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Book V

This webpage reproduces a Book of
The Histories


published in Vol. III
of the Loeb Classical Library edition,

The text is in the public domain.

This text has not yet been proofread.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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Book VII

(Vol. III) Polybius
The Histories

 p269  Fragments of Book VI

I. From the Preface

2 1 I am aware that some will wonder why I have deferred until the present occasion my account of the Roman constitution, thus being obliged to interrupt the due course of my narrative. 2 Now, that I have always regarded this account as one of the essential parts of my whole design, I have, I am sure, made evident in numerous passages and chiefly in the prefatory remarks dealing with the fundamental principles of this history, where I said that the best and most valuable result I aim at is that readers of my work may gain a knowledge how it was and by virtue of what peculiar political institutions that in less than fifty-three years nearly the whole world was overcome and fell under the single dominion of Rome, a thing the like of which had never happened before. 4 Having made up my mind to deal with the matter, I found no occasion more suitable than the present for turning my attention to the constitution and testing the truth of what I am about to say on the subject. 5 For just as those who pronounce in private on the characters of bad or good men, do not, when they really resolve to put their opinion to the test, choose for investigation those periods of their life which they passed in composure and repose, but  p271 seasons when they were afflicted by adversity or blessed with success, deeming the sole test of a perfect man to be the power of bearing high-mindedly and bravely the most complete reverses of fortune, so it should be in our judgement of states. Therefore, as I could not see any greater or more violent change in the fortunes of the Romans than this which has happened in our own times, I reserved my account of the constitution for the present occasion. . . .

8 What chiefly attracts and chiefly benefits students of history is just this — the study of causes and the consequent power of choosing what is best in each case. 9 Now the chief cause of success or the reverse in all matters is the form of a state's constitution; 10 for springing from this, as from a fountain-head, all designs and plans of action not only originate, but reach their consummation.

II. On the Forms of States

3 1 In the case of those Greek states which have often risen to greatness and have often experienced a complete change of fortune, it is an easy matter both to describe their past and to pronounce as to their future. 2 For there is no difficulty in reporting the known facts, and it is not hard to foretell the future  p273 by inference from the past. 3 But about the Roman state it is neither at all easy to explain the present situation owing to the complicated character of the constitution, nor to foretell the future owing to our ignorance of the peculiar features of public and private life at Rome in the past. 4 Particular attention and study are therefore required if one wishes to attain a clear general view of the distinctive qualities of their constitution.

5 Most of those whose object it has been to instruct us methodically concerning such matters, distinguish three kinds of constitutions, which they call kingship, aristocracy, and democracy. 6 Now we should, I think, be quite justified in asking them to enlighten us as to whether they represent these three to be the sole varieties or rather to be the best; 7 for in either case my opinion is that they are wrong. For it is evident that we must regard as the best constitution a combination of all these three varieties, since we have had proof of this not only theoretically but by actual experience, Lycurgus having been the first to draw up a constitution — that of Sparta — on this principle. 9 Nor on the other hand can we admit that these are the only three varieties; for we have witnessed monarchical and tyrannical governments, which while they differ very widely from kingship, yet bear a certain resemblance to it, 10 this being the reason why monarchs in general falsely assume and use, as far as they can, the regal title. 11 There have also been several oligarchical constitutions which seem to bear some likeness to aristocratic ones, though the divergence is, generally, as wide as possible. 12 The same holds good about democracies. 4 1 The truth of what I say is evident from the following considerations.  p275 2 It is by no means every monarchy which we can call straight off a kingship, but only that which is voluntarily accepted by the subjects and where they are governed rather by an appeal to their reason than by fear and force. 3 Nor again can we style every oligarchy an aristocracy, but only that where the government is in the hands of a selected body of the justest and wisest men. 4 Similarly that is no true democracy in which the whole crowd of citizens is free to do whatever they wish or purpose, 5 but when, in a community where it is traditional and customary to reverence the gods, to honour our parents, to respect our elders, and to obey the laws, the will of the greater number prevails, this is to be called a democracy. 6 We should therefore assert that there are six kinds of governments, the three above mentioned which are in everyone's mouth and the three which are naturally allied to them, I mean monarchy, oligarchy, and mob-rule. 7 Now the first of these to come into being is monarchy, its growth being natural and unaided; and next arises kingship derived from monarchy by the aid of art and by the correction of defects. 8 Monarchy first changes into its vicious allied form, tyranny; and next, the abolishment of both gives birth to aristocracy. 9 Aristocracy by its very nature degenerates into oligarchy; and when the commons inflamed by anger take vengeance on this government for its unjust rule, democracy comes into being; and in due course the licence and lawlessness of this form of government produces mob-rule to complete the series. 11 The truth of what I have just said will be quite clear to anyone who pays due attention to such beginnings, origins, and changes as are in each case natural. 12 For he alone who has seen how each form  p277 naturally arises and develops, will be able to see when, how, and where the growth, perfection, change, and end of each are likely to occur again. 13 And it is to the Roman constitution above all that this method, I think, may be success­fully applied, since from the outset its formation and growth have been due to natural causes.

5 1 Perhaps this theory of the natural transformations into each other of the different forms of government is more elaborately set forth by Plato and certain other philosophers; but as the arguments are subtle and are stated at great length, they are beyond the reach of all but a few. 2 I therefore will attempt to give a short summary of the theory, as far as I consider it to apply to the actual history of facts and to appeal to the common intelligence of mankind. 3 For if there appear to be certain omissions in my general exposition of it, the detailed discussion which follows will afford the reader ample compensation for any difficulties now left unsolved.

4 What then are the beginnings I speak of and what is the first origin of political societies? 5 When owing to floods, famines, failure of crops or other such causes there occurs such a destruction of the human race as tradition tells us has more than once happened, and as we must believe will often happen again, 6 all arts and crafts perishing at the same time, then in the course of time, when springing from the survivors as from seeds men have again increased in numbers 7 and just like other animals form herds — it being a matter of course that they too should herd together with those of their kind owing to their natural weakness — it is a necessary consequence that the man who excels in bodily strength and in courage will lead and rule  p279 over the rest. 8 We observe and should regard as a most genuine work of nature this very phenomenon in the case of the other animals which act purely by instinct and among whom the strongest are always indisputably the masters — 9 I speak of bulls, boars, cocks, and the like. 9 It is probable then that at the beginning men lived thus, herding together like animals and following the lead of the strongest and bravest, the ruler's strength being here the sole limit to his power and the name we should give his rule being monarchy.

10 But when in time feelings of sociability and companion­ship begin to grow in such gatherings of men, than kingship has struck root; and the notions of goodness, justice, and their opposites begin to arise in men. 6 1 The manner in which these notions come into being is as follows. 2 Men being all naturally inclined to sexual intercourse, and the consequence of this being the birth of children, whenever one of those who have been reared does not on growing up show gratitude to those who reared him or defend them, but on the contrary takes to speaking ill of them or ill treating them, it is evident that he will displease and offend those who have been familiar with his parents and have witnessed the care and pains they spent on attending to and feeding their children. 4 For seeing that men are distinguished from the other animals by possessing the faculty of reason, it is obviously improbable that such a difference of conduct should escape them, as it escapes the other animals: 5 they will notice the thing and be displeased at what is going on, looking to the future and reflecting that they may all  p281 meet with the same treatment. 6 Again when a man who has been helped or succoured when in danger by another does not show gratitude to his preserver, but even goes to the length of attempting to do him injury, it is clear that those who become aware of it will naturally be displeased and offended by such conduct, sharing the resentment of their injured neighbour and imagining themselves in the same situation. 7 From all this there arises in everyone a notion of the meaning and theory of duty, which is the beginning and end of justice. 8 Similarly, again, when any man is foremost in defending his fellows from danger, and braves and awaits the onslaught of the most power­ful beasts, it is natural that he should receive marks of favour and honour from the people, while the man who acts in the opposite manner will meet with reprobation and dislike. 9 From this again some idea of what is base and what is noble and of what constitutes the difference is likely to arise among the people; and noble conduct will be admired and imitated because it is advantageous, while base conduct will be avoided. 10 Now when the leading and most power­ful man among the people always throws the weight of his authority on the side of the notions on such matters which generally prevail, and when in the opinion of his subjects he apportions rewards and penalties according to desert, they yield obedience to him no longer because they fear his force, but rather because their judgement approves him; and they join in maintaining his rule even if he is quite enfeebled by age, defending him with one consent and battling against those who conspire to overthrow his rule. 12 Thus by insensible degrees the monarch becomes a king, ferocity and force having yielded the supremacy to reason.

