« 前へ次へ »
anomalous, sufficient causes must zens had been cut off by the sword, exist :—what were they?
and partly to conceal this waste of In the first place, we may observe population, but much more by way that the people of Rome in that age of cheaply requiting services, or of were generally more corrupt by shewing favour, or of acquiring inmany degrees than has been usually fluence, slaves had been emancipated supposed possible. The effect of in such great multitudes, and afterrevolutionary times, to relax all wards invested with all the rights of modes of moral obligation, and to citizens, that, in a single generation, unsettle the moral sense, has been Rome became almost transmuted well and philosophically stated by into a baser metal; the progeny of Mr Coleridge; but that would hardly those whom the last generation bad account for the utter licentiousness purchased from the slave-merchants. and deprarity of Imperial Rome. These people derived their stock Looking back to Republican Rome, chiefly from Cappadocia, Pontus, &c., and considering the state of public and the other populous regions of morals but fifty years before the Asia Minor; and hence the taint of Emperors, we can with difficulty Asiatic luxury and depravity, which believe that the descendants of a was so conspicuous to all the Ropeople so severe in their habits could mans of the old Republican severity. thus rapidly degenerate, and that Juvenal is to be understood more a populace, once so hardy and mas literally than is sometimes supposed, culine, should assume the man
when he complains that long before ners which we might expect in the his time the Orontes (that river debauchees of Daphne *(the infa- which washed the infamous capital mous suburb of Antioch) or of of Syria) bad mingled its impure Canopus, into which settled the waters with those of the Tiber. And very lees and dregs of the vicious a little before him, Lucan speaks Alexandria. Such extreme changes with mere historic gravity when he would falsify all that we know of hu- saysman nature; we might à priori pronounce them impossible ; and in
“ Vivant Galatæque Syrique fact, upon searching history, we find Cappadoces, Gallique, extremique orbis other modes of solving the difficulty. Armeni, Cilices : nam post civilia bella In reality, the citizens of Rome were at this time a new race, brought to
Hic Populus Romanus erit."* gether from every quarter of the Probably in the time of Nero, not world, but especially from Asia. So vast a proportion of the ancient citi- descent.f And the consequences
one man in six was of pure Roman
Blackwell, in his Court of Augustus, vol. i. p. 382, when noticing these lines, upon occasion of the murder of Cicero, in the final proscription under the last Triumvi. rate, comments thus: “Those of the greatest and truly Roman spirit had been murdered in the field by Julius Cæsar ; the rest were now massacred in the City by his son and successors; in their room came Syrians, Cappadocians, Phrygians, and other enfranchised slaves from the conquered nations ;". " these in half a century bad sunk so low, that Tiberius pronounced her very senators to be homines ad servitutem natos, men born to be slaves."
+ Suetonius indeed pretends that Augustus, personally at least, struggled against this ruinous practice--thinking it a matter of the highest moment, “ sincerum atque ab omni colluvione peregrini et servilis sanguinis incorruptum servare populum." And Horace is ready with his Aatteries on the same topic, lib. 3, Od. 6. But the facts are against them; for the question is not what Augustus did in his own person, (which at most could not operate very widely except by the example,) but what he permitted to be done. Now there was a practice familiar to those times; that when a congiary or any other popular liberality was announced, multitudes were enfranchised by avaricious masters in order to make them capable of the bounty, (as citizens,) and yet under the condition of transferring to their emancipators whatsoever they should receive και να τον δημοσιως διδομενον σιτον λαμβανοντες κατα μηνα-φερωσι τοις δεδωκασι την ελευθεριαν, says Dionysius of Halicarnassus, in order that after receiving the corn given publicly in every month, they might carry it to
were suitable. Scarcely a family months ?" Thus the very fountain has come down to our knowledge of all the “household charities” and that could not in one generation household virtues was polluted. And enumerate a long catalogue of di- after that we need little wonder at vorces within its own contracted the assassinations, poisonings, and forcircle. Every man had married a ging of wills, which then laid waste series of wives ; every woman a se
the domestic life of the Romans. ries of husbands. Even in the palace 2. A second source of the univerof Augustus, who wished to be view. sal depravity was the growing ined as an exemplar or ideal model efficacy of the public religion ; and of domestic purity, every principal this arose from its disproportion and member of his family was tainted in inadequacy to the intellectual adthat way; himself in a manner and vances of the nation. Religion, in a degree infamous even at that time.* its very etymology, has been held to For the first 400 years of Rome, not imply a religatio, that is, a reiterated one divorce had been granted or or secondary obligation of morals; a asked, although the statute which sanction supplementary to that of allowed of this indulgence had al- the conscience. Now, for a rude ways been in force. But in the age and uncultivated people, the Pagan succeeding to the civil wars men mythology might not be too gross to and women “ married,” says one au- discharge the main functions of a thor, “ with a view to divorce, and useful religion. So long as the undivorced in order to marry. Many derstanding could submit to the faof these changes happened within bles of the Pagan creed, so long it the year, especially if the lady had was possible that the hopes and fears a large fortune, which always went built upon that creed might be pracwith her, and procured her choice of tically efficient on men's lives and transient husbands.” And, “ can one intentions. But when the foundaimagine,” asks the same writer, tion gave way, the
