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his family. He might sell his son, his daughter, or even his wife. The latter act, indeed, was denounced as impious by the religious law, but no penalty was attached to it; the curse of the chief pontiff merely marked the guilty person for the wrathful judgments of Heaven. If a father desired to make his son free, the process was more difficult than the emancipation of a slave. The latter, if sold to another master, could be liberated at once, but a son thus sold and liberated returned to the possession of his father. This subjection could only end with the death of the parent, though the son himself might then be an old man. The Twelve Tables enacted that, if a father had three times sold his son, he lost all further control over him; but a son thus emancipated was considered as severed from all relationship with his father, and could no longer inherit his property. Women were all their lives considered as minors and wards. If their father died, they passed under the control of their brothers; or, if they married, they became the absolute property of their husbands. A widow might become the ward of her own son. Marriages between patricians and plebeians were declared unlawful, and children born in such had no claim upon their fathers' possessions.

48. The ten Law-givers visited with their heaviest penalties the defamation of character; and so stringent was their definition of libel, that neither poets nor historians dared even name the living except in terms of praise. It is much more difficult, therefore, to gain a true idea of public men in the history of Rome than of Greece, whose historians spoke with grand impartiality of men and measures, and the license of whose comic poets, though often used with insolent injustice, yet shows us all the weak points of character, and reveals the man as his contemporaries really saw him. The Roman historians, even when writing of the past, could often draw their materials only from funeral orations, or from the flattering verses of dependent poets, laid up among the records of great families.

49. The decemvirs, during their appointed year of office, completed ten tables of laws; and these, according to Roman ideas, were so just and so acceptable, that the assemblies willingly consented to renew the same form of government for another term, especially as the work of legislation was not quite complete. In the new decemvirate, Appius Claudius was reelected, and his unscrupulous character now made itself felt in the tyrannical nature of the government. The people found that they had ten consuls instead of two, and the power of the Ten was unchecked by any popular tribune.

50. The domestic rights of the plebeians were rudely invaded. A fair maiden, Virginia, caught the eye of Appius as she went daily to school in the Forum, attended by her nurse. He declared that she was the slave of one of his clients, having been born of a slave-woman in his house, and sold to the wife of Virginius, who had no children of her own. The friends

of Virginia and of the people resented this insolent falsehood with such indignation, that the consul's officers were compelled to release the maiden under bonds to appear the next day before his judgment-seat, where her lineage might be proved.

Virginius, her father, was with the army before Tus'culum. He was hastily summoned, and, riding all night, reached the city early in the morning. In the garb of a suppliant, he appeared in the Forum with his daughter and a great company of matrons and friends. But his plea was not heard. Appius judged the maiden to be, at least, considered a slave until her freedom could be proved, in direct violation of the law which he had himself enacted the year before, that every one should be regarded as free until proved a slave. Virginius perceived that no justice could be expected before such a tribunal. He only demanded one last word with his daughter; and having drawn her aside with her nurse into one of the stalls of the Forum, he seized a butcher's knife and plunged it into her heart, crying aloud, "Thus only, my child, can I keep thee free!" Then turning to the decemvir, he exclaimed, “On thy head be the curse of this innocent blood!" No one obeyed the consul's order to seize him. With the bloody knife in his hand, he rushed through the crowd, mounted his horse at the gate of the city, and rode to the camp.

51. The army of plebeians arose at his call and marched upon Rome. They entered and passed through the streets to the Aventine, calling upon the people, as they went, to elect ten tribunes and defend their rights. The other army, near Fide'næ, was aroused in the same manner by Icil'ius, the betrothed lover of Virginia. The common soldiers put aside those of the decemvirs who were with them, chose, likewise, ten tribunes, and marched to the city. The twenty tribunes appointed two of their number to act for the rest, and then leaving the Aventine guarded by a garrison, they passed out of the walls followed by the army, and as many of the people as could remove, and established themselves again on the Sacred Mount beyond the Anio.