 p283  7 1 Thus is formed naturally among men the first notion of goodness and justice, and their opposites; this is the beginning and birth of true kingship. 2 For the people maintain the supreme power not only in the hands of these men themselves, but in those of their descendants, from the conviction that those born from and reared by such men will also have principles like to theirs. 3 And if they ever are displeased with the descendants, they now choose their kings and rulers no longer for their bodily strength and brute courage, but for the excellency of their judgement and reasoning powers, as they have gained experience from actual facts of the difference between the one class of qualities and the other. 4 In old times, then, those who had once been chosen to the royal office continued to hold it until they grew old, fortifying and enclosing fine strongholds with walls and acquiring lands, in the one case for the sake of the security of their subjects and in the other to provide them with abundance of the necessities of life. 5 And while pursuing these aims, they were exempt from all vituperation or jealousy, as neither in their dress nor in their food did they make any great distinction, they lived very much like everyone else, not keeping apart from the people. 6 But when they received the office by hereditary succession and found their safety now provided for, and more than sufficient provision of food, 7 they gave way to their appetites owing to this superabundance, and came to think that the rulers must be distinguished from their subjects by a peculiar dress, that there should be a peculiar luxury and variety in the dressing and serving of their viands, and that they should meet with no denial  p285 in the pursuit of their amours, however lawless. 8 These habits having given rise in the one case to envy and offence and in the other to an outburst of hatred and passionate resentment, the kingship changed into a tyranny; the first steps towards its overthrow were taken by the subjects, and conspiracies began to be formed. 9 These conspiracies were not the work of the worst men, but of the noblest, most high-spirited, and most courageous, because such men are least able to brook the insolence of princes. 8 1 The people now having got leaders, would combine with them against the ruling powers for the reasons I stated above; kingship and monarchy would be utterly abolished, and in their place aristocracy would begin to grow. 2 For the commons, as if bound to pay at once their debt of gratitude to the abolishers of monarchy, would make them their leaders and entrust their destinies to them. 3 At first these chiefs gladly assumed this charge and regarded nothing as of greater importance than the common interest, administering the private and public affairs of the people with paternal solicitude. 4 But here again when children inherited this position of authority from their fathers, having no experience of misfortune and none at all of civil equality and liberty of speech, and having been brought up from the cradle amid the evidences of the power and high position of their fathers, 5 they abandoned themselves some to greed of gain and unscrupulous money-making, others to indulgence in wine and the convivial excess which accompanies it, and others again to the violation of women and the rape of boys; and thus converting the aristocracy into an oligarchy aroused in the people feelings similar to those of which  p287 I just spoke, and in consequence met with the same disastrous end as the tyrant. 9 1 For whenever anyone who has noticed the jealousy and hatred with which you are regarded by the citizens, has the courage to speak or act against the chiefs of the state he has the whole mass of the people ready to back him. 2 Next, when they have either killed or banished the oligarchs, they no longer venture to set a king over them, as they still remember with terror the injustice they suffered from the former ones, nor can they entrust the government with confidence to a select few, with the evidence before them of their recent error in doing so. 3 Thus the only hope still surviving unimpaired is in themselves, and to this they resort, making the state a democracy instead of an oligarchy and assuming the responsibility for the conduct of affairs. 4 Then as long as some of those survive who experienced the evils of oligarchical dominion, they are well pleased with the present form of government, and set a high value on equality and freedom of speech. But when a new generation arises and the democracy falls into the hands of the grandchildren of its founders, they have become so accustomed to freedom and equality that they no longer value them, and begin to aim at pre-eminence; and it is chiefly those of ample fortune who fall into this error. 6 So when they begin to lust for power and cannot attain it through themselves or their own good qualities, they ruin their estates, tempting and corrupting the people in every possible way. 7 And hence when by their foolish thirst for reputation they have created among the masses an appetite for gifts and the habit of receiving them, democracy in its  p289 turn is abolished and changes into a rule of force and violence. 8 For the people, having grown accustomed to feed at the expense of others and to depend for their livelihood on the property of others, as soon as they find a leader who is enterprising but is excluded from the houses of office by his penury, institute the rule of violence; 9 and now uniting their forces massacre, banish, and plunder, until they degenerate again into perfect savages and find once more a master and monarch.

10 Such is the cycle of political revolution, the course appointed by nature in which constitutions change, disappear, and finally return to the point from which they started. 11 Anyone who clearly perceives this may indeed in speaking of the future of any state be wrong in his estimate of the time the process will take, but if his judgement is not tainted by animosity or jealousy, he will very seldom be mistaken as to the stage of growth or decline it has reached, and as to the form into which it will change. 12 And especially in the case of the Roman state will this method enable us to arrive at a knowledge of its formation, growth, and greatest perfection, and likewise of the change for the worse which is sure to follow some day. 13 For, as I said, this state, more than any other, has been formed and has grown naturally, and will undergo a natural decline and change to its contrary. 14 The reader will be able to judge of the truth of this from the subsequent parts of this work.

10 1 At present I will give a brief account of the legislation of Lycurgus, a matter not alien to my present purpose. 2 Lycurgus had perfectly well understood that all the above changes take place  p291 necessarily and naturally, and had taken into consideration that every variety of constitution which is simple and formed on principle is precarious, as it is soon perverted into the corrupt form which is proper to it and naturally follows on it. 3 For just as rust in the case of iron and wood-worms and ship-worms in the case of timber are inbred pests, and these substances, even though they escape all external injury, fall a prey to the evils engendered in them, so each constitution has a vice engendered in it and inseparable from it. In kingship it is despotism, in aristocracy oligarchy, 5 and in democracy the savage rule of violence; and it is impossible, as I said above, that each of these should not in course of time change into this vicious form. 6 Lycurgus, then, foreseeing this, did not make his constitution simple and uniform, but united in it all the good and distinctive features of the best governments, so that none of the principles should grow unduly and be perverted into its allied evil, but that, the force of each being neutralized by that of the others, neither of them should prevail and outbalance another, but that the constitution should remain for long in a state of equilibrium like a well-trimmed boat, kingship being guarded from arrogance by the fear of the commons, who were given a sufficient share in the government, and the commons on the other hand not venturing to treat the kings with contempt from fear of the elders, who being selected from the best citizens would be sure all of them to be always on the side of justice; 10 so that that part of the state which was weakest owing to its subservience  p293 to traditional custom, acquired power and weight by the support and influence of the elders. 11 The consequence was that by drawing up his constitution thus he preserved liberty at Sparta for a longer period than is recorded elsewhere.

12 Lycurgus then, foreseeing, by a process of reasoning, whence and how events naturally happen, constructed his constitution untaught by adversity, 13 but the Romans while they have arrived at the same final result as regards their form of government, 14 have not reached it by any process of reasoning, but by the discipline of many struggles and troubles, and always choosing the best by the light of the experience gained in disaster have thus reached the same result as Lycurgus, that is to say, the best of all existing constitutions.

V. On the Roman Constitution at its Prime

11 1 From the crossing of Xerxes to Greece . . . and for thirty years after this period, it was always one of those polities which was an object of special study, and it was at its best and nearest to perfection at the time of the Hannibalic war, the period at which I interrupted my narrative to deal with it. 2 Therefore now that I have described its growth, I will explain what were the conditions at the time when by their defeat at Cannae the Romans were brought face to face with disaster.

3 I am quite aware that to those who have been born and bred under the Roman Republic my account of it will seem somewhat imperfect owing to the omission of certain details. 4 For as they have  p295 complete knowledge of it and practical acquaintance with all its parts, having been familiar with these customs and institutions from childhood, they will not be struck by the extent of the information I give but will demand in addition all I have omitted: they will not think that the author has purposely omitted small peculiarities, but owing to ignorance he has been silent regarding the origins of many things and some points of capital importance. 6 Had I mentioned them, they would not have been impressed by my doing so, regarding them as small and trivial points, but as they are omitted they will demand their inclusion as if they were vital matters, through a desire themselves to appear better informed than the author. 7 Now a good critic should not judge authors by what they omit, but by what they relate, and if he finds any falsehood in this, he may conclude that the omissions are due to ignorance; 8 but if all the writer says is true, he should admit that he has been silent about these matters deliberately and not from ignorance.

9 These remarks are meant for those who find fault with authors in cavilling rather than just spirit. . . .

10 In so far as any view of matter we form applies to the right occasion, so far expressions of approval or blame are sound. When circumstances change, and when applied to these changed conditions, the most excellent and true reflections of authors seem often not only not acceptable, but utterly offensive. . . .

11 The three kinds of government that I spoke of above all shared in the control of the Roman state. And such fairness and propriety in all respects was shown in the use of these three elements for drawing up the constitution and in its subsequent administration  p297 that it was impossible even for a native to pronounce with certainty whether the whole system was aristocratic, democratic, or monarchical. This was indeed only natural. 12 For if one fixed one's eyes on the power of the consuls, the constitution seemed completely monarchical and royal; if on that of the senate it seemed again to be aristocratic; and when one looked at the power of the masses, it seemed clearly to be a democracy. 13 The parts of the state falling under the control of each element were and with a few modifications still are as follows.

12 1 The consuls, previous to leading out their legions, exercise authority in Rome over all public affairs, 2 since all the other magistrates except the tribunes are under them and bound to obey them, and it is they who introduce embassies to the senate. 3 Besides this it is they who consult the senate on matters of urgency, they who carry out in detail the provisions of its decrees. Again as concerns all affairs of state administered by the people it is their duty to take these under their charge, to summon assemblies, to introduce measures, and to preside over the execution of the popular decrees. As for preparation for war and the general conduct of operations in the field, here their power is almost uncontrolled; for they are empowered to make what demands they choose on the allies, to appoint military tribunes, to levy soldiers and select those who are fittest for service. 7 They also have the right of inflicting, when on active service, punishment on anyone under their command; 8 and they are authorized to spend any sum they decide upon from the public funds, being accompanied by a  p299 quaestor who faithfully executes their instructions. 9 So that if one looks at this part of the administration alone, one may reasonably pronounce the constitution to be a pure monarchy or kingship. 10 I may remark that any changes in these matters or in others of which I am about to speak that may be made in present or future times do not in any way affect the truth of the views I here state.

13 1 To pass to the senate. In the first place it has the control of the treasury, all revenue and expenditure being regulated by it. 2 For with the exception of payments made to the consuls, the quaestors are not allowed to disburse for any particular object without a decree of the senate. 3 And even the item of expenditure which is far heavier and more important than any other — the outlay every five years by the censors on public works, whether constructions or repairs — is under the control of the senate, which makes a grant to the censors for the purpose. 4 Similarly crimes committed in Italy which require a public investigation, such as treason, conspiracy, poisoning, and assassination, are under the jurisdiction of the senate. 5 Also if any private person or community in Italy is in need of arbitration or indeed claims damages or requires succour or protection, the senate attends to all such matters. It also occupies itself with the dispatch of all embassies sent to countries outside of Italy for the purpose either of settling differences, or of offering friendly advice, or indeed of imposing demands, or of receiving submission, or of declaring war; 7 and in like manner with respect to embassies arriving in Rome it decides what reception and what answer  p301 should be given to them. All these matters are in the hands of the senate, nor have the people anything whatever to do with them. 8 So that again to one residing in Rome during the absence of the consuls the constitution appears to be entirely aristocratic; 9 and this is the conviction of many Greek states and many of the kings, as the senate manages all business connected with them.

