Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

ing. But what was extremely surprising, was, that at the foundation of the edifice a human head was found by the builders; and all were persuaded that this was a most favourable omen, portending that the seat of empire, and supreme head of the world, would be in that place.

The Roman people tolerated the pride of this king, as long as lust was not united with it'; but this additional oppression they were not able to endure on the part of his sons, one of whom having offered violence to Lucretia, a most excellent matron, she put an end to her dishonour by killing herself. All power was then taken out of the hands of kings.

CHAP. VIII. A RECAPITULATION OF THE ACTS OF THE SEVEN

KINGS. This is the first age, and, as it were, infancy, of the Roman people, which it had under seven kings, who, by a certain contrivance of the fates, were as various in their dispositions as the nature and advantage of the commonwealth required. Who was more daring than Romulus ? Such a man was necessary to hold the government. Who was more religious than Numa? Circumstances required that he should be so, in order that a barbarous people might be softened by fear of the gods. What sort of man was Tullus, that author of military discipline? How necessary to warlike spirits, that he might improve their valour by discipline ! What kind of king was the architect Ancus ? How fitted to extend the city by means of a colony, to unite it by a bridge, and secure it by a wall! The decorations and insignia of Tarquinius, too, how much dignity did they add to this great people from the very dress! What did the census instituted by Servius effect, but that the state should know its own strength ? Lastly, the tyrannic government of the proud Tarquin produced some good, and indeed a great deal; for it came to pass, by means of it, that the people, exasperated by wrongs, were inflamed with a desire of liberty.

CHAP. IX. OF THE CHANGE OF GOVERNMENT. Under the conduct and guidance of Brutus and Collatinus, therefore, to whom the dying matron had recommended the avenging of her cause, the Roman people, incited apparently by some impulse from the gods, to vindicate the honour of insulted liberty and chastity, suddenly deserted the king, made spoil of his property, consecrated his land to their god Mars, and transferred the government to the hands . of those asserters of their liberty, with a change only of its power and name; for they resolved that it should be held, not for life, but only for a year, and that there should be two rulers instead of one, lest the authority, by being vested in a single person, or by being retained too long, might be abused; and, instead of kings, they called them consuls, that

1 they might remember they were to consult the welfare of their citizens. So great exultation, on account of their newly-recovered liberty, took possession of them, that they scarcely believed they could carry their change of condition far enough, and deprived one of the consuls of his office, and expelled him from the city, for no other reason than that his name and family were the same as those of the kings. Valerius Publicola, accordingly, being elected in his place, used his utmost endeavours to advance the dignity of the liberated people ; for he lowered the fasces before them at a public assembly, and gave them the right of hearing appeals against the consuls themselves. He also removed his house, which stood upon an eminence, into the level parts of the town, that he might not offend the people by appearing to occupy a fortress. Brutus, meanwhile, endeavoured to gain the favour of the citizens by the destruction and slaughter of his own family; for finding that his sons were endeavouring to bring back the royal family into the city, he brought them into the forum, and caused them, in the midst of an assembly of the people, to be scourged with rods, and then beheaded ; in order that he might seem, as a parent of the public, to have adopted the people in the room of his own children.

The Roman people, being now free, took up arms against other nations, first, to secure their liberty, next, for the acquisition of territory, afterwards in support of their allies, and, finally, for glory and empire. Their neighbours, on every side, were continually harassing them, as they had no land of their own (the very pomerium belonging to the

Asserters of their liberty ] Brutus and Collatinus.

[ocr errors]

enemy'), and as they were situated, as it were, at the junci tion of the roads to Latium and Etruria, and, at whatever

gate they went out, were sure to meet a foe. At length, as if in a certain destined course”, they proceeded against their opponents one after another, and, subduing always the nearest, reduced all Italy under their sway.

a

[ocr errors]

CHAP. X. THE WAR WITH PORSENA.

After the royal family was expelled, the first war that the people made was in defence of their liberty ; for Porsena, king of Etruria, came against them with a large army, designing to restore the Tarquins by force. Yet, though he pressed them hard both with arms and with famine, and seizing the Janiculum, occupied the very entrance to the city, they withstood and repelled him, and struck him, at last, with such amazement, that, though he had the advantages, he of his own accord concluded a treaty of friendship with those whom he had almost conquered. Then appeared those Roman prodigies and wonders, Horatius, Mucius, and Clelia, who, if they were not recorded in our annals, would now appear fabulous characters. For Horatius, being unable alone to repel the enemies that pressed him on all sides, swam across the Tiber after the bridge was broken down, without letting go his arms. Mutius Scævola, by a stratagem, made an attempt on the king in the midst of his camp, but having stabbed one of his courtiers by mistake, and being seized, he thrust his hand into a fire that was burning there, and increased the king's terror by a piece of craft, saying, “that

know what a man you have escaped, three hundred of us have sworn to the same undertaking ; while, strange to relate, Mucius himself stood unmoved, and the king shuddered, as if his own hand had been burning. Thus the men displayed their valour ; but that the other sex might not want its praise, there was a like spirit among the young women; for Clælia, one of the hostages

you may

1 Ch. IX. The very pomerium belonging to the enemy] Statim hostile pomarium. Pomærium here means the ground immediately outside the wall.

