Short URL for this page:

[image ALT: Much of my site will be useless to you if you've got the images turned off!]
Bill Thayer

[image ALT: Cliccare qui per una pagina di aiuto in Italiano.]

[Link to a series of help pages]
[Link to the next level up]
[Link to my homepage]

[image ALT: link to previous section]
Chapter VIII

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

published by
Henry Holt and Company
New York 1923

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


[image ALT: link to next section]
Chapter X

 p148  Chapter IX

The Growth of an Eastern Protectorate

A change of policy towards Greece. During the twenty years that followed the battle of Magnesia there was a gradual revulsion at Rome against the rule of the Senate and the strong aristocratic families that had won general confidence during the Punic wars. Those who remembered that the old constitution of 287 B.C. was based upon the idea of popular sovereignty could not but notice that the Senate had now in fact outgrown its legal rights. It practically controlled the foreign policy. And even when the tribal assembly was called together to pass a legislative or administrative act, this was usually done by some tribune who acted at the behest of the Senate.

The change in Rome's foreign policy under the leader­ship of the philhellenes angered not a few of the more practical democrats of the type of Cato. They pointed out that Rome was spending blood and might for sentiment without material return. Rome had crossed the seas to fight for "friends" and got nothing but friendship for it and at times not even that. In the olden days, Rome had had a clear and definite bargain whenever she fought. In every case there had been a defensive alliance, "societas," which required that both parties in the alliance were equally obligated, the ally defended Rome as much as Rome defended the ally. Why, they asked, had this policy been given up? If Rome fought for Rhodes, why should not Rhodes be under obligation to send troops to help Rome in Spain and Gaul? They demanded that all the new alliances in Greece and Asia be put on the same footing as the societas of Italy, so that the alliances would be of some real service. We are  p149 not to think that Cato was an imperialist or that he actually wanted to extend the empire any more than did the Scipios. In point of fact he would have preferred not to have crossed the Adriatic at all. He disliked the Greeks and was afraid of the new ideas that came from contact with them. His point was that if Rome must go into the East, she should go for practical purposes, but it was best of all to stay at home and leave the old civilization of Greece to take care of itself. If he were alive to‑day he would have warned us against "entangling alliances abroad." He stood for "Rome First" and asked everyone to be a "hundred percent" Roman.​a

The men of this party also pointed out that expansion inevitably strengthened the Senate and the old aristocracy, for it was impossible for the assemblies to administer a large empire, especially with such loose treaties of friendship as were now being signed. Senators alone had the leisure and the knowledge of languages and history requisite for engaging in the intricate diplomacy of the east. This was another reason, they thought, why Rome ought either to sever all connections with the east, or, if that were now impossible, to draw her "friends" in the east into definite alliances of the old Italian type which the assemblies comprehended.

Finally the behavior of the senatorial generals was by no means pleasing to the people. Some had grown to be so enthusiastic over the Greeks and their culture that they offended the Romans. They learned Greek, brought home Greek books, works of art, Greek ideas and habits of life, and even Greek entertainers and cooks. There were more serious charges. Some of the officers, especially Manlius, who had raided Galatia, had taken much booty. Manlius in fact had attacked the now fairly hellenized Celts of Galatia in the same vicious manner as the Romans in their wars of revenge had struck at the Celts of the Po valley — and with more profit since these eastern Celts were wealthy.  p150 The army came home laden with booty, and well-taught in eastern vices. Cato's charge that the decadence of Roman puritanism began with the return of Manlius' army was thereafter constantly repeated by the moralists of Rome. So Cato's party formulated the policy: Get out of Greece, or subject it to Roman rule and custom.

