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A General History for Colleges and High Schools by P. V. N. Myers

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283), was then resolved upon. It was agreed that each should give up to
the assassin such friends of his as had incurred the ill will of either of
the other triumvirs. Under this arrangement Octavius gave up his friend
Cicero,--who had incurred the hatred of Antony by opposing his schemes,--
and allowed his name to be put at the head of the list of the proscribed.

The friends of the orator urged him to flee the country. "Let me die,"
said he, "in my fatherland, which I have so often saved!" His attendants
were hurrying him, half unwilling, towards the coast, when his pursuers
came up and despatched him in the litter in which he was being carried.
His head was taken to Rome, and set up in front of the rostrum, "from
which he had so often addressed the people with his eloquent appeals for
liberty." It is told that Fulvia, the wife of Antony, ran her gold bodkin
through the tongue, in revenge for the bitter philippics it had uttered
against her husband. The right hand of the victim--the hand that had
penned the eloquent orations--was nailed to the rostrum.

Cicero was but one victim among many hundreds. All the dreadful scenes of
the days of Sulla were re-enacted. Three hundred senators and two thousand
knights were murdered. The estates of the wealthy were confiscated, and
conferred by the triumvirs upon their friends and favorites.

old republic, and the enemies of the triumvirs, were meanwhile rallying in
the East. Brutus and Cassius were the animating spirits. The Asiatic
provinces were plundered to raise money for the soldiers of the
liberators. Octavius and Antony, as soon as they had disposed of their
enemies in Italy, crossed the Adriatic into Greece, to disperse the forces
of the republicans there. The liberators, advancing to meet them, passed
over the Hellespont into Thrace.

Tradition tells how one night a spectre appeared to Brutus and seemed to
say, "I am thy evil genius; we will meet again at Philippi." At Philippi,
in Thrace, the hostile armies met (42 B.C.). In two successive engagements
the new levies of the liberators were cut to pieces, and both Brutus and
Cassius, believing the cause of the republic forever lost, committed
suicide. It was, indeed, the last effort of the republic. The history of
the events that lie between the action at Philippi and the establishment
of the empire is simply a record of the struggles among the triumvirs for
the possession of the prize of supreme power. After various
redistributions of provinces, Lepidus was at length expelled from the
triumvirate, and then again the Roman world, as in the times of Cęsar and
Pompey, was in the hands of two masters--Antony in the East, and Octavius
in the West.

ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA.--After the battle of Philippi, Antony went into Asia
for the purpose of settling the affairs of the provinces and vassal states
there. He summoned Cleopatra, the fair queen of Egypt, to meet him at
Tarsus, in Cilicia, there to give account to him for the aid she had
rendered the liberators. She obeyed the summons, relying upon the power of
her charms to appease the anger of the triumvir. She ascended the Cydnus
in a gilded barge, with oars of silver, and sails of purple silk. Beneath
awnings wrought of the richest manufactures of the East, the beautiful
queen, attired to personate Venus, reclined amidst lovely attendants
dressed to represent cupids and nereids. Antony was completely fascinated,
as had been the great Cęsar before him, by the dazzling beauty of the
"Serpent of the Nile." Enslaved by her enchantments, and charmed by her
brilliant wit, in the pleasure of her company he forgot all else--ambition
and honor and country.

Once, indeed, Antony did rouse himself and break away from his enslavement
to lead the Roman legions across the Euphrates against the Parthians. But
the storms of approaching winter, and the incessant attacks of the
Parthian cavalry, at length forced him to make a hurried and disastrous
retreat. He hastened back to Egypt, and sought to forget his shame and
disappointment amidst the revels of the Egyptian court.

THE BATTLE OF ACTIUM (31 B.C.).--Affairs could not long continue in their
present course. Antony had put away his faithful wife Octavia for the
beautiful Cleopatra. It was whispered at Rome, and not without truth, that
he proposed to make Alexandria the capital of the Roman world, and
announce Cęsarion, son of Julius Cęsar and Cleopatra, as heir of the
empire. All Rome was stirred. It was evident that a conflict was at hand
in which the question for decision would be whether the West should rule
the East, or the East rule the West. All eyes were instinctively turned to
Octavius as the defender of Italy, and the supporter of the sovereignty of
the Eternal City. Both parties made the most gigantic preparations.
Octavius met the combined fleets of Antony and Cleopatra just off the
promontory of Actium, on the Grecian coast. While the issue of the battle
that there took place was yet undecided, Cleopatra turned her galley in
flight. The Egyptian ships, to the number of fifty, followed her example.
Antony, as soon as he perceived the withdrawal of Cleopatra, forgot all
else, and followed in her track with a swift galley. Overtaking the
fleeing queen, the infatuated man was received aboard her vessel, and
became her partner in the disgraceful flight.

The abandoned fleet and army surrendered to Octavius. The conqueror was
now sole master of the civilized world. From this decisive battle (31
B.C.) are usually dated the end of the republic and the beginning of the
empire. Some, however, make the establishment of the empire date from the
year 27 B.C., as it was not until then that Octavius was formally invested
with imperial powers.

DEATHS OF ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA.--Octavius pursued Antony to Egypt, where
the latter, deserted by his army, and informed by a messenger from the
false queen that she was dead, committed suicide. Cleopatra then sought to
enslave Octavius with her charms; but, failing in this, and becoming
convinced that he proposed to take her to Rome that she might there grace
his triumph, she took her own life, being in the thirty-eighth year of her
age. Tradition says that she effected her purpose by applying an asp to
her arm. But it is really unknown in what way she killed herself.


(From 31 B.C. to A.D. 180.)

REIGN OF AUGUSTUS CĘSAR (31 B.C. to A.D. 14).--The hundred years of strife
which ended with the battle of Actium left the Roman republic, exhausted
and helpless, in the hands of one wise enough and strong enough to remould
its crumbling fragments in such a manner that the state, which seemed
ready to fall to pieces, might prolong its existence for another five
hundred years. It was a great work thus to create anew, as it were, out of
anarchy and chaos, a political fabric that should exhibit such elements of
perpetuity and strength. "The establishment of the Roman empire," says
Merivale, "was, after all, the greatest political work that any human
being ever wrought. The achievements of Alexander, of Cęsar, of
Charlemagne, of Napoleon, are not to be compared with it for a moment."

The government which Octavius established was a monarchy in fact, but a
republic in form. Mindful of the fate of Julius Cęsar, who fell because he
gave the lovers of the republic reason to think that he coveted the title
of king, Octavius carefully veiled his really absolute sovereignty under
the forms of the old republican state. The Senate still existed; but so
completely subjected were its members to the influence of the conqueror
that the only function it really exercised was the conferring of honors
and titles and abject flatteries upon its master. All the republican
officials remained; but Octavius absorbed and exercised their chief powers
and functions. He had the powers of consul, tribune, censor, and Pontifex
Maximus. All the republican magistrates--the consuls, the tribunes, the
prętors--were elected as usual; but they were simply the nominees and
creatures of the emperor. They were the effigies and figure-heads to
delude the people into believing that the republic still existed. Never
did a people seem more content with the shadow after the loss of the

[Illustration: AUGUSTUS.]

The Senate, acting under the inspiration of Octavius, withheld from him
the title of king, which ever since the expulsion of the Tarquins, five
centuries before this time, had been intolerable to the people; but they
conferred upon him the titles of Imperator and Augustus, the latter having
been hitherto sacred to the gods. The sixth month of the Roman year was
called Augustus (whence our August) in his honor, an act in imitation of
that by which the preceding month had been given the name of Julius in
honor of Julius Cęsar.

The domains over which Augustus held sway were imperial in magnitude. They
stretched from the Atlantic to the Euphrates, and upon the north were
hemmed by the forests of Germany and the bleak steppes of Scythia, and
were bordered on the south by the sands of the African desert and the
dreary wastes of Arabia, which seemed the boundaries set by nature to
dominion in those directions. Within these limits were crowded more than
100,000,000 people, embracing every conceivable condition and variety in
race and culture, from the rough barbarians of Gaul to the refined
voluptuary of the East.

Octavius was the first to moderate the ambition of the Romans, and to
council them not to attempt to conquer any more of the world, but rather
to devote their energies to the work of consolidating the domains already
acquired. He saw the dangers that would attend any further extension of
the boundaries of the state.

The reign of Augustus lasted forty-four years, from 31 B.C. to A.D. 14. It
embraced the most splendid period of the annals of Rome. Under the
patronage of the emperor, and that of his favorite minister Męcenas, poets
and writers flourished and made this the "golden age" of Latin literature.
During this reign Virgil composed his immortal epic of the _Ęneid_,
and Horace his famous odes; while Livy wrote his inimitable history, and
Ovid his _Metamorphoses_. Many who lamented the fall of the republic
sought solace in the pursuit of letters; and in this they were encouraged
by Augustus, as it gave occupation to many restless spirits that would
otherwise have been engaged in political intrigues against his government.

Augustus was also a munificent patron of architecture and art. He adorned
the capital with many splendid structures. Said he proudly, "I found Rome
a city of brick; I left it a city of marble." The population of the city
at this time was probably about one million.

Although the government of Augustus was disturbed by some troubles upon
the frontiers, still never before, perhaps, did the world enjoy so long a
period of general rest from the preparation and turmoil of war. Three
times during this auspicious reign the gates of the Temple of Janus at
Rome, which were open in time of war and closed in time of peace, were
shut. Only twice before during the entire history of the city had they
been closed, so constantly had the Roman people been engaged in war. It
was in the midst of this happy reign, when profound peace prevailed
throughout the civilized world, that Christ was born in Bethlehem of
Judea. The event was unheralded at Rome; yet it was filled with profound
significance, not only for the Roman empire, but for the world.

The latter years of the life of Augustus were clouded both by domestic
bereavement and national disaster. His beloved nephew Marcellus, and his
two grandsons Caius and Lucius, whom he purposed making his heirs, were
all removed by death; and then, far away in the German forest, his general
Varus, who had attempted to rule the freedom-loving Teutons as he had
governed the abject Asiatics of the Eastern provinces, was surprised by
the barbarians, led by their brave chief Hermanu,--Arminius, as called by
the Romans,--and his army destroyed almost to a man (A.D. 9). Twenty
thousand of the legionaries lay dead and unburied in the tangled woods and
morasses of Germany.

The victory of Arminius over the Roman legions was an event of the
greatest significance in the history of European civilization. Germany was
almost overrun by the Roman army. The Teutonic tribes were on the point of
being completely subjugated and Romanized, as had been the Celts of Gaul
before them. Had this occurred, the entire history of Europe would have
been changed; for the Germanic element is the one that has given shape and
color to the important events of the last fifteen hundred years. Those
barbarians, too, were our ancestors. Had Rome succeeded in exterminating
or enslaving them, Britain, as Creasy says, would never have received the
name of England, and the great English nation would never have had an

In the year A.D. 14, Augustus died, having reached the seventy-sixth year
of his age. It was believed that his soul ascended visibly amidst the
flames of the funeral pyre. By decree of the Senate divine worship was
accorded to him, and temples were erected in his honor.

One of the most important of the acts of Augustus, in its influence upon
following events, was the formation of the Prętorian Guard, which was
designed for a sort of body-guard to the emperor. In the succeeding reign
this body of soldiers, about ten thousand in number, was given a permanent
camp alongside the city walls. It soon became a formidable power in the
state, and made and unmade emperors at will.

REIGN OF TIBERIUS (A.D. 14-37).--Tiberius succeeded to an unlimited
sovereignty. The Senate conferred upon him all the titles that had been
worn by Augustus. One of the first acts of Tiberius gave the last blow to
the ancient republican institutions. He took away from the popular
assembly the privilege of electing the consuls and prętors, and bestowed
the same upon the Senate, which, however, must elect from candidates
presented by the emperor. As the Senate was the creation of the emperor,
who as censor made up the list of its members, he was now of course the
source and fountain of all patronage. During the first years of his reign,
Tiberius used his practically unrestrained authority with moderation and
justice, but soon yielding to the promptings of a naturally cruel,
suspicious, and jealous nature, he entered upon a course of the most high-
handed tyranny. He enforced oppressively an old law, known as the _law
of majestas_, which made it a capital offence for any one to speak a
careless word, or even to entertain an unfriendly thought, respecting the
emperor. "It was dangerous to speak, and equally dangerous to keep
silent," says Leighton, "for silence even might be construed into
discontent." Rewards were offered to informers, and hence sprang up a
class of persons called "delators," who acted as spies upon society. Often
false charges were made, to gratify personal enmity; and many, especially
of the wealthy class, were accused and put to death that their property
might be confiscated.

