem a barbarian invasion in northern Italy, his father refused to admit him to his presence, and the young man in chagrin committed suicide.

On the other hand meekness and humility were not especially lauded. Rome had too long been a ruling race, and pride in ancestral records was too much encouraged in the young for the Romans to look with patience upon qualities customarily desiderated in slaves and subjects. Indeed there were few factors so influential in affording moral training to Roman youths of good family as pride in ancestry. What more effective means of training her son had a mother than to conduct him through the long gallery of ancestral imagines, recalling the passages in Ennius and Fabius that narrated the deeds of each and pointing at last to the niche awaiting his bust if he should prove worthy of the curule chair. A few lessons like that sufficed to inspire the young nobleman to spend a life of earnest endeavor for what the Romans called gloria. The fame of ancestors was so constantly with him that "Gloria" came to be almost an end in itself, as Cicero clearly reveals in a splendid period of his Pro Archia. This driving force long held the nobility firmly to high standards of action, and high standards in the leading classes afforded excellent examples to those who took their cue from them.

It is patent, however, that there was danger in the elevation of Gloria to a position it did not deserve. In the nervous days of the last century of the Republic the dignity of curule office and of triumphs afforded too great a temptation,  p321 and men began to take illegitimate short-cuts by means of lavish expenditures of funds at elections and by "triumph-hunting" in the provinces, so that what had conduced to virtue, now drove beyond the goal into vice. It also tended to make the ruling class imperious and cruel in its dealings with subjects.

Finally we find that there was less emphasis upon chastity at Rome than upon the qualities of self-mastery and moderation. The social evil was at one time sufficiently controlled by a natural temperance that belonged to the Latin stock, and by wholesome family traditions. When the city was small, the families of the ruling classes all knew one another, and divorce was then considered a disgrace which it was difficult to escape. Sound traditions had a compelling force in such a life. In Cicero's day, however, strict family customs were giving way partly because the civil wars tended to disrupt families, so that old alliances were broken and new ones made, partly because marriage had from patriarchal times rested simply on family contracts, not on religious or legal sanction, and it was found that when patriarchal customs gave way, or when the parents who made the contracts died or took opposite sides in the civil strife, there was left no external binding force. We must also add that the break‑up of sound family traditions was concomitant with the increase of wealth resulting from the exploitation of the wide empire. Pampered children growing up in ease mistook whims for necessities, and lost the power of self-control. Petulance and self-concern do not help to cement society or the family. He who reads Cicero's letters finds abundant proof that "lack of sympathy" came to be regarded as a sufficient cause for divorce.

Such were the tendencies in moral education at Rome. An analysis seems to indicate that the burden of keeping conduct at a respectable level rested neither on religion nor on any far‑reaching philosophy. Puritanic instincts inherited  p322 from a well-tried ancestry counted for a great deal, parental teaching of rules of decorum that would lead to a life of respect and honor, and the ordinary pressure that society exerts upon those not willing to obey the social code — these were generally relied upon to do the rest. But we have also seen that the time had already come when these things no longer sufficed.

"Social life." Despite the fact that women had always been held in high esteem at Rome, they had not till in the late Republic become a distinct element in social intercourse. The men of the ruling classes led a serious and busy political life. They were somewhat too much weighed down with cares of state to take any interest in a life of gayety and light conversation. In the Ciceronian period there appears for the first time at Rome what the Sunday newspapers call "society," what of course had manifested itself long before in the court circles of the East where there were idle princesses who had to be entertained. Servilia, the mother of Marcus Brutus, was a woman of wit and presence of mind, of wide reading and — what attracted Romans — a keen comprehension of politics. It is perhaps not incorrect to speak of her "salon" where brilliant men like Caesar were to be met. Clodia, the wife of Metellus, the sister of the notorious politician Clodius, was another woman who kept open house. A group of young radicals hovered about her palatial home on the Palatine, her gardens at the river, and her summer home on the bay of Naples. She, too, dabbled in politics, using coquetry as a bribe for votes, but her wit and her brilliant conversation attracted men of letters as well. Finally we may mention Sempronia, the mother of Decimus Brutus, perhaps the daughter of Gaius Gracchus, at whose house met the reckless young nobles that supported Catiline out of dare-deviltry. Sallust, when he had grown old and crabbed, spoke of her with stern disapproval: "She knew her Greek and Latin literature and she danced better than a woman of good reputation  p323 should." He assures us that she sometimes refused to pay her debts. "But her wit was beyond cavil, she could write verses, draw forth laughter, speak with dignity as well as coquetry. Indeed she was a woman of great intellect as well as charm." Sallust found it difficult perhaps to be fair to the mother of one who had counted as a leader in the conspiracy against Caesar. These three at any rate may be mentioned as significant of a social change which becomes prominent in the Augustan age when the nobles, relieved of strenuous political cares, began to amuse themselves at various social gatherings in order to escape ennui.

