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The History of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon

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occupied by a powerful colony of Gauls, who, settling themselves
along the banks of the Po, from Piedmont to Romagna, carried
their arms and diffused their name from the Alps to the Apennine.

The Ligurians dwelt on the rocky coast which now forms the
republic of Genoa. Venice was yet unborn; but the territories of
that state, which lie to the east of the Adige, were inhabited by
the Venetians. ^74 The middle part of the peninsula, that now
composes the duchy of Tuscany and the ecclesiastical state, was
the ancient seat of the Etruscans and Umbrians; to the former of
whom Italy was indebted for the first rudiments of civilized
life. ^75 The Tyber rolled at the foot of the seven hills of
Rome, and the country of the Sabines, the Latins, and the Volsci,
from that river to the frontiers of Naples, was the theatre of
her infant victories. On that celebrated ground the first
consuls deserved triumphs, their successors adorned villas, and
their posterity have erected convents. ^76 Capua and Campania
possessed the immediate territory of Naples; the rest of the
kingdom was inhabited by many warlike nations, the Marsi, the
Samnites, the Apulians, and the Lucanians; and the sea-coasts had
been covered by the flourishing colonies of the Greeks. We may
remark, that when Augustus divided Italy into eleven regions, the
little province of Istria was annexed to that seat of Roman
sovereignty. ^77

[Footnote 74: The Italian Veneti, though often confounded with
the Gauls, were more probably of Illyrian origin. See M. Freret,
Memoires de l'Academie des Inscriptions, tom. xviii.

Note: Or Liburnian, according to Niebuhr. Vol. i. p. 172. -
[Footnote 75: See Maffei Verona illustrata, l. i.

Note: Add Niebuhr, vol. i., and Otfried Muller, die
Etrusker, which contains much that is known, and much that is
conjectured, about this remarkable people. Also Micali, Storia
degli antichi popoli Italiani. Florence, 1832 - M.]

[Footnote 76: The first contrast was observed by the ancients.
See Florus, i. 11. The second must strike every modern

[Footnote 77: Pliny (Hist. Natur. l. iii.) follows the division
of Italy by Augustus.]

The European provinces of Rome were protected by the course
of the Rhine and the Danube. The latter of those mighty streams,
which rises at the distance of only thirty miles from the former,
flows above thirteen hundred miles, for the most part to the
south-east, collects the tribute of sixty navigable rivers, and
is, at length, through six mouths, received into the Euxine,
which appears scarcely equal to such an accession of waters. ^78
The provinces of the Danube soon acquired the general appellation
of Illyricum, or the Illyrian frontier, ^79 and were esteemed the
most warlike of the empire; but they deserve to be more
particularly considered under the names of Rhaetia, Noricum,
Pannonia, Dalmatia, Dacia, Maesia, Thrace, Macedonia, and Greece.

[Footnote 78: Tournefort, Voyages en Grece et Asie Mineure,
lettre xviii.]

[Footnote 79: The name of Illyricum originally belonged to the
sea-coast of the Adriatic, and was gradually extended by the
Romans from the Alps to the Euxine Sea. See Severini Pannonia,
l. i. c. 3.]

The province of Rhaetia, which soon extinguished the name of
the Vindelicians, extended from the summit of the Alps to the
banks of the Danube; from its source, as far as its conflux with
the Inn. The greatest part of the flat country is subject to the
elector of Bavaria; the city of Augsburg is protected by the
constitution of the German empire; the Grisons are safe in their
mountains, and the country of Tirol is ranked among the numerous
provinces of the house of Austria.

The wide extent of territory which is included between the
Inn, the Danube, and the Save, - Austria, Styria, Carinthia,
Carniola, the Lower Hungary, and Sclavonia, - was known to the
ancients under the names of Noricum and Pannonia. In their
original state of independence, their fierce inhabitants were
intimately connected. Under the Roman government they were
frequently united, and they still remain the patrimony of a
single family. They now contain the residence of a German prince,
who styles himself Emperor of the Romans, and form the centre, as
well as strength, of the Austrian power. It may not be improper
to observe, that if we except Bohemia, Moravia, the northern
skirts of Austria, and a part of Hungary between the Teyss and
the Danube, all the other dominions of the House of Austria were
comprised within the limits of the Roman Empire.

Dalmatia, to which the name of Illyricum more properly
belonged, was a long, but narrow tract, between the Save and the
Adriatic. The best part of the sea-coast, which still retains
its ancient appellation, is a province of the Venetian state, and
the seat of the little republic of Ragusa. The inland parts have
assumed the Sclavonian names of Croatia and Bosnia; the former
obeys an Austrian governor, the latter a Turkish pacha; but the
whole country is still infested by tribes of barbarians, whose
savage independence irregularly marks the doubtful limit of the
Christian and Mahometan power. ^80

[Footnote 80: A Venetian traveller, the Abbate Fortis, has lately
given us some account of those very obscure countries. But the
geography and antiquities of the western Illyricum can be
expected only from the munificence of the emperor, its

After the Danube had received the waters of the Teyss and
the Save, it acquired, at least among the Greeks, the name of
Ister. ^81 It formerly divided Maesia and Dacia, the latter of
which, as we have already seen, was a conquest of Trajan, and the
only province beyond the river. If we inquire into the present
state of those countries, we shall find that, on the left hand of
the Danube, Temeswar and Transylvania have been annexed, after
many revolutions, to the crown of Hungary; whilst the
principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia acknowledge the
supremacy of the Ottoman Porte. On the right hand of the Danube,
Maesia, which, during the middle ages, was broken into the
barbarian kingdoms of Servia and Bulgaria, is again united in
Turkish slavery.

[Footnote 81: The Save rises near the confines of Istria, and was
considered by the more early Greeks as the principal stream of
the Danube.]

The appellation of Roumelia, which is still bestowed by the
Turks on the extensive countries of Thrace, Macedonia, and
Greece, preserves the memory of their ancient state under the
Roman empire. In the time of the Antonines, the martial regions
of Thrace, from the mountains of Haemus and Rhodope, to the
Bosphorus and the Hellespont, had assumed the form of a province.
Notwithstanding the change of masters and of religion, the new
city of Rome, founded by Constantine on the banks of the
Bosphorus, has ever since remained the capital of a great
monarchy. The kingdom of Macedonia, which, under the reign of
Alexander, gave laws to Asia, derived more solid advantages from
the policy of the two Philips; and with its dependencies of
Epirus and Thessaly, extended from the Aegean to the Ionian Sea.
When we reflect on the fame of Thebes and Argos, of Sparta and
Athens, we can scarcely persuade ourselves, that so many immortal
republics of ancient Greece were lost in a single province of the
Roman empire, which, from the superior influence of the Achaean
league, was usually denominated the province of Achaia.

Such was the state of Europe under the Roman emperors. The
provinces of Asia, without excepting the transient conquests of
Trajan, are all comprehended within the limits of the Turkish
power. But, instead of following the arbitrary divisions of
despotism and ignorance, it will be safer for us, as well as more
agreeable, to observe the indelible characters of nature. The
name of Asia Minor is attributed with some propriety to the
peninsula, which, confined betwixt the Euxine and the
Mediterranean, advances from the Euphrates towards Europe. The
most extensive and flourishing district, westward of Mount Taurus
and the River Halys, was dignified by the Romans with the
exclusive title of Asia. The jurisdiction of that province
extended over the ancient monarchies of Troy, Lydia, and Phrygia,
the maritime countries of the Pamphylians, Lycians, and Carians,
and the Grecian colonies of Ionia, which equalled in arts, though
not in arms, the glory of their parent. The kingdoms of Bithynia
and Pontus possessed the northern side of the peninsula from
Constantinople to Trebizond. On the opposite side, the province
of Cilicia was terminated by the mountains of Syria: the inland
country, separated from the Roman Asia by the River Halys, and
from Armenia by the Euphrates, had once formed the independent
kingdom of Cappadocia. In this place we may observe, that the
northern shores of the Euxine, beyond Trebizond in Asia, and
beyond the Danube in Europe, acknowledged the sovereignty of the
emperors, and received at their hands either tributary princes or
Roman garrisons. Budzak, Crim Tartary, Circassia, and Mingrelia,
are the modern appellations of those savage countries. ^82
[Footnote 82: See the Periplus of Arrian. He examined the coasts
of the Euxine, when he was governor of Cappadocia.]

Under the successors of Alexander, Syria was the seat of the
Seleucidae, who reigned over Upper Asia, till the successful
revolt of the Parthians confined their dominions between the
Euphrates and the Mediterranean. When Syria became subject to
the Romans, it formed the eastern frontier of their empire: nor
did that province, in its utmost latitude, know any other bounds
than the mountains of Cappadocia to the north, and towards the
south, the confines of Egypt, and the Red Sea. Phoenicia and
Palestine were sometimes annexed to, and sometimes separated
from, the jurisdiction of Syria. The former of these was a
narrow and rocky coast; the latter was a territory scarcely
superior to Wales, either in fertility or extent. ^* Yet
Phoenicia and Palestine will forever live in the memory of
mankind; since America, as well as Europe, has received letters
from the one, and religion from the other. ^83 A sandy desert,
alike destitute of wood and water, skirts along the doubtful
confine of Syria, from the Euphrates to the Red Sea. The
wandering life of the Arabs was inseparably connected with their
independence; and wherever, on some spots less barren than the
rest, they ventured to for many settled habitations, they soon
became subjects to the Roman empire. ^84

[Footnote *: This comparison is exaggerated, with the intention,
no doubt, of attacking the authority of the Bible, which boasts
of the fertility of Palestine. Gibbon's only authorities were
that of Strabo (l. xvi. 1104) and the present state of the
country. But Strabo only speaks of the neighborhood of
Jerusalem, which he calls barren and arid to the extent of sixty
stadia round the city: in other parts he gives a favorable
testimony to the fertility of many parts of Palestine: thus he
says, "Near Jericho there is a grove of palms, and a country of a
hundred stadia, full of springs, and well peopled." Moreover,
Strabo had never seen Palestine; he spoke only after reports,
which may be as inaccurate as those according to which he has
composed that description of Germany, in which Gluverius has
detected so many errors. (Gluv. Germ. iii. 1.) Finally, his
testimony is contradicted and refuted by that of other ancient
authors, and by medals. Tacitus says, in speaking of Palestine,
"The inhabitants are healthy and robust; the rains moderate; the
soil fertile." (Hist. v. 6.) Ammianus Macellinus says also, "The
last of the Syrias is Palestine, a country of considerable
extent, abounding in clean and well-cultivated land, and
containing some fine cities, none of which yields to the other;
but, as it were, being on a parallel, are rivals." - xiv. 8. See
also the historian Josephus, Hist. vi. 1. Procopius of Caeserea,
who lived in the sixth century, says that Chosroes, king of
Persia, had a great desire to make himself master of Palestine,
on account of its extraordinary fertility, its opulence, and the
great number of its inhabitants. The Saracens thought the same,
and were afraid that Omar. when he went to Jerusalem, charmed
with the fertility of the soil and the purity of the air, would
never return to Medina. (Ockley, Hist. of Sarac. i. 232.) The
importance attached by the Romans to the conquest of Palestine,
and the obstacles they encountered, prove also the richness and
population of the country. Vespasian and Titus caused medals to
be struck with trophies, in which Palestine is represented by a
female under a palm-tree, to signify the richness of he country,
with this legend: Judea capta. Other medals also indicate this
fertility; for instance, that of Herod holding a bunch of grapes,
and that of the young Agrippa displaying fruit. As to the
present state of he country, one perceives that it is not fair to
draw any inference against its ancient fertility: the disasters
through which it has passed, the government to which it is
subject, the disposition of the inhabitants, explain sufficiently
the wild and uncultivated appearance of the land, where,
nevertheless, fertile and cultivated districts are still found,
according to the testimony of travellers; among others, of Shaw,
Maundrel, La Rocque, &c. - G. The Abbe Guenee, in his Lettres de
quelques Juifs a Mons. de Voltaire, has exhausted the subject of
the fertility of Palestine; for Voltaire had likewise indulged in
sarcasm on this subject. Gibbon was assailed on this point, not,
indeed, by Mr. Davis, who, he slyly insinuates,was prevented by
his patriotism as a Welshman from resenting the comparison with
Wales, but by other writers. In his Vindication, he first
established the correctness of his measurement of Palestine,
which he estimates as 7600 square English miles, while Wales is
about 7011. As to fertility, he proceeds in the following
dexterously composed and splendid passage: "The emperor Frederick
II., the enemy and the victim of the clergy, is accused of
saying, after his return from his crusade, that the God of the
Jews would have despised his promised land, if he had once seen
the fruitful realms of Sicily and Naples." (See Giannone, Istor.
Civ. del R. di Napoli, ii. 245.) This raillery, which malice has,
perhaps, falsely imputed to Frederick, is inconsistent with truth
and piety; yet it must be confessed that the soil of Palestine
does not contain that inexhaustible, and, as it were, spontaneous
principle of fertility, which, under the most unfavorable
circumstances, has covered with rich harvests the banks of the
Nile, the fields of Sicily, or the plains of Poland. The Jordan
is the only navigable river of Palestine: a considerable part of
the narrow space is occupied, or rather lost, in the Dead Sea
whose horrid aspect inspires every sensation of disgust, and
countenances every tale of horror. The districts which border on
Arabia partake of the sandy quality of the adjacent desert. The
face of the country, except the sea- coast, and the valley of the
Jordan, is covered with mountains, which appear, for the most
part, as naked and barren rocks; and in the neighborhood of
Jerusalem, there is a real scarcity of the two elements of earth
and water. (See Maundrel's Travels, p. 65, and Reland's Palestin.
i. 238, 395.) These disadvantages, which now operate in their
fullest extent, were formerly corrected by the labors of a
numerous people, and the active protection of a wise government.
The hills were clothed with rich beds of artificial mould, the
rain was collected in vast cisterns, a supply of fresh water was
conveyed by pipes and aqueducts to the dry lands. The breed of
cattle was encouraged in those parts which were not adapted for
tillage, and almost every spot was compelled to yield some
production for the use of the inhabitants.

