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Beacon Lights of History, Volume III by John Lord

Part 3 out of 4

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Romans, and covered with lids made air-tight by resin and bitumen. The
Egyptians had several kinds of wine, highly praised by the ancients; and
wine among them was cheap and abundant. Egypt was also renowned for
drugs unknown to other nations, and for beer made of barley, as well as
wine. As for fruits, they had the same variety as we have at the present
day, their favorite fruit being dates. "So fond were the Egyptians of
trees and flowers that they exacted a contribution from the nations
tributary to them of their rarest plants, so that their gardens bloomed
with flowers of every variety in all seasons of the year." Wreaths and
chaplets were in common use from the earliest antiquity. It was in their
gardens, abounding with vegetables as well as with fruits and flowers,
that the Egyptians entertained their friends.

In Egyptian houses were handsome chairs and fauteuils, stools and
couches, the legs of which were carved in imitation of the feet of
animals; and these were made of rare woods, inlaid with ivory, and
covered with rich stuffs. Some of the Egyptian chairs were furnished
with cushions and covered with the skins of leopards and lions; the
seats were made of leather, painted with flowers. Footstools were
sometimes made of elegant patterns, inlaid with ivory and precious
woods. Mats were used in the sitting-rooms. The couches were of every
variety of form, and utilized in some instances as beds. The tables were
round, square, and oblong, and were sometimes made of stone and highly
ornamented with carvings. Bronze bedsteads were used by the
wealthy classes.

In their entertainments nothing was omitted by the Egyptians which would
produce festivity,--music, songs, dancing, and games of chance. The
guests arrived in chariots or palanquins, borne by servants on foot, who
also carried parasols over the heads of their masters. Previous to
entering the festive chamber water was brought for the feet and hands,
the ewers employed being made often of gold and silver, of beautiful
form and workmanship. Servants in attendance anointed the head with
sweet-scented ointment from alabaster vases, and put around the heads of
the guests garlands and wreaths in which the lotus was conspicuous; they
also perfumed the apartments with myrrh and frankincense, obtained
chiefly from Syria. Then wine was brought, and emptied into
drinking-cups of silver or bronze, and even of porcelain, beautifully
engraved, one of which was exclusively reserved for the master of the
house. While at dinner the party were enlivened with musical
instruments, the chief of which were the harp, the lyre, the guitar, the
tambourine, the pipe, the flute, and the cymbal. Music was looked upon
by the Egyptians as an important science, and was diligently studied and
highly prized; the song and the dance were united with the sounds of
musical instruments. Many of the ornamented vases and other vessels used
by the Egyptians in their banquets were not inferior in elegance of form
and artistic finish to those made by the Greeks at a later day. The
Pharaoh of the Jewish Exodus had drinking-vessels of gold and silver,
exquisitely engraved and ornamented with precious stones.

Some of the bronze vases found at Thebes and other parts of Egypt show
great skill in the art of compounding metals, and were highly polished.
Their bronze knives and daggers had an elastic spring, as if made of
steel. Wilkinson expresses his surprise at the porcelain vessels
recently discovered, as well as admiration of them, especially of their
rich colors and beautiful shapes. There is a porcelain bowl of exquisite
workmanship in the British Museum inscribed with the name of Rameses
II., proving that the arts of pottery were carried to great perfection
two thousand years before Christ. Boxes of elaborate workmanship, made
of precious woods finely carved and inlaid with ivory, are also
preserved in the different museums of Europe, all dating from a remote
antiquity. These boxes are of every form, with admirably fitting lids,
representing fishes, birds, and animals. The rings, bracelets, and other
articles of jewelry that have been preserved show great facility on the
part of the Egyptians in cutting the hardest stones. The skill displayed
in the sculptures on the hard obelisks and granite monuments of Egypt
was remarkable, since they were executed with hardened bronze.

Glass-blowing was another art in which the Egyptians excelled. Fifteen
hundred years before Christ they made ornaments of glass, and glass
vessels of large size were used for holding wine. Such was their skill
in the manufacture of glass that they counterfeited precious stones with
a success unknown to the moderns. We read of a counterfeited emerald six
feet in length. Counterfeited necklaces were sold at Thebes which
deceived strangers. The uses to which glass was applied were in the
manufacture of bottles, beads, mosaic work, and drinking-cups, and their
different colors show considerable knowledge of chemistry. The art of
cutting and engraving stones was doubtless learned by the Israelites in
their sojourn in Egypt. So perfect were the Egyptians in the arts of
cutting precious stones that they were sought by foreign merchants, and
they furnished an important material in commerce.

From the earliest times the Egyptians were celebrated for their
manufacture of linen, which was one of the principal articles of
commerce; and cotton and woollen cloths as well as linen were woven.
Cotton was used not only for articles of dress, but for the covering of
chairs and other kinds of furniture. The great mass of the mummy cloths
is of coarse texture; but the "fine linen" spoken of in the Scripture
was as fine as muslin, in some instances containing more than five
hundred threads to an inch, while the finest productions of the looms of
India have only one hundred threads to the inch. Not only were the
threads of linen cloth of extraordinary fineness, but the dyes were
equally remarkable, and were unaffected by strong alkalies. Spinning was
principally the occupation of women, who also practised the art of
embroidery, in which gold thread was used, supposed to be beaten out by
the hammer; but in the arts of dyeing and embroidery the Egyptians were
surpassed by the Babylonians, who were renowned for their cloths of
various colors.

The manufacture of paper was another art for which the Egyptians were
famous, made from the papyrus, a plant growing in the marsh-land of the
Nile. The papyrus was also applied to the manufacture of sails, baskets,
canoes, and parts of sandals. Some of the papyri, on which is
hieroglyphic writing dating from two thousand years before our era, are
in good preservation. Sheep-skin parchment also was used for writing.

The Egyptians were especially skilled in the preparation of leather for
sandals, shields, and chairs. The curriers used the same semicircular
knife which is now in use. The great consumption of leather created a
demand far greater than could be satisfied by the produce of the
country, and therefore skins from foreign countries were imported as
part of the tribute laid on conquered nations or tribes.

More numerous than the tanners in Egypt were the potters, among whom the
pottery-wheel was known from a remote antiquity, previous to the arrival
of Joseph from Canaan, and long before the foundation of the Greek
Athens. Earthenware was used for holding wine, oils, and other liquids;
but the finest production of the potter were the vases, covered with a
vitreous glaze and modelled in every variety of forms, some of which
were as elegant as those made later by the Greeks, who excelled in this
department of art.

Carpenters and cabinet-makers formed a large class of Egyptian workmen
for making coffins, boxes, tables, chairs, doors, sofas, and other
articles of furniture, frequently inlaid with ivory and rare woods.
Veneering was known to these workmen, probably arising from the scarcity
of wood. The tools used by the carpenters, as appear from the
representations on the monuments, were the axe, the adze, the hand-saw,
the chisel, the drill, and the plane. These tools were made of bronze,
with handles of acacia, tamarisk, and other hard woods. The hatchet, by
which trees were felled, was used by boat-builders. The boxes and other
articles of furniture were highly ornamented with inlaid work.

Boat-building in Egypt also employed many workmen. Boats were made of
the papyrus plant, deal, cedar, and other woods, and were propelled both
by sails and oars. One ship-of-war built for Ptolemy Philopater is said
by ancient writers to have been 478 feet long, to have had forty banks
of oars, and to have carried 400 sailors, 4,000 rowers, and 3,000
soldiers. This is doubtless an exaggeration, but indicates great
progress in naval architecture. The construction of boats varied
according to the purpose for which they were intended. They were built
with ribs as at the present day, with small keels, square sails, with
spacious cabins in the centre, and ornamented sterns; there was usually
but one mast, and the prows terminated in the heads of animals. The
boats of burden were somewhat similar to our barges; the sails were
generally painted with rich colors. The origin of boat-building was
probably the raft, and improvement followed improvement until the
ship-of-war rivalled in size our largest vessels, while Egyptian
merchant vessels penetrated to distant seas, and probably doubled the
Cape of Good Hope.

In regard to agriculture the Egyptians were the most advanced of the
nations of antiquity, since the fertility of their soil made the
occupation one of primary importance. Irrigation was universally
practised, the Nile furnishing water for innumerable canals. The soil
was often turned up with the hoe rather than the plough. The grain was
sown broadcast, and was trodden in by goats. Their plough was very
simple, and was drawn by oxen; the yoke being attached to the horns.
Although the soil was rich, manures were frequently used. The chief
crops were those of wheat, barley, beans, peas, lentils, vetches,
lupines, clover, rice, indigo, cotton, lettuce, flax, hemp, cumin,
coriander, poppy, melons, cucumbers, onions, and leeks. We do not read
of carrots, cabbages, beets, or potatoes, which enter so largely into
modern husbandry. Oil was obtained from the olive, the castor-berry,
simsin, and coleseed. Among the principal trees which were cultivated
were the vine, olive, locust, acacia, date, sycamore, pomegranate, and
tamarisk. Grain, after harvest, was trodden out by oxen, and the straw
was used as provender. To protect the fields from inundation dykes
were built.

All classes in Egypt delighted in the sports of the field, especially in
the hunting of wild animals, in which the arrow was most frequently
used. Sometimes the animals were caught in nets, in enclosed places near
water-brooks. The Egyptians also had numerous fish-ponds, since they
were as fond of angling as they were of hunting. Hunting in Egypt was an
amusement, not an occupation as among nomadic people. Not only was
hunting for pleasure a great amusement among Egyptians, but also among
Babylonians and Persians, who coursed the plains with dogs. They used
the noose or lasso also to catch antelopes and wild cattle, which were
hunted with lions; the bow used in the chase was similar to that
employed in war. All the subjects of the chase were sculptured on the
monuments with great spirit and fidelity, especially the stag, the ibex,
the porcupine, the wolf, the hare, the lion, the fox, and the giraffe.
The camel is not found among the Egyptian sculptures, nor the bear. Of
the birds found in their sculptures were vultures, eagles, kites, hawks,
owls, ravens, larks, swallows, turtle-doves, quails, ostriches, storks,
plovers, snipes, geese, and ducks, many of which were taken in nets. The
Nile and Lake Birket el Keroun furnished fish in great abundance. The
profits of the fisheries were enormous, and were farmed out by the

The Egyptians were very fond of ornaments in dress, especially the
women. They paid great attention to their sandals; they wore their hair
long and plaited, bound round with an ornamented fillet fastened by a
lotus bud; they wore ear-rings and a profusion of rings on the fingers
and bracelets for the arms, made of gold and set with precious stones.
The scarabaeus, or sacred beetle, was the adornment of rings and
necklaces; even the men wore necklaces and rings and chains. Both men
and women stained the eyelids and brows. Pins and needles were among the
articles of the toilet, usually made of bronze; also metallic mirrors
finely polished. The men carried canes or walking-sticks,--the wands of
Moses and Aaron.

As the Egyptians paid great attention to health, physicians were held in
great repute; and none were permitted to practise but in some particular
branch, such as diseases of the eye, the ear, the head, the teeth, and
the internal maladies. They were paid by government, and were skilled in
the knowledge of drugs. The art of curing diseases originated, according
to Pliny, in Egypt. Connected with the healing art was the practice of
embalming dead bodies, which was carried to great perfection.

In elegance of life the Greeks and Romans, however, far surpassed any
of the nations of antiquity, if not in luxury itself, which was confined
to the palaces of kings. In social refinements the Greeks were not
behind any modern nation, as one infers from reading Becker's Charicles.
Among the Greeks was the network of trades and professions, as in Paris
and London, and a complicated social life in which all the amenities
known to the modern world were seen, especially in Athens and Corinth
and the Ionian capitals. What could be more polite and courteous than
the intercourse carried on in Greece among cultivated and famous people?
When were symposia more attractive than when the _elite_ of Athens, in
the time of Pericles, feasted and communed together? When was art ever
brought in support of luxury to greater perfection? We read of libraries
and books and booksellers, of social games, of attractive gardens and
villas, as well as of baths and spectacles, of markets and fora in
Athens. The common life of a Pericles or a Cicero differed but little
from that of modern men of rank and fortune.

In describing the various arts which marked the nations of antiquity, we
cannot but feel that in a material point of view the ancient
civilization in its important features was as splendid as our own. In
the decoration of houses, in social entertainments, in cookery, the
Romans were our equals. The mosaics, the signet rings, cameos,
bracelets, bronzes, vases, couches, banqueting-tables, lamps, colored
glass, potteries, all attest great elegance and beauty. The tables of
thuga root and Delian bronze were as expensive as modern sideboards;
wood and ivory were carved in Rome as exquisitely as in Japan and China;
mirrors were made of polished silver. Glass-cutters could imitate the
colors of precious stones so well that the Portland vase, from the tomb
of Alexander Severus, was long considered as a genuine sardonyx. The
palace of Nero glittered with gold and jewels; perfumes and flowers were
showered from ivory ceilings. The halls of Heliogabalus were hung with
cloth of gold, enriched with jewels; his beds were silver, and his
tables of gold. A banquet dish of Drusillus weighed five hundred pounds
of silver. Tunics were embroidered with the figures of various animals;
sandals were garnished with precious stones. Paulina wore jewels, when
she paid visits, valued at $800,000. Drinking-cups were engraved with
scenes from the poets; libraries were adorned with busts, and presses of
rare woods; sofas were inlaid with tortoise-shell, and covered with
gorgeous purple. The Roman grandees rode in gilded chariots, bathed in
marble baths, dined from golden plate, drank from crystal cups, slept on
beds of down, reclined on luxurious couches, wore embroidered robes,
and were adorned with precious stones. They ransacked the earth and the
seas for rare dishes for their banquets, and ornamented their houses
with carpets from Babylon, onyx cups from Bithynia, marbles from
Numidia, bronzes from Corinth, statues from Athens,--whatever, in short,
was precious or rare or curious in the most distant countries.

