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Cornell University Library 
DG 271.F38 1909 

Characters and events of Roman histoi 

3 1924 026 376 123 

Cornell University 

The original of tliis book is in 
tine Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 



A uihorised Translation 

5 vols. 8vo. Each |2. 50 net 

Vol. I.— The Empire Builders 

Vol. II. — Julius C^sar 

Vol. III.— The Fall of an Aristocracy 

Vol. IV. — Rome and Egypt 

Vol. V. — The Republic of Augustus 


From Caesar to Nero (60 B.C.-70 A.D.) 

Authorised Translation by Frances Lance Ferrero 


Characters and Events 


Roman History 

From Caesar to Nero 

XLbe lowell Xectutea ot 1908 


Guglielmo Ferrero, Litt. D. 

Author of 
" The Greatnesi and Decline of Rome," etc. 

Translated by 

Prances Lance Ferrero 

G. P. Putnam's Sons 

New York and London 

Zbe •Rtticftetbocftcr press 


Copyright, 1909 



ISbe fttifc^etbocftec pvcse, Vlevp Jffovli 


f N the spring of 1906, the College de France in- 
^ vited me to deliver, during November of that 
year, a course of lectures on Roman history. 
I accepted, giving a r6sum6, in eight lectures, 
of the history of the government of Augustus 
from the end of the civil wars to his death ; that 
is, a r^sum6 of the matter contained in the fourth 
and fifth volumes of the English edition of my 
work, Tke Greatness and Decline of Rome. 

Following these lectures came a request from 
M. Emilio Mitre, Editor of the chief newspaper 
of the Argentine Republic, the Nacion, and one 
from the Academia Brazileira de Lettras of Rio 
de Janeiro, to deliver a course of lectures in the 
Argentine and Brazilian capitals. I gave to the 
South American course a more general character 
than that delivered in Paris, introducing argu- 
ments which would interest a public having a less 
specialized knowledge of history than the public 
I had addressed in Paris. 

iv Preface 

When President Roosevelt did me the honour 
to invite me to visit the United States and Prof. 
Abbott Lawrence Lowell asked me to deliver a 
course at the Lowell Institute in Boston, I se- 
lected material from the two previous courses 
of lectures, moulding it into the group that was 
given in Boston in November-December, 1908. 
These lectures were later read at Columbia Uni- 
versity in New York, and at the University of 
Chicago in Chicago. Certain of them were de- 
livered elsewhere — before the American Philo- 
sophical Society and at the University of Penn- 
sylvania in Philadelphia, at Harvard University 
in Cambridge, and at Cornell University in 

Such is the record of the book now presented 
to the public at large. It is a work necessarily 
made up of detached studies, which, however, 
are bound together by a central, unifying thought ; 
so that the reading of them may prove useful 
and pleasant even to those who have already 
read my Greatness and Decline of Rome. 

The first lecture, "The Theory of Corruption 
in Roman History," sums up the fundamental 
idea of my conception of the history of Rome. 
The essential phenomenon upon which all the 
political, social, and moral crises of Rome depend 

Preface v 

is the transformation of customs produced by 
the augmentation of wealth, of expenditure, and 
of needs, — a phenomenon, therefore, of psycho- 
logical order, and one common in contemporary 
life. This lecture should show that my work 
does not belong among those written after the 
method of economic materialism, for I hold that 
the fundamental force in history is psychologic 
and not economic. 

The three following lectures, "The History 
and Legend of Antony and Cleopatra," "The 
Development of Gaul," and "Nero," seem to 
concern themselves with very different subjects. 
On the contrary, they present three different 
aspects of the one, identical problem — the strug- 
gle between the Occident and the Orient — a 
problem that Rome succeeded in solving as no 
European civilisation has since been able to do, 
making the countries of the Mediterranean Basin 
share a common life, in peace. How Rome suc- 
ceeded in accomplishing this union of Orient 
and Occident is one of the points of greatest 
interest in its history. The first of these 
three lectures, "Antony and Cleopatra," shows 
how Rome repulsed the last offensive move- 
ment of the Orient against the Occident; the 
second, "The Development of Gaul," shows 

vi Preface 

the establishing of equilibrium between the two 
parts of the Empire; the third, "Nero," shows 
how the Orient, beaten upon fields of battle and 
in diplomatic action, took its revenge in the do- 
main of Roman ideas, morals, and social life. 

The fifth lecture, "Julia and Tiberius," illus- 
trates, by one of the most tragic episodes of 
Roman history, the terrible struggle between 
Roman ideals and habits and those of the Grseco- 
Asiatic civilisation. The sixth lecture, "The 
Development of the Empire," summarises in 
a few pages views to be developed in detail in 
that part of my work yet to be written. 

I have said that not all history can be explained 
by economic forces and factors, but this does not 
prevent me from regarding economic phenomena 
as also of high importance. The seventh lecture, 
"Wine in Roman History," is an essay after the 
plan in accordance with which, it seems to me, 
economic phenomena should be treated. 

The last lecture deals with a subject that per- 
haps does not, properly speaking, belong to 
Roman history, but upon which an historian of 
Rome ought to touch sooner or later; I mean 
the r61e which Rome can still play in the education 
of the upper classes. It is a subject important 
not only to the historian of Rome, but to all 

Preface vii 

those who are interested in the future of cul- 
ture and civilisation. The more specialisa- 
tion in technical labour increases, the greater 
becomes the necessity of giving the superior 
classes a general education, which can prepare 
specialists to understand each other and to act 
together in all matters of common interest. 
To imagine a society composed exclusively of 
doctors, engineers, chemists, merchants, manu- 
facturers, is impossible. Every one must also 
be a citizen and a man in sympathy with the 
common conscience. I have, therefore, endeav- 
oured to show in this eighth lecture what ser- 
vices Rome and its great intellectual tradition 
can render to modem civilisation in the field of 

These lectvu^es naturally cannot do more than 
make known ideas in general form ; it would be 
too much to expect in them the precision of 
detail, the regard for method, and the use of 
frequent notes, citations, and references to 
authorities or documents, that belong to my 
larger work on Rome; but they are published 
partly because I consider it useful to popularise 
Roman history, and partly because some of the 
pleasantest of memories attach to them. Their 
origin, the course on Augustus given at the College 

viii Preface 

de France, which proved one of the happiest occa- 
sions of my life, and their development, leading 
to my travels in the two Americas, have given 
me experiences of the greatest interest and 

I am glad of the opportimity here to thank all 
those who have contributed to make the sojourn 
of my wife and myself in the United States de- 
lightful. I must thank all my friends at once; 
for to name each one separately, I should need, 
as a Latin poet says, "a hundred mouths and a 
hundred tongues. " 


Turin, February 22, 1909. 


"Corruption" in Ancient Rome, and its 
Counterpart in Modern History 

The History and Legend of Antony and 

The Development of Gaul 

Nero .... 

Julia and Tiberius 

Wine in Roman History 

Social Development of the Roman Empire 207 

Roman History in Modern Education . 239 

Index ....... 265 




"Corruption" in Ancient 

And Its Counterpart in Modern 

'T'WO years ago in Paris, while giving a course 
^ of lectures on Augustus at the College de 
France, I happened to say to an illustrious his- 
torian, a member of the French Academy, who 
was complimenting me : " But I have not re-made 
Roman history, as many admirers think. On 
the contrary, it might be said, in a certain sense, 
that I have only returned to the old way. I have 
retaken the point of view of Livy; like Livy, 
gathering the events of the story of Rome around 
that phenomenon which the ancients called 
the 'corruption' of customs — a novelty twenty 
centuries old ! " 

Spoken with a smile and in jest, these words 
nevertheless were more serious than the tone in 
which they were uttered. All those who know 
Latin history and literature, even superficially, 
remember with what insistence and with how 
many diverse modulations of tone are reiterated 
the laments on the corruption of customs, on 
the luxury, the ambition, the avarice, that invaded 
Rome after the Second Punic War. Sallust, 

4 " Corruption " in Ancient Rome 

Cicero, Livy, Horace, Virgil, are full of affliction 
because Rome is destined to dissipate itself in 
an incurable corruption ; whence we see, then in 
Rome, as to-day in France, wealth, power, culture, 
glory, draw in their train — grim but inseparable 
comrade! — a pessimism that times poorer, cruder, 
more troubled, had not known. In the very 
moment in which the empire was ordering itself, 
civil wars ended; in that solemn Pax Romana 
which was to have endured so many ages, in the 
very moment in which the heart should have 
opened itself to hope and to joy, Horace describes, 
in three fine, terrible verses, four successive genera- 
tions, each corrupting Rome, which grew ever the 
worse, ever the more perverse and evil-disposed: 

^tas parentum, peior avis, tulit 
Nos requiores, tnox laturos 
Progeniem vitiosiorem. 

"Our fathers were worse than our grandsires; 
we have deteriorated from our fathers; our sons 
will cause us to be lamented." This is the dark 
philosophy that a sovereign spirit like Horace 
derived from the incredible triumph of Rome 
in the world. At his side, Livy, the great writer 
who was to teach all future generations the story 
of the city, puts the same hopeless philosophy 
at the base of his wonderful work". 

" Corruption " in Ancient Rome 5 

Rome was originally, when it was poor and small, 
a unique example of austere virtue; then it corrupted, 
it spoiled, it rotted itself by all the vices; so, little 
by little, we have been brought into the present 
condition in which we are able neither to tolerate 
the evils from which we suffer, nor the remedies we 
need to cure them. 

The same dark thought, expressed in a thousand 
forms, is found in almost every one of the Latin 

This theory has misled and impeded my pre- 
decessors in different ways: some, considering 
that the writers bewail the unavoidable disso- 
lution of Roman society at the very time when 
Rome was most powerful, most cultured, richest, 
have judged conventional, rhetorical, literary, 
these invectives against corruption, these praises 
of ancient simplicity, and therefore have held 
them of no value in the history of Rome. 
Such critics have not reflected that this conception 
is found, not only in the literature, but also in 
the politics and the legislation; that Roman 
history is full, not only of invectives in prose and 
verse, but of laws and administrative provisions 
against luxuria, ambitio, avaritia — a. sign that 
these laments were not merely a foolishness of 
wiiters, or, as we say to-day, stuff for newspaper 
articles. Other critics, instead, taking account 

6 "Corruption" in Ancient Rome 

of these laws and administrative provisions, have 
accepted the ancient theory of Roman corruption 
without reckoning that they were describing 
as undone by an irreparable dissolution, a nation 
that not only had conquered, but was to govern 
for ages, an immense empire. In this conception 
of corruption there is a contradiction that conceals 
a great universal problem. 

Stimulated by this contradiction, and by the 
desire of solving it, to study more attentively 
the facts cited by the ancients as examples 
of corruption, I have looked about tp see if in the 
contemporary world I could not find some things 
that resembled it, and so make myself understand 
it. The prospect seemed difficult, because modem 
men are persuaded that they are models of all the 
virtues. Who could think to find in them even 
traces of the famous Roman corruption? In 
the modem world to-day are the abominable 
orgies carried on for which the Rome of the Caesars 
was notorious? Are there to-day Neros and 
Elagabaluses ? He who studies the ancient sources , 
however, with but a Uttle of the critical spirit, is 
easily convinced that we have made for ourselves 
out of the much-famed corruption and Roman 
luxury a notion highly romantic and exaggerated. 
We need not delude ourselves : Rome, even in the 

"Corruption" in Ancient Rome 7 

times of its greatest splendour, was poor in com- 
parison with the modem world ; even in the second 
century after Christ, when it stood as metropolis 
at the head of an immense empire, Rome was 
smaller, less wealthy, less imposing, than a great 
metropolis of Europe or of America. Some sump- 
tuous public edifices, beautiful private houses — that 
is all the splendour of the metropolis of the empire. 
He who goes to the Palatine may to-day refigure 
for himself, from the so-called House of Livia, 
the house of a rich Roman family of the time of 
Augustus, and convince himself that a well-to-do 
middle-class family would hardly occupy such a 
house to-day. 

Moreover, the palaces of the Caesars on the 
Palatine are a grandiose iniin that stirs the artist 
and makes the philosopher think; but if one sets 
himself to measure them, to conjecture from 
the remains the proportions of the entire edifices, 
he does not conjure up buildings that rival 
large modem constructions. The palace of Ti- 
berius, for example, rose above a street only two 
metres wide — less than seven feet, — an alley like 
those where to-day in Italian cities live only the 
most miserable inhabitants. We have pictured 
to ourselves the imperial banquets of ancient 
Rome as functions of unheard of splendour; if 

8 "Corruption" in Ancient Rome 

Nero or Elagabalus could come to life and see the 
dining-room of a great hotel in Paris or New 
York — ^resplendent with light, with crystal, with 
silver,' — ^he would admire it as far more beautiful 
than the halls in which he gave his imperial feasts. 
Think how poor were the ancients in artificial 
light! They had few wines; they knew neither 
tea nor coffee nor cocoa ; neither tobacco, nor the 
innumerable liqueurs of which we make use; in 
face of our habits, they were always Spartan, 
even when they wasted, because they lacked the 
means to squander. 

The ancient writers often lament the universal 
tendency to physical self-indulgence, but among 
the facts they cite to prove this dismal vice, 
many would seem to us innocent enough. It was 
judged by them a scandalous proof of gluttony 
and as insensate luxury, that at a certain period 
there should be fetched from as far as the Pontus, 
certain sausages and certain salted fish that 
were, it appears, very good ; and that there should 
be introduced into Italy from Greece the delicate 
art of fattening fowls. Even to drink Greek 
wines seemed for a long time at Rome the caprice 
of an almost crazy luxury. As late as i8 B.C., 
Augustus made a sumptuary law that forbade 
spending for banquets on work-days more than 

"Corruption" in Ancient Rome 9 

two hundred sesterces (ten dollars) ; allowed three 
hundred sesterces (fifteen dollars) for the days of 
the Kalends, the Ides, and the Nones; and one 
thousand sesterces (fifty dollars) for nuptial 
banquets. It is clear, then, that the lords of the 
world banqueted in state at an expense that to 
us would seem modest indeed. And the women 
of ancient times, accused so sharply by the men 
of ruining them by their foolish extravagances, 
would cut a poor figure for elegant ostentation 
in comparison with modem dames of fashion. 
For example, silk, even in the most prosperous 
times, was considered a stuff, as we should say, 
for millionaires; only a few very rich women 
wore it; and, moreover, moralists detested it, be- 
cause it revealed too clearly the form of the body. 
LoUia Paulina passed into history because she 
possessed jewels worth several million francs : there 
are to-day too many Lollia Paulinas for any one 
of them to hope to buy immortality at so cheap 
a rate. 

I should reach the same conclusions if I could 
show you what the Roman writers really meant 
by corruption in their accounts of the relations 
between the sexes. It is not possible here to make 
critical analyses of texts and facts concerning this 
material, for reasons that you readily divine; 

lo "Corruption" in Ancient Rome 

but it would be easy to prove that also in this 
respect posterity has seen the evil much larger 
than it was. 

Why, then, did the ancient writers bewail lux- 
ury, inclination to pleasure, prodigality — things all 
comprised in the notorious "corruption" — in so 
much the livelier fashion than do modems, although 
they lived in a world which, being poorer and 
more simple, could amuse itself, make display, and 
indulge in dissipation so much less than we do? 
This is one of the chief questions of Roman history, 
and I flatter myself not to have entirely wasted 
work in writing my book ' ; above all, because I 
hope to have contributed a little, if not actually 
to solve this question, at least to illuminate it ; 
because in so doing I believe I have found a kind 
of key that opens at the same time many mysteries 
in Roman history and in contemporary life. 
The ancient writers and moralists wrote so much 
of Roman corruption, because — nearer in this, as 
in so many other things, to the vivid actuality — 
they understood that wars, revolutions, the great 
spectacular events that are accomplished in sight 
of the world, do not form all the life of peoples ; 
that these occurrences, on the contrary, are but the 

1 The Greatness and Decline of Rome, s vols. New York 
and London. 

"Corruption" in Ancient Rome n 

ultimate, exterior explanation, the external irradi- 
ation, or the final explosion of an internal force 
that is acting constantly in the family, in private 
habit, in the moral and intellectual disposition 
of the individual. They understood that all the 
changes, internal and external, in a nation, 
are bound together and in part depend on one very 
common fact, which is everlasting and universal, 
and which everybody may observe if he will but 
look about him — on the increase of wants, the 
enlargement of ideas, the shifting of habits, the 
advance of luxury, the increase of expense that 
is caused by every generation. 

Look around you to-day: in every family you 
may easily observe the same phenomenon. A man 
has been born in a certain social condition and 
has succeeded during his youth and vigour in add- 
ing to his original fortune. Little by little as 
he was growing rich, his needs and his luxuries 
increased. When a certain point was reached, he 
stopped. The men are few who can indefinitely 
augment their particular wants, or keep changing 
their habits throughout their lives, even after 
the disappearance of vigour and virile elasticity. 
The increase of wants and of luxury, the change 
of habits, continues, instead, in the new genera- 
tion, in the children, who began to live in the 

12 "Corruption" in Ancient Rome 

ease which their fathers won after long effort 
and fatigue, and in maturer age; who, in short, 
started where the previous generation left off, 
and therefore wish to gain yet new enjoyments, 
different from and greater than those that they ob- 
tained without trouble through the efforts of the 
preceding generation. It is this little common 
drama, which we see re-enacted in every family 
and in which every one of us has been and will 
be an actor — to-day as a young radical who inno- 
vates customs, to-morrow as an old conservative, 
out-of-date and malcontent in the eyes of the 
young ; a drama, petty and common, which no one 
longer regards, so frequent is it and so frivolous it 
seems, but which, instead, is one of the greatest 
motive forces in human history — in greater or less 
degree, under different forms, active in all times 
and operating everywhere. On account of it no 
generation can live quietly on the wealth gathered, 
with the ideas discovered by antecedent genera- 
tions, but is constrained to create new ideas, to 
make new and greater wealth by all the means at 
its disposal — by war and conquest, by agriculture 
and industry, by religion and science. On account 
of it, families, classes, nations, that do not succeed 
in adding to their possessions, are destined to be 
impoverished, because, wants increasing, it is neces- 

"Corruption" in Ancient Rome 13 

sary, in order to satisfy them, to consume the 
accumulated capital, to make debts, and, little by 
little, to go to ruin. Because of this ambition, 
ever reborn, classes renew themselves in every 
nation. Opulent families after a few generations 
are gradually impoverished ■ they decay and dis- 
appear, and from the multitudinous poor arise 
new families, creating the new ^lite which con- 
tinues under differing forms the doings and tradi- 
tions of the old. Because of this unrest, the 
earth is always stirred up by a fervour for deeds of 
adventure — attempts that take shape according 
to the age : now peoples make war on each other, 
now they rend themselves in revolutions, now 
they seek new lands, explore, conquer, exploit) 
again they perfect arts and industries, enlarge 
commerce, cultivate the earth with greater assi- 
duity ; and yet again, in the ages more laborious, 
like ours, they do all these things at the same 
time — an activity immense and continuous. But 
its motive force is always the need of the new 
generations, that, starting from the point at 
which their predecessors had arrived, desire to 
advance yet farther — to enjoy, to know, to 
possess yet more. 

The ancient writers understood this thoroughly : 
what they called "corruption" was but the change 

14 "Corruption" in Ancient Rome 

in customs and wants, proceeding from generation 
to generation, and in its essence the same as 
that which takes place about us to-day. The 
avaritia of which they complained so much, was 
the greed and impatience to make money that 
we see to-day setting all classes beside them- 
selves, from noble to day-labourer; the ambitio 
that appeared to the ancients to animate so 
frantically even the classes that ought to have 
been most immune, was what we call get- 
ting there- — the craze to rise at any cost to a 
condition higher than that in which one was bom, 
which so many writers, moralists, statesmen, judge, 
rightly or wrongly, to be one of the most dangerous 
maladies of the modern world. Luxuria was the 
desire to augment personal conveniences, luxuries, 
pleasures — the same passion that stirs Europe 
and America to-day from top to bottom, in city and 
country. Without doubt, wealth grew in ancient 
Rome and grows to-day ; men were bent on making 
money in the last two centuries of the Republic, 
and to-day they rush headlong into the delirious 
struggle for gold; for reasons and motives, 
however, and with arms and accoutrements, far 

As I have already said, ancient civilisation was 
narrower, poorer, and more ignorant; it did not 

" Corruption " in Ancient Rome 15 

hold under its victorious foot the whole earth; 
it did not possess the formidable instruments with 
which we exploit the forces and the resources 
of nature: but the treasures of precious metals 
transported to Italy from conquered and sub- 
jugated countries ; the lands, the mines, the forests, 
belonging to such countries, confiscated by Rome 
and given or rented to Italians; the tributes im- 
posed on the vanquished, and the collection of 
them; the abundance of slaves, — all these then 
offered to the Romans and to the Italians so many 
occasions to grow rich quickly ; just as the gigantic 
economic progress of the modem world offers 
similar opportunities to-day to all the peoples 
that, by geographical position, historical tradition, 
or vigorous culture and innate energy, know how 
to excel in industry, in agriculture, and in trade. 
Especially from the Second Punic War on, in all 
classes, there followed — anxious for a life more 
affluent and brilliant — generations the more 
incited to follow the examples that en)a,nated 
from the great metropolises of the Orient, particu- 
larly Alexandria, which was for the Romans of 
the Republic what Paris is for us to-day. This 
movement, spontaneous, regular, natural, was 
every now and then violently accelerated by the 
conquest of a great Oriental state. One observes, 

i6 "Corruption" in Ancient Rome 

after each one of the great annexations of Oriental 
lands, a more intense delirium of luxury and 
pleasure: the first time, 'after the acquisition of 
the kingdom of Pergamus, through a kind of 
contagion communicated by the sumptuous furni- 
ture of King Attalus, which was sold at auction 
and scattered among the wealthy houses of Italy 
to excite the still simple desires and the yet 
sluggish imaginations of the Italians; the second 
time, after the conquest of Pontus and of Syria, 
made by LucuUus and by Pompey; finally, the 
third time, after the conquest of Egypt mad^ 
by Augustus, when the influence of that land — 
the France of the ancient world — so actively 
invaded Italy that no social force could longer 
resist it. 

In this way, partly by natural, gradual, almost 
imperceptible diffusion, partly by violent crises, 
we see the mania for luxury and the appetite 
for pleasure beginning, growing, becoming ag- 
gravated from generation to generation in all 
Roman society, for two centuries, changing the 
mentality and morality of the people ; we see the 
institutions and public policy being altered; all 
Roman history a-making under the action of 
this force, formidable and immanent in the whole 
nation. It breaks down all obstacles confronting 

"Corruption" in Ancient Rome 17 

it — the forces of traditions, laws, institutions, 
interests of classes, opposition of parties, the 
efforts of thinking men. The historical aristocracy 
becomes impoverished and weak; before it rise 
to power the millionaires, the parvenus, the great 
capitalists, enriched in the provinces. A part 
of the nobility, after having long despised them, 
sets itself to fraternise with them, to marry 
their wealthy daughters, cause them to share 
power; seeks to prop with their millions the pre- 
eminence of its own rank, menaced by the dis- 
content, the spirit of revolt, the growing pride, 
of the middle class. Meanwhile, another part of 
the aristocracy, either too haughty and ambitious, 
or too poor, scorns this alliance, puts itself at the 
head bf the democratic party, foments in the mid- 
dle classes the spirit of antagonism against the 
nobles and the rich, leads them to the assault on 
the citadels of aristocratic and democratic power. 
Hence the mad internal struggles that redden 
Rome with blood and complicate so tragically, 
especially after the Gracchi, the external polity. 
The increasing wants of the members of all 
classes, the debts that are their inevitable conse- 
quence, the universal longing, partly unsatisfied 
for lack of means, for the pleasures of the subtle 
Asiatic civilisations, infused into this whole 

i8 "Corruption" in Ancient Rome 

history a demoniac frenzy that to-day, after so 
many centuries, fascinates and appals us. 

To satisfy their wants, to pay their debts, 
the classes now set upon each other, each to rob 
in turn the goods of the other, in the crudest 
civil war that history records; now, tired of 
doing themselves evil, they unite and precipitate 
themselves on the world outside of Italy, to 
sack the wealth that its owners do not know 
how to defend. In the great revolutions of 
Marius and Sulla, the democratic party is the in- 
strument with which a part of the debt-burdened 
middle classes seek to rehabilitate themselves 
by robbing the plutocracy and the aristocracy 
yet opulent; but Sulla reverses the situation, 
makes a coalition of aristocrats and the miserable 
of the populace, and re-establishes the fortunes 
of the nobility, despoiling the wealthy knights 
and a part of the middle classes — ^a terrible civil 
war that leaves in Italy a hate, a despondency, 
a distress, that seem at a certain moment as if 
they must weigh eternally on the spirit of the 
unhappy nation. When, lo! there appears the 
strongest man in the history of Rome, LucuUus, 
and drags Italy out of the despondency in which 
it crouched, leads it into the ways of the world, 
and persuades it that the best means of forgetting 

"Corruption " in Ancient Rome 19 

the losses and ruin undergone in the civil wars, 
is to recuperate on the riches of the cowardly 
Orientals. As little by little the treasures of 
Mithridates, conquered by LucuUus in the Orient, 
arrive in Italy, Italy begins anew to divert itself, to 
construct palaces and villas, to squander in luxury. 
Pompey, envious of the glory of Lucullus, follows 
his example, conquers Syria, sends new treasures 
to Italy, carries from the East the jewels of 
Mithridates, and displaying them in the temple 
of Jove, rouses a passion for gems in the Roman 
women; he also builds the first great stone theatre 
to rise in Rome. AU the political men in Rome 
try to make money out of foreign countries : those 
who cannot, like the great, conquer an empire, 
confine themselves to blackmailing the countries 
and petty states that tremble before the shadow of 
Rome; the courts of the secondary kings of the 
Orient, the court of the Ptolemies at Alexandria, 
— all are invaded by a horde of insatiable senators 
and knights, who, menacing and promising, extort 
money to spend in Italy and foment the grow- 
ing extravagance. The debts pile up, the political 
corruption overflows, scandals follow, the parties 
in Rome rend each other madly, though hail- 
fellow-well-met in the provinces to plunder sub- 
jects and vassals. In the midst of this vast 

20 "Corruption" in Ancient Rome 

disorder Ceesar, the man of destiny, rises, and 
with varying fortune makes a way for himself 
until he beckons Italy to follow him, to find 
success and treasures in regions new — not in the 
rich and fabulous East, but beyond the Alps, 
in barbarous Gatd, bristling with fighters and 

But this insane effort to prey on every part 
of the Empire finally tires Italy; quarrels over 
the division of spoils embitter friends; the im- 
mensity of the conquests, made in a few years of 
reckless enthusiasm, is alarming. Finally a new 
civil war breaks out, terrible and interminable, 
in which classes and families fall upon each other 
anew, to tear away in turn the spoils taken 
together abroad. Out of the tremendous dis- 
cord rises at last the pacifier, Augustus, who 
is able gradually, by cleverness and infinite 
patience, to re-establish peace and order in the 
troubled empire. How? — why? Because the 
combination of events of the times allows him 
to use to ends of peace the same forces with 
which the preceding generations had fomented 
so much disorder' — desires for ease, pleasure, 
culture, wealth growing with the generations 
making it. Thereupon begins in the whole Em- 
pire universal progress in agriculture, industry, 

"Corruption" in Ancient Rome 21 

trade, which, on a small scale, may be compared 
to what we to-day witness and share; a progress 
for which, then as now, the chief condition was 
peace. As soon as men realised that peace gives 
that greater wealth, those enjoyments more refined, 
that higher culture, which for a century they had 
sought by war, Italy became quiet ; revolutionists 
became guardians and guards of order; there 
gathered about Augustus a coalition of social 
forces that tended to impose on the Empire, 
alike on the parts that wished it and those that 
did not, the Pax Romana. 

Now all this immense story that fills three cen- 
turies, that gathers within itself so many revolu- 
tions, so many legislative reforms, so many great 
men, so many events, tragic and glorious, this 
vast history that for so many centuries holds 
the interest of all cultured nations, and that, 
considered as a whole, seems almost a prodigy, 
you can, on the track of the old idea of "corrup- 
tion," explain in its profoundest origins by one 
small fact, universal, common, of the very simplest 
— something that every one may observe in the 
limited circle of his own personal experience, — 
by that automatic increase of ambitions and de- 
sires, with every new generation, which prevents 
the human world from crystallising in one form, 

2 2 "Corruption" in Ancient Rome 

constrains it to continual changes in material 
make-up as well as in ideals and moral appearance. 
In other words, every new generation must, in 
order to satisfy that part of its aspirations which 
is peculiarly and entirely its own, alter, whether 
little or much, in one way or another, the condition 
of the world it entered at birth. We can then, in 
our personal experiences every day, verify the 
universal law of history — a law that can act with 
greater or less intensity, more or less rapidity, 
according to times and places, but that ceases to 
authenticate itself at no time and in no place. 

The United States is subject to that law to-day, 
as is old Europe, as will be future generations, 
and as past ages were. Moreover, to understand 
at bottom this phenomenon, which appears to me 
to be the soul of all history, it is well to add this 
consideration : It is evident that there is a capital 
difference between our judgment of this phenome- 
non and that of the ancients; to them it was a 
malevolent force of dissolution to which should 
be attributed all in Roman history that was 
sinister and dreadful, a sure sign of incurable 
decay i that is why they called it "corruption of 
customs," and so lamented it. To-day, on the 
contrary, it appears to us a universal beneficent 
process of transformation; so true is this that we 

"Corruption" in Ancient Rome 23 

call "progress" many facts which the ancients 
attributed to "corruption." It were useless to 
expand too much in examples; enough to cite 
a few. In the third ode of the first book, in 
which he so tenderly salutes the departing Virgil, 
Horace covers with invective, as an evil-doer 
and the corrupter of the human race, that im- 
pious being who invented the ship, which causes 
man, created for the land, to walk across waters. 
Who would to-day dare repeat those maledictions 
against the bold builders who construct the 
magnificent trans-Atlantic liners on which, in a 
dozen days from Genoa, one lands in Boston or 
New York? "Coelum ipsum petimus stultitia," 
exclaims Horace — that is to say, in anticipation 
he considered the Wright brothers crazy. 

Who, save some man of erudition, has know- 
ledge to-day of sumptuary laws ? We should laugh 
them all down with one Homeric guflaw, if to-day 
it entered somebody's head to propose a law that 
forbade fair ladies to spend more than a certain 
sum on their clothes, or numbered the hats they 
might wear ; or that regulated dinners of ceremony, 
fixing the number of courses, the variety of wines, 
and the total expense ; or that prohibited labouring 
men and women from wearing certain stuffs or 
certain objects that were wont to be found only 

24 " Corruption " in Ancient Rome 

upon the persons of people of wealth and leisure. 
And yet laws of this tenor were compiled, pub- 
lished, observed, up to two centuries ago, without 
any one's finding it absurd. The historic force 
that, as riches increase, impels the new generations 
to desire new satisfactions, new pleasures, operated 
then as to-day; only then men were inclined to 
consider it as a new kind of ominous disease that 
needed checking. To-day men regard that con- 
stant transformation either as beneficent, or at 
least as such a matter of course that almost no 
one heeds it ; just as no one notices the alternations 
of day and night, or the change of seasons. On 
the contrary, we have little by little become 
so confident of the goodness of this force that 
drives the coming generation on into the unknown 
future, that society, European, American, among 
other liberties has won in the nineteenth century, 
full and entire, a liberty that the ancients did not 
know — freedom in vice. 

To the Romans it appeared most natural that 
the state should survey private habits, should 
spy out what a citizen, particularly a citizen be- 
longing to the ruling classes, did within domestic 
walls — should see whether he became intoxicated, 
whether he were a gourmand, whether he con- 
tracted debts, spending much or little, whether he 

"Corruption" in Ancient Rome 25 

betrayed his wife. The age of Augustus was cul- 
tured, civilised, liberal, and in many things re- 
sembled our own; yet on this point the dominating 
ideas were so different from ours, that at one time 
Augustus was forced by public opinion to propose 
a law on adultery by which all Roman citizens of 
both sexes guilty of this crime were condemned to 
exile and the confiscation of half their substance, 
and there was given to any citizen the right to 
accuse the guilty. Could you imagine it possible 
to-day, even for a few weeks, to establish this 
regime of terror in the kingdom of Amor? But 
the ancients were always inclined to consider as 
exceedingly dangerous for the upper classes that 
relaxing of customs which always follows periods 
of rapid enrichment, of great gain in comforts; 
behind his own walls to-day, every one is free to 
indulge himself as he will, to the confines of crime. 
How can we explain this important difference 
in judging one of the essential phenomena of 
historic life? Has this phenomenon changed na- 
ture, and from bad, by some miracle, become 
good? Or are we wiser than our forefathers, 
judging with experience what they could hardly 
comprehend? There is no doubt that the Latin 
writers, particularly Horace and Livy, were so 
severe in condemning this progressive movement 

26 "Corruption" in Ancient Rome 

of wants because of unconscious political solici- 
tude, because intellectual men expressed the 
opinions, sentiments, and also the prejudices of 
historic aristocracy, and this detested the pro- 
gress of ambitio, avaritia, luxuria, because they 
undermined the dominance of its class. On the 
other hand, it is certain that in the modern world 
every increase of consumption, every waste, every 
vice, seems permissible, indeed almost meritorious, 
because men of industry and trade, the employees 
in industries— that is, all the people that gain by 
the diffusion of luxuries, by the spread of vices or 
new wants — ^have acquired, thanks above all to 
democratic institutions, and to the progress of 
cities, an immense political power that in times 
past they lacked. If, for example, in Europe the 
beer-makers and distillers of alcohol were not 
more powerful in the electoral field than the 
philosophers and academicians, governments 
would more easily recognise that the masses 
should not be allowed to poison themselves or 
future generations by chronic drunkenness. 

Between these two extremes of exaggeration, 
inspired by a self-interest easy to discover, is 
there not a true middle way that we can deduce 
from the study of Roman history and from the 
observation of contemporary life? 

"Corruption" in Ancient Rome 27 

In the pessimism with which the ancients 
regarded progress as corruption, there was a 
basis of truth, just as there is a principle of error 
in the too serene optimism with which we con- 
sider corruption as progress. This force that 
pushes the new generations on to the future, at 
once creates and destroys ; its destructive energy 
is specially felt in ages Hke Csesar's in ancient 
Rome and ours in the modern world, in which facil- 
ity in the accumulation of wealth over-excites 
desires and ambitions in all classes. They are the 
times in which personal egoism — what to-day we 
call individualism — usurps a place above all that 
represents in society the interest of the species: 
national duty, the self-abnegation of each for the 
sake of the common good. Then these vices and 
defects become always more common: intellectual 
agitation, the weakening of the spirit of tradition, 
the general relaxation of discipline, the loss of 
authority, ethical confusion and disorder. At the 
same time that certain moral sentiments refine 
themselves, certain individualisms grow fiercer. 
The government may no longer represent the 
ideas, the aspirations, the energetic will of a 
small ohgarchy ; it must make itself more yielding 
and gracious at the same time that it is becoming 
more contradictory and discordant. Family 

2 8 " Corruption " in Ancient Rome 

discipline is relaxed ; the new generations shake off 
early the influence of the past; the sentiment of 
honour and the rigour of moral, religious, and po- 
litical principles are weakened by a spirit of utility 
and expediency by which, more or less openly, 
confessing it or dissimulating, men always seek 
to do, not that which is right and decorous, but 
that which is utilitarian. The civic spirit tends 
to die out; the number of persons capable of 
suffering, or even of working, disinterestedly for 
the common good, for the future, diminishes; 
children are not wanted; men prefer to live in 
accord with those in power, ignoring their vices, 
rather than openly opposing them. Public events 
do not interest unless they include a personal 

This is the state of mind that is now diffusing 
itself throughout Europe; the same state of mind 
that, with the documents at hand, I have found 
in the age of Caesar and Augustus, and seen 
progressively diffusing itself throughout ancient 
Italy. The likeness is so great that we re-find 
in those far-away times, especially in the upper 
classes, exactly that restless condition that 
we define by the word "nervousness." Horace 
speaks of this state of mind, which we consider 
peculiar to ourselves, and describes it, by felicitous 

"Corruption" in Ancient Rome 29 

image, as strenua inertia — strenuous inertia, — 
agitation vain and ineffective, always wanting 
something new, but not really knowing what, 
desiring most ardently yet speedily tiring of a 
desire gratified. Now it is clear that if these vices 
spread too much, if they are not complemented 
by an increase of material resources, of know- 
ledge, of sufficient population, they can lead a 
nation rapidly to ruin. We do not feel very 
keenly the fear of this danger — the European- 
American civilisation is so rich, has at its disposal 
so much knowledge, so many men, so many instru- 
mentalities, has cut off for itself such a measureless 
part of the globe, that it can afford to look un- 
afraid into the future. The abyss is so far away 
that only a few philosophers barely descry it in 
the gray mist of distant years. But the ancient 
world — so much poorer, smaller, weaker — felt 
that it could not squander as we do, and saw the 
abyss near at hand. 

