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CHAP. that they were created by his sole authority." XVII. Their names and portraits, engraved on gilt
tablets of ivory, were dispersed over the empire as presents to the provinces, the cities, the magistrates, the senate, and the people. Their solemn inauguration was performed at the place of the imperial residence; and during a period of one hundred and twenty years, Rome was constantly deprived of the presence of her ancient magistrates. On the morning of the first of January, the consuls assumed the ensigns of their dignity. Their dress was a robe of purple, embroidered in silk and gold, and sometimes ornamented with costly gems. On this solemn occasion they were attended by the CHAP.
m Cum 'de consulibus in annum creandis, solus mecum voluta: rem ....... te consulem et designavi, et declaravi, et priorem nun. cupavi ; are some of the expressions employed by the emperor Graa tian to his preceptor the poet Ausonius.
Claud. in ii Cons. Stilichon. 456.
Pallanteus apex: agnoscunt rostra curules
Claudian in vi Cons. Honorii, 643. From the reign of Carus to the sixth consulship of Honorius, there was an interval of one hundred and twenty years, during which the emperors were always absent from Rome on the first day of January. See the Chronologie de Tillemont, tom iii, iv, & v.
P See Claudian in Cons. Prob. et Oly brii 178, &c. ; and in iv Cons. Honorii, 585, &c. ; though in the latter it is not easy to separate the ornaments of the emperor from those of the consul. Ausonius received, from the liberality of Gratian, a vestis palmata, or robe of state, in which the figure of the emperor Constantius was em. broidered.
XVII. most eminent officers of the state and army, in the habit of senators; and the useless fasces, armed with the once formidable axes, were borne before them by the lictors. The procession moved from the palace" to the forum, or principal square of the city'; where the consuls ascended their tribunal, and seated themselves in the curule chairs, which were framed after the fashion of ancient times. They immediately exercised an act of jurisdiction, by the manumission of a slave, who was brought before them for that purpose; and the ceremony was intended to represent the celebrated action of the elder Brutus, the author of liberty and of the consulship, when he admitted among his fellow-citizens the faithful Vindex, who had revealed the conspiracy of the Tarquins. The public festival was continued during several days in all the principal cities; in Rome, from custom; in Constanti
Cernis et armorum proceres legumque potentes :
Claud. in iv Cons. Honorii, 6.
In Cons. Prob. 229,
Te fastos ineunte quater ; sotemnia ludit
Claudian in iv Cons. Honorii, 611.
chap. nople, from imitation; in Carthage, Antioch, and
Alexandria, from the love of pleasure and the superfluity of wealth. In the two capitals of the empire the annual games of the theatre, the circus, and the amphitheatre," cost four thousand pounds of gold, (about) one hundred and sixty thousand pounds sterling: and if so heavy an expence surpassed the faculties or the inclination of the magistrates themselves, the sum was supplied from the imperial treasury." As soon as the consuls had discharged these customary duties, they were at liberty to retire into the shade of private life, and to enjoy, during the remainder of the year, the undisturbed contemplation of their own greatness. They no longer presided in the national councils; they no longer executed the resolutions of peace or war.
Their abilities (unless they were employed in more effective offices) were of little moment; and their names served only as the legal date of the year in which they had filled the chair of Marius and of Cicero. Yet it was still felt and acknowledged, in the last period of Roman servitude, that this empty name might be compared, and even pre
t Celebrant quidem solemnes istos dies, omnes ubique urbes quæ sub legibus agunt; et Roma de more, et Constantinopolis de imitatione, et Antiochia pro luxu, et discincta Carthago, et domus fluminis Alexandria, sed Treviri Principis beneficio. Ausonius in Grat. Actione.
u Claudian (in Cons. Mall. Theodori. 279-331), describes, in a lively and fanciful manner, the various games of the circus, the theatre, and the amphitheatre, exhibited by the new consul. The sanguinary combats of gladiators had already been prohibited.
Procopius in Hist. Arcana, c. 26.
ferred, to the possession of substantial power. CHAP. The title of consul was still the most splendid object of ambition, the noblest reward of virtue and loyalty. The emperors themselves, who disdained the faint shadow of the republic, were conscious that they acquired an additional splendour and majesty as often as they assumed the annual honours of the consular dignity."
The proudest and most perfect separation The patriwhich can be found in any age or country, be tween the nobles and the people, is perhaps that of the patricians and the plebeians, as it was established in the first age of the Roman republic. Wealth and honours, the offices of the state, and the ceremonies of religion, were almost exclusively possessed by the former; who, preserving the purity of their blood with the most insulting jealousy, held their clients in a condition of specious vassalage. But these distinctions, so incompatible with the spirit of a free people, were remov. ed, after a long struggle, by the persevering efforts of the tribunes. The most active and successful of the plebeians accumulated wealth, as.
* In Consulatu honos sine labore suscipitur. (Mamertin in Pane. gyr. Vet. xi, 2.) This exalted idea of the consulship is borrowed from an oration (iii, p. 107) pronounced by Julian in the servile court of Constantius. See the Abbé de la Bleterie (Memoires de l'Academie, tom. xxiv, p. 289), who delights to pursue the vestiges of the old constitution, and who sometimes finds them in his copious fancy.
» Intermarriages between the patricians and plebeians were pro. hibited by the laws of the xn tables ; and the uniform operations of human nature may attest that the custom survived the law. See in Livy (iv, l-6), the pride of family urged by the consul, and the rights of mankind asserted by the tribune Capuleius.
CHAP. pired to honours, deserved triumphs, contracted
alliances, and, after some generations, assumed the pride of ancient nobility.” The patrician families, on the other hand, whose original number was never recruited till the end of the commonwealth, either failed in the ordinary course of nature, or were extinguished in so many foreign and domestic wars, or, through a want of merit or fortune, insensibly mingled with the mass of the people. , Very few remained who could derive their pure and genuine origin from the infancy of the city, or even from that of the republic, when Cæsar and Augustus, Claudius and Vespasian, created from the body of the senate a competent number of new patrician families, in the hope of perpetuating an order which was still considered as honourable and sacred. But these artificial supplies (in which the reigning house
• ? See the animated pictures drawn by Sallust, in the Jugurthine war, of the pride of the nobles, and even of the virtuous Metellus, who was unable to brook the idea that the honour of the consulship should be bestowed on the obscure merit of his lieutenant Marius (c. 64), Two hundred years before, the race of the Metelli themselves were confounded among the plebeians of Rome ; and from the etymology of their name of Cæcilius, there is reason to believe that those haughty nobles deriyed, their origin from a sutler. 1
a In the year of Rome 800, very few remained, not only of the old patrician families, but even of those which had been created by Cæsar. and Augustus. (Tacit. Annal. xi, 25.): The family of Scaurus (a branch of the patrician Æmilii) was degraded so low that his father, who exercised the trade of a charcoal merchant, left him only ten slaves, and somewhat less than three hundred pounds sterling. .(Valerius Maximus, l. iv, c. 4, n. 11, Aurel, Victor in Scauro.) The family was saved from oblivion by the merit of the son.
b. Tacit. Annal. xi, 25. Dion Cassius, l. iii, p. 693. The virtues of Agricola, who was created a patrician by the emperor Vespasian,