Domestic policies of Cato's party. This democratic revival at Rome made itself felt in domestic policies also. It did not yet manifest itself in an extensive program of restoring the idea of popular sovereignty. That was not an important party slogan until the Gracchi, following the lead of Cato, had to resort to extreme measures. Cato's party rather attempted to humiliate individual nobles who seemed to be growing too powerful and to introduce corrective measures little by little. In 193 Cato brought suit in court against Thermus, a partizan of Scipio's, for tyrannical behavior against the Gauls during his command in the north. Then he attacked Acilius Glabrio for lavish expenditures after the battle of Thermopylae, a battle in which Cato had fought as sub‑officer under Glabrio. Fulvius and Manlius were next brought to trial for their alleged breach of the laws in plundering Ambracia and Galatia; and finally Cato had the courage to bring charges in the Senate against Lucius Scipio and the great Africanus. He insisted that Lucius had kept some of the booty for personal use, and demanded an examination of the records. Africanus, who saw that the attack was meant for him, knowing that proconsuls were given plenary powers during their term of office and were not legally bound to give an account of their finances, haughtily tore up the records. Cato, perceiving that Africanus had endangered his popularity by this act, now made the bold charge that Africanus had bribed Antiochus to liberate his son who had been taken captive. This went too far, and Africanus appealed to his past record, which undoubtedly was clean, and was discharged by the assembly. But Lucius was tried, and freed only on the intercession  p151 of a democratic tribune. To accept release from such a source was a confession of defeat, and the great Scipios retired from public life. Cato had won. In 185 he was made censor with his friend Valerius Flaccus as colleague. He immediately dug up all the stringent sumptuary laws that had been passed during the Punic War, and on the basis of those removed from the Senate several of the influential nobles on petty charges of wearing jewelry or using silver plate on the table.1

The democratic party was now able to put through several measures that pleased the people and that weakened the Senate. Freedmen, who were of course apt to be clients of the nobles and vote according to their wishes, were again confined to the four urban tribes. An end was made to founding "Latin colonies" because Roman citizens had to share these with allies, and furthermore poor citizens who accepted allotments in them had to give up their citizen­ship and accept the status of "Latins." Mutina, Parma, and Saturnia, though not maritime colonies, were settled as citizen colonies. According to the same selfish policy of pleasing the populace, allies were henceforth generally given only half as much of the booty as citizens, 12,000 Latins who had come to Rome and somehow made their way into the citizen rolls were compelled to return home, and the old system of promoting Italian cities to a more favorable political position came to an end. The last instance of raising "half-citizens" to full status occurred in the case of Fundi, Formiae, and Arpinum in 188, just before Cato became a powerful influence. It is very likely that if the democratic party had come into power a few years sooner than it did, Rome might not have had the services later of such men as Marius and Cicero, both of whom were born at Arpinum. Democracy is not necessarily a synonym of liberalism.

 p152  Cato. It must be said of Cato that he was absolutely honest, a puritan, and, though in a narrow sense, a thorough patriot. He was ready to risk all he was and had for the state. He did not cater to the populace for the sake of votes. He followed the policies which pleased the old‑fashioned small farmers because he had grown up as one and felt as they did. The difficulty was that he had only the morality and statesman­ship of a small farmer. On his farm he doubtless used an honest measure when he sold his wheat, and concealed no faults in his property when he traded horses, but he did nothing from sentiment. He worked hard, saved money, and bought out his neighbors when he could. To work, save and acquire were his ideals, business is business, his moving principle. He would have nations and governments act as he.

He himself taught his son reading, writing, some mathematics for home use, agriculture, military arts, athletic games, and Roman history. Indeed he wrote a history in simple language for his son's use when he did not find a good one available. The boy must be thoroughly imbued with the Roman spirit, if nothing else. For Greek literature, philosophy and art he had no use, though he secretly learned Greek for practical purposes. He wanted the Romans to continue to live as though they were peasants, cut off from the world. As censor, he interpreted his duty as "judge of morals" in the widest sense, examining into the wardrobes, bills of fare, and table-ware of individuals to see whether the old Roman ideals of simple living were being infringed. He even tried to continue into the new era the operation of certain war‑time restrictions on the wearing of jewelry (the Oppian law) that had been passed when Rome needed to bring all the gold and silver into the treasury for coinage. In this, however, he failed.

