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The king again sent her away; she destroyed three more books, and demanded the whole price for the remaining three. The curiosity of Tarquin was aroused, and he bought the books, which were found to contain important revelations concerning the fate of Rome. They were kept in a stone chest under the temple of Jupiter Cap'itoli'nus. One of the four sacred colleges was charged with the care of them, and they were only consulted, by order of the Senate, on occasions of great public calamity.
28. The Romans probably learned from the Etruscans their various methods of divination-the interpretation of signs in the heavens, of thunder and lightning, of the flight or voice of birds, of the appearance of sacrifices, and of dreams. The legends ascribed to Tarquinius Priscus the introduction of Etruscan divinities and modes of worship into Rome. At a later time, the Senate provided by special decree for the cultivation of Etruscan discipline" by young men of the highest birth, lest a science so important to the commonwealth should be corrupted by falling into the hands of low and mercenary persons.
The Augurs constituted the second of the sacred colleges; their number was gradually increased from three to sixteen; they were distinguished by a sacred dress and a curved staff, and were held in the highest honor. No public act of any kind could be performed without "taking the auguries" no election held, no law passed, no war declared; for, by theory, the gods were the rulers of the state, and the magistrates merely their deputies. If, in the midst of the comitia, an augur, however falsely, declared that it thundered, the Assembly broke up at once. It must be admitted that the augurs often used their great power unfairly, in the political strife between patricians and plebeians. The latter, as originally foreigners (see ? 17), were held to have no share in the gods of Rome, who thus became the exclusive patrons of the privileged class. When, by a change in the constitution, plebeians were at length elected to high offices, the augurs in several cases declared the election null, on the pretext that the auspices had been irregular; and as no one could appeal from their decision, their veto was absolute.
29. The College of Pontiffs was the most illustrious of the religious institutions attributed to the good king Numa. The pontiffs superintended all public worship according to their sacred books, and were required to give instruction to all who asked it, concerning the ceremonies with which the gods might be approached. Whenever sacred officers were to be appointed, or wills read, they convoked the Assembly. Certain cases of sacrilegious crime could only be judged by them; and in very early times, like the Hebrew scribes, they were the sole possessors of both civil and religious law. The highest magistrate, equally with private persons, submitted to their decrees, provided three members of the college agreed in the decision. They alone knew what days and
hours might be used for the transaction of public business. The calendar was in their keeping, and since these august and reverend dignitaries were only men-it is well known that they sometimes used their power to lengthen the year's office of a favorite consul, or to shorten that of one whom they disapproved. The title of Pon'tifex Maximus, or Supreme Pontiff, was adopted by the Roman emperors, and passed from them to the popes or bishops of modern Rome.
30. The fourth of the sacred colleges consisted of the Fetia'les, or heralds, who were the guardians of the public faith in all dealings with foreign nations. If war was to be declared, it was the duty of a herald to enter the enemy's country, and four times once on either side of the Roman boundary, then to the first citizen whom he chanced to meet, and, finally, to the magistrates at the seat of government--to set forth the causes of complaint, and with great solemnity to call on Jupiter to give victory to those whose cause was just.
The priests of particular gods were called Flamens, or kindlers, because one of their principal duties was the offering of sacrifices by fire. Chief of them all was the Flamen Dialis, or priest of Jupiter; and next to him were the priests of Mars and Quirinus. Though the purity and dignity of the priestly life were guarded by many curious laws, the priest was not forbidden to hold civil offices. He was not allowed, however, to mount a horse, to look upon an army outside the walls, or, in early times, to leave the city for even a single night.