14 1 After this we are naturally inclined to ask what part in the constitution is left for the people, considering that the senate controls all the particular matters I mentioned, and, what is most important, manages all matters of revenue and expenditure, and considering that the consuls again have uncontrolled authority as regards armaments and operations in the field. 3 But nevertheless there is a part and a very important part left for the people. 4 For it is the people which alone has the right to confer honours and inflict punishment, the only bonds by which kingdoms and states and in a word human society in general are held together. 5 For where the distinction between these is over­looked or is observed but ill applied, no affairs can be properly administered. How indeed is this possible when good and evil men are held in equal estimation? 6 It is by the people, then, in many cases the offences punishable by a fine are tried when the accused have held the highest office; and they are the only court which may try on capital charges. 7 As regards the latter they have a practice which is praiseworthy and should  p303 be mentioned. Their usage allows those on trial for their lives when found guilty liberty to depart openly, thus inflicting voluntary exile on themselves, if even only one of the tribes that pronounce the verdict has not yet voted. 8 Such exiles enjoy safety in the territories of Naples, Praeneste, Tibur, and other civitates foederatae. 9 Again it is the people who bestow office on the deserving, the noblest regard of virtue in a state; 10 the people have the power of approving or rejecting laws, and what is most important of all, they deliberate on the question of war and peace. 11 Further in the case of alliances, terms of peace, and treaties, it is the people who ratify all these or the reverse. 12 Thus here again one might plausibly say that the people's share in the government is the greatest, and that the constitution is a democratic one.

15 1 Having stated how political power is distributed among the different parts of the state, I will now explain how each of the three parts is enabled, if they wish, to counteract or co-operate with the others. 2 The consul, when he leaves with his army invested with the powers I mentioned, appears indeed to have absolute authority in all matters necessary for carrying out his purpose; but in fact he requires the support of the people and the senate, and is not able to bring his operations to a conclusion without them. 4 For it is obvious that the legions require constant supplies, and without the consent of the senate, neither corn,º clothing, nor pay can be provided; 5 so that the commander's  p305 plans come to nothing, if the senate chooses to be deliberately negligent and obstructive. 6 It also depends on the senate whether or not a general can carry out completely his conceptions and designs, since it has the right of either superseding him when his year's term of office has expired or of retaining him in command. 7 Again it is in its power to celebrate with pomp and to magnify the successes of a general or on the other hand to obscure and belittle them. 8 For the processions they call triumphs, in which the generals bring the actual spectacle of their achievements before the eyes of their fellow-citizens, cannot be properly organized and sometimes even cannot be held at all, unless the senate consents and provides the requisite funds. 9 As for the people it is most indispensable for the consuls to conciliate them, however far away from home they may be; for, as I said, it is the people which ratifies or annuls terms of peace and treaties, 10 and what is most important, on laying down office the consuls are obliged to account for their actions to the people. 11 So that in no respect is it safe for the consuls to neglect keeping in favour with both the senate and the people.

16 1 The senate again, which possesses such great power, is obliged in the first place to pay attention to the commons in public affairs and respect the wishes of the people, 2 and it cannot carry out inquiries into the most grave and important offences against the state, punishable with death, and their correction,  p307 unless the senatus consultum is confirmed by the people. 3 The same is the case in matters which directly affect the senate itself. For if anyone introduces a law meant to deprive the senate of some of its traditional authority, or to abolish the precedence and other distinctions of the senators or even to curtail them of their private fortunes, it is the people alone which has the power of passing or rejecting any such measure. 4 And what is most important is that if a single one of the tribunes interposes, the senate is unable to decide finally about any matter, and cannot even meet and hold sittings; 5 and here it is to be observed that the tribunes are always obliged to act as the people decree and to pay every attention to their wishes. Therefore for all these reasons the senate is afraid of the masses and must pay due attention to the popular will.

17 1 Similarly, again, the people must be submissive to the senate and respect its members both in public and in private. 2 Through the whole of Italy a vast number of contracts, which it would not be easy to enumerate, are given out by the censors for the construction and repair of public buildings, and besides this there are many things which are farmed, such as navigable rivers, harbours, gardens, mines, lands, in fact everything that forms part of the Roman dominion. 3 Now all these matters are undertaken by the people, and one may almost say that everyone is interested in these contracts and the work they involved. 4 For certain people are the actual purchasers from the censors of the contracts, others are the partners of these first, others stand surety for them, others pledge their own fortunes  p309 to the state for this purpose. 5 Now in all these matters the senate is supreme. It can grant extension of time; it can relieve the contractor if any accident occurs; and if the work proves to be absolutely impossible to carry out it can liberate him from his contract. 6 There are in fact many ways in which the senate can either benefit or indicate those who manage public property, as all these matters are referred to it. 7 What is even most important is that the judges in most civil trials, whether public or private, are appointed from its members, where the action involves large interests. 8 So that all citizens being at the mercy of the senate, and looking forward with alarm to the uncertainty of litigation, are very shy of obstructing or resisting its decisions. 9 Similarly everyone is reluctant to oppose the projects of the consuls as all are generally and individually under their authority when in the field.

18 1 Such being the power that each part has of hampering the others or co-operating with them, their union is adequate to all emergencies, so that it is impossible to find a better political system than this. 2 For whenever the menace of some common danger from abroad compels them to act in concord and support each other, so great does the strength of the state become, that nothing which is requisite can be neglected, as all are zealously competing in devising means of meeting the need of the hour, 3 nor can any decision arrived at fail to be executed promptly, as all are co-operating both in public and in private to the accomplishment of the task which they have set themselves; 4 and consequently this peculiar form of constitution possesses an irresistible power  p311 of attaining every object upon which it is resolved. 5 When again they are freed from external menace, and reap the harvest of good fortune and affluence which is the result of their success, and in the enjoyment of this prosperity are corrupted by flattery and idleness and wax insolent and overbearing, as indeed happens often enough, 6 it is then especially that we see the state providing itself a remedy for the evil from which it suffers. 7 For when one part having grown out of proportion to the others aims at supremacy and tends to become too predominant, it is evident that, as for the reasons above given none of the three is absolute, but the purpose of the one can be counterworked and thwarted by the others, none of them will excessively outgrow the others or treat them with contempt. 8 All in fact remains in statu quo, on the one hand, because any aggressive impulse is sure to be checked and from the outset each estate stands in dread of being interfered with by the others. . . .

VI. The Roman Military System

19 1 After electing the consuls, they appoint military tribunes, fourteen from those who have seen five years' service 2 and ten from those who have seen ten. As for the rest, a cavalry soldier must serve for ten years in all and an infantry soldier for sixteen years before reaching the age of forty-six, with the exception of those whose census is under four hundred drachmae, all of whom are employed in naval service. In case of pressing danger twenty years' service is demanded from the infantry. 3 No one is eligible for  p313 any political office before he has completed ten years' service. The consuls, when they are about to enrol soldiers, announce at a meeting of the popular assembly the day on which all Roman citizens of military age must present themselves, 4 and this they do annually. On the appointed day, when those liable to service arrive in Rome, and assemble on the Capitol, the junior tribunes divide themselves into four groups, as the popular assembly or the consuls determine, since the main and original division of their forces is into four legions. The four tribunes first nominated are appointed to the first legion, the next three to the second, the following four to the third, and the last three to the fourth. Of senior tribunes the first two are appointed to the first legion, the next three to the second, the next two to the third, and the three last to the fourth. 20 1 The division and appointment of the tribunes having thus been so made that each legion has the same number of officers, 2 those of each legion take their seats apart, and they draw lots for the tribes, and summon them singly in the order of the lottery. 3 From each tribe they first of all select four lads of more or less the same age and physique. 4 When these are brought forward the officers of the first legion have first choice, those of the second choice, those of the third  p315 third, and those of the fourth last. 5 Another batch of four is now brought forward, and this time the officers of the second legion have first choice and so on, those of the first choosing last. 6 A third batch having been brought forward the tribunes of the third legion choose first, and those of the second last. 7 By thus continuing to give each legion first choice in turn, each gets men of the same standard. 8 When they have chosen the number determined on — that is when the strength of each legion is brought up to four thousand two hundred, or in times of exceptional danger to five thousand — 9 the old system was to choose the cavalry after the four thousand two hundred infantry, but they now choose them first, the censor selecting them according to their wealth; and three hundred are assigned to each legion.

21 1 The enrolment having been completed in this manner, those of the tribunes on whom this duty falls collect the newly-enrolled soldiers, and picking out of the whole body a single man whom they think the most suitable make him take the oath that he will obey his officers and execute their orders as far as is in his power. 3 Then the others come forward and each in his turn takes his oath simply that he will do the same as the first man.

4 At the same time the consuls send their orders to the allied cities in Italy which they wish to contribute  p317 troops, stating the numbers required and the day and place at which the men selected must present themselves. 5 The magistrates, choosing the men and administering the oath in the manner above described, send them off, appointing a commander and a paymaster.

6 The tribunes in Rome, after administering the oath, fix for each legion a day and place at which the men are to present themselves without arms and then dismiss them. 7 When they come to the rendezvous, they choose the youngest and poorest to form the velites; the next to them are made hastati; those in the prime of life principes; and the oldest of all triarii, 8 these being the names among the Romans of the four classes in each legion distinct in age and equipment. 9 They divide them so that the senior men known as triarii number six hundred, the principes twelve hundred, the hastati twelve hundred, the rest, consisting of the youngest, being velites. If the legion consists of more than four thousand men, they divide accordingly, except as regards the triarii, the number of whom is always the same.

22 1 The youngest soldiers or velites are ordered to carry a sword, javelins, and a target (parma). 2 The target is strongly made and sufficiently large to afford protection, being circular and measuring three feet in diameter. 3 They also wear a plain helmet, and sometimes cover it with a wolf's skin or something similar both to protect and to act as a distinguishing  p319 mark by which their officers can recognize them and judge if they fight pluckily or not. 4 The wooden shaft of the javelin measures about two cubits in length and is about a finger's breadth in thickness; its head is a span long hammered out to such a fine edge that it is necessarily bent by the first impact, and the enemy is unable to return it. If this were not so, the missile would be available for both sides.