Pater ispe colendi
Haud facilem esse viam voluit, primusque par artem
Movit agros; curis acuens mortalia corda,
Nec torpere gravi passus sua Regna veterno.

Gibbon, Misc. Works, iv. 540.

But Gibbon has here eluded the question about the land "flowing
with milk and honey." He is describing Judaea only, without
comprehending Galilee, or the rich pastures beyond the Jordan,
even now proverbial for their flocks and herds. (See
Burckhardt's Travels, and Hist of Jews, i. 178.) The following is
believed to be a fair statement: "The extraordinary fertility of
the whole country must be taken into the account. No part was
waste; very little was occupied by unprofitable wood; the more
fertile hills were cultivated in artificial terraces, others were
hung with orchards of fruit trees the more rocky and barren
districts were covered with vineyards." Even in the present day,
the wars and misgovernment of ages have not exhausted the natural
richness of the soil. "Galilee," says Malte Brun, "would be a
paradise were it inhabited by an industrious people under an
enlightened government. No land could be less dependent on
foreign importation; it bore within itself every thing that could
be necessary for the subsistence and comfort of a simple
agricultural people. The climate was healthy, the seasons
regular; the former rains, which fell about October, after the
vintage, prepared the ground for the seed; that latter, which
prevailed during March and the beginning of April, made it grow
rapidly. Directly the rains ceased, the grain ripened with still
greater rapidity, and was gathered in before the end of May. The
summer months were dry and very hot, but the nights cool and
refreshed by copious dews. In September, the vintage was
gathered. Grain of all kinds, wheat, barley, millet, zea, and
other sorts, grew in abundance; the wheat commonly yielded thirty
for one. Besides the vine and the olive, the almond, the date,
figs of many kinds, the orange, the pomegranate, and many other
fruit trees, flourished in the greatest luxuriance. Great
quantity of honey was collected. The balm-tree, which produced
the opobalsamum,a great object of trade, was probably introduced
from Arabia, in the time of Solomon. It flourished about Jericho
and in Gilead." - Milman's Hist. of Jews. i. 177. - M.]

[Footnote 83: The progress of religion is well known. The use of
letter was introduced among the savages of Europe about fifteen
hundred years before Christ; and the Europeans carried them to
America about fifteen centuries after the Christian Aera. But in
a period of three thousand years, the Phoenician alphabet
received considerable alterations, as it passed through the hands
of the Greeks and Romans.]

[Footnote 84: Dion Cassius, lib. lxviii. p. 1131.]

The geographers of antiquity have frequently hesitated to
what portion of the globe they should ascribe Egypt. ^85 By its
situation that celebrated kingdom is included within the immense
peninsula of Africa; but it is accessible only on the side of
Asia, whose revolutions, in almost every period of history, Egypt
has humbly obeyed. A Roman praefect was seated on the splendid
throne of the Ptolemies; and the iron sceptre of the Mamelukes is
now in the hands of a Turkish pacha. The Nile flows down the
country, above five hundred miles from the tropic of Cancer to
the Mediterranean, and marks on either side of the extent of
fertility by the measure of its inundations. Cyrene, situate
towards the west, and along the sea-coast, was first a Greek
colony, afterwards a province of Egypt, and is now lost in the
desert of Barca. ^*

[Footnote 85: Ptolemy and Strabo, with the modern geographers,
fix the Isthmus of Suez as the boundary of Asia and Africa.
Dionysius, Mela, Pliny, Sallust, Hirtius, and Solinus, have
preferred for that purpose the western branch of the Nile, or
even the great Catabathmus, or descent, which last would assign
to Asia, not only Egypt, but part of Libya.]

[Footnote *: The French editor has a long and unnecessary note on
the History of Cyrene. For the present state of that coast and
country, the volume of Captain Beechey is full of interesting
details. Egypt, now an independent and improving kingdom,
appears, under the enterprising rule of Mahommed Ali, likely to
revenge its former oppression upon the decrepit power of the
Turkish empire. - M. - This note was written in 1838. The future
destiny of Egypt is an important problem, only to be solved by
time. This observation will also apply to the new French colony
in Algiers. - M. 1845.]

From Cyrene to the ocean, the coast of Africa extends above
fifteen hundred miles; yet so closely is it pressed between the
Mediterranean and the Sahara, or sandy desert, that its breadth
seldom exceeds fourscore or a hundred miles. The eastern
division was considered by the Romans as the more peculiar and
proper province of Africa. Till the arrival of the Phoenician
colonies, that fertile country was inhabited by the Libyans, the
most savage of mankind. Under the immediate jurisdiction of
Carthage, it became the centre of commerce and empire; but the
republic of Carthage is now degenerated into the feeble and
disorderly states of Tripoli and Tunis. The military government
of Algiers oppresses the wide extent of Numidia, as it was once
united under Massinissa and Jugurtha; but in the time of
Augustus, the limits of Numidia were contracted; and, at least,
two thirds of the country acquiesced in the name of Mauritania,
with the epithet of Caesariensis. The genuine Mauritania, or
country of the Moors, which, from the ancient city of Tingi, or
Tangier, was distinguished by the appellation of Tingitana, is
represented by the modern kingdom of Fez. Salle, on the Ocean,
so infamous at present for its piratical depredations, was
noticed by the Romans, as the extreme object of their power, and
almost of their geography. A city of their foundation may still
be discovered near Mequinez, the residence of the barbarian whom
we condescend to style the Emperor of Morocco; but it does not
appear, that his more southern dominions, Morocco itself, and
Segelmessa, were ever comprehended within the Roman province. The
western parts of Africa are intersected by the branches of Mount
Atlas, a name so idly celebrated by the fancy of poets; ^86 but
which is now diffused over the immense ocean that rolls between
the ancient and the new continent. ^87

[Footnote 86: The long range, moderate height, and gentle
declivity of Mount Atlas, (see Shaw's Travels, p. 5,) are very
unlike a solitary mountain which rears its head into the clouds,
and seems to support the heavens. The peak of Teneriff, on the
contrary, rises a league and a half above the surface of the sea;
and, as it was frequently visited by the Phoenicians, might
engage the notice of the Greek poets. See Buffon, Histoire
Naturelle, tom. i. p. 312. Histoire des Voyages, tom. ii.]
[Footnote 87: M. de Voltaire, tom. xiv. p. 297, unsupported by
either fact or probability, has generously bestowed the Canary
Islands on the Roman empire.]

Having now finished the circuit of the Roman empire, we may
observe, that Africa is divided from Spain by a narrow strait of
about twelve miles, through which the Atlantic flows into the
Mediterranean. The columns of Hercules, so famous among the
ancients, were two mountains which seemed to have been torn
asunder by some convulsion of the elements; and at the foot of
the European mountain, the fortress of Gibraltar is now seated.
The whole extent of the Mediterranean Sea, its coasts and its
islands, were comprised within the Roman dominion. Of the larger
islands, the two Baleares, which derive their name of Majorca and
Minorca from their respective size, are subject at present, the
former to Spain, the latter to Great Britain. ^* It is easier to
deplore the fate, than to describe the actual condition, of
Corsica. ^! Two Italian sovereigns assume a regal title from
Sardinia and Sicily. Crete, or Candia, with Cyprus, and most of
the smaller islands of Greece and Asia, have been subdued by the
Turkish arms, whilst the little rock of Malta defies their power,
and has emerged, under the government of its military Order, into
fame and opulence. ^!!

[Footnote *: Minorca was lost to Great Britain in 1782. Ann.
Register for that year. - M.]

[Footnote !: The gallant struggles of the Corsicans for their
independence, under Paoli, were brought to a close in the year
1769. This volume was published in 1776. See Botta, Storia
d'Italia, vol. xiv. - M.]

[Footnote !!: Malta, it need scarcely be said, is now in the
possession of the English. We have not, however, thought it
necessary to notice every change in the political state of the
world, since the time of Gibbon. - M]

This long enumeration of provinces, whose broken fragments
have formed so many powerful kingdoms, might almost induce us to
forgive the vanity or ignorance of the ancients. Dazzled with
the extensive sway, the irresistible strength, and the real or
affected moderation of the emperors, they permitted themselves to
despise, and sometimes to forget, the outlying countries which
had been left in the enjoyment of a barbarous independence; and
they gradually usurped the license of confounding the Roman
monarchy with the globe of the earth. ^88 But the temper, as well
as knowledge, of a modern historian, require a more sober and
accurate language. He may impress a juster image of the
greatness of Rome, by observing that the empire was above two
thousand miles in breadth, from the wall of Antoninus and the
northern limits of Dacia, to Mount Atlas and the tropic of
Cancer; that it extended in length more than three thousand miles
from the Western Ocean to the Euphrates; that it was situated in
the finest part of the Temperate Zone, between the twenty-fourth
and fifty-sixth degrees of northern latitude; and that it was
supposed to contain above sixteen hundred thousand square miles,
for the most part of fertile and well-cultivated land. ^89
[Footnote 88: Bergier, Hist. des Grands Chemins, l. iii. c. 1, 2,
3, 4, a very useful collection.]

[Footnote 89: See Templeman's Survey of the Globe; but I distrust
both the Doctor's learning and his maps.]

Chapter II: The Internal Prosperity In The Age Of The Antonines.

Part I.

Of The Union And Internal Prosperity Of The Roman Empire, In The
Age Of The Antonines.

