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A History of Roman Literature by Charles Thomas Cruttwell

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Of the talents of Cato as an orator something will be said in the next
section. His miscellaneous writings, though none of them are historical,
may be noticed here. Quintilian [27] attests the many-sidedness of his
genius: "M. Cato was at once a first-rate general, a philosopher, an
orator, the founder of history, the most thorough master of law and
agriculture." The work on agriculture we have the good fortune to possess;
or rather a redaction of it, slightly modernized and incomplete, but
nevertheless containing a large amount of really genuine matter. Nothing
can be more characteristic than the opening sentences. We give a
translation, following as closely as possible the form of the original:
"It is at times worth while to gain wealth by commerce, were it not so
perilous; or by usury, were it equally honourable. Our ancestors, however,
held, and fixed by law, that a thief should be condemned to restore
double, a usurer quadruple. We thus see how much worse they thought it for
a citizen to be a money-lender than a thief. Again, when they praised a
good man, they praised him as a good farmer, or a good husbandman. Men so
praised were held to have received the highest praise. For myself, I think
well of a merchant as a man of energy and studious of gain; but it is a
career, as I have said, that leads to danger and ruin. But farming makes
the bravest men, and the sturdiest soldiers, and of all sources of gain is
the surest, the most natural, and the least invidious, and those who are
busy with it have the fewest bad thoughts." The sententious and dogmatic
style of this preamble cannot fail to strike the reader; but it is
surpassed by many of the precepts which follow. Some of these contain
pithy maxims of shrewd sense, _e.g._ "Patrem familias vendacem non emacem
esse oportet." "Ita aedifices ne villa fundum quaerat, neve fundus
villam." The Virgilian prescription, "Laudato ingentia rura: exiguam
colito," is said to be drawn from Cato, though it does not exist in our
copies. The treatment throughout is methodical. If left by the author in
its present form it represents the daily jotting down of thoughts on the
subject as they occurred to him.

In two points the writer appears in an unfavourable light--in his love of
gain, and in his brutal treatment of his slaves. With him farming is no
mere amusement, nor again is it mere labour. It is primarily and
throughout a means of making money, and indeed the only strictly
honourable one. However, Cato so far relaxed the strictness of this theory
that he became "an ardent speculator in slaves, buildings, artificial
lakes, and pleasure-grounds, the mercantile spirit being too strong within
him to rest satisfied with the modest returns of his estate." As regarded
slaves, the law considered them as chattels, and he followed the law to
the letter. If a slave grew old or sick he was to be sold. If the weather
hindered work he was to take his sleep then, and work double time
afterwards. "In order to prevent combinations among his slaves, their
master assiduously sowed enmities and jealousies between them. He bought
young slaves in their name, whom they were forced to train and sell for
his benefit. When supping with his guests, if any dish was carelessly
dressed, he rose from table, and with a leathern thong administered the
requisite number of lashes with his own hand." So pitilessly severe was
he, that a slave who had concluded a purchase without his leave, hung
himself to avoid his master's wrath. These incidents, some told by
Plutarch, others by Cato himself, show the inhuman side of Roman life, and
make it less hard to understand their treatment of vanquished kings and
generals. For the other sex Cato had little respect. Women, he says,
should be kept at home, and no Chaldaean or soothsayer be allowed to see
them. Women are always running after superstition. His directions about
the steward's wife are as follows. They are addressed to the steward:--
"Let her fear you. Take care that she is not luxurious. Let her see as
little as possible of her neighbours or any other female friends; let her
never invite them to your house; let her never go out to supper, nor be
fond of taking walks. Let her never offer sacrifice; let her know that the
master sacrifices for the whole family; let her he neat herself, and keep
the country-house neat." Several sacrificial details are given in the
treatise. We observe that they are all of the rustic order; the master
alone is to attend the city ceremonial. Among the different industries
recommended, we are struck by the absence of wheat cultivation. The
vineyard and the pasture chiefly engage attention, though herbs and green
produce are carefully treated. The reason is to be sought in the special
nature of the treatise. It is not a general survey of agriculture, but
merely a handbook of cultivation for a particular farm, that of Manlius or
Mallius, and so probably unfit for wheat crops. Other subjects, as
medicine, are touched on. But his prescriptions are confined to the rudest
simples, to wholesome and restorative diet, and to incantations. These
last have equal value assigned them with rational remedies. Whether Cato
trusted them may well be doubted. He probably gave in such cases the
popular charm-cure, simply from not having a better method of his own to

Another series of treatises were those addressed to his son, in one of
which, that on medicine, he charitably accuses the Greeks of an attempt to
kill all barbarians by their treatment, and specially the Romans, whom
they stigmatise by the insulting name of _Opici_. [28] "I forbid you, once
for all, to have any dealings with physicians." Owing to their temperate
and active life, the Romans had for more than five hundred years existed
without a physician within their walls. Cato's hostility to the
profession, therefore, if not justifiable, was at least natural. He
subjoins a list of simples by which he kept himself and his wife alive and
in health to a green old age. [29] And observing that there are countless
signs of death, and none of health, he gives the chief marks by which a
man apparently in health may be noted as unsound. In another treatise, on
farming, also dedicated to his son, for whom he entertained a warm
affection, and over whose education he sedulously watched, he says,--"Buy
not what you want, but what you must have; what you don't want is dear at
a farthing, and what you lack borrow from yourself." Such is the homely
wisdom which gained for Cato the proud title of _Sapiens_, by which, says
Cicero, [30] he was familiarly known. Other original works, the product of
his vast experience, were the treatise on eloquence, of which the pith is
the following: "Rem tene: verba sequentur;" "Take care of the sense: the
sounds will take care of themselves." We can well believe that this
excellent maxim ruled his own conduct. The art of war formed the subject
of another volume; in this, too, he had abundant and faithful experience.
An attempt to investigate the principles of jurisprudence, which was
carried out more fully by his son, [31] and a short _carmen de moribus_ or
essay on conduct, completed the list of his paternal instructions. Why
this was styled _carmen_ is not known. Some think it was written in
Saturnian verse, others that its concise and oracular formulas suggested
the name, since _carmen_ in old Latin is by no means confined to verse. It
is from this that the account of the low estimation of poets in the early
Republic is taken. Besides these regular treatises we hear of letters,
[32] and _apophthegmata_, or pithy sayings, put together like those of
Bacon from divers sources. In after times Cato's own apophthegms were
collected for publication, and under the name of _Catonis dicta_, were
much admired in the Middle Ages. We see that Cato's literary labours were
encyclopaedic. In this wide and ambitious sphere he was followed by Varro,
and still later by Celsus. Literary effort was now becoming general.
FULVIUS NOBILIOR, the patron of Ennius and adversary of Cato, published
annals after the old plan of a calendar of years. CASSIUS HEMINA and
Calpurnius Piso, who were younger contemporaries, continued in the same
track, and we hear of other minor historians. Cassius is mentioned more
than once as "_antiquissimus auctor_," a term of compliment as well as
chronological reference. [33] Of him Niebuhr says: "He wrote about Alba
according to its ancient local chronology, and synchronised the earlier
periods of Rome with the history of Greece. He treated of the age before
the foundation of Rome, whence we have many statements of his about
Siculian towns in Latium. The archaeology of the towns seems to have been
his principal object. The fourth book of his work bore the title of
_Punicum bellum posterius_, from which we infer that the last war with
Carthage had not as yet broken out."

About this epoch flourished Q. FABIUS MAXIMUS SERVILIANUS, who is known to
have written histories. He is supposed to be miscalled by Cicero, [34]
Fabius Pictor, for Cicero mentions a work in Latin by the latter author,
whereas it is certain that the old Fabius wrote only in Greek. The best
authorities now assume that Fabius Maximus, as a clansman and admirer of
Pictor, translated his book into Latin to make it more widely known. The
new work would thus be indifferently quoted as Fabius Pictor or Fabius

L. CALPURNIUS PISO FRUGI CENSORIUS (Cons. 133), well known as the
adversary of the Gracchi, an eloquent and active man, and staunch adherent
of the high aristocratic party, was also an able writer of history. That
his conception of historical writing did not surpass that of his
predecessors the annalists, is probable from the title of his work; [35]
that he brought to bear on it a very different spirit seems certain from
the quotations in Livy and Dionysius. One of the select few, in breadth of
views as in position, he espoused the rationalistic opinions advocated by
the Scipionic circle, and applied them with more warmth than judgment to
the ancient legends. Grote, Niebuhr, and others, have shown how
unsatisfactory this treatment is; illusion is lost without truth being
found; nevertheless, the man who first honestly applies this method,
though he may have ill success, makes an epoch in historical research.
Cicero gives him no credit for style; his annals (he says) are written in
a barren way. [36] The reader who wishes to read Niebuhr's interesting
judgment on his work and influence is referred to the _Introductory
Lectures on Roman History_. In estimating the very different opinions on
the ancient authors given in the classic times, we should have regard to
the divers standards from time to time set up. Cicero, for instance, has a
great fondness for the early poets, but no great love for the prose
writers, except the orators, nearly all of whom he loads with praise.
Still, making allowance for this slight mental bias, his criticisms are of
the utmost possible value. In the Augustan and early imperial times,
antiquity was treated with much less reverence. Style was everything, and
its deficiency could not be excused. And lastly, under the Antonines (and
earlier [37]), disgust at the false taste of the day produced an
irrational reaction in favour of the archaic modes of thought and
expression, so that Gellius, for instance, extols the simplicity,
sweetness, or noble vigour of writings in which we, like Cicero, should
see only jejune and rugged immaturity. [38] Pliny speaks of Piso as a
weighty author (_gravis auctor_), and Pliny's penetration was not easily
warped by style or want of style. We may conclude, on the whole, that
Piso, though often misled by his want of imagination, and occasionally by
inaccuracy in regard to figures, [39] brought into Roman history a
rational method, not by any means so original or excellent as that of
Cato, but more on a level with the capacities of his countrymen, and
infinitely more productive of imitation.

The study of Greek rhetoric had by this time been cultivated at Rome, and
the difficulty of composition being materially lightened [40] as well as
its results made more pleasing, we are not surprised to find a number of
authors of a somewhat more pretentious type. VENNONIUS, CLODIUS LICINUS,
C. FANNIUS, and GELLIUS are little more than names; all that is known of
them will be found in Teuffel's repertory. They seem to have clung to the
title of annalist though they had outgrown the character. There are,
however, two names that cannot be quite passed over, those of SEMPRONIUS
ASELLIO and CAELIUS ANTIPATER. The former was military tribune at Numantia
(133 B.C.), and treated of that campaign at length, in his work. He was
killed in 99 B.C. [41] but no event later than the death of Gracchus (121
B.C.) is recorded as from him. He had great contempt for the old
annalists, and held their work to be a mere diary so far as form went; he
professed to trace the motives and effects of actions, rather, however,
with the object of stimulating public spirit than satisfying a legitimate
thirst for knowledge. He had also some idea of the value of constitutional
history, which may be due to the influence of Polybius, whose trained
intelligence and philosophic grasp of events must have produced a great
impression among those who knew or read him.

We have now mentioned three historians, each of whom brought his original
contribution to the task of narrating events. Cato rose to the idea of
Rome as the centre of an Italian State; he held any account of her
institutions to be imperfect which did not also trace from their origin
those of the kindred nations; Piso conceived the plan of reducing the
myths to historical probability, and Asellio that of tracing the moral
causes that underlay outward movements. Thus we see a great advance in
theory since the time, just a century earlier, when Fabius wrote his
annals. We now meet with a new element, that of rhetorical arrangement. No
one man is answerable for introducing this. It was in the air of Rome
during the seventh century, and few were unaffected by it. Antipater is
the first to whom rhetorical ornament is attributed by Cicero, though his
attainments were of a humble kind. [42] He was conspicuous for word
painting. Scipio's voyage to Africa was treated by him in an imaginative
theatrical fashion, noticed with disapproval by Livy. [43] In other
respects he seems to have been trustworthy and to have merited the honour
he obtained of being abridged by J. Brutus.

In the time of Sulla we hear of several historians who obtained celebrity.
The first is CLAUDIUS QUADRIGARIUS (fl. 100 B.C.). He differs from all his
predecessors by selecting as his starting-point the taking of Rome by the
Gauls. His reason for so doing does him credit, viz. that there existed no
documents for the earlier period. [44] He hurried over the first three
centuries, and as was usual among Roman writers, gave a minute account of
his own times, inserting documents and speeches. So archaic was his style
that his fragments might belong to the age of Cato. For this reason, among
others, Gellius [45] (in whom they are found) greatly admires him. Though
he outlived Sulla, and therefore chronologically might be considered as
belonging to the Ciceronian period, yet the lack of finish in his own and
his contemporaries' style, makes this the proper place to mention them.
The _period_, [46] as distinct from the mere stringing together of
clauses, was not understood even in oratory until Gracchus, and in history
it was to appear still later. Cicero never mentions Claudius, nor VALERIUS
ANTIAS (91 B.C.), who is often associated with him. This writer, who has
gained through Livy's page the unenviable notoriety of being the most
lying of all annalists, nevertheless obtained much celebrity. The chief
cause of his deceptiveness was the fabrication of circumstantial
narrative, and the invention of exact numerical accounts. His work
extended from the first mythical stories to his own day, and reached to at
least seventy-five books. In his first decade Livy would seem to have
followed him implicitly. Then turning in his later books to better
authorities, such as Polybius, and perceiving the immense discrepancies,
he realised how he had been led astray, and in revenge attacked Antias
throughout the rest of his work. Still the fact that he is quoted by Livy
oftener than any other writer, shows that he was too well-known to be
neglected, and perhaps Livy has exaggerated his defects.