23 1 The next in seniority called hastati are ordered to wear a complete panoply. 2 The Roman panoply consists firstly of a shield (scutum), the convex surface of which measures two and a half feet in width and four feet in length, the thickness at the rim being a palm's breadth. 3 It is made of two planks glued together, the outer surface being then covered first with canvas and then with calf-skin. 4 Its upper and lower rims are strengthened by an iron edging which protects it from descending blows and from injury when rested on the ground. It also has an iron boss (umbo) fixed to it which turns aside the most formidable blows of stones, pikes, and heavy missiles in general. 6 Besides the shield they also carry a sword, hanging on the right thigh and called a Spanish sword. 7 This is excellent for thrusting, and both of its edges cut effectually, as the blade is very strong and firm. 8 In addition they have two pila, a brass helmet, and greaves. 9 The pila are of two sorts — stout and fine. Of the stout ones some  p321 are round and a palm's length in diameter and others are a palm square. Fine pila, which they carry in addition to the stout ones, are like moderate-sized hunting-spears, 10 the length of the haft in all cases being about three cubits. Each is fitted with a barbed iron head of the same length as the haft. 11 This they attach so securely to the haft, carrying the attachment halfway up the latter and fixing it with numerous rivets, that in action the iron will break sooner than become detached, although its thickness at the bottom where it comes in contact with the wood is a finger's breadth and a half; such great care do they take about attaching it firmly. Finally they wear as an ornament a circle of feathers with three upright purple or black feathers about a cubit in height, the addition of which on the head surmounting their other arms is to make every man look twice his real height, and to give him a fine appearance, such as will strike terror into the enemy. 14 The common soldiers wear in addition a breastplate of brass a span square, which they place in front of the heart and call the heart-protector (pectorale), this completing their accoutrements; but those who are rated above ten thousand drachmas wear instead of this a coat of chain-mail (lorica). The principes and triarii are armed in the same manner except that instead of the pila the triarii carry long spears (hastae).

24 1 From each of the classes except the youngest they elect ten centurions according to merit, and  p323 then they elect a second ten. 2 All these are called centurions, and the first man elected has a seat in the military council. The centurions then appoint an equal number of rearguard officers (optiones). Next, in conjunction with the centurions, they divide each class into ten companies, except the velites, and assign to each company two centurions and two optiones from among the elected officers. The velites are divided equally among all the companies; these companies are called ordines or manipuli or vexilla, and their officers are called centurions or ordinum ductores. 6 Finally these officers appoint from the ranks two of the finest and bravest men to be standard-bearers (vexillarii) in each maniple. 7 It is natural that they should appoint two commanders for each maniple; for it being uncertain what may be the conduct of an officer or what may happen to him, and affairs of war not admitting of pretexts and excuses, they wish the maniple never to be without a leader and chief. When both centurions are on the spot, the first elected commands the right half of the maniple and the second the left, but if both are not present the one who is commands the whole. They wish the centurions not so much to be venturesome and daredevil as to be natural leaders, of a steady and sedate spirit. 9 They do not desire them so much to be men who will initiate attacks and open the battle, but men who will hold their ground when worsted and hard-pressed and be ready to die at their posts.

25 1 In like manner they divide the cavalry into ten  p325 squadrons (turmae) and from each they select three officers (decuriones), who themselves appoint three rear-rank officers (optiones). 2 The first commander chosen commands the whole squadron, and the two others have the rank of decuriones, all three bearing this title. If the first of them should not be present, the second takes command of the squadron. 3 The cavalry are now armed like that of Greece, but in old times they had no cuirasses but fought in light undergarments, the result of which was that they were able to dismount and mount again at once with great dexterity and facility, but were exposed to great danger in close combat, as they were nearly naked. 5 Their lances too were unserviceable in two respects. In the first place they made them so slender and pliant that it was impossible to take a steady aim, and before they could fix the head in anything, the shaking due to the mere motion of the horse caused most of them to break. 6 Next, as they did not fit the butt-ends with spikes, they could only deliver the first stroke with the point and after this if they broke they were of no further service. 7 Their buckler was made of ox-hide, somewhat similar in shape to the round bosse cakes used at sacrifices. They were not of any use for attacking, as they were not firm enough; and when the leather covering peeled off and rotted owing to the rain, unserviceable as they were before, they now became entirely so. 8 Since therefore their arms did not stand the test of experience, they soon took to making them in the Greek fashion, which ensures that the first stroke of the lance-head shall be both well aimed and telling, since the lance is so  p327 constructed as to be steady and strong, and also that it may continue to be effectively used by reversing it and striking with the spike at the butt end. 10 And the same applies to the Greek shields, which being of solid and firm texture do good service both in defence and attack. 11 The Romans, when they noticed this, soon learnt to copy the Greek arms; for this too is one of their virtues, that no people are so ready to adopt new fashions and imitate what they see is better in others.

26 1 The tribunes having thus organized the troops and ordered them to arm themselves in this manner, dismiss them to their homes. 2 When the day comes on which they have all sworn to attend at the place appointed by the consuls — 3 each consul as a rule appointing a separate rendezvous for his own troops, since each has received his share of the allies and two Roman legions — 4 none of those on the roll ever fail to appear, no excuse at all being admitted except adverse omens or absolute impossibility. 5 The allies having now assembled also at the same places as the Romans, their organization and command are undertaken by the officers appointed by the consuls known as praefecti sociorum and twelve in number. 6 They first of all select for the consuls for the whole force of allies assembled the horsemen and footmen most fitted for actual service, these being known as extraordinarii, that is "select." 7 The total number of allied infantry is usually equal to that of the Romans, while  p329 the cavalry are three times as many. 8 Of these they assign about a third of the cavalry and a fifth of the infantry to the picked corps; 9 the rest they divide into two bodies, one known as the right wing and the other as the left.

10 When these arrangements have been made, the tribunes take both the Romans and allies and pitch their camp, one simple plan of camp being adopted at all times and in all places. 11 I think, therefore, it will be in place here to attempt, as far as words can do so, to convey to my readers a notion of the disposition of the forces when on the march, when encamped, and when in action. 12 For who is so averse to all noble and excellent performance as not to be inclined to take a little extra trouble to understand matters like this, of which when he has once read he will be well informed about one of those things really worth studying and worth knowing?

27 1 The manner in which they form their camp is as follows. When the site for the camp has been chosen, the position in it giving the best general view and most suitable for issuing orders is assigned to the general's tent (praetorium). 2 Fixing an ensign on the spot where they are about to pitch it, they measure off round this ensign a square plot of ground each side of which is one hundred feet distant, so that the total area measures four plethra.​1 3 Along one side of this square in the direction which seems to give the greatest facilities for watering and foraging, the Roman  p331 legions are disposed as follows. 4 As I have said, there are six tribunes in each legion; and since each consul has always two Roman legions with him, it is evident that there are twelve tribunes in the army of each. 5 They place then the tents of these all in one line parallel to the side of the square selected and fifty feet distant from it, to give room for the horses, mules, and baggage of the tribunes. 6 These tents are pitched with their backs turned to the praetorium and facing the outer side of the camp, a direction of which I will always speak as "the front." 7 The tents of the tribunes are at an equal distance from each other, and at such a distance that they extend along the whole breadth of the space occupied by the legions.

28 1 They now measure a hundred feet from the front of all these tents, and starting from the line drawn at this distance parallel to the tents of the tribunes they begin to encamp the legions, managing matters as follows. 2 Bisecting the above line, they start from this spot and along a line drawn at right angles to the first, they encamp the cavalry of each legion facing each other and separated by a distance of fifty feet, the last-mentioned line being exactly half-way between them. 3 The manner of encamping the cavalry and the infantry is very similar, the whole space occupied by the maniples and squadrons being a square. 4 This square faces one of the streets or viae  p333 and is of a fixed length of one hundred feet, and they usually try to make the depth the same except in the case of the allies. 5 When they employ the larger legions they add proportionately to the length and depth.

29 1 The cavalry camp is thus something like a street running down from the middle of the tribunes' tents and at right angles to the line along which these tents are placed and to the space in front of them, the whole system of viae being in fact like a number of streets, as either companies of infantry or troops of horse are encamped facing each other all along each. Behind the cavalry, then, they place the triarii of both legions in a similar arrangement, a company next each troop, but with no space between, and facing in the contrary direction to the cavalry. 4 They make the depth of each company half its length, because as a rule the triarii number only half the strength of the other classes. 5 So that the maniples being often of unequal strength, the length of the encampments is always the same owing to the difference in depth. 6 Next at a distance of 50 feet on each side they place the principes facing the triarii, and as they are turned towards the intervening space, two more streets are formed, both starting from the same base as that of the cavalry, i.e. the hundred-foot space in front of the tribunes' tents, and both issuing on the side of the camp which is opposite to the tribunes' tents and which  p335 we decided to call the front of the whole. 8 After the principes, and again back to back against them, with no interval they encamp the hastati. 9 As each class by virtue of the original division consists of ten maniples, the streets are all equal in length, and they all break off on the front side of the camp in a straight line, the last maniples being here so placed as to face to the front.

30 1 At a distance again of 50 feet from the hastati, and facing them, they encamp the allied cavalry, starting from the same line and ending on the same line. 2 As I stated above, the number of the allied infantry is the same as that of the Roman legions, but from these the extraordinarii must be deducted; while that of the cavalry is double after deducting the third who serve as extraordinarii. In forming the camp, therefore, they proportionately increase the depth of the space assigned to the allied cavalry, in the endeavour to make their camp equal in length to that of the Romans. 4 These five streets having been completed, they place the maniples of the allied infantry, increasing the depth in proportion to their numbers; with their faces turned away from the cavalry and facing the agger and both the outer sides of the camp. 5 In each maniple the first tent at either end is occupied by the centurions. In laying the whole camp out in this  p337 manner they always leave a space of 50 feet between the fifth troop and the sixth, and similarly with the companies of foot, 6 so that another passage traversing the whole camp is formed, at right angles to the streets, and parallel to the line of the tribunes' tents. This they called quintana, as it runs along the fifth troops and companies.