It is not alone by the rapidity, or extent of conquest, that
we should estimate the greatness of Rome. The sovereign of the
Russian deserts commands a larger portion of the globe. In the
seventh summer after his passage of the Hellespont, Alexander
erected the Macedonian trophies on the banks of the Hyphasis. ^1
Within less than a century, the irresistible Zingis, and the
Mogul princes of his race, spread their cruel devastations and
transient empire from the Sea of China, to the confines of Egypt
and Germany. ^2 But the firm edifice of Roman power was raised
and preserved by the wisdom of ages. The obedient provinces of
Trajan and the Antonines were united by laws, and adorned by
arts. They might occasionally suffer from the partial abuse of
delegated authority; but the general principle of government was
wise, simple, and beneficent. They enjoyed the religion of their
ancestors, whilst in civil honors and advantages they were
exalted, by just degrees, to an equality with their conquerors.
[Footnote 1: They were erected about the midway between Lahor and
Delhi. The conquests of Alexander in Hindostan were confined to
the Punjab, a country watered by the five great streams of the

Note: The Hyphasis is one of the five rivers which join the
Indus or the Sind, after having traversed the province of the
Pendj-ab - a name which in Persian, signifies five rivers. * * *
G. The five rivers were, 1. The Hydaspes, now the Chelum,
Behni, or Bedusta, (Sanscrit, Vitastha, Arrow-swift.) 2. The
Acesines, the Chenab, (Sanscrit, Chandrabhaga, Moon-gift.) 3.
Hydraotes, the Ravey, or Iraoty, (Sanscrit, Iravati.) 4.
Hyphasis, the Beyah, (Sanscrit, Vepasa, Fetterless.) 5. The
Satadru, (Sanscrit, the Hundred Streamed,) the Sutledj, known
first to the Greeks in the time of Ptolemy. Rennel. Vincent,
Commerce of Anc. book 2. Lassen, Pentapotam. Ind. Wilson's
Sanscrit Dict., and the valuable memoir of Lieut. Burnes, Journal
of London Geogr. Society, vol. iii. p. 2, with the travels of
that very able writer. Compare Gibbon's own note, c. lxv. note
25. - M substit. for G.]

[Footnote 2: See M. de Guignes, Histoire des Huns, l. xv. xvi.
and xvii.]

I. The policy of the emperors and the senate, as far as it
concerned religion, was happily seconded by the reflections of
the enlightened, and by the habits of the superstitious, part of
their subjects. The various modes of worship, which prevailed in
the Roman world, were all considered by the people, as equally
true; by the philosopher, as equally false; and by the
magistrate, as equally useful. And thus toleration produced not
only mutual indulgence, but even religious concord.

The superstition of the people was not imbittered by any
mixture of theological rancor; nor was it confined by the chains
of any speculative system. The devout polytheist, though fondly
attached to his national rites, admitted with implicit faith the
different religions of the earth. ^3 Fear, gratitude, and
curiosity, a dream or an omen, a singular disorder, or a distant
journey, perpetually disposed him to multiply the articles of his
belief, and to enlarge the list of his protectors. The thin
texture of the Pagan mythology was interwoven with various but
not discordant materials. As soon as it was allowed that sages
and heroes, who had lived or who had died for the benefit of
their country, were exalted to a state of power and immortality,
it was universally confessed, that they deserved, if not the
adoration, at least the reverence, of all mankind. The deities
of a thousand groves and a thousand streams possessed, in peace,
their local and respective influence; nor could the Romans who
deprecated the wrath of the Tiber, deride the Egyptian who
presented his offering to the beneficent genius of the Nile. The
visible powers of nature, the planets, and the elements were the
same throughout the universe. The invisible governors of the
moral world were inevitably cast in a similar mould of fiction
and allegory. Every virtue, and even vice, acquired its divine
representative; every art and profession its patron, whose
attributes, in the most distant ages and countries, were
uniformly derived from the character of their peculiar votaries.
A republic of gods of such opposite tempers and interests
required, in every system, the moderating hand of a supreme
magistrate, who, by the progress of knowledge and flattery, was
gradually invested with the sublime perfections of an Eternal
Parent, and an Omnipotent Monarch. ^4 Such was the mild spirit of
antiquity, that the nations were less attentive to the
difference, than to the resemblance, of their religious worship.
The Greek, the Roman, and the Barbarian, as they met before their
respective altars, easily persuaded themselves, that under
various names, and with various ceremonies, they adored the same
deities. ^5 The elegant mythology of Homer gave a beautiful, and
almost a regular form, to the polytheism of the ancient world.
[Footnote 3: There is not any writer who describes in so lively a
manner as Herodotus the true genius of polytheism. The best
commentary may be found in Mr. Hume's Natural History of
Religion; and the best contrast in Bossuet's Universal History.
Some obscure traces of an intolerant spirit appear in the conduct
of the Egyptians, (see Juvenal, Sat. xv.;) and the Christians, as
well as Jews, who lived under the Roman empire, formed a very
important exception; so important indeed, that the discussion
will require a distinct chapter of this work.

Note: M. Constant, in his very learned and eloquent work,
"Sur la Religion," with the two additional volumes, "Du
Polytheisme Romain," has considered the whole history of
polytheism in a tone of philosophy, which, without subscribing to
all his opinions, we may be permitted to admire. "The boasted
tolerance of polytheism did not rest upon the respect due from
society to the freedom of individual opinion. The polytheistic
nations, tolerant as they were towards each other, as separate
states, were not the less ignorant of the eternal principle, the
only basis of enlightened toleration, that every one has a right
to worship God in the manner which seems to him the best.
Citizens, on the contrary, were bound to conform to the religion
of the state; they had not the liberty to adopt a foreign
religion, though that religion might be legally recognized in
their own city, for the strangers who were its votaries." - Sur
la Religion, v. 184. Du. Polyth. Rom. ii. 308. At this time,
the growing religious indifference, and the general
administration of the empire by Romans, who, being strangers,
would do no more than protect, not enlist themselves in the cause
of the local superstitions, had introduced great laxity. But
intolerance was clearly the theory both of the Greek and Roman
law. The subject is more fully considered in another place. -

[Footnote 4: The rights, powers, and pretensions of the sovereign
of Olympus are very clearly described in the xvth book of the
Iliad; in the Greek original, I mean; for Mr. Pope, without
perceiving it, has improved the theology of Homer.

Note: There is a curious coincidence between Gibbon's
expressions and those of the newly-recovered "De Republica" of
Cicero, though the argument is rather the converse, lib. i. c.
36. "Sive haec ad utilitatem vitae constitute sint a principibus
rerum publicarum, ut rex putaretur unus esse in coelo, qui nutu,
ut ait Homerus, totum Olympum converteret, idemque et rex et
patos haberetur omnium." - M.]

[Footnote 5: See, for instance, Caesar de Bell. Gall. vi. 17.
Within a century or two, the Gauls themselves applied to their
gods the names of Mercury, Mars, Apollo, &c.]

The philosophers of Greece deduced their morals from the
nature of man, rather than from that of God. They meditated,
however, on the Divine Nature, as a very curious and important
speculation; and in the profound inquiry, they displayed the
strength and weakness of the human understanding. ^6 Of the four
most celebrated schools, the Stoics and the Platonists endeavored
to reconcile the jaring interests of reason and piety. They have
left us the most sublime proofs of the existence and perfections
of the first cause; but, as it was impossible for them to
conceive the creation of matter, the workman in the Stoic
philosophy was not sufficiently distinguished from the work;
whilst, on the contrary, the spiritual God of Plato and his
disciples resembled an idea, rather than a substance. The
opinions of the Academics and Epicureans were of a less religious
cast; but whilst the modest science of the former induced them to
doubt, the positive ignorance of the latter urged them to deny,
the providence of a Supreme Ruler. The spirit of inquiry,
prompted by emulation, and supported by freedom, had divided the
public teachers of philosophy into a variety of contending sects;
but the ingenious youth, who, from every part, resorted to
Athens, and the other seats of learning in the Roman empire, were
alike instructed in every school to reject and to despise the
religion of the multitude. How, indeed, was it possible that a
philosopher should accept, as divine truths, the idle tales of
the poets, and the incoherent traditions of antiquity; or that he
should adore, as gods, those imperfect beings whom he must have
despised, as men? Against such unworthy adversaries, Cicero
condescended to employ the arms of reason and eloquence; but the
satire of Lucian was a much more adequate, as well as more
efficacious, weapon. We may be well assured, that a writer,
conversant with the world, would never have ventured to expose
the gods of his country to public ridicule, had they not already
been the objects of secret contempt among the polished and
enlightened orders of society. ^7

[Footnote 6: The admirable work of Cicero de Natura Deorum is the
best clew we have to guide us through the dark and profound
abyss. He represents with candor, and confutes with subtlety,
the opinions of the philosophers.]

[Footnote 7: I do not pretend to assert, that, in this
irreligious age, the natural terrors of superstition, dreams,
omens, apparitions, &c., had lost their efficacy.]

Notwithstanding the fashionable irreligion which prevailed
in the age of the Antonines, both the interest of the priests and
the credulity of the people were sufficiently respected. In
their writings and conversation, the philosophers of antiquity
asserted the independent dignity of reason; but they resigned
their actions to the commands of law and of custom. Viewing,
with a smile of pity and indulgence, the various errors of the
vulgar, they diligently practised the ceremonies of their
fathers, devoutly frequented the temples of the gods; and
sometimes condescending to act a part on the theatre of
superstition, they concealed the sentiments of an atheist under
the sacerdotal robes. Reasoners of such a temper were scarcely
inclined to wrangle about their respective modes of faith, or of
worship. It was indifferent to them what shape the folly of the
multitude might choose to assume; and they approached with the
same inward contempt, and the same external reverence, the altars
of the Libyan, the Olympian, or the Capitoline Jupiter. ^8
[Footnote 8: Socrates, Epicurus, Cicero, and Plutarch always
inculcated a decent reverence for the religion of their own
country, and of mankind. The devotion of Epicurus was assiduous
and exemplary. Diogen. Laert. x. 10.]

It is not easy to conceive from what motives a spirit of
persecution could introduce itself into the Roman councils. The
magistrates could not be actuated by a blind, though honest
bigotry, since the magistrates were themselves philosophers; and
the schools of Athens had given laws to the senate. They could
not be impelled by ambition or avarice, as the temporal and
ecclesiastical powers were united in the same hands. The
pontiffs were chosen among the most illustrious of the senators;
and the office of Supreme Pontiff was constantly exercised by the
emperors themselves. They knew and valued the advantages of
religion, as it is connected with civil government. They
encouraged the public festivals which humanize the manners of the
people. They managed the arts of divination as a convenient
instrument of policy; and they respected, as the firmest bond of
society, the useful persuasion, that, either in this or in a
future life, the crime of perjury is most assuredly punished by
the avenging gods. ^9 But whilst they acknowledged the general
advantages of religion, they were convinced that the various
modes of worship contributed alike to the same salutary purposes;
and that, in every country, the form of superstition, which had
received the sanction of time and experience, was the best
adapted to the climate, and to its inhabitants. Avarice and
taste very frequently despoiled the vanquished nations of the
elegant statues of their gods, and the rich ornaments of their
temples; ^10 but, in the exercise of the religion which they
derived from their ancestors, they uniformly experienced the
indulgence, and even protection, of the Roman conquerors. The
province of Gaul seems, and indeed only seems, an exception to
this universal toleration. Under the specious pretext of
abolishing human sacrifices, the emperors Tiberius and Claudius
suppressed the dangerous power of the Druids: ^11 but the priests
themselves, their gods and their altars, subsisted in peaceful
obscurity till the final destruction of Paganism. ^12

[Footnote 9: Polybius, l. vi. c. 53, 54. Juvenal, Sat. xiii.
laments that in his time this apprehension had lost much of its

[Footnote 10: See the fate of Syracuse, Tarentum, Ambracia,
Corinth, &c., the conduct of Verres, in Cicero, (Actio ii. Orat.
4,) and the usual practice of governors, in the viiith Satire of

[Footnote 11: Seuton. in Claud. - Plin. Hist. Nat. xxx. 1.]
[Footnote 12: Pelloutier, Histoire des Celtes, tom. vi. p. 230 -

Rome, the capital of a great monarchy, was incessantly
filled with subjects and strangers from every part of the world,
^13 who all introduced and enjoyed the favorite superstitions of
their native country. ^14 Every city in the empire was justified
in maintaining the purity of its ancient ceremonies; and the
Roman senate, using the common privilege, sometimes interposed,
to check this inundation of foreign rites. ^* The Egyptian
superstition, of all the most contemptible and abject, was
frequently prohibited: the temples of Serapis and Isis
demolished, and their worshippers banished from Rome and Italy.
^15 But the zeal of fanaticism prevailed over the cold and feeble
efforts of policy. The exiles returned, the proselytes
multiplied, the temples were restored with increasing splendor,
and Isis and Serapis at length assumed their place among the
Roman Deities. ^16 Nor was this indulgence a departure from the
old maxims of government. In the purest ages of the
commonwealth, Cybele and Aesculapius had been invited by solemn
embassies; ^17 and it was customary to tempt the protectors of
besieged cities, by the promise of more distinguished honors than
they possessed in their native country. ^18 Rome gradually became
the common temple of her subjects; and the freedom of the city
was bestowed on all the gods of mankind. ^19

[Footnote 13: Seneca, Consolat. ad Helviam, p. 74. Edit., Lips.]