L. CORNELIUS SISENNA, (119-67 B.C.), better known as a statesman and
grammarian, treated history with success. His daily converse with
political life, and his thoughtful and studious habits, combined to
qualify him for this department. He was a conscientious man, and tells how
he pursued his work continuously, lest if he wrote by starts and snatches,
he might pervert the reader's mind. His style, however, suffered by this,
he became prolix; this apparently is what Fronto means when he says
"_scripsit longinque_." To later writers he was interesting from his
fondness for archaisms. Even in the senate he could not drop this affected
habit. Alone of all the fathers he said _adsentio_ for _adsentior_, and
such phrases as "_vellicatim aut sultuatim scribendo_" show an absurd
straining after quaintness.

C. LICINIUS MACER (died 73 B.C.) the father of the poet Calvus, was the
latest annalist of Rome. Cicero, who was his enemy, and his judge in the
trial which cost him his life, criticises his defects both as orator and
historian, with severity. Livy, too, implies that he was not always
trustworthy ("Quaesita ea propriae familiae laus leviorem auctorem facit,"
[47]) when the fame of his _gens_ was in question, but on many points he
quotes him with approval, and shows that he sought for the best materials,
_e.g._ he drew from the _lintei libri_, [48] the books of the magistrates,
[49] the treaty with Ardea, [50] and where he differed from the general
view, he gave his reasons for it.

The extent of his researches is not known, but it seems likely that, alone
of Roman historians, he did not touch on the events of his day, the latest
speech to which reference is made being the year 196 B.C. As he was an
orator, and by no means a great one, being stigmatised as "loquacious" by
Cicero, it is probable that his history suffered from a rhetorical

In reviewing the list of historians of the ante-classical period, we
cannot form any high opinion of their merits. Fabius, Cincius, and Cato,
who are the first, are also the greatest. The others seem to have gone
aside to follow out their own special views, without possessing either
accuracy of knowledge or grasp of mind sufficient to unite them with a
general comprehensive treatment. The simultaneous appearance of so many
writers of moderate ability and not widely divergent views, is a witness
to the literary activity of the age, but does not say much for the force
of its intellectual creations.

NOTE.--The fragments of the historians have been carefully collected and
edited with explanations and lists of authorities by Peter. (_Veterum
Historicorum Romanorum Relliquiae_. Lipsiae, 1870.)


_On the Annales Pontificum._
(Chiefly from _Les Annales des Pontifes_, Le Clerc.)

The _Annales_, though not literature in the proper sense, were so
important, as forming materials for it, that it may be well to give a
short account of them. They were called _Pontificum_, _Maximi_, and
sometimes _Publici_, to distinguish them from the _Annales_ of other
towns, of families, or of historical writers. The term _Annales_, we may
note _en passant_, was ordinarily applied to a narrative of facts
preceding one's own time, _Historiae_ being reserved for a contemporary
account (Gell. v. 8). But this of course was after its first sense was
lost. In the oldest times, the Pontifices, as they were the lawyers, were
in like manner the historians of Rome (Cic. de Or. ii. 12). Cicero and
Varro repeatedly consulted their records, which Cicero dates from the
origin of the city, but Livy only from Aneus Martius (i. 32). Servius,
apparently confounding them with the _Fasti_, declares that they put down
the events of every day (ad Ac. i. 373); and that they were divided into
eighty books. Sempronius Asellio (Gell. v. 18) says they mention _bellum
quo initum consule, et quo modo confectum, et quis triumphans introierit_,
and Cato ridicules the meagreness of their information. Nevertheless it
was considered authentic. Cicero found the eclipse of the year 350 duly
registered; Virgil and Ovid drew much of their archaeological lore
(_annalibus eruta priscis_, Ov. Fast i. 7.) and Livy his lists of
prodigies from them. Besides these marvellous facts, others were doubtless
noticed, as new laws, dedication of temples or monuments, establishment of
colonies, deaths of great men, erection of statues, &c.; but all with the
utmost brevity. _Unam dicendi laudem putant esse brevitatem_ (De Or. ii.
12). Sentences occur in Livy which seem excerpts from them, _e.g._ (ii.
1).--_His consulibus Fidenae obssesae, Crustumina capta, Praeneste ab
Latinis ad Romanos descivit_. Varro, in enumerating the gods whose altars
were consecrated by Tatius, says (L. L. v. 101), _ut Annales veteres
nostri dicunt_, and then names them. Pliny also quotes them expressly, but
the word _vetustissimi_ though they make it probable that the Pontifical
Annals are meant, do not establish it beyond dispute (Plin. xxxiii. 6,
xxxiv. 11).

It is probable, as has been said in this work, that the _Annales
Pontificum_ were to a great extent, though not altogether, destroyed in
the Gallic invasion. But Rome was not the only city that had Annales.
Probably all the chief towns of the Oscan, Sabine, and Umbrian territory
had them. Cato speaks of Antemna as older than Rome, no doubt from its
records. Varro drew from the archives of Tusculum (L. L. vi. 16),
Praeneste had its Pontifical Annals (Cic de Div. ii. 41), and Anagnia its
_libri lintei_ (Fronto, Ep. ad Ant. iv. 4). Etruria beyond question
possessed an extensive religious literature, with which much history must
have been mingled. And it is reasonable to suppose, as Livy implies, that
the educated Romans were familiar with it. From this many valuable facts
would be preserved. When the Romans captured a city, they brought over its
gods with them, and it is possible, its sacred records also, since their
respect for what was religious or ancient, was not limited to their own
nationality, but extended to most of those peoples with whom they were
brought in contact. From all these considerations it is probable that a
considerable portion of historic record was preserved after the burning of
the city, whether from the Annals themselves, or from portions of them
inscribed on bronze erstone, or from those of other states, which was
accessible to, and used by Cato, Polybius, Varro, Cicero, and Verrius
Flaccus. It is also probable that these records were collected into a
work, and that this work, while modernized by its frequent revisions,
nevertheless preserved a great deal of original and genuine annalistic

The _Annales_ must be distinguished from the _Libri Pontificum_, which
seem to have been a manual of the _Jus Pontificale_. Cicero places them
between the _Jus Civile_ and the Twelve Tables (De Or. i. 43.) The _Libri
Pontificii_ may have been the same, but probably the term, when correctly
used, meant the ceremonial ritual for the _Sacerdotes_, _flamines_, &c.
This general term included the more special ones of _Libri sacrorum_,
_sacerdotum_, _haruspicini_, &c. Some have confounded with the _Annales_ a
different sort of record altogether, the _Indigitamenta_, or ancient
formulae of prayer or incantation, and the _Axamenta_, to which class the
song of the Arval Brothers is referred.

As to the amount of historical matter contained in the Annals, it is
impossible to pronounce with confidence. Their falsification through
family and patrician pride is well known. But the earliest historians must
have possessed sufficient insight to distinguish the obviously fabulous.
We cannot suspect Cato of placing implicit faith in mythical accounts. He
was no friend to the aristocratic families or their records, and took care
to check them by the rival records of other Italian tribes. Sempronius
Asellio, in a passage already alluded to (ap. Gell. v. 18), distinguishes
the annalistic style as puerile (_fabulas pueris narrare_); the historian,
he insists, should go beneath the surface, and understand what he relates.
On comparing the early chronicles of Rome with those of St Bertin and St
Denys of France, there appears no advantage in a historical point of view
to be claimed by the latter; both contain many real events, though both
seek to glorify the origin of the nation and its rulers by constant
instances of divine or saintly intervention.



As the spiritual life of a people is reflected in their poetry, so their
living voice is heard in their oratory. Oratory is the child of freedom.
Under the despotisms of the East it could have no existence; under every
despotism it withers. The more truly free a nation is, the greater will
its oratory be. In no country was there a grander field for the growth of
oratorical genius than in Rome. The two countries that approach nearest to
it in this respect are beyond doubt Athens and England. In both eloquence
has attained its loftiest height, in the one of popular, in the other of
patrician excellence. The eloquence of Demosthenes is popular in the
noblest sense. It is addressed to a sovereign people who knew that they
were sovereign. Neither to deliberative nor to executive did they for a
moment delegate that supreme power which it delighted them to exercise. He
that had a measure or a bill to propose had only to persuade them that it
was good, and the measure passed, the bill became law. But the audience he
addressed, though a popular, was by no means an ordinary one. It was
fickle and capricious to a degree exceeding that of all other popular
assemblies; it was critical, exacting, intellectual, in a still higher
degree. No audience has been more swayed by passion; none has been less
swayed by the pretence of it. Always accessible to flattery, Athens counts
as her two greatest orators the two men who never stooped to flatter her.
The regal tones of Pericles, the prophetic earnestness of Demosthenes, in
the response which each met, bear witness to the greatness of those who
heard them. Even Cleon owed his greatest triumphs to the plainness with
which he inveighed against the people's faults. Intolerant of inelegance
and bombast, the Athenians required not only graceful speech, but speech
to the point. Hence Demosthenes is of all ancient orators the most
business-like. Of all ancient orators, it has been truly said he would
have met with the best hearing from the House of Commons. Nevertheless
there is a great difference between Athenian and English eloquence. The
former was exclusively popular; the latter, in the strictest sense, is
hardly popular at all. The dignified representatives of our lower house
need no such appeals to popular passion as the Athenian assembly required;
only on questions of patriotism or principle would they be tolerated.
Still less does emotion govern the sedate and masculine eloquence of our
upper house, or the strict and closely-reasoned pleadings of our courts of
law. Its proper field is in the addresses of a popular member to one of
the great city constituencies. The best speeches addressed to hereditary
legislators or to elected representatives necessarily involve different
features from those which characterised orations addressed directly to the
entire nation assembled in one place. If oratory has lost in fire, it has
gained in argument. In its political sphere, it shows a clearer grasp of
the public interest, a more tenacious restriction to practical issues; in
its judicial sphere, a more complete abandonment of prejudice and passion,
and a subordination, immeasurably greater than at Athens, to the authority
of written law.

Let us now compare the general features of Greek and English eloquence
with those of Rome. Roman eloquence had this in common with Greek, that it
was genuinely popular. In their comitia the people were supreme. The
orator who addressed them must be one who by passion could enkindle
passion, and guide for his own ends the impulses of a vast multitude. But
how different was the multitude! Fickle, impressionable, vain; patriotic
too in its way, and not without a rough idea of justice. So far like that
of Greece; but here the resemblance ends. The mob of Rome, for in the
times of real popular eloquence it had come to that, was rude, fierce,
bloodthirsty: where Athens called for grace of speech, Rome demanded
vehemence; where Athens looked for glory or freedom, Rome looked for
increase of dominion, and the wealth of conquered kingdoms for her spoil.
That in spite of their fierce and turbulent audience the great Roman
orators attained to such impressive grandeur, is a testimony to the
greatness of the senatorial system which reared them. In some respects the
eloquence of Rome bears greater resemblance to that of England. For
several centuries it was chiefly senatorial. The people intrusted their
powers to the Senate, satisfied that it acted for the best; and during
this period eloquence was matured. That special quality, so well named by
the Romans _gravitas_, which at Athens was never reached, but which has
again appeared in England, owed its development to the august discipline
of the Senate. Well might Cineas call this body an assembly of kings.
Never have patriotism, tradition, order, expediency, been so powerfully
represented as there; never have change, passion, or fear had so little
place. We can well believe that every effective speech began with the
words, so familiar to us, _maiores nostri voluerunt_, and that it ended as
it had begun. The aristocratic stamp necessarily impressed on the debates
of such an assembly naturally recalls our own House of Lords. But the
freedom of personal invective was far wider than modern courtesy would
tolerate. And, moreover, the competency of the Senate to decide questions
of peace or war threw into its discussions that strong party spirit which
is characteristic of our Lower House. Thus the senatorial oratory of Rome
united the characteristics of that of both our chambers. It was at once
majestic and vehement, patriotic and personal, proud of traditionary
prestige, but animated with the consciousness of real power.

In judicial oratory the Romans, like the Greeks, compare unfavourably with
us. With more eloquence they had less justice. Nothing sets antiquity in a
less prepossessing light than a study of its criminal trials; nothing
seems to have been less attainable in these than an impartial sifting of
evidence. The point of law is obscured among overwhelming considerations
from outside. If a man is clearly innocent, as in the case of Roscius, the
enmity of the great makes it a severe labour to obtain an acquittal; if he
is as clearly guilty (as Cluentius would seem to have been), a skilful use
of party weapons can prevent a conviction. [1] The judices in the public
trials (which must be distinguished from civil causes tried in the
praetor's court) were at first taken exclusively from the senators.
Gracchus (122 B.C.) transferred this privilege to the Equites; and until
the time of Sulla, who once more reinstated the senatorial class (81
B.C.), fierce contests raged between the two orders. Pompey (55 B.C.),
following an enactment of Cotta (70 B.C.), threw the office open to the
three orders of Senators, Knights, and Tribuni Aerarii, but fixed a high
property qualification. Augustus added a fourth _decuria_ from the lower
classes, and Caligula a fifth, so that Quintilian could speak of a juryman
as ordinarily a man of little intelligence and no legal or general
knowledge. [2]

This would be of comparatively small importance if a presiding judge of
lofty qualifications guided, as with us, the minds of the jury through the
mazes of argument and sophistry, and set the real issue plainly before
them. But in Rome no such prerogative rested with the presiding judge, [3]
who merely saw that the provisions of the law under which the trial took
place were complied with. The judges, or rather jurors, were, in Rome as
in Athens, [4] both from their number and their divergent interests, open
to influences of prejudice or corruption, only too often unscrupulously
employed, from which our system is altogether exempt. In the later
republican period it was not, of course, ignorance (the jurors being
senators or equites) but bribery or partisanship that disgraced the
decisions of the bench. Senator and eques unceasingly accused each other
of venality, and each was beyond doubt right in the charge he made. [5] In
circumstances like these it is evident that dexterous manipulation or
passionate pleading must take the place of legitimate forensic oratory.
Magnificent, therefore, as are the efforts of the great speakers in this
field, and nobly as they often rise above the corrupt practice of their
time, it is impossible to shut our eyes to the iniquities of the
procedure, and to help regretting that talent so glorious was so often
compelled either to fail or to resort to unworthy methods of success.