whole superstruc“ that the fair one, who cbanged her ture of necessity fell to the ground. husband every quarter, strictly kept Those who were obliged to reject her matrimonial faith all the three the ridiculous legends which invested
those who had bestowed upon them their freedom. In a case, then, where an extensive practice of this kind was exposed to Augustus, and publicly reproved by him, how did he proceed? Did he reject the new-made citizens ? No; he contented himself with diminishing the proportion originally destined for each, so that the same absolute sum being distributed among a number increased by the whole amount of the new inrolments, of necessity the relative sum for each separately was so much less. But this was a remedy applied only to the pecuniary fraud as it would have affected himself. The permanent mischief to the state went unredressed.
Part of the story is well known, but not the whole. Tiberius Nero, a promising young nobleman, had recently married a very splendid beauty. Unfortunately for him, at the marriage of Octavia (sister to Augustus) with Mark Anthony, he allowed his young wife, then about eighteen, to attend upon the bride. Augustus was deeply and suddenly fascinated by her charms, and without further scruple sent a message to Nero-intimating that he was in love with his wife, and would thank him to resign her. The other, thinking it vain, in those days of lawless proscription, to contest a point of this nature with one who commanded twelve legions, obeyed the requisition. Upon some motive, now unknown, he was persuaded even to degrade himself farther; for he actually officiated at the marriage in character of father, and gave away the young beauty to his rival, although at that time six months advanced in pregnancy by himself. These humiliating concessions were extorted from him, and yielded (probably at the instigation of friends) in order to save his life. In the sequel they had the very opposite result; for he died soon after, and it is reasonably supposed of grief and mortification. At the marriage-feast, an incident occurred which threw the whole company into confusion : A little boy, roving from couch to couch among the guests, came at length to that in which Livia (the bride) was lying by the side of Augustus, on which he cried out aloud,“ Lady, what are you doing here? You are mistaken-this is not your husband-he is there,” (pointing to Tiberius,) " go, go-rise, lady, and recline beside him."
the whole of their Pantheon, together How was it possible that the fine and with the fabulous adjudgers of future intellectual griefs of the drama should punishments, could not but dismiss win their way to hearts seared and the punishments, which were, in fact, rendered callous by the continual as laughable, and as obviously the exhibition of scenes the most hidefictions of human ingenuity, as their ous, in which human blood was pourdispensers. In short, the civilized ed out like water, and a human life part of the world in those days lay sacrificed at any moment either to in this dreadful condition; their in- caprice in the populace, or to a strife tellect had far outgrown their reli- of rivalry between the ayes and the gion; the disproportions between noes, or as the penalty for any trifling the two were at length become mon- instance of awkwardness in the perstrous; and as yet no purer or more former himself ? Even the more inelevated faith was prepared for their nocent exhibitions, in which brutes acceptance. The case was as shock- only were the sufferers, could not ing as if, with our present intellec- but be mortal to all the finer sensi. tual needs, we should be unhappy bilities. Five thousand wild animals, enough to have no creed on which torn from their native abodes in the to rest the burden of our final hopes wilderness or forest, were often turnand fears, of our moral obligations, ed out to be hunted, or for mutual and of our consolations in misery, slaughter, in the course of a single except the fairy mythology of our exhibition of this nature; and it nurses. The condition of a people sometimes happened (a fact which 80 situated, of a people under the of itself proclaims the course of the calamity of having outgrown its re- public propensities) that the person ligious faith, has never been suffi- at whose expense the shows were ciently considered. It is probable exhibited, by way of paying special that such a condition has never ex- court to the people and meriting isted before or since that era of the their favour, in the way most conworld. The consequences to Rome spicuously open to him, issued orders were-that the reasoning and dispu- that all, without a solitary exception, tatious part of her population took should be slaughtered. He made it refuge from the painful state of doubt known, as the very highest gratificain Atheism; amongst the thoughtless tion which the case allowed, that (in and irreflective the consequences the language of our modern auctionwere chiefly felt in their morals, eers) the whole, “ without reserve, which were thus sapped in their should perish before their eyes. Even foundation.