Tiberius appointed, as his chief minister and as commander of the
prętorians, one Sejanus, a man of the lowest and most corrupt life. This
officer actually persuaded Tiberius to retire to the little island of
Capreę, in the Bay of Naples, and leave to him the management of affairs
at Rome. The emperor built several villas in different parts of the
beautiful islet, and, having gathered a band of congenial companions,
passed in this pleasant retreat the later years of his reign. Both Tacitus
the historian and Suetonius the biographer tell many stories of the
scandalous profligacy of the emperor's life on the island; but these
tales, it should be added, are discredited by some.

Meanwhile, Sejanus was ruling at Rome very much according to his own will.
No man's life was safe. He even grew so bold as to plan the assassination
of the emperor himself. His designs, however, became known to Tiberius;
and the infamous and disloyal minister was arrested and put to death.

After the execution of his minister, Tiberius ruled more despotically than
ever before. Multitudes sought refuge from his tyranny in suicide. Death
at last relieved the world of the monster. His end was probably hastened
by his attendants, who are believed to have smothered him in his bed, as
he lay dying.

It was in the midst of the reign of Tiberius that, in a remote province of
the Roman empire, the Saviour was crucified. Animated by an unparalleled
missionary spirit, His followers traversed the length and breadth of the
empire, preaching everywhere the "glad tidings." Men's loss of faith in
the gods of the old mythologies, the softening and liberalizing influence
of Greek culture, the unification of the whole civilized world under a
single government, the widespread suffering and the inexpressible
weariness of the oppressed and servile classes,--all these things had
prepared the soil for the seed of the new doctrines. In less than three
centuries the Pagan empire had become Christian not only in name, but also
very largely in fact. This conversion of Rome is one of the most important
events in all history. A new element is here introduced into civilization,
an element which we shall find giving color and character to very much of
the story of the eighteen centuries that we have yet to study.

REIGN OF CALIGULA (A.D. 37-41).--Caius Cęsar, better known as Caligula,
was only twenty-five years of age when the death of Tiberius called him to
the throne. His career was very similar to that of Tiberius. After a few
months spent in arduous application to the affairs of the empire, during
which time his many acts of kindness and piety won for him the affections
of all classes, the mind of the young emperor became unsettled, and he
began to indulge in all sorts of insanities. The cruel sports of the
amphitheatre possessed for him a strange fascination. When animals failed,
he ordered spectators to be seized indiscriminately, and thrown to the
beasts. He entered the lists himself, and fought as a gladiator upon the
arena. In a sanguinary mood, he wished that "the people of Rome had but
one neck." As an insult to his nobles, he gave out that he proposed to
make his favorite horse, Incitatus, consul. He declared himself divine,
and removing the heads of Jupiter's statues, put on his own.

After four years the insane career of Caligula was brought to a close by
some of the officers of the prętorian guard, whom he had wantonly

REIGN OF CLAUDIUS (A.D. 4l-54).--The reign of Claudius, Caligula's
successor, was signalized by the conquest of Britain. Nearly a century had
now passed since the invasion of the island by Julius Cęsar, who, as has
been seen (see p. 292), simply made a reconnoissance of the island and
then withdrew. Claudius conquered all the southern portion of the island,
and founded many colonies, which in time became important centres of Roman
trade and culture. The leader of the Britons was Caractacus. He was taken
captive and carried to Rome. Gazing in astonishment upon the magnificence
of the imperial city, he exclaimed, "How can a people possessed of such
splendor at home envy Caractacus his humble cottage in Britain?"

Claudius distinguished his reign by the execution of many important works.
At the mouth of the Tiber he constructed a magnificent harbor, called the
Portus Romanus. The Claudian Aqueduct, which he completed, was a
stupendous work, bringing water to the city from a distance of forty-five

The delight of the people in gladiatorial shows had at this time become
almost an insane frenzy. Claudius determined to give an entertainment that
should render insignificant all similar efforts. Upon a large lake, whose
sloping bank afforded seats for the vast multitudes of spectators, he
exhibited a naval battle, in which two opposing fleets, bearing nineteen
thousand gladiators, fought as though in real battle, till the water was
filled with thousands of bodies, and covered with the fragments of the
broken ships.

Throughout his life Claudius was ruled by intriguing favorites and
unworthy wives. For his fourth wife Claudius married the "wicked
Agrippina," who secured his death by means of a dish of poisoned
mushrooms, in order to make place for the succession of her son Nero.

REIGN OF NERO (A.D. 54-68).--Nero was fortunate in having for his
preceptor the great philosopher and moralist Seneca; but never was teacher
more unfortunate in his pupil. For five years Nero ruled with moderation
and equity. He then broke away from the guidance of his tutor Seneca, and
entered upon a career filled with crimes of almost incredible enormity.
The dagger and poison--the latter a means of murder the use of which at
Rome had become a "fine art," and was in the hands of those who made it a
regular profession--were employed almost unceasingly, to remove persons
that had incurred his hatred, or who possessed wealth that he coveted.

It was in the tenth year of his reign that the so-called Great Fire laid
more than half of Rome in ashes. It was rumored that Nero had ordered the
conflagration to be lighted, and that from the roof of his palace he had
enjoyed the spectacle, and amused himself by singing a poem which he had
written, entitled the "Sack of Troy."

Nero did everything in his power to discredit the rumor. To turn attention
from himself, he accused the Christians of having conspired to destroy the
city, in order to help out their prophecies. The doctrine which was taught
by some of the new sect respecting the second coming of Christ, and the
destruction of the world by fire, lent color to the charge. The
persecution that followed was one of the most cruel recorded in the
history of the Church. Many victims were covered with pitch and burned at
night, to serve as torches in the imperial gardens. Tradition preserves
the names of the Apostles Peter and Paul as victims of this Neronian

As to Rome, the conflagration was a blessing in disguise. The city rose
from its ashes as quickly as Athens from her ruins at the close of the
Persian wars. The new buildings were made fireproof; and the narrow,
crooked streets reappeared as broad and beautiful avenues. A considerable
portion of the burnt region was appropriated by Nero for the buildings and
grounds of an immense palace, called the "Golden House." It covered so
much space that the people "maliciously hinted" that Nero had fired the
old city, in order to make room for it.

The emperor secured money for his enormous expenditures by new extortions,
murders, and confiscations. No one of wealth knew but that his turn might
come next. A conspiracy was formed among the nobles to relieve the state
of the monster. The plot was discovered, and again "the city was filled
with funerals." Lucan the poet, and Seneca, the old preceptor of Nero,
both fell victims to the tyrant's rage.

Nero now made a tour through the East, and there plunged deeper and deeper
into every shame, sensuality, and crime. The tyranny and the disgrace were
no longer endurable. Almost at the same moment the legions in several of
the provinces revolted. The Senate decreed that Nero was a public enemy,
and condemned him to a disgraceful death by scourging, to avoid which he
instructed a slave how to give him a fatal thrust. His last words were,
"What a loss my death will be to art!"

Nero was the sixth and last of the Julian line. The family of the Great
Cęsar was now extinct; but the name remained, and was adopted by all the
succeeding emperors.

GALBA, OTHO, AND VITELLIUS (A.D. 68-69).--These three names are usually
grouped together, as their reigns were all short and uneventful. The
succession, upon the death of Nero and the extinction in him of the Julian
line, was in dispute, and the legions in different quarters supported the
claims of their favorite leaders. One after another the three aspirants
named were killed in bloody struggles for the imperial purple. The last,
Vitellius, was hurled from the throne by the soldiers of Flavius
Vespasian, the old and beloved commander of the legions in Palestine,
which were at this time engaged in a war with the Jews.

REIGN OF VESPASIAN (A.D. 69-79).--The accession of Flavius Vespasian marks
the beginning of a period, embracing three reigns, known as the _Flavian
Age_ (A.D. 69-96). Vespasian's reign was signalized both by important
military achievements abroad and by stupendous public works undertaken at

[Illustration: COIN OF VESPASIAN.]

After one of the most harassing sieges recorded in history, Jerusalem was
taken by Titus, son of Vespasian. The Temple was destroyed, and more than
a million of Jews that were crowded in the city are believed to have
perished. Great multitudes suffered death by crucifixion. The miserable
remnants of the nation were scattered everywhere over the world. Josephus,
the great historian, accompanied the conqueror to Rome. In imitation of
Nebuchadnezzar, Titus robbed the Temple of its sacred utensils, and bore
them away as trophies. Upon the triumphal arch at Rome that bears his name
may be seen at the present day the sculptured representation of the golden
candlestick, which was one of the memorials of the war.

In the opposite corner of the empire a dangerous revolt of the Gauls was
suppressed, and in the island of Britain the Roman commander Agricola
subdued or crowded back the native tribes until he had extended the
frontiers of the empire into what is now Scotland. Then, as a protection
against the incursions of the Caledonians, the ancestors of the Scottish
Highlanders, he constructed a line of fortresses from the Frith of Forth
to the Frith of Clyde.

Vespasian rebuilt the Capitoline temple, which had been burned during the
struggle between his soldiers and the adherents of Vitellius; he
constructed a new forum which bore his own name; and also began the
erection of the celebrated Flavian amphitheatre, which was completed by
his successor. After a most prosperous reign of ten years, Vespasian died
A.D. 79, the first emperor after Augustus that did not meet with a violent

Seven-branched Candlestick and other Trophies from the Temple at

At the last moment he requested his attendants to raise him upon his feet
that he might "die standing," as befitted a Roman emperor.

REIGN OF TITUS (A.D. 79-81).--In a short reign of two years Titus won the
title, the "Delight of Mankind." He was unwearied in acts of benevolence
and in bestowal of favors. Having let a day slip by without some act of
kindness performed, he is said to have exclaimed reproachfully, "I have
lost a day."

Titus completed and dedicated the great Flavian amphitheatre begun by his
father, Vespasian. This vast structure, which accommodated more than
eighty thousand spectators, is better known as the Colosseum--a name given
it either because of its gigantic proportions, or on account of a colossal
statue of Nero which happened to stand near it.

[Illustration: STREET IN POMPEII. (A Reconstruction.)]

The reign of Titus, though so short, was signalized by two great
disasters. The first was a conflagration at Rome, which was almost as
calamitous as the Great Fire in the reign of Nero. The second was the
destruction, by an eruption of Vesuvius, of the Campanian cities of
Pompeii and Herculaneum. The cities were buried beneath showers of
cinders, ashes, and streams of volcanic mud. Pliny the elder, the great
naturalist, venturing too near the mountain to investigate the phenomenon,
lost his life. [Footnote: In the year 1713, sixteen centuries after the
destruction of the cities, the ruins were discovered by some persons
engaged in digging a well, and since then extensive excavations have been
made, which have uncovered a large part of Pompeii, and revealed to us the
streets, homes, theatres, baths, shops, temples, and various monuments of
the ancient city--all of which presents to us a very vivid picture of
Roman life during the imperial period, eighteen hundred years ago.]

DOMITIAN--LAST OF THE TWELVE CĘSARS (A.D. 81-96).--Domitian, the brother
of Titus, was the last of the line of emperors known as "the Twelve
Cęsars." The title, however, was assumed by, and is applied to, all
succeeding emperors; the sole reason that the first twelve princes are
grouped together is because the Roman biographer Suetonius completed the
lives of that number only.

Domitian's reign was an exact contrast to that of his brother Titus. It
was one succession of extravagances, tyrannies, confiscations, and
murders. Under this emperor took place what is known in Church history as
"the second persecution of the Christians." This class, as well as the
Jews, were the special objects of Domitian's hatred, because they refused
to worship the statues of himself which he had set up (see p. 322).

The last of the Twelve Cęsars perished in his own palace, and by the hands
of members of his own household. The Senate ordered his infamous name to
be erased from the public monuments, and to be blotted from the records of
the Roman state.

