Character of Caesar
The new monarch of Rome, the first ruler over the whole domain of Romano-Hellenic civilization, Gaius Julius Caesar, was in his fifty-sixth year (born 12 July 652?) when the battle at Thapsus, the last link in a long chain of momentous victories, placed the decision as to the future of the world in his hands. Few men have had their elasticity so thoroughly put to the proof as Caesar— the sole creative genius produced by Rome, and the last produced by the ancient world, which accordingly moved on in the path that he marked out for it until its sun went down. Sprung from one of the oldest noble families of Latium—which traced back its lineage to the heroes of the Iliad and the kings of Rome, and in fact to the Venus-Aphrodite common to both nations—he spent the years of his boyhood and early manhood as the genteel youth of that epoch were wont to spend them. He had tasted the sweetness as well as the bitterness of the cup of fashionable life, had recited and declaimed, had practised literature and made verses in his idle hours, had prosecuted love-intrigues of every sort, and got himself initiated into all the mysteries of shaving, curls, and ruffles pertaining to the toilette-wisdom of the day, as well as into the still more mysterious art of always borrowing and never paying. But the flexible steel of that nature was proof against even these dissipated and flighty courses; Caesar retained both his bodily vigour and his elasticity of mind and of heart unimpaired. In fencing and in riding he was a match for any of his soldiers, and his swimming saved his life at Alexandria; the incredible rapidity of his journeys, which usually for the sake of gaining time were performed by night—a thorough contrast to the procession-like slowness with which Pompeius moved from one place to another— was the astonishment of his contemporaries and not the least among the causes of his success. The mind was like the body. His remarkable power of intuition revealed itself in the precision and practicability of all his arrangements, even where he gave orders without having seen with his own eyes. His memory was matchless, and it was easy for him to carry on several occupations simultaneously with equal self-possession. Although a gentleman, a man of genius, and a monarch, he had still a heart. So long as he lived, he cherished the purest veneration for his worthy mother Aurelia (his father having died early); to his wives and above all to his daughter Julia he devoted an honourable affection, which was not without reflex influence even on political affairs. With the ablest and most excellent men of his time, of high and of humbler rank, he maintained noble relations of mutual fidelity, with each after his kind. As he himself never abandoned any of his partisans after the pusillanimous and unfeeling manner of Pompeius, but adhered to his friends—and that not merely from calculation—through good and bad times without wavering, several of these, such as Aulus Hirtius and Gaius Matius, gave, even after his death, noble testimonies of their attachment to him.
If in a nature so harmoniously organized any one aspect of it may be singled out as characteristic, it is this—that he stood aloof from all ideology and everything fanciful. As a matter of course, Caesar was a man of passion, for without passion there is no genius; but his passion was never stronger than he could control. He had had his season of youth, and song, love, and wine had taken lively possession of his spirit; but with him they did not penetrate to the inmost core of his nature. Literature occupied him long and earnestly; but, while Alexander could not sleep for thinking of the Homeric Achilles, Caesar in his sleepless hours mused on the inflections of the Latin nouns and verbs. He made verses, as everybody then did, but they were weak; on the other hand he was interested in subjects of astronomy and natural science. While wine was and continued to be with Alexander the destroyer of care, the temperate Roman, after the revels of his youth were over, avoided it entirely. Around him, as around all those whom the full lustre of woman's love has dazzled in youth, fainter gleams of it continued imperishably to linger; even in later years he had love-adventures and successes with women, and he retained a certain foppishness in his outward appearance, or, to speak more correctly, the pleasing consciousness of his own manly beauty. He carefully covered the baldness, which he keenly felt, with the laurel chaplet that he wore in public in his later years, and he would doubtless have surrendered some of his victories, if he could thereby have brought back his youthful locks. But, however much even when monarch he enjoyed the society of women, he only amused himself with them, and allowed them no manner of influence over him; even his much-censured relation to queen Cleopatra was only contrived to mask a weak point in his political position.(1) Caesar was thoroughly a realist and a man of sense; and whatever he undertook and achieved was pervaded and guided by the cool sobriety which constitutes the most marked peculiarity of his genius. To this he owed the power of living energetically in the present, undisturbed either by recollection or by expectation; to this he owed the capacity of acting at any moment with collected vigour, and of applying his whole genius even to the smallest and most incidental enterprise; to this he owed the many-sided power with which he grasped and mastered whatever understanding can comprehend and will can compel; to this he owed the self-possessed ease with which he arranged his periods as well as projected his campaigns; to this he owed the "marvellous serenity" which remained steadily with him through good and evil days; to this he owed the complete independence, which admitted of no control by favourite or by mistress, or even by friend. It resulted, moreover, from this clearness of judgment that Caesar never formed to himself illusions regarding the power of fate and the ability of man; in his case the friendly veil was lifted up, which conceals from man the inadequacy of his working. Prudently as he laid his plans and considered all possibilities, the feeling was never absent from his breast that in all things fortune, that is to say accident, must bestow success; and with this may be connected the circumstance that he so often played a desperate game with destiny, and in particular again and again hazarded his person with daring indifference. As indeed occasionally men of predominant sagacity betake themselves to a pure game of hazard, so there was in Caesar's rationalism a point at which it came in some measure into contact with mysticism.
Caesar as a Statesman
Gifts such as these could not fail to produce a statesman. From early youth, accordingly, Caesar was a statesman in the deepest sense of the term, and his aim was the highest which man is allowed to propose to himself—the political, military, intellectual, and moral regeneration of his own deeply decayed nation, and of the still more deeply decayed Hellenic nation intimately akin to his own. The hard school of thirty years' experience changed his views as to the means by which this aim was to be reached; his aim itself remained the same in the times of his hopeless humiliation and of his unlimited plenitude of power, in the times when as demagogue and conspirator he stole towards it by paths of darkness, and in those when, as joint possessor of the supreme power and then as monarch, he worked at his task in the full light of day before the eyes of the world. All the measures of a permanent kind that proceeded from him at the most various times assume their appropriate places in the great building-plan. We cannot therefore properly speak of isolated achievements of Caesar; he did nothing isolated. With justice men commend Caesar the orator for his masculine eloquence, which, scorning all the arts of the advocate, like a clear flame at once enlightened and warmed. With justice men admire in Caesar the author the inimitable simplicity of the composition, the unique purity and beauty of the language. With justice the greatest masters of war of all times have praised Caesar the general, who, in a singular degree disregarding routine and tradition, knew always how to find out the mode of warfare by which in the given case the enemy was conquered, and which was thus in the given case the right one; who with the certainty of divination found the proper means for every end; who after defeat stood ready for battle like William of Orange, and ended the campaign invariably with victory; who managed that element of warfare, the treatment of which serves to distinguish military genius from the mere ordinary ability of an officer—the rapid movement of masses—with unsurpassed perfection, and found the guarantee of victory not in the massiveness of his forces but in the celerity of their movements, not in long preparation but in rapid and daring action even with inadequate means. But all these were with Caesar mere secondary matters; he was no doubt a great orator, author, and general, but he became each of these merely because he was a consummate statesman. The soldier more especially played in him altogether an accessory part, and it is one of the principal peculiarities by which he is distinguished from Alexander, Hannibal, and Napoleon, that he began his political activity not as an officer, but as a demagogue. According to his original plan he had purposed to reach his object, like Pericles and Gaius Gracchus, without force of arms, and throughout eighteen years he had as leader of the popular party moved exclusively amid political plans and intrigues—until, reluctantly convinced of the necessity for a military support, he, when already forty years of age, put himself at the head of an army. It was natural that he should even afterwards remain still more statesman than general—just like Cromwell, who also transformed himself from a leader of opposition into a military chief and democratic king, and who in general, little as the prince of Puritans seems to resemble the dissolute Roman, is yet in his development as well as in the objects which he aimed at and the results which he achieved of all statesmen perhaps the most akin to Caesar. Even in his mode of warfare this improvised generalship may still be recognized; the enterprises of Napoleon against Egypt and against England do not more clearly exhibit the artillery-lieutenant who had risen by service to command than the similar enterprises of Caesar exhibit the demagogue metamorphosed into a general. A regularly trained officer would hardly have been prepared, through political considerations of a not altogether stringent nature, to set aside the best-founded military scruples in the way in which Caesar did on several occasions, most strikingly in the case of his landing in Epirus. Several of his acts are therefore censurable from a military point of view; but what the general loses, the statesman gains. The task of the statesman is universal in its nature like Caesar's genius; if he undertook things the most varied and most remote one from another, they had all without exception a bearing on the one great object to which with infinite fidelity and consistency he devoted himself; and of the manifold aspects and directions of his great activity he never preferred one to another. Although a master of the art of war, he yet from statesmanly considerations did his utmost to avert civil strife and, when it nevertheless began, to earn laurels stained as little as possible by blood. Although the founder of a military monarchy, he yet, with an energy unexampled in history, allowed no hierarchy of marshals or government of praetorians to come into existence. If he had a preference for any one form of services rendered to the state, it was for the sciences and arts of peace rather than for those of war.
The most remarkable peculiarity of his action as a statesman was its perfect harmony. In reality all the conditions for this most difficult of all human functions were united in Caesar. A thorough realist, he never allowed the images of the past or venerable tradition to disturb him; for him nothing was of value in politics but the living present and the law of reason, just as in his character of grammarian he set aside historical and antiquarian research and recognized nothing but on the one hand the living -usus loquendi- and on the other hand the rule of symmetry. A born ruler, he governed the minds of men as the wind drives the clouds, and compelled the most heterogeneous natures to place themselves at his service—the plain citizen and the rough subaltern, the genteel matrons of Rome and the fair princesses of Egypt and Mauretania, the brilliant cavalry-officer and the calculating banker. His talent for organization was marvellous; no statesman has ever compelled alliances, no general has ever collected an army out of unyielding and refractory elements with such decision, and kept them together with such firmness, as Caesar displayed in constraining and upholding his coalitions and his legions; never did regent judge his instruments and assign each to the place appropriate for him with so acute an eye.
He was monarch; but he never played the king. Even when absolute lord of Rome, he retained the deportment of the party-leader; perfectly pliant and smooth, easy and charming in conversation, complaisant towards every one, it seemed as if he wished to be nothing but the first among his peers. Caesar entirely avoided the blunder into which so many men otherwise on an equality with him have fallen, of carrying into politics the military tone of command; however much occasion his disagreeable relations with the senate gave for it, he never resorted to outrages such as was that of the eighteenth Brumaire. Caesar was monarch; but he was never seized with the giddiness of the tyrant. He is perhaps the only one among the mighty ones of the earth, who in great matters and little never acted according to inclination or caprice, but always without exception according to his duty as ruler, and who, when he looked back on his life, found doubtless erroneous calculations to deplore, but no false step of passion to regret. There is nothing in the history of Caesar's life, which even on a small scale(2) can be compared with those poetico-sensual ebullitions—such as the murder of Kleitos or the burning of Persepolis—which the history of his great predecessor in the east records. He is, in fine, perhaps the only one of those mighty ones, who has preserved to the end of his career the statesman's tact of discriminating between the possible and the impossible, and has not broken down in the task which for greatly gifted natures is the most difficult of all— the task of recognizing, when on the pinnacle of success, its natural limits. What was possible he performed, and never left the possible good undone for the sake of the impossible better, never disdained at least to mitigate by palliatives evils that were incurable. But where he recognized that fate had spoken, he always obeyed. Alexander on the Hypanis, Napoleon at Moscow, turned back because they were compelled to do so, and were indignant at destiny for bestowing even on its favourites merely limited successes; Caesar turned back voluntarily on the Thames and on the Rhine; and thought of carrying into effect even at the Danube and the Euphrates not unbounded plans of world-conquest, but merely well-considered frontier-regulations.
Such was this unique man, whom it seems so easy and yet is so infinitely difficult to describe. His whole nature is transparent clearness; and tradition preserves more copious and more vivid information about him than about any of his peers in the ancient world. Of such a personage our conceptions may well vary in point of shallowness or depth, but they cannot be, strictly speaking, different; to every not utterly perverted inquirer the grand figure has exhibited the same essential features, and yet no one has succeeded in reproducing it to the life. The secret lies in its perfection. In his character as a man as well as in his place in history, Caesar occupies a position where the great contrasts of existence meet and balance each other. Of mighty creative power and yet at the same time of the most penetrating judgment; no longer a youth and not yet an old man; of the highest energy of will and the highest capacity of execution; filled with republican ideals and at the same time born to be a king; a Roman in the deepest essence of his nature, and yet called to reconcile and combine in himself as well as in the outer world the Roman and the Hellenic types of culture—Caesar was the entire and perfect man. Accordingly we miss in him more than in any other historical personage what are called characteristic features, which are in reality nothing else than deviations from the natural course of human development. What in Caesar passes for such at the first superficial glance is, when more closely observed, seen to be the peculiarity not of the individual, but of the epoch of culture or of the nation; his youthful adventures, for instance, were common to him with all his more gifted contemporaries of like position, his unpoetical but strongly logical temperament was the temperament of Romans in general. It formed part also of Caesar's full humanity that he was in the highest degree influenced by the conditions of time and place; for there is no abstract humanity— the living man cannot but occupy a place in a given nationality and in a definite line of culture. Caesar was a perfect man just because he more than any other placed himself amidst the currents of his time, and because he more than any other possessed the essential peculiarity of the Roman nation—practical aptitude as a citizen—in perfection: for his Hellenism in fact was only the Hellenism which had been long intimately blended with the Italian nationality. But in this very circumstance lies the difficulty, we may perhaps say the impossibility, of depicting Caesar to the life. As the artist can paint everything save only consummate beauty, so the historian, when once in a thousand years he encounters the perfect, can only be silent regarding it. For normality admits doubtless of being expressed, but it gives us only the negative notion of the absence of defect; the secret of nature, whereby in her most finished manifestations normality and individuality are combined, is beyond expression. Nothing is left for us but to deem those fortunate who beheld this perfection, and to gain some faint conception of it from the reflected lustre which rests imperishably on the works that were the creation of this great nature. These also, it is true, bear the stamp of the time. The Roman hero himself stood by the side of his youthful Greek predecessor not merely as an equal, but as a superior; but the world had meanwhile become old and its youthful lustre had faded. The action of Caesar was no longer, like that of Alexander, a joyous marching onward towards a goal indefinitely remote; he built on, and out of, ruins, and was content to establish himself as tolerably and as securely as possible within the ample but yet definite bounds once assigned to him. With reason therefore the delicate poetic tact of the nations has not troubled itself about the unpoetical Roman, and on the other hand has invested the son of Philip with all the golden lustre of poetry, with all the rainbow hues of legend. But with equal reason the political life of the nations has during thousands of years again and again reverted to the lines which Caesar drew; and the fact, that the peoples to whom the world belongs still at the present day designate the highest of their monarchs by his name, conveys a warning deeply significant and, unhappily, fraught with shame.
Setting Aside of the Old Parties
If the old, in every respect vicious, state of things was to be successfully got rid of and the commonwealth was to be renovated, it was necessary first of all that the country should be practically tranquillized and that the ground should be cleared from the rubbish with which since the recent catastrophe it was everywhere strewed. In this work Caesar set out from the principle of the reconciliation of the hitherto subsisting parties or, to put it more correctly—for, where the antagonistic principles are irreconcilable, we cannot speak of real reconciliation— from the principle that the arena, on which the nobility and the populace had hitherto contended with each other, was to be abandoned by both parties, and that both were to meet together on the ground of the new monarchical constitution. First of all therefore all the older quarrels of the republican past were regarded as done away for ever and irrevocably. While Caesar gave orders that the statues of Sulla which had been thrown down by the mob of the capital on the news of the battle of Pharsalus should be re-erected, and thus recognized the fact that it became history alone to sit in judgment on that great man, he at the same time cancelled the last remaining effects of Sulla's exceptional laws, recalled from exile those who had been banished in the times of the Cinnan and Sertorian troubles, and restored to the children of those outlawed by Sulla their forfeited privilege of eligibility to office. In like manner all those were restored, who in the preliminary stage of the recent catastrophe had lost their seat in the senate or their civil existence through sentence of the censors or political process, especially through the impeachments raised on the basis of the exceptional laws of 702. Those alone who had put to death the proscribed for money remained, as was reasonable, still under attainder; and Milo, the most daring condottiere of the senatorial party, was excluded from the general pardon.
Discontent of the Democrats
Far more difficult than the settlement of these questions which already belonged substantially to the past was the treatment of the parties confronting each other at the moment—on the one hand Caesar's own democratic adherents, on the other hand the overthrown aristocracy. That the former should be, if possible, still less satisfied than the latter with Caesar's conduct after the victory and with his summons to abandon the old standing-ground of party, was to be expected. Caesar himself desired doubtless on the whole the same issue which Gaius Gracchus had contemplated; but the designs of the Caesarians were no longer those of the Gracchans. The Roman popular party had been driven onward in gradual progression from reform to revolution, from revolution to anarchy, from anarchy to a war against property; they celebrated among themselve the memory of the reign of terror and now adorned the tomb of Catilina, as formerly that of the Gracchi, with flowers and garlands; they had placed themselves under Caesar's banner, because they expected him to do for them what Catilina had not been able to accomplish. But as it speedily became plain that Caesar was very far from intending to be the testamentary executor of Catilina, and that the utmost which debtors might expect from him was some alleviations of payment and modifications of procedure, indignation found loud vent in the inquiry. For whom then had the popular party conquered, if not for the people? And the rabble of this description, high and low, out of pure chagrin at the miscarriage of their politico-economic Saturnalia began first to coquet with the Pompeians, and then even during Caesar's absence of nearly two years from Italy (Jan. 706-autumn 707) to instigate there a second civil war within the first.
Caelius and Milo
The praetor Marcus Caelius Rufus, a good aristocrat and bad payer of debts, of some talent and much culture, as a vehement and fluent orator hitherto in the senate and in the Forum one of the most zealous champions for Caesar, proposed to the people— without being instructed from any higher quarter to do so— a law which granted to debtors a respite of six years free of interest, and then, when he was opposed in this step, proposed a second law which even cancelled all claims arising out of loans and current house rents; whereupon the Caesarian senate deposed him from his office. It was just on the eve of the battle of Pharsalus, and the balance in the great contest seemed to incline to the side of the Pompeians; Rufus entered into communication with the old senatorian band-leader Milo, and the two contrived a counter-revolution, which inscribed on its banner partly the republican constitution, partly the cancelling of creditors' claims and the manumission of slaves. Milo left his place of exile Massilia, and called the Pompeians and the slave-herdsmen to arms in the region of Thurii; Rufus made arrangements to seize the town of Capua by armed slaves. But the latter plan was detected before its execution and frustrated by the Capuan militia; Quintus Pedius, who advanced with a legion into the territory of Thurii, scattered the band making havoc there; and the fall of the two leaders put an end to the scandal (706).
Nevertheless there was found in the following year (707) a second fool, the tribune of the people, Publius Dolabella, who, equally insolvent but far from being equally gifted with his predecessor, introduced afresh his law as to creditors' claims and house rents, and with his colleague Lucius Trebellius began on that point once more— it was the last time—the demagogic war; there were serious frays between the armed bands on both sides and various street-riots, till the commandant of Italy Marcus Antonius ordered the military to interfere, and soon afterwards Caesar's return from the east completely put an end to the preposterous proceedings. Caesar attributed to these brainless attempts to revive the projects of Catilina so little importance, that he tolerated Dolabella in Italy and indeed after some time even received him again into favour. Against a rabble of this sort, which had nothing to do with any political question at all, but solely with a war against property— as against gangs of banditti—the mere existence of a strong government is sufficient; and Caesar was too great and too considerate to busy himself with the apprehensions which the Italian alarmists felt regarding these communists of that day, and thereby unduly to procure a false popularity for his monarchy.
Measures against Pompeians and Republicans
While Caesar thus might leave, and actually left, the late democratic party to the process of decomposition which had already in its case advanced almost to the utmost limit, he had on the other hand, with reference to the former aristocratic party possessing a far greater vitality, not to bring about its dissolution— which time alone could accomplish—but to pave the way for and initiate it by a proper combination of repression and conciliation. Among minor measures, Caesar, even from a natural sense of propriety, avoided exasperating the fallen party by empty sarcasm; he did not triumph over his conquered fellow-burgesses;(3) he mentioned Pompeius often and always with respect, and caused his statue overthrown by the people to be re-erected at the senate- house, when the latter was restored, in its earlier distinguished place. To political prosecutions after the victory Caesar assigned the narrowest possible limits. No investigation was instituted into the various communications which the constitutional party had held even with nominal Caesarians; Caesar threw the piles of papers found in the enemy's headquarters at Pharsalus and Thapsus into the fire unread, and spared himself and the country from political processes against individuals suspected of high treason. Further, all the common soldiers who had followed their Roman or provincial officers into the contest against Caesar came off with impunity. The sole exception made was in the case of those Roman burgesses, who had taken service in the army of the Numidian king Juba; their property was confiscated by way of penalty for their treason. Even to the officers of the conquered party Caesar had granted unlimited pardon up to the close of the Spanish campaign of 705; but he became convinced that in this he had gone too far, and that the removal at least of the leaders among them was inevitable. The rule by which he was thenceforth guided was, that every one who after the capitulation of Ilerda had served as an officer in the enemy's army or had sat in the opposition-senate, if he survived the close of the struggle, forfeited his property and his political rights, and was banished from Italy for life; if he did not survive the close of the struggle, his property at least fell to the state; but any one of these, who had formerly accepted pardon from Caesar and was once more found in the ranks of the enemy, thereby forfeited his life. These rules were however materially modified in the execution. The sentence of death was actually executed only against a very few of the numerous backsliders. In the confiscation of the property of the fallen not only were the debts attaching to the several portions of the estate as well as the claims of the widows for their dowries paid off, as was reasonable. But a portion of the paternal estate was left also to the children of the deceased. Lastly not a few of those, who in consequence of those rules were liable to banishment and confiscation of property, were at once pardoned entirely or got off with fines, like the African capitalists who were impressed as members of the senate of Utica. And even the others almost without exception got their freedom and property restored to them, if they could only prevail on themselves to petition Caesar to that effect; on several who declined to do so, such as the consular Marcus Marcellus, pardon was even conferred unasked, and ultimately in 710 a general amnesty was issued for all who were still unrecalled.
The republican opposition submitted to be pardoned; but it was not reconciled. Discontent with the new order of things and exasperation against the unwonted ruler were general. For open political resistance there was indeed no farther opportunity— it was hardly worth taking into account, that some oppositional tribunes on occasion of the question of title acquired for themselves the republican crown of martyrdom by a demonstrative intervention against those who had called Caesar king—but republicanism found expression all the more decidedly as an opposition of sentiment, and in secret agitation and plotting. Not a hand stirred when the Imperator appeared in public. There was abundance of wall-placards and sarcastic verses full of bitter and telling popular satire against the new monarchy. When a comedian ventured on a republican allusion, he was saluted with the loudest applause. The praise of Cato formed the fashionable theme of oppositional pamphleteers, and their writings found a public all the more grateful because even literature was no longer free. Caesar indeed combated the republicans even now on their own field; he himself and his abler confidants replied to the Cato-literature with Anticatones, and the republican and Caesarian scribes fought round the dead hero of Utica like the Trojans and Hellenes round the dead body of Patroclus; but as a matter of course in this conflict—where the public thoroughly republican in its feelings was judge—the Caesarians had the worst of it. No course remained but to overawe the authors; on which account men well known and dangerous in a literary point of view, such as Publius Nigidius Figulus and Aulus Caecina, had more difficulty in obtaining permission to return to Italy than other exiles, while the oppositional writers tolerated in Italy were subjected to a practical censorship, the restraints of which were all the more annoying that the measure of punishment to be dreaded was utterly arbitrary.(4) The underground machinations of the overthrown parties against the new monarchy will be more fitly set forth in another connection. Here it is sufficient to say that risings of pretenders as well as of republicans were incessantly brewing throughout the Roman empire; that the flames of civil war kindled now by the Pompeians, now by the republicans, again burst forth brightly at various places; and that in the capital there was perpetual conspiracy against the life of the monarch. But Caesar could not be induced by these plots even to surround himself permanently with a body-guard, and usually contented himself with making known the detected conspiracies by public placards.