To-day men and women waste fabulous wealth 
in luxury ; that is, they spend not to satisfy some 
reasonable need, but to show to others of their 
kind how rich they are, or, further, to make 
others believe them richer than they are. If 
these resources were everywhere saved as they 
are in France, the progress of the world would be 

3° "Corruption" in Ancient Rome 

quicker, and the new countries would more 
easily find in Europe and in themselves the capital 
necessary for their development. At all events, 
our age develops fast, and notwithstanding all 
this waste, abounds in a plenty that is enough 
to keep men from fearing the growth of this 
wanton luxury and from planning to restrain it 
by laws. In the ancient world, on the other 
hand, the wealthy classes and the state had only 
to abandon themselves a little too much to the 
prodigality that for us has become almost a 
regular thing, when suddenly means were wanting 
to meet the most essential needs of social life. 
Tacitus has summarised an interesting discourse 
of Tiberius, in which the famous emperor cen- 
sures the ladies of Rome in terms cold, incisive, 
and succinct, because they spend too much money 
on pearls and diamonds. "Our money," said 
Tiberius, "goes away to India and we are in 
want of the precious metals to carry on the mili- 
tary administration; we have to give up the 
defence of the frontiers." According to the 
opinion of an administrator so sagacious and a 
general so valiant as Tiberius, in the richest 
period of the Roman Empire, a lady of Rome 
could not buy pearls and diamonds without 
directly weakening the defence of the frontiers. 

" Corruption " in Ancient Rome 31 

Indulgence in the luxury of jewels looked almost 
like high treason. 

Similar observations might be made on another 
grave question — the increase of population. One 
of the most serious effects of individualism that 
accompanies the increase of civilisation and 
wealth, is the decrease of the birth-rate. France, 
which knows how to temper its luxury, which 
gives to other peoples an example of saving means 
for the future, has on the other hand given the 
example of egoism in the family, lowering the 
birth-rate. England, for a long time so fecund, 
seems to follow France. The more uniformly 
settled and well-to-do parts of the North American 
Union, the Eastern States and New England, are 
even more sterile than France. However, no one 
of these nations suffers to-day from the small 
increase of population; there are yet so many 
poor and fecund peoples that they can easily fill 
the gaps. In the ancient world this was not the 
case; population was always and everywhere so 
scanty that if for some reason it diminished but 
shghtly, the states could not get on, finding them- 
selves at the mercy of what they called a "famine 
of men, " a malady more serious and troublesome 
than over-population. In the Roman Empire 
the Occidental provinces finally fell into the hands 

32 "Corruption" in Ancient Rome 

of the barbarians, chiefly because the Grsco- 
Latin civilisation sterilised the family, reducing 
the population incurably. No wonder that the 
ancients applied the term "corruption" to a 
momentum of desires which, although increasing 
culture and the refinements of living, easily 
menaced the sources of the nation's physical 

There is, then, a more general conclusion to 
draw from this experience. It is not by chance, 
nor the unaccountable caprice of a few ancient 
writers, that we possess so many small facts on 
the development of luxury and the transformation 
of customs in ancient Rome; that, for example, 
among the records of great wars, of diplomatic 
missions, of catastrophes political and economic, 
we find given the date when the art of fattening 
fowls was imported into Italy. The little facts 
are not so unworthy of the majesty of Roman 
history as one at first might think. Everything 
is bound together in the life of a nation, and 
nothing without importance; the humblest acts, 
most personal and deepest hidden in the penetralia 
of the home, that no one sees, none knows, have 
an effect, immediate or remote, on the common 
Hfe of the nation. There is, between these small, 
insignificant facts and the wars, the revolutions, 

"Corruption" in Ancient Rome 33 

the tremendous political and social events that 
bewilder men, a tie, often invisible to most peo- 
ple, yet nevertheless indestructible. 

Nothing in the world is without import: what 
women spend for their toilet, the resistance that 
men make from day to day to the temptations 
of the commonest pleasures, the new and petty 
needs that insinuate themselves unconsciously 
into the habits of all; the reading, the conversa- 
tions, the impressions, even the most fugacious 
that pass in our spirit — all these things, little and 
innumerable, that no historian registers, have 
contributed to produce this revolution, that war, 
this catastrophe, that political overturn, which 
men wonder at and study as a prodigy. 

The causes of how many apparently mysterious 
historical events would be more clearly and pro- 
foundly known, of how many periods would the 
spirit be better understood, did we only possess 
the private records of the families that make up 
the ruling classes! Every deed we do in the 
intimacy of the home reacts on the whole of our 
environment. With our every act we assume a 
responsibihty toward the nation and posterity, the 
sanction for which, near or far away, is in events. 
This justifies, at least in part, the ancient concep- 
tion by which the state had the right to exercise 

34 "Corruption" in Ancient Rome 

vigilance over its citizens, their private acts, 
customs, pleasures, vices, caprices. This vigi- 
lance, the laws that regulated it, the moral and 
political teachings that brought pressure to bear 
in the exercise of these laws, tended above all to 
charge upon the individual man the social re- 
sponsibility of his single acts; to remind him that 
in the things most personal, aside from the in- 
dividual pain or pleasure, there was an interest, 
a good or an evil, in common. 

Modern men — and it is a revolution greater 
than that finished in political form in the nine- 
teenth century — have been freed from these 
bonds, from these obligations. Indeed, modem 
civilisation has made it a duty for each one to 
spend, to enjoy, to waste as much as he can, with- 
out any disturbing thought as to the ultimate 
consequences of what he does. The world is so 
rich, population grows so rapidly, civilisation is 
armed with so much knowledge in its struggle 
against the barbarian and against nature, that 
to-day we are able to laugh at the timid pru- 
dence of our forefathers, who had, as it were, a 
fear of wealth, of pleasure, of love; we can 
boast in the pride of triumph that we are the 
first who dare in the midst of a conquered 
world, to enjoy — enjoy without scruple, with- 

"Corruption" in Ancient Rome 35 

out restriction — all the good things life offers to 
the strong. 

But who knows? Perhaps this felicitous mo- 
ment will not last forever; perhaps one day will 
see men, grown more numerous, feel the need of 
the ancient wisdom and prudence. It is at least 
permitted the philosopher and the historian to ask 
if this magnificent but unbridled freedom which 
we enjoy suits all times, and not only those in 
which nations coming into being can find a 
small dower in their cradle as you have done — 
three millions of square miles of land! 

The History and Legend of 
Antony and Cleopatra 


TN the history of Rome figures of women are 
rare, because only men dominated there, im- 
posing everywhere the brute force, the roughness, 
and the egoism that lie at the base of their nature : 
they honoured the mater familias because she 
bore children and kept the slaves from steaHng 
the flour from the bin and drinking the wine from 
the amphore on the sly. They despised the woman 
who made of her beauty and vivacity an adorn- 
ment of social life, a prize sought after and dis- 
puted by the men. However, in this virile history 
there does appear, on a sudden, the figure of a 
woman, strange and wonderful, a kind of living 
Venus. Plutarch thus describes the arrival of 
Cleopatra at Tarsus and her first meeting with 
Antony : 

She was sailing tranquilly along the Cydnus, on 
a bark with a golden stem, with sails of purple and 
oars of silver, and the dip of the oars was rythmed 
to the sound of flutes, blending with music of lyres. 
She herself, the Queen, wondrously clad as Venus 
is pictured, was lying under an awning gold embroid- 


40 Antony and Cleopatra 

ered. Boys dressed as Cupids stood at her side, gently- 
waving fans to refresh her; her maidens, every one 
beautiful and clad as a Naiad or a Grace, directed 
the boat, some at the rudder, others at the ropes. 
Both banks of the stream were sweet with the per- 
fumes burning on the vessel. 

Posterity is yet dazzled by this ship, refulgent 
with purple and gold and melodious with flutes 
and lyres. If we are spellbound by Plutarch's 
description, it does not seem strange to us that 
Antony should be — ^he who could not only be- 
hold in person that wonderful Venus, but could 
dine with her tHe-h-tHe, in a splendour of torches 
indescribable. Surely this is a setting in no wise 
improbable for the beginning of the famous 
romance of the love of Antony and Cleopatra, 
and its development as probable as its beginning ; 
the follies committed by Antony for the seduc- 
tive Queen of the Orient, the divorce of Octavia, 
the war for love of Cleopatra, kindled in the 
whole Empire, and the miserable catastrophe. 
Are there not to be seen in recent centuries many 
men of power putting their greatness to risk and 
sometimes to ruin for love of a woman? Are not 
the love letters of great statesmen — for instance, 
those of Mirabeau and of Gambetta — admitted 
to the semi-official part of modern history-writing? 

Antony and Cleopatra 41 

And so also Antony could love a queen and, like 
so many modem statesmen, commit follies for 
her. A French critic of my book, burning his 
ships behind him, has said that Antony was a 
Roman Boulanger. 

The romance pleases: art takes it as subject 
and re-takes it; but that does not keep off the 
brutal hands of criticism. Before all, it should 
be observed that moderns feel and interpret the 
romance of Antony and Cleopatra in a way very- 
different from that of the ancients. From Shake- 
speare to De Heredia and Henri Houssaye, artists 
and historians have described with sympathy, 
even almost idealised, this passion that throws 
away in a lightning flash every human greatness, 
to pursue the mantle of a fleeing woman; they 
find in the foUies of Antony something profoundly 
human that moves them, fascinates them, and 
makes them indulgent. To the ancients, on the 
contrary, the amours of Antony and Cleopatra 
were but a dishonourable degeneration of the 
passion. They have no excuse for the man whom 
love for a woman impelled to desert in battle, to 
abandon soldiers, friends, relatives, to conspire 
against the greatness of Rome. 

This very same difference of interpretation 
recurs in the history of the amours of Caesar. 

42 Antony and Cleopatra 

Modem writers regard what the ancients tell us 
of the numerous loves — ^real or imaginary — of 
Caesar, as almost a new laurel with which to 
decorate his figure. On the contrary, the ancients 
recounted and spread abroad, and perhaps in part 
invented, these storiettes of gallantry for quite 
opposite reasons- — as source of dishonour, to dis- 
credit him, to demonstrate that Cffisar was ef- 
feminate, that he could not give guarantee of 
knowing how to lead the armies and to fulfil the 
virile and arduous duties that awaited every emi- 
nent Roman. There is in our way of thinking 
a vein of romanticism wanting in the ancient 
mind. We see in love a certain forgetfulness of 
ourselves, a certain blindness of egoism and the 
more material passions, a kind of power of self- 
abnegation, which, inasmuch as it is unconscious, 
confers a certain nobility and dignity; therefore 
we are indulgent to mistakes and follies committed 
for the sake of passion, while the ancients were 
very severe . We pardon with a certain compassion 
the man who for love of a woman has not 
hesitated to bury himself under the ruin of his 
own greatness ; the ancients, on the contrary, con- 
sidered him the most dangerous and despicable 
of the insane. 
Criticism has not contented itself with re-giving 

Antony and Cleopatra 43 

to the ancient romance the significance it had for 
those that made it and the public that first read 
it. Archaeologists have discovered upon coins 
portraits of Cleopatra, and now critics have con- 
fronted these portraits with the poetic descriptions 
given by Roman historians and have found the 
descriptions generously fanciful: in the portraits 
we do not see the countenance of a Venus, delicate, 
gracious, smiling, nor even the fine and sensuous 
beauty of a Marquise de Pompadour, but a face 
fleshy and, as the French would say, bouffie; the 
nose, a powerful aquiline; the face of a woman 
on in years, ambitious, imperious, one which re- 
calls that of Maria Theresa. It will be said that 
judgments as to beauty are personal ; that Antony, 
who saw her alive, could decide better than we 
who see her portraits half effaced by the centuries ; 
that the attractive power of a woman emanates 
not only from corporal beauty, but also — and yet 
more — from her spirit. The taste of Cleopatra, 
her vivacity, her cleverness, her exquisite art in 
conversation, is vaunted by all. 

Perhaps, however, Cleopatra, beautiful or ugly, 
is of little consequence; when one studies the 
history of her relations with Antony, there is 
small place, and that but toward the end, for the 
passion of love. It will be easy to persuade you 

44 Antony and Cleopatra 

of this if you follow the simple chronological ex- 
position of facts I shall give you. Antony makes 
the acquaintance of Cleopatra at Tarsus toward 
the end of 41 B.C., passes the winter of 41-40 
with her at Alexandria; leaves her in the spring 
of 40 and stays away from her more than three 
years, till the autumn of 37. There is no proof 
that during this time Antony sighed for the Queen 
of Egypt as a lover far away; on the contrary, 
he attends, with alacrity worthy of praise, to pre- 
paring the conquest of Persia, to putting into 
execution the great design conceived by Csesar, 
the plan of war that Antony had come upon among 
the papers of the Dictator the evening of the 
fifteenth of March, 44 B.C. All order social 
and political, the army, the state, public finance, 
wealth private and public, is going to pieces 
around him. The triumvirate power, built up on 
the uncertain foundation of these ruins, is totter- 
ing; Antony realises that only a great external 
success can give to him and his party the author- 
ity and the money necessary to establish a solid 
government, and resolves to enter into possession 
of the political legacy of his teacher and patron, 
taking up its central idea, the conquest of Persia. 
The difficulties are grave. Soldiers are not 
wanting, but money. The revolution has ruined 

Antony and Cleopatra 45 

the Empire and Italy ; all the reserve funds have 
been dissipated; the finances of the state are in 
such straits that not even the soldiers can be paid 
punctually and the legions every now and then 
claim their dues by revolt. Antony is not dis- 
couraged. The historians, however antagonistic 
to him, describe him as exceedingly busy in those 
four years, extracting from all parts of the Em- 
pire that bit of money still in circulation. Then 
at one stroke, in the second half of 37, when, 
preparations finished, it is time to put hand to 
the execution, the ancient historians without in 
any way explaining to us this sudden act, most 
unforeseen, make him depart for Antioch to meet 
Cleopatra, who has been invited by him to join 
him. For what reason does Antony after three 
years, aU of a sudden, re-join Cleopatra? The 
secret of the story of Antony and Cleopatra lies 
entirely in this question. 

Plutarch says that Antony went to Antioch 
borne by the fiery and untamed courser of his 
own spirit; in other words, because passion was 
already beginning to make him lose common 
sense. Not finding other explanations in the 
ancient writers, posterity has accepted this, which 
was simple enough; but about a century ago an 
erudite Frenchman, Letronne, studying certain 

46 Antony and Cleopatra 

coins, and comparing witli them certain pas- 
sages in ancient historians, until then remaining 
obscure, was able to demonstrate that in 36 B.C., 
at Antioch, Antony married Cleopatra with all 
the dynastic ceremonies of Egypt, and that there- 
upon Antony became King of Egypt, although he 
did not dare assume the title. 

The explanation of Letronne, which is founded 
on ofi&cial documents and coins, is without doubt 
more dependable than that of Plutarch, which 
is reducible to an imaginative metaphor; and 
the discovery of Letronne, concluding that con- 
catenation of facts that I have set forth, finally 
persuades me to affirm that not a passion of love, 
suddenly re-awakened, led Antony in the second 
half of 37 B.C. to Antioch to meet the Queen of 
Egypt, but a political scheme well thought out. 
Antony wanted Egypt and not the beautiful 
person of its queen; he meant by this dynastic 
marriage to establish the Roman protectorate in 
the valley of the Nile, and to be able to dispose, 
for the Persian campaign, of the treasures of the 
Kingdom of the Ptolemies. At that time, after 
the plunderings of other regions of the Orient by 
the politicians of Rome, there was but one state 
rich in reserves of precious metals, Egypt. Since, 
little by little, the economic crisis of the Roman 

Antony and Cleopatra 47 

Empire was aggravating, the Roman polity had 
to gravitate perforce toward Egypt, as toward 
the country capable of providing Rome with the 
capital necessary to continue its policy in every 
part of the Empire. 

Qesar already understood this; his mysterious 
and obscure connection with Cleopatra had cer- 
tainly for ultimate motive and reason this political 
necessity; and Antony, in marrying Cleopatra, 
probably only applied more or less shrewdly the 
ideas that Caesar had originated in the refulgent 
crepuscle of his tempestuous career. You will 
ask me why Antony, if he had need of the valley 
of the Nile, recurred to this strange expedient 
of a marriage, instead of conquering the kingdom, 
and why Cleopatra bemeaned herself to marry 
the triumvir. The reply is not difficult to him 
who knows the history of Rome. There was a 
long-standing tradition in Roman poUcy to ex- 
ploit Egypt but to respect its independence; it 
may be, because the country was considered 
more difficult to govern than in truth it was, or 
because there existed for this most ancient land, 
the seat of all the most refined arts, the most 
learned schools, the choicest industries, exceed- 
ingly rich and highly civilised, a regard that 
somewhat resembles what France imposes on 

48 Antony and Cleopatra 

the world to-day. Finally, it may be because it 
was held that if Egypt were annexed, its influ- 
ence on Italy would be too much in the ascend- 
ent, and the traditions of the old Roman life 
would be conclusively overwhelmed by the inva- 
sion of the customs, the ideas, the refinements — 
in a word, by the corruptions of Egypt. Antony, 
who was set in the idea of repeating in Persia the 
adventure of Alexander the Great, did not dare 
bring about an annexation which would have 
been severely judged in Italy and which he, like 
the others, thought more dangerous than in reality 
it was. On the other hand, with a dynastic mar- 
riage, he was able to secure for himself all the 
advantages of effective possession, without run- 
ning the risks of annexation ; so he resolved upon 
this artifice, which, I repeat, had probably been 
imagined by Cffisar. As to Cleopatra, her gov- 
ernment was menaced by a strong internal op- 
position, the causes for which are ill known; 
marrying Antony, she gathered about her throne, 
to protect it, formidable guards, the Roman 

To sum up, the romance of Antony and Cleo- 
patra covers, at least in its beginnings, a political 
treaty. With the marriage, Cleopatra seeks to 
steady her wavering power ; Antony, to place the 

Antony and Cleopatra 49 

valley of the Nile under the Roman protectorate. 
How then was the famous romance bom? The 
actual history of Antony and Cleopatra is one 
of the most tragic episodes of a struggle that lace- 
rated the Roman Empire for four centuries, until 
it finally destroyed it, the struggle between Orient 
and Occident. ' During the age of Csesar, little 
by little, without any one's realising it at first, 
there arose and fulfilled itself a fact of the gravest 
importance; that is, the eastern part of the Em- 
pire had grown out of proportion: first, from the 
conquest of the Pontus, made by LucuUus, who 
had added immense territory in Asia Minor; then 
by Pompey's conquest of Syria, and the protec- 
torate extended by him over all Palestine and a 
considerable part of Arabia. These new districts 
were not only enormous in extension; they were 
also populous, wealthy, fertile, celebrated for 
ancient culture; they held the busiest industrial 
cities, the best cultivated regions of the ancient 
world, the most famous seats of arts, letters, 
science, therefore their annexation, made rapidly 
in few years, could but trouble the already un- 
stable equilibrium of the Empire. Italy was then, 
compared with these provinces, a poor and bar- 
barous land; because southern Italy was ruined 
by the wars of preceding epochs, and northern 

so Antony and Cleopatra 

Italy, naturally the wealthier part, was still crude 
and in the beginning of its development. The 
other western provinces nearer Italy were poorer 
and less civilised than Italy, except Gallia Nar- 
bonensis and certain parts of southern Spain. 
So that Rome, the capital of the Empire, came to 
find itself far from the richest and most populous 
regions, among territories poor and despoiled, 
on the frontiers of barbarism — in such a situation 
as the Russian Empire might find itself to-day if 
it had its capital at Vladivostok or Kharbin. You 
know that during the last years of the life of Caesar 
it was rumoured several times that the Dictator 
wished to remove the capital of the Empire; it 
was said, to Alexandria in Egypt, to Ilium in 
the district where Troy arose. It is impossible 
to judge whether these reports were true or merely 
invented by enemies of Caesar to damage him; 
at any rate, true or false, they show that public 
opinion was beginning to concern itself with the 
"Eastern peril"; that is, with the danger that 
the seat of empire must be shifted toward the 
Orient and the too ample Asiatic and African 
territory, and that Italy be one day uncrowned 
of her metropolitan predominance, conquered 
by so many wars. Such hear-says must have 
seemed, even if not true, the more likely, because, 

Antony and Cleopatra 51 

in his last two years, Caesar planned the conquest 
of Persia. Now the natural basis of operations 
for the conquest of Persia was to be found, not 
in Italy, but in Asia Minor, and if Persia had been 
conquered, it would not have been possible to 
govern in Rome an empire so immeasurably en- 
larged in the Orient. Everything therefore in- 
duces to the belief that this question was at least 
discussed in the coterie of the friends of Cassar; 
and it was a serious question, because in it the 
traditions, the aspirations, the interests of Italy 
were in irreconcilable conflict with a supreme 
necessity of state which one day or other would 
impose itself, if some unforeseen event did not 
intervene to solve it. 

In the light of these considerations, the con- 
duct of Antony becomes very clear. The marriage 
at Antioch, by which he places Egypt under the 
Roman protectorate, is the decisive act of a 
policy that looks to transporting the centre of 
his government toward the Orient, to be able to 
accomplish more securely the conquest of Persia. 
Antony, the heir of Caesar, the man who held 
the papers of the Dictator, who knew his hidden 
thoughts, who wished to complete the plans cut 
off by his death, proposes to conquer Persia; to 
conquer Persia, he must rely on the Oriental 

52 Antony and Cleopatra 

provinces that were the natural basis of opera- 
tions for the great enterprise ; among these, Antony 
must support himself above all on Egypt, the 
richest and most civilised and most able to supply 
him with the necessary funds, of which he was 
quite in want. Therefore he married the Cleopa- 
tra whom, it was said at Rome, Caesar himself 
had wished to marry — ^with whom, at any rate, 
Cffisar had much dallied and intrigued. Does 
not this juxtaposition of facts seem luminous to 
you? In 36 B.C., Antony marries Cleopatra, 
as a few years before he had married Octavia, 
the sister of the future Augustus, for political 
reasons — ^in order to be able to dispose of the 
political subsidies and finances of Egypt, for the 
conquest of Persia. The conquest of Persia is 
the ultimate motive of all his policy, the supreme 
explanation of his every act. 

However, little by little, this move, made on 
both sides from considerations of political interest, 
altered its character under the action of events, 
of time, through the personal influence of Antony 
and Cleopatra upon each other, and above all, 
the power that Cleopatra acquired over Antony: 
here is truly the most important part of all this 
story. Those who have read my history know 
that I have recounted hardly any of the anecdotes, 

Antony and Cleopatra 53 

more or less odd or entertaining, with which an- 
cient writers describe the intimate life of Antony 
and Cleopatra, because it is impossible to dis- 
criminate in them the part that is fact from that 
which was invented or exaggerated by political 
enmity. In history the difficulty of recognising 
the truth gradually increases as one passes from 
political to private life; because in politics the 
acts of men and of parties are always bound to- 
gether by either causes or effects of which a certain 
number is always exactly known ; private life, on 
the other hand, is, as it were, isolated and secret, 
almost invariably impenetrable. What a great 
man of state does in his own house, his valet knows 
better than the historians of later times. 

If for these reasons I have thought it prudent 
not to accept in my work the stories and anecdotes 
that the ancients recount of Antony and Cleo- 
patra, without indeed risking to declare them 
false, it is, on the contrary, not possible to deny 
that Cleopatra gradually acquired great ascen- 
dency over the mind of Antony. The circum- 
stance is of itself highly probable. That Cleo- 
patra was perhaps a Venus, as the ancients say, 
or that she was provided with but a mediocre 
beauty, as declare the portraits, matters little: 
it is, however, certain that she was a woman of 

54 Antony and Cleopatra 

great cleverness and culture ; as woman and queen 
of the richest and most civilised realm of the 
ancient world, she was mistress of all those arts 
of pleasure, of luxury, of elegance, that are the 
most delicate and intoxicating fruit of all ma- 
ture civilisations. Cleopatra might refigure, in 
the ancient world, the wealthiest, most elegant, 
and cultured Parisian lady in the world of 

Antony, on the other hand, was the descendant 
of a family of that Roman nobility which still 
preserved much rustic roughness in tastes, ideas, 
habits; he grew up in times in which the children 
were still given Spartan training; he came to 
Egypt from a nation which, notwithstanding its 
military and diplomatic triumphs, could be con- 
sidered, compared with Egypt, only poor, rude, 
and barbarous. Upon this intelligent man, eager 
for enjoyment, who had, like other noble Romans, 
already begun to taste the charms of intellectual 
civilisation, it was not Cleopatra alone that made 
the keenest of impressions, but all Egypt, the 
wonderful city of Alexandria, the sumptuous 
palace of the Ptolemies — all that refined, elegant 
splendour of which he found himself at one stroke 
the master. What was there at Rome to com- 
pare with Alexandria? — Rome, in spite of its 

Antony and Cleopatra 55 

imperial power, abandoned to a fearful disorder 
by the disregard of factions, encumbered with 
ruin, its streets narrow and wretched, provided 
as yet with but a single forum, narrow and plain, 
the sole impressive monument of which was the 
theatre of Pompey ; Rome, where the life was yet 
crude, and objects of luxury so rare that they 
had to be brought from the distant Orient? At 
Alexandria, instead, the Paris of the ancient world, 
were to be found all the best and most beautiful 
things of the earth. There was a sumptuosity 
of public edifices that the ancients never tire of 
extolling — ^the quay seven stadia long, the light 
house famous all over the Mediterranean, the mar- 
vellous zoological garden, the Museum, the Gym- 
nasium, innumerable temples, the unending palace 
of the Ptolemies. There was an abundance, un- 
heard of for those times, of objects of luxury — rugs, 
glass, stuffs, papyruses, jewels, artistic pottery — 
because they made all these things at Alexandria. 
There was an abundance, greater than elsewhere, 
of silk, of perfumes, of gems, of all the things im- 
ported from the extreme East, because through 
Alexandria passed one of the most frequented 
routes of Indo-Chinese commerce. There, too, 
were innumerable artists, writers, philosophers, 
and savants; society life and intellectual hfe alike 

S6 Antony and Cleopatra 

fervid; continuous movement to and fro of traffic, 
continual passing of rare and curious things; 
countless amusements; life, more than elsewhere, 
safe — at least so it was believed — because at 
Alexandria were the great schools of medicine 
and the great scientific physicians. 

If other Italians who landed in Alexandria 
were dazzled by so many splendours, Antony ought 
to have been blinded; he entered Alexandria as 
King. He who was born at Rome in the small 
and simple house of an impoverished noble family, 
who had been brought up with Latin parsimony 
to eat frugally, to drink wine only on festival 
occasions, to wear the same clothes a long time, 
to be served by a single slave — ^this man found 
himself lord of the immense palace of the Ptole- 
mies, where the kitchens alone were a hundred 
times larger than the house of his fathers at 
Rome ; where there were gathered for his pleasure 
the most precious treasures and the most mar- 
vellous collections of works of art; where there 
were trains of servants at his command, and 
every wish could be immediately gratified. It 
is therefore not necessary to suppose that Antony 
was foolishly enamoured of the Queen of Egypt, 
to understand the change that took place in him 
after their marriage, as he tasted the inimitable 

Antony and Cleopatra 57 

life of Alexandria, that elegance, that ease, that 
wealth, that pomp without equal. 

A man of action, grown in simplicity, tough- 
ened by a rude life, he was all at once carried 
into the midst of the subtlest and most highly 
developed civilisation of the ancient world and 
given the greatest facilities to enjoy and abuse 
it that ever man had: as might have been 
expected, he was intoxicated; he contracted 
an almost insane passion for such a life; he 
adored Egypt with such ardour as to forget for 
it the nation of his birth and the modest home 
of his boyhood. And then began the great tragedy 
of his life, a tragedy not love-inspired, but politi- 
cal. As the hold of Egypt strengthened on his 
mind, Cleopatra tried to persuade him not to 
conquer Persia, but to accept openly the kingdom 
of Egypt, to found with her and with their children 
a new dynasty, and to create a great new Egyptian 
Empire, adding to Egypt the better part of the 
provinces that Rome possessed in Africa and in 
Asia, abandoning Italy and the provinces of the 
West forever to their destiny. 

Cleopatra had thought to snatch from Rome 
its Oriental Empire by the arm of Antony, in 
that immense disorder of revolution; to recon- 
struct the great Empire of Egypt, placing at its 

S8 Antony and Cleopatra 

head the first general of the time, creating an 
army of Roman legionaries with the gold of the 
Ptolemies; to make Egypt and its dynasty the 
prime potentate of Africa and Asia, transferring 
to Alexandria the political and diplomatic control 
of the finest parts of the Mediterranean world. 

As the move failed, men have deemed it folly 
and stupidity; but he who knows how easy it is 
to be wise after events, will judge this confused 
policy of Cleopatra less curtly. At any rate, it 
is certain that her scheme failed more because 
of its own inconsistencies than through the vigour 
and ability with which Rome tried to thwart it; 
it is certain that in the execution of the plan, 
Antony felt first in himself the tragic discord 
between Orient and Occident that was so long 
to lacerate the Empire ; and of that tragic discord 
he was the first victim. An enthusiastic admirer 
of Egypt, an ardent Hellenist, he is lured by his 
great ambition to be king of Egypt, to renew 
the famous line of the Ptolemies, to continue in 
the East the glory and the traditions of Alexan- 
der the Great : but the far-away voice of his father- 
land still sounds in his ear ; he recalls the city of 
his birth, the Senate in which he rose so many 
times to speak, the Forum of his orations, the 
Comitia that elected him to magistracies ; Octavia, 

Antony and Cleopatra 59 

the gentlewoman he had wedded with the sacred 
rites of Latin monogamy ; the friends and soldiers 
with whom he had fought through so many coun- 
tries in so many wars; the foundation principles 
at home that ruled the family, the state, morality, 
public and private. 

Cleopatra's scheme, viewed from Alexandria, 
was an heroic undertaking, almost divine, that 
might have lifted him and his scions to the delights 
of Olympus ; seen from Rome, by his childhood 's 
friends, by his comrades in arms, by that people 
of Italy who still so much admired him, it was 
the shocking crime of faithlessness to his country ; 
we call it high treason. Therefore he hesitates 
long, doubting most of all whether he can keep 
for the new Egyptian Empire the Roman legions, 
made up largely of Italians, all commanded by 
Italian officers. He does not know how to oppose 
a resolute No to the insistences of Cleopatra and 
loose himself from the fatal bond that keeps him 
near her ; he can not go back to live in Italy after 
having dwelt as king in Alexandria. Moreover, he 
does not dare declare his intentions to his Roman 
friends, fearing they will scatter ; to the soldiers, 
fearing they will revolt; to Italy, fearing her 
judgment of him as a traitor; and so, little 
by little, he entangles himself in the crooked 

6o Antony and Cleopatra 

policy, full of prevarications, of expedients, of 
subterfuges, of one mistake upon another, that 
leads him to Actium. 

I think I have shown that Antony succumbed 
in the famous war not because, mad with love, 
he abandoned the command in the midst of the 
battle, but because his armies revolted and aban- 
doned him when they understood what he had 
not dared declare to them openly : that he meant 
to dismember the Empire of Rome to create the 
new Empire of Alexandria. The future Augustus 
conquered at Actium without effort, merely be- 
cause the national sentiment of the soldiery, 
outraged by the unforeseen revelation of Antony 's 
treason, turned against the man who wanted to 
aggrandise Cleopatra at the expense of his own 

And then the victorious party, the party of 
Augustus, created the story of Antony and Cleo- 
patra that has so entertained posterity ; this story 
is but a popular explanation' — in part imagina- 
tively exaggerated and fantastic — of the Eastern 
peril that menaced Rome, of both its political 
phase and its moral. According to the story that 
Horace has put into such charming verse, Cleo- 
patra wished to conquer Italy, to enslave Rome, 
to destroy the Capitol ; but Cleopatra alone could 

Antony and Cleopatra 6i 

not have accomplished so difficult a task ; she must 
have seduced Antony, made him forget his duty 
to his wife, to his legitimate children, to the Re- 
public, the soldiery, his native land, — all the 
duties that Latin morals inculcated into the minds 
of the great, and that a shameless Egyptian 
woman, rendered perverse by all the arts of the 
Orient, had blotted out in his soul; therefore 
Antony's tragic fate should serve as a solemn 
warning to distrust the voluptuous seductions, of 
which Cleopatra symbolised the elegant and fatal 
depravity. The story was magnified, coloured, dif- 
fused, not because it was beautiful and romantic, 
but because it served the interests of the political 
coterie that gained definite control of the govern- 
ment on the ruin of Antony. At Actium, the 
future Augustus did not fight a real war, he only 
passively watched the power of the adversary 
go to pieces, destroyed by its own internal con- 
tradictions. He did not decide to conquer Egypt 
until the public opinion of Italy, enraged against 
Antony and Cleopatra, required this vengeance 
with such insistence that he had to satisfy 

If Augustus was not a man too quick in action, 
he was, instead, keenly intelligent in comprehending 
the situation created by the catastrophe of Antony 

62 Antony and Cleopatra 

in Italy, where already, for a decade of years, 
public spirit, frightened by revolution, was anx- 
ious to return to the ways of the past, to the 
historic sources of the national life. Augustus 
understood that he ought to stand before Italy, 
disgusted as it was with long-continued dissension 
and eager to retrace the way of national tradition, 
as the embodiment of all the virtues his contem- 
poraries set in opposition to eastern "corruption," 
■ — simplicity, severity of private habits, rigid mono- 
gamy, the anti-feministic spirit, the purely virile 
idea of the state. Naturally, the exaltation of 
these virtues required the portrayal in his rival 
of Actium, as far as possible, the opposite defects ; 
therefore the efforts of his friends, like Horace, 
to colour the story of Antony and Cleopatra, which 
should magnify to the Italians the idea of the 
danger from which Augustus had saved them at 
Actium; which was meant to serve as. a bar- 
rier against the invading Oriental "corruption," 
that "corruption" the essence of which I have 
already analysed. 

In a certain sense, the legend of Antony and 
Cleopatra is chiefly an anti-feminist legend, in- 
tended to reinforce in the state the power of the 
masculine principle, to demonstrate how dan- 
gerous it may be to leave to women the govern- 

Antony and Cleopatra 63 

ment of public affairs, or follow their counsel in 
political business. 

The people believed the legend; posterity has 
believed it. Two years ago when I published in 
the Revue de Paris an article in which I demon- 
strated, by obvious arguments, the incongruities 
and absurdities of the legend, and tried to retrace 
through it the half -effaced lines of the truth, every- 
body was amazed. From one end of Europe to 
the other, the papers resumed the conclusions 
of my study as an astounding revelation. An 
illustrious French statesman, a man of the finest 
culture in historical study, Joseph Reinach, said 

After your article I have re-read Dion and Plutarch. 
It is indeed singular that for twenty centuries men 
have read and reread those pages without any one's 
realising how confused and absurd their accounts 

It seems to be a law of human psychology that 
almost all historic personages, from Minos to 
Mazzini, from Judas to Charlotte Corday, from 
Xerxes to Napoleon, are imaginary personages; 
some transfigured into demigods, by admiration 
and success ; the others debased by hate and failure. 
In reality, the former were often uglier, the latter 
more attractive than tradition has pictured them, 

64 Antony and Cleopatra 

because men in general are neither too good nor 
too bad, neither too intelligent nor too stupid. 
In conclusion, historic tradition is full of deformed 
caricatures and ideal transfigurations; because, 
when they are dead, the impression of their politi- 
cal contemporaries still serves the ends of parties, 
states, nations, institutions. Can this man exalt 
in a people the consciousness of its own power, 
of its own energy, of its own value? Lo, then 
they make a god of him, as of Napoleon or Bis- 
marck. Can this other serve to feed in the mass, 
odium and scorn of another party, of a government, 
of an order of things that it is desirable to injure ? 
Then they make a monster of him, as happened 
in Rome to Tiberius, in France to Napoleon III, 
in Italy to all who for one motive or another 
opposed the unification of Italy. 

It is true that after a time the interests that 
have coloured certain figures with certain hues and 
shades disappear; but then the reputation, good 
or bad, of a personage is already made ; his name 
is stamped on the memory of posterity with an 
adjective, — ^the great, the wise, the wicked, the 
cruel, the rapacious, — and there is no human force 
that can dissever name from adjective. Some 
far-away historian, studying aU the documents, 
examining the sequence of events, will confute 

Antony and Cleopatra 65 

the tradition in learned books ; but his work not 
only will not succeed in persuading the ignorant 
multitude, but must also contend against the 
multiplied objections offered by the instinctive 
incredulity of people of culture. 

You will say to me, ' 'What is the use of writing 
history? Why spend so much effort to correct 
the errors in which people will persist just as if 
the histories were never written?" I reply that 
I do not believe that the office of history is to 
give to men who have guided the great human 
events a posthumous justice. It is already work 
serious enough for every generation to give a little 
justice to the living, rather than occupy itself 
rendering it to the dead, who indeed, in contra- 
distinction from the living, have no need of it. 
The study of history, the rectification of stories 
of the past, ought to serve another and practical 
end; that is, train the men who govern nations 
to discern more clearly than may be possible 
from their own enviroimient the truth underlying 
the legends. As I have already said, passions, 
interests, present historic personages in a thousand 
forms when they are alive, transfiguring not only 
the persons themselves, but events the most di- 
verse, the character of institutions, the conditions 
of nations. 

