Romans and Italians
From the time when the defeat of Pyrrhus had put an end to the last war which the Italians had waged for their independence—or, in other words, for nearly two hundred years—the Roman primacy had now subsisted in Italy, without having been once shaken in its foundations even under circumstances of the utmost peril. Vainly had the heroic family of the Barcides, vainly had the successors of Alexander the Great and of the Achaemenids, endeavoured to rouse the Italian nation to contend with the too powerful capital; it had obsequiously appeared in the fields of battle on the Guadalquivir and on the Mejerdah, at the pass of Tempe and at Mount Sipylus, and with the best blood of its youth had helped its masters to achieve the subjugation of three continents. Its own position meanwhile had changed, but had deteriorated rather than improved. In a material point of view, doubtless, it had in general not much ground to complain. Though the small and intermediate landholders throughout Italy suffered in consequence of the injudicious Roman legislation as to corn, the larger landlords and still more the mercantile and capitalist class were flourishing, for the Italians enjoyed, as respected the turning of the provinces to financial account, substantially the same protection and the same privileges as Roman burgesses, and thus shared to a great extent in the material advantages of the political ascendency of the Romans. In general, the economic and social condition of Italy was not primarily dependent on political distinctions; there were allied districts, such as Umbria and Etruria, in which the class of free farmers had mostly disappeared, while in others, such as the valleys of the Abruzzi, the same class had still maintained a tolerable footing or remained almost unaffected—just as a similar diversity could be pointed out in the different Roman burgess-districts. On the other hand the political inferiority of Italy was daily displayed more harshly and more abruptly. No formal open breach of right indeed occurred, at least in the principal questions. The communal freedom, which under the name of sovereignty was accorded by treaty to the Italian communities, was on the whole respected by the Roman government; the attack, which the Roman reform party at the commencement of the agrarian agitation made on the Roman domains guaranteed to the communities of better position, had not only been earnestly opposed by the strictly conservative as well as by the middle party in Rome, but had been very soon abandoned by the Roman opposition itself.
Disabilities and Wrongs of the Subjects
But the rights, which belonged and could not but belong to Rome as the leading community—the supreme conduct of war-affairs, and the superintendence of the whole administration—were exercised in a way which was almost as bad as if the allies had been directly declared to be subjects devoid of rights. The numerous modifications of the fearfully severe martial law of Rome, which were introduced there in the course of the seventh century, seem to have remained on the whole limited to the Roman burgess-soldiers: this is certain as to the most important, the abolition of executions by martial law,(1) and we may easily conceive the impression which was produced when, as happened in the Jugurthine war, Latin officers of repute were beheaded by sentence of the Roman council of war, while the lowest burgess-soldier had in the like case the right of presenting an appeal to the civil tribunals of Rome. The proportions in which the burgesses and Italian allies were to be drawn for military service had, as was fair, remained undefined by treaty; but, while in earlier times the two had furnished on an average equal numbers of soldiers,(2) now, although the proportions of the population had changed probably in favour of the burgesses rather than to their disadvantage, the demands on the allies were by degrees increased disproportionately,(3) so that on the one hand they had the chief burden of the heavier and more costly service imposed on them, and on the other hand there were two allies now regularly levied for one burgess. In like manner with this military supremacy the civil superintendence, which (including the supreme administrative jurisdiction which could hardly be separated from it) the Roman government had always and rightly reserved to itself over the dependent Italian communities, was extended in such a way that the Italians were hardly less than the provincials abandoned without protection to the caprice of any one of the numberless Roman magistrates. In Teanum Sidicinum, one of the most considerable of the allied towns, a consul had ordered the chief magistrate of the town to be scourged with rods at the stake in the marketplace, because, on the consul's wife expressing a desire to bathe in the men's bath, the municipal officers had not driven forth the bathers quickly enough, and the bath appeared to her not to be clean. Similar scenes had taken place in Ferentinum, likewise a town holding the best position in law, and even in the old and important Latin colony of Cales. In the Latin colony of Venusia a free peasant had been seized by a young Roman diplomatist not holding office but passing through the town, on account of a jest which he had allowed himself to make on the Roman's litter, had been thrown down, and whipped to death with the straps of the litter. These occurrences are incidentally mentioned about the time of the Fregellan insurrection; it admits of no doubt that similar outrages frequently occurred, and of as little that no real satisfaction for such misdeeds could anywhere be obtained, whereas the right of appeal—not lightly violated with impunity—protected in some measure at least the life and limbs of the Roman burgess. In consequence of this treatment of the Italians on the part of the Roman government, the variance, which the wisdom of their ancestors had carefully fostered between the Latin and the other Italian communities, could not fail, if not to disappear, at any rate to undergo abatement.(4) The curb-fortresses of Rome and the districts kept to their allegiance by these fortresses lived now under the like oppression; the Latin could remind the Picentine that they were both in like manner "subject to the fasces"; the overseers and the slaves of former days were now united by a common hatred towards the common despot.
While the present state of the Italian allies was thus transformed from a tolerable relation of dependence into the most oppressive bondage, they were at the same time deprived of every prospect of obtaining better rights. With the subjugation of Italy the Roman burgess-body had closed its ranks; the bestowal of the franchise on whole communities was totally given up, its bestowal on individuals was greatly restricted.(5) They now advanced a step farther: on occasion of the agitation which contemplated the extension of the Roman franchise to all Italy in the years 628, 632, the right of migration to Rome was itself attacked, and all the non-burgesses resident in Rome were directly ejected by decree of the people and of the senate from the capital(6)—a measure as odious on account of its illiberality, as dangerous from the various private interests which it injuriously affected. In short, while the Italian allies had formerly stood to the Romans partly in the relation of brothers under tutelage, protected rather than ruled and not destined to perpetual minority, partly in that of slaves tolerably treated and not utterly deprived of the hope of manumission, they were now all of them subject nearly in equal degree, and with equal hopelessness, to the rods and axes of their Roman masters, and might at the utmost presume like privileged slaves to transmit the kicks received from their masters onward to the poor provincials.
Difficulty of a General Insurrection
It belongs to the nature of such differences that, restrained by the sense of national unity and by the remembrance of dangers surmounted in common, they make their appearance at first gently and as it were modestly, till the breach gradually widens and the relation between the rulers, whose might is their sole right, and the ruled, whose obedience reaches no farther than their fears, manifests at length undisguisedly the character of force. Down to the revolt and razing of Fregellae in 629, which as it were officially attested the altered character of the Roman rule, the ferment among the Italians did not properly wear a revolutionary character. The longing after equal rights had gradually risen from a silent wish to a loud request, only to be the more decidedly rejected, the more distinctly it was put forward. It was very soon apparent that a voluntary concession was not to be hoped for, and the wish to extort what was refused would not be wanting; but the position of Rome at that time hardly permitted them to entertain any idea of realizing that wish. Although the numerical proportions of the burgesses and non-burgesses in Italy cannot be properly ascertained, it may be regarded as certain that the number of the burgesses was not very much less than that of the Italian allies; for nearly 400,000 burgesses capable of bearing arms there were at least 500,000, probably 600,000 allies.(7) So long as with such proportions the burgesses were united and there was no outward enemy worthy of mention, the Italian allies, split up into an endless number of isolated urban and cantonal communities, and connected with Rome by a thousand relations public and private, could never attain to common action; and with moderate prudence the government could not fail to control their troublesome and indignant subjects partly by the compact mass of the burgesses, partly by the very considerable resources which the provinces afforded, partly by setting one community against another.
The Italian and the Roman Parties
Accordingly the Italians kept themselves quiet, till the revolution began to shake Rome; but, as soon as this had broken out, they too mingled in the movements and agitations of the Roman parties, with a view to obtain equality of rights by means of the one or the other. They had made common cause first with the popular and then with the senatorial party, and gained equally little by either. They had been driven to the conviction that, while the best men of both parties acknowledged the justice and equity of their claims, these best men, aristocrats as well as Populares, had equally little power to procure ahearing for those claims with the mass of their party. They had also observed that the most gifted, most energetic, and most celebrated statesmen of Rome had found themselves, at the very moment when they came forward as advocates of the Italians, deserted by their own adherents and had been accordingly overthrown. In all the vicissitudes of the thirty years of revolution and restoration governments enough had been installed and deposed, but, however the programme might vary, a short-sighted and narrow-minded spirit sat always at the helm.
The Italians and the Oligarchy
The Licinio-Mucian Law
Above all, the recent occurrences had clearly shown how vain was the expectation of the Italians that their claims would be attended to by Rome. So long as the demands of the Italians were mixed up with those of the revolutionary party and had in the hands of the latter been thwarted by the folly of the masses, they might still resign themselves to the belief that the oligarchy had been hostile merely to the proposers, not to the proposal itself, and that there was still a possibility that the mere intelligent senate would accept a measure which was compatible with the nature of the oligarchy and salutary for the state. But the recent years, in which the senate once more ruled almost absolutely, had shed only too disagreeable a light on the designs of the Roman oligarchy also. Instead of the expected modifications, there was issued in 659 a consular law which most strictly prohibited the non-burgesses from laying claim to the franchise and threatened transgressors with trial and punishment—a law which threw back a large number of most respectable persons who were deeply interested in the question of equalization from the ranks of Romans into those of Italians, and which in point of indisputable legality and of political folly stands completely on a parallel with that famous act which laid the foundation for the separation of North America from the mother-country; in fact it became, just like that act, the proximate cause of the civil war. It was only so much the worse, that the authors of this law by no means belonged to the obstinate and incorrigible Optimates; they were no other than the sagacious and universally honoured Quintus Scaevola, destined, like George Grenville, by nature to be a jurist and by fate to be a statesman—who by his equally honourable and pernicious rectitude inflamed more than any one else first the war between senate and equites, and then that between Romans and Italians—and the orator Lucius Crassus, the friend and ally of Drusus and altogether one of the most moderate and judicious of the Optimates.