What a concentration of material wonders was to be seen in all the
countries that bordered on the Mediterranean,--not merely in Italy and
Greece, but in Sicily and Asia Minor, and even in Gaul and Spain! Every
country was dotted with cities, villas, and farms. Every country was
famous for oil, or fruit, or wine, or vegetables, or timber, or flocks,
or pastures, or horses. More than two hundred and fifty cities or towns
in Italy alone are historical, and some were famous.

The excavations of Pompeii attest great luxury and elegance of life.
Cortona, Clusium, Veii, Ancona, Ostia, Praeneste, Antium, Misenum,
Baiae, Puteoli, Neapolis, Brundusium, Sybaris, were all celebrated.

And still more remarkable were the old capitals of Greece, Asia Minor,
and Africa. Syracuse was older than Rome, and had a fortress of a mile
and a half in length. Carthage, under the emperors, nearly equalled its
ancient magnificence. Athens was never more splendid than in the time of
the Roman Antonines. In spite of successive conquests, there still
towered upon the Acropolis the most wonderful temple of antiquity, built
of Pentelic marble, and adorned with the sculptures of Phidias. Corinth
was richer and more luxurious than Athens, and possessed the most
valuable pictures of Greece, as well as the finest statues; a single
street for three miles was adorned with costly edifices. And even the
islands which were colonized by Greeks were seats of sculpture and
painting, as well as of schools of learning. Still grander were the
cities of Asia Minor. Antioch had a street four miles in length, with
double colonnades; and its baths, theatres, museums, and temples excited
universal admiration. At Ephesus was the grand temple of Diana, four
times as large as the Parthenon at Athens, covering as much ground as
Cologne Cathedral, with one hundred and twenty-eight columns sixty feet
high. The Ephesian theatre was capable of seating sixty thousand
spectators. Tarsus, the birthplace of Paul, was no mean city; and
Damascus, the old capital of Syria, was both beautiful and rich.

Laodicea was famous for tapestries, Hierapolis for its iron wares,
Cybara for its dyes, Sardis for its wines, Smyrna for its beautiful
monuments, Delos for its slave-trade, Cyrene for its horses, Paphos for
its temple of Venus, in which were a hundred altars. Seleucia, on the
Tigris, had a population of four hundred thousand. Caesarea in
Palestine, founded by Herod the Great, and the principal seat of
government to the Roman prefects, had a harbor equal in size to the
renowned Piraeus, and was secured against the southwest winds by a mole
of such massive construction that the blocks of stone, sunk under the
water, were fifty feet in length, eighteen in width, and nine in
thickness. The city itself was constructed of polished stone, with an
agora, a theatre, a circus, a praetorium, and a temple to Caesar. Tyre,
which had resisted for seven months the armies of Alexander, remained to
the fall of the empire a great emporium of trade; it monopolized the
manufacture of imperial purple. Sidon was equally celebrated for its
glass and embroidered robes. The Sidonians cast glass mirrors, and
imitated precious stones. But the glory of both Tyre and Sidon was in
ships, which visited all the coasts of the Mediterranean, and even
penetrated to Britain and India.

But greater than Tyre or Antioch, or any eastern city, was Alexandria,
the capital of Egypt. Egypt even in its decline was still a great
monarchy; and when the sceptre of three hundred kings passed from
Cleopatra the last of the Ptolemies, to Augustus Caesar the conqueror at
Actium, the military force of Egypt is said to have amounted to seven
hundred thousand men. The annual revenues of this State under the
Ptolemies amounted to about seventeen million dollars in gold and
silver, besides the produce of the earth. A single feast cost
Philadelphus more than half a million of pounds sterling, and he had
accumulated treasures to the amount of seven hundred and forty thousand
talents, or about eight hundred and sixty million dollars. What European
monarch ever possessed such a sum? The kings of Egypt, even when
tributary to Rome, were richer in gold and silver than was Louis XIV. in
the proudest hour of his life.

The ground-plan of Alexandria was traced by Alexander himself, but it
was not completed until the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus. Its
circumference was about fifteen miles; the streets were regular, and
crossed one another at right angles, being wide enough for free passage
of both carriages and foot passengers. Its harbor could hold the largest
fleet ever congregated; its walls and gates were constructed with all
the skill and strength known to antiquity; its population numbered six
hundred thousand, and all nations were represented in its crowded
streets. The wealth of the city may be inferred from the fact that in
one year sixty-two hundred and fifty talents, or more than six million
dollars, were paid to the public treasury for port dues. The library was
the largest in the world, numbering over seven hundred thousand
volumes; and this was connected with a museum, a menagerie, a botanical
garden, and various halls for lectures, altogether forming the most
famous university in the Roman empire. The inhabitants were chiefly
Greek, and had all the cultivated tastes and mercantile thrift of that
quick-witted people. In a commercial point of view Alexandria was the
most important city in the world, and its ships whitened every sea.
Unlike most commercial cities, it was intellectual, and its schools of
poetry, mathematics, medicine, philosophy, and theology were more
renowned than even those of Athens during the third and fourth
centuries. Alexandria, could it have been transported in its former
splendor to our modern world, would be a great capital in these times.

And all these cities were connected with one another and with Rome by
magnificent roads, perfectly straight, and paved with large blocks of
stone. They were originally constructed for military purposes, but were
used by travellers, and on them posts were regularly established; they
crossed valleys upon arches, and penetrated mountains; in Italy,
especially, they were great works of art, and connected all the
provinces. There was an uninterrupted communication from the wall of
Antoninus through York, London, Sandwich, Boulogne, Rheims, Lyons,
Milan, Rome, Brundusium, Dyrrachium, Byzantium, Ancyra, Tarsus,
Antioch, Tyre, Jerusalem,--a distance of thirty-seven hundred and forty
miles; and these roads were divided by milestones, and houses for
travellers erected upon them at points of every five or six miles.

Commerce under the Roman emperors was not what it now is, but still was
very considerable, and thus united the various provinces together. The
most remote countries were ransacked to furnish luxuries for Rome; every
year a fleet of one hundred and twenty vessels sailed from the Red Sea
for the islands of the Indian Ocean. But the Mediterranean, with the
rivers which flowed into it, was the great highway of the ancient
navigator. Navigation by the ancients was even more rapid than in modern
times before the invention of steam, since oars were employed as well as
sails. In summer one hundred and sixty-two Roman miles were sailed over
in twenty-four hours; this was the average speed, or about seven knots.
From the mouth of the Tiber vessels could usually reach Africa in two
days, Massilia in three, and the Pillars of Hercules in seven; from
Puteoli the passage to Alexandria had been effected, with moderate
winds, in nine days. These facts, however, apply only to the summer, and
to favorable winds. The Romans did not navigate in the inclement
seasons; but in summer the great inland sea was white with sails. Great
fleets brought corn from Gaul, Spain, Sardinia, Africa, Sicily, and
Egypt. This was the most important trade; but a considerable commerce
was carried on also in ivory, tortoise-shell, cotton and silk fabrics,
pearls and precious stones, gums, spices, wines, wool, and oil. Greek
and Asiatic wines, especially the Chian and Lesbian, were in great
demand at Rome. The transport of earthenware, made generally in the
Grecian cities, of wild animals for the amphitheatre, of marble, of the
spoils of eastern cities, of military engines and stores, and of horses,
required very large fleets and thousands of mariners, which probably
belonged chiefly to great maritime cities. These cities with their
dependencies required even more vessels for communication with one
another than for Rome herself,--the great central object of enterprise
and cupidity.

In this survey of ancient cities I have not yet spoken of the great
central city,--the City of the Seven Hills, to which all the world was
tributary. Whatever was costly or rare or beautiful, in Greece or Asia
or Egypt, was appropriated by her citizen kings, since citizens were
provincial governors. All the great highways, from the Atlantic to the
Tigris, converged to the capital,--all roads led to Rome; all the ships
of Alexandria and Carthage and Tarentum, and other commercial capitals,
were employed in furnishing her with luxuries or necessities. Never was
there so proud a city as this "Epitome of the Universe." London, Paris,
Vienna, Constantinople, St. Petersburg, Berlin, are great centres of
fashion and power; but they are rivals, and excel only in some great
department of human enterprise and genius, as in letters, or fashions,
or commerce, or manufactures,--centres of influence and power in the
countries of which they are capitals, yet they do not monopolize the
wealth and energies of the world. London may contain more people than
did ancient Rome, and may possess more commercial wealth; but London
represents only the British monarchy, not a universal empire. Rome,
however, monopolized every thing, and controlled all nations and
peoples; she could shut up the schools of Athens, or disperse the ships
of Alexandria, or regulate the shops of Antioch. What Lyons and Bordeaux
are to Paris, Corinth and Babylon were to Rome,--mere dependent cities.
Paul, condemned at Jerusalem, stretched out his arms to Rome, and Rome
protected him. The philosophers of Greece were the tutors of Roman
nobility. The kings of the East resorted to the palaces of Mount
Palatine for favors or safety; the governors of Syria and Egypt,
reigning in the palaces of ancient kings, returned to Rome to squander
the riches they had accumulated. Senators and nobles took their turn as
sovereign rulers of all the known countries of the world. The halls in
which Darius and Alexander and Pericles and Croesus and Solomon and
Cleopatra had feasted, became the witness of the banquets of Roman
proconsuls. Babylon, Thebes, and Athens were only what Delhi and
Calcutta are to the English of our day,--cities to be ruled by the
delegates of the imperial Senate. Rome was the only "home" of the proud
governors who reigned on the banks of the Thames, of the Seine, of the
Rhine, of the Nile, of the Tigris. After they had enriched themselves
with the spoils of the ancient monarchies they returned to their estates
in Italy, or to their palaces on the Aventine. What a concentration of
works of art on the hills, and around the Forum, and in the Campus
Martius, and other celebrated quarters! There were temples rivalling
those of Athens and Ephesus; baths covering more ground than the
Pyramids, surrounded with Corinthian columns, and filled with the
choicest treasures ransacked from the cities of Greece and Asia; palaces
in comparison with which the Tuileries and Versailles are small;
theatres which seated a larger audience than any present public
buildings in Europe; amphitheatres more extensive and costly than
Cologne, Milan, and York Minster cathedrals combined, and seating eight
times as many spectators as could be crowded into St. Peter's Church;
circuses where, it is said, three hundred and eighty-five thousand
persons could witness the games and chariot-races at a time; bridges,
still standing, which have furnished models for the most beautiful at
Paris and London; aqueducts carried over arches one hundred feet in
height, through which flowed the surplus water of distant lakes; drains
of solid masonry in which large boats could float; pillars more than one
hundred feet in height, coated with precious marbles or plates of brass,
and covered with bas-reliefs; obelisks brought from Egypt; fora and
basilicas connected together, and extending more than three thousand
feet in length, every part of which was filled with "animated busts" of
conquerors, kings, statesmen, poets, publicists, and philosophers;
mausoleums greater and more splendid than that Artemisia erected to the
memory of her husband; triumphal arches under which marched in stately
procession the victorious armies of the Eternal City, preceded by the
spoils and trophies of conquered empires.

