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VI.

oppres

siveness of

Roman

rule.

In proportion as with the increase of their power the Romans felt more and more secure and independent of the Increasing allies, they showed them less consideration and tenderness, and made them feel that they had gradually sunk from their former position of friends to be no more than subjects. The differences in the amount of rights or privileges enjoyed by the various towns disappeared by degrees as in the minds of the Romans the recollection of the services by which privileges and immunities had been purchased became fainter. Thus all the allies were gradually reduced to the same level of dependence, although at first there had been various degrees of rights and liberties among them. The authority which the Roman governors exercised over the foreign provinces accustomed them also in Italy to treat the allies contemptuously and brutally. Then began their habit of asking the allied communities for aid when they wished to exhibit public games at Rome, and the practice of exacting extraordinary supplies of materials for war. It must have been difficult for the subject towns to refuse such demands, as a Roman magistrate had in war as well as in peace abundant opportunity of showing his favour and his displeasure to a dependent community. They had even to suffer from the exactions and rapacity of Roman citizens who were not in official position. Not being Roman citizens themselves, they could neither claim the protection of the laws nor call for the intercession of the tribunes, and were limited to the precarious help afforded them by Roman nobles who acted the part of their patrons. We see from a story related by Livy to what length of insolence a Roman might go in the treatment of the allies.3 In the year 173 B.C. the and who were treated hardly better than slaves. The condition of the rowers on board the ancient galleys must have been almost as bad as that of galleyslaves. Thus we find an easy explanation of the mutiny which threatened to break out in 259 B.C. among Campanian allies destined for service in the fleet. Zonar. viii. 11. Comp. Liv. xxiv. 23, 10: Transfugæ, quorum maxima pars ex navalibus sociis Romanorum erat.

2

1 Above, pp. 155, 185, n. 1.

According to Cicero, Ad Quint: fratr. i. 1, 11, even Roman citizens had to complain 'non tam de portorio quam de nonnullis iniuriis portitorum.'

3 Liv. xlii. 1, 7.

consul L. Postumius Albinus was ordered to go to Campania for the purpose of more accurately determining the boundaries of the state land in that part of Italy, and thus protecting it from the encroachments of private landowners in the neighbourhood. His road took him through the free allied town of Præneste. He owed the Prænestines a grudge, because they had taken no notice of him when on a former occasion he had passed through their town in a private capacity. Being now in the possession of official power and dignity, he resolved to teach the subjects how they ought to behave towards a Roman nobleman. Before he started from Rome he sent a message to Præneste and ordered the magistrates to come out to meet him, to prepare quarters for him and his suite, and to provide horses for the continuation of his journey. Hitherto this had not been customary. Magistrates travelling in the affairs of the state were usually lodged by their friends and could claim only a single horse each. But the Prænestines considered it advisable promptly to obey the behests of Postumius, and thus a precedent was created which was but the beginning of ever-increasing demands on the part of the Roman magis

trates.

CHAP.

IX.

on the

But the arrogance of Postumius was after all a Roman moderate enforcement of official power in an independent outrages community compared with what other Romans dared to allies. do. A young Roman who had not even risen yet to the dignity of a magistrate, but was travelling merely as a legate (pro legato), met in the neighbourhood of Venusia a peasant from that Latin colony who, on seeing the litter (lectica) in which the young nobleman was lying, asked jokingly whether a dead man was being carried along. On hearing this the Roman at once stopped and caused the peasant to be whipped with the straps of the litter until he was dead. This brutal murder, as it appears, was left unpunished. The deed may have appeared to a true Roman justifiable or even necessary for upholding

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BOOK
VI.

Discontent of the allies.

the majesty of the Roman name. Another occurrence is perhaps still more characteristic.' A Roman consul travelling in the company of his wife had reached the town of Teanum Sidicinum, where he remained for a while. The lady had a wish to bathe in the public bath of that place used by men. The quæstor of the town was ordered by M. Marius, the supreme magistrate, to turn out the bathers at once and place the bath at the disposal of the Roman lady. But this order was not executed quickly enough to please her; nor did she consider the bath suitably prepared. As a punishment for this negligence, Marius, on the command of the consul, was stripped in the market-place of the town, tied to a post, and flogged with rods. A similar offence seems to have given umbrage to a Roman prætor at Ferentinum. Two magistrates of this place were called upon by the prætor to justify themselves for their negligence; 2 one of them, for fear of being treated like Marius of Teanum, threw himself from the wall, the other was seized and flogged. No wonder that after such proceedings the authorities in the Italian towns decreed that during the presence of a Roman magistrate nobody should make use of the public baths. It is astonishing that Roman officials who indulged in such fancies ever succeeded in departing alive from a town inhabited by free men. We should think that death must have appeared preferable to a life exposed to such outrages.

The occurrences just related took place in the second. half of the second century B.C., and were probably extraordinary instances of tyrannical excesses; for they are referred to in a speech of C. Gracchus in which he urges a reform in the legal standing of the allies. But even allowing this, we have reason to think that such deeds. would not have been possible and would not have been attempted, if the general conduct of Roman officials in their treatment of the allies had not been in a high degree overbearing, brutal, and regardless of the common

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rules of justice and humanity. If we contemplate on the one hand the dominant position of Rome, and the advantages derived by the allies from a union with her, and on the other hand the numerous insults, exactions, and disadvantages to which they were exposed, we may be at a loss whether to admire more the strength and durability of the government thus established or the courage with which some of the oppressed peoples ventured at last to draw the sword in the hope of reconquering their former liberty. The Hannibalic war was the severest test of Rome's qualification to rule over Italy. She stood it, not, it is true, without great risks and sacrifices, but yet with firmness, dignity, and success. The greater part of the subjects remained loyal, or at least obedient. But from time to time, before as well as after that great war, disturbances broke out which prove that the subjects did not invariably feel happy under Roman rule. A striking instance is the revolt of the insignificant town of Falerii in the year 241 B.C., the last year of the first Punic war. What the occasion was, is not reported, but of the consequences there can be no doubt. Falerii was reduced in a few days, and was probably deprived of the liberties which till then it had enjoyed as an allied town. It lost a part or perhaps the whole of its territory, and became an open village deprived of the rights of a town. Thus one more was added to the number of those places of which the Romans could say that they had conquered them with the sword, and the conquest of Falerii among others furnished for a Roman family the pretext for triumphal honours.

CHAP.

IX.

What has been said of the condition of the Italian Causes

a social

subjects foreshadows the events which were in store for tending to the period to come. It is evident that the inequality of war. the Italian peoples in civil rights could not last much longer. As long as a consciousness of inferiority to Rome as the leading power in Italy prevented among the Italians the growth of rivalry and the impatience of unfair treat1 Liv. epit. 30. Polyb. i. 65. Zonaras, viii. 18. Oros. iv. 11. See vol. ii. p. 123.

BOOK

VI.

ment; as long as the republic achieved in rapid succession beyond the sea the great conquests in the advantages of which the allies could share, and by the grandeur and glory of which they also were inspired and raised like the Romans themselves to an eminence above rival nations; as long as the Romans used their privileges on the whole with some degree of moderation, and did not seek to reduce to a still lower level the condition of their subjects; so long the confederacy remained a firm support of the Roman power. But when, in consequence of the greatness of the dominant town, Italy was threatened with economical ruin, when the Italians began to play a part in the internal policy of the republic, and the demagogues to court their favour, then the old organization of the state could be maintained no longer, and the inequality between Romans and Italians was doomed to disappear in the torrents of blood with which the social war inundated Italy..

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