The Italians and Drusus
Amidst the vehement ferment, which this law and the numerous processes arising out of it called forth throughout Italy, the star of hope once more appeared to arise for the Italians in the person of Marcus Drusus. That which had been deemed almost impossible—that a conservative should take up the reforming ideas of the Gracchi, and should become the champion of equal rights for the Italians—had nevertheless occurred; a man of the high aristocracy had resolved to emancipate the Italians from the Sicilian Straits to the Alps and the government at one and the same time, and to apply all his earnest zeal, all his trusty devotedness to these generous plans of reform. Whether he actually, as was reported, placed himself at the head of a secret league, whose threads ramified through Italy and whose members bound themselves by an oath(8) to stand by each other for Drusus and for the common cause, cannot be ascertained; but, even if he did not lend himself to acts so dangerous and in fact unwarrantable for a Roman magistrate, yet it is certain that he did not keep to mere general promises, and that dangerous connections were formed in his name, although perhaps without his consent and against his will. With joy the Italians heard that Drusus had carried his first proposals with the consent of the great majority of the senate; with still greater joy all the communities of Italy celebrated not long afterwards the recovery of the tribune, who had been suddenly attacked by severe illness. But as the further designs of Drusus became unveiled, a change took place; he could not venture to bring in his chief law; he had to postpone, he had to delay, he had soon to retire. It was reported that the majority of the senate were vacillating and threatened to fall away from their leader; in rapid succession the tidings ran through the communities of Italy, that the law which had passed was annulled, that the capitalists ruled more absolutely than ever, that the tribune had been struck by the hand of an assassin, that he was dead (autumn of 663).
Preparations for General Revolt against Rome
The last hope that the Italians might obtain admission to Roman citizenship by agreement was buried with Marcus Drusus. A measure, which that conservative and energetic man had not been able under the most favourable circumstances to induce his own party to adopt, was not to be gained at all by amicable means. The Italians had no course left save to submit patiently or to repeat once more, and if possible with their united strength, the attempt which had been crushed in the bud five-and-thirty years before by the destruction of Fregellae—so as by force of arms either to destroy Rome and succeed to her heritage, or at least to compel her to grant equality of rights. The latter resolution was no doubt a resolution of despair; as matters stood, the revolt of the isolated urban communities against the Roman government might well appear still more hopeless than the revolt of the American colonies against the British empire; to all appearance the Roman government might with moderate attention and energy of action prepare for this second insurrection the fate of its predecessor. But was it less a resolution of despair, to sit still and allow things to take their course? When they recollected how the Romans had been in the habit of behaving in Italy without provocation, what could they expect now that the most considerable men in every Italian town had or were alleged to have had—the consequences on either supposition being pretty much the same—an understanding with Drusus, which was immediately directed against the party now victorious and might well be characterized as treason? All those who had taken part in this secret league, all in fact who might be merely suspected of participation, had no choice left save to begin the war or to bend their neck beneath the axe of the executioner.
Moreover, the present moment presented comparatively favourable prospects for a general insurrection throughout Italy. We are not exactly informed how far the Romans had carried out the dissolution of the larger Italian confederacies;(9) but it is not improbable that the Marsians, the Paelignians, and perhaps even the Samnites and Lucanians still were associated in their old communal leagues, though these had lost their political significance and were in some cases probably reduced to mere fellowship of festivals and sacrifices. The insurrection, if it should now begin, would still find a rallying point in these unions; but who could say how soon the Romans would for that very reason proceed to abolish these also? The secret league, moreover, which was alleged to be headed by Drusus, had lost in him its actual or expected chief, but it continued to exist and afforded an important nucleus for the political organization of the insurrection; while its military organization might be based on the fact that each allied town possessed its own armament and experienced soldiers. In Rome on the other hand no serious preparations had been made. It was reported, indeed, that restless movements were occurring in Italy, and that the communities of the allies maintained a remarkable intercourse with each other; but instead of calling the citizens in all haste to arms, the governing corporation contented itself with exhorting the magistrates in the customary fashion to watchfulness and with sending out spies to learn farther particulars. The capital was so totally undefended, that a resolute Marsian officer Quintus Pompaedius Silo, one of the most intimate friends of Drusus, is said to have formed the design of stealing into the city at the head of a band of trusty associates carrying swords under their clothes, and of seizing it by a coup de main. Preparations were accordingly made for a revolt; treaties were concluded, and arming went on silently but actively, till at last, as usual, the insurrection broke out through an accident somewhat earlier than the leading men had intended.
Outbreak of the Insurrection in Asculum
Marsians and Sabellians
Central and Southern Italy
The Roman praetor with proconsular powers, Gaius Servilius, informed by his spies that the town of Asculum (Ascoli) in the Abruzzi was sending hostages to the neighbouring communities, proceeded thither with his legate Fonteius and a small escort, and addressed to the multitude, which was just then assembled in the theatre for the celebration of the great games, a vehement and menacing harangue. The sight of the axes known only too well, the proclamation of threats that were only too seriously meant, threw the spark into the fuel of bitter hatred that had been accumulating for centuries; the Roman magistrates were torn to pieces by the multitude in the theatre itself, and immediately, as if it were their intention by a fearful outrage to break down every bridge of reconciliation, the gates were closed by command of the magistracy, all the Romans residing in Asculum were put to death, and their property was plundered. The revolt ran through the peninsula like the flame through the steppe. The brave and numerous people of the Marsians took the lead, in connection with the small but hardy confederacies in the Abruzzi—the Paeligni, Marrucini, Frentani, and Vestini. The brave and sagacious Quintus Silo, already mentioned, was here the soul of the movement. The Marsians were the first formally to declare against the Romans, whence the war retained afterwards the name of the Marsian war. The example thus given was followed by the Samnite communities, and generally by the mass of the communities from the Liris and the Abruzzi down to Calabria and Apulia; so that all Central and Southern Italy was soon in arms against Rome.
Italians Friendly to Rome
The Etruscans and Umbrians on the other hand held by Rome, as they had already taken part with the equites against Drusus.(10) It is a significant fact, that in these regions the landed and moneyed aristocracy had from ancient times preponderated and the middle class had totally disappeared, whereas among and near the Abruzzi the farmer-class had preserved its purity and vigour better than anywhere else in Italy: it was from the farmers accordingly and the middle class in general that the revolt substantially proceeded, whereas the municipal aristocracy still went hand in hand with the government of the capital. This also readily explains the fact, that there were in the insurgent districts isolated communities, and in the insurgent communities minorities, adhering to the Roman alliance; the Vestinian town Pinna, for instance, sustained a severe siege for Rome, and a corps of loyalists that was formed in the Hirpinian country under Minatius Magius of Aeclanum supported the Roman operations in Campania. Lastly, there adhered to Rome the allied communities of best legal position—in Campania Nola and Nuceria and the Greek maritime towns Neapolis and Rhegium, and in like manner at least most of the Latin colonies, such as Alba and Aesernia—just as in the Hannibalic war the Latin and Greek towns on the whole had taken part with, and the Sabellian towns against, Rome. The forefathers of the city had based their dominion over Italy on an aristocratic classification, and with skilful adjustment of the degrees of dependence had kept in subjection the less privileged communities by means of those with better rights, and the burgesses within each community by means of the municipal aristocracy. It was only now, under the incomparably wretched government of the oligarchy, that the solidity and strength with which the statesmen of the fourth and fifth centuries had joined together the stones of their structure were thoroughly put to the test; the building, though shaken in various ways, still held out against this storm. When we say, however, that the towns of better position did not at the first shock abandon Rome, we by no means affirm that they would now, as in the Hannibalic war, hold out for a length of time and after severe defeats, without wavering in their allegiance to Rome; that fiery trial had not yet been endured.
Impression As to the Insurrection in Rome
Rejection of the Proposals for an Accomodation
Commission of High Treason
The first blood was thus shed, and Italy was divided into two great military camps. It is true, as we have seen, that the insurrection was still very far from being a general rising of the Italian allies; but it had already acquired an extent exceeding perhaps the hopes of the leaders themselves, and the insurgents might without arrogance think of offering to the Roman government a fair accommodation. They sent envoys to Rome, and bound themselves to lay down their arms in return for admission to citizenship; it was in vain. The public spirit, which had been so long wanting in Rome, seemed suddenly to have returned, when the question was one of obstructing with stubborn narrow-mindedness a demand of the subjects just in itself and now supported by a considerable force. The immediate effect of the Italian insurrection was, just as was the case after the defeats which the policy of the government had suffered in Africa and Gaul,(11) the commencement of a warfare of prosecutions, by means of which the aristocracy of judges took vengeance on those men of the government whom they, rightly or wrongly, looked upon as the primary cause of this mischief. On the proposal of the tribune Quintus Varius, in spite of the resistance of the Optimates and in spite of tribunician interference, a special commission of high treason—formed, of course, from the equestrian order which contended for the proposal with open violence—was appointed for the investigation of the conspiracy instigated by Drusus and widely ramified in Italy as well as in Rome, out of which the insurrection had originated, and which now, when the half of Italy was under arms, appeared to the whole of the indignant and alarmed burgesses as undoubted treason. The sentences of this commission largely thinned the ranks of the senatorial party favourable to mediation: among other men of note Drusus' intimate friend, the young and talented Gaius Cotta, was sent into banishment, and with difficulty the grey-haired Marcus Scaurus escaped the same fate. Suspicion went so far against the senators favourable to the reforms of Drusus, that soon afterwards the consul Lupus reported from the camp to the senate regarding the communications that were constantly maintained between the Optimates in his camp and the enemy; a suspicion which, it is true, was soon shown to be unfounded by the arrestof Marsian spies. So far king Mithradates might not without reason assert, that the mutual enmities of the factions were more destructive to the Roman state than the Social War itself.
In the first instance, however, the outbreak of the insurrection, and the terrorism which the commission of high treason exercised, produced at least a semblance of unity and vigour. Party feuds were silent; able officers of all shades—democrats like Gaius Marius, aristocrats like Lucius Sulla, friends of Drusus like Publius Sulpicius Rafus—placed themselves at the disposal of the government. The largesses of corn were, apparently about this time, materially abridged by decree of the people with a view to husband the financial resources of the state for the war; which was the more necessary, as, owing to the threatening attitude of king Mithradates, the province of Asia might at any moment fall into the hand of the enemy and thus one of the chief sources of the Roman revenue be dried up. The courts, with the exception of the commission of high treason, in accordance with a decree of the senate temporarily suspended their action; all business stood still, and nothing was attended to but the levying of soldiers and the manufacture of arms.