At Rome public speaking prevailed from the first. In every department of
life it was necessary for a man to express in clear and vigorous language
the views he recommended. Not only the senator or magistrate, but the
general on the field of battle had to be a speaker. On his return from the
campaign eloquence became to him what strategy had been before. It was the
great path to civil honours, and success was not to be won without it.
There is little doubt that the Romans struck out a vein of strong native
eloquence before the introduction of Greek letters. Readiness of speech is
innate in the Italians as in the French, and the other qualities of the
Romans contributed to enhance this natural gift. Few remains of this
native oratory are left, too few to judge by. We must form our opinion
upon that of Cicero, who, basing his judgment on its acknowledged
political effects, pronounces strongly in its favour. The measures of
Brutus, of Valerius Poplicola, and others, testify to their skill in
oratory; [6] and the great honour in which the orator was always held, [7]
contrasting with the low position accorded to the poet, must have produced
its natural result. But though the practice of oratory was cultivated it
was not reduced to an art. Technical treatises were the work of Greeks,
and Romans under Greek influence. In the early period the "spoken word"
was all-important. Even the writing down of speeches after delivery was
rarely, if ever, resorted to. The first known instance occurs so late as
the war with Pyrrhus, 280 B.C., when the old censor Appius committed his
speech to writing, which Cicero says that he had read. The only exception
to this rule seems to have been the funeral orations, which may have been
written from the first, but were rarely published owing to the youth of
those who delivered them. The aspirant to public honours generally began
his career by composing such an oration, though in later times a public
accusation was a more favourite _debut_. Besides Appius's; speech, we hear
of one by FABIUS CUNCTATOR, and of another by Metellus, and we learn from
Ennius that in the second Punic war (204 B.C.) M. CORNELIUS CETHEGUS
obtained the highest renown for his persuasive eloquence.

"Additur orator Cornelius suaviloquenti
Ore Cethegus ... is dictus popularibus olim ...
Flos delibatus populi Suadaeque medulla." [8]

The first name on which we can pronounce with confidence is that of Cato.
This great man was the first orator as he was the greatest statesman of
his time. Cicero [9] praises him as dignified in commendation, pitiless in
sarcasm, pointed in phraseology, subtle in argument. Of the 150 speeches
extant in Cicero's time there was not one that was not stocked with
brilliant and pithy sayings; and though perhaps they read better in the
shape of extracts, still all the excellences of oratory were found in them
as a whole; and yet no one could be found to study them. Perhaps Cicero's
language betrays the warmth of personal admiration, especially as in a
later passage of the same dialogue [10] he makes Atticus dissent
altogether from his own view. "I highly approve (he says) of the speeches
of Cato as compared with those of his own date, for though quite
unpolished they imply some original talent ... but to speak of him as an
orator equal to Lysias would indeed be pardonable irony if we were in
jest, but you cannot expect to approve it seriously to me and Brutus." No
doubt Atticus's judgment is based on too high a standard, for high finish
was impossible in the then state of the language. Still Cato wrote
probably in a designedly rude style through his horror of Greek
affectation. He is reported to have said in his old age (150 B.C.),
"_Caussurum illustrium quascunque defendi nunc cum maxime conficio
orationes_," [11] and these written speeches were no doubt improvements on
those actually delivered, especially as Valerius Maximus says of his
literary labours, [12] "_Cato Graecis literis erudiri concupivit, quam
sero inde cognoscimus quod etiam Latinas paene iam senex didicerit._" His
eloquence extended to every sort; he was a successful _patronus_ in many
private trials; he was a noted and most formidable accuser; in public
trials we find him continually defending himself, and always with success;
as the advocate or opponent of great political measures in the senate or
assembly he was at his greatest. Many titles of deliberative speeches
remain, _e.g._ "_de rege Attalo et vectigalibus Asiae_," "_ut plura aera
equestria fierent_," "_aediles plebis sacrosanctos esse_," "_de dote_" (an
attack upon the luxury of women), and others. His chief characteristics
were condensed force, pregnant brevity, strong common sense, galling
asperity. His orations were neglected for near a century, but in the
Claudian era began to be studied, and were the subjects of commentary
until the time of Servius, who speaks of his periods as ill-balanced and
unrhythmical (_confragosa_). [13] There is a most caustic fragment
preserved in Fronto [14] taken from the speech _de sumptu suo_,
recapitulating his benefits to the state, and the ingratitude of those who
had profited by them; and another from his speech against Minucius
Thermus, who had scourged ten men for some trivial offence [15] which in
its sarcasm, its vivid and yet redundant language, recalls the manner of

In Cato's time we hear of SER. FULVIUS and L. COTTA, SCIPIO AFRICANUS and
SULPICIUS GALLUS, all of whom were good though not first-rate speakers. A
little later LAELIUS and the younger SCIPIO (185-129 B.C.), whose speeches
were extant in the time of Cicero [16] and their contemporaries, followed
Cato's example and wrote down what they had delivered. It is not clear
whether their motive was literary or political, but more probably the
latter, as party feeling was so high at Rome that a powerful speech might
do good work afterwards as a pamphlet. [17] From the passages of Scipio
Aemilianus which we possess, we gather that he strove to base his style on
Greek models. In one we find an elaborate dilemma, with a taunting
question repeated after each deduction; in another we find Greek terms
contemptuously introduced much as they are centuries after in Juvenal; in
another we have a truly patrician epigram. Being asked his opinion about
the death of Gracchus, and replying that the act was a righteous one, the
people raised a shout of defiance,--_Taceant, inquit, quibus Italia
noverca non mater est, quos ego sub corona vendidi_--"Be silent, you to
whom Italy is a stepdame not a mother, whom I myself have sold at the
hammer of the auctioneer."

Laelius, surnamed _Sapiens_, or the philosopher (cons. 140), is well known
to readers of Cicero as the chief speaker in the exquisite dialogue on
friendship, and to readers of Horace as the friend of Scipio and Lucilius.
[18] Of his relative excellence as an orator, Cicero speaks with caution.
[19] He mentions the popular preference for Laelius, but apparently his
own judgment inclines the other way. "It is the manner of men to dislike
one man excelling in many things. Now, as Africanus has no rival in
martial renown, though Laelius gained credit by his conduct of the war
with Viriathus, so as regards genius, learning, eloquence, and wisdom,
though both are put in the first rank, yet all men are willing to place
Laelius above Scipio." It is certain that Laelius's style was much less
natural than that of Scipio. He affected an archaic vocabulary and an
absence of ornament, which, however, was a habit too congenial at all
times to the Roman mind to call down any severe disapproval. What Laelius
lacked was force. On one occasion a murder had been committed in the
forest of Sila, which the consuls were ordered to investigate. A company
of pitch manufacturers were accused, and Laelius undertook their defence.
At its conclusion the consuls decided on a second hearing. A few days
after Laelius again pleaded, and this time with an elegance and
completeness that left nothing to be desired. Still the consuls were
dissatisfied. On the accused begging Laelius to make a third speech, he
replied: "Out of consideration for you I have done my best. You should now
go to Ser. Galba, who can defend you with greater warmth and vehemence
than I." Galba, from respect to Laelius, was unwilling to undertake the
case; but, having finally agreed, he spent the short time that was left in
getting it by heart, retiring into a vaulted chamber with some highly
educated slaves, and remaining at work till after the consuls had taken
their seat. Being sent for he at last came out, and, as Rutilius the
narrator and eye-witness declared, with such a heightened colour and
triumph in his eyes that he looked like one who had already won his cause.
Laelius himself was present. The advocate spoke with such force and weight
that scarcely an argument passed unapplauded. Not only were the accused
released, but they met on all hands with sympathy and compassion. Cicero
adds that the slaves who had helped in the consultation came out of it
covered with bruises, such was the vigour of body as well as mind that a
Roman brought to bear on his case, and on the unfortunate instruments of
its preparation. [20]

GALBA (180-136 B.C.?) was a man of violence and bad faith, not for a
moment to be compared to Laelius. His infamous cruelty to the Lusitanians,
one of the darkest acts in all history, has covered his name with an
ineffaceable stain. Cato at eighty-five years of age stood forth as his
accuser, but owing to his specious art, and to the disgrace of Rome, he
was acquitted. [21] Cicero speaks of him as _peringeniosus sed non satis
doctus_, and says that he lacked perseverance to improve his speeches from
a literary point of view, being contented with forensic success. Yet he
was the first to apply the right sort of treatment to oratorical art; he
introduced digressions for ornament, for pathos, for information; but as
he never re-wrote his speeches, they remained unfinished, and were soon
forgotten--_Hanc igitur ob caussum videtur Laelii mens spirare etiam in
scriptis, Galbae autem vis occidisse_.

Laelius had embodied in his speeches many of the precepts of the Stoic
philosophy. He had been a friend of the celebrated Panaetius (186-126
B.C.) of Rhodes, to whose lectures he sent his own son-in-law, and
apparently others too. Eloquence now began to borrow philosophic
conceptions; it was no longer merely practical, but admitted of
illustration from various theoretical sources. It became the ambition of
cultivated men to fuse enlightened ideas into the substance of their
oratory. Instances of this are found in SP. MUMMIUS, AEMILIUS LEPIDUS, C.
FANNIUS, and the Augur MUCIUS SCAEVOLA, and perhaps, though it is
difficult to say, in Carbo and the two Gracchi. These are the next names
that claim our notice.

CARBO (164-119 B.C.), the supporter first of the Gracchi, and then of
their murderers, was a man of the most worthless character, but a bold
speaker, and a successful patron. In his time the _quaestiones perpetuae_
[22] were constituted, and thus he had an immense opportunity of enlarging
his forensic experience. He gained the reputation of being the first
pleader of his day; he was fluent, witty, and forcible, and was noted for
the strength and sweetness of his voice. Tacitus also mentions him with
respect in his dialogue _de Oratoribus_. [23]

The two GRACCHI were no less distinguished as orators than as champions of
the oppressed. TIBERIUS (169-133 B.C.) served his first campaign with
Scipio in Africa, and was present at the fall of Carthage. His personal
friendship for the great soldier was cemented by Scipio's union with his
only sister. The father of Gracchus was a man of sterling worth and
considerable oratorical gifts; his mother's virtue, dignity, and wisdom
are proverbial. Her literary accomplishments were extremely great; she
educated her sons in her own studies, and watched their progress with more
than a preceptor's care. The short and unhappy career of this virtuous but
imprudent man is too well known to need allusion here; his eloquence alone
will be shortly noticed. It was formed on a careful study of Greek
authors. Among his masters was Diophanes of Mitylene, who dwelt at Rome,
and paid the penalty of his life for his friendship for his pupil.
Tiberius's character was such as to call for the strongest expressions of
reverence even from those who disapproved his political conduct. Cicero
speaks of him as _homo sanctissimus_, and Velleius Paterculus says of him,
"_vita innocentissimus, ingenio florentissimus, proposito sanctissimus,
tantis denique ornatus virtutibus, quantas perfecta et natura et industria
mortalis conditio recipit_." His appearance formed an epoch in eloquence.
"The Gracchi employed a far freer and easier mode of speech than any of
their predecessors." [24] This may be accounted for partly through the
superiority of their inherited talent and subsequent education, but is due
far more to the deep conviction which stirred their heart and kindled
their tongue. Cato alone presents the spectacle of a man deeply impressed
with a political mission and carrying it into the arena of political
conflict, but the inspiration of Gracchus was of a far higher order than
that of the harsh censor. It was in its origin moral, depending on the
eternal principles of right and wrong, not on the accident of any
particular state or party in it. Hence the loftiness of his speech, from
which sarcasm and even passion were absent. In estimating the almost ideal
character of the enthusiasm which fired him we cannot forget that his
mother was the daughter of Scipio, of him who believed himself the special
favourite of heaven, and the communicator of divinely sent ideas to the
world. Unhappily we have no fragments of the orations of Gracchus; the
more brilliant fame of his brother has eclipsed his literary renown, but
we may judge of their special features by those of their author's
character, and be sure that while lacking in genius they were temperate,
earnest, pure, and classical. In fact the Gracchi may he called the
founders of classical Latin. That subdued power whose subtle influence
penetrates the mind and vanquishes the judgment is unknown in literature
before them. Whenever it appears it marks the rise of a high art, it
answers to the _vis temperata_ which Horace so warmly commends. The
younger son of Cornelia, C. GRACCHUS (154-121 B.C.), was of a different
temper from his brother. He was less of the moralist, more of the artist.
His feeling was more intense but less profound. His brother's loyalty had
been to the state alone; his was given partly to the state, partly to the
shade of his brother. In nearly every speech, in season and out of season,
he denounced his murder. "_Pessimi_ Tiberium meum fratrem, optimum virum,
interfecerunt." Such is the burden of his eloquence. If in Tiberius we see
the impressive calmness of reasoned conviction, in Caius we see the
splendid impetuosity of chivalrous devotion. And yet Caius was, without
doubt, the greater statesman of the two. The measures, into which his
brother was as it were forced, were by him well understood and
deliberately planned. They amounted to nothing less than a subversion of
the existing state. The senate destroyed meant Gracchus sovereign. Under
the guise of restoring to the people their supreme power, he paved the way
for the long succession of tyrants that followed. His policy mingled
patriotism and revenge. The corruption and oppression that everywhere
marked the oligarchical rule roused his just indignation; the death of his
brother, the death he foresaw in store for himself, stirred him into
unholy vengeance. Many of his laws were well directed. The liberal
attitude he assumed towards the provinces, his strong desire to satisfy
the just claims of the Italians to citizenship, his breaking down the
exclusive administration of justice, these are monuments of his far-seeing
statesmanship. But his vindictive legislation with regard to Popillius
Laenas, and to Octavius (from which, however, his mother's counsel finally
deterred him), and above all his creation of the curse of Rome, a hungry
and brutal proletariate, by largesses of corn, present his character as a
public man in darker colours. As Mommsen says, "Right and wrong, fortune
and misfortune, were so inextricably blended in him that it may well
beseem history in this case to reserve her judgment." [25] The discord of
his character is increased by the story that an inward impulse dissuaded
him at first from public life, that agreeably to its monitions he served
as Quaestor abroad, and pursued for some years a military career; but
after a time his brother's spirit haunted him, and urged him to return to
Rome and offer his life upon the altar of the great cause. This was the
turning-point of his career. He returned suddenly, and from that day
became the enemy of the senate, the avenger of his brother, and the
champion of the multitude. His oratory is described as vehement beyond
example; so carried away did he become, that he found it necessary to have
a slave behind him on the rostra, who, by playing a flute, should recall
him to moderation. [26] Cicero, who strongly condemned the man, pays the
highest tribute to his genius, saying in the Brutus: "Of the loftiest
talent, of the most burning enthusiasm, carefully taught from boyhood, he
yields to no man in richness and exuberance of diction." To which Brutus
assents, adding, "Of all our predecessors he is the only one whose works I
read." Cicero replies, "You do right in reading him; Latin literature has
lost irreparably by his early death. I know not whether he would not have
stood above every other name. His language is noble, his sentiments
profound, his whole style grave. His works lack the finishing touch; many
are admirably begun, few are thoroughly complete. He of all speakers is
the one that should be read by the young, for not only is he fit to
sharpen talent, but also to feed and nourish a natural gift." [27]