Such was the proud capital,--a city of palaces, a residence of nobles
who were virtually kings, enriched with the accumulated treasures of
ancient civilization. Great were the capitals of Greece and Asia, but
how pre-eminent was Rome, since all were subordinate to her! How
bewildering and bewitching to a traveller must have been the varied
wonders of the city! Go where he would, his eye rested on something
which was both a study and a marvel. Let him drive or walk about the
suburbs,--there were villas, tombs, aqueducts looking like our railroads
on arches, sculptured monuments, and gardens of surpassing beauty and
luxury. Let him approach the walls,--they were great fortifications
extending twenty-one miles in circuit, according to the measurement of
Ammon as adopted by Gibbon, and forty-five miles according to other
authorities. Let him enter any of the various gates that opened into the
city from the roads which radiated to all parts of Italy and the
world,--they were of monumental brass covered with bas-reliefs, on which
the victories of generals for a thousand years were commemorated. Let
him pass through any of the crowded thoroughfares,--he saw houses
towering scarcely ever less than seventy feet, as tall as those of
Edinburgh in its oldest sections. Most of the houses in which this vast
population lived, according to Strabo, possessed pipes which gave a
never-failing supply of water from the rivers that flowed into the city
through the aqueducts and out again through the sewers into the Tiber.
Let the traveller walk up the Via Sacra,--that short street, scarcely
half a mile in length,--and he passed the Flavian Amphitheatre, the
Temple of Venus and Rome, the Arch of Titus, the Temples of Peace, of
Vesta, and of Castor, the Forum Romanum, the Basilica Julia, the Arch
of Severus, the Temple of Saturn, and stood before the majestic ascent
to the Capitoline Jupiter, with its magnificent portico and ornamented
pediment, surpassing the facade of any modern church. On his left, as he
emerged from beneath the sculptured Arch of Titus, was the Palatine
Mount, nearly covered by the palace of the Caesars, the magnificent
residences of the higher nobility, and various temples, of which that of
Apollo was the most magnificent, built by Augustus, of solid white
marble from Luna. Here were the palaces of Vaccus, of Flaccus, of
Cicero, of Catiline, of Scaurus, of Antoninus, of Clodius, of Agrippa,
and of Hortensius. Still on his left, in the valley between the Palatine
and the Capitoline, though he could not see it, concealed from view by
the great Temples of Vesta and of Castor, and the still greater edifice
known as the Basilica Julia, was the quarter called the Velabrum,
extending to the river, where the Pons Aemilius crossed it,--a low
quarter of narrow streets and tall houses where the rabble lived and
died. On his right, concealed from view by the Aedes Divi Julii and the
Forum Romanum, was that magnificent series of edifices extending from
the Temple of Peace to the Temple of Trajan, including the Basilica
Pauli, the Forum Julii, the Forum Augusti, the Forum Trajani, the
Basilica Ulpia,--a space more than three thousand feet in length, and
six hundred in breadth, almost entirely surrounded by porticos and
colonnades, and filled with statues and pictures,--displaying on the
whole probably the grandest series of public buildings clustered
together ever erected, especially if we include the Forum Romanum and
the various temples and basilicas which connected the whole,--a forest
of marble pillars and statues. Ascending the steps which led from the
Temple of Concord to the Temple of Juno Moneta upon the Arx, or Tarpeian
Rock, on the southwestern summit of the hill, itself one of the most
beautiful temples in Rome, erected by Camillus on the spot where the
house of M. Manlius Capitolinus had stood, and one came upon the Roman
mint. Near this was the temple erected by Augustus to Jupiter Tonans,
and that built by Domitian to Jupiter Custos. But all the sacred
edifices which crowned the Capitoline were subordinate to the Templum
Jovis Capitolini, standing on a platform of eight thousand square feet,
and built of the richest materials. The portico which faced the Via
Sacra consisted of three rows of Doric columns, the pediment profusely
ornamented with the choicest sculptures, the apex of the roof surmounted
by the bronze horses of Lysippus, and the roof itself covered with
gilded tiles. The temple had three separate cells, though covered with
one roof; in front of each stood colossal statues of the three deities
to whom it was consecrated. Here were preserved what was most sacred in
the eyes of Romans, and it was itself the richest of all the temples
of the city.

What a beautiful panorama was presented to the view from the summit of
this consecrated hill, only mounted by a steep ascent of one hundred
steps! To the south was the Via Sacra extending to the Colosseum, and
beyond it the Appia Via, lined with monuments as far as the eye could
reach. A little beyond the fora to the east was the Carinae, a
fashionable quarter of beautiful shops and houses, and still farther off
were the Baths of Titus, extending from the Carinae to the Esquiline
Mount. To the northeast were the Viminal and Quirinal hills, after the
Palatine the most ancient part of the city, the seat of the Sabine
population, abounding in fanes and temples, the most splendid of which
was the Temple of Quirinus, erected originally to Romulus by Numa, but
rebuilt by Augustus, with a double row of columns on each of its sides,
seventy-six in number. Near by was the house of Atticus, and the gardens
of Sallust in the valley between the Quirinal and Pincian, afterward the
property of the Emperor. Far back on the Quirinal, near the wall of
Servius, were the Baths of Diocletian, and still farther to the east the
Pretorian Camp established by Tiberius, and included within the wall of
Aurelian. To the northeast the eye lighted on the Pincian Hill covered
with the gardens of Lucullus, to possess which Messalina caused the
death of Valerius Asiaticus, into whose possession they had fallen. In
the valley which lay between the fora and the Quirinal was the
celebrated Subura, the quarter of shops, markets, and artificers,--a
busy, noisy, vulgar section, not beautiful, but full of life and
enterprise and wickedness. The eye then turned to the north, and the
whole length of the Via Flamina was exposed to view, extending from the
Capitoline to the Flaminian gate, perfectly straight, the finest street
in Rome, and parallel to the modern Corso; it was the great highway to
the north of Italy. Monuments and temples and palaces lined this
celebrated street; it was spanned by the triumphal arches of Claudius
and Marcus Aurelius. To the west of it was the Campus Martius, with its
innumerable objects of interest,--the Baths of Agrippa, the Pantheon,
the Thermae Alexandrinae, the Column of Marcus Aurelius, and the
Mausoleum of Augustus. Beneath the Capitoline on the west, toward the
river, was the Circus Flaminius, the Portico of Octavius, the Theatre of
Balbus, and the Theatre of Pompey, where forty thousand spectators were
accommodated. Stretching beyond the Thermae Alexandrinae, near the
Pantheon, was the magnificent bridge which crossed the Tiber, built by
Hadrian when he founded his Mausoleum, to which it led, still standing
under the name of the Ponte S. Angelo. The eye took in eight or nine
bridges over the Tiber, some of wood, but generally of stone, of
beautiful masonry, and crowned with statues. In the valley between the
Palatine and the Aventine, was the great Circus Maximus, founded by the
early Tarquin; it was the largest open space, inclosed by walls and
porticos, in the city; it seated three hundred and eighty-five thousand
spectators. How vast a city, which could spare nearly four hundred
thousand of its population to see the chariot-races! Beyond was the
Aventine itself. This also was rich in legendary monuments and in the
palaces of the great, though originally a plebeian quarter. Here dwelt
Trajan before he was emperor, and Ennius the poet, and Paula the friend
of Saint Jerome. Beneath the Aventine, and a little south of the Circus
Maximus, were the great Baths of Caracalla, the ruins of which, next to
those of the Colosseum, made on my mind the strongest impression of all
I saw that pertains to antiquity, though these were not so large as
those of Diocletian. The view south took in the Caelian Hill, the
ancient residence of Tullus Hostilius. This hill was the residence of
many distinguished Romans, among whose palaces was that of Claudius
Centumalus, which towered ten or twelve stories into the air. But
grander than any of these palaces was that of Plautius Lateranus, on
whose site now stands the basilica of St. John Lateran,--the gift of
Constantine to the bishop of Rome,--one of the most ancient of the
Christian churches, in which, for fifteen hundred years, daily services
have been performed.

Such were the objects of interest and grandeur that met the eye as it
was turned toward the various quarters of the city, which contained
between three and four millions of people. Lipsius estimates four
millions as the population, including slaves, women, children, and
strangers. Though this estimate is regarded as too large by Merivale and
others, yet how enormous must have been the number of the people when
there were nine thousand and twenty-five baths, and when those of
Diocletian could accommodate thirty-two hundred bathers at a time! The
wooden theatre of Scaurus contained eighty thousand seats; that of
Marcellus twenty thousand; the Colosseum would seat eighty-seven
thousand persons, and give standing space for twenty-two thousand more.
The Circus Maximus would hold three hundred and eighty-five thousand
spectators. If only one person out of four of the free population
witnessed the games and spectacles at a time, we thus must have four
millions of people altogether in the city. The Aurelian walls are now
only thirteen miles in circumference, but Lipsius estimates the
original circumference at forty-five miles, and Vopiscus at nearly
fifty. The diameter of the city must have been eleven miles, since
Strabo tells us that the actual limit of Rome was at a place between the
fifth and sixth milestone from the column of Trajan in the Forum,--the
central and most conspicuous object in the city except the capitol.

Modern writers, taking London and Paris for their measure of material
civilization, seem unwilling to admit that Rome could have reached such
a pitch of glory and wealth and power. To him who stands within the
narrow limits of the Forum, as it now appears, it seems incredible that
it could have been the centre of a much larger city than Europe can now
boast of. Grave historians are loath to compromise their dignity and
character for truth by admitting statements which seem, to men of
limited views, to be fabulous, and which transcend modern experience.
But we should remember that most of the monuments of ancient Rome have
entirely disappeared. Nothing remains of the Palace of the Caesars,
which nearly covered the Palatine Hill; little of the fora which,
connected together, covered a space twice as large as that inclosed by
the palaces of the Louvre and Tuileries, with all their galleries and
courts; almost nothing of the glories of the Capitoline Hill; and little
comparatively of those Thermae which were a mile in circuit. But what
does remain attests an unparalleled grandeur,--the broken pillars of the
Forum; the lofty columns of Trajan and Marcus Aurelius; the Pantheon,
lifting its spacious dome two hundred feet into the air; the mere
vestibule of the Baths of Agrippa; the triumphal arches of Titus and
Trajan and Constantine; the bridges which span the Tiber; the aqueducts
which cross the Campagna; the Cloaca Maxima, which drained the marshes
and lakes of the infant city; and, above all, the Colosseum. What glory
and shame are associated with that single edifice! That alone, if
nothing else remained of Pagan antiquity, would indicate a grandeur and
a folly such as cannot now be seen on earth. It reveals a wonderful
skill in masonry and great architectural strength; it shows the wealth
and resources of rulers who must have had the treasures of the world at
their command; it shows the restless passions of the people for
excitement, and the necessity on the part of government of yielding to
this taste. What leisure and indolence marked a city which could afford
to give up so much time to the demoralizing sports! What facilities for
transportation were afforded, when so many wild beasts could be brought
to the capitol from the central parts of Africa without calling out
unusual comment! How imperious a populace that compels the government to
provide such expensive pleasures! The games of Titus, on the dedication
of the Colosseum, lasted one hundred days, and five thousand wild beasts
were slaughtered in the arena. The number of the gladiators who fought
surpasses belief. At the triumph of Trajan over the Dacians, ten
thousand gladiators were exhibited, and the Emperor himself presided
under a gilded canopy, surrounded by thousands of his lords. Underneath
the arena, strewed with yellow sand and sawdust, was a solid pavement,
so closely cemented that it could be turned into an artificial lake, on
which naval battles were fought. But it was the conflict of gladiators
which most deeply stimulated the passions of the people. The benches
were crowded with eager spectators, and the voices of one hundred
thousand were raised in triumph or rage as the miserable victims sank
exhausted in the bloody sport.

Yet it was not the gladiatorial sports of the amphitheatre which most
strikingly attested the greatness and splendor of the city; nor the
palaces, in which as many as four hundred slaves were sometimes
maintained as domestic servants for a single establishment,--twelve
hundred in number according to the lowest estimate, but probably five
times as numerous, since every senator, every knight, and every rich man
was proud to possess a residence which would attract attention; nor the
temples, which numbered four hundred and twenty-four, most of which
were of marble, filled with statues, the contributions of ages, and
surrounded with groves; nor the fora and basilicas, with their porticos,
statues, and pictures, covering more space than any cluster of public
buildings in Europe, a mile and a half in circuit; nor the baths, nearly
as large, still more completely filled with works of art; nor the Circus
Maximus, where more people witnessed the chariot races at a time than
are nightly assembled in all the places of public amusement in Paris,
London, and New York combined,--more than could be seated in all the
cathedrals of England and France. It is not these which most
impressively make us feel the amazing grandeur of the old capital of the
world. The triumphal processions of the conquering generals were still
more exciting to behold, for these appealed more directly to the
imagination, and excited those passions which urged the Romans to a
career of conquest from generation to generation. No military review of
modern times equalled those gorgeous triumphs, even as no scenic
performance compares with the gladiatorial shows; the sun has never
shone upon any human assemblage so magnificent and so grand, so imposing
and yet so guilty. Not only were displayed the spoils of conquered
kingdoms, and the triumphal cars of generals, but the whole military
strength of the capital; an army of one hundred thousand men, flushed
with victory, followed the gorgeous procession of nobles and princes.
The triumph of Aurelian, on his return from the East, gives us some idea
of the grandeur of that ovation to conquerors. "The pomp was opened by
twenty elephants, four royal tigers, and two hundred of the most curious
animals from every climate, north, south, east, and west. These were
followed by sixteen hundred gladiators, devoted to the cruel amusement
of the amphitheatre. Then were displayed the arms and ensigns of
conquered nations, the plate and wardrobe of the Syrian queen. Then
ambassadors from all parts of the earth, all remarkable in their rich
dresses, with their crowns and offerings. Then the captives taken in the
various wars,--Goths, Vandals, Samaritans, Alemanni, Franks, Gauls,
Syrians, and Egyptians, each marked by their national costume. Then the
Queen of the East, the beautiful Zenobia, confined by fetters of gold,
and fainting under the weight of jewels, preceding the beautiful chariot
in which she had hoped to enter the gates of Rome. Then the chariot of
the Persian king. Then the triumphal car of Aurelian himself, drawn by
elephants. Finally the most illustrious of the Senate and the army
closed the solemn procession, amid the acclamations of the people, and
the sound of musical instruments. It took from dawn of day until the
ninth hour for the procession to pass to the capitol; and the festival
was protracted by theatrical representations, the games of the circus,
the hunting of wild beasts, combats of gladiators, and naval

Such were the material wonders of the ancient civilizations, culminating
in their latest and greatest representative, and displayed in its proud
capital,--nearly all of which became later the spoil of barbarians, who
ruthlessly marched over the classic world, having no regard for its
choicest treasures. Those old glories are now indeed succeeded by a
prouder civilization,--the work of nobler races after sixteen hundred
years of new experiments. But why such an eclipse of the glory of man?
The reason is apparent if we survey the internal state of the ancient
empires, especially of society as it existed under the Roman emperors.