Cato is often considered a typical old Roman. He was not so considered by later generations of his own people. They rather looked upon him as a well-meaning and honest  p153 fanatic who carried the ideals of a preceding century into a later period. He came at a time when the aristocratic power needed to be broken, and so, because of his daring and his unquestioned honesty, he became a powerful man. But it was a great misfortune that the revolt was coupled by his temperament with such narrow culture, such a selfish policy with regard to Italy, and such crude ideas of international policies. Had a man like Tiberius or Gaius Gracchus taken the lead in the reform at this time instead of fifty years later, Italy would have been won to friendship instead of insulted, the Senate might have been led to a constructive agrarian program, and the advantages of Greek culture might have been welcomed instead of obstructed. When these men finally came to their work it was already too late to bring about the necessary reforms without a fight between the various factions that ultimately led to civil war.

Foreign Policies of Cato's Party. We must now see how the application of these nationalistic policies affected Rome's methods in dealing with international politics. Rome had checked Philip and Antiochus, had liberated the minor states, and defined their boundaries, and had departed leaving them to their own devices. Needless to say the Greek states, which had always teemed with revolutions, were not now able to settle down to everlasting peace. If Rome's settlements were not adhered to, what would happen?

A quarrel soon arose between Sparta and the Achaean league, because the latter had, in the Roman treaty of peace, been given some territory that Sparta had formerly seized. Both parties in fact broke their agreements, and both sent envoys to Rome to explain their action. The Senate refused to interfere. Two years later the league again exceeded its rights and again both sides sent envoys to Rome. Though it did not approve of the league's action, the Senate still hoped to keep out, and so the dispute continued. To make matters worse, King Philip of Macedon began to invade states outside the boundaries defined by the Senate, and  p154 the sufferers naturally appealed to Rome. Philip may have heard that the democrats of Rome, now coming into power, disliked Greece. He probably thought that Cato would close his eyes to eastern affairs. But Cato, though neither imperialist enough to want provinces in the east, nor philhellenic enough to care for Greek liberty, was too much of a patriot to allow Roman treaties to be infringed. Hence a harsher tone presently becomes apparent in the responses sent to Greek envoys.

It was in 185, the year of Cato's censor­ship, that Rome sent three envoys to Greece to settle disputes, and they apparently had orders to let offenders understand that Rome's arrangements were not to be disregarded. The envoys ordered Philip to evacuate the territory he had taken, and he did so, sulkily, even burning some of the towns before withdrawing. From that time Philip began to prepare forces for a new war. The same envoys went to the Achaean league and asked for certain restitutions to Sparta. The Achaeans answered that they had not begun the quarrel, that they were a sovereign people and could not take orders from Roman envoys. They would later discuss the situation with the Senate. Claudius, one of the envoys, retorted that the League would do well to listen to the Senate's suggestions before it was compelled to obey its commands. Though we cannot wholly blame the Senate for growing impatient, we must agree that such language could only stir resentment among the peoples of Greece.

We need not follow the intricate disputes that continued through two decades. The Greek states and leagues grew more and more annoyed at the thought that they were bound to adhere to an old treaty, and consequently they were more and more ready to assert their right of doing as they pleased. The Senate on the other hand grew more and more weary of delegations and requests for interpretations of moot points in the treaty. Pro‑Roman and anti‑Roman parties began to arise in the Greek states, one flattering  p155 the Senate, the other antagonizing it. Usually the propertied classes desiring peace, the status quo, and intimate relations with Rome, were openly pro‑Roman. The old democratic factions, by antipathy to these, took the opposite side. They had more to gain from revolutions and they felt instinctively that Rome would never favor anything but peace.

About 180, the Senate openly adopted the policy of taking sides in the politics of Greek states and supporting the pro‑Roman factions, thinking that thus its wishes would be heeded without the necessity of armed interference. Such a policy, however, was not politically wise. It seemed to the anti‑Roman factions but another proof that the states of Greece were not really free. Thus the Roman Senate, though it tried to be just in its decisions, only increased its unpopularity, partly through lack of sympathy, partly because the guidance of a strong power has always been and must always be offensive to weak nations.