In the Ciceronian period men of importance in the state were still apt to live a life largely determined by their serious concerns, and to satisfy their desires for companionship in the course of their daily round of duties. In the morning, and the Romans were early risers, they talked over personal concerns with their crowds of attending clients, giving aid and advice. The forenoon was often spent in sessions of the Senate, in political discussions with fellow senators and in correspondence. In the afternoon there must always be time for exercise with their fellows at some game of tennis or handball and a swim at the "baths." These establishments also contained resting and lounging rooms where friends could be met. The dinner, which was the only important meal of the day, was usually the meeting time of the family and intimate guests. It was often an elaborate meal at which reciting, dancing or singing by trained slaves filled the interim between many courses. The evening was brief for men who must rise with the sun.

Into this life the people who engaged in commerce and banking very seldom entered, for the political aristocracy were very jealous of their own social status. We may suppose that the commercial classes copied the fashions of their superiors, but we are not informed what their life  p324 was since no one seems to have thought it worth describing.

Literature. Strange as it may seem, this century of turmoil produced literature which at its best seems to have been quite oblivious of the horrors of war, and that too despite the fact that the writers took their share in the activities of state. There is one very interesting group of writers — the very circle that buzzed about the glow of Clodia's brilliant presence — who, during the first triumvirate, were busy aiding Cicero by lampooning Caesar and Pompey, and who later were, by means material or by the simple authority of his personal charm, drawn over to fight Caesar's battles for him in a series of contests in verse and prose pamphlets. We hear much of the verses of Catullus, Calvus, Cornificius and others, but only those of Catullus have survived the dull censorship of the dark ages.

Catullus became a poet when he met Clodia and fell in love with her. The poems which pursued her, pleading, enticing, chiding, in passionate devotion or in jealous rage and despair ring with a music that seems foreign to the Latin language. The sincerity and intensity are compelling, the naturalness and ease of expression and the liquid flow of the verse are startling to one who has read the prose of that day. It is as though one came suddenly from Bach to a song of Schumann. He wrote many other minor poems too that reveal the same directness of genuine art, poems of generous friendship, of satiric anecdote and especially stinging epigrams flung at the great Caesar. Unfortunately, Catullus' life was very brief: he devoted less than five years it seems to writing, and the latter part of this short shrift he gave to the composition of versified tales (epyllia) in the Alexandrian style then prevailing. They are interesting as studies in a new romanticism which was attempting to break away from formal rules of art and experimenting in themes of sentiment and emotional experience. But they took the poet from himself and  p325 from his idiom. It is by the group of earliest poems that he has lived and will live as long as poetry is read.

Lucretius. Catullus died in 54 B.C., just at the time when the "triumvirate" began to break up. That same year Cicero was editing the posthumous works of Lucretius, who had died the year before. The great poem on Nature (De Rerum Natura) sets forth in hexameter verse the important doctrines of the Epicurean philosophy. Here the poet attempts to explain the atomic nature of matter, the material composition of the soul, the nature of mental processes, the evolution of the planetary system and the later evolution of social institutions. In subject matter Lucretius is an orthodox follower of Epicurus, so that his book can safely be used as a guide to the master. What has attracted readers to him is, however, not so much his precise statement of the materialistic philosophy as his spirit and art. His great gift is a visualizing imagination that makes his story of evolution flash before one in a series of vivid pictures. His personal attraction lies most perhaps in the fervid enthusiasm with which he proclaims his doctrine. You feel that he has found something in the story of evolution that has aroused him out of a humdrum and stupid existence and filled the universe with meaning and with poetic beauty. He wants all the world to come with him and see what he sees. Finally, he has the true artist's instinct of writing with absolute directness and sincerity. Materialism has been called a prosaic philosophy. One would never suppose so from reading Lucretius. To him it was the life force and energy of the atom that counted, and by following this atomic energy through pulsating nature to man he has bridged the gap between nature and man. His prooemium was perhaps the first adequate romantic treatment of nature in literature.