31 1 The spaces behind the tents of the tribunes to right and left of the praetorium, are used in the one case for the market and in the other for the office of the quaestor and the supplies of which he is in charge. 2 Behind the last tent of the tribunes on either side, and more or less at right angles to these tents, are the quarters of the cavalry picked out from the extraordinarii, and a certain number of volunteers serving to oblige the consuls. These are all encamped parallel to the two sides of the agger, and facing in the one case the quaestors' depot and in the other the market. 3 As a rule these troops are not only thus encamped near the consuls but on the march and on other occasions are in constant attendance on the consul and quaestor. 4 Back to back with them, and looking towards the agger are the select infantry who perform the same service as the cavalry just described. 5 Beyond these an empty space is left a hundred feet broad, parallel to the tents of the tribunes, and stretching along the whole face of the agger on the other side of the market, praetorium and quaestorium, 6 and on its further side  p339 the rest of the equites extraordinarii are encamped facing the market, praetorium and quaestorium. 7 In the middle of this cavalry camp and exactly opposite the praetorium a passage, 50 feet wide, is left leading to the rear side of the camp and running at right angles to the broad passage behind the praetorium. 8 Back to back with these cavalry and fronting the agger and the rearward face of the whole camp are placed the rest of the pedites extraordinarii. 9 Finally the spaces remaining empty to right and left next the agger on each side of the camp are assigned to foreign troops or to any allies who chance to come in.

10 The whole camp thus forms a square, and the way in which the streets are laid out and its general arrangement give it the appearance of a town. 11 The agger is on all sides at a distance of 200 feet from the tents, and this empty space is of important service in several respects. 12 To begin with it provides the proper facilities for marching the troops in and out, seeing that they all march out into this space by their own streets and thus do not come into one street in a mass and throw down or hustle each other. 13 Again it is here that they collect the cattle brought into camp and all booty taken from the enemy, and keep them safe during the night. 14 But the most important thing of all is that in night attacks neither fire can reach them nor missiles  p341 except a very few, which are almost harmless owing to the distance and the space in front of the tents.

32 1 Given the numbers of cavalry and infantry, whether 4000 or 5000, in each legion, and given likewise the depth, length, and number of the troops and companies, the dimensions of the passages and open spaces and all other details, anyone who gives his mind to it can calculate the area and total circumference of the camp. 2 If there ever happen to be an extra number of allies, either of those originally forming part of the army or of others who have joined on a special occasion, accommodation is provided for the latter in the neighbourhood of the praetorium, the market and quaestorium being reduced to the minimum size which meets pressing requirements, while for the former, if the excess is considerable, they add two streets, one at each side of the encampment of the Roman legions.

6 Whenever the two consuls with all their four legions are united in one camp, we have only to imagine two camps like the above placed in juxtaposition back to back, the junction being formed at the encampments of the extraordinarii infantry of each camp whom we described as being stationed facing the rearward agger of the camp. 7 The shape  p343 of the camp is now oblong, its area double what it was and its circumference half as much again. 8 Whenever both consuls encamp together they adopt this arrangement; but when the two encamp apart the only difference is that the market, quaestorium, and praetorium are placed between the two camps.

33 1 After forming the camp the tribunes meet and administer an oath, man by man, to all in the camp, whether freemen or slaves. 2 Each man swears to steal nothing from the camp and even if he finds anything to bring it to the tribunes. 3 They next issue their orders to the maniples of the hastati and principes of each legion, entrusting to two maniples the care of the ground in front of the tents of the tribunes; 4 for this ground is the general resort of the soldiers in the daytime, and so they see to its being swept and watered with great care. 5 Three of the remaining eighteen maniples are now assigned by lot to each tribune, this being the number of maniples of principes and hastati in each legion, and there being six tribunes. Each of these maniples in turn attends on the tribune, the services they render him being such as the following. 6 When they encamp they pitch his tent for him and level the ground round it; and it is their duty to fence round any of his baggage that may require protection. 7 They also supply two guards for him (a guard consists of four men), of which the one is stationed in front of the tent and the other behind it next  p345 the horses. 8 As each tribune has three maniples at his service, and there are more than a hundred men in each maniple, not counting the triarii and velites who are not liable to this service, the task is a light one, as each maniple has to serve only every third day; 9 and when the necessary comfort of the tribune is well attended to by this means, the dignity due to his rank is also amply maintained. 10 The maniples of triarii are exempt from this attendance on the tribune; but each maniple supplies a guard every day to the squadron of horse close behind it. 11 This guard, besides keeping a general look out, watches especially over the horses to prevent them from getting entangled in their tethers and suffering injuries that would incapacitate them, or from getting loose and causing confusion and disturbance in the camp by running against other horses. 12 Finally each maniple in its turn mounts guard round the consul's tent to protect him from plots and at the same time to add splendour to the dignity of his office.

34 1 As regards the entrenchment and stockading of the camp, the task falls upon the allies concerning those two sides along which their two wings are quartered, the other two sides being assigned to the Romans, one to each legion. 2 Each side having been divided into sections, one for each maniple, the centurions stand by and superintend the details, while two of the tribunes exercise a general supervision over the work on each side; 3 and it is these latter officers who superintend all other work connected with the camp. They divide themselves  p347 into pairs, and each pair is on duty in turn for two months out of six, supervising all field operations. 4 The prefects of the allies divide their duties on the same system. 5 Every day at dawn the cavalry officers and centurions attend at the tents of the tribunes, and the tribunes proceed to that of the consul. 6 He gives the necessary orders to the tribunes, and they pass them on to the cavalry officers and centurions, who convey them to the soldiers when the proper time comes.

7 The way in which they secure the passing round of the watchword for the night is as follows: 8 from the tenth maniple of each class of infantry and cavalry, the maniple which is encamped at the lower end of the street, a man is chosen who is relieved from guard duty, and he attends every day at sunset at the tent of the tribune, and receiving from him the watchword — that is a wooden tablet with the word inscribed on it — takes his leave, and on returning to his quarters passes on the watchword and tablet before witnesses to the commander of the next maniple, who in turn passes it to the one next him. All do the same until it reaches the first maniples, those encamped near the tents of the tribunes. These latter are obliged to deliver the tablet to the tribunes before dark. 11 So that if all those issued are returned, the tribune knows that the watchword has been given to all the maniples, and has passed through all on its way back to him. 12 If any one of them is missing, he makes inquiry at once, as he knows by the marks from what quarter  p349 the tablet has not returned, and whoever is responsible for the stoppage meets with the punishment he merits.

35 1 They manage the night guards thus: 2 The maniple on duty there guards the consul and his tent, while the tents of the tribunes and the troops of horse are guarded by the men appointed from each maniple in the manner I explained above. 3 Each separate body likewise appoints a guard of its own men for itself. 4 The remaining guards are appointed by the Consul; and there are generally three pickets at the quaestorium and two at the tents of each of the legates and members of the council. 5 The whole outer face of the camp is guard by the velites, who are posted every day along the vallum — this being the special duty assigned to them — and ten of them are on guard at each entrance. 6 Of those appointed to picket duty, the man in each maniple who is to take the first watch is brought to the tribune in the evening by one of the optiones of his company. 7 The tribune gives them all little tablets, one for each station, quite small, with a sign written on them and on receiving this they leave for the posts assigned to them.

8 The duty of going the rounds is entrusted to the cavalry. The first praefect of cavalry in each legion must give orders early in the morning to one of his optiones to send notice before breakfast to four lads of his own squadron who will be required to go the rounds. 9 The same man must also give notice in the evening to the praefect of the next squadron that he  p351 must make arrangements for going the rounds on the following day. 10 This praefect, on receiving the notice, must take precisely the same steps on the next day; and so on through all the squadrons. 11 The four men chosen by the optiones from the first squadron, after drawing lots for their respective watches, go to the tribune and get written orders from him stating what stations they are to visit and at what time. 12 After that all four of them go and station themselves next the first maniple of the triarii, for it is the duty of the centurion of this maniple to have a bugle sounded at the beginning of each watch. 36 1 When this time comes, the man to whom the first watch fell by lot makes his rounds accompanied by some friends as witnesses. 2 He visits the posts mentioned in his orders, not only those near the vallum and the gates, but the pickets also of the infantry maniples and cavalry squadrons. 3 If he finds the guards of the first watch awake he receives their tessera, but if he finds that anyone is asleep or has left his post, he calls those with him to witness the fact, and proceeds on his rounds. 4 Those who go the rounds in the succeeding watches act in a similar manner. 5 As I said, the charge of sounding a bugle at the beginning of each watch, so that those going the rounds may visit the different stations at the right time, falls on the centurions of the first maniple of the triarii in each legion, who take it by turns for a day.

6 Each of the men who have gone the rounds brings back the tesserae at daybreak to the tribune. If they deliver them all they are suffered to depart without question; 7 but if one of them delivers fewer than the number of stations visited, they find out  p353 from examining the signs on the tesserae which station is missing, 8 and on ascertaining this the tribune calls the centurion of the maniple and he brings before him the men who were on picket duty, and they are confronted with the patrol. 9 If the fault is that of the picket, the patrol makes matters clear at once by calling the men who had accompanied him, for he is bound to do this; but if nothing of the kind has happened, the fault rests on him. 37 1 A court-martial composed of all the tribunes at once meets to try him, and if he is found guilty he is punished by the bastinado ( fustuarium). 2 This is inflicted as follows: The tribune takes a cudgel and just touches the condemned man with it, 3 after which all in the camp beat or stone him, in most cases dispatching him in the camp itself. 4 But even those who manage to escape are not saved thereby: impossible! for they are not allowed to return to their homes, and none of the family would dare to receive such a man in his house. So that those who have of course fallen into this misfortune are utterly ruined. 5 The same punishment is inflicted on the optio and on the praefect of the squadron, if they do not give the proper orders at the right time to the patrols and the praefect of the next squadron. 6 Thus, owing to the extreme severity and inevitableness of the penalty, the night watches of the Roman army are most scrupulously kept.