THE FIVE GOOD EMPERORS: REIGN OF NERVA (A.D. 96-98).--The five emperors--
Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, and the two Antonines--that succeeded Domitian
were elected by the Senate, which during this period assumed something of
its former weight and influence in the affairs of the empire. The wise and
beneficent administration of the government by these rulers secured for
them the enviable distinction of being called "the five good emperors."
Nerva died after a short reign of sixteen months, and the sceptre passed
into the stronger hands of the able commander Trajan, whom Nerva had
previously made his associate in the government.

[Illustration: TRAJAN.]

REIGN OF TRAJAN (A.D. 98-117).--Trajan was a native of Spain, and a
soldier by profession and talent. His ambition to achieve military renown
led him to undertake distant and important conquests. It was the policy of
Augustus--a policy adopted by most of his successors--to make the Danube
in Europe and the Euphrates in Asia the limits of the Roman empire in
those respective quarters. But Trajan determined to push the frontiers of
his dominions beyond both these rivers, scorning to permit Nature by these
barriers to mark out the confines of Roman sovereignty.

He crossed the Danube by means of a bridge, the foundations of which may
still be seen, and subjugated the bold and warlike Dacian tribes lying
behind that stream--tribes that had often threatened the peace of the
empire. After celebrating his victories in a magnificent triumph at Rome,
Trajan turned to the East, led his legions across the Euphrates, reduced
Armenia, and wrested from the Parthians most of the territory which
anciently formed the heart of the Assyrian monarchy. To Trajan belongs the
distinction of extending the boundaries of the empire to the most distant
points to which Roman ambition and prowess were ever able to push them.

But Trajan was something besides a soldier. He had a taste for literature:
Juvenal, Plutarch, and the younger Pliny wrote under his patronage; and,
moreover, as is true of almost all great conquerors, he had a perfect
passion for building. Among the great works with which he embellished the
capital was the Trajan Forum. Here he erected the celebrated marble shaft
known as Trajan's column. It is one hundred and forty-seven feet high, and
is wound from base to summit by a spiral band of sculptures, containing
more than twenty-five thousand human figures. The column is nearly as
perfect to-day as when reared eighteen centuries ago. It was intended to
commemorate the Dacian conquests of Trajan; and its pictured sides are the
best, and almost the only, record we now possess of those wars.

[Illustration: BESIEGING A DACIAN CITY. (From Trajan's Column.)]

Respecting the rapid spread of Christianity at this time, the character of
the early professors of the new faith, and the light in which they were
viewed by the rulers of the Roman world, we have very important evidence
in a certain letter written by Pliny the Younger to the emperor in regard
to the Christians of Pontus, in Asia Minor, of which remote province Pliny
was governor. Pliny speaks of the new creed as a "contagious superstition,
that had seized not cities only, but the lesser towns also, and the open
country." Yet he could find no fault in the converts to the new doctrines.
Notwithstanding this, however, because the Christians steadily refused to
sacrifice to the Roman gods, he ordered many to be put to death for their
"inflexible obstinacy."

Trajan died A.D. 117, after a reign of nineteen years, one of the most
prosperous and fortunate that had yet befallen the lot of the Roman

REIGN OF HADRIAN (A.D. 117-138).--Hadrian, a kinsman of Trajan, succeeded
him in the imperial office. He possessed great ability, and displayed
admirable moderation and prudence in the administration of the government.
He gave up the territory conquered by Trajan in the East, and made the
Euphrates once more the boundary of the empire in that quarter. He also
broke down the bridge that Trajan had built over the Danube, and made that
stream the real frontier line, notwithstanding the Roman garrisons were
still maintained in Dacia. Hadrian saw plainly that Rome could not safely
extend any more widely the frontiers of the empire. Indeed, so active and
threatening were the enemies of the empire in the East, and so daring and
numerous had now become its barbarian assailants of the North, that there
was reason for the greatest anxiety lest they should break through even
the old and strong lines of the Danube and the Euphrates, and pour their
devastating hordes over the provinces.

More than fifteen years of his reign were spent by Hadrian in making tours
of inspection through all the different provinces of the empire. He
visited Britain, and secured the Roman possessions there against the Picts
and Scots by erecting a continuous wall across the island. Next he
journeyed through Gaul and Spain, and then visited in different tours all
the remaining countries bordering upon the Mediterranean. He ascended the
Nile, and, traveller-like, carved his name upon the vocal Memnon. The
cities which he visited he decorated with temples, theatres, and other

In the year 131, the Jews in Palestine, who had in a measure recovered
from the blow Titus had given their nation, broke out in desperate revolt,
because of the planting of a Roman colony upon the almost desolate site of
Jerusalem, and the placing of the statue of Jupiter in the Holy Temple.
More than half a million of Jews perished in the useless struggle, and the
survivors were driven into exile--the last dispersion of the race.

The latter years of his reign Hadrian passed at Rome. It was here that
this princely builder erected his most splendid structures. Among these
was the Mole, or Mausoleum, of Hadrian, an immense structure surmounted by
a gilded dome, erected on the banks of the Tiber, and designed as a tomb
for himself.

THE ANTONINES (A.D. 138-180).--Aurelius Antoninus, surnamed Pius, the
adopted son of Hadrian, and his successor, gave the Roman empire an
administration singularly pure and parental. Of him it has been said that
"he was the first, and, saving his colleague and successor Aurelius, the
only one of the emperors who devoted himself to the task of government
with a single view to the happiness of his people." Throughout his long
reign of twenty-three years, the empire was in a state of profound peace.
The attention of the historian is attracted by no striking events, which,
as many have not failed to observe, illustrates admirably the oft-repeated
maxim, "Happy is that people whose annals are brief."

Antoninus, early in his reign, united with himself in the government his
adopted son Marcus Aurelius, and upon the death of the former (A.D. 161)
the latter succeeded quietly to his place and work. His studious habits
won for him the title of "Philosopher." He belonged to the school of the
Stoics, and was a most thoughtful writer. His _Meditations_ breathe the
tenderest sentiments of devotion and benevolence, and make the nearest
approach to the spirit of Christianity of all the writings of Pagan
antiquity. He established an Institution, or Home, for orphan girls; and,
finding the poorer classes throughout Italy burdened by their taxes and
greatly in arrears in paying them, he caused all the tax-claims to be
heaped in the Forum and burned.

The tastes and sympathies of Aurelius would have led him to choose a life
passed in retirement and study at the capital; but hostile movements of
the Parthians, and especially invasions of the barbarians along the
Rhenish and Danubian frontiers, called him from his books, and forced him
to spend most of the latter years of his reign in the camp. The Parthians,
who had violated their treaty with Rome, were chastised by the lieutenants
of the emperor, and Mesopotamia again fell under Roman authority.

This war drew after it a series of terrible calamities. The returning
soldiers brought with them the Asiatic plague, which swept off vast
numbers, especially in Italy, where entire cities and districts were
depopulated. In the general distress and panic, the superstitious people
were led to believe that it was the new sect of Christians that had called
down upon the nation the anger of the gods. Aurelius permitted a fearful
persecution to be instituted against them, during which the famous
Christian fathers and bishops, Justin Martyr and Polycarp, suffered death.

It should be noted that the persecution of the Christians under the Pagan
emperors, sprung from political rather than religious motives, and that
this is why we find the names of the best emperors, as well as those of
the worst, in the list of persecutors. It was believed that the welfare of
the state was bound up with the careful performance of the rites of the
national worship; and hence, while the Roman rulers were usually very
tolerant, allowing all forms of worship among their subjects, still they
required that men of every faith should at least recognize the Roman gods,
and burn incense before their statues. This the Christians steadily
refused to do. Their neglect of the service of the temple, it was
believed, angered the gods, and endangered the safety of the state,
bringing upon it drought, pestilence, and every disaster. This was the
main reason of their persecution by the Pagan emperors.

But pestilence and persecution were both forgotten amidst the imperative
calls for immediate help that now came from the North. The barbarians were
pushing in the Roman outposts, and pouring impetuously over the frontiers.
To the panic of the plague was added this new terror. Aurelius placed
himself at the head of his legions, and hurried beyond the Alps. For many
years, amidst the snows of winter and the heats of summer, he strove to
beat back the assailants of the empire.

The efforts of the devoted Aurelius checked the inroads of the barbarians;
but he could not subdue them, so weakened was the empire by the ravages of
the pestilence, and so exhausted was the treasury from the heavy and
constant drains upon it. At last his weak body gave way beneath the
hardships of his numerous campaigns, and he died in his camp at Vindobona
(now Vienna), in the nineteenth year of his reign (A.D. 180).

The united voice of the Senate and people pronounced him a god, and divine
worship was accorded to his statue. Never was Monarchy so justified of her
children as in the lives and works of the Antonines. As Merivale, in
dwelling upon their virtues, very justly remarks, "the blameless career of
these illustrious princes has furnished the best excuse for Cęsarism in
all after-ages."

(From 31 B.C. to A.D. 180.)

Augustus reigns . 31 B.C. to A.D. 14
Tiberius . . . . . . A.D. 14-37
Caligula . . . . . . . . 37-41
Claudius . . . . . . . . 41-54
Nero . . . . . . . . . 54-68
Galba . . . . . . . . 68-69
Otho . . . . . . . . . 69
Vitellius . . . . . . . 69
Vespasian . . . . . . . 69-79
Titus . . . . . . . . 79-81
Domitian . . . . . . . 81-96
Nerva . . . . . . . . 96-98
Trajan . . . . . . . . 98-117
Hadrian . . . . . . . 117-138
Antoninus Pius . . . . . 138-161
Marcus Aurelius . . . . 161-180
Verus associated with Aurelius 161-169

The first eleven, in connection with Julius Cęsar, are called the Twelve
Cęsars. The last five (excluding Verus) are known as the Five Good


(A.D. 180-476.)

REIGN OF COMMODUS (A.D. 180-192).--Under the wise and able administration
of "the five good emperors"--Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, and the two
Antonines--the Roman empire reached its culmination in power and
prosperity; and now, under the enfeebling influences of vice and
corruption within, and the heavy blows of the barbarians without, it
begins to decline rapidly to its fall.

[Illustration: COMMODUS (as Hercules).]

Commodus, son of Marcus Aurelius, and the last of the Antonines, was a
most unworthy successor of his illustrious father. For three years,
however, surrounded by the able generals and wise counsellors that the
prudent administration of the preceding emperors had drawn to the head of
affairs, Commodus ruled with fairness and lenity, when an unsuccessful
conspiracy against his life seemed suddenly to kindle all the slumbering
passions of a Nero. He secured the favor of the rabble with the shows of
the amphitheatre, and purchased the support of the prętorians with bribes
and flatteries. Thus he was enabled for ten years to retain the throne,
while perpetrating all manner of cruelties, and staining the imperial
purple with the most detestable debaucheries and crimes.

Commodus had a passion for gladiatorial combats, and attired in a lion's
skin, and armed with the club of Hercules, he valiantly set upon and slew
antagonists arrayed to represent mythological monsters, and armed with
great sponges for rocks. The Senate, so obsequiously servile had that body
become, conferred upon him the title of the Roman Hercules, and also voted
him the additional surnames of Pius and Felix, and even proposed to change
the name of Rome and call it Colonia Commodiana.

The empire was finally relieved of the insane tyrant by some members of
the royal household, who anticipated his designs against themselves by
putting him to death.

"THE BARRACK EMPERORS."--For nearly a century after the death of Commodus
(from A.D. 192 to 284), the emperors were elected by the army, and hence
the rulers for this period have been called "the Barrack Emperors." The
character of the period is revealed by the fact that of the twenty-five
emperors who mounted the throne during this time all except four came to
their deaths by violence. "Civil war, pestilence, bankruptcy, were all
brooding over the empire. The soldiers had forgotten how to fight, the
rulers how to govern." On every side the barbarians were breaking into the
empire to rob, to murder, and to burn.