66 Antony and Cleopatra 

It is generally believed that legends are found 
only at the dawn of history, in the poetic period: 
that is a great mistake; the legend — the legend 
that deceives, that deforms, that misdirects— 
is everywhere, in all ages, in the present as in 
the past — in the present even more than in the 
past, because it is the consequence of certain 
universal forms of thought and of sentiment. 
To-day, just as ten or twenty centuries ago, in- 
terests and passions dominate events, alter them 
and distort them, creating about them veritable 
romances, more or less probable. The present, 
which appears to all to be the same reality, is 
instead, for most people, only a huge legend, 
traversed by contemporaries stirred by the most 
widely differing sentiments. 

However the mass may content itself with this 
legend, throbbing with hate and love, with hope 
and the fear of its own self-created phantoms, 
those who guide and govern the masses ought to 
try to divine the truth, as far as they can. A 
great man of state is distinguished from a me- 
diocre by his greater ability to divine the real 
in his world of action beneath its superfice of 
confused legends; by his greater ability to dis- 
criminate in everything what is true from what 
is merely apparently true, in the prestige of states 

Antony and Cleopatra 67 

and institutions, in the forces of parties, in the 
energy attributed to certain men, in the purposes 
claimed by parties and men, often different from 
their real designs. To do that, some natural 
disposition is necessary, a liveliness of intuition 
that must come with birth; but this faculty can 
be refined and trained by a practical knowledge 
of men, by experience in things, and by the study 
of history. In the ages dead, when the interests 
that created their legends have disappeared, we 
can discover how those great popular delusions, 
which are one of the greatest forces of history, 
are made and how they work. We may thus 
fortify the spirit to withstand the cheating illu- 
sions that surround us, coming from every part 
of the vast modem world, in which so many in- 
terests dispute dominion over thoughts and will. 
In this sense alone, I believe that history may 
teach, not the multitude, which will never learn 
anything from it, but, impelled by the same 
passions, will always repeat the same errors and 
the same foolishnesses; but the chosen few, who, 
charged with directing the game of history, have 
concern in knowing as well as they can its inner 
law. Taken in this way, history may be a great 
teacher, in its every page, every line, and the 
study of the legend of Antony and Cleopatra may 

68 Antony and Cleopatra 

itself even serve to prepare the spirit of a diplomat, 
who must treat between state and state the com- 
plicated economic and political affairs of the 
modem world. And so, in conclusion, history 
and life interchange mutual services; life teaches 
history, and history, life; observing the present, 
we help ourselves to know the past, and from the 
study of the past we can return to our present 
the better tempered and prepared to observe and 
comprehend it. In present and in past, history- 
can form a kind of wisdom set apart, in a certain 
sense aristocratic, above what the masses know, 
at least as to the universal laws that govern the 
life of nations. 

The Development of Gaul 


TN estimating distant historical events, one is 
* often the victim of an error of perspective ; that 
is, one is disposed to consider as the outcome of a 
pre-established plan of human wisdom what is the 
final result, quite unforeseen, of causes that acted 
beyond the foresight of contemporaries. At the 
distance of centuries, turning back to consider the 
past, we can easily find out that the efforts of one 
or two generations have produced certain effects 
on the actual condition of the world ; and then we 
conclude that those generations meant to reach 
that result. On the contrary, men almost always 
face the future proposing to themselves impossible 
ends; notwithstanding which, their efforts, ac- 
cumulating, destroying, interweaving, bring into 
being consequences that no one had foreseen or 
planned, the novelty or importance of which often 
only future generations realise. Columbus, who, 
fixed in the idea of reaching India by sailing 
west, finds America on his way and does not 
recognise it at once but is persuaded that he has 
landed in India, symbolises the lot of man in 

72 The Development of Gaul 

Of this phenomenon, which is to me a funda- 
mental law of history, there is a classic example 
in the story of Rome : the conquest of Gaul. With- 
out doubt, one of the greatest works of Rome 
was the conquest and Romanisation of Gaul: 
indeed that conquest and Romanisation of Gaul 
is the beginning of European civilisation; for 
before the Grseco-Latin civilisation reached the 
Rhine over the ways opened by the Roman sword, 
the continent of Europe had centres of civilisation 
on the coast or in its projecting extremities, like 
Italy, Bastica, Narbonensis; but the interior was 
still entirely in the power of a turbulent and rest- 
less barbarism, like the African continent to-day. 
Moreover, what Rome created in Asia and Africa 
was almost entirely destroyed by ages following; 
on the contrary, Rome yet lives in France, to 
which it gave its language, its spirit, and the 
traditions of its thought. Exactly for this reason 
it is particularly important to explain how such 
an outcome was brought about, and by what 
historic forces. From the propensity to consider 
every great historical event as wholly a master- 
piece of human genius, many historians have 
attributed also this accomplishment to a prodi- 
gious, well-nigh divine wisdom on the part of the 
Romans, and Julius Csesar is regarded as a demi- 

The Development of Gaul 73 

god who had fixed his gaze upon the far, far 
distant future. However, it is not difficult, 
studying the ancient documents with critical 
spirit, to persuade oneself that even if Qesar 
was a man of genius, he was not a god ; that from 
begimiing to end, the real story of the conquest 
of Gaul is very different from the commonly 
accepted version. 

I hope to demonstrate that Caesar threw himself 
into the midst of Gallic affairs, impelled by slight 
incidents of internal politics, not only without 
giving any thought whatever to the future destiny 
of Gaul, but without even knowing well the con- 
ditions existing there. Gaul was then for all 
Romans a barbarous region, poor, gloomy, full 
of swamps and forests in which there would be 
much fighting and little booty : no one was think- 
ing then of having Roman territory cross the 
Alps; everyone was infatuated by the story of 
Alexander the Great, dreaming only of conquering 
like him all the rich and civilised Orient ; everyone, 
even Qesar. Only a sequence of political acci- 
dents pushed him in spite of himself into Gaul. 

In 62 B.C., Pompey had returned from the 
Orient, where he had finished the conquest of 
Pontus, begun by LucuUus, and armexed Syria. 
On his return, the conservative party, irritated 

74 The Development of Gaul 

against him because he had gone over to the 
opposite side, and having been given something 
to think of by the prestige that the policy of 
expansion was winning for the popular party, 
had succeeded by many intrigues in keeping the 
Senate from ratifying what he had done in the 
East. This internal struggle closed the Orient 
for several years to the adventurous initiatives 
of the political imperialists; for as long as the 
adminstration of Pompey remained unapproved, 
it was impossible to think of undertaking new 
enterprises or conquests in Asia and Africa; and 
therefore, of necessity, Roman politics, burning 
for conquest and adventure, had to turn to another 
part of Europe. 

The letters of Cicero prove to us that Cassar 
was not the first to think that Rome, having its 
hands tied for the moment in the East, ought to 
interfere in the affairs of Gaul. The man who 
first had the idea of a Gallic policy was Quintus 
Metellus Celerus, husband of the famous Clodia, 
and consul the year before Caesar. Taking ad- 
vantage of certain disturbances arisen in Gaul 
from the constant wars between the differing 
parts, Metellus had persuaded the Senate to au- 
thorise him to make war on the Helvetians. At 
the beginning of the year 59, that is, the year in 

The Development of Gaul 75 

which Caesar was consul, Metellus was already- 
preparing to depart for the war in Gaul, when 
suddenly he died; and then Qesar, profiting by 
the interest in Rome for Gallic affairs, had the 
mission previously entrusted to Metellus given 
to himself and took up both Metellus 's office 
and his plan. Here you see at the beginning of 
this story the first accident,' — ^the death of Metel- 
lus. An historian curious of nice and unanswer- 
able questions might ask himself what would 
have been the history of the world if Metellus 
had not died. Certainly Rome would have been 
occupied with Gallic concerns a year sooner and 
by a different man; Caesar would probably have 
had to seek elsewhere a brilliant proconsulship 
and things Gallic would have for ever escaped 
his energy. 

However it be, charged with the affairs of Gaul 
accidentally and unexpectedly, Caesar went there 
without well knowing the condition of it, and, in 
fact, as I think I proved in a long appendix pub- 
lished in the French and English editions of my 
work, he began his Gallic policy with a serious 
mistake; that is, attacking the Helvetians. A 
superior mind, Caesar was not long in finding his 
bearings in the midst of the tremendous confusion 
he found in Gaul; but for this, there is no need 

76 The Development of Gaul 

to think that he carried out in the Gallic policy 
vast schemes, long meditated: he worked, in- 
stead, as the uncertain changes of Roman poli- 
tics imposed. I believe that there is but one 
way to understand and reasonably explain the 
policy pursued by Cassar in Gaul, his sudden 
moves, his zigzags, his audacities, his mistakes; 
that is, to study it from Rome, to keep always 
in mind the internal changes, the party struggle, 
in which he was involved at Rome. In short, 
Gaul was for Caesar only a means to operate 
on the internal politics of Rome, of which he 
made use from day to day, as the immediate 
interest of the passing hour seemed to require. 

I cite a single example, but the most significant. 
Qesar declared Gaul a Roman province and 
armexed ittothe Empire toward the end of 57 e.g. ; 
that is, at the end of his second year as proconsul, 
unexpectedly, with no warning act to intimate 
such vigorous intent, — a surprise; and why? 
Look to Rome and you will understand. In 57 
B.C., the democratic party, demoralised by dis- 
cords, upset by the popular agitation to recall 
Cicero from unjust exile, discredited by scandals, 
especially the Egyptian scandals, seemed on 
the point of going to pieces. Cassar understood 
that there was but one way to stop this ruin: to 

The Development of Gaul 77 

stun public opinion and all Italy with some highly- 
audacious surprise. The surprise was the annex- 
ation of Gaul. Declaring Gaul a Roman province 
after the victory over the Belgi, he convinced 
Rome that he had in two years overcome all Gallic 
adversaries. And so, the conquest of Gaul — ^this 
event that was to open a new era, this event, the 
effects of which still endure — ^was, at the beginning 
in the mind that conceived and executed it, no- 
thing but a bold pohtical expedient in behalf of a 
party, to solve a situation compromised by mani- 
fold errors. 

But you will ask me: how from so tiny a seed 
could ever grow so mighty a tree, covering with its 
branches so much of the earth ? You know that at 
the close of the proconsulship in Gaul, there breaks 
out a great civil war; this lasts, with brief inter- 
ruptions and pauses, until the battle of Actium. 
Only toward 30 B.C., is the tempest lulled, and 
during this time Gaul seems almost to disappear ; 
the ancient writers hardly mention it, except 
from time to time for a moment to let us know 
that some unimportant revolt broke out, now 
here, now there, in the vast territory ; that this or 
that general was sent to repress it. 

The civil wars ended, the government of Rome 
turns its attention to the provinces anew, but for 

78 The Development of Gaul 

another reason. Saint Jerome tells us that in 25 
B.C., Augustus increased the tribute from the 
Gauls : we find no difficulty in getting at the reason 
of this fact. The thing most urgent after the re- 
establishment of peace was the re-arrangement 
of finance; that signified then, as always, an in- 
crease of imposts : but more could not be extorted 
from the Oriental provinces, already exhausted 
by so many wars and plunderings; therefore the 
idea to draw greater revenues from the European 
provinces of recent conquest, particularly from 
Gaul, which until then had paid so little. So you 
see a- forging one link after another in the chain: 
Cassar for a political interest conquers Gaul ; 
thirty years afterward Augustus goes there to 
seek new revenues for his balance-sheet; thence- 
forward there are always immediate needs that 
urge Roman politics into Gallic affairs: and so 
it is that little by little Roman politics become 
permanently involved, by a kind of concatenation, 
not by deliberate plan. 

We can easily follow the process. Augustus 
had left in Gaul to exact the new tribute, a former 
slave of Ccesar's, afterward liberated, — a Gaul 
or German whom Casar had captured as a child 
in one of his expeditions and later freed, because 
of his consummate administrative ability. It 

The Development of Gaul 79 

appears, however, that, for the Gauls at least, 
this ability was even too great. In a curious chap- 
ter Dion tells us that Licinius, this freedman, 
uniting the avarice of a barbarian to the pretences 
of a Roman, beat down everyone that seemed 
greater than he; oppressed all those who seemed 
to have more power; extorted enormous sums 
from all, were they to fill out the dues of his office, 
or to enrich himself and his family. His rascality 
was so stupendous that since the Gauls paid cer- 
tain taxes every month, he increased to fourteen 
the number of the months, declaring that Decem- 
ber, the last, was only the tenth; consequently 
it was necessary to count two more, one called 
Undecember and another, Duodecember. 

I would not guarantee this story true, since, 
when there is introduced into a nation a new 
and more burdensome system of taxes, there are 
always set in circulation tales of this kind about 
the rapacity of the persons charged with collecting 
them: but true or false, the tale shows that the 
Gauls were much irritated by the new tribute; 
indeed this irritation increased so much that in 
the winter from the year 15 till the year 14 b.c, 
Augustus, having to remain in Gaul on account 
of certain serious comphcations, arisen in Ger- 
many, was obliged to give his attention to it 

8o The Development of Gaul 

during his stay. The prominent men of Gaul 
presented vigorous complaints to him against 
Licinius and his administration. Then there 
occurred an episode that, recounted three cent- 
uries later with a certain naivet6 by Dion Cassius, 
has been overlooked by the historians, but which 
seems to me to be of prime interest in the history 
of the Latin world. Dion writes : 

Augustus, not able to avoid blaming Licinius for 
the many denunciations and revelations of the Gallic 
chiefs, sought in other things to excuse him; he pre- 
tended not to know certain facts, made believe not 
to accept others, being ashamed to have placed such 
a procurator in Gaul. Licinius, however, extricated 
himself from the danger by a decidedly original expe- 
dient. When he realised that Augustus was displeased 
and that he was running great risk of being punished, 
he conducted that Prince to his house, and showing 
him his numerous treasuries full of gold and silver, 
enormous piles of objects made of precious metals, 
said: — "My lord, only for your good and that of the 
Romans have I amassed all these riches. I feared 
that the natives, fortified by such wealth, might 
revolt, if I left them to them: therefore I have placed 
them in safe-keeping for you and I give them to you. " 
So, by his pretext that he had thus broken the power 
of the barbarians for the sake of Augustus, Licinius 
saved himself from danger. 

The Development of Gaul 8i 

This incident has without doubt the smack of 
legend. Ought we therefore to conclude that it is 
wholly invented? No, because in history the dis- 
tortions of the truth are much more numerous than 
are inventions. This page of Dion is important. 
It preserves for us, presented in a dramatic scene 
between Augustus and Licinius, the record of a 
very serious dispute carried on between the notable 
men of Gaul and Licinius, in the presence of Au- 
gustus. The Gauls complain of paying too many 
imposts: Licinius replies that Gaul is very rich- 
that it grows rich quickly and therefore it ought 
to pay as much as is demanded of it, and more. 
Not only did the freedman show rooms full of 
gold and silver to his lord; he showed him the 
great economic progress of Gaul, its marvellous 
future, the immense wealth concealed in its soil 
and in the genius of its inhabitants. In other 
words, this chapter of Dion makes us conclude 
that Rome — ^that is, the small oligarchy that was 
directing its politics — ^realised that the Gaul con- 
quered by Caesar, the Gaul that had always been 
considered as a country cold and sterile, was 
instead a magnificent province, naturally rich, 
from which they might get enormous treasure. 
This discovery was made in the winter of 15-14 
B.C.; that is, forty-three years after Caesar had 

82 The Development of Gaul 

added the province to the Empire; forty-thfee 
years after they had possessed without knowing 
what they possessed, like some grand seigneur who 
unwittingly holds among the common things of 
his patrimony some priceless object, the value of 
which only an accident on a sudden reveals. 

This chapter of Dion allows us also to affirm 
that he who first realised the value of Gaul and 
opened the eyes of Augustus, was no great person- 
age of the Roman aristocracy whose names are 
written in such lofty characters on the pages of 
history, whose images are yet found in marble 
and bronze among the museums of Europe; no 
one of those who ruled the Empire and therefore 
according to reason and justice had the respon- 
sibility of governing it well: it was, instead, an 
obscure freedman, whose ability the masters of 
the Empire scorned to exploit except as to-day 
a peasant uses the forces of his ox, hardly deigning 
to look at him and yet deeming all his labour but 
the owner 's natural right. 

So stands the story. The Gallic freedman 
observed, and understood, and was forgotten; 
posterity, instead, has had to wonder over the 
profound wisdom of the Roman aristocrat, who 
understood nothing. Moreover, if in 14 B.C. 
Licinius had to make an effort to persuade the 

The Development of Gaul 83 

surprised and diffident Augustus that Gaul was a 
province of great future, it is clear that Gaul 
must already have begun to grow rich by itself 
without the Roman government's having done 
anything to promote its progress. 

From what hidden sources sprang forth this 
new wealth of Gaul? All the documents that we 
possess authorise us to respond that Gaul — to 
begin from the time of Augustus — was able to 
grow rich quickly, because the events following 
the Roman conquest turned and disposed the 
general conditions of the Empire in its favour. 
Gaul then, as France now, was endowed with 
several requisites essential to its becoming a nation 
of great economic development: a land very fer- 
tile; a population dense for the times, intelligent, 
wide-awake, active; a climate that, even though 
it seemed to Greeks and Romans cold and foggy, 
was better suited to intense activity than the 
warm and sunny climate of the South ; and finally, 
—a supreme advantage in ancient civilisation,— 
it was everywhere intersected, as by a network 
of canals, by navigable rivers. In ancient times 
transport by land was very expensive ; water was 
the natural and economic vehicle of commerce; 
therefore civilisation was able to enter with com- 
merce into the interior of continents only by way 

84 The Development of Gaul 

of the rivers, which, as one might say, were to a 
certain extent the railroads of the ancient world. 

To these advantageous conditions, which, being 
physical, existed before the Roman conquest, 
the conquest added some others: it broke down 
the political barrier that previously cut off these 
convenient means of penetration, the rivers; it 
suppressed the wars between the Gallic tribes, 
the privileges, the tyrannies, the tolls, the mono- 
polies ; it saved the enormous resources that were 
previously wasted in these constant drains ; it put 
again the hoe, the spade, the tools of the artisan, 
into hands that had before been wielding the sword ; 
and finally, it consolidated (and this was perhaps 
the most important effect) the jurisdiction of 
property. When Cassar invaded Gaul, the great 
landowners still cultivated cereals and textile 
plants but little ; they put the greater part of their 
fortune into cattle, exactly because in that regime 
of continual war and revolution lands easily kept 
changing proprietors. Futhermore, the more fre- 
quent contact with Rome acquainted the Gauls 
with Roman agriculture and its abler methods, 
with Latin life and its studied order. 

By the combination of all these causes, popula- 
tion and production increased rapidly. The gain 
in population was so considerable that the ancients 

The Development of Gaul 85 

themselves noticed it. Strabo (Bk. 4, ch. i, §2) 
observes that the Gallic women are fecund 
mothers and excellent nurses. With the popula- 
tion, wealth increased on all sides, in agriculture 
as in industry and in trade. 

The new and more stable jurisdiction of the 
landed proprietary generated another most im- 
portant effect ; it promoted rapidly the cultivation 
of cereals and textile plants, of wheat and flax. 
"All Gaul produces much wheat," says Strabo, 
and we read his notice without surprise, because 
we know that France is, even to-day, the region 
of Europe most fertile in cereals. There is no 
reason to suppose that it must have been barren 
of them twenty centuries ago. Other documen- 
tary evidence, particularly inscriptions, confirms 
Strabo, informing us that, especially in the second 
century, Rome bought the customary grain to 
feed the metropohs not only in Egypt, but also in 
Gaul. In short, Gaul seems to have been the sole 
region of Europe fertile enough to be able to export 
grain, to have been for Rome a kind of Canada 
or Middle West of the time, set not beyond oceans 
but beyond the Alps. 

The cultivation of flax, to the ancient world 
what cotton is to-day, progressed rapidly in Gaul 
along with that of wheat, so that Gaul was early 

86 The Development of Gaul 

able to rival Egypt also in this respect. That 
Gaul and Egypt should have so much in common 
at the same time, was something so interesting 
and seemed so strange that Pliny himself wrote : 

Flax is sowed only in sandy places and after a 
single ploughing. Perhaps Egypt may be pardoned 
for sowing it, because with it she buys the merchan- 
dise of India and Arabia. But, look you! — even 
Gaul is famous for this plant. What matters it, if 
huge mountains shut away the sea; if on the ocean 
side it has for confines what is called emptiness? Not- 
withstanding that, Gaul cultivates flax like Egypt: 
the Cadurci, the Caleti, the Ruteni, the Biturigi, the 
Morini, who are considered tribes of the ends of the 
earth . . . but what am I saying? All Gaul 
makes sails, — till the enemies beyond the Rhine 
imitate them, and the linen is more beautiful to the 
eyes than are their women. 

These descriptions show Gaul to be one of the 
new countries, like the Argentine Republic or the 
United States, in which the land has still almost 
its natural pristine fecundity and brings forth a 
marvellous abundance of plants that clothe and 
nourish man. We know that in Gaul under the 
Empire there were immense fortunes in land in 
face of which the fortunes of wealthy Italian pro- 
prietors shrink like the fortunes of Europe when 

The Development of Gaul 87 

compared with the great ranch fortunes of the 
Argentine Republic or the United States. Twenty 
years ago they began to excavate in France the 
ruins of the great Gallo-Roman villas: these are 
constructed on the plan of the Italian villa, decor- 
ated in the same way, but are much larger, more 
sumptuous, more sightly; one feels in them the 
pride of a new people which has adopted the Latin 
civilisation, but has infused into that, derived 
from the wealth of their land, a spirit of grandeur 
and of luxury that poorer and older Latins did 
not know, exactly as to-day the Americans infuse 
a spirit of greater magnitude and boldness into 
so many things that they take from timid, old 
Europe. Perhaps there was also in this Gallic 
luxury, as in the American, a bit of ostentation, 
intended to humiliate the masters remaining 
poorer and more modest. 

But Gaul was a nation not only rich in fertilest 
agriculture; side by side with that, progressed 
its industry. This, according to my notion, is 
one of the vital points in ancient history. Under 
the Roman domination, Gaul was not restricted to 
the better cultivation of its productive soil; but 
alone among the peoples of the Occident, became, 
as we might now say, an industrial nation, that 
manufactured not only by and for itself, but like 

88 The Development of Gaul 

Asia Minor, Egypt, Syria, sold also to other peoples 
of the Empire and outside of its own boundaries | 
in a word, exported. The more frequent contact 
with the Orient better acquainted the Gauls with 
the beautiful objects made by the artisans of Lao- 
dicea, of Tyre, of Sidon; and the clever genius 
of the Celt, always apt in industry, drew from 
them incentive to create a Gallic industry, partly 
imitative, partly original, and to seek a large 
clientele for these industries in Italy, in Spain, be- 
yond the Rhine, among the Germans, in the Dan- 
ube provinces. This is proved by a number of 
important passages in Pliny, confirmed by inscrip- 
tions and archaeological discoveries. 

Pliny has already told us that the Gauls manu- 
factured many linen sails ; we know also that they 
made not only rough sails, but also fine linen for 
clothing, which had a wide market. There have 
been found in the Orient numerous fragments of 
an inscription containing the famous edict of 
Diocletian on maximum sale prices allowed, an 
inscription of value to us for its nomenclature of 
ancient fabrics. In this nomenclature is mentioned 
the birrtis of Laodicea, an imitation of the birrus of 
the Nervii, which was a very fine linen cloth, worn 
by ladies of fashion. Laodicea was one of the 
most ancient centres of Oriental textile fabrics j 

The Development of Gaul 89 

the Nervii were one of the most remote of the 
Gallic peoples, Hving — ^the coincidence is note- 
worthy — ^about where Flanders is now. If at 
Laodicea they made at the end of the third cen- 
tury an imitation of Nervian linen, that means 
that the Nervii had succeeded in manufacturing 
and finding market for cloth so desirable as to 
rouse the Laodiceans, competing for trade, to 
imitate it. What proof more persuasive that dur- 
ing the early centuries of the Empire the Gauls 
greatly improved their industries and widened 
their markets? 

They had mastered weaving, but they did not 
stop there ; they invented new methods of dyeing, 
using vegetable dyes instead of the customary 
animal colours of the Orient. Pliny says : 

The Gaul imitates with herbs all colours, including 
Tyrian purple; they do not seek the moUusk on the 
sea bottom; they run no risk of being devoured by 
sea monsters ; they do not exploit the anchorless deep 
to multiply the attractions of the courtesan, or to 
increase the powers of the seducer of another's wife. 
They gather the herbs like cereals, standing on the 
dry ground ; although the colour that they derive does 
not bear washing. Luxury could thus be gratified 
with greater show at the cost of fewer dangers. 

It is clear, then, according to Pliny, at one time. 

9° The Development of Gaul 

it was believed that the competition of Gallic 
dyers might have ruined the Oriental, and would 
have done so, had the tenacity of their vegetable 
colouring equalled its beauty. In another passage 
Pliny tells us that these Gallic stuffs were used 
especially by the slaves and the populace. 

The wool industry made no less progress in 
Gaul than weaving and dyeing. From numerous 
passages in Juvenal and Martial it appears that 
the woollen clothing worn by the populace of 
Rome in the second century was woven in Gaul, 
particularly in the districts to-day known as Arras, 
Langres, Saintonge. Pliny attributes to the Gauls 
the invention of a wool, that, soaked in acid, 
became incombustible, and was used to make 

Glass-making was another art carried from the 
East across the Mediterranean into Gaul. Still 
another industry, metallurgy, after weaving, con- 
tributed greatly to enrich Gaul. Undoubtedly even 
before the Roman conquest, Gaul worked gold 
mines; it seems, however, that silver mines re- 
mained untouched until about the time of Augus- 
tus. At any rate, the discovery of some deposits 
of gold and silver then gave a spur to several 
flourishing industries ; jewelry-making, and — 
an original Gallic industry of much importance — 

The Development of Gaul 91 

silver-plating and tinning. Here is another extract 
from Pliny, from which you will see that in those 
{imes they already made in France "Christofle" 

They cover [writes Pliny] the copper with tin in 
such a way that it is difficult to distinguish it from 
silver. It is a Gallic invention. Later they began to 
do the same thing with silver, silver-plating especially 
the ornaments of horses and carriages. The merit 
of the invention belongs to the Biturigi, and the 
industry was developed in the city of Alesia. After 
the same fashion there has been spread everywhere 
a foolish profusion of objects not only silver-, but 
gold-plated. AH that is called cultus, elegance! 

We might almost say that Gallic industry did to 
the old industries of the ancient world what Ger- 
man wares have done compared with older and 
more aristocratic products of France, of England, 
popularising objects of luxury for the many and 
the merely well-to-do. 

Finally, if any one hesitated to trust fully these 
very important passages in Pliny, he would be 
quite convinced by reading the great work of 
Dechelette. This author, studying with Carthu- 
sian patience and the ablest critical acumen the 
Gallic ceramics to be found scattered among the 

92 The Development of Gaul 

museums, has demonstrated most commendably 
that in the first century of the Empire many manu- 
factories of ceramics were opened and flourished 
in Gaul, especially in the valley of the Allier, and 
that they sold their vases in Spain, in the Danube 
regions, to the Germans, and in Italy. 

Dechelette has proved that many ceramics 
found among the ruins of Pompeii, now admired 
in the museums of Pompeii and Naples, were made 
in Gaul, — discoveries most noteworthy, which, in 
connection with the extracts from Pliny, disclose 
in essence that real Roman Gaul whose sump- 
tuous relics but half tell the tale of its wealth. 

This tremendous development of Gaul was 
without doubt an effect of the Roman conquest; 
but an effect that neither Caesar, nor any other 
man of his times had foreseen or willed, but which 
Augustus was first to recognise in the winter of 
15-14 B.C., and to which, astute man that he was, 
he gave heed as he ought ; that is, not as due his own 
merit, but as an unexpected piece of good fortune. 
I have already said that one of the greatest cares 
of Augustus, as soon as the civil wars were finished, 
was to reorganise the finances of the Empire ; that 
to find new entries for the treasury, he had turned 
his attention in 27 B.C. to the province conquered 
by his father, regarding it merely from the com- 

The Development of Gaul 93 

mon point of view, as poor and of little worth 
like the other European territories. Then, at a 
stroke, he realised that that territory so lightly 
valued, was producing grain like Egypt, linen like 
Egypt; that the arts of civilisation for which 
Egypt was so rich and famous were beginning to 
prosper there! Augustus was not the man to let 
slip so tremendous a piece of good luck. Until 
then he had hesitated, like one who seeks his way ; 
in that winter from 13-14 B.C., he found finally 
the grand climax of his career, to make Gaul the 
Egypt of the West, the province of the greatest 
revenues in Europe. From that time on to the end 
of his life, he did not move from Europe ; he lived 
between Italy and Gaul. Like him, Tiberius, 
Drusus, all the men of his family, devoted all 
their efforts to Gaul, to consolidating Roman 
dominion there, to advancing its progress, to 
increasing the revenues, to making it actually 
the Occidental Egypt. From Velleius we learn 
that under Tiberius Gaul rendered to the Empire 
as much as did Egypt, and that Gaul and Egypt 
were considered alike the two richest imperial 

As a political interest had at first impelled 
Caesar to annex Gaul, an immediate financial 
interest urged Augustus to continue the work. 

94 The Development of Gaul 

to take care of the new province. Then the his- 
toric law that I have already enunciated to you, 
the law by which the efforts of men result far 
differently from that which they had intended, 
was verified anew by Augustus also, and in a new 
form. He had created his Gallic policy to aug- 
ment the revenues of the Empire ; the consequences 
of this fiscal policy, necessity-inspired, were 
greater than he and his friends ever dreamed. 
The winter of 15-14 b.c. is a notable date in the 
story of Latin civilisation, for then the destiny 
of the Empire was irrevocably settled ; the Roman 
Empire will be made up of two parts, the Oriental 
and the Occidental, each part sufficiently strong 
to withstand being overcome by the other; it 
will be neither an Asiatic, nor a Celtic-Latin, but 
a mixed Empire: between both parts, Italy will 
rule for two centuries more, and Rome, an im- 
mense city, at once Oriental and Latin, will keep 
the metropolitan crown won from the enfeebled 
East, and dominate the immature barbarian West. 
Speaking of Cleopatra, I have shown you how 
great was the Oriental peril that threatened in 
the last century of the Republic to wipe out Rome. 
What miraculous force saved it? Gaul. Suppose 
that the army of Caesar had been exterminated 
at Alesia; suppose that Rome, discouraged, had 

The Development of Gaul 95 

abandoned its Gallic enterprise as it had done 
with Persia, after the disaster of Crassus and 
the failure of Antony; or suppose that Gaul had 
been a poor province, sterile and unpopulous, 
like many a Danube district ; Rome could not have 
held out long as the seat of imperial government, 
just as to-day the capital of the Russian Empire 
could not maintain itself at Vladivostok or Harbin. 
It would have been necessary to move the metro- 
polis to a richer and more populous region. That 
Gaul grew rich and was Romanised, changed the 
state of things. When Rome possessed beyond 
the Alps in Europe a province as large and as 
full of resources as Egypt; when there was the 
same interest in defending it as in defending Egypt, 
Italy was well placed to govern both. The Egypt 
of the Occident counterbalanced the Egypt of 
the Orient, and Rome, half way between, was the 
natural and necessary metropolis of the wide- 
spread Empire. Gaul alone, revived, so to speak, 
the Empire in the West and prevented the Euro- 
pean provinces — even Italy itself — from becom- 
ing dead limbs safely amputable from the Oriental 
body. Gaul upheld Italy and Rome in Europe 
for three centuries longer; Gaul stopped it on 
the way to the Asiatic conquests run through by 
Alexander. Had it not been for Gaul, Asia Minor, 

96 The Development of Gaul 

Syria, and Egypt would have formed the real 
Empire of Rome, and Italy would have been lost 
in it: without Gaul, the Orientalised Empire 
would have tried to conquer Persia and probably 
succeeded in doing so, abandoning the poor and 
unproductive lands of the untamed Occident. 
In short, Gaul created in the Roman Empire 
that duality between East and West which gives 
shape to all the history of our civilisation ; it kept 
the artificial form of the Empire, circular about 
an island sea; it inspired the Empire with that 
double self-contradictory spirit, Latin and Orien- 
tal, at once its strength and its weakness. 

Next time I will show you the continuation of 
this struggle of two minds, in a characteristic 
episode, the story of the Emperor Nero. Now, 
before closing, let me set before you briefly some 
general considerations drawn from the history 
of Roman Gaul which are applicable to universal 

From what I have told you, it follows that the 
fortunes of peoples and states depend in part on 
what might be called the historic situation of 
every age, the situation that is created by the 
general state of the world in every successive epoch 
and which no people or state can mould at its 
own pleasure. Without doubt, a nation will never 

The Development of Gaul 97 

conquer a noteworthy greatness if the men that 
compose it fail of a certain culture, a certain energy, 
a social morale sufficiently vigorous; but though 
these qualities are necessary, they are not equally 
productive in all periods, but serve more or less, 
in different periods, according as general circum- 
stances are disposed about a people. Gaul was 
fertile, and its people possessed before the con- 
quest the qualities that they displayed later: 
and yet, as long as Gaul remained apart from the 
Empire, without continuous and numerous com- 
munications with the vast Mediterranean world; 
as long as it was split into so many petty rival 
states, occupied in serious wars against the Ger- 
manic tribes, its fertility remained hidden in the 
earth, and the ability of its inhabitants dissipated 
itself in devastating wars, instead of spending 
itself in fruitful effort. All that changed, and 
without any one's foresight or intent, when the 
Roman policy, urged by the internal forces that 
stirred the Republic, had destroyed that old order 
of things. 

The ancients understood that peoples, like in- 
dividual men, can regulate their destiny only in 
part ; that about us, above us, are forces complex 
and obscure, which we can hardly comprehend, 
which invest us, seize us, impel us whither we 

98 The Development of Gaul 

had not thought to go, now to shipwreck on the 
rocks of misadventure, now to the discovery of 
islands of happiness, or to find, like Columbus, 
an America on the way to India. The Greeks 
called this power ; the Latins, Fortuna, and deified 
it ; erected temples and made sacrifices to it ; dedi- 
cated to it a cult, of which Augustus was a devo- 
tee, and which contained more secret wisdom of 
life than all the superb theories on human des- 
tiny conceived by European genius in the delirium 
of this quarter-hour of measureless might in which 
we are living. No, man is not the voluntary 
artificer of his whole destiny ; fortune and misfor- 
tune, triumph and catastrophe, are never entirely 
proportioned to personal merit or blame; every 
generation finds the world organised in a certain 
order of interests, forces, traditions, relations, 
and as it enjoys the good that preceding genera- 
tions have accomplished, so in part it expiates 
the errors they have committed; as it draws ad- 
vantage from beneficent forces acting outside of 
it and independent of its merit, so it suffers from 
the sinister forces that it finds — even though 
blameless itself — acting through the great mass 
of the world, among men and their works. From 
this relation to the unseen follows a rule of wis- 
dom that modem men, full of unbounded pride, 

The Development of Gaul 99 

and persuaded that they are the beginning and 
end of the universe, too often forget: we must 
indeed press on with all our powers to the accom- 
plishment of a great task, for although our destiny- 
is never entirely made by our own hands, there 
is no destiny on the earth for the lazy ; but, since 
a part of what we are depends not on ourselves, 
but upon what the ancients called Fortune, we 
dare never be too much elated over success, nor 
abased by failure. The wheel of destiny turns 
by a mysterious law, alike for families and for 
peoples: those in high position may fall; those 
in low, may rise. 

Certainly Csesar never suspected when he was 
fighting the Gauls, that the great-grandsons of 
the vanquished would live in villas modelled on 
the Roman, but more sumptuous; that the great 
Gallic nobles would have the satisfaction of parad- 
ing before the people that conquered them a latin- 
ity more impressive and magnificent; and that 
some day the Gaul put by him to fire and sword 
would get the better, in empire, in wealth, in cul- 
ture, of even Italy. 


f~\^ the 13th of October of 54 a.d., when Em- 
^-^ peror Claudius died, the Senate chose as 
his successor his adopted son, Nero, a young man 
of seventeen, fat and short-sighted, who had until 
then studied only music, singing, and drawing. 
This choice of a child-emperor, who lacked im- 
perial qualities and suggested the child kings of 
Oriental monarchies, was a scandalous novelty in 
the constitutional history of Rome. The ancient 
historians, especially Tacitus, considered the event 
as the result of an intrigue, cleverly arranged by 
Nero 's mother, Agrippina, a daughter of German- 
icus and granddaughter of Agrippa, the builder 
of the Pantheon. According to these historians, 
Agrippina, a highly ambitious woman, induced 
Claudius to marry her after Messalina's death, 
although she was a widow and had a child, and as 
soon as she entered the emperor 's mansion she 
began to open the way for the election of her son. 
In order to exclude Britannicus, the son of Messa- 
lina, from succession, she persuaded Claudius to 
adopt Nero ; then, with the help of the two tutors 

I04 Nero 

of the young man, Seneca and Burrhus, created 
in the Senate and among the Praetorians, a party 
favourable to her son ; no sooner did she feel that 
she could rely on the Senate and the Praetorians, 
than she poisoned Claudius. 

