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Chapter IV

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 VI

 p76  Chapter V

Economics, Politics and Law

Rome's Currency. Rome met with no little difficulty in adapting her simple monetary scheme to the needs of her rapidly expanding empire. We have noticed that the Romans had no coinage at all until about 350 when the state had become almost a pure democracy, and then only bronze was coined at home. At first they issued bulky one‑pound bronze pieces called asses (in the Oscan pound = 273 grams, about ⅘ pound Troy) and uncial fractions of the pound. At that time metal in Italy, being relatively scarce, bought more food than now. An average ox was considered worth 100 bronze asses, and a head of sheep 10 asses. A pound of silver was considered worth about 120 pounds of bronze, and a pound of gold about 15 pounds of silver. (At present the rate of gold to silver is about 20 to 1, and of silver to bronze about 75 to 1.) In the purchasing value of food we may count that the bronze as piece was normally worth about 50‑75 cents in terms of prices prevailing in 1914. For her foreign purchases, however, Rome, as we have seen, had to have silver pieces coined at Capua. These pieces contained 7½ grams of silver, and were practically duplicates of the Greek double-drachmas current about Naples. One of these pieces, at the ratio of 120:1, was worth a little over three bronze asses. About 312 B.C., i.e. in the middle of the second Samnite war, Rome reduced these silver pieces a trifle, apparently in order to facilitate their exchanging exactly with her bronze coins. At once Italy learned the truth of what we call "Gresham's Law," that cheap currency tends to drive out dear currency. Various Greek cities of Italy found that they had to reduce their  p77 double-drachmas in accordance with Rome's coinage unless they wished to have their coinage displaced by Roman pieces.

At the beginning of the third century a very drastic change in the values of metals seriously affected Rome's system of coinage. Silver and gold were falling in value because Alexander the Great had brought great hoards of these precious metals from Asiatic temples and put them into circulation. Prices rose rapidly in Greece and gradually in Italy also. There was much complaint about the high cost of living; which means that silver and gold were abundant and therefore cheap. To make matters worse at Rome, copper and bronze rose enormously in value, partly because the Gauls and Etruscans were by their raids cutting off the source of supply in Etruria, partly because Rome was using up her stock in the war. Rome was then in the same predicament as Germany in the last war: copper had become almost a precious metal. As a result the bronze asses rose in intrinsic value while the silver double-drachmas fell in value. And in order to keep her bimetallism intact Rome had to reduce the size of the bronze asses year after year. About 300 B.C. she cut them to half a pound, and in the next twenty years continued to cut them till they weighed only two ounces, or one‑sixth of a pound.

When Rome's serious wars were over, values began to go back to the old norm. Silver rose somewhat because no new hoards came into Italy from the east, and Rome's subjugation of Etruria and the return of peace very quickly restored the cheap price of copper. This readjustment quite wrecked Rome's coinage system, since the small two ounce pieces now had little value, and no one wished to return to the use of bulky one‑pound asses. Rome, therefore, abandoned the whole system. She did this the more readily because the silver piece was really a Greek coin and unworthy of Rome's proud position as ruler of Italy. Accordingly in 269, the year after peace had been established in the South,  p78 Rome devised a new system which, with but one serious change, survived for about 500 years, and she operated her own mint henceforth. A new bronze as was made weighing two Roman ounces; and since the ratio of 120:1 had now been restored as the relative values of silver and bronze, a piece of silver weighing only one‑twelfth as much (⅙ of one ounce) was coined. It was, therefore, worth 10 of the new bronze asses, and was accordingly called the denarius.​1 This denarius weighs about four grams and is a trifle larger than our ten‑cent piece. A smaller coin worth one‑fourth the denarius (two and one‑half asses) was struck for smaller change and was called the semistertius or sestertius. The denarius seems to us small for a standard coin, but metal was scarcer then than now and accordingly had a relatively larger purchasing value, perhaps three to five times as much as our currency in 1914. Gold was still so scarce in Italy that it would not have been practicable to introduce it into the currency system.

The new system was based upon convenient pieces coined at practically the recognized market value of the metals, and in order to gain at once a wide distribution of the coins Rome erected branch mints in several of the Latin colonies. So well was the system managed and such credit did it acquire that it soon became the generally accepted currency throughout Italy. A few of the Greek cities of the south continued to issue their own coins, but it was only a matter of years before they learned that their coins were not popular and their mints were closed.