Bearing of Caesar towards the Parties
However much Caesar was wont to treat all things relating to his personal safety with daring indifference, he could not possibly conceal from himself the very serious danger with which this mass of malcontents threatened not merely himself but also his creations. If nevertheless, disregarding all the warning and urgency of his friends, he without deluding himself as to the implacability of the very opponents to whom he showed mercy, persevered with marvellous composure and energy in the course of pardoning by far the greater number of them, he did so neither from the chivalrous magnanimity of a proud, nor from the sentimental clemency of an effeminate, nature, but from the correct statesmanly consideration that vanquished parties are disposed of more rapidly and with less public injury by their absorption within the state than by any attempt to extirpate them by proscription or to eject them from the commonwealth by banishment. Caesar could not for his high objects dispense with the constitutional party itself, which in fact embraced not the aristocracy merely but all the elements of a free and national spirit among the Italian burgesses; for his schemes, which contemplated the renovation of the antiquated state, he needed the whole mass of talent, culture, hereditary, and self-acquired distinction, which this party embraced; and in this sense he may well have named the pardoning of his opponents the finest reward of victory. Accordingly the most prominent chiefs of the defeated parties were indeed removed, but full pardon was not withheld from the men of the second and third rank and especially of the younger generation; they were not, however, allowed to sulk in passive opposition, but were by more or less gentle pressure induced to take an active part in the new administration, and to accept honours and offices from it. As with Henry the Fourth and William of Orange, so with Caesar his greatest difficulties began only after the victory. Every revolutionary conqueror learns by experience that, if after vanquishing his opponents he would not remain like Cinna and Sulla a mere party-chief, but would like Caesar, Henry the Fourth, and William of Orange substitute the welfare of the commonwealth for the necessarily one-sided programme of his own party, for the moment all parties, his own as well as the vanquished, unite against the new chief; and the more so, the more great and pure his idea of his new vocation. The friends of the constitution and the Pompeians, though doing homage with the lips to Caesar, bore yet in heart a grudge either at monarchy or at least at the dynasty; the degenerate democracy was in open rebellion against Caesar from the moment of its perceiving that Caesar's objects were by no means its own; even the personal adherents of Caesar murmured, when they found that their chief was establishing instead of a state of condottieri a monarchy equal and just towards all, and that the portions of gain accruing to them were to be diminished by the accession of the vanquished. This settlement of the commonwealth was acceptable to no party, and had to be imposed on his associates no less than on his opponents. Caesar's own position was now in a certain sense more imperilled than before the victory; but what he lost, the state gained. By annihilating the parties and not simply sparing the partisans but allowing every man of talent or even merely of good descent to attain to office irrespective of his political past, he gained for his great building all the working power extant in the state; and not only so, but the voluntary or compulsory participation of men of all parties in the same work led the nation also over imperceptibly to the newly prepared ground. The fact that this reconciliation of the parties was for the moment only externaland that they were for the present much less agreed in adherence to the new state of things than in hatred against Caesar, did not mislead him; he knew well that antagonisms lose their keenness when brought into such outward union, and that only in this way can the statesman anticipate the work of time, which alone is able finally to heal such a strife by laying the old generation in the grave. Still less did he inquire who hated him or meditated his assassination. Like every genuine statesman he served not the people for reward—not even for the reward of their love— but sacrificed the favour of his contemporaries for the blessing of posterity, and above all for the permission to save and renew his nation.
In attempting to give a detailed account of the mode in which the transition was effected from the old to the new state of things, we must first of all recollect that Caesar came not to begin, but to complete. The plan of a new polity suited to the times, long ago projected by Gaius Gracchus, had been maintained by his adherents and successors with more or less of spirit and success, but without wavering. Caesar, from the outset and as it were by hereditary right the head of the popular party, had for thirty years borne aloft its banner without ever changing or even so much as concealing his colours; he remained democrat even when monarch. as he accepted without limitation, apart of course from the preposterous projects of Catilina and Clodius, the heritage of his party; as he displayed the bitterest, even personal, hatred to the aristocracy and the genuine aristocrats; and as he retained unchanged the essential ideas of Roman democracy, viz. alleviation of the burdens of debtors, transmarine colonization, gradual equalization of the differences of rights among the classes belonging to the state, emancipation of the executive power from the senate: his monarchy was so little at variance with democracy, that democracy on the contrary only attained its completion and fulfilment by means of that monarchy. For this monarchy was not the Oriental despotism of divine right, but a monarchy such as Gaius Gracchus wished to found, such as Pericles and Cromwell founded— the representation of the nation by the man in whom it puts supreme and unlimited confidence. The ideas, which lay at the foundation of Caesar's work, were so far not strictly new; but to him belongs their realization, which after all is everywhere the main matter; and to him pertains the grandeur of execution, which would probably have surprised the brilliant projector himself if he could have seen it, and which has impressed, and will always impress, every one to whom it has been presented in the living reality or in the mirror of history—to whatever historical epoch or whatever shade of politics he may belong—according to the measure of his ability to comprehend human and historical greatness, with deep and ever-deepening emotion and admiration.
At this point however it is proper expressly once for all to claim what the historian everywhere tacitly presumes, and to protest against the custom—common to simplicity and perfidy—of using historical praise and historical censure, dissociated from the given circumstances, as phrases of general application, and in the present case of construing the judgment as to Caesar into a judgment as to what is called Caesarism. It is true that the history of past centuries ought to be the instructress of the present; but not in the vulgar sense, as if one could simply by turning over the leaves discover the conjunctures of the present in the records of the past, and collect from these the symptoms for a political diagnosis and the specifics for a prescription; it is instructive only so far as the observation of older forms of culture reveals the organic conditions of civilization generally— the fundamental forces everywhere alike, and the manner of their combination everywhere different—and leads and encourages men, not to unreflecting imitation, but to independent reproduction. In this sense the history of Caesar and of Roman Imperialism, with all the unsurpassed greatness of the master-worker, with all the historical necessity of the work, is in truth a sharper censure of modern autocracy than could be written by the hand of man. According to the same law of nature in virtue of which the smallest organism infinitely surpasses the most artistic machine, every constitution however defective which gives play to the free self-determination of a majority of citizens infinitely surpasses the most brilliant and humane absolutism; for the former is capable of development and therefore living, the latter is what it is and therefore dead. This law of nature has verified itself in the Roman absolute military monarchy and verified itself all the more completely, that, under the impulse of its creator's genius and in the absence of all material complications from without, that monarchy developed itself more purely and freely than any similar state. From Caesar's time, as the sequel will show and Gibbon has shown long ago, the Roman system had only an external coherence and received only a mechanical extension, while internally it became even with him utterly withered and dead. If in the early stages of the autocracy and above all in Caesar's own soul(5) the hopeful dream of a combination of free popular development and absolute rule was still cherished, the government of the highly- gifted emperors of the Julian house soon taught men in a terrible form how far it was possible to hold fire and water in the same vessel. Caesar's work was necessary and salutary, not because it was or could be fraught with blessing in itself, but because— with the national organization of antiquity, which was based on slavery and was utterly a stranger to republican-constitutional representation, and in presence of the legitimate urban constitution which in the course of five hundred years had ripened into oligarchic absolutism— absolute military monarchy was the copestone logically necessary and the least of evils. When once the slave-holding aristocracy in Virginia and the Carolinas shall have carried matters as far as their congeners in the Sullan Rome, Caesarism will there too be legitimized at the bar of the spirit of history;(6) where it appears under other conditions of development, it is at once a caricature and a usurpation. But history will not submit to curtail the true Caesar of his due honour, because her verdict may in the presence of bad Caesars lead simplicity astray and may give to roguery occasion for lying and fraud. She too is a Bible, and if she cannot any more than the Bible hinder the fool from misunderstanding and the devil from quoting her, she too will be able to bear with, and to requite, them both.
The position of the new supreme head of the state appears formally, at least in the first instance, as a dictatorship. Caesar took it up at first after his return from Spain in 705, but laid it down again after a few days, and waged the decisive campaign of 706 simply as consul—this was the office his tenure of which was the primary occasion for the outbreak of the civil war.(7) but in the autumn of this year after the battle of Pharsalus he reverted to the dictatorship and had it repeatedly entrusted to him, at first for an undefined period, but from the 1st January 709 as an annual office, and then in January or February 710(8) for the duration of his life, so that he in the end expressly dropped the earlier reservation as to his laying down the office and gave formal expression to its tenure for life in the new title of -dictator perpetuus-. This dictatorship, both in its first ephemeral and in its second enduring tenure, was not that of the old constitution, but—what was coincident with this merely in the name—the supreme exceptional office as arranged by Sulla;(9) an office, the functions of which were fixed, not by the constitutional ordinances regarding the supreme single magistracy, but by special decree of the people, to such an effect that the holder received, in the commission to project laws and to regulate the commonwealth, an official prerogative de jure unlimited which superseded the republican partition of powers. Those were merely applications of this general prerogative to the particular case, when the holder of power was further entrusted by separate acts with the right of deciding on war and peace without consulting the senate and the people, with the independent disposal of armies and finances, and with the nomination of the provincial governors. Caesar could accordingly de jure assign to himself even such prerogatives as lay outside of the proper functions of the magistracy and even outside of the province of state-powers at all;(10) and it appears almost as a concession on his part, that he abstained from nominating the magistrates instead of the Comitia and limited himself to claiming a binding right of proposal for a proportion of the praetors and of the lower magistrates; and that he moreover had himself empowered by special decree of the people for the creation of patricians, which was not at all allowable according to use and wont.
Other Magistracies and Attributions
For other magistracies in the proper sense there remained alongside of this dictatorship no room; Caesar did not take up the censorship as such,(11) but he doubtless exercised censorial rights— particularly the important right of nominating senators—after a comprehensive fashion.
He held the consulship frequently alongside of the dictatorship, once even without colleague; but he by no means attached it permanently to his person, and he gave no effect to the calls addressed to him to undertake it for five or even for ten years in succession.
Caesar had no need to have the superintendence of worship now committed to him, since he was already -pontifex maximus-.(12) as a matter of course the membership of the college of augurs was conferred on him, and generally an abundance of old and new honorary rights, such as the title of a "father of the fatherland," the designation of the month of his birth by the name which it still bears of Julius, and other manifestations of the incipient courtly tone which ultimately ran into utter deification. Two only of the arrangements deserve to be singled out: namely that Caesar was placed on the same footing with the tribunes of the people as regards their special personal inviolability, and that the appellation of Imperator was permanently attached to his person and borne by him as a title alongside of his other official designations.
Men of judgment will not require any proof, either that Caesar intended to engraft on the commonwealth his supreme power, and this not merely for a few years or even as a personal office for an indefinite period somewhat like Sulla's regency, but as an essential and permanent organ; or that he selected for the new institution an appropriate and simple designation; for, if it is a political blunder to create names without substantial meaning, it is scarcely a less error to set up the substance of plenary power without a name. Only it is not easy to determine what definitive formal shape Caesar had in view; partly because in this period of transition the ephemeral and the permanent buildings are not clearly discriminated from each other, partly because the devotion of his clients which already anticipated the nod of their master loaded him with a multitude—offensive doubtless to himself—of decrees of confidence and laws conferring honours. Least of all could the new monarchy attach itself to the consulship, just on account of the collegiate character that could not well be separated from this office; Caesar also evidently laboured to degrade this hitherto supreme magistracy into an empty title, and subsequently, when he undertook it, he did not hold it through the whole year, but before the year expired gave it away to personages of secondary rank. The dictatorship came practically into prominence most frequently and most definitely, but probably only because Caesar wished to use it in the significance which it had of old in the constitutional machinery—as an extraordinary presidency for surmounting extraordinary crises. On the other hand it was far from recommending itself as an expression for the new monarchy, for the magistracy was inherently clothed with an exceptional and unpopular character, and it could hardly be expected of the representative of the democracy that he should choose for its permanent organization that form, which the most gifted champion of the opposing party had created for his own ends.
The new name of Imperator, on the other hand, appears in every respect by far more appropriate for the formal expression of the monarchy; just because it is in this application(13) new, and no definite outward occasion for its introduction is apparent. The new wine might not be put into old bottles; here is a new name for the new thing, and that name most pregnantly sums up what the democratic party had already expressed in the Gabinian law, only with less precision, as the function of its chief—the concentration and perpetuation of official power (-imperium-) in the hands of a popular chief independent of the senate. We find on Caesar's coins, especially those of the last period, alongside of the dictatorship the title of Imperator prevailing, and in Caesar's law as to political crimes the monarch seems to have been designated by this name. Accordingly the following times, though not immediately, connected the monarchy with the name of Imperator. To lend to this new office at once a democratic and religious sanction, Caesar probably intended to associate with it once for all on the one hand the tribunician power, on the other the supreme pontificate.
That the new organization was not meant to be restricted merely to the lifetime of its founder, is beyond doubt; but he did not succeed in settling the especially difficult question of the succession, and it must remain an undecided point whether he had it in view to institute some sort of form for the election of a successor, such as had subsisted in the case of the original kingly office, or whether he wished to introduce for the supreme office not merely the tenure for life but also the hereditary character, as his adopted son subsequently maintained.(14) It is not improbable that he had the intention of combining in some measure the two systems, and of arranging the succession, similarly to the course followed by Cromwell and by Napoleon, in such a way that the ruler should be succeeded in rule by his son, but, if he had no son, or the son should not seem fitted for the succession, the ruler should of his free choice nominate his successor in the form of adoption.
In point of state law the new office of Imperator was based on the position which the consuls or proconsuls occupied outside of the -pomerium-, so that primarily the military command, but, along with this, the supreme judicial and consequently also the administrative power, were included in it.(15) But the authority of the Imperator was qualitatively superior to the consular-proconsular, in so far as the former was not limited as respected time or space, but was held for life and operative also in the capital;(16) as the Imperator could not, while the consul could, be checked by colleagues of equal power; and as all the restrictions placed in course of time on the original supreme official power— especially the obligation to give place to the -provocatio- and to respect the advice of the senate—did not apply to the Imperator.
Re-establishment of the Regal Office
In a word, this new office of Imperator was nothing else than the primitive regal office re-established; for it was those very restrictions—as respected the temporal and local limitation of power, the collegiate arrangement, and the cooperation of the senate or the community that was necessary for certain cases— which distinguished the consul from the king.(17) There is hardly a trait of the new monarchy which was not found in the old: the union of the supreme military, judicial, and administrative authority in the hands of the prince; a religious presidency over the commonwealth; the right of issuing ordinances with binding power; the reduction of the senate to a council of state; the revival of the patriciate and of the praefecture of the city. But still more striking than these analogies is the internal similarity of the monarchy of Servius Tullius and the monarchy of Caesar; if those old kings of Rome with all their plenitude of power had yet been rulers of a free community and themselves the protectors of the commons against the nobility, Caesar too had not come to destroy liberty but to fulfil it, and primarily to break the intolerable yoke of the aristocracy. Nor need it surprise us that Caesar, anything but a political antiquary, went back five hundred years to find the model for his new state; for, seeing that the highest office of the Roman commonwealth had remained at all times a kingship restricted by a number of special laws, the idea of the regal office itself had by no means become obsolete. At very various periods and from very different sides— in the decemviral power, in the Sullan regency, and in Caesar's own dictatorship—there had been during the republic a practical recurrence to it; indeed by a certain logical necessity, whenever an exceptional power seemed requisite there emerged, in contradistinction to the usual limited -imperium-, the unlimited -imperium- which was simply nothing else than the regal power.
Lastly, outward considerations also recommended this recurrence to the former kingly position. Mankind have infinite difficulty in reaching new creations, and therefore cherish the once developed forms as sacred heirlooms. Accordingly Caesar very judiciously connected himself with Servius Tullius, in the same way as subsequently Charlemagne connected himself with Caesar, and Napoleon attempted at least to connect himself with Charlemagne. He did so, not in a circuitous way and secretly, but, as well as his successors, in the most open manner possible; it was indeed the very object of this connection to find a clear, national, and popular form of expression for the new state. From ancient times there stood on the Capitol the statues of those seven kings, whom the conventional history of Rome was wont to bring on the stage; Caesar ordered his own to be erected beside them as the eighth. He appeared publicly in the costume of the old kings of Alba. In his new law as to political crimes the principal variation from that of Sulla was, that there was placed alongside of the collective community, and on a level with it, the Imperator as the living and personal expression of the people. In the formula used for political oaths there was added to the Jovis and the Penates of the Roman people the Genius of the Imperator. The outward badge of monarchy was, according to the view univerally diffused in antiquity, the image of the monarch on the coins; from the year 710 the head of Caesar appears on those of the Roman state.
There could accordingly be no complaint at least on the score that Caesar left the public in the dark as to his view of his position; as distinctly and as formally as possible he came forward not merely as monarch, but as very king of Rome. It is possible even, although not exactly probable, and at any rate of subordinate importance, that he had it in view to designate his official power not with the new name of Imperator, but directly with the old one of King.(18) Even in his lifetime many of his enemies as of his friends were of opinion that he intended to have himself expressly nominated king of Rome; several indeed of his most vehement adherents suggested to him in different ways and at different times that he should assume the crown; most strikingly of all, Marcus Antonius, when he as consul offered the diadem to Caesar before all the people (15 Feb. 710). But Caesar rejected these proposals without exception at once. If he at the same time took steps against those who made use of these incidents to stir republican opposition, it by no means follows from this that he was not in earnest with his rejection. The assumption that these invitations took place at his bidding, with the view of preparing the multitude for the unwonted spectacle of the Roman diadem, utterly misapprehends the mighty power of the sentimental opposition with which Caesar had to reckon, and which could not be rendered more compliant, but on the contrary necessarily gained a broader basis, through such a public recognition of its warrant on the part of Caesar himself. It may have been the uncalled-for zeal of vehement adherents alone that occasioned these incidents; it may be also, that Caesar merely permitted or even suggested the scene with Antonius, in order to put an end in as marked a manner as possible to the inconvenient gossip by a declinature which took place before the eyes of the burgesses and was inserted by his command even in the calendar of the state and could not, in fact, be well revoked. The probability is that Caesar, who appreciated alike the value of a convenient formal designation and the antipathies of the multitude which fasten more on the names than on the essence of things, was resolved to avoid the name of king as tainted with an ancient curse and as more familiar to the Romans of his time when applied to the despots of the east than to their own Numa and Servius, and to appropriate the substance of the regal office under the title of Imperator.
The New Court
The New Patrician Nobility
But, whatever may have been the definitive title present to his thoughts the sovereign ruler was there, and accordingly the court established itself at once with all its due accompaniments of pomp, insipidity, and emptiness. Caesar appeared in public not in the robe of the consuls which was bordered with purple stripes, but in the robe wholly of purple which was reckoned in antiquity as the proper regal attire, and received, seated on his golden chair and without rising from it, the solemn procession of the senate. The festivals in his honour commemorative of birthday, of victories, and of vows, filled the calendar. When Caesar came to the capital, his principal servants marched forth in troops to great distances so as to meet and escort him. To be near to him began to be of such importance, that the rents rose in the quarter of the city where he dwelt. Personal interviews with him were rendered so difficult by the multitude of individuals soliciting audience, that Caesar found himself compelled in many cases to communicate even with his intimate friends in writing, and that persons even of the highest rank had to wait for hours in the antechamber. People felt, more clearly than was agreeable to Caesar himself, that they no longer approached a fellow-citizen. There arose a monarchical aristocracy, which was in a remarkable manner at once new and old, and which had sprung out of the idea of casting into the shade the aristocracy of the oligarchy by that of royalty, the nobility by the patriciate. The patrician body still subsisted, although without essential privileges as an order, in the character of a close aristocratic guild;(19) but as it could receive no new -gentes-(20) it had dwindled away more and more in the course of centuries, and in the time of Caesar there were not more than fifteen or sixteen patrician -gentes- still in existence. Caesar, himself sprung from one of them, got the right of creating new patrician -gentes- conferred on the Imperator by decree of the people, and so established, in contrast to the republican nobility, the new aristocracy of the patriciate, which most happily combined all the requisites of a monarchical aristocracy—the charm of antiquity, entire dependence on the government, and total insignificance. On all sides the new sovereignty revealed itself.
Under a monarch thus practically unlimited there could hardly be scope for a constitution at all—still less for a continuance of the hitherto existing commonwealth based on the legal co-operation of the burgesses, the senate, and the several magistrates. Caesar fully and definitely reverted to the tradition of the regal period; the burgess-assembly remained—what it had already been, in that period— by the side of and with the king the supreme and ultimate expression of the will of the sovereign people; the senate was brought back to its original destination of giving advice to the ruler when he requested it; and lastly the ruler concentrated in his person anew the whole magisterial authority, so that there existed no other independent state-official by his side any more than by the side of the kings of the earliest times.
For legislation the democratic monarch adhered to the primitive maxim of Roman state-law, that the community of the people in concert with the king convoking them had alone the power of organically regulating the commonwealth; and he had his constitutive enactments regularly sanctioned by decree of the people. The free energy and the authority half-moral, half-political, which the yea or nay of those old warrior-assemblies had carried with it, could not indeed be again instilled into the so-called comitia of this period; the co-operation of the burgesses in legislation, which in the old constitution had been extremely limited but real and living, was in the new practically an unsubstantial shadow. There was therefore no need of special restrictive measures against the comitia; many years' experience had shown that every government— the oligarchy as well as the monarch—easily kept on good terms with this formal sovereign. These Caesarian comitia were an important element in the Caesarian system and indirectly of practical significance, only in so far as they served to retain in principle the sovereignty of the people and to constitute an energetic protest against sultanism.
But at the same time—as is not only obvious of itself, but is also distinctly attested—the other maxim also of the oldest state-law was revived by Caesar himself, and not merely for the first time by his successors; viz. that what the supreme, or rather sole, magistrate commands is unconditionally valid so long as he remains in office, and that, while legislation no doubt belongs only to the king and the burgesses in concert, the royal edict is equivalent to law at least till the demission of its author.
The Senate as the State-Council of the Monarch
While the democratic king thus conceded to the community of the people at least a formal share in the sovereignty, it was by no means his intention to divide his authority with what had hitherto been the governing body, the college of senators. The senate of Caesar was to be—in a quite different way from the later senate of Augustus— nothing but a supreme council of state, which he made use of for advising with him beforehand as to laws, and for the issuing of the more important administrative ordinances through it, or at least under its name—for cases in fact occurred where decrees of senate were issued, of which none of the senators recited as present at their preparation had any cognizance. There were no material difficulties of form in reducing the senate to it original deliberative position, which it had overstepped more de facto than de jure; but in this case it was necessary to protect himself from practical resistance, for the Roman senate was as much the headquarters of the opposition to Caesar as the Attic Areopagus was of the opposition to Pericles. Chiefly for this reason the number of senators, which had hitherto amounted at most to six hundred in its normal condition(21) and had been greatly reduced by the recent crises, was raised by extraordinary supplement to nine hundred; and at the same time, to keep it at least up to this mark, the number of quaestors to be nominated annually, that is of members annually admitted to the senate, was raised from twenty to forty.(22) The extraordinary filling up of the senate was undertaken by the monarch alone. In the case of the ordinary additions he secured to himself a permanent influence through the circumstance, that the electoral colleges were bound by law(23) to give their votes to the first twenty candidates for the quaestorship who were provided with letters of recommendation from the monarch; besides, the crown was at liberty to confer the honorary rights attaching to the quaestorship or to any office superior to it, and consequently a seat in the senate in particular, by way of exception even on individuals not qualified. The selection of the extraordinary members who were added naturally fell in the main on adherents of the new order of things, and introduced, along with -equites- of respectable standing, various dubious and plebeian personages into the proud corporation—former senators who had been erased from the roll by the censor or in consequence of a judicial sentence, foreigners from Spain and Gaul who had to some extent to learn their Latin in the senate, men lately subaltern officers who had not previously received even the equestrian ring, sons of freedmen or of such as followed dishonourable trades, and other elements of a like kind. The exclusive circles of the nobility, to whom this change in the personal composition of the senate naturally gave the bitterest offence, saw in it an intentional depreciation of the very institution itself. Caesar was not capable of such a self-destructive policy; he was as determined not to let himself be governed by his council as he was convinced of the necessity of the institute in itself. They might more correctly have discerned in this proceeding the intention of the monarch to take away from the senate its former character of an exclusive representation of the oligarchic aristocracy, and to make it once more—what it had been in the regal period— a state-council representing all classes of persons belonging to the state through their most intelligent elements, and not necessarily excluding the man of humble birth or even the foreigner; just as those earliest kings introduced non-burgesses,(24) Caesar introduced non-Italians into his senate.