Too many difficulties prevent our accepting 
this version. To cite one of them will suffice: if 
Agrippina wished — as she surely did — ^that her 
son should succeed Claudius, she must also have 
wished that Claudius would live at least eight or 
ten years longer. As a great-grandson of Drusus, 
a grandson of Germanicus and the last descendant 
of his line, the only line in the whole family en- 
joying a real popularity, Nero was sure of election 
if he were of age at the death of Claudius. After 
the terrible scandal in which his mother had dis- 
appeared, Britannicus was no longer a competitor 
to be feared. There was only one danger for Nero, 
if Claudius should die too soon, the Senate might 
refuse to trust the Empire to a child. 

I believe that Claudius died of disease, probably, 
if we can judge from Tacitus 's account, of gastro- 
enteritis, and that Agrippina 's coterie, surprised 
by this sudden death, which upset all their plans, 
decided to put through Nero's election in spite 
of his youth, in order to insure the power to the 
line of Drusus, which had so much sympathy 

Nero I OS 

among the masses. As a matter of fact, the ad- 
miration for Drusus and his family triumphed 
over all other considerations: Nero became em- 
peror at seventeen; but when the election was 
over, Rome — again according to the tales of the 
ancient historians — saw a still greater scandal 
than his election. The young man — and this is 
credible — hastened to engage as his master the 
first zither-player of Rome, Terpnos; continued 
his study of singing ; and bought statues, pictures, 
bronzes, beautiful slaves, while his mother seized 
the actual control of the State. 

Agrippina insisted on being kept informed of 
all affairs; directed the home and foreign policy; 
and if she did not reach the point of partaking in 
the sessions of the Senate, which would have been 
the supreme scandal, she called it to meet in her 
palace and, concealed behind a black curtain, 
listened to its discussions. In short, the Empire 
fell into the hands of a woman; Rome saw the 
evolution of customs, through which woman had 
for four centuries been freeing herself from her 
ancient slavery, suddenly a fact accomplished 
by her visible intervention in politics — the inter- 
vention that the great keepers of tradition, first 
among them Cato, had always decried as the most 
frightful cataclysm that could menace the city. 

io6 Nero 

This story is also the exaggeration of a simpler 
truth. Even if Nero had been a very serious 
young man, at his age he could not by himself 
have governed the Empire; it would have been 
necessary for him to serve a long apprenticeship 
and to Hsten to experienced counsellors. Burrhus 
and Seneca, his two teachers, were naturally des- 
tined to be his counsellors; but why should not 
his mother also have helped him? Like all the 
women of her family, Agrippina was of superior 
mind, of high culture, and, as Tacitus himself 
admits, led a most respectable life, at least to the 
time of her marriage with Claudius. Brought 
up, as she was, in that family which for eighty 
years had been governing the Empire, she was 
well informed about affairs of State. Is it possible 
to suppose that such a woman would shut herself 
up in her home to weave wool, when, with her 
talent, her energy, her experience, she could be of 
so much service to her son and to the State ? We 
do not need to attribute to Agrippina a monstrous 
ambition, as does Tacitus, in order to explain how 
the Empire was ruled during the first two years, by 
Seneca, Burrhus, and Agrippina; it was a natural 
consequence of the situation created by the pre- 
mature death of Claudius. Tacitus himself is forced 
to recognise that the government w^s excellent. 

Nero 107 

Helping her son in the apprenticeship of the 
Empire, Agrippina did her duty ; but during rest- 
less times when misunderstanding is almost a 
law of social life, it is often very dangerous to do 
one's duty. The period of Agrippina and Nero 
was full of confusion; though apparently quiet, 
Italy was deeply torn by the great struggle that 
gives the history of the Empire its marvellous 
character of actuality, the struggle between the 
old Roman military society and the intellectual 
civilisation of the Orient. 

The ancient aristocratic and military Roman 
society had had so great and world-wide a success, 
that the ideas, the institutions and the customs, 
that had made it a perfect model of State, con- 
sidered as an organ of political and military domi- 
nation, exercised a great prestige on the following 
generations. Even during the time of which we 
speak, every one was forced after eight years of 
peace, to admit that the Empire had been created 
by those ideas, those institutions and those cus- 
toms ; that for the sake of the Empire they must 
be maintained, and alike in family as in State, 
must be opposed all that forms the essence of 
intellectual civihsation; that is to say, all that 
develops personal selfishness at the expense of 
collective interest — luxury, idleness, pleasure, cell- 

io8 Nero 

bacy, feminism, and at the same time, all that 
develops personality and intelligence at the expense 
of tradition — Hberty of women, independence of 
children, variety of personal tendencies, and the 
critical spirit in all forms. 

In spite of the resistance offered by traditions, 
peace and wealth favoured everywhere the dif- 
fusion of the intellectual civilisation of the Hel- 
lenised Orient. The woman now become free, 
and the intellectual man now become powerful, 
were the springs to set in motion this revolution. 
Under Claudius, in vain had they exiled Seneca, 
the brilliant philosopher and the peace-advoca- 
ting humanitarian, who had diffused in high 
Roman society so many ideas and sentiments 
considered by the traditionalists pernicious to 
the force of the State ; he had come back far more 
powerful, and ruled the Empire. Husbands, 
burdened by the excessive expenses, by the too 
frequent infidelities, by the tyrannical caprices 
of their wives, in vain regretted the good old time 
when husbands were absolute masters ; the invad- 
ing feminism weakened everywhere the strength 
of the aristocratic and military traditions. 

So contradiction was everywhere. The Repub- 
lic had still its old aristocratic constitution, but the 
nobility was no longer spurred by that absorbing 

Nero 109 

and exclusive passion for politics and war, which 
had been its power. Society life, pleasure, amateur 
philosophy and literature, mysticism, and, above 
all, sports, dissipated in a thousand directions 
its energy and activity. Too many young men 
were to be found in the nobility who, like Nero, 
preferred singing, dancing, and driving, to caring 
for their clients or enduring the troubles of public 

Augustus and Tiberius had done their utmost 
to strengthen the great Latin principle of par- 
simony in public and private life: in order to set 
a good example they had lived very simply ; they 
had caused new sumptuary laws to be passed and 
tried to enforce the old ones; they had spent the 
State moneys, not for the keeping of artists and 
writers, nor for the building of monuments of 
useless size, but to build the great roads of the 
Empire, to strengthen the frontiers i they had 
made the public treasure into an aid fund for all 
suEEering cities, stricken by earthquake, fire, or 
flood. And yet the Oriental influence, so favour- 
able to unproductive and luxurious expenditure, 
gained ground steadily. The merchant of Syrian 
and Egyptian objects de luxe, in spite of the sump- 
tuary laws, found a yearly increasing patronage 
in all the cities of Italy. The exactingness of the 



desire for public spectacles increased, even in 
secondary cities. The Italian people were losing 
their peasant's petty avarice and growing fond 
of things monumental and colossal, which was 
the great folly of the Orient. They found the 
monuments of Rome poor; everywhere, even in 
modest municipia, they demanded immense thea- 
tres, great temples, monumental basilicas, spacious 
forums, adorned with statues. In spite of the 
principles insisted upon with so much vigour by 
Augustus and Tiberius, public finances had, thanks 
to the weak Claudius and the extravagant Messa- 
lina, already gone through a period of great waste 
and disorder. 

These contradictions, and the psychological 
disorder that followed, explain the discords and 
struggles very soon raging around the young Em- 
peror. The public began to feel shocked by the 
attention that Agrippina gave to State affairs, 
as by a new and this time intolerable scandal of 
feminism. Agrippina was not a feminist, as a 
matter of fact, but a traditionalist, proud of the 
glory of her family, attached to the ancient Roman 
ideas, desirous only of seeing her son develop into 
a new Germanicus, a second Drusus. Solely the 
necessity of helping Nero had led her to meddle 
with politics. But not in vain had Cato declaimed 

Nero 1 1 1 

so loudly in Rome against women who pretend 
to govern states ; not in vain had Augustus's domi- 
nation been at least partly founded on the great 
antifeminist legend of Antony and Cleopatra, 
which represented the fall of the great Triumvir 
as the consequence of a woman's influence. The 
public, although willing to give all possible free- 
dom to women in other things, still remained quite 
firm on this point : politics must remain the mono- 
poly of man. So to the popular imagination, 
Agrippina soon became a sort of Roman Cleo- 
patra. Many interests gathered quickly to rein- 
force this antifeminist reaction, which, although 
exaggerated, had its origin in sincere feeling. 

Agrippina, as a true descendant of Drusus, 
meant to prepare her son to rule the Empire ac- 
cording to the principles held by his great ances- 
tors. Among these principles was to be counted 
not only the defence of Romanism and the mainte- 
nance of the aristocratic constitution, but also 
a wise economy in the management of finances. 
Agrippina is a good instance of that well-known 
fact- — the British have noticed it more than once 
in India — that in public administration discreet 
and capable women keep, as a rule, the spirit of 
economy with which they manage the home. This 
is why, especially in despotic states, they rule 



better than men. Even before Claudius 's death, 
Agrippina had vigorously opposed waste and 
plunder; it also appears that the reorganisation 
of finances after Messalina 's death was due chiefly 
to her. 

The continuation under Nero of this severe 
regime displeased a great number of persons, who 
dreamed of seeing again the easy sway of Messa- 
lina. From the moment they were satisfied that 
Agrippina, like Augustus and Tiberius, would 
not allow the public money to be stolen, many 
people found her insistent interference in public 
affairs unbearable. In short, Agrippina became 
unpopular, and, as always happens, because of 
faults she did not have. A noble deed, which 
she was trying to accomplish in defence of tradi- 
tion, definitively compromised her situation. 

Her son resembled neither Agrippina nor the 
great men of her family. He had a most indocile 
temperament, rebellious to tradition, in no sense 
Roman. Little by little, Agrippina saw the young 
Emperor develop into a precocious debauch^, fright- 
fully selfish, erratically vain, full of extravagant 
ideas, who, instead of setting the example of re- 
spect toward sumptuary laws, openly violated 
them all; and across whose mind from time to 
time flashed sinister lightnings of cruelty. Nero 's 

Nero 113 

youth — ^the fact is not surprising — did not resist 
the mortal seductions of immense power and im- 
mense riches; but Agrippina, the proud grand- 
daughter of the conqueror of Germany, must 
have chafed at the idea of her son's preferring 
musical entertainments to the sessions of the 
Senate, singing lessons to the study of tactics and 

She applied herself, therefore, with all her en- 
ergy to the work of tearing her son from his pleas- 
ures, and bringing about his return to the great 
traditions of his family. Nero resisted : the strug- 
gle between mother and son grew complicated; 
it excited the passion of the public, which felt 
that this conflict had a greater importance than 
any other family quarrel, that it was actually a 
struggle between traditional Romanism and Ori- 
ental customs. Unfortunately, every one sided 
with Nero : the sincere friends of tradition, because 
they did not want the rule of a woman, whoever 
she might be; those that longed for Messalina's 
times, because they saw personified in Agrippina 
the austere and inflexible spirit of the gens Clau- 
dia. The situation was soon without an issue. 
The accord of Agrippina with Seneca and Bur- 
rhus was troubled, because the two teachers of 
the young Emperor, under the impression of public 

114 Nero 

malcontent, had somewhat withdrawn from her. 
Nero, who was sullen, cynical, and lazy, feared 
his mother too much to have the courage to oppose 
her openly, but he did not fear her enough to 
mend his ways. The mother, on her side, was 
set to do her duty to the end. Like all situations 
without an issue, this one was suddenly solved 
by an unexpected event. 

Insisting on wanting to make a Roman of this 
young debaucM, Agrippina made him into a mur- 
derer. Nero, progressing from one caprice to an- 
other, finally imagined a great folly: to divorce 
Octavia and to raise to her place a beautiful freed- 
woman called Acte. According to one of the 
fundamental laws of the State, the great law of 
Augustus on marriage, which forbade marriages 
between senators and freedwomen, the union of 
Nero and Acte could be only a concubinage. 
Agrippina wanted to avoid this scandal; and, as 
Nero persisted in his idea, it seems that she actu- 
ally thought of having him deposed and of securing 
the choice of Britannicus, a very serious young 
man, as his successor. A true Roman, Agrippina 
was ready to sacrifice her son for the sake of the 

The threat was, or appeared to be, so serious 
to Nero, that it made him step over the threshold 

Nero 1 1 s 

of crime. One day during a great dinner to which 
he had been invited by Nero, Britannicus was 
suddenly seized with violent convulsions. "It is 
an attack of epilepsy," said Nero calmly, giving 
orders to his slaves to remove Britannicus and 
care for him. The young man died in a few hours 
and every one believed that Nero had poisoned 

This dastardly crime aroused at first a sense of 
horror and fright among the people, but the im- 
pression did not last long. In spite of all his faults, 
Nero was liked. In Rome they had respected 
Augustus and hated Tiberius; they had killed 
Caligula and jeered at Claudius; Nero seemed to 
be the first of the Roman Emperors who stood 
a chance of becoming popular. Contrary to Agrip- 
pina's ideas, it was his frivolity that pleased the 
great masses, because this frivolity corresponded 
to the slow but progressive decay of the old Roman 
virtues in them. They expected from Nero a less 
hard, less severe, less parsimonious government — 
in a word, a government less Roman than the 
rule of his predecessors, a government which, 
instead of force, glory, and wisdom, meant pleas- 
ure and ease. 

So it happened that many soon forgot the un- 
fortunate Britannicus, and some even tried to 

ii6 Nero 

justify Nero by invoking State necessity. Agrip- 
pina alone remained the object of the universal 
hatred, as the sole cause of so many misfortunes. 
Implacable enemies, concealed in the shadow, 
were subtly at work against her- they organised 
a compaign of absurd calumnies in the Court itself, 
and it is this campaign from which Tacitus drew 
his material. 

Some wretches finally dared even accuse her 
of conspiracy against the life of her son. Agrip- 
pina, refusing to plead for herself, still weathered 
the storm, because Nero was afraid of her, and 
though he tried to escape from her authority, 
did not dare to initiate any energetic move against 
her. To engage in a final struggle with so indomi- 
table a woman, another woman was necessary. 
This woman was Poppsea Sabina, a very hand- 
some and able dame of the great Roman nobility. 
Poppffia represented Oriental feminism in its 
most dangerous form: a woman completely de- 
moralised by luxury, elegance, society life, and 
voluptuousness, who eluded all her duties toward 
the species in order to enjoy and make others 
enjoy her beauty. 

Corrupted as that age was, Poppsea was more 
corrupt. As soon as she observed the strong im- 
pression she had made on Nero, she conceived 

Nero 117 

the plan of becoming his wife; her beauty would 
then be admired by the whole Empire, would be 
surrounded by a luxury for which the means of 
her husband were not sufficient, and with which 
no other Roman dame could compete. There 
was one obstacle — ^Agrippina. 

Agrippina protected Octavia, a true Roman 
woman, simple and honest: Agrippina would 
never consent to this absolutely unjustifiable 
divorce. To force Nero to a decisive move against 
his mother, Poppasa had her husband sent on some 
mission to Lusitania and became the mistress 
of the Emperor. From that point the situation 
changed. Dominated by Poppasa's influence, 
Nero found the courage to force Agrippina 
to abandon his palace and seek refuge in 
Antony's house; he took from her the privilege 
of Praetorian guards, which he himself had granted 
her; he reduced to a minimum the number and 
time of his visits, and carefully avoided being 
left alone with her. Agrippina 's influence, to the 
general satisfaction, rapidly declined, while Nero 
gained every day in popularity. Agrippina, how- 
ever, was too energetic a woman peaceably to 
resign herself: she began a violent campaign 
against the two adulterers, which deeply troubled 
the public. In Rome, where Augustus had pro- 

ii8 Nero 

mulgated his stern law against adulteiy ; in Rome, 
where Augustus himself had been obliged to sub- 
mit to his own law, when he exiled his daughter 
and his grand-daughter and almost exterminated 
the whole family ; in Rome, a young man of twenty- 
two dared all but officially introduce adultery 
and polygamy into the Palatine ! In her struggle 
against Nero, Agrippina once more stood on tra- 
dition: and Nero was afraid. 

Poppsea was probably the one who suggested 
to Nero the idea of killing Agrippina. The idea 
had been, as it were, floating in the air for a long 
time, because Agrippina was embarrassing to 
many persons and interests. It was chiefly the 
party that wanted to sack the imperial budget, 
to introduce the finance of great expenditure, 
which could not tolerate this clever and energetic 
woman, who was so faithful to the great traditions 
of Augustus and Tiberius, who could neither be 
frightened nor corrupted. One should not con- 
sider the assassination of Agrippina as a simple 
personal crime of Nero, as the result of his and 
Poppasa's quarrels with his mother. This crime, 
besides personal causes, had a political origin. 
Nero would never have dared commit such a mis- 
deed, in the eyes of the Roman almost a sacrilege, 
if he had not been encouraged by Agrippina 's 

Nero 119 

unpopularity, by the violent hatred of so many 
against his mother. 

Nero hesitated long; he decided only when his 
freedman, Anicetus, the commander of the fleet, 
proposed a plan that seemed to guarantee secrecy 
for the crime : to have a ship built with a concealed 
trap. It was the spring of the year 59 a.d. ; the 
Court had moved to Baias, on the Gulf of Naples. 
If Nero succeeded in getting his mother on board 
the vessel, Anicetus would take upon himself the 
task of burying quickly below the waves the 
secret of her death ; the people who hated Agrip- 
pina would easily be satisfied with the explanations 
to be given them. 

Nero executed his part of the plan in perfect 
cold-blood. He made beHeve he had repented 
and was anxious for a reconciliation with his 
mother; he invited her to Baise and so pro- 
fusely lavished kindnesses and amiabilities upon 
her, that Agrippina finally believed in his 

After spending a few days at Baias, Agrippina 
decided to return to Antium; in a very happy 
frame of mind and full of hopes that her son would 
soon show himself to the world the man she had 
dreamed, the descendant of Drusus, she boarded 
one evening the fatal ship; Nero had escorted 

I20 Nero 

her thither and pressed her to his heart with the 
most demonstrative tenderness. 

A calm night diffused its starry shadows over 
the quiet sea, which with subdued murmur 
lulled in their sleep the great summer homes 
along the shore. The ship departed, carrying 
toward her sombre destiny Agrippina, absorbed in 
her smiHng dreams. When the moment came and 
the wrecking machine was set to work, the vessel 
did not sink as fast as they had hoped: it hsted, 
overturning people and things. Agrippina had 
time to understand the danger; with admirable 
presence of mind she jumped overboard and es- 
caped by swimming, while, during the confusion 
on the boat, the hired murderers killed one of 
Agrippina 's freedwomen, mistaking her for Agrip- 
pina herself. The ship finally sank ; the murderers 
also took to the water ; everything returned to its 
wonted calm; the starry night still diffused its 
silent shadows ; the sea still cradled with subdued 
murmur the homes along the coast — all men 
slept except one. 

Within this one, Anxiety watched: a son was 
awaiting the news that his mother was dead, and 
that he was free to celebrate a criminal marriage. 
The escaped murderers soon brought the news 
so impatiently expected — but Nero's joy was short. 



At dawn, a freedman of Agrippina arrived at the 
Emperor 's villa. Agrippina, picked up by a boat, 
had succeeded in reaching one of her villas near 
by; she sent the freedman to tell the Emperor 
about the accident and to assure him of her safety. 
Agrippina alive! It was like a thunderbolt to 
Nero, and he lost his head: he saw his mother 
hurrying on to Rome, denouncing the abominable 
attempt to Senate and people, rousing against 
him the Praetorian guard and the legions. Thor- 
oughly frightened, he summoned Seneca and 
Burrhus and laid before them the terrible situation. 
It is easy to imagine the shock of the old precep- 
tors. How could he risk such a grave imprudence ? 
And yet there was no time to lose in reproaches. 
Nero begged for advice : Seneca and Burrhus were 
silent, but they, also frightened, asked of them- 
selves what Agrippina would do. Would she not 
provoke a colossal scandal, which would ruin 
everything? An expedient, the same one, occurred 
to both of them : but so sinister was the idea that 
they dared not speak it. This time, however, both 
the philosopher and the general were deceived as 
well as Nero: Agrippina had guessed the truth 
and given up the struggle. What could she, a 
lone woman do against an Emperor who did not 
stop even at the plan of murdering his mother? 

122 Nero 

She realised, during that awful night, that only 
one chance of safety was left to her^ — to ignore 
what had taken place ; and she sent her freedman 
with the message that meant forgiveness. But 
fear kept Nero and his counsellors from under- 
standing ; and when they could easily have reme- 
died the preceding mistake, they compromised 
all by a supreme error. Finally Seneca, the paci- 
ficator and humanitarian philosopher, thought 
he had found the way of making half-openly the 
only suggestion which seemed wise to him: he 
turned to Burrhus and asked what might happen, 
if an order were given the Prstorians to kill Nero 's 
mother. Burrhus understood that his colleague, 
although the first to give the fatal advice, was 
trying to shift upon him the much more serious 
responsibility of carrying it out; since, if they 
reached the decision of having Agrippina disposed 
of by the Prstorians, no one but he, the commander 
of the guard, could utter the order. He therefore 
protested with the greatest energy that the Prs- 
torians would never lay murderous hands on the 
daughter of Germanicus. Then he added cogita- 
tively that, if it were thought necessary, Anicetus 
and his sailors could finish the work already begun. 
Thus Burrhus gave the same advice as Seneca, 
but he, like his colleague, meant to pass on to 

Nero 123 

some one else the task of execution. He chose 
better than Seneca: Anicetus, if Agrippina lived, 
ran a serious risk of becoming the scapegoat of all 
this affair. In fact, as soon as Nero gave his as- 
sent, Anicetus and a few sailors hastened to the 
villa of Agrippina and stabbed her. 

The crime was abominable. Nero and his circle 
were so awed by it that they attempted to make 
the people believe that Agrippina had committed 
suicide, when her conspiracy against her son's 
hfe had been discovered. This was the official 
version of Agrippina 's death, sent by Nero to the 
Senate. But this audacious mystification had^ 
no success. The public divined the truth, and 
roused by the voice of their age-long instincts, 
they cried out that the Emperor no less than any 
peasant of Italy must revere his father and his 
mother. Through a sudden turn of public feeling, 
Agrippina, who had been so much hated during 
her life, became the object of a kind of popular 
veneration ; Nero, on the other hand, and Poppjea 
inspired a sentiment of profound horror. 

If Nero had found the Hving Agrippina unbear- 
able, he soon realised that his dead mother was 
much more to be feared. In fact, scared as he 
was by the popular agitation, not only had he 
temporarily to give up the plan of divorcing 

124 Nero 

Octavia and marrying Poppsea, but felt obliged 
to stay several months at Baiae, not daring to 
return to Rome. He was, however, no longer a 
child: he was twenty -three years old and had 
some talent. Men of intelligence and energy were 
also not wanting in his entourage. The first shock 
once over, the Emperor and his coterie rallied. 
The first impression had indeed been disastrous, 
but had brought about no irreparable consequen- 
ces — ^the only consequences that count in politics. 
One could therefore hope that the public would 
gradually forget this murder as they had forgotten 
that of Britannicus. One only needed to help 
them forget. Nero resolved to give Italy and 
Rome the administrative revolution that had 
found in Agrippina so determined an opponent, 
the easy, splendid, generous government that 
seemed to suit the popular taste. 

He began by organising among the jeunesse 
dorie of Rome the ' ' festivals of youth. " In these 
true demonstrations against the old aristocratic 
education, now in the house of one and then in 
the garden of another, the young patricians met 
under the Emperor's directions. They sang, 
recited, and danced, displaying all the tendencies 
that tradition held unworthy of a Roman noble- 
man. Later, Nero built in the Vatican fields a 

Nero 125 

private stadium, where he amused himself with 
driving, and invited his friends to join him. He 
surrounded himself with poets, musicians, singers ; 
enormously increased the budget of popular fes- 
tivals; planned and started immense construc- 
tions ; introduced into all parts of the administra- 
tion a new spirit of carelessness and ease. Not 
only the sumptuary laws, but all laws commanding 
the fulfilment of human duties toward the species, 
such as the great laws of Augustus on marriage 
and adultery, were no longer appHed ; the surveil- 
lance of the Senate over the governors, that of 
the governors over the cities, slackened. In Rome, 
in all Italy, in the provinces, the treasuries of 
the Republic, the possessions and the funds of 
the cities, were robbed. In the midst of this un- 
bridled plundering, which appeared to make every 
man rich quickly, and without work, a delirium 
of luxury and pleasure reigned: in Rome especially, 
people lived in a continuous orgy; the nobiUty 
answered in crowds the invitations of Nero; the 
Senate, the great houses, where the conquerors 
of the world had been bom, swarmed with young 
athletes and drivers, who had no other ambition 
but that of adding the prize of a race to the war 
trophies of their ancestors; the imperial palace 
was invaded by a noisy horde of zitherists, actors, 

126 Nero 

jockeys, athletes, among whom Burrhus and, 
still more, Seneca, were beginning to feel most 
ill at ease. 

Agrippina's death, even though it had yet de- 
ferred Nero's marrying Poppaea, had made pos- 
sible the change in the government that a part 
of the people wished. We owe to this new prin- 
ciple the immense ruins of ancient Romej but 
this fact does not authorise us to consider it a 
Roman principle: it was, instead, a principle of 
Oriental civilisation which had forced itself upon 
the Roman traditions after a long and painful 
effort. The revolution, however, had been long 
preparing and corresponded to the popular as- 
pirations. It would, therefore, have redounded 
to the advantage of the Emperor, who had dared 
to break loose from a superannuated tradition, 
had not Agrippina's spectre still haunted Rome. 
To their honour be it said, the people of Rome 
and Italy had not yet become so corrupted by 
Oriental civilisation as to forget parricide in a 
few festivals. 

The party of tradition, though weakened, ex- 
isted. They began a brave fight against Nero, 
using the assassination of Agrippina as the adverse 
party had exploited the antifeminist prejudices of 
the masses against Agrippina herself. They de- 

Nero 127 

nounced the parricide to the people, in order to 
attack the champion of Orientalism and irritate 
against him the indifferent mass, which, not under- 
standing the great struggle between the Orient 
and Rome, remained unstirred. Hoping the ex- 
citement of spirit had somewhat subsided, Nero 
had finally carried out his old plan of divorcing 
Octavia and marrying Poppaea; but the divorce 
caused great popular demonstrations in Rome in 
favour of the abused wife and against the intruder. 

Moreover, thanks to his extravagance, Nero 
made things very easy for his enemies, the defend- 
ers of tradition. His habits of dissipation exag- 
gerated all the faults of his character, chiefly his 
morbid need of showing himself off, of defying 
the public, their prejudices, their opinions. It is 
difficult to discern how much is true and how 
much is false in the hideous stories of debauchery 
handed down to us by the ancient writers, par- 
ticularly Suetonius. 

Although one might believe — and I believe it 
for my part — ^that there is a great deal of exag- 
geration in such tales, it is certain that Nero's 
personality played too conspicuous a part in his 
administrative revolution. Ready as the people 
were to admire a more generous and luxurious 
government than that of Augustus, Tiberius, and 

128 Nero 

Claudius, they still liked to look to the chief of 
State as to a man of gravity and austerity, who 
let others amuse themselves, though he himself 
be bored. The vain and bizarre young man, who 
was always the guest of honour at his own fiies, 
who never hesitated to satisfy his most extrava- 
gant caprices, who spent so much money to divert 
himself, shocked the last republican susceptibili- 
ties of Italy. The wise felt alarmed: with such 
expenses, would it not all end in bankruptcy? 
For all these causes, they soon began to reproach 
Nero for his prodigality, although the people 
enjoyed it, just as they had been malcontent with 
Tiberius for his parsimony. His caprices, ever 
stranger, little by little roused even that part of 
the public which was not fanatically attached to 
tradition. At that time Nero developed his foohsh 
vanity of actor, his caprice for the theatre, which 
soon was to become an all-absorbing mania. The 
chief of the Empire, the heir of Julius Caesar, 
dreamed of nothing else than descending from 
the height of human grandeur to the scene of a 
theatre, to experience before the public the sensa- 
tions of those players whom the Roman nobility 
had always regarded as instruments of infamous 
pleasure ! 

Disgusted with Nero's mismanagement and 

Nero 129 

follies, Seneca took the death of Burrhus as an 
opportunity to retire. Then Nero, freed from the 
last person who still retained any influence over 
him, gave himself up entirely to the insane swirl 
of his caprices. He ended one day by presenting 
himself in the theatre of Naples. Naples was 
yet then a Greek city. Nero had chosen it for 
this reason; he was applauded with frenzy. But 
the Italians of the other cities protested : the chief 
of the Empire appearing in a theatre, his hand on 
the zither and not on the sword! Imagine what 
would be the impression if some day a sovereign 
went on the stage of the folies Berghes as a 
"number" for a sleight-of-hand performance! 

Public attention, however, was turned from 
this immense scandal by a frightful calamity — ^the 
famous conflagration of Rome, which began the 
nineteenth of July of the year 64 and devastated 
almost all quarters of the city for ten days. What 
was the cause of the great disaster? This very 
obscure point has much interested historians, 
who have tried in vain to throw light on the sub- 
ject. As far as I am concerned, I by no means 
exclude the hypothesis that the fire might have 
been accidental. But when they are crushed 
under the weight of a great misfortune, men always 
feel sure that they are the victims of human 

13° Nero 

wickedness: a sad proof of their distrust in their 
fellow men. The plebs, reduced to utter misery by 
the disaster, began to murmur that mysterious 
people had been seen hurrying through the 
different quarters, kindling the fire and cum- 
bering the work of help; these incendiaries 
must have been sent by some one in power — 
by whom? 

A strange rumour circulated: Nero himself 
had ordered the city to be burned, in order to 
enjoy a unique sight, to get an idea of the fire of 
Troy, to have the glory of rebuilding Rome on 
a more magnificent scale. The accusation seems 
to me absurd. Nero was a criminal, but he was 
not a fool to the point of provoking the wrath of 
the whole people for so light a motive, especially 
after Agrippina 's death. Tacitus himself, in spite 
of his hatred of all Caesar 's family and his readi- 
ness to make them responsible for the most serious 
crimes, does not venture to express belief in this 
story — sufficient proof that he considers it absurd 
and unlikely. Nevertheless, the hatred that sur- 
rounded Nero and Poppsea made every one, not 
only among the ignorant populace, but also among 
the higher classes, accept it readily. It was soon 
the general opinion that Nero had accomplished 
what Brennus and Catiline's conspirators could 



not do. Was a more horrible monster ever seen? 
Parricide, actor, incendiary! 

The traditionalist party, the opposition, the 
unsatisfied, exploited without scruple this popu- 
lar attitude, and Nero, responsible for a sufficient 
number of actual crimes, found himself accused 
also of an imaginary one. He was so frightened 
that he decided to give the clamouring people a 
victim, some one on whom Rome could avenge 
its sorrow. An inquiry into the causes of the 
conflagration was ordered. The inquest came to 
a strange conclusion. The fire had been started 
by a small religious sect, recently imported from 
the Orient, a sect whose name most people then 
learned for the first time: the Christians. 

How did the Roman authorities come to such 
a conclusion? That is one of the greatest mys- 
teries of universal history, and no one will ever 
be able to clear it. If the explanation of the 
disaster as accepted by the people was absurd, 
the official explanation was still more so. The 
Christian community of Rome, the pretended 
volcano of civil hatred, which had poured forth 
the destructive fire over the great metropolis, 
was a small and peaceful congregation of pious 

A great and simple man, Paul of Tarsus, had 

132 Nero 

taken up again among them the great work in 
which Augustus and Tiberius had failed : he aimed 
at the remaking of popular conscience, but used 
means until then unknown in the Graeco-Latin 
civilisation. Not in the name of the ancestors, 
of the traditions, of ideals of political power, did 
he seek to persuade men to work, to refrain from 
vice, to live honestly and simply ; but in the name 
of a single God, whom man had in the beginning 
offended through his pride, in the name of the 
Son of God, who had taken human form and 
volunteered to die as a criminal on the cross, to 
appease the Father's wrath against the rebellious 
creature. On the Grseco-Roman idea of duty, 
Paul grafted the Christian idea of sin. Doubtless 
the new theology must have seemed at first ob- 
scure to Greeks and Romans; but Paul put into 
it that new spirit, mutual love, which the dry 
Latin soul had hardly ever known, and he 
vivified it with the example of an obscure life 
of sacrifice. 

Paul was bom of a noble Hebrew family of 
Tarsus, and was a man of high culture. He had, 
to use a modem expression, simplified himself, 
renounced his position in a time when few could 
resist the passion for luxury, and taken up a 
trade for his living; with the scanty profit from 

Nero 133 

his work as a tent-maker, alone and on foot he 
made measureless journeys through the Empire, 
everywhere preaching the redemption of man. 
Finally, after numberless adventures and perils, 
he had come to Rome and had, in the great city 
frenzied by the delirium of luxury and pleasure, 
repeated to the poor, who alone were wilHng to 
hear him: "Be chaste and pure, do not deceive 
each other, love one another, help one another, 
love God. " 

If Nero had known the little society of pious 
idealists, he surely would have hated it, but for 
other motives than the imaginary accusations 
of his police. In this story St. Paul is exactly 
the antithesis of Nero. The latter represents the 
atrocious selfishness of rich, peaceful, highly 
civilised epochs; the former, the ardent moral 
idealism which tries to react against the cardinal 
vices of power and wealth through universal self- 
sacrifice and asceticism. Neither of these men 
is to be comprehended without the other, because 
the moral doctrine of Paul is partly a reaction 
against the violent folly for which Nero stood 
the symbol ; but it certainly was not philosophical 
considerations of this kind that led the Roman 
authorities to rage against the Christians. The 
problem, I repeat, is insoluble. However this 

134 Nero 

may be, the Christians were declared responsible 
for the fire; a great number were taken into cus- 
tody, sentenced to death, executed in different 
ways, during the festivals that Nero offered to 
the people to appease them. Possibly Paul 
himself was one of the victims of this per- 

This diversion, however, was of no use. The 
conflagration definitely ruined Nero. With the 
conflagration begins the third period of his life, 
which lasts four years. It is characterised by 
absurd exaggerations of all kinds, which hastened 
the inevitable catastrophe. One grandiose idea 
dominates it: the idea of building on the ruins 
a new Rome, immense and magnificent, a true 
metropolis for the Empire. In order to carry 
out this plan, Nero did not economise ; he began 
to spend in it the moneys laid aside to pay the 
legions. The people of Italy, however, and even 
of Rome, which grew rich on these public expen- 
ditures, did not show themselves thankful for 
this immense architectural effort. Every one 
was sure that the new city would be worse than 
the old one! 

Nero himself, exasperated by this invincible 
hate, exhausted by his own excesses, lost what 
reason he had still left, and his government 

Nero 13 s 

degenerated into a complete tyranny, suspicious, 
violent, and cruel, 

Piso's conspiracy caused him to order a mas- 
sacre of patricians, which left terrible rancour 
in its wake ; in an access of fury, he kiUed Poppsea ; 
he began to imagine accusations against the richest 
men of the Empire, in order to confiscate their 
estates. His prodigality and the general careless- 
ness had completely disorganised the finances of 
the Empire; he had to recur to all kinds of ex- 
pedients to find money. Finally he imdertook a 
great artistic tour in Greece — ^that province which 
had been the mother of arts — ^to play in its most 
celebrated theatres. This time indignation burst 
all bounds. The armies of Gaul and Spain, for 
a long time irregularly paid, led by their officers, 
revolted. This act of energy sufficed. On the 
9th of June, 68 a.d., abandoned by all the world, 
Nero was compeUed to commit suicide. 

So the family of Julius Ccesar disappears 
from history. After so much greatness, genius, 
and wisdom, the fall may seem petty and almost 
laughable. It is absurd to lose the Empire for 
the pleastire of singing in a theatre. And yet, 
bizarre as the end may seem, it was not the re- 
sult of the vices, the follies, and the crimes of Nero 
alone. In his way, Nero himself was, like all 

136 Nero 

members of his family, the victim of the contra- 
dictory situation of his times. 

It has been repeated for centuries, that the 
foundation of monarchy was the great mission 
of Ccesar's family. I believe this to be a great 
mistake. The lot of the family would have been 
simple and easy, if it had been able to found a 
monarchy. The family of Csesar had to solve 
another problem, much more difficult, — in fact 
insoluble ; a problem that may be compared, from 
a certain point of view, to that which confronted 
the Bonapartes in the nineteenth century. The 
Bonapartes found old monarchical, legitimistic, 
theocratic Europe agitated by forces which, al- 
though making it impossible for the ancient regime 
to continue, were not yet able to establish a new 
society, entirely democratic, republican, and lay. 
The family of Cassar found the opposite situation : 
an old military and aristocratic republic, which 
was changing into an intellectual and monarchical 
civilisation, based on equality, but opposing form- 
idable resistance to the forces of transformation. 
In these situations the two families tried in all 
ways to reconcile things not to be conciliated, 
to realise the impossible: one, the popular mon- 
archy and imperial democracy; the other, the 
monarchical republic and Orientalised Latinity. 

