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Ch. 3: The Condition of Rome

It is far from my intention to write a history of Rome during the Ciceronian period. Were I to attempt such a work, I should have to include the doings of Sertorius in Spain, of Lucullus and Pompey in the East, Caesar's ten years in Gaul, and the civil wars from the taking of Marseilles to the final battles of Thapsus and Munda. With very many of the great events which the period includes Cicero took but slight concern--so slight that we can hardly fail to be astonished when we find how little he had to say of them--he who ran through all the offices of the State, who was the chosen guardian of certain allied cities, who has left to us so large a mass of correspondence on public subjects, and who was essentially a public man for thirty-four years. But he was a public man who concerned himself personally with Rome rather than with the Roman Empire. Home affairs, and not foreign affairs, were dear to him. To Caesar's great deeds in Gaul we should have had from him almost no allusion, had not his brother Quintus been among Caesar's officers, and his young friend Trebatius been confided by himself to Caesar's care. Of Pharsalia we only learn from him that, in utter despair of heart, he allowed himself to be carried to the war. Of the proconsular governments throughout the Roman Empire we should not learn much from Cicero, were it not that it has been shown to us by the trial of Verres how atrocious might be the conduct of a Roman Governor, and by the narratives of Cicero's own rule in Cilića, how excellent. The history of the time has been written for modern readers by Merivale and Mommsen, with great research and truth as to facts, but, as I think with some strong feeling. Now Mr. Froude has followed with his Caesar, which might well have been called Anti-Cicero. All these in lauding, and the two latter in deifying, the successful soldier, have, I think, dealt hardly with Cicero, attributing to his utterances more than they mean; doubting his sincerity, but seeing clearly the failure of his political efforts. With the great facts of the Roman Empire as they gradually formed themselves from the fall of Carthage, when the Empire began,[52] to the establishment of Augustus, when it was consummated, I do not pretend to deal, although by far the most momentous of them were crowded into the life of Cicero. But in order that I may, if possible, show the condition of his mind toward the Republic--that I may explain what it was that he hoped and why he hoped it--I must go back and relate in a few words what it was that Marius and Sulla had done for Rome.

Of both these men all the doings with which history is greatly concerned were comprised within the early years of Cicero's life. Marius, indeed, was nearly fifty years of age when his fellow-townsman was born, and had become a distinguished soldier, and, though born of humble parents, had pushed himself to the Consulate. His quarrel with Sulla had probably commenced, springing from jealousy as to deeds done in the Jugurthine war. But it is not matter of much moment, now that Marius had proved himself to be a good and hardy soldier, excepting in this, that, by making himself a soldier in early life, he enabled himself in his latter years to become the master of Rome.

Sulla, too, was born thirty-two years before Cicero--a patrician of the bluest blood--and having gone, as we say, into public life, and having been elected Quaestor, became a soldier by dint of office, as a man with us may become head of the Admiralty. As Quaestor he was sent to join Marius in Africa a few months before Cicero was born. Into his hands, as it happened, not into those of Marius, Jugurtha was surrendered by his father-in-law, Bocchus, who thought thus to curry favor with the Romans. Thence came those internecine feuds, in which, some twenty-five years later, all Rome was lying butchered. The cause of quarrelling between these two men, the jealousies which grew in the heart of the elder, from the renewed successes of the younger, are not much to us now; but the condition to which Rome had been brought, when two such men could scramble for the city, and each cut the throats of the relatives, friends, and presumed allies of the other, has to be inquired into by those who would understand what Rome had been, what it was, and what it was necessarily to become.

When Cicero was of an age to begin to think of these things, and had put on the "toga virilis", and girt himself with a sword to fight under the father of Pompey for the power of Rome against the Italian allies who were demanding citizenship, the quarrel was in truth rising to its bitterness. Marius and Sulla were on the same side in that war. But Marius had then not only been Consul, but had been six times Consul; and he had beaten the Teutons and the Cimbrians, by whom Romans had feared that all Italy would be occupied. What was not within the power of such a leader of soldiers? and what else but a leader of soldiers could prevail when Italy and Rome, but for such a General, had been at the mercy of barbaric hordes, and when they had been compelled to make that General six times Consul?