7 While the soldiers are subject to the tribune, the latter are subject to the consuls. 8 A tribune, and in the case of the allies a praefect, has the right of inflicting fines, of demanding sureties, and of  p355 punishing by flogging. 9 The bastinado is also inflicted on those who steal anything from the camp; on those who give false evidence; on young men who have abused their persons; and finally on anyone who has been punished thrice for the same fault. 10 Those are the offences which are punished as crimes, the following being treated as unmanly acts and disgraceful in a soldier — when a man boasts falsely to the tribune of his valour in the field in order to gain distinction; 11 when any men who have been placed in a covering force leave the station assigned to them from fear; likewise when anyone throws away from fear any of his arms in the actual battle. 12 Therefore the men in covering forces often face certain death, refusing to leave their ranks even when vastly outnumbered, owing to dread of the punishment they would meet with; 13 and again in the battle men who have lost a shield or sword or any other arm often throw themselves into the midst of the enemy, hoping either to recover the lost object or to escape by death from inevitable disgrace and the taunts of their relations.

38 1 If the same thing ever happens to large bodies, and if entire maniples desert their posts when exceedingly hard pressed, the officers refrain from inflicting the bastinado or the death penalty on all, but find a solution of the difficulty which is both salutary and terror-striking. 2 The tribune assembles the legion, and brings up those guilty of leaving the ranks, reproaches them sharply, and finally chooses by lots sometimes five, sometimes eight, sometimes twenty of the offenders, so adjusting the number thus chosen that they form as near as possible the tenth part of  p357 those guilty of cowardice. 3 Those on whom the lot falls are bastinadoed mercilessly in the manner above described; the rest receive rations of barley instead of wheat and are ordered to encamp outside the camp on an unprotected spot. 4 As therefore the danger and dread of drawing the fatal lot affects all equally, as it is uncertain on whom it will fall; and as the public disgrace of receiving barley rations falls on all alike, this practice is that best calculated both to inspire fear and to correct the mischief.

39 1 They also have an admirable method of encouraging the young soldiers to face danger. 2 After a battle in which some of them have distinguished themselves, the general calls an assembly of the troops, and bringing forward those whom he considers to have displayed conspicuous valour, first of all speaks in laudatory terms of the courageous deeds of each and of anything else in their previous conduct which deserves commendation, and afterwards distributes the following rewards. 3 To the man who has wounded an enemy, a spear; to him who has slain and stripped an enemy, a cup if he be in the infantry and horse trappings if in the cavalry, although the gift here was originally only a spear. 4 These gifts are not made to men who have wounded or stripped an enemy in a regular battle or at the storming of a city, but to those who during skirmishes or in similar circumstances, where there is no necessity for engaging in single combat, have voluntarily and deliberately thrown themselves into the danger. 5 To the first man to mount the wall at the assault on a city,  p359 he gives a crown of gold. 6 So also those who have shielded and saved any of the citizens or allies receive honorary gifts from the consul, and the men they saved crown their preservers, if not under their own free will under compulsion from the tribunes who judge the case. 7 The man thus preserved also reverences his preserver as a father all through his life, and must treat him in every way like a parent. 8 By such incentives they excite to emulation and rivalry in the field not only the men who are present and listen to their words, but those who remain at home also. 9 For the recipients of such gifts, quite apart from becoming famous in the army and famous too for the time at their homes, are especially distinguished in religious processions after their return, as no one is allowed to wear decorations except those on whom these honours for bravery have been conferred by the consul; 10 and in their houses they hand up the spoils they won in the most conspicuous places, looking upon them as tokens and evidences of their valour. 11 Considering all this attention given to the matter of punishments and rewards in the army and the importance attached to both, no wonder that the wars in which the Romans engage end so success­fully and brilliantly.

12 As pay the foot-soldier receives two obols a day, a centurion twice as much, and a cavalry-soldier a drachma. 13 The allowance of corn to a foot-soldier is about two-thirds of an Attic medimnus a month, a cavalry-soldier receives seven medimni of barley and two of wheat. 14 Of the allies the infantry receive the same, the cavalry one and one-third medimnus of wheat and five of barley, these rations being a  p361 free gift to the allies; but in the case of the Romans the quaestor deducts from their pay the price fixed for their corn and clothes and any additional arm they require.

40 1 The following is their manner of breaking up camp. 2 Immediately upon the signal being given they take down the tents and every one packs up. No tent, however, may be either taken down or set up before those of the tribunes and consul. 3 On the second signal they load the pack animals, and on the third the leaders of the column must advance and set the whole camp in movement. 4 They usually place the extraordinarii at the head of the column. Next comes the right wing of the allies and behind them their pack animals. 5 The first Roman legion marches next with its baggage behind it and it is followed by the second legion, 6 which has behind it both its own pack animals and also the baggage of the allies who bring up the rear; for the left wing of the allies forms the extreme rear of the column on the march. 7 The cavalry sometimes marches in the rear of the respective bodies to which it belongs and sometimes on the flanks of the pack train, keeping the animals together and affording them protection. 8 When an attack is expected from the rear, the same order is maintained, but the allied extraordinarii, not any other portion of the allies, march in the rear instead of the van. 9 Of the two legions and wings  p363 each takes the front or rear position on alternate days, so that by this change of order all may equally share the advantage of a fresh water supply and fresh foraging ground. 10 They have also another kind of marching order at times of danger when they have open ground enough. 11 For in this case the hastati, principes, and triarii form three parallel columns, the pack trains of the leading maniples being placed in front of all, those of the second maniples behind the leading maniples, those of the third behind the second and so on, with the baggage trains always interspersed between the bodies of troops. 12 With this order of march when the column is threatened, they face now to the left now to the right, and getting clear of the baggage confront the enemy from whatever side he appears. 13 So that very rapidly, and by one movement the infantry is placed in order of battle (except perhaps that the hastati may have to wheel round the others), 14 and the crowd of baggage animals and their attendants are in their proper place in the battle, being covered by the line of troops.

41 1 When the army on the march is near the place of encampment, one of the tribunes and those centurions who are specially charged with this duty go out in advance, 2 and after surveying the whole ground on which the camp is to be formed, first of all determine from the considerations I mentioned above where the consul's tent should be placed and on which front of the space round this tent the legions  p365 should encamp. 3 When they have decided on this, they measure out first the area of the praetorium, next the straight line along which the tents of the tribunes are erected and next the line parallel to this, starting from which the troops form their encampment. 4 In the same way they draw lines on the other side of the praetorium, the arrangement of which I described above in detail and at some length. 5 All this is done in a very short time, as the marking out is a quite easy matter, all the distances being fixed and familiar; 6 and they now plant flags, one on the spot intended for the consul's tent, another on that side of it they have chosen for the camp, a third in the middle of the line on which the tribune's tents will stand, and a fourth on the other parallel line along which the legions will encamp. 7 These latter flags are crimson, but the consul's is white. On the ground on the other side of the praetorium they plant either simple spears or flags of other colours. 8 After this they go on to lay out the streets and plant spears in each street. 9 Consequently it is obvious that when the legions march up and get a good view of the site for the camp, all the parts of it are known at once to everyone, as they have only to reckon from the position of the consul's flag. 10 So that, as everyone knows exactly in which street and in what part of the street his tent will be, since all invariably occupy the same place in the camp, the encamping somewhat resembles the return of an army to its native city. 11 For then they break up at the gate and everyone  p367 goes straight on from there and reaches his own house without fail, as he knows both the quarter and the exact spot where his residence is situated. 12 It is very much the same thing in a Roman camp.

42 1 The Romans by thus studying convenience in this matter pursue, it seems to me, a course diametrically opposite to that usual among the Greeks. 2 The Greeks in encamping think it of primary importance to adapt the camp to the natural advantages of the ground, first because they shirk the labour of entrenching, and next because they think artificial defences are not equal in value to the fortifications which nature provides unaided on the spot. 3 So that as regards the plan of the camp as a whole they are obliged to adopt all kinds of shapes to suit the nature of the ground, and they often have to shift the parts of the army to unsuitable situations, the consequence being that everyone is quite uncertain whereabouts in the camp his own place or the place of his corps is. 5 The Romans on the contrary prefer to submit to the fatigue of entrenching and other defensive work for the sake of the convenience of having a single type of camp which never varies and is familiar to all.

6 Such are the most important facts about the Roman armies and especially about the method of encampment. . . .

VII. The Roman Republic compared with others

43 1 One may say that nearly all authors have handed down to us the reputation for excellence enjoyed  p369 by the constitutions of Sparta, Crete, Mantinea, and Carthage. Some make mention also of those of Athens and Thebes. 2 I leave these last two aside; for I am myself convinced that the constitutions of Athens and Thebes need not be dealt with at length, considering that these states neither grew by a normal process, nor did they remain for long in their most flourishing state, nor were the changes they underwent immaterial; 3 but after a sudden effulgence so to speak, the work of chance and circumstance, while still apparently prosperous and with every prospect of a bright future, they experienced a complete reverse of fortune. 4 For the Thebans, striking at the Lacedaemonians through their mistaken policy and the hatred their allies bore them, owing to the admirable qualities of one or at most two men, who had detected these weaknesses, gained in Greece a reputation for superiority. 5 Indeed, that the successes of the Thebans at that time were due not to the form of their constitution, but to the high qualities of their leading men, was made manifest to all by Fortune immediately afterwards. 6 For the success of Thebes grew, attained its height, and ceased with the lives of Epaminondas and Pelopidas; 7 and therefore we must regard the temporary splendour of that state as due not to its constitution, but to its men. 44 1 We must hold very much the same opinion about the Athenian constitution. 2 For Athens also, though she perhaps enjoyed more frequent periods of success, after her most glorious one of all which was coeval with the excellent administration of Themistocles, rapidly experienced a complete reverse of fortune owing to the inconstancy of her nature. 3 For the Athenian populace always more or  p371 less resembles a ship without a commander. 4 In such a ship when fear of the billows or the danger of a storm induces the mariners to be sensible and attend to the orders of the skipper, they do their duty admirably. 5 But when they grow over-confident and begin to entertain contempt for their superiors and to quarrel with each other, as they are no longer all of the same way of thinking, then with some of them determined to continue the voyage, and others putting pressure on the skipper to anchor, with some letting out the sheets and others preventing them and ordering the sails to be taken it, not only does the spectacle strike anyone who watches it as disgraceful owing to their disagreement and contention, but the position of affairs is a source of actual danger to the rest of those on board; 7 so that often after escaping from the perils of the widest seas and fiercest storms they are shipwrecked in harbour and when close to the shore. 8 This is what has more than once befallen the Athenian state. After having averted the greatest and most terrible dangers owing to the high qualities of the people and their leaders, it has come to grief at times by sheer heedlessness and unreasonableness in seasons of unclouded tranquillity. 9 Therefore I need say no more about this constitution or that of Thebes, states in which everything is managed by the uncurbed impulse of a mob in the one case exceptionally headstrong and ill-tempered and in the other brought up in an atmosphere of violence and passion.