52. The Senate, which had wavered, was now compelled to act. The seceders had declared that they would treat with no one but Valerius and Hora'tius, men whom they could trust. These were sent to hear their demands. The people required that the power of the tribunes should be restored, a right of appeal from the decision of the magistrates to the popular assembly established, and the decemvirs given up to be burnt, as nine friends of the commons had been, within the memory of men still living. This latter demand, caused only by the exasperation of the moment, was withdrawn upon maturer council; the others were granted, the decemvirs resigned, and the people returned to Rome, B. C. 449. A popular assembly was held, in which ten tribunes were elected, Virginius and Icilius being of the number. Two supreme magistrates were chosen by a free vote of

the people, in the place of the decemvirate, and they were now first called consuls. Their powers were the same with those of the prætors, or generals, who had ruled from the expulsion of the kings to the appointment of the first decemvirate, except that an appeal might be made from their sentence to that of the comitia.

The first consuls under this new act were Valerius and Horatius. They went forth and gained so signal a victory over the Sabines, that Rome suffered no more incursions from that people for 150 years. Ancient custom and even law among the Romans honored victorious generals with a triumphal entry into the city on their return; but the Senate, whose duty it was to decree the triumph, regarding the consuls as false to the interests of their order, forbade any such honor to be paid them. Hereupon the people exerted their supreme authority, and commanded the consuls to "triumph" in spite of the Senate. (See ?? 109-111.) Appius Claudius and one of his colleagues were impeached and died in prison; the rest fled from Rome, and their property was confiscated.

53. A strong reaction now set in, in favor of the patricians; and so determined was their opposition to the new laws, that the people seceded again, but this time only to the Janiculum, west of the Tiber and opposite Rome. At last a law was passed legalizing marriage between the two orders. Instead of throwing open the consulship freely to the plebeians, it was agreed (B. C. 444) to divide its duties and dignities among five officers, of whom two, the censors, should be chosen only from the nobles, though by a free vote of the tribes, while the three military tribunes might be either patricians or plebeians. The censors were to hold office five years, the tribunes only one.

For some alleged defect in the auspices (see 28), the first three tribunes were set aside, and for six years consuls were regularly appointed as before. In 438 B. C., tribunes were elected, and for three following years consuls again, showing the extreme difficulty with which the people gained their rights, even when conceded by law. In 433 B. C., an important law of Æmilius, the dictator, limited the duration of the censor's office to eighteen months, though he was still appointed only once in five years, thus leaving the place vacant a much greater time than it was filled.

54. The censors were invested with truly kingly splendor and extraoidinary powers. They registered the citizens and their property, administered the revenues of the state, kept the rolls of the Senate, from which they erased all unworthy names, and added such as they considered fit. In this judgment of character they were guided solely by their own sense of duty. If a man was tyrannical to his wife and children, or cruel to his slaves, if he neglected his land, or wasted his fortune, or followed any dishonorable calling, he was degraded from his rank, whatever that might be. If a senator or a knight, he was deprived of his gold ring and purple

striped tunic; if a private citizen, he was expelled from the tribes and lost his vote. The censors were thus the guardians of morals, and their power extended to many matters which could hardly be reached by the general action of the law. The taking of every census was followed by a lustration, or ceremonial purifying of the people (see 31). Hence, the five years which intervened between two elections of censors were called a lustrum, or greater year.

55. The Romans must have watched with interest, during the years 415 and 414 B. C., the movements of the great Athenian expedition against Syracuse. Had the brilliant schemes of Alcibiades been carried into effect, the Greeks would doubtless have become the leading power in western Europe; “Greece, and not Rome, might have conquered Carthage; Greek, instead of Latin, might have been at this day the principal element of the languages of Spain, of France, and of Italy; and the laws of Athens, rather than of Rome, might be the foundation of the law of the civilized world."