The Third Macedonian War. In 179 Philip died and was succeeded by his son Perseus, a young man who was as unprincipled as he was imprudent. His only good quality was that he was patriotic and had set his heart on preventing Rome's interference in Greek affairs. He built up his army and made a series of strong alliances. He announced his friendship for the anti‑Roman democrats of Greece and gave them welcome at his court. But he went too far when he began to draw northern tribes into a secret alliance with Macedonia, contrary to the treaty of Philip. The Senate countered him by asking several Greek states to break off relations with him. Perseus, now frightened, sent envoys to the Senate offering to submit on favorable terms. The Senate demanded submission without reservation, which of course he refused.

The war began in 171 B.C. The first three consuls sent to the front were inefficient generals, and, like the people who sent them, not sympathetic towards the Greeks. They  p156 demanded contingents of several Greek states as though these states were socii like Italian allies. Thus ill will was increased until several states actually provided Perseus with secret aid. It was not till 167, when Rome's army was efficiently led by Aemilius Paullus, that Perseus was finally defeated. He was taken prisoner and sent to Rome, his property confiscated, and his archives brought to Italy. Unfortunately for the Greeks, those archives proved that many leading men in Greece had secretly aided the King against Rome. As a result Rome compelled old states like Rhodes, Pergamum, and the Achaean league to surrender some of the men implicated as hostages, to give up their position of "friendship," and assume the status of socii.

By this act Rome made herself sovereign in Greece and in Asia Minor over all the territory that the treaties of 196 and 189 covered. Rome did not, as a matter of fact, intend to govern this territory, nor to exact any tribute from it, nor even to ask its inhabitants for military aid except at very critical moments. She did intend, however, to put an end to bickerings and make it easier for herself to keep the peace without having to resort to constant embassies and armed intervention. It was Cato who was still so averse to having any dealings across the Adriatic that he insisted that the Macedonians must govern themselves. "We cannot rule these people, we must set them free to rule themselves," he said, and his policy was adopted.

The Macedonian Republics. Aemilius Paullus with a committee of ten was given the task of making a constitution for Macedonia. The form of government which he produced is exceedingly interesting. In order to prevent united action against Rome he cut the kingdom into four republics. To protect them from invasions of barbarians, he gave the northern one permission to have an army; the other three were disarmed. The four states were severed socially and commercially from each other to prevent the growth of a Macedonian union, that is, marriage between  p157 citizens of the different states was made illegal, and citizens of one state could not hold property in another.

The political organization of these republics is especially interesting since it was based upon that which Flamininus devised for Thessaly after the Second Macedonian War. In each republic magistrates were elected by a primary assembly consisting of all the people who had certain property qualifications; but the administration and legislation were in the hands of a representative senate made up of senators from the several cities, and this senate was presided over and controlled by the magistrate. Thus these Macedonian republics seem to have been true territorial states of a very modern type, administered by a representative government. It is a great pity that these governments were overthrown within twenty years by a disastrous revolution. They might well have handed on the idea of representative government to the modern world, had they survived long enough to leave a distinct record of achievement.

Aemilius Paullus unfortunately marred his record of good general­ship and liberality by invading Epirus and sweeping away a large part of its population into slavery because it had attacked the Roman armies in Perseus' favor. It is said that 150,000 captives were sold for this deed. Apparently a Roman general of the best type could still commit deeds of pagan cruelty.

Again Rome withdrew from the East, but this time it was clearly understood that the Greek states had lost their sovereignty. No province was made and no tribute was exacted. Greece and Asia Minor were not reduced to the position of Sicily, Sardinia, and Spain. Rather these states were placed in the position of such Greek cities in southern Italy as Naples and Regium. They were to be left strictly alone so long as they kept the peace and observed their treaties, and that was all.

It must be admitted that Cato's party had on the whole been moderate. For when others, who like him distrusted  p158 the Greeks, wished to punish Rhodes because many of her distinguished men had given encouragement to Perseus, he objected. In the Senate he made a vigorous speech, a part of which we still have, and it does him credit. He urged, fairly, that such Rhodians had only done the natural thing in fearing Rome's growing strength and therefore favoring Rome's opponent, that sympathy was not a feeling that could be forced, and that at most a whole state could not be held responsible for the enmity of individual citizens. The Senate's greatest mistake was in taking as hostages a great many prominent Greeks whose loyalty to Rome had been impugned by the documents taken in the war. The ill feeling engendered by this act led later to a new outbreak.