45 1 To pass to the constitution of Crete, two points here demand our attention. How was it that the most learned of the ancient writers — Ephorus, Xenophon, Callisthenes, and Plato — state in  p373 the first place that it is one and the same with that of Lacedaemon and in the second place pronounce it worthy of commendation? 2 In my own opinion neither of these assertions is true. 3 Whether or not I am right the following observations will show. And first as to its dissimilarity with the constitution of Sparta. The peculiar features of the Spartan state are said to be first the land laws by which no citizen may own more than another, but all must possess an equal share of the public land; 4 secondly their view of money-making; for, money being esteemed of no value at all among them, the jealous contention due to the possession of more or less is utterly done away with; 5 and thirdly the fact that of the magistrates by whom or by whose co-operation the whole administration is conducted, the kings hold a hereditary office and the members of the Gerousia are elected for life. 46 1 In all these respects the Cretan practice is exactly the opposite. 2 Their laws go as far as possible in letting them acquire land to the extent of their power, as the saying is, and money is held in such high honour among them that its acquisition is not only regarded as necessary, but as most honourable. 3 So much in fact do sordid love of gain and lust for wealth prevail among them, that the Cretans are the only people in the world in whose eyes no gain is disgraceful. 4 Again their magistracies are annual and elected on a democratic system. 5 So that it often causes surprise how these authors proclaim to us, that two political systems the nature of which is so opposed, are allied and akin to each other. 6 Besides over­looking such differences, these writers go out of their  p375 way to give us their general views, saying that Lycurgus was the only man who ever saw the points of vital importance for good government. 7 For, there being two things to which a state owes its preservation, bravery against the enemy and concord among the citizens, Lycurgus by doing away with the lust for wealth did away also with all civil discord and broils. 8 In consequence of which the Lacedaemonians, being free from these evils, excel all the Greeks in the conduct of their internal affairs and in their spirit of union. 9 After asserting this, although they witness that the Cretans, on the other hand, owing to their ingrained lust of wealth are involved in constant broils both public and private, and in murders and civil wars, they regard this as immaterial, and have the audacity to say that the two political systems are similar. 10 Ephorus actually, apart from the names, uses the same phrases in explaining the nature of the two states; so that if one did not attend to the proper names it would be impossible to tell of which he is speaking.

11 Such are the points in which I consider these two political systems to differ, and I will now give my reasons for not regarding that of Crete as worthy of praise or imitation. 47 1 In my opinion there are two fundamental things in every state, by virtue of which its principle and constitution is either desirable or the reverse. 2 I mean customs and laws. What is desirable in these makes men's private lives righteous and well ordered and the general character of the state gentle and just, while what is to be avoided has the opposite effect. 3 So just as when we observe the laws and customs of a  p377 people to be good, we have no hesitation in pronouncing that the citizens and the state will consequently be good also, thus when we notice that men are covetous in their private lives and that their public actions are unjust, we are plainly justified in saying that their laws, their particular customs, and the state as a whole are bad. 5 Now it would be impossible to find except in some rare instances personal conduct more treacherous or a public policy more unjust than in Crete. 6 Holding then the Cretan constitution to be neither similar to that of Sparta nor in any way deserving of praise and imitation, I dismiss it from the comparison which I have proposed to make.

7 Nor again is it fair to introduce Plato's republic which also is much belauded by some philosophers. 8 For just as we do not admit to athletic contests artists or athletes who are not duly entered and have not been in training, so we have no right to admit this constitution to the competition for the prize of merit, unless it first give an exhibition of its actual working. 9 Up to the present it would be just the same thing to discuss it with a view to comparison with the constitutions of Sparta, Rome, and Carthage, as to take some statue and compare it with living and breathing men. 10 For even if the workman­ship of the statue were altogether praiseworthy, the comparison of a lifeless thing with a living being would strike spectators as entirely imperfect and incongruous.

48 1 Dismissing, therefore, these constitutions, we  p379 will return to that of Sparta. 2 To me it seems as far as regards the maintenance of concord among the citizens, the security of the Laconian territory and the preservation of the freedom of Sparta, the legislation of Lycurgus and the foresight he exhibited were so admirable that one is forced to regard his institutions as of divine rather than human origin. 3 For the equal division of landed property and the simple and common diet were calculated to produce temperance in the private lives of the citizens and to secure the commonwealth as a whole from civil strife, as was the training in the endurance of hardships and dangers to form brave and valorous men. 4 Now when both these virtues, fortitude and temperance, are combined in one soul or in one city, evil will not readily originate within such men or such peoples, nor will they be easily overmastered by their neighbours. 5 By constructing, therefore, his constitution in this manner and out of these elements, Lycurgus secured the absolute safety of the whole territory of Laconia, and left to the Spartans themselves a lasting heritage of freedom. 6 But as regards the annexation of neighbouring territories, supremacy in Greece, and, generally speaking, an ambitious policy, he seems to me to have made absolutely no provision for such contingencies, either in particular enactments or in the general constitution of the state. 7 What he left undone, therefore, was to bring to bear on the citizens some force or principle, by which, just as he had made them simple and contented in their private lives, he might make the spirit of the city as a whole likewise contented and moderate. 8 But now, while he made them most unambitious and  p381 sensible people as regards their private lives and the institutions of their city, he left them most ambitious, domineering, and aggressive towards the rest of the Greeks.

49 1 For who is not aware that they were almost the first of the Greeks to cast longing eyes on the territory of their neighbours, making war on the Messenians out of covetousness and for the purpose of enslaving them? 2 And is it not narrated by all historians how out of sheer obstinacy they bound themselves by an oath not to desist from the siege before they had taken Messene? 3 It is no less universally known that owing to their desire of domination in Greece they were obliged to execute the behests of the very people they had conquered in battle. 4 For they conquered the Persians when they invaded Greece, fighting for her freedom; 5 but when the invaders had withdrawn and fled they betrayed the Greek cities to them by the peace of Antalcidas, in order to procure money for establishing their sovereignty over the Greeks; 6 and here a conspicuous defect in their constitution revealed itself. 7 For as long as they aspired to rule over their neighbours or over the Peloponnesians alone, they found the supplies and resources furnished by Laconia itself adequate, as they had all they required ready to hand, and quickly returned home whether by land or sea. 8 But once they began to undertake naval expeditions and to make military campaigns outside the Peloponnese, it was evident that neither their iron currency nor the exchange of their crops for commodities which they lacked, as permitted by the legislation of Lycurgus, would  p383 suffice for their needs, 9 since these enterprises demanded a currency in universal circulation and supplies drawn from abroad; 10 and so they were compelled to be beggars from the Persians, to impose tribute on the islanders, and exact contributions from all the Greeks, as they recognized that under the legislation of Lycurgus it was impossible to aspire, I will not say to supremacy in Greece, but to any position of influence.

50 1 But what is the purpose of this digression? It is to show from the actual evidence of facts, that for the purpose of remaining in secure possession of their own territory and maintaining their freedom the legislation of Lycurgus is amply sufficient, 2 and to those who maintain this to be the object of political constitutions we must admit that there is not and never was any system or constitution superior to that of Lycurgus. 3 But if anyone is ambitious of greater things, and esteems it finer and more glorious than that to be the leader of many men and to rule and lord it over many and have the eyes of all the world turned to him, 4 it must be admitted that from this point of view the Laconian constitution is defective, while that of Rome is superior and better framed for the attainment of power, 5 as is indeed evident from the actual course of events. For when the Lacedaemonians endeavoured to obtain supremacy in Greece, they very soon ran the risk of losing their own liberty; 6 whereas the Romans, who had aimed merely at the subjection of Italy, in a short time brought the whole world under their sway, the abundant of supplies they had at their command conducing in no small measure to this result.

 p385  51 1 The constitution of Carthage seems to me to have been originally well contrived as regards its most distinctive points. 2 For there were kings, and the house of Elders was an aristocratical force, and the people were supreme in matters proper to them, the entire frame of the state much resembling that of Rome and Sparta. 3 But at the time when they entered on the Hannibalic War, the Carthaginian constitution had degenerated, and that of Rome was better. 4 For as every body or state or action has its natural periods first of growth, then of prime, and finally of decay, and as everything in them is at its best when they are in their prime, it was for this reason that the difference between the two states manifested itself at this time. 5 For by as much as the power and prosperity of Carthage had been earlier than that of Rome, by so much had Carthage already begun to decline; while Rome was exactly at her prime, as far as at least as her system of government was concerned. 6 Consequently the multitude at Carthage had already acquired the chief voice in deliberations; while at Rome the senate still retained this; 7 and hence, as in one case the masses deliberated and in the other the most eminent men, the Roman decisions on public affairs were superior, 8 so that although they met with complete disaster, they were finally by the wisdom of their counsels victorious over the Carthaginians in the war.

52 1 But to pass to differences of detail, such as, to begin with, the conduct of war, the Carthaginians naturally are superior at sea both in efficiency and equipment, because seaman­ship has long been their national craft, and they busy themselves with the sea  p387 more than any other people; 2 but as regards military service on land the Romans are much more efficient. 3 They indeed devote their whole energies to this matter, whereas the Carthaginians entirely neglect their infantry, though they do pay some slight attention to their cavalry. 4 The reason of this is that the troops they employ are foreign and mercenary, whereas those of the Romans are natives of the soil and citizens. 5 So that in this respect also we must pronounce the political system of Rome to be superior to that of Carthage, the Carthaginians continuing to depend for the maintenance of their freedom on the courage of a mercenary force but the Romans on their own valour and on the aid of their allies. 6 Consequently even if they happen to be worsted at the outset, the Romans redeem defeat by final success, while it is the contrary with the Carthaginians. 7 For the Romans, fighting as they are for their country and their children, never can abate their fury but continue to throw their whole hearts into the struggle until they get the better of their enemies. 8 It follows that though the Romans are, as I said, much less skilled in naval matters, they are on the whole success­ful at sea owing to the gallantry of their men; 9 for although skill in seaman­ship is of no small importance in naval battles, it is chiefly the courage of the marines that turns the scale in favour of victory. 10 Now not only do Italians in general naturally excel Phoenicians and Africans in bodily strength and personal courage, but by their institutions also they do much to foster a spirit of bravery in the young men. 11 A single instance will suffice to indicate the pains taken by the state to turn out men who will be ready to endure  p389 everything in order to gain a reputation in their country for valour.