[Footnote 14: Dionysius Halicarn. Antiquitat. Roman. l. ii. (vol.
i. p. 275, edit. Reiske.)]

[Footnote *: Yet the worship of foreign gods at Rome was only
guarantied to the natives of those countries from whence they
came. The Romans administered the priestly offices only to the
gods of their fathers. Gibbon, throughout the whole preceding
sketch of the opinions of the Romans and their subjects, has
shown through what causes they were free from religious hatred
and its consequences. But, on the other hand the internal state
of these religions, the infidelity and hypocrisy of the upper
orders, the indifference towards all religion, in even the better
part of the common people, during the last days of the republic,
and under the Caesars, and the corrupting principles of the
philosophers, had exercised a very pernicious influence on the
manners, and even on the constitution. - W.]

[Footnote 15: In the year of Rome 701, the temple of Isis and
Serapis was demolished by the order of the Senate, (Dion Cassius,
l. xl. p. 252,) and even by the hands of the consul, (Valerius
Maximus, l. 3.) ^! After the death of Caesar it was restored at
the public expense, (Dion. l. xlvii. p. 501.) When Augustus was
in Egypt, he revered the majesty of Serapis, (Dion, l. li. p.
647;) but in the Pomaerium of Rome, and a mile round it, he
prohibited the worship of the Egyptian gods, (Dion, l. liii. p.
679; l. liv. p. 735.) They remained, however, very fashionable
under his reign (Ovid. de Art. Amand. l. i.) and that of his
successor, till the justice of Tiberius was provoked to some acts
of severity. (See Tacit. Annal. ii. 85. Joseph. Antiquit. l.
xviii. c. 3.)

Note: See, in the pictures from the walls of Pompeii, the
representation of an Isiac temple and worship. Vestiges of
Egyptian worship have been traced in Gaul, and, I am informed,
recently in Britain, in excavations at York. - M.]

[Footnote !: Gibbon here blends into one, two events, distant a
hundred and sixty-six years from each other. It was in the year
of Rome 535, that the senate having ordered the destruction of
the temples of Isis and Serapis, the workman would lend his hand;
and the consul, L. Paulus himself (Valer. Max. 1, 3) seized the
axe, to give the first blow. Gibbon attribute this circumstance
to the second demolition, which took place in the year 701 and
which he considers as the first. - W.]

[Footnote 16: Tertullian in Apologetic. c. 6, p. 74. Edit.
Havercamp. I am inclined to attribute their establishment to the
devotion of the Flavian family.]

[Footnote 17: See Livy, l. xi. [Suppl.] and xxix.]

[Footnote 18: Macrob. Saturnalia, l. iii. c. 9. He gives us a
form of evocation.]

[Footnote 19: Minutius Faelix in Octavio, p. 54. Arnobius, l.
vi. p. 115.]

II. The narrow policy of preserving, without any foreign
mixture, the pure blood of the ancient citizens, had checked the
fortune, and hastened the ruin, of Athens and Sparta. The
aspiring genius of Rome sacrificed vanity to ambition, and deemed
it more prudent, as well as honorable, to adopt virtue and merit
for her own wheresoever they were found, among slaves or
strangers, enemies or barbarians. ^20 During the most flourishing
aera of the Athenian commonwealth, the number of citizens
gradually decreased from about thirty ^21 to twenty-one thousand.
^22 If, on the contrary, we study the growth of the Roman
republic, we may discover, that, notwithstanding the incessant
demands of wars and colonies, the citizens, who, in the first
census of Servius Tullius, amounted to no more than eighty-three
thousand, were multiplied, before the commencement of the social
war, to the number of four hundred and sixty-three thousand men,
able to bear arms in the service of their country. ^23 When the
allies of Rome claimed an equal share of honors and privileges,
the senate indeed preferred the chance of arms to an ignominious
concession. The Samnites and the Lucanians paid the severe
penalty of their rashness; but the rest of the Italian states, as
they successively returned to their duty, were admitted into the
bosom of the republic, ^24 and soon contributed to the ruin of
public freedom. Under a democratical government, the citizens
exercise the powers of sovereignty; and those powers will be
first abused, and afterwards lost, if they are committed to an
unwieldy multitude. But when the popular assemblies had been
suppressed by the administration of the emperors, the conquerors
were distinguished from the vanquished nations, only as the first
and most honorable order of subjects; and their increase, however
rapid, was no longer exposed to the same dangers. Yet the wisest
princes, who adopted the maxims of Augustus, guarded with the
strictest care the dignity of the Roman name, and diffused the
freedom of the city with a prudent liberality. ^25
[Footnote 20: Tacit. Annal. xi. 24. The Orbis Romanus of the
learned Spanheim is a complete history of the progressive
admission of Latium, Italy, and the provinces, to the freedom of

Note: Democratic states, observes Denina, (delle Revoluz. d'
Italia, l. ii. c. l., are most jealous of communication the
privileges of citizenship; monarchies or oligarchies willingly
multiply the numbers of their free subjects. The most remarkable
accessions to the strength of Rome, by the aggregation of
conquered and foreign nations, took place under the regal and
patrician - we may add, the Imperial government. - M.]

[Footnote 21: Herodotus, v. 97. It should seem, however, that he
followed a large and popular estimation.]

[Footnote 22: Athenaeus, Deipnosophist. l. vi. p. 272. Edit.
Casaubon. Meursius de Fortuna Attica, c. 4.

Note: On the number of citizens in Athens, compare Boeckh,
Public Economy of Athens, (English Tr.,) p. 45, et seq. Fynes
Clinton, Essay in Fasti Hel lenici, vol. i. 381. - M.]

[Footnote 23: See a very accurate collection of the numbers of
each Lustrum in M. de Beaufort, Republique Romaine, l. iv. c. 4.
Note: All these questions are placed in an entirely new
point of view by Nicbuhr, (Romische Geschichte, vol. i. p. 464.)
He rejects the census of Servius fullius as unhistoric, (vol. ii.
p. 78, et seq.,) and he establishes the principle that the census
comprehended all the confederate cities which had the right of
Isopolity. - M.]

[Footnote 24: Appian. de Bell. Civil. l. i. Velleius Paterculus,
l. ii. c. 15, 16, 17.]

[Footnote 25: Maecenas had advised him to declare, by one edict,
all his subjects citizens. But we may justly suspect that the
historian Dion was the author of a counsel so much adapted to the
practice of his own age, and so little to that of Augustus.]

Chapter II: The Internal Prosperity In The Age Of The Antonines.

Part II.

Till the privileges of Romans had been progressively
extended to all the inhabitants of the empire, an important
distinction was preserved between Italy and the provinces. The
former was esteemed the centre of public unity, and the firm
basis of the constitution. Italy claimed the birth, or at least
the residence, of the emperors and the senate. ^26 The estates of
the Italians were exempt from taxes, their persons from the
arbitrary jurisdiction of governors. Their municipal
corporations, formed after the perfect model of the capital, ^*
were intrusted, under the immediate eye of the supreme power,
with the execution of the laws. From the foot of the Alps to the
extremity of Calabria, all the natives of Italy were born
citizens of Rome. Their partial distinctions were obliterated,
and they insensibly coalesced into one great nation, united by
language, manners, and civil institutions, and equal to the
weight of a powerful empire. The republic gloried in her
generous policy, and was frequently rewarded by the merit and
services of her adopted sons. Had she always confined the
distinction of Romans to the ancient families within the walls of
the city, that immortal name would have been deprived of some of
its noblest ornaments. Virgil was a native of Mantua; Horace was
inclined to doubt whether he should call himself an Apulian or a
Lucanian; it was in Padua that an historian was found worthy to
record the majestic series of Roman victories. The patriot
family of the Catos emerged from Tusculum; and the little town of
Arpinum claimed the double honor of producing Marius and Cicero,
the former of whom deserved, after Romulus and Camillus, to be
styled the Third Founder of Rome; and the latter, after saving
his country from the designs of Catiline, enabled her to contend
with Athens for the palm of eloquence. ^27

[Footnote 26: The senators were obliged to have one third of
their own landed property in Italy. See Plin. l. vi. ep. 19.
The qualification was reduced by Marcus to one fourth. Since the
reign of Trajan, Italy had sunk nearer to the level of the

[Footnote *: It may be doubted whether the municipal government
of the cities was not the old Italian constitution rather than a
transcript from that of Rome. The free government of the cities,
observes Savigny, was the leading characteristic of Italy.
Geschichte des Romischen Rechts, i. p. G. - M.]

[Footnote 27: The first part of the Verona Illustrata of the
Marquis Maffei gives the clearest and most comprehensive view of
the state of Italy under the Caesars.

Note: Compare Denina, Revol. d' Italia, l. ii. c. 6, p. 100,
4 to edit.]

The provinces of the empire (as they have been described in
the preceding chapter) were destitute of any public force, or
constitutional freedom. In Etruria, in Greece, ^28 and in Gaul,
^29 it was the first care of the senate to dissolve those
dangerous confederacies, which taught mankind that, as the Roman
arms prevailed by division, they might be resisted by union.
Those princes, whom the ostentation of gratitude or generosity
permitted for a while to hold a precarious sceptre, were
dismissed from their thrones, as soon as they had per formed
their appointed task of fashioning to the yoke the vanquished
nations. The free states and cities which had embraced the cause
of Rome were rewarded with a nominal alliance, and insensibly
sunk into real servitude. The public authority was every where
exercised by the ministers of the senate and of the emperors, and
that authority was absolute, and without control. ^! But the same
salutary maxims of government, which had secured the peace and
obedience of Italy were extended to the most distant conquests.
A nation of Romans was gradually formed in the provinces, by the
double expedient of introducing colonies, and of admitting the
most faithful and deserving of the provincials to the freedom of

[Footnote 28: See Pausanias, l. vii. The Romans condescended to
restore the names of those assemblies, when they could no longer
be dangerous.]

[Footnote 29: They are frequently mentioned by Caesar. The Abbe
Dubos attempts, with very little success, to prove that the
assemblies of Gaul were continued under the emperors. Histoire
de l'Etablissement de la Monarchie Francoise, l. i. c. 4.]
[Footnote !: This is, perhaps, rather overstated. Most cities
retained the choice of their municipal officers: some retained
valuable privileges; Athens, for instance, in form was still a
confederate city. (Tac. Ann. ii. 53.) These privileges, indeed,
depended entirely on the arbitrary will of the emperor, who
revoked or restored them according to his caprice. See Walther
Geschichte les Romischen Rechts, i. 324 - an admirable summary of
the Roman constitutional history. - M.]