Personal Government by Caesar
While the rule of the nobility was thus set aside and its existence undermined, and while the senate in its new form was merely a tool of the monarch, autocracy was at the same time most strictly carried out in the administration and government of the state, and the whole executive was concentrated in the hands of the monarch. First of all, the Imperator naturally decided in person every question of any moment. Caesar was able to carry personal government to an extent which we puny men can hardly conceive, and which is not to be explained solely from the unparalleled rapidity and decision of his working, but has moreover its ground in a more general cause. When we see Caesar, Sulla, Gaius Gracchus, and Roman statesmen in general displaying throughout an activity which transcends our notions of human powers of working, the reason lies, not in any change that human nature has undergone since that time, but in the change which has taken place since then in the organization of the household. The Roman house was a machine, in which even the mental powers of the slaves and freedmen yielded their produce to the master; a master, who knew how to govern these, worked as it were with countless minds. It was the beau ideal of bureaucratic centralization; which our counting-house system strives indeed zealously to imitate, but remains as far behind its prototype as the modern power of capital is inferior to the ancient system of slavery. Caesar knew how to profit by this advantage; wherever any post demanded special confidence, we see him filling it up on principle—so far as other considerations at all permit— with his slaves freedmen, or clients of humble birth. His works as a whole show what an organizing genius like his could accomplish with such an instrument; but to the question, how in detail these marvellous feats were achieved, we have no adequate answer. Bureaucracy resembles a manufactory also in this respect, that the work done does not appear as that of the individual who has worked at it, but as that of the manufactory which stamps it. This much only is quite clear, that Caesar, in his work had no helper at all who exerted a personal influence over it or was even so much as initiated into the whole plan; he was not only the sole master, but he worked also without skilled associates, merely with common labourers.
In Matters of Finance
With respect to details as a matter of course in strictly political affairs Caesar avoided, so far as was at all possible, any delegation of his functions. Where it was inevitable, as especially when during his frequent absence from Rome he had need of a higher organ there, the person destined for this purpose was, significantly enough, not the legal deputy of the monarch, the prefect of the city, but a confidant without officially-recognized jurisdiction, usually Caesar's banker, the cunning and pliant Phoenician merchant Lucius Cornelius Balbus from Gades. In administration Caesar was above all careful to resume the keys of the state-chest—which the senate had appropriated to itself after the fall of the regal power, and by means of which it had possessed itself of the government—and to entrust them only to those servants who with their persons were absolutely and exclusively devoted to him. In respect of ownership indeed the private means of the monarch remained, of course, strictly separate from the property of the state; but Caesar took in hand the administration of the whole financial and monetary system of the state, and conducted it entirely in the way in which he and the Roman grandees generally were wont to manage the administration of their own means and substance. For the future the levying of the provincial revenues and in the main also the management of the coinage were entrusted to the slaves and freedmen of the Imperator and men of the senatorial order were excluded from it— a momentous step out of which grew in course of time the important class of procurators and the "imperial household."
In the Governorships
Of the governorships on the other hand, which, after they had handed their financial business over to the new imperial tax-receivers, were still more than they had formerly been essentially military commands, that of Egypt alone was transferred to the monarch's own retainers. The country of the Nile, in a peculiar manner geographically isolated and politically centralized, was better fitted than any other district to break off permanently under an able leader from the central power, as the attempts which had repeatedly been made by hard-pressed Italian party-chiefs to establish themselves there during the recent crisis sufficiently proved. Probably it was just this consideration thatinduced Caesar not to declare the land formally a province, but to leave the harmless Lagids there; and certainly for this reason the legions stationed in Egypt were not entrusted to a man belonging to the senate or, in other words, to the former government, but this command was, just like the posts of tax-receivers, treated as a menial office.(25) In general however the consideration had weight with Caesar, that the soldiers of Rome should not, like those of Oriental kings, be commanded by lackeys. It remained the rule to entrust the more important governorships to those who had been consuls, the less important to those who had been praetors; and once more, instead of the five years' interval prescribed by the law of 702,(26) the commencement of the governorship probably was in the ancient fashion annexed directly to the close of the official functions in the city. On the other hand the distribution of the provinces among the qualified candidates, which had hitherto been arranged sometimes by decree of the people or senate, sometimes by concert among the magistrates or by lot, passed over to the monarch. And, as the consuls were frequently induced to abdicate before the end of the year and to make room for after- elected consuls (-consules suffecti-); as, moreover, the number of praetors annually nominated was raised from eight to sixteen, and the nomination of half of them was entrusted to the Imperator in the same way as that of the half of the quaestors; and, lastly, as there was reserved to the Imperator the right of nominating, if not titular consuls, at any rate titular praetors and titular quaestors: Caesar secured a sufficient number of candidates acceptable to him for filling up the governorships. Their recall remained of course left to the discretion of the regent as well as their nomination; as a rule it was assumed that the consular governor should not remain more than two years, nor the praetorian more than one year, in the province.
In the Administration of the Capital
Lastly, so far as concerns the administration of the city which was his capital and residence, the Imperator evidently intended for a time to entrust this also to magistrates similarly nominated by him. He revived the old city-lieutenancy of the regal period;(27) on different occasions he committed during his absence the administration of the capital to one or more such lieutenants nominated by him without consulting the people and for an indefinite period, who united in themselves the functions of all the administrative magistrates and possessed even the right of coining money with their own name, although of course not with their own effigy In 707 and in the first nine months of 709 there were, moreover, neither praetors nor curule aediles nor quaestors; the consuls too were nominated in the former year only towards its close, and in the latter Caesar was even consul without a colleague. This looks altogether like an attempt to revive completely the old regal authority within the city of Rome, as far as the limits enjoined by the democratic past of the new monarch; in other words, of magistrates additional to the king himself, to allow only the prefect of the city during the king's absence and the tribunes and plebeian aediles appointed for protecting popular freedom to continue in existence, and to abolish the consulship, the censorship, the praetorship, the curule aedileship and the quaestorship.(28) But Caesar subsequently departed from this; he neither accepted the royal title himself, nor did he cancel those venerable names interwoven with the glorious history of the republic. The consuls, praetors, aediles, tribunes, and quaestors retained substantially their previous formal powers; nevertheless their position was totally altered. It was the political idea lying at the foundation of the republic that the Roman empire was identified with the city of Rome, and in consistency with it the municipal magistrates of the capital were treated throughout as magistrates of the empire. In the monarchy of Caesar that view and this consequence of it fell into abeyance; the magistrates of Rome formed thenceforth only the first among the many municipalities of the empire, and the consulship in particular became a purely titular post, which preserved a certain practical importance only in virtue of the reversion of a higher governorship annexed to it. The fate, which the Roman community had been wont to prepare for the vanquished, now by means of Caesar befell itself; its sovereignty over the Roman empire was converted into a limited communal freedom within the Roman state. That at the same time the number of the praetors and quaestors was doubled, has been already mentioned; the same course was followed with the plebeian aediles, to whom two new "corn-aediles" (-aediles Ceriales-) were added to superintend the supplies of the capital. The appointment to those offices remained with the community, and was subject to no restriction as respected the consuls and perhaps also the tribunes of the people and plebeian aediles; we have already adverted to the fact, that the Imperator reserved a right of proposal binding on the electors as regards the half of the praetors, curule aediles, and quaestors to be annually nominated. In general the ancient and hallowed palladia of popular freedom were not touched; which, of course, did not prevent the individual refractory tribune of the people from being seriously interfered with and, in fact, deposed and erased from the roll of senators.
As the Imperator was thus, for the more general and more important questions, his own minister; as he controlled the finances by his servants, and the army by his adjutants; and as the old republican state-magistracies were again converted into municipal magistracies of the city of Rome; the autocracy was sufficiently established.
In the spiritual hierarchy on the other hand Caesar, although he issued a detailed law respecting this portion of the state-economy, made no material alteration, except that he connected with the person of the regent the supreme pontificate and perhaps also the membership of the higher priestly colleges generally; and, partly in connection with this, one new stall was created in each of the three supreme colleges, and three new stalls in the fourth college of the banquet-masters. If the Roman state-hierarchy had hitherto served as a support to the ruling oligarchy, it might render precisely the same service to the new monarchy. The conservative religious policy of the senate was transferred to the new kings of Rome; when the strictly conservative Varro published about this time his "Antiquities of Divine Things," the great fundamental repository of Roman state-theology, he was allowed to dedicate it to the -Pontifex Maximus- Caesar. The faint lustre which the worship of Jovis was still able to impart shone round the newly-established throne; and the old national faith became in its last stages the instrument of a Caesarian papacy, which, however, was from the outset but hollow and feeble.
In judicial matters, first of all, the old regal jurisdiction was re-established. As the king had originally been judge in criminal and civil causes, without being legally bound in the former to respect an appeal to the prerogative of mercy in the people, or in the latter to commit the decision of the question in dispute to jurymen; so Caesar claimed the right of bringing capital causes as well as private processes for sole and final decision to his own bar, and disposing of them in the event of his presence personally, in the event of his absence by the city-lieutenant. In fact, we find him, quite after the manner of the ancient kings, now sitting in judgment publicly in the Forum of the capital on Roman burgesses accused of high treason, now holding a judicial inquiry, in his house regarding the client princes accused of the like crime; so that the only privilege, which the Roman burgesses had as compared with the other subjects of the king, seems to have consisted in the publicity of the judicial procedure. But this resuscitated supreme jurisdiction of the kings, although Caesar discharged its duties with impartiality and care, could only from the nature of the case find practical application in exceptional cases.
Retention of the Previous Administration of Justice
For the usual procedure in criminal and civil causes the former republican mode of administering justice was substantially retained. Criminal causes were still disposed of as formerly before the different jury-commissions competent to deal with the several crimes, civil causes partly before the court of inheritance or, as it was commonly called, of the -centumviri-, partly before the single -iudices-; the superintendence of judicial proceedings was as formerly conducted in the capital chiefly by the praetors, in the provinces by the governors. Political crimes too continued even under the monarchy to be referred to a jury-commission; the new ordinance, which Caesar issued respecting them, specified the acts legally punishable with precision and in a liberal spirit which excluded all prosecution of opinions, and it fixed as the penalty not death, but banishment. As respects the selection of the jurymen, whom the senatorial party desired to see chosen exclusively from the senate and the strict Gracchans exclusively from the equestrian order, Caesar, faithful to the principle of reconciling the parties, left the matter on the footing of the compromise-law of Cotta,(29) but with the modification— for which the way was probably prepared by the law of Pompeius of 699(30)-that the -tribuni aerarii- who came from the lower ranks of the people were set aside; so that there was established a rating for jurymen of at least 400,000 sesterces (4000 pounds), and senators and equites now divided the functions of jurymen which had so long been an apple of discord between them.
Appeal to the Monarch
The relations of the regal and the republican jurisdiction were on the whole co-ordinate, so that any cause might be initiated as well before the king's bar as before the competent republican tribunal, the latter of course in the event of collision giving way; if on the other hand the one or the other tribunal had pronounced sentence, the cause was thereby finally disposed of. To overturn a verdict pronounced by the jurymen duly called to act in a civil or in a criminal cause even the new ruler was not entitled, except where special incidents, such as corruption or violence, already according to the law of the republic gave occasion for cancelling the jurymen's sentence. On the other hand the principle that, as concerned any decree emanating merely from magistrates, the person aggrieved by it was entitled to appeal to the superior of the decreeing authority, probably obtained even now the great extension, out of which the subsequent imperial appellate jurisdiction arose; perhaps all the magistrates administering law, at least the governors of all the provinces, were regarded so far as subordinates of the ruler, that appeal to him might be lodged from any of their decrees.
Decay of the Judicial System
Certainly these innovations, the most important of which— the general extension given to appeal—cannot even be reckoned absolutely an improvement, by no means healed thoroughly the evils from which the Roman administration of justice was suffering. Criminal procedure cannot be sound in any slave-state, inasmuch as the task of proceeding against slaves lies, if not de jure, at least de facto in the hands of the master. The Roman master, as may readily be conceived, punished throughout the crime of his serf, not as a crime, but only so far as it rendered the slave useless or disagreeable to him; slave criminals were merely drafted off somewhat like oxen addicted to goring, and, as the latter were sold to the butcher, so were the former sold to the fencing-booth. But even the criminal procedure against free men, which had been from the outset and always in great part continued to be a political process, had amidst the disorder of the last generations become transformed from a grave legal proceeding into a faction- fight to be fought out by means of favour, money, and violence. The blame rested jointly on all that took part in it, on the magistrates, the jury, the parties, even the public who were spectators; but the most incurable wounds were inflicted on justice by the doings of the advocates. In proportion as the parasitic plant of Roman forensic eloquence flourished, all positive ideas of right became broken up; and the distinction, so difficult of apprehension by the public, between opinion and evidence was in reality expelled from the Roman criminal practice. "A plain simple defendant," says a Roman advocate of much experience at this period, "may be accused of any crime at pleasure which he has or has not committed, and will be certainly condemned." Numerous pleadings in criminal causes have been preserved to us from this epoch; there is hardly one of them which makes even a serious attempt to fix the crime in question and to put into proper shape the proof or counterproof.(31) That the contemporary civil procedure was likewise in various respects unsound, we need hardly mention; it too suffered from the effects of the party politics mixed up with all things, as for instance in the process of Publius Quinctius (671-673), where the most contradictory decisions were given according as Cinna or Sulla had the ascendency in Rome; and the advocates, frequently non-jurists, produced here also intentionally and unintentionally abundance of confusion. But it was implied in the nature of the case, that party mixed itself up with such matters only by way of exception, and that here the quibbles of advocates could not so rapidly or so deeply break up the ideas of right; accordingly the civil pleadings which we possess from this epoch, while not according to our stricter ideas effective compositions for their purpose, are yet of a far less libellous and far more juristic character than the contemporary speeches in criminal causes. If Caesar permitted the curb imposed on the eloquence of advocates by Pompeius(32) to remain, or even rendered it more severe, there was at least nothing lost by this; and much was gained, when better selected and better superintended magistrates and jurymen were nominated and the palpable corruption and intimidation of the courts came to an end. But the sacred sense of right and the reverence for the law, which it is difficult to destroy in the minds of the multitude, it is still more difficult to reproduce. Though the legislator did away with various abuses, he could not heal the root of the evil; and it might be doubted whether time, which cures everything curable, would in this case bring relief.
Decay of the Roman Military System
The Roman military system of this period was nearly in the same condition as the Carthaginian at the time of Hannibal. The governing classes furnished only the officers; the subjects, plebeians and provincials, formed the army. The general was, financially and militarily, almost independent of the central government, and, whether in fortune or misfortune, substantially left to himself and to the resources of his province. Civic and even national spirit had vanished from the army, and the esprit de corps was alone left as a bond of inward union. The army had ceased to be an instrument of the commonwealth; in a political point of view it had no will of its own, but it was doubtless able to adopt that of the master who wielded it; in a military point of view it sank under the ordinary miserable leaders into a disorganized useless rabble, but under a right general it attained a military perfection which the burgess-army could never reach. The class of officers especially had deeply degenerated. The higher ranks, senators and equites, grew more and more unused to arms. While formerly there had been a zealous competition for the posts of staff officers, now every man of equestrian rank, who chose to serve, was sure of a military tribuneship, and several of these posts had even to be filled with men of humbler rank; and any man of quality at all who still served sought at least to finish his term of service in Sicily or some other province where he was sure not to face the enemy. Officers of ordinary bravery and efficiency were stared at as prodigies; as to Pompeius especially, his contemporaries practised a military idolatry which in every respect compromised them. The staff, as a rule, gave the signal for desertion and for mutiny; in spite of the culpable indulgence of the commanders proposals for the cashiering of officers of rank were daily occurrences. We still possess the picture— drawn not without irony by Caesar's own hand—of the state of matters at his own headquarters when orders were given to march against Ariovistus, of the cursing and weeping, and preparing of testaments, and presenting even of requests for furlough. In the soldiery not a trace of the better classes could any longer be discovered. Legally the general obligation to bear arms still subsisted; but the levy, if resorted to alongside of enlisting, took place in the most irregular manner; numerous persons liable to serve were wholly passed over, while those once levied were retained thirty years and longer beneath the eagles. The Roman burgess-cavalry now merely vegetated as a sort of mounted noble guard, whose perfumed cavaliers and exquisite high-bred horses only played a part in the festivals of the capital; the so-called burgess-infantry was a troop of mercenaries swept together from the lowest ranks of the burgess-population; the subjects furnished the cavalry and the light troops exclusively, and came to be more and more extensively employed also in the infantry. The posts of centurions in the legions, on which in the mode of warfare of that time the efficiency of the divisions essentially depended, and to which according to the national military constitution the soldier served his way upward with the pike, were now not merely regularly conferred according to favour, but were not unfrequently sold to the highest bidder. In consequence of the bad financial management of the government and the venality and fraud of the great majority of the magistrates, the payment of the soldiers was extremely defective and irregular.
The necessary consequence of this was, that in the ordinary course of things the Roman armies pillaged the provincials, mutinied against their officers, and ran off in presence of the enemy; instances occurred where considerable armies, such as the Macedonian army of Piso in 697,(33) were without any proper defeat utterly ruined, simply by this misconduct. Capable leaders on the other hand, such as Pompeius, Caesar, Gabinius, formed doubtless out of the existing materials able and effective, and to some extent exemplary, armies; but these armies belonged far more to their general than to the commonwealth. The still more complete decay of the Roman marine—which, moreover, had remained an object of antipathy to the Romans and had never been fully nationalized— scarcely requires to be mentioned. Here too, on all sides, everything that could be ruined at all had been reduced to ruin under the oligarchic government.
Its Reorganization by Caesar
The reorganization of the Roman military system by Caesar was substantially limited to the tightening and strengthening of the reins of discipline, which had been relaxed under the negligent and incapable supervision previously subsisting. The Roman military system seemed to him neither to need, nor to be capable of, radical reform; he accepted the elements of the army, just as Hannibal had accepted them. The enactment of his municipal ordinance that, in order to the holding of a municipal magistracy or sitting in the municipal council before the thirtieth year, three years' service on horseback—that is, as officer—or six years' service on foot should be required, proves indeed that he wished to attract the better classes to the army; but it proves with equal clearness that amidst the ever-increasing prevalence of an unwarlike spirit in the nation he himself held it no longer possible to associate the holding of an honorary office with the fulfilment of the time of service unconditionally as hitherto. This very circumstance serves to explain why Caesar made no attempt to re-establish the Roman burgess-cavalry. The levy was better arranged, the time of service was regulated and abridged; otherwise matters remained on the footing that the infantry of the line were raised chiefly from the lower orders of the Roman burgesses, the cavalry and the light infantry from the subjects. That nothing was done for the reorganization of the fleet, is surprising.
Adjutants of the Legion
It was an innovation—hazardous beyond doubt even in the view of its author—to which the untrustworthy character of the cavalry furnished by the subjects compelled him,(34) that Caesar for the first time deviated from the old Roman system of never fighting with mercenaries, and incorporated in the cavalry hired foreigners, especially Germans. Another innovation was the appointment of adjutants of the legion (-legati legionis-). Hitherto the military tribunes, nominated partly by the burgesses, partly by the governor concerned, had led the legions in such a way that six of them were placed over each legion, and the command alternated among these; a single commandant of the legion was appointed by the general only as a temporary and extraordinary measure. In subsequent times on the other hand those colonels or adjutants of legions appear as a permanent and organic institution, and as nominated no longer by the governor whom they obey, but by the supreme command in Rome; both changes seem referable to Caesar's arrangements connected with the Gabinian law.(35) The reason for the introduction of this important intervening step in the military hierarchy must be sought partly in the necessity for a more energetic centralization of the command, partly in the felt want of capable superior officers, partly and chiefly in the design of providing a counterpoise to the governor by associating with him one or more colonels nominated by the Imperator.
The New Commandership-in-Chief
The most essential change in the military system consisted in the institution of a permanent military head in the person of the Imperator, who, superseding the previous unmilitary and in every respect incapable governing corporation, united in his hands the whole control of the army, and thus converted it from a direction which for the most part was merely nominal into a real and energetic supreme command. We are not properly informed as to the position which this supreme command occupied towards the special commands hitherto omnipotent in their respective spheres. Probably the analogy of the relation subsisting between the praetor and the consul or the consul and the dictator served generally as a basis, so that, while the governor in his own right retained the supreme military authority in his province, the Imperator was entitled at any moment to take it away from him and assume it for himself or his delegates, and, while the authority of the governor was confined to the province, that of the Imperator, like the regal and the earlier consular authority, extended over the whole empire. Moreover it is extremely probable that now the nomination of the officers, both the military tribunes and the centurions, so far as it had hitherto belonged to the governor,(36) as well as the nomination of the new adjutants of the legion, passed directly into the hands of the Imperator; and in like manner even now the arrangement of the levies, the bestowal of leave of absence, and the more important criminal cases, may have been submitted to the judgment of the commander-in-chief. With this limitation of the powers of the governors and with the regulated control of the Imperator, there was no great room to apprehend in future either that the armies might be utterly disorganized or that they might be converted into retainers personally devoted to their respective officers.
Caesar's Military Plans
Defence of the Frontier
But, however decidedly and urgently the circumstances pointed to military monarchy, and however distinctly Caesar took the supreme command exclusively for himself, he was nevertheless not at all inclined to establish his authority by means of, and on, the army. No doubt he deemed a standing army necessary for his state, but only because from its geographical position it required a comprehensive regulation of the frontiers and permanent frontier garrisons. Partly at earlier periods, partly during the recent civil war, he had worked at the tranquillizing of Spain, and had established strong positions for the defence of the frontier in Africa along the great desert, and in the north-west of the empire along the line of the Rhine. He occupied himself with similar plans for the regions on the Euphrates and on the Danube. Above all he designed an expedition against the Parthians, to avenge the day of Carrhae; he had destined three years for this war, and was resolved to settle accounts with these dangerous enemies once for all and not less cautiously than thoroughly. In like manner he had projected the scheme of attacking Burebistas king of the Getae, who was greatly extending his power on both sides of the Danube,(37) and of protecting Italy in the north-east by border-districts similar to those which he had created for it in Gaul. On the other hand there is no evidence at all that Caesar contemplated like Alexander a career of victory extending indefinitely far; it is said indeed that he had intended to march from Parthia to the Caspian and from this to the Black Sea and then along its northern shores to the Danube, to annex to the empire all Scythia and Germany as far as the Northern Ocean—which according to the notions of that time was not so very distant from the Mediterranean—and to return home through Gaul; but no authority at all deserving of credit vouches for the existence of these fabulous projects. In the case of a state which, like the Roman state of Caesar, already included a mass of barbaric elements difficult to be controlled, and had still for centuries to come more than enough to do with their assimilation, such conquests, even granting their military practicability, would have been nothing but blunders far more brilliant and far worse than the Indian expedition of Alexander. Judging both from Caesar's conduct in Britain and Germany and from the conduct of those who became the heirs of his political ideas, it is in a high degree probable that Caesar with Scipio Aemilianus called on the gods not to increase the empire, but to preserve it, and that his schemes of conquest restricted themselves to a settlement of the frontier—measured, it is true, by his own great scale—which should secure the line of the Euphrates, and, instead of the fluctuating and militarily useless boundary of the empire on the north-east, should establish and render defensible the line of the Danube.