Decemviri chosen to make new laws for Rome. Absolute power of the paterfamilias. Laws against libel make Roman history mere eulogium. Tyranny of the second decemvirate. Appius Claudius unjustly claims Virginia for a slave. The people secede, overthrow the decemvirate, and restore consuls and tribunes. The new consuls defeat the Sabines, and triumph in spite of the Senate. By another change of constitution, censors and military tribunes are chosen, instead of consuls. The censors have absolute p wer to correct public morals. The Athenians fail in their Sicilian expedition, B. C. 415, 414, and leave room for the supremacy of Rome.


56. The Gauls were now beginning their terrible incursions from the north into the valley of the Po, thus absorbing the attention of the Etruscans; and the time favored a fresh attack of the Romans upon Veii, the nearest state across the Tiber. The war began B. C. 405, and lasted ten years. The necessity of keeping an armed force continually in the field, gave rise to the standing army, which ultimately made so essential a part of Roman power; and, at the same time, obliged the patricians to study the interests of the people. It was now agreed that the soldiers should be regularly paid, and money secured for this purpose by a careful collection of the rents for public lands. The number of military tribunes was doubled. Their chief, the præfect of the city, was a patrician, and chosen by that order, but the remaining five were elected from either or both classes, by a free vote of the popular assembly.

57. After ten years' warfare with varying success, Veii was taken (B. C. 396) by the dictator Camillus. It is said that on the very day of its surrender, Melpum, the Etruscan stronghold in the north, fell before the

Gauls. The loss of these two frontier fortresses began the rapid decline of Etrurian power. The joy of the Romans was commemorated by the whimsical custom, long continued, of concluding every festal game with a mock auction called the "Sale of Veientes." Cape'na, Falerii, Nep'ete, and Sunium were likewise conquered, and with their lands became possessions of Rome. Within half a century, the Etruscans lost to the Gauls all their possessions in Campania and north of the Apennines, and to the Romans, all between the Cimin'ian forests and the Tiber. The nation had already lost its force through unbounded excess in luxury. The nobles were enormously rich, while the people were poor and enslaved.

58. The war of the Romans against Volsin'ii was equally successful; but, by a sudden and terrible reverse, Rome was now doomed to suffer the fate which she too often inflicted. The Gauls, after conquering northern Etruria, overflowed the barrier of the Apennines and spread over central Italy. They met the entire Roman force near the little river Allia, and defeated it with great slaughter; then pushing on with irresistible power, they captured and burned the city. So overwhelming was the disaster, that the 16th of July, the date of the battle of the Allia, was pronounced a "black day" of ill-omen, on which no business could be safely transacted and no sacrifices acceptably offered.

59. The vestal virgins withdrew with the sacred fire to Cære, in Etruria; the mass of the people, with the fugitives from the conquered army, had taken refuge in Veii and other Etruscan towns; but noblest of the patricians resolved to hold the Capitol. Those who were too old to fight, hoped to serve their country equally well by an heroic death. They repeated, after the pontifex maximus, a solemn imprecation,* devoting themselves and the army of the Gauls to death for the deliverance of Rome. Then, arrayed in their most magnificent apparel, holding their ivory scepters, and seated each upon his ivory throne at the door of his own house, they sat motionless while the tumult of plunder and pillage was going on around. The barbarians were struck with admiration of these venerable figures, and one of them began reverently to stroke the long white beard of Papir'ius. Enraged by this profaning touch, the old senator struck him with his ivory scepter. It was the signal for slaughter. The Gauls, recovering from their momentary awe, massacred the noble old men without delay.

60. The siege of the Capitol continued six or eight months. At one time it was nearly taken, by the enemy scaling the steep cliff by night The garrison were asleep, but some geese sacred to Juno gave a timely alarm, and the citadel was saved. Marcus Manlius, who was the first to awaken, succeeded in throwing several of the first assailants down the cliff,

For the probable form of this imprecation, see note, p. 276.

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