Marias seems to have been no politician. He became a soldier and then a General; and because he was great as a soldier and General, the affairs of the State fell into his hands with very little effort. In the old days of Rome military power had been needed for defence, and successful defence had of course produced aggressive masterhood and increased territory. When Hannibal, while he was still lingering in Italy, had been circumvented by the appearance of Scipio in Africa and the Romans had tasted the increased magnificence of external conquest, the desire for foreign domination became stronger than that of native rule. From that time arms were in the ascendant rather than policy. Up to that time a Consul had to become a General, because it was his business to look after the welfare of the State. After that time a man became a Consul in order that he might be a General. The toga was made to give way to the sword, and the noise of the Forum to the trumpets. We, looking back now, can see that it must have been so, and we are prone to fancy that a wise man looking forward then might have read the future. In the days of Marius there was probably no man so wise. Caesar was the first to see it. Cicero would have seen it, but that the idea was so odious to him that he could not acknowledge to himself that it need be so. His life was one struggle against the coming evil--against the time in which brute force was to be made to dominate intellect and civilization. His "cedant arma togae" was a scream, an impotent scream, against all that Sulla had done or Caesar was about to do. The mischief had been effected years before his time, and had gone too far ahead to be arrested even by his tongue. Only, in considering these things, let us confess that Cicero saw what was good and what was evil, though he was mistaken in believing that the good was still within reach.

Marius in his way was a Caesar--as a soldier, undoubtedly a very efficient Caesar-having that great gift of ruling his own appetites which enables those who possess it to conquer the appetites of others. It may be doubted whether his quickness in stopping and overcoming the two great hordes from the north, the Teutons and the Cimbrians, was not equal in strategy to anything that Caesar accomplished in Gaul. It is probable that Caesar learned much of his tactics from studying the manoeuvres of Marius. But Marius was only a General. Though he became hot in Roman politics, audacious and confident, knowing how to use and how to disregard various weapons of political power as they had been handed down by tradition and law, the "vetoes" and the auguries, and the official dignities, he used them, or disregarded them, in quest only of power for himself. He was able to perceive how vain was law in such a period as that in which he lived; and that, having risen by force of arms, he must by force of arms keep his place or lose his life. With him, at least, there was no idea of Roman liberty, little probably of Roman glory, except so far as military glory and military power go together.

Sulla was a man endowed with a much keener insight into the political condition of the world around him. To make a dash for power, as a dog might do, and keep it in his clutch as a dog would, was enough for Marius. Sulla could see something of future events. He could understand that, by reducing men around him to a low level, he could make fast his own power over them, and that he could best do this by cutting off the heads of all who stood a little higher than their neighbors. He might thus produce tranquillity, and security to himself and others. Some glimmer of an idea of an Augustan rule was present to him; and with the view of producing it, he re-established many of the usages of the Republic, not reproducing the liberty but the forms of liberty. It seems to have been his idea that a Sullan party might rule the Empire by adherence to these forms. I doubt if Marius had any fixed idea of government. To get the better of his enemies, and then to grind them into powder under his feet, to seize rank and power and riches, and then to enjoy them, to sate his lust with blood and money and women, at last even with wine, and to feed his revenge by remembering the hard things which he was made to endure during the period of his overthrow--this seems to have been enough for Marius.[53] With Sulla there was understanding that the Empire must be ruled, and that the old ways would be best if they could be made compatible, with the newly-concentrated power.