Prose Writers. This period also witnessed a great stride forward in prose literature. The bitter contests of parties called forth autobiographies and histories with a purpose,  p326 for statesmen felt the need of justifying their course of action. The noble Rutilius Rufus, who was banished at the instigation of the knights, Aemilius Scaurus, who led the Senate in the days of Marius, the old patrician Lutatius Catulus, who fought the Cimbri with Marius and lost the honor he thought he deserved because Marius was the popular hero, Sulla, even, though he seemed so impervious to criticism, and Lucullus, who was called back from the East to give place to Pompey, all these wrote autobiographies which were in reality partisan political pamphlets. In the Sullan days Claudius Quadrigarius, Valerius Antias and Cornelius Sisenna wrote very voluminous Roman histories for the general reading public, for the political contests had now extended throughout Italy and aroused a great interest in the story of Rome's amazing growth. These men wrote with a bias in favor of the aristocracy; consequently a brilliant writer, who was also a democratic leader, C. Licinius Macer, wrote the story with special emphasis upon the constitutional progress of the plebeian element. All of these writers considered history as a subject for literary treatment, and attempted above all else to make their books fascinating, an indication that education was now quite general, if not very thorough. Before Cicero died, a new tendency set in which reflects an interest in sounder research and greater attention to accuracy in special branches of antiquarian lore, a tendency found to‑day in histories written for university men rather than for the masses. Terentius Varro, in particular, whom Caesar selected to organize the first public library, Tubero, and others, wrote voluminous treatises on the development of the law and the constitution, on religious institutions, on literary history, linguistic history, the history of philosophy, and what not. All the prose works that we have mentioned and scores of others have been lost, but we have the results of some of their researches in the histories of Livy, the  p327 biographies of Plutarch, the antiquarian books of Pliny and elsewhere.

Cicero's works have fortunately survived to some extent. The statesman, the best representative of Roman culture, was practically driven out of active political life by Caesar, as we have seen, and did not again take a leading part until some months after Caesar's death. In the interim of twelve years he devoted himself to metaphysics, ethics, political philosophy and the discussion of Roman prose literature and style. To his philosophical works (De Officiis, De Finibus, etc.), which are the works of a well informed amateur, the Romans who could not read Greek owed their first adequate discussions of the philosophic systems then in vogue; and we owe to them most of our knowledge of the later philosophers whose works are lost, as well as a large part of our philosophical vocabulary. Cicero's great work on the state, De Republica, has survived in a broken palimpsest which is readable only in brief portions. We have enough of it however, to discover that it had no small influence in shaping the constitution which Augustus later adopted. Most of his stylistic discussions (De Oratore, Brutus, Orator, etc.) have survived, and these have in fact formed, through successive generations of text books on "Composition and Rhetoric" that have inherited his rules, the backbone of educational instruction in composition almost to our day. The best examples of Latin oratory have also come to us from Cicero, in the fifty-eight orations of his that have survived.

While Hortensius had trained himself in an elaborate and florid style suited to the senatorial juries of Sulla's days, and Caesar, whose favorite audience was the plebeian assembly, had studied to be brief, direct, and incisive, Cicero practised the art of being both clear and artistic. He believed that a speech should by all means accomplish its object, but he refused to disregard the claims of the cultured portion of his audience who could appreciate  p328 sonorous Latin. And he was a man of such rich endowments that he seemed capable of molding his phrases to every possible effect. His wide studies had put him in command of an immense vocabulary that he could use with precision; a sensitive nature and a sympathetic imagination brought him into instant contact with every mood of his audience. His wide experiences in politics, business, and literature made him at home in the courts, in the Senate or before the assembly. A very ready wit, a strong memory, a quick fancy, a gift of epigrammatic and pungent phrasing enabled him especially to meet sudden emergencies in the Senate and in the courts. A remarkably delicate ear for the full melodiousness of Latin speech induced him to use by preference those massive and stately periods that have never been equaled in dignity, but he knew when to use this style and when to avoid it. Unfortunately, the fall of the Republic destroyed, even before he died, the audience that could appreciate his style. Senatorial debate — except for a brief revival in 43 — came to an end when Caesar crossed the Rubicon. After that the sight of the unsheathed sword taught men to say their say briefly and be done. The blunt and simple Atticistic style of Caesar was adopted by Calvus and even by Brutus, and the next generation had no use for Cicero. His orations have remained as a splendid witness of how the aristocracy of an Imperial Republic once spoke. It is not likely that any democracy of the future will return to the model.

