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Chapter 10


The Roman eagle seized The double prey, and proudly perch'd on high And here a thousand years he plumed his wing Till from his lofty eyry, tempest-tost, And impotent through age, headlong he plunged, While nations shuddered as they saw him fall.--Anon.


1. The ordinary boundaries of the Roman empire, over which, however, it sometimes passed, were, in Europe, the two great rivers of the Rhine and Danube; in Asia, the Euphrates and the Syrian deserts; in Africa, the tracts of arid sand which fence the interior of that continent. It thus contained those fertile and rich countries which surround the Mediterranean sea, and constitute the fairest portion of the earth.

2. Beginning at the west of Europe,[1] we find, first, Hispa'nia, _Spain_. Its boundaries are, on the east, the chain of the Pyrenees; on every other side, the sea. It was divided into three provinces: 1. Lusita'nia, _Portugal_, bounded on the north by the Du'rius, _Douro_, and on the south by the Anas; _Guadiana_: 2. Bo'etica, bounded on the north and west by the A'nas, and on the east by the mountains of Orospe'da, _Sierra Moreno_: 3. Tarracone'nsis, which includes the remainder of the Spanish peninsula. 3. Spain was annexed to the Roman empire after the conclusion of the second _Punic_ war; Lusitania, after a desperate resistance, was added at a later period.

4. Transalpine Gaul was the name given to the entire country between the Pyrenees and the Rhine; it consequently included France, Switzerland, and Belgium.

5. Gaul was divided in four provinces: 1. Narbonen'sis or Bracca'ta, bounded on the west by the Pyrenees; on the north by the Cevennian mountains, and on the east by the Va'rus, _Var_: 2. Lugdunen'sis or Cel'tica, bounded on the south and west by the Li'ger, _Loire_; on the north by the Sequa'na, _Seine_, and on the east by the A'rar, _Saone_: 3. Aquita'nica, bounded by the Pyrenees on the south, and the Li'ger on the north and east: 4. Bel'gica, bounded on the north and east by the Rhe'nus, _Rhine;_ on the west by the Arar, and on the south by the Rhoda'nus, _Rhone_, as far as the city Lugdu'num, _Lyons_. Helve'tia, the modern Switzerland, was included in Belgic Gaul. This extensive country was not totally subdued before the time of Julius Cæsar.

6. Italy has been already mentioned in the first chapter; we shall therefore pass it over and come to the islands in the Mediterranean.

Sici'lia or Trinac'ria, _Sicily_, was the first province that the Romans gained beyond the confines of Italy. The cities on its coast were founded by Phoenician and Grecian colonies, but the native inhabitants retained possession of the interior; one tribe, named the Sic'uli, are said to have migrated from Italy, and to have given their name to the island. The Greeks and Carthaginians long contended for supremacy in this island, but it was wrested from both by the Romans towards the close of the second _Punic_ war. Nearly at the same time, the islands of Corsica and Sardinia were annexed to the empire.

7. Britan'nia, divided into Britan'nia Roma'na, which contained England and the south of Scotland; and Britannia Bar'bara or Caledo'nia, the northern part of Scotland, into which the Romans never penetrated. Britain was first invaded by Julius Cæsar, but was not wholly subdued before the time of Nero. As for Hiber'nia or Ier'ne, _Ireland_, it was visited by Roman merchants, but never by Roman legions.

8. The countries south of the Danube, were subdued and divided into provinces during the reign of Augustus. The number of these provinces was seven: 1. Vindeli'cia, bounded on the north by the Danube; on the east by the Æ'nus, _Inn_; on the west by Helve'tia, and on the south by Rhæ'tia: 2. Rhætia, lying between Helve'tia, Vindeli'cia, and the eastern chain of the Alps: 3. Novi'cum, bounded on the north by the Danube, on the west by the Æ'nus, _Inn_, on the east by mount Ce'tius _Kahlenberg_, and on the south by the Julian Alps and the Sa'vus, _Save_: 4. Panno'nia Superior, having as boundaries, the Danube on the north and east; the Ar'rabo, _Raab_, on the south; and the Cetian mountains on the west: 5. Panno'nia Inferior, having the Ar'rabo on the north; the Ar'rabo on the east; and the Sa'vus on the south: 6. Moe'sia Superior, bounded on the north by the Danube, on the south by Mount Scar'dus. _Tihar-dag_; on the west by the Pan'nonia, and on the east by the river Ce'brus, _Isker_: 7. Moe'sia Inferior, having the Danube on the north; the Ce'brus on the west; the chain of mount Hæ'mus on the south, and the Pon'tus Eux'imus, _Black Sea_, on the east.