Attempts of Caesar to Avert Military Despotism
But, if it remains a mere probability that Caesar ought not to be designated a world-conqueror in the same sense as Alexander and Napoleon, it is quite certain that his design was not to rest his new monarchy primarily on the support of the army nor generally to place the military authority above the civil, but to incorporate it with, and as far as possible subordinate it to, the civil commonwealth. The invaluable pillars of a military state, those old and far-famed Gallic legions, were honourably dissolved just on account of the incompatibility of their esprit de corps with a civil commonwealth, and their glorious names were only perpetuated in newly-founded urban communities. The soldiers presented by Caesar with allotments of land on their discharge were not, like those of Sulla, settled together—as it were militarily— in colonies of their own, but, especially when they settled in Italy, were isolated as much as possible and scattered throughout the peninsula; it was only in the case of the portions of the Campanian land that remained for disposal, that an aggregation of the old soldiers of Caesar could not be avoided. Caesar sought to solve the difficult task of keeping the soldiers of a standing army within the spheres of civil life, partly by retaining the former arrangement which prescribed merely certain years of service, and not a service strictly constant, that is, uninterrupted by any discharge; partly by the already-mentioned shortening of the term of service, which occasioned a speedier change in the personal composition of the army; partly by the regular settlement of the soldiers who had served out their time as agricultural colonists; partly and principally by keeping the army aloof from Italy and generally from the proper seats of the civil and political life of the nation, and directing the soldier to the points, where according to the opinion of the great king he was alone, in his place—to the frontier stations, that he might ward off the extraneous foe.
Absence of Corps of Guards
The true criterion also of the military state—the development of, and the privileged position assigned to, the corps of guards— is not to be met with in the case of Caesar. Although as respects the army on active service the institution of a special bodyguard for the general had been already long in existence,(38) in Caesar's system this fell completely into the background; his praetorian cohort seems to have essentially consisted merely of orderly officers or non-military attendants, and never to have been in the proper sense a select corps, consequently never an object of jealousy to the troops of the line. While Caesar even as general practically dropped the bodyguard, he still, less as king tolerated a guard round his person. Although constantly beset by lurking assassins and well aware of it, he yet rejected the proposal of the senate to institute a select guard; dismissed, as soon as things grew in some measure quiet, the Spanish escort which he had made use of at first in the capital; and contented himself with the retinue of lictors sanctioned by traditional usage for the Roman supreme magistrates.
Impracticableness of Ideal
However much of the idea of his party and of his youth— to found a Periclean government in Rome not by virtue of the sword, but by virtue of the confidence of the nation—Caesar had been obliged to abandon in the struggle with realities, he retained even now the fundamental idea—of not founding a military monarchy— with an energy to which history scarcely supplies a parallel. Certainly this too was an impracticable ideal—it was the sole illusion, in regard to which the earnest longing of that vigorous mind was more powerful than its clear judgment. A government, such as Caesar had in view, was not merely of necessity in its nature highly personal, and so liable to perish with the death of its author just as the kindred creations of Pericles and Cromwell with the death of their founders; but, amidst the deeply disorganized state of the nation, it was not at all credible that the eighth king of Rome would succeed even for his lifetime in ruling, as his seven predecessors had ruled, his fellow-burgesses merely by virtue of law and justice, and as little probable that he would succeed in incorporating the standing army—after it had during the last civil war learned its power and unlearned its reverence—once more as a subservient element in civil society. To any one who calmly considered to what extent reverence for the law had disappeared from the lowest as from the highest ranks of society, the former hope must have seemed almost a dream; and, if with the Marian reform of the military system the soldier generally had ceased to be a citizen,(39) the Campanian mutiny and the battle-field of Thapsus showed with painful clearness the nature of the support which the army now lent to the law. Even the great democrat could only with difficulty and imperfectly hold in check the powers which he had unchained; thousands of swords still at his signal flew from the scabbard, but they were no longer equally ready upon that signal to return to the sheath. Fate is mightier than genius. Caesar desired to become the restorer of the civil commonwealth, and became the founder of the military monarchy which he abhorred; he overthrew the regime of aristocrats and bankers in the state, only to put a military regime in their place, and the commonwealth continued as before to be tyrannized and worked for profit by a privileged minority. And yet it is a privilege of the highest natures thus creatively to err. The brilliant attempts of great men to realize the ideal, though they do not reach their aim, form the best treasure of the nations. It was owing to the work of Caesar that the Roman military state did not become a police-state till after the lapse of several centuries, and that the Roman Imperators, however little they otherwise resembled the great founder of their sovereignty, yet employed the soldier in the main not against the citizen but against the public foe, and esteemed both nation and army too highly to set the latter as constable over the former.
The regulation of financial matters occasioned comparatively little difficulty in consequence of the solid foundations which the immense magnitude of the empire and the exclusion of the system of credit supplied. If the state had hitherto found itself in constant financial embarrassment, the fault was far from chargeable on the inadequacy of the state revenues; on the contrary these had of late years immensely increased. To the earlier aggregate income, which is estimated at 200,000,000 sesterces (2,000,000 pounds), there were added 85,000,000 sesterces (850,000 pounds) by the erection of the provinces of Bithynia-Pontus and Syria; which increase, along with the other newly opened up or augmented sources of income, especially from the constantly increasing produce of the taxes on luxuries, far outweighed the loss of the Campanian rents. Besides, immense sums had been brought from extraordinary sources into the exchequer through Lucullus, Metellus, Pompeius, Cato, and others. The cause of the financial embarrassments rather la partly in the increase of the ordinary and extraordinary expenditure, partly in the disorder of management. Under the former head, the distribution of corn to the multitude of the capital claimed almost exorbitant sums; through the extension given to it by Cato in 691(40) the yearly expenditure for that purpose amounted to 30,000,000 sesterces (300,000 pounds) and after the abolition in 696 of the compensation hitherto paid, it swallowed up even a fifth of the state revenues. The military budget also had risen, since the garrisons of Cilicia, Syria, and Gaul had been added to those of Spain, Macedonia, and the other provinces. Among the extraordinary items of expenditure must be named in the first place the great cost of fitting out fleets, on which, for example, five years after the great razzia of 687, 34,000,000 sesterces (340,000 pounds) were expended at once. Add to this the very considerable sums which were consumed in wars and warlike preparations; such as 18,000,000 sesterces (180,000 pounds) paid at once to Piso merely for the outfit of the Macedonian army, 24,000,000 sesterces (240,000 pounds) even annually to Pompeius for the maintenance and pay of the Spanish army, and similar sums to Caesar for the Gallic legions. But considerable as were these demands made on the Roman exchequer, it would still have beenable probably to meet them, had not its administration once so exemplary been affected by the universal laxity and dishonesty of this age; the payments of the treasury were often suspended merely because of the neglect to call up its outstanding claims. The magistrates placed over it, two of the quaestors—young men annually changed—contented themselves at the best with inaction; among the official staff of clerks and others, formerly so justly held in high esteem for its integrity, the worst abuses now prevailed, more especially since such posts had come to be bought and sold.
Financial Reforms of Caesar
Leasing of the Direct Taxes Abolished
As soon however as the threads of Roman state-finance were concentrated no longer as hitherto in the senate, but in the cabinet of Caesar, new life, stricter order, and more compact connection at once pervaded all the wheels and springs of that great machine. the two institutions, which originated with Gaius Gracchus and ate like a gangrene into the Roman financial system—the leasing of the direct taxes, and the distributions of grain—were partly abolished, partly remodelled. Caesar wished not, like his predecessor, to hold the nobility in check by the banker-aristocracy and the populace of the capital, but to set them aside and to deliver the commonwealth from all parasites whether of high or lower rank; and therefore he went in these two important questions not with Gaius Gracchus, but with the oligarch Sulla. The leasing system was allowed to continue for the indirect taxes, in the case of which it was very old and—under the maxim of Roman financial administration, which was retained inviolable also by Caesar, that the levying of the taxes should at any cost be kept simple and readily manageable— absolutely could not be dispensed with. But the direct taxes were thenceforth universally either treated, like the African and Sardinian deliveries of corn and oil, as contributions in kind to be directly supplied to the state, or converted, like the revenues of Asia Minor, into fixed money payments, in which case the collection of the several sums payable was entrusted to the tax-districts themselves.
Reform of the Distribution of Corn
The corn-distributions in the capital had hitherto been looked on as a profitable prerogative of the community which ruled and, because it ruled, had to be fed by its subjects. This infamous principle was set aside by Caesar; but it could not be overlooked that a multitude of wholly destitute burgesses had been protected solely by these largesses of food from starvation. In this aspect Caesar retained them. While according to the Sempronian ordinance renewed by Cato every Roman burgess settled in Rome had legally a claim to bread-corn without payment, this list of recipients, which had at last risen to the number of 320,000, was reduced by the exclusion of all individuals having means or otherwise provided for to 150,000, and this number was fixed once for all as the maximum number of recipients of free corn; at the same time an annual revision of the list was ordered, so that the places vacated by removal or death might be again filled up with the most needful among the applicants. By this conversion of the political privilege into a provision for the poor, a principle remarkable in a moral as well as in a historical point of view came for the first time into living operation. Civil society but slowly and gradually works its way to a perception of the interdependence of interests; in earlier antiquity the state doubtless protected its members from the public enemy and the murderer, but it was not bound to protect the totally helpless fellow-citizen from the worse enemy, want, by affording the needful means of subsistence. It was the Attic civilization which first developed, in the Solonian and post-Solonian legislation, the principle that it is the duty of the community to provide for its invalids and indeed for its poor generally and it was Caesar that first developed what in the restricted compass of Attic life had remained a municipal matter into an organic institution of state, and transformed an arrangement, which was a burden and a disgrace for the commonwealth, into the first of those institutions—in modern times as countless as they are beneficial—where the infinite depth of human compassion contends with the infinite depth of human misery.
The Budget of Income
In addition to these fundamental reforms a thorough revision of the income and expenditure took place. The ordinary sources of income were everywhere regulated and fixed. Exemption from taxation was conferred on not a few communities and even on whole districts, whether indirectly by the bestowal of the Roman or Latin franchise, or directly by special privilege; it was obtained e. g. by all the Sicilian communities(41) in the former, by the town of Ilion in the latter way. Still greater was the number of those whose proportion of tribute was lowered; the communities in Further Spain, for instance, already after Caesar's governorship had on his suggestion a reduction of tribute granted to them by the senate, and now the most oppressed province of Asia had not only the levying of its direct taxes facilitated, but also a third of them wholly remitted. The newly-added taxes, such as those of the communities subdued in Illyria and above all of the Gallic communities—which latter together paid annually 40,000,000 sesterces (400,000 pounds)— were fixed throughout on a low scale. It is true on the other hand that various towns such as Little Leptis in Africa, Sulci in Sardinia, and several Spanish communities, had their tribute raised by way of penalty for their conduct during the last war. The very lucrative Italian harbour-tolls abolished in the recent times of anarchy were re-established all the more readily, that this tax fell essentially on luxuries imported from the east. To these new or revived sources of ordinary income were added the sums which accrued by extraordinary means, especially in consequence of the civil war, to the victor—the booty collected in Gaul; the stock of cash in the capital; the treasures taken from the Italian and Spanish temples; the sums raised in the shape of forced loan, compulsory present, or fine, from the dependent communities and dynasts, and the pecuniary penalties imposed in a similar way by judicial sentence, or simply by sending an order to pay, on individual wealthy Romans; and above all things the proceeds from the estate of defeated opponents. How productive these sources of income were, we may learn from the fact, that the fine of the African capitalists who sat in the opposition-senate alone amounted to 100,000,000 sesterces (1,000,000 pounds) and the price paid by the purchasers of the property of Pompeius to 70,000,000 sesterces (700,000 pounds). This course was necessary, because the power of the beaten nobility rested in great measure on their colossal wealth and could only be effectually broken by imposing on them the defrayment of the costs of the war. But the odium of the confiscations was in some measure mitigated by the fact that Caesar directed their proceeds solely to the benefit of the state, and, instead of overlooking after the manner of Sulla any act of fraud in his favourites, exacted the purchase-money with rigour even from his most faithful adherents, e. g. from Marcus Antonius.
The Budget of Expenditure
In the expenditure a diminution was in the first place obtained by the considerable restriction of the largesses of grain. The distribution of corn to the poor of the capital which was retained, as well as the kindred supply of oil newly introduced by Caesar for the Roman baths, were at least in great part charged once for all on the contributions in kind from Sardinia and especially from Africa, and were thereby wholly or for the most part kept separate from the exchequer. On the other hand the regular expenditure for the military system was increased partly by the augmentation of the standing army, partly by the raising of the pay of the legionary from 480 sesterces (5 pounds) to 900 (9 pounds) annually. Both steps were in fact indispensable. There was a total want of any real defence for the frontiers, and an indispensable preliminary to it was a considerable increase of the army. The doubling of the pay was doubtless employed by Caesar to attach his soldiers firmly to him,(42) but was not introduced as a permanent innovation on that account. The former pay of 1 1/3 sesterces (3 1/4 pence) per day had been fixed in very ancient times, when money had an altogether different value from that which it had in the Rome of Caesar's day; it could only have been retained down to a period when the common day-labourer in the capital earned by the labour of his hands daily on an average 3 sesterces (7 1/2 pence), because in those times the soldier entered the army not for the sake of the pay, but chiefly for the sake of the—in great measure illicit— perquisites of military service. The first condition in order to a serious reform in the military system, and to the getting rid of those irregular gains of the soldier which formed a burden mostly on the provincials, was an increase suitable to the times in the regular pay; and the fixing of it at 2 1/2 sesterces (6 1/2 pence) may be regarded as an equitable step, while the great burden thereby imposed on the treasury was a necessary, and in its consequences a beneficial, course.
Of the amount of the extraordinary expenses which Caesar had to undertake or voluntarily undertook, it is difficult to form a conception. The wars themselves consumed enormous sums; and sums perhaps not less were required to fulfil the promises which Caesar had been obliged to make during the civil war. It was a bad example and one unhappily not lost sight of in the sequel, that every common soldier received for his participation in the civil war 20,000 sesterces (200 pounds), every burgess of the multitude in the capital for his non-participation in it 300 sesterces (3 pounds) as an addition to his aliment; but Caesar, after having once under the pressure of circumstances pledged his word, was too much of a king to abate from it. Besides, Caesar answered innumerable demands of honourable liberality, and put into circulation immense sums for building more especially, which had been shamefully neglected during the financial distress of the last times of the republic—the cost of his buildings executed partly during the Gallic campaigns, partly afterwards, in the capital was reckoned at 160,000,000 sesterces (1,600,000 pounds). The general result of the financial administration of Caesar is expressed in the fact that, while by sagacious and energetic reforms and by a right combination of economy and liberality he amply and fully met all equitable claims, nevertheless already in March 710 there lay in the public treasury 700,000,000 and in his own 100,000,000 sesterces (together 8,000,000 pounds)—a sum which exceeded by tenfold the amount of cash in the treasury in the most flourishing times of the republic.(43)
Social Condition of the Nation
But the task of breaking up the old parties and furnishing the new commonwealth with an appropriate constitution, an efficient army, and well-ordered finances, difficult as it was, was not the most difficult part of Caesar's work. If the Italian nation was really to be regenerated, it required a reorganization which should transform all parts of the great empire—Rome, Italy, and the provinces. Let us endeavour here also to delineate the old state of things, as well as the beginnings of a new and more tolerable time.
The good stock of the Latin nation had long since wholly disappeared from Rome. It is implied in the very nature of the case, that a capital loses its municipal and even its national stamp more quickly than any subordinate community. There the upper classes speedily withdraw from urban public life, in order to find their home rather in the state as a whole than in a single city; there are inevitably concentrated the foreign settlers, the fluctuating population of travellers for pleasure or business, the mass of the indolent, lazy, criminal, financially and morally bankrupt, and for that very reason cosmopolitan, rabble. All this preeminently applied to Rome. The opulent Roman frequently regarded his town-house merely as a lodging. When the urban municipal offices were converted into imperial magistracies; when the civic assembly became the assembly of burgesses of the empire; and when smaller self-governing tribal or other associations were not tolerated within the capital: all proper communal life ceased for Rome. From the whole compass of the widespread empire people flocked to Rome, for speculation, for debauchery, for intrigue, for training in crime, or even for the purpose of hiding there from the eye of the law.
The Populace There
These evils arose in some measure necessarily from the very nature of a capital; others more accidental and perhaps still more grave were associated with them. There has never perhaps existed a great city so thoroughly destitute of the means of support as Rome; importation on the one hand, and domestic manufacture by slaves on the other, rendered any free industry from the outset impossible there. The injurious consequences of the radical evil pervading the politics of antiquity in general—the slave-system—were more conspicuous in the capital than anywhere else. Nowhere were such masses of slaves accumulated as in the city palaces of the great families or of wealthy upstarts. Nowhere were the nations of the three continents mingled as in the slave-population of the capital— Syrians, Phrygians and other half-Hellenes with Libyans and Moors, Getae, and Iberians with the daily-increasing influx of Celts and Germans. The demoralization inseparable from the absence of freedom, and the terrible inconsistency between formal and moral right, were far more glaringly apparent in the case of the half or wholly cultivated—as it were genteel—city-slave than, in that of the rural serf who tilled the field in chains like the fettered ox. Still worse than the masses of slaves were those who had been de jure or simply de facto released from slavery— a mixture of mendicant rabble and very rich parvenus, no longer slaves and not yet fully burgesses, economically and even legally dependent on their master and yet with the pretensions of free men; and these freedmen made their way above all towards the capital, where gain of various sorts was to be had and the retail traffic as well as the minor handicrafts were almost wholly in their hands. Their influence on the elections is expressly attested; and that they took a leading part in the street riots, is very evident from the ordinary signal by means of which these were virtually proclaimed by the demagogues—the closing of the shops and places of sale.
Relations of the Oligarchy to the Populace
Moreover, the government not only did nothing to counteract this corruption of the population of the capital, but even encouraged it for the benefit of their selfish policy. The judicious rule of law, which prohibited individuals condemned for a capital offence from dwelling in the capita, was not carried into effect by the negligent police. The police-supervision—so urgently required— of association on the part of the rabble was at first neglected, and afterwards(44) even declared punishable as a restriction inconsistent with the freedom of the people. The popular festivals had been allowed so to increase that the seven ordinary ones alone—the Roman, the Plebeian, those of the Mother of the Gods, of Ceres, of Apollo, of Flora(45) and of Victoria—lasted altogether sixty-two days; and to these were added the gladiatorial games and numerous other extraordinary amusements. The duty of providing grain at low prices— which was unavoidably necessary with such a proletariate living wholly from hand to mouth—was treated with the most unscrupulous frivolity, and the fluctuations in the price of bread-corn were of a fabulous and incalculable description.(46) Lastly, the distribution of grain formed an official invitation to the whole burgess-proletariate who were destitute of food and indisposed for work to take up their abode in the capital.
Anarchy of the Capital
The seed sown was bad, and the harvest corresponded. The system of clubs and bands in the sphere of politics, the worship of Isis and similar pious extravagances in that of religion, had their root in this state of things. People were constantly in prospect of a dearth, and not unfrequently in utter famine. Nowhere was a man less secure of his life than in the capital; murder professionally prosecuted by banditti was the single trade peculiar to it; the alluring of the victim to Rome was the preliminary to his assassination; no one ventured into the country in the vicinity of the capital without an armed retinue. Its outward condition corresponded to this inward disorganization, and seemed a keen satire on the aristocratic government. Nothing was done for the regulation of the stream of the Tiber; excepting that they caused the only bridge, with which they still made shift,(47) to be constructed of stone at least as far as the Tiber-island. As little was anything done toward the levelling of the city of the Seven Hills, except where perhaps the accumulation of rubbish had effected some improvement. The streets ascended and descended narrow and angular, and were wretchedly kept; the footpaths were small and ill paved. The ordinary houses were built of bricks negligently and to a giddy height, mostly by speculative builders on account of the small proprietors; by which means the former became vastly rich, and the latter were reduced to beggary. Like isolated islands amidst this sea of wretched buildings were seen the splendid palaces of the rich, which curtailed the space for the smaller houses just as their owners curtailed the burgess- rights of smaller men in the state, and beside whose marble pillars and Greek statues the decaying temples, with their images of the gods still in great part carved of wood, made a melancholy figure. A police-supervision of streets, of river-banks, of fires, or of building was almost unheard of; if the government troubled itself at all about the inundations, conflagrations, and falls of houses which were of yearly occurrence, it was only to ask from the state- theologians their report and advice regarding the true import of such signs and wonders. If we try to conceive to ourselves a London with the slave-population of New Orleans, with the police of Constantinople, with the non-industrial character of the modern Rome, and agitated by politics after the fashion of the Paris in 1848, we shall acquire an approximate idea of the republican glory, the departure of which Cicero and his associates in their sulky letters deplore.
Caesar's Treatment of Matters in the Capital
Caesar did not deplore, but he sought to help so far as help was possible. Rome remained, of course, what it was— a cosmopolitan city. Not only would the attempt to give to it once more a specifically Italian character have been impracticable; it would not have suited Caesar's plan. Just as Alexander found for his Graeco-Oriental empire an appropriate capital in the Hellenic, Jewish, Egyptian, and above all cosmopolitan, Alexandria, so the capital of the new Romano-Hellenic universal empire, situated at the meeting-point of the east and the west, was to be not an Italian community, but the denationalized capital of many nations. For this reason Caesar tolerated the worship of the newly-settled Egyptian gods alongside of Father Jovis, and granted even to the Jews the free exercise of their strangely foreign ritual in the very capital of the empire. However offensive was the motley mixture of the parasitic—especially the Helleno-Oriental— population in Rome, he nowhere opposed its extension; it is significant, that at his popular festivals for the capital he caused dramas to be performed not merely in Latin and Greek, but also in other languages, presumably in Phoenician, Hebrew, Syrian, Spanish.
Diminution of the Proletariate
But, if Caesar accepted with the full consciousness of what he was doing the fundamental character of the capital such as he found it, he yet worked energetically at the improvement of the lamentable and disgraceful state of things prevailing there. Unhappily the primary evils were the least capable of being eradicated. Caesar could not abolish slavery with its train of national calamities; it must remain an open question, whether he would in the course of time have attempted at least to limit the slave-population in the capital, as he undertook to do so in another field. As little could Caesar conjure into existence a free industry in the capital; yet the great building-operations remedied in some measure the want of means of support there, and opened up to the proletariate a source of small but honourable gain. On the other hand Caesar laboured energetically to diminish the mass of the free proletariate. The constant influx of persons brought by the corn-largesses to Rome was, if not wholly stopped,(48) at least very materially restricted by the conversion of these largesses into a provision for the poor limited to a fixed number. The ranks of the existing proletariate were thinned on the one hand by the tribunals which were instructed to proceed with unrelenting rigour against the rabble, on the other hand by a comprehensive transmarine colonization; of the 80,000 colonists whom Caesar sent beyond the seas in the few years of his government, a very great portion must have been taken from the lower ranks of the population of the capital; most of the Corinthian settlers indeed were freedmen. When in deviation from the previous order of things, which precluded the freedmen from any urban honorary office, Caesar opened to them in his colonies the doors of the senate-house, this was doubtless done in order to gain those of them who were in better positions to favour the cause of emigration. This emigration, however, must have been more than a mere temporary arrangement; Caesar, convinced like every other man of sense that the only true remedy for the misery of the proletariate consisted in a well-regulated system of colonization, and placed by the condition of the empire in a position to realize it to an almost unlimited extent, must have had the design of permanently continuing the process, and so opening up a constant means of abating an evil which was constantly reproducing itself. Measures were further taken to set bounds to the serious fluctuations in the price of the most important means of subsistence in the markets of the capital. The newly-organized and liberally-administered finances of the state furnished the means for this purpose, and two newly-nominated magistrates, the corn-aediles(49) were charged with the special supervision of the contractors and of the market of the capital.