One of the great peculiarities of ancient eloquence was the frequent
opportunity afforded for self-recommendation or self-praise. That good
taste or modesty which shrinks from mentioning its own merits was far less
cultivated in antiquity than now. Men accepted the principle not only of
acting but of speaking for their own advantage. This gave greater zest to
a debate on public questions, and certainly sharpened the orator's powers.
If a man had benefited the state he was not ashamed to blazon it forth; if
another in injuring the state had injured him, he did not altogether
sacrifice personal invective to patriotic indignation. [28] The frequency
of accusations made this "art of self-defence" a necessity--and there can
be no doubt the Roman people listened with admiration to one who was at
once bold and skilful enough to sound his own praises well. Cicero's
excessive vanity led him to overdo his part, and to nauseate at times even
well-disposed hearers. From the fragments of Gracchus' speeches that
remain (unhappily very few) we should gather that in asserting himself he
was without a rival. The mixture of simplicity and art removes him at once
from Cato's bald literalism and Cicero's egotism. It was, however, in
impassioned attack that Gracchus rose to his highest tones. The terms
_Gracchi impetum_, [29] _tumultuator Gracchus_, [30] among the Latin
critics, and similar ones from Plutarch and Dio among the Greeks, attest
the main character of his eloquence. His very outward form paralleled the
restlessness of his soul. He moved up and down, bared his arm, stamped
violently, made fierce gestures of defiance, and acted through real
emotion as the trained rhetoricians of a later age strove to act by rules
of art. His accusation of Piso is said to have contained more maledictions
than charges; and we can believe that a temperament so fervid, when once
it gave the reins to passion, lost all self-command. It is possible we
might think less highly of Gracchus's eloquence than did the ancients, if
his speeches remained. Their lack of finish and repose may have been
unnoticed by critics who could hurl themselves in thought not merely into
the feeling but the very place which he occupied; but to moderns, whose
sympathy with a state of things so opposite must needs be imperfect, it is
possible that their power might not have compensated for the absence of
relief. Important fragments from the speech _apud Censores_ (124 B.C.),
from that _de legibus a se promulgatis_ (123 B.C.), and from that _de
Mithridate_ (123 B.C.), are given and commented on by Wordsworth.

Among the friends and opponents of the Gracchi were many orators whose
names are given by Cicero with the minute care of a sympathising
historian; but as few, if any, remains of their speeches exist, it can
serve no purpose to recount the list. Three celebrated names may be
mentioned as filling up the interval between C. Gracchus and M. Antonius.
The first of these is AEMILIUS SCAURUS (163-90? B.C.), the haughty chief
of the senate, the unscrupulous leader of the oligarchical party. His
oratory is described by Cicero [31] as conspicuous for dignity and a
natural but irresistible air of command; so that when he spoke for a
defendant, he seemed like one who gave his testimony rather than one who
pleaded. This want of flexibility unfitted him for success at the bar;
accordingly, we do not find that he was much esteemed as a patron; but for
summing up the debates at the Senate, or delivering an opinion on a great
public question, none could be more impressive. Speeches of his were
extant in Cicero's time; also an autobiography, which, like Caesar's
_Commentaries_, was intended to put his conduct in the most favourable
light; these, however, were little read. Scaurus lived to posterity, not
in his writings, but in his example of stern constancy to a cause. [32]

A man in many ways resembling him but of purer conduct, was RUTILIUS (158-
78 B.C.), who is said by Cicero to have been a splendid example of many-
sided culture. He was a scholar, a philosopher, a jurist of high repute, a
historian, and an orator, though the severity of the Stoic sect, to which
he adhered, prevented his striving after oratorical excellence. His
impeachment for malversation in Asia, and unjust condemnation to
banishment, reflect strongly on the formation of the Roman law-courts. His
pride, however, was in part the cause of his exile. For had he chosen to
employ Antonius or Crassus to defend him, an acquittal would at least have
been possible; but conscious of rectitude, he refused any patron, and
relied on his own dry and jejune oratory, and such assistance as his young
friend Cotta could give. Sulla recalled him from Smyrna, whither he had
repaired after his condemnation; but Rutilius refused to return to the
city which had unjustly expelled him.

Among the other aristocratic leaders, CATULUS, the "noble colleague" of
Marius [33] (cons. 102), must be mentioned. He was not a Stoic, and
therefore was free to chose a more ornamental method of speaking than
Rutilius. Cicero, with the partiality of a senatorial advocate, gives him
very high praise. "He was educated not in the old rough style, but in that
of our own day, or something more finished and elegant still. He had a
wide acquaintance with literature, the highest courtesy of life and
manners as well as of discourse, and a pure stream of genuine Latin
eloquence. This is conspicuous in all his works, but most of all, in his
autobiography, written to the poet A. Furius, in a style full of soft
grace recalling that of Xenophon, but now, unhappily, little, if at all,
read. In pleading he was successful but not eminent. When heard alone, he
seemed excellent, but when contrasted with a greater rival, his faults at
once appeared." His chief virtue seems to have been the purity of his
Latin idiom. He neither copied Greek constructions nor affected archaisms,
as Rutilius Scaurus, Cotta, and so many others in his own time, and
Sallust, Lucretius, and Varro in a later age. [34] The absence of any
recognised standard of classical diction made it more difficult than at
first appears for an orator to fix on the right medium between affectation
and colloquialism.

The era inaugurated by the Gracchi was in the highest degree favourable to
eloquence. The disordered state of the Republic, in which party-spirit had
banished patriotism and was itself surrendering to armed violence, called
for a style of speaking commensurate with the turbulence of public life.
Never in the world's history has fierce passion found such exponents in so
great a sphere. It is not only the vehemence of their language--that may
have been paralleled elsewhere--it is the _reality_ of it that impresses
us. The words that denounced an enemy were not idly flung into the forum;
they fell among those who had the power and the will to act upon them. He
who sent them forth must expect them to ruin either his antagonist or
himself. Each man chose his side, with the daggers of the other party
before his face. His eloquence, like his sword, was a weapon for life and
death. Only in the French Revolution have oratory and assassination thus
gone hand in hand. Demosthenes could lash the Athenians into enthusiasm so
great that in delight at his eloquence they forgot his advice. "I want
you," he said, "not to applaud me, but to march against Philip." [35]
There was no danger of the Roman people forgetting action in applause.
They rejoiced to hear the orator, but it was that he might impel them to
tumultuous activity; he was caterer not for the satisfaction of their
ears, but for the employment of their hands. Thus he paid a heavy price
for eminence. Few of Rome's greatest orators died in their beds. Carbo put
an end to his own life; the two Gracchi, Antonius, Drusus, Cicero himself,
perished by the assassin's hand; Crassus was delivered by sudden illness
from the same fate. It is not wonderful if with the sword hanging over
their heads, Roman orators attain to a vehemence beyond example in other
nations. The charm that danger lends to daring is nowhere better shown
than in the case of Cicero. Timid by nature, he not only in his speeches
hazarded his life, but even when the dagger of Antony was waiting for him,
he could not bring himself to flee. With the civil war, however, eloquence
was for a time suppressed. Neither argument nor menace could make head
against the furious brutality of Marius, or the colder butcheries of
Sulla. But the intervening period produced two of the greatest speakers
Rome ever saw, both of whom Cicero places at the very summit of their art,
between whom he professes himself unable to decide, and about whom he
gives the most authentic and copious account. These were the advocates M.
ANTONIUS (143-87 B.C.) and M. LICINIUS CRASSUS (140-91 B.C.).

Both of them spoke in the senate and assembly as well as in the courts;
and Crassus was perhaps a better political than forensic orator.
Nevertheless the criticism of Cicero, from which we gain our chief
knowledge, is mainly directed to their forensic qualifications; and it is
probable that at the period at which they flourished, the law-courts
offered the fullest combination of advantages for bringing out all the
merits of a speaker. For the comitia were moved solely by passion or
interest; the senate was swayed by party considerations, and was little
touched by argument; whereas the courts offered just enough necessity for
exact reasoning without at all resisting appeals to popular passion. Of
the two kinds of _judicia_ at Rome, the civil cases were little sought
after; the public criminal trials being those which the great _patroni_
delighted to undertake. A few words may not be out of place here on the
general division of cases, and the jurisdiction of the magistrates,
senate, and people, as it is necessary to understand these in order to
appreciate the special kind of oratory they developed.

There had been, previously to this period, two praetors in Rome, the
_Praetor Urbanus_, who adjudged cases between citizens in accordance with
civil law, and the _Praetor Peregrinus_, who presided whenever a foreigner
or alien was concerned, and judged according to the principles of natural
law. Afterwards six praetors were appointed; and in the time of Antonius
they judged not only civil but criminal cases, except those concerning the
life of a citizen or the welfare of the state, which the people reserved
for themselves. It must be remembered that the supreme judicial power was
vested in the sovereign people in their comitia; that they delegated it in
public matters to the senate, and in general legal cases to the praetor's
court, but that in every capital charge a final appeal to them remained.
The praetors at an early date handed over their authority to other judges,
chosen either from the citizens at large, or from the body of _Judices
Selecti_, who were renewed every year. These subsidiary judges might
consist of a single _arbiter_, of small boards of three, seven, or ten,
&c., or of a larger body called the _Centum viri_, chosen from the thirty-
five tribes, who sat all the year, the others being only appointed for the
special case. But over their decisions the praetor exercised a superior
supervision, and he could annul them on appeal. The authorities on which
the praetor based his practice were those of the Twelve Tables and the
custom-law; but he had besides this a kind of legislative prerogative of
his own. For on coming into office he had to issue an edict, called
_edictum perpetuum_, [36] specifying the principles he intended to guide
him in any new cases that might arise. If these were merely a continuation
of those of his predecessor, his edict was called _tralaticium_, or
"handed on." But more often they were of an independent character, the
result of his knowledge or his prejudices; and too often he departed
widely from them in the course of his year of office. It was not until
after the time of Crassus and Antonius that a law was passed enforcing
consistency in this respect (67 B.C.). Thus it was inevitable that great
looseness should prevail in the application of legal principles, from the
great variety of supplementary codes (edicta), and the instability of
case-law. Moreover, the praetor was seldom a veteran lawyer, but generally
a man of moderate experience and ambitious views, who used the praetorship
merely as a stepping-stone to the higher offices of state. Hence it was by
no means certain that he would be able to appreciate a complicated
technical argument, and as a matter of fact the more popular advocates
rarely troubled themselves to advance one.

Praetors also generally presided over capital trials, of which the proper
jurisdiction lay with the comitia. In Sulla's time their number was
increased to ten, and each was chairman of the _quaestio_ which sat on one
of the ten chief crimes, extortion, peculation, bribery, treason, coining,
forgery, assassination or poisoning, and violence. [37] As assessors he
had the _quaesitor_ or chief juror, and a certain number of the _Judices
Selecti_ of whom some account has been already given. The prosecutor and
defendant had the right of objecting to any member of the list. If more
than one accuser offered, it was decided which should act at a preliminary
trial called _Divinatio_. Owing to the desire to win fame by accusations,
this occurrence was not unfrequent.