The immediate effect upon Rome, either from one or from the other, was nearly the same. In the year 87 B.C. Marius occupied himself in slaughtering the Sullan party--during which, however, Sulla escaped from Rome to the army of which he was selected as General, and proceeded to Athens and the East with the object of conquering Mithridates; for, during these personal contests, the command of this expedition had been the chief bone of contention among them. Marius, who was by age unfitted, desired to obtain it in order that Sulla might not have it. In the next year, 86 B.C., Marius died, being then Consul for the seventh time. Sulla was away in the East, and did not return till 83 B.C. In the interval was that period of peace, fit for study, of which Cicero afterward spoke. "Triennium fere fuit urbs sine armis."[54] Cicero was then twenty-two or twenty-three years old, and must well have understood, from his remembrance of the Marian massacres, what it was to have the city embroiled by arms. It was not that men were fighting, but that they were simply being killed at the pleasure of the slaughterer. Then Sulla came back, 83 B.C., when Cicero was twenty-four; and if Marius had scourged the city with rods, he scourged it with scorpions. It was the city, in truth, that was scourged, and not simply the hostile faction. Sulla began by proscribing 520 citizens declaring that he had included in his list all that he remembered, and that those forgotten should be added on another day. The numbers were gradually raised to 4,7OO! Nor did this merely mean that those named should be caught and killed by some miscalled officers of justice.[55] All the public was armed against the wretched, and any who should protect them were also doomed to death. This, however, might have been comparatively inefficacious to inflict the amount of punishment intended by Sulla. Men generally do not specially desire to imbrue their hands in the blood of other men. Unless strong hatred be at work, the ordinary man, even the ordinary Roman, will hardly rise up and slaughter another for the sake of the employment. But if lucre be added to blood, then blood can be made to flow copiously. This was what Sulla did. Not only was the victim's life proscribed, but his property was proscribed also; and the man who busied himself in carrying out the great butcher's business assiduously, ardently, and unintermittingly, was rewarded by the property so obtained. Two talents[56] was to be the fee for mere assassination; but the man who knew how to carry on well the work of an informer could earn many talents. It was thus that fortunes were made in the last days of Sulla. It was not only those 520 who were named for killing. They were but the firstlings of the flock--the few victims selected before the real workmen understood how valuable a trade proscription and confiscation might be made. Plutarch tells us how a quiet gentleman walking, as was his custom, in the Forum, one who took no part in politics, saw his own name one day on the list. He had an Alban villa, and at once knew that his villa had been his ruin. He had hardly read the list, and had made his exclamation, before he was slaughtered. Such was the massacre of Sulla, coming with an interval of two or three years after those of Marius, between which was the blessed time in which Rome was without arms. In the time of Marius, Cicero was too young, and of no sufficient importance, on account of his birth or parentage, to fear anything. Nor is it probable that Marius would have turned against his townsmen. When Sulla's turn came, Cicero, though not absolutely connected with the Dictator, was, so to say, on his side in politics. In going back even to this period we may use the terms Liberals and Conservatives for describing the two parties. Marius was for the people; that is to say, he was opposed to the rule of the oligarchy, dispersed the Senate, and loved to feel that his own feet were on the necks of the nobility. Of liberty, or rights, or popular institutions he recked nothing; but not the less was he supposed to be on the people's side. Sulla, on the other hand, had been born a patrician, and affected to preserve the old traditions of oligarchic rule; and, indeed, though he took all the power of the State into his own hands, he did restore, and for a time preserve, these old traditions. It must be presumed that there was at his heart something of love for old Rome. The proscriptions began toward the end of the year 82 B.C., and were continued through eight or nine fearful months--up to the beginning of June, 81 B.C. A day was fixed at which there should be no more slaughtering--no more slaughtering, that is, without special order in each case, and no more confiscation--except such as might be judged necessary by those who had not as yet collected their prey from past victims. Then Sulla, as Dictator, set himself to work to reorganize the old laws. There should still be Consuls and Praetors, but with restricted powers, lessened almost down to nothing. It seems hard to gather what was exactly the Dictator's scheme as the future depositary of power when he should himself have left the scene. He did increase the privileges of the Senate; but thinking of the Senate of Rome as he must have thought of it, esteeming those old men as lowly as he must have esteemed them, he could hardly have intended that imperial power should be maintained by dividing it among them. He certainly contemplated no follower to himself, no heir to his power, as Caesar did. When he had been practically Dictator about three years--though he did not continue the use of the objectionable name--he resigned his rule and walked down, as it were, from his throne into private life. I know nothing in history more remarkable than Sulla's resignation; and yet the writers who have dealt with his name give no explanation of it. Plutarch, his biographer, expresses wonder that he should have been willing to descend to private life, and that he who made so many enemies should have been able to do so with security. Cicero says nothing of it. He had probably left Rome before it occurred, and did not return till after Sulla's death. It seems to have been accepted as being in no especial way remarkable.[57] At his own demand, the plenary power of Dictator had been given to him--power to do all as he liked, without reference either to the Senate or to the people, and with an added proviso that he should keep it as long as he thought fit, and lay it down when it pleased him. He did lay it down, flattering himself, probably, that, as he had done his work, he would walk out from his dictatorship like some Camillus of old. There had been no Dictator in Rome for more than a century and a quarter--not since the time of Hannibal's great victories; and the old dictatorships lasted but for a few months or weeks, after which the Dictator, having accomplished the special task, threw up his office. Sulla now affected to do the same; and Rome, after the interval of three years, accepted the resignation in the old spirit. It was natural to them, though only by tradition, that a Dictator should resign--so natural that it required no special wonder. The salt of the Roman Constitution was gone, but the remembrance of the savor of it was still sweet to the minds of the Romans.