Agriculture and cattle raising. During the fourth century we notice in the numerous reports of farmers, of debtor laws, and of colonization, the symptoms of land exhaustion. With the growth of Rome and of her trade, the timber on the surrounding mountains had to yield to the ax, and this did not benefit the farmer. The fact that Rome settled farmers in the Pomptine region below the Volscian mountains  p79 during the fourth century on land that became a stagnant marsh before the second century shows what deforestation could accomplish. The soil was carried off the rocks when the forest was cut, and, blocking up the coastal plain of lower Latium, formed lagoons in which malarial mosquitoes bred. Further north the Sabine mountains were similarly laid bare and the spring rains ran off to the sea quickly, leaving no subsoil reservoir for summer herbage to draw upon.

The conquest of the Sabine and Aequian mountain country showed the Latin farmers a remedy, though a desperate one. By buying up large pastures in the hills for summer grazing they could turn their exhausted Latian farms into pasture grounds for the other three seasons and thus combine the two areas for productive cattle and sheep raising. This of course could not be done profitably on a small scale, as a shepherd would cost as much for a few sheep as for a hundred. Hence it was not long before men with capital and extensive estates got possession of a large part of Latium and the surrounding mountain pastures. Farming in small plots continued in Latium chiefly where irrigation was possible, but a large part of the peasantry scattered to the colonies. It has been estimated that about 60,000 colonists, mainly from Latian lands, were established in colonies during the first great period of expansion between 343 and 264. This fact involved almost a complete change in the economic and political situation at Rome.

The economic change was so great that Rome felt it to the end of her career, for because of it the Romans remained an agricultural people at a time when they were on the point of being forced into industry and commerce. In the fourth century, when Rome rebuilt Ostia and instituted her first coinage, it seemed for a time as if the state were about to encourage commerce. The industrial classes were definitely favored by the censor Appius Claudius when about 312 B.C. he built an aqueduct to their quarter of the city, and when  p80 he gave them strong political power by letting them register in all the thirty‑one tribus (wards) of the city instead of confining their votes to the four urban tribes. Later censors, to be sure, annulled this order, but the measure showed that the industrial class of the city was then an item to reckon with. However, the scattering of the poor Romans, both the peasants and the urban proletariat, into colonies, disposed of the classes that would naturally have supplied cheap labor to new industries. Since there was no longer any pressure for new work, none appeared. The situation reminds us of the decay of the American marine and of some of the New England industries when the opening up of the great plains on the Mississippi attracted the surplus labor of the East westward. At Rome this process continued for a long time, keeping the Italian people primarily an agricultural people when it would have been well for Italy to have had a much more varied economic system.

By expanding landward Rome severed herself from the outside influences that would have come from trade on the seas. Her contact with the outer world continued to be weak. There are very few traces in the architectural remains of this period that show any signs of contemporaneous Aegean influence. The Romans had long ago ceased to follow the progress of Greek art that had dominated Etruscan Rome in the sixth century, and they show little inclination to reëstablish lost connections. Not till the Second Punic War did Roman architecture become aware of how far it had been outdistanced. In industrial art the story is the same. Praeneste, the inland hill-city only twenty miles away, developed in the third century a thriving industry in bronze and silver ware that produced very artistic pieces. It is hardly due to lack of skill that Roman crafts of the same period fell behind, since the two cities were of the same race. The explanation of Praeneste's new development probably lies in the fact that the city had limited its territorial bounds by a treaty of "equality" with Rome which  p81 tied it for all time to the possession of some fifty square miles and compelled its surplus energies to find expression in industry. It might have been well for Rome had she to some measure been forced back upon her inventive skill in the same way. But as a result of Rome's expansionistic ventures, her citizens, always invited to settle new lands and to invest their excess capital in real property, became for all time farmers and real estate capitalists. Necessity, the mother of crafts as well as of arts, never forced them into apprenticeship in those occupations that develop the love for artificial beauty and train the instincts for commercial enterprise.

The government. We have seen how conservative the regular machinery of government remained, despite the admission of plebeians to all important offices of state. The regular centuriate assembly was still based on property in such a way that the first class together with the knights had 98 of the 193 votes while the proletariat was herded together in five centuries. Not only must the sympathies of this assembly have been conservative, but it received no bills even for approval or rejection except those which a majority of the Senate sent to it. The Senate was apt to remain conservative since its members were drawn by the censors chiefly from office-holders (consuls, praetors, and aediles) who had been elected to their offices by the centuriate comitia.