* * * * *


Herodotus, Strabo, Pliny, Polybius, Diodorus Siculus, Titus Livius,
Pausanias, on the geography and resources of the ancient nations. See an
able chapter on Mediterranean prosperity in Louis Napoleon's History of
Caesar. Smith's Dictionary of Ancient Geography is exhaustive. Wilkinson
has revealed the civilization of ancient Egypt. Professor Becker's
Handbook of Rome, as well as his Gallus and Charicles shed much light on
manners and customs. Dyer's History of the City of Rome is the fullest
description of its wonders that I have read. Niebuhr, Bunsen, and
Platner, among the Germans, have written learnedly, but also have
created much doubt about things supposed to be established. Mommsen,
Curtius, and Merivale are also great authorities. Nor are the
magnificent chapters of Gibbon to be disregarded by the student of Roman
history, notwithstanding his elaborate and inflated style.



1300-100 A.D.

In surveying the nations of antiquity nothing impresses us more forcibly
than the perpetual wars in which they were engaged, and the fact that
military art and science seem to have been among the earliest things
that occupied the thoughts of men. Personal strife and tribal warfare
are coeval with the earliest movements of humanity.

The first recorded act in the Hebraic history of the world after the
expulsion of Adam from Paradise is a murder. In patriarchal times we
read of contentions between the servants of Abraham and of Lot, and
between the petty kings and chieftains of the countries where they
journeyed. Long before Abraham was born, violence was the greatest evil
with which the world was afflicted. Before his day mighty conquerors
arose and founded kingdoms. Babylon and Egypt were powerful military
States in pre-historic times. Wars more or less fierce were waged before
nations were civilized. The earliest known art, therefore, was the art
of destruction, growing out of the wicked and brutal passions of
men,--envy and hatred, ambition and revenge; in a word, selfishness.
Race fought with race, kingdom with kingdom, and city with city, in the
very infancy of society. In secular history the greatest names are those
of conquerors and heroes in every land under the sun; and it was by
conquerors that those grand monuments were erected the ruins of which
astonish every traveller, especially in Egypt and Assyria.

But wars in the earliest ages were not carried on scientifically, or
even as an art. There was little to mark them except brute force. Armies
were scarcely more than great collections of armed men, led by kings,
either to protect their States from hostile invaders, or to acquire new
territory, or to exact tribute from weaker nations. We do not read of
military discipline, or of skill in strategy and tactics. A battle was
lost or won by individual prowess; it was generally a hand-to-hand
encounter, in which the strongest and bravest gained the victory.

One of the earliest descriptions of war is to be found in the Iliad of
Homer, where individual heroes fought with one another, armed with the
sword, the lance, and the javelin, protected by shields, helmets, and
coats of mail. They fought on foot, or from chariots, which were in use
before cavalry. The war-horse was driven before he was ridden in Egypt
or Palestine; but the Aryan barbarians in their invasion rode their
horses, and fought on horseback, like the modern Cossacks.

Until the Greeks became familiar with war as an art, armies were usually
very large, as if a great part of the population of a country followed
the sovereign who commanded them. Rameses the Great, the Sesostris of
the Greeks, according to Herodotus led nearly a million of men in his
expeditions. He was the most noted of ancient warriors until Cyrus the
Persian arose, and was nearly contemporaneous with Moses. The Trojan war
is supposed to have taken place during the period when the Israelites
were subject to the Ammonites; and about the time that the Philistines
were defeated by David, the Greeks were forced by war to found colonies
in Asia Minor.

After authentic history begins, war is the main subject with which it
has to deal; and for three thousand years history is simply the record
of the feats of warriors and generals, of their conquests and defeats,
of the rise and fall of kingdoms and cities, of the growth or decline of
military virtues. No arts of civilization have preserved nations from
the sword of the conqueror, and war has been both the amusement and the
business of kings. From the earliest ages, the most valued laurels have
been bestowed for success in war, and military fame has eclipsed all
other glories. The cry of the mourner has been unheeded in the blaze of
conquest; even the aspirations of the poet and the labors of the artist
have been as nought, except to celebrate the achievements of heroes.

It is interesting then to inquire how far the ancients advanced in the
arts of war, which include military weapons, movements, the structure of
camps, the discipline of armies, the construction of ships and of
military engines, and the concentration and management of forces under a
single man. What was that mighty machinery by which nations were
subdued, or rose to greatness on the ruin of States and Empires? The
conquests of Rameses, of David, of Nebuchadnezzar, of Cyrus, of
Alexander, of Hannibal, of Caesar, and other heroes are still the
subjects of contemplation among statesmen and schoolboys. The exploits
of heroes are the pith of history.

The art of war must have made great progress in the infancy of
civilization, when bodily energies were most highly valued, when men
were fierce, hardy, strong, and uncorrupted by luxury; when mere
physical forces gave law alike to the rich and the poor, to the learned
and the ignorant; and when the avenue to power led across the field
of battle.

We must go to Egypt for the earliest development of art and science in
all departments; and so far as the art of war consists in the
organization of physical forces for conquest or defence, under the
direction of a single man, it was in Egypt that this was first
accomplished, about seventeen hundred years before Christ, as
chronologists think, by Rameses the Great.

This monarch, according to Wilkinson, the greatest and most ambitious of
the Egyptian kings, to whom the Greeks gave the name of Sesostris,
showed great ability in collecting together large bodies of his
subjects, and controlling them by a rigid military discipline. He
accustomed them to heat and cold, hunger and thirst, fatigue, and
exposure to danger. With bodies thus rendered vigorous by labor and
discipline, they were fitted for distant expeditions. Rameses first
subdued the Arabians and Libyans, and annexed them to the Egyptian
monarchy. While he inured his subjects to fatigue and danger, he was
careful to win their affections by acts of munificence and clemency. He
then made his preparations for the conquest of the known world, and
collected an army, according to Diodorus Siculus, of six hundred
thousand infantry, twenty-four thousand cavalry, and twenty-seven
thousand war-chariots. It is difficult to understand how a small country
like Egypt could furnish such an immense force. If the account of the
historian be not exaggerated, Rameses must have enrolled the conquered
Libyans and Arabians and other nations among his soldiers. He subjected
his army to a stern discipline and an uncomplaining obedience to
orders,--the first principle in the science of war, which no successful
general in the world's history has ever disregarded, from Alexander to
Napoleon. With this powerful army his march was irresistible. Ethiopia
was first subdued, and an exaction made from the conquered of a tribute
of gold, ivory, and ebony. In those ancient times a conquering army did
not resettle or colonize the territories it had subdued, but was
contented with overrunning the country and exacting tribute from the
people. Such was the nature of the Babylonian and Persian conquests.
After overrunning Ethiopia and some other countries near the Straits of
Babelmandeb, the conqueror proceeded to India, which he overran beyond
the Ganges, and ascended the high table-land of Central Asia; then
proceeding westward, he entered Europe, nor halted in his devastating
career until he reached Thrace. From thence he marched to Asia Minor,
conquering as he went, and invaded Assyria, seating himself on the
throne of Ninus and Semiramis. Then, laden with booty from the Eastern
world, he returned to Egypt after an absence of thirty years and
consolidated his empire, building those vast structures at Thebes, which
for magnitude have never been surpassed. Thus was Egypt enriched with
the spoil of nations, and made formidable for a thousand years. Rameses
was the last of the Pharaohs who pursued the phantom of military renown,
or sought glory in distant expeditions.

We are in ignorance as to the details of the conquests and the generals
who served under Rameses. There is doubtless some exaggeration in the
statements of the Greek historian, but there is no doubt that this
monarch was among the first of the great conquerors to establish a
regular army, and to provide a fleet to co-operate with his land forces.

The strength of the Egyptian army consisted mainly in archers. They
fought either on foot or in chariots; cavalry was not much relied upon,
although mention is frequently made of horsemen as well as of chariots.
The Egyptian infantry was divided into regiments, and Wilkinson tells us
that they were named according to the arms they bore,--as "bowmen,
spearmen, swordsmen, clubmen, slingers." These regiments were divided
into battalions and companies, commanded by their captains. The
infantry, heavily armed with spears and shields, formed a phalanx almost
impenetrable of twelve men deep, who marched with great regularity. Each
company had its standard-bearer, who was an officer of approved valor;
the royal standards were carried by the royal princes or by persons of
the royal household. The troops were summoned by the sound of trumpet,
and also by the drum, both used from the earliest period. The offensive
weapons were the bow, the spear, the javelin, the sword, the club, or
mace, and the battle-axe. The chief defensive weapon was the shield,
about three feet in length, covered with bull's hide, having the hair
outward and studded with nails. The shape of the bow was not essentially
different from that used in Europe in the Middle Ages, being about five
feet and a half long, round, and tapering at the ends; the bowstring was
of hide or catgut. The arrows of the archers averaged about thirty
inches in length, and were made of wood or reeds, tipped with a metal
point, or flint, and winged with feathers. Each bowman was furnished
with a plentiful supply of arrows. When arrows were exhausted, the
bowman fought with swords and battle-axes; his defensive armor was
confined chiefly to the helmet and a sort of quilted coat. The spear was
of wood, with a metal head, was about five or six feet in length, and
used for thrusting. The javelin was lighter, for throwing. The sling was
a thong of plaited leather, broad in the middle, with a loop at the end.
The sword was straight and short, between two and three feet in length,
with a double edge, tapering to a sharp point, and used for either cut
or thrust; the handle was frequently inlaid with precious stones. The
metal used in the manufacture of swords and spear-heads was bronze,
hardened by a process unknown to us. The battle-axe had a handle about
two-and a-half feet in length, and was less ornamented than other
weapons. The cuirass, or coat of armor, was made of horizontal rows of
metal plate, about an inch in breadth, well secured together by bronze
pieces. The Egyptian chariot held two persons,--the charioteer, and the
warrior armed with his bow-and-arrow and wearing a cuirass, or coat of
mail. The warrior carried also other weapons for close encounter, when
he should descend from his chariot to fight on foot. The chariot was of
wood, the body of which was light, strengthened with metal; the pole was
inserted in the axle; the two wheels usually had six spokes, but
sometimes only four; the wheel revolved on the axle, and was secured by
a lynch-pin. The leathern harness and housings were simple, and the
bridles, or reins, were nearly the same as are now in use.

"The Egyptian chariot corps, like the infantry," says Wilkinson, "were
divided into light and heavy troops, both armed with bows,--the former
chiefly employed in harassing the enemy with missiles; the latter called
upon to break through opposing masses of infantry." The infantry, when
employed in the assault of fortified towns, were provided with shields,
under cover of which they made their approaches to the place to be
attacked. In their attack they advanced under cover of the arrows of the
bowmen, and instantly applied the scaling-ladder to the ramparts. The
testudo, a wooden shelter, was also used, large enough to contain
several men. The battering-ram and movable towers resembled those of the
Romans a thousand years later.

It would thus appear that the ancient Egyptians, in the discipline of
armies, in military weapons offensive and defensive, in chariots and
horses, and in military engines for the reduction of fortified towns,
were scarcely improved upon by the Greeks and Romans, or by the
Europeans in the Middle Ages. Yet the Egyptians were an ingenious rather
than a warlike people, fond of peace, and devoted to agricultural

More warlike than they were the Assyrians and the Persians, although we
fail to discover any essential difference in the organization of armies,
or in military weapons. The great difference between the Persian and the
Egyptian armies was in the use of cavalry. From their earliest
settlements the Persians were skilful horsemen, and these formed the
guard of their kings. Under Cyrus, the Persians became the masters of
the world, but they rapidly degenerated, not being able to withstand the
luxurious life of the conquered Babylonians; and when they were
marshalled against the Greeks, and especially against the disciplined
forces of Alexander, they were disgracefully routed in spite of their
enormous armies, which could not be handled, and became mere mobs of
armed men.

The art of war made a great advance under the Greeks, although we do
not notice any striking superiority of arms over the Eastern armies led
by Sesostris or Cyrus. The Greeks were among the most warlike of all the
races of men; they had a genius for war. The Grecian States were engaged
in perpetual strifes with one another, and constant contention developed
military strength; and yet the Greeks, until the time of Philip, had no
standing armies. They relied for offence and defence on the volunteer
militia, which was animated by intense patriotic ideas. All armies in
the nature of things are more or less machines, moved by one commanding
will; but the Greek armies owed much of their success to the individual
bravery of their troops, who were citizens of States under
constitutional forms of government.