It seems certain that no attempt was made to injure Sulla when he ceased to be nominally at the head of the army, but it is probable that he did not so completely divest himself of power as to be without protection. In the year after his abdication he died, at the age of sixty-one, apparently strong as regards general health, but, if Plutarch's story be true, affected with a terrible cutaneous disease. Modern writers have spoken of Sulla as though they would fain have praised him if they dared, because, in spite of his demoniac cruelty, he recognized the expediency of bringing the affairs of the Republic again into order. Middleton calls him the "only man in history in whom the odium of the most barbarous cruelties was extinguished by the glory of his great acts." Mommsen, laying the blame of the proscriptions on the head of the oligarchy, speaks of Sulla as being either a sword or a pen in the service of the State, as a sword or a pen would be required, and declares that, in regard to the total "absence of political selfishness--although it is true in this respect only--Sulla deserves to be named side by side with Washington."[58] To us at present who are endeavoring to investigate the sources and the nature of Cicero's character, the attributes of this man would be but of little moment, were it not that Cicero was probably Cicero because Sulla had been Sulla. Horrid as the proscriptions and confiscations were to Cicero--and his opinion of them was expressed plainly enough when it was dangerous to express them[59]--still it was apparent to him that the cause of order (what we may call the best chance for the Republic) lay with the Senate and with the old traditions and laws of Rome, in the re-establishment of which Sulla had employed himself. Of these institutions Mommsen speaks with a disdain which we now cannot but feel to be justified. "On the Roman oligarchy of this period," he says "no judgment can be passed save one of inexorable and remorseless condemnation; and, like everything connected with it, the Sullan constitution is involved in that condemnation."[60] We have to admit that the salt had gone out from it, and that there was no longer left any savor by which it could be preserved. But the German historian seems to err somewhat in this, as have also some modern English historians, that they have not sufficiently seen that the men of the day had not the means of knowing all that they, the historians, know. Sulla and his Senate thought that by massacring the Marian faction they had restored everything to an equilibrium. Sulla himself seems to have believed that when the thing was accomplished Rome would go on, and grow in power and prosperity as she had grown, without other reforms than those which he had initiated. There can be no doubt that many of the best in Rome--the best in morals, the best in patriotism, and the best in erudition--did think that, with the old forms, the old virtue would come back. Pompey thought so, and Cicero. Cato thought so, and Brutus. Caesar, when he came to think about it, thought the reverse. But even now to us, looking back with so many things made clear to us, with all the convictions which prolonged success produces, it is doubtful whether some other milder change--some such change as Cicero would have advocated--might not have prevented the tyranny of Augustus, the mysteries of Tiberius, the freaks of Caligula, the folly of Claudius, and the madness of Nero.