The Club System Restricted
The club system was checked, more effectually than was possible through prohibitive laws, by the change of the constitution; inasmuch as with the republic and the republican elections and tribunals the corruption and violence of the electioneering and judicial -collegia—-and generally the political Saturnalia of the -canaille—- came to an end of themselves. Moreover the combinations called into existence by the Clodian law were broken up, and the whole system of association was placed under the superintendence of the governing authorities. With the exception of the ancient guilds and associations, of the religious unions of the Jews, and of other specially excepted categories, for which a simple intimation to the senate seems to have sufficed, the permission to constitute a permanent society with fixed times of assembling and standing deposits was made dependent on a concession to be granted by the senate, and, as a rule, doubtless only after the consent of the monarch had been obtained.
To this was added a stricter administration of criminal justice and an energetic police. The laws, especially as regards the crime of violence, were rendered more stringent; and the irrational enactment of the republican law, that the convicted criminal was entitled to withdraw himself from a part of the penalty which he had incurred by self-banishment, was with reason set aside. The detailed regulations, which Caesar issued regarding the police of the capital, are in great part still preserved; and all who choose may convince themselves that the Imperator did not disdain to insist on the house-proprietors putting the streets into repair and paving the footpath in its whole breadth with hewn stones, and to issue appropriate enactments regarding the carrying of litters and the driving of waggons, which from the nature of the streets were only allowed to move freely through the capital in the evening and by night. The supervision of the local police remained as hitherto chiefly with the four aediles, who were instructed now at least, if not earlier, each to superintend a distinctly marked-off police district within the capital.
Buildings of the Capital
Lastly, building in the capital, and the provision connected therewith of institutions for the public benefit, received from Caesar—who combined in himself the love for building of a Roman and of an organizer—a sudden stimulus, which not merely put to shame the mismanagement of the recent anarchic times, but also left all that the Roman aristocracy had done in their best days as far behind as the genius of Caesar surpassed the honest endeavours of the Marcii and Aemilii. It was not merely by the extent of the buildings in themselves and the magnitude of the sums expended on them that Caesar excelled his predecessors; but a genuine statesmanly perception of what was for the public good distinguishes what Caesar did for the public institutions of Rome from all similar services. He did not build, like his successors, temples and other splendid structures, but he relieved the marketplace of Rome—in which the burgess-assemblies, the seats of the chief courts, the exchange, and the daily business-traffic as well as the daily idleness, still were crowded together—at least from the assemblies and the courts by constructing for the former a new -comitium-, the Saepta Julia in the Campus Martius, and for the latter a separate place of judicature, the Forum Julium between the Capitol and Palatine. Of a kindred spirit is the arrangement originating with him, by which there were supplied to the baths of the capital annually three million pounds of oil, mostly from Africa, and they were thereby enabled to furnish to the bathers gratuitously the oil required for the anointing of the body—a measure of cleanliness and sanitary policy which, according to the ancient dietetics based substantially on bathing and anointing, was highly judicious.
But these noble arrangements were only the first steps towards a complete remodelling of Rome. Projects were already formed for a new senate-house, for a new magnificent bazaar, for a theatre to rival that of Pompeius, for a public Latin and Greek library after the model of that recently destroyed at Alexandria— the first institution of the sort in Rome—lastly for a temple of Mars, which was to surpass all that had hitherto existed in riches and glory. Still more brilliant was the idea, first, of constructing a canal through the Pomptine marshes and drawing off their waters to Tarracina, and secondly, of altering the lower course of the Tiber and of leading it from the present Ponte Molle, not through between the Campus Vaticanus and the Campus Martius, but rather round the Campus Vaticanus and the Janiculum to Ostia, where the miserable roadstead was to give place to an adequate artificial harbour. By this gigantic plan on the one hand the most dangerous enemy of the capital, the malaria of the neighbourhood would be banished; on the other hand the extremely limited facilities for building in the capital would be at once enlarged by substituting the Campus Vaticanus thereby transferred to the left bank of the Tiber for the Campus Martius, and allowing the latter spacious field to be applied for public and private edifices; while the capital would at the same time obtain a safe seaport, the want of which was so painfully felt. It seemed as if the Imperator would remove mountains and rivers, and venture to contend with nature herself.
Much however as the city of Rome gained by the new order of things in commodiousness and magnificence, its political supremacy was, as we have already said, lost to it irrecoverably through that very change. The idea that the Roman state should coincide with the city of Rome had indeed in the course of time become more and more unnatural and preposterous; but the maxim had been so intimately blended with the essence of the Roman republic, that it could not perish before the republic itself. It was only in the new state of Caesar that it was, with the exception perhaps of some legal fictions, completely set aside, and the community of the capital was placed legally on a level with all other municipalities; indeed Caesar—here as everywhere endeavouring not merely to regulate the thing, but also to call it officially by the right name— issued his Italian municipal ordinance, beyond doubt purposely, at once for the capital and for the other urban communities. We may add that Rome, just because it was incapable of a living communal character as a capital, was even essentially inferior to the other municipalities of the imperial period. The republican Rome was a den of robbers, but it was at the same time the state; the Rome of the monarchy, although it began to embellish itself with all the glories of the three continents and to glitter in gold and marble, was yet nothing in the state but a royal residence in connection with a poor-house, or in other words a necessary evil.
While in the capital the only object aimed at was to get rid of palpable evils by police ordinances on the greatest scale, it was a far more difficult task to remedy the deep disorganization of Italian economics. Its radical misfortunes were those which we previously noticed in detail—the disappearance of the agricultural, and the unnatural increase of the mercantile, population— with which an endless train of other evils was associated. The reader will not fail to remember what was the state of Italian agriculture. In spite of the most earnest attempts to check the annihilation of the small holdings, farm-husbandry was scarcely any longer the predominant species of economy during this epoch in any region of Italy proper, with the exception perhaps of the valleys of the Apennines and Abruzzi. As to the management of estates, no material difference is perceptible between the Catonian system formerly set forth(50) and that described to us by Varro, except that the latter shows the traces for better and for worse of the progress of city-life on a great scale in Rome. "Formerly," says Varro, "the barn on the estate was larger than the manor-house; now it is wont to be the reverse." In the domains of Tusculum and Tibur, on the shores of Tarracina and Baiae— where the old Latin and Italian farmers had sown and reaped— there now rose in barren splendour the villas of the Roman nobles, some of which covered the space of a moderate-sized town with their appurtenances of garden-grounds and aqueducts, fresh and salt water ponds for the preservation and breeding of river and marine fishes, nurseries of snails and slugs, game-preserves for keeping hares, rabbits, stags, roes, and wild boars, and aviaries in which even cranes and peacocks were kept. But the luxury of a great city enriches also many an industrious hand, and supports more poor than philanthropy with its expenditure of alms. Those aviaries and fish-ponds of the grandees were of course, as a rule, a very costly indulgence. But this system was carried to such an extent and prosecuted with so much keenness, that e. g. the stock of a pigeon-house was valued at 100,000 sesterces (1000 pounds); a methodical system of fattening had sprung up, and the manure got from the aviaries became of importance in agriculture; a single bird-dealer was able to furnish at once 5000 fieldfares—for they knew how to rear these also—at three denarii (2 shillings) each, and a single possessor of a fish-pond 2000 -muraenae-; and the fishes left behind by Lucius Lucullus brought 40,000 sesterces (400 pounds). As may readily be conceived, under such circumstances any one who followed this occupation industriously and intelligently might obtain very large profits with a comparatively small outlay of capital. A small bee-breeder of this period sold from his thyme- garden not larger than an acre in the neighbourhood of Falerii honey to an average annual amount of at least 10,000 sesterces (100 pounds). The rivalry of the growers of fruit was carried so far, that in elegant villas the fruit-chamber lined with marble was not unfrequently fitted up at the same time as a dining-room, and sometimes fine fruit acquired by purchase was exhibited there as of home growth. At this period the cherry from Asia Minor and other foreign fruit-trees were first planted in the gardens of Italy. The vegetable gardens, the beds of roses and violets in Latium and Campania, yielded rich produce, and the "market for dainties" (-forum cupedinis-) by the side of the Via Sacra, where fruits, honey, and chaplets were wont to be exposed for sale, played an important part in the life of the capital. Generally the management of estates, worked as they were on the planter-system, had reached in an economic point of view a height scarcely to be surpassed. The valley of Rieti, the region round the Fucine lake, the districts on the Liris and Volturnus, and indeed Central Italy in general, were as respects husbandry in the most flourishing condition; even certain branches of industry, which were suitable accompaniments of the management of an estate by means of slaves, were taken up by intelligent landlords, and, where the circumstances were favourable, inns, weaving factories, and especially brickworks were constructed on the estate. The Italian producers of wine and oil in particular not only supplied the Italian markets, but carried on also in both articles a considerable business of transmarine exportation. A homely professional treatise of this period compares Italy to a great fruit-garden; and the pictures which a contemporary poet gives of his beautiful native land, where the well-watered meadow, the luxuriant corn-field, the pleasant vine-covered hill are fringed by the dark line of the olive-trees—where the "ornament" of the land, smiling in varied charms, cherishes the loveliest gardens in its bosom and is itself wreathed round by food-producing trees— these descriptions, evidently faithful pictures of the landscape daily presented to the eye of the poet, transplant us into the most flourishing districts of Tuscany and Terra di Lavoro. The pastoral husbandry, it is true, which for reasons formerly explained was always spreading farther especially in the south and south-east of Italy, was in every respect a retrograde movement; but it too participated to a certain degree in the general progress of agriculture; much was done for the improvement of the breeds, e. g. asses for breeding brought 60,000 sesterces (600 pounds), 100,000 (1000 pounds), and even 400,000 (4000 pounds). The solid Italian husbandry obtained at this period, when the general development of intelligence and abundance of capital rendered it fruitful, far more brilliant results than ever the old system of small cultivators could have given; and was carried even already beyond the bounds of Italy, for the Italian agriculturist turned to account large tracts in the provinces by rearing cattle and even cultivating corn.
In order to show what dimensions money-dealing assumed by the side of this estate-husbandry unnaturally prospering over the ruin of the small farmers, how the Italian merchants vying with the Jews poured themselves into all the provinces and client-states of the empire, and how all capital ultimately flowed to Rome, it will be sufficient, after what has been already said, to point to the single fact that in the money-market of the capital the regular rate of interest at this time was six per cent, and consequently money there was cheaper by a half than it was on an average elsewhere in antiquity.
In consequence of this economic system based both in its agrarian and mercantile aspects on masses of capital and on speculation, there arose a most fearful disproportion in the distribution of wealth. The often-used and often-abused phrase of a commonwealth composed of millionaires and beggars applies perhaps nowhere so completely as to the Rome of the last age of the republic; and nowhere perhaps has the essential maxim of the slave-state— that the rich man who lives by the exertions of his slaves is necessarily respectable, and the poor man who lives by the labour of his hands is necessarily vulgar—been recognized with so terrible a precision as the undoubted principle underlying all public and private intercourse.(51) A real middle class in our sense of the term there was not, as indeed no such class can exist in any fully-developed slave-state; what appears as if it were a good middle class and is so in a certain measure, is composed of those rich men of business and landholders who are so uncultivated or so highly cultivated as to content themselves within the sphere of their activity and to keep aloof from public life. Of the men of business—a class, among whom the numerous freedmen and other upstarts, as a rule, were seized with the giddy fancy of playing the man of quality—there were not very many who showed so much judgment. A model of this sort was the Titus Pomponius Atticus frequently mentioned in the accounts of this period. He acquired an immense fortune partly from the great estate-farming which he prosecuted in Italy and Epirus, partly from his money-transactions which ramified throughout Italy, Greece, Macedonia, and Asia Minor; but at the same time he continued to be throughout the simple man of business, did not allow himself to be seduced into soliciting office or even into monetary transactions with the state, and, equally remote from the avaricious niggardliness and from the prodigal and burdensome luxury of his time—his table, for instance, was maintained at a daily cost of 100 sesterces (1 pound)— contented himself with an easy existence appropriating to itself the charms of a country and a city life, the pleasures of intercourse with the best society of Rome and Greece, and all the enjoyments of literature and art.
More numerous and more solid were the Italian landholders of the old type. Contemporary literature preserves in the description of Sextus Roscius, who was murdered amidst the proscriptions of 673, the picture of such a rural nobleman (-pater familias rusticanus-); his wealth, estimated at 6,000,000 sesterces (60,000 pounds), is mainly invested in his thirteen landed estates; he attends to the management of it in person systematically and with enthusiasm; he comes seldom or never to the capital, and, when he does appear there, by his clownish manners he contrasts not less with the polished senator than the innumerable hosts of his uncouth rural slaves with the elegant train of domestic slaves in the capital. Far more than the circles of the nobility with their cosmopolitan culture and the mercantile class at home everywhere and nowhere, these landlords and the "country towns" to which they essentially gave tone (-municipia rusticana-) preserved as well the discipline and manners as the pure and noble language of their fathers. The order of landlords was regarded as the flower of the nation; the speculator, who has made his fortune and wishes to appear among the notables of the land, buys an estate and seeks, if not to become himself the squire, at any rate to rear his son with that view. We meet the traces of this class of landlords, wherever a national movement appears in politics, and wherever literature puts forth any fresh growth; from it the patriotic opposition to the new monarchy drew its best strength; to it belonged Varro, Lucretius, Catullus; and nowhere perhaps does the comparative freshness of this landlord-life come more characteristically to light than in the graceful Arpinate introduction to the second book of Cicero's treatise De Legibus— a green oasis amidst the fearful desert of that equally empty and voluminous writer.
But the cultivated class of merchants and the vigorous order of landlords were far overgrown by the two classes that gave tone to society—the mass of beggars, and the world of quality proper. We have no statistical figures to indicate precisely the relative proportions of poverty and riches for this epoch; yet we may here perhaps again recall the expression which a Roman statesman employed some fifty years before(52)—that the number of families of firmly-established riches among the Roman burgesses did not amount to 2000. The burgess-body had since then become different; but clear indications attest that the disproportion between poor and rich had remained at least as great. The increasing impoverishment of the multitude shows itself only too plainly in their crowding to the corn-largesses and to enlistment in the army; the corresponding increase of riches is attested expressly by an author of this generation, when, speaking of the circumstances of the Marian period, he describes an estate of 2,000,000 sesterces (20,000 pounds) as "riches according to the circumstances of that day"; and the statements which we find as to the property of individuals lead to the same conclusion. The very rich Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus promised to twenty thousand soldiers four -iugera- of land each, out of his own property; the estate of Pompeius amounted to 70,000,000 sesterces (700,000 pounds); that of Aesopus the actor to 20,000,000 (200,000 pounds); Marcus Crassus, the richest of the rich, possessed at the outset of his career, 7,000,000 (70,000 pounds), at its close, after lavishing enormous sums on the people, 170,000,000 sesterces (1,700,000 pounds). The effect of such poverty and such riches was on both sides an economic and moral disorganization outwardly different, but at bottom of the same character. If the common man was saved from starvation only by support from the resources of the state, it was the necessary consequence of this mendicant misery—although it also reciprocally appears as a cause of it—that he addicted himself to the beggar's laziness and to the beggar's good cheer. The Roman plebeian was fonder of gazing in the theatre than of working; the taverns and brothels were so frequented, that the demagogues found their special account in gaining the possessors of such establishments over to their interests. The gladiatorial games—which revealed, at the same time that they fostered, the worst demoralization of the ancient world—had become so flourishing that a lucrative business was done in the sale of the programmes for them; and it was at this time that the horrible innovation was adopted by which the decision as to the life or death of the vanquished became dependent, not on the law of duel or on the pleasure of the victor, but onthe caprice of the onlooking public, and according to its signal the victor either spared or transfixed his prostrate antagonist. The trade of fighting had so risen or freedom had so fallen in value, that the intrepidity and the emulation, which were lacking on the battle fields of this age, were universal in the armies of the arena and, where the law of the duel required, every gladiator allowed himself to be stabbed mutely and without shrinking; that in fact free men not unfrequently sold themselves to the contractors for board and wages as gladiatorial slaves. The plebeians of the fifth century had also suffered want and famine, but they had not sold their freedom; and still less would the jurisconsults of that period have lent themselves to pronounce the equally immoral and illegal contract of such a gladiatorial slave "to let himself be chained, scourged, burnt or killed without opposition, if the laws of the institution should so require" by means of unbecoming juristic subtleties as a contract lawful and actionable.
In the world of quality such things did not occur, but at bottom it was hardly different, and least of all better. In doing nothing the aristocrat boldly competed with the proletarian; if the latter lounged on the pavement, the former lay in bed till far on in the day. Extravagance prevailed here as unbounded as it was devoid of taste. It was lavished on politics and on the theatre, of course to the corruption of both; the consular office was purchased at an incredible price—in the summer of 700 the first voting-division alone was paid 10,000,000 sesterces (100,000 pounds)— and all the pleasure of the man of culture in the drama was spoilt by the insane luxury of decoration. Rents in Rome appear to have been on an average four times as high as in the country-towns; a house there was once sold for 15,000,000 sesterces (150,000 pounds). The house of Marcus Lepidus (consul in 676) which was at the time of the death of Sulla the finest in Rome, did not rank a generation afterwards even as the hundredth on the list of Roman palaces. We have already mentioned the extravagance practised in the matter of country-houses; we find that 4,000,000 sesterces (40,000 pounds) were paid for such a house, which was valued chiefly for its fishpond; and the thoroughly fashionable grandee now needed at least two villas— one in the Sabine or Alban mountains near the capital, and a second in the vicinity of the Campanian baths—and in addition if possible a garden immediately outside of the gates of Rome. Still more irrational than these villa-palaces were the palatial sepulchres, several of which still existing at the present day attest what a lofty pile of masonry the rich Roman needed in order that he might die as became his rank. Fanciers of horses and dogs too were not wanting; 24,000 sesterces (240 pounds) was no uncommon price for a showy horse. They indulged in furniture of fine wood—a table of African cypress-wood cost 1,000,000 sesterces (10,000 pounds); in dresses of purple stuffs or transparent gauzes accompanied by an elegant adjustment of their folds before the mirror—the orator Hortensius is said to have brought an action of damages against a colleague because he ruffled his dress in a crowd; in precious stones and pearls, which first at this period took the place of the far more beautiful and more artistic ornaments of gold—it was already utter barbarism, when at the triumph of Pompeius over Mithradates the image of the victor appeared wrought wholly of pearls, and when the sofas and the shelves in the dining-hall were silver-mounted and even the kitchen-utensils were made of silver. In a similar spirit the collectors of this period took out the artistic medallions from the old silver cups, to set them anew in vessels of gold. Nor was there any lack of luxury also in travelling. "When the governor travelled," Cicero tells us as to one of the Sicilian governors, "which of course he did not in winter, but only at the beginning of spring— not the spring of the calendar but the beginning of the season of roses— he had himself conveyed, as was the custom with the kings of Bithynia, in a litter with eight bearers, sitting on a cushion of Maltese gauze stuffed with rose-leaves, with one garland on his head, and a second twined round his neck, applying to his nose a little smelling bag of fine linen, with minute meshes, filled with roses; and thus he had himself carried even to his bed chamber."
But no sort of luxury flourished so much as the coarsest of all— the luxury of the table. The whole villa arrangements and the whole villa life had ultimate reference to dining; not only had they different dining-rooms for winter and summer, but dinner was served in the picture-gallery, in the fruit-chamber, in the aviary, or on a platform erected in the deer-park, around which, when the bespoken "Orpheus" appeared in theatrical costume and blew his flourish, the duly-trained roes and wild boars congregated. Such was the care bestowed on decoration; but amidst all this the reality was by no means forgotten. Not only was the cook a graduate in gastronomy, but the master himself often acted as the instructor of his cooks. The roast had been long ago thrown into the shade by marine fishes and oysters; now the Italian river-fishes were utterly banished from good tables, and Italian delicacies and Italian wines were looked on as almost vulgar. Now even at the popular festivals there were distributed, besides the Italian Falerian, three sorts of foreign wine—Sicilian, Lesbian, Chian, while a generation before it had been sufficient even at great banquets to send round Greek wine once; in the cellar of the orator Hortensius there was found a stock of 10,000 jars (at 33 quarts) of foreign wine. It was no wonder that the Italian wine-growers began to complain of the competition of the wines from the Greek islands. No naturalist could ransack land and sea more zealously for new animals and plants, than the epicures of that day ransacked them for new culinary dainties.(53) The circumstance of the guest taking an emetic after a banquet, to avoid the consequences of the varied fare set before him, no longer created surprise. Debauchery of every sort became so systematic and aggravated that it found its professors, who earned a livelihood by serving as instructors of the youth of quality in the theory and practice of vice.
It will not be necessary to dwell longer on this confused picture, so monotonous in its variety; and the less so, that the Romans were far from original in this respect, and confined themselves to exhibiting a copy of the Helleno-Asiatic luxury still more exaggerated and stupid than their model. Plutos naturally devours his children as well as Kronos; the competition for all these mostly worthless objects of fashionable longing so forced up prices, that those who swam with the stream found the most colossal estate melt away in a short time, and even those, who only for credit's sake joined in what was most necessary, saw their inherited and firmly- established wealth rapidly undermined. The canvass for the consulship, for instance, was the usual highway to ruin for houses of distinction; and nearly the same description applies to the games, the great buildings, and all those other pleasant, doubtless, but expensive pursuits. The princely wealth of that period is only surpassed by its still more princely liabilities; Caesar owed about 692, after deducting his assets, 25,000,000 sesterces (250,000 pounds); Marcus Antonius, at the age of twenty-four 6,000,000 sesterces (60,000 pounds), fourteen years afterwards 40,000,000 (400,000 pounds); Curio owed 60,000,000 (600,000 pounds); Milo 70,000,000 (700,000 pounds). That those extravagant habits of the Roman world of quality rested throughout on credit, is shown by the fact that the monthly interest in Rome was once suddenly raised from four to eight per cent, through the borrowing of the different competitors for the consulship. Insolvency, instead of leading in due time to a meeting of creditors or at any rate to a liquidation which might at least place matters once more on a clear footing, was ordinarily prolonged by the debtor as much as possible; instead of selling his property and especially his landed estates, he continued to borrow and to present the semblance of riches, till the crash only became the worse and the winding-up yielded a result like that of Milo, in which the creditors obtained somewhat above four per cent of the sums for which they ranked. Amidst this startlingly rapid transition from riches to bankruptcy and this systematic swindling, nobody of course gained so much as the cool banker, who knew how to give and refuse credit. The relations of debtor and creditor thus returned almost to the same point at which they had stood in the worst times of the social crises of the fifth century; the nominal landowners held virtually by sufferance of their creditors; the debtors were either in servile subjection to their creditors, so that the humbler of them appeared like freedmen in the creditor's train and those of higher rank spoke and voted even in the senate at the nod of their creditor-lord; or they were on the point of declaring war on property itself, and either of intimidating their creditors by threats or getting rid of them by conspiracy and civil war. On these relations was based the power of Crassus; out of them arose the insurrections—whose motto was "a clear sheet"-of Cinna(54) and still more definitely of Catilina, of Coelius, of Dolabella entirely resembling the battles between those who had and those who had not, which a century before agitated the Hellenic world.(55) That amidst so rotten an economic condition every financial or political crisis should occasion the most dreadful confusion, was to be expected from the nature of the case; we need hardly mention that the usual phenomena—the disappearance of capital, the sudden depreciation of landed estates, innumerable bankruptcies, and an almost universal insolvency—made their appearance now during the civil war, just as they had done during the Social and Mithradatic wars.(56)
Under such circumstances, as a matter of course, morality and family life were treated as antiquated things among all ranks of society. To be poor was not merely the sorest disgrace and the worst crime, but the only disgrace and the only crime: for money the statesman sold the state, and the burgess sold his freedom; the post of the officer and the vote of the juryman were to be had for money; for money the lady of quality surrendered her person as well as the common courtesan; falsifying of documents and perjuries had become so common that in a popular poet of this age an oath is called "the plaster for debts." Men had forgotten what honesty was; a person who refused a bribe was regarded not as an upright man, but as a personal foe. The criminal statistics of all times and countries will hardly furnish a parallel to the dreadful picture of crimes—so varied, so horrible, and so unnatural—which the trial of Aulus Cluentius unrolls before us in the bosom of one of the most respected families of an Italian country town.