But we have also seen that, though this government refused to liberalize itself to any great extent, it had been forced to allow the growth of a plebeian assembly which voted by wards, an assembly which gave every plebeian, poor as well as rich, an equal vote in his tribus, and counted each tribus alike as having one vote. After 339 B.C. this assembly, presided over by young plebeian tribunes, had been able to make plebiscites that, with only the formal approval of the patricians of the Senate (auctoritas patrum), had the force of leges passed by the centuriate comitia. The  p82 necessity of a formal approval seems at time to have acted as a deterrent so that the plebeians demanded its removal. In 288 they asked that the plebeian assembly (comitia tributa) be allowed to become an absolutely free legislative body, not because they cared to assume the full duties of legislation but because they believed thoroughly in the principle of popular sovereignty which seemed not to be safeguarded by the centuriate assembly. On being denied this demand — and others of which we now have no accurate record — they again declared a political strike and seceded. Their demand was acceded to by the Hortensian law of 287. It is probable that the patricians were now admitted to the comitia tributa so that the assembly henceforth contained all the citizens of Rome. Democracy of the primary kind was now in the saddle so far as lawmaking and the voting of war and peace were concerned. The centuriate assembly was still used as a voting body in the election of magistrates, and this, therefore, assured the continuance in power of rather conservative magistrates and Senate.

It is significant that the period of expansion was the period of democratic rule. This illustrates a principle which has long been recognized, namely, that, while democracies are generally peace-loving, they can readily be excited to enthusiasm for war. The popular imagination catches fire at dreams of empire and visions of glory which staid aristocracies often disregard. Furthermore, democratic assemblies often fail to count the cost or to take cognizance of old treaties and long established traditions and policies that hold in diplomacy. Readily inflamed by sympathy or aversion they fly to arms at a word or deed which, if analyzed calmly in senatorial debate, might have assumed less significance. We do not know enough of the causes to judge fully the motives leading to these expansionistic wars, but it is likely that had the old constitution been in force, Rome might have ventured less far afield. At any rate, it was not according to old tradition to leap to the aid of Thurii  p83 against the Lucanians in 282. The war with Pyrrhus was brought on by a plebiscite, which is a clear indication that the Senate had not recommended it. And that plebiscite was passed only five years after popular sovereignty had been finally admitted by the Senate.

The power of the primary assembly, however, was destined soon to be weakened. In the first place, the poorer people were little by little being sent away to colonies, glad to accept allotments elsewhere, since the plantation and ranching system was pushing them out of the competition at home. The land-holding nobility of course remained at Rome, and their influence and importance increased in proportion to the diminishing of the group of small peasants and urban poor. To till their farms and tend their herds the nobility bought slaves, who of course had no vote, or they hired laborers or engaged tenants who were apt to be so dependent upon them that they voted as their patrons desired.

A second reason for the diminishing significance of democratic tendencies during the next hundred years lies in the fact that the problems of directing a very intricate federation involved such detailed knowledge of treaties and the minutiae of government that very few of the young tribunes dared suggest such a policy. And when they remained silent, the burden of administration fell upon the consuls and the Senate. For these two reasons it is that the democracy was no sooner fully established by the Hortensian law of 287 than the directing power of all matters of great importance began to fall back into the hands of the nobility. The democracy had launched the state into the war with Pyrrhus, but it was the Senate that had to find the means of seeing it through and of settling the terms afterwards. As we shall see the same tendencies manifested themselves during the Punic wars.

The result of this trend was that for the next hundred years the constitution by common consent slowly changed  p84 back towards the aristocratic form. Not only did the comitia tributa more and more surrender their influence, but even the centuriate assembly was less often called together in times of war to pass enabling acts and administrative measures. In war time, decisions had to be made quickly: at a crisis the consuls would consult the Senate, and if the Senate reached an agreement, they would frequently act on such advice without putting measures to a vote of either assembly. The Senate by common consent thus became a cabinet and quasi-legislative body, and though this change never was recognized by an explicitly formulated law, the new position of the Senate was seldom questioned during the next hundred years.

It is interesting to find that no regular party organization arose to control elections at Rome. When consuls, praetors, aediles, quaestors, and tribunes were to be elected — and separate elections were held for the various offices — the candidates posted their names, as is still done in England. They were not nominated by party conventions nor promoted by party support as in America. To be sure, we know that in Cicero's day, radicals voted for Catiline on the strength of his campaign promises, while conservatives and property owners generally voted for Cicero because they thought he would prevent revolutionary legislation. But even in this case there was only an approach to modern party organization.