Nero 137 

The contradiction was for both families the law 
of life, the cause of greatness; this explains why 
neither was ever willing to extricate itself from 
it, in spite of the advice of philosophers, the mal- 
content of the masses, the pressure of parties, 
and the evident dangers. This contradiction 
was also the fatality of both families, the cause 
of their ruin; it explains the shortness of their 
power, their restless existence, and the continuous 
catastrophes that opened the way to the final 

Waterloo and Sedan, the exile of Julia and the 
tragic failure of Tiberius 's government, all the 
misfortunes great and small which struck the two 
families, were always consequences of the insoluble 
contradiction they tried to solve. You have had 
a perfectly characteristic example of it in the 
brief story I have been telling you. Agrippina 
becomes an object of universal hatred and dies by 
assassination because she defends tradition; her 
son disregards tradition and, chiefly for this very 
reason, is finally forced to kill himself. Doubt- 
less the fate of the Bonapartes is less tragic, 
because they, at least, escaped the infamous 
legend created by contemporary hatred against 
Csesar's family, and artfully developed by the 
historians of successive generations. I hope to 

138 Nero 

be able to prove in the continuation of my Great- 
ness and Decline of Rome, that the history of 
Caesar's family, as it has been told by Tacitus and 
Suetonius, is a sensational novel, a legend con- 
taining not much more truth than the legend 
of Atrides. The family of Caesar, placed in the 
centre of the great struggle going on in Rome 
between the old Roman militarism, and the in- 
tellectual civilisation of the Orient, between na- 
tionalism and cosmopolitism, between Asiatic 
mysticism and traditional religion, between egoism 
over-excited by culture and wealth, and the su- 
preme interests of the species, had to injure too 
many interests, to offend too many susceptibilities. 
The injured interests, the offended susceptibilities, 
revenged themselves through defaming legends. 

The case of Nero is particularly instructive. 
He was half insane and a veritable criminal: it 
would be absurd to attempt in his favour the 
historical rehabilitation to which other members 
of the family, Tiberius for instance, have a right. 
And yet it has not been enough for succeeding 
generations that he atoned for his follies and 
crimes by death and infamy. They have fallen 
upon his memory: they have overlooked that 
extenuating circumstance of considerable im- 
portance, his age when elected; they have gone 

Nero 139 

so far as to make him into a unique monster, no 
longer human and even the Antichrist ! 

Surely he first shed Christian blood ; but if we 
consider the tendency he represented in Roman 
history, we can hardly classify him among the 
great enemies of Christianity. Unwittingly, Au- 
gustus and Tiberius were two great enemies of 
the Christian teachings, because they sought by 
all means to reinforce Roman tradition, and 
struggled against everything that would one 
day form the essence of Christianity — cosmopo- 
litism, mysticism, the domination of intellectual 
people, the influence of the philosophical and 
metaphysical spirit on life. Nero, on the contrary, 
with his repeated efforts to spread Orientalism 
in Rome, and chiefly with his taste for art, was 
unconsciously a powerful collaborator of future 
Christian propaganda. We must not forget this: 
the masses in the Empire became Christian only 
because they had first been imbued with the 
Oriental spirit. 

Nero and St. Paul, the man that wished to 
enjoy all, and the man that suffered all, are in 
their time two extreme antitheses: with the pas- 
sing of centuries, they become two collaborators. 
While one suffered hunger and persecution to 
preach the doctrine of redemption, the other called 

1 40 Nero 

to Italy and to Rome, to amuse himself, the gold- 
smiths, weavers, sculptors, painters, architects, 
musicians, whom Rome had always rebuffed. 

Both disappeared, cut off by the violent current 
of their epoch; centuries went by: the name of 
the Emperor grew infamous, while that of the 
tent-maker radiated glory. In the midst of the 
immense disorder that accompanied the dissolu- 
tion of the Roman Empire, as the bonds among 
men relaxed, and the human mind seemed to be 
incapable of reasoning and understanding, the 
disciples of the saint realised that the goldsmiths, 
weavers, sculptors, painters, architects, and musi- 
cians of the Emperor could collect the masses 
around the churches and make them patiently 
listen to what they could still comprehend of 
Paul's sublime morality. When you regard St. 
Mark or Notre Dame or any other stupendous 
cathedral of the Middle Ages, Uke museums for 
the work of art they hold, you see the luminous 
symbol of this paradoxical alliance between victim 
and executioner. 

Only through the alliance of Paul and Nero 
could the Church dominate the disorder of the 
Middle Ages, and, from antiquity to the modem 
world, carry through that formidable storm the 
essential principles from which our civilisation 

Nero 141 

developed: a decisive proof that, if history in its 
details is a continuous strife, as a whole it is the 
inevitable final reconciliation of antagonistic 
forces, obtained in spite of the resistance of 
individuals and by sacrificing them. 

Julia and Tiberius 


" TTE walked with head bent and fixed, the face 
^ ^ stem, a taciturn man exchanging no word 
with those about him. . . . Augustus realised these 
severe and haughty manners, and more than once 
tried to excuse them in the Senate and to the 
people, saying that they were defects of tempera- 
ment, not signs of a sinister spirit. " 

This is the picture that Suetonius gives us of 
Tiberius, the man who, in 9 B.C., after the 
death of Agrippa and Drusus, stood next to Au- 
gustus, his right hand and pre-established succes- 
sor. At that time Augustus was fifty-four years 
old ; not an old man, but he was ill and had pre- 
sided over the Republic for twenty-one years. 
Many people must have asked themselves what 
would happen if Augustus should die, or should 
definitely retire to private life. The answer was 
not uncertain: since Rome was engaged in the 
conquest of Germany, the chief of the Empire 
and of the army ought to be a valiant general 
and a man of expert acquaintance with Germanic 

afiairs. Tiberius was the first general of his time 
10 145 

146 Julia and Tiberius 

and knew Germany and the Germans better than 
any other Roman. 

The passage from Suetonius, just quoted, in- 
dicates that Tiberius was not altogether popular, 
yet it was the accepted opinion that Rome and 
Italy might well be content to rely upon so capable 
a general and diplomat, if Augustus failed. This 
attitude, however, changed when the death of 
Drusus entirely removed the alternative of choice 
between himself and Tiberius, and the latter, up 
to that time universally admired, began to be 
met, even among the nobility, by a strong opposi- 
tion. How can this apparently inexplicable fact 
be made clear? The theory of corruption so dear 
to the ancients, which I have already explained, 
gives us the key to the mystery. Those who 
have been disposed to see in that theory merely 
a plaything of poets, orators, philosophers, will 
now realise that it had power enough to kill 
the person and destroy the family of the first 
citizen of the Empire. That kind of continuous 
fear of luxury, of amusements, of prodigality, 
on account of which the ancients called cor- 
ruption so many things that we define as 
progress, was not a sentiment always equally 
alive in the mind of the multitude. The 
Romans, like ourselves, loved to live and to enjoy ; 

Julia and Tiberius 147 

this is so true that philosophers and legislators 
constantly took pains to remind them of the 
danger of allowing too much liberty to the appe- 
tites; but more effective than the counsels of 
philosophers and the threats of the law, great 
public calamities inspired in the masses, at least 
temporarily, a spirit of puritanism and austerity. 
Of this the consequences of the battle of Actium 
afforded noteworthy proof. 

Those who have read the fourth volume of The 
Greatness and Decline of Rome may perhaps 
remember how I have described the conservative 
and traditionalist movement of the first decade 
of the government of Augustus. Frightened by 
the revolution, men's minds had reverted precipi- 
tously to the past. A new party, which one might 
call the traditionalist, had sought to re-establish 
the old-time order, in the state, in customs, in 
ideas ; to combat the corruption of customs ; and 
of this party Augustus had been the right arm. 
Indeed, to so great an extent had this party stirred 
up public spirit and prevailed upon those in power 
that in 18 b.c. it succeeded in passing some great 
social laws on luxury, on matrimony, on dress. 
With these laws, Rome proposed to remake, by 
terrible measures, the old, prolific, austere nobility 
of the aristocratic era. The lex de maritandis 

148 Julia and Tiberius 

ordinibus aimed with a thousand vexatious restric- 
tions to constrain the nobility to marry and have 
children; the lex sumptuaria studied to restrain 
extravagance; the lex de adulteriis proclaimed 
martial law in the family, menacing an imfaith- 
ful wife and her accomplice with exile for life and 
the confiscation of half their substance; legislation 
of the harshest, this, which should scourge Rome 
to blood, to keep her from falling anew into the 
inveterate vices from which the civil wars were 

The impression of the civil wars could not last 
forever. In fact, in the decade that followed the 
promulgation of the social laws, the puritan fer- 
vour, which had up to that time heated all Italy, 
began to cool. Wealth increased ; the confidence 
that order and peace were actually re-established, 
spread everywhere ; the generation that had seen 
the civil wars, disappeared ; peace and growing 
prosperity stirred in the next generation a desire 
for freedom and pleasure that would not endure 
the narrow traditionalism and the puritanism of 
the preceding generation; consequently also the 
laws of 18 B.C. became intolerable. 

To understand this change in public spirit which 
had such serious consequences, there is no better 
way than by studying the most celebrated writer 

Julia and Tiberius 149 

of this new generation, Ovid, who represents it 
most admirably both in life and works. Ovid 
was bom at Sulmona in 43 B.C. He was about 
the same age as Tiberius, — of a knight's family — 
that is, of the wealthy middle class. He was 
destined by his father to the study of oratory 
and jurisprudence, evidently to make a political 
man of him, a senator, a future consul or proconsul, 
and to contribute to the great national restoration 
that his generation proposed to itself and of which 
Augustus was architect, preparing a new family 
for the political aristocracy that was governing 
the Empire. Ovid's father had all the require- 
ments demanded by law and custom: a consider- 
able fortune, the half-nobility of the equestrian 
order, an intelligent son, the means to give him 
the necessary culture — a favourable combination 
of circumstances which was wholly undone by a 
bit of unforeseen contrariety, the son's invincible 
inclination for what his father called, with little 
respect, a "useless study, " literature. The young 
man had indifferently studied oratory and law, 
gone to Rome, married, made friendships in 
the high society of the capital, been elected to the 
offices preceding the quaestorship ; but when the 
time arrived for presenting himself as candidate 
for the quaestorship itself' — that is, the time for 

15° Julia and Tiberius 

beginning the true curriculum of the magistracies, 
he had declared that he would rather be a great 
poet than a consul, and there was no persuading 
him farther on the long road opened to political 

With the episode of Julia and Tiberius in mind, 
I have stated that Ovid's life epitomises the new 
generation, because it shows us in action the 
first of the forces that dissolved the aristocratic 
government and the nobility artificially reconsti- 
tuted by Augustus at the close of the civil wars — 
intellectualism. The case of Ovid demonstrates 
that intellectual culture, literature, poetry, instead 
of being, for the Roman aristocracy, as in older 
times, a simple ornament, secondary to politics, 
had already a prime attraction for the man of 
genius; that even among the higher classes, de- 
voted by tradition only to military and political 
life, there appeared, by the side of the leaders 
in war and politics, the professional literary man. 
The study of Ovid 's work shows something even 
more noteworthy: that, profiting by the discords 
in the ruling class, these literary men feared no 
longer to express and to re-enforce the discontent, 
the bad feeling, the aversion, that the efforts of 
the State to re-establish a more vigorous social 
order was rousing in one part of the public. 

Julia and Tiberius 151 

Ovid's first important work was the Amores, 
which was certainly out by the year 8 e.g., 
although in a different form from that in which 
we now have it. To understand what this book 
really was when it was published, one must re- 
member that it was written, read, and what is 
more, admired, ten years after the promulgation 
of the lex de maritandis ordinibus and of the lex 
de adulteriis; it should be read with what remains 
of the text of those laws in hand. 

We are astonished at the book, full of excite- 
ments to frivolity, to dissipation, to pleasure, to 
those very activities that appeared to the an- 
cients to form the most dangerous part of the 
"corruption. " Extravagances of a libertine poet? 
The single-handed revolt of a corrupt youth, which 
cannot be considered a sign of the times? No. 
If there had not been in the public at large, in the 
higher classes, in the new generation, a general 
sympathy with this poetry, subversive of the 
solemn Julian laws, Ovid would never have been 
recognised in the houses of the great, petted and 
admired by high society. The great social laws 
of Augustus, the publication of which had been 
celebrated by Horace in the Carmen Seculare, 
woimded too many interests, tormented too 
many selfishnesses, intercepted too many liberties. 

152 Julia and Tiberius 

His revolutionary elegies had made Ovid famous, 
because these interests and these selfishnesses 
finally rebelled with the new generation, which 
had not seen the civil wars. Other incidents before 
and after the publication of the Amores also show 
this reaction against the social laws. Therefore 
Augustus proposed about this time to abolish 
the provision of the lex de maritandis ordinibus 
that excluded celibates from public spectacles; 
and by his personal intervention sought to put 
a check upon the scandalous trials for adul- 
tery that his law had originated — two acts that 
were so much admired by a part of the public 
that statues were erected to him by popular 

In short, this new movement of public opinion 
explains the opposition exerted from this time 
on against Tiberius and makes us understand 
how there arose the conflict in which this mysteri- 
ous personage was to be entangled for the rest 
of his life, and to lose, by no fault of his own, so 
great a part of his reputation. I hope to prove 
that the Tiberius of Tacitus and Suetonius is a 
fantastic personality, the hero of a wretched and 
improbable romance, invented by party hatred; 
that Tiberius remained, as a German historian 
has defined it, an undecipherable enigma, simply 

Julia and Tiberius 153 

because there has never been the will to recognise 
how much alive the aristocratic republican tra- 
ditions still were, and what force they still exerted 
in the State and in the family. 

Tiberius was but an authentic Claudius — that 
is, a true descendant of one of the oldest, the 
proudest, the most aristocratic families of the 
Roman nobility, a man with all the good qualities 
and all the defects of the old Roman aristocracy, 
a man who regarded things and men with the 
eyes of a senator of the times of Scipio Africanus 
— a livinganachronism, afossil, if you will, from a 
by-gone age, in a world that wished to tolerate 
no more either the vices or the virtues of the old 
aristocracy. He thought that the Empire ought 
to be governed by a limited aristocracy of diplo- 
mats and warriors, rigidly authoritative, exclu- 
sively Roman, which should know how to check 
the general corrupting of customs, the current 
extravagance and dissipation, beginning its task 
by imposing upon itself an inexorable self-disci- 
pline. Even though he belonged to the generation 
of Ovid — to the generation that had not seen the 
civil wars — ^Tiberius, by singular exception, kept 
aloof from the undisciplined frivolity of his con- 
temporaries. He desired the severe application 
of the social laws of the year 18, as of all the 

154 Julia and Tiberius 

traditional norms of aristocratic discipline. His 
generation therefore soon found him an enemy, 
especially after Drusus's death seemed to leave 
neither doubt nor choice as to the successor of 
Augustus. From this contemporary attitude 
arises the tacit aversion in the midst of which, 
after the lapse of so many centuries, we still feel 
Tiberius living and working, an aversion which 
steadily grows even while he renders the most 
signal services to the Empire. 

There was between him and his generation 
irreconcilable discord. However, it is not likely 
that this bHnd and secret hatred alone could have 
seriously injured Tiberius, whose power and merits 
were so great, if it had not been considerably 
helped by incidents of various nature. The first 
and most important of these was the discord that 
had arisen, shortly after the death of Drusus, 
between Tiberius and his wife Julia, the daughter 
of Augustus and the widow of Agrippa. 

Tiberius had married her against his will in 
the year ii, after the death of Agrippa, by order 
of Augustus, and had at first tried to live in accord 
with her; the attempt was vain, and the spirits 
of the husband and wife were soon parted in 
fatal disagreement. "He lived at first," writes 
Suetonius, "in harmony with Julia ; but soon grew 

Julia and Tiberius 155 

cool toward her, and finally the estrangement 
reached such a point after the death of their boy 
bom at Aquilea, that Tiberius lived in a separate 
apartment" — a separation, as we would call it, 
in "bed and board." What was the reason of 
this discord? No ancient historian has revealed 
it; however, we can guess with sufficient proba- 
bility from what we know of the characters of 
the pair and the discord that divided Roman so- 
ciety. If Tiberius was not the monster of Capri, 
Julia was certainly not the miserable Bacchante 
of the scandalous Roman chronicle. Macrobius 
has pictured her in human lights and shadows, 
a probable image, describing her as a highly 
cultured woman, lavish in tastes and expenditure, 
fond of beautiful literature, of the fine arts, and 
of the company of handsome and elegant young 
men. She belonged to the new generation of 
which Ovid was spokesman and poet; while 
Tiberius represented archaic traditionalism, the 
spirit of a past generation. 

It is easy to understand how these two persons, 
incarnating the irreconcilable opposition of two 
epochs, two morales, two societies, of Roman 
militarism and of Oriental culture, could not live 
together. A man like Tiberius, severe, simple, 
who detested frivolous pleasures, caring more for 

156 Julia and Tiberius 

war than for society life, could not live in peace 
with this beautiful and vivacious creature, who 
loved luxury, prodigality, brilliant company. It 
is not rash to suppose that the lex sumptuaria of 
the year i8 was the first grave cause of disagree- 
ment. Julia, given, as Macrobius describes her, 
to profuse expenditure and pretentious elegance, 
could not take this law seriously ; while it was the 
duty of Tiberius, who always protested by deed as 
by word against the barren pomp of the rich, to 
see that his wife serve as an example of simplicity 
to the other matrons of Rome. 

Very soon there occurred an accident, not un- 
common in unfortunate marriages, but which for 
special reasons was, in the family of Tiberius, 
far more than wontedly dangerous. Tacitus 
tells us that after Julia was out of favour with 
Tiberius, she contracted a relation with an ele- 
gant young aristocrat, one Sempronius Gracchus, 
of the familjr of the famous tribunes. Accepting 
as true the affirmation of Tacitus, in itself likely, 
we can very well explain the behaviour and acts 
of Tiberius in these years. The misdoing of Julia 
offended not only the man and husband, but 
placed also the statesman, the representative of 
the traditionalist party, in the gravest perplexity. 

According to the lex de adulteriis, made by 

Julia and Tiberius 157 

Augustus in the year 18, the husband ought 
either to punish the unfaithful wife himself or 
denounce her to the prastor. Could he, Tiberius, 
provoke so frightful a scandal in the house of 
the "First Citizen of the Republic"; drive from 
Rome, defamed, the daughter of Augustus, the 
most noted lady of Rome, who had so many friends 
in all circles of its society? Suetonius speaks of 
the disgust of Tiberius for Julia, "quam neque 
criminari aut demittere auderet" — whom he dared 
neither incriminate nor repudiate. On the other 
hand, did not he, the intransigeant traditionalist, 
who kept continually reproving the nobility for 
their laxity in self-discipline, merit rebuke, for 
allowing this thing to go on, not applying the 
law? The difficulty was serious; the lex de 
adulteriis began to be a torment to its creators. 
Unable to separate from, unwilling to live with, 
this woman who had traduced him and whom 
he despised, Tiberius was reduced to maintaining 
a merely apparent union to avoid the scandal 
of a trial and divorce. 

This proceeding, however, was an expedient 
in that condition of things both insufficient and 
dangerous. The discord between Tiberius and 
Julia put into the hands of the young nobility, 
up to that time unarmed, a terrible weapon against 

158 Julia and Tiberius 

the illustrious general, who was, meanwhile, fight- 
ing the Germans. The young nobility, inimical 
to the social laws and to Tiberius, rallied about 
Julia, and the effects of this alliance were not 
slow in appearing. Julia had had five sons by 
Agrippa, of whom the eldest two, Caius and 
Lucius, had been adopted by Augustus. In the 
year 6 B.C., the eldest, Caius, reached the age of 
fourteen. He was therefore but a lad ; notwith- 
standing his youth, there was suddenly brought 
forward the strange, almost incredible, proposal to 
make a law by which he might at once be elected 
consul for the year 754 a.u.c, when he would be 
twenty years old. 

Who made this proposal? Augustus, if we 
believe Suetonius, out of excessive fondness for 
his adopted sons. Dion, on the contrary, tells 
these things differently. He says that from the 
beginning Augustus opposed the law, and so leads 
us to doubt that it was either proposed or desired 
by that Prince. The facts are that a party in 
Rome kept insisting till Augustus supported this 
law with his authority, and that from the first 
he was unwilling to be accessory to an election 
that overturned without reason every Roman 
constitutional right. 

Who then were these strange admirers of a 

Julia and Tiberius 159 

child of fourteen, who to make him consul did 
not hesitate to do violence to tradition, to the 
laws, to good sense, and, finally, to the adoptive 
father? It was the opposition to Tiberius, the 
party of the young nobility and Julia, who were 
seeking a rule less severe, and, if not the abolition, 
at least the mitigated application of the great 
social laws. They aimed to put forward the 
young Caius, to set him early before public atten- 
tion, to hasten his political career, in order to 
oppose a rival to Tiberius; to prepare another 
collaborator and successor of Augustus, to make 
Tiberius less indispensable and therefore less 

In brief, here was the hope of using against 
Tiberius at once the maternal pride and affection 
of Julia, the tenderness of Augustus, and the 
popularity of the name of Caesar, which Caius 
carried. The people had never greatly loved 
the name of the Claudii, a haughty line of invin- 
cible aristocrats, always hard and overbearing 
with the poor, always opposed to the democratic 
party. The party against Tiberius hoped that 
when to a Claudius there should be opposed a 
Caesar, the public spirit would revert to the 
dazzling splendour of the name. 

Now we understand why Augustus had at 

i6o Julia and Tiberius 

first objected. The privileges that he had caused 
to be conceded to Marcellus, to Drusus, to Tibe- 
rius, were all of less consequence than those de- 
manded for Caius and had all been justified either 
by urgent needs of State, or services already 
rendered; but how could it be tolerated that 
without any reason, without the slightest neces- 
sity, there should be made consul a lad of four- 
teen, of whom it would be difficult to predict 
even whether he would become a man of common 
sense? Moreover Augustus could not so easily 
bring himself to offend Tiberius, who would not 
admit that the chief of the Republic should help 
his enemies offer him so great an affront. How 
could it be, that while he, amid fatigues and perils 
in cold and savage regions, was fighting the Ger- 
mans and holding in subjection the European 
provinces, that jeunesse dorie of good-for-nothings, 
cynics, idlers, poets, which infested the new gen- 
eration, was conniving with his wife to set against 
him a child of fourteen? — to gain, as it were, 
sanction from a law that the State would not be 
safe till by the side of this Claudius should be 
placed a Cssar, beardless and inexpert, as if the 
name of the latter outweighed the genius and 
experience of the former? And Augustus, the 
head of the Republic, would he have tolerated 

Julia and Tiberius i6i 

such an outrage? Tiberius not only resisted 
the law but exacted the open disapproval of 
Augustus; in fact, at the beginning, Augustus 
stood out against it as Tiberius wished; but 
difficulties grew by the way and became grave. 

Julia and her friends knew how to dispose 
public opinion ably in their own favour, to intrigue 
in the Senate, to exploit the increasiiig unpopu- 
larity of the social laws, of the spreading aversion 
to Tiberius and the admiration for other mem- 
bers of Augustus's family. The proposal to make 
Caius consul became in a short time so popular 
for one or another of these reasons, and as the 
symbol of a future government less severe and 
traditionalistic, that Augustus felt less and less 
able to withstand the current. On the other 
hand, to yield meant mortally to ofiend Tiberius. 
Finally, as was his wont, this astute politician 
thought to extricate himself from the difficulty by 
a transaction and an expedient. Dion, shortly 
after having said that Augustus finally yielded 
to the popular will, adds that, to make Caius more 
modest, he gave Tiberius the tribunician power 
for five years and charged him with subduing 
the revolt in Armenia. Augustus's idea is clear: 
he was trying to please everybody — the partisans 
of Caius Caesar by not opposing the law, and 

1 62 Julia and Tiberius 

Tiberius, by giving the most splendid compensa- 
tion, making him his colleague in place of Agrippa. 
Unfortimately, Tiberius was not the man to 
accept this compensation. No honour could 
make up for the insult Augustus had done him, 
though yielding but in part to his enemies, because 
by so doing even Augustus had seemed to think 
it necessary to set him beside a lad of fourteen; 
he would go away ; they might do as they pleased 
and charge Caius with directing the war in Ger- 
many. Indignant at the timid opportunism of 
Augustus, disgusted with the wife whom he could 
neither accuse nor repudiate, Tiberius demanded 
permission of Augustus to retire to Rodi to pri- 
vate life, saying that he was tired and in need 
of repose. Naturally Augustus was frightened, 
begged and pleaded with him to remain, sent 
his mother Livia to beseech him, but every effort 
was futile; Tiberius was obstinate, and finally, 
since Augustus did not permit his departure, he 
threatened to let himself die of hunger. Augustus 
still tried to stand firm; one day, two days, three 
days, he let him fast without giving the required 
consent. At the end of the fourth day, Augustus 
had to recognise that Tiberius had serious intent 
to kill himself, and yielded. The Senate granted 
him permission to depart; and Tiberius at once 

Julia and Tiberius 163 

started for Ostia, "without saying a word," 
writes Suetonius, "to those who accompanied 
him, and kissing but a few." 

It would be impossible to decide whether this 
retaliation of Tiberius's self-love was equal to 
the offence; and perhaps it is useless to discuss 
the point. It is certain, however, that the conse- 
quences of the departure of Tiberius were weighty. 
The first result was that the party of the young 
nobility, the party averse to the laws of the year 
18, found itself master of the field; perhaps 
because the opposing party lost with Tiberius 
its most authoritative leader; perhaps because 
Augustus, irritated against Tiberius, inclined still 
more toward the contrary party ; perhaps because 
public opinion judged severely the departure 
of Tiberius, who, already little admired, became 
decidedly unpopular. Julia and her friends 
triumphed, and not content with having con- 
quered, wished to domineer; shortly afterward 
they obtained the concession of the same privi- 
leges as those granted to Caius for his yoimger 
brother Lucius. At the same time, Augustus 
prepared to make Caius and Lucius his two future 
collaborators in place of Tiberius; Ovid set his 
hand to a book still more scandalous and sub- 
versive than the Amores, the Ars Amandi; public 

i64 Julia and Tiberius 

indulgence covered with its protection all those 
accused on grounds of the laws of the year 18; 
and finally, the two boys, Caius and Lucius, be- 
came popular, like great personages, all over 
Italy. There have been found in different cities 
of the peninsula inscriptions in their honour, one 
of which, very long and curious, is at Pisa ; it is 
full of absurd eulogies of the two lads, who had 
as yet done nothing, good or bad. Italy must 
have been tired enough of a too conservative 
government, which had lasted twenty-five years, 
of an Empire reconquered by traditional ideas, 
if, in order to protest, it lionised the two young 
sons of Agrippa in ways that contradicted every 
idea and sentiment of Roman tradition. 

In conclusion, the departure of Tiberius, and 
the severe judgment the public gave it, still fur- 
ther weakened the conservative party, already 
for some years in decline, by a natural transfor- 
mation of the public spirit. Perhaps the party 
of tradition would have been entirely spent, 
had not events soon reminded Rome that its 
spirit was the life of the military order. The 
departure of Tiberius, the man who represented 
this spirit, rapidly disorganised the army and 
the external policy of Rome. Up to that time 
Augustus had had beside him a powerful helper — 

Julia and Tiberius 165 

first Agrippa, afterwards Tiberius; but then he 
found himself alone at the head of the Empire, 
a man already well on in years ; and for the first 
time it appeared that this zealous bureaucrat, 
this fastidious administrator, this intellectual 
idler, who could do an enormous amount of work 
on condition that he be not forced to issue from 
his study and encounter currents of air too strong 
for him, was insufficient to direct alone the poli- 
tics of an immense empire, which required, in 
addition to the sagacity of the administrator 
and the ingenuity of the legislator, the resolute- 
ness of the warrior and the man of action. 

The State rapidly fell into a stupor. In Ger- 
many, where it was necessary to proceed to the 
ordering of the province, everything was sus- 
pended; the people, apparently subdued, were 
not bound to pay any tribute, and were left to 
govern themselves solely and entirely by their 
own laws — ^a strange anomaly in the history of 
the Roman conquests, which only the departure 
of Tiberius can explain. At such a distance, 
when he was no longer counselled by Tiberius 
who so well understood German afEairs, Augustus 
trusted no other assistants, fearing lack of zeal 
and intelligence ; distrusting himself also, he dared 
initiate nothing in the conquered province. The 

1 66 Julia and Tiberius 

Senate, inert as usual, gave it not a thought. 
So Germany remained an uncertainty, neither a 
province nor independent, for fifteen years, a fact 
wherein is perhaps to be found the real cause of 
the catastrophe of Varus, which ruined the whole 
German policy of Rome. 

Furthermore, in Pannonia and Dalmatia, when 
it was known that the most valiant general of 
Rome was in disgrace at Rodi, the malcontents 
took fresh courage, reopened an agitation that 
could but terminate in a revolt, much more dan- 
gerous than any preceding. In the Orient, Pales- 
tine arose in 4 B.C., on the death of Herod the 
Great, against his son, Archelaus, and against 
the Hellenised monarchy, demanding to be made 
a Roman province like Syria, and a frightful civil 
war illumined with its sinister glare the cradle 
of Jesus. The governor of Syria, Quintilius Varus, 
threw himself into Judea and succeeded in crush- 
ing the revolt; but Augustus, imable to bring 
himself either to give full satisfaction to the 
Hebrew people or to execute entirely the testa- 
ment of Herod, decided as usual on a compromise: 
he divided the ancient kingdom of Herod the 
Great among three of his sons, and changed Arche- 
laus's title of king to the more modest one of 
ethnarch. Then new difficulties arose with the 

Julia and Tiberius 167 

Empire of the Parthians. In short, vaguely, in 
every part of the Empire and beyond its bor- 
ders, there began to grow the sense that Rome 
was again weakening; a sense of doubt due to 
the decadence of the spirit of tradition and of the 
party representing it; to the new spirit of the 
new generation; and finally, to the absence of 
Tiberius, the one capable general of the time, 
which gradually disorganised even the western 
armies, the best in the Empire. 

This dissolution of the State naturally fed in 
the traditionalist party the hope of reconquering. 
Tiberius had sincere friends and admirers, es- 
pecially among the nobility, less numerous than 
those of Julia, but more serious, because his merits 
were real. Many people among the higher classes 
— even though, like Augustus, they considered 
the obduracy of Tiberius excessive — thought that 
Rome no more possessed so many examples of 
illustrious men as to be able to retire its best 
general at thirty-seven. Very soon there arose 
in the circles about Augustus, in the Senate, in 
the comitia, a bitter contention between Tiberius 's 
friends and his enemies ; this was really a struggle 
between the traditionalist party, which busied 
itself conserving, together with the traditions 
of the old Romanism, the military and political 

1 68 Julia and Tiberius 

power of Rome, and the party of the young nobil- 
ity, which, without heeding the external dangers, 
wished to impel habits, ideas, the public spirit, 
toward the freer, broader forms of the Oriental 
civilisation, even at the risk of dissolving the 
State and the army. Julia and Tiberius personify 
the two parties; between them stands Augustus, 
who ought to decide, and is more uncertain than 
ever. Theoretically Augustus always inclined 
more toward Tiberius, but from disgust at his 
departure, from solicitude for domestic peace, 
from his little sympathy with his step-son, he 
was driven to the opposite party. 

In this duel, what was the behaviour and the 
part of Li via, the mother of Tiberius ? The ancient 
historians tell us nothing; it is, at all events, 
hardly probable that Livia remained an inactive 
witness of the long struggle waged to secure the 
return of Tiberius and his reinstatement in the 
brilliant position once his. Moreover, Suetonius 
says that during his entire stay at Rodi, Tiberius 
communicated with Augustus by means of Livia. 
At any rate, the party of Tiberius was not long 
in understanding that he could not re-enter Rome, 
as long as Julia was popular and most powerful 
there; that to reopen the gates of Rome to the 
husband, it was necessary to drive out the wife. 

Julia and Tiberius 169 

This was a difficult enterprise, because Julia was 
upheld by the party already dominant ; she had the 
affection of Augustus ; she was the mother of Caius 
and Lucius Caesar, the two hopes of the Republic, 
whose popularity covered her with a respect and 
a sympathy that made her almost invulner- 
able. Tiberius, instead, was impoptilar. How- 
ever, there is no undertaking impossible to party 
hate. Exasperated by the growing disfavour of 
public opinion, the party of Tiberius decided on 
a desperate expedient to which Tiberius himself 
would not have dared set hand ; that is, since 
Julia had a paramour, to adopt against her the 
weapon supplied by the lex Julia de adulteriis, 
made by her father, and so provoke the terrible 
scandal that until then every one had avoided 
in. fear. 

Unfortunately, we possess too few documents 
to write in detail the history of this dreadful epi- 
sode; but everything becomes clear enough if 
one sees in the ruin of Julia a kind of terrible 
political and judicial blackmailing, tried by the 
friends of Tiberius to remove the chief obstacle 
to his return, and if one takes it that the friends 
of Tiberius succeeded in procuring proofs of the 
guilt of Julia and carried them to Augustus, not 
as to the head of the State, but to the father. 

17° Julia and Tiberius 

Dion Cassius says that " Augustus finally, although 
tardily, came to recognise the misdeeds of his 
daughter," which signifies that at a given mo- 
ment, Augustus could no longer feign ignorance 
of her sins, because the proofs were in the power 
of irreconcilable enemies, who would have refused 
to smother the scandal. These mortal enemies 
of Julia could have been no other than the friends 
of Tiberius. Julia had violated the law on adul- 
tery made by himself; Augustus could doubt it 
no more. 

To imderstand well the tragic situation in 
which Augustus was placed by these revelations, 
one must remember various things: first that the 
lex de aduUeriis, proposed by Augustus himself, 
obliged the father — when the husband could not, 
or would not — to punish the guilty daughter, 
or to denovmce her to the prsetor, if he had 
not the courage to punish her himself; second, 
that this law arranged that if the father and 
the husband failed to fulfil their proper duty, 
any one whoever, the first comer, might in 
the name of public morals make the denun- 
ciation to the prsetor and stand to accuse the 
woman and her accomplice. Tiberius, the hus- 
band, being absent at Rodi, he, Augustus, the 
father, must become the Nemesis of his daugh- 

Julia and Tiberius 171 

ter — must punish her or denounce her; if not, 
the friends of Tiberius could accuse her to the 
prsetor, hale her before the quaestor, unveil to 
the public the shame of her private life. 

What should he do? Many a father had dis- 
dainfully refused to be the executioner of his 
own daughter, leaving to others the grim office 
of applying the lex Julia. Could he imitate such 
an example? He was the head of the Republic, 
the most powerful man of the Empire, the founder 
of a new political order; he could decide peace 
and war, govern the Senate at his pleasure, exalt 
or abase the powerful of the earth with a nod; 
and exactly for this reason he dared not evade 
the bitter task. He feared the envy, the mora] 
and levelling prejudices of the middle classes, 
which needed every now and then to slaughter 
in the courts some one belonging to the upper 
classes, in order to delude themselves that justice 
is equal for all. To him had been granted the 
greatest privileges ; but precisely on this account 
was it dangerous to try to cover his daughter 
with a privileged protection as prey too delicate 
for public attack. And then, if he himself gave 
the example of disobeying his law, who would 
observe it ? The tremendous scandal would un- 1 
nerve all the moral force of his legislation, which 

172 Julia and Tiberius 

was the base of his prestige. The moment was 
terrible. Imagine this old man of sixty-two 
wearied by forty-four years of public life, embit- 
tered by the difficulties that sprang up about 
him, disquieted by the dissolution of State of 
which he was the impotent witness, finding himself 
all at once facing these alternatives — either de- 
stroy his daughter, or undo all the political work 
over which he had laboured for thirty years ; and 
no temporising possible ! 

Augustus was not a naturally cruel man, but 
before these alternatives his mind seems to have 
been for a moment convulsed by an access of 
grief and rage, the distant echo of which has 
come down to us. One moment, as Suetonius 
says, he had the idea of killing Julia. Then reason, 
pity, affection, gentler habits, prevailed. He 
did not give the sentence of death, but he was 
too practised a politician not to understand that 
she could not be saved ; and as he had immolated 
Cicero, Lepidus, Antony, so he immolated her 
also to the necessity of preserving before Italy 
his prestige of severe legislator and impartial 
magistrate. To avoid the trial, he resolved to 
pimish her himself with his power of pater familias 
according to the lex Julia, exiling her to Panda- 
laria and announcing the divorce to her in the 

Julia and Tiberius 173 

name of Tiberius. He then despatched to the 
Senate a record of what he had done, and went 
away to the coimtry, where he remained a long 
time, says Suetonius, seeing no one, the prey 
to profound grief. 