The most remarkable improvement in the art of war was made by the
Spartans, who, in addition to their strict military discipline,
introduced the _phalanx_,--files of picked soldiers, eight deep, heavily
armed with spear, sword, and shield, placed in ranks of eight, at
intervals of about six feet apart. This phalanx of eight files and eight
ranks,--sixty-four men,--closely locked when the soldiers received or
advanced to attack, proved nearly impregnable and irresistible. It
combined solidity and the power of resistance with mobility. The picked
men were placed in the front and rear; for in skilful evolutions the
front often became the rear, and the rear became the front. Armed with
spears projecting beyond the front, and with their shields locked
together, the phalanx advanced to meet the enemy with regular step, and
to the cadence of music; if beaten, it retired in perfect order. After
battle, each soldier was obliged to produce his shield as a proof that
he had fought or retired as a soldier should. The Athenian phalanx was
less solid than that of Sparta,--Miltiades having decreased the depth to
four ranks, in order to lengthen his front,--but was more efficient in a
charge against the enemy. The Spartan phalanx was stronger in defence,
the Athenian more agile in attack. The attack was nearly irresistible,
as the soldiers advanced with accelerated motion, corresponding to the
double-quick time of modern warfare. This was first introduced by
Miltiades at Marathon.

Philip of Macedon adopted the Spartan phalanx, but made it sixteen deep,
which gave it greater solidity, and rendered it still more effective. He
introduced the large oval buckler and a larger and heavier spear. When
the phalanx was closed for action, each man occupied but three square
feet of ground: as the pikes were twenty-four feet in length, and
projected eighteen feet beyond the front, the formation presented an
array of points such as had never been seen before. The greatest
improvement effected by Philip, however, was the adoption of standing
armies instead of the militia heretofore in use throughout the Grecian
States. He also attached great importance to his cavalry, which was
composed of the flower of the nobility, about twelve hundred in number,
all covered with defensive armor; these he formed into eight squadrons,
and constituted them his body-guard. The usual formation of the regular
cavalry was in the form of a wedge, so as to penetrate and break the
enemy's line,--a manoeuvre probably learned from Epaminondas of Thebes,
a great master in the art of war, who defeated the Spartan phalanx by
forming his columns upon a front less than their depth, thus enabling
him to direct his whole force against a given point. By these tactics he
gained the great victory at Leuctra, as Napoleon likewise prevailed over
the Austrians in his Italian campaign. In like manner Philip's son
Alexander, following the example of Epaminondas, concentrated his forces
upon the enemy's centre, and easily defeated the Persian hosts by
creating a panic. There was no resisting a phalanx sixteen files deep,
with their projecting pikes, aided by the heavily armed cavalry, all
under the strictest military discipline and animated by patriotic ardor.
This terrible Macedonian phalanx was a great advance over the early
armies of the Greeks, who fought without discipline in a hand to hand
encounter, with swords and spears, after exhausting their arrows. They
had learned two things of great importance,--a rigid discipline, and a
concentration of forces which made an army a machine. Under Alexander,
the grand phalanx consisted of 16,384 men, made up of four divisions and
smaller phalanxes.

In Roman armies we see a still further advance in the military art, as
it existed in the time of Augustus, which required centuries to perfect.
The hardy physique and stern nature of the Romans, exercised and
controlled by their organizing genius, evolved the Roman legion, which
learned to resist the impetuous assaults of the elephants of the East,
the phalanx of the Greeks, and the Teutonic barbarians. The indomitable
courage of the Romans, trained under severest discipline and directed by
means of an organization divided and subdivided and officered almost as
perfectly as our modern corps and divisions and brigades and regiments
and companies and squads, marched over and subdued the world.

The Roman soldier was trained to march twenty miles a day, under a
burden of eighty pounds; to swim rivers, to climb mountains, to
penetrate forests, and to encounter every kind of danger. He was taught
that his destiny was to die in battle: death was at once his duty and
his glory. He enlisted in the army with little hope of revisiting his
home; he crossed seas and deserts and forests with the idea of spending
his life in the service of his country. His pay was only a denarius
daily, equal to about sixteen cents of our money. Marriage for him was
discouraged or forbidden. However insignificant the legionary was as a
man, he gained importance from the great body with which he was
identified: he was both the servant and the master of the State. He had
an intense _esprit de corps_; he was bound up in the glory of his
legion. Both religion and honor bound him to his standards; the golden
eagle which glittered in his front was the object of his fondest
devotion. Nor was it possible to escape the penalty of cowardice or
treachery or disobedience; he could be chastised with blows by his
centurion, and his general could doom him to death. Never was the
severity of military discipline relaxed; military exercises were
incessant, in winter as in summer. In the midst of peace the Roman
troops were familiarized with the practice of war.

It was the spirit which animated the Roman legions, and the discipline
to which they were inured that gave them their irresistible strength.
When we remember that they had not our firearms, we can but be surprised
at their efficiency, especially in taking strongly fortified cities.
Jerusalem was defended by a triple wall, the most elaborate
fortifications, and twenty-four thousand soldiers, besides the aid
received from the citizens; and yet it fell in little more than four
months before an army of eighty thousand under Titus. How great must
have been the military science that could reduce a place of such
strength, in so short a time, without the aid of other artillery than
the ancient catapult and battering-ram! Whether the military science of
the Romans was superior or inferior to our own, no one can question that
it was as perfect as it could be, lacking any knowledge of gunpowder; we
surpass them only in the application of this great invention, especially
in artillery. There can be no doubt that a Roman army was superior to a
feudal army in the brightest days of chivalry. The world has produced no
generals greater than Caesar, Pompey, Sulla, and Marius. No armies ever
won greater victories over superior numbers than the Roman, and no
armies of their size ever retained in submission so vast an empire, and
for so long a time. At no period in the history of the Roman empire were
the armies so large as those sustained by France in time of peace. Two
hundred thousand legionaries, and as many more auxiliaries, controlled
diverse nations and powerful monarchies. The single province of Syria
once boasted of a military force equal in the number of soldiers to that
wielded by the Emperor Tiberius. Twenty-five Roman legions made the
conquest of the world, and retained that conquest for five hundred
years. The self-sustained energy of Caesar in Gaul puts to the blush
the efforts of all modern generals, unless we except Frederic II.,
Marlborough, Napoleon, Wellington, Grant, Sherman, and a few other great
geniuses whom warlike crises have developed; nor is there a better
text-book on the art of war than that furnished by Caesar himself in his
Commentaries. The great victories of the Romans over barbarians, over
Gauls, over Carthaginians, over Greeks, over Syrians, over Persians,
were not the result of a short-lived enthusiasm, like those of Attila
and Tamerlane, but extended over a thousand years.

The Romans were essentially military in all their tastes and habits.
Luxurious senators and nobles showed the greatest courage and skill in
the most difficult campaigns. Antony, Caesar, Pompey, and Lucullus at
home were enervated and self-indulgent, but at the head of their legions
they were capable of any privation and fatigue.

The Roman legion was a most perfect organization, a great mechanical
force, and could sustain furious attacks after vigor, patriotism, and
public spirit had fled. For three hundred years a vast empire was
sustained by mechanism alone. The legion is coeval with the foundation
of Rome, but the number of the troops of which it was composed varied at
different periods. It rarely exceeded six thousand men; Gibbon estimates
the number at six thousand eight hundred and twenty-six men. For many
centuries it was composed exclusively of Roman citizens. Up to the year
B.C. 107, no one was permitted to serve among the regular troops except
those who were regarded as possessing a strong personal interest in the
stability of the republic. Marius admitted all orders of citizens; and
after the close of the Social War, B.C. 87, the whole free population of
Italy was allowed to serve in the regular army. Claudius incorporated
with the legion the vanquished Goths, and after him the barbarians
filled up the ranks on account of the degeneracy of the times. But
during the period when the Romans were conquering the world every
citizen was trained to arms, like the Germans of the present day, and
was liable to be called upon to serve in the armies. In the early age of
the republic the legion was disbanded as soon as the special service was
performed, and was in all essential respects a militia. For three
centuries we have no record of a Roman army wintering in the field; but
when Southern Italy became the seat of war, and especially when Rome was
menaced by foreign enemies, and still more when a protracted foreign
service became inevitable, the same soldiers remained in activity for
several years. Gradually the distinction between the soldier and the
civilian was entirely obliterated. The distant wars of the
republic--such as the prolonged operations of Caesar in Gaul, and the
civil contests--made a standing army a necessity. During the civil wars
between Caesar and Pompey the legions were forty in number; under
Augustus, but twenty-five. Alexander Severus increased them to
thirty-two. This was the standing force of the empire,--from one hundred
and fifty thousand to two hundred and forty thousand men, stationed in
the various provinces.

The main dependence of the legion was on the infantry, which wore heavy
armor consisting of helmet, breastplate, greaves on the right leg, and
on the left arm a buckler, four feet in length and two and a half in
width. The helmet was originally made of leather or untanned skin,
strengthened and adorned by bronze or gold, and surmounted by a crest
which was often of horse-hair, and so made as to give an imposing look.
The crests served not only for ornament, but to distinguish the
different centurions. The breastplate, or cuirass, was generally made of
metal, and sometimes was highly ornamented. Chain-mail was also used.
The greaves were of bronze or brass, with a lining of leather or felt,
and reached above the knees. The shield worn by the heavy-armed infantry
was not round, like that of the early Greeks, but oval or oblong,
adapted to the shape of the body, such as was adopted by Philip and
Alexander, and was made of wood or wicker-work. The weapons were a light
spear, a pilum, or javelin, over six feet long, terminated by a steel
point, and a short cut-and-thrust sword with a double edge. Besides the
armor and weapons of the legionary, he usually carried on the marches
provisions for two weeks, three or four stakes used in forming the
palisade of the camp, besides various tools,--altogether a burden of
sixty or eighty pounds per man. The legion was drawn up eight deep, and
three feet intervened between rank and file, which disposition gave
great activity, and made it superior to the Macedonian phalanx, the
strength of which depended on sixteen ranks of long pikes wedged
together. The general period of service for the infantry was twenty
years, after which the soldier received a discharge, together with a
bounty in money or land.

The cavalry attached to each legion consisted of three hundred men, who
originally were selected from the leading men in the State. They were
mounted at the expense of the State, and formed a distinct order. The
cavalry was divided into ten squadrons. To each legion was attached also
a train of ten military engines of the largest size, and fifty-five of
the smaller,--all of which discharged stones and darts with great
effect. This train corresponded with our artillery.

The Roman legion--whether it was composed of four thousand men, as in
the early ages of the republic, or six thousand, as in the time of
Augustus--was divided into ten cohorts, and each cohort was composed of
Hastati (raw troops), Principes (trained troops), Triarii (veterans),
and Velites (light troops, or skirmishers). The soldiers of the first
line, called Hastati, consisted of youths in the bloom of manhood, who
were distributed into fifteen companies, or maniples. Each company
contained sixty privates, two centurions, and a standard-bearer. Two
thirds were heavily armed, and bore the long shield; the remainder
carried only a spear and light javelins. The second line, the Principes,
was composed of men in the full vigor of life, divided also into fifteen
companies, all heavily armed, and distinguished by the splendor of their
equipments. The third body, the Triarii, was composed of tried veterans,
in fifteen companies, the least trustworthy of which were placed in the
rear; these formed three lines. The Velites were light-armed troops,
employed on out-post duty, and mingled with the horsemen. The Hastati
were so called because they were armed with the _hasta_, or spear; the
Principes for being placed so near to the front; the Triarii, from
having been arrayed behind the first two lines as a body of reserve. The
Triarii were armed with the pilum, thicker and stronger than the Grecian
lance, four and a half feet long, of wood, with a barbed head of
iron,--so that the whole length of the weapon was six feet nine inches.
It was used either to throw or thrust with, and when it pierced the
enemy's shield the iron head was bent, and the spear, owing to the twist
in the iron, still held to the shield. Each soldier carried two of these
weapons, and threw the heavy pilum over the heads of their comrades in
front, in order to break the enemy's line. In the time of the empire,
when the legion was modified, the infantry wore cuirasses and helmets,
and carried a sword and dagger. The select infantry were armed with a
long spear and a shield; the rest, with a pilum. Each man carried a saw,
a basket, a mattock, a hatchet, a leather strap, a hook, a chain, and
provisions for three days. The Equites (cavalry) wore helmets and
cuirasses, like the infantry, having a broadsword at the right side, and
in the hand a long pole. A buckler swung at the horse's flank. They were
also furnished with a quiver containing three or four javelins.