The chief reason for the absence of political parties at Rome is that elections changed only the executive and judicial magistrates and not the Senate or legislative assemblies. The legislative assemblies, consisting of the people voting by classes or by wards, remained unchanged. Elections could not affect them. Hence an election could hardly affect policies of state to any great extent. Catiline attracted party support largely because he proposed to override the assemblies by revolutionary methods. Ordinarily no one dared to make such threats. The elections, therefore, generally  p85 centered about the personality of the consular candidate, as sometimes happens in America when the two parties have no clear‑cut issue and the election offers no choice of policies.

Another reason why a party system failed to develop was that Rome continued to be an agricultural state. Its leaders were generally landholders who took no interest in manufacturing or commerce. Hence there never arose any exciting financial questions about tariff policies involving the pockets of consumers and producers alike. Furthermore no vital labor questions emerged, since the slaves who did the farm and household work had no vote, and there never was at Rome a large class of free labor in industries. Such division of interests as we have seen between rich and poor did become acute at times, but then the poor, instead of trying to affect the election of the magistrates, usually vented their anger in an effort to work through the referendum machinery of the tribunes and the comitia tributa.

Development of Roman law. The decemviral code of 450 was, as we have noticed, a hastily drawn up compromise between old customs and new ideas that did not properly distinguish between civil, criminal, and religious jurisprudence. It was too hastily formulated and with too little regard for any body of legal practice. By the Licinian-Sextian reforms of 367 the judicial powers were taken from the consuls and given to praetors. And now, with two men who devoted all the time of their term of office to the settlement of disputes, it was possible to build up a body of decisions, and to evolve principles of jurisprudence. The praetors, to be sure, were not necessarily chosen because of their distinction at law, but very important senators were then usually elected for this high office, sometimes even ex‑consuls. Being members of the Senate they were men who knew the laws and treaties which were rapidly being evolved in great number. It was not long before legal principles began to be laid down by them in prudent Roman fashion.

Membership in the Senate at once had a very salutary  p86 effect on the law. The praetors were made to feel constantly that civil law was a thing apart from religion, divine authority, and old custom. With all respect for these things they saw before their eyes that the organs of the sovereign people made the laws at their will. Hence they soon began to do away with such obsolete rules of the twelve tables as the one which left the penalty for some crimes to divine wrath. It was the business of the human state, not of gods, priests or family heads, to make laws, and the Roman praetors adopted this idea much more quickly than did for instance the ancient Hebrews or modern Teutonic peoples.

A second influence that worked constantly in the development of Roman civil law was the existence of a large landholding nobility in which the praetors were apt to be members, a nobility which kept itself intact for hundreds of years at Rome. This influence worked partly through economic channels, in that the families which continued for ages to hand down important estates from father to son grew to be careful of legal rights. But legal-mindedness was also a temperamental inheritance of the Roman nobility through families of relatively pure pedigree descended from the northern immigrants. It manifested itself especially in a deep respect for property rights that looked askance at revolutionary changes, socialistic schemes, and debt repudiations. In an account of Roman law we should also consider the effect of Rome's position in a relatively fertile plain surrounded by less civilized mountaineers who were likely to break down into the valleys to raid and plunder. A sense of law and order, and a dislike for brigandage develops in the lowlands much more quickly than in the mountains. The influence of this is particularly seen in an early "fetial law" that the Romans adopted, among their religious customs, a law which frowned upon wars of aggression and insisted that violence could not be used except for defense. In every war of the earlier day we find that the Senate refused — at least claimed that it refused — to  p87 enter a war of aggression, and that even for defense it would not go to war until it had sent the fetial priest to the offending state to report the grievance and give thirty days of grace in which to make reparation. Of course we need not hold that the Senate could not find some plausible excuse for an attack if it really wanted one. But the very regulation discountenancing wars of aggression had a salutary effect. The theory underlying this action was that the gods took vengeance on the breakers of oaths, and fought unjust aggressors. But that theory might not have arisen unless the Romans had themselves usually been the sufferers from lawless raids. If holding property could have such an effect on intertribal questions, it must have exerted a strong influence on civil law as well.