THE PUBLIC SALE OF THE EMPIRE (A.D. 193).--The beginning of these
troublous times was marked by a shameful proceeding on the part of the
prętorians. Upon the death of Commodus, Pertinax, a distinguished senator,
was placed on the throne; but his efforts to enforce discipline among the
prętorians aroused their anger, and he was slain by them after a short
reign of only three months. These soldiers then gave out notice that they
would sell the empire to the highest bidder. It was, accordingly, set up
for sale at the prętorian camp, and struck off to Didius Julianus, a
wealthy senator, who gave $1000 to each of the 12,000 soldiers at this
time composing the guard. So the price of the empire was about

But these turbulent and insolent soldiers at the capital of the empire
were not to have things entirely their own way. As soon as the news of the
disgraceful transaction reached the legions on the frontiers, they rose as
a single man in indignant revolt. Each of the three armies that held the
Euphrates, the Rhine, and the Danube, proclaimed its favorite commander
emperor. The leader of the Danubian troops was Septimius Severus, a man of
great energy and force of character. He knew that there were other
competitors for the throne, and that the prize would be his who first
seized it. Instantly he set his veterans in motion and was soon at Rome.
The prętorians were no match for the trained legionaries of the frontiers,
and did not even attempt to defend their emperor, who was taken prisoner
and put to death after a reign of sixty-five days. REIGN OF SEPTIMIUS
SEVERUS (A.D. 193-211).--One of the first acts of Severus was to organize
a new body-guard of 50,000 legionaries, to take the place of the unworthy
prętorians, whom, as a punishment for the insult they had offered to the
Roman state, he disbanded, and banished from the capital, and forbade to
approach within a hundred miles of its walls. He next crushed his two
rival competitors, and was then undisputed master of the empire. He put to
death forty senators for having favored his late rivals, and completely
destroyed the power of their body. Committing to the prefect of the new
prętorian guard the management of affairs at the capital, Severus passed
the greater part of his long and prosperous reign upon the frontiers. At
one time he was chastising the Parthians beyond the Euphrates, and at
another, pushing back the Caledonian tribes from the Hadrian wall in the
opposite corner of his dominions. Finally, in Britain, in his camp at
York, death overtook him.

REIGN OF CARACALLA (A.D. 211-217).--Severus conferred the empire upon his
two sons, Caracalla and Geta. Caracalla murdered his brother, and then
ordered Papinian, the celebrated jurist, to make a public argument in
vindication of the fratricide. When that great lawyer refused, saying that
"it was easier to commit such a crime than to justify it," he put him to
death. Thousands fell victims to his senseless rage. Driven by remorse and
fear, he fled from the capital, and wandered about the most distant
provinces. At Alexandria, on account of some uncomplimentary remarks by
the citizens upon his appearance, he ordered a general massacre. Finally,
after a reign of six years, the monster was slain in a remote corner of

[Illustration: CARACALLA.]

Caracalla's sole political act of real importance was the bestowal of
citizenship upon all the free inhabitants of the empire; and this he did,
not to give them a just privilege, but that he might collect from them
certain special taxes which only Roman citizens had to pay. Before the
reign of Caracalla it was only particular classes of subjects, or the
inhabitants of some particular city or province, that, as a mark of
special favor, had, from time to time, been admitted to the rights of
citizenship (see p. 280). By this wholesale act of Caracalla, the entire
population of the empire was made Roman, at least in name and nominal
privilege. "The city had become the world, or, viewed from the other side,
the world had become the city" (Merivale).

REIGN OF ALEXANDER SEVERUS (A.D. 222-235).--Severus restored the virtues
of the Age of the Antonines. His administration was pure and energetic;
but he strove in vain to resist the corrupt and downward tendencies of the
times. He was assassinated, after a reign of fourteen years, by his
seditious soldiers, who were angered by his efforts to reduce them to
discipline. They invested with the imperial purple an obscure officer
named Maximin, a Thracian peasant, whose sole recommendation for this
dignity was his gigantic stature and his great strength of limbs. Rome had
now sunk to the lowest possible degradation. We may pass rapidly over the
next fifty years of the empire.


THE THIRTY TYRANTS (A.D. 251-268).--Maximin was followed swiftly by
Gordian, Philip, and Decius, and then came what is called the "Age of the
Thirty Tyrants." The imperial sceptre being held by weak emperors, there
sprang up in every part of the empire, competitors for the throne--several
rivals frequently appearing in the field at the same time. The barbarians
pressed upon all the frontiers, and thrust themselves into all the
provinces. The empire seemed on the point of falling to pieces. [Footnote:
It was during this period that the Emperor Valerian (A.D. 253-260), in a
battle with the Persians before Edessa, in Mesopotamia, was defeated and
taken prisoner by Sapor, the Persian king. A large rock tablet (see cut
above), still to be seen near the Persian town of Shiraz, is believed to
commemorate the triumph of Sapor over the unfortunate emperor.] But a
fortunate succession of five good emperors--Claudius, Aurelian, Tacitus,
Probus, and Carus (A.D. 268-284)--restored for a time the ancient
boundaries, and again forced together into some sort of union the
fragments of the shattered state.

THE FALL OF PALMYRA.--The most noted of the usurpers of authority in the
provinces during the period of anarchy of which we have spoken, was
Odenatus, Prince of Palmyra, a city occupying an oasis in the midst of the
Syrian Desert, midway between the Mediterranean and the Euphrates. In
gratitude for the aid he had rendered the Romans against the Parthians,
the Senate had bestowed upon him titles and honors. When the empire began
to show signs of weakness and approaching dissolution, Odenatus conceived
the ambitious project of erecting upon its ruins in the East a great
Palmyrian kingdom. Upon his death, his wife, Zenobia, succeeded to his
authority and to his ambitions. This famous princess claimed descent from
Cleopatra, and it is certain that in the charms of personal beauty she was
the rival of the Egyptian queen. Boldly assuming the title of "Queen of
the East," she bade defiance to the emperor of Rome. Aurelian marched
against her, defeated her armies, and carried her a captive to Italy (273
A.D.). After having been led in golden chains in the triumphal procession
of Aurelian, the queen was given a beautiful villa in the vicinity of
Tibur, where, surrounded by her children, she passed the remainder of her
checkered life.

The ruins of Palmyra are among the most interesting remains of Gręco-Roman
civilization in the East.

REIGN OF DIOCLETIAN (A.D. 284-305).--The reign of Diocletian marks an
important era in Roman history. Up to this time the imperial government
had been more or less carefully concealed under the forms and names of the
old republic. The government now became an unveiled and absolute monarchy.
Diocletian's reforms, though radical, were salutary, and infused such
fresh vitality into the frame of the dying state as to give it a new lease
of life for another term of nearly two hundred years.

He determined to divide the numerous and increasing cares of the
distracted empire, so that it might be ruled from two centres--one in the
East and the other in the West. In pursuance of this plan, he chose as a
colleague a companion soldier, Maximian, upon whom he conferred the title
of Augustus. After a few years, finding the cares of the co-sovereignty
still too heavy, each sovereign associated with himself an assistant, who
took the title of Cęsar, and was considered the son and heir of the
emperor. There were thus two Augusti and two Cęsars. Milan, in Italy,
became the capital and residence of Maximian; while Nicomedia, in Asia
Minor, became the seat of the court of Diocletian. The Augusti took charge
of the countries near their respective capitals, while the younger and
more active Cęsars were assigned the government of the more distant and
turbulent provinces. The vigorous administration of the government in
every quarter of the empire was thus secured. The authority of each of the
rulers was supreme within the territory allotted him; but all acknowledged
Diocletian as "the father and head of the state."

[Illustration: DIOCLETIAN.]

The most serious drawback to the system of government thus instituted was
the heavy expense incident to the maintenance of four courts with their
trains of officers and dependants. The taxes became unendurable, husbandry
ceased, and large masses of the population were reduced almost to

While the changes made in the government have rendered the name of
Diocletian famous in the political history of the Roman state, the cruel
persecutions which he ordered against the Christians have made his name in
an equal degree infamous in ecclesiastical annals; for it was during this
reign that the tenth--the last and severest--of the persecutions of the
Church took place. By an imperial decree the churches of the Christians
were ordered to be torn down, and they themselves were outlawed. For ten
years the fugitives were hunted in forest and cave. The victims were
burned, were cast to the wild beasts in the amphitheatre--were put to
death by every torture and in every mode that ingenious cruelty could
devise. But nothing could shake the constancy of their faith. They courted
the death that secured them, as they firmly believed, immediate entrance
upon an existence of unending happiness. The exhibition of devotion and
constancy shown by the martyrs won multitudes to the persecuted faith.

It was during this and the various other persecutions that vexed the
Church in the second and third centuries that the Christians sought refuge
in the Catacombs, those vast subterranean galleries and chambers under the
city of Rome. Here the Christians lived and buried their dead, and on the
walls of the chambers sketched rude symbols of their hope and faith. It
was in the darkness of these subterranean abodes that Christian art had
its beginnings.

[Illustration: CHRIST AS THE GOOD SHEPHERD. (From the Catacombs.)]

After a prosperous reign of twenty years, becoming weary of the cares of
state, Diocletian abdicated the throne, and forced or induced his
colleague Maximian also to lay down his authority on the same day.
Galerius and Constantius were, by this act, advanced to the purple and
made Augusti; and two new associates were appointed as Cęsars. Diocletian,
having enjoyed the extreme satisfaction of seeing the imperial authority
quietly and successfully transmitted by his system, without the dictation
of the insolent prętorians or the interference of the turbulent
legionaries, now retired to his country-seat at Salona, on the eastern
shore of the Adriatic, and there devoted himself to rural pursuits. It is
related that, when Maximian wrote him urging him to endeavor, with him, to
regain the power they had laid aside, he replied: "Were you but to come to
Salona and see the vegetables which I raise in my garden with my own
hands, you would no longer talk to me of empire."

CHRISTIAN.--Galerius and Constantius had reigned together only one year,
when the latter died at York, in Britain; and his soldiers, disregarding
the rule of succession as determined by the system of Diocletian,
proclaimed his son Constantine emperor. Six competitors for the throne
arose in different quarters. For eighteen years Constantine fought to gain
supremacy. At the end of that time every rival was crushed, and he was the
sole ruler of the Roman world.

Constantine was the first Christian emperor. He was converted to the new
religion--such is the story--by seeing in the heavens, during one of his
campaigns against his rivals, a luminous cross with this inscription:
"With this sign you will conquer." He made the cross the royal standard;
and the Roman legions now for the first time marched beneath the emblem of

By a decree issued from Milan A.D. 313, Christianity was made in effect
the state religion; but all other forms of worship were tolerated. With
the view of harmonizing the different sects that had sprung up among the
Christians, and to settle the controversy between the Arians and the
Athanasians respecting the nature of Christ,--the former denied his
equality with God the Father,--Constantine called the first OEcumenical,
or General Council of the Church, at Nicęa, a town of Asia Minor, A.D.
325. Arianism was denounced, and a formula of Christian faith adopted,
which is known as the Nicene Creed.

After the recognition of Christianity, the most important act of
Constantine was the selection of Byzantium, on the Bosporus, as the new
capital of the empire. One reason which led the emperor to choose this
site in preference to Rome was the ungracious conduct towards him of the
inhabitants of the latter city, because he had abandoned the worship of
the old national deities. But there were political reasons for such a
change. Through the Eastern conquests of Rome, the centre of the
population, wealth, and culture of the empire had shifted eastward. The
West--Gaul, Britain, Spain--was rude and barbarous; the East--Egypt,
Syria, Asia Minor--was the abode of ancient civilizations from which Rome
was proud to trace her origin. Constantine was not the first to entertain
the idea of seeking in the East a new centre for the Roman world. The
Italians were inflamed against the first Cęsar by the report that he
intended to restore Ilium, the cradle of the Roman race, and make that the
capital of the empire.

Constantine organized at Byzantium a new Senate, while that at Rome sank
to the obscure position of the council of a provincial municipality.
Multitudes eagerly thronged to the new capital, and almost in a night the
little colony grew into an imperial city. In honor of the emperor its name
was changed to Constantinople, the "City of Constantine." Hereafter the
eyes of the world were directed towards the Bosporus instead of the Tiber.

To aid in the administration of the government, Constantine laid out the
empire into four great divisions, called prefectures (see map), which were
subdivided into thirteen dioceses, and these again into one hundred and
sixteen provinces.

The character of Constantine has been greatly eulogized by Christian
writers, while pagan historians very naturally painted it in dark colors.
It is probable that he embraced Christianity, not entirely from
conviction, but partly from political motives. As the historian Hodgkin
puts it, "He was half convinced of the truth of Christianity, and wholly
convinced of the policy of embracing it." In any event, Constantine's
religion was a strange mixture of the old and the new faith: on his medals
the Christian cross is held by the pagan deity, Victory. In his domestic
relations he was tyrannical and cruel. He died in the thirty-first year of
his reign, leaving his kingdom to his three sons, Constans, Constantius,
and Constantine.