Finally Cicero's correspondence deserves at least a passing mention. We have 864 of his letters, about one‑half of those originally published by his friends after his death. Written to all the great men of his time, Caesar, Pompey, Brutus, the various consuls and generals and governors, to his intimate friends, and even to his slaves, they give us an indispensable picture of the times. In no other period of history does the student depend so  p329 constantly for accurate information upon a packet of personal correspondence.

The Arts. There is not much to say for the fine arts of Rome at this time. Sculpture and painting, unlike literature, are universal in their modes of expression, and the best work of the day could most readily be procured by inviting well-known artists from Greek cities where men were now too poor to support them. In fact, many Greek artists were migrating from the decaying courts of Alexandria and Syria to Rome and Naples, where they worked and invited orders from wealthy Romans who were now decorating their new villas on the bay of Naples. There are many fairly good busts of Romans, of Caesar, Cicero, and not a few unnamed persons, still in existence that deserve notice, but most of them were probably made by imported sculptors. For his extensive building program at Rome, Caesar called in an Athenian architect. Greece was still, as it were, the Ecole des Beaux Arts for the West.

Of economic and social conditions we shall speak in detail later. A few general words must suffice here. Romans were still drawing their wealth largely from Italian farms and ranches which were managed on a large scale. The revolt of Spartacus had, however, pointed to a danger in the employment of too many slaves. Hence, there is noticeable a tendency to resort to tenant-farming more than before, and not only were free peasants invited to rent land on a share of the produce, but trusted slaves also were encouraged to take portions and to save enough whereby to purchase their freedom. This system encouraged industry, and Italy seems under it to have improved in productivity. It also directed more attention to horticulture, for the small farmer needed a wider range of produce than had the specializing plantation owner. Varro mentions that Italy was again acquiring the appearance of a garden. To encourage the same tendency of reducing the proportion of slaves on ranches Caesar passed  p330 a law, as we have seen, requiring every third laborer in the service of grazers to be a free citizen.

Capital, when there was any surplus, was still apt to go into farm lands and real estate rather than into industry and commerce. The knights' companies, engaged in public contracts, still accumulated and used large sums in public contracts, but politics played havoc with these corporations from time to time. They grew rich and powerful for some thirty years after the death of Gaius Gracchus, then, because they began to enter politics and abuse their control of the courts by forcing governors to give them opportunities to exploit the provincials, Sulla took away their privileges with the courts as well as their larger contracts, and Lucullus cut into their funds by reducing their credits. They were still strong enough to help Pompey get his command, but they never again were allowed their old grip on the provinces. In Caesar's day they made money by controlling the port and pasture dues, and being engaged in this work they also entered into banking and commercial relations with the eastern cities for occasional profits. Caesar finally, shortly before his death, laid down restrictions which considerably reduced these profits also. Their risks, therefore, had been great, and they had suffered heavy losses. What remained at the end of the Republic was that Roman business men had become acquainted with the eastern provinces, had secured a vast amount of business by way of lending money to semi-bankrupt cities at high rates of interest, had bought much provincial land from people in financial distress and had drawn in much more on mortgages which could not be redeemed. Knights had also engaged in foreign real-estate enterprises as agents or partners of Roman senators who did not wish to appear openly in such transactions. In consequence, extensive properties in the East were now owned by Romans, who drew their incomes from this source.

Commerce. Romans had not yet entered commerce to a  p331 great extent except to carry and sell the produce that was collected by way of tribute, but this kind of activity was serving as an entering wedge. Most of the ships were still owned by Asiatic, Syrian, Greek and South-Italian firms and individuals. Into industry also Romans were slow to enter. The manufacturing centers of Italy where industry was carried on on a large scale were in Campania, in and near Naples, and in Etruria. The factories, of which we shall speak later, continued in the hands of people who were not of Roman stock. These conditions account for the fact that the Senate had not yet interested itself in financial legislation. Even Caesar, who had great sympathy for men of affairs, and comprehended as no Roman statesman before him the needs of business, had done but little before his death to show that the problem was pressing. The colonization of Corinth, Carthage and Sinope, the plan of digging canals at Corinth and in Latium are, however, a few proofs of his interest. The Italian tariff law was probably not conceived for the protection of industry, since the duty was hardly high enough to serve that purpose. Our conclusion is not that Caesar's sympathies were narrow, but rather that Rome's investments were still so extensively agrarian that there was as yet little demand at Rome for legislation in the interest of industry.


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