"Wheresoever the Roman conquers, he inhabits," is a very
just observation of Seneca, ^30 confirmed by history and
experience. The natives of Italy, allured by pleasure or by
interest, hastened to enjoy the advantages of victory; and we may
remark, that, about forty years after the reduction of Asia,
eighty thousand Romans were massacred in one day, by the cruel
orders of Mithridates. ^31 These voluntary exiles were engaged,
for the most part, in the occupations of commerce, agriculture,
and the farm of the revenue. But after the legions were rendered
permanent by the emperors, the provinces were peopled by a race
of soldiers; and the veterans, whether they received the reward
of their service in land or in money, usually settled with their
families in the country, where they had honorably spent their
youth. Throughout the empire, but more particularly in the
western parts, the most fertile districts, and the most
convenient situations, were reserved for the establishment of
colonies; some of which were of a civil, and others of a military
nature. In their manners and internal policy, the colonies
formed a perfect representation of their great parent; and they
were soon endeared to the natives by the ties of friendship and
alliance, they effectually diffused a reverence for the Roman
name, and a desire, which was seldom disappointed, of sharing, in
due time, its honors and advantages. ^32 The municipal cities
insensibly equalled the rank and splendor of the colonies; and in
the reign of Hadrian, it was disputed which was the preferable
condition, of those societies which had issued from, or those
which had been received into, the bosom of Rome. ^33 The right of
Latium, as it was called, ^* conferred on the cities to which it
had been granted, a more partial favor. The magistrates only, at
the expiration of their office, assumed the quality of Roman
citizens; but as those offices were annual, in a few years they
circulated round the principal families. ^34 Those of the
provincials who were permitted to bear arms in the legions; ^35
those who exercised any civil employment; all, in a word, who
performed any public service, or displayed any personal talents,
were rewarded with a present, whose value was continually
diminished by the increasing liberality of the emperors. Yet
even, in the age of the Antonines, when the freedom of the city
had been bestowed on the greater number of their subjects, it was
still accompanied with very solid advantages. The bulk of the
people acquired, with that title, the benefit of the Roman laws,
particularly in the interesting articles of marriage, testaments,
and inheritances; and the road of fortune was open to those whose
pretensions were seconded by favor or merit. The grandsons of
the Gauls, who had besieged Julius Caesar in Alcsia, commanded
legions, governed provinces, and were admitted into the senate of
Rome. ^36 Their ambition, instead of disturbing the tranquillity
of the state, was intimately connected with its safety and

[Footnote 30: Seneca in Consolat. ad Helviam, c. 6.]

[Footnote 31: Memnon apud Photium, (c. 33,) [c. 224, p. 231, ed
Bekker.] Valer. Maxim. ix. 2. Plutarch and Dion Cassius swell
the massacre to 150,000 citizens; but I should esteem the smaller
number to be more than sufficient.]

[Footnote 32: Twenty-five colonies were settled in Spain, (see
Plin. Hist. Nat. iii. 3, 4; iv. 35;) and nine in Britain, of
which London, Colchester, Lincoln, Chester, Gloucester, and Bath
still remain considerable cities. (See Richard of Cirencester, p.
36, and Whittaker's History of Manchester, l. i. c. 3.)]

[Footnote 33: Aul. Gel. Noctes Atticae, xvi 13. The Emperor
Hadrian expressed his surprise, that the cities of Utica, Gades,
and Italica, which already enjoyed the rights of Municipia,
should solicit the title of colonies. Their example, however,
became fashionable, and the empire was filled with honorary
colonies. See Spanheim, de Usu Numismatum Dissertat. xiii.]
[Footnote *: The right of Latium conferred an exemption from the
government of the Roman praefect. Strabo states this distinctly,
l. iv. p. 295, edit. Caesar's. See also Walther, p. 233. - M]
[Footnote 34: Spanheim, Orbis Roman. c. 8, p. 62.]

[Footnote 35: Aristid. in Romae Encomio. tom. i. p. 218, edit.

[Footnote 36: Tacit. Annal. xi. 23, 24. Hist. iv. 74.]

So sensible were the Romans of the influence of language
over national manners, that it was their most serious care to
extend, with the progress of their arms, the use of the Latin
tongue. ^37 The ancient dialects of Italy, the Sabine, the
Etruscan, and the Venetian, sunk into oblivion; but in the
provinces, the east was less docile than the west to the voice of
its victorious preceptors. This obvious difference marked the
two portions of the empire with a distinction of colors, which,
though it was in some degree concealed during the meridian
splendor of prosperity, became gradually more visible, as the
shades of night descended upon the Roman world. The western
countries were civilized by the same hands which subdued them.
As soon as the barbarians were reconciled to obedience, their
minds were open to any new impressions of knowledge and
politeness. The language of Virgil and Cicero, though with some
inevitable mixture of corruption, was so universally adopted in
Africa, Spain, Gaul Britain, and Pannonia, ^38 that the faint
traces of the Punic or Celtic idioms were preserved only in the
mountains, or among the peasants. ^39 Education and study
insensibly inspired the natives of those countries with the
sentiments of Romans; and Italy gave fashions, as well as laws,
to her Latin provincials. They solicited with more ardor, and
obtained with more facility, the freedom and honors of the state;
supported the national dignity in letters ^40 and in arms; and at
length, in the person of Trajan, produced an emperor whom the
Scipios would not have disowned for their countryman. The
situation of the Greeks was very different from that of the
barbarians. The former had been long since civilized and
corrupted. They had too much taste to relinquish their language,
and too much vanity to adopt any foreign institutions. Still
preserving the prejudices, after they had lost the virtues, of
their ancestors, they affected to despise the unpolished manners
of the Roman conquerors, whilst they were compelled to respect
their superior wisdom and power. ^41 Nor was the influence of the
Grecian language and sentiments confined to the narrow limits of
that once celebrated country. Their empire, by the progress of
colonies and conquest, had been diffused from the Adriatic to the
Euphrates and the Nile. Asia was covered with Greek cities, and
the long reign of the Macedonian kings had introduced a silent
revolution into Syria and Egypt. In their pompous courts, those
princes united the elegance of Athens with the luxury of the
East, and the example of the court was imitated, at an humble
distance, by the higher ranks of their subjects. Such was the
general division of the Roman empire into the Latin and Greek
languages. To these we may add a third distinction for the body
of the natives in Syria, and especially in Egypt, the use of
their ancient dialects, by secluding them from the commerce of
mankind, checked the improvements of those barbarians. ^42 The
slothful effeminacy of the former exposed them to the contempt,
the sullen ferociousness of the latter excited the aversion, of
the conquerors. ^43 Those nations had submitted to the Roman
power, but they seldom desired or deserved the freedom of the
city: and it was remarked, that more than two hundred and thirty
years elapsed after the ruin of the Ptolemies, before an Egyptian
was admitted into the senate of Rome. ^44

[Footnote 37: See Plin. Hist. Natur. iii. 5. Augustin. de
Civitate Dei, xix 7 Lipsius de Pronunciatione Linguae Latinae, c.

[Footnote 38: Apuleius and Augustin will answer for Africa;
Strabo for Spain and Gaul; Tacitus, in the life of Agricola, for
Britain; and Velleius Paterculus, for Pannonia. To them we may
add the language of the Inscriptions.

Note: Mr. Hallam contests this assertion as regards Britain.
"Nor did the Romans ever establish their language - I know not
whether they wished to do so - in this island, as we perceive by
that stubborn British tongue which has survived two conquests."
In his note, Mr. Hallam examines the passage from Tacitus (Agric.
xxi.) to which Gibbon refers. It merely asserts the progress of
Latin studies among the higher orders. (Midd. Ages, iii. 314.)
Probably it was a kind of court language, and that of public
affairs and prevailed in the Roman colonies. - M.]

[Footnote 39: The Celtic was preserved in the mountains of Wales,
Cornwall, and Armorica. We may observe, that Apuleius reproaches
an African youth, who lived among the populace, with the use of
the Punic; whilst he had almost forgot Greek, and neither could
nor would speak Latin, (Apolog. p. 596.) The greater part of St.
Austin's congregations were strangers to the Punic.]

[Footnote 40: Spain alone produced Columella, the Senecas, Lucan,
Martial, and Quintilian.]

[Footnote 41: There is not, I believe, from Dionysius to Libanus,
a single Greek critic who mentions Virgil or Horace. They seem
ignorant that the Romans had any good writers.]

[Footnote 42: The curious reader may see in Dupin, (Bibliotheque
Ecclesiastique, tom. xix. p. 1, c. 8,) how much the use of the
Syriac and Egyptian languages was still preserved.]

[Footnote 43: See Juvenal, Sat. iii. and xv. Ammian. Marcellin.
xxii. 16.]
[Footnote 44: Dion Cassius, l. lxxvii. p. 1275. The first
instance happened under the reign of Septimius Severus.]

It is a just though trite observation, that victorious Rome
was herself subdued by the arts of Greece. Those immortal
writers who still command the admiration of modern Europe, soon
became the favorite object of study and imitation in Italy and
the western provinces. But the elegant amusements of the Romans
were not suffered to interfere with their sound maxims of policy.
Whilst they acknowledged the charms of the Greek, they asserted
the dignity of the Latin tongue, and the exclusive use of the
latter was inflexibly maintained in the administration of civil
as well as military government. ^45 The two languages exercised
at the same time their separate jurisdiction throughout the
empire: the former, as the natural idiom of science; the latter,
as the legal dialect of public transactions. Those who united
letters with business were equally conversant with both; and it
was almost impossible, in any province, to find a Roman subject,
of a liberal education, who was at once a stranger to the Greek
and to the Latin language.

[Footnote 45: See Valerius Maximus, l. ii. c. 2, n. 2. The
emperor Claudius disfranchised an eminent Grecian for not
understanding Latin. He was probably in some public office.
Suetonius in Claud. c. 16.

Note: Causes seem to have been pleaded, even in the senate,
in both languages. Val. Max. loc. cit. Dion. l. lvii. c. 15. -

It was by such institutions that the nations of the empire
insensibly melted away into the Roman name and people. But there
still remained, in the centre of every province and of every
family, an unhappy condition of men who endured the weight,
without sharing the benefits, of society. In the free states of
antiquity, the domestic slaves were exposed to the wanton rigor
of despotism. The perfect settlement of the Roman empire was
preceded by ages of violence and rapine. The slaves consisted,
for the most part, of barbarian captives, ^* taken in thousands
by the chance of war, purchased at a vile price, ^46 accustomed
to a life of independence, and impatient to break and to revenge
their fetters. Against such internal enemies, whose desperate
insurrections had more than once reduced the republic to the
brink of destruction, ^47 the most severe ^* regulations, ^48 and
the most cruel treatment, seemed almost justified by the great
law of self-preservation. But when the principal nations of
Europe, Asia, and Africa were united under the laws of one
sovereign, the source of foreign supplies flowed with much less
abundance, and the Romans were reduced to the milder but more
tedious method of propagation. ^* In their numerous families, and
particularly in their country estates, they encouraged the
marriage of their slaves. ^! The sentiments of nature, the habits
of education, and the possession of a dependent species of
property, contributed to alleviate the hardships of servitude.
^49 The existence of a slave became an object of greater value,
and though his happiness still depended on the temper and
circumstances of the master, the humanity of the latter, instead
of being restrained by fear, was encouraged by the sense of his
own interest. The progress of manners was accelerated by the
virtue or policy of the emperors; and by the edicts of Hadrian
and the Antonines, the protection of the laws was extended to the
most abject part of mankind. The jurisdiction of life and death
over the slaves, a power long exercised and often abused, was
taken out of private hands, and reserved to the magistrates
alone. The subterraneous prisons were abolished; and, upon a
just complaint of intolerable treatment, the injured slave
obtained either his deliverance, or a less cruel master. ^50
[Footnote *: It was this which rendered the wars so sanguinary,
and the battles so obstinate. The immortal Robertson, in an
excellent discourse on the state of the world at the period of
the establishment of Christianity, has traced a picture of the
melancholy effects of slavery, in which we find all the depth of
his views and the strength of his mind. I shall oppose
successively some passages to the reflections of Gibbon. The
reader will see, not without interest, the truths which Gibbon
appears to have mistaken or voluntarily neglected, developed by
one of the best of modern historians. It is important to call
them to mind here, in order to establish the facts and their
consequences with accuracy. I shall more than once have occasion
to employ, for this purpose, the discourse of Robertson.