Political Organizatin of the Insurrection
While the leading state thus collected its energies in the prospect of the severe war impending, the insurgents had to solve the more difficult task of acquiring political organization during the struggle. In the territory of the Paeligni situated in the centre of the Marsian, Samnite, Marrucinian, and Vestinian cantons and consequently in the heart of the insurgent districts, in the beautiful plain on the river Pescara, the town of Corfinium was selected as the Opposition-Rome or city of Italia, whose citizenship was conferred on the burgesses of all the insurgent communities; there a Forum and a senate-house were staked off on a suitable scale. A senate of five hundred members was charged with the settlement of the constitution and the superintendence of the war. In accordance with its directions the burgesses selected from the men of senatorial rank two consuls and twelve praetors, who, just like the two consuls and six praetors of Rome, were invested with the supreme authority in war and peace. The Latin language, which was even then the prevailing language among the Marsians and Picentes, continued in official use, but the Samnite language which predominated in Southern Italy was placed side by side with it on a footing of equality; and the two were made use of alternately on the silver pieces which the new Italian state began to coin in its own name after Roman models and after the Roman standard, thus appropriating likewise the monopoly of coinage which Rome had exercised for two centuries. It is evident from these arrangements— and was, indeed a matter of course-that the Italians now no longer thought of wresting equality of rights from the Romans, but purposed to annihilate or subdue them and to form a new state. But it is also obvious that their constitution was nothing but a pure copy of that of Rome or, in other words, was the ancient polity handed down by tradition among the Italian nations from time immemorial:—the organization of a city instead of the constitution of a state, with primary assemblies as unwieldy and useless as the Roman comitia, with a governing corporation which contained within it the same elements of oligarchy as the Roman senate, with an executive administered in like manner by a plurality of coordinate supreme magistrates. This imitation descended to the minutest details; for instance, the title of consul or praetor held by the magistrate in chief command was after a victory exchanged by the general of the Italians also for the title of Imperator. Nothing in fact was changed but the name; on the coins of the insurgents the same image of the gods appears, the inscription only being changed from Roma to Italia. This Rome of the insurgents was distinguished—not to its advantage—from the original Rome merely by the circumstance, that, while the latter had at any rate an urban development, and its unnatural position intermediate between a city and a state had formed itself at least in a natural way, the new Italia was nothing at all but a place of congress for the insurgents, and it was by a pure fiction of law that the inhabitants of the peninsula were stamped as burgesses of this new capital. But it is significant that in this case, where the sudden amalgamation of a number of isolated cantons into a new political unity might have so naturally suggested the idea of a representative constitution in the modern sense, no trace of any such idea occurs; in fact the very opposite course was followed,(12) and the communal organization was simply reproduced in a far more absurd manner than before. Nowhere perhaps is it so clearly apparent as in this instance, that in the view of antiquity a free constitution was inseparable from the appearance of the sovereign people in person in the primary assemblies, or from a city; and that the great fundamental idea of the modern republican-constitutional state, viz. the expression of the sovereignty of the people by a representative assembly—an idea without which a free state would be a chaos—is wholly modern. Even the Italian polity, although in its somewhat representative senates and in the diminished importance of the comitia it approximated to a free state, never was able in the case either of Rome or of Italia to cross the boundary-line.
Thus began, a few months after the death of Drusus, in the winter of 663-4, the struggle—as one of the coins of the insurgents represents it—of the Sabellian ox against the Roman she-wolf. Both sides made zealous preparations: in Italia great stores of arms, provisions, and money were accumulated; in Rome the requisite supplies were drawn from the provinces and particularly from Sicily, and the long-neglected walls were put in a state of defence against any contingency. The forces were in some measure equally balanced. The Romans filled up the blanks in their Italian contingents partly by increased levies from the burgesses and from the inhabitants—already almost wholly Romanized— of the Celtic districts on the south of the Alps, of whom 10,000 served in the Campanian army alone,(13) partly by the contingents of the Numidians and other transmarine nations; and with the aid of the free cities in Greece and Asia Minor they collected a war fleet.(14) On both sides, without reckoning garrisons, as many as 100,000 soldiers were brought into the field,(15) and in the ability of their men, in military tactics and armament, the Italians were nowise inferior to the Romans.
Subdivision of the Armies on Either Side
The conduct of the war was very difficult both for the insurgents and for the Romans, because the territory in revolt was very extensive and a great number of fortresses adhering to Rome were scattered up and down in it: so that on the one hand the insurgents found themselves compelled to combine a siege-warfare, which broke up their forces and consumed their time, with the protection of an extended frontier; and on the other hand the Romans could not well do otherwise than combat the insurrection, which had no proper centre, simultaneously in all the insurgent districts. In a military point of view the insurgent country fell into two divisions; in the northern, which reached from Picenum and the Abruzzi to the northern border of Campania and embraced the districts speaking Latin, the chief command was held on the Italian side by the Marsian Quintus Silo, on the Roman side by Publius Rutilius Lupus, both as consuls; in the southern, which included Campania, Samnium, and generally the regions speaking Sabellian, the Samnite Gaius Papius Mutilus commanded as consul of the insurgents, and Lucius Julius Caesar as the Roman consul. With each of the two commanders-in-chief there were associated on the Italian side six, on the Roman side five, lieutenant-commanders, each of whom conducted the attack or defence in a definite district, while the consular armies were destined to act more freely and to strike the decisive blow. The most esteemed Roman officers, such as Gaius Marius, Quintus Catulus, and the two consulars of experience in the Spanish war, Titus Didius and Publius Crassus, placed themselves at the disposal of the consuls for these posts; and though the Italians had not names so celebrated to oppose to them, yet the result showed that their leaders were in a military point of view nowise inferior to the Romans.
The offensive in this thoroughly desultory war was on the whole on the side of the Romans, but was nowhere decisively assumed even on their part. It is surprising that the Romans did not collect their troops for the purpose of attacking the insurgents with a superior force, and that the insurgents made no attempt to advance into Latium and to throw themselves on the hostile capital. We are how ever too little acquainted with their respective circumstances to judge whether or how they could have acted otherwise, or to what extent the remissness of the Roman government on the one hand and the looseness of the connection among the federate communities on the other contributed to this want of unity in the conduct of the war. It is easy to see that with such a system there would doubtless be victories and defeats, but the final settlement might be very long delayed; and it is no less plain that a clear and vivid picture of such a war—which resolved itself into a series of engagements on the part of individual corps operating at the same time, sometimes separately, sometimes in combination—cannot be prepared out of the remarkably fragmentary accounts which have come down to us.
Commencement of the War
Caesar in Campania and Samnium
Aesernia Taken by the Insurgents
As also Nola
Campania for the Most Part Lost to the Romans
The first assault, as a matter of course, fell on the fortresses adhering to Rome in the insurgent districts, which in all haste closed their gates and carried in their moveable property from the country. Silo threw himself on the fortress designed to hold in check the Marsians, the strong Alba, Mutilus on the Latin town of Aesernia established in the heart of Samnium: in both cases they encountered the most resolute resistance. Similar conflicts probably raged in the north around Firmum, Atria, Pinna, in the south around Luceria, Beneventum, Nola, Paestum, before and while the Roman armies gathered on the borders of the insurgent country. After the southern army under Caesar had assembled in the spring of 664 in Campania which for the most part held by Rome, and had provided Capua—with its domain so important for the Roman finances—as well as the more important allied cities with garrisons, it attempted to assume the offensive and to come to the aid of the smaller divisions sent on before it to Samnium and Lucania under Marcus Marcellus and Publius Crassus. But Caesar was repulsed by the Samnites and Marsians under Publius Vettius Scato with severe loss, and the important town of Venafrum thereupon passed over to the insurgents, into whose hands it delivered its Roman garrison. By the defection of this town, which lay on the military road from Campania to Samnium, Aesernia was isolated, and that fortress already vigorously assailed found itself now exclusively dependent on the courage and perseverance of its defenders and their commandant Marcellus. It is true that an incursion, which Sulla happily carried out with the same artful audacity as formerly his expedition to Bocchus, relieved the hard-pressed Aesernians for a moment; nevertheless they were after an obstinate resistance compelled by the extremity of famine to capitulate towards the end of the year. In Lucania too Publius Crassus was defeated by Marcus Lamponius, and compelled to shut himself up in Grumentum, which fell after a long and obstinate siege. With these exceptions, they had been obliged to leave Apulia and the southern districts totally to themselves. The insurrection spread; when Mutilus advanced into Campania at the head of the Samnite army, the citizens of Nola surrendered to him their city and delivered up the Roman garrison, whose commander was executed by the orders of Mutilus, while the men were distributed through the victorious army. With the single exception of Nuceria, which adhered firmly to Rome, all Campania as far as Vesuvius was lost to the Romans; Salernum, Stabiae, Pompeii, Herculaneum declared for the insurgents; Mutilus was able to advance into the region to the north of Vesuvius, and to besiege Acerrae with his Samnito-Lucanian army. The Numidians, who were in great numbers in Caesar's army, began to pass over in troops to Mutilus or rather to Oxyntas, the son of Jugurtha, who on the surrender of Venusia had fallen into the hands of the Samnites and now appeared among their ranks in regal purple; so that Caesar found himself compelled to send home the whole African corps. Mutilus ventured even to attack the Roman camp; but he was repulsed, and the Samnites, who while retreating were assailed in the rear by the Roman cavalry, left nearly 6000 dead on the field of battle. It was the first notable success which the Romans gained in this war; the army proclaimed the general -imperator-, and the sunken courage of the capital began to revive. It is true that not long afterwards the victorious army was attacked in crossing a river by Marius Egnatius, and so emphatically defeated that it had to retreat as far as Teanum and to be reorganized there; but the exertions of the active consul succeeded in restoring his army to a serviceable condition even before the arrival of winter, and he reoccupied his old position under the walls of Acerrae, which the Samnite main army under Mutilus continued to besiege.