This sense of justice, partly inherited in the race, and partly developed by the experiences of the Latin people by their position and wealth, early evolved an institution which did more than anything else to keep Roman law progressive. This was the court of the praetor peregrinus. The Romans had usually had some commerce with foreigners at their port, and they soon observed that injustices were done because different peoples did not have the same conceptions of what constituted a sale or purchase. A Roman for instance had a law which pronounced a bargain completed as soon as the words were spoken before witnesses. Some foreigners who came to the port had the custom that a bargain was not consummated until the complete exchange of wares and the price had taken place. Suppose that the day after a bargain was struck, before the wares were exchanged, there was a violent change of price. A might insist on the bargain, while B might, according to his rules, refuse to carry it out. Such disputes with strangers were not infrequent, and often with no intent on anyone's part to deceive. In such cases the Romans thought it only equitable to let the praetor peregrinus (the judge of the court of strangers) hear both sides and instead of deciding every  p88 case according to Roman law, which would naturally favor Romans, try to reach an equitable compromise based on the customs of both parties. This would naturally make strangers feel that their interests were cared for and it would invite them to return.

This court was instituted in 366, though there can be little doubt that even before that date, the practice of taking cognizance of the customs of strangers had been observed by the consuls and the arbitrators whom they were wont to appoint. The effect of this practice was that the Roman jurists learned a great deal about foreign customs and that the praetors, being members of the Senate, brought such knowledge into their proposals for new laws. The practice of giving strangers an equitable hearing was, therefore, very enlightening to the Romans. They began to assume that there were practices of other states which were based on good principles, that their own legislation, though the supreme law in the city, might be amended according to more general concepts, that somehow, indeed, equity and not native custom or desire was a universal principle to which law should conform. They began, therefore, to hunt for a general equitable formula to which to refer and by which to explain individual statutes. This was the great discovery of republican jurists, which, as we shall see, was later furthered by the adoption of Stoic ideas. It was the thing that constantly fitted Roman law for general application the world over. The idea that every law should be based upon a universally applicable principle of equity was Rome's discovery, and one of the greatest legacies of the ancient to the modern world.

Finally, the constitution of Rome allowed and encouraged praetors to keep legal practices progressive, which aided very much in the law's development. The praetors, inheriting a part of the consular powers, and being men of dignity, were allowed by custom to decide in some measure when obsolete laws should be disregarded and considered a dead  p89 letter. Legislative popular assemblies are poor organs for the revision of laws. All of our states have hundreds of obsolete statutes, because the legislatures have neither time nor inclination to revise them year by year. The evil was even worse at Rome where the whole impatient populace had to be called together for legislative purposes. The praetors, therefore, gradually assumed the privilege of stating their version of the applicability of the old statutes — if this was too radical to suit the people the assembly could of course pass a law on the matter. Each year when he went into office the praetor posted, if he wished, an edict embodying his interpretation of laws no longer applicable in their original intention. When, for instance, business enterprises grew and old laws of contract seemed to be inadequate on the subject of agencies, the praetor simply laid down the rule that the principal was bound by the act of his agent. When, again, the custom arose at Rome that women could hold property which was not subject to the control of their husbands, the praetor announced that there were certain methods of holding property in the wife's control which he would consider valid. In this way the law was kept liberal, progressive, and free from dry rot. Any abuse of power could quickly be corrected by legislation. The advantages were very great not only because the civil law was kept up‑to‑date despite the cumbersomeness of legislation but also because praetors were by their sympathies apt to search for general principles upon which to base their edicts. The danger, not always avoided, was that the praetor in his eagerness to escape the appearance of radical action often invented legal subterfuges in order to make his new ruling seem to agree with old statutes. Thus, for instance, in the rules that freed the family from the manus of the father, where clear‑cut laws might have done away with the manus entirely, the praetor pretended to recognize the patria potestas while he permitted its annulment by several forms of contracts and  p90 agreements.​2 Thus it was that law was "judge-made" at Rome to a greater extent even than in America where every statute has to be passed upon by the court, and where court precedents and interpretations ultimately decide what force statutes actually have. Thus, too, Roman law, despite the difficulties involved in legislative revision of statutes, could progress with commendable speed.

The army. The legion was now no longer formed into a solid phalanx but into thirty mobile maniples of 120 men each. The legion was formed in three lines of maniples, each line several men deep. The men of the front line were heavily armed with helmets, breastplates, shields and greaves and each man carried two javelins to hurl and a sword for hand to hand contests. These arms they were compelled to supply at their own expense. This line of heavy armed men was deep enough to carry the attack with some momentum and to provide men for the place of those who fell. The second line was similarly armed, and acted as recruits in battle. The third line often consisted of veterans, more lightly armed, for support. Three hundred cavalry men went with each legion. This wing was not developed much during the Italian wars, since Italy was somewhat too mountainous for the use of horses. Indeed Rome suffered much from her deficiency in cavalry when Hannibal invaded Italy with his more mobile army.