But while at the bottom of the national life the slime was thus constantly accumulating more and more deleteriously and deeply, so much the more smooth and glittering was the surface, overlaid with the varnish of polished manners and universal friendship. All the world interchanged visits; so that in the houses of quality it was necessary to admit the persons presenting themselves every morning for the levee in a certain order fixed by the master or occasionally by the attendant in waiting, and to give audience only to the more notable one by one, while the rest were more summarily admitted partly in groups, partly en masse at the close—a distinction which Gaius Gracchus, in this too paving the way for the new monarchy, is said to have introduced. The interchange of letters of courtesy was carried to as great an extent as the visits of courtesy; "friendly" letters flew over land and sea between persons who had neither personal relations nor business with each other, whereas proper and formal business-letters scarcely occur except where the letter is addressed to a corporation. In like manner invitations to dinner, the customary new year's presents, the domestic festivals, were divested of their proper character and converted almost into public ceremonials; even death itself did not release the Roman from these attentions to his countless "neighbours," but in order to die with due respectability he had to provide each of them at any rate with a keepsake. Just as in certain circles of our mercantile world, the genuine intimacy of family ties and family friendships had so totally vanished from the Rome of that day that the whole intercourse of business and acquaintance could be garnished with forms and flourishes which had lost all meaning, and thus by degrees the reality came to be superseded by that spectral shadow of "friendship," which holds by no means the least place among the various evil spirits brooding over the proscriptions and civil wars of this age.
An equally characteristic feature in the brilliant decay of this period was the emancipation of women. In an economic point of view the women had long since made themselves independent;(57) in the present epoch we even meet with solicitors acting specially for women, who officiously lend their aid to solitary rich ladies in the management of their property and their lawsuits, make an impression on them by their knowledge of business and law, and thereby procure for themselves ampler perquisites and legacies than other loungers on the exchange. But it was not merely from the economic guardianship of father or husband that women felt themselves emancipated. Love-intrigues of all sorts were constantly in progress. The ballet-dancers (-mimae-) were quite a match for those of the present day in the variety of their pursuits and the skill with which they followed them out; their primadonnas, Cytheris and the like, pollute even the pages of history. But their, as it were, licensed trade was very materially injured by the free art of the ladies of aristocratic circles. Liaisons in the first houses had become so frequent, that only a scandal altogether exceptional could make them the subject of special talk; a judicial interference seemed now almost ridiculous. An unparalleled scandal, such as Publius Clodius produced in 693 at the women's festival in the house of the Pontifex Maximus, although a thousand times worse than the occurrences which fifty years before had led to a series of capital sentences,(58) passed almost without investigation and wholly without punishment. The watering-place season—in April, when political business was suspended and the world of quality congregated in Baiae and Puteoli— derived its chief charm from the relations licit and illicit which, along with music and song and elegant breakfasts on board or on shore, enlivened the gondola voyages. There the ladies held absolute sway; but they were by no means content with this domain which rightfully belonged to them; they also acted as politicians, appeared in party conferences, and took part with their money and their intrigues in the wild coterie-doings of the time. Any one who beheld these female statesmen performing on the stage of Scipio and Cato and saw at their side the young fop—as with smooth chin, delicate voice, and mincing gait, with headdress and neckerchiefs, frilled robe, and women's sandals he copied the loose courtesan— might well have a horror of the unnatural world, in which the sexes seemed as though they wished to change parts. What ideas as to divorce prevailed in the circles of the aristocracy may be discerned in the conduct of their best and most moral hero Marcus Cato, who did not hesitate to separate from his wife at the request of a friend desirous to marry her, and as little scrupled on the death of this friend to marry the same wife a second time. Celibacy and childlessness became more and more common, especially among the upper classes. While among these marriage had for long been regarded as a burden which people took upon them at the best in the public interest,(59) we now encounter even in Cato and those who shared Cato's sentiments the maxim to which Polybius a century before traced the decay of Hellas,(60) that it is the duty of a citizen to keep great wealth together and therefore not to beget too many children. Where were the times, when the designation "children-producer" (-proletarius-) had been a term of honour for the Roman?
Depopulation of Italy
In consequence of such a social condition the Latin stock in Italy underwent an alarming diminution, and its fair provinces were overspread partly by parasitic immigrants, partly by sheer desolation. A considerable portion of the population of Italy flocked to foreign lands. Already the aggregate amount of talent and of working power, which the supply of Italian magistrates and Italian garrisons for the whole domain of the Mediterranean demanded, transcended the resources of the peninsula, especially as the elements thus sent abroad were in great part lost for ever to the nation. For the more that the Roman community grew into an empire embracing many nations, the more the governing aristocracy lost the habit of looking on Italy as their exclusive home; while of the men levied or enlisted for service a considerable portion perished in the many wars, especially in the bloody civil war, and another portion became wholly estranged from their native country by the long period of service, which sometimes lasted for a generation. In like manner with the public service, speculation kept a portion of the landholders and almost the whole body of merchants all their lives or at any rate for a long time out of the country, and the demoralising itinerant life of trading in particular estranged the latter altogether from civic existence in the mother country and from the various conditions of family life. As a compensation for these, Italy obtained on the one hand the proletariate of slaves and freedmen, on the other hand the craftsmen and traders flocking thither from Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt, who flourished chiefly in the capital and still more in the seaport towns of Ostia, Puteoli, and Brundisium.(61) In the largest and most important part of Italy however, even such a substitution of impure elements for pure; but the population was visibly on the decline. Especially was this true of the pastoral districts such as Apulia, the chosen land of cattle-breeding, which is called by contemporaries the most deserted part of Italy, and of the region around Rome, where the Campagna was annually becoming more desolate under the constant reciprocal action of the retrograde agriculture and the increasing malaria. Labici, Gabii, Bovillae, once cheerful little country towns, were so decayed, that it was difficult to find representatives of them for the ceremony of the Latin festival. Tusculum, although still one of the most esteemed communities of Latium, consisted almost solely of some genteel families who lived in the capital but retained their native Tusculan franchise, and was far inferior in the number of burgesses entitled to vote even to small communities in the interior of Italy. The stock of men capable of arms in this district, on which Rome's ability to defend herself had once mainly depended, had so totally vanished, that people read with astonishment and perhaps with horror the accounts of the annals— sounding fabulous in comparison with things as they stood— respecting the Aequian and Volscian wars. Matters were not so bad everywhere, especially in the other portions of Central Italy and in Campania; nevertheless, as Varro complains, "the once populous cities of Italy," in general "stood desolate."
Italy under the Oligarchy
It is a dreadful picture—this picture of Italy under the rule of the oligarchy. There was nothing to bridge over or soften the fatal contrast between the world of the beggars and the world of the rich. The more clearly and painfully this contrast was felt on both sides—the giddier the height to which riches rose, the deeper the abyss of poverty yawned—the more frequently, amidst that changeful world of speculation and playing at hazard, were individuals tossed from the bottom to the top and again from the top to the bottom. The wider the chasm by which the two worlds were externally divided, the more completely they coincided in the like annihilation of family life—which is yet the germ and core of all nationality—in the like laziness and luxury, the like unsubstantial economy, the like unmanly dependence, the like corruption differing only in its tariff, the like criminal demoralization, the like longing to begin the war with property. Riches and misery in close league drove the Italians out of Italy, and filled the peninsula partly with swarms of slaves, partly with awful silence. It is a terrible picture, but not one peculiar to Italy; wherever the government of capitalists in a slave-state has fully developed itself, it has desolated God's fair world in the same way as rivers glisten in different colours, but a common sewer everywhere looks like itself, so the Italy of the Ciceronian epoch resembles substantially the Hellas of Polybius and still more decidedly the Carthage of Hannibal's time, where in exactly similar fashion the all-powerful rule of capital ruined the middle class, raised trade and estate-farming to the highest prosperity, and ultimately led to a— hypocritically whitewashed—moral and political corruption of the nation. All the arrant sins that capital has been guilty of against nation and civilization in the modern world, remain as far inferior to the abominations of the ancient capitalist-states as the free man, be he ever so poor, remains superior to the slave; and not until the dragon-seed of North America ripens, will the world have again similar fruits to reap.
Reforms of Caesar
These evils, under which the national economy of Italy lay prostrate, were in their deepest essence irremediable, and so much of them as still admitted of remedy depended essentially for its amendment on the people and on time; for the wisest government is as little able as the more skilful physician to give freshness to the corrupt juices of the organism, or to do more in the case of the deeper-rooted evils than to prevent those accidents which obstruct the remedial power of nature in its working. The peaceful energy of the new rule even of itself furnished such a preventive, for by its means some of the worst excrescences were done away, such as the artificial pampering of the proletariate, the impunity of crimes, the purchase of offices, and various others. But the government could do something more than simply abstain from harm. Caesar was not one of those over-wise people who refuse to embank the sea, because forsooth no dike can defy some sudden influx of the tide. It is better, if a nation and its economy follow spontaneously the path prescribed by nature; but, seeing that they had got out of this path, Caesar applied all his energies to bring back by special intervention the nation to its home and family life, and to reform the national economy by law and decree.
Measures against Absentees from Italy
Measures for the Elevation of the Family
With a view to check the continued absence of the Italians from Italy and to induce the world of quality and the merchants to establish their homes in their native land, not only was the term of service for the soldiers shortened, but men of senatorial rank were altogether prohibited from taking up their abode out of Italy except when on public business, while the other Italians of marriageable age (from the twentieth to the fortieth year) were enjoined not to be absent from Italy for more than three consecutive years. In the same spirit Caesar had already, in his first consulship on founding the colony of Capua kept specially in view fathers who had several children;(62) and now as Imperator he proposed extraordinary rewards for the fathers of numerous families, while he at the same time as supreme judge of the nation treated divorce and adultery with a rigour according to Roman ideas unparalleled.
Laws Respecting Luxury
Nor did he even think it beneath his dignity to issue a detailed law as to luxury—which, among other points, cut down extravagance in building at least in one of its most irrational forms, that of sepulchral monuments; restricted the use of purple robes and pearls to certain times, ages, and classes, and totally prohibited it in grown-up men; fixed a maximum for the expenditure of the table; and directly forbade a number of luxurious dishes. Such ordinances doubtless were not new; but it was a new thing that the "master of morals" seriously insisted on their observance, superintended the provision-markets by means of paid overseers, and ordered that the tables of men of rank should be examined by his officers and the forbidden dishes on them should be confiscated. It is true that by such theoretical and practical instructions in moderation as the new monarchical police gave to the fashionable world, hardly more could be accomplished than the compelling luxury to retire somewhat more into concealment; but, if hypocrisy is the homage which vice pays to virtue, under the circumstances of the times even a semblance of propriety established by police measures was a step towards improvement not to be despised.
The Debt Crisis
The measures of Caesar for the better regulation of Italian monetary and agricultural relations were of a graver character and promised greater results. The first question here related to temporary enactments respecting the scarcity of money and the debt-crisis generally. The law called forth by the outcry as to locked-up capital—that no one should have on hand more than 60,000 sesterces (600 pounds) in gold and silver cash—was probably only issued to allay the indignation of the blind public against the usurers; the form of publication, which proceeded on the fiction that this was merely the renewed enforcing of an earlier law that had fallen into oblivion, shows that Caesar was ashamed of this enactment, and it can hardly have passed into actual application. A far more serious question was the treatment of the pending claims for debt, the complete remission of which was vehemently demanded from Caesar by the party which called itself by his name. We have already mentioned, that he did not yield to this demand;(63) but two important concessions were made to the debtors, and that as early as 705. First, the interest in arrear was struck off,(64) and that which was paid was deducted from the capital. Secondly, the creditor was compelled to accept the moveable and immoveable property of the debtor in lieu of payment at the estimated value which his effects had before the civil war and the general depreciation which it had occasioned. The latter enactment was not unreasonable; if the creditor was to be looked on de facto as the owner of the property of his debtor to the amount of the sum due to him, it was doubtless proper that he should bear his share in the general depreciation of the property. On the other hand the cancelling of the payments of interest made or outstanding— which practically amounted to this, that the creditors lost, besides the interest itself, on an average 25 per cent of what they were entitled to claim as capital at the time of the issuing of the law—was in fact nothing else than a partial concession of that cancelling of creditors' claims springing out of loans, for which the democrats had clamoured so vehemently; and, however bad may have been the conduct of the usurers, it is not possible thereby to justify the retrospective abolition of all claims for interest without distinction. In order at least to understand this agitation we must recollect how the democratic party stood towards the question of interest. The legal prohibition against taking interest, which the old plebeian opposition had extorted in 412,(65) had no doubt been practically disregarded by the nobility which controlled the civil procedure by means of the praetorship, but had still remained since that period formally valid; and the democrats of the seventh century, who regarded themselves throughout as the continuers of that old agitation as to privilege and social position,(66) had maintained the illegality of payment of interest at any time, and even already practically enforced that principle, at least temporarily, in the confusion of the Marian period.(67) It is not credible that Caesar shared the crude views of his party on the interest question; the fact, that, in his account of the matter of liquidation he mentions the enactment as to the surrender of the property of the debtor in lieu of payment but is silent as to the cancelling of the interest, is perhaps a tacit self-reproach. But he was, like every party-leader, dependent on his party and could not directly repudiate the traditional maxims of the democracy in the question of interest; the more especially when he had to decide this question, not as the all-powerful conqueror of Pharsalus, but even before his departure for Epirus. But, while he permitted perhaps rather than originated this violation of legal order and of property, it is certainly his merit that that monstrous demand for the annulling of all claims arising from loans was rejected; and it may perhaps be looked on as a saving of his honour, that the debtors were far more indignant at the—according to their view extremely unsatisfactory—concession given to them than the injured creditors, and made under Caelius and Dolabella those foolish and (as already mentioned) speedily frustrated attempts to extort by riot and civil war what Caesar refused to them.
New Ordinance as to Bankruptcy
But Caesar did not confine himself to helping the debtor for the moment; he did what as legislator he could, permanently to keep down the fearful omnipotence of capital. First of all the great legal maxim was proclaimed, that freedom is not a possession commensurable with property, but an eternal right of man, of which the state is entitled judicially to deprive the criminal alone, not the debtor. It was Caesar, who, perhaps stimulated in this case also by the more humane Egyptian and Greek legislation, especially that of Solon,(68) introduced this principle—diametrically opposed to the maxims of the earlier ordinances as to bankruptcy— into the common law, where it has since retained its place undisputed. According to Roman law the debtor unable to pay became the serf of his creditor.(69) The Poetelian law no doubt had allowed a debtor, who had become unable to pay only through temporary embarrassments, not through genuine insolvency, to save his personal freedom by the cession of his property;(70) nevertheless for the really insolvent that principle of law, though doubtless modified in secondary points, had been in substance retained unaltered for five hundred years; a direct recourse to the debtor's estate only occurred exceptionally, when the debtor had died or had forfeited his burgess-rights or could not be found. It was Caesar who first gave an insolvent the right—on which our modern bankruptcy regulations are based— of formally ceding his estate to his creditors, whether it might suffice to satisfy them or not, so as to save at all events his personal freedom although with diminished honorary and political rights, and to begin a new financial existence, in which he could only be sued on account of claims proceeding from the earlier period and not protected in the liquidation, if he could pay them without renewed financial ruin.
While thus the great democrat had the imperishable honour of emancipating personal freedom in principle from capital, he attempted moreover to impose a police limit on the excessive power of capital by usury-laws. He did not affect to disown the democratic antipathy to stipulations for interest. For Italian money-dealing there was fixed a maximum amount of the loans at interest to be allowed in the case of the individual capitalist, which appears to have been proportioned to the Italian landed estate belonging to each, and perhaps amounted to half its value. Transgressions of this enactment were, after the fashion of the procedure prescribed in the republican usury-laws, treated as criminal offence and sent before a special jury-commission. If these regulations were successfully carried into effect, every Italian man of business would be compelled to become at the same time an Italian landholder, and the class of capitalists subsisting merely on their interest would disappear wholly from Italy. Indirectly too the no less injurious category of insolvent landowners who practically managed their estates merely for their creditors was by this means materially curtailed, inasmuch as the creditors, if they desired to continue their lending business, were compelled to buy for themselves. From this very fact besides it is plain that Caesar wished by no means simply to renew that naive prohibition of interest by the old popular party, but on the contrary to allow the taking of interest within certain limits. It is very probable however that he did not confine himself to that injunction—which applied merely to Italy—of a maximum amount of sums to be lent, but also, especially with respect to the provinces, prescribed maximum rates for interest itself. The enactments— that it was illegal to take higher interest than 1 per cent per month, or to take interest on arrears of interest, or in fine to make a judicial claim for arrears of interest to a greater amount than a sum equal to the capital—were, probably also after the Graeco-Egyptian model,(71) first introduced in the Roman empire by Lucius Lucullus for Asia Minor and retained there by his better successors; soon afterwards they were transferred to other provinces by edicts of the governors, and ultimately at least part of them was provided with the force of law in all provinces by a decree of the Roman senate of 704. The fact that these Lucullan enactments afterwards appear in all their compass as imperial law and have thus become the basis of the Roman and indeed of modern legislation as to interest, may also perhaps be traced back to an ordinance of Caesar.
Elevation of Agriculture
Hand in hand with these efforts to guard against the ascendency of capital went the endeavours to bring back agriculture to the path which was most advantageous for the commonwealth. For this purpose the improvement of the administration of justice and of police was very essential. While hitherto nobody in Italy had been sure of his life and of his moveable or immoveable property, while Roman condottieri for instance, at the intervals when their gangs were not helping to manage the politics of the capital, applied themselves to robbery in the forests of Etruria or rounded off the country estates of their paymasters by fresh acquisitions, this sort of club-law was now at an end; and in particular the agricultural population of all classes must have felt the beneficial effects of the change. The plans of Caesar for great works also, which were not at all limited to the capital, were intended to tell in this respect; the construction, for instance, of a convenient high-road from Rome through the passesof the Apennines to the Adriatic was designed to stimulate the internal traffic of Italy, and the lowering the level of the Fucine lake to benefit the Marsian farmers. But Caesar also sought by more direct measures to influence the state of Italian husbandry. The Italian graziers were required to take at least a third of their herdsmen from freeborn adults, whereby brigandage was checked and at the same time a source of gain was opened to the free proletariate.
Distribution of Land
In the agrarian question Caesar, who already in his first consulship had been in a position to regulate it,(72) more judicious than Tiberius Gracchus, did not seek to restore the farmer-system at any price, even at that of a revolution—concealed under juristic clauses—directed against property; by him on the contrary, as by every other genuine statesman, the security of that which is property or is at any rate regarded by the public as property was esteemed as the first and most inviolable of all political maxims, and it was only within the limits assigned by this maxim that he sought to accomplish the elevation of the Italian small holdings, which also appeared to him as a vital question for the nation. Even as it was, there was much still left for him in this respect to do. Every private right, whether it was called property or entitled heritable possession, whether traceable to Gracchus or to Sulla, was unconditionally respected by him. On the other hand, Caesar, after he had in his strictly economical fashion— which tolerated no waste and no negligence even on a small scale— instituted a general revision of the Italian titles to possession by the revived commission of Twenty,(73) destined the whole actual domain land of Italy (including a considerable portion of the real estates that were in the hands of spiritual guilds but legally belonged to the state) for distribution in the Gracchan fashion, so far, of course, as it was fitted for agriculture; the Apulian summer and the Samnite winter pastures belonging to the state continued to be domain; and it was at least the design of the Imperator, if these domains should not suffice, to procure the additional land requisite by the purchase of Italian estates from the public funds. In the selection of the new farmers provision was naturally made first of all for the veteran soldiers, and as far as possible the burden, which the levy imposed on the mother country, was converted into a benefit by the fact that Caesar gave the proletarian, who was levied from it as a recruit, back to it as a farmer; it is remarkable also that the desolate Latin communities, such as Veii and Capena, seem to have been preferentially provided with new colonists. The regulation of Caesar that the new owners should not be entitled to alienate the lands received by them till after twenty years, was a happy medium between the full bestowal of the right of alienation, which would have brought the larger portion of the distributed land speedily back into the hands of the great capitalists, and the permanent restrictions on freedom of dealing in land which Tiberius Gracchus(74) and Sulla (75) had enacted, both equally in vain.
Elevation of the Municipal System
Lastly while the government thus energetically applied itself to remove the diseased, and to strengthen the sound, elements of the Italian national life, the newly-regulated municipal system— which had but recently developed itself out of the crisis of the Social war in and alongside of the state-economy(76)—was intended to communicate to the new absolute monarchy the communal life which was compatible with it, and to impart to the sluggish circulation of the noblest elements of public life once more a quickened action. The leading principles in the two municipal ordinances issued in 705 for Cisalpine Gaul and in 709 for Italy,(77) the latter of which remained the fundamental law for all succeeding times, are apparently, first, the strict purifying of the urban corporations from all immoral elements, while yet no trace of political police occurs; secondly, the utmost restriction of centralization and the utmost freedom of movement in the communities, to which there was even now reserved the election of magistrates and an—although limited—civil and criminal jurisdiction. The general police enactments, such as the restrictions on the right of association,(78) came, it is true, into operation also here.
Such were the ordinances, by which Caesar attempted to reform the Italian national economy. It is easy both to show their insufficiency, seeing that they allowed a multitude of evils still to exist, and to prove that they operated in various respects injuriously by imposing restrictions, some of which were very severely felt, on freedom of dealing. It is still easier to show that the evils of the Italian national economy generally were incurable. But in spite of this the practical statesman will admire the work as well as the master-workman. It was already no small achievement that, where a man like Sulla, despairing of remedy, had contented himself with a mere formal reorganization, the evil was seized in its proper seat and grappled with there; and we may well conclude that Caesar with his reforms came as near to the measure of what was possible as it was given to a statesman and a Roman to come. He could not and did not expect from them the regeneration of Italy; but he sought on the contrary to attain this in a very different way, for the right apprehension of which it is necessary first of all to review the condition of the provinces as Caesar found them.
The provinces, which Caesar found in existence, were fourteen in number:
seven European—the Further and the Hither Spain, Transalpine Gaul,
Italian Gaul with Illyricum, Macedonia with Greece, Sicily,
Sardinia with Corsica; five Asiatic—Asia, Bithynia and Pontus,
Cilicia with Cyprus, Syria, Crete; and two African—Cyrene and Africa.
To these Caesar added three new ones by the erection of the two new
governorships of Lugdunese Gaul and Belgica(79) and by constituting
Illyricum a province by itself.(80)
Provincial Administration of the Oligarchy
In the administration of these provinces oligarchic misrule had reached a point which, notwithstanding various noteworthy performances in this line, no second government has ever attained at least in the west, and which according to our ideas it seems no longer possible to surpass. Certainly the responsibility for this rests not on the Romans alone. Almost everywhere before their day the Greek, Phoenician, or Asiatic rule had already driven out of the nations the higher spirit and the sense of right and of liberty belonging to better times. It was doubtless bad, that every accused provincial was bound, when asked, to appear personally in Rome to answer for himself; that the Roman governor interfered at pleasure in the administration of justice and the management of the dependent communities, pronounced capital sentences, and cancelled transactions of the municipal council; and that in case of war he treated the militia as he chose and often infamously, as e. g. when Cotta at the siege of the Pontic Heraclea assigned to the militia all the posts of danger, to spare his Italians, and on the siege not going according to his wish, ordered the heads of his engineers to be laid at his feet. It was doubtless bad, that no rule of morality or of criminal law bound either the Roman administrators or their retinue, and that violent outrages, rapes, and murders with or without form of law were of daily occurrence in the provinces. But these things were at least nothing new; almost everywhere men had long been accustomed to be treated like slaves, and it signified little in the long run whether a Carthaginian overseer, a Syrian satrap, or a Roman proconsul acted as the local tyrant. Their material well-being, almost the only thing for which the provincials still cared, was far less disturbed by those occurrences, which although numerous in proportion to the many tyrants yet affected merely isolated individuals, than by the financial exactions pressing heavily on all, which had never previously been prosecuted with such energy.