2 Certain destined course] Contagione quadam. Thus Cicero uses contagio for the natural connexion of causes and effects, naturæ contagio, ipsa rerum contagio, De Fato, c. 3, 4.

3 Ch. X. Though he had the advantage] Superior. This does not agree well with repulit, " repulsed him," just above.

; given to the king, having escaped from her keepers, crossed the river of her country on horseback. The king, in consequence, being struck with so many and so great prodigies of valour, bid them farewell, and left them free.

The Tarquins continued the war, till Brutus, with his own hand, killed Aruns, the king's son, and fell dead upon his body of a wound received from his adversary, as if he would pursue the adulterer even to Tartarus.

a

CHAP. XI. OF THE WAR WITH THE LATINS. The Latins also took part with the Tarquins, out of rivalry and envy towards the Romans, desiring that a people, who ruled abroad, might at least be slaves at home. All Latium, accordingly, under the leadership of Mamilius of Tusculum, roused their spirits as if to avenge the king's cause. They came to a battle near lake Regillus, where success was for a long time doubtful, till Posthumius, the dictator, threw standard among

the

enemy, (a new and remarkable stratagem,) that it might be recovered by rushing into the midst of them. Cossus?, the master of the horse, too, ordered the cavalry to take off their bridles, (this was also a new contrivance,) that they might attack with greater force. Such at last was the desperateness of the engagement, that fame reported two of the gods, on white horses, to have been present to view it, and it was universally believed that they were Castor and Pollux. The Roman general accordingly worshipped them, and, on condition of gaining the victory, promised them temples; a promise which he afterwards performed, as payment to the gods who assisted him.

Thus far they contended for liberty. Afterwards they fought with the same Latins, perseveringly and without intermission, about the boundaries of their territory. Sora (who would believe it ?) and Algidum were a terror to them. Šatricum and Corniculum were provinces. Of Verulæ and Bovillæ I am ashamed to speak; but we triumphed. Tibur,

1 Ch. XI. Cossus] “Florus has erroneously said Cossus instead of Titus Æbutius Elva. Cossus was master of the horse under the Dictator Æmilius Mamercinus, A.U.c. 327.” Stadius. “That Florus has made a mistake is admitted by all except Robortellus, who would expunge the word "Cossus.'” Freinshemius. 1 Carræ] A city of Osroene in Mesopotamia, where Crassus was killed. See iii., 11.

a

now a portion of the suburbs, and Præneste, a pleasant summer residence, were not attacked till vows for success had

been offered in the Capitol. Fæsulæ was as much to us as tCarræl was of late; the grove of Aricia was as considerable

as the Hercynian forest, Fregellæ as Gesoriacum?, the Tiber3 as the Euphrates. That Corioli was taken, was thought (disgraceful to relate) such a cause for triumph, that Caius Marcius Coriolanus added a name from the captured town to his own, as if he had subdued Numantia or Africa. There are extant also spoils taken from Antium, which Mænius put up on the rostra in the forum, after capturing the enemy's fleet, if a fleet, indeed, it could be called; for there

were only six beaked vessels. But this number, in those ,early times, was sufficient for a naval war.

The most obstinate of the Latins, however, were the Aqui and Volsci, who were, as I may say, daily enemies. But these were chiefly subdued by Lucius Quintius, the dictator taken from the plough, who, by his eminent bravery, saved the camp of the consul, Lucius Minucius, when it was besieged

and almost taken. It happened to be about the middle of a seed-time, when the lictor found the patrician leaning on

his plough in the midst of his labour. Marching from thence into the field, he made the conquered enemies, that he might not cease from the imitation of country work, pass like cattle under the yoke. His expedition being thus concluded, the triumphant husbandman returned to his oxen, and, O faith of the gods, with what speed ! for the war was begun and ended within fifteen days; so that the dictator seemed to have hastened back to resume the work which he had quitted

CHAP. XII. THE WARS WITH THE ETRURIANS, FALISCI, AND

FIDENATES. The Vejentes, on the side of Etruria, were continual enemies of the Romans, attacking them every year; so that

2 Gesoriacum] A harbour of the Morini in Gaul, afterwards called Bononia.

3 The Tiber] Tiberis. This can hardly be right, though it has been generally adopted for the old reading Tigris. Florus would scarcely have instanced the river that actually ran through the city. Davies, in his translation, has Liris.

3

« ZurückWeiter »