The artillery were used both for hurling missiles in battle, and for the
attack on fortresses. The _tormentum_, which was an elastic instrument,
discharged stones and darts, and was held in general use until the
discovery of gunpowder. In besieging a city, the ram was employed for
destroying the lower part of a wall, and the _balista,_ which discharged
stones, was used to overthrow the battlements. The balista would project
a stone weighing from fifty to three hundred pounds. The _aries_, or
battering-ram, consisted of a large beam made of the trunk of a tree,
frequently one hundred feet in length, to one end of which was fastened
a mace of iron or bronze resembling in form the head of a ram; it was
often suspended by ropes from a beam fixed transversely over it, so that
the soldiers were relieved from supporting its weight, and were able to
give it a rapid and forcible swinging motion backward and forward. When
this machine was further perfected by rigging it upon wheels, and
constructing over it a roof, so as to form a _testudo_, which protected
the besieging party from the assaults of the besieged, there was no
tower so strong, no wall so thick, as to resist a long-continued attack,
the great length of the beam enabling the soldiers to work across the
defensive ditch, and as many as one hundred men being often employed
upon it. The Romans learned from the Greeks the art of building this
formidable engine, which was used with great effect by Alexander, but
with still greater by Titus in the siege of Jerusalem; it was first used
by the Romans in the siege of Syracuse. The _vinea_ was a sort of roof
under which the soldiers protected themselves when they undermined
walls. The _helepolis_, also used in the attack on cities, was a square
tower furnished with all the means of assault. This also was a Greek
invention; and the one used by Demetrius at the siege of Rhodes, B. C.
306, was one hundred and thirty-five feet high and sixty-eight wide,
divided into nine stories. The _turris_, a tower of the same class, was
used both by Greeks and Romans, and even by Asiatics. Mithridates used
one at the siege of Cyzicus one hundred and fifty feet in height. These
most formidable engines were generally made of beams of wood covered on
three sides with iron and sometimes with rawhides. They were higher than
the walls and all the other fortifications of a besieged place, and
divided into stories pierced with windows; in and upon them were
stationed archers and slingers, and in the lower story was a
battering-ram. The soldiers in the turris were also provided with
scaling-ladders, sometimes on wheels; so that when the top of the wall
was cleared by means of the turris, it might be scaled by means of the
ladders. It was impossible to resist these powerful engines except by
burning them, or by undermining the ground upon which they stood, or by
overturning them with stones or iron-shod beams hung from a mast on the
wall, or by increasing the height of the wall, or by erecting temporary
towers on the wall beside them.

Thus there was no ancient fortification capable of withstanding a long
siege when the besieged city was short of defenders or provisions. With
forces equal between the combatants an attack was generally a failure,
for the defenders had always a great advantage; but when the number of
defenders was reduced, or when famine pressed, the skill and courage of
the assailants would ultimately triumph. Some ancient cities made a most
obstinate resistance, like Tarentum; like Carthage, which stood a siege
of four years; like Numantia in Spain, and like Jerusalem. When cities
were of immense size, population, and resources, like Rome when besieged
by Alaric, it was easier to take them by cutting off all ingress and
egress, so as to produce famine. Tyre was taken by Alexander only by
cutting off the harbor. Cyrus could not have taken Babylon by assault,
since the walls were of such enormous height, and the ditch was too wide
for the use of battering-rams; he resorted to an expedient of which the
blinded inhabitants of that doomed city never dreamed, which rendered
their impregnable fortifications useless. Nor probably would the Romans
have prevailed against Jerusalem had not famine decimated and weakened
its defenders. Fortified cities, though scarcely ever impregnable, were
yet more in use in ancient than modern times, and greatly delayed the
operations of advancing armies; and it was probably the fortified camp
of the Romans, which protected an army against surprises and other
misfortunes, that gave such permanent efficacy to the legions.

The chief officers of the legion were the Tribunes; and originally
there was one in each legion from the three tribes,--the Ramnes,
Luceres, and Tities. In the time of Polybius the number in each legion
was six. Their authority extended equally over the whole legion; but to
prevent confusion, it was the custom for them to divide into three
sections of two, and each pair undertook the routine duties for two
months out of six; they nominated the centurions, and assigned each to
the company to which he belonged. These tribunes at first were chosen
the commanders-in-chief, by the kings and consuls; but during the palmy
days of the republic, when the patrician power was pre-eminent, they
were elected by the people, that is, the citizens. Later they were
named, half by the Senate and half by the consuls. No one was eligible
to this great office who had not served ten years in the infantry or
five in the cavalry. The tribunes were distinguished by their dress from
the common soldier. Next in rank to the tribunes, who corresponded to
the rank of brigadiers and colonels in our times, were the Centurions,
of whom there were sixty in each legion,--men who were more remarkable
for calmness and sagacity than for courage and daring valor; men who
would keep their posts at all hazards. It was their duty to drill the
soldiers, to inspect arms, clothing, and food, to visit the sentinels
and regulate the conduct of the men. They had the power of inflicting
corporal punishment. They were chosen for merit solely, until the later
ages of the empire, when their posts were bought, as is the case to some
extent to-day in the English army. The centurions were of unequal
rank,--those of the Triarii before those of the Principes, and those of
the Principes before those of the Hastati. The first centurion of the
first maniple of the Triarii stood next in rank to the tribunes, and had
a seat in the military councils. His office was very lucrative. To his
charge was intrusted the eagle of the legion. As the centurion might
rise from the ranks by regular gradation through the different maniples
of the Hastati, Principes, and Triarii, there was great inducement held
out to the soldiers. It would, however, appear that the centurion
received only twice the pay of the ordinary legionary. There was not
therefore so much difference in rank between a private and a captain as
there is in our day. There were no aristocratic distinctions in the
ancient world so marked as those existing in the modern. In the Roman
legion there was nevertheless a regular gradation of rank, although
there were but few distinct offices. The gradation was determined not by
length of service, but for merit alone, of which the tribunes were the
sole judges; hence the tribune in a Roman legion had more power than
that of a modern colonel. As the tribunes named the centurions, so the
centurions appointed their lieutenants, who were called sub-centurions.
Still below these were two sub-officers, or sergeants, and the
_decanus_, or corporal, to every ten men.

There was a change in the constitution and disposition of the legion
after the time of Marius, until the fall of the republic. The legions
were thrown open to men of all grades; they were all armed and equipped
alike; the lines were reduced to two, with a space between every two
cohorts, of which there were five in each line; the young soldiers were
placed in the rear; the distinction between Hastati, Principes, and
Triarii ceased; the Velites disappeared, their work being done by the
foreign mercenaries; the cavalry ceased to be part of the legion, and
became a distinct body; and the military was completely severed from the
rest of the State. Formerly no one could aspire to office who had not
completed ten years of military service, but in the time of Cicero a man
could pass through all the great dignities of the State with a very
limited experience of military life. Cicero himself did military service
in but one campaign.

Under the emperors there were still other changes. The regular army
consisted of legions and supplementa,--the latter being subdivided into
the imperial guards and the auxiliary troops.

The Auxiliaries (_Socii_) consisted of troops from the States in
alliance with Rome, or those compelled to furnish subsidies. The
infantry of the allies was generally more numerous than that of the
Romans, while the cavalry was three times as numerous. All the
auxiliaries were paid by the State; their infantry received the same pay
as the Roman infantry, but their cavalry received only two thirds of
what was paid to the Roman cavalry. The common foot-soldier received in
the time of Polybius three and a half asses a day, equal to about three
cents; the horseman three times as much. The praetorian cohorts received
twice as much as the legionaries. Julius Caesar allowed about six asses
a day as the pay of the legionary, and under Augustus the daily pay was
raised to ten asses,--little more than eight cents per day. Domitian
raised the stipend still higher. The soldier, however, was fed and
clothed by the government.

The Praetorian Cohort was a select body of troops instituted by Augustus
to protect his person, and consisted of ten cohorts, each of one
thousand men, chosen from Italy. This number was increased by Vitellius
to sixteen thousand, and they were assembled by Tiberius in a permanent
camp, which was strongly fortified. They had peculiar privileges, and
when they had served sixteen years received twenty thousand sesterces,
or more than one hundred pounds sterling. Each praetorian had the rank
of a centurion in the regular army. Like the body-guard of Louis XIV.
they were all gentlemen, and formed gradually a great power, like the
Janissaries at Constantinople, and frequently disposed of the
purple itself.

Our notice of the Roman legion would be incomplete without some
description of the camp in which the soldier virtually lived. A Roman
army never halted for a single night without forming a regular
intrenchment capable of holding all the fighting men, the beasts of
burden, and the baggage. During the winter months, when the army could
not retire into some city, it was compelled to live in the camp, which
was arranged and fortified according to a uniform plan, so that every
company and individual had a place assigned. We cannot tell when this
practice of intrenchment began; it was matured gradually, like all other
things pertaining to all arts. The system was probably brought to
perfection during the wars with Hannibal. Skill in the choice of ground,
giving facilities for attack and defence, and for procuring water and
other necessities, was of great account with the generals. An area of
about five thousand square feet was allowed for a company of infantry,
and ten thousand feet for a troop of thirty dragoons. The form of a camp
was an exact square, the length of each side being two thousand and
seventeen feet; there was a space of two hundred feet between the
ramparts and the tents to facilitate the marching in and out of
soldiers, and to guard the cattle and booty; the principal street was
one hundred feet wide, and was called Principia. The defences of the
camp consisted of a ditch, the earth from which was thrown inward, and
of strong palisades of wooden stakes driven into the top of the
earthwork so formed; the ditch was sometimes fifteen feet deep, and the
_vallum_, or rampart, ten feet in height. When the army encamped for the
first time the tribunes administered an oath to each individual,
including slaves, to the effect that they would steal nothing out of the
camp. Every morning at daybreak the centurions and the equites presented
themselves before the tents of the tribunes, and the tribunes in like
manner presented themselves before the praetorian, to learn the orders
of the consuls, which through the centurions were communicated to the
soldiers. Four companies took charge of the principal street, to see
that it was properly cleaned and watered; one company took charge of the
tent of the tribune; a strong guard attended to the horses, and another
of fifty men stood beside the tent of the general, that he might be
protected from open danger and secret treachery. The _velites_ mounted
guard the whole night and day along the whole extent of the vallum, and
each gate was guarded by ten men; the _equites_ were intrusted with the
duty of acting as sentinels during the night, and most ingenious
measures were adopted to secure their watchfulness and fidelity. The
watchword for the night was given by the commander-in-chief. "On the
first signal being given by the trumpet, the tents were all struck and
the baggage packed; at the second signal, the baggage was placed upon
the beasts of burden; and at the third, the whole army began to move.
Then the herald, standing at the right hand of the general, demands
thrice if they are ready for war, to which they all respond with loud
and repeated cheers that they are ready, and for the most part, being
filled with martial ardor, anticipate the question, 'and raise their
right hands on high with a shout.'" [3]

[Footnote 3: Smith's Dictionary of Antiquities, article "Castra."]

From what has come down to us of Roman military life, it appears to have
been full of excitement, toil, danger, and hardship. The pecuniary
rewards of the soldier were small; he was paid in glory. No profession
brought so much honor as the military; and it was from the undivided
attention of a great people to this profession, that it was carried to
all the perfection which could be attained before the great invention of
gunpowder changed the art of war. It was not the number of men employed
in the Roman armies which particularly arrests attention, but the genius
of organization which controlled and the spirit which animated them.
The Romans loved war, but so reduced it to a science that it required
comparatively small armies to conquer the world. Sulla defeated
Mithridates with only thirty thousand men, while his adversary
marshalled against him over one hundred thousand. Caesar had only ten
legions to effect the conquest of Gaul, and none of these were of
Italian origin. At the great decisive battle of Pharsalia, when most of
the available forces of the empire were employed on one side or the
other, Pompey commanded a legionary army of forty-five thousand men, and
his cavalry amounted to seven thousand more, but among them were
included the flower of the Roman nobility; the auxiliary force has not
been computed, although it was probably numerous. In the same battle
Caesar had under him only twenty-two thousand legionaries and one
thousand cavalry. But every man in both armies was prepared to conquer
or die. The forces were posted on the open plain, and the battle was
really a hand-to-hand encounter, in which the soldiers, after hurling
their lances, fought with their swords chiefly; and when the cavalry of
Pompey rushed upon the legionaries of Caesar, no blows were wasted on
the mailed panoply of the mounted Romans, but were aimed at the face
alone, as that only was unprotected. The battle was decided by the
coolness, bravery, and discipline of Caesar's veterans, inspired by the
genius of the greatest general of antiquity. Less than one hundred
thousand men, in all probability, were engaged in one of the most
memorable conflicts which the world has seen.

Thus it was by blended art and heroism that the Roman legions prevailed
over the armies of the ancient world. But this military power was not
gained in a say; it took nearly two hundred years, after the expulsion
of the kings, to regain supremacy over the neighboring people, and
another century to conquer Italy. The Romans did not contend with
regular armies until they were brought in conflict with the king of
Epirus and the phalanx of the Greeks, "which improved their military
tactics, and introduced between the combatants those mutual regards of
civilized nations which teach men to honor their adversaries, to spare
the vanquished, and to lay aside wrath when the struggle is ended."

After the consolidation of Roman power in Italy, it took but one hundred
and fifty years more to complete the conquest of the world,--of Northern
Africa, Spain, Gaul, Illyria, Epirus, Greece, Macedonia, Asia Minor,
Pontus, Syria, Egypt, Bithynia, Cappadocia, Pergamus, and the islands of
the Mediterranean. The conquest of Carthage left Rome without a rival in
the Mediterranean, and promoted intercourse with the Greeks. The
Illyrian wars opened to the Romans the road to Greece and Asia, and
destroyed the pirates of the Adriatic. The invasion of Cisalpine Gaul,
now that part of Italy which is north of the Apennines, protected Italy
from the invasion of barbarians. The Macedonian War against Philip put
Greece under the protection of Rome, and that against Antiochus laid
Syria at her mercy; when these kingdoms were reduced to provinces, the
way was opened to further conquests in the East, and the Mediterranean
became a Roman lake.

