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Growing arrogance

of Roman


organization in the administration of justice that influential offenders could be prosecuted with any prospect of success. Matters were not mended by the establishment of a standing law court (the questiones perpetuæ repetundarum), in the year 149 B.C.,' which appeared at least to indicate the good intention of the people. The judges of this court being taken from the senate belonged to the same class as those whom they were called upon to bring to justice. Common interests and common views of morality and law united the judges and the accused, and combined to frustrate the expectations of redress which the outraged provincials from time to time ventured to entertain.


Small consolation could be derived by the suffering provinces from the reflection that the men who oppressed them threatened the liberty of Rome at the same time. It was but natural that men who had enjoyed the luxury of unlimited rule in the provinces should forget the duty of obedience at home. The regular alternation of obeying and commanding, which was and is the primary and fundamental law of republican institutions, was disturbed. Even the elder Scipio had enjoyed a foretaste of monarchical honours and power. No wonder that after several years of government in the provinces he began to play the master in Rome, and that when called upon to account for the disposal of public funds he had the audacity to tear up the accounts and to cast the fragments at the feet of his accusers. How gratifying, in contrast with the despotic arrogance of these model heroes of the model republic of antiquity, is the modesty with which in our time a Governor-General of India, whose power is far greater than that of any Roman proconsul ever was, retires, after years of kingly rule and state, to the narrow circle of civil life, with no other reward than the consciousness of fulfilled duties! In monarchical England an Indian Viceroy is not more dangerous to public liberty during or after his time of office than a village schoolmaster. But in republican Rome it was early felt that 1 Above, p. 132. 2 Vol. ii. p. 397.

the old equality of citizens could not subsist before pro- CHAP. prætors and proconsuls.


Under the influence of this feeling the senate and Character of unpaid people were determined to adhere to the annual change governors. of governors instead of prolonging their time of office by means of prorogation, by which alone an official might have become acquainted with and interested in his province. As at the same time the old practice was continued of giving no salary to the governors,' a regular system of extortion sprang up, which became the more injurious the faster the office of governor passed from one hand into another. Each in succession hastened to make the best use of the time at his disposal, and under numerous pretexts, in the shape of presents, contracts, or purchases, to find ample compensation for the expenses which his election had occasioned, and to procure the means necessary in the struggle for further honours. Nor was it matter of surprise that Roman citizens repaid themselves for the troublesome duty they had undertaken in the service of the state. Even the provincials, those, for instance, who had formerly lived under the dominion of Syracuse or Carthage, considered it quite natural that the government officials should be propitiated by presents and humble submission. With their former rulers the Roman lieutenants may at first have contrasted favourably, as they also did with their infamous successors in the time of Cicero.2

The state provided only the necessary outfit for the governor and his suite (Liv. xlii. 1, 9), who was entitled to demand from the province in the way of requisitions what he wanted for his own house expenses (Plut. Cato maior, 6). This right of requisition was the pretext for extravagant demands and great extortion. When Cato was prætor in Sardinia, 198 B.C., he cut down these expenses (sumptus quos in cultum prætorum socii facere soliti erant circumcisi aut sublati: Liv. xxxii. 27, 4). Afterwards he made the attempt, which of course proved futile, of regulating them by a special law, which is referred to in the Plebiscitum de Termensibus: Nei quis magistratus prove magistratu legatus. inperato quo quid magis iei dent præbeant ab ieisve auferatur nisi quod eos ex lege Porcia dare præbere oportet oportebit. Orelli, Inscript. Lat. 3673.


2 Mommsen, Röm. Gesch. i. 816. The evil practice came to be established that if a Roman magistrate kept his extortion and his violent measures within



of the taxfarmers.

Roman contractors and usurers.

A still greater pest for the provinces than the governors were the farmers of the public taxes, and the traders who infested all the subject countries for the sole purpose of making money. The governors being men of standing and entrusted with a public duty were, after all, possessed of a certain sense of honour and a feeling of responsibility which kept most of them somewhat within bounds; but the money-dealers had neither heart, shame, nor honour, and they abused without a twinge of conscience the semiofficial position which they had bought for their money. The rude mode of raising taxes by employing farmers of the revenue, wherever it has been applied, has produced a class of unprincipled 'publicans and sinners' who have justly deserved the hatred and curses of the unhappy taxpayers. Nothing but a strict supervision exercised by independent state officials could have prevented the most shameful abuse in this manner of levying taxes. But the Roman magistrates were too closely connected by common interests with the class of knights to which the capitalists belonged to make enemies of them by controlling them too strictly. The case of the provinces became still worse when Caius Gracchus in his vain attempt to come to the aid of the oppressed subjects took from the senators the right of acting as judges, which they had abused, and gave it to that very class of capitalists whose position and interests tended to make them still more unfit for the responsible charge of rendering even justice.