Combats with the Marsians
Defeat and Death of Lupus
At the same time operations had also begun in Central Italy, where the revolt of the Abruzzi and the region of the Fucine lake threatened the capital in dangerous proximity. An independent corps under Gnaeus Pompeius Strabo was sent into Picenum in order that, resting for support on Firmum and Falerio, it might threaten Asculum; but the main body of the Roman northern army took its position under the consul Lupus on the borders of the Latin and Marsian territories, where the Valerian and Salarian highways brought the enemy nearest to the capital; the rivulet Tolenus (Turano), which crosses the Valerian road between Tibur and Alba and falls into the Velino at Rieti, separated the two armies. The consul Lupus impatiently pressed for a decision, and did not listen to the disagreeable advice of Marius that he should exercise his men—unaccustomed to service—in the first instance in petty warfare. At the very outset the division of Gaius Perpenna, 10,000 strong, was totally defeated. The commander-in- chief deposed the defeated general from his command and united the remnant of the corps with that which was under the orders of Marius, but did not allow himself to be deterred from assuming the offensive and crossing the Tolenus in two divisions, led partly by himself, partly by Marius, on two bridges constructed not far from each other. Publius Scato with the Marsians confronted them; he had pitched his camp at the spot where Marius crossed the brook, but, before the passage took place, he had withdrawn thence, leaving behind the mere posts that guarded the camp, and had taken a position in ambush farther up the river. There he attacked the other Roman corps under Lupus unexpectedly during the crossing, and partly cut it down, partly drove it into the river (11th June 664). The consul in person and 8000 of his troops fell. It could scarcely be called a compensation that Marius, becoming at length aware of Scato's departure, had crossed the river and not without loss to the enemy occupied their camp. Yet this passage of the river, and a victory at the same time obtained over the Paelignians by the general Servius Sulpicius, compelled the Marsians to draw their line of defence somewhat back, and Marius, who by decree of the senate succeeded Lupus as commander-in-chief, at least prevented the enemy from gaining further successes. But, when Quintus Caepio was soon afterwards associated in the command with equal powers, not so much on account of a conflict which he had successfully sustained, as because he had recommended himself to the equites then leading the politics of Rome by his vehement opposition to Drusus, he allowed himself to be lured into an ambush by Silo on the pretext that the latter wished to betray to him his army, and was cut to pieces with a great part of his force by the Marsians and Vestinians. Marius, after Caepio's fall once more sole commander-in-chief, through his tenacious resistance prevented his antagonist from profiting by the advantages which he had gained, and gradually penetrated far into the Marsian territory. He long refused battle; when he at length gave it, he vanquished his impetuous opponent, who left on the battle— field among other dead Herius Asinius the chieftain of the Marrucini. In a second engagement the army of Marius and the corps of Sulla which belonged to the army of the south co-operated to inflict on the Marsians a still more considerable defeat, which cost them 6000 men; but the glory of this day remained with the younger officer, for, while Marius had given and gained the battle, Sulla had intercepted the retreat of the fugitives and destroyed them.
While the conflict was proceeding thus warmly and with varying success at the Fucine lake, the Picenian corps under Strabo had also fought with alternations of fortune. The insurgent chiefs, Gaius Iudacilius from Asculum, Publius Vettius Scato, and Titus Lafrenius, had assailed it with their united forces, defeated it, and compelled it to throw itself into Firmum, where Lafrenius kept Strabo besieged, while Iudacilius moved into Apulia and induced Canusium, Venusia, and the other towns still adhering to Rome in that quarter to join the insurgents. But on the Roman side Servius Sulpicius by his victory over the Paeligni cleared the way for his advancing into Picenum and rendering aid to Strabo; Lafrenius was attacked by Strabo in front and taken in rear by Sulpicius, and his camp was set on fire; he himself fell, the remnant of his troops fled in disorder and threw themselves into Asculum. So completely had the state of affairs changed in Picenum, that the Italians now found themselves confined to Asculum as the Romans were previously to Firmum, and the war was thus once more converted into a siege.
Lastly, there was added in the course of the year to the two difficult and straggling wars in southern and central Italy a third in the north. The state of matters apparently so dangerous for Rome after the first months of the war had induced a great portion of the Umbrian, and isolated Etruscan, communities to declare for the insurrection; so that it became necessary to despatch against the Umbrians Aulus Plotius, and against the Etruscans Lucius Porcius Cato. Here however the Romans encountered a far less energetic resistance than in the Marsian and Samnite countries, and maintained a most decided superiority in the field.
Disadvantageous Aggregate Result of the First Year of the War
Thus the severe first year of the war came to an end, leaving behind it, both in a military and political point of view, sorrowful memories and dubious prospects. In a military point of view both armies of the Romans, the Marsian as well as the Campanian, had been weakened and discouraged by severe defeats; the northern army had been compelled especially to attend to the protection of the capital, the southern army at Neapolis had been seriously threatened in its communications, as the insurgents could without much difficulty break forth from the Marsian or Samnite territory and establish themselves between Rome and Naples; for which reason it was found necessary to draw at least a chain of posts from Cumae to Rome. In a political point of view, the insurrection had gained ground on all sides during this first year of the war; the secession of Nola, the rapid capitulation of the strong and large Latin colony of Venusia, and the Umbro-Etruscan revolt were suspicious signs that the Roman symmachy was tottering to its very base and was not in a position to hold out against this last trial. They had already made the utmost demands on the burgesses; they had already, with a view to form that chain of posts along the Latino-Campanian coast, incorporated nearly 6000 freedmen in the burgess-militia; they had already required the severest sacrifices from the allies that still remained faithful; it was not possible to draw the string of the bow any tighter without hazarding everything.
Despondency of the Romans
The temper of the burgesses was singularly depressed. After the battle on the Tolenus, when the dead bodies of the consul and the numerous citizens of note who had fallen with him were brought back from the neighbouring battlefield to the capital and were buried there; when the magistrates in token of public mourning laid aside their purple and insignia; when the government issued orders to the inhabitants of the capital to arm en masse; not a few had resigned themselves to despair and given up all as lost. It is true that the worst despondency had somewhat abated after the victories achieved by Caesar at Acerrae and by Strabo in Picenum: on the news of the former the wardress in the capital had been once more exchanged for the dress of the citizen, on the news of the second the signs of public mourning had been laid aside; but it was not doubtful that on the whole the Romans had been worsted in this passage of arms: and above all the senate and the burgesses had lost the spirit, which had formerly borne them to victory through all the crises of the Hannibalic war. They still doubtless began war with the same defiant arrogance as then, but they knew not how to end it as they had then done; rigid obstinacy, tenacious persistence had given place to a remiss and cowardly disposition. Already after the first year of war their outward and inward policy became suddenly changed, and betook itself to compromise. There is no doubt that in this they did the wisest thing which could be done; not however because, compelled by the immediate force of arms, they could not avoid acquiescing in disadvantageous conditions, but because the subject-matter of dispute—the perpetuation of the political precedence of the Romans over the other Italians—was injurious rather than beneficial to the commonwealth itself. It sometimes happens in public life that one error compensates another; in this case cowardice in some measure remedied the mischief which obstinacy had incurred.
Revolution in Political Processes
The year 664 had begun with a most abrupt rejection of the compromise offered by the insurgents and with the opening of a war of prosecutions, in which the most passionate defenders of patriotic selfishness, the capitalists, took vengeance on all those who were suspected of having counselled moderation and seasonable concession. On the other hand the tribune Marcus Plautius Silvanus, who entered on his office on the 10th of December of the same year, carried a law which took the commission of high treason out of the hands of the capitalist jurymen, and entrusted it to other jurymen who were nominated by the free choice of the tribes without class— qualification; the effect of which was, that this commission was converted from a scourge of the moderate party into a scourge of the ultras, and sent into exile among others its own author, Quintus Varius, who was blamed by the public voice for the worst democratic outrages—the poisoning of Quintus Metellus and the murder of Drusus.
Bestowal of the Franchise on the Italians Who Remained Faithful— or Submitted
Of greater importance than this singularly candid political recantation, was the change in the course of their policy toward the Italians. Exactly three hundred years had passed since Rome had last been obliged to submit to the dictation of peace; Rome was now worsted once more, and the peace which she desired could only be got by yielding in part at least to the terms of her antagonists. With the communities, doubtless, which had already risen in arms to subdue and to destroy Rome, the feud had become too bitter for the Romans to prevail on themselves to make the required concessions; and, had they done so, these terms would now perhaps have been rejected by the other side. But, if the original demands were conceded under certain limitations to the communities that had hitherto remained faithful, such a course would on the one hand preserve the semblance of voluntary concession, while on the other hand it would prevent the otherwise inevitable consolidation of the confederacy and thereby pave the way for its subjugation. Accordingly the gates of Roman citizenship, which had so long remained closed against entreaty, now suddenly opened when the sword knocked at them; yet even now not fully and wholly, but in a manner reluctant and annoying even for those admitted. A law carried by the consul Lucius Caesar(16) conferred the Roman franchise on the burgesses of all those communities of Italian allies which had not up to that time openly declared against Rome; a second, emanating from the tribunes of the people Marcus Plautius Silvanus and Gaius Papirius Carbo, laid down for every man who had citizenship and domicile in Italy a term of two months, within which he was to be allowed to acquire the Roman franchise by presenting himself before a Roman magistrate. But these new burgesses were to be restricted as to the right of voting in a way similar to the freedmen, inasmuch as they could only be enrolled in eight, as the freedmen only in four, of the thirty-five tribes; whether the restriction was personal or, as it would seem, hereditary, cannot be determined with certainty.
Bestowal of Latin Rights on the Italian Celts
This measure related primarily to Italy proper, which at that time extended northward little beyond Ancona and Florence. In Cisalpine Gaul, which was in the eye of the law a foreign country, but in administration and colonization had long passed as part of Italy, all the Latin colonies were treated like the Italian communities. Otherwise on the south side of the Po the greatest portion of the soil was, after the dissolution of the old Celtic tribal communities, not organized according to the municipal system, but remained withal in the ownership of Roman burgesses mostly dwelling together in market- villages (-fora-). The not numerous allied townships to the south of the Po, particularly Ravenna, as well as the whole country between the Po and the Alps was, in consequence of a law brought in by the consul Strabo in 665, organized after the Italian urban constitution, so that the communities not adapted for this, more especially the townships in the Alpine valleys, were assigned to particular towns as dependent and tributary villages. These new town-communities, however, were not presented with the Roman franchise, but, by means of the legal fiction that they were Latin colonies, were invested with those rights which had hitherto belonged to the Latin towns of inferior legal position. Thus Italy at that time ended practically at the Po, while the Transpadane country was treated as an outlying dependency. Here to the north of the Po, with the exception of Cremona, Eporedia and Aquileia, there were no burgess or Latin colonies, and even the native tribes here had been by no means dislodged as they were to the south of the Po. The abolition of the Celtic cantonal, and the introduction of the Italian urban, constitution paved the way for the Romanizing of the rich and important territory; this was the first step in the long and momentous transformation of the Gallic stock— which once stood contrasted with Italy, and the assaults of which Italy had rallied to repel—into comrades of their Italian masters.