It is an uphill task, that of advocating the cause of a man who has failed. The Caesars of the world are they who make interesting stories. That Cicero failed in the great purpose of his life has to be acknowledged. He had studied the history of his country, and was aware that hitherto the world had produced nothing so great as Roman power; and he knew that Rome had produced true patriotism. Her Consuls, her Censors, her Tribunes, and her Generals had, as a rule, been true to Rome, serving their country, at any rate till of late years, rather than themselves. And he believed that liberty had existed in Rome, though nowhere else. It would be well if we could realize the idea of liberty which Cicero entertained. Liberty was very dear to him--dear to him not only as enjoying it himself, but as a privilege for the enjoyment of others. But it was only the liberty of a few. Half the population of the Roman cities were slaves, and in Cicero's time the freedom of the city, which he regarded as necessary to liberty, belonged only to a small proportion of the population of Italy. It was the liberty of a small privileged class for which he was anxious. That a Sicilian should be free under a Roman Proconsul, as a Roman citizen was entitled to be, was abhorrent to his doctrine. The idea of cosmopolitan freedom--an idea which exists with us, but is not common to very many even now--had not as yet been born: that care for freedom which springs from a desire to do to others as we would that they should do to us. It required Christ to father that idea; and Cicero, though he was nearer to Christianity than any who had yet existed, had not reached it. But this liberty, though it was but of a few, was so dear to him that he spent his life in an endeavor to preserve it. The kings had been expelled from Rome because they had trampled on liberty. Then came the Republic, which we know to have been at its best no more than an oligarchy; but still it was founded on the idea that everything should be done by the votes of the free people. For many years everything was done by the votes of the free people. Under what inducements they had voted is another question. Clients were subject to their patrons, and voted as they were told. We have heard of that even in England, where many of us still think that such a way of voting is far from objectionable. Perhaps compulsion was sometimes used--a sort of "rattening" by which large bodies were driven to the poll to carry this or the other measure. Simple eloquence prevailed with some, and with others flattery. Then corruption became rampant, as was natural, the rich buying the votes of the poor; and votes were bought in various ways--by cheap food as well as by money, by lavish expenditure in games, by promises of land, and other means of bribery more or less overt. This was bad, of course. Every freeman should have given a vote according to his conscience. But in what country--the millennium not having arrived in any--has this been achieved? Though voting in England has not always been pure, we have not wished to do away with the votes of freemen and to submit everything to personal rule. Nor did Cicero.

He knew that much was bad, and had himself seen many things that were very evil. He had lived through the dominations of Marius and Sulla, and had seen the old practices of Roman government brought down to the pretence of traditional forms. But still, so he thought, there was life left in the old forms, if they could be revivified by patriotism, labor, and intelligence. It was the best that he could imagine for the State--infinitely better than the chance of falling into the bloody hands of one Marius and one Sulla after another. Mommsen tells us that nothing could be more rotten than the condition of oligarchical government into which Rome had fallen; and we are inclined to agree with Mommsen, because we have seen what followed. But that Cicero, living and seeing it all as a present spectator, should have hoped better things, should not, I think, cause us to doubt either Cicero's wisdom or his patriotism. I cannot but think that, had I been a Roman of those days, I should have preferred Cicero, with his memories of the past, to Caesar, with his ambition for the future.