But these conquests introduced luxury, wealth, pride, and avarice, which
degrade while they elevate. Successful war created great generals, and
founded great families; increased slavery, and promoted inequalities.
Meanwhile the great generals struggled for supremacy; civil wars
followed in the train of foreign conquests; Marius, Sulla, Pompey,
Caesar, Antony, Augustus, sacrificed the State to their own ambitions.
Good men lamented and protested, and hid themselves; Cato, Cicero,
Brutus, spoke in vain. Degenerate morals kept pace with civil contests.
Rome revelled in the spoils of all kingdoms and countries, was
intoxicated with power, became cruel and tyrannical, and after
sacrificing the lives of citizens to fortunate generals, yielded at last
her liberties, and imperial despotism began its reign. War had added
empire, but undermined prosperity; it had created a great military
monarchy, but destroyed liberty; it had brought wealth, but introduced
inequalities; it had filled the city with spoils, but sown the vices of
self-interest. The machinery remained perfect, but life had fled. It
henceforth became the labor of Emperors to keep together their vast
possessions with this machinery, which at last wore out, since there was
neither genius to repair it nor patriotism to work it. It lasted three
hundred years, but was broken to pieces by the barbarians.

* * * * *


Wilkinson is the best authority pertaining to Egyptian armies. The
highest authority in relation to the construction of an army is
Polybius, contemporary with Scipio, when Roman discipline was most
perfect. The eighth chapter of Livy is also very much prized. Salmasius
and Lepsius wrote learned treatises. Tacitus, Sallust, Livy, Dion
Cassius, Pliny, and Caesar reveal incidentally much that we wish to
know, the last giving us the liveliest idea of the military habits and
tactics of the Romans. Gibbon gives some important facts. The subject of
ancient machines is treated by Folard's Commentary attached to his
translation of Polybius. Josephus describes with great vividness the
siege of Jerusalem. Smith's Dictionary of Antiquities is full of details
in everything pertaining to the weapons, the armor, the military
engines, the rewards and punishments of the soldiers. The articles
"Exercitus," in Smith's Dictionary, and "Army," in the Encyclopedia
Britannica, give a practical summary of the best writers.


106-43 B.C.


Marcus Tullius Cicero is one of the great lights of history, because his
genius and influence were directed to the conservation of what was most
precious in civilization among the cultivated nations of antiquity.

He was not a warrior, like so many of the Roman Senators, but his
excellence was higher than that of a conqueror. "He was doomed, by his
literary genius, to an immortality," and was confessedly the most
prominent figure in the political history of his time, next to Caesar
and Pompey. His influence was greater than his power, reaching down to
our time; and if his character had faults, let us remember that he was
stained by no crimes and vices, in an age of violence and wickedness.
Until lately he has received almost unmixed praise. The Fathers of the
Church revered him. To Erasmus, as well as to Jerome and Augustine, he
was an oracle.

In presenting this immortal benefactor, I have no novelties to show.
Novelties are for those who seek to upturn the verdicts of past ages by
offering something new, rather than what is true.

Cicero was born B.C. 106, in the little suburban town of Arpinum, about
fifty miles from Rome,--the town which produced Marius. The period of
his birth was one of marked national prosperity. Great military roads
were built, which were a marvel of engineering skill; canals were dug;
sails whitened the sea; commerce was prosperous; the arts of Greece were
introduced, and its literature also; elegant villas lined the shores of
the Mediterranean; pictures and statues were indefinitely
multiplied,--everything indicated an increase of wealth and culture.
With these triumphs of art and science and literature, we are compelled
to notice likewise a decline in morals. Money had become the god which
everybody worshipped. Religious life faded away; there was a general
eclipse of faith. An Epicurean life produced an Epicurean philosophy.
Pleasure-seeking was universal, and even revolting in the sports of the
Amphitheatre. Sensualism became the convertible word for utilities. The
Romans were thus rapidly "advancing" to a materialistic millennium,--an
outward progress of wealth and industries, but an inward decline in
"those virtues on which the strength of man is based," accompanied with
seditions among the people, luxury and pride among the nobles, and
usurpations on the part of successful generals,--when Cicero began his
memorable career.

He was well-born, but not of noble ancestors. The great peculiarity of
his youth was his precocity. He was an intellectual prodigy,--like Pitt,
Macaulay, and Mill. Like them, he had a wonderful memory. He early
mastered the Greek language; he wrote poetry, studied under eminent
professors, frequented the Forum, listened to the speeches of different
orators, watched the posture and gestures of actors, and plunged into
the mazes of literature and philosophy. He was conscious of his
marvellous gifts, and was, of course, ambitious of distinction.

There were only three ways at Rome in which a man could rise to eminence
and power. One was by making money, like army contractors and merchants,
such as the Equites, to whose ranks he belonged; the second was by
military service; and the third by the law,--an honorable profession.
Like Caesar, a few years younger than he, Cicero selected the law. But
he was a _new man_,--not a patrician, as Caesar was,--and had few
powerful friends. Hence his progress was not rapid in the way of
clients. He was twenty-five years of age before he had a case. He was
twenty-seven when he defended Roscius, which seems to have brought him
into notice,--even as the fortune of Erskine was made in the Greenwich
Hospital case and that of Daniel Webster in the case of Dartmouth
College. To have defended Roscius against all the influence of Sulla,
then the most powerful man in Rome, was considered bold and audacious.
His fame for great logical power rests on his defence of Milo,--the
admiration of all lawyers.

Cicero was not naturally robust. His figure was tall and spare, his neck
long and slender, and his mouth anything but sensual. He looked more
like an elegant scholar than a popular public speaker. Yet he was
impetuous, ardent, and fiery, like Demosthenes, resorting to violent
gesticulations. The health of such a young man could not stand the
strain on his nervous system, and he was obliged to leave Rome for
recreation; he therefore made the tour of Greece and Asia Minor, which
every fashionable and cultivated man was supposed to do. Yet he did not
abandon himself to the pleasures of cities more fascinating than Rome
itself, but pursued his studies in rhetoric and philosophy under eminent
masters, or "professors" as we should now call them. He remained abroad
two years, returning when he was thirty years of age and settling down
in his profession, taking at first but little part in politics. He
married Terentia, with whom he lived happily for thirty years.

But the Roman lawyer was essentially a politician, looking ultimately to
political office, since only through the great public offices could he
enter the Senate,--the object of ambition to all distinguished Romans,
as a seat in Parliament is the goal of an Englishman. The Roman lawyer
did not receive fees, like modern lawyers, but derived his support from
presents and legacies. When he became a political leader, a man of
influence with the great, his presents were enormous. Cicero
acknowledged, late in life, to have received what would now be equal to
more than a million of dollars from legacies alone. The great political
leaders and orators were the stipendiaries of Eastern princes and nobles
who wanted favors from the Senate, and who knew as well how to reward
such services as do the railway kings in our times.

Before Cicero, then, could be a Senator, he must pass through those
great public offices which were in the gift of the people. The first
step on the ladder of advancement was the office of quaestor, which
entailed the duty of collecting revenues in one of the provinces. This
office he was sufficiently influential to secure, being sent to Sicily,
where he distinguished himself for his activity and integrity. At the
end of a year he renewed his practice in the courts at Rome,--being
hardly anything more than a mere lawyer for five years, when he was
elected an Aedile, to whom the care of the public buildings was

It was while he was aedile-elect that Cicero appeared as the public
prosecutor of Verres. This was one of the great cases of antiquity, and
the one from which the orator's public career fairly dates. His
residence in Sicily had prepared him for this duty; and he secured the
conviction of this great criminal, whose peculations and corruptions
would amaze our modern New Yorkers and all the "rings" of our great
cities combined. But the Praetor of Sicily was a provincial
governor,--more like Warren Hastings than Tweed. For this public service
Cicero gained more _eclat_ than Burke did for his prosecution of
Hastings; since Hastings, though a corrupt man, laid, after Clive, the
foundation of the English empire in India, and was a man of immense
talents,--greater than those of any who has since filled his place.
Hence the nation screened Hastings. But Verres had no virtues and no
great abilities; he was an outrageous public robber, and hoped, from his
wealth and powerful connections, to purchase immunity for his crimes. In
the hands of such an orator as Cicero he could not escape the penalty of
the law, powerful as he was, even at Rome. This case placed Cicero above
Hortensius, hitherto the leader of the Roman bar.

It was at this period that the extant correspondence of Cicero began,
which is the best picture we have of the manners and habits of the Roman
aristocracy at the time. History could scarcely spare those famous
letters, especially to Atticus, in which also the private life and
character of Cicero shine to the most advantage, revealing no vices, no
treacheries,--only egotism, vanity, and vacillation, and a way that some
have of speaking about people in private very differently from what they
say in public, which looks like insincerity. In these letters Cicero
appears as a very frank man, genial, hospitable, domestic, witty, whose
society and conversation must have been delightful. In no modern
correspondence do we see a higher perfection in the polished courtesies
and urbanities of social life, with the alloy of vanity, irony, and
discontent. But in these letters he also evinces a friendship which is
immortal; and what is nobler than the capacity of friendship? In these
he not only shines as a cultivated scholar, but as a great statesman and
patriot, living for the good of his country, though not unmindful of the
luxuries of home and the charms of country retirement, and those
enjoyments which are ever associated with refined and favored life. We
read here of pictures, books, medals, statues, curiosities of every
kind, all of which adorned his various villas, as well as his
magnificent palace on Mount Palatine, which cost him what would be equal
in our money to two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. To keep up this
town house, and some fifteen villas in different parts of Italy, and to
feast the greatest nobles, like Pompey and Caesar, would imply that his
income was enormous, much greater than that of any modern professional
man. And yet he seems to have lived, like Bacon and our Webster, beyond
his income, and was in debt the greater part of his life,--another flaw
in his character; for I do not wish to paint him without faults, but
only as a good as well as a great man, for his times. His private
character was as lofty as that of Chatham or Canning,--if we could
forget his vanity, which after all is not so offensive as the
intellectual pride of Burke and Pitt, and of sundry other great lights
who might be mentioned, conscious of their gifts and attainments. There
is something very different in the egotism of a silly and self-seeking
aristocrat from that of a great benefactor who has something to be proud
of, and with whose private experiences the greatest national deeds are
connected. I speak of this fault because it has been handled too
severely by modern critics. What were the faults of Cicero, compared
with those of Theodosius or Constantine, to say nothing of his
contemporaries, like Caesar, before whom so much incense has
been burned?

At the age of forty Cicero became Praetor, or Supreme Judge. This
office, when it expired, entitled him to a provincial government,--the
great ultimate ambition of a senator; since the administration of a
province, even for a single year, usually secured an enormous fortune.
But this tempting offer he resigned, since he felt he could not be
spared from Rome in such a crisis of public affairs, when the fortunate
generals were grasping power and the demagogues were almost preparing
the way for despotism. Some might say he was a far-sighted and ambitious
statesman, who could not afford to weaken his chances of being made
Consul by absence from the capital.

This great office, the consulship, the highest in the gift of the
people,--which gave supreme executive control,--was rarely conferred,
although elective, upon any but senators of ancient family and enormous
wealth. It was as difficult for a "new man" to reach this dignity, under
an aristocratic Constitution, as for a commoner a hundred years ago to
become prime minister of England. Transcendent talents and services
scarcely sufficed. Only generals who had won great military fame, or the
highest of the nobles, stood much chance. For a lawyer to aim at the
highest office in the State, without a great family to back him, would
have been deemed as audacious as for such a man as Burke to aspire to a
seat in the cabinet during the reign of George III. A lawyer at Rome,
like a lawyer in London, might become a lord chancellor or praetor, but
not easily a prime minister: he would be defeated by aristocratic
influence and jealousies. Although the people had the right of election,
they voted at the dictation of those who had money and power. Yet Cicero
obtained the consulship, probably with the aid of senators, which he
justly regarded as a great triumph. It was a very unusual thing. It was
more marvellous than for a Jew to reign in Great Britain, or, like
Mordecai, in the court of a Persian king.

The most distinguished service of Cicero as consul was to ferret out the
conspiracy of Catiline. Now, this traitor belonged to the very highest
rank in a Senate of nobles; he was like an ancient duke in the British
House of Peers. It was no easy thing for a plebeian consul to bring to
justice so great a culprit. He was more formidable than Essex in the
reign of Elizabeth, or Bassompierre in the time of Richelieu. He was a
man of profligate life, but of marked ability and boundless ambition. He
had a band of numerous and faithful followers, armed and desperate. He
was also one of those oily and aristocratic demagogues who bewitch the
people,--not, as in our times, by sophistries, but by flatteries. He was
as debauched as Mirabeau, but without his patriotism, though like him he
aimed to overturn the Constitution by allying himself with the
democracy. The people, whom he despised, he gained by his money and
promises; and he had powerful confederates of his own rank, so that he
was on the point of deluging Rome with blood, his aim being nothing less
than the extermination of the Senate and the magistrates by
assassination, and a general division of the public treasure, with
personal assumption of public power.