Rome, however, was not to have peace in the East. The disputes and factional strife continued, and embassies came to Rome as before. Had the Senate pursued a consistent policy, serious trouble might have been avoided, but the Senate was of many minds, and its policies shifted with the alternating success of the various parties. Cato was frequently the dominating force, but not always. He was so blunt and so harsh in his criticism that the Senate often rebelled against his proposals. There were of course other political questions to settle as well as those of Greece, and the Senate's blunt methods in disposing of the Gauls and Spaniards tended to habituate the statesmen to deal harshly with the Greeks as well.

Northern Italy was pacified with some severity during the fifty years after Zama. In Cisalpine Gaul, Rome punished the Insubres about Milan, and the Boii about Bononia harshly enough. The Cenomani, south of Verona, fared better because of their loyalty to Rome during the Punic War. But what with local outbreaks and new invasions of Celtic hordes from beyond the Alps, standing armies had to be kept in the Po valley. Indeed Polybius informs us that in his day there were not many Celts left except in the foothills. Colonies were replanted at Cremona and Placentia,  p159 and new colonies sent to Bologna, Mutina and Parma below the Po, and to Aquileia at the head of the Adriatic. Though the rest of Transpadane Gaul was not parcelled out, emigrants from all over Italy went up into the region and found homes. Indeed this valley was settled during the century by a sound Italian stock, and it was the descendants of such settlers who played an important part in Rome's literature and politics in the days of Caesar and Augustus. Two of Rome's greatest poets, Catullus and Vergil, at that time came from there.

The Ligurian mountains also had to be cleared or pacified for the sake of Cisalpine Gaul, the Arno valley, and the coast road to the new province in Spain. After many attacks that yielded little except triumphs for ambitious consuls, the Senate decided upon vigorous measures. Two tribes of Ligurians living near the coast were conquered and transplanted to the lands in southern Samnium (north of Beneventum) that had been confiscated in the last Samnite war. There we find their descendants living and apparently prospering as Roman citizens in the days of Trajan.

Spain had been "subdued" by Scipio in 206 after it was abandoned by Hasdrubal. That is to say, Rome took possession of the Punic forts at that time. In point of fact only a few of the many warlike Spanish tribes had come in contact with Scipio. Rome of course conceived it her legitimate duty to establish her rule over the whole peninsula, and after the war her proconsuls set about the task of winning the tribes to allegiance by diplomacy and an exhibition of force. Progress was slow. The tribes preferred liberty, and some of the proconsuls were too ambitious, some too harsh. Cato during his year in Spain gained a reputation for fair dealing and progressed favorably. Some of his successors, however, proved to be more interested in winning booty than in establishing peace. Tiberius Gracchus the elder was famed for his kindness and justice. Thus good administration alternated with bad. In fact Spain was not  p160 entirely brought under Roman rule till Augustus completed the task. In the second century B.C. the province was a training school for devious diplomacy, overbearing domination, and "triumph hunting." It proved what later history has repeatedly demonstrated that an aristocratic clique like the Roman Senate does not provide the best administration for barbaric provinces. The administrators are too far removed in culture from such subjects to understand them, and they are too ready to condone each other's abuses of power.

In Carthage, as was to be expected from the treaty of 201, the hatred of Rome lived on. For a long time, however, the landlord nobility, which had returned to power because of Hannibal's failure, remained at the helm and kept on good terms with Rome. For thirty years Carthage prospered without incurring any serious difficulties. The indemnity she had paid had indeed been small for so rich a state, and her trade is said to have grown to the old proportions in a short time. But Masinissa finally caused trouble by laying claims, false ones it seems, to a part of Libya, south of Carthage. According to the treaty of 201 Carthage could not resist with arms but must submit to Rome's arbitration. To Rome she accordingly referred the case, and at Rome Cato's party now happened to be in power. Polybius assures us that Rome pronounced an unjust verdict against Carthage, probably through fear that she was growing dangerously strong. Scipio Nasica, always an opponent of Cato, favored Carthage, holding that it could only be an advantage to Rome to have a strong rival. As time went on, nevertheless, other disputes arose and Carthage was generally subjected to humiliation, on the sole ground that she was growing to be a menace, if we are to believe Polybius. Apparently Cato openly adopted the dangerous view that any powerful state should be humbled before it became too dangerous; and he managed somehow to end every  p161 speech he made in the Senate with the brutal sentence Carthago delenda est.