When the day of the trial arrived the prosecutor first spoke, explaining
the case and bringing in the evidence. This consisted of the testimony of
free citizens voluntarily given; of slaves, wrung from them by torture;
and of written documents. The best advocates, as for instance Cicero in
his _Milo_, were not disposed, any more than we should be, to attach much
weight to evidence obtained by the rack; but in estimating the other two
sources they differed from us. We should give the preference to written
documents; the Romans esteemed more highly the declarations of citizens.
These offered a grander field for the display of ingenuity and
misrepresentation; it is, therefore, in handling these that the celebrated
advocates put forth all their skill. The examination of evidence over, the
prosecutor put forth his case in a long and elaborate speech; and the
accused was then allowed to defend himself. Both were, as a rule, limited
in point of time, and sometimes to a period which to us would seem quite
inconsistent with justice to the case. Instead of the strict probity and
perfect independence which we associate with the highest ministers of the
law, the Roman judices were often canvassed, bribed, or intimidated. So
flagitious had the practice become, that Cicero mentions a whole bench
having been induced by indulgences of the most abominable kind to acquit
Clodius, though manifestly guilty. We know also that Pompey and Antony
resorted to the practice of packing the forum with hired troops and
assassins; and we learn from Cicero that it was the usual plan for
provincial governors to extort enough not only to satisfy their own
rapacity, but to buy their impunity from the judges. [38]

Under circumstances like these we cannot wonder if strict law was little
attended to, and the moral principles that underlay it still less. The
chief object was to inflame the prejudices or anger of the jurors; or,
still more, to excite their compassion, to serve one's party, or to
acquire favour with the leading citizen. For example, it was a rule that
men of the same political views should appear on the same side. Cicero and
Hortensius, though often opposed, still retained friendly feelings for
each other; but when Cicero went over to the senatorial party, the last
bar to free intercourse with his rival was removed, since henceforward
they were always retained together.

With regard to moving the pity of the judges, many instances of its
success are related both in Greece and Rome. The best are those of Galba
and Piso, both notorious culprits, but both acquitted; the one for
bringing forward his young children, the other for prostrating himself in
a shower of rain to kiss the judges' feet and rising up with a countenance
bedaubed with mud! Facts like these, and they are innumerable, compel us
to believe that the reverence for justice as a sacred thing, so inbred in
Christian civilization, was foreign to the people of Rome. It is a gloomy
spectacle to see a mighty nation deliberately giving the rein to passion
and excitement heedless of the miscarriage of justice. The celebrated law,
re-enacted by Gracchus, "That no citizen should be condemned to death
without the consent of the people," banished justice from the sphere of
reason to that of emotion or caprice. As progress widens emotion
necessarily contracts its sphere; the pure light of reason raises her
beacon on high. When Antonius, the most successful of advocates, declared
that his success was due not to legal knowledge, of which he was
destitute, but to his making the judges pleased, first with themselves and
then with himself, we may appreciate his honesty; but we gladly
acknowledge a state of things as past and gone in which he could wind up
an accusation [39] with these words, "If it ever was excusable for the
Roman people to give the reins to their just excitement, as without doubt
it often has been, there has no case existed in which it was more
excusable than now."

Cicero regards the advent of these two men, M. Antonius and Crassus, as
analogous to that of Demosthenes and Hyperides at Athens. They first
raised Latin eloquence to a height that rivalled that of Greece. But
though their merits were so evenly balanced that it was impossible to
decide between them, their excellencies were by no means the same. It is
evident that Cicero preferred Crassus, for he assigns him the chief place
in his dialogue _de Oratore_, and makes him the vehicle of his own views.
Moreover, he was a man of much more varied knowledge than Antonius. An
opinion prevailed in Cicero's day that neither of them was familiar with
Greek literature. This, however, was a mistake. Both were well read in it.
But Antonius desired to be thought ignorant of it; hence he never brought
it forward in his speeches. Crassus did not disdain the reputation of a
proficient, but he wished to be regarded as despising it. These relics of
old Roman narrowness, assumed whether from conviction or, more probably,
to please the people, are remarkable at an epoch so comparatively
cultured. They show, if proof were wanted, how completely the appearance
of Cicero marks a new period in literature, for he is as anxious to
popularise his knowledge of Greek letters as his predecessors had been to
hide theirs. The advantages of Antony were chiefly native and personal;
those of Crassus acquired and artificial. Antony had a ready wit, an
impetuous flow of words, not always the best, but good enough for the
purpose, a presence of mind and fertility of invention that nothing could
quench, a noble person, a wonderful memory, and a sonorous voice the very
defects of which he turned to his advantage; he never refused a case; he
seized the bearings of each with facility, and espoused it with zeal; he
knew from long practice all the arts of persuasion, and was an adept in
the use of them; in a word, he was thoroughly and genuinely popular.

Crassus was grave and dignified, excellent in interpretation, definition,
and equitable construction, so learned in law as to be called the best
lawyer among the orators; [40] and yet with all this grace and erudition,
he joined a sparkling humour which was always lively, never commonplace,
and whose brilliant sallies no misfortune could check. His first speech
was an accusation of the renegade democrat Carbo; his last, which was also
his best, was an assertion of the privileges of his order against the
over-bearing insolence of the consul Philippus. The consul, stung to fury
by the sarcasm of the speaker, bade his lictor seize his pledges as a
senator. This insult roused Crassus to a supreme effort. His words are
preserved by Cicero [41]--"an tu, quum omnem auctoritatem universi ordinis
pro pignore putaris, eamque in conspectu populi Romani concideris, me his
existimas pignoribus posse terreri? Non tibi illa sunt caedenda, si
Crassum vis coercere; haec tibi est incidenda lingua; qua vel evulsa,
spiritu ipso libidinem tuam libertas mea refutabit." This noble retort,
spoken amid bodily pain and weakness, brought on a fever which within a
week brought him to the grave (91 B.C.), as Cicero says, by no means
prematurely, for he was thus preserved from the horrors that followed.
Antonius lived for some years longer. It was under the tyrannical rule of
Marius and Cinna that he met his end. Having found, through the
indiscretion of a slave, that he was in hiding, they sent hired assassins
to murder him. The men entered the chamber where the great orator lay, and
prepared to do their bloody work, but he addressed them in terms of such
pathetic eloquence that they turned back, melted with pity, and declared
they could not kill Antonius. Their leader then came in, and, less
accessible to emotion than his men, cut off Antonius' head and carried it
to Marius. It was nailed to the rostra, "exposed," says Cicero, "to the
gaze of those citizens whose interests he had so often defended."

After the death of these two great leaders, there appear two inferior men
who faintly reflect their special excellences. These are C. AURELIUS COTTA
(consul 75 B.C.) an imitator of Antonius, though without any of his fire,
and P. SULPICIUS RUFUS (fl. 121-88 B.C.) a bold and vigorous speaker, who
tried, without success, to reproduce the high-bred wit of Crassus. He was,
according to Cicero, [42] the most _tragic_ of orators. His personal gifts
were remarkable, his presence commanding, his voice rich and varied. His
fault was want of application. The ease with which he spoke made him
dislike the labour of preparation, and shun altogether that of written
composition. Cotta was exactly the opposite of Sulpicius. His weak health,
a rare thing among the Romans of his day, compelled him to practise a soft
sedate method of speech, persuasive rather than commanding. In this he was
excellent, but that his popularity was due chiefly to want of competitors
is shown by the suddenness of his eclipse on the first appearance of
Hortensius. The gentle courteous character of Cotta is well brought out in
Cicero's dialogue on oratory, where his remarks are contrasted with the
mature but distinct views of Crassus and Antonius, with the conservative
grace of Catulus, and the masculine but less dignified elegance of Caesar.

Another speaker of this epoch is CARRO, son of the Carbo already
mentioned, an adherent of the senatorial party, and opponent of the
celebrated Livius Drusus. On the death of Drusus he delivered an oration
in the assembly, the concluding words of which are preserved by Cicero, as
an instance of the effectiveness of the trochaic rhythm. They were
received with a storm of applause, as indeed their elevation justly
merits. [43] "_O Marce Druse, patrem appello; tu dicere solebas sacram
esse rempublicam; quicunque eam violavissent, ab omnibus esse ei poenas
persolatas. Patris dictum sapiens temeritas filii comprobavit._" In this
grand sentence sounds the very voice of Rome; the stern patriotism, the
reverence for the words of a father, the communion of the living with
their dead ancestors. We cannot wonder at the fondness with which Cicero
lingers over these ancient orators; while fully acknowledging his own
superiority, how he draws out their beauties, each from its crude
environment; how he shows them to be deficient indeed in cultivation and
learning, but to ring true to the old tradition of the state, and for that
very reason to speak with a power, a persuasiveness, and a charm, which
all the rules of polished art could never hope to attain.

In the concluding passage of the _De Oratore_ Catulus says he wishes
HORTENSIUS (114-50 B.C.) could have taken part in the debate, as he gave
promise of excelling in all the qualifications that had been specified.
Crassus replies--"He not only gives promise of being, but is already one
of the first of orators. I thought so when I heard him defend the cause of
the Africans during the year of my consulship, and I thought so still more
strongly when, but a short while ago, he spoke on behalf of the king of
Bithynia." This is supposed to have been said in 91 B.C., the year of
Crassus's death, four years after the first appearance of Hortensius. This
brilliant orator, who at the age of nineteen spoke before Crassus and
Scaevola and gained their unqualified approval, and who, after the death
of Antonius, rose at once into the position of leader of the Roman bar,
was as remarkable for his natural as for his acquired endowments. Eight
years senior to Cicero, "prince of the courts" [44] when Cicero began
public life, for some time his rival and antagonist, but afterwards his
illustrious though admittedly inferior coadjutor, and towards the close of
both of their lives, his intimate and valued friend; Hortensius is one of
the few men in whom success did not banish enjoyment, and displacement by
a rival did not turn to bitterness. Without presenting the highest virtue,
his career of forty-four years is nevertheless a pleasant and instructive
one. It showed consistency, independence, and honour; he never changed
sides, he never flattered the great, he never acquired wealth unjustly. In
these points he may be contrasted with Cicero. But on the other hand, he
was inactive, luxurious, and effeminate; not like Cicero, fighting to the
last, but retiring from public life as soon as he saw the domination of
Pompey or Caesar to be inevitable; not even in his professional labours
showing a strong ambition, but yielding with epicurean indolence the palm
of superiority to his young rival; still less in his home life and leisure
moments pursuing like Cicero his self-culture to develop his own nature
and enrich the minds and literature of his countrymen, but regaling
himself at luxurious banquets in sumptuous villas, decked with everything
that could delight the eye or charm the fancy; preserving herds of deer,
wild swine, game of all sorts for field and feast; stocking vast lakes
with rare and delicate fish, to which this brilliant epicure was so
attached that on the death of a favourite lamprey he shed tears; buying
the costliest of pictures, statues, and embossed works; and furnishing a
cellar which yielded to his unworthy heir 10,000 casks of choice Chian
wine. When we read the pursuits in which Hortensius spent his time, we
cannot wonder that he was soon overshadowed; the stuff of the Roman was
lacking in him, and great as were his talents, even they, as Cicero justly
remarks, were not calculated to insure a mature or lasting fame. They lay
in the lower sphere of genius rather than the higher; in a bright
expression, a deportment graceful to such a point that the greatest actors
studied from him as he spoke; in a voice clear, mellow, and persuasive; in
a memory so prodigious that once after being present at an auction and
challenged to repeat the list of sale, he recited the entire catalogue
without hesitation, like the sailor the points of his compass, backwards.
As a consequence he was never at a loss. Everything suggested itself at
the right moment, giving him no anxiety that might spoil the ease of his
manner and his matchless confidence; and if to all this we add a
copiousness of expression and rich splendour of language exceeding all
that had ever been heard in Rome, the encomiums so freely lavished on him
by Cicero both in speeches and treatises, hardly seem exaggerated.

There are few things pleasanter in the history of literature than the
friendship of these two great men, untinctured, at least on Hortensius's
part, by any drop of jealousy; and on Cicero's, though now and then
overcast by unworthy suspicions, yet asserted afterwards with a warm
generosity and manly confession of his weakness which left nothing to be
desired. Though there were but eight years between them, Hortensius must
be held to belong to the older period, since Cicero's advent constitutes
an era.

The chief events in the life of Hortensius are as follows. He served two
campaigns in the Social War (91 B.C.), but soon after gave up military
life, and took no part in the civil struggles that followed. His
ascendancy in the courts dates from 83 B.C. and continued till 70 B.C.
when Cicero dethroned him by the prosecution of Verres. Hortensius was
consul the following year, and afterwards we find him appearing as
advocate on the senatorial side against the self-styled champions of the
people, whose cause at that time Cicero espoused (_e.g._ in the Gabinian
and Manilian laws). When Cicero, after his consulship (63 B.C.), went over
to the aristocratic party, he and Hortensius appeared regularly on the
same side, Hortensius conceding to him the privilege of speaking last,
thus confessing his own inferiority. The party character of great criminal
trials has already been alluded to, and is an important element in the
consideration of them. A master of eloquence speaking for a senatorial
defendant before a jury of equites, might hope, but hardly expect, an
acquittal; and a senatorial orator, pleading before jurymen of his own
order needed not to exercise the highest art in order to secure a
favourable hearing. It has been suggested [45] that his fame is in part
due to the circumstance, fortunate for him, that he had to address the
courts as reorganised by Sulla. The coalition of Pompey, Caesar, and
Crassus (60 B.C.), sometimes called the _first Triumvirate_, showed
plainly that the state was near collapse; and Hortensius, despairing of
its restitution, retired from public life, confining himself to the duties
of an advocate, and more and more addicting himself to refined pleasures.
The only blot on his character is his unscrupulousness in dealing with the
judges. Cicero accuses him [46] of bribing them on one occasion, and the
fact that he was not contradicted, though his rival was present, makes the
accusation more than probable. The fame of Hortensius waned not only
through Cicero's superior lustre, but also because of his own lack of
sustained effort. The peculiar style of his oratory is from this point of
view so ably criticised by Cicero that, having no remains of Hortensius to
judge by, we translate some of his remarks. [47]

"If we inquire why Hortensius obtained more celebrity in his youth than in
his mature age, we shall find there are two good reasons. First because
his style of oratory was the Asiatic, which is more becoming to youth than
to age. Of this style there are two divisions; the one sententious and
witty, the sentiments neatly turned and graceful rather than grave or
sedate: an example of this in history is Timaeus; in oratory during my own
boyhood there was Hierocles of Alabanda, and still more his brother
Menecles, both whose speeches are, considering their style, worthy of the
highest praise. The other division does not aim at a frequent use of pithy
sentiment, but at rapidity and rush of expression; this now prevails
throughout Asia, and is characterised not only by a stream of eloquence
but by a graceful and ornate vocabulary: Aeschylus of Cnidos, and my own
contemporary Aeschines the Milesian, are examples of it. They possess a
fine flow of speech, but they lack precision and grace of sentiment. Both
these classes of oratory suit young men well, but in older persons they
show a want of dignity. Hence Hortensius, who excelled in both, obtained
as a young man the most tumultuous applause. For he possessed that strong
leaning for polished and condensed maxims which Menecles displayed; as
with whom, so with Hortensius, some of these maxims were more remarkable
for sweetness and grace than for aptness and indispensable use; and so his
speech, though highly strung and impassioned without losing finish or
smoothness, was nevertheless not approved by the older critics. I have
seen Philippus hide a smile, or at other times look angry or annoyed; but
the youths were lost in admiration, and the multitude was deeply moved. At
that time he was in popular estimation almost perfect, and held the first
place without dispute. For though his oratory lacked authority, it was
thought suitable to his age; but when his position as a consular and a
senator demanded a weightier style, he still adhered to the same; and
having given up his former unremitting study and practice, retained only
the neat concise sentiments, but lost the rich adornment with which in old
times he had been wont to clothe his thoughts."