such spectacles must have hardened 3. A third cause, which from the the heart, and blunted the more defirst had exercised a most baleful in- licate sensibilities; but these would fluence upon the arts and upon lite- soon cease to stimulate the pamperrature in Rome, had by this time ed and exhausted sense. From the matured its disastrous tendencies to- combats of tigers or leopards, in wards the extinction of the moral which the passions could only be sensibilities. This was the Circus, gathered indirectly, and by way of and the whole machinery, form and inference from the motions, the transubstance, of the Circensian shows. sition must have been almost inevi. Why had tragedy no existence as a table to those of men, whose nobler part of the Roman literature ? Be- and more varied passions spoke dicause--and that was a reason which rectly, and by the intelligible lanwould have sufficed to stifle all the guage of the eye, to human spectadramatic genius of Greece and Eng- tors; and from the frequent conland—there was too much tragedy templation of these authorized murin the shape of gross reality, almost ders, in which a whole people, wodaily before their eyes. The amphi. men* as much as men, and children theatre extinguished the theatre. intermingled with both, looked on
Augustus, indeed, strove to exclude the women from one part of the Circensian spectacles; and what was that ? Simply from the sight of the athletæ, as being naked. But that they should witness the pangs of the dying gladiators, he deemed quite allowable. The smooth barbarian considered, that a license of the first sort offended with leisurely indiference, with anxi- ally abrogate his privilege. For the ous expectation, or with rapturous first time in the person of an Impedelight, whilst below them were rator was seen a supreme autocrat, passing the direct sufferings of hu- who had virtually and effectively all manity, and not seldom its dying the irresponsibility which the law pangs, it was impossible to expect a assigned, and the origin of his office result different from that which did presumed. Satisfied to know that in fact take place,-universal hard- be possessed such power, Augustus, ness of heart, obdurate depravity, as much from natural taste as policy, and a twofold degradation of human was glad to dissemble it, and by nature, which acted simultaneously every means to withdraw it from upon the two pillars of morality, public notice. But he had passed (which are otherwise not often as- his youth as citizen of a republic; sailed together,) of natural sensibi- and in the state of transition to autolity in the first place, and, in the se- cracy, in his office of Triumvir, had cond, of conscientious principle. experimentally known the perils of
4. But these were circumstances rivalship, and the pains of foreign which applied to the whole popula- control, too feelingly to provoke un. tion indiscriminately, Superadded necessarily any sleeping embers of to these, in the case of the Emperor, the republican spirit. Tiberius, and affecting him exclusively, was though" familiar from his infancy this prodigious disadvantage—that with the servile homage of a court, ancient reverence for the immediate was yet modified by the popular witnesses of his actions, and for the temper of Augustus; and he came people and Senate who would under late to the throne. Caligula was the Other circumstances have exercised first prince on whom the entire effect the old functions of the censor, was, of his political situation was allowed as to the Emperor, pretty nearly ob- to operate; and the natural results literated. The very title of Impera- were seen-he was the first absolute tor, from which we have derived our monster. He must early have seen modern one of Emperor, proclaims the realities of his position, and from the nature of the governnient, and what quarter it was that any cloud the tenure of that office. It was could arise to menace his security. purely a government by the sword, To the Senate or people any respect or permanent stratocracy having a · which he might think proper to pay, movable head. Never was there a must have been imputed by all parpeople who enquired so impertinent- ties to the lingering superstitions of ly as the Romans into the domestic custom, to involuntary habit, to conduct of each private citizen. No court dissimulation, or to the decenrank escaped this jealous vigilance; cies of external form, and the preand private liberty, even in the most scriptive reverence of ancient names. indifferent circumstances of taste or But neither Senate nor people could expense, was sacrificed to this in- enforce their claims-whatever they quisitorial rigour of surveillance ex- might happen to be. Their sanction ercised on behalf of the'state, some- and ratifying vote might be worth times by erroneous patriotism, too having, as consecrating what was often by malice in disguise. To this already secure, and conciliating the spirit the highest public officers scruples of the weak to the absolute were obliged to bow; the Consuls, decision of the strong. But their not less than others. And even the resistance, as an original movement, occasional Dictator, if by law irre- was so wholly without hope, that sponsible, acted nevertheless as one they were never weak enough to who knew that any change which threaten it. depressed his party, might eventu- The army was the true successor