In 151 the Senate was offered the pretext it desired, for the war party of Carthage then came into power and voted to resist Masinissa by arms without Rome's permission. Cato's party now had its way, war was declared, and in 149 a strong army landed in Africa. Carthage in terror offered unconditional surrender. The consul, disarming the Carthaginians and exacting hostages from them, pronounced Rome's sentence: it was that they must surrender their city to Rome and build their new home at least ten miles from the sea. This they naturally refused to do. They closed their gates, turned all their forces into making arms, and defended the city for two years.

The disagreeable task of completing the harsh orders of a Catonian Senate — Cato himself died in 149 — fell to a Scipio. In 147 the young son of Aemilius Paullus, adopted into the Scipionic family and therefore called Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus, was elected to the consul­ship before the legal age because of his military skill, and was sent to storm Carthage and destroy it. The task was not easy, for the inhabitants barricaded the streets and in their desperation fought for every foot of ground. In 146, however, the citadel was taken and what remained of the town was burned. Polybius, the Greek historian, stood by the consul's side and heard him none too cheerfully prophesy a similar doom for Rome.

Scipio Nasica who had opposed Cato effectually was heard to remark with scorn at the Senate's merciless policy that there were now no longer any nations which Rome need either fear or blush before. The territory of Carthage was made into a province called Africa, seven cities like Utica that had been friendly to Rome were made autonomous allies free from tribute, the native Libyans became Roman tributaries, while the land that had belonged to Carthaginian citizens became Roman public land to be sold or rented out  p162 as the censors saw fit. A large part was sold to Roman investors to pay the costs of the war.2

We now return to Greece. The Macedonian republics created by Aemilius Paullus fared only moderately well: the people were accustomed to autocratic kings and needed time to learn the arts of democratic government. Parties of course arose; the propertied classes, having a predominating influence in the new government, were well satisfied and formed a group friendly to Rome, but the populace which had previously enjoyed the favors and bounties of Perseus began to form an anti‑Roman party.

After some twenty years of democratic government a pretender, by the name of Andriscus, who falsely claimed to be the son of Perseus, escaped from prison and appeared in Thrace not far from Macedonia. The people there thought they recognized him as Perseus' son and flocked to his standard. In 149, he invaded Macedonia, appealing to the populace for support. Since only one of the four republics had an army, his success was easy. Then Rome sent Metellus with an army to drive him out. This was speedily done, and the experiment in self-government ended. In 147, Macedonia was declared a tribute-paying Roman province with a resident Roman governor.

Metellus was now sent down to Greece to settle the affairs of the Achaean league which were in utter confusion. The Catonian policy, declared twenty years before, of treating the Achaean league like a socius that must adhere to the original treaty stipulation, did not bring peace. The patriotic  p163 party had, to be sure, lost most of its leaders when these were taken to Rome as hostages. But the taking of hostages was itself a harsh act which kept resentment alive; and though Polybius, who was one of them, lived on intimate terms at Rome with the Scipios and exerted his influence for their return, the Scipionic party was now too weak to accomplish anything in their behalf. When finally, after seventeen years of exile, they returned, they only strengthened the anti‑Roman party in Achaea.

This party now came into power, and was led by Diaeus, a hot‑headed patriot who mistook Rome's conciliatory tactics of recent years for a sign of weakness, and convinced himself that since Rome was engaged in wars with Carthage and Macedonia he could reëstablish the independence of Achaea. Diaeus, therefore, asserted the old claim of Achaean dominance in Sparta and had twenty-four pro‑Romans of Sparta condemned to death.