The _Asiatic_ style to which Cicero here alludes, was affected, as its
name implies, by the rhetoricians of Asia Minor, and is generally
distinguished from the _Attic_ by its greater profusion of verbal
ornament, its more liberal use of tropes, antithesis, figures, &c. and,
generally, by its inanity of thought. Rhodes, which had been so well able
to appreciate the eloquence of Aeschines and Demosthenes, first opened a
crusade against this false taste, and Cicero (who himself studied at
Rhodes as well as Athens) brought about a similar return to purer models
at Rome. The Asiatic style represents a permanent type of oratorical
effort, the desire to use word-painting instead of life-painting,
turgidity instead of vigour, allusiveness instead of directness, point
instead of wit, frigid inflation instead of real passion. It borrows
poetical effects, and heightens the colour without deepening the shade. In
Greece Aeschines shows some traces of an Asiatic tendency as contrasted
with the soberer self-restraint of Demosthenes. In Rome Hortensius, as
contrasted with Cicero, and even Cicero himself, according to some
critics, as contrasted with Brutus and Calvus,--though this charge is
hardly well-founded,--in France Bossuet, in England Burke, have leaned
towards the same fault.

We have now traced the history of Roman Oratory to the time of Cicero, and
we have seen that it produces names of real eminence, not merely in the
history of Rome, but in that of humanity. The loss to us of the speeches
of such orators as Cato, Gracchus, Antonius, and Crassus is incalculable;
did we possess them we should be able form a truer estimate of Roman
genius than if we possessed the entire works of Ennius, Pacuvius, or
Attius. For the great men who wielded this tremendous weapon were all
burgesses of Rome, they had all the good and all the bad qualities which
that name suggests, many of them in an extraordinary degree. They are all
the precursors, models, or rivals of Cicero, the greatest of Roman
orators; and in them the true structure of the language as well as the
mind of Rome would have been fully, though unconsciously, revealed. If the
literature of a country be taken as the expression in the field of thought
of the national character as pourtrayed in action, this group of orators
would be considered the most genuine representative of Roman literature.
The permanent contributions to human thought would indeed have been few:
neither in eloquence nor in any other domain did Rome prove herself
creative, but in eloquence she at least showed herself beyond expression
masculine and vigorous. The supreme interest of her history, the massive
characters of the men that wrought it, would here have shown themselves in
the working; men whose natures are a riddle to us, would have stood out,
judged by their own testimony, clear as statues; and we should not have
had so often to pin our faith on the biassed views of party, or the
uncritical panegyrics of school-bred professors or courtly rhetoricians.
The next period shows us the culmination, the short bloom, and the sudden
fall of national eloquence, when with the death of Cicero the "Latin
tongue was silent," [48] and as he himself says, _clamatores_ not
_oratores_ were left to succeed him.


(147-63 B.C.).

Great literary activity of all kinds was, after the third Punic war,
liable to continual interruption from political struggles or revolutions.
But between each two periods of disturbance there was generally an
interval in which philosophy, law, and rhetoric were carefully studied.
As, however, no work of this period has come down to us except the
treatise to Herennius, our notice of it will be proportionately general
and brief. We shall touch on the principal studies in order. First in time
as in importance comes Law, the earliest great representative of which is
P. MUCIUS SCAEVOLA, consul in 133 B.C. but better known as Pontifex
Maximus. In this latter office, which he held for several years, Mucius
did good service to literature. He united a high technical training with a
liberal mind, and superintended the publication of the _Annales
Pontificum_ from the earliest period to his own date. This was a great
boon to historians. He gave another to jurists. His _responsa_ were
celebrated for their insight into the principles of Law, and for the
minute knowledge they displayed. He was conscientious enough to study the
law of every case before he undertook to plead it, a practice which,
however commendable, was rare even with advocates of the highest fame, as,
for example, M. Antonius.

The jurisconsult of this period used to offer his services without payment
to any who chose to consult him. At first he appeared in the forum, but as
his fame and the number of applicants increased, he remained at home and
received all day. His replies were always oral, but when written down were
considered as authoritative, and often quoted by the orators. In return
for this laborious occupation, he expected the support of his clients in
his candidature for the offices of state. An anecdote is preserved of C.
Figulus, a jurisconsult, who, not having been successful for the
consulship, addressed his _consultores_ thus, "You know how to _consult_
me, but not (it seems) how to make me _consul_." [1] In addition to the
parties in a suit, advocates in other causes often came to a great
jurisconsult to be _coached_ in the law of their case. For instance,
Antonius, who, though a ready speaker, had no knowledge of jurisprudence,
often went to Scaevola for this purpose. Moreover there were always one or
two regular pupils who accompanied the jurisconsult, attended carefully to
his words, and committed them assiduously to memory or writing. Cicero
himself did this for the younger Scaevola, and thus laid the foundation of
that clear grasp on the civil law which was so great a help to him in his
more difficult speeches. It was not necessary that the pupil should
himself intend to become a _consultus_; it was enough that he desired to
acquire the knowledge for public purposes, although, of course, it
required great interest to procure for a young man so high a privilege.
Cicero was introduced to Scaevola by the orator Crassus. The family of the
Mucii, as noticed by Cicero, were traditionally distinguished by their
legal knowledge, as that of the Appii Claudii were by eloquence. The Augur
Q. MUCIUS SCAEVOLA who comes midway between Publius and his son Quintus
was somewhat less celebrated than either, but he was nevertheless a man of
eminence. He died probably in 87 B.C., and Cicero mentions that it was in
consequence of this event that he himself became a pupil of his nephew.

The great importance of Religious Law must not be forgotten in estimating
the acquirements of these men. Though to us the _Jus Augurale_ and _Jus
Pontificium_ are of small interest compared with the _Jus Civile_; yet to
the Romans of 120 B.C., and especially to an old and strictly aristocratic
family, they had all the attraction of exclusiveness and immemorial
authority. In all countries religious law exercises at first a sway far in
excess of its proper province, and Rome was no exception to the rule. The
publication of civil law is an era in civilization. Just as the
chancellorship and primacy of England were often in the hands of one
person and that an ecclesiastic, so in Rome the pontifices had at first
the making of almost all law. What a canonist was to Mediaeval Europe, a
pontifex was to senatorial Rome. In the time of which we are now speaking
(133-63 B.C.), the secular law had fully asserted its supremacy on its own
ground, and it was the dignity and influence, not the power of the post,
that made the pontificate so great an object of ambition, and so
inaccessible to upstart candidates. Even for Cicero to obtain a seat in
the college of augurs was no easy task, although he had already won his
way to the consulship and been hailed as the saviour of his country.

The younger Scaevola (Q. MUCIUS SCAEVOLA), who had been his father's
pupil, [3] and was the most eloquent of the three, was born about 135
B.C., was consul 95 with Licinius Crassus for his colleague, and
afterwards Pontifex Maximus. He was an accomplished Greek scholar, a man
of commanding eloquence, deeply versed in the Stoic philosophy, and of the
highest nobility of character. As Long well says, "He is one of those
illustrious men whose fame is not preserved by his writings, but in the
more enduring monument of the memory of all nations to whom the language
of Rome is known." His chief work, which was long extant, and is highly
praised by Cicero, was a digest of the civil law. Rudorff says of it, [4]
"For the first time we meet here with a comprehensive, uniform, and
methodical system, in the place of the old interpretation of laws and
casuistry, of legal opinions and prejudices." Immediately on its
publication it acquired great authority, and was commented upon within a
few years of the death of its author. It is quoted in the Digest, and is
the earliest work to which reference is there made. [5] He was especially
clear in definitions and distinctions, [6] and the grace with which he
invested a dry subject made him deservedly popular. Though so profound a
lawyer, he was quite free from the offensive stamp of the mere
professional man. His urbanity, unstained integrity, and high position,
fitted him to exercise a widespread influence. He had among his hearers
Cicero, as we have already seen, and among jurists proper, Aquillius
Gallus, Balbus Lucilius, and others, who all attained to eminence. His
virtue was such that his name became proverbial for probity as for legal
eminence. In Horace he is coupled with Gracchus as the ideal of a lawyer,
as the other of an orator.

"Gracchus ut hic illi foret, huic ut Mucius ille." [7]

The great oratorical activity of this age produced a corresponding
interest in the theory of eloquence. We have seen that many of the orators
received lessons from Greek rhetoricians. We have seen also the deep
attraction which rhetoric possessed over the Roman mind. It was, so to
speak, the form of thought in which their intellectual creations were
almost all cast. Such a maxim as that attributed to Scaevola, _Fiat
iustitia: ruat caelum_, is not legal but rhetorical. The plays of Attius
owed much of their success to the ability with which statement was pitted
against counter-statement, plea against plea. The philosophic works of
Cicero are coloured with rhetoric. Cases are advanced, refuted, or summed
up, with a view to presentability (_veri simile_), not abstract truth. The
history of Livy, the epic of Virgil, are eminently rhetorical. A Roman
when not fighting was pleading. It was, then, important that he should he
well grounded in the art. Greek rhetoricians, in spite of Cato's
opposition, had been steadily making way, and increasing the number of
their pupils; but it was not until about 93 B.C. that PLOTIUS GALLUS
taught the principles of Rhetoric in Latin. Quintilian says, [8] "_Latinos
dicendi praeceptores extremis L. Crassi temporibus coepisse Cicero auctor
est: quorum insignis maxime Plotius fuit._" He was the first of that long
list of writers who expended wit, learning, and industry, in giving
precepts of a mechanical character to produce what is unproduceable,
namely, a successful style of speaking. Their treatises are interesting,
for they show on the one hand the severe technical application which the
Romans were always willing to bestow in order to imitate the Greeks; and
on the other, the complex demands of Latin rhetoric as contrasted with the
simpler and more natural style of modern times.

The most important work on the subject is the treatise dedicated to
Herennius (80 B.C.), written probably in the time of Sulla, and for a long
time reckoned among Cicero's works. The reason for this confusion is
twofold. First, the anonymous character of the work; and, secondly, the
frequent imitations of it by Cicero in his _De Inventione_, an incomplete
essay written when he was a young man. Who the author was is not agreed;
the balance of probability is in favour of CORNIFICIUS. Kayser [9] points
out several coincidences between Cornificius's views, as quoted by
Quintilian, and the rhetorical treatise to Herennius. The author, whoever
he may be, was an accomplished man, and, while a warm admirer of Greek
eloquence, by no means disposed to concede the inferiority of his own
countrymen. His criticism upon the _inanitas_ [10] of the Greek manuals is
thoroughly just. They were simply guides to an elegant accomplishment, and
had no bearing on real life. It was quite different with the Roman
manuals. These were intended to fit the reader for forensic contests, and,
we cannot doubt, did materially help towards this result. It was only in
the imperial epoch that empty ingenuity took the place of activity, and
rhetoric sunk to the level of that of Greece. There is nothing calling for
special remark in the contents of the book, though all is good. The chief
points of interest in this subject will be discussed in a later chapter.
The style is pure and copious, the Latin that finished idiom which is the
finest vehicle for Roman thought, that spoken by the highest circles at
the best period of the language.

The science of Grammar was now exciting much attention. The Stoic writers
had formulated its main principles, and had assigned it a place in their
system of general philosophy. It remained for the Roman students to apply
the Greek treatment to their own language. Apparently, the earliest
labours were of a desultory kind. The poet Lucilius treated many points of
orthography, pronunciation, and the like; and he criticised inaccuracies
of syntax or metre in the poets who had gone before him. A little later we
find the same mine further worked. Quintilian observes that grammar began
at Rome by the exegesis of classical authors. Octavius Lampadio led the
van with a critical commentary on the _Punica_ of Naevius, and Q.
Vargunteius soon after performed the same office for the annals of Ennius.
The first scientific grammarian, was AELIUS STILO, a Roman knight (144-70
B.C.). His name was L. Aelius Praeconinus; he received the additional
cognomen _Stilo_ from the facility with which he used his pen, especially
in writing speeches for others to deliver. At the same time he was no
orator, and Cicero implies that better men often used his compositions
through mere laziness, and allowed them to pass as their own. [11] Cicero
mentions in more than one place that he himself had been an admiring pupil
of Aelius. And Lucilius addressed some of his satires to him, probably
those on grammar,

"Has res ad te scriptas Luci misimus Aeli;"

so that he is a bond of connection between the two epochs. His learning
was profound and varied. He dedicated his investigations to Varro, who
speaks warmly of him, but mentions that his etymologies are often
incorrect. He appears to have bestowed special care on Plautus, in which
department he was followed by Varro, some of the results of whose
criticism have been already given.