After the stipendium had been introduced in the fourth century, it was no longer customary to place the wealthier men in the front line. All could now arm themselves. Hence recruits were first used as light armed infantry till trained, then placed in the front line, and later released from hard service by being moved to the second and third ranks successively.

 p91  Discipline was very strict. Desertion, betrayal, or sleeping on watch entailed quick death. The camp at night was invariably fortified by wall and moat, each soldier having to do his assigned portion of fortifying at the moment of reaching the chosen spot. A regular plan was followed so that each soldier could step off his allotment of work without specific orders. Rewards and promotions for bravery were numerous, carefully awarded and highly prized, but a common soldier could not ordinarily rise from the ranks to a position higher than that of centurion (captain) of a maniple. The consuls of the year served as generals of the army, a policy which proved defective against such capable generals as Pyrrhus and Hannibal. But Rome did not believe in standing armies, and was afraid that if professional soldiers were kept militarism might endanger democracy. On the whole it could generally be assumed during the period of expansion that a consul had served as officer in several campaigns and had thus gained some experience or would at least take on his staff a capable adviser. Cicero for instance took with him to his province his brother who had served on Caesar's staff in Gaul. There was as yet no navy.

Rome's control of Italy. Italy was now a federation under Rome's leadership. The Roman citizens of the sovereign city who decided the foreign policy of the federation occupied perhaps not more than five per cent of the whole area. Rome had to be liberal in her policy or she would quickly have been crushed. The Ager Romanus extended about thirty miles south into Latium, some twenty miles north into Etruria, and through the Sabine country to the Adriatic — for in 268 the Sabines had been given citizenship. Besides this central group of citizens there were only small colonies of Roman citizens here and there. The rest of Italy consisted of Latin colonies, Latin allies, some cities of half-citizens, and a great number of non‑Latin allies (socii).  p92 These allies were not all treated alike. In the south, the Greek cities were the most favored, continuing in commerce so far as they had survived their past misfortunes and having their safety secured by Rome, although they were free from military duties except such as would be required on the seas. The Oscans of Campania had suffered in the Samnite war because of disloyalty in 312. At some time, we do not know when, they were deprived of independence and made "half-citizens" of Rome. The Sabellian tribes of the Apennines, the Marsi, Piceni, Vestini, etc., were still a rude mountain people, living in primitive villages as the Latins had several centuries before; and Rome, finding no organized cities here with which to sign treaties, accepted the tribal states into her federation. The Umbrians had, under the influence of the Etruscans, merged most of their villages into cities which now came individually and on good terms into the league. Etruria presented a difficult question. The people were so different from the Romans in language, religion, and customs that Rome had little desire to make full citizens of them. Indeed, not till the Social war of 89 B.C. was any large part incorporated in Roman territory. Yet this section had remained badly organized and always seemed unable or unwilling to stop Gallic raids. Rome, therefore, when she ended the Samnite wars, appropriated plots here and there in Etruria and, as opportunity offered, settled them with people she could trust. But Etruria did not prosper under Roman rule. Her princes had lived too much by exploiting subject peoples in a kind of feudal system which did not readily fit into the Roman system. The subject peoples could now revolt from their masters and find places in which to live in liberty. Moreover, their old industries no longer throve since the Greeks had become the commercial peoples of the Mediterranean; their lands too were now exhausted and, being hilly, had eroded badly. Roman cattle raisers and agricultural folk of quieter habits seem gradually to have filtered in,  p93 and the Etruscans — they never had been very numerous — merged with the new population so that by Cicero's day it is likely that their language had practically disappeared.

Throughout this heterogeneous group of Italian allies Rome's direct influence was exerted only by the control of the external policy. Rome had as yet made no effort to interfere in the laws, customs, religions or languages of the various peoples, or in their commerce. All of them had complete "home-rule." Yet through contact provided by the colonies and by common military service, Rome's language and customs were gradually beginning to permeate the whole.


The Author's Notes:

1 If silver:bronze :: 120:1, ⅙ oz. silver = 10 × 2 oz. bronze.

2 This is the reason why so many obsolete laws have actually survived in the Justinian code. Such survivals have deceived many modern readers in the belief that numerous early institutions still survived in actual force, when as a matter of fact they were disregarded in practice.


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