The Romans now gave in this domain fearful proof of their old master of money-matters. We have already endeavoured to describe the Roman system of provincial oppression in its modest and rational foundations as well as in its growth and corruption as a matter of course, the latter went on increasing. The ordinary taxes became far more oppressive from the inequality of their distribution and from the preposterous system of levying them than from their high amount. As to the burden of quartering troops, Roman statesmen themselves expressed the opinion that a town suffered nearly to the same extent when a Roman army took up winter quarters in it as when an enemy took it by storm. While the taxation in its original character had been an indemnification for the burden of military defence undertaken by Rome, and the community paying tribute had thus a right to remain exempt from ordinary service, garrison-service was now—as is attested e. g. in the case of Sardinia—for the most part imposed on the provincials, and even in the ordinary armies, besides other duties, the whole heavy burden of the cavalry-service was devolved on them. The extraordinary contributions demanded—such as, the deliveries of grain for little or no compensation to benefit the proletariate of the capital; the frequent and costly naval armaments and coast- defences in order to check piracy; the task of supplying works of art, wild beasts, or other demands of the insane Roman luxury in the theatre and the chase; the military requisitions in case of war— were just as frequent as they were oppressive and incalculable. A single instance may show how far things were carried. During the three years' administration of Sicily by Gaius Verres the number of farmers in Leontini fell from 84 to 32, in Motuca from 187 to 86, in Herbita from 252 to 120, in Agyrium from 250 to 80; so that in four of the most fertile districts of Sicily 59 per cent of the landholders preferred to let their fields lie fallow than to cultivate them under such government. And these landholders were, as their small number itself shows and as is expressly stated, by no means small farmers, but respectable planters and in great part Roman burgesses!
In the Client-States
In the client-states the forms of taxation were somewhat different, but the burdens themselves were if possible still worse, since in addition to the exactions of the Romans there came those of the native courts. In Cappadocia and Egypt the farmer as well as the king was bankrupt; the former was unable to satisfy the tax-collector, the latter was unable to satisfy his Roman creditor. Add to these the exactions, properly so called, not merely of the governor himself, but also of his "friends," each of whom fancied that he had as it were a draft on the governor and a title accordingly to come back from the province a made man. The Roman oligarchy in this respect completely resembled a gang of robbers, and followed out the plundering of the provincials in a professional and business-like manner; capable members of the gang set to work not too nicely, for they had in fact to share the spoil with the advocates and the jurymen, and the more they stole, they did so the more securely. The notion of honour in theft too was already developed; the big robber looked down on the little, and the latter on the mere thief, with contempt; any one, who had been once for a wonder condemned, boasted of the high figure of the sums which he was proved to have exacted. Such was the behaviour in the provinces of the successors of those men, who had been accustomed to bring home nothing from their administration but the thanks of the subjects and the approbation of their fellow-citizens.
The Roman Capitalists in the Provinces
But still worse, if possible, and still less subject to any control was the havoc committed by the Italian men of business among the unhappy provincials. The most lucrative portions of the landed property and the whole commercial and monetary business in the provinces were concentrated in their hands. The estates in the transmarine regions, which belonged to Italian grandees, were exposed to all the misery of management by stewards, and never saw their owners; excepting possibly the hunting-parks, which occur as early as this time in Transalpine Gaul with an area amounting to nearly twenty square miles. Usury flourished as it had never flourished before. The small landowners in Illyricum, Asia, and Egypt managed their estates even in Varro's time in great part practically as the debtor-slaves of their Roman or non-Roman creditors, just as the plebeians in former days for their patrician lords. Cases occurred of capital being lent even to urban communities at four per cent per month. It was no unusual thing for an energetic and influential man of business to get either the title of envoy(81) given to him by the senate or that of officer by the governor, and, if possible, to have men put at his service for the better prosecution of his affairs; a case is narrated on credible authority, where one of these honourable martial bankers on account of a claim against the town of Salamis in Cyprus kept its municipal council blockaded in the town-house, until five of the members had died of hunger.
Robberies and Damage by War
To these two modes of oppression, each of which by itself was intolerable and which were always becoming better arranged to work into each other's hands, were added the general calamities, for which the Roman government was also in great part, at least indirectly, responsible. In the various wars a large amount of capital was dragged away from the country and a larger amount destroyed sometimes by the barbarians, sometimes by the Roman armies. Owing to the worthlessness of the Roman land and maritime police, brigands and pirates swarmed every where. In Sardinia and the interior of Asia Minor brigandage was endemic; in Africa and Further Spain it became necessary to fortify all buildings constructed outside of the city-enclosures with walls and towers. The fearful evil of piracy has been already described in another connection.(82) The panaceas of the prohibitive system, with which the Roman governor was wont to interpose when scarcity of money or dearth occurred, as under such circumstances they could not fail to do— the prohibition of the export of gold or grain from the province— did not mend the matter. The communal affairs were almost everywhere embarrassed, in addition to the general distress, by local disorders and frauds of the public officials.
The Conditions of the Provinces Generally
Where such grievances afflicted communities and individuals not temporarily but for generations with an inevitable, steady, and yearly-increasing oppression, the best regulated public or private economy could not but succumb to them, and the most unspeakable misery could not but extend over all the nations from the Tagus to the Euphrates. "All the communities," it is said in a treatise published as early as 684, "are ruined"; the same truth is specially attested as regards Spain and Narbonese Gaul, the very provinces which, comparatively speaking, were still in the most tolerable economic position. In Asia Minor even towns like Samos and Halicarnassus stood almost empty; legal slavery seemed here a haven of rest compared with the torments to which the free provincial succumbed, and even the patient Asiatic had become, according to the descriptions of Roman statesmen themselves, weary of life. Any one who desires to fathom the depths to which man can sink in the criminal infliction, and in the no less criminal endurance, of all conceivable injustice, may gather together from the criminal records of this period the wrongs which Roman grandees could perpetrate and Greeks, Syrians, and Phoenicians could suffer. Even the statesmen of Rome herself publicly and frankly conceded that the Roman name was unutterably odious through all Greece and Asia; and, when the burgesses of the Pontic Heraclea on one occasion put to death the whole of the Roman tax-collectors, the only matter for regret was that such things did not occur oftener.
Caesar and the Provinces
The Optimates scoffed at the new master who went in person to inspect his "farms" one after the other; in reality the condition of the several provinces demanded all the earnestness and all the wisdom of one of those rare men, who redeem the name of king from being regarded by the nations as merely a conspicuous example of human insufficiency. The wounds inflicted had to be healed by time; Caesar took care that they might be so healed, and that there should be no fresh inflictions.
The Caesarian Magistrates
The system of administration was thoroughly remodelled. The Sullan proconsuls and propraetors had been in their provinces essentially sovereign and practically subject to no control; those of Caesar were the well-disciplined servants of a stern master, who from the very unity and life-tenure of his power sustained a more natural and more tolerable relation to the subjects than those numerous, annually changing, petty tyrants. The governorships were no doubt still distributed among the annually-retiring two consuls and sixteen praetors, but, as the Imperator directly nominated eight of the latter and the distribution of the provinces among the competitors depended solely on him,(83) they were in reality bestowed by the Imperator. The functions also of the governors were practically restricted. The superintendence of the administration of justice and the administrative control of the communities remained in their hands; but their command was paralyzed by the new supreme command in Rome and its adjutants associated with the governor,(84) and the raising of the taxes was probably even now committed in the provinces substantially to imperial officials,(85) so that the governor was thenceforward surrounded with an auxiliary staff which was absolutely dependent on the Imperator in virtue either of the laws of the military hierarchy or of the still stricter laws of domestic discipline. While hitherto the proconsul and his quaestor had appeared as if they were members of a gang of robbers despatched to levy contributions, the magistrates of Caesar were present to protect the weak against the strong; and, instead of the previous worse than useless control of the equestrian or senatorian tribunals, they had to answer for themselves at the bar of a just and unyielding monarch. The law as to exactions, the enactments of which Caesar had already in his first consulate made more stringent, was applied by him against the chief commandants in the provinces with an inexorable severity going even beyond its letter; and the tax-officers, if indeed they ventured to indulge in an injustice, atoned for it to their master, as slaves and freedmen according to the cruel domestic law of that time were wont to atone.
Regulation of Burdens
The extraordinary public burdens were reduced to the right proportion and the actual necessity; the ordinary burdens were materially lessened. We have already mentioned the comprehensive regulation of taxation;(86) the extension of the exemptions from tribute, the general lowering of the direct taxes, the limitation of the system of -decumae- to Africa and Sardinia, the complete setting aside of middlemen in the collection of the direct taxes, were most beneficial reforms for the provincials. That Caesar after the example of one of his greatest democratic predecessors, Sertorius,(87) wished to free the subjects from the burden of quartering troops and to insist on the soldiers erecting for themselves permanent encampments resembling towns, cannot indeed be proved; but he was, at least after he had exchanged the part of pretender for that of king, not the man to abandon the subject to the soldier; and it was in keeping with his spirit, when the heirs of his policy created such military camps, and then converted them into towns which formed rallying-points for Italian civilization amidst the barbarian frontier districts.
Influence on the Capitalist System
It was a task far more difficult than the checking of official irregularities, to deliver the provincials from the oppressive ascendency of Roman capital. Its power could not be directly broken without applying means which were still more dangerous than the evil; the government could for the time being abolish only isolated abuses— as when Caesar for instance prohibited the employment of the title of state-envoy for financial purposes—and meet manifest acts of violence and palpable usury by a sharp application of the general penal laws and of the laws as to usury, which extended also to the provinces;(88) but a more radical cure of the evil was only to be expected from the reviving prosperity of the provincials under a better administration. Temporary enactments, to relieve the insolvency of particular provinces, had been issued on several occasions in recent times. Caesar himself had in 694 when governor of Further Spain assigned to the creditors two thirds of the income of their debtors in order to pay themselves from that source. Lucius Lucullus likewise when governor of Asia Minor had directly cancelled a portion of the arrears of interest which had swelled beyond measure, and had for the remaining portion assigned to the creditors a fourth part of the produce of the lands of their debtors, as well as a suitable proportion of the profits accruing to them from house-rents or slave-labour. We are not expressly informed that Caesar after the civil war instituted similar general liquidations of debt in the provinces; yet from what has just been remarked and from what was done in the case of Italy,(89) it can hardly be doubted that Caesar likewise directed his efforts towards this object, or at least that it formed part of his plan.
While thus the Imperator, as far as lay within human power, relieved the provincials from the oppressions of the magistrates and capitalists of Rome, it might at the same time be with certaint expected from the government to which he imparted fresh vigour, that it would scare off the wild border-peoples and disperse the freebooters by land and sea, as the rising sun chases away the mist. However the old wounds might still smart, with Caesar there appeared for the sorely-tortured subjects the dawn of a more tolerable epoch, the first intelligent and humane government that had appeared for centuries, and a policy of peace which rested not on cowardice but on strength. Well might the subjects above all mourn along with the best Romans by the bier of the great liberator.
The Beginning of the Helleno-Italic State
But this abolition of existing abuses was not the main matter in Caesar's provincial reform. In the Roman republic, according to the view of the aristocracy and democracy alike, the provinces had been nothing but—what they were frequently called—country-estates of the Roman people, and they were employed and worked out as such. This view had now passed away. The provinces as such were gradually to disappear, in order to prepare for the renovated Helleno-Italic nation a new and more spacious home, of whose several component parts no one existed merely for the sake of another but all for each and each for all; the new existence in the renovated home, the fresher, broader, grander national life, was of itself to overbear the sorrows and wrongs of the nation for which there was no help in the old Italy. These ideas, as is well known, were not new. The emigration from Italy to the provinces that had been regularly going on for centuries had long since, though unconsciously on the part of the emigrants themselves, paved the way for such an extension of Italy. The first who in a systematic way guided the Italians to settle beyond the bounds of Italy was Gaius Gracchus, the creator of the Roman democratic monarchy, the author of the Transalpine conquests, the founder of the colonies of Carthage and Narbo. Then the second statesman of genius produced by the Roman democracy, Quintus Sertorius, began to introduce the barbarous Occidentals to Latin civilization; he gave to the Spanish youth of rank the Roman dress, and urged them to speak Latin and to acquire the higher Italian culture at the training institute founded by him in Osca. When Caesar entered on the government, a large Italian population—though, in great part, lacking stability and concentration—already existed in all the provinces and client- states. To say nothing of the formally Italian towns in Spain and southern Gaul, we need only recall the numerous troops of burgesses raised by Sertorius and Pompeius in Spain, by Caesar in Gaul, by Juba in Numidia, by the constitutional party in Africa, Macedonia, Greece, Asia Minor, and Crete; the Latin lyre—ill-tuned doubtless— on which the town-poets of Corduba as early as the Sertorian war sang the praises of the Roman generals; and the translations of Greek poetry valued on account of their very elegance of language, which the earliest extra-Italian poet of note, the Transalpine Publius Terentius Varro of the Aude, published shortly after Caesar's death.
On the other hand the interpenetration of the Latin and Hellenic character was, we might say, as old as Rome. On occasion of the union of Italy the conquering Latin nation had assimilated to itself all the other conquered nationalities, excepting only the Greek, which was received just as it stood without any attempt at external amalgamation. Wherever the Roman legionary went, the Greek schoolmaster, no less a conqueror in his own way, followed; at an early date we find famous teachers of the Greek language settled on the Guadalquivir, and Greek was as well taught as Latin in the institute of Osca. The higher Roman culture itself was in fact nothing else than the proclamation of the great gospel of Hellenic manners and art in the Italian idiom; against the modest pretension of the civilizing conquerors to proclaim it first of all in their own language to the barbarians of the west the Hellene at least could not loudly protest. Already the Greek every where— and, most decidedly, just where the national feeling was purest and strongest, on the frontiers threatened by barbaric denationalization, e. g. in Massilia, on the north coast of the Black Sea, and on the Euphrates and Tigris—descried the protector and avenger of Hellenism in Rome; and in fact the foundation of towns by Pompeius in the far east resumed after an interruption of centuries the beneficent work of Alexander.
The idea of an Italo-Hellenic empire with two languages and a single nationality was not new—otherwise it would have been nothing but a blunder; but the development of it from floating projects to a firmly-grasped conception, from scattered initial efforts to the laying of a concentrated foundation, was the work of the third and greatest of the democratic statesmen of Rome.
The Ruling Nations
The first and most essential condition for the political and national levelling of the empire was the preservation and extension of the two nations destined to joint dominion, along with the absorption as rapidly as possible of the barbarian races, or those termed barbarian existing by their side. In a certain sense we might no doubt name along with Romans and Greeks a third nationality, which vied with them in ubiquity in the world of that day, and was destined to play no insignificant part in the new state of Caesar. We speak of the Jews. This remarkable people, yielding and yet tenacious, was in the ancient as in the modern world everywhere and nowhere at home, and everywhere and nowhere powerful. The successors of David and Solomon were of hardly more significance for the Jews of that age than Jerusalem for those of the present day; the nation found doubtless for its religious and intellectual unity a visible rallying-point in the petty kingdom of Jerusalem, but the nation itself consisted not merely of the subjects of the Hasmonaeans, but of the innumerable bodies of Jews scattered through the whole Parthian and the whole Roman empire. Within the cities of Alexandria especially and of Cyrene the Jews formed special communities administratively and even locally distinct, not unlike the "Jews' quarters" of our towns, but with a freer position and superintended by a "master of the people" as superior judge and administrator. How numerous even in Rome the Jewish population was already before Caesar's time, and how closely at the same time the Jews even then kept together as fellow-countrymen, is shown by the remark of an author of this period, that it was dangerous for a governor to offend the Jews, in his province, because he might then certainly reckon on being hissed after his return by the populace of the capital. Even at this time the predominant business of the Jews was trade; the Jewish trader moved everywhere with the conquering Roman merchant then, in the same way as he afterwards accompanied the Genoese and the Venetian, and capital flowed in on all hands to the Jewish, by the side of the Roman, merchants. At this period too we encounter the peculiar antipathy of the Occidentals towards this so thoroughly Oriental race and their foreign opinions and customs. This Judaism, although not the most pleasing feature in the nowhere pleasing picture of the mixture of nations which then prevailed, was nevertheless a historical element developing itself in the natural course of things, which the statesman could neither ignore nor combat, and which Caesar on the contrary, just like his predecessor Alexander, with correct discernment of the circumstances, fostered as far as possible. While Alexander, by laying the foundation of Alexandrian Judaism, did not much less for the nation than its own David by planning the temple of Jerusalem, Caesar also advanced the interests of the Jews in Alexandria and in Rome by special favours and privileges, and protected in particular their peculiar worship against the Roman as well as against the Greek local priests. The two great men of course did not contemplate placing the Jewish nationality on an equal footing with the Hellenic or Italo-Hellenic. But the Jew who has not like the Occidental received the Pandora's gift of political organization, and stands substantially in a relation of indifference to the state; who moreover is as reluctant to give up the essence of his national idiosyncrasy, as he is ready to clothe it with any nationality at pleasure and to adapt himself up to a certain degree to foreign habits—the Jew was for this very reason as it were made for a state, which was to be built on the ruins of a hundred living polities and to be endowed with a somewhat abstract and, from the outset, toned-down nationality. Even in the ancient world Judaism was an effective leaven of cosmopolitanism and of national decomposition, and to that extent a specially privileged member in the Caesarian state, the polity of which was strictly speaking nothing but a citizenship of the world, and the nationality of which was at bottom nothing but humanity.
But the Latin and Hellenic nationalities continued to be exclusively the positive elements of the new citizenship. The distinctively Italian state of the republic was thus at an end; but the rumour that Caesar was ruining Italy and Rome on purpose to transfer the centre of the empire to the Greek east and to make Ilion or Alexandria its capital, was nothing but a piece of talk— very easy to be accounted for, but also very silly—of the angry nobility. On the contrary in Caesar's organizations the Latin nationality always retained the preponderance; as is indicated in the very fact that he issued all his enactments in Latin, although those destined for the Greek-speaking countries were at the same time issued in Greek. In general he arranged the relations of the two great nations in his monarchy just as his republican predecessors had arranged them in the united Italy; the Hellenic nationality was protected where it existed, the Italian was extended as far as circumstances permitted, and the inheritance of the races to be absorbed was destined for it. This was necessary, because an entire equalizing of the Greek and Latin elements in the state would in all probability have in a very short time occasioned that catastrophe which Byzantinism brought about several centuries later; for the Greek element was superior to the Roman not merely in all intellectual aspects, but also in the measure of its predominance, and it had within Italy itself in the hosts of Hellenes and half-Hellenes who migrated compulsorily or voluntarily to Italy an endless number of apostles apparently insignificant, but whose influence could not be estimated too highly. To mention only the most conspicuous phenomenon in this respect, the rule of Greek lackeys over the Roman monarchs is as old as the monarchy. The first in the equally long and repulsive list of these personages is the confidential servant of Pompeius, Theophanes of Mytilene, who by his power over his weak master contributed probably more than any one else to the outbreak of the war between Pompeius and Caesar. Not wholly without reason he was after his death treated with divine honours by his countrymen; he commenced, forsooth, the -valet de chambre- government of the imperial period, which in a certain measure was just a dominion of the Hellenes over the Romans. The government had accordingly every reason not to encourage by its fostering action the spread of Hellenism at least in the west. If Sicily was not simply relieved of the pressure of the -decumae- but had its communities invested with Latin rights, which was presumably meant to be followed in due time by full equalization with Italy, it can only have been Caesar's design that this glorious island, which was at that time desolate and had as to management passed for the greater part into Italian hands, but which nature has destined to be not so much a neighbouring land to Italy as rather the finest of its provinces, should become altogether merged in Italy. But otherwise the Greek element, wherever it existed, was preserved and protected. However political crises might suggest to the Imperator the demolition of the strong pillars of Hellenism in the west and in Egypt, Massilia and Alexandria were neither destroyed nor denationalized.
On the other hand the Roman element was promoted by the government through colonization and Latinizing with all vigour and at the most various points of the empire. The principle, which originated no doubt from a bad combination of formal law and brute force, but was inevitably necessary in order to freedom in dealing with the nations destined to destruction—that all the soil in the provinces not ceded by special act of the government to communities or private persons was the property of the state, and the holder of it for the time being had merely an heritable possession on sufferance and revocable at any time—was retained also by Caesar and raised by him from a democratic party-theory to a fundamental principle of monarchical law.
Gaul, of course, fell to be primarily dealt with in the extension of Roman nationality. Cisalpine Gaul obtained throughout— what a great part of the inhabitants had long enjoyed— political equalization with the leading country by the admission of the Transpadane communities into the Roman burgess-union, which had for long been assumed by the democracy as accomplished,(90) and was now (705) finally accomplished by Caesar. Practically this province had already completely Latinized itself during the forty years which had elapsed since the bestowal of Latin rights. The exclusives might ridicule the broad and gurgling accent of the Celtic Latin, and miss "an undefined something of the grace of the capital" in the Insubrian or Venetian, who as Caesar's legionary had conquered for himself with his sword a place in the Roman Forum and even in the Roman senate-house. Nevertheless Cisalpine Gaul with its dense chiefly agricultural population was even before Caesar's time in reality an Italian country, and remained for centuries the true asylum of Italian manners and Italian culture; indeed the teachers of Latin literature found nowhere else out of the capital so much encouragement and approbation.
The Province of Narbo
While Cisalpine Gaul was thus substantially merged in Italy, the place which it had hitherto occupied was taken by the Transalpine province, which had been converted by the conquests of Caesar from a frontier into an inland province, and which by its vicinity as well as by its climate was fitted beyond all other regions to become in due course of time likewise an Italian land. Thither principally, according to the old aim of the transmarine settlements of the Roman democracy, was the stream of Italian emigration directed. There the ancient colony of Narbo was reinforced by new settlers, and four new burgess-colonies were instituted at Baeterrae (Beziers) not far from Narbo, at Arelate (Aries) and Arausio (Orange) on the Rhone, and at the new seaport Forum Julii (Frejus); while the names assigned to them at the same time preserved the memory of the brave legions which had annexed northern Gaul to the empire.(91) The townships not furnished with colonists appear, at least for the most part, to have been led on toward Romanization in the same way as Transpadane Gaul in former times(92) by the bestowal of Latin urban rights; in particular Nemausus (Nimes), as the chief place of the territory taken from the Massiliots in consequence of their revolt against Caesar,(93)was converted from a Massiliot village into a Latin urban community, and endowed with a considerable territory and even with the right of coinage.(94) While Cisalpine Gaul thus advanced from the preparatory stage to full equality with Italy, the Narbonese province advanced at the same time into that preparatory stage; just as previously in Cisalpine Gaul, the most considerable communities there had the full franchise, the rest Latin rights.
In the other non-Greek and non-Latin regions of the empire, which were still more remote from the influence of Italy and the process of assimilation, Caesar confined himself to the establishment of several centres for Italian civilization such as Narbo had hitherto been in Gaul, in order by their means to pave the way for a future complete equalization. Such initial steps can be pointed out in all the provinces of the empire, with the exception of the poorest and least important of all, Sardinia. How Caesar proceeded in Northern Gaul, we have already set forth;(95) the Latin language there obtained throughout official recognition, though not yet employed for all branches of public intercourse, and the colony of Noviodunum (Nyon) arose on the Leman lake as the most northerly town with an Italian constitution.
In Spain, which was presumably at that time the most densely peopled country of the Roman empire, not merely were Caesarian colonists settled in the important Helleno-Iberian seaport town of Emporiae by the side of the old population; but, as recently-discovered records have shown, a number of colonists probably taken predominantly from the proletariate of the capital were provided for in the town of Urso (Osuna), not far from Seville in the heart of Andalusia, and perhaps also in several other townships of this province. The ancient and wealthy mercantile city of Gades, whose municipal system Caesar even when praetor had remodelled suitably to the times, now obtained from the Imperator the full rights of the Italian -municipia-(705) and became—what Tusculum had been in Italy(96)—the first extra-Italian community not founded by Rome which was admitted into the Roman burgess-union. Some years afterwards (709) similar rights were conferred also on some other Spanish communities, and Latin rights presumably on still more.