The impulse given by Stilo was rapidly extended. Grammar became a
favourite study with the Romans, as indeed it was one for which they were
eminently fitted. The perfection to which they carried the analysis of
sentences and the practical rules for correct speech as well as the
systematization of the accidence, has made their grammars a model for all
modern school-works. It is only recently that a deeper scientific
knowledge has reorganised the entire treatment, and substituted for
superficial analogy the true basis of a common structure, not only between
Greek and Latin, but among all the languages of the Indo-European class.
Nevertheless, the Roman grammarians deserve great praise for their
elaborate results in the sphere of correct writing. No defects of syntax
perplex the reader of the classical authors. Imperfect and unpliable the
language is, but never inexact. And though the meaning is often hard to
settle, this is owing rather to the inadequacy of the material than the
carelessness of the writer.

Side by side with rhetoric and grammar, Philosophy made its appearance at
Rome. There was no importation from Greece to which a more determined
resistance was made from the first by the national party. In the
consulship of Strabo and Messala (162 B.C.) a decree was passed banishing
philosophers and rhetoricians from Rome. Seven years later took place the
embassy of the three leaders of the most celebrated schools of thought,
Diogenes the Stoic, Critolaus the Peripatetic, and Carneades the New
Academician. The subtilty and eloquence of these disputants rekindled the
interest in philosophy which had been smothered, not quenched, by the
vigorous measures of the senate. There were two reasons why an interest in
these studies was dreaded. First, they tended to spread disbelief in the
state religion, by which the ascendency of the oligarchy was in great
measure maintained; secondly, they distracted men's minds, and diverted
them from that exclusive devotion to public life which the old _regime_
demanded. Nevertheless, some of the greatest nobles ardently espoused the
cause of free thought. After the war with Perseus, and the detention of
the Achaean hostages in Rome, many learned Greeks well versed in
philosophical inquiries were brought into contact with their conquerors in
a manner well calculated to promote mutual confidence. The most eminent of
these was Polybius, who lived for years on terms of intimacy with Scipio
and Laelius, and imparted to them his own wide views and varied knowledge.
From them may be dated the real study of Philosophy at Rome. They both
attained the highest renown in their lifetime and after their death for
their philosophical eminence, [12] but apparently they left no
philosophical writings. The spirit, however, in which they approached
philosophy is eminently characteristic of their nation, and determined the
lines in which philosophic activity afterwards moved.

In no department of thought is the difference between the Greek and Roman
mind more clearly seen; in none was the form more completely borrowed, and
the spirit more completely missed. The object of Greek philosophy had been
the attainment of absolute truth. The long line of thinkers from Thales to
Aristotle had approached philosophy in the belief that they could by it be
enabled to understand the cause of all that is. This lofty anticipation
pervades all their theories, and by its fruitful influence engenders that
wondrous grasp and fertility of thought [13] which gives their
speculations an undying value. It is true that in the later systems this
consciousness is less strongly present. It struggles to maintain itself in
stoicism and epicureanism against the rising claims of human happiness to
be considered as the goal of philosophy. In the New Academy (which in the
third century before Christ was converted to scepticism) and in the
sceptical school, we see the first confession of incapacity to discover
truth. Instead of certainties they offer probabilities sufficient to guide
us through life; the only axiom which they assert as incontrovertible
being the fact that we know nothing. Thus instead of proposing as the
highest activity of man a life of speculative thought, they came to
consider inactivity and impassibility [13] the chief attainable good.
Their method of proof was a dialectic which strove to show the
inconsistency or uncertainty of their opponent's positions, but which did
not and could not arrive at any constructive result. Philosophy (to use an
ancient phrase) had fallen from the sphere of _knowledge_ to that of
_opinion_. [15]

Of these _opinions_ there were three which from their definiteness were
well calculated to lay hold on the Roman mind. The first was that of the
Stoics, that virtue is the only good; the second that of the Epicureans,
that pleasure is the end of man; the third that of the Academy, that
nothing can be known. [16] These were by no means the only, far less the
exclusive characteristics of each school; for in many ways they all
strongly resembled each other, particularly stoicism and the New Academy;
and in their definition of what should be the practical result of their
principles all were substantially agreed. [17]

But what to the Greeks was a speculative principle to be drawn out by
argument to its logical conclusions, to the Romans was a practical maxim
to be realized in life. The Romans did not understand the love of abstract
truth, or the charm of abstract reasoning employed for its own sake
without any ulterior end. To profess the doctrines of stoicism, and live a
life of self-indulgence, was to be false to one's convictions; to embrace
Epicurus's system without making it subservient to enjoyment, was equally
foreign to a consistent character. In Athens the daily life of an
Epicurean and a Stoic would not present any marked difference; in
discussion they would be widely divergent, but the contrast ended there.
In Rome, on the contrary, it was the mode of life which made the chief
distinction. Men who laboured for the state as jurists or senators, who
were grave and studious, generally, if not always, adopted the tenets of
Zeno; if they were orators, they naturally turned rather to the Academy,
which offered that balancing of opinions so congenial to the tone of mind
of an advocate. Among public men of the highest character, very few
espoused Epicurus's doctrines.

The mere assertion that pleasure was the _summum bonum_ for man was so
repugnant to the old Roman views that it could hardly have been made the
basis of a self-sacrificing political activity. Accordingly we find in the
period before Cicero only men of the second rank representing epicurean
views. AMAFINIUS is stated to have been the first who popularised them.
[18] He wrote some years before Cicero, and from his lucid and simple
treatment immediately obtained a wide circulation for his books. The
multitude (says Cicero), hurried to adopt his precepts, [19] finding them
easy to understand, and in harmony with their own inclinations. The second
writer of mark seems to have been RABIRIUS. He also wrote on the physical
theory of Epicurus in a superficial way. He neither divided his subject
methodically, nor attempted exact definitions, and all his arguments were
drawn from the world of visible things. In fact, his system seems to have
been a crude and ordinary materialism, such as the vulgar are in all ages
prone to, and beyond which their minds cannot go. The refined Catulus was
also an adherent of epicureanism, though he also attached himself to the
Academy. Among Greeks resident at Rome the best known teachers were
Phaedrus and Zeno; a book by the former on the gods was largely used by
Cicero in the first book of his _De Natura Deorum_. A little later
Philodemus of Gadara, parts of whose writings are still extant, seems to
have risen to the first place. In the time of Cicero this system obtained
more disciples among the foremost men. Both statesmen and poets cultivated
it, and gained it a legitimate place among the genuine philosophical
creeds. [20]

Stoicism was far more congenial to the national character, and many great
men professed it. Besides Laelius, who was a disciple of Diodes and
Panactius, we have the names of Rutilius Rufus, Aelius Stilo, Balbus, and
Scaevola. But during the tumultuous activity of these years it was not
possible for men to cultivate philosophy with deep appreciation. Political
struggles occupied their minds, and it was in their moments of relaxation
only that the questions agitated by stoicism would he discussed. We must
remember that as yet stoicism was one of several competing systems.
Peripateticism and the Academy, as has been said, attracted the more
sceptical or argumentative minds, for their dialectics were far superior
to those of stoicism; it was in its moral grandeur that stoicism towered
not only above these but above all other systems that have been invented,
and the time for the full recognition of this moral grandeur had not yet
come. At present men were occupied in discussing its logical quibbles and
paradoxes, and in balancing its claims to cogency against those of its
rivals. It was not until the significance of its central doctrine was
tried to the uttermost by the dark tyranny of the Empire, that stoicism
stood erect and alone as the sole representative of all that was good and
great. Still, the fact that its chief professors were men of weight in the
state, lent it a certain authority, and Cicero, among the few definite
doctrines that he accepts, numbers that of stoicism that virtue is
sufficient for happiness.

We shall close this chapter with one or two remarks on the relation of
philosophy to the state religion. It must be observed that the formal and
unpliable nature of the Roman cult made it quite unable to meet the
requirements of advancing enlightenment. It was a superstition, not a
religion; it admitted neither of allegoric interpretation nor of poetical
idealisation. Hence there was no alternative but to believe or disbelieve
it. There can be no doubt that all educated Romans did the latter. The
whole machinery of ritual and ceremonies was used for purely political
ends; it was no great step to regard it as having a purely political
basis. To men with so slight a hold as this on the popular creed, the
religion and philosophy of Greece were suddenly revealed. It was a
spiritual no less than an intellectual revolution. Their views on the
question of the unseen were profoundly changed. The simple but manly piety
of the family religion, the regular ceremonial of the state, were
confronted with the splendid hierarchy of the Greek Pantheon and the
subtle questionings of Greek intellect. It is no wonder that Roman
conviction was, so to speak, taken by storm. The popular faith received a
shock from which it never rallied. Augustus and others restored the
ancient ritual, but no edict could restore the lost belief. So deep had
the poison penetrated that no sound place was left. With superstition they
cast off all religion. For poetical or imaginative purposes the Greek
deities under their Latin dress might suffice, but for a guide of life
they were utterly powerless. The nobler minds therefore naturally turned
to philosophy, and here they found, if not certainty, at least a
reasonable explanation of the problems they encountered. Is the world
governed by law? If so, is that law a moral one? If not, is the ruler
chance? What is the origin of the gods? of man? of the soul? Questions
like these could neither be resolved by the Roman nor by the Helleno-Roman
systems of religion, but they were met and in a way answered by Greek
philosophy. Hence it became usual for every thinking Roman to attach
himself to the tenets of some sect, which ever best suited his own
comprehension or prejudices. But this adhesion did not involve a rigid or
exclusive devotion. Many were Eclectics, that is, adopted from various
systems such elements as seemed to them most reasonable. For instance,
Cicero was a Stoic more than anything else in his ethical theory, a New
Academician in his logic, and in other respects a Platonist. But even he
varied greatly at different times. There was, however, no combination
among professors of the same sect with a view to practical work or
dissemination of doctrines. Had such been attempted, it would at once have
been put down by the state. But it never was. Philosophical beliefs of
whatever kind did not in the least interfere with conformity to the state
religion. One Scaevola was Pontifex Maximus, another was Augur; Cicero
himself was Augur, so was Caesar. The two things were kept quite distinct.
Philosophy did not influence political action in any way. It was simply a
refuge for the mind, such as all thinking men must have, and which if not
supplied by a true creed, will inevitably be sought in a false or
imperfect one. And the noble doctrines professed by the great Greek
schools were certainly far more worthy of the adhesion of such men as
Scaevola and Laelius, than the worn-out cult which the popular ceremonial








The period embraced by the present book contains the culmination of all
kinds of literature, the drama alone excepted. It falls naturally into two
divisions, each marked by special and clearly-defined characteristics. The
first begins with the recognition of Cicero as the chief man of letters at
Rome, and ends with the battle of Philippi, a year after his death. It
extends over a period of two and twenty years (about 63-42 B.C.), though
many of Cicero's orations are anterior, and some of Varro's works
posterior, to the extreme dates. In this period Latin prose writing
attained its perfection. The storms which shook and finally overthrew the
Republic turned the attention of all minds to political questions. Oratory
and history were the prevailing forms of intellectual activity. It was not
until the close of the period that philosophy was treated by Cicero during
his compulsory absence from public life; and poetry rose once more into
prominence in the works of Lucretius and Catullus. The chief
characteristics of the literature of this period are freedom and vigour.
In every author the bold spirit of the Republic breathes forth; and in the
greatest is happily combined with an extensive and elegant scholarship,
equally removed from pedantry and dullness.

The second division (42 B.C.-14 A.D.) begins shortly after the battle of
Philippi, with the earliest poems of Varius and Virgil, and closes with
the death of Augustus. It is pre-eminently an era of poets, Livy alone
being a prose writer of the first rank, and is marked by all the
characteristics of an imperial age. The transition from the last poems of
Catullus to the first of Virgil is complete. Nevertheless, many republican
authors lived on into this period, as Varro, Pollio, and Bibaculus. But
their character and genius belong to the Republic, and, with the exception
of Pollio, they will be noticed under the republican writers. The entire
period represents the full maturity and perfection of the Latin language,
and the epithet _classical_ is by many restricted to the authors who wrote
in it. It is best, however, not to narrow unnecessarily the sphere of
classicality; to exclude Terence on the one hand or Tacitus and Pliny on
the other, would savour of artificial restriction rather than that of a
natural classification.