But all his schemes were foiled by Cicero, who added unwearied activity
to extraordinary penetration. For this great and signal service Cicero
received the highest tribute the State could render. He was called the
savior of his country; and he succeeded in staving off for a time the
fall of his country's liberties. It was a mournful sight to him to see
the ascendency which demagogues had already gained, since it betokened
the approaching destruction of the Constitution, which, good or bad, was
dear to him, and which as an aristocrat he sought to conserve.

Cicero's evil star was not Catiline, but Clodius,--another aristocratic
demagogue whose crimes he exposed, although he failed to bring him to
justice. Clodius was shielded by his powerful connections; and he was,
besides, a popular favorite, as well as a petted scion of one of the
greatest families. Clodius showed his hostility to Cicero, and sought
revenge by artfully causing the people to pass or revive a law that
whoever had inflicted capital punishment on a citizen without a trial
should be banished. This seemed to the people to be a protection to
their liberties. Now Cicero, when consul, had executed some of the
conspirators associated with Catiline, for which he was called the
savior of his country. But by the law which was now passed or revived by
the influence of Clodius, Cicero was himself a culprit, and it would
seem that all the influence of the Senate and his friends could not
prevent his exile. He appealed to his friend Pompey, but Pompey turned a
deaf ear; and also to Caesar, but Caesar was then outside the walls of
the city in command of an army. In fact, both these generals wished him
out of the way, although they equally admired and feared him; for each
of them was bent on being the supreme ruler of Rome.

So it was permitted for the most illustrious patriot which Rome then
held to go into exile. What a comment on the demoralization of the
times! Here was the best, the most gifted, and the most accomplished man
of the Republic,--a man who had rendered invaluable and acknowledged
services, that man of consular dignity and one of the leaders of the
Senate,--sent into inglorious banishment, on a mere technicality and for
an act which saved the State. And the "magnanimous" Caesar and the
"illustrious" Pompey allowed him to go! Where was salvation to a
Republic which banished its savior, and for having saved it? The heart
sickens over such a fact, although it occurred two thousand years ago.
When the citizens of Rome saw that great man depart mournfully from
among them, and to all appearance forever, for having rescued them from
violence and slaughter, and by their own act,--they ought to have known
that the days of the Republic were numbered. But this only a few
far-seeing patriots felt. And not only was Cicero banished, but his
palace was burned and his villas confiscated. He was not only disgraced,
but ruined; he was an exile and a pauper. What a fall! What an unmerited

Very few people conceive what a dreadful punishment it was in Greece and
Rome to be banished; or, as the formula went, "to be interdicted from
fire and water,"--the sacred fire of the hearth, the lustral water which
served for sacrifices. The exile was deprived of these by being forced
to extinguish the hearth-fire,--the elemental, fundamental religion of a
Greek and Roman. "He could not, deprived of this, hold property; having
no longer a worship, he had no longer a family. He ceased to be a
husband and father; his sons were no longer in his power, his wife was
no longer his wife, and when he died he had not the right to be buried
in the tombs of his ancestors." [4]

[Footnote 4: Coulanges: Ancient City.]

Is it to be wondered at that even so good and great a man as Cicero
should bitterly feel his disgrace and misfortunes? Is it surprising
that, philosopher as he was, he should have given way to grief and
despondency. He would have been more than human not to have lost his
spirits and his hopes. How natural were grief and despair, in such
complicated miseries, especially to a religious man! Chrysostom could
support _his_ exile with dignity; for Christianity had abolished the
superstitions of Greece and Rome as to household gods. Cicero could not:
he was not great enough for such a martyrdom. It is true we should have
esteemed him higher, had he accepted his fate with resignation: no man
should yield to despair. Had he been as old as Socrates, and had he
accomplished his mission, possibly he would have shown more equanimity.
But his work was not yet done. He was cut off in his prime and in the
midst of usefulness from his home, his religion, his family, his honor,
and his influence; he was utterly ruined. I think the critics make too
much of the grief and misery of Cicero in his banishment. We may be
disappointed that Cicero was not equal to his circumstances; but we need
not be hard on him. My surprise is, not that he was overwhelmed with
grief, but that he did not attempt to drown his grief in books and
literature. His sole relief was in pathetic and unmanly letters.

The great injustice of this punishment naturally produced a reaction.
Nor could the Romans afford to lose the services of their greatest
orator. They also craved the excitement of his speeches, more thrilling
and delightful than the performance of any actor. So he was recalled.
Cicero ought to have anticipated this; it seems, however, he had that
unfortunate temperament which favors alternate depression and
exhilaration of spirits, without measure or reason.

His return was a triumph,--a grand ovation, an unbounded tribute to his
vanity. His palace was rebuilt at the expense of the State, and his
property was restored. His popularity was regained. In fact, his
influence was never lost; and, because it was so great, his enemies
wished him out of the way. He was one of the few who retain influence
after they have lost power.

The excess of his joy on his restoration to home and friends and
property and fame and position, was as great as the excess of his grief
in his short exile. But this is a defect in temperament, in his mental
constitution, rather than a flaw in his character. We could have wished
more placidity and equanimity; but to condemn him because he was not
great in everything is unjust.

On his return to Rome Cicero resumed his practice in the courts with
greater devotion than ever. He was now past fifty years of age, in the
prime of his strength and in the height of his forensic fame. But,
notwithstanding his success and honors, his life was saddened by the
growing dissensions between Caesar and Pompey, the decline of public
spirit, and the approaching fall of the institutions in which he
gloried. It was clear that one or the other of these fortunate generals
would soon become the master of the Roman world, and that liberty was
about to perish. His eloquence now became sad; he sings the death-song
of departing glories; he wails his Jeremiads over the demoralization
which was sweeping away not merely liberty, but religion, and
extinguishing faith in the world. To console himself he retired to one
of his beautiful villas and wrote that immortal essay, "De Oratore,"
which has come down to us entire. His literary genius now blazed equally
with his public speeches in the Forum and in the Senate. Literature was
his solace and amusement, not a source of profit, or probably of
contemporary fame. He wrote treatises on the same principles that he
talked with friends, or that Fra Angelico painted pictures. He renewed
his attempts in poetry, but failed. His poetry is in the transcendent
rhythm of his prose compositions, like that of Madame de Stael, and
Macaulay, and Rousseau.

But he was dragged from his literary and forensic life to accept the
office of a governor of a province. It was forced upon him,--an honor to
him without a charm. Had he been venal and unscrupulous, he would have
seized it with avidity. He was too conscientious to enrich himself by
public corruption, as other Senators did, and unless he could accumulate
a fortune the command of a distant province was an honorable exile. He
was fifty-six years of age when he became Proconsul of Cilicia, an
Eastern province; and all historians have united in praising his
proconsulate for its justice, its integrity, and its ability. He
committed no extortions, and returned home, when his term of office
expired, as poor as when he went. One of the highest praises which can
be given to a public man who has chances of enriching himself is, that
he remains poor. When a member of Congress, known not to be worth ten
thousand dollars, returns to his home worth one hundred thousand
dollars, the public have an instinct that he has, somehow or other, been
untrue to himself and his country. When a great man returns home from
Washington poorer than when he went, his influence is apt to survive his
power; and this perpetuated influence is the highest glory of a public
man,--the glory of Jefferson, of Hamilton, of Washington, like the voice
of Gladstone during his retirement. Now Cicero had pre-eminently this
influence as long as he lived; and it was ever exerted for the good of
his country. Had his country been free, he would have died in honor. But
his country was enslaved, and his voice was drowned, and he had to pay
the penalty of speaking the truth about those unscrupulous men who
usurped authority.

On his return to Rome the state of public affairs was most alarming.
Caesar and Pompey were in antagonism. He must choose between them, and
he distrusted both. Caesar was the more able, accomplished, and
magnanimous, but he was the more unscrupulous and dangerous. He had
ventured to cross the Rubicon,--the first general who ever dared thus
openly to assail his country's liberties. Pompey was pompous, overrated,
and proud, and had been fortunate in the East. But then he sided with
the Constitutional authorities,--that is, with the Senate,--so far as
his ambition allowed. So Cicero took his side feebly, reluctantly, as
the least of the evils he had to choose, but not without vacillation,
which is one of the popular charges against him. "His distraction almost
took the form of insanity." "His inconsistency was an incoherence."
Never did a more wretched man than Cicero resort to Pompey's camp, where
he remained until his cause was lost. He returned, after the battle of
Pharsalia, a suppliant at the feet of Caesar, the conqueror. This, to
me, is one of his weakest acts. It would have been more lofty and heroic
to have perished in the camp of Pompey's sons.

In the midst of these public misfortunes which saddened his soul, his
private miseries began. He was now prematurely an old man, under sixty
years of age, almost broken down with grief. His beloved daughter
Tullia, with whom his life was bound up, died; and he was divorced from
his wife Terentia,--a proceeding the cause of which remains a mystery.
Neither in his most confidential letters, nor in his conversations with
most intimate friends, does it appear that he ever unbosomed himself,
although he was the frankest and most social of men. In his impressive
silence he has set one of the noblest examples of a man afflicted with
domestic infelicities. He buries his conjugal troubles in eternal
silence; although he is forced to give vent to sorrows, so plaintive and
bitter that both friend and foe were constrained to pity. He expects no
sympathy, even at Rome, for the sundering of conjugal relations, and he
communicates no secrets. In his grief and sadness he does, however, a
most foolish thing: he marries a young lady one-third his age. She
accepted him for his name and rank; he sought her for her beauty, her
youth, and her fortune. This union of May with December was of course a
failure. Both parties were soon disenchanted and disappointed. Neither
party found happiness, only discontent and chagrin. The everlasting
incongruities of such a relation--he sixty and she nineteen--soon led to
another divorce. _He_ expected his young wife to mourn with him the loss
of his daughter Tullia. _She_ expected that her society and charms
would be a compensation for all that he had lost; yea, more, enough to
make him the most fortunate and happy of mortals. In truth, he was too
old a man to have married a young woman whatever were the inducements.
It was the great folly of his life; an illustration of the fact that, as
a general thing, the older a man grows the greater fool he becomes, so
far as women are concerned; a folly that disgraced and humiliated the
two wisest and greatest men who ever sat on the Jewish throne.

In his accumulated sorrows Cicero now plunged for relief into literary
labors. It was thus that his private sorrows were the means which
Providence employed to transmit his precious thoughts and experiences to
future ages, as the most valued inheritance he could bestow on
posterity. What a precious legacy to the mind of the world was the book
of "Ecclesiastes," yet by what bitter experiences was its wisdom earned!

It was in the short period when Caesar rejoiced in the mighty power
which he transmitted to the Roman Emperors that Cicero wrote, in
comparative retirement, his history of "Roman Eloquence," his inquiry as
to the "Greatest Good and Evil," his "Cato," his "Orator," his "Nature
of the Gods," and his treatises on "Glory," on "Fate," on "Friendship,"
on "Old Age," and his grandest work of all, the "Offices."--the best
manual in ethics which has come down to us from heathen antiquity. In
his studious retirement he reminds us of Bacon after his fall, when on
his estate, surrounded with friends, and in the enjoyment of elegant
leisure, he penned the most valued of his immortal compositions. And in
those degenerate days at Rome, when liberty was crushed under foot
forever, it is beautiful to see the greatest of Roman statesmen and
lawyers consoling himself and instructing posterity by his exhaustive
treatises on the fundamental principles of law, of morality, and of

The assassination of Caesar by Roman senators, which Cicero seems to
have foreseen, and in which he rejoiced, at this time shocked and
disturbed the world. For nearly two thousand years the verdict of the
civilized world respecting this great conqueror has been unanimous. But
Mr. Froude has attempted to reverse this verdict, as he has in reference
to Henry VIII., and as Carlyle--another idolater of force--has attempted
in the cases of Oliver Cromwell and Frederick II. This remarkable
word-painter, in his Life of Caesar,--which is, however, interesting
from first to last, as everything he writes is interesting,--has
presented him as an object of unbounded admiration, as I have already
noticed in my lecture on Caesar. Whether in his eagerness to say
something new, or from an ill-concealed hostility to aristocratic and
religious institutions, or from an admiration of imperialism, or disdain
of the people in their efforts at self-government, this able special
pleader seems to hail the Roman conqueror as a benefactor to the cause
of civilization. But imperialism crushed all alike,--the people, no
longer able to send their best men to the Senate through the higher
offices perchance to represent their interests, and the nobles, shorn of
the administration of the Empire. Soldiers, not civilians, henceforth
were to rule the world,--a dreary thought to a great lawyer like Cicero,
or a landed proprietor like Brutus. Even if such a terrible revolution
as occurred in Rome under Caesar may have been ordered wisely by a
Superintending Power for those degenerate times, and as a preservation
of the peace of the world, that Christianity might take root and spread
in countries where all religions were dead,--still, the prostration of
what was dearest to the hearts of all true citizens by the sword was a
crime; and men are not to be commended for crime, even if those crimes
may be palliated. "It must need be that offences come, but woe to those
by whom they come."

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