31. After the good king Servius Tullius had completed his census, he performed a solemn purification of the city and people. During the Republic, the same ceremony was repeated after every general registration, which took place once in five years. Sacrifices of a pig, a sheep, and an ox were offered; water was sprinkled from olive-branches, and certain substances were burned, whose smoke was supposed to have a cleansing effect. In like manner, farmers purified their fields, and shepherds their flocks. An army or a fleet always underwent lustration before setting out on any enterprise. In the case of the latter, altars were erected on the shore near which the ships were moored. The sacrifices were carried three times around the fleet, in a small. boat, by the generals and priests, while prayers were offered aloud for the success of the expedition.
Roman religion less imaginative and more practical than the Greek. Jupiter, Mars, and Quirinus its chief divinities. Yearly festivals had reference chiefly to war and husbandry. Worship of Janus. Household gods. The Romans shared their belief in oracles with the Greeks; their arts of divination, with the Etruscans. Four Sacred Colleges: Pontiffs, Augurs, Heralds, and Keepers of the Sibylline Books. Priests might hold civil offices. Ceremonial cleansing of the city after every census; of armies and fleets before every expedition.
II. THE ROMAN REPUBLIC.
32. The 480 years' history of the Roman Republic will be best understood if divided into four periods:
I. The Growth of the Constitution, B. C. 510–343.
II. Wars for the possession of Italy, B. C. 343–264.
III. Foreign Wars, by which Rome became the ruling power in the world, B. C. 264–133.
IV. Internal Commotions and Civil Wars, B. C. 133–31.
The leaders of the revolution which expelled the Tarquins, restored the laws of Servius and carried forward his plans, by causing the election of two chief magistrates, of whom one was probably a plebeian. The consuls, during their year of office, had all the power and dignity of kings. They were preceded in public by their guard of twelve lictors, bearing the fasces, or bundles of rods. Out of the city, when the consul was engaged in military command, an ax was bound up with the rods, in token of his absolute power over life and death.
33. For 150 years the Republic was involved in a struggle for existence, during which its power was much less than that of regal Rome. The Latins threw off their supremacy, and Lars Por'sena, the Etruscan king of Clu'sium, actually conquered the city, and received from the Senate an ivory throne, a golden crown, a scepter, and triumphal robe, in token of homage. In their further attempts upon Latium, the Etruscans were defeated, and Rome became independent, but with the loss of all her territories west of the Tiber. The Latins were defeated at the Lake Regillus, by the aid-so Roman minstrels related-of the twin deities, Castor and Pollux, who appeared at the head of the legions, in the form of two beautiful youths of more than mortal stature, mounted on white horses, and who were the first to break through into the enemy's camp. A temple was consequently built to them in the Forum, and they were regarded as the especial patrons of the Roman knights.
34. External dangers over, the patricians again made their power felt in the oppression of the common people. The first period of the Republic was absorbed in conflicts between the two great orders in the stateless attractive, certainly, than the romantic stories of the kingly age, or the stirring incidents of the later period of conquest. But the steps by which a great people has gained and established its freedom can never be without importance, especially to the only republic which has rivaled Rome in grandeur, in variety of interests, or in the multitude of races and languages included eventually within its limits.
35. The wealth of Rome hitherto had been chiefly derived from the products of the soil. The lands west of the Tiber were now lost, and all
the rural district was open to invasion. Crops were ruined, farm buildings destroyed, cattle driven away. At the same time, through the losses and necessities of the government, taxes were greatly increased; and these were levied, not upon the reduced value of the property, but upon the scale of former assessments. To meet their dues, the poor were obliged to borrow money, at enormous rates of interest, from the rich. The nobles seized the opportunity to enforce to their full extent the cruel laws concerning debt, and the sufferings of the insolvent grew too grievous to be borne. Many sold themselves as slaves to discharge their obligations. Those who refused thus to sign away their own and their children's liberty were often imprisoned, loaded with chains, and starved or tortured by the cruelty of their creditors. The patrician castles, which commanded the hills of Rome, contained gloomy dungeons, which were the scenes of untold atrocities toward such as had the misfortune to incur the wrath of their owners.