The first writer that comes before us is M. TERENTIUS VARRO, 116-28 B.C.
He is at once the earliest and the latest of the series. His birth took
place ten years before that of Cicero, and his death fifteen years after
Cicero's murder, in the third year of the reign of Augustus. His long life
was devoted almost entirely to study, and he became known even in his
lifetime as the most learned of the Romans. This did not, however, prevent
him from offering his services to the state when the state required them.
He served more than once under Pompey, acquitting himself with
distinction, so that in the civil war the important post of legatus was
intrusted to him in company with Petreius and Afranius in Spain. But Varro
felt from the first his inability to cope with his adversary. Caesar
speaks of him as acting coolly in Pompey's interest until the successes of
Afranius at Ilerda roused him to more vigorous measures; but the triumph
of the Pompeians was shortlived; and when Caesar convened the delegates at
Corduba, Varro found himself shut out from all the fortified towns, and in
danger of being deserted by his army. [1] He therefore surrendered at
discretion, returned to Italy, and took no more part in public affairs. We
hear of him occasionally in Cicero's letters as studying in his country
seats at Tusculum, Cumae, or Casinum, indifferent to politics, and
preparing those great works of antiquarian research which have
immortalised his name. Caesar's victorious return brought him out of his
retreat. He was placed over the library which Caesar built for public use,
an appointment equally complimentary to Varro and honourable to Caesar.
Antony, however, incapable of the generosity of his chief, placed Varro's
name on the list of the proscribed, at a time when the old man was over
seventy years of age, and had long ceased to have any weight in politics.
Nothing more clearly shows the abominable motives that swayed the
triumvirs than this attempt to murder an aged and peaceful citizen for the
sake of possessing his wealth. For Varro had the good or bad fortune to be
extremely rich. His Casine villa, alluded to by Cicero, and partly
described by himself, was sumptuously decorated, and his other estates
were large and productive. The Casine villa was made the scene of Antony's
revelry; he and his fellow-rioters plundered the rooms, emptied the
cellar, burned the library, and carried on every kind of debauchery and
excess. Few passages in all eloquence are more telling than that in which
Cicero with terrible power contrasts the conduct of the two successive
occupants. [2] Varro, through the zeal of his friends, managed to escape
Antony's fury, and for a time lay concealed in the villa of Galenas, at
which Antony was a frequent visitor, little suspecting that his enemy was
within his grasp. An edict was soon issued, however, exempting the old man
from the effect of the proscription, so that he was enabled to live in
peace at Rome until his death. But deprived of his wealth (which Augustus
afterwards restored), deprived of his friends, and above all, deprived of
his library, he must have felt a deep shadow cast over his declining
years. Nevertheless, he remained cheerful, and to all appearance
contented, and charmed those who knew him by the vigour of his
conversation and his varied antiquarian lore. He is never mentioned by any
of the Augustan writers.

Varro belongs to the genuine type of old Roman, improved but not altered
by Greek learning, with his heart fixed in the past, deeply conservative
of everything national, and even in his style of speech protesting against
the innovations of the day. If we reflect that when Varro wrote his
treatise on husbandry, Virgil was at work on the _Georgics_, and then
compare the diction of the two, it seems almost incredible that they
should have been contemporaries. In all literature there is probably no
such instance of rock-like impenetrability to fashion; for him Alexandria
might never have existed. He recalls the age of Cato rather than that of
Cicero. His versatility was as great as his industry. There was scarcely
any department of prose or poetry, provided it was national, in which he
did not excel. His early life well fitted him for severe application. Born
at Reate, in the Sabine territory, which was the nurse of all manly
virtues, [3] Varro, as he himself tells us, had to rough it as a boy; he
went barefoot over the mountain side, rode without saddle or bridle, and
wore but a single tunic. [4] Bold, frank, and sarcastic, he had all the
qualities of the old-fashioned country gentleman. At Rome he became
intimate with Aelius Stilo, whose opinion of his pupil is shown by the
inscription of his grammatical treatise to him. Stilo's mantle descended
on Varro, but with sevenfold virtue. Not only grammar, by which term we
must understand philology and etymology as well as syntax, but antiquities
secular and religious, and almost all the liberal arts, were passed under
review by his encyclopaedic mind.

At the same time lighter themes had strong attraction for him. He
possessed in a high degree that racy and caustic wit which was a special
Italian product, and had been conspicuous in Cato and Lucilius. But while
Cato studied to be oracular, and Lucilius to be critical, Varro seems to
have indulged his vein without any special object. Though by no means a
born poet, he had the faculty of writing terse and elegant verse when he
chose, and in his younger days composed a long list of metrical works.
There were among them _Pseudotragoediae_, which Teuffel thinks were the
same as the _Hilarotragoediae_, or _Rhinthonicae_, so called from their
inventor Rhinthon; though others class them with the _Komodotragodiai_, of
which Plautus's _Amphitruo_ is the best known instance. However this may
be, they were mock-heroic compositions in which the subjects consecrated
by tragic usage were travestied or burlesqued. It is probable that they
were mere literary exercises designed to beguile leisure or to facilitate
the labour of composition, like the closet tragedies composed by Cicero
and his brother Quintus; and Varro certainly owed none of his fame to
them. Other poems of his are referred to by Cicero, and perhaps by
Quintilian; [5] but in the absence of definite allusions we can hardly
characterize them. There was one class of semi-poetical composition which
Varro made peculiarly his own, the _Satura Menippea_, a medley of prose
and verse, treating of all kinds of subjects just as they came to hand in
the plebeian style, often with much grossness, but with sparkling point.
Of these _Saturae_ he wrote no less than 150 books, of which fragments
have been preserved amounting to near 600 lines. Menippus of Gadara, the
originator of this style of composition, lived about 280 B.C.; he
interspersed jocular and commonplace topics with moral maxims and
philosophical doctrines, and may have added contemporary pictures, though
this is uncertain.

Varro followed him; we find him in the _Academicae Quaestiones_ of Cicero,
[6] saying that he adopted this method in the hope of enticing the
unlearned to read something that might profit them. In these _saturae_
topics were handled with the greatest freedom. They were not satires in
the modern sense. They are rather to be considered as lineal descendants
of the old _saturae_ which existed before any regular literature. They
nevertheless embodied with unmistakable clearness Varro's sentiments with
regard to the prevailing luxury, and combined his thorough knowledge of
all that best befitted a Roman to know with a racy freshness which we miss
in his later works. The titles of many are preserved, and give some index
to the character of the contents. We have some in Greek, _e.g._
Marco_polis_ or _peri archaes_, a sort of Varro's Republic, after the
manner of Plato; _Hippokyon_, _Kynoppaetor_, and others, satirizing the
cynic philosophy. Some both in Greek and Latin, as _Columnae Herculis,
peri doxaes_; _est modus matulae, peri methaes_; others in Latin only, as
_Marcipor_ the slave of Marcus (_i.e._ Varro himself). Many are in the
shape of proverbs, e.g. _Longe fugit qui suos fugit_, _gnothi seauton_,
_nescis quid vesper serus vehat_. Only two fragments are of any length;
one from the _Marcipor_, in graceful iambic verse, [7] the other in prose
from the _nescis quid vesper_. [8] It consists of directions for a
convivial meeting: "Nam multos convivas esse non convenit, quod _turba_
plerumque est _turbulenta_; et Romae quidem constat: sed et Athenis;
nusquam enim plures cubabant. [9] Ipsum deinde convivium constat ex rebus
quatuor, et tum denique omnibus suis numeris absolutum est; si belli
homuculi collecti sunt, si lectus locus, si tempus lectum, si apparatus
non neglectus. Nec loquaces autem convivas nec mutos legere oportet; quia
eloquentia in foro et apud subsellia; silentium vero non in convivio sed
in cubiculo esse debet. Quod profecto eveniet, si de id genus rebus ad
communem vitae usum pertinentibus confabulemur, de quibus in foro atque in
negotiis agendis loqui non est otium. Dominum autem convivii esse oportet
non tam _tautum_ quam _sine sordibus_. Et in convivio legi non omnia
debent, sed ea potissimum quae simul sunt _biophelae_, [10] et delectent
potius, ut id quoque videatur non superfuisse. Bellaria ea maxime sunt
_mellita_, quae _mellita_ non sunt, _pemmasin_ entra et _pepsei_ societas
infida." In this piece we see the fondness for punning, which even in his
eightieth year had not left him. The last pun is not at first obvious; the
meaning is that the nicest sweetmeats are those which are not too sweet,
for made dishes are hostile to digestion; or, as we may say, paraphrasing
his diction, "Delicacies are conducive to delicacy." It was from this
_satura_ the celebrated rule was taken that guests should be neither fewer
than the graces, nor more than the muses. The whole subject of the
Menippean satires is brilliantly treated in Mommsen's _History of Rome_,
and Riese's edition of the satires, to both which, if he desire further
information, we refer the reader. [11]

The genius of Varro, however, more and more inclined him to prose. The
next series of works that issued from his pen were probably those known as
_Logistorici_ (about 56-50 B.C.). The model for these was furnished by
Heraclides Ponticus, a friend and pupil of Plato, and after his death, of
Aristotle. He was a voluminous and encyclopaedic writer, but too indolent
to apply the vigorous method of his master. Hence his works, being
discursive and easily understood, were well fitted for the comprehension
of the Romans. Varro's histories were short, mostly taken from his own or
his friends' experience, and centred round some principle of ethics or
economics. _Catus de liberis educandis_, _Marius de Fortuna_, &c. are
titles which remind us of Cicero's _Laelius de Amicitia_ and _Cato Major
de Senectute_, of which it is extremely probable they were the suggesting

Varro in his _saturae_ is very severe upon philosophers. He had almost as
great a contempt for them as his archetype Cato. And yet Varro was deeply
read in the philosophy of Greece. He did not yield to Cicero in admiration
of her illustrious thinkers. It is probable that with his keen
appreciation of the Roman character he saw that it was unfitted for
speculative thought; that in most cases its cultivation would only bring
forth pedants or hypocrites. When asked by Cicero why he had not written a
great philosophical work, he replied that those who had a real interest in
the study would go direct to the fountain head, those who had not would be
none the better for reading a Latin compendium. Hence he preferred to turn
his labours into a more productive channel, and to instruct the people in
their own antiquities, which had never been adequately studied, and, now
that Stilo was dead, seemed likely to pass into oblivion. [12] His
researches occupied three main fields, that of law and religion, that of
civil history and biography, and that of philology.

Of these the first was the one for which he was most highly qualified, and
in which he gained his highest renown. His crowning work in this
department was the _Antiquities Divine and Human_, in 41 books. [13] This
was the greatest monument of Roman learning, the reference book for all
subsequent writers. It is quoted continually by Pliny, Gellius, and
Priscian; and, what is more interesting to us, by St Augustine in the
fifth and seventh books of his _Civitas Dei_, as the one authoritative
work on the subject of the national religion. [14] He thus describes the
plan of the work. It consisted of 41 books; 25 of human antiquities, 16 of
divine. In the human part, 6 books were given to each of the four
divisions; viz. of Agents, of Places, of Times, of Things. [15] To these
24 one prefatory chapter was prefixed of a general character, thus
completing the number. In the divine part a similar method was followed.
Three books were allotted to each of the five divisions of the subject,
viz. the Men who sacrifice, the Places, and Times of worship, [16] the
Rites performed, and finally the Divine Beings themselves. To these was
prefixed a book treating the subject comprehensively, and of a prefatory
nature. The five triads were thus subdivided: the first into a book on
_Pontifices_, one on Augurs, one on _Quindecimviri Sacrorum_; the second
into books on shrines, temples, and sacred spots, respectively; the third
into those on festivals and holidays, the games of the circus, and
theatrical spectacles; the fourth treats of consecrations, private rites,
and public sacrifices, while the fifth has one treatise on gods that
certainly exist, one on gods that are doubtful, and one on the chief and
select deities.

We have given the particulars of this division to show the almost pedantic
love of system that Varro indulged. Nearly all his books were parcelled
out on a similar methodical plan. He had no idea of following the natural
divisions of a subject, but always imposed on his subject artificial
categories drawn from his own prepossessions. [17] The remark has been
made that of all Romans Varro was the most unphilosophical. Certainly if a
true classification be the basis of a truly scientific treatment, Varro
can lay no claim to it. His erudition, though, profound, is cumbrous. He
never seems to move easily in it. His illustrations are far-fetched, often
inopportune. What, for instance, can be more out of place than to bring to
a close a discussion on farming by the sudden announcement of a hideous
murder? [18] His style is as uncouth as his arrangement is unnatural. It
abounds in constructions which cannot be justified by strict rules of
syntax, _e.g._ "_hi qui pueros in ludum mittunt, idem barbatos ... non
docebimus?_" [19] "When we send our children to school to learn to speak
correctly, shall we not also correct bearded men, when they make
mistakes?" Slipshod constructions like this occur throughout the treatise
on the Latin tongue, though, it is true, they are almost entirely absent
from that on husbandry, which is a much more finished work. Obscurity in
explaining what the author means, or in describing what he has seen, is so
frequent an accompaniment of vast erudition that it need excite little
surprise. And yet how different it is from the matchless clearness of
Cicero or Caesar! In the treatise on husbandry, Varro is at great pains to
describe a magnificent aviary in his villa at Casinum, but his auditors
must have been clear-headed indeed if they could follow his description.
[20] And in the _De Lingua Latina_, wishing to show how the elephant was
called _Luca bos_ from having been first seen in Lucania with the armies
of Pyrrhus, and from the ox being the largest quadruped with which the
Italians were then acquainted, he gives us the following involved note--
_In Virgilii commentario erat: Ab Lucanis Lucas; ab eo quod nostri, quom
maximam quadrupedem, quam ipsi haberent, vocarent bovem, et in Lucanis
Pyrrhi bello primum vidissent apud hostes elephantos, Lucanum bovem quod
putabant Lucam bovem appellassent_.

In fact Varro was no stylist. He was a master of facts, as Cicero of
words. _Studiosum rerum_, says Augustine, _tantum docet, quantum studiosum
verborum Cicero delectat_. Hence Cicero, with all his proneness to
exaggerate the excellences of his friends, never speaks of him as
eloquent. He calls him _omnium facile acutissimus, et sine ulla
dubitatione doctissimus_. [21] The qualities that shone out conspicuously
in his works were, besides learning, a genial though somewhat caustic
humour, and a thorough contempt for effeminacy of all kinds. The fop, the
epicure, the warbling poet who gargled his throat before murmuring his
recondite ditty, the purist, and above all the mock-philosopher with his
nostrum for purifying the world, these are all caricatured by Varro in his
pithy, good-humoured way; the spirit of the Menippean satires remained,
though the form was changed to one more befitting the grave old teacher of
wisdom. The fragments of his works as well as the notices of his friends
present him to us the very picture of a healthy-minded and healthy-bodied

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