REIGN OF JULIAN THE APOSTATE (A.D. 361-363).--The parcelling out of the
empire by Constantine among his sons led to strife and wars, which, at the
end of sixteen years, left Constantius master of the whole. He reigned as
sole emperor for about eight years, engaged in ceaseless warfare with
German tribes in the West and with the Persians [Footnote: The great
Parthian empire, which had been such a formidable antagonist of Rome, was,
after an existence of five centuries, overthrown (A.D. 226) by a revolt of
the Persians, and the New Persian, or Sassanian monarchy established. This
empire lasted till the country was overrun by the Saracens in the seventh
century A.D.] in the East. Constantius was followed by his cousin Julian,
who was killed while in pursuit of the troops of Sapor, king of the
Persians (A.D. 363).

Julian is called the Apostate because he abandoned Christianity and
labored to restore the pagan faith. In his persecution of the Christians,
however, he could not resort to the old means--"the sword, the fire, the
lions;" for, under the softening influences of the very faith he sought to
extirpate, the Roman world had already learned a gentleness and humanity
that rendered impossible the renewal of the Neronian and Diocletian
persecutions. Julian's weapons were sophistry and ridicule, in the use of
which he was a master. To degrade the Christians, and place them at a
disadvantage in controversy, he excluded them from the schools of logic
and rhetoric.

Furthermore, to cast discredit upon the predictions of the Scriptures,
Julian determined to rebuild the Temple at Jerusalem, which the Christians
contended could not be restored because of the prophecies against it. He
actually began excavations, but his workmen were driven in great panic
from the spot by terrific explosions and bursts of flame. The Christians
regarded the occurrence as miraculous; and Julian himself, it is certain,
was so dismayed by it that he desisted from the undertaking. [Footnote:
The explosions which so terrified the workmen of Julian are supposed to
have been caused by accumulations of gases--similar to those that so
frequently occasion accidents in mines--in the subterranean chambers of
the Temple foundations.]

It was in vain that the apostate emperor labored to uproot the new faith;
for the purity of its teachings, the universal and eternal character of
its moral precepts, had given it a name to live. Equally in vain were his
efforts to restore the worship of the old Grecian and Roman divinities.
Polytheism was a transitional form of religious belief which the world had
now outgrown: Great Pan was dead.

The disabilities under which Julian had placed the Christians were removed
by his successor Jovian (A.D. 363-4), and the Christian worship was re-

[Illustration: GERMANS CROSSING THE RHINE. (Drawing by Alphonse de

VALENTINIAN AND VALENS.--Upon the death of Jovian, Valentinian, the
commander of the imperial guard, was elected emperor by a council of the
generals of the army and the ministers of the court. He appointed his
brother Valens as his associate in office, and assigned to him the Eastern
provinces, while reserving for himself the Western. He set up his own
court at Milan, while his brother established his residence at

THE MOVEMENTS OF THE BARBARIANS.--The reigns of Valentinian and Valens
were signalized by threatening movements of the barbarian tribes, that
now, almost at the same moment, began to press with redoubled energy
against all the barriers of the empire. The Alemanni (Germans) crossed the
Rhine--sometimes swarming over the river on the winter's ice--and, before
pursuit could be made, escaped with their booty into the depths of the
German forests. The Saxons, pirates of the northern seas, who issued from
the mouth of the Elbe, ravaged the coasts of Gaul and Britain, even
pushing their light skiffs far up the rivers and creeks of those
countries, and carrying spoils from the inland cities. In Britain, the
Picts broke through the Wall of Antoninus, and wrested almost the entire
island from the hands of the Romans. In Africa, the Moorish and other
tribes, issuing from the ravines of the Atlas Mountains and swarming from
the deserts of the south, threatened to obliterate the last trace of Roman
civilization occupying the narrow belt of fertile territory skirting the

The barbarian tide of invasion seemed thus on the point of overwhelming
the empire in the West; but for twelve years Valentinian defended with
signal ability and energy, not only his own territories, but aided with
arms and counsel his weaker brother Valens in the defence of his. Upon the
death of Valentinian, his son Gratian succeeded to his authority (A.D.

THE GOTHS CROSS THE DANUBE.--The year following the death of Valentinian,
an event of the greatest importance occurred in the East. The Visigoths
(Western Goths) dwelling north of the Lower Danube, who had often in
hostile bands crossed that river to war against the Roman emperors, now
appeared as suppliants in vast multitudes upon its banks. They said that a
terrible race, whom they were powerless to withstand, had invaded their
territories, and spared neither their homes nor their lives. They begged
permission of the Romans to cross the river and settle in Thrace, and
promised, should this request be granted, ever to remain the grateful and
firm allies of the Roman state.

Valens consented to grant their petition on condition that they should
surrender their arms, give up their children as hostages, and all be
baptized in the Christian faith. Their terror and despair led them to
assent to these conditions. So the entire nation, numbering one million
souls,--counting men, women, and children,--were allowed to cross the
river. Several days and nights were consumed in the transport of the vast
multitudes. The writers of the times liken the passage to that of the
Hellespont by the hosts of Xerxes.

The enemy that had so terrified the Goths were the Huns, a monstrous race
of fierce nomadic horsemen, that two centuries and more before the
Christian era were roving the deserts north of the Great Wall of China
(see p. 13). Migrating from that region, they moved slowly to the west,
across the great plains of Central Asia, and, after wandering several
centuries, appeared in Europe. They belonged to a different race (the
Turanian) from all the other European tribes with which we have been so
far concerned. Their features were hideous, their noses being flattened,
and their cheeks gashed, to render their appearance more frightful, as
well as to prevent the growth of a beard. Even the barbarous Goths called
them "barbarians."

Scarcely had the fugitive Visigoths been received within the limits of the
empire before a large company of their kinsmen, the Ostrogoths (Eastern
Goths), also driven from their homes by the same terrible Huns, crowded to
the banks of the Danube, and pleaded that they might be allowed, as their
countrymen had been, to place the river between themselves and their
dreaded enemies. But Valens, becoming alarmed at the presence of so many
barbarians within his dominions, refused their request; whereupon they,
dreading the fierce and implacable foe behind more than the wrath of the
Roman emperor in front, crossed the river with arms in their hands. At
this moment the Visigoths, rising in revolt, joined their kinsmen that
were just now forcing the passage of the Danube, and began to ravage the
Danubian provinces. Valens despatched swift messengers to Gratian in the
West, asking for assistance against the foe he had so imprudently admitted
within the limits of the empire.

THEODOSIUS THE GREAT (A.D. 379-395).--Gratian was hurrying to the help of
his colleague Valens, when news of his defeat and death at the hands of
the barbarians was brought to him, and he at once appointed as his
associate Theodosius, known afterwards as the Great, and entrusted him
with the government of the Eastern provinces. Theodosius, by wise and
vigorous measures, quickly reduced the Goths to submission. Vast
multitudes of the Visigoths were settled upon the waste lands of Thrace,
while the Ostrogoths were scattered in various colonies in different
regions of Asia Minor. The Goths became allies of the Emperor of the East,
and more than 40,000 of these warlike barbarians, who were destined to be
the subverters of the empire, were enlisted in the imperial legions.

While Theodosius was thus composing the East, the West, through the
jealous rivalries of different competitors for the control of the
government, had fallen into great disorder. Theodosius twice interposed to
right affairs, and then took the government into his own hands. For four
months he ruled as sole monarch of the empire.

FINAL DIVISION OF THE EMPIRE (A.D. 395).--The Roman world was now united
for the last time under a single master. Just before his death, Theodosius
divided the empire between his two sons, Arcadius and Honorius, assigning
the former, who was only eighteen years of age, the government of the
East, and giving the latter, a mere child of eleven, the sovereignty of
the West. This was the final partition of the Roman empire--the issue of
that growing tendency, which we have observed in its immoderately extended
dominions, to break apart. The separate histories of the East and the West
now begin.

THE EASTERN EMPIRE.--The story of the fortunes of the Empire in the East
need not detain us long at this point of our history. This monarchy lasted
over a thousand years--from the accession to power of Arcadius, A.D. 395,
to the capture of Constantinople by the Turks, A.D. 1453. It will thus be
seen that the greater part of its history belongs to the medięval period.
Up to the time of the overthrow of the Empire in the West, the sovereigns
of the East were engaged almost incessantly in suppressing uprisings of
their Gothic allies or mercenaries, or in repelling invasions of the Huns
and the Vandals. Frequently during this period, in order to save their own
territories, the Eastern emperors, by dishonorable inducements, persuaded
the barbarians to direct their ravaging expeditions against the provinces
of the West.


FIRST INVASION OF ITALY BY ALARIC.--Only a few years had elapsed after the
death of the great Theodosius, before the barbarians were trooping in vast
hordes through all the regions of the West. First, from Thrace and Moesia
came the Visigoths, led by the great Alaric. They poured through the Pass
of Thermopylę, and devastated almost the entire peninsula of Greece; but,
being driven from that country by Stilicho, the renowned Vandal general of
Honorius, they crossed the Julian Alps, and spread terror throughout all
Italy. Stilicho followed the barbarians cautiously, and, attacking them at
a favorable moment, inflicted a terrible and double defeat upon them at
Pollentia and Verona (A.D. 402-403). The captured camp was found filled
with the spoils of Thebes, Corinth, and Sparta. Gathering the remnants of
his shattered army, Alaric forced his way with difficulty through the
defiles of the Alps, and escaped.

LAST TRIUMPH AT ROME (A.D. 404).--A terrible danger had been averted. All
Italy burst forth in expressions of gratitude and joy. The days of the
Cimbri and Teutones were recalled, and the name of Stilicho was pronounced
with that of Marius. A magnificent triumph at Rome celebrated the victory
and the deliverance. It was the last triumph that Rome ever saw. Three
hundred times--such is asserted to be the number--the Imperial City had
witnessed the triumphal procession of her victorious generals, celebrating
conquests in all quarters of the world.

the last military triumph at Rome also signalizes the last gladiatorial
combat in the Roman amphitheatre. It is to Christianity that the credit of
the suppression of the inhuman exhibitions of the amphitheatre is
entirely, or almost entirely, due. The pagan philosophers usually regarded
them with indifference, often with favor. Thus Pliny commends a friend for
giving a gladiatorial entertainment at the funeral of his wife. And when
the pagan moralists did condemn the spectacles, it was rather for other
reasons than that they regarded them as inhuman and absolutely contrary to
the rules of ethics. They were defended on the ground that they fostered a
martial spirit among the people and inured the soldier to the sights of
the battlefield. Hence gladiatorial games were actually exhibited to the
legions before they set out on their campaigns. Indeed, all classes appear
to have viewed the matter in much the same light, and with exactly the
same absence of moral disapprobation, that we ourselves regard the
slaughter of animals for food.

But the Christian fathers denounced the combats as absolutely immoral, and
labored in every possible way to create a public opinion against them. The
members of their own body who attended the spectacles were excommunicated.
At length, in A.D. 325, the first imperial edict against them was issued
by Constantine. This decree appears to have been very little regarded;
nevertheless, from this time forward the exhibitions were under something
of a ban, until their final abolition was brought about by an incident of
the games that closed the triumph of Honorius. In the midst of the
exhibition a Christian monk, named Telemachus, descending into the arena,
rushed between the combatants, but was instantly killed by a shower of
missiles thrown by the people, who were angered by this interruption of
their sports. But the people soon repented of their act; and Honorius
himself, who was present, was moved by the scene. Christianity had
awakened the conscience and touched the heart of Rome. The martyrdom of
the monk led to an imperial edict "which abolished forever the human
sacrifices of the amphitheatre."

her triumph over the Goths, another and more formidable invasion was
preparing in the North. The tribes beyond the Rhine--the Vandals, the
Suevi, the Burgundians, and other peoples--driven onward by some unknown
cause, poured in impetuous streams from the forests and morasses of
Germany, and bursting the barriers of the Alps, overspread the devoted
plains of Italy. The alarm caused by them among the Italians was even
greater than that inspired by the Gothic invasion; for Alaric was a
Christian, while Radagaisus, the leader of the new hordes, was a
superstitious savage, who paid worship to gods that required the bloody
sacrifice of captive enemies.