"Captives taken in war were, in all probability, the first
persons subjected to perpetual servitude; and, when the
necessities or luxury of mankind increased the demand for slaves,
every new war recruited their number, by reducing the vanquished
to that wretched condition. Hence proceeded the fierce and
desperate spirit with which wars were carried on among ancient
nations. While chains and slavery were the certain lot of the
conquered, battles were fought, and towns defended with a rage
and obstinacy which nothing but horror at such a fate could have
inspired; but, putting an end to the cruel institution of
slavery, Christianity extended its mild influences to the
practice of war, and that barbarous art, softened by its humane
spirit, ceased to be so destructive. Secure, in every event, of
personal liberty, the resistance of the vanquished became less
obstinate, and the triumph of the victor less cruel. Thus
humanity was introduced into the exercise of war, with which it
appears to be almost incompatible; and it is to the merciful
maxims of Christianity, much more than to any other cause, that
we must ascribe the little ferocity and bloodshed which accompany
modern victories." - G.]

[Footnote 46: In the camp of Lucullus, an ox sold for a drachma,
and a slave for four drachmae, or about three shillings.
Plutarch. in Lucull. p. 580.

Note: Above 100,000 prisoners were taken in the Jewish war.
- G. Hist. of Jews, iii. 71. According to a tradition preserved
by S. Jerom, after the insurrection in the time of Hadrian, they
were sold as cheap as horse. Ibid. 124. Compare Blair on Roman
Slavery, p. 19. - M., and Dureau de la blalle, Economie Politique
des Romains, l. i. c. 15. But I cannot think that this writer
has made out his case as to the common price of an agricultural
slave being from 2000 to 2500 francs, (80l. to 100l.) He has
overlooked the passages which show the ordinary prices, (i. e.
Hor. Sat. ii. vii. 45,) and argued from extraordinary and
exceptional cases. - M. 1845.]

[Footnote 47: Diodorus Siculus in Eclog. Hist. l. xxxiv. and
xxxvi. Florus, iii. 19, 20.]

[Footnote *: The following is the example: we shall see whether
the word "severe" is here in its place. "At the time in which L.
Domitius was praetor in Sicily, a slave killed a wild boar of
extraordinary size. The praetor, struck by the dexterity and
courage of the man, desired to see him. The poor wretch, highly
gratified with the distinction, came to present himself before
the praetor, in hopes, no doubt, of praise and reward; but
Domitius, on learning that he had only a javelin to attack and
kill the boar, ordered him to be instantly crucified, under the
barbarous pretext that the law prohibited the use of this weapon,
as of all others, to slaves." Perhaps the cruelty of Domitius is
less astonishing than the indifference with which the Roman
orator relates this circumstance, which affects him so little
that he thus expresses himself: "Durum hoc fortasse videatur,
neque ego in ullam partem disputo." "This may appear harsh, nor
do I give any opinion on the subject." And it is the same orator
who exclaims in the same oration, "Facinus est cruciare civem
Romanum; scelus verberare; prope parricidium necare: quid dicam
in crucem tollere?" "It is a crime to imprison a Roman citizen;
wickedness to scourge; next to parricide to put to death, what
shall I call it to crucify?"

In general, this passage of Gibbon on slavery, is full, not
only of blamable indifference, but of an exaggeration of
impartiality which resembles dishonesty. He endeavors to
extenuate all that is appalling in the condition and treatment of
the slaves; he would make us consider those cruelties as possibly
"justified by necessity." He then describes, with minute
accuracy, the slightest mitigations of their deplorable
condition; he attributes to the virtue or the policy of the
emperors the progressive amelioration in the lot of the slaves;
and he passes over in silence the most influential cause, that
which, after rendering the slaves less miserable, has contributed
at length entirely to enfranchise them from their sufferings and
their chains, - Christianity. It would be easy to accumulate the
most frightful, the most agonizing details, of the manner in
which the Romans treated their slaves; whole works have been
devoted to the description. I content myself with referring to
them. Some reflections of Robertson, taken from the discourse
already quoted, will make us feel that Gibbon, in tracing the
mitigation of the condition of the slaves, up to a period little
later than that which witnessed the establishment of Christianity
in the world, could not have avoided the acknowledgment of the
influence of that beneficent cause, if he had not already
determined not to speak of it.

"Upon establishing despotic government in the Roman empire,
domestic tyranny rose, in a short time, to an astonishing height.

In that rank soil, every vice, which power nourishes in the
great, or oppression engenders in the mean, thrived and grew up
apace. * * * It is not the authority of any single detached
precept in the gospel, but the spirit and genius of the Christian
religion, more powerful than any particular command. which hath
abolished the practice of slavery throughout the world. The
temper which Christianity inspired was mild and gentle; and the
doctrines it taught added such dignity and lustre to human
nature, as rescued it from the dishonorable servitude into which
it was sunk."

It is in vain, then, that Gibbon pretends to attribute
solely to the desire of keeping up the number of slaves, the
milder conduct which the Romans began to adopt in their favor at
the time of the emperors. This cause had hitherto acted in an
opposite direction; how came it on a sudden to have a different
influence? "The masters," he says, "encouraged the marriage of
their slaves; * * * the sentiments of nature, the habits of
education, contributed to alleviate the hardships of servitude."
The children of slaves were the property of their master, who
could dispose of or alienate them like the rest of his property.
Is it in such a situation, with such notions, that the sentiments
of nature unfold themselves, or habits of education become mild
and peaceful? We must not attribute to causes inadequate or
altogether without force, effects which require to explain them a
reference to more influential causes; and even if these slighter
causes had in effect a manifest influence, we must not forget
that they are themselves the effect of a primary, a higher, and
more extensive cause, which, in giving to the mind and to the
character a more disinterested and more humane bias, disposed men
to second or themselves to advance, by their conduct, and by the
change of manners, the happy results which it tended to produce.
- G.

I have retained the whole of M. Guizot's note, though, in
his zeal for the invaluable blessings of freedom and
Christianity, he has done Gibbon injustice. The condition of the
slaves was undoubtedly improved under the emperors. What a great
authority has said, "The condition of a slave is better under an
arbitrary than under a free government," (Smith's Wealth of
Nations, iv. 7,) is, I believe, supported by the history of all
ages and nations. The protecting edicts of Hadrian and the
Antonines are historical facts, and can as little be attributed
to the influence of Christianity, as the milder language of
heathen writers, of Seneca, (particularly Ep. 47,) of Pliny, and
of Plutarch. The latter influence of Christianity is admitted by
Gibbon himself. The subject of Roman slavery has recently been
investigated with great diligence in a very modest but valuable
volume, by Wm. Blair, Esq., Edin. 1833. May we be permitted.
while on the subject, to refer to the most splendid passage
extant of Mr. Pitt's eloquence, the description of the Roman
slave-dealer. on the shores of Britain, condemning the island to
irreclaimable barbarism, as a perpetual and prolific nursery of
slaves? Speeches, vol. ii. p. 80.

Gibbon, it should be added, was one of the first and most
consistent opponents of the African slave-trade. (See Hist. ch.
xxv. and Letters to Lor Sheffield, Misc. Works) - M.]

[Footnote 48: See a remarkable instance of severity in Cicero in
Verrem, v. 3.]

[Footnote *: An active slave-trade, which was carried on in many
quarters, particularly the Euxine, the eastern provinces, the
coast of Africa, and British must be taken into the account.
Blair, 23 - 32. - M.]

[Footnote !: The Romans, as well in the first ages of the
republic as later, allowed to their slaves a kind of marriage,
(contubernium: ) notwithstanding this, luxury made a greater
number of slaves in demand. The increase in their population was
not sufficient, and recourse was had to the purchase of slaves,
which was made even in the provinces of the East subject to the
Romans. It is, moreover, known that slavery is a state little
favorable to population. (See Hume's Essay, and Malthus on
population, i. 334. - G.) The testimony of Appian (B.C. l. i. c.
7) is decisive in favor of the rapid multiplication of the
agricultural slaves; it is confirmed by the numbers engaged in
the servile wars. Compare also Blair, p. 119; likewise Columella
l. viii. - M.]

[Footnote 49: See in Gruter, and the other collectors, a great
number of inscriptions addressed by slaves to their wives,
children, fellow-servants, masters, &c. They are all most
probably of the Imperial age.]
[Footnote 50: See the Augustan History, and a Dissertation of M.
de Burigny, in the xxxvth volume of the Academy of Inscriptions,
upon the Roman slaves.]

Hope, the best comfort of our imperfect condition, was not
denied to the Roman slave; and if he had any opportunity of
rendering himself either useful or agreeable, he might very
naturally expect that the diligence and fidelity of a few years
would be rewarded with the inestimable gift of freedom. The
benevolence of the master was so frequently prompted by the
meaner suggestions of vanity and avarice, that the laws found it
more necessary to restrain than to encourage a profuse and
undistinguishing liberality, which might degenerate into a very
dangerous abuse. ^51 It was a maxim of ancient jurisprudence,
that a slave had not any country of his own; he acquired with his
liberty an admission into the political society of which his
patron was a member. The consequences of this maxim would have
prostituted the privileges of the Roman city to a mean and
promiscuous multitude. Some seasonable exceptions were therefore
provided; and the honorable distinction was confined to such
slaves only as, for just causes, and with the approbation of the
magistrate, should receive a solemn and legal manumission. Even
these chosen freedmen obtained no more than the private rights of
citizens, and were rigorously excluded from civil or military
honors. Whatever might be the merit or fortune of their sons,
they likewise were esteemed unworthy of a seat in the senate; nor
were the traces of a servile origin allowed to be completely
obliterated till the third or fourth generation. ^52 Without
destroying the distinction of ranks, a distant prospect of
freedom and honors was presented, even to those whom pride and
prejudice almost disdained to number among the human species.
[Footnote 51: See another Dissertation of M. de Burigny, in the
xxxviith volume, on the Roman freedmen.]

[Footnote 52: Spanheim, Orbis Roman. l. i. c. 16, p. 124, &c.]
It was once proposed to discriminate the slaves by a
peculiar habit; but it was justly apprehended that there might be
some danger in acquainting them with their own numbers. ^53
Without interpreting, in their utmost strictness, the liberal
appellations of legions and myriads, ^54 we may venture to
pronounce, that the proportion of slaves, who were valued as
property, was more considerable than that of servants, who can be
computed only as an expense. ^55 The youths of a promising genius
were instructed in the arts and sciences, and their price was
ascertained by the degree of their skill and talents. ^56 Almost
every profession, either liberal ^57 or mechanical, might be
found in the household of an opulent senator. The ministers of
pomp and sensuality were multiplied beyond the conception of
modern luxury. ^58 It was more for the interest of the merchant
or manufacturer to purchase, than to hire his workmen; and in the
country, slaves were employed as the cheapest and most laborious
instruments of agriculture. To confirm the general observation,
and to display the multitude of slaves, we might allege a variety
of particular instances. It was discovered, on a very melancholy
occasion, that four hundred slaves were maintained in a single
palace of Rome. ^59 The same number of four hundred belonged to
an estate which an African widow, of a very private condition,
resigned to her son, whilst she reserved for herself a much
larger share of her property. ^60 A freedman, under the name of
Augustus, though his fortune had suffered great losses in the
civil wars, left behind him three thousand six hundred yoke of
oxen, two hundred and fifty thousand head of smaller cattle, and
what was almost included in the description of cattle, four
thousand one hundred and sixteen slaves. ^61

[Footnote 53: Seneca de Clementia, l. i. c. 24. The original is
much stronger, "Quantum periculum immineret si servi nostri
numerare nos coepissent."]

[Footnote 54: See Pliny (Hist. Natur. l. xxxiii.) and Athenaeus
(Deipnosophist. l. vi. p. 272.) The latter boldly asserts, that
he knew very many Romans who possessed, not for use, but
ostentation, ten and even twenty thousand slaves.]

[Footnote 55: In Paris there are not more than 43,000 domestics
of every sort, and not a twelfth part of the inhabitants.
Messange, Recherches sui la Population, p. 186.]

[Footnote 56: A learned slave sold for many hundred pounds
sterling: Atticus always bred and taught them himself. Cornel.
Nepos in Vit. c. 13, [on the prices of slaves. Blair, 149.] -

[Footnote 57: Many of the Roman physicians were slaves. See Dr.
Middleton's Dissertation and Defence.]

[Footnote 58: Their ranks and offices are very copiously
enumerated by Pignorius de Servis.]