against decorum, whilst the other violated only the sanctities of the human heart, and the whole sexual character of women. It is our opinion, that to the brutalizing effect of these exbibitions we are to ascribe not only the early extinction of the Roman drama, but generally the inferiority of Rome to Greece in every department of the fine arts. The fine temper of Roman sensibility, which no culture could have þrought to the level of the Grecian, was thus dulled for every application,
to their places, being the ultimate scandal, rather than by its moral atrodepository of power. Yet, as the city; and Cæsar suffered perhaps in army was necessarily subdivided, as every case, not so much because he the shifting circumstances upon had 'violated his duties, as because every frontier were continually vary. he had dishonoured his office. ing the strength of the several divi- It is, therefore, in the total absence sions as to numbers and state of dis- of the checks which have almost cipline, one part might be balanced universally existed to control other against the other by an Imperator despots, under some indirect shape, standing in the centre of the whole. even where none was provided by The rigour of the niilitary sacramen- the laws, that we must seek for the tum, or oath of allegiance, made it main peculiarity affecting the condidangerous to offer the first over- tion of the Roman Cæsar, which petures to rebellion ; and the money, culiarity it was, superadded to the which the soldiers were continually other three, that finally made those depositing in the bank, placed at the three operative in their fullest exfoot of their military standards, if tent. It is in the perfection of the sometimes turned against the Em- stratocracy that we must look for peror, was also liable to be seques. the key to the excesses of the autotrated in his favour. There were crat. Even in the bloody despotisms then, in fact, two great forces in the of the Barbary states, there has algovernment acting in and by each ways existed in the religious prejuother—the Stratocracy, and the Aue dices of the people, which could not tocracy. Each needed the other; be violated with safety, one check each stood in awe of each. But, as more upon the caprices of the desregarded all other forces in the em- pot than was found at Rome. Upon pire, constitutional or irregular, po- the whole, therefore, what affects us pular or senatorial, neither had any on the first reading as a prodigy or thing to fear. Under any ordinary anomaly in the frantic outrages of circumstances, therefore, consider, the early Cæsars—falls within the ing the hazards of a rebellion, the natural bounds of intelligible human Emperor was substantially liberated nature, when we state the case confrom all control. Vexations or out- siderately. Surrounded by a popurages upon the populace were not lation which had not only gone such to the army. It was but rarely through a most vicious and corruptthat the soldier participated in the ing discipline, and had been utterly emotions of the citizen. And thus, ruined by the license of revolutionbeing effectually without check, the ary times, and the bloodiest proscripmost vicious of the Cæsars went on tions, but had even been extensively without fear, presuming upon the changed in its very elements, and weakness of one part of his subjects, from the descendants of Romulus and the indifference of the other, had been transmuted into an Asiatic until he was tempted onwards to mob;--starting from this point, and atrocities which armed against him considering as the second feature of the common feelings of human na- the case, that this transfigured people, ture, and all mankind, as it were, morally so degenerate, were carried, rose in a body with one voice, and however, by the progress of civilisa'apparently with one heart, united by tion to a certain intellectual altitude, mere force of indignant sympathy, which the popular religion had not to put him down, and “ abate” him strength to ascend—but from inheas a monster. But, until he brought rent disproportion remained at the matters to this extremity, Cæsar had base of the general civilisation, inca. no cause to fear. Nor was it at all pable of accompanying the other certain, in any one instance, where elements in their advance;-thirdly, this exemplary chastisement over that this polished condition of sotook him, that the apparent unani- ciety, which should naturally with mity of the actors went further than the evils of a luxurious repose have the practical conclusion of “abating" counted upon its pacific benefits, had the imperial nuisance, or that their yet, by means of its circus and its indignation had settled upon the gladiatorial contests, applied a consame offences. In general the army stant irritation, and a system of promeasured the guilt by the public vocations to the appetites for blood,