9. Illyricum included the districts along the eastern coast of the Adriatic, from Rhæ'tia to the river Dri'nus, _Drino Brianco_, in the south, and the Sa'vus, _Save_, on the east. It was subdued by the Romans about the time of the Macedonian war.

10. Macedon and Greece were subdued after the conquest of Carthage; for the particulars of their geography, the student is referred to the introduction prefixed to the last edition of the Grecian History. Thrace was governed by its own kings, who were tributary to the Romans until the reign of the emperor Claudian, when it was made a province.

11. Da'cia was first subdued by the emperor Trajan, and was the only province north of the Danube; its boundaries were, the Carpathian mountains on the north, the Tibis'eus, _Theiss_, on the west, the Hiera'sus, _Pruth_, on the east, and the Danube on the south.

12. The principal Asiatic provinces were, Asia Minor, Syria, and Phoeni'cia. Beyond the Euphra'tes, Arme'nia and Mesopota'mia were reduced to provinces by Trajan, but abandoned by his successor Adrian.

13. The African provinces were, Egypt, Cyrena'ica, Namidia, and Maurita'nia.

14. The principal states on the borders of the empire were, Germa'nia and Sarma'tia in Europe, Arme'nia and Par'thia in Asia, and Æthio'pia in Africa.

15. Eastern Asia, or India, was only known to the Romans by a commercial intercourse, which was opened with that country soon after the conquest of Egypt.

It was divided into India on this side the Ganges, and India beyond the Ganges, which included Se'rica, a country of which the Romans possessed but little knowledge. India at the western side of the Ganges contained, 1. The territory between the In'dus and Gan'ges: 2. The western coast, now called Malabar, which was the part best known, and, 3. The island of Taproba'ne, _Ceylon_.

16. The commerce between Europe and southern Asia became important in the reign of Alexan'der the Great; the greater part of the towns founded by that mighty conqueror were intended to facilitate this lucrative trade.[2] After his death, the Ptol'emys of Egypt became the patrons of Indian traffic, which was unwisely neglected by the kings of Syria. When Egypt was conquered by the Romans, the commerce with India was not interrupted, and the principal mart for Indian commerce under the Roman emperors, was always Alexandria. The jealousy of the Parthians excluded strangers from their territories, and put an end to the trade that was carried on between northern India, the shores of the Caspian sea, and thence to the Ægean. In consequence of this interruption, Palmy'ra and Alexandri'a became the great depots of eastern commerce, and to this circumstance they owed their enormous wealth and magnificence.


Questions for Examination.

1. What were the boundaries of the Roman empire?

2. How was Spain divided?

3. When was Spain annexed to the Roman empire?

4. What countries were included in Transalpine Gaul?

5. How was Gaul divided?

6. What islands in the Mediterranean were included in the Roman empire?

7. When was Britain invaded by the Romans, and how much of the country did they subdue?

8. Into what provinces were the countries south of the Danube divided?

9. What was the extent of Illyricum?

10. What were the Roman provinces in the east of Europe?

11. By whom was Dacia conquered?

12. What were the Asiatic provinces?

13. What were the African provinces?

14. What were the principal states bordering on the empire?

15. Was India known to the Romans?

16. What cities under the Romans enjoyed the greatest commerce with India?



[1] The student will find the particulars of the ancient state of these countries detailed more fully in Mitchell's Ancient Geography.

[2] See Pinnock's Grecian History. -



Oliver Goldsmith