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34                                 POLITICAL, SCIKNCK.
A word or two will close what we h.iv l< *;iy fitrther of
the optimatcs.     Their ability to retain ih M'tt.iU', in ihcir
hands enabled them to control the adminKiratimi, a* ihf sen-
ate was composed of past officers above the tank *Hf ipu**l"rs
Their wealth helped them greatly to srauv <f tiers, and thi'ir
offices to gain wealth.    Two things arc di'Mffrvtn;; >f Malice in
this connection in the later ajje <f the ivpuhlt*%    ur is
prevalence of ambitus^ which nt l.iw was alilr  t>  i
The detailed account given by Lnm;e in thir third
of his StantsaHerthumer, h most instructive, as slmwin^ the
greatness of the evil ami the difficulty uf runt in j* it mil.    The
other i.s the social decay of Kome,    On ilu? mir Nj*lt were
the men of immense estates, the companies that iannnl the
taxes, the men of commerce who supplied Italy uiih (;iaiu ; on
the other, the impoverishment of the poorer chi*ens the ad-
mission into the army of person* with a Inwer COIIHUH than be-
fore, or of such as had no property, who had ihr frrlin^x uf
mercenaries rather than of citizens; the buying nut tf siitiail
farmers and using the labor of slaves cm lands brfun? culti-
vated by freemen; the crowds of paupers that fmuul their
way to Rome and needed to be helped tu live by " frtimcn*
tations/1   Such extremes naturally gave birth to parties in
the state.   The factions of Sulla and Marius fought for no
Important political question ; the captains Mood at the head
of great armies, and whichever conquered wan likely to intro-
duce irresponsible power*   The new political arrangements
of Sulla lasted but for a short time after his death, and had
in themselves no element of stability.   The subsequent strug-
gles were even less political, except HO far as an unwise,
short-sighted senate endeavored to retain its hold on the ad-
ministration,     It evidently was incompetent to guide the
republic.   The head of an army was sure to be the master,
if he had ability and sufficient force at once.    Crew had this
ability, while his adversaries showed weakness and disagree*
tnent   Thus the power fell to one man, although the ancient
forms were retained as far as possible, and to a man who him*
self belonged to the class of the patricians and the optimatcs.