Considerable as these concessions were, if we compare them with the rigid exclusiveness which the Roman burgess-body had retained for more than a hundred and fifty years, they were far from involving a capitulation with the actual insurgents; they were on the contrary intended partly to retain the communities that were wavering and threatening to revolt, partly to draw over as many deserters as possible from the ranks of the enemy. To what extent these laws and especially the most important of them—that of Caesar—were applied, cannot be accurately stated, as we are only able to specify in general terms the extent of the insurrection at the time when the law was issued. The main matter at any rate was that the communities hitherto Latin—not only the survivors of the old Latin confederacy, such as Tibur and Praeneste, but more especially the Latin colonies, with the exception of the few that passed over to the insurgents—were thereby admitted to Roman citizenship. Besides, the law was applied to the allied cities that remained faithful in Etruria and especially in Southern Italy, such as Nuceria and Neapolis. It was natural that individual communities, hitherto specially privileged, should hesitate as to the acceptance of the franchise; that Neapolis, for example, should scruple to give up its former treaty with Rome—which guaranteed to its citizens exemption from land-service and their Greek constitution, and perhaps domanial advantages besides—for the restricted rights of new burgesses. It was probably in virtue of conventions concluded on account of these scruples that this city, as well as Rhegium and perhaps other Greek communities in Italy, even after their admission to Roman citizenship retained unchanged their former communal constitution and Greek as their official language. At all events, as a consequence of these laws, the circle of Roman burgesses was extraordinarily enlarged by the merging into it of numerous and important urban communities scattered from the Sicilian Straits to the Po; and, further, the country between the Po and the Alps was, by the bestowal of the best rights of allies, as it were invested with the legal expectancy of full citizenship.
Second Year of the War
Etruria and Umbria Tranquillized
On the strength of these concessions to the wavering communities, the Romans resumed with fresh courage the conflict against the insurgent districts. They had pulled down as much of the existing political institutions as seemed necessary to arrest the extension of the conflagration; the insurrection thenceforth at least spread no farther. In Etruria and Umbria especially, where it was just beginning, it was subdued with singular rapidity, still more, probably, by means of the Julian law than through the success of the Roman arms. In the former Latin colonies, and in the thickly-peopled region of the Po, there were opened up copious and now trustworthy sources of aid: with these, and with the resources of the burgesses themselves, they could proceed to subdue the now isolated conflagration. The two former commanders-in-chief returned to Rome, Caesar as censor elect, Marius because his conduct of the war was blamed as vacillating and slow, and the man of sixty-six was declared to be in his dotage. This objection was very probably groundless; Marius showed at least his bodily vigour by appearing daily in the circus at Rome, and even as commander-in-chief he seems to have displayed on the whole his old ability in the last campaign; but he had not achieved the brilliant successes by which alone after his political bankruptcy he could have rehabilitated himself in public opinion, and so the celebrated champion was to his bitter vexation now, even as an officer, unceremoniously laid aside as useless. The place of Marius in the Marsian army was taken by the consul of this year, Lucius Porcius Cato, who had fought with distinction in Etruria, and that of Caesar in the Campanian army by his lieutenant, Lucius Sulla, to whom were due some of the most material successes of the previous campaign; Gnaeus Strabo retained— now as consul—the command which he had held so successfully in the Picenian territory.
War in Picenum
Subjugation of the Sabellians and Marsians
Thus began the second campaign in 665. The insurgents opened it, even before winter was over, by the bold attempt—recalling the grand passages of the Samnite wars—to send a Marsian army of 15,000 men to Etruria with a view to aid the insurrection brewing in Northern Italy. But Strabo, through whose district it had to pass, intercepted and totally defeated it; only a few got back to their far distant home. When at length the season allowed the Roman armies to assume the offensive, Cato entered the Marsian territory and advanced, successfully encountering the enemy there; but he fell in the region of the Fucine lake during an attack on the enemy's camp, so that the exclusive superintendence of the operations in Central Italy devolved on Strabo. The latter employed himself partly in continuing the siege of Asculum, partly in the subjugation of the Marsian, Sabellian, and Apulian districts. To relieve his hard-pressed native town, Iudacilius appeared before Asculum with the Picentine levy and attacked the besieging army, while at the same time the garrison sallied forth and threw itself on the Roman lines. It is said that 75,000 Romans fought on this day against 60,000 Italians. Victory remained with the Romans, but Iudacilius succeeded in throwing himself with a part of the relieving army into the town. The siege resumed its course; it was protracted(17) by the strength of the place and the desperate defence of the inhabitants, who fought with a recollection of the terrible declaration of war within its walls. When Iudacilius at length after a brave defence of several months saw the day of capitulation approach, he ordered the chiefs of that section of the citizens which was favourable to Rome to be put to death under torture, and then died by his own hand. So the gates were opened, and Roman executions were substituted for Italian; all officers and all the respectable citizens were executed, the rest were driven forth to beggary, and all their property was confiscated on account of the state. During the siege and after the fall of Asculum numerous Roman corps marched through the adjacent rebel districts, and induced one after another to submit. The Marrucini yielded, after Servius Sulpicius had defeated them decidedly at Teate (Chieti). The praetor Gaius Cosconius penetrated into Apulia, took Salapia and Cannae, and besieged Canusium. A Samnite corps under Marius Egnatius came to the help of the unwarlike region and actually drove back the Romans, but the Roman general succeeded in defeating it at the passage of the Aufidus; Egnatius fell, and the rest of the army had to seek shelter behind the walls of Canusium. The Romans again advanced as far as Venusia and Rubi, and became masters of all Apulia. Along the Fucine lake also and at the Majella mountains—the chief seats of the insurrection—the Romans re-established their mastery; the Marsians succumbed to Strabo's lieutenants, Quintus Metellus Pius and Gaius Cinna, the Vestinians and Paelignians in the following year (666) to Strabo himself; Italia the capital of the insurgents became once more the modest Paelignian country-town of Corfinium; the remnant of the Italian senate fled to the Samnite territory.
Subjugation of Campania As Far As Nola
Sulla in Samnium
The Roman southern army, which was now under the command of Lucius Sulla, had at the same time assumed the offensive and had penetrated into southern Campania which was occupied by the enemy. Stabiae was taken and destroyed by Sulla in person (30 April 665) and Herculaneum by Titus Didius, who however fell himself (11 June) apparently at the assault on that city. Pompeii resisted longer. The Samnite general Lucius Cluentius came up to bring relief to the town, but he was repulsed by Sulla; and when, reinforced by bands of Celts, he renewed his attempt, he was, chiefly owing to the wavering of these untrustworthy associates, so totally defeated that his camp was taken and he himself was cut down with the greater part of his troops on their flight towards Nola. The grateful Roman army conferred on its general the grass-wreath—the homely badge with which the usage of the camp decorated the soldier who had by his capacity saved a division of his comrades. Without pausing to undertake the siege of Nola and of the other Campanian towns still occupied by the Samnites, Sulla at once advanced into the interior, which was the head-quarters of the insurrection. The speedy capture and fearful punishment of Aeclanum spread terror throughout the Hirpinian country; it submitted even before the arrival of the Lucanian contingent which had set itself in motion to render help, and Sulla was able to advance unhindered as far as the territory of the Samnite confederacy. The pass, where the Samnite militia under Mutilus awaited him, was turned, the Samnite army was attacked in rear, and defeated; the camp was lost, the general escaped wounded to Aesernia. Sulla advanced to Bovianum, the capital of the Samnite country, and compelled it to surrender by a second victory achieved beneath its walls. The advanced season alone put an end to the campaign there.
The Insurrection on the Whole Overpowered
The position of affairs had undergone a most complete change. Powerful, victorious, aggressive as was the insurrection when it began the campaign of 665, it emerged from it deeply humbled, everywhere beaten, and utterly hopeless. All northern Italy was pacified. In central Italy both coasts were wholly in the Roman power, and the Abruzzi almost entirely; Apulia as far as Venusia, and Campania as far as Nola, were in the hands of the Romans; and by the occupation of the Hirpinian territory the communication was broken off between the only two regions still persevering in open resistance, the Samnite and the Lucano-Bruttian. The field of the insurrection resembled the scene of an immense conflagration dying out; everywhere the eye fell on ashes and ruins and smouldering brands; here and there the flame still blazed up among the ruins, but the fire was everywhere mastered, and there was no further threatening of danger. It is to be regretted that we no longer sufficiently discern in the superficial accounts handed down to us the causes of this sudden revolution. While undoubtedly the dexterous leadership of Strabo and still more of Sulla, and especially the more energetic concentration of the Roman forces, and their more rapid offensive contributed materially to that result, political causes may have been at work along with the military in producing the singularly rapid fall of the power of the insurgents; the law of Silvanus and Carbo may have fulfilled its design in carrying defection and treason to the common cause into the ranks of the enemy; and misfortune, as has so frequently happened, may have fallen as an apple of discord among the loosely-connected insurgent communities.
Perseverance of the Samnites
We see only—and this fact points to an internal breaking up of Italia, that must certainly have been attended by violent convulsions—that the Samnites, perhaps under the leadership of the Marsian Quintus Silo who had been from the first the soul of the insurrection and after the capitulation of the Marsians had gone as a fugitive to the neighbouring people, now assumed another organization purely confined to their own land, and, after "Italia" was vanquished, undertook to continue the struggle as "Safini" or Samnites.(18) The strong Aesernia was converted from the fortress that had curbed, into the last retreat that sheltered, Samnite freedom; an army assembled consisting, it was said, of 30,000 infantry and 1000 cavalry, and was strengthened by the manumission and incorporation of 20,000 slaves; five generals were placed at its head, among whom Silo was the first and Mutilus next to him. With astonishment men saw the Samnite wars beginning anew after a pause of two hundred years, and the resolute nation of farmers making a fresh attempt, just as in the fifth century, after the Italian confederation was shattered, to force Rome with their own hand to recognize their country's independence. But this resolution of the bravest despair made not much change in the main result; although the mountain-war in Samnium and Lucania might still require some time and some sacrifices, the insurrection was nevertheless already substantially at an end.
Outbreak of the Mithradatic War
In the meanwhile, certainly, there had occurred a fresh complication, for the Asiatic difficulties had rendered it imperatively necessary to declare war against Mithradates king of Pontus, and for next year (666) to destine the one consul and a consular army to Asia Minor. Had this war broken out a year earlier, the contemporary revolt of the half of Italy and of the most important of the provinces would have formed an immense peril to the Roman state. Now that the marvellous good fortune of Rome had once more been evinced in the rapid collapse of the Italian insurrection, this Asiatic war just beginning was, notwithstanding its being mixed up with the expiring Italian struggle, not of a really dangerous character; and the less so, because Mithradates in his arrogance refused the invitation of the Italians that he should afford them direct assistance. Still it was in a high degree inconvenient. The times had gone by, when they without hesitation carried on simultaneously an Italian and a transmarine war, the state-chest was already after two years of warfare utterly exhausted, and the formation of a new army in addition to that already in the field seemed scarcely practicable. But they resorted to such expedients as they could. The sale of the sites that had from ancient times(19) remained unoccupied on and near the citadel to persons desirous of building, which yielded 9000 pounds of gold (360,000 pounds), furnished the requisite pecuniary means. No new army was formed, but that which was under Sulla in Campania was destined to embark for Asia, as soon as the state of things in southern Italy should allow its departure; which might be expected, from the progress of the army operating in the north under Strabo, to happen soon.