36. Fifteen years after the expulsion of the kings, the plebeians, wearied out with a government which existed only for the rich, and imposed all its burdens on the poor, withdrew in a body to a hill beyond the Anio, and declared their intention of founding a new city, where they might govern themselves by more just and equal laws, B. C. 494. The patricians now perceived that they had gone too far. However much they hated the people, they had no idea of losing their services. They yielded, therefore, and received back the seceded plebeians on their own conditions. These were: (1.) Cancellation of claims against insolvent debtors; (2.) Liberation of all such who had been imprisoned or enslaved; (3.) Annual election of two Tribunes, whose duty it should be to defend the interests of the commons. The number of these officers was soon raised to five, and eventually to ten. Two plebeian Æ'diles were at the same time appointed, and charged with the superintendence of streets, buildings, markets, and public lands; of the public games and festivals, and of the general order of the city. They were judges in cases of small importance, like those of modern police courts; and they were eventually intrusted with the keeping of the decrees of the Senate, which had sometimes been tampered with by the patrician magistrates.
37. The scene of this first decisive battle of the people for their rights, was consecrated to Jupiter, and known in later years as the Sacred Mount (Mons Sacer). The Roman commons had thenceforth an important part in public affairs. To prevent suffering in future, Spurius Cassius, consul in the year following the secession, proposed a division among the plebeians. of a certain part of the public lands, while the tithe of produce levied by the state upon the lands leased by the patricians, should be strictly collected and applied to the payment of the common people when they served as soldiers. Hitherto the troops had received no pay, while their burden
of war expenses was great. The other consul opposed the law, and charged Cassius with seeking popularity that he might make himself a king. The law-the first of a long series of "Agrarian" enactments - was passed; but when the year of his consulship had expired, Cassius was brought to trial by his enemies, and condemned as a traitor. He was scourged and beheaded, and his house was razed to the ground, B. C. 485.
38. Having destroyed the leader, the patricians went on to rob the people of all the advantage of the law. They insisted on electing both consuls themselves, only requiring their confirmation by the popular assemblies; and with or without this confirmation, their candidates held supreme power, and refused to divide the public lands. The only resource of the commons was to withhold themselves from military service, and the tribunes now made their power felt by protecting them in refusing to enlist. The consuls defeated this measure by holding their recruiting stations outside of the city, while the jurisdiction of the tribunes was wholly within the walls. Though a man might keep himself safe within the protection of the tribunes, yet his lands were laid waste, his buildings burnt, and his cattle confiscated by order of the government. One last expedient remained. Though compelled to enlist, the soldiers could not be made to gain a battle; and considering the consul who led them, and the class to which he belonged, worse enemies than those whom they met in the field, they allowed themselves to be defeated by the Veientians.
39. The noble house of the Fa’bii, as champions of the nobility, had been for six successive years in possession of the consulship. They now saw the danger to Rome of longer opposition to the will of the people; and when Kæso Fabius, in the year 479 B. C., came into power, he insisted upon the execution of the Cassian law. The patricians refused with scorn, and the Fabii resolved to quit Rome. With their hundreds of clients, their families, and a few burghers who were attached to them by friendship and sympathy, they established a colony in Etruria, on the little river Crem'era, a few miles from the city. They promised to be no less loyal and valiant defenders of Roman interests, and to maintain with their own resources this advanced post, in the war then in progress against Veii. Two years from their migration, the settlement was surprised by the Veientians, and every man was put to death, B. C. 477.
40. The consuls still refused to comply with the Agrarian law, and at the expiration of their term were impeached by Genu'cius, one of the tribunes of the people. On the morning of the day appointed for the trial, Genucius was found murdered in his bed, B. C. 473. This treacherous act paralyzed the people for the moment, and the consuls proceeded with the enlistment of soldiers. Vo'lero Publi'lius, a strong and active commoner, refused to be enrolled; and in the tumult which ensued, the consuls with all their retinue were driven from the Forum.