Looking back from our standing-point of to-day, we know how great Rome was--infinitely greater, as far as power is concerned, than anything else which the world has produced. It came to pass that "Urbis et orbis" was not a false boast. Gradually growing from the little nest of robbers established on the banks of the Tiber, the people of Rome learned how to spread their arms over all the known world, and to conquer and rule, while they drew to themselves all that the ingenuity and industry of other people had produced. To do this, there must have been not only courage and persistence, but intelligence, patriotism, and superior excellence in that art of combination of which government consists. But yet, when we look back, it is hard to say when were the palmy days of Rome. When did those virtues shine by which her power was founded? When was that wisdom best exhibited from which came her capacity for ruling? Not in the time of her early kings, whose mythic virtues, if they existed, were concerned but in small matters; for the Rome of the kings claimed a jurisdiction extending as yet but a few miles from the city. And from the time of their expulsion, Rome, though she was rising in power, was rising slowly, and through such difficulties that the reader of history, did he not know the future, would think from time to time that the day of her destruction had come upon her. Not when Brennus was at Rome with his Gauls, a hundred and twenty-five years after the expulsion of the kings, could Rome be said to have been great; nor when, fifty or sixty years afterward, the Roman army--the only army which Rome then possessed--had to lay down its arms in the Caudine Forks and pass under the Samnite yoke. Then, when the Samnite wars were ended, and Rome was mistress in Italy--mistress, after all, of no more than Southern Italy--the Punic wars began. It could hardly have been during that long contest with Carthage, which was carried on for nearly fifty years, that the palmy days of Rome were at their best. Hannibal seems always to be the master. Trebia, Thrasymene and Canne, year after year, threaten complete destruction to the State. Then comes the great Scipio; and no doubt, if we must mark an era of Roman greatness, it would be that of the battle of Zama and the submission of Carthage, 201 years before Christ. But with Scipio there springs up the idea of personal ambition; and in the Macedonian and Greek wars that follow, though the arm of Rome is becoming stronger every day, and her shoulders broader, there is already the glamour of her decline in virtue. Her dealings with Antiochus, with Pyrrhus, and with the Achaeans, though successful, were hardly glorious. Then came the two Gracchi, and the reader begins to doubt whether the glory of the Republic is not already over. They demanded impossible reforms, by means as illegal as they were impossible, and were both killed in popular riots. The war with Jugurtha followed, in which the Romans were for years unsuccessful, and during which German hordes from the north rushed into Gaul and destroyed an army of 80,000 Romans. This brings us to Marius and to Sulla, of whom we have already spoken, and to that period of Roman politics which the German historian describes as being open to no judgment "save one of inexorable and remorseless condemnation."

But, in truth, the history of every people and every nation will be subject to the same criticism, if it be regarded with the same severity. In all that man has done as yet in the way of government, the seeds of decay are apparent when looked back upon from an age in advance. The period of Queen Elizabeth was very great to us; yet by what dangers were we enveloped in her days! But for a storm at sea, we might have been subjected to Spain. By what a system of falsehood and petty tyrannies were we governed through the reigns of James I. and Charles I.! What periods of rottenness and danger there have been since! How little glorious was the reign of Charles II.! how full of danger that of William! how mean those of the four Georges, with the dishonesty of ministers such as Walpole and Newcastle! And to-day, are there not many who are telling us that we are losing the liberties which our forefathers got for us, and that no judgment can be passed on us "save one of inexorable and remorseless condemnation?" We are a great nation, and the present threatenings are probably vain. Nevertheless, the seeds of decay are no doubt inherent in our policies and our practices--so manifestly inherent that future historians will pronounce upon them with certainty.