By such efforts as Rome put forth in the younger and more vigorous days of
the republic, when Hannibal was at her gates, an army was now equipped and
placed under the command of Stilicho. Meanwhile the barbarians had
advanced as far as Florence, and were now besieging that place. Stilicho
here surrounded the vast host--variously estimated from 200,000 to 400,000
men--and starved them into a surrender. Their chief, Radagaisus, was put
to death, and great multitudes of the barbarians that the sword and famine
had spared were sold as slaves (A.D. 406).

THE RANSOM OF ROME (A.D. 409).--Shortly after the victory of Stilicho over
the German barbarians, he came under the suspicion of the weak and jealous
Honorius, and was executed. Thus fell the great general whose sword and
counsel had twice saved Rome from the barbarians, and who might again have
averted similar dangers that were now at hand. Listening to the rash
counsels of his unworthy advisers, Honorius provoked to revolt the 30,000
Gothic mercenaries in the Roman legions by a massacre of their wives and
children, who were held as hostages in the different cities of Italy. The
Goths beyond the Alps joined with their kinsmen to avenge the perfidious
act. Alaric again crossed the mountains, and pillaging the cities in his
way, led his hosts to the very gates of Rome. Not since the time of the
dread Hannibal (see p. 263)--more than six hundred years before--had Rome
been insulted by the presence of a foreign foe beneath her walls.

The barbarians laying siege to the city, famine soon forced the Romans to
sue for terms of surrender. The ambassadors of the Senate, when they came
before Alaric, began, in lofty language, to warn him not to render the
Romans desperate by hard or dishonorable terms: their fury when driven to
despair, they represented, was terrible, and their number enormous. "The
thicker the grass, the easier to mow it," was Alaric's derisive reply. The
barbarian chieftain at length named the ransom that he would accept, and
spare the city. Small as it comparatively was, the Romans were able to
raise it only by the most extraordinary measures. The images of the gods
were stripped of their ornaments of gold and precious stones, and even the
statues themselves were melted down.

SACK OF ROME BY ALARIC (A.D. 410).--Upon retiring from Rome, Alaric
established his camp in Etruria. Here he was joined by great numbers of
fugitive slaves, and by fresh accessions of barbarians from beyond the
Alps. The Gallic king now demanded for his followers lands of Honorius,
but the emperor treated all the proposals of the barbarian with foolish
insolence. Rome paid the penalty. Alaric turned upon the devoted city,
determined upon its sack and plunder. The barbarians broke into the
capital by night, "and the inhabitants were awakened by the tremendous
sound of the Gothic trumpet." Precisely eight hundred years had passed
since its sack by the Gauls. During that time the Imperial City had
carried its victorious standards over three continents, and had gathered
within the temples of its gods and the palaces of its nobles the plunder
of the world. Now it was given over for a spoil to the fierce tribes from
beyond the Danube.

Alaric commanded his soldiers to respect the lives of the people, and to
leave untouched the treasures of the Christian temples; but the wealth of
the citizens he encouraged them to make their own. For six days and nights
the rough barbarians trooped through the streets of the city on their
mission of pillage. Their wagons were heaped with the costly furniture,
the rich plate, and the silken garments stripped from the palaces of the
wealthy patricians and the temples of the gods. Amidst the license of the
sack, the barbarian instincts of the robbers broke loose from all
restraint, and the city was everywhere wet with blood, while the nights
were lighted with burning buildings.

EFFECTS OF THE DISASTER UPON PAGANISM.--The overwhelming disaster that had
befallen the Imperial City produced a profound impression upon both Pagans
and Christians throughout the Roman world. The former asserted that these
unutterable calamities had fallen upon the Roman state because of the
abandonment by the people of the worship of the gods of their forefathers,
under whose protection and favor Rome had become the mistress of the
world. The Christians, on the other hand, saw in the fall of the Eternal
City the fulfilment of the prophecies against the Babylon of the
Apocalypse. The latter interpretation of the appalling calamity gained
credit amidst the panic and despair of the times. The temples of the once
popular deities were deserted by their worshippers, who had lost faith in
gods that could neither save themselves nor protect their shrines from
spoliation. "Henceforth," says Merivale, "the power of paganism was
entirely broken, and the indications which occasionally meet us of its
continued existence are rare and trifling. Christianity stepped into its
deserted inheritance. The Christians occupied the temples, transforming
them into churches."

THE DEATH OF ALARIC.--After withdrawing his warriors from Rome, Alaric led
them southward. As they moved slowly on, they piled still higher the
wagons of their long trains with the rich spoils of the cities and villas
of Campania and other districts of Southern Italy. In the villas of the
Roman nobles the rough barbarians spread rare banquets from the stores of
their well-filled cellars, and drank from jewelled cups the famed
Falernian wine.

Alaric led his soldiers to the extreme southern point of Italy, intending
to cross the Straits of Messina into Sicily, and, after subduing that
island, to carry his conquests into the provinces of Africa. His designs
were frustrated by his death, which occurred A.D. 412. With religious care
his followers secured the body of their hero against violation by his
enemies. The little river Busentinus, in Northern Bruttium, was turned
from its course with great labor, and in the bed of the stream was
constructed a tomb, in which was placed the body of the king, with his
jewels and trophies. The river was then restored to its old channel, and,
that the exact spot might never be known, the prisoners who had been
forced to do the work were all put to death.

from Rome and Italy to observe the movement of events in the provinces. In
his efforts to defend Italy, Stilicho had withdrawn the last legion from
Britain, and had drained the camps and fortresses of Gaul. The Wall of
Antoninus was left unmanned; the passages of the Rhine were left
unguarded; and the agitated multitudes of barbarians beyond these defences
were free to pour their innumerable hosts into all the fair provinces of
the empire. Hordes of Suevi, Alani, Vandals, and Burgundians overspread
all the plains and valleys of Gaul. The Vandals pushed on into the south
of Spain, and there occupied a large tract of country, which, in its
present name of Andalusia, preserves the memory of its barbarian settlers.
From these regions they crossed the Straits of Gibraltar, overran the
Roman provinces of Northern Africa, captured Carthage (A.D. 439), and made
that city the seat of the dread empire of the Vandals. The Goths, with
Italy pillaged, recrossed the Alps, and establishing their camps in the
south of Gaul and the north of Spain, set up in those regions what is
known as the Kingdom of the Visigoths.

In Britain, upon the withdrawal of the Roman legions, the Picts breaking
over the Wall of Antoninus, descended upon and pillaged the cities of the
South. The half-Romanized and effeminate provincials--no match for their
hardy kinsmen who had never bowed their necks to the yoke of Rome--were
driven to despair by the ravages of their relentless enemies, and, in
their helplessness, invited to their aid the Angles and Saxons from the
shores of the North Sea. These people came in their rude boats, drove back
the invaders, and, being pleased with the soil and climate of the island,
took possession of the country for themselves, and became the ancestors of
the English people.

INVASION OF THE HUNS: BATTLE OF CHALONS.--The barbarians that were thus
overrunning and parcelling out the inheritance of the dying empire were
now, in turn, pressed upon and terrified by a foe more hideous and
dreadful in their eyes than were they in the sight of the peoples among
whom they had thrust themselves. These were the non-Aryan Huns, of whom we
have already caught a glimpse as they drove the panic-stricken Goths
across the Danube. At this time their leader was Attila, whom the
affrighted inhabitants of Europe called the "Scourge of God." It was
declared that the grass never grew again where once the hoof of Attila's
horse had trod.

Attila defeated the armies of the Eastern emperor, and exacted tribute
from the court of Constantinople. Finally he turned westward, and, at the
head of a host numbering, it is asserted, 700,000 warriors, crossed the
Rhine into Gaul, purposing first to ravage that province, and then to
traverse Italy with fire and sword, in order to destroy the last vestige
of the Roman power.

The Romans and their Gothic conquerors laid aside their animosities, and
made common cause against the common enemy. The Visigoths were rallied by
their king, Theodoric; the Italians, the Franks, the Burgundians, flocked
to the standard of the Roman general Ętius. Attila drew up his mighty
hosts upon the plain of Chalons, in the north of Gaul, and there awaited
the onset of the Romans and their allies. The conflict was long and
terrible. Theodoric was slain; but at last fortune turned against the
barbarians. The loss of the Huns is variously estimated at from 100,000 to
300,000 warriors. Attila succeeded in escaping from the field, and
retreated with his shattered hosts across the Rhine (A.D. 451).

This great victory is placed among the significant events of history; for
it decided that the Christian Germanic races, and not the pagan Scythic
Huns, should inherit the dominions of the expiring Roman Empire, and
control the destinies of Europe.

THE DEATH OF ATTILA.--The year after his defeat at Chalons, Attila again
crossed the Alps, and burned or plundered all the important cities of
Northern Italy. The Veneti fled for safety to the morasses at the head of
the Adriatic (A.D. 452). Upon the islets where they built their rude
dwellings, there grew up in time the city of Venice, the "eldest daughter
of the Roman Empire," the "Carthage of the Middle Ages."

The conqueror threatened Rome; but Leo the Great, bishop of the capital,
went with an embassy to the camp of Attila, and pleaded for the city. He
recalled to the mind of Attila the fact that death had overtaken the
impious Alaric soon after he had given the Imperial City to be sacked, and
warned him not to call down upon himself the like judgment of heaven. To
these admonitions of the Christian bishop was added the persuasion of a
golden bribe from the Emperor Valentinian; and Attila was induced to spare
Southern Italy, and to lead his warriors back beyond the Alps. Shortly
after he had crossed the Danube, he died suddenly in his camp. His
followers gradually withdrew from Europe into the wilds of their native
Scythia, or were absorbed by the peoples they had conquered.

SACK OF ROME BY THE VANDALS (A.D. 455).--Rome had been saved a visitation
from the spoiler of the North, but a new destruction was about to burst
upon it by way of the sea from the South. Africa sent out another enemy
whose greed for plunder proved more fatal to Rome than the eternal hate of
Hannibal. The kings of the Vandal Empire in Northern Africa had acquired
as perfect a supremacy in the Western Mediterranean as Carthage ever
enjoyed in the days of her commercial pride. Vandal corsairs swept the
seas and harassed the coasts of Sicily and Italy, and even plundered the
maritime towns of the Eastern provinces. In the year 455 a Vandal fleet,
led by the dread Genseric, sailed up the Tiber.

Panic seized the people; for the name of Vandal was pronounced with terror
throughout the world. Again the great Leo, who had once before saved his
flock from the fury of an Attila, went forth to intercede in the name of
Christ for the Imperial City. Genseric granted to the pious bishop the
lives of the citizens, but said that the plunder of the capital belonged
to his warriors. For fourteen days and nights the city was given over to
the ruthless barbarians. The ships of the Vandals, which almost hid with
their number the waters of the Tiber, were piled, as had been the wagons
of the Goths before them, with the rich and weighty spoils of the capital.
Palaces were stripped of their ornaments and furniture, and the walls of
the temples denuded of their statues and of the trophies of a hundred
Roman victories. From the Capitoline sanctuary were borne off the golden
candlestick and other sacred articles that Titus had stolen from the
Temple at Jerusalem.

The greed of the barbarians was sated at last, and they were ready to
withdraw. The Vandal fleet sailed for Carthage, bearing, besides the
plunder of the city, more than 30,000 of the inhabitants as slaves.
[Footnote: The fleet was overtaken by a storm and suffered some damage,
but the most precious of the relics it bore escaped harm. "The golden
candlestick reached the African capital, was recovered a century later,
and lodged in Constantinople by Justinian, and by him replaced, from
superstitious motives, in Jerusalem. From that time its history is lost."
--Merivale.] Carthage, through her own barbarian conquerors, was at last
avenged upon her hated rival. The mournful presentiment of Scipio had
fallen true (see p. 271). The cruel fate of Carthage might have been read
again in the pillaged city that the Vandals left behind them.

FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE IN THE WEST (A.D. 476).--Only the shadow of the
Empire in the West now remained. All the provinces--Illyricum, Gaul,
Britain, Spain, and Africa--were in the hands of the Goths, the Vandals,
the Franks, the Burgundians, the Angles and Saxons, and various other
intruding tribes. Italy, as well as Rome herself, had become again and
again the spoil of the insatiable barbarians. The story of the twenty
years following the sack of the capital by Genseric affords only a
repetition of the events we have been narrating. During these years
several puppet emperors were set up by the different leaders of the
invading tribes. A final seditious movement placed upon the shadow-throne
a child of six years, named Romulus Augustus. Chiefly because of the
imperial farce he was forced to play, this child-emperor became known as
Augustulus, "the little Augustus." He had reigned only a year, when
Odoacer, the leader of a tribe of German mercenaries, dethroned him, and
abolishing the title of emperor, took upon himself the government of

The Roman Senate now sent an embassy to Constantinople, with the royal
vestments and the insignia of the imperial office, to represent to the
Emperor Zeno that the West was willing to give up its claims to an emperor
of its own, and to request that the German chief, with the title of
"Patrician," might rule Italy as his viceroy. This was granted; and Italy
now became in effect a province of the Empire in the East (A.D. 476). The
Roman Empire in the West had come to an end, after an existence from the
founding of Rome of 1229 years.

[Illustration: THE APPIAN WAY. (From a photograph).]

(A.D. 180-476.)
Commodus . . . . . . . . . . 180-192
Pertinax . . . . . . . . . . 193
Didius Julianus . . . . . . . 193
Septimius Severus . . . . . . 193-211
/ Caracalla . . . . . . . . . 211-217
\ Geta . . . . . . . . . . . 211-213
Macrinus . . . . . . . . . . 2l7-218
Elagabalus . . . . . . . . . 218-222
Alexander Severus . . . . . . 222-235
Maximin . . . . . . . . . . . 235-238
Gordian III . . . . . . . . . 238-244
Philip . . . . . . . . . . . 244-249
Decius . . . . . . . . . . . 249-251
Period of the Thirty Tyrants. 251-268
Claudius . . . . . . . . . . 268-270
Aurelian . . . . . . . . . . 270-275
Tacitus . . . . . . . . . . . 275-276
Probus . . . . . . . . . . . 276-282
Carus . . . . . . . . . . . . 282-283
/ Carinus . . . . . . . . . . 283-284
\ Numerian . . . . . . . . . 283-284
/ Diocletian . . . . . . . . 284-305
\ Maximian . . . . . . . . . 286-305
/ Constantius I . . . . . . . 305-306
\ Galerius . . . . . . . . . 305-311
Constantine the Great . . . . 306-337
Reigns as sole ruler .. . . 323-337
Constantine II . . . . .. . . 337-340
Constans I . . . . . . .. . . 337-350
Constantius II . . . . .. . . 337-361
Reigns as sole ruler .. . . 350-361
Julian the Apostate . . . . . 361-363
Jovian . . . . . . . . . . . 363-364
/ Valentinian I . . . . . . . 364-375
\ Valens (in the East). . . . 364-378
Gratian . . . . . . . . . . . 375-383
Maximus . . . . . . . . . . . 383-388
Valentinian II . . . . .. . . 375-392
Eugenius . . . . . . . .. . . 392-394
Theodosius the Great . .. . . 379-395
Reigns as sole emperor. . . 394-395


(From A.D. 395 to Fall of Rome.)
Arcadius . . . . . . . . . . 395-408
Theodosius II. . . . . . . . 408-450
Marcian . . . . . . . . . . 450-457
Leo I . . . . . . . . . . . 457-474
Zeno . . . . . . . . . . . . 474-491

Honorius . . . . . . . . . . 395-423
Valentinian III. . . . . . . 425-455
Maximus . . . . . . . . . . 455
Avitus . . . . . . . . . . . 455-456
Count Ricimer creates and
deposes emperors . . . . . 456-472
Romulus Augustus . . . . . . 475-476




Romans was, in the main, an imitation of Greek models. But the Romans were
not mere servile imitators. They not only modified the architectural forms
they borrowed, but they gave their structures a distinct character by the
prominent use of the arch, which the Greek and Oriental builders seldom
employed, though they were acquainted with its properties. By means of it
the Roman builders vaulted the roofs of the largest buildings, carried
stupendous aqueducts across the deepest valleys, and spanned the broadest
streams with bridges that have resisted all the assaults of time and flood
to the present day.

SACRED EDIFICES.--The temples of the Romans were in general so like those
of the Greeks that we need not here take time and space to enter into a
particular description of them. Mention, however, should be made of their
circular vaulted temples, as this was a style of building almost
exclusively Italian. The best representative of this style of sacred
edifices is the Pantheon at Rome, which has come down to our own times in
a state of wonderful preservation. This structure is about 140 feet in
diameter. The great concrete dome which vaults the building, is one of the
boldest pieces of masonry executed by the master-builders of the world.

CIRCUSES, THEATRES, AND AMPHITHEATRES.--The circuses of the Romans were
what we should call race-courses. There were several at Rome, the most
celebrated being the Circus Maximus, which was first laid out in the time
of the Tarquins, and afterwards enlarged as the population of the capital
increased, until it was capable of holding two or three hundred thousand

[Illustration: THE ROMAN FORUM IN 1885]

The Romans borrowed the plan of their theatres from the Greeks; their
amphitheatres, however, were original with them. The Flavian Amphitheatre,
known as the Colosseum, has already come under our notice (see p. 316).
The edifice was 574 feet in its greatest diameter, and was capable of
seating eighty-seven thousand spectators. The ruins of this immense
structure stand to-day as "the embodiment of the power and splendor of the
Roman Empire."

AQUEDUCTS.--The aqueducts of ancient Rome were among the most important of
the utilitarian works of the Romans. The water-system of the capital was
commenced by Appius Claudius (about 313 B.C.), who secured the building of
an aqueduct which led water into the city from the Sabine hills. During
the republic four aqueducts in all were completed; under the emperors the
number was increased to fourteen. [Footnote: Several of these are still in
use.] The longest of these was about fifty-five miles in length. The
aqueducts usually ran beneath the surface, but when a depression was to be
crossed, they were lifted on arches, which sometimes were over one hundred
feet high. These lofty arches running in long broken lines over the plains
beyond the walls of Rome, are the most striking feature of the Campagna at
the present time.

THERMĘ, OR BATHS.--The greatest demand upon the streams of water poured
into Rome by the aqueducts was made by the Thermę, or baths. Among the
ancients Romans, bathing, regarded at first simply as a troublesome
necessity, became in time a luxurious art. Under the republic, bathing-
houses were erected in considerable numbers. But it was during the
imperial period that those magnificent structures to which the name of
Thermę properly attaches, were erected. These edifices were among the most
elaborate and expensive of the imperial works. They contained chambers for
cold, hot, tepid, sudatory, and swimming baths; dressing-rooms and
gymnasia; museums and libraries; covered colonnades for lounging and
conversation, extensive grounds filled with statues and traversed by
pleasant walks; and every other adjunct that could add to the sense of
luxury and relaxation. Being intended to exhibit the liberality of their
builders, they were thrown open to the public free of charge.

MEMORIAL ARCHITECTURE.--Among the memorial structures of the Romans, their
triumphal arches are especially characteristic. These were modelled after
the city gates, being constructed with single and with triple archways.
Two of the most noted monuments of this character, and the most
interesting because of their historic connections, are the Arch of Titus
(see p. 315) and the Arch of Constantine, both of which are still
standing. The Arch of Constantine was intended to commemorate the victory
of that emperor over his rival Maxentius, which event established
Christianity as the imperial and favored religion of the empire.

[Illustration: ARCH OF CONSTANTINE.]


Latin literature was almost wholly imitative or borrowed, being a
reproduction of Greek models; still it performed a most important service
for civilization: it was the medium for the dissemination throughout the
world of the rich literary treasures of Greece.

It was the dramatic productions of the Greeks which were first studied and
copied at Rome. Livius Andronicus, Nęvius, Ennius, Plautus, and Terence,
all of whom wrote under the republic, are the most noted of the Roman
dramatists. Most of their plays were simply adaptations or translations of
Greek masterpieces.

Lucilius (born 148 B.C.) was one of the greatest of Roman satirists. The
later satirists of the corrupt imperial era were his imitators. Besides
Lucilius, there appeared during the later republican era only two other
poets of distinguished merit, Lucretius and Catullus. Lucretius (95-51
B.C.) was an evolutionist, and in his great poem, _On the Nature of
Things_, we find anticipated many of the conclusions of modern scientists.

POETS OF THE AUGUSTAN AGE.--We have in another place (see p. 307) spoken
of the effects of the fall of the republic upon the development of Latin
literature. Many, who if the republican institutions had continued would
have been absorbed in the affairs of state, were led, by the change of
government, to seek solace for their disappointed hopes, and employment
for their enforced leisure, in the graceful labors of elegant composition.
Four names have cast an unfading lustre over the period covered by the
reign of Augustus, Virgil, Horace, Ovid, and Livy. So distinguished have
these writers rendered the age in which they lived, that any period in a
people's literature marked by unusual literary taste and refinement is
called, in allusion to the Roman era, an _Augustan Age_. Of the three
poets, Virgil, Horace, and Ovid, a word has already been said; of Livy we
shall find place to say something a little later, under the head of the
Roman historians.

SATIRE AND SATIRISTS.--Satire thrives best in the reeking soil and tainted
atmosphere of an age of selfishness, immorality, and vice. Such an age was
that which followed the Augustan era at Rome. The throne was held by such
imperial monsters as Caligula, Nero, and Domitian. The profligacy of
fashionable life at the capital and the various watering-places of the
empire, and the degradation of the court gave venom and point to the
shafts of those who were goaded by the spectacle into attacking the
immoralities and vices which were silently yet rapidly sapping the
foundations of both society and state. Hence arose a succession of writers
whose mastery of sharp and stinging satire has caused their productions to
become the models of all subsequent attempts in the same species of
literature. Two names stand out in special prominence--Persius and
Juvenal, who lived and wrote during the last half of the first and the
beginning of the second century of our era.

ORATORY AMONG THE ROMANS.--"Public oratory," as has been truly said, "is
the child of political freedom, and cannot exist without it." We have seen
this illustrated in the history of republican Athens. Equally well is the
same truth exemplified by the records of the Roman state. All the great
orators of Rome arose under the republic.

Roman oratory was senatorial, popular, or judicial. These different styles
of eloquence were represented by the grave and dignified debates of the
Senate, the impassioned and often noisy and inelegant harangues of the
Forum, and the learned pleadings or ingenious appeals of the courts. Among
the orators of ancient Rome, Hortensius, (114-50 B.C.), an eloquent
advocate, and Cicero (106-43 B.C.) are easily first.

HISTORIANS.--Ancient Rome produced four writers of history whose works
have won for them a permanent fame--Cęsar, Sallust, Livy, and Tacitus. Of
Cęsar and his _Commentaries on the Gallic War_, we have learned in a
previous chapter. His _Commentaries_ will always be mentioned with the
_Anabasis_ of Xenophon, as a model of the narrative style of writing.
Sallust (86-34 B.C.) was the contemporary and friend of Cęsar. The two
works upon which his fame rests are the _Conspiracy of Catiline_ and the
_Jugurthine War_.

Livy (59 B.C.-A.D. 17) was one of the brightest ornaments of the Augustan
age. Herodotus among the ancient, and Macaulay among the modern, writers
of historical narrative, are the names with which his is most frequently
compared. His greatest work is his _Annals_, a history of Rome from
the earliest times to the year 9 B.C. Unfortunately, all save thirty-five
of the books [Footnote: It should be borne in mind that a book in the
ancient sense was simply a roll of manuscript or parchment, and contained
nothing like the amount of matter held by an ordinary modern volume. Thus
Cęsar's _Gallic Wars_, which makes a single volume of moderate size
with us, made eight Roman books.]--the work filled one hundred and forty-
two volumes--perished during the disturbed period that followed the
overthrow of the empire. Many have been the laments over "the lost books
of Livy." As a chronicle of actual events, Livy's history, particularly in
its earlier parts, is very unreliable; however, it is invaluable as an
account of what the Romans themselves believed respecting the origin of
their race, the founding of their city, and the deeds and virtues of their

The most highly prized work of Tacitus is his _Germania_, a treatise
on the manners and customs of the Germans. Tacitus dwells with delight
upon the simple life of the uncivilized Germans, and sets their virtues in
strong contrast with the immoralities of the refined and cultured Romans.