It seems that Julia's fall was a surprise to the 
public. In a day it learned that the highly popu- 
lar daughter of Augustus had been condemned 
to exile by her father. This unexpected revelation 
let a storm loose in the metropolis. Even though 
there were not then published in Rome those 
vile newspapers, the pests of modem civilisation, 
that hunt their soldi in the mud and slime of the 
basest human passions, the taste for scandalous 
revelations, the envy of genius and fortune, the 
pleasure of wreaking cruelty upon the unarmed, 
the low delight in pouring the basest feelings 
upon the honour of a woman abandoned by all — 
these passions animated minds then, as they do 
to-day; nor were there then wanting, more than 
now, wretches that profited by them, to gather 
money or satisfy bad instincts, without being 
able to dispose of a single, miserable sheet of 
paper. On every side delators sprang up, and 
an epidemic of slanders embittered Rome; every 
man who had name or wealth or some relation 
with the family of Augustus, ran the risk of being 

174 Julia and Tiberius 

accused as a lover of Julia. Several youths of 
high society, frightened by these charges, com- 
mitted suicide; others were condemned. About 
Julia were invented and spread the most atrocious 
calumnies, which formed thereafter the basis for 
the infamous legends that have remained in his- 
tory attached to her name. The traditionalist 
party naturally abetted this furor of accusations 
and inventions, made to persuade the public that 
a fearful corruption was hidden among the upper 
classes and that to cure it fire and sword must 
be used without pity. 

The friends of Julia, the party of the young 
nobility, disconcerted at first by the explosion, 
did not delay to collect themselves and react- 
the populace of Rome made some great demon- 
strations in favour of Julia and demanded her 
pardon of Augustus. Many indeed, recognising 
that her punishment was legal, protested against 
the ferocity of her enemies, who had not hesitated 
to embitter with so terrible a scandal the old 
age of Augustus; protested against the mad 
folly of incrimination with which every part of 
Rome was possessed. Most people turned, the 
more envenomed, against Tiberius, attacking 
him with renewed fury as the cause of all the 
evil. He it was, they insisted, who had conceived 

Julia and Tiberius 175 

the abominable scandal, willed it, imposed it 
upon Rome and the Empire ! 

If Livia and the friends of Tiberius had thought 
to bring him in by the gate where Julia went 
out, they were not slow in recognising themselves 
deceived. The fall of Julia struck Tiberius on the 
rebound in his distant island. His unpopularity, 
already great, grew by all the disgust that the 
scandal about Julia had provoked, and became 
so formidable that one day about this time the 
inhabitants of Nimes overturned his statues. 
It was the beginning of the Christian era, but 
a dark silence brooded over the Palatine; the 
defamed Julia was making her hard way to Pan- 
dalaria; Tiberius, discredited and detested, was 
wasting himself in inaction at Rodi; Augustus 
in his empty house, disgusted, distrustful, half 
paralysed by deep grief, would hear to no counsels 
of peace, of indulgence, of reconciliation. Tiberius 
and Julia were equally hateful to him, and as 
he did not allow himself to be moved by the 
friends of Julia, who did not cease to implore 
her pardon, so he resisted the friends of Tibe- 
rius, who tried to persuade him to reconciliation. 
What mattered it to him if the administration of 
the State fell to pieces on all sides; if Ger- 
mans threatened revolt; if Rome had need of 

176 Julia and Tiberius 

the courage, of the valour, of the experience of 

Tiberius from his retreat in Rodi kept every one 
in Rome afraid, beginning with Augustus. Too 
rich, too eager now for pleasures and comforts, 
feome was almost disgusted with the virtues and 
the defects that had in fact created it, and which 
survived in Tiberius — aristocratic pride, the spirit 
of rigour in authority, military valour, simplicity. 
Peace had come, extending everywhere, with 
wealth, the desire for enjoyment, happiness, pleas- 
ure, freedom, loosening everywhere the firmest 
bonds of social discipline, persuading Rome to 
lay down the heavy armour it had worn for so 
many centuries. 

In this family quarrel, which comprises a strug- 
gle of everlasting tendencies, JuHa represented 
the new spirit that will prevail, Tiberius, the old, 
destined to perish; but for the time being, both 
spirits, however opposed, were necessary- for 
peace did not expand its gifts in the Empire 
without the protection of the great armies that 
fought on the Rhine and on the Danube. If the 
spirit of peace refreshed Rome, Italy, the Pro- 
vinces, only the old aristocratic and military 
spirit could keep the Germans on the Rhine. As 
in all great social conflicts, the two opposing 

Julia and Tiberius 177 

parties were both, in a certain measure and each 
from its own point of view, right. Just for that 
reason, the equilibrium could be found only by 
a continual struggle in which men on one side 
and on the other were destined in turn to triumph 
or fall according to the moment; a struggle in 
which Augustus, fated to act the part of judge — 
that is, to recognise, with a final formal sanction, 
a sentence already pronounced by facts — had 
against his will in turn to condemn some and 
reward others. 

Julia will remain at Pandalaria, and Tiberius 
will return to Rome when the danger on the 
Rhine; becomes too threatening, yet without much 
lessening the conclusive vengeance of Julia. That 
will come in the long torment of the reign of 
Tiberius; in the infamy that will pursue him to 
posterity. After having been pitilessly hated and 
persecuted in life, this man and this woman, who 
had personified two social forces eternally at war 
with each other, will both fall in death into the 
same abyss of unmerited infamy: tragic specta- 
cle and warning lesson on the vanity of human 
judgments ! 

Wine in Roman History 


IN history as it is generally written, there are 
to be seen only great personages and events, 
kings, emperors, generals, ministers, wars, re- 
volutions, treaties. When one closes a huge vol- 
ume of history, one knows why this state made 
a great war upon that; -understands the politi- 
cal thinking, the strategic plans, the diplomatic 
agreements of the powerful, but would hardly 
be able to answer much more simple questions: 
how people ate and drank, how the warriors, 
politicians, diplomats, were clad, and in general 
how men lived at any particular time. 

History does not usually busy itself with little 
men and small facts, and is therefore often ob- 
scure, unprecise, vague, tiresome. I believe 
that if some day I deserve praise, it will be be- 
cause I have tried to show that everything has 
value and importance ; that all phenomena inter- 
weave, act, and react upon each other — eco- 
nomic changes and political revolutions, costumes, 
ideas, the family and the state, land-holding 
and cultivation. There are no insignificant 


i82 Wine in Roman History- 
events in history; for the great events, like re- 
volutions and wars, are inevitably and indis- 
solubly accompanied by an infinite number of 
slight changes, appearing in every part of a 
nation: if in Ufe there are men without note, 
and if these make up the great majority of na- 
tions — that which is called the "mass" — there 
is no greater mistake than to believe they are 
extraneous to history, mere inert instruments 
in the hands of the oligarchies that govern. 
States and institutions rest on this nameless 
mass, as a building rests upon its foundations. 

I mean to show you now by a typical case 
the possible importance of these little facts, 
so neglected in history. I shall speak to you 
neither of proconsuls nor of emperors, neither 
of great conquests nor of famous laws, but of 
wine-dealers and vine-tenders, of the fortuned 
and famous plant that from wooded mountain- 
slopes, mirrored in the Black Sea, began its slow, 
triumphal spread around the globe to its twenti- 
eth century bivouac, CaUfomia. I shall show you 
how the branches and tendrils of the plant of 
Bacchus are entwined about the history and the 
destiny of Rome. 

For many centuries the Romans were water- 
drinkers. Little wine was made in Italy, and 

Wine in Roman History 183 

that of inferior quality: commonly not even the 
rich were wont to drink it daily; many used it 
only as medicine during illness; women were 
never to take it. For a long time, any woman 
in Rome who used wine inspired a sense of re- 
pulsion, like that excited in Europe up to a 
short time ago by any woman who smoked. At 
the time of Polybius, that is, toward the middle 
of the second century b.c, ladies were allowed 
to drink only a little passum, — a, kind of sweet 
wine, or syrup, made of raisins, About the women 
too much given to the beverage of Dionysos, 
there were terrifying stories told. It was said, 
for instance, that Egnatius Mecenius beat his 
wife to death, because she secretly drank wine; 
and that Romulus absolved him. (Pliny, Nat. 
Hist., bk. 14, ch. 13). It was told, on the 
word of Fabius Pictor, who mentioned it in his 
annals, that a Roman lady was condemned by 
the family tribunal to die of hunger, because 
she had stolen from her husband the keys of the 
wine-cellar. It was said the Greek judge Diony- 
sius condemned to the loss of her dower a wife 
who, imknown to her husband, had drunk more 
than was good for her health: this story is one 
which shows that women began to be allowed 
the use of wine as a medicine. It was for a long 

1 84 Wine in Roman History 

time the vairnt of a true Roman to despise fine 
wines. For example, ancient historians tell of 
Cato that, when he returned in triumph from 
his proconsulship in Spain, he boasted of having 
drunk on the voyage the same wine as his rowers ; 
which certainly was not, as we should say now, 
either Bordeaux or Champagne ! 

Cato, it is true, was a queer fellow, who pleased 
himself by throwing in the face of the young 
nobility's incipient luxury a piece of almost bru- 
tal rudeness; but he exaggerated, not falsified, 
the ideas and the sentiments of Romanism. 
At that time, it was a thing unworthy of a Roman 
to be a practised admirer of fine wines and to 
show too great a propensity for them. Then not 
only was the vine little and ill cultivated in Italy, 
but that country almost refused to admit its 
ability to make fine wines with its grapes. As 
wines of luxury, only the Greek were then accred- 
ited and esteemed — and paid for, like French 
wines to-day; but, though admiring and paying 
well for them, the Romans, still diffident and 
saving, made very spare use of them. LucuUus, 
the famous conqueror of the Pontus, told how 
in his father's house — in the house, therefore, 
of a noble family — Greek wine was never served 
more than once, even at the most elegant dinners. 

Wine in Roman History 185 

Moreover, this must have been a common cus- 
tom, because Pliny says, speaking of the begin- 
ning of the last century of the Republic, "Tanta 
vero vino graeco gratia erat ut singulas potiones in 
convitu darentur " ; that is, translating literally, 
"Greek wine was so prized that only single potions 
of it were given at a meal." You understand 
at once the significance of this phrase; Greek 
wine was served as to-day — ^at least on European 
tables — Champagne is served ; it was too expen- 
sive to give in quantity. 

This condition of things began to change after 
Rome became a world power, went outside of 
Italy, interfered in the great affairs of the Mediter- 
ranean, and came into more immediate contact 
with Greece and the Orient. By a strange law 
of correlation, as the Roman Empire spread 
about the Mediterranean, the vineyard spread 
in Italy ; gradually, as the world politics of Rome 
triumphed in Asia and Africa, the grape harvest 
grew more abimdant in Italy, the consumption 
of wine increased, the quality was refined. The 
bond between the two phenomena — ^the progress 
of conquest and the progress of vine-growing — 
is not accidental, but organic, essential, intimate. 
As, little by little, the policy of expansion grew, 
wealth and culture increased in Rome ; the spirit 

i86 Wine in Roman History 

of tradition and of simplicity weakened; luxury 
spread, and with it the appetite for sensations, 
including that of the taste for intoxicating 

We have but to notice what happens about 
us in the modem world — when industry gains 
and wealth increases and cities grow, men drink 
more eagerly and riotously inebriating beverages 
— to understand what happened in Italy and in 
Rome, as gradually wars, tribute, blackmailing 
politics, pitiless usury, carried into the peninsula 
the spoils of the Mediterranean world, riches of 
the most numerous and varied forms. The old- 
time aversion to wine diminished ; men and wo- 
men, city-dwellers and coimtrymen, learned to 
drink it. The cities, particularly Rome, no longer 
confined themselves to slaking their thirst at 
the fountains- as the demand and the price for 
wine increased, the land-owners in Italy grew 
interested in offering the cup of Bacchus, and 
as they had invested capital in vineyards, they 
were drawn on by the same interest to excite 
ever the more the eagerness for wine among the 
multitude, and to perfect grape-culture and in- 
crease the crop, in imitation of the Greeks. The 
wars and military expeditions to the Orient not 
only carried many Italians, peasants and proprie- 

Wine in Roman History 187 

tors, into the midst of the most celebrated vine- 
yards of the world, but also transported into 
Italy slaves and numerous Greek and Asiatic 
peasants who knew the best methods of cultivat- 
ing the vine, and of making wines like the Greek, 
just as the peasants of Piedmont, of the Veneto, 
and of Sicily, have in the last twenty years de- 
veloped grape-culture in Tunis and California. 

Pliny, who is so rich in valuable information 
on the agricultural and social advances of Italy, 
tells us that it opened its hills and plains to 
the triumphal entrance of Dionysus between 
130 and 120 B.C., about the time that Rome 
entered into possession of the kingdom of Per- 
gamus, the largest and richest part of Asia Minor, 
left to it by bequest of Attalus. Thenceforward, 
for a century and a half, the progress of grape- 
growing continued without interruption; every 
generation poured forth new capital to enlarge 
the inheritance of vineyards already grown and 
to plant new ones. As the crop increased, the 
effort was redoubled to widen the sale, to entice 
a greater number of people to drink, to put the 
Italian wines by the side of the Greek. 

At the distance of centuries, these vine-growing 
interests do not appear even in history ; but they 
actually were a roost important factor in the 

i88 Wine in Roman History 

Roman policy, a force that helps us explain seve- 
ral main facts in the history of Rome. For ex- 
ample, vineyards were one of the foundations 
of the imperial authority in Italy. That political 
form which was called with Augustus the prin- 
cipality, and from which was evolved the mon- 
archy, would not have been founded if in the 
last century of the Republic all Italy had not 
been covered with vineyards and olive orchards. 
The affirmation, put just so, may seem strange 
and paradoxical, but the truth of it will be easy 
to prove. 

The imperial authority was gradually consoli- 
dated, because, beginning with Augustus, it 
succeeded in pacifying Italy after a century of 
commotion and civil wars and of foreign inva- 
sions, to which the secular institutions of the 
Republic had not known how to oppose sufficient 
defence; so that, little by little, right or wrong, 
the authority of the Princeps, as supreme magis- 
trate, and the power of the Julian-Claudian house, 
which the supreme magistrate had organised, 
seemed to the Italian multitude the stable foun- 
dation of peace and order. But why was Italy, 
beginning with the time of Csesar, so despe- 
rately anxious for peace and order ? It would be 
a mistake to see in this anxiety only the natural 

Wine in Roman History 189 

desire of a nation, worn by anarchy, for the con- 
ditions necessary to a common social existence. 
The contrast of two episodes will show you that 
during the age of Caesar annoyance at disorder 
and intolerance of it had for a special reason 
increased in Italy. Toward the end of the third 
century B.C., Italy had borne on its soil for about 
seventeen years the presence of an army that 
went sacking and burning everj^where — the army 
of Hannibal — without losing composure, await- 
ing with patience the hour for torment to cease. 
A century and a half later, a Thracian slave, 
escaping from the chain-gang with some com- 
panions, overran the country, — and Italy was 
frightened, implored help, stretched out its arms 
to Rome more despairingly than it had ever done 
in all the years of Hannibal. 

What made Italy so fearful? Because in the 
time of Hannibal it had chiefly cultivated cereals 
and pastured cattle, while in the days of Sparta- 
cus a considerable part of its fortune was invested 
in vineyards and olive groves. In pastoral and 
grain regions the invasion of an army does rela- 
tively little damage ; for the cattle can be driven 
in advance of the invader, and if grain fields are 
burned, the harvest of a year is lost but the 
capital is not destroyed. If, instead, an army 

19° Wine in Roman History- 
cuts and bums olive orchards and vineyards, 
which are many years in growing, it destroys an 
immense accumulated capital. Spartacus was 
not a new Hannibal, he was something much 
more dangerous ; he was a new species of Phyl- 
loxera or of Mosca olearia in the form of brig- 
and bands that destroyed vines and olives, the 
accumulated capital of centuries. Whence, the 
emperor became gradually a tutelary deity of 
the vine and the olive, the fortune of Italy. It 
was he who stopped the barbarians still restless 
and turbulent on the frontiers of Italy, hardly 
over the borders; it was he who kept peace 
within the country between social orders and 
political parties ; it was he who looked after the 
maintenance and guarding of the great highways 
of the peninsula, periodically clearing them of 
robbers and the evil-disposed that infested them ; 
and the land -owners, who held their vineyards and 
olive groves more at heart than they did the 
great republican traditions, placed the image of 
the Emperor among those of their Lares, and 
venerated him as they had earlier revered the 

Still more curious is the influence that this 
development of Italian viticulture exercised on 
the political life of Rome; for example, in the 

Wine in Roman History 191 

barbarous provinces of Europe, wine was an 
instrument of Romanisation, the effectiveness of 
which has been too much disregarded. In Gaul, 
in Spain, in Helvetia, in the Danube provinces, 
Rome taught many things : law, war, construction 
of roads and cities, the Latin language and lit- 
erature, the literature and art of Greece; more, 
it also taught to drink wine. Whoever has read 
the Commentaries of Cffisar will recall that, on 
several occasions, he describes certain more bar- 
barous peoples of Gaul as prohibiting the impor- 
tation of wine because they feared they would 
unnerve and corrupt themselves by habitual 
drunkenness. Strabo tells us of a great Gaeto- 
Thracian empire that a Gaetic warrior, Borebiste 
by name, foimded in the time of Augustus beyond 
the Danube, opposite Roman possessions; while 
this chieftain sought to take from Greek and 
Latin civilisation many useful things, he severely 
prohibited the importation of wine. This fact 
and others similiar, which might be cited, show 
that these primitive folk, exactly Hke the Romans 
of more ancient times, feared the beverage which 
so easily intoxicates, exactly as in China all wise 
people have always feared opium as a national 
scourge, and so many in Prance would to-day 
prohibit the manufacture of absinthe. 

192 Wine in Roman History 

This hesitation and fear disappeared among 
the Gauls, after their country was annexed to 
the Empire ; disappeared or was weakened among 
all the other peoples of the Danube and Rhine 
regions, and even in Germany, when they fell 
tmder Roman dominion ; even also while they 
preserved independence, as little by little the 
Roman influence intensified in strength. By 
example, with the merchants, in literature, Rome 
poured out everywhere the ruddy and perfumed 
drink of Dionysos, and drove to the wilds and 
the villages, remote and poor, the national mead 
— the beverage of fermented barley akin to mod- 
em beer. 

The Italian proprietors who were enlarging 
their vineyards — especially those of the valley 
of the Po, where already at the time of Strabo 
the grape-crop was very abundant — soon learned 
that beyond the Alps lived numerous customers. 
Under Augustus, Aries was already a large mar- 
ket for wines, both Greek and Italian; during 
the same period, there passed through Aquileia 
and Leibach considerable trade in Italian wine 
with the Danube regions. In the Roman castles 
along the Rhine, among the multitudes of Ital- 
ians who followed the armies, there was not 
wanting the wine-dealer who sought with his 

Wine in Roman History 193 

liquor to infuse into the torpid blood of the bar- 
barian a ray of southern warmth. Everjrwhere 
the Roman influence conquered national tradi- 
tions ; wine reigned on the tables of the rich as the 
lordly beverage, and the more the Gauls, the Pan- 
nonians, the Dalmatians, drank, the more money 
Italian proprietors made from their vineyards. 

I have said that Rome diffused at once its 
wine and its literature: it also diffused its wine 
through its literature, a fact upon which I should 
like to dwell a moment, since it is odd and inter- 
esting for diverse reasons. We always make a 
mistake in judging the great literary works of 
the past. Two or three centuries after they were 
written, they serve only to bring a certain de- 
light to the mind; consequently, we take for 
granted they were written only to bring us this 
deUght. On the contrary, almost all literary 
works, even the greatest, had at first quite an- 
other office ! they served to spread or to counter- 
act among the author's contemporaries certain 
ideas and sentiments that the interests of certain 
directing forces favoured or opposed ; indeed very 
often the authors were admired and remimerated 
far more for these services rendered to their con- 
temporaries than for the lofty beauty of the lit- 
erary works themselves. 

194 Wine in Roman History 

This is the case with the odes of Horace. To 
imderstand all that they meant to say to con- 
temporaries, one must imagine Roman society 
as it was then, hardly out of a century of con- 
quests and revolutions, in disorder, unbalanced, 
and still crude, notwithstanding the luxuries 
and refinements superficially imitated from the 
Orient ■ a society eager to enjoy, yet still ill edu- 
cated to exercise upon itself that discipline of 
good taste, without which civilisation and its 
pleasures aggravate more than restrain the 
innate brutality of men. During the first period 
of peace, arrived after so great disturbance, 
that poetry so perfect in form, which analysed 
and described all the most exquisite delights of 
sense and soul, infused a new spirit of refinement 
into habits, and co-operated with laborious ed- 
ucation in teaching even the stem conquerors 
of the world to enjoy all the pleasures of civili- 
sation, alike literature and love, the luxury of 
the city and the restfulness of the villa, fraternal 
friendship and good cookery. It taught, too — 
this master poetry of the senses — to enjoy wine, 
to use the drink of Dionysos not to slake the 
thirst, but to colour, with an intoxication now 
soft, now strong, the most diverse emotions: the 
sadness of memories, the tendernesses of friend- 

Wine in Roman History 195 

ship, the transports of love, the warmth of the 
quiet house, when without the furious storm and 
the bitter cold stiffen the universe of nature. 

In the poetry of Horace, therefore, wine ap- 
pears as a proteiform god, which penetrates not 
only the tissues of the body but also the inmost 
recesses of the mind and aids it in its every con- 
tingency, sad or gay. Wine consoles in ill fortune 
(i., 7), suffuses the senses with universal oblivion, 
frees from anxiety and the weariness of care, fills 
the empty hours, and warms away the chill of 
winter (i., 9). But the wine that has the power 
to infuse gentle forgetfulness into the veins, has 
also the contrasting power of rousing lyric fer- 
vour in the spirit, the fervour heroic, divining, 
mystic (iii., 2). Finally, wine is also a source 
of power and heroism, as well as of joy and sen- 
suous delight; a principle of civilisation and of 
progress (ii., 14). 

I wish I could repeat to you all the Dionysic 
verse of this old poet from Venosa, whose sub- 
jects and motives, even though expressed in the 
choicest forms, may seem common and conven- 
tional in our time and to us, among whom for 
centuries the custom of drinking wine daily 
with meals has been a general habit. But these 
poems had a very different significance when they 

196 Wine in Roman History- 
were written, in that society in which many did 
not dare drink wine commonly, considering it 
as a medicine, or as a beverage injurious to the 
health, or as a luxury dangerous to morals and 
the purse; in that time when entire nations, 
like Gaul, hesitated between the invitations of 
the ruddy vine-crowned Bacchus, come with his 
legions victorious, and the desperate supplica- 
tions of Cervisia, the national mead, pale and 
fleeing to the forests. In those times and among 
those men, Horace with his dithyrambics affected 
not only the spirit but the will, uniting the subtle 
suggestion of his verses to all the other incentives 
and solicitations that on every side were persuad- 
ing men to drink. He corroded the ancient Italian 
traditions, which opposed with such repugnance 
and so many fears the efforts of the vintners 
and the vineyard labourers to sell wine at a high 
price ; in this way he rendered service to Italian 

The books of Horace, while he was still living, 
became what we might call school text-books; 
that is, they were read by young students, which 
must have increased their influence on the mind. 
Imagine that to-day a great European poet should 
describe and extol in magnificent verses the sen- 
suous delight of smoking opium ; should deify, in 

Wine in Roman History 197 

a mythology rich in imagery, the inebriating vir- 
tues of this product. Imagine that the verses 
of this poet were read in the schools: you may 
then by comparison picture to yourself the action 
of the poems of Horace. 

The political and military triumph of Rome in 
the Mediterranean world signified therefore the 
world triumph of wine. So true is this, that in 
Europe and America to-day the sons of Rome 
drink wine as their national daily beverage. 
The Anglo-Saxons and Germans drink it in the 
same way as the Romans of the second century 
B.C., on formal occasions, or as a medicine. When 
you see at an European or American table the 
gold or the ruby of the fair liquor gleaming in 
the glasses, remember that this is another inher- 
itance from the Roman Empire and an ultimate 
effect of the victories of Rome; that probably 
we should drink different beverages if Caesar 
had been overcome at Alesia or if Mithridates 
had been able decisively to reconquer Asia Minor 
from Rome. It astonishes you to see between 
politics and enology, between the great historical 
events and the lot of a humble plant, so close a 

I can show you another aspect of this phe- 
nomenon, even stranger and more philosophical. 

198 Wine in Roman History 

I have already said that at the beginning of the 
first century before Christ, although Italy had 
already planted many vineyards and gathered 
generous crops, Italian wines were still little 
sought after, while the contrary was true of the 
Greek. Pliny writes : 

The wines of Italy were for long despised. . . . 
Foreign wines had great vogue for some time even 
after the consulate of Opimius [121 b.c], and up 
to the times of our grandfathers, although then Fa- 
lernian was already discovered. 

In the second half of the last century of the Re- 
public and the first half of the first century B.C., 
this condition of things changed; Italian wines 
rose to great fame and demand, and took from 
the Greek the pre-eminence they so long had 
held. Finally, this pre-eminence formed one of 
the spoils of world conquest, and that not one of 
the meagrest. Phny, writing in the second half 
of the first century, says (bk. 14, ch. 11) : 

Among the eighty most celebrated qualities of wine 
made in all the world, Italy makes about two thirds ; 
therefore in this it outdoes other peoples. 

The first wines that came into note seem to have 
been those of southern Italy, especially Falemian, 
and Julius Caesar seems to have done much to 

Wine in Roman History 199 

make it known. Pliny tells us (bk. 14, ch. 15) 
that, in the great popular banquet offered to cele- 
brate his triumph after his return from Egypt, 
he gave to every group of banqueters a cask of 
Chian and an amphora of Falemian, and that in 
his third consulate he distributed four kinds of 
wine to the populace, Lesbian, Chian, Falemian, 
and Mamertine; two Greek qualities and two 
Italian. It is evident that he wished officially 
to recognise national wines as equal to the foreign, 
in favour of Italian vintners ; so that Julius Cssar, 
that imiversal man, has a place not only in the 
history of the great Italian conquests, but also 
in that of Italian viticulture. 

The wines of the valley of the Po were not long 
in making place for themselves after those of 
southern Italy. We know that Augustus drank 
only Rhetian wine; that is, of the Valtellina, 
one of the valleys famous also to-day for several 
delicious wines ; we know that Livia drank Istrian 

I have said that Italy exported much wine to 
Gaul, to the Danube regions, and to Germany ■ 
to this may be added another remark, both 
curious and interesting. The Periplus of the 
Erytrian Sea, attributed to Arrianus, a kind of 
practical manual of geography, compiled in the 

200 Wine in Roman History 

second century a.d., tells us that in that century 
Italian wine was exported as far as India; so 
far had its fame spread ! There is no doubt that 
the wealth in the first and second century a.d., 
which flowed for every section of Italy, came in 
part from the flourishing vineyards planted upon 
its hills and plains; and that the Italians, who 
had gone to the Orient for reasons political and 
financial, had fallen upon yet greater fortune 
in contrabanding Bacchus from the superb vine- 
yards of the .^gean islands, and transporting him 
to the hills of Italy ; a new seat whereon the capri- 
cious god of the vine rested for two centuries, tintil 
he took again to wandering, and crossed the Alps. 
We may at this jimcture ask ourselves if this 
enologic pre-eminence of Italy was the result 
only of a greater skill in cultivating the vine and 
pressing the grapes. I think not. It does not 
seem that Italy invented new methods of wine- 
making; it appears, instead, that it restricted 
itself to imitating what the Greeks had originated. 
On the other hand, it is certain, at least in north- 
em and central Italy, that, although the vine 
grows, it does so less spontaneously and prosper- 
ously than in the .^Egean islands, Greece, and 
Asia Minor, because the former regions are rela- 
tively too cold. 

Wine in Roman History 201 

The great fame of the Italian wines had another 
cause, a political: the world power and prestige 
of Rome. This psychological phenomenon is 
found in every age, among all peoples, and is one 
of the most important and essential in all history. 
What is beautiful and what is ugly? What is 
good and what is bad? What is true and what 
is false ? In every period men must so distinguish 
between things, must adopt or repudiate certain 
ideas, practise or abandon certain habits, buy 
certain objects and refuse others; but one should 
not believe that all peoples make these discern- 
ments spontaneously, according to their natural 
inclination. It always happens that some nations 
succeed, by war, or money, or culture, in per- 
suading the lesser peoples about them that they 
are superior ; and strong in this admiration, they 
impose upon their susceptible neighbours, by a 
kind of continuous suggestion, their own ideas 
as the truest, their own customs as the noblest, 
their own arts as the most perfect. 

For this reason chiefly, wars have often dis- 
tant and complicated repercussions on the habits, 
the ideas, the commerce of nations. War, to 
which so many philosophers would attribute a 
divine spirit, so many others a diabolic, appears 
to the historian as above all a means — allow me 

202 Wine in Roman History 

the phrase, a bit frivolous, but graphic — of noisy 
riclame, advertisement for a people; because, 
although a more civilised people may be conquered 
by one more barbarous, less cultured, less moral; 
although, also, the superiority in war may be 
relative, and men are not on the earth merely 
to give each other blows, but to work, to study, 
to know, to enjoy; yet the majority of men are 
easily convinced that he who has won in a war 
is in everything, or at least in many things, su- 
perior to him who has lost. So it happened, for 
example, after the late Franco-Prussian War, that 
not only the armies organised or reorganised after 
1870 imitated even the German uniform, as they 
had earlier copied the French, but in politics, 
science, industry, even in art, everything German 
was more generously admired. Even the consump- 
tion of beer heavily increased in the wine countries, 
and under the protection of the Treaty of Frank- 
furt, the god Gambrinus has made some audacious 
sallies into the territories sacred to Dionysos. 

The same thing occurred in regard to wine in 
the ancient world. Athens and Alexander the 
Great had given to Greek wine the widest reputa- 
tion, all the peoples of the Mediterranean world 
being persuaded that that was the best of all. 
Then the centre of power shifted to the west, 

Wine in Roman History 203 

toward the city built on the banks of the Tiber, 
and little by little as the power of Rome grew, the 
reputation of its wine increased, while that of 
Greece declined ; until, finally, with world empire, 
Italy conquered pre-eminence in the wine market, 
and held it with the Empire; for while Italy was 
lord, Italian wine seemed most excellent and was 
paid for accordingly. 

This propensity of minor or subject peoples to 
imitate those dominant or more famous, is the 
greatest prize that rewards the pre-eminent for 
the fatigue necessary to conquer that place of 
honour ; it is the reason why cultured and civil- 
ised nations ought naturally to seek to preserve 
a certain political, economic, and military suprem- 
acy, without which their intellectual superiority 
would weaken or at least lose a part of its value. 
The human multitude in the vast world are not 
yet so intelligent and refined as to prize that 
which is beautiful and grand for its own sake; 
and they are readily induced to admire as excel- 
lent what is but mediocre, if behind it there is 
a force to be feared or to impose it. Indeed, we 
may observe in the modem world a phenomenon 
analogous to that in historic Italy. What, in 
succeeding centuries, have been the changes in 
the enologic superiority conquered by Rome? 

304 Wine in Roman History 

Naturally I cannot recount the whole story, al- 
though it would be interesting; but will only 
observe that contemporary civilisation confirms 
the law by which predominance in the Latin 
world and the pre-eminence of wine are indissolu- 
bly bound together in history. 

Paris is the modem Rome, the metropolis of 
the Latin world. France continues, as far as can 
be done in modem times, the ancient sway of 
Rome, irradiating round so much of the globe, 
by commerce, literature, art, science, industry, 
dominance of political ideas, the influence of 
the Latin world, making tributaries to Latin 
culture of barbarous peoples, and nations too 
young for leadership or grown too old ; and France 
has inherited the pre-eminence in wines, although 
it lies at the farthest confines of the vine-bearing 
zone, beyond which the tree of Bacchus refuses 
to live. Do you realise that in all the wide belt 
of earth where vineyards flourish, only the dry 
hills of Champagne ripen the delicious effervescent 
wine that refigures in modem civilisation — at 
least for those who are fond of wine — the nectar 
of the gods? And this, while effervescent wines 
are made in innumerable parts of the world and 
many are so good that one wonders if it were not 
possible for them, manufactured with care, placed 

Wine in Roman History 205 

in sightly bottles, and sold at as high a price as 
the most famous French Champagne, to dispute 
a part of the admiration that the devotees of 
Bacchus render to the French wine. Ah, they 
do not scintillate before the eyes of the world 
as symbols of gay intoxication like the others, 
for through those bottles passes no ray of the 
glory and prestige of France! An historian fond 
of paradoxes might affirm, and with great likeli- 
hood, what does not appear at first glance: that 
the great brands of French Champagne would not 
be sold so dear if the French Revolution had been 
suppressed by the European coalition, and if 
France, overcome in the terrible trial, had been 
enchained by the absolute monarchies of Europe 
like a dangerous beast. It would even be possible 
to declare that the reputation of Champagne is 
rooted, not only in the ground where the grapeb 
are cultivated, and preserved in the vast cellars 
where the precious crops are stored, but in all 
the historic tradition of France, in all that which 
has given France worldly glory and power: the 
victorious wars, the distant conquests, the colo- 
nies, the literature, the art, the science, the money 
capital, and the spirit — cosmopolitan, expansive, 
djmamic — of its history. It would be possible to 
declare that it makes and pours into all the world 

2o6 Wine in Roman History 

its precious wine by that same virtue, intimate, 
national, and historic, by which it created the 
encyclopedia and made the Revolution, let Napo- 
leon loose on Europe and founded the Empire, 
wrote so many famous books and built on the 
banks of the Seine the marvellous universal city, 
where all the forces of modem civilisation are gath- 
ered together and hold each other in equilibrium: 
aristocracy and democracy, the cosmopolite spirit 
and the spirit of nationality, money and science, 
war and fashion, art and religion. If France had 
not had its great history. Champagne would have 
remained an effervescing wine of modest house- 
hold use that the peasants place every year in 
barrels for their own family consumption or to 
sell in the vicinity of the city of Rheims. 

Social Development of the 
Roman Empire. 


A UGUSTUS died the twenty-third of August 
-'*• of the year 14 a.d., saying to Li via, as she 
embraced him: "Adieu, Livia, remember our 
long life." Suetonius adds that, before dying, 
he had asked the friends who had come to salute 
him, if he seemed to them "minium vifes com- 
mode transegisse" — to have acted well his life's 
comedy. In this famous phrase many historians 
have seen a confession, an acknowledgment of 
the long r61e of deceit that the unsurpassable 
actor had played to his public. What a mistake ! 
If Augustus did pronounce that famous sentence, 
he meant to say quite another thing. An erudite 
German has demonstrated with the help of many 
texts that the ancient writers, and especially 
the stoic philosophers, commonly compared life 
to a theatrical representation, divided into differ- 
ent acts and with an inevitable epilogue, death, 
without intending to say that it was a thing little 
serious or not true. They only meant that life is 
an action, which has a natural sequence from 
beginning to end, like a theatrical representation. 
14 209 

2IO Social Development of 

There is then no need to translate the expression 
of Augustus "the play" — that is, the deceit — "is 
ended," but rather "the drama" — the work com- 
mitted by destiny — "is finished. " 

The drama was ended, and what a drama! 
It is difficult to find in history a longer and more 
troubled career than that known by Augustus 
for nearly sixty years, from the far-away days 
when, young, handsome, full of ambition and 
daring, he had come to Rome, throwing himself 
head first into the frightful turmoil let loose 
by the murder of Csesar, to that tranquil death, 
the death of d great wise man, in the midst of 
the pax Romana, now spread from end to end 
of the Empire! After so many tragic catastro- 
phies had struck his class and his family. Euthan- 
asia — ^the death of the happy — descended for the 
first time since the passing of Lucullus, to close 
the eyes of a great Roman. 

There is no better means of giving an idea 
of the mission of the Roman Empire in the world 
than to summarise the life and work of this 
famous personage. Augustus has been in our 
century somewhat the victim of Napoleon I. The 
extraordinary course of events at the begin- 
ning of the nineteenth century made so vivid an 
impression on succeeding generations, that for 

The Roman Empire 211 

the whole of the century people have been able 
to admire only the great agitators, men whose 
lives are filled with storm and clamorous action. 
Compared with that of Napoleon or of Caesar, 
the figure of Augustus is simple and colourless. 
The Roman peace, in the midst of which he died, 
was his work only very indirectly. Augustus 
had wearied his whole life in reorganising the 
finances and the army, in crushing the revolts of 
the European provinces, in defending the bound- 
aries of the Rhine and the Danube, in making 
effective in Rome, as far as he could, the old 
aristocratic constitution. All intent on this serv- 
ice, a serious and difficult one, he never dreamed 
of regenerating the Empire by a powerful ad- 
ministration. Even if he had wished it, he would 
not have had the means — men and money. 

For the past century, the vastness and power 
of the administration that governed the Empire has 
been greatly admired. Without discussing many 
things possible on this point, it must be observed 
that this judgment does not apply to the times of 
Augustus and Tiberius, because then this admin- 
istration did not exist. During the first fifty 
years of the Empire, the provinces were all gov- 
erned, as imder the Republic, by proconsuls or 
propraetors, each accompanied by a quaestor. 