But Cicero, not having the advantage of distance, having simply in his mind the knowledge of the greatness which had been achieved, and in his heart a true love for the country which had achieved it, and which was his own, encouraged himself to think that the good might be recovered and the bad eliminated. Marius and Sulla--Pompey also, toward the end of his career, if I can read his character rightly--Caesar, and of course Augustus, being all destitute of scruple, strove to acquire, each for himself, the power which the weak hands of the Senate were unable to grasp. However much, or however little, the country of itself might have been to any of them, it seemed good to him, whether for the country's sake or for his own, that the rule should be in his own hands. Each had the opportunity, and each used it, or tried to use it. With Cicero there is always present the longing to restore the power to the old constitutional possessors of it. So much is admitted, even by his bitter enemies; and I am sometimes at a loss whether to wonder most that a man of letters, dead two thousand years ago, should have enemies so bitter or a friend so keenly in earnest about him as I am. Cicero was aware quite as well as any who lived then, if he did not see the matter clearer even than any others, that there was much that was rotten in the State. Men who had been murderers on behalf of Marius, and then others who had murdered on behalf of Sulla--among whom that Catiline, of whom we have to speak presently, had been one--were not apt to settle themselves down as quiet citizens. The laws had been set aside. Even the law courts had been closed. Sulla had been law, and the closest of his favorites had been the law courts. Senators had been cowed and obedient. The Tribunes had only been mock Tribunes. Rome, when Cicero began his public life, was still trembling. The Consuls of the day were men chosen at Sulla's command. The army was Sulla's army. The courts were now again opened by Sulla's permission. The day fixed by Sulla when murderers might no longer murder--or, at any rate, should not be paid for murdering--had arrived. There was not, one would say, much hope for good things. But Sulla had reproduced the signs of order, and the best hope lay in that direction. Consuls, Praetors, Quaestors, Aediles, even Tribunes, were still there. Perhaps it might be given to him, to Cicero, to strengthen the hands of such officers. At any rate, there was no better course open to him by which he could serve his country.

The heaviest accusation brought against Cicero charges him with being insincere to the various men with whom he was brought in contact in carrying out the purpose of his life, and he has also been accused of having changed his purpose. It has been alleged that, having begun life as a democrat, he went over to the aristocracy as soon as he had secured his high office of State. As we go on, it will be my object to show that he was altogether sincere in his purpose, that he never changed his political idea, and that, in these deviations as to men and as to means, whether, for instance, he was ready to serve Caesar or to oppose him, he was guided, even in the insincerity of his utterances, by the sincerity of his purpose. I think that I can remember, even in Great Britain, even in the days of Queen Victoria, men sitting check by jowl on the same Treasury bench who have been very bitter to each other with anything but friendly words. With us fidelity in friendship is, happily, a virtue. In Rome expediency governed everything. All I claim for Cicero is, that he was more sincere than others around him.


[52] It was then that the foreign empire commenced, in ruling which the simplicity and truth of purpose and patriotism of the Republic were lost.

[53] The reverses of fortune to which Marius was subjected, how he was buried up to his neck in the mud, hiding in the marshes of Minturne, how he would have been killed by the traitorous magistrates of that city but that he quelled the executioners by the fire of his eyes; how he sat and glowered, a houseless exile, among the ruins of Carthage--all which things happened to him while he was running from the partisans of Sulla--are among the picturesque episodes of history. There is a tragedy called the Wounds of Civil War, written by Lodge, who was born some eight years before Shakspeare, in which the story of Marius is told with some exquisite poetry, but also with some ludicrous additions. The Gaul who is hired to kill Marius, but is frightened by his eyes, talks bad French mingled with bad English, and calls on Jesus in his horror!

[54] Brutus, ca.xc.

[55] Florus tells us that there were 2000 Senators and Knights, but that any one was allowed to kill just whom he would. "Quis autem illos potest computare quos in erbe passim quisquis voluit occidit" (lib. iii., ca. 21).

[56] About £487 10s. In Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities the Attic talent is given as being worth £243 15s. Mommsen quotes the price as 12,000 denarii, which would amount to about the same sum.

[57] Suetonius speaks of his death. Florus mentions the proscriptions and abdication. Velleius Paterculus is eloquent in describing the horrors of the massacres and confiscation. Dio Cassius refers again and again to the Sullan cruelty. But none of them give a reason for the abdication of Sulla.

[58] Vol.iii., p.386. I quote from Mr. Dickson's translation, as I do not read German.

[59] In defending Roscius Amerinus, while Sulla was still in power, he speaks of the Sullan massacres as "pugna Cannensis," a slaughter as foul, as disgraceful, as bloody as had been the defeat at Canne.

[60] Mommsen, vol.iii., p.385.

Anthony Trollope

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