Capture of Venusia
Fall of Silo
So the third campaign in 666 began amidst favourable prospects for Rome. Strabo put down the last resistance which was still offered in the Abruzzi. In Apulia the successor of Cosconius, Quintus Metellus Pius, son of the conqueror of Numidia and not unlike his father in his strongly conservative views as well as in military endowments, put an end to the resistance by the capture of Venusia, at which 3000 armed men were taken prisoners. In Samnium Silo no doubt succeeded in retaking Bovianum; but in a battle, in which he engaged the Roman general Mamercus Aemilius, the Romans conquered, and—what was more important than the victory itself—Silo was among the 6000 dead whom the Samnites left on the field. In Campania the smaller townships, which the Samnites still occupied, were wrested from them by Sulla, and Nola was invested. The Roman general Aulus Gabinius penetrated also into Lucania and gained no small advantages; but, after he had fallen in an attack on the enemy's camp, Lamponius the insurgent leader and his followers once more held almost undisturbed command over the wide and desolate Lucano-Bruttian country. He even made an attempt to seize Rhegium, which was frustrated, however, by the Sicilian governor Gaius Norbanus. Notwithstanding isolated mischances the Romans were constantly drawing nearer to the attainment of their end; the fall of Nola, the submission of Samnium, the possibility of rendering considerable forces available for Asia appeared no longer distant, when the turn taken by affairs in the capital unexpectedly gave fresh life to the well-nigh extinguished insurrection.
Ferment in Rome
The Bestowal of the Franchise and Its Limitations
Secondary Effect of the Political Prosecutions
Rome was in a fearful ferment. The attack of Drusus upon the equestrian courts and his sudden downfall brought about by the equestrian party, followed by the two-edged Varian warfare of prosecutions, had sown the bitterest discord between the aristocracy and the bourgeoisie as well as between the moderates and the ultras. Events had completely justified the party of concession; what it had proposed voluntarily to bestow, men had been more than half compelled to concede; but the mode in which the concession was made bore, just like the earlier refusal, the stamp of obstinate and shortsighted envy. Instead of granting equality of rights to all Italian communities, they had only expressed the inferiority in another form. They had received a great number of Italian communities into Roman citizenship, but had attached to what they thus conferred an offensive stigma, by placing the new burgesses alongside of the old on nearly the same footing as the freedmen occupied alongside of the freeborn. They had irritated rather than pacified the communities between the Po and the Alps by the concession of Latin rights. Lastly, they had withheld the franchise from a considerable, and that not the worst, portion of the Italians—the whole of the insurgent communities which had again submitted; and not only so, but, instead of legally re-establishing the former treaties annulled by the insurrection, they had at most renewed them as a matter of favour and subject to revocation at pleasure.(20) The disability as regarded the right of voting gave the deeper offence, that it was—as the comitia were then constituted—politically absurd, and the hypocritical care of the government for the unstained purity of the electors appeared to every unprejudiced person ridiculous; but all these restrictions were dangerous, inasmuch as they invited every demagogue to carry his ulterior objects by taking up the more or less just demands of the new burgesses and of the Italians excluded from the franchise. While accordingly the more clear-seeing of the aristocracy could not but find these partial and grudging concessions as inadequate as did the new burgesses and the excluded themselves, they further painfully felt the absence from their ranks of the numerous and excellent men whom the Varian commission of high treason had exiled, and whom it was the more difficult to recall because they had been condemned by the verdict not of the people but of the jury-courts; for, while there was little hesitation as to cancelling a decree of the people even of a judicial character by means of a second, the cancelling of a verdict of jurymen bythe people appeared to the betterportion of the aristocracy as a very dangerous precedent. Thus neither the ultras nor the moderates were content with the issue of the Italian crisis. But still deeper indignation swelled the heart of the old man, who had gone forth to the Italian war with freshened hopes and had come back from it reluctantly, with the consciousness of having rendered new services and of having received in return new and most severe mortifications, with the bitter feeling of being no longer dreaded but despised by his enemies, with that gnawing spirit of vengeance in his heart, which feeds on its own poison. It was true of him also, as of the new burgesses and the excluded; incapable and awkward as he had shown himself to be, his popular name was still a formidable weapon in the hand of a demagogue.
Decay of Military Discipline
With these elements of political convulsion was combined the rapidly spreading decay of decorous soldierly habits and of military discipline. The seeds, which were sown by the enrolment of the proletariate in the army, developed themselves with alarming rapidity during the demoralizing insurrectionary war, which compelled Rome to admit to the service every man capable of bearing arms without distinction, and which above all carried political partizanship directly into the headquarters and into the soldiers' tent. The effects soon appeared in the slackening of all the bonds of the military hierarchy. During the siege of Pompeii the commander of the Sullan besieging corps, the consular Aulus Postumius Albinus, was put to death with stones and bludgeons by his soldiers, who believed themselves betrayed by their general to the enemy; and Sulla the commander-in-chief contented himself with exhorting the troops to efface the memory of that occurrence by their brave conduct in presence of the enemy. The authors of that deed were the marines, from of old the least respectable of the troops. A division of legionaries raised chiefly from the city populace soon followed the example thus given. Instigated by Gaius Titius, one of the heroes of the market-place, it laid hands on the consul Cato. By an accident he escaped death on this occasion; Titius was arrested, but was not punished. When Cato soon afterwards actually perished in a combat, his own officers, and particularly the younger Gaius Marius, were—whether justly or unjustly, cannot be ascertained—designated as the authors of his death.
Murder of Asellio
To the political and military crisis thus beginning fell to be added the economic crisis—perhaps still more terrible—which set in upon the Roman capitalists in consequence of the Social war and the Asiatic troubles. The debtors, unable even to raise the interest due and yet inexorably pressed by their creditors, had on the one hand entreated from the proper judicial authority, the urban praetor Asellio, a respite to enable them to dispose of their possessions, and on the other hand had searched out once more the old obsolete laws as to usury(21) and, according to the rule established in olden times, had sued their creditors for fourfold the amount of the interest paid to them contrary to the law. Asellio lent himself to bend the actually existing law into conformity with the letter, and put into shape in the usual way the desired actions for interest; whereupon the offended creditors assembled in the Forum under the leadership of the tribune of the people Lucius Cassius, and attacked and killed the praetor in front of the temple of Concord, just as in his priestly robes he was presenting a sacrifice—an outrage which was not even made a subject of investigation (665). On the other hand it was said in the circles of the debtors, that the suffering multitude could not be relieved otherwise than by "new account-books," that is, by legally cancelling the claims of all creditors against all debtors. Matters stood again exactly as they had stood during the strife of the orders; once more the capitalists in league with the prejudiced aristocracy made war against, and prosecuted, the oppressed multitude and the middle party which advised a modification of the rigour of the law; once more Rome stood on the verge of that abyss into which the despairing debtor drags his creditor along with him. Only, since that time the simple civil and moral organization of a great agricultural city had been succeeded by the social antagonisms of a capital of many nations, and by that demoralization in which the prince and the beggar meet; now all incongruities had come to be on a broader, more abrupt, and fearfully grander scale. When the Social war brought all the political and social elements fermenting among the citizens into collision with each other, it laid the foundation for a new resolution. An accident led to its outbreak.
The Sulpician Laws
It was the tribune of the people Publius Sulpicius Rufus who in 666 proposed to the burgesses to declare that every senator, who owed more than 2000 -denarii- (82 pounds), should forfeit his seat in the senate; to grant to the burgesses condemned by non-free jury courts liberty to return home; to distribute the new burgesses among all the tribes, and likewise to allow the right of voting in all tribes to the freedmen. They were proposals which from the mouth of such a man were at least somewhat surprising. Publius Sulpicius Rufus (born in 630) owed his political importance not so much to his noble birth, his important connections, and his hereditary wealth, as to his remarkable oratorical talent, in which none of his contemporaries equalled him. His powerful voice, his lively gestures sometimes bordering on theatrical display, the luxuriant copiousness of his flow of words arrested, even if they did not convince, his hearers. As a partisan he was from the outset on the side of the senate, and his first public appearance (659) had been the impeachment of Norbanus who was mortally hated by the government party.(22) Among the conservatives he belonged to the section of Crassus and Drusus. We do not know what primarily gave occasion to his soliciting the tribuneship of the people for 666, and on its account renouncing his patrician nobility; but he seems to have been by no means rendered a revolutionist through the fact that he, like the whole middle party, had been persecuted as revolutionary by the conservatives, and to have by no means intended an overthrow of the constitution in the sense of Gaius Gracchus. It would rather seem that, as the only man of note belonging to the party of Crassus and Drusus who had come forth uninjured from the storm of the Varian prosecutions, he felt himself called on to complete the work of Drusus and finally to set aside the still subsisting disabilities of the new burgesses—for which purpose he needed the tribunate. Several acts of his even during his tribuneship are mentioned, which betray the very opposite of demagogic designs. For instance, he prevented by his veto one of his colleagues from cancelling through a decree of the people the sentences of jurymen issued under the Varian law; and when the late aedile Gaius Caesar, passing over the praetorship, unconstitutionally became a candidate for the consulship for 667, with the design, it was alleged, of getting the charge of the Asiatic war afterwards entrusted to him, Sulpicius opposed him more resolutely and sharply than any one else. Entirely in the spirit of Drusus, he thus demanded from himself as from others primarily and especially the maintenance of the constitution. But in fact he was as little able as was Drusus to reconcile things that were incompatible, and to carry out in strict form of law the change of the constitution which he had in view—a change judicious in itself, but never to be obtained from the great majority of the old burgesses by amicable means. His breach with the powerful family of the Julii—among whom in particular the consular Lucius Caesar, the brother of Gaius, was very influential in the senate— and withthesectionof the aristocracy adhering to it, beyond doubt materially cooperated and carried the irascible man through personal exasperation beyond his original design.