[Footnote 59: Tacit. Annal. xiv. 43. They were all executed for
not preventing their master's murder.

Note: The remarkable speech of Cassius shows the proud
feelings of the Roman aristocracy on this subject. - M]

[Footnote 60: Apuleius in Apolog. p. 548. edit. Delphin]

[Footnote 61: Plin. Hist. Natur. l. xxxiii. 47.]

The number of subjects who acknowledged the laws of Rome, of
citizens, of provincials, and of slaves, cannot now be fixed with
such a degree of accuracy, as the importance of the object would
deserve. We are informed, that when the Emperor Claudius
exercised the office of censor, he took an account of six
millions nine hundred and forty-five thousand Roman citizens,
who, with the proportion of women and children, must have
amounted to about twenty millions of souls. The multitude of
subjects of an inferior rank was uncertain and fluctuating. But,
after weighing with attention every circumstance which could
influence the balance, it seems probable that there existed, in
the time of Claudius, about twice as many provincials as there
were citizens, of either sex, and of every age; and that the
slaves were at least equal in number to the free inhabitants of
the Roman world. ^* The total amount of this imperfect
calculation would rise to about one hundred and twenty millions
of persons; a degree of population which possibly exceeds that of
modern Europe, ^62 and forms the most numerous society that has
ever been united under the same system of government.

[Footnote *: According to Robertson, there were twice as many
slaves as free citizens. - G. Mr. Blair (p. 15) estimates three
slaves to one freeman, between the conquest of Greece, B.C. 146,
and the reign of Alexander Severus, A. D. 222, 235. The
proportion was probably larger in Italy than in the provinces. -
M. On the other hand, Zumpt, in his Dissertation quoted below,
(p. 86,) asserts it to be a gross error in Gibbon to reckon the
number of slaves equal to that of the free population. The
luxury and magnificence of the great, (he observes,) at the
commencement of the empire, must not be taken as the groundwork
of calculations for the whole Roman world. The agricultural
laborer, and the artisan, in Spain, Gaul, Britain, Syria, and
Egypt, maintained himself, as in the present day, by his own
labor and that of his household, without possessing a single
slave." The latter part of my note was intended to suggest this
consideration. Yet so completely was slavery rooted in the
social system, both in the east and the west, that in the great
diffusion of wealth at this time, every one, I doubt not, who
could afford a domestic slave, kept one; and generally, the
number of slaves was in proportion to the wealth. I do not
believe that the cultivation of the soil by slaves was confined
to Italy; the holders of large estates in the provinces would
probably, either from choice or necessity, adopt the same mode of
cultivation. The latifundia, says Pliny, had ruined Italy, and
had begun to ruin the provinces. Slaves were no doubt employed
in agricultural labor to a great extent in Sicily, and were the
estates of those six enormous landholders who were said to have
possessed the whole province of Africa, cultivated altogether by
free coloni? Whatever may have been the case in the rural
districts, in the towns and cities the household duties were
almost entirely discharged by slaves, and vast numbers belonged
to the public establishments. I do not, however, differ so far
from Zumpt, and from M. Dureau de la Malle, as to adopt the
higher and bolder estimate of Robertson and Mr. Blair, rather
than the more cautious suggestions of Gibbon. I would reduce
rather than increase the proportion of the slave population. The
very ingenious and elaborate calculations of the French writer,
by which he deduces the amount of the population from the produce
and consumption of corn in Italy, appear to me neither precise
nor satisfactory bases for such complicated political arithmetic.

I am least satisfied with his views as to the population of the
city of Rome; but this point will be more fitly reserved for a
note on the thirty-first chapter of Gibbon. The work, however,
of M. Dureau de la Malle is very curious and full on some of the
minuter points of Roman statistics. - M. 1845.]

[Footnote 62: Compute twenty millions in France, twenty-two in
Germany, four in Hungary, ten in Italy with its islands, eight in
Great Britain and Ireland, eight in Spain and Portugal, ten or
twelve in the European Russia, six in Poland, six in Greece and
Turkey, four in Sweden, three in Denmark and Norway, four in the
Low Countries. The whole would amount to one hundred and five,
or one hundred and seven millions. See Voltaire, de l'Histoire

Note: The present population of Europe is estimated at
227,700,000. Malts Bran, Geogr. Trans edit. 1832 See details in
the different volumes Another authority, (Almanach de Gotha,)
quoted in a recent English publication, gives the following
details: -

France, 32,897,521
Germany, (including Hungary, Prussian and Austrian

Poland,) 56,136,213
Italy, 20,548,616
Great Britain and Ireland, 24,062,947
Spain and Portugal, 13,953,959 3,144,000
Russia, including Poland, 44,220,600
Cracow, 128,480
Turkey, (including Pachalic of Dschesair,)

Greece, 637,700
Ionian Islands, 208,100
Sweden and Norway, 3,914,963
Denmark, 2,012,998
Belgium, 3,533,538
Holland, 2,444,550
Switzerland, 985,000

Total, 219,344,116

Since the publication of my first annotated edition of
Gibbon, the subject of the population of the Roman empire has
been investigated by two writers of great industry and learning;
Mons. Dureau de la Malle, in his Economie Politique des Romains,
liv. ii. c. 1. to 8, and M. Zumpt, in a dissertation printed in
the Transactions of the Berlin Academy, 1840. M. Dureau de la
Malle confines his inquiry almost entirely to the city of Rome,
and Roman Italy. Zumpt examines at greater length the axiom,
which he supposes to have been assumed by Gibbon as
unquestionable, "that Italy and the Roman world was never so
populous as in the time of the Antonines." Though this probably
was Gibbon's opinion, he has not stated it so peremptorily as
asserted by Mr. Zumpt. It had before been expressly laid down by
Hume, and his statement was controverted by Wallace and by
Malthus. Gibbon says (p. 84) that there is no reason to believe
the country (of Italy) less populous in the age of the Antonines,
than in that of Romulus; and Zumpt acknowledges that we have no
satisfactory knowledge of the state of Italy at that early age.
Zumpt, in my opinion with some reason, takes the period just
before the first Punic war, as that in which Roman Italy (all
south of the Rubicon) was most populous. From that time, the
numbers began to diminish, at first from the enormous waste of
life out of the free population in the foreign, and afterwards in
the civil wars; from the cultivation of the soil by slaves;
towards the close of the republic, from the repugnance to
marriage, which resisted alike the dread of legal punishment and
the offer of legal immunity and privilege; and from the depravity
of manners, which interfered with the procreation, the birth, and
the rearing of children. The arguments and the authorities of
Zumpt are equally conclusive as to the decline of population in
Greece. Still the details, which he himself adduces as to the
prosperity and populousness of Asia Minor, and the whole of the
Roman East, with the advancement of the European provinces,
especially Gaul, Spain, and Britain, in civilization, and
therefore in populousness, (for I have no confidence in the vast
numbers sometimes assigned to the barbarous inhabitants of these
countries,) may, I think, fairly compensate for any deduction to
be made from Gibbon's general estimate on account of Greece and
Italy. Gibbon himself acknowledges his own estimate to be vague
and conjectural; and I may venture to recommend the dissertation
of Zumpt as deserving respectful consideration. - M 1815.]

Chapter II: The Internal Prosperity In The Age Of The Antonines.

Part III.

Domestic peace and union were the natural consequences of
the moderate and comprehensive policy embraced by the Romans. If
we turn our eyes towards the monarchies of Asia, we shall behold
despotism in the centre, and weakness in the extremities; the
collection of the revenue, or the administration of justice,
enforced by the presence of an army; hostile barbarians
established in the heart of the country, hereditary satraps
usurping the dominion of the provinces, and subjects inclined to
rebellion, though incapable of freedom. But the obedience of the
Roman world was uniform, voluntary, and permanent. The vanquished
nations, blended into one great people, resigned the hope, nay,
even the wish, of resuming their independence, and scarcely
considered their own existence as distinct from the existence of
Rome. The established authority of the emperors pervaded without
an effort the wide extent of their dominions, and was exercised
with the same facility on the banks of the Thames, or of the
Nile, as on those of the Tyber. The legions were destined to
serve against the public enemy, and the civil magistrate seldom
required the aid of a military force. ^63 In this state of
general security, the leisure, as well as opulence, both of the
prince and people, were devoted to improve and to adorn the Roman

[Footnote 63: Joseph. de Bell. Judaico, l. ii. c. 16. The
oration of Agrippa, or rather of the historian, is a fine picture
of the Roman empire.]

Among the innumerable monuments of architecture constructed
by the Romans, how many have escaped the notice of history, how
few have resisted the ravages of time and barbarism! And yet,
even the majestic ruins that are still scattered over Italy and
the provinces, would be sufficient to prove that those countries
were once the seat of a polite and powerful empire. Their
greatness alone, or their beauty, might deserve our attention:
but they are rendered more interesting, by two important
circumstances, which connect the agreeable history of the arts
with the more useful history of human manners. Many of those
works were erected at private expense, and almost all were
intended for public benefit.

It is natural to suppose that the greatest number, as well
as the most considerable of the Roman edifices, were raised by
the emperors, who possessed so unbounded a command both of men
and money. Augustus was accustomed to boast that he had found
his capital of brick, and that he had left it of marble. ^64 The
strict economy of Vespasian was the source of his magnificence.
The works of Trajan bear the stamp of his genius. The public
monuments with which Hadrian adorned every province of the
empire, were executed not only by his orders, but under his
immediate inspection. He was himself an artist; and he loved the
arts, as they conduced to the glory of the monarch. They were
encouraged by the Antonines, as they contributed to the happiness
of the people. But if the emperors were the first, they were not
the only architects of their dominions. Their example was
universally imitated by their principal subjects, who were not
afraid of declaring to the world that they had spirit to
conceive, and wealth to accomplish, the noblest undertakings.
Scarcely had the proud structure of the Coliseum been dedicated
at Rome, before the edifices, of a smaller scale indeed, but of
the same design and materials, were erected for the use, and at
the expense, of the cities of Capua and Verona. ^65 The
inscription of the stupendous bridge of Alcantara attests that it
was thrown over the Tagus by the contribution of a few Lusitanian
communities. When Pliny was intrusted with the government of
Bithynia and Pontus, provinces by no means the richest or most
considerable of the empire, he found the cities within his
jurisdiction striving with each other in every useful and
ornamental work, that might deserve the curiosity of strangers,
or the gratitude of their citizens. It was the duty of the
proconsul to supply their deficiencies, to direct their taste,
and sometimes to moderate their emulation. ^66 The opulent
senators of Rome and the provinces esteemed it an honor, and
almost an obligation, to adorn the splendor of their age and
country; and the influence of fashion very frequently supplied
the want of taste or generosity. Among a crowd of these private
benefactors, we may select Herodes Atticus, an Athenian citizen,
who lived in the age of the Antonines. Whatever might be the
motive of his conduct, his magnificence would have been worthy of
the greatest kings.

[Footnote 64: Sueton. in August. c. 28. Augustus built in Rome
the temple and forum of Mars the Avenger; the temple of Jupiter
Tonans in the Capitol; that of Apollo Palatine, with public
libraries; the portico and basilica of Caius and Lucius; the
porticos of Livia and Octavia; and the theatre of Marcellus. The
example of the sovereign was imitated by his ministers and
generals; and his friend Agrippa left behind him the immortal
monument of the Pantheon.]

[See Theatre Of Marcellus: Augustus built in Rome the theatre of

[Footnote 65: See Maffei, Veroni Illustrata, l. iv. p. 68.]
[Footnote 66: See the xth book of Pliny's Epistles. He mentions
the following works carried on at the expense of the cities. At
Nicomedia, a new forum, an aqueduct, and a canal, left unfinished
by a king; at Nice, a gymnasium, and a theatre, which had already
cost near ninety thousand pounds; baths at Prusa and
Claudiopolis, and an aqueduct of sixteen miles in length for the
use of Sinope.]