Rome retorted by sending envoys of to Corinth, the capital of the Achaean league, declaring free from the league such cities as the league had acquired by Rome's aid. The people of Corinth mobbed the Roman envoys, an act of the kind that Rome seldom forgave. Diaeus declared war on Sparta; in turn Rome declared war on the league, and ordered the army in Macedonia to take Corinth. Mummius, now consul, defeated the Achaeans, took Corinth and razed the splendid old city to the ground (146 B.C.). This cruel act was explained as due to resentment at the attack upon Rome's envoys, and as an object lesson to allies that refused to abide by the terms of their alliance. Greece was not made a province nor was tribute imposed, but the cities of the Peloponnese were reorganized on aristocratic principles, and individually made into socii of Rome. The leagues were allowed to continue only for religious and social purposes. Rome had no more trouble with the Greeks. A hundred years later, when the memory of the "liberation of  p164 the Greeks" had had sufficient time to fade away, Achaea also became a province.

This experiment of Rome in protecting weaker republics, extending over a period of fifty years, is one of the most interesting in the history of politics. The blame for the failure must be laid at the door partly of Rome, partly of Greece, but must after all be mainly attributed to the great difficulty of the task. As for the Greeks, they had never been known to have a strong political sense. Their individualism, their love of personal liberty, their originality, and their highly developed artistic sense had always made them impatient of strong and well ordered government. The Greek states had never been able to combine effectively, nor had they been able to compromise their party-disputes peaceably so as to keep them from flaming up into revolutions. The modern historian does not attribute the end of Greek productivity to Rome's intervention, for the great period in Greece had come to an end long before Rome entered the country. The real cause of Greece's decline we do not now know. It may be that constant warfare and revolutions had wasted away the most talented stock, or that political disorder disrupted society so that men could not produce effectively, or that the emergence of the lower classes in the fifth and fourth century democracies had in time overwhelmed the best blood and mixed it with so much of the Aegean stock that the Greek race had now changed into something less fine. If Greece had outlived her greatness, it was on the whole beneficial that a state like Rome, with enduring political capacity, established peace in Greece and saved it from eastern monarchs and northern barbarians until her great culture could permeate Rome and thus be saved for future generations.

Rome of course had meant well at first. It was a very fine display of political idealism that stirred the Senate in the days of Flamininus and Scipio Africanus, and the memory of their generous deed had a wholesome influence time  p165 and again in softening Rome's practical policies. A grave difficulty, however, lay in the fact that Greeks and Romans differed so widely in temperament that they could never quite do each other justice. When they became acquainted, the Romans insisted that the Greeks were impractical and dishonest. The Greeks attributed too much of their own political strategy to the Romans and called them calculating when they merely lacked insight. The Greeks did find the Romans blunt, uncultured, legalistic and unimaginative. One of the most serious obstacles to success in the experiment lay in the fact that Rome was a republic whose policies were bound to change from year to year because of the annual change of consuls. Republics will always swing like a pendulum from one policy to another, reacting to the influences that predominate at election time. Idealistic sentiment may at any moment give way to practical demands when the time comes to reckon up the costs of past administrations. That is one reason why republics should be satisfied to govern themselves and be very slow to make promises to others. They seldom have the power to keep promises in the spirit in which they were given. We have only to think of the difference in modern states between the spirit of 1917 and of 1920 to comprehend what happened in Rome's relation to Greece between 200 and 146 B.C.

The Author's Notes:

1 Such laws had been passed during the war in order to attract gold and silver to the state treasury.

2 Some historians assume that the destruction of Carthage was due to the business and commercial classes at Rome who desired to destroy a rival. Polybius who lived at the time and discusses causes says nothing about economic reasons. He lays the whole blame upon the Senate's fear of the growing political power of Carthage. He is doubtless right. Roman policy was not commercial at this time. After Carthage was destroyed Utica was allowed to inherit the African commerce. Rome might readily have planted a seaport colony in Africa to give Roman commerce an entrance. That she let African traders inherit the trade of even her own new province, shows clearly that the driving force in this cruel act was not economic.

Thayer's Note:

a "America First" and "100% American" were the buzzwords of the isolationist movement in American politics at the time Tenney Frank wrote, and continued to resonate for several decades. "To foster and perpetuate a 100 percent Americanism" appears for example in the Preamble to the Constitution of the American Legion.

[image ALT: Valid HTML 4.01.]

Page updated: 10 Dec 20