Tendency of These Laws
Yet the proposals brought in by him were of such a nature as to be by no means out of keeping with the personal character and the previous party-position of their author. The equalization of the new burgesses with the old was simply a partial resumption of the proposals drawn up by Drusus in favour of the Italians; and, like these, only carried out the requirements of a sound policy. The recall of those condemned by the Varian jurymen no doubt sacrificed the principle of the inviolability of such a sentence, in defence of which Sulpicius himself had just practically interposed; but it mainly benefited in the first instance the members of the proposer's own party, the moderate conservatives, and it may be very well conceived that so impetuous a man might when first coming forward decidedly combat such a measure and then, indignant at the resistance which he encountered, propose it himself. The measure against the insolvency of senators was doubtless called forth by the exposure of the economic condition of the ruling families—so deeply embarrassed notwithstanding all their outward splendour—on occasion of the last financial crisis. It was painful doubtless, but yet of itself conducive to the rightly understood interest of the aristocracy, if, as could not but be the effect of the Sulpician proposal, all individuals should withdraw from the senate who were unable speedily to meet their liabilities, and if the coterie-system, which found its main support in the insolvency of many senators and their consequent dependence on their wealthy colleagues, should be checked by the removal of the notoriously venal pack of the senators. At the same time, of course, we do not mean to deny that such a purification of the senate-house so abruptly and invidiously exposing the senate, as Rufus proposed, would certainly never have been proposed without his personal quarrels with the ruling coterie-heads. Lastly, the regulationin favour of the freedmen had undoubtedly for its primary object to make its proposer master of the street; but in itself it was neither unwarranted nor incompatible with the aristocratic constitution. Since the freedmen had begun to be drawn upon for military service, their demand for the right of voting was so far justified, as the right of voting and the obligation of service had always gone hand in hand. Moreover, looking to the nullity of the comitia, it was politically of very little moment whether one sewer more emptied itself into that slough. The difficulty which the oligarchy felt in governing with the comitia was lessened rather than increased by the unlimited admission of the freedmen, who were to a very great extent personally and financially dependent on the ruling families and, if rightly used, might quite furnish the government with a means of controlling the elections more thoroughly than before. This measure certainly, like every other political favour shown to the proletariate, ran counter to the tendencies of the aristocracy friendly to reform; but it was for Rufus hardly anything else than what the corn-law had been for Drusus—a means of drawing the proletariate over to his side and of breaking down with its aid the opposition against the truly beneficial reforms which he meditated. It was easy to foresee that this opposition would not be slight; that the narrow-minded aristocracy and the narrow-minded bourgeoisie would display the same stupid jealousy after the subduing of the insurrection as they had displayed before its outbreak; that the great majority of all parties would secretly or even openly characterize the partial concessions made at the moment of the most formidable danger as unseasonable compliances, and would passionately resist every attempt to extend them. The example of Drusus had shown what came of undertakingto carry conservative reforms solely in reliance on the majority of the senate; it was a course quite intelligible, that his friend who shared his views should attempt to carry out kindred designs in opposition to that majority and under the forms of demagogism. Rufus accordingly gave himself no trouble to gain the senate over to his views by the bait of the jury courts. He found a better support in the freedmen and above all in the armed retinue—consisting, according to the report of his opponents, of 3000 hired men and an "opposition-senate" of 600 young men from the better class—with which he appeared in the streets and in the Forum.
Resistance of the Government
Position of Sulla
His proposals accordingly met with the most decided resistance from the majority of the senate, which first, to gain time, induced the consuls Lucius Cornelius Sulla and Quintus Pompeius Rufus, both declared opponents of demagogism, to enjoin extraordinary religious observances, during which the popular assemblies were suspended. Sulpicius replied by a violent tumult, in which among other victims the young Quintus Pompeius, son of the one and son-in-law of the other consul, met his death and the lives of both consuls themselves were seriously threatened—Sulla is said even to have escaped only by Marius opening to him his house. They were obliged to yield; Sulla agreed to countermand the announced solemnities, and the Sulpician proposals now passed without further difficulty. But this was far from determining their fate. Though the aristocracy in the capital might own its defeat, there was now—for the first time since the commencement of the revolution—yet another power in Italy which could not be overlooked, viz. the two strong and victorious armies of the proconsul Strabo and the consul Sulla. The political position of Strabo might be ambiguous, but Sulla, although he had given way to open violence for the moment, was on the best terms with the majority of the senate; and not only so, but he had, immediately after countermanding the solemnities, departed for Campania to join his army. To terrify the unarmed consul by bludgeon-men or the defenceless capital by the swords of the legions, amounted to the same thing in the end: Sulpicius assumed that his opponent, now when he could, would requite violence with violence and return to the capital at the head of his legions to overthrow the conservative demagogue and his laws along with him. Perhaps he was mistaken. Sulla was just as eager for the war against Mithradates as he was probably averse to the political exhalations of the capital; considering his original spirit of indifference and his unrivalled political nonchalance, there is great probability that he by no means intended the coup d'etat which Sulpicius expected, and that, if he had been let alone, he would have embarked without delay with his troops for Asia so soon as he had captured Nola, with the siege of which he was still occupied.
Marius Nominated Commander-in-Chief in Sulla's Stead
But, be this as it might, Sulpicius, with a view to parry the presumed blow, conceived the scheme of taking the supreme command from Sulla; and for this purpose joined with Marius, whose name was still sufficiently popular to make a proposal to transfer to him the chief command in the Asiatic war appear plausible to the multitude, and whose military position and ability might prove a support in the event of a rupture with Sulla. Sulpicius probably did not overlook the danger involved in placing that old man—not less incapable than vengeful and ambitious—at the head of the Campanian army, and as little the scandalous irregularity of entrusting an extraordinary supreme command by decree of the people to a private man; but the very tried incapacity of Marius as a statesman gave a sort of guarantee that he would not be able seriously to endanger the constitution, and above all the personal position of Sulpicius, if he formed a correct estimate of Sulla's designs, was one of so imminent peril that such considerations could hardly be longer heeded. That the worn-out hero himself readily met the wishes of any one who would employ him as a -condottiere-, was a matter of course; his heart had now for many years longed for the command in an Asiatic war, and not less perhaps for an opportunity of once settling accounts thoroughly with the majority of the senate. Accordingly on the proposal of Sulpicius Gaius Marius was by decree of the people invested with extraordinary supreme, or as it was called proconsular, power, and obtained the command of the Campanian army and the superintendence of the war against Mithradates; and two tribunes of the people were despatched to the camp at Nola, to take over the army from Sulla.
Sulla was not the man to yield to such a summons. If any one had a vocation to the chief command in the Asiatic war, it was Sulla. He had a few years before commanded with the greatest success in the same theatre of war; he had contributed more than any other man to the subjugation of the dangerous Italian insurrection; as consul of the year in which the Asiatic war broke out, he had been invested with the command in it after the customary way and with the full consent of his colleague, who was on friendly terms with him and related to him by marriage. It was expecting a great deal to suppose that he would, in accordance with a decree of the sovereign burgesses of Rome, give up a command undertaken in such circumstances to an old military and political antagonist, in whose hands the army might be turned to none could tell what violent and preposterous proceedings. Sulla was neither good-natured enough to comply voluntarily with such an order, nor dependent enough to need to do so. His army was— partly in consequence of the alterations of the military system which originated with Marius, partly from the moral laxity and the military strictness of its discipline in the hands of Sulla—little more than a body of mercenaries absolutely devoted to their leader and indifferent to political affairs. Sulla himself was a hardened, cool, and clearheaded man, in whose eyes the sovereign Roman burgesses were a rabble, the hero of Aquae Sextiae a bankrupt swindler, formal legality a phrase, Rome itself a city without a garrison and with its walls half in ruins, which could be far more easily captured than Nola.
Sulla's March on Rome
On these views he acted. He assembled his soldiers—there were six legions, or about 35,000 men—and explained to them the summons that had arrived from Rome, not forgetting to hint that the new commander- in-chief would undoubtedly lead to Asia Minor not the army as it stood, but another formed of fresh troops. The superior officers, who still had more of the citizen than the soldier, kept aloof, and only one of them followed the general towards the capital; but the soldiers, who in accordance with earlier experiences(23) hoped to find in Asia an easy war and endless booty, were furious; in a moment the two tribunes that had come from Rome were torn in pieces, and from all sides the cry arose that the general should lead them to Rome. Without delay the consul started, and forming a junction with his like-minded colleague by the way, he arrived by quick marches—little troubling himself about the deputies who hastened from Rome to meet and attempted to detain him—beneath the walls of the capital. Suddenly the Romans beheld columns of Sulla's army take their station at the bridge over the Tiber and at the Colline and Esquiline gates; and then two legions in battle array, with their standards at their head, passed the sacred ring-wall within which the law had forbidden war to enter. Many a worse quarrel, many an important feud had been brought to a settlement within those walls, without any need for a Roman army breaking the sacred peace of the city; that step was now taken, primarily for thesake of the miserable question whether this or that officer was called to command in the east.
The entering legions advanced as far as the height of the Esquiline; when the missiles and stones descending in showers from the roofs made the soldiers waver and they began to give way, Sulla himself brandished a blazing torch, and with firebrands and threats of setting the houses on fire the legions cleared their way to the Esquiline market-place (not far from S. Maria Maggiore). There the force hastily collected by Marius and Sulpicius awaited them, and by its superior numbers repelled the first invading columns. But reinforcements came up from the gates; another division of the Sullans made preparations for turning the defenders by the street of the Subura; the latter were obliged to retire. At the temple of Tellus, where the Esquiline begins to slope towards the great Forum, Marius attempted once more to make a stand; he adjured the senate and equites and all the citizens to throw themselves across the path of the legions. But he himself had transformed them from citizens to mercenaries; his own work turned against him: they obeyed not the government, but their general. Even when the slaves were summoned to arm under the promise of freedom, not more than three of them appeared. Nothing remained for the leaders but to escape in all haste through the still unoccupied gates; after a few hours Sulla was absolute master of Rome. That night the watchfires of the legions blazed in the great market-place of the capital.