The family of Herod, at least after it had been favored by
fortune, was lineally descended from Cimon and Miltiades, Theseus
and Cecrops, Aeacus and Jupiter. But the posterity of so many
gods and heroes was fallen into the most abject state. His
grandfather had suffered by the hands of justice, and Julius
Atticus, his father, must have ended his life in poverty and
contempt, had he not discovered an immense treasure buried under
an old house, the last remains of his patrimony. According to
the rigor of the law, the emperor might have asserted his claim,
and the prudent Atticus prevented, by a frank confession, the
officiousness of informers. But the equitable Nerva, who then
filled the throne, refused to accept any part of it, and
commanded him to use, without scruple, the present of fortune.
The cautious Athenian still insisted, that the treasure was too
considerable for a subject, and that he knew not how to use it.
Abuse it then, replied the monarch, with a good- natured
peevishness; for it is your own. ^67 Many will be of opinion,
that Atticus literally obeyed the emperor's last instructions;
since he expended the greatest part of his fortune, which was
much increased by an advantageous marriage, in the service of the
public. He had obtained for his son Herod the prefecture of the
free cities of Asia; and the young magistrate, observing that the
town of Troas was indifferently supplied with water, obtained
from the munificence of Hadrian three hundred myriads of drachms,
(about a hundred thousand pounds,) for the construction of a new
aqueduct. But in the execution of the work, the charge amounted
to more than double the estimate, and the officers of the revenue
began to murmur, till the generous Atticus silenced their
complaints, by requesting that he might be permitted to take upon
himself the whole additional expense. ^68

[Footnote 67: Hadrian afterwards made a very equitable
regulation, which divided all treasure-trove between the right of
property and that of discovery. Hist. August. p. 9.]

[Footnote 68: Philostrat. in Vit. Sophist. l. ii. p. 548.]
The ablest preceptors of Greece and Asia had been invited by
liberal rewards to direct the education of young Herod. Their
pupil soon became a celebrated orator, according to the useless
rhetoric of that age, which, confining itself to the schools,
disdained to visit either the Forum or the Senate.

He was honored with the consulship at Rome: but the greatest
part of his life was spent in a philosophic retirement at Athens,
and his adjacent villas; perpetually surrounded by sophists, who
acknowledged, without reluctance, the superiority of a rich and
generous rival. ^69 The monuments of his genius have perished;
some considerable ruins still preserve the fame of his taste and
munificence: modern travellers have measured the remains of the
stadium which he constructed at Athens. It was six hundred feet
in length, built entirely of white marble, capable of admitting
the whole body of the people, and finished in four years, whilst
Herod was president of the Athenian games. To the memory of his
wife Regilla he dedicated a theatre, scarcely to be paralleled in
the empire: no wood except cedar, very curiously carved, was
employed in any part of the building. The Odeum, ^* designed by
Pericles for musical performances, and the rehearsal of new
tragedies, had been a trophy of the victory of the arts over
barbaric greatness; as the timbers employed in the construction
consisted chiefly of the masts of the Persian vessels.
Notwithstanding the repairs bestowed on that ancient edifice by a
king of Cappadocia, it was again fallen to decay. Herod restored
its ancient beauty and magnificence. Nor was the liberality of
that illustrious citizen confined to the walls of Athens. The
most splendid ornaments bestowed on the temple of Neptune in the
Isthmus, a theatre at Corinth, a stadium at Delphi, a bath at
Thermopylae, and an aqueduct at Canusium in Italy, were
insufficient to exhaust his treasures. The people of Epirus,
Thessaly, Euboea, Boeotia, and Peloponnesus, experienced his
favors; and many inscriptions of the cities of Greece and Asia
gratefully style Herodes Atticus their patron and benefactor. ^70

[Footnote 69: Aulus Gellius, in Noct. Attic. i. 2, ix. 2, xviii.
10, xix. 12. Phil ostrat. p. 564.]

[Footnote *: The Odeum served for the rehearsal of new comedies
as well as tragedies; they were read or repeated, before
representation, without music or decorations, &c. No piece could
be represented in the theatre if it had not been previously
approved by judges for this purpose. The king of Cappadocia who
restored the Odeum, which had been burnt by Sylla, was
Araobarzanes. See Martini, Dissertation on the Odeons of the
Ancients, Leipsic. 1767, p. 10 - 91. - W.]

[Footnote 70: See Philostrat. l. ii. p. 548, 560. Pausanias, l.
i. and vii. 10. The life of Herodes, in the xxxth volume of the
Memoirs of the Academy of Inscriptions.]

In the commonwealths of Athens and Rome, the modest
simplicity of private houses announced the equal condition of
freedom; whilst the sovereignty of the people was represented in
the majestic edifices designed to the public use; ^71 nor was
this republican spirit totally extinguished by the introduction
of wealth and monarchy. It was in works of national honor and
benefit, that the most virtuous of the emperors affected to
display their magnificence. The golden palace of Nero excited a
just indignation, but the vast extent of ground which had been
usurped by his selfish luxury was more nobly filled under the
succeeding reigns by the Coliseum, the baths of Titus, the
Claudian portico, and the temples dedicated to the goddess of
Peace, and to the genius of Rome. ^72 These monuments of
architecture, the property of the Roman people, were adorned with
the most beautiful productions of Grecian painting and sculpture;
and in the temple of Peace, a very curious library was open to
the curiosity of the learned. ^* At a small distance from thence
was situated the Forum of Trajan. It was surrounded by a lofty
portico, in the form of a quadrangle, into which four triumphal
arches opened a noble and spacious entrance: in the centre arose
a column of marble, whose height, of one hundred and ten feet,
denoted the elevation of the hill that had been cut away. This
column, which still subsists in its ancient beauty, exhibited an
exact representation of the Dacian victories of its founder. The
veteran soldier contemplated the story of his own campaigns, and
by an easy illusion of national vanity, the peaceful citizen
associated himself to the honors of the triumph. All the other
quarters of the capital, and all the provinces of the empire,
were embellished by the same liberal spirit of public
magnificence, and were filled with amphi theatres, theatres,
temples, porticoes, triumphal arches, baths and aqueducts, all
variously conducive to the health, the devotion, and the
pleasures of the meanest citizen. The last mentioned of those
edifices deserve our peculiar attention. The boldness of the
enterprise, the solidity of the execution, and the uses to which
they were subservient, rank the aqueducts among the noblest
monuments of Roman genius and power. The aqueducts of the
capital claim a just preeminence; but the curious traveller, who,
without the light of history, should examine those of Spoleto, of
Metz, or of Segovia, would very naturally conclude that those
provincial towns had formerly been the residence of some potent
monarch. The solitudes of Asia and Africa were once covered with
flourishing cities, whose populousness, and even whose existence,
was derived from such artificial supplies of a perennial stream
of fresh water. ^73

[Footnote 71: It is particularly remarked of Athens by
Dicaearchus, de Statu Graeciae, p. 8, inter Geographos Minores,
edit. Hudson.]

[Footnote 72: Donatus de Roma Vetere, l. iii. c. 4, 5, 6.
Nardini Roma Antica, l. iii. 11, 12, 13, and a Ms. description of
ancient Rome, by Bernardus Oricellarius, or Rucellai, of which I
obtained a copy from the library of the Canon Ricardi at
Florence. Two celebrated pictures of Timanthes and of Protogenes
are mentioned by Pliny, as in the Temple of Peace; and the
Laocoon was found in the baths of Titus.]

[Footnote *: The Emperor Vespasian, who had caused the Temple of
Peace to be built, transported to it the greatest part of the
pictures, statues, and other works of art which had escaped the
civil tumults. It was there that every day the artists and the
learned of Rome assembled; and it is on the site of this temple
that a multitude of antiques have been dug up. See notes of
Reimar on Dion Cassius, lxvi. c. 15, p. 1083. - W.]

[Footnote 73: Montfaucon l'Antiquite Expliquee, tom. iv. p. 2, l.
i. c. 9. Fabretti has composed a very learned treatise on the
aqueducts of Rome.]

We have computed the inhabitants, and contemplated the
public works, of the Roman empire. The observation of the number
and greatness of its cities will serve to confirm the former, and
to multiply the latter. It may not be unpleasing to collect a
few scattered instances relative to that subject without
forgetting, however, that from the vanity of nations and the
poverty of language, the vague appellation of city has been
indifferently bestowed on Rome and upon Laurentum.

I. Ancient Italy is said to have contained eleven hundred
and ninety- seven cities; and for whatsoever aera of antiquity
the expression might be intended, ^74 there is not any reason to
believe the country less populous in the age of the Antonines,
than in that of Romulus. The petty states of Latium were
contained within the metropolis of the empire, by whose superior
influence they had been attracted. ^* Those parts of Italy which
have so long languished under the lazy tyranny of priests and
viceroys, had been afflicted only by the more tolerable
calamities of war; and the first symptoms of decay which they
experienced, were amply compensated by the rapid improvements of
the Cisalpine Gaul. The splendor of Verona may be traced in its
remains: yet Verona was less celebrated than Aquileia or Padua,
Milan or Ravenna. II. The spirit of improvement had passed the
Alps, and been felt even in the woods of Britain, which were
gradually cleared away to open a free space for convenient and
elegant habitations. York was the seat of government; London was
already enriched by commerce; and Bath was celebrated for the
salutary effects of its medicinal waters. Gaul could boast of
her twelve hundred cities; ^75 and though, in the northern parts,
many of them, without excepting Paris itself, were little more
than the rude and imperfect townships of a rising people, the
southern provinces imitated the wealth and elegance of Italy. ^76
Many were the cities of Gaul, Marseilles, Arles, Nismes,
Narbonne, Thoulouse, Bourdeaux, Autun, Vienna, Lyons, Langres,
and Treves, whose ancient condition might sustain an equal, and
perhaps advantageous comparison with their present state. With
regard to Spain, that country flourished as a province, and has
declined as a kingdom. Exhausted by the abuse of her strength,
by America, and by superstition, her pride might possibly be
confounded, if we required such a list of three hundred and sixty
cities, as Pliny has exhibited under the reign of Vespasian. ^77
III. Three hundred African cities had once acknowledged the
authority of Carthage, ^78 nor is it likely that their numbers
diminished under the administration of the emperors: Carthage
itself rose with new splendor from its ashes; and that capital,
as well as Capua and Corinth, soon recovered all the advantages
which can be separated from independent sovereignty. IV. The
provinces of the East present the contrast of Roman magnificence
with Turkish barbarism. The ruins of antiquity scattered over
uncultivated fields, and ascribed, by ignorance to the power of
magic, scarcely afford a shelter to the oppressed peasant or
wandering Arab. Under the reign of the Caesars, the proper Asia
alone contained five hundred populous cities, ^79 enriched with
all the gifts of nature, and adorned with all the refinements of
art. Eleven cities of Asia had once disputed the honor of
dedicating a temple of Tiberius, and their respective merits were
examined by the senate. ^80 Four of them were immediately
rejected as unequal to the burden; and among these was Laodicea,
whose splendor is still displayed in its ruins. ^81 Laodicea
collected a very considerable revenue from its flocks of sheep,
celebrated for the fineness of their wool, and had received, a
little before the contest, a legacy of above four hundred
thousand pounds by the testament of a generous citizen. ^82 If
such was the poverty of Laodicea, what must have been the wealth
of those cities, whose claim appeared preferable, and
particularly of Pergamus, of Smyrna, and of Ephesus, who so long
disputed with each other the titular primacy of Asia? ^83 The
capitals of Syria and Egypt held a still superior rank in the
empire; Antioch and Alexandria looked down with disdain on a
crowd of dependent cities, ^84 and yielded, with reluctance, to
the majesty of Rome itself.

[Footnote 74: Aelian. Hist. Var. lib. ix. c. 16. He lived in the
time of Alexander Severus. See Fabricius, Biblioth. Graeca, l.
iv. c. 21.]

[Footnote *: This may in some degree account for the difficulty
started by Livy, as to the incredibly numerous armies raised by
the small states around Rome where, in his time, a scanty stock
of free soldiers among a larger population of Roman slaves broke
the solitude. Vix seminario exiguo militum relicto servitia
Romana ab solitudine vindicant, Liv. vi. vii. Compare Appian Bel
Civ. i. 7. - M. subst. for G.]

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