212 Social Development of 

a few subordinate officials, freedmen, friends, and 
slaves. A few dozen of men governed the pro- 
vinces, as vast as states. Augustus added to this 
rudimentary administration but one organ, the 
procurator, chosen from freedmen or knights, 
charged with overseeing the collection of tribute 
and expenses; that is, caring for the interests, 
not of the provinces, but of Rome. Consequently, 
the government was weak and inactive in all the 

Whoever fancies the government of Rome 
modelled after the type of modem governments, 
invading, omnipotent, omnipresent, deceives him- 
self. There were sent into the provinces nobles 
belonging to rich and noted families, who had 
therefore no need to rob the subjects too much; 
and these men ruled, making use of the laws, 
customs, institutions, families of nobles, of each 
place, exactly as England now does in many parts 
of its Empire. As in general these governors 
were not possessed of any great activity, they 
did not meddle much in the internal affairs of 
the subject peoples. To preserve the unity of 
the Empire and the supremacy of Italy against 
all enemies, within and without ; to exploit reason- 
ably this supremacy; for the rest, to let every 
people live as best pleased it : such was the policy 

The Roman Empire 213 

of Augustus and of Tiberius, the policy of the first 
century a.d. In short, this was but the idea of 
the old aristocratic party, adapted to the new 

So the Roman Government gave itself little 
concern at this time for the provinces, nor did 
it build in them any considerable public work. 
It did not construct roads, nor canals, nor har- 
bours, except when they were necessary to the 
metropolis ; for example, Agrippa made the net- 
work of GalHc roads; Augustus opened the first 
three great highways that crossed the Alps. It 
would be a mistake to suppose that these im- 
portant constructions were designed to favour 
the progress of Gallic commerce ; they were stra- 
tegic highways made to defend the Rhine. As 
gradually Gaul grew rich, Rome had to recognise 
that the weak garrisons, set apart in the year 27 
for the defence of the Rhine and the Danube, 
were insufficient. It would have been necessary 
to increase the army, but the finances were in 
bad condition. Augustus then thought to base 
defence on the principle that the immense fron- 
tiers could not all be assailed at the same time, 
and therefore he constructed some great military 
roads across the Alps and Gaul, to be able to col- 
lect the soldiery rapidly from all parts of the 

2 14 Social Development of 

Empire at any point menaced, on the Rhine or 
on the Danube. 

The imperial policy of Augustus and that of 
Tiberius, who applied the same principles with 
still greater vigour, was above all a negative policy. 
Accordingly, it could please only those denying 
as useful to progress another kind of men, the 
great agitators of the masses. Shall we therefore 
conclude that Augustus and Tiberius were use- 
less? So doing, we should run the risk of mis- 
understanding all the history of the Roman con- 
quest. By merely comprehending the value of 
the apparent inactivity of Augustus and Tiberius, 
one can understand the essence of the policy 
of world expansion initiated by the Roman aristo- 
cracy after the Second Ptmic War. At the begin- 
ning, this policy was pre-eminently destructive. 
Everywhere Rome either destroyed or weakened, 
not nations or peoples, but republics, monarchies, 
theocracies, principalities — ^that is, the political 
superstructures that framed the different states, 
great or small; everywhere it put in place of 
these superstructures the weak authority of 
its governors, of the Senate, of its own prestige ; 
everywhere it left intact or gave greater freedom 
to the elementary forms of human association, 
the family, the tribe, the city. 

The Roman Empire 215 

So for two centuries Rome continued in Orient 
and Occident to suppress bureaucracies, to dis- 
miss or reduce armies, to close royal palaces, 
to limit the power of priestly castes or republican 
oligarchies, substituting fpr all these complicated 
organisations a proconsul with some dozens of 
vicegerent secretaries and attendants. The last 
enterprise of this policy, which I should be tempted 
to call "state-devouring," was the destruction 
of the dynasty of the Ptolemies, in Egypt. With- 
out doubt, the suppression of so many states, 
continued for two centuries, could not be accom- 
plished without terrible upheavals. It would be 
useless to repaint here the grim picture of the 
last century of the Republic; sufficient to say, 
the grandiosity of this convulsion has hindered 
most people from seeing that the state-devouring 
policy of Rome included in itself, by the side 
of the forces of dissolution, beneficent, creative 
forces, able to bring about a new birth. If this 
policy had not degenerated into an unbridled 
sacking, it could have effectuated everywhere 
notable economies in the expenses of govern- 
ment that were borne by the poorer classes, 
suppressing as it did so many armies, courts, 
bureaucracies, wars. It is clear that Rome would 
have been able to gather in on all sides, especially 

2i6 Social Development of 

in the Orient, considerable tribute, merely by 
taking from the various peoples much less than 
the cost of their preceding monarchies and con- 
tinuous wars. Moreover, Rome established with 
the conquests throughout the immense Empire 
what we would call a r6gime of free exchange; 
made neighbours of territories formerly separated 
by constant wars, unsafe communication, and 
international anarchy; and rendered possible 
the opening up of mines and forests hitherto 

The apparent inactivity of Augustus and Tibe- 
rius was simply the ultimate and most beneficent 
phase of the state-devouring policy of Rome, 
that in which, the destructive forces exhausted, 
the creative forces began to act. Augustus and 
Tiberius only prolonged indefinitely by means 
of expedients that mediocre order and that partial 
tranquillity re-established after Actium by the 
general weariness; but exactly for this reason 
were they so useful to the world. In this peace, 
in this mediocre order, the policy of expansion 
of Rome, finally rid of all the destructive forces, 
matured all the benefits inherent within it. Fi- 
nally, after a frightful crisis, the world was able 
to enjoy a liberty and an autonomy such as it 
had never previously enjoyed and which perhaps 

The Roman Empire 2 1 7 

it will never again in an equal degree of civilisa- 
tion and in so great an extension. 

The Empire then covered Spain, France, Bel- 
gium, a part of Germany and Austria, Switzer- 
land and Italy, the Balkanic countries, Greece, 
Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine, a part of Arabia, 
Egypt, and all northern Africa. I do not believe 
that the political personnel that made up the 
central government of this enormous Empire 
ever comprised more than 2000 men. The army 
charged with defending so many territories 
numbered about 200,000 men — fewer than the 
present army of Italy alone. The effects of this 
order of things were soon to be seen ; in all the 
Mediterranean basin there began a rapid and uni- 
versal economic expansion, which, on a smaller 
scale, might remind one of what Europe and 
America have seen in the nineteenth century. 
New lands were cultivated, new mines opened, 
new wares manufactured, exports sent into re- 
gions formerly closed or unknown; and every 
new source of wealth, creating new riches, made 
labour and commerce progress. 

Foremost among all nations of the Empire, 
at the centre, Italy rapidly consolidated its for- 
tune and its domination. After the mad plun- 
dering of the times of Cssar, followed methodical 

2i8 Social Development of 

exploiting. Italy attracted to itself by the power 
of political leadership the precious metals and 
wares of luxury from every part of the Empire; 
the largest quantity of these things passed through 
Rome, before being scattered throughout the 
peninsula in exchange for the agricultural and 
industrial products of Italy, consumed in the 
capital. Consequently the middle classes and 
many cities grew rich, especially the cities of 
the Campania, Pompeii, Herculaneum, Naples, 
Pozzuoli, through which passed all the trade be- 
tween Italy and Egypt. In addition, Italy found 
an abundant source of income in the exportation 
of wine and oil. 

In short, having at last emerged from revolu- 
tion, the peoples of Italy rallied around Rome 
and the imperial power, united and relatively 
content. At the same time, the provinces began 
among themselves, about Italy, a great inter- 
change of merchandise, men, ideas, customs, 
across the Mediterranean. Rome and Italy were 
invaded by a crowd of Orientals, slaves, freedmen, 
merchants, artisans, liUerati, artists, acrobats, 
poets, adventurers; and contemporaneously with 
Rome and Italy, the agricultural provinces of 
the West, especially those along the Danube. 
Rome did not conquer the barbarous provinces 

The Roman Empire 219 

of Europe for itself alone; it conquered them 
also for the East, which, in Mesia, Dalmatia, 
Pannonia, among those barbarians growing civil- 
ised and eager to live in cities, found customers 
for their industries in articles of luxury, for their 
artists, teachers of literature, and propagandists 
of religion. 
. We are therefore able to explain to ourselves 
why, beginning from the time of Augustus, all 
the industrial cities of the Orient — Pergamon, 
Laodicea, Ephesus, lerapolis. Tyre, Sidon, Alex- 
andria — entered upon an era of new and refulgent 
prosperity. Finally, we add the singular enrich- 
ing of two nations, whose names return anew 
united for the last time, Egypt and Gaul. To 
all the numerous sources of Gallic wealth there 
is to be added yet another, the importance of 
which is easier to understand after what I have 
said on the development of the Empire. Pliny 
tells us that all Gaul wove linen sails. The pro- 
gress of navigation, a consequence of the progress 
of commerce, much increased the demand for 
linen sail-cloth, something that explains the 
spread of flax cultivation in Gaul and the profit 
derived from it. 

As to Egypt, it not only found in the pacified 
empire new outlets for its old industries, but also 

" 220 Social Development of 

succeeded in engaging a large part of the new 
commerce with the extreme Orient, which was 
at this time greatly on the increase. From India 
and China were imported pearls, diamonds, silk 
fabrics ; for the use of these wares gained largely 
during this century, as it has done in recent times 
in Europe and America; perfumes were also im- 
ported, and rice, which served as a medicament 
and to prepare dishes of luxury. 

The unity of the Empire was due far more 
to this great economic development that began 
under Augustus than to the political action of 
the early emperors. Little by little, imperial 
interests became so numerous and so consider- 
able that Rome saw the effort necessary to keep 
up the unity diminish. Everywhere, even in 
the most distant regions, powerful minorities 
formed that worked for Rome and against old 
separating, anti-uniting forces, against old tra- 
ditions and local patriotism alike. The wealthy 
classes everywhere became in a special way wholly 
favourable to Rome. Therefore there is no more 
serious mistake than regarding the Roman Em- 
pire as the exclusive work of a government: it 
was in truth created by two diverse forces, ope- 
rating one after the other — each in its own time, 
for both were necessary: a force of destruction 

The Roman Empire 221 

— ^the state-devouring policy of Rome ; a force of 
reconstruction — the economic unification. The 
annihilation of states, without which there would 
have been no economic unification, was the work 
of the government and the armies. It was the 
politicians of the Senate that destroyed so many 
states by wars and diplomatic intrigues; but 
the economic unification was made chiefly by 
the infinitely little — the peasant, the artisan, the 
educated man — ^the nameless many, that lived 
and worked and passed away, leaving hardly 
trace or record. These unknown that laboured, 
each seeking his own personal happiness, con- 
tributed to create the Empire as much as did 
the great statesmen and generals. For this reason 
I can never regard without a certain emotion 
the mutilated inscriptions in the museums, 
chance salvage from the great shipwreck of the 
ancient world, that have preserved the name of 
some land-owner, or merchant, or physician, or 
freedman. Lo ! what remains of these generations 
of obscure workers, who were the indispensable 
collaborators of the great statesmen and diplo- 
matists of Rome, and without whom the political 
world of Rome would have been but a gigantic 
enterprise of military brigandage ! 

The great historic merit of Augustus and of 

222 Social Development of 

Tiberius is that they presided over the passage 
from the destructive to the reorganising phase 
with their wise, prudent, apparently inactive 
policy. The transition, like all transitions, was 
difficult; the disintegrating forces were not yet 
exhausted; the upbuilding forces were still 
very weak ; the world of the time was in imstable 
equilibrium, violent perturbations certainly yet 
possible. Without doubt, it is hard to say what 
would have happened if, instead of being gov- 
erned by the policy of Augustus, the world had 
fallen into the hands of an adventurous oligarchy 
like that which gathered around Alexander the 
Great ; but we can at least affirm that the sagacity 
and prudence of Augustus, which twenty cen- 
turies afterward appear as inactivity, did much 
to avoid such disturbances, the consequences of 
which, in a world so exhausted, would have been 

Nor is it correct to believe that this policy was 
easy. Moderation and passivity, even when 
good for the governed, rust and waste away 
governments, which must always be doing some- 
thing, even if it be only making mistakes. In 
fact, while supreme power usually brings return 
and much return to him who exercises it, espe- 
cially in monarchies, it cost instead, and unjustly, 

The Roman Empire 223 

to Augustus and Tiberius. Augustus had to 
offer to the monster, as Tiberius called the Em- 
pire, almost all his family, beginning with the 
beloved JuUa, and had to spend for the state 
almost all his fortune. We know that although 
in the last twenty years of his life he received by 
many bequests a sum amounting to a billion and 
four hundred million sesterces, he left his heirs 
only one hundred and fifty million sesterces, 
all the rest having been spent by him for the 
Republic: this was the singular civil list of this 
curious monarch, who, instead of fleecing his 
subjects, spent for them almost all he had. It 
is vain to speak of Tiberius: the Empire cost 
him the only thing that perhaps he held dear, 
his fame. A philosophic history would be wrong 
in not recognising the grandeur of these sacrifices, 
which are the last glory of the Roman nobility. 
The old political spirit of the Roman nobility 
gave to Augustus and Tiberius the strength to 
make these sacrifices, and they probably saved 
ancient civilisation from a most difficult crisis. 
It may be observed that Augustus and Tibe- 
rius worked for the Empire and the future with- 
out realising it. Far from understanding that 
the economic progress of their time would unify 
the Empire better than could their laws and 

224 Social Development of 

their legions, they feared it; they believed that 
it would everywhere diffuse "corruption," even 
in the armies, and therefore weaken the imperial 
power of resistance against the barbarians on 
the Rhine and the Danube. The German peril — 
the future had luminously to demonstrate it — 
was much less than Augustus and Tiberius be- 
lieved. In other words, the first two emperors 
thought that the unity of the Empire would be 
maintained by a vigorous, solid army, while the 
economic progress, which spread "corruption," 
appeared to them to put it to risk. 

Exactly the opposite happened; the army 
continued to decay, notwithstanding the des- 
perate efforts of Tiberius, while the inner force 
of economic interests held the countries well 
bound together. It is impossible to oppose this 
course of reasoning, in itself most accurate; but 
what conclusion is to be drawn from it? In the 
chaotic conflict of passions and interests that 
make up the world, the deeds of a man or a party 
are not useful in proportion to the objective 
truth of the ideas acted out, or to the success 
attained. Their usefulness depends upon the 
direction of the effort, on the ends it proposes, 
on the results it obtains. There are men and 
parties of whom one might say, they were right 

The Roman Empire 225 

to be wrong, when chimerical ideas and mistakes 
have sustained their courage to carry out an 
effective effort; there are others, instead, of 
whom it might be said that they were wrong to 
be right, when their clear vision of present and 
past kept them from accomplishing some pain- 
ful but necessary duty. 

Certainly the old Roman traditions were des- 
tined to be overwhelmed by the invasion of 
Oriental ideas and habits; but what might not 
have happened if every one had understood 
this from the very times of Augustus- if then 
no one had opposed the invasion of Orientalism; 
if mysticism and the monarchy of divine right 
had transformed Italy or the Empire within 
fifty years instead of three centuries? I should 
not at all hesitate to affirm that certain errors 
are in certain conjunctions much wiser than the 
corresponding verities. There is nothing more 
useful in life than resistance, though apparently 
futile, against social forces fated to perish, because 
these, struggling on to the very end, always suc- 
ceed in imposing a part of themselves on the 
victorious power, and the result is always better 
than a complete and unantagonised victory of 
the opposing force. To the obstinate resist- 
ance with which republican principles combated 

226 Social Development of 

Asiatic monarchy in Rome, we must even to-day 
render thanks for the fact that Europe was not 
condemned, like Asia, to carry the eternal yoke 
of semidivine absolutism, even in dynastic re- 
gimes. What social force destined to perish 
would still have power to struggle if it clearly 
foresaw its inevitable future dissolutions if it 
did not fortify itself a little with some deluding 
vision of its own future? 

Augustus and Tiberius were deceived. They 
wished to reanimate what was doomed; they 
feared what for the moment was not dangerous. 
They are the last representatives of the policy 
initiated by the Scipios and not the initiators of 
the policy that created the bureaucratic Empire 
of Diocletian: yet this is exactly their glory. 
They were right to be wrong; and they rendered 
to the Empire an immense service, for the very 
reason that the definite outcome of their efforts 
was diametrically opposed to the idea that ani- 
mated them. But we need not dwell on this 
point. Such were the ideas of the two emperors 
and the results of their work; the true Empire, 
known to all, the monarchic, Asiaticised, bureau- 
cratic Empire, grew out of this little-govemed 
beginning that Augustus and Tiberius allowed 
to live in the freedom of the largest autonomy. 

The Roman Empire 227 

How was it formed? This is the great problem 
that I shall try to solve in the sequence of my 
work. Naturally, I cannot now r&um6 all the 
ideas I mean to develop: I confine myself here 
to some of the simplest considerations, whicl 
seem to me surest. 

The picture of the Empire, so brilliant from 
the economic stand-point, is much less so from 
the intellectual : here we touch its great weakness. 
Destroying so many governments, especially in 
the Orient, Rome had at the same time decapi- 
tated the intellectual dites of the ancient world; 
for the courts of the monarchies were the great 
firesides of mental activity. Rome had therefore, 
together with states and governments, destroyed 
scientific and literary institutions, centres of 
art, traditions of refinement, of taste, of assthetic 
elegance. So everywhere, with the Roman 
domination, the practical spirit won above 
the philosophical and scientific, commerce over 
arts and letters, the middle classes over historic 
aristocracies. Already weakened by the over- 
throw of the most powerful Asiatic monarchies, 
these elites received the final blow on the disap- 
pearance of their last protection, the dynasty 
of the Ptolemies in Egypt. 

When Augustus began to govern the Empire, 

2 28 Social Development of 

the classes that represent tradition, culture, 
the elevated and disinterested activities of the 
spirit, were everywhere extensive in number, 
in wealth, in energy. It was not long before 
these ultimate remainders vanished under the 
alluvial overflow of the middle classes, swollen 
by the big economic gains of the first century. 
In this respect, the first and second centuries 
of the Christian era resemble our own time. In 
the whole Empire, alike in Rome, in Gaul, in 
Asia, there were old aristocratic families, rich 
and illustrious, but they were not the class of 
greatest power. Under them stood a middle 
class of merchants, land-owners, orators, jurists, 
professors, and other intellectual men, and this 
was so numerous, comfortable, and so potent 
as to cause all the great social forces, from gov- 
ernment to industry, to abandon the old aris- 
tocracy and court it like a new mistress. Art, 
industry, literature, were vulgarised in those 
two centuries, as to-day in Europe and Amferica, 
because they had to work mainly for this middle 
class which was much more numerous, and yet 
cruder than the ancient ilites. It was the first 
era of the cheap, of vulgarisations, I was about 
to say of the made in Germany, that enters into 
history. There was invented the art of silver- 

The Roman Empire 329 

plating, to give the bourgeoisie at moderate prices 
the sweet illusion of possessing objects of silver; 
great thinkers disappeared; instead were multi- 
plied manuals, treatises, encyclopffldias, professors 
that summarised and vulgarised. Philosophy 
gradually gave out, like all the higher forms 
of literature, and there began the reign of the 
declaimers and the sophists ; that is, the lecture- 
givers, the lawyers, the journalists. In painting 
and sculpture, original schools were no more to 
be found, nor great names, but the number of 
statues and bas-reliefs increased infinitely. The 
paintings of Pompeii and many statues and mar- 
bles that are now admired in European museums 
are examples of this industrialised art, inexpen- 
sive, creating nothing original, but furnishing to 
families in comfortable circumstances passable 
copies of works of art — once a privilege only of 

The imperial bureaucracy that was formed 
mainly in the second century was another effect 
of this enlargement of the middle classes. In the 
second century there came into vogue many 
humanitarian ideas, which have a certain resem- 
blance to modern ones. There increased solici- 
tude for the general well-being, for order, for 
justice, and this augmented the number of func- 

230 Social Development of 

tionaries charged with insuring -universal felicity 
by administrative means. The movement was 
supported by intellectual men of the middle 
classes, especially by jurists, who sought to put 
their studies to profit, getting from the govern- 
ment employments in which they might make 
use, well or ill, of their somewhat artificial apti- 
tudes. If the aristocratic idea, personified by 
Augustus and Tiberius, delayed, it could not 
stop, the invasion of these bureaucratic locusts; 
the government showed itself constantly weaker 
with the intellectual classes. Little by little the 
whole Empire was bureaucratised ; founded by 
an aristocracy exclusively Roman in statesmen 
and soldiers, it was finally governed by a cosmo- 
politan bureaucracy of men of brains: orators, 
litterati, lawyers. Therefore, to my thinking, 
they are wrong who believe that the imperial 
bureaucracy created the unity of the Empire; 
whereas, the formation of the imperial bureau- 
cracy was one of the consequences of that natural 
unification, the chief reason for which should 
be sought in the great economic movement. 
The economic unification was first and was entire; 
then came the political unity, made by the im- 
perial bureaucracy, which was less complete than 
the unifying of material interests. 

The Roman Empire 231 

After the material unity, after the political, 
there should have been formed the moral and 
intellectual ; but at this point, the forces of Rome 
gave way. Rome had gathered under its sceptre 
too many races, too many kinds of culture, 
religions too diverse ; its spirit was too exclusively 
political, administrative, and judicial; it could 
not therefore conciliate the ideas, assimilate the 
customs, weld the sentiments, unify the religions, 
by its laws and decrees. To this end was neces- 
sary the power of ideas, of doctrines, of beliefs 
that officials of administration could neither cre- 
ate nor propagate. The work was to be ac- 
complished outside of, and in part against, the 
government. It is the work of Christianity. 

Many have asked me how I shall consider 
Christianity in the sequence of my work. In 
brief, I may say that I shall follow a different 
method from that which its historians have taken 
up to this time: they have studied especially 
how there was formed that part of Christianity 
which yet lives and is the soul of it, namely, the 
religious doctrine. On this account, they gener- 
ally separate its history from the history of the 
Empire, making of it the principal argument, 
considering the history of Roman society as sub- 
ordinate to it and therefore only an appendix. I 

232 Social Development of 

propose to reverse the study, taking Christian- 
ity as a chapter, important but separate, in the 
history of the Empire. If for three centuries 
Christianity has been gradually returning to its 
origin, that is, becoming purely a religion and 
a moral teaching, for some centuries in the ancient 
world it was a thing much more complicated; a 
government and an administration that willed 
not only to regulate the relations between man 
and God, but to govern the intellectual, social, 
moral, political, and economic life of the people. 
The historian ought to explain how this new 
Empire— for it was indeed a new Empire — 
was formed in Rome and upon its ruins: this 
is a problem much more intricate than at first 

It has been said and often repeated that the 
Church was in the Middle Ages in Europe the 
continuation of the Roman Empire, that the Pope 
is yet the real successor of the Emperor in Rome. 
In fact he carries one of the Emperor's titles, 
Pontifex maximus. The observation is just, but 
it should not make us forget that the Christian 
Empire, so to call it, and the Roman Empire 
were between themselves as radically opposed 
as two forces that created the one and the other: 
politics and intellectuality. The diplomatists, 

The Roman Empire 333 

the generals, the legislators of Rome created by 
political means, by wars, treaties, laws, a grand 
economic and political unity, which they consoli- 
dated, quite giving up the formation of a large 
intellectual and moral imity. The intellectual 
men, who formed the most powerful nucleus of 
the Church after the fourth century, took up 
again the Roman idea of unity and of empire; 
but they transferred it from matter to mind, 
from the concrete world of economic and political 
interests, to the world of ideas and beliefs. They 
tried to re-do, by pen and word, the work of the 
Scipios, of LucuUus, and of Cssar, to conquer 
the world, not indeed invading it with armies, 
but spreading a new faith, creating a new morality, 
a new metaphysics which must gather up within 
themselves the intellectual activities of Grffico- 
Latin culture, from history to science, from law 
to philosophy. 

The Church of the Middle Ages was therefore 
the most splendid edifice that the intellectual 
classes have so far created. The power of this 
empire of men of letters increased, as little by 
little the other empire, that of the generals and 
diplomats, declined. Christianity saw with indif- 
ference the Roman Empire decay ; indeed, when 
it could, it helped on the disintegration and was 

234 Social Development of 

one of the causes of that political and economic 
pulverising which everywhere succeeded the 
great Roman unity. Political and economic 
unity on the one hand, moral and intellectual 
on the other, seem in the history of European 
civilisation things opposite and irreconcilable; 
when one is formed, the other is undone. As 
the Roman Empire had found in intellectual 
and moral disunion a means of preserving more 
easily the economic and political unity, the Church 
broke to pieces the political and economic unity 
of the ancient world to make, and for a long time 
preserve, its own moral and intellectual oneness. 
I shall make an effort, above all, to explain 
the origin, the development, and the consequences 
of this contradiction, because I beHeve that ex- 
plaining this clears one of the weightiest and 
most important points in all the history of our 
civilisation; in truth, this contradiction seems 
to be the immortal soul of it. For instance: in 
time, Augustus is twenty centuries away from 
us, but mentally and morally he is, instead, 
much nearer, because for the last four centuries 
Europe has been returning to Rome — that is, 
striving to remake a great political and economic 
unity at the expense of the intellectual and moral. 
In this fact particularly, lies the immense historic 

The Roman Empire 235 

importance of what is called the classic renais- 
sance. It indicates the beginning of an historic 
reversion that corresponds in the opposite direc- 
tion to what occurred in the third and fourth 
centuries of the Christian era. The classic renais- 
sance freed anew the scientific spirit of the ancients 
from mediaeval metaphysics and therefore created 
the sciences; rediscovered some basic political 
and juridical ideas of the ancient world, among 
them that of the indivisibility of the State, which 
destroyed the foimdations of feudaHsm and of all 
the political orders of the Middle Ages ; and gave 
a great impetus to the struggle against the politi- 
cal domination of the Church and toward the 
formation of the great states. France and Eng- 
land have been in the lead, and for two centuries 
Europe has been wearying itself imitating them. 
After the movement of political imification 
followed the economic. Look about you: what 
do you see? A world that looks more like the 
Roman Empire than it does the Middle Ages; 
it is a world of great states whose dominating 
classes have almost all the essential ideas of 
Grseco-Latin civilisation; each, seeking to better 
its own conditions, is forced to establish between 
itself and the others the strictest economic re- 
lations and to bind into the system of common 

236 Social Development of 

interests also barbarous countries and those of 
differing civilisation. But how? By scrupulously 
respecting all the intellectual and moral diversi- 
ties of men. What matters it if a people be 
Roman Catholic or Protestant, Mohammedan 
or Buddhist, monarchic or republican, provided 
it buys, sells, takes part in the economic xmity 
of the modem world? This is the policy of con- 
temporary states and was the policy of the Roman 
Empire. It has often been observed that in the 
modem world, so weU administered, there is an 
intellectual and moral diversity greater than 
that during the fearful anarchy of the Middle 
Ages, when all the lettered classes had a single 
language, the Latin, and the lower classes held, 
on certain fundamental questions, the same 
ideas — those taught by the Church. A correct 
observation, this, but one from which there is 
no need to draw too many conclusions; since in 
our history the material uiuty and the ideal are 
naturally exclusive. 

We are returning, in a vaster world, to the 
condition of the Roman Empire at its begiiming j 
to an immense economic unity, which, notwith- 
standing the aberrations of protectionism, is 
grander and firmer than all its predecessors; to 
a political unity not so great, yet considerable. 

The Roman Empire 237 

because even if peace be not eternal, it is at least 
the normal condition of the European states ; to an 
indifference for every effort put forth to establish 
moral and ideal uniformity among the nations, 
great and small, that share in this political and 
economic unity. This is why we understand 
Augustus and his times much more readily than 
we do the times of Charlemagne, even though 
from the latter we possess a greater number of 
documents; this is why we can write a history 
of Augustus and rectify so many mistakes made 
about him by preceding generations. It has 
often happened to me to find, d, propos of the 
volumes written on Augustus, that my contra- 
diction of tradition creates a kind of instinctive 
diffidence. Many say: "Yes, this book is inter- 
esting ; but is it possible that for twenty centuries 
everybody has been mistaken? — that it was neces- 
sary to wait till 1908 to understand what occurred 
in the year 8?" But those twenty centuries re- 
duce themselves, as far as regards the possibility 
of understanding Augustus, to little more than a 
hundred years. Since Augustus was the last 
representative of a world that was disappearing, 
his figure soon became obscure and enigmatic. 
Tacitus and Suetonius saw him already enveloped 
in the mist of that new spirit which for so many 

238 Social Development 

centuries was to conceal from human eyes the 
wonderful spectacle of the pagan world. Then 
the mist became a fog and grew denser, tmtil 
Augustus disappeared, or was but a formless 
shadow. Centuries passed by ; the fog began to 
withdraw before the returning sun of the ancient 
culture; his figure reappeared. Fifty years ago, 
the obscurity cleared quite away; the figure 
stands in plain view with outlines well defined. 
I believe that the history I have written is more 
like the truth than those preceding it, but I do 
not consider myself on that account a wonder- 
worker. I know I have been able to correct 
many preceding errors, because I was the first 
to look attentively when the moment to see and 
understand arrived. 

Roman History in Modern 


"X A /"HEN I announced my intention to write 
' ' a new history of Rome, many people 
manifested a sense of astonishment similar to 
what they would have felt had I said that I 
meant to retire to a monastery. Was it to be be- 
lieved that the hurrying modem age, which bends 
all its energies toward the future, would find 
time to look back, even for a moment, at that 
past so far away? That my attempt was rash 
was the common opinion not only of friends and 
critics, but also of publishers, who everywhere 
at first showed themselves skeptical and hesi- 
tating. They all said that the public was quite 
out of touch with Roman affairs. On the con- 
trary, facts have demonstrated that also in this 
age, in aspect so eager for things modem, people 
of culture are willing to give attention to the 
events and personages of ancient Rome. 

The thing appears strange and bizarre, as is 
natural, to those who had not considered it pos- 
sible; consequently, few have seen how simple 

i6 241 

242 Roman History 

and clear is its explanation. To those who showed 
surprise that the history of Rome could become 
fashionable in Paris salons, I have always replied : 
My history has had its fortune because it was 
the history of Rome. Written with the same 
method and in the same style, a history of Venice, 
or Florence, or England, would not have had 
the same lot. One must not forget that the 
story of Rome occupies in the intellectual world 
a privileged place. Not only is it studied in all 
the schools of the civilised world; not only do 
nearly all states spend money to bring to light 
all the documentary evidence that the earth 
still conceals; but while all other histories are 
studied fitfully, that of Rome is, so to speak, 
remade every fifty years, and whoever arrives at 
the right time to do the making can gain a reputa- 
tion broader than that given to most historians. 
There is, so to speak, in the history of Rome 
an eternal youth, and for the mind in what is 
commonly called European-American civilisation, 
it holds a peculiar attraction. From what deep 
sources springs this perennial youth? In what 
consists this particular force of attraction and 
renewal? It seems to me that the chief reason 
for the eternal fascination of the history of Rome 
is this, that it includes, as in a miniature drawn 

In Modern Education 243 

with simple lines, well defined, all the essential 
phenomena of social life; so that every age is 
able there to find its own image, its gravest 
problems, its intensest passions, its most press- 
ing interests, its keenest struggles; therefore 
Roman history is forever modem, because every 
new age has only to choose that part which most 
resembles it, to find its own self. 

In the intellectual history of the nineteenth 
century this leading phenomenon of our culture 
is clearly evident. If any one asked me why, 
during the past century, Roman history has 
proved so interesting, I should not hesitate to 
reply, "Because Europeans and Americans find 
there more than elsewhere what has been the 
greatest political upheaval of the hundred years 
that followed the French Revolution — the strug- 
gle between monarchy and republic. " From 
the fervid admiration for the Roman Republic 
which animated the men of the French Revolution 
to the unmeasured Csesarian apologies of Duruy 
and of Mommsen, from the ardent cult of Brutus 
to the detailed studies on the Roman administra- 
tion of the first two centuries, all historians have 
studied and regarded Roman history mainly 
from the point of view of the struggle between 
the two principles that yet to-day rend in, 

244 Roman History 

incurable discord the mind of old Europe and 
from which you have emerged fortunate ! You are 
free, in a new world ; you have ended the combat 
between the Latin principle of the impersonal 
state and the Oriental principle of the dynastic 
state; between the state conceived as the thing 
of all, belonging to every one and therefore of 
no one, and the state personified in a family of 
an origin higher and nobler than the common 
in which all authority derives from some hero- 
founder by a mysterious virtue unaccountable 
to reason and human philosophy; you have 
done with the conflict between the human state, 
simple, without pomp, without dramatic sym- 
bols — the republic as we men of the twentieth 
century imderstand it, and as you Americans 
conceive and practise it — and the monarchy 
of divine right, vainglorious, full of ceremonies 
and etiquette, despotic in internal constitution, 
which still exists in Europe under more or less 
spurious forms. Now it is easy to explain how, 
in an age in which the contest between these 
two conceptions and these two forms of the State 
was so warm, the history of Rome should so stir 
the mind. 

In no other history do these two political forms 
meet each other in a more irreconcilable opposi- 

In Modern Education 245 

tion of characters in extreme. The Republic, as 
Rome had foimded it, was so impersonal that, 
in contrast with modem more democratic re- 
publics, it had not even a fixed bureaucracy, 
and all the public functions were exercised by- 
elective magistrates — even the executive — from 
public works to the police-system. In the ancient 
monarchy which the Orient had created, the 
dynastic principle was so strong that the State 
was considered by inherent right the personal 
property of the sovereign, who might expand it, 
contract it, divide it among his sons and relatives, 
bequeathing his kingdom and his subjects as a 
land-owner disposes of his estate and his cattle. 
Furthermore, although to-day the sovereigns of 
Europe are pleased to treat qmte familiarly 
with the good Lord, the rulers in the Orient were 
held to be gods in their own right. 

Whence it is easy to understand how terrible 
must have been the struggle between the two 
principles so antagonistic, from the time when 
in the Empire, immeasurable and complicated, 
the institutions of the Republic proved inadequate 
to govern so many diverse peoples and territories 
so vast. The Romans kept on, as at first, rebel- 
ling at the idea of placing a man-god at the head 
of the State, themselves to become, when finally 

24^ Roman History- 

masters of the world, the slaves of a dynasty. 
The conflict between the two principles lasted 
a century, from Caesar to Nero, filled the story 
of Rome with hideous tragedies, but ended with 
the truce of a glorious compromise; for Rome 
succeeded in putting into the monarchic consti- 
tution of empire some essentially republican 
ideas, among others, the idea of the indivisibility 
of the State. Not only Augustus and his family, 
but also the Flavians and the Antonines, never 
thought that the Empire belonged to them, that 
they might dispose of it like private property; 
on the contrary, they regarded it as an eternal 
and indivisible holding of the Roman people 
which they, as representatives of the populus, 
were charged to administer. 

It is therefore easy, as I have said, to explain 
how, as never before, the history of Rome was 
looked upon as a great war between the monarchy 
and the republic. Indeed, the problem of the 
republic and the monarchy, always present to 
the minds of writers of the nineteenth century, 
has been perhaps the chief reason for the gravest 
mistakes committed by Roman historiography 
during this period — mistakes I have sought to 
correct. For example, the republicans have 
pinned their faith to all the absurd tales told 

In Modern Education 247 

by Suetonius and Tacitus about the family of 
the CcBsars, through preconceived hate for the 
monarchy ; and the monarchists have exaggerated 
out of measure the felicity of the first two cen- 
turies of the Empire, to prove that the provinces 
lived happy under the monarchic administration 
as never before or after. Mommsen has fashioned 
an impossible Caesar, almost making of that great 
demagogue a literary anticipation of Bismarck. 
Little by little, however, as the contest between 
republic and monarchy gradually spent itself in 
Europe, in the last twenty-five years of the nine- 
teenth century, the interest for histories of Rome 
conceived and written in this spirit, declined. 
The real reason why Mommsen and Duruy are 
to-day so little read, why at the beginning of 
the twentieth century Roman history no longer 
stirs enthusiasm through their books is, above 
all, this : that readers no longer find in those pages 
what corresponds directly to living reality. There- 
fore it was to be believed that Roman history 
had grown old and out of date ; whereas, merely 
one of its perishing and deciduous forms had 
grown old, not the soul of it, which is eternally 
living and young. So true is this, that a writer 
had only to consider the old story from new 
points of view, for Cassar and Antony, Lucullus 

248 Roman History 

and Pompey, Augustus and the laws of the year 
18 B.C., to become subjects of fashionable con- 
versation in Parisian drawing-rooms, in the most 
refined intellectual centre of the world. 