First Sullan Restoration
Death of Sulpicius
Flight of Marius
The first military intervention in civil feuds had made it quite evident, not only that the political struggles had reached the point at which nothing save open and direct force proves decisive, but also that the power of the bludgeon was of no avail against the power of the sword. It was the conservative party which first drew the sword, and which accordingly in due time experienced the truth of the ominous words of the Gospel as to those who first have recourse to it. For the present it triumphed completely and might put the victory into formal shape at its pleasure. As a matter of course, the Sulpician laws were characterized as legally null. Their author and his most notable adherents had fled; they were, twelve in number, proscribed by the senate for arrest and execution as enemies of their country. Publius Sulpicius was accordingly seized at Laurentum and put to death; and the head of the tribune, sent to Sulla, was by his orders exposed in the Forum at the very rostra where he himself had stood but a few days before in the full vigour of youth and eloquence. The rest of the proscribed were pursued; the assassins were on the track of even the old Gaius Marius. Although the general might have clouded the memory of his glorious days by a succession of pitiful proceedings, now that the deliverer of his country was running for his life, he was once more the victor of Vercellae, and with breathless suspense all Italy listened to the incidents of his marvellous flight. At Ostia he had gone on board a transport with the view of sailing for Africa; but adverse winds and want of provisions compelled him to land at the Circeian promontory and to wander at random. With few attendants and without trusting himself under a roof, the grey-haired consular, often suffering from hunger, found his way on foot to the neighbourhood of the Roman colony of Minturnae at the mouth of the Garigliano. There the pursuing cavalry were seen in the distance; with great difficulty he reached the shore, and a trading— vessel lying there withdrew him from his pursuers; but the timid mariners soon put him ashore again and made off, while Marius stole along the beach. His pursuers found him in the salt-marsh of Minturnae sunk to the girdle in the mud and with his head concealed amidst a quantity of reeds, and delivered him to the civic authorities of Minturnae. He was placed in prison, and the town-executioner, a Cimbrian slave, was sent to put him to death; but the German trembled before the flashing eyes of his old conqueror and the axe fell from his hands, when the general with his powerful voice haughtily demanded whether he dared to kill Gaius Marius. When they learned this, the magistrates of Minturnae were ashamed that the deliverer of Rome should meet with greater reverence from slaves to whom he had brought bondage than from his fellow-citizens to whom he had brought freedom; they loosed his fetters, gave him a vessel and money for travelling expenses, and sent him to Aenaria (Ischia). The proscribed with the exception of Sulpicius gradually met in those waters; they landed at Eryx and at what was formerly Carthage, but the Roman magistrates both in Sicily and in Africa sent them away. So they escaped to Numidia, whose desert sand-dunes gave them a place of refuge for the winter. But the king Hiempsal II, whom they hoped to gain and who had seemed for a while willing to unite with them, had only done so to lull them into security, and now attempted to seize their persons. With great difficulty the fugitives escaped from his cavalry, and found a temporary refuge in the little island of Cercina (Kerkena) on the coast of Tunis. We know not whether Sulla thanked his fortunate star that he had been spared the odium of putting to death the victor of the Cimbrians; at any rate it does not appear that the magistrates of Minturnae were punished.
Legislation of Sulla
With a view to remove existing evils and to prevent future revolutions, Sulla suggested a series of new legislative enactments. For the hard-pressed debtors nothing seems to have been done, except that the rules as to the maximum of interest were enforced;(24) directions moreover were given for the sending out of a number of colonies. The senate which had been greatly thinned by the battles and prosecutions of the Social war was filled up by the admission of 300 new senators, who were naturally selected in the interest of the Optimates. Lastly, material changes were adopted in respect to the mode of election and the initiative of legislation. The old Servian arrangement for voting in the centuriate comitia, under which the first class, with an estate of 100,000 sesterces (1000 pounds) or upwards, alone possessed almost half of the votes, again took the place of the arrangements introduced in 513 to mitigate the preponderance of the first class.(25) Practically there was thus introduced for the election of consuls, praetors, and censors, a census which really excluded the non-wealthy from exercising the suffrage. The legislative initiative in the case of the tribunes of the people was restricted by the rule, that every proposal had henceforth to be submitted by them in the first instance to the senate and could only come before the people in the event of the senate approving it.
These enactments which were called forth by the Sulpician attempt at revolution from the man who then came forward as the shield and sword of the constitutional party—the consul Sulla—bear an altogether peculiar character. Sulla ventured, without consulting the burgesses or jurymen, to pronounce sentence of death on twelve of the most distinguished men, including magistrates actually in office and the most famous general of his time, and publicly to defend these proscriptions; a violation of the venerable and sacred laws of appeal, which met with severe censure even from very conservative men, such as Quintus Scaevola. He ventured to overthrow an arrangement as to the elections which had subsisted for a century and a half, and to re-establish the electoral census which had been long obsolete and proscribed. He ventured practically to withdraw the right of legislation from its two primitive factors, the magistrates and the comitia, and to transfer it to a board which had at no time possessed formally any other privilege in this respect than that of being asked for its advice.(26) Hardly had any democrat ever exercised justice in forms so tyrannical, or disturbed and remodelled the foundations of the constitution with so reckless an audacity, as this conservative reformer. But if we look at the substance instead of the form, we reach very different results. Revolutions have nowhere ended, and least of all in Rome, without demanding a certain number of victims, who under forms more or less borrowed from justice atone for the fault of being vanquished as though it were a crime. Any one who recalls the succession of prosecutions carried on by the victorious party after the fall of the Gracchi and Saturninus(27) will be inclined to yield to the victor of the Esquiline market the praise of candour and comparative moderation, in so far as, first he without ceremony accepted as war what was really such and proscribed the men who were defeated as enemies beyond the pale of the law, and, secondly, he limited as far as possible the number of victims and allowed at least no offensive outbreak of fury against inferior persons. A similar moderation appears in the political arrangements. The innovation as respects legislation—the most important and apparently the most comprehensive—in fact only brought the letter of the constitution into harmony with its spirit. The Roman legislation, under which any consul, praetor, or tribune could propose to the burgesses any measure at pleasure and bring it to the vote without debate, had from the first been, irrational and had become daily more so with the growing nullity of the comitia; it was only tolerated, because in practice the senate had claimed for itself the right of previous deliberation and regularly crushed any proposal, if put to the vote without such previous deliberation, by means of the political or religious veto.(28) The revolution hadswept away thesebarriers; andin consequence that absurd system now began fully to develop its results, and to put it in the power of any petulant knave to overthrow the state in due form of law. What was under such circumstances more natural, more necessary, more truly conservative, than now to recognize formally and expressly the legislation of the senate to which effect had been hitherto given by a circuitous process? Something similar may be said of the renewal of the electoral census. The earlier constitution was throughout based on it; even the reform of 513 had merely restricted the privileges of the men of wealth. But since that year there had occurred an immense financial revolution, which might well justify a raising of the electoral census. The new timocracy thus changed the letter of the constitution only to remain faithful to its spirit, while it at the same time in the mildest possible form attempted at least to check the disgraceful purchase of votes with all the evils therewith connected. Lastly, the regulations in favour of debtors and the resumption of the schemes of colonization gave express proof that Sulla, although not disposed to approve the impetuous proposals of Sulpicius, was yet, like Sulpicius and Drusus and all the more far-seeing aristocrats in general, favourable to material reforms in themselves; as to which we may not overlook the circumstance, that he proposed these measures after the victory and entirely of his own free will. If we combine with such considerations the fact, that Sulla allowed the principal foundations of the Gracchan constitution to stand and disturbed neither the equestrian courts nor the largesses of grain, we shall find warrant for the opinion that the Sullan arrangement of 666 substantially adhered to the status quo subsisting since the fall of Gaius Gracchus; he merely, on the one hand, altered as the times required the traditional rules that primarily threatened danger to the existing government, and, on the other hand, sought to remedy according to his power the existing social evils, so far as either could be done without touching ills that lay deeper. Emphatic contempt for constitutional formalism in connection with a vivid appreciation of the intrinsic value of existing arrangements, clear perceptions, and praiseworthy intentions mark this legislation throughout. But it bears also a certain frivolous and superficial character; it needed in particular a great amount of good nature to believe that the fixing a maximum of interest would remedy the confused relations of credit, and that the right of previous deliberation on the part of the senate would prove more capable of resisting future demagogism than the right of veto and religion had previously been.
Sulla Embarks for Asia
In reality new clouds very soon began to overcast the clear sky of the conservatives. The relations of Asia assumed daily a more threatening character. The state had already suffered the utmost injury through the delay which the Sulpician revolution had occasioned in the departure of the army for Asia; the embarkation could on no account be longer postponed. Meanwhile Sulla hoped to leave behind him guarantees against a new assault on the oligarchy in Italy, partly in the consuls who would be elected under the new electoral arrangement, partly and especially in the armies employed in suppressing the remains of the Italian insurrection. In the consular comitia, however, the choice did not fall on the candidates set up by Sulla, but Lucius Cornelius Cinna, who belonged to the most determined opposition, was associated with Gnaeus Octavius, a man certainly of strictly Optimate views. It may be presumed that it was chiefly the capitalist party, which by this choice retaliated on the author of the law as to interest. Sulla accepted the unpleasant election with the declaration that he was glad to see the burgesses making use of their constitutional liberty of choice, and contented himself with exacting from both consuls an oath that they would faithfully observe the existing constitution. Of the armies, the one on which the matter chiefly depended was that of the north, as the greater part of the Campanian army was destined to depart for Asia. Sulla got the command of the former entrusted by decree of the people to his devoted colleague Quintus Rufus, and procured the recall of the former general Gnaeus Strabo in such a manner as to spare as far as possible his feelings—the more so, because the latter belonged to the equestrian party and his passive attitude during the Sulpician troubles had occasioned no small anxiety to the aristocracy. Rufus arrived at the army and took the chief command in Strabo's stead; but a few days afterwards he was killed by the soldiers, and Strabo returned to the command which he had hardly abdicated. He was regarded as the instigator of the murder; it is certain that he was a man from whom such a deed might be expected, that he reaped the fruits of the crime, and that he punished the well-known originators of it only with words. The removal of Rufus and the commandership of Strabo formed a new and serious danger for Sulla; yet he did nothing to deprive the latter of his command. Soon afterwards, when his consulship expired, he found himself on the one hand urged by his successor Cinna to depart at length for Asia where his presence was certainly urgently needed, and on the other hand cited by one of the new tribunes before the bar of the people; it was clear to the dullest eye, that a new attack on him and his party was in preparation, and that his opponents wished his removal. Sulla had no alternative save either to push the matter to a breach with Cinna and perhaps with Strabo and once more to march on Rome, or to leave Italian affairs to take their course and to remove to another continent. Sulla decided—whether more from patriotism or more from indifference, will never be ascertained—for the latter alternative; handed over the corps left behind in Samnium to the trustworthy and experienced soldier, Quintus Metellus Pius, who was invested in Sulla's stead with the proconsular commandership-in-chief over Lower Italy; gave the conduct of the siege of Nola to the propraetor Appius Claudius; and in the beginning of 667 embarked with his legions for the Hellenic East.