ETHICS, SCIENCE, AND PHILOSOPHY.--Under this head may be grouped the names
of Seneca, Pliny the Elder, Marcus Aurelius, and Epictetus. Seneca (about
A.D. 1-65), moralist and philosopher, has already come to our notice as
the tutor of Nero (see p. 312). He was a disbeliever in the popular
religion of his countrymen, and entertained conceptions of God and his
moral government not very different from the doctrines of Socrates. Pliny
the Elder (A.D. 23-79) is almost the only Roman who won renown as a
naturalist. The only work of his that has been spared to us is his
_Natural History_, a sort of "Roman Encyclopędia," embracing thirty-
seven books.

[Illustration: SENECA.]

Marcus Aurelius the emperor and Epictetus the slave hold prominent places
among the ethical teachers of Rome. Of the emperor as a philosopher we
have already spoken (see p. 321).

Epictetus (b. about 60 A.D.) was for many years a slave at the capital;
but, securing in some way his freedom, he became a teacher of philosophy.
Epictetus and Aurelius were the last eminent representatives and
expositors of the philosophy of Zeno. Christianity, giving a larger place
to the affections than did Stoicism, was already fast winning the hearts
of men.

WRITERS OF THE EARLY LATIN CHURCH.--The Christian authors of the first
three centuries, like the writers of the New Testament, employed the
Greek, that being the language of learning and culture. As the Latin
tongue, however, came into more general use throughout the extended
provinces of the Roman empire, the Christian authors naturally began to
use the same in the composition of their works. Hence, almost all the
writings of the Fathers of the Church, produced during the last two
centuries of the empire, were composed in Latin. Among the many names that
adorn the Church literature of this period may be mentioned Saint Jerome
and Saint Augustine,--the former celebrated for his translation of the
Scriptures into Latin, [Footnote: The _Vulgate_, which is the version
still used in the Roman Catholic Church.] and the latter for his "City of
God." This was truly a wonderful work. It was written just when Rome was
becoming the spoil of the barbarians, and was designed to answer the
charge of the pagans that Christianity, turning the hearts of the people
away from the worship of the ancient gods, was the cause of the calamities
that were befalling the Roman state.

ROMAN LAW AND LAW LITERATURE.--Although the Latin writers in all the
departments of literary effort which we have so far reviewed did much
valuable work, yet the Roman intellect in all these directions was under
Greek guidance. Its work was largely imitative. But in another department
it was different. We mean, of course, the field of legal and political
science. Here the Romans ceased to be pupils, and became teachers.
Nations, like men, have their mission. Rome's mission was to give laws to
the world.

In the year 527 A.D. Justinian became emperor of the Roman empire in the
East. He almost immediately appointed a commission, headed by the great
lawyer Tribonian, to collect and arrange in a systematic manner the
immense mass of Roman laws, and the writings of the jurists. The
undertaking was like that of the Decemvirs in connection with the Twelve
Tables (see p. 236), only far greater. The result of the work of the
commission was what is known as the _Corpus Juris Civilis_, or "Body
of the Civil Law." This consisted of three parts: the _Code_, the
_Pandects_ and the _Institutes_, [Footnote: A later work called the
_Novels_ comprised the laws of Justinian subsequent to the completion of
the _Code_.] The Code was a revised and compressed collection of all the
laws, instructions to judicial officers, and opinions on legal subjects,
promulgated by the different emperors since the time of Hadrian; the
Pandects (all-containing) were a digest or abridgment of the writings,
opinions, and decisions of the most eminent of the old Roman jurists and
lawyers. The Institutes were a condensed edition of the Pandects, and were
intended to form an elementary text-book for the use of students in the
great law-schools of the empire.

The Body of the Roman Law thus preserved and transmitted was the great
contribution of the Latin intellect to civilization. It has exerted a
profound influence upon all the law-systems of Europe. Thus does the once
little Palatine city of the Tiber still rule the world. The religion of
Judea, the arts of Greece, and the laws of Rome are three very real and
potent elements in modern civilization.


EDUCATION.--Roman children were subject in an extraordinary manner to
their father (_paterfamilias_). They were regarded as his property,
and their life and liberty were in general at his absolute disposal. This
power he exercised by usually drowning at birth the deformed or sickly
child. Even the married son remained legally subject to his father, who
could banish him, sell him as a slave, or even put him to death. It should
be said, however, that the right of putting to death was seldom exercised,
and that in the time of the empire the law put some limitations upon it.

The education of the Roman boy differed from that of the Greek youth in
being more practical. The Laws of the Twelve Tables were committed to
memory; and rhetoric and oratory were given special attention, as a
mastery of the art of public speaking was an almost indispensable
acquirement for the Roman citizen who aspired to take a prominent part in
the affairs of state.

After the conquest of Magna Gręcia and of Greece, the Romans were brought
into closer relations than had hitherto existed with Greek culture. The
Roman youth were taught the language of Athens, often to the neglect, it
appears, of their native tongue. Young men belonging to families of means,
not unusually went to Greece, just as the graduates of our schools go to
Europe, to finish their education. Many of the most prominent statesmen of
Rome, as for instance Cicero and Julius Cęsar, received the advantages of
this higher training in the schools of Greece.

Somewhere between the age of fourteen and eighteen the boy exchanged his
purple-hemmed toga, or gown, for one of white wool, which was in all
places and at all times the significant badge of Roman citizenship.

SOCIAL POSITION OF WOMEN.--Until after her marriage, the daughter of the
family was kept in almost Oriental seclusion. Marriage gave her a certain
freedom. She might now be present at the races of the circus and the
various shows of the theatre and the arena, a privilege rarely accorded to
her before marriage. In the early virtuous period of the Roman state,
divorce was unusual, but in later and more degenerate times, it became
very common. The husband had the right to divorce his wife for the
slightest cause, or for no cause at all. In this disregard of the sanctity
of the family relation, may doubtless be found one cause of the degeneracy
and failure of the Roman stock.

PUBLIC AMUSEMENTS.--The entertainments of the theatre, the games of the
circus, and the combats of the amphitheatre were the three principal
public amusements of the Romans. These entertainments in general increased
in popularity as liberty declined, the great festive gatherings at the
various places of amusement taking the place of the political assemblies
of the republic. The public exhibitions under the empire were, in a
certain sense, the compensation which the emperors offered the people for
their surrender of the right of participation in public affairs,--and the
people were content to accept the exchange.

Tragedy was never held in high esteem at Rome: the people saw too much
real tragedy in the exhibitions of the amphitheatre to care much for the
make-believe tragedies of the stage. The entertainments of the theatres
usually took the form of comedies, farces, and pantomimes. The last were
particularly popular, both because the vast size of the theatres made it
quite impossible for the actor to make his voice heard throughout the
structure, and for the reason that the language of signs was the only
language that could be readily understood by an audience made up of so
many different nationalities as composed a Roman assemblage.

More important and more popular than the entertainments of the theatre
were the various games, especially the chariot races, of the circus. But
surpassing in their terrible fascination all other public amusements were
the animal-baitings and the gladiatorial combats of the arena.

The beasts required for the baitings were secured in different parts of
the world, and transported to Rome and the other cities of the empire at
an enormous expense. The wildernesses of Northern Europe furnished bears
and wolves; Africa contributed lions, crocodiles, and leopards; Asia
elephants and tigers. These creatures were pitted against one another in
every conceivable way. Often a promiscuous multitude would be turned loose
in the arena at once. But even the terrific scene that then ensued, became
at last too tame to stir the blood of the Roman populace. Hence a new
species of show was introduced, and grew rapidly into favor with the
spectators of the amphitheatre. This was the gladiatorial combat.

THE GLADIATORIAL COMBATS.--Gladiatorial games seem to have had their
origin in Etruria, whence they were brought to Rome. It was a custom among
the early Etruscans to slay prisoners upon the warrior's grave, it being
thought that the spirit of the dead delighted in the blood of such
victims. In time the condemned prisoners were allowed to fight and kill
one another, this being deemed more humane than their cold-blooded
slaughter. Thus it happened that sentiments of humanity gave rise to an
institution which, afterwards perverted, became the most inhuman of any
that ever existed among a civilized people.

The first gladiatorial spectacle at Rome was presented by two sons at the
funeral of their father, in the year 264 B.C. This exhibition was arranged
in one of the forums, as there were at that time no amphitheatres in
existence. From this time the public taste for this species of
entertainment grew rapidly, and by the beginning of the imperial period
had mounted into a perfect passion. It was now no longer the manes of the
dead, but the spirits of the living, that they were intended to appease.
At first the combatants were slaves, captives, or condemned criminals; but
at last knights, senators, and even women descended into the arena.
Training-schools were established at Rome, Capua, Ravenna, and other
cities. Free citizens often sold themselves to the keepers of these
seminaries; and to them flocked desperate men of all classes, and ruined
spendthrifts of the noblest patrician houses. Slaves and criminals were
encouraged to become proficient in this art by the promise of freedom if
they survived the combats beyond a certain number of years.

[Illustration: GLADIATORS. (After an old Mosaic.)]

Sometimes the gladiators fought in pairs; again great companies engaged at
once in the deadly fray. They fought in chariots, on horseback, on foot--
in all the ways that soldiers were accustomed to fight in actual battle.
The contestants were armed with lances, swords, daggers, tridents, and
every manner of weapon. Some were provided with nets and lassos, with
which they entangled their adversaries, and then slew them.

The life of a wounded gladiator was in the hands of the audience. If in
response to his appeal for mercy, which was made by outstretching the
forefinger, the spectators reached out their hands with thumbs turned
down, that indicated that his prayer had been heard and that the sword was
to be sheathed; but if they extended their hands with thumbs turned up,
that was the signal for the victor to complete his work upon his wounded
foe. Sometimes the dying were aroused and forced on to the fight by
burning with a hot iron. The dead bodies were dragged from the arena with
hooks, like the carcasses of animals, and the pools of blood soaked up
with dry sand.

These shows increased to such an extent that they entirely overshadowed
the entertainments of the circus and the theatre. Ambitious officials and
commanders arranged such spectacles in order to curry favor with the
masses; magistrates were expected to give them in connection with the
public festivals; the heads of aspiring families exhibited them "in order
to acquire social position"; wealthy citizens prepared them as an
indispensable feature of a fashionable banquet; the children caught the
spirit of their elders and imitated them in their plays. The demand for
gladiators was met by the training-schools; the managers of these hired
out bands of trained men, that travelled through the country like opera
troupes among us, and gave exhibitions in private houses or in the
provincial amphitheatres.

The rivalries between ambitious leaders during the later years of the
republic tended greatly to increase the number of gladiatorial shows, as
liberality in arranging these spectacles was a sure passport to popular
favor. It was reserved for the emperors, however, to exhibit them on a
truly imperial scale. Titus, upon the dedication of the Flavian
Amphitheatre, provided games, mostly gladiatorial combats, that lasted one
hundred days. Trajan celebrated his victories with shows that continued
still longer, in the progress of which 10,000 gladiators fought upon the
arena, and more than that number of wild beasts were slain. (For the
suppression of the gladiatorial games, see p. 339.)

STATE DISTRIBUTION OF CORN.--The free distribution of corn at Rome has
been characterized as the "leading fact of Roman life." It will be
recalled that this pernicious practice had its beginnings in the
legislation of Caius Gracchus (see p. 276). Just before the establishment
of the empire, over 300,000 Roman citizens were recipients of this state
bounty. In the time of the Antonines the number is asserted to have been
even larger. The corn for this enormous distribution was derived in large
part from a grain tribute exacted of the African and other corn-producing
provinces. The evils that resulted from this misdirected state charity can
hardly be overstated. Idleness and all its accompanying vices were
fostered to such a degree that we probably shall not be wrong in
enumerating the practice as one of the most prominent causes of the
demoralization of society at Rome under the emperors.

SLAVERY.--A still more demoralizing element in Roman life than that of the
state largesses of corn, was the institution of slavery. The number of
slaves in the Roman state under the later republic and the earlier empire
was probably as great or even greater than the number of freemen. The love
of ostentation led to the multiplication of offices in the households of
the wealthy, and the employment of a special slave for every different
kind of work. Thus there was the slave called the _sandalio_, whose
sole duty it was to care for his master's sandals; and another, called the
_nomenclator_, whose exclusive business it was to accompany his master
when he went upon the street, and give him the names of such persons as he
ought to recognize. The price of slaves varied from a few dollars to ten
or twenty thousand dollars,--these last figures being of course

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