It has never been difficult for me to realise 
that contemporary Europe and America, the 
Europe and America of railroads, industries, 
monstrous swift-growing cities, might find pre- 
sent in ancient Rome a part of their own very 
souls, restless, turbulent, greedy. In the Rome 
of the days of Cssar, huge, agitated, seething 
with freedmen, slaves, artisans come from every- 
where, crowded with enormous tenement-houses, 
run through from morning till night by a mad 
throng, eager for amusements and distractions; 
in that Rome where there jostled together an un- 
numbered population, uprooted from land, from 
family, from native country, and where from 
the press of so many men there fermented all 
the propelling energies of history and all the 
forces that destroy morality and life — vice and 
intellectuality, the imperialistic policy, deadly 
epidemics ; in that changeable Rome, here splen- 
did, there squalid ; now magnanimous, and now 
brutal; full of grandeurs, replete with horrors; 
in that great city all the huge modem metro- 
polises are easily refound, Paris and New York, 

In Modern Education 249 

Buenos Ayres and London, Melbourne and Berlin. 
Rome created the word that denotes this mar- 
vellous and monstrous phenomenon of history, the 
enormous city, the deceitful source of life and 
death — urbs — the city. Whence it is not strange 
that the countless urbes which the grand eco- 
nomic progress of the nineteenth century has 
caused to rise in every part of Europe and Amer- 
ica look to Rome as their eldest sister and their 

Furthermore, into the history of Rome, the 
historic aristocracy of Europe may look as into 
the mirror of their own destiny, as everjrwhere 
they try to retain wealth and power, playing in 
the stock-exchange, marrying the daughters of 
millionaire brewers, giving themselves to com- 
merce; a nobility that resorts, in the effort to 
preserve its prestige over the middle classes, 
to the expedients of the most reckless demagogy. 
Sulla, Lucullus, Pompey, Crassus, Antony, Cffisar, 
exemplify in stupendous types the aristocracy 
that seeks to conserve riches and power by au- 
daciously employing the forces that menace its 
own destruction. 

Several critics of my work, particularly the 
French, have observed that the policy of expan- 
sion made by Rome in the times of Caesar, as I 

25o Roman History 

have described it, resembles closely the craze for 
imperialism that about ten years ago agitated 
England. It is true, for imperialism in the time 
of Caesar was what has existed for the last half 
century in England — a means of which one part 
of the historic aristocracy availed itself to keep 
power and renew decaying prestige, satisfying 
material interests and flattering with intoxications 
of vanity the pride of the masses. So, too, the 
contesting parties in France — the socialist, which 
represents the labouring classes; the radical, 
which represents the middle classes ; the progres- 
sive and the monarchic, which represent the 
wealthy burghers and the aristocracy — may dis- 
cover some of their passions, their doings, their 
invectives, in the political warfare that troubled 
the age of Cffisar ; in those scandals, those judicial 
trials, in that furor of pamphlets and discourses. 
This is so true, that in consequence my book met 
a singular fate in France ; that of being adopted 
by each party as an argument in its own favour. 
Drumont made use of it to demonstrate to France 
what befalls a country when it allows its national 
spirit to be corrupted by foreign influx, seeking 
to persuade his fellow-citizens that the Jews in 
France do the same work of intellectual and 
moral dissolution that the Orientals brought 

In Modern Education 251 

about in Rome. Radical writers, like Andr6 
Maurel, have sought arguments in my work to 
combat the colonial and imperialistic policy. 
The imperialists also, like Pinon, have looked for 
arguments to support their stand-point. Was I 
not merely demonstrating that the policy of 
expansion is a kind of universal and constant 
law, which periodically actualises itself through 
the working of the same forces, in the same 

It is not to be thought that the age of Caesar, 
so disturbed, so stormy, is our only mirror in 
the story of Rome. When I write the account 
of the imperial society of the first and second 
centuries, our own time will be able to recognise 
even more of itself, to see what must be the fu- 
ture of Europe and America, if for a century or 
two they have no profound political and social 
upheavals. In that great pax Romana lasting 
two centuries, we may study with special facility 
a phenomenon to be found in all rich civili- 
sations cultured and relatively at peace — ^the 
phenomenon to me the most important in con- 
temporary European life, the feminising of all 
social life J that is, the victory of the feminine 
over the masculine spirit. Do not fancy that 
the feminists, the problems and the disputes 

252 Roman History 

they excite in modem society, are something 
quite new and peculiar to us; these are only 
special forms of a phenomenon more general, 
the growing influence that woman exercises 
on society, as civilisation, culture, and wealth 
steadily increase. Here, too, the history of 
Rome is luminously clear. In it we see evolving 
that vast contest between the feminine spirit 
and the masculine, which is one of the essential 
phenomena in all human history. We see the 
masculine spirit — the spirit of domination, of 
force, of mastery, of daring — ^ruling complete, 
when the small community had to fight its first 
hard battles against nature and men. The father 
commanded then as monarch in his family; 
the woman was without right, liberty, personality ; 
had but to obey, to bear children and rear them. 
But success, power, wealth, greater security, 
imperceptibly loosened the narrow bondage of 
the first struggles ; then the feminine spirit — 
the spirit of freedom, of pleasure, of art, of revolt 
against tradition — gradually acquired strength, 
and began bit by bit to undermine at its bases 
the stem masculine rule. 

The hard conflict of two centuries is sown 
with tragedies and catastrophes. Supported 
by tradition, exasperated by the ever bolder 

In Modern Education 253 

revolts of woman, the masculine spirit every 
now and then went mad ; and brutally tore away 
her costly jewels and tried to deny her soft rai- 
ment and rare perfumes ; and when she had already 
grown accustomed to appearing in the world 
and shining there, he willed to drive her back 
into the house, and put beside her there on guard 
the fieriest threats of law. Sometimes, despairing, 
he filled Rome with his laments ; protested that 
the liberty of the woman cost the man too dear; 
cried out that the bills of the dressmaker and 
the jeweller would send Rome, the Empire, the 
world, to ruin. In vain, with wealth, in a civili- 
sation full of Oriental influences, woman grew 
strong, rose, and invaded all society, until in the 
vast Empire of the first and second centuries, 
at the climax of her power, with beauty, love, 
luxury, culture, prodigality, and mysticism she 
dominated and dissolved a society which in 
the refinements of wealth and intellectuality 
had lost the sharp virtues of the pioneer. 

It is unnecessary to dilate further on this point ; 
it will be better rather to dwell a moment on the 
causes and the effects of this singular pheno- 
menon. The history of Rome has been and can 
be so rich, so manifold, so universal, because in 
its long record ancient Rome gathered up into 

2 54 Roman History 

itself, welded, fused, the most diverse elements 
of social Hfe, from all peoples and all regions 
with which it came into contact. It knew con- 
tinued war and interrupted peace for centuries. 
It held united under its vast sway, states decrepit 
with the oldest of civilisations, and peoples 
hardly out of primitive barbarism. It exploited 
with avidity the intelligence, the laboriousness, 
the science of the former; the physical force, 
the war -valour and the daring of the latter; it 
absorbed the vices, the habits, the ideas of the 
Hellenised Orient, and transfused them in the 
untamed Occident. Taking men, ideas, money, 
everywhere and from every people, it created 
first an empire, then a literature, an architecture, 
an administration, and a new religion, that were 
the most tremendous synthesis of the ancient 
world. So the Roman world turned out vaster 
and more complex than the Greek, although 
never assuming proportions exceeding the power 
of the human mind ; and as it grew, it kept that 
precious quality, wanting in the Greek, unity; 
hence, the lucid clearness of Roman history. 
There is everything in it, and everything radiates 
from one centre, so that comprehension is easy. 
Without doubt it would be rash to declare 
that the history of Rome alone may serve as the 

In Modern Education 255 

outline of universal history. It is quite likely 
that there may be found another history that 
possesses the same two qualities for which that 
of Rome is so notable — ^universality and unity — 
but one thing we may affirm: up to this time 
the history of Rome alone has fulfilled this office 
of universal compendium, which explains how it 
has always been studied by the learned and let- 
tered of every part of the civilised European- 
American world, and how in modem intellectual 
life it is the history universal and cosmopolitan 
par excellence. This condition of things has a 
much greater practical importance than is sup- 
posed. Indeed it would be a serious mistake 
to believe that cosmopolitan catholicity is an 
ideal dower purely of Roman history, for which 
all the sons of Rome may congratulate themselves 
as of a thing doing honour only to their stirp. 
This universahty forms part, I should say, of 
the material patrimony of all the Latin stock; 
we may number it in the historic inventory of 
all the good things the sons of Rome possess and 
of all their reasonable hopes for the future. 

This affirmation may at first appear to you 
paradoxical, strange, and obscure, but I think 
a short exposition will suffice to clear it. The 
imiversality of the history of Rome, the ease of 

256 Roman History- 

finding in it models in miniature of all our life, 
will have this effect, that classical studies remain 
the educational fotmdation of the intelligent 
classes in all European-American civilisation. 
These studies may be reformed; they may be, 
as they ought, restricted to a smaller number 
of persons; but if it is not desired — as of course 
it cannot be — ^that in the future all men be purely 
technical capacities and merely living machines 
to create material riches ; if, on the contrary, it 
is desired that in every nation the chosen few 
that govern have a philosophical consciousness 
of imiversal Ufe, no means is better suited to instil 
this philosophic consciousness than the study 
of ancient Rome, its history, its civilisation, 
its laws, its politics, its art, and its religions, 
exactly because Rome is the completest and 
most lucid synthesis of universal Ufe. 

Classical studies are one of the most powerful 
means of intellectual and moral influence on 
the Anglo-Saxon and German civilisations that 
the Latins possess, representing under modem 
conditions, for the Latin nations, a kind of intel- 
lectual entail inherited from their ancestors. 
The young Germans and Englishmen who study 
Greek and Latin, who translate Cicero or con- 
strue Horace, assimilate the Latin spirit, are 

In Modern Education 257 

brought ideally and morally nearer to us, are 
prepared without knowing it to receive our intel- 
lectual and social influence in other fields, are 
made in greater or less degree to resemble us. 
Indeed, it can be said, that, material interests 
apart, Rome is still in the mental field the strong- 
est bond that holds together the most diverse 
peoples of Europe ; that it unites the French, the 
English, the Germans, in an ideal identity which 
overcomes in part the diversity in speech, in 
traditions, in geographical situation, and in history. 
If common classical studies did not make kindred 
spirits of the upper classes in England, France, 
and Germany, the Rhine and the Channel would 
divide three nations mentally so different as to 
be impenetrable each to another. 

Therefore the cosmopolitan universality of 
Roman history is a kind of common good which 
the Latin races ought to defend with all their 
might, having care that no other history usurp 
its place in contemporary culture ; that it remain 
the typical outline, the ideal model of universal 
history in the education of coming generations. 
The Latin civilised world has need that every 
now and then an historian arise to reanimate 
the history of Rome, in order to maintain its 
continued supremacy in the education of the 

2 58 Roman History 

intelligent ; to prevent other histories from usurp- 
ing this pre-eminence. 

It is useless to cherish illusions as to the task: 
its accomplishment has become much more 
arduous than it was fifty years ago; perhaps 
because the masses have acquired greater power 
in every part of the European-American world, 
and democracy advances more or less rapidly, 
invading everything — the democracy of the 
technical man, the merchant, the workman, 
the well-to-do burgher, all of whom easily hold 
themselves aloof from a culture in itself ar- 
istocratic. The accomplishment will become 
always more and more arduous ; for Roman 
studies, feeling the new generations becoming 
estranged from them, have for the last twenty- 
five years tended to take refuge in the tranquil 
cloisters of learning, of archeology, in the discreet 
concourse of a few wise men, who voluntarily 
flee the noises of the world. Fatal thought! 
Ancient Rome ought to live daily in the mind 
of the new social classes that lead onward ; ought 
to irradiate its immortal light on the new worlds 
that arise from the deeps of the modem age, 
on pain of undergoing a new destruction more 
calamitous than that caused by the hordes of 
Alaric. The day when the history of Rome and 

In Modern Education 259 

its monuments may be but material for erudition 
to put into the museums by the side of the bricks 
of the palace of Khorsabad, the cuneiform inscrip- 
tions, and the statues of the kings of Assyria, 
Latin civilisation will be overwhelmed by a 
fatal catastrophe. 

To hinder the extinction of the great light of 
Rome in the world, to prolong indefinitely this 
ideal survival, which is the continuation of its 
material Empire, destroyed centuries ago, there 
is but one way — to renew historic studies of 
Rome, and to maintain intact their imiversal 
value which forms part of common culture. 
This is what I have tried to do, seeking to lead 
back to Roman history the many minds estranged 
from it, distracted by so many cares and anxieties 
and present questionings, and to fulfil a solemn 
duty to my fatherland and the grand traditions 
of Latin culture. If other histories can grow 
old, it is indeed the more needful, exactly because 
it serves to educate new generations, to reani- 
mate Roman history, incorporating in it the 
new facts constantly discovered by archaeolog- 
ical effort, infusing it with a larger and stronger 
philosophical spirit, carrying into it the matured 
experience of the world, which learns not only 
by studying but also by living. 

2 6o Roman History 

I do not hesitate to say that every half-century 
there opens among civilised peoples a contest 
to find the new conception of Roman history, 
which, suited to the changed needs, may revivify 
classical studies; a competition followed by no 
despicable prize, the intellectual influence that 
a people may exercise on other peoples by means 
of these studies. To win in this contest we must 
never forget, as too many of us have done in the 
past thirty years, that a man can rule and re- 
fashion the world from the depths of a library, 
but only on condition that he does not immure 
himself there; that, while the physical sciences 
propose to understand matter in order to trans- 
form it, historico-philosophical discipline has 
for its end action upon the mind and the will; 
that philosophical ideas and historic teachings 
are but seeds shut up to themselves unless they 
enter the soil of the universal intellectual life. 

No: the time-stained marbles of Rome must 
not end beside cuneiform-inscribed bricks or 
Egyptian mummies, in the vast dead sections 
of archaeological halls; they must serve to pave 
for our feet the way that leads to the future. 
Therefore nothing could have been pleasanter 
or more grateful to me, after receiving the invi- 
tation tendered me by the College de France, 

In Modern Education 261 

and that from South America, than to accept 
the invitation of the First Citizen of the United 
States to visit this world which is being formed. 
In Paris, that wonderful metropolis of the 
Latin world, I had the joy, the highest reward for 
my long, hard labour, to show to the incredulous 
how much aUve the supposedly dead history of 
Rome still is, when on those unforgettable days 
so cosmopolite a public gathered from every 
part of the city in the small plain hall of the old 
and august edifice. Coming into your midst, 
I feel that the history of Rome lives not only 
in the interest with which you have followed these 
lectures, but also, even if in part without clear 
cognisance, in things here, in the hfe you lead, 
in what you accomplish. The heritage of Rome 
is, for the peoples of America still more than for 
those of Europe, an heredity not purely artistic 
and literary, but political and social, which 
exercises the most beneficent influence on your 
history. In a certain sense it might be said 
that America is to-day politically, more than 
Europe, the true heir of Rome; that the new 
world is nearer — by apparent paradox — to an- 
cient Rome than is Europe. Among the most 
important facts, however little noticed, in the 
history of the nineteenth century, I should 

2 62 Roman History 

number this: that the Republic, the human state 
considered as the common property of all — 
the great political creation of ancient Rome — 
is reborn here in America, after having died 
out in Europe. The Latin seed, lying buried 
for so many centuries beneath the ruins of the 
ancient world, like the grains of wheat buried 
in Egyptian tombs, transported from the other 
side of the ocean, has sprung up in the land 
that Columbus discovered. If there had been 
no Rome; if Rome had wholly perished in the 
great barbarian catastrophe; if in the Renais- 
sance there had not been found among the ruins 
of the ancient world, together with beautiful 
Greek statues and manuscripts, this great polit- 
ical idea, there would to-day be no Republic in 
North America. With the word would probably 
have perished also the idea and the thing; and 
there is no assurance that men would have been 
able so easily and so well to rediscover it by their 
own effort. 

I am a student and not a flatterer. I there- 
fore confess to you frankly, ending these lectures, 
that I do not belong to that number of Europeans 
who most enthusiastically admire things Ameri- 
can. I think that Americans in general, iri North 
America as in South, so readily recognise in 

In Modern Education 263 

themselves a sufficient number of virtues, that we 
Europeans hardly need help them in the belief, 
easy and agreeable to all, that they stand first 
in the world. Having come from an old society, 
which has a long historical experience, the most 
vivid impression made upon me in the two 
Americas has been just that of entering into a 
society provided with but meagre historical ex- 
perience, which therefore easily deludes itself, 
mistaking for signs of heroic energy and proofs of 
a finished superiority, the passing advantages 
of an order chiefly economic, which come from 
the singular economic condition of the world. 
In a word, I do not believe that you are superior 
to Europe in as many things as you think; but 
a superiority I do recognise, great and, for me 
at least, indisputable, in the political institutions 
with which you govern yourselves. The Republic, 
which you have made to live again, here in this 
new land, is the true poEtical form worthy of a 
civilised people, because the only one that is 
rational and plastic; while the monarchy, the 
form of government yet ruling so many parts 
of Europe, is a mixture of mysticism and 
barbarity, which European interests seek in 
vain to justify with sophistries unworthy the 
high grade of culture to which the Continent has 

264 Roman History 

attained. To search out the reasons why the 
old Oriental monarchy holds on so tenaciously 
in Europe, still threatening the future, would 
be useless here; certain it is that, when you meet 
any European other than a Frenchman or a 
Swiss, you can feel yourselves as superior to 
him in political institutions as the Roman civis 
in the times of the Republic felt himself above 
the Asiatic slave of absolute monarchy. This 
superiority— never forget it! — you owe to Rome; 
for its possession, be grateful to the city that 
has encircled you with such glory, by infusing 
so tenacious a life into the 



Acrobats, the great number 
of, 218 

Acte, the beautiful, 114 

Actium, the mistakes of 
Antony at, 60; the peace 
after, 216 

^gean Islands, the vine- 
yards of the, 200 

Agriculture in Gaul, the ex- 
tent of, 84 

Agrippa, the builder of the 
Pantheon, 103; the succes- 
sor of, 165 

Agrippina, the power of, 103; 
the love of the Republic 
of, 114; miraculous escape 
of, 120; death of, 122 

Alaric, the destruction caused 
by, 258 

Alcohol, the distillers of, a6 

Alesia, the city of , g i , 94 ; the 
battle at, 197 

Alexander the Great, men- 
tioned, 48 

Alexandria, the position of, 1 5 

AUier, the valley of the, 92 

Alps, the peoples beyond the, 
20; the fear of crossing the, 

Ambitio of the ancients, the, 

America, the discovery of, 


Amor, the kingdom of, 25 
Amores, the, by Ovid, 151 
Amours, the, of Antony, 41 
Amphore, the wine of the, 

Ancient Rome, corruption in, 


Anglo-Saxons, traits of the, 

Anicetus, the diabolical plan 
of, 119 

Antony, the history of, 
37 ff; the love of, 40; meets 
Cleopatra, 44; the be- 
wilderment of, 57 

Antifeminist reaction, the, 

Antioch, the departure for, 
45; the marriage at, 51 

Antium, the return to, 119 

Antonines, the power of the, 

Aquilia, son of Julia born 
at, 155; the trade in, iga 

Arabia, part of, annexed, 49 

Archaeological discoveries, the 
effect of, 259 

Archsologists, the discover- 
ies of, 43 

Archelaus, the revolt against, 

Architectural effort at Rome, 

Argentine Republic, the men- 
tion of, 86 




Aries, a large market for 

wines, 192 
Armenia, the revolt in, 161 
Arras, the district of, go 
Arrianus, the work of, 199 
Ars Armandi, the, by Ovid, 

Artists, the numerous, of the 

East, 55 
Asia Minor, the addition to 

the Empire of, 49 
Asiatic civilisation, 17 
Athens, the influence of, 202 
Atrides, the legend of, 138 
Attalus, King, 16; the be- 
quest of, 187 
Augustus, the age of, 25 
Augustus Caesar, lectures on, 

3; the wise laws of, 158; 

troubles of, 176; the death 

of, 209 
Avaritia, the complaint of 

the, 14 


Bacchante, a miserable, 155 
Bacchus, the plant of, 182 
Bastica, civilisation in, 72 
Baiffi, the Court at, 119 
Banquets, the, of ancient 

Rome, 7 
Barbarian, the struggle 

against the, 34 
Barbarism, the primitive, 

Belgi, the victory over the, 

Beverages, in Roman his- 
tory, 181 ff; the growing 
use of, 186 

Birrus of Laodicea, the, 88 
Bismarck, mentioned, 64; 

compared to Caesar, 247 
Biturigi, the, a tribe of Gaul, 

Black Sea, the country 

around, 182 
Borebiste, a Gaetic warrior, 

Boulanger, a Roman, 41 
Brennus, the conspirator, 130 
Britannicus, the exclusion of, 

103; the death of, 115 
Brutus, the cult of, 243 
Buddhist, the position of the, 

Burrhus, the political work 

of, 304 

Caduric, a tribe of Gaul, 86 
Cffisar, Caius, adopted by 
Augustus, 158; the po- 
litical position of, 160 
Caesar, Julius, the wisdom 

of, 72; mistakes of, 75 
Caesar, Lucius, adopted by 
Augustus, 158, the popu- 
larity of, 164 
Cffisars, the palaces of the, 7 
Caleti, the, a tribe of Gaul, 86 
California, grape-culture in, 

Caligula, the death of, 115 
Calumnies, the, about Julia, 

Campania, the cities of, 218 
Canals, the construction of, 

Capri, the monster of, 155 



Carmen Seculare, the, by 

Horace, 151 
Carthusian, the patience of 

the, 91 
Castles, the Roman, on the 

Rhine, 192 
Catiline, the conspiracies of, 

Cato, the love of tradition of, 

105; as a wine drinker, 184 
Celt, the genius of the, 88 
Cereals, the growth of, in 

Gaul, 85 
Cervisia, the supplications 

of, 196 
Champagne, the reputation 

of, 206 
Chian, a cask of, for a ban- 
quet, 199 
Christianity, the work and 

spreading of, 231 ff 
Christians, the, in the time 

of Nero, 131 
"Christofle," the making of, 

in Gaul, 91 
Church, the position of the, 

Cicero, the letters of, 74; the 

influence of, 172 
Civil wars, the impression of 

the, 148 
Civis, the Roman, 264 
Classic renaissance, the, 235 
Claudii, the haughty line of 

the, 159 
Claudius, Emperor, the death 

of, 103 
Cleopatra, the legend of, 

37 ff; described, 40; policy, 

of, 58 
Clodia, the famous, 74 

College de France, the, 3, 260 
Columbus, mentioned, 71 
Comitia, the election of the, 

Commentaries, the, of Cassar, 

Conflagration, the, of Rome, 

Corday, Charlotte, 63 
Corruption of customs, the, 3 
Costumes of Rome, the, 181 
Cradle of Jesus, the, 1 66 
Crassus, the demagogy of, 

Cultivation, in Rome, 181 
Cultus, a Gallic term, 91 
Cydnus, the river, 39 

Dalmatia, the malcontents 

at, 166 
Danube provinces, the, 88, 

Dechelette, the great work 

of, 91 
Diamonds, the importation 

of, 220 
Diocletian, the edict of, 88 
Dion Cassius, the historian, 

63, 80 
Dionysius, the Greek judge, 

Dionysos, the beverage of, 

Dithyrambics, the, of Hor- 
ace, 196 
Drusus, mentioned, 93; the 

exalted position of, 104 
Duodecember, a fourteenth 

month, 79 



Duruy, the apologies of, 243 
Dynasty of Egypt, the, 215 


"Eastern peril," the, 50 
Economic strength, the, of 

Rome, 224 
Economic unity, the, of the 

world, 236 
Education, the laborious, 194 
Egnatius Mecenius, the story 

of, 183 
Egypt, the conquest of, 16, 

Elagabalus, the splendour of, 

6, 8 
Elegies, the revolutionary, of 

Ovid, 152 
Empire, the extent of the, 

Ephesus, the city of, 219 
Euthanasia , the death of the 

happy, 210 
External policy, the, of 

Rome, 164 

Fabius Pictor, the word of, 


Falernian, the discovery of, 

"First Citizen of the Repub- 
lic," the, 157 

Feminism, the increase of, 
in Rome, 108 

"Festivals of Youth," the, 
at Rome, 124 

Flavians, the power of the, 

Flax, the cultivation o£, 85 

FoUes Bergires, the, men- 
tioned, 129 

Fortuna, the, of the Romans, 

Forum, the impressive monu- 
ment of the, 55 

Franco-Prussian War, the, 

Frankfurt, the treaty of, 202 

Freedmen, the position of, 

French Revolution, the, 203 

Frontiers, the strengthening 
of the, 109 

Gastic warrior, the rule of a, 

Gasto-Thracian, the great 
empire of, 191 

Gallia Narbonensis, the po- 
sition of, 50 

Gallic, affairs, the midst of, 
73; roads, the network of, 

Gallo-Roman villas, the, 87 
Gambetta, the love letters 

of, 40 
Gambrinus, the god, 202 
Gaul, the development of, 

20, 69 ff; conquest of, 72; 

the annexation of, 77; the 

wealth of, 83 
Gauls, the irritation of the, 

79; the genius of the, 81 
Genoa, the situation of, 23 
German historians, the work 

of, 152 
Germanicus, the historical 

importance of, 103 



Germany, conditions in, 79, 
165; policy toward Rome, 

Glass-making in Gaul, 90 

Government, the, at Rome, 

Governors, the position of 
the, 212 

Gracchi, the struggle of the, 

Grseco-Latin ci villi sati on, 
the, 72,23s 

Grape-culture, the spread of, 

Grape harvest, the abun- 
dance of the, 185 

Greatness and Decline of 
Rome, the, 10 

Greece, the contact of Rome 
with, 185 

Greek wines in Rome, 8 

Gymnasium, the, at Alex- 
andria, 55 


Hannibal, the army of, 189 
Harbours, the building of, 

Hebrew people, the position 

of the, 166 
Hellenist, an ardent, 58 
Helvetia, customs in, 191 
Helvetians, the, 74; the at- 
tack on the, 75 
Herculaneum, the city of, 218 
Heritage of Rome, the, 261 
Herod the Great, the death 

of, 166 
History, as considered by 

Ferrero, 65 
Horace, the invectives of, 23 

Houssaye, Henri, mentioned, 

Ides, the days of the, g 
lerapolis, the prosperity of, 

Ilium, the district of Troy, 50 
India, the precious metals of, 

30; wine exported to, 200 
Indo-Chinese, the commerce 

of the, 55 
Inscriptions, the story left 

by the, 221 
Istrian wine, the favourite of 

Livia, 199 

Jerome, Saint, the story of, 

Jeunesse dorie, the, of Rome, 

Jewelry making in Gaul, 90 
Jewels as a luxury, 31 
Jews in France, the, 250 
Jove, the temple of, 19 
Judas, the mention of, 63 
Judea, the revolt at, 166 
Julia, the exile of, 137; the 
episode of, 150; discord 
with, 154; unfaithfulness 
of, 157; the accusation of, 
170; the fate of, 177 
Julian, the laws of, 151 
Julian-Claudian house, the 

power of the, 188 
Jurisdiction of property, the, 

in Gaul, 84 
Jurists, the influence of, 230 
Juvenal, passages from, 90 



Kalends, the days of the, 9 
Karbin, mentioned, 50 
Khorsabad, the palace of, 259 
Knights, the social position 
of the, 212 

Ladies, the, of Rome, 30 
Langres, the district of, 90 
Laodicea, the birrus of, 88; 

the city of, 219 
Lares, the veneration of the, 

Latin morals, the severity of, 

Latin spirit, the similarity of 

the, 256 
Laws of Julian, the, 151 
Legislative reforms, the, 21 
Leibach, the trade through, 

Lepidus mentioned, 172 
Letronne, the researches of, 

Lex de adulteriis, the, 148 
Lex de maritandis ordinibus, 

the, 147 
Lex Julia de adulteriis, the, 

Lex sumptuaria, the, 148 
Libertine poet, a, in the 

year 8 B.C., 151 
Licinius, the characteristics 

of, 79 
Linen, the manufacture of, 

Litterati, the many, 218 
Livia, the mother of Tiberius, 

162; the position of, 168 

Livia, the House of, 7 
Livy, the point of view of, 3 
LoUia Paulina, the fame of, 9 
LucuUus, the rising power 
of, 18; wine used by, 184 
Lusitania, a mission to, 117 
Luxuria, the desire of, 14 
Luxury, of Rome, 125; 
spread of, 186 


Macrobius, the writings of, 

Mamertine, a kind of wine, 

IMania, the all absorbing, of 

Nero, 128 
Marcellus, the privileges ac- 
corded, 160 
Marius, the revolution of, 18 
Martial, passages from, 90 
"Mass," the so-called, 182 
Mater familias, the honour 

of. 39 
Maurel, Andr6, the writings 

of, 251 
Mazzini, the great, 63 
Mediterranean world, the 

vast, 97 
Merchandise, the great in- 
terchange of, 218 
Mesia, the metropolis of, 219 
Messalina, the death of, 103 
Middle Ages, the cathedrals 

of the, 140 
Military power, the weak- 
ening of the, at Rome, 167 
Military Republic, the, 136 
Military triumph, the, of 
Rome, 197 



Minos, the historic, 63 
Mirabeau, the love letters 

of, 40 
Mithridates, defeat of, 19; 

the conquests of, 197 
Mohammedan, the position 

of the, 236 
Mommsen, the apologies of, 

Morales, the two, at Rome, 

Morini, the, a tribe in Gaul, 

Mosca olearia, a new species 

of, 190 
Municipia, the splendour of 

the, no 
Museum, the, at Alexandria, 

Mythology, the imagination 
of, 197 


Naiads, the maidens of Cleo- 
patra dressed as, 40 

Naples, the ruins of, 92 ; the 
city of, 218 

Naples, the Gulf of, 119 

Napoleon I., mentioned, 63, 

'Natural History, the, by 
Pliny, 183 

Nero, Emperor, 96, elected, 
103; frivolity of, 105; de- 
bauches of, 114; the cow- 
ardice of, 121; careless 
government of, 125: St. 
Paul contrasted with, 133; 
the suicide of, 13 s 

Newspapers, the fortunate 
lack of, in Rome, 173 

Nile, the Roman protector- 
ate in the valley of the, 46 
Nimes, the inhabitants of, 

Nones, the days of the, g 
Notre Dame, the cathedral 

of, 140 
Nuptial banquets, the cost 

of, 9 


Octavia, divorce of, 40; the 

wife of Nero, 124, 127 
Oil, the exportation of, 218 
Oligarchy, the, at Rome, 81 
Olive groves, the wealth of 

the, 189 
Olympus, the delights of, 59 
Opimius, the consulate of, 

Orient, the metropolises of 

the, IS 
Oriental Empire, the, of 

Rome, 57 
Oriental state, the conquest 

of an, 15 
Orientalism, the invasion of, 

Ostia, Tiberius starts for, 163 
Ovid, the representatives of, 

149; the work of, 150 

Paintings, "of Pompeii, the, 

Palatine, a journey to the, 7 ; 

polygamy in, 118 
Palestine, the annexation of, 

49; uprising in, 166 
Pandalaria, Julia exiled to, 

172, 177 



Pannonia, the malcontents 
at, 166 

Pannonians, the customs of 
the, 193 

Pantheon, the, mentioned, 

Parthians, the Empire of the, 

Possum, as a drink, 183 

Pater familias, the power of 
the, 172 

Paul of Tarsus, a great and 
simple man, 131; the per- 
secution of, 134 

Pax Romana, the, 4; the ex- 
tent of the, 310 

Pearls, the importation of, 
30, 220 

Penetralia, the, of the home, 

Pergamon, the city, 319 
Pergamus, the kingdom of, 

16, 187 
Periplus of the Eryirian Sea, 

the, a manual, 199 
Persia, the conquest of, 44 
Philosophers, the many, 209 
Philosophy, the ancient, of 

Rome, 233 
Phylloxera, a new species of, 

Piedmont, the peasants of, 

Pinon, the imperialist, 351 
Pisa, inscriptions at, 164 
Piso, the conspiracy of, 135 
Plutarch, description of, 39 
Po, the valley of the, 192 
Poetry, the, of Horace, 195 
Poets, the position of, 9 B.C., 


Political barrier, the, between 

Gaul and Rome, 84 
Political events, the, of 

Rome, 33 
Political personnel, the, of 

Rome, 217 
Polybius, the period of, 183 
Pompadour, the Marquise 

de, mentioned, 43 
Pompeii, the ruins of, 93; the 

city of, 318 
Pompey, the conquests of, 

19; the theatre of, 55 
Pontifex maximus, the title 

of, 233 
Pontus, salted fish from the, 

Pappasa Sabina, the skill of, 

116: death of, 137 
Populus, the representatives 

of the, 246 
Pozzuoli, the city of, ai8 
Prastor, the office of the, 157 
Precious metals, the distri- 
bution of, 218 
Praetorian guards, the, 117 
Praetorians, the influence of 

the, 104 
Princeps, the authority of 

the, 188 
Proconsuls, the, of Rome, 

Procurator, the origin of the 

ofBce of, 313 
Propraetors, the government 

of the, 311 
Prosperity, the growing, 148 
Protestant, the present posi- 
tion of the, 236 
Provinces, the peace in the, 




Ptolemies, the, at Alexandria, 

Ptolemies, the kingdom o£ 

the, 46 
Public finance, the lack of, 

Punic War, the Second, 3,214 

QuEBStor, the office of the, 

Quintilius Varus, the gover- 
nor of Syria, j66 

Quintus MetuUus Celerus, 
the consul, 74 


Reinach, Joseph, the his- 
torian, 63 

Republic, the last century 
of the, 14, 198 

Respublica, the glory of the, 

Revue de Paris, the, 63 

Rheims, the vicinity of the 
city of, 206 

Rhetian wine, the preference 
for, 199 

Rhine, the river, 72 

Roads, the construction of, 

Rodi, Tiberius to go to, 162 

Roman Catholic, the posi- 
tion of the, 236 

Roman Empire, the dissolu- 
tion of the, 140, 210 

Roman history in modern 
education, 239 

Roman nobility, the, 54 

Roman protectorate, the, 46 

Roman society, the dissolu- 
tion of, 5 
Romanism, the defence of, 

Rome, in the beginning, 5 
Romulus as a lawmaker, 183 
Royal palaces, the closing of, 

Ruteni, the, a tribe of Gaul, 

Saint Mark, the wonder of, 

Saintonge, the district of, 90 
Savants, the, of the East, 55 
Scipio Africanus, the work 

of, 153 
Scipios, the policy of the, 226 
Second Punic War, the, 3, 214 
Seine, the banks of the, 206 
Sempronius Gracchus, a fa- 
mous tribune, 56 
Senate, the Roman, 103; 

sessions of the, 105 
Seneca, the political work 

of, 104 
Sesterces, the value of the 

Roman, 223 
Sicily, the peasants of, 187 
Sidon, the artisans of, 88; 

the city of, 219 
Silk, the importation of, 220 
Silver-plating, the art of, 228 
Slaves, the abundance of, in 

Rome, 15 
Slaves, the position of, 212 
Social development, the, of 

the Roman Empire, 207 ff 
Social laws, the, 148, 153 



Socialists, the invectives of 

the, 250 
Soldi, the hunt for, 173 
Spain, the pro-consulship of, 

Spartacus, the days of, 189 
Stadium, the erection of the, 

at Rome, 125 
State, the supervision of the, 

Statues, the erection of, 152 
Strabo, observations of, 85 
Strenua inertia, the, 29 
Suetonius, the ancient writer, 

Sulla, the revolution of, 18 
Sulmona, the birth of Ovid 

at, 149 
Summer homes, the, at Na- 
ples, 120 
Syria, the annexation of, 73 ; 

the conquest of, z6 

Tacitus, the opinion of, 30, 

Tarsus, Cleopatra at, 39 
Terpnos, a zither- player, 105 
Textile plants, in Gaul, 85 
Theatres, the great demand 

for, no 
Theresa, Maria, mentioned, 

Thracian slave, the escape of 

a, 189 
Tiber, the banks of the, 

Tiberius, a great general, 

7. 30. 93. 109, 14-5 ; the 

life of, 153; difficulties of, 


157; suggested retirement 

of, 162 
Traditions, aristocratic, 153 
Tributes, the, imposed on the 

vanquished, 15; collection 

of, 212 
Triumvir, the fall of the 

great, m 
Troy, the ancient city of, 50 
Tunis, grape-culture at, 187 
Tyranny, the, at Rome, 135 
Tyre, the prosperity of, 88, 

Tyrian purple, the, 89 


month, 79 
Urbs, the meaning of, 249 
Usury, the pitiless, 186 


Vladivostok, mentioned, 50 
Villa, the luxury of a Roman, 

Valtellina, the valley of the, 

Varus, the catastrophe of, 

Vatican field, the stadium in 

the, 124 
Velleius. the report of, 93 
Veneto, the peasants of the, 

Venosa, an old poet from, 195 
Venus, Cleopatra compared 

to, 39 
Vices, the extent of, 37 
Villas, the, of Gaul, 99 
Vine-tenders, the, of Rome, 




Vineyards, the destruction 

of the, 190 
Virgil, the fame of, 33 
Viticulture, the, of Italy, 196 


Wine, in Roman history, 179 
fl; an inferior variety made 
in Italy, 183; as a medi- 
cine, 183 

Wine-dealers, the, of Rome, 
I S3 

Women of to-day and yester- 
day, 39 

Wool industry, the, of Gaul, 


Xerxes, the fame of, 63 

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