53 1 Whenever any illustrious man dies, he is carried at his funeral into the forum to the so‑called rostra, sometimes conspicuous in an upright posture and more rarely reclined. 2 Here with all the people standing round, a grown-up son, if he has left one who happens to be present, or if not some other relative mounts the rostra and discourses on the virtues and success­ful achievements of the dead. 3 As a consequence the multitude and not only those who had a part in these achievements, but those also who had none, when the facts are recalled to their minds and brought before their eyes, are moved to such sympathy that the loss seems to be not confined to the mourners, but a public one affecting the whole people. 4 Next after the interment and the performance of the usual ceremonies, they place the image of the departed in the most conspicuous position in the house, enclosed in a wooden shrine. 5 This image is a mask reproducing with remarkable fidelity both the features and complexion of the deceased. 6 On the occasion of public sacrifices they display these images, and decorate them with much care, and when any distinguished member of the family dies they take them to the funeral, putting them on men who seem to them to bear the closest resemblance to the original in stature and carriage. 7 These representatives wear togas, with a purple border if the deceased was a consul or praetor, whole purple if he was a censor, and embroidered with gold if he  p391 had celebrated a triumph or achieved anything similar. 8 They all ride in chariots preceded by the fasces, axes, and other insignia by which the different magistrates are wont to be accompanied according to the respective dignity of the offices of state held by each during his life; 9 and when they arrive at the rostra they all seat themselves in a row on ivory chairs. There could not easily be a more ennobling spectacle for a young man who aspires to fame and virtue. 10 For who would not be inspired by the sight of the images of men renowned for their excellence, all together and as if alive and breathing? What spectacle could be more glorious than this? 54 1 Besides, he who makes the oration over the man about to be buried, when he has finished speaking of him recounts the successes and exploits of the rest whose images are present, beginning with the most ancient. 2 By this means, by this constant renewal of the good report of brave men, the celebrity of those who performed noble deeds is rendered immortal, while at the same time the fame of those who did good service to their country becomes known to the people and a heritage for future generations. 3 But the most important result is that young men are thus inspired to endure every suffering for public welfare in the hope of winning the glory that attends on brave men. 4 What I say is confirmed by the facts. For many Romans have voluntarily engaged in single combat in order to decide a battle, not a few have faced certain death, some in war to save the lives of the rest, and others in peace to save the republic. 5 Some even when in office have put their own sons to death contrary to every law or custom, setting a higher value on  p393 the interest of their country than on the ties of nature that bound them to their nearest and dearest.

6 Many such stories about many men are related in Roman history, but one told of a certain person will suffice for the present as an example and as a confirmation of what I say. 55 1 It is narrated that when Horatius Cocles was engaged in combat with two of the enemy at the far end of the bridge over the Tiber that lies in the front of the town, he saw large reinforcements coming up to help the enemy, and fearing lest they should force the passage and get into town, he turned round and called to those behind him to retire and cut the bridge with all speed. 2 His order was obeyed, and while they were cutting the bridge, he stood to his ground receiving many wounds, and arrested the attack of the enemy who were less astonished at his physical strength than at his endurance and courage. 3 The bridge once cut, the enemy were prevented from attacking; and Cocles, plunging into the river in full armour as he was, deliberately sacrificed his life,​2 regarding the safety of his country and the glory which in future would attach to his name as of more importance than his present existence and the years of life which remained to him. 4 Such, if I am not wrong, is the eager emulation of achieving noble deeds engendered in the Roman youth by their institutions.

56 1 Again, the laws and customs relating to the acquisition of wealth are better in Rome than at Carthage. 2 At Carthage nothing which results in profit is regarded as disgraceful; at Rome nothing  p395 is considered more so than to accept bribes and seek gain from improper channels. 3 For no less strong than their approval of money-making is their condemnation of unscrupulous gain from forbidden sources. 4 A proof of this is that at Carthage candidates for office practise open bribery, whereas at Rome death is the penalty for it. 5 Therefore as the rewards offered to merit are the opposite in the two cases, it is natural that the steps taken to gain them should also be dissimilar.

6 But the quality in which the Roman commonwealth is most distinctly superior is in my opinion the nature of their religious convictions. 7 I believe that it is the very thing which among other peoples is an object of reproach, I mean superstition, which maintains the cohesion of the Roman State. 8 These matters are clothed in such pomp and introduced to such an extent into their public and private life that nothing could exceed it, a fact which will surprise many. 9 My own opinion at least is that they have adopted this course for the sake of the common people. 10 It is a course which perhaps would not have been necessary had it been possible to form a state composed of wise men, 11 but as every multitude is fickle, full of lawless desires, unreasoned passion, and violent anger, the multitude must be held in by invisible terrors and suchlike pageantry. 12 For this reason I think, not that the ancients acted rashly and at haphazard in introducing among the people notions concerning the gods and beliefs in the terrors of hell, but that the moderns are most rash and foolish in banishing such beliefs. 13 The consequence is that among the Greeks, apart from  p397 other things, members of the government, if they are entrusted with no more than a talent, though they have ten copyists and as many seals and twice as many witnesses, cannot keep their faith; 14 whereas among the Romans those who as magistrates and legates are dealing with large sums of money maintain correct conduct just because they have pledged their faith by oath. 15 Whereas elsewhere it is a rare thing to find a man who keeps his hands off public money, and whose record is clean in this respect, among the Romans one rarely comes across a man who has been detected in such conduct. . . .

VIII. Conclusion of the Treatise on the Roman Republic

57 1 That all existing things are subject to decay and change is a truth that scarcely needs proof; for the course of nature is sufficient to force this conviction on us. 2 There being two agencies by which every kind of state is liable to decay, the one external and the other a growth of the state itself, we can lay down no fixed rule about the former, but the latter is a regular process. 3 I have already stated what kind of state is the first to come into being, and what the next, and how the one is transformed into the other; so that those who are capable of connecting the opening propositions of this inquiry with its conclusion will now be able to foretell the future unaided. And what will happen is, I think, evident. 5 When a state has weathered many great perils and subsequently attains to supremacy and uncontested sovereignty, it is evident that under  p399 the influence of long established prosperity, life will become more extravagant and the citizens more fierce in their rivalry regarding office and other objects than they ought to be. 6 As these defects go on increasing, the beginning of the change for the worse will be due to love of office and the disgrace entailed by obscurity, as well as to extravagance and purse-proud display; 7 and for this change the populace will be responsible when on the one hand they think they have a grievance against certain people who have shown themselves grasping, and when, on the other hand, they are puffed up by the flattery of others who aspire to office. 8 For now, stirred to fury and swayed by passion in all their counsels, they will no longer consent to obey or even to be the equals of the ruling caste, but will demand the lion's share for themselves. 9 When this happens, the state will change its name to the finest sounding of all, freedom and democracy, but will change its nature to the worst thing of all, mob-rule.

10 Having dealt with the origin and growth of the Roman republic, and with its prime and its present condition, and also with the differences for better or worse between it and others, I may now close this discourse more or less so.

58 1 But, drawing now upon the period immediately subsequent to the date at which I abandoned my narrative to enter on this digression, I will make brief and summary mention of one occurrence; so that, as if exhibiting a single specimen of a good artist's work, I may make manifest not by words only but by actual fact the perfection and strength of principle of the Republic such as it then was.  p401 2 Hannibal, when, after his victory over the Romans at Cannae, the eight thousand who garrisoned the camp fell into his hands, after making them all prisoners, allowed them to send a deputation to those at home on the subject of their ransom and release. 3 Upon their naming ten of their most distinguished members, he sent them off after making them swear that they would return to him. 4 One of those nominated just as he was going out of the camp said he had forgotten something and went back, and after recovering the thing he had left behind again took his departure, thinking that by his return he had kept his faith and absolved himself of his oath. 5 Upon their arrival in Rome they begged and entreated the senate not to grudge the prisoners their release, but to allow each of them to pay three minae and return to his people; for Hannibal, they said, had made this concession. 6 The men deserved to be released, for they had neither been guilty of cowardice in the battle nor had they done anything unworthy of Rome; but having been left behind to guard the camp, they had, when all the rest had perished in the battle, been forced to yield to circumstances and surrender to the enemy. 7 But the Romans, though they had met with severe reverses in the war, and had now, roughly speaking, lost all their allies and were in momentary expectation of Rome itself being placed in peril, 8 after listening to this plea, neither disregarded their dignity under the pressure of calamity, nor neglected to take into consideration every proper step; 9 but seeing that Hannibal's object in acting thus was both to obtain funds and to deprive the troops  p403 opposed to him of their high spirit, by showing that, even if defeated, they might hope for safety, 10 they were so far from acceding to this request, that they did not allow their pity for their kinsmen, or the consideration of the service the men would render them, to prevail, 11 but defeated Hannibal's calculation and the hopes he had based on them by refusing to ransom the men, and at the same time imposed by law on their own troops the duty of either conquering or dying in the field, as there was no hope of safety for them if defeated. 12 Therefore after coming to this decision they dismissed the nine delegates who returned of their own free will, as bound by their oath, while as for the man who had thought to free himself from the oath by a ruse they put him in irons and returned him to the enemy; 13 so that Hannibal's joy at his victory in the battle was not so great as his dejection, when he saw with amazement how steadfast and high-spirited were the Romans in their deliberations.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 A plethron is 10,000 square feet.

2 According to Livy (whom Macaulay follows) Horatius swam across and was saved.

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