The Roman traders, contractors, usurers, and adventurers, who followed the armies to the provinces as jackals follow in the track of the lion, had not, like the farmers of the taxes, a public commission, and thereby the authority of the state to back them. But as Romans alone they had great advantages over the provincials in matters of buying. and selling; the Roman law and the tribunals of the

moderate bounds he was considered not to have exceeded his authority, and that accordingly the persons who felt themselves injured had to keep quiet.

prætor were a sharp weapon in their hands.' As the Roman nobility were forbidden to engage in trade, these merchants lent their names to enable noble senators like Brutus, the great republican and tyrannicide, to take with impunity interest at the rate of forty-eight per cent. We have seen above what spirit reigned among these men in the good times of the Hannibalic war. If a Postumius and his equals could venture on the most outrageous knavery to rob the Roman treasury, we may guess how far honesty or moderation influenced the successors of Postumius in their dealings with the provincials.




The provinces conquered before the time of the Gracchi Condition differed widely from one another. Africa and Macedonia of the had at that time belonged to the Roman empire for a provinces. -Spain. comparatively short period. Their condition accordingly could not have been much affected by the peculiarity of the Roman administration at the time of which we treat at present. In a great part of Spain, especially in the west and north, war raged uninterruptedly, and even in the eastern and southern coast districts, where the Roman dominion might be regarded as firmly established, the condition of the country was far from being durably settled. The barbarous tribes of natives had for a long time to be governed rather by the sword than by civil law, and the Roman prætors or consuls commanding in those parts were too much occupied with the duties of war to have much leisure for other matters. Their chief task was the levying of the stipendium or war contribution, which was collected as a regular tax, and in exacting the supplies of corn necessary for their own wants or for military purposes. In the whole country there were as yet few large towns that could boast of wealth, civilisation, or refinement. Tarraco, New Carthage,

1 As early as 198 B.C. Roman usurers had found their way into the comparatively poor province of Sardinia. Cato, who was prætor in that year, proceeded against them with reckless severity, and expelled them from the island. Liv. xxxii. 27, 3. Comp. Marquardt, Röm. Alterth. iii. 1, 291.

2 Vol. ii. p. 319.


Sardinia and Corsica.


and Gades were probably the only towns of any importance in Spain. The rest were, like Numantia, nothing but fortified villages. The wealth of the land was derived from agriculture and mining, and was small in comparison with the countries of older civilisation, such as Africa, Greece, and Asia. The inhabitants were stubborn, defiant, courageous, and poor. The Roman contractors, merchants, and usurers therefore found less profit in this province than the Roman officials, who could plunder without a pretext. The latter, as we see by the complaint of the year 171 B.C.,' had fully developed their peculiar system of government, which enabled them to leave the country after a short term of office laden with spoils and with the curses of the oppressed population.

Sardinia and Corsica were in a still more primitive condition than Spain. Their inhabitants for a long time offered the Romans a desperate resistance; 2 a peaceable administration of these islands was as yet out of the question. They paid tribute like Spain, or supplied grain for the army or for the capital, according to circumstances. At the same time they furnished the Roman markets with great numbers of slaves of the worst and cheapest sort. It is characteristic that Roman prætors did not shrink from hunting slaves with bloodhounds in the mountains of Sardinia.

Sicily was the only province which had for a longer period been under the administrative system applied by Rome to the conquered countries beyond the confines of

1 Vol. iii. p. 378.

2 Liv. xli. 6, 5; 12, 4; 17, 1; 21, 1; xlii. 1, 3; 7, 1. Comp. vol. iii. p. 425. "It appears that the frequent importations of corn from Sardinia as well as from Spain are to be explained as exceptional requisitions for temporary purposes, and that the value of this corn was deducted from the regular annual tribute the provinces had to pay. These requisitions were good opportunities for the Roman governors of plundering the provincials, as it was in their power to fix the price as it suited them. Therefore the senate made a decree, which no doubt was of no effect, ne frumenti æstimationem magistratus Romanus haberet, neve cogeret vicesimas vendere Hispanos quanti ipsevellet. Liv. xliii. 2, 12.

Aurel. Victor, 57. Festus, s. v. Sardi venales.

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