In Africa the project, which Gaius Gracchus had not been allowed to bring to an issue, was now carried out, and on the spot where the city of the hereditary foes of Rome had stood, 3000 Italian colonists and a great number of the tenants on lease and sufferance resident in the Carthaginian territory were settled; and the new "Venus-colony," the Roman Carthage, throve with amazing rapidity under the incomparably favourable circumstances of the locality. Utica, hitherto the capital and first commercial town in the province, had already been in some measure compensated beforehand, apparently by the bestowal of Latin rights, for the revival of its superior rival. In the Numidian territory newly annexed to the empire the important Cirta and the other communities assigned to the Roman condottiere Publius Sittius for himself and his troops(97) obtained the legal position of Roman military colonies. The stately provincial towns indeed, which the insane fury of Juba and of the desperate remnant of the constitutional party had converted into ruins, did not revive so rapidly as they had been reduced to ashes, and many a ruinous site recalled long afterwards this fatal period; but the two new Julian colonies, Carthage and Cirta, became and continued to be the centres of Africano-Roman civilization.
In the desolate land of Greece, Caesar, besides other plans such as the institution of a Roman colony in Buthrotum (opposite Corfu), busied himself above all with the restoration of Corinth. Not only was a considerable burgess-colony conducted thither, but a plan was projected for cutting through the isthmus, so as to avoid the dangerous circumnavigation of the Peloponnesus and to make the whole traffic between Italy and Asia pass through the Corintho- Saronic gulf. Lastly even in the remote Hellenic east the monarch called into existence Italian settlements; on the Black Sea, for instance, at Heraclea and Sinope, which towns the Italian colonists shared, as in the case of Emporiae, with the old inhabitants; on the Syrian coast, in the important port of Berytus, which like Sinope obtained an Italian constitution; and even in Egypt, where a Roman station was established on the lighthouse-island commanding the harbour of Alexandria.
Extension of the Italian Municipal Constitution to the Provinces
Through these ordinances the Italian municipal freedom was carried into the provinces in a manner far more comprehensive than had been previously the case. The communities of full burgesses—that is, all the towns of the Cisalpine province and the burgess-colonies and burgess-municipia—scattered in Transalpine Gaul and elsewhere— were on an equal footing with the Italian, in so far as they administered their own affairs, and even exercised a certainly limited jurisdiction; while on the other hand the more important processes came before the Roman authorities competent to deal with them—as a rule the governor of the province.(98) The formally autonomous Latin and the other emancipated communities-thus including all those of Sicily and of Narbonese Gaul, so far as they were not burgess-communities, and a considerable number also in the other provinces—had not merely free administration, but probably unlimited jurisdiction; so that the governor was only entitled to interfere there by virtue of his— certainly very arbitrary—administrative control. No doubt even earlier there had been communities of full burgesses within the provinces of governors, such as Aquileia, and Narbo, and whole governors' provinces, such as Cisalpine Gaul, had consisted of communities with Italian constitution; but it was, if not in law, at least in a political point of view a singularly important innovation, that there was now a province which as well as Italy was peopled solely by Roman burgesses,(99) and that others promised to become such.
Italy and the Provinces Reduced to One Level
With this disappeared the first great practical distinction that separated Italy from the provinces; and the second—that ordinarily no troops were stationed in Italy, while they were stationed in the provinces—was likewise in the course of disappearing; troops were now stationed only where there was a frontier to be defended, and the commandants of the provinces in which this was not the case, such as Narbo and Sicily, were officers only in name. The formal contrast between Italy and the provinces, which had at all times depended on other distinctions,(100) continued certainly even now to subsist, for Italy was the sphere of civil jurisdiction and of consuls and praetors, while the provinces were districts under the jurisdiction of martial law and subject to proconsuls and propraetors; but the procedure according to civil and according to martial law had for long been practically coincident, and the different titles of the magistrates signified little after the one Imperator was over all.
In all these various municipal foundations and ordinances— which are traceable at least in plan, if not perhaps all in execution, to Caesar—a definite system is apparent. Italy was converted from the mistress of the subject peoples into the mother of the renovated Italo-Hellenic nation. The Cisalpine province completely equalized with the mother-country was a promise and a guarantee that, in the monarchy of Caesar just as in the healthier times of the republic, every Latinized district might expect to be placed on an equal footing by the side of its elder sisters and of the mother herself. On the threshold of full national and political equalization with Italy stood the adjoining lands, the Greek Sicily and the south of Gaul, which was rapidly becoming Latinized. In a more remote stage of preparation stood the other provinces of the empire, in which, just as hitherto in southern Gaul Narbo had been a Roman colony, the great maritime cities—Emporiae, Gades, Carthage, Corinth, Heraclea in Pontus, Sinope, Berytus, Alexandria— now became Italian or Helleno-Italian communities, the centres of an Italian civilization even in the Greek east, the fundamental pillars of the future national and political levelling of the empire. The rule of the urban community of Rome over the shores of the Mediterranean was at an end; in its stead came the new Mediterranean state, and its first act was to atone for the two greatest outrages which that urban community had perpetrated on civilization. While the destruction of the two greatest marts of commerce in the Roman dominions marked the turning-point at which the protectorate of the Roman community degenerated into political tyrannizing over, and financial exaction from, the subject lands, the prompt and brilliant restoration of Carthage and Corinth marked the foundation of the new great commonwealth which was to train up all the regions on the Mediterranean to national and political equality, to union in a genuine state. Well might Caesar bestow on the city of Corinth in addition to its far-famed ancient name the new one of "Honour to Julius" (-Lavs Jvli-).
Organization of the New Empire
While thus the new united empire was furnished with a national character, which doubtless necessarily lacked individuality and was rather an inanimate product of art than a fresh growth of nature, it further had need of unity in those institutions which express the general life of nations—in constitution and administration, in religion and jurisprudence, in money, measures, and weights; as to which, of course, local diversities of the most varied character were quite compatible with essential union. In all these departments we can only speak of the initial steps, for the thorough formation of the monarchy of Caesar into an unity was the work of the future, and all that he did was to lay the foundation for the building of centuries. But of the lines, which the great man drew in these departments, several can still be recognized; and it is more pleasing to follow him here, than in the task of building from the ruins of the nationalities.
Census of the Empire
As to constitution and administration, we have already noticed elsewhere the most important elements of the new unity— the transition of the sovereignty from the municipal council of Rome to the sole master of the Mediterranean monarchy; the conversion of that municipal council into a supreme imperial council representing Italy and the provinces; above all, the transference—now commenced— of the Roman, and generally of the Italian, municipal organization to the provincial communities. This latter course—the bestowal of Latin, and thereafter of Roman, rights on the communities ripe for full admission to the united state—gradually of itself brought about uniform communal arrangements. In one respect alone this process could not be waited for. The new empire needed immediately an institution which should place before the government at a glance the principal bases of administration—the proportions of population and property in the different communities— in other words an improved census. First the census of Italy was reformed. According to Caesar's ordinance(101)—which probably, indeed, only carried out the arrangements which were, at least as to principle, adopted in consequence of the Social war— in future, when a census took place in the Roman community, there were to be simultaneously registered by the highest authority in each Italian community the name of every municipal burgess and that of his father or manumitter, his district, his age, and his property; and these lists were to be furnished to the Roman censor early enough to enable him to complete in proper time the general list of Roman burgesses and of Roman property. That it was Caesar's intention to introduce similar institutions also in the provinces is attested partly by the measurement and survey of the whole empire ordered by him, partly by the nature of the arrangement itself; for it in fact furnished the general instrument appropriate for procuring, as well in the Italian as in the non-Italian communities of the state, the information requisite for the central administration. Evidently here too it was Caesar's intention to revert to the traditions of the earlier republican times, and to reintroduce the census of the empire, which the earlier republic had effected— essentially in the same way as Caesar effected the Italian— by analogous extension of the institution of the urban censorship with its set terms and other essential rules to all the subject communities of Italy and Sicily.(102) This had been one of the first institutions which the torpid aristocracy allowed to drop, and in this way deprived the supreme administrative authority of any view of the resources in men and taxation at its disposal and consequently of all possibility of an effective control.(103) The indications still extant, and the very connection of things, show irrefragably that Caesar made preparations to renew the general census that had been obsolete for centuries.
Religion of the Empire
We need scarcely say that in religion and in jurisprudence no thorough levelling could be thought of; yet with all toleration towards local faiths and municipal statutes the new state needed a common worship corresponding to the Italo-Hellenic nationality and a general code of law superior to the municipal statutes. It needed them; for de facto both were already in existence. In the field of religion men had for centuries been busied in fusing together the Italian and Hellenic worships partly by external adoption, partly by internal adjustment of their respective conceptions of the gods; and owing to the pliant formless character of the Italian gods, there had been no great difficulty in resolving Jupiter into Zeus, Venus into Aphrodite, and so every essential idea of the Latin faith into its Hellenic counterpart. The Italo-Hellenic religion stood forth in its outlines ready-made; how much in this very department men were conscious of having gone beyond the specifically Roman point of view and advanced towards an Italo-Hellenic quasi-nationality, is shown by the distinction made in the already-mentioned theology of Varro between the "common" gods, that is, those acknowledged by Romans and Greeks, and the special gods of the Roman community.
Law of the Empire
So far as concerns the field of criminal and police law, where the government more directly interferes and the necessities of the case are substantially met by a judicious legislation, there was no difficulty in attaining, in the way of legislative action, that degree of material uniformity which certainly was in this department needful for the unity of the empire. In the civil law again, where the initiative belongs to commercial intercourse and merely the formal shape to the legislator, the code for the united empire, which the legislator certainly could not have created, had been already long since developed in a natural way by commercial intercourse itself. The Roman urban law was still indeed legally based on the embodiment of the Latin national law contained in the Twelve Tables. Later laws had doubtless introduced various improvements of detail suited to the times, among which the most important was probably the abolition of the old inconvenient mode of commencing a process through standing forms of declaration by the parties(104) and the substitution of an instruction drawn up in writing by the presiding magistrate for the single juryman (formula): but in the main the popular legislation had only piled upon that venerable foundation an endless chaos of special laws long since in great part antiquated and forgotten, which can only be compared to the English statute-law. The attempts to impart to them scientific shape and system had certainly rendered the tortuous paths of the old civil law accessible, and thrown light upon them;(105) but no Roman Blackstone could remedy the fundamental defect, that an urban code composed four hundred years ago with its equally diffuse and confused supplements was now to serve as the law of a great state.
The New Urban Law or the Edict
Commercial intercourse provided for itself a more thorough remedy. The lively intercourse between Romans and non-Romans had long ago developed in Rome an international private law (-ius gentium-;(106)), that is to say, a body of maxims especially relating to commercial matters, according to which Roman judges pronounced judgment, when a cause could not be decided either according to their own or any other national code and they were compelled—setting aside the peculiarities of Roman, Hellenic, Phoenician and other law— to revert to the common views of right underlying all dealings. The formation of the newer law attached itself to this basis. In the first place as a standard for the legal dealings of Roman burgesses with each other, it de facto substituted for the old urban law, which had become practically useless, a new code based in substance on a compromise between the national law of the Twelve Tables and the international law or so-called law of nations. The former was essentially adhered to, though of course with modifications suited to the times, in the law of marriage, family, and inheritance; whereas in all regulations which concerned dealings with property, and consequently in reference to ownership and contracts, the international law was the standard; in these matters indeed various important arrangements were borrowed even from local provincial law, such as the legislation as to usury,(107) and the institution of -hypotheca-. Through whom, when, and how this comprehensive innovation came into existence, whether at once or gradually, whether through one or several authors, are questions to which we cannot furnish a satisfactory answer. We know only that this reform, as was natural, proceeded in the first instance from the urban court; that it first took formal shape in the instructions annually issued by the -praetor urbanus-, when entering on office, for the guidance of the parties in reference to the most important maxims of law to be observed in the judicial year then beginning (-edictum annuum- or -perpetuum praetoris urbani de iuris dictione-); and that, although various preparatory steps towards it may have been taken in earlier times, it certainly only attained its completion in this epoch. The new code was theoretic and abstract, inasmuch as the Roman view of law had therein divested itself of such of its national peculiarities as it had become aware of; but it was at the same time practical and positive, inasmuch as it by no means faded away into the dim twilight of general equity or even into the pure nothingness of the so-called law of nature, but was applied by definite functionaries for definite concrete cases according to fixed rules, and was not merely capable of, but had already essentially received, a legal embodiment in the urban edict. This code moreover corresponded in matter to the wants of the time, in so far as it furnished the more convenient forms required by the increase of intercourse for legal procedure, for acquisition of property, and for conclusion of contracts. Lastly, it had already in the main become subsidiary law throughout the compass of the Roman empire, inasmuch as— while the manifold local statutes were retained for those legal relations which were not directly commercial, as well as for local transactions between members of the same legal district—dealings relating to property between subjects of the empire belonging to different legal districts were regulated throughout after the model of the urban edict, though not applicable de jure to these cases, both in Italy and in the provinces. The law of the urban edict had thus essentially the same position in that age which the Roman law has occupied in our political development; this also is, so far as such opposites can be combined, at once abstract and positive; this also recommended itself by its (compared with the earlier legal code) flexible forms of intercourse, and took its place by the side of the local statutes as universal subsidiary law. But the Roman legal development had an essential advantage over ours in this, that the denationalized legislation appeared not, as with us, prematurely and by artificial birth, but at the right time and agreeably to nature.
Caesar's Project of Codification
Such was the state of the law as Caesar found it. If he projected the plan for a new code, it is not difficult to say what were his intentions. This code could only comprehend the law of Roman burgesses, and could be a general code for the empire merely so far as a code of the ruling nation suitable to the times could not but of itself become general subsidiary law throughout the compass of the empire. In criminal law, if the plan embraced this at all, there was needed only a revision and adjustment of the Sullan ordinances. In civil law, for a state whose nationality was properly humanity, the necessary and only possible formal shape was to invest that urban edict, which had already spontaneously grown out of lawful commerce, with the security and precision of statute-law. The first step towards this had been taken by the Cornelian law of 687, when it enjoined the judge to keep to the maxims set forth at the beginning of his magistracy and not arbitrarily to administer other law (108)—a regulation, which may well be compared with the law of the Twelve Tables, and which became almost as significant for the fixing of the later urban law as that collection for the fixing of the earlier. But although after the Cornelian decree of the people the edict was no longer subordinate to the judge, but the judge was by law subject to the edict; and though the new code had practically dispossessed the old urban law in judicial usage as in legal instruction—every urban judge was still free at his entrance on office absolutely and arbitrarily to alter the edict, and the law of the Twelve Tables with its additions still always outweighed formally the urban edict, so that in each individual case of collision the antiquated rule had to be set aside by arbitrary interference of the magistrates, and therefore, strictly speaking, by violation of formal law. The subsidiary application of the urban edict in the court of the -praetor peregrinus- at Rome and in the different provincial judicatures was entirely subject to the arbitrary pleasure of the individual presiding magistrates. It was evidently necessary to set aside definitely the old urban law, so far as it had not been transferred to the newer, and in the case of the latter to set suitable limits to its arbitrary alteration by each individual urban judge, possibly also to regulate its subsidiary application by the side of the local statutes. This was Caesars design, when he projected the plan for his code; for it could not have been otherwise. The plan was not executed; and thus that troublesome state of transition in Roman jurisprudence was perpetuated till this necessary reform was accomplished six centuries afterwards, and then but imperfectly, by one of the successors of Caesar, the Emperor Justinian.
Lastly, in money, measures, and weights the substantial equalization of the Latin and Hellenic systems had long been in progress. It was very ancient so far as concerned the definitions of weight and the measures of capacity and of length indispensable for trade and commerce,(109) and in the monetary system little more recent than the introduction of the silver coinage.(110) But these older equations were not sufficient, because in the Hellenic world itself the most varied metrical and monetary systems subsisted side by side; it was necessary, and formed part doubtless of Caesar's plan, now to introduce everywhere in the new united empire, so far as this had not been done already, Roman money, Roman measures, and Roman weights in such a manner that they alone should be reckoned by in official intercourse, and that the non-Roman systems should be restricted to local currency or placed in a—once for all regulated—ratio to the Roman.(111) The action of Caesar, however, can only be pointed out in two of the most important of these departments, the monetary system and the calendar.
Gold Coin as Imperial Currency
The Roman monetary system was based on the two precious metals circulating side by side and in a fixed relation to each other, gold being given and taken according to weight,(112) silver in the form of coin; but practically in consequence of the extensive transmarine intercourse the gold far preponderated over the silver. Whether the acceptance of Roman silver money was not even at an earlier period obligatory throughout the empire, is uncertain; at any rate uncoined gold essentially supplied the place of imperial money throughout the Roman territory, the more so as the Romans had prohibited the coining of gold in all the provinces and client- states, and the -denarius- had, in addition to Italy, de jure or de facto naturalized itself in Cisalpine Gaul, in Sicily, in Spain and various other places, especially in the west.(113) but the imperial coinage begins with Caesar. Exactly like Alexander, he marked the foundation of the new monarchy embracing the civilized world by the fact that the only metal forming an universal medium obtained the first place in the coinage. The greatness of the scale on which the new Caesarian gold piece (20 shillings 7 pence according to the present value of the metal) was immediately coined, is shown by the fact that in a single treasure buried seven years after Caesar's death 80,000 of these pieces were found together. It is true that financial speculations may have exercised a collateral influence in this respect.(114) as to the silver money, the exclusive rule of the Roman -denarius- in all the west, for which the foundation had previously been laid, was finally established by Caesar, when he definitively closed the only Occidental mint that still competed in silver currency with the Roman, that of Massilia. The coining of silver or copper small money was still permitted to a number of Occidental communities; three-quarter -denarii- were struck by some Latin communities of southern Gaul, half -denarii- by several cantons in northern Gaul, copper small coins in various instances even after Caesar's time by communes of the west; but this small money was throughout coined after the Roman standard, and its acceptance moreover was probably obligatory only in local dealings. Caesar does not seem any more than the earlier government to have contemplated the regulation with a view to unity of the monetary system of the east, where great masses of coarse silver money—much of which too easily admitted of being debased or worn away—and to some extent even, as in Egypt, a copper coinage akin to our paper money were in circulation, and the Syrian commercial cities would have felt very severely the want of their previous national coinage corresponding to the Mesopotamian currency. We find here subsequently the arrangement that the -denarius- has everywhere legal currency and is the only medium of official reckoning,(115) while the local coins have legal currency within their limited range but according to a tariff unfavourable for them as compared with the -denarius-.(116) This was probably not introduced all at once, and in part perhaps may have preceded Caesar; but it was at any rate the essential complement of the Caesarian arrangement as to the imperial coinage, whose new gold piece found its immediate model in the almost equally heavy coin of Alexander and was doubtless calculated especially for circulation in the east.
Reform of the Calendar
Of a kindred nature was the reform of the calendar. The republican calendar, which strangely enough was still the old decemviral calendar—an imperfect adoption of the -octaeteris- that preceded Meton (117)—had by a combination of wretched mathematics and wretched administration come to anticipate the true time by 67 whole days, so that e. g. the festival of Flora was celebrated on the 11th July instead of the 28th April. Caesar finally removed this evil, and with the help of the Greek mathematician Sosigenes introduced the Italian farmer's year regulated according to the Egyptian calendar of Eudoxus, as well as a rational system of intercalation, into religious and official use; while at the same time the beginning of the year on the 1st March of the old calendar was abolished, and the date of the 1st January—fixed at first as the official term for changing the supreme magistrates and, in consequence of this, long since prevailing in civil life— was assumed also as the calendar-period for commencing the year. Both changes came into effect on the 1st January 709, and along with them the use of the Julian calendar so named after its author, which long after the fall of the monarchy of Caesar remained the regulative standard of the civilized world and in the main is so still. By way of explanation there was added in a detailed edict a star-calendar derived from the Egyptian astronomical observations and transferred—not indeed very skilfully—to Italy, which fixed the rising and setting of the stars named according to days of the calendar.(118) In this domain also the Roman and Greek worlds were thus placed on a par.
Caesar and His Works
Such were the foundations of the Mediterranean monarchy of Caesar. For the second time in Rome the social question had reached a crisis, at which the antagonisms not only appeared to be, but actually were, in the form of their exhibition, insoluble and, in the form of their expression, irreconcilable. On the former occasion Rome had been saved by the fact that Italy was merged in Rome and Rome in Italy, and in the new enlarged and altered home those old antagonisms were not reconciled, but fell into abeyance. Now Rome was once more saved by the fact that the countries of the Mediterranean were merged in it or became prepared for merging; the war between the Italian poor and rich, which in the old Italy could only end with the destruction of the nation, had no longer a battle-field or a meaning in the Italy of three continents. The Latin colonies closed the gap which threatened to swallow up the Roman community in the fifth century; the deeper chasm of the seventh century was filled by the Transalpine and transmarine colonizations of Gaius Gracchus and Caesar. For Rome alone history not merely performed miracles, but also repeated its miracles, and twice cured the internal crisis, which in the state itself was incurable, by regenerating the state. There was doubtless much corruption in this regeneration; as the union of Italy was accomplished over the ruins of the Samnite and Etruscan nations, so the Mediterranean monarchy built itself on the ruins of countless states and tribes once living and vigorous; but it was a corruption out of which sprang a fresh growth, part of which remains green at the present day. What was pulled down for the sake of the new building, was merely the secondary nationalities which had long since been marked out for destruction by the levelling hand of civilization. Caesar, wherever he came forward as a destroyer, only carried out the pronounced verdict of historical development; but he protected the germs of culture, where and as he found them, in his own land as well as among the sister nation of the Hellenes. He saved and renewed the Roman type; and not only did he spare the Greek type, but with the same self-relying genius with which he accomplished the renewed foundation of Rome he undertook also the regeneration of the Hellenes, and resumed the interrupted work of the great Alexander, whose image, we may well believe, never was absent from Caesar's soul. He solved these two great tasks not merely side by side, but the one by means of the other. The two great essentials of humanity—general and individual development, or state and culture— once in embryo united in those old Graeco-Italians feeding their flocks in primeval simplicity far from the coasts and islands of the Mediterranean, had become dissevered when these were parted into Italians and Hellenes, and had thenceforth remained apart for many centuries. Now the descendant of the Trojan prince and the Latin king's daughter created out of a state without distinctive culture and a cosmopolitan civilization a new whole, in which state and culture again met together at the acme of human existence in the rich fulness of blessed maturity and worthily filled the sphere appropriate to such an union.
The outlines have thus been set forth, which Caesar drew for this work, according to which he laboured himself, and according to which posterity— for many centuries confined to the paths which this great man marked out— endeavoured to prosecute the work, if not with the intellect and energy, yet on the whole in accordance with the intentions, of the illustrious master. Little was finished; much even was merely begun. Whether the plan was complete, those who venture to vie in thought with such a man may decide; we observe no material defect in what lies before us—every single stone of the building enough to make a man immortal, and yet all combining to form one harmonious whole. Caesar ruled as king of Rome for five years and a half, not half as long as Alexander; in the intervals of seven great campaigns, which allowed him to stay not more than fifteen months altogether(119) in the capital of his empire, he regulated the destinies of the world for the present and the future, from the establishment of the boundary-line between civilization and barbarism down to the removal of the pools of rain in the streets of the capital, and yet retained time and composure enough attentively to follow the prize-pieces in the theatre and to confer the chaplet on the victor with improvised verses. The rapidity and self-precision with which the plan was executed prove that it had been long meditated thoroughly and all its parts settled in detail; but, even thus, they remain not much less wonderful than the plan itself. The outlines were laid down and thereby the new state was defined for all coming time; the boundless future alone could complete the structure. So far Caesar might say, that his aim was attained; and this was probably the meaning of the words which were sometimes heard to fall from him—that he had "lived enough." But precisely because the building was an endless one, the master as long as he lived restlessly added stone to stone, with always the same dexterity and always the same elasticity busy at his work, without ever overturning or postponing, just as if there were for him merely a to-day and no to-morrow. Thus he worked and created as never did any mortal before or after him; and as a worker and creator he still, after wellnigh two thousand years, lives in the memory of the nations